January 13, 2011

Bad Influence?

The story broke out that Jared Loughner, the Arizona shooter who killed 6 people and wounded many more including U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, watched a number of alternative media films that criticized the current society. The MSNBC article writes this in part;

"The boys listened to the heavy metal band Slipknot and progressive rockers The Mars Volta, studied the form of meditative movement called tai chi, and watched and discussed movies.
Loughner's favorites included little-known conspiracy theory documentaries such as "Zeitgeist" and "Loose Change" as well as bigger studio productions with cult followings and themes of brainwashing, science fiction and altered states of consciousness, including "Donnie Darko" and "A Scanner Darkly."

From my perspective this is the age-old, tried and tested tactic of blaming those sources that question the current paradigm without looking at the root causes. In the past music, violent video games and movies have also been blamed to be a bad inspiration. Charles Manson listened to the Beatles. Kids that listened to the rock band Judas Priest committed suicide. The 2 Columbine shooters listened to Rammstein (among other hard rock bands). These are all examples of where musicians were accused of having a bad influence on people who later on committed crimes. Is it that simple?

Zeitgeist the Movie is hailed as a 'bad influence' right now, prompting the creator of the movie Peter Joseph to make a statement. Honestly, I don't know if Zeitgeist was the tipping point for Jared Loughner. It could have been but when you've reached a point where a movie throws you into the abyss, a lot of things must have proceeded. Loughner's YouTube channel is still active. On his profile he mentions a number of books;

"I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno."

What strikes me when I read up on Loughner's profile is the wide range of subjects he explored. I'm almost inclined to believe that he somehow got 'lost' in the information, seeing how he delved in both sides of the political spectrum and how we ought to view society combined with more altruistic elements. His videos and the text that goes along with it also seems incoherent. If I didn't know any better I would think he's a paranoid schizophrenic, of course that is something to be determined by qualified physicians.
Maybe at this point we can ask ourselves; 'is it a single occurrence that leads to madness or is it a psychological chain of events?' Personally, I think it is the latter. People aren't born evil. When we grow up we are influenced by many elements. Our parents, school, media, friends and prevailing culture. 'Bad influences' can be found everywhere when you really contemplate this scenario. I think the truth is this. We are all products of the environment..., how horrific that may be at times.

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