Monday, thirty-two people were killed by a gunman on the campus of Virginia Tech. I started writing this Tuesday morning — waiting for the conservative argument I knew was coming. By the time I got home Tuesday afternoon, Digby had already spotted it.
We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals—and humans—arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people’s thinking. In fact, the more a culture allows the killing of the unborn, the more we will see people treating life in general as “cheap.”
I’m not at all saying that the person who committed these murders at Virginia Tech was driven by a belief in millions of years or evolution. I don’t know why this person did what he did, except the obvious: that it was a result of sin.
Previously, in the wake of Columbine, this same nutbar had this to say.
The more the foundation for Christian morality was attacked and removed, and the more students were taught there were no absolutes, the more their world-view reflected this change.
These are ingredients for powerful ‘bombs’ to explode, resulting in hatred of Christians and the devaluing of human life, leading to killing one’s fellow man and suicide. Now it’s not that a student wakes up one morning and says, ‘There’s no God, and I’m just an evolved animal, so there’s nothing wrong with killing students and teachers.’ The longer that generations of young people grow up in a culture whose education system is devoid of Christianity and pervaded by evolutionary philosophy, the more possible that an increasingly large subset of these students will eventually act out in accord with the foundation they’ve been given for their understanding of life. It is not just the schools that are giving the ingredients for ‘bombs’ to the students.
Remember John Walker Lindh? He’s the kid for California who turned up in the trenches in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban. According to these same wingnuts, Mr. Lindh was so morally confused in our “permissive” liberal culture, that he couldn’t tell the difference between dirty hippies engaging in bacchanalian orgies of “free love,” and Islamic fundamentalists who whip women for showing bare skin on their forearms.
Make no mistake, the above analysis scapegoating “liberals” and their “moral relativism” is coming. Forget the “gun control” argument. No university campus is going to even think about allowing its students to pack heat on campus — especially now. Meanwhile, making this tragedy an opportunity to advance the “culture war” will not be missed. Conservatives are constantly braying about the “filth” coming out of “liberal” Hollywood, undermining the virtues of patriotic Americans. Why it’s just one continuous stream of sex, violence, and profanity poisoning the minds of our children — who then go to school and receive a healthy dose of moral ambiguity from their secular nihilist school teachers. No one is being taught a “clear difference between right and wrong.” Instead, the “liberal media” is poisoning our minds with messages of licentious self-indulgence. The “liberals,” of course, are behind it all.
This conservative narrative of the root of “evil” in American society is so convoluded, one scarcely knows where to begin. I will start with a simple observation about the basic relationship between Hollywood and the government. There is barely any relationship at all. The entertainment industry is practically unregulated. Even such systems as ratings for movies, music, and video games, are imposed by the media on itself.
Conservatives overlook another interesting fact about the entertainment business. It is pure “free market” capitalism. All that morally bankrupt nihilism on the silver screen is bought and paid for by the movie going public. It is nothing more than supply and demand in action. Hollywood teen sex and slasher movies are produced for one simple reason. That’s what people want to watch. As for television, conservatives never seem to get around to asking who pays for it. Jerry Bruckheimer doesn’t get grants from the National Endowment For The Humanities. Neither is George Soros subsidizing the daily output of shit-coms, cop shows and “reality TV.” Every bit of that schlock is financed by American corporations like Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola — not to mention all the Insurance Companies, oh and Wall Street brokerages who run 12 minutes of commercials for every hour of electrical shit beamed into your living room.
But wait, forget the shows. What is the content of the commercials? Right now, the Arby’s fast food chain has a commercial the gyst of which is that a couple of zookeepers allowed all the zoo animals to escape. Why? They were so engrossed over a fucking fast food sandwich, that they lost all ability to behave responsibly. That is fairly representative example of the constant message from corporate television advertising, namely, “indulge yourself by buying our shit.” If it weren’t for sex and self-indulgence, Madison Avenue would go out of business. Madison Avenue has one overriding desire when deciding where to place its commercials, namely how many eyeballs will see it. If they choose such culturally enlightening outlets for their commercials as the Jerry Springer Show it is simply because lots and lots of Americans like watching that kind of crap. Whatever moral bankruptcy you find in entertainment, it is bought and paid for by capitalists in their never ending quest for customers.
The moral bankruptcy of corporate capitalism doesn’t end there. Indeed, it is fair to say that moral bankruptcy is inherent in the corporate form of doing business. Here, listen to Milton Friedman, who explains the be all and end all of the business corporation.
The discussions of the “social responsibilities of business” are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that “business” has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense.
He goes on to patiently explain that corporations exist to “maximize profit.” That is all they exist to do. That mandate translates into maximizing the selling price for whatever goods or services command the biggest market. It then translates into avoiding and reducing costs anyway possible. Scrubbers on the smokestacks cost money. So does cleaning up toxic waste dumps. So does providing healthcare benefits and old age pensions to your workforce. So does paying them a living wage, when coulees can be found in the third world. So does promoting “democracy” in those third world cheap labor cesspools, when local authoritarians will keep the coulees suitably intimidated. That’s why Nike paid 25 cents an hour for Indonesian workers — kept from organizing by Indonesian government goons. That’s why rightwing hoodlums in Colombia recently went on a campaign of murder directed at labor organizers in Columbia. Who was the beneficiary of this violence? Why, Coca-Cola, that’s who — the same Coca-Cola whose contribution to American culture is sponsorship of American Idol.
When you add the power of the US government to corporate profit maximizing overseas, that’s when the bloodshed gets really serious. Coca-Cola paid goons might kill a few dozen union organizers in Bogata, but it takes US government backing to kill 50,000 people in Chile [on behalf of Anaconda Copper], or 100,000 people in Guatemala [on behalf of United Fruit Company], or 2,000,000 people in Southeast Asia. All of that mayhem was supported in order to make the third world safe for American corporations to extract the mineral wealth, clear cut the forests, keep the work force chained to the oars, and keep the markets open to sell the locals lots of tennis shoes, Coke, electronic gadgets, and the Hollywood movies and CD’s to play on them. That is the corporate imperialism and cultural pollution that regimes from the fundamentalist Taliban, to the communists in Cuba are trying to save their countries from. According to the conservative “clear sense of right and wrong,” corporate imperialism including spreading that cultural pollution is “good.” Any regime that resists it is “evil.”
As for us liberals, we’re the one’s who complain about the amoral predation on the part of corporate America. We’re the one’s who say that companies ought to pay their workers a living wage. We’re the one’s who say that air and water pollution are moral concerns, and that corporate polluters ought to take responsibility to clean up their own mess. We’re the one’s who say that investing twenty or thirty years of your time and energy in a company ought to entitle you to health care and a retirement pension. We’re the one’s who say that marketing high trans fat, sugar laden, hydrogenated, processed shit to children using cute puppets or cartoon characters isn’t good business, it’s morally reprehensible. We’re the one’s who hold our government to the same human rights standards overseas that our constitution supposedly guarantees us here at home. Conservatives respond to these real moral concerns over the conduct of business corporations and their US government enablers by calling us — get this — “sanctimonious.” This from the same crew who call us “nihilists” because we have no “clear sense of right and wrong.”
So, if you’re are looking for the source of “moral confusion” that might lead a young man to commit barbarous acts, don’t look at us progressives. Brutality in the third world happens everyday — courtesy of US supported hoodlums, if not elements of our own military at places like Abu Ghraib. As for the cultural violence churned out of Hollywood, it’s all brought to you by the same corporate sponsors whose profits are fairly drenched in human blood. They’re the one’s in desperate need of a “clear sense of right and wrong.” If the Virginia Tech shooter learned his moral lessons from anyone, he studied at their feet, not ours.