Saturday, July 21, 2012
Mad Analysis: Individual Responsibility
Not even one hour had passed before I started to hear the ‘talking heads’ bring up the need for stricter gun control, added security at theaters, questions about how the alleged killer was raised, questions about whether the movie itself was related to the murders (and why the alleged killer referred to himself as “the Joker” (it was a Batman movie if you haven’t heard]) and if the film industry bears any blame for what happened. This really annoys me. More than that, it disgusts me because it seems to relate to what I think is one of the most devastating root problems that exists today. What happened in Colorado is the fault of NO ONE but the one who pulled the trigger. That’s it and that’s all. Anything else takes away from the one and only person who should bear all the guilt for this tragedy. Stop harassing his parents, stop harassing his old professors and stop trying to blame Hollywood. Some people are just evil and some relatively good people just snap one day and do horrible things. No law can ever or will ever prevent that from happening.
This irritates me especially because it is proof again of just how little individual responsibility is left in modern society. How many years ago now was the Genovese case? Have things gotten any better? I don’t doubt that things may come out that might help explain somewhat why this person did what he is alleged to have done but I don’t want anything to in any way take away from his own personal responsibility for the horrible crime he committed. I don’t like the way his father was hounded from his home to the airport on his way to Colorado. It’s not his dad’s fault that he did what he did. I don’t care if he had the world’s greatest dad or the world’s worst -he was a grown adult who made his own decision and one of those decisions was to gun down tens of innocent people. The guilty party is the guilty party and there the list should end. I really have no patience for the whole ‘the movie made me do it’ or ‘society made me do it’ or ‘the music made me do it’ or ‘the video game made me do it’ or ‘my overbearing parents made me do it’ or any of the other of countless excuses that always come out at times like this.
I still want everyone to know that I am certainly under no illusions as to the effect that the media and the entertainment industry has on society. I like some pretty violent and horrifying movies myself, but there are some that even I think cross a line. There are at least a few that I’ve simply heard about that I am convinced would destroy the soul of anyone who watches them. I’ve never been in favor of censorship in my life but, in recent years, I have had to change that position because of some very extreme cases. We should endeavor to have a healthy society after all. What we cannot do is blame the actions of one person on anyone else or in any way lessen their guilt and individual responsibility by trying to make the responsibility shared. If I do wrong there is no one to blame but myself. I do the crime, I do the time. Likewise, if I make a dumb decision, no one should be forced to help me out of a mess caused by my own stupidity. I shouldn’t have to bail you out for your mistakes either. If you have friends or family that want to help you out, fine, but you cannot blame me for your mistakes which is what you are doing if I am forced to help you out of them.
No one seems to have any grasp at all of individual responsibility these days. Even among those one would think would be the greatest champions of it, we do not have unanimity. There are relatively few in this day and age who champion individual “rights” but there are fewer still who stand up for individual responsibility. Everyone wants the “rights” but not many seem to want the responsibility. For example, why do so many libertarians and (all) Objectivists/Randists support abortion? They say it is because they support individual “rights” and individual choice but it seems to me that by supporting abortion you are supporting individual irresponsibility. Being stupid and getting pregnant are individual choices but getting an abortion is just a medical way of escaping the responsibility of your own actions and choices you already made. One side of the political spectrum tends to throw all individualism out the window but even on the other side of the scale, everyone seems to want to have their cake and eat it too. No one wants to be responsible for their own actions and these days we seem less and less forced to do so.
For example, just take the film everyone was seeing at this theater where the tragic mass-murder took place. Notice how many young children were among the victims? Some were extremely young. What were they even doing there? Personally, I was shocked to find out the movie was rated PG-13 and even more shocked when I looked it up and found that the previous “Dark Knight” movie was also PG-13. Aside from the original movie with Adam West (my first Batman), I don’t think any of the Batman movies have been suitable for small children. If I had children, I wouldn’t let them watch stuff like that at such a young age. But, of course, how many parents are simply willing to abdicate their responsibility to the MPAA to determine if something is okay for their children to watch? I don’t think I’m being too extreme when I say that I think we should each be responsible for what we do. I don’t think we should we are all responsible for everything and I don’t think we are all responsible for nothing. I don’t think we should be called upon to be responsible for or care about everyone but we should at least care about how family and those immediately around us. That’s all.