Joseph Cramer, M.D.: Batman and America's addiction to violence
Ron Phillips, Associated Press
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 others.
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 movie.
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 ... whatever.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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