Planet Waves | March 2018 | Monthly Forecast | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Planet Waves | March 2018 

The Mother of All Freedoms

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And with that, the gun debate begins again. The debate that, according to the NRA, is never appropriate right after a mass killing, but which never happens any other time.

"We have collectively decided this is the way we wish to live. This perverse form of American carnage is not our scourge but our brand," the Daily News wrote in its editorial the day after the shooting (published online February 14).

"In this, our country, we force our children to learn how to shelter in place, to endure active shooter drills, to practice lockdowns, engaging in a horrifying modern version of Cold War duck-and-cover exercises. In this, our country, the enemies are the killers in our midst. But the enemy, in a larger sense, is us. This is the world we created."

It's always interesting to listen to gun rights advocates make the case for weapons being generally available.

Under the prevailing twisted, paranoid, and politically naive concept of the 2nd Amendment, it's the mother of all freedoms, without which there would be no others.

In true "conservative" logic, freedom is used against the people who would be free, whether in the form of what amounts to a civil war waged by amateurs/freelancers acting under government policy, or a twisted interpretation of the First Amendment: Money is speech, religion is a weapon, and people have a right to lie to us.

This translates to: The 1st Amendment is the freedom to be lied to, and the 2nd Amendment is the freedom to be shot. They go together.

In logic more suited to the satires of J. P. Sears (of the "Ultra Spiritual" YouTube series), the equation is, "My freedom means I am free to have you be dead."

The Discarnate Condition: Death and Immortality

Many times in this column, I've quoted Professor Eric McLuhan, the son of Marshall McLuhan, the pioneer of media studies. McLuhan describes the way that media powered by electricity (from the light bulb to Twitter) pushes people out of their bodies. Under full digital conditions, this is like the experience of living on the astral plane. As he sees it, this is the main factor driving the world into its current state of social, intellectual, and political instability.

He believes mass shooting incidents are increasing in frequency due to what he calls the "discarnate condition," which imitates the condition of death. "You're out of the body. You've left the body behind, so that prepares the ground for all kinds of things. But for the kids, it's particularly disorienting because they're just growing into their bodies."

Many have pointed out the connection between violent video games and violent actions. Professor McLuhan says this is as much about the structure of the game as it is about the content.

"The technology is discarnating, and the video game itself gives them a role instead of an identity. And they play the role. When they play the role, they think they are this person, or this character. The violence is to establish and maintain that identity. It's no surprise that when you pull the plug, they're still in the role."

He added: "Roles are corporate, not private, so it prohibits private awareness and private identity, and that's not very good for teenagers because they're trying to find out who they are. Violence is almost always a response to a loss of identity or a need to forge an identity or recapture an identity, and the violence can be slight, or it could be huge, like this. The kid says, 'I'll show them,' meaning 'I'm going to assert myself.'"

Notably, the condition of being "discarnate" might also lead one to feel like they're immortal, which is how one might have the ambition to be a "professional school shooter."

Then there's the issue of SSRI-type medications. These meds come with a suicide warning for teenagers, and there is a correlation between mass shootings and perps who are on these meds. There's a movement to compel drug companies to package these products with a murder and suicide warning, since they're so often involved with both.

"SSRIs push people inward, and when they get there, there's a vacuum," Professor McLuhan said. "Being pushed inward is not the same as private identity." A private identity has the capability of relating rather than merely being isolated or trapped inside oneself. Teenagers often live with the feeling of being isolated, so this does not offer any help.

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