I now know what an addict must feel as he self-loathing
aims the needle at his vein for one more hit. We know we
are inflicting harm on every cell in the body, but we have
concluded there is no choice or hope for us. As part of
this self-hate, there is an urge to cry out and warn
I am not shooting dope. I saw the latest Batman spectacle.
I got my fix of violence. The lack of personal respect was
supplemented with the acute knowledge of the premeditated
Colorado killings at the midnight showing of the same
Tempered by my own failings, it is valid to comment on our
national devotion to cinema that graphically depicts
killings, shootings, fights, explosions and generalized
death and viciousness. The bodies become “TNTC” —
too numerous to count. The human imagination is boundless
in portraying the good and the bad, destroying one another
or a whole city of innocents.
The slaughter is projected on a giant IMAX screen, like a
building-tall killing field.
Why were there several children in the theater in which I
saw the film? If we are all addicted to violence, as we
seem to be, it still doesn’t justify morally and
developmentally damaging our children.
There are horrible stories from adults how their parents
introduced them to chemical addictions. We are all shocked
by such abominations, but we don’t seem to even
blink when we see parents expose their own to the violence
of video and electronic games, movies, TV shows, toys,
action figures and all forms of entertainment.
We take our children to shows depicting one human blasting
another to smithereens but cover their eyes to nudity. One
has to wonder about the connectivity between the surge of
feelings aroused in killing and hormones of stimulation
triggered by sexual scenes.
The mirror cells of our brains both watch and feel the
emotions displayed on the screen. We don’t just sit
in a darken cine passively; we live the action. We are the
shooters and the assassins.
There is little hope that our nation can or will save
itself from violence. There is way too much money to be
made to go after the dealers. A mythical war against
violence will fail as much as our attempts to defeat our
drug consumption or our attraction to pornography. The
failure will start with our devotion to the power of war,
thereby naming the crusade to halt vicarious and real
killing with a title of “War against …
Furthermore, we insult the altar of liberty by tossing
upon it the freedom to kill others with rapid-firing
weapons and Internet purchase of thousands of rounds.
We ridicule reason and mock the mourning when we
mindlessly chant, “The gun doesn’t kill
people; the shooter does.” In fact, it is the
physics of a high-velocity projectile emitted from the gun
barrel that penetrates the bodies of the victims and, in
an assortment of physiologically disruptions, halts the
action of a variety of organs that make it impossible to
carry on the necessary functions to sustain life.
For the shooter to perform this destruction of internal
human parts without the benefit of the weapon would have
been impossible. So perhaps we should blame the bullets.
It is our culture and mentality of violence that nurtures
the man pulling the trigger. Our children are raised on it
like their mother’s milk. We have become a nation of
addicts and apologists to the thrill of violence. Welcome
to the gutter; we have already purchased our tickets.
Joseph Cramer, M.D., is a fellow of the
American Academy of Pediatrics, practicing pediatrician
for 30 years and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the
University of Utah. He can be reached at
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