Sunday, February 17, 2008

NIU Blame Game

The NIU shootings have caused an outpouring of wall-to-wall coverage, complete with conflicting theories about the shooter being on drugs, off drugs, abusing video games, practicing with a specific game, and, of course, about less guns in general vs more guns (as in students being defensively armed).

In the beginning, everything from shouting the breaking news to screening archival footage of Columbine, VA Tech, and even Charles Whitman at the Texas Tower on your television set were thrown at you in this visual mix. Then the "blame game" began in earnest, especially at faux news locations. (The videos below are mere examples of the recent state of affairs.)

Despite all the claims you will find on television or in blogs that (1) "every school shooting" since Columbine has involved young men on meds, (2) only since drugs being used for psychological problems have there been school shootings, and (3) all these drugs make people suicidal, none of those absolute claims can be proven. The reality is (1) suicidal people are suicidal before meds, (2) not all the shooters have been on medications, and (3) school shootings existed long before the advent of pharmaceuticals being used for psychiatric interventions.

Short-term memory seems to be at work here as most "blame game" advocates make factually incorrect statements, like "school shootings began ten years ago." Most drug and video game theorists and their supporters seem to generally tie the beginning of school shootings to Columbine in 1999, or only mention the "celebrity" school shooting events of the last decade. There is no sense of history, reality, or data with most of these pronouncements of blame.

Blaming drugs, blaming video games, and arguing about gun control are all blind dead end alleys.

Of course, we saw this forced blaming before, during VA Tech, for example:

1 comment:

Ben said...

I think that part of the reason we saw so many crackpot theories is that people are very uncomfortable not knowing the reason for a tragedy. We will accept anything over it being a mystery. As soon as we have an answer as to why something tragic has happened, we can start coming up with reasons for why we are safe and how our situation is different from the one in which the tragedy occurred. Perhaps if we were more comfortable with not knowing the reasons, we would actually arrive at better answers more quickly. We could take a measured and methodical look at the situation and consider the facts before jumping to pet theories.

Nice post by the way.