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19 April 2007

"Unhappy-Headed Cho", or, "The Cho Video(s), Free Speech, and Flak"

Yes, I feel badly for the victims' families. Of course. I'm serious. I also don't like cancer, the neocons' unending rampage, the Nazi holocaust, al-Qaida, existential pain, aging, or regret. I'm serious about that, too.

Isn't that amazing to find out? Do we all have to go around the table and say that over and over again? Just to make sure we're in the in-group? My god, it hasn't stopped for 9/11 yet -- to say nothing about other older tragedies. The emotional reaction for those not personally involved ought to stop after a couple of days so thought can set in. I realize this is a radical concept to some.

Now, can we talk about some actual news, please? Or: how best to prevent, if possible:

  • other mass shootings (gun control/ammo control, anyone? better mental healthcare system, anyone?);
  • environmental triggers for cancer, and not just promulgate genomic grant applica -- I mean, promises;
  • air strikes, possibly nuclear, on, say, oh, I don't know...um...Iran?;
  • genocide, or the abuse of the same for current political cover;
  • terrorism of all kinds, state- and otherwise....
Can't do much about the last three (i.e., existential pain, aging, and regret). Human condition. See Lapham below.

I know, I know...many people are talking about real issues. Not nearly enough. The Princess Di syndrome? Rubbernecking- plus-sticking one's head in the sand? There's an image; perhaps it's apt. The rough beast of humanity burrowing toward Armageddon -- to die?

Anyway, the link above describes why the police didn't want the Cho videos shown.

On first thought, I agree that it shouldn't have been shown, but not for the reasons this cop offers. Wrong, as per usual. It's not that they are disturbing -- that's the line on why we citizens are incapable of seeing images from Iraq. We just can't handle such violence and must be protected!

Which is a steaming pile of horseshit -- if we did see images from Iraq, the OTs, etc., we'd demand an end to the fighting! Any majority of a sufficiently large population of humans would. Unless, of course, Orwell was right. Which he probably was. But I'd like to test that theory.

I saw clips of the videos in a diner this morning with Donna, and the first thing I said was, that is totally irresponsible and reprehensible. Why not just egg on copycatters -- especially since the videos themselves, and the reporting around them, emphasized how this was "inspired" by Columbine?

Even Amy Goodman ran parts of the video. That surprised me.

This is different from banning the filming of caskets from Iraq and such, I think. Even if copycatting dangers are overblown, the only reason to show these videos is essentially pornographic. They should be studied by professionals, not ogled by moralistic masses frothing with prurient interest. What would Nietzsche have made of this? To say nothing of Freud? To say nothing of the TV and film marketers currently kicking "dramatization" ideas around the table, studying demographics.

I'll also note that zero sympathy has been shown for Cho in American media, that I've seen. Maybe that's a lot to ask of Americans. We do so love our Satans but we're not real good at the Jesus part of the theology, are we?

I find the whole thing sad, on many levels beyond the obvious, not least of which is the way in which some victims are worthy and others are not (meaning, the 33 V-Tech victims versus the hundreds a day in Iraq, who don't get multimedia flash presentations that humanize them on the NYT website).

Furthermore, you'll be unsurprised to learn (if indeed this is news to you) that the main angle on the videos has been Cho's "anti-rich bias" -- if I recall the words of the MSNBC talking haircut this morning aright. I assume the right-wing noise machine is deploying as I type to link this mad, sad act to all dissent. You know, like how lesbians caused 9/11.

Did you read Lapham's latest in Harper's? Not online (yet); essentially, he calls Americans children, quoting Cicero re: a lack of historical knowledge:
Cicero: Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.

Lapham: For Cicero, as for Arthur Schelsinger, history was not a nursery rhyme. Actions have consequences, one thing leads to the next, and sooner or later somebody's head shows up on a scaffold or a coin. Children don't see why they should be bothered to work out either the logic or the mechanics of the problem. Why take the trouble to remember what happened yesterday on channels 5 thorugh 9 when tomorrow is available on channels 12 through 24? The national shortage of adult minds suits the purposes of a government that defines its task as a form of child-rearing and guarantees the profits of the consumer markets selling promises of instant relief from the pain of thought, loneliness, doubt, experience, envy, and old age. A country so favored by fortune is one in which no childhood gets left behind. A self-regarding electorate asks of its rulers what the rich ask of their servants: "Comfort us." "Tell us what to do." The wish to be cared for replaces the will to act, and in the event of bankruptcy or rain, travelers stranded on the roads from here to there can send an owl with a message to Harry Potter.
Righto. I feel like I'm surrounded by babies -- even my Sicilian doctor, as he was removing a lipoma that had started to hurt from my forehead was agreeing that we desperately need single-payer national health care but that Americans demand everything yesterday, and so can't wait when there's no medical reason not to wait. This is true.

Finally, like the Imus affair, this story, while sad, is essentially not newsworthy anymore. Thus, it is flak, intentional or not. Millions are threatened with death in Iran; Iraq and Afghanistan are messes; plenty of other issues worldwide, if calculated only by actual or potential body-count, demand our mature attention. But the 33, and endless disputations on the soul of Cho (now that the soul of Imus has been well and truly divined), and any other sequelae from this sad event that will garner ratings, will fill the airwaves, national mental bandwidth, and water-cooler chatter for another couple of weeks -- or more.

Update: Who, exactly, is sicker, Cho or McCain?



Be prepared to back up your opinion with argument.

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