[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Following up on our discussion yesterday about the underlying issues raised by the horrifying murders in Aurora, there are several excellent and insightful pieces floating about that deserve to be well read.
One of the more interesting is Chip Berlet's piece at AlterNet:
Understanding the Colorado Shooting: Terrorism, Politics, Mental Illness and the Superhero ComplexDan Froomkin has a great piece at HuffPo describing how the NRA will predictably kill any and all discussion of gun-law changes as a possible response:
Older models of psychological interpretation often dismissed the violent actors as dysfunctional or mentally ill and left it at that. Contemporary approaches factor in psychological considerations, but also consider the role of demonization and scapegoating in creating perceptual frames. Within sociology, the study of how the construction of frames and narratives assists ideological goals and attracts and retains recruits is well developed. In several disciplines there are studies of apocalyptic narrative storylines that cast the perpetrator in the role of hero for saving society from a mortal threat.
For some terrorists who are not clinically mentally ill, the act of violence has a clear goal of sending a message they hope will be understood and acted upon. They are seldom correct in their idea that their “propaganda of the deed” will have the desired outcome.
For the tiny handful of those who struggle with serious mental illness and turn to violence, outside factors in the society play a role in writing the script they are following to justify their actions. This script is internally generated and generally incomprehensible to other people, however, it can be internally consistent and understandable to the perpetrator. So outside societal factors can be involved, even if they are greatly misinterpreted through the darkened glasses of psychosis.
Opponents of gun control have a powerful rhetorical argument in their arsenal. "The gun lobby is very effective at saying that 'Now is not the time to exploit these events for political purposes,'" Rand said. "Their goal is to delay so that the pressure comes off of policy makers, the immediacy fades and everyone turns their attention to something else."As Digby says, the only real taboo among the Beltway pundit class is against examining the causes of these tragedies.
Gross agreed. "That's the arc that these things always take and they know it," he said.
But, Gross said, the "now is not the time" argument would only be genuine "if history showed that there ever is a time to discuss the role of gun policy in preventing these tragedies."
And Rand said it's appropriate to start talking about solutions right away. "It's not politics, it's public health," she said. "You have an industry that manufactures a product that is completely unregulated from a health and safety standpoint."
Also, be sure to read Roger Ebert at the NYT.