An article by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys:
Violence, Toxic Male Culture, and Enablers.
On 2019-MAR-15, there was another mass shooting. 1 This time, it was at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Early reports indicated that 49 people were dead, shot by a single gunman, who was quickly captured. He had White Supremacist papers on him. Later, another body was discovered at one of the mosques, bringing the total to 50 murdered.
Last night I watched a series of TV programs that I hadn’t seen before: "Chicago PD." I was disgusted. The main character on this show is a violent man, committing violence in the name of justice and saving innocents. This show is one example of how pervasive violence is in our culture and how it glorifies -- or to use a milder word excuses -- the "toxic male culture" in which tough, violent guys who commit their acts for their "good cause" are the good guys.
The actors and producers of this TV show are enablers, encouraging the toxic male culture that glorifies violence in the name of a "good cause"! To be fair this show isn’t the only "cop" show that glorifies or excuses violence when motivated in this way. The few episodes I watched of Blue Bloods does the same with one of its characters.
I suspect the mosque shooter, and the shooter at the in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue earlier this year saw themselves as the "good guys" committing their acts for their "good cause."
Then today (2019-MAR-15) there was more than one article on the Alternet website about a remark President Trump recently made that his "backers may have to use force against the left." The ‘left’ of course are the Democrats and anyone who opposes his plans. "Force," of course, can mean anything from using assault rifles, to fists in order to silence or rid the world of Trump’s enemies.
After the mass shooting in Aurora Illinois 2 some news reporter said there have been 37 mass shootings so far in 2019. I looked at the calendar and realized this was day 46 in 2019. Check out this article at the Vox web site: "In the year after Parkland, there was nearly one mass shooting a day." 3
Shortly after, an article by Jeffrey Salkin appeared on the Religion News Service website in which he offered prayers for those affected by these tragedies. It is titled: "A year after Parkland, we are all numb." 4
I thought: America doesn’t need prayers. We need people to take action.
Then an article written by D. Watkins of Salon which appeared on the AlterNet website titled: "We grew up afraid to be vulnerable: How Obama’s favorite film of 2018 helped one man discover his toxic boyhood masculinity." . 5
The writer told of his own experience in the "Toxic Male Culture" and his confrontations with the local bully. I hope people will read the article if it becomes available again.
One comment jumped out at me: A week after the writer had been beaten up by a bully, he used a heavy weight in a sock to retaliate against the bully. He said:
"The same people that laughed a week ago were cheering on as I stood over him still gripping the bloody sock."
At about this same time I was verbally attacked online by a virulent antisemite. No one came to my defense. I eventually commented about this and the antisemite's remarks were deleted from the website. I don’t know if I stirred others to action to give the person a down vote of disapproval (which can be done anonymously) or just stirred the website monitors to action.
For the record, I called a comment one man made to another antisemitic. So he turned his attacks against me. Bullies don’t like it when you stand up for the person they are bullying.
All of this made clear to me that the ONLY way we will stop these mass shootings, the online bullying, and bullying in schools and the work place is when people are willing to standup and say NO, what you are doing or saying is wrong. Violence is never the solution to our problems.
I have said something similar several times now in online chats when someone has called for an act of violence against another. Sometimes the hostile remarks are like: "they need to be taken out behind the barn and shot". Every time I speak up someone comes back with: "Are you telling me you would just lie down and allow someone to rape you?" I point out there is a difference between acting in self-defense and in being the aggressor in an action. AND I repeat never call for an act of violence against someone. There are crazy people out there that might take it upon themselves to carry out your request.
I wrote another essay "Small Men and Fear" for this website on 2019-JAN-15. It discusses how small, impotent Men and Women use threats of violence and acts of violence in an attempt to make themselves feel BIG.
There are studies that show that children that are bullied by a parent often become bullies themselves. If they grow up in a household where the father slaps around or beats the mother that is often the way they will treat the women in their lives.
Bullies and violent-prone people get away with it because there are also ENABLERS that either stand by and do nothing, or look the other way (out of sight out of mind), pretend nothing is wrong. Or they argue that free speech must be protected. I like to point out that there is a difference between Censureship and Censorship. The former just condemns an action or the perpetrator of an action as unacceptable, inappropriate, or wrong. HOWEVER whenever a comment calls for violence or threatens physical harm to a person Censorship is called for. Having the right to say or do something doesn’t mean it is the right thing to say or do.
There are arguments today about the right of the news media and social media to show the live video that the mosque shooter in Christchurch took of his mass shooting -- just like what someone would see in a video game. Except what happened wasn’t a game. Passing that video on to others is doing exactly what the shooter wanted you to do, you become an enabler helping to spread his message.
Then there are ENABLERS like the people mentioned in Mr. Watkins article 5 that actively encourage the violence and the bullying. We have seen many of this type of person in the audience at President Trump's rallies. Trump himself is an enabler, encouraging bad behavior from others.
Martin Niemöller (1982-1984) was a Lutheran Pastor in Nazi Germany. He is remembered for the following quote that he made in lectures shortly after World War II. It comes in various versions:
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." 8
Are you an Enabler OR are you willing to standup and say: NO, what you are doing or saying is wrong. Violence is never the solution to our problems.
This is the only way we can change this "Toxic male culture" that glorifies violence and eventually put an end to (or at least decrease) the numbers of mass shootings and other forms of gun violence in our culture.
When I first read Susan's article, I felt a bit uncomfortable with her references to " "toxic male culture." In my own writing, I always use a term like "human" in place of "male" or "female" where I can. But then, I realized that all of the mass shootings that I had written about on this web site involved a shooter who was male.
I did a Google search for "female mass shooter" and found an article in Time magazine that said that female mass shooters:
"... are exceedingly rare, according to a 2014 study by the FBI." 6 The study, which examined 160 active shooter incidents that occurred in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, found that just 3.8% of these attacks — six in total — involved a female shooter. An additional three incidents involving female shooters occurred between 2014 and 2016, according to FBI records. 7
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- There is no universally accepted definition of "mass shooting" in the U.S. However the most commonly used definitions involve 3 or 4 victims at a single location.
- On February 15, 2019, a mass shooting took place at Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois. Six people including the perpetrator died and six others were injured.
- German Lopez. "In the year after Parkland, there was nearly one mass shooting a day," Vox, 2019-FEB-14, at: https://www.vox.com/
- Jeffrey Salkin, "A year after Parkland, we are all numb," Religion News Service, 2019-FEB-14, at: https://religionnews.com/
- D. Watkins, "We grew up afraid to be vulnerable: How Obama’s favorite film of 2018 helped one man discover his toxic boyhood masculinity," Alternet, 2019-FEB. No longer online.
- "A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013," FBI, at: https://www.fbi.gov/
- "Active Shooter Incidents in the United States from 2000-2017, FBI, at: https://www.fbi.gov/
- Martin Niemöller, "First they came for the socialists," Holocaust Encyclopedia, undated, at: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/
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Original posting: 2019-APR-09
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys