The Gun Nuts Ruin Crappy Television for Me

So, there I am watching Cold Case, which is one of those shows that one watches only so that one can properly enjoy the MadTV send-up of it, when all of a sudden it dawns on me that this particular episode is strangely biased against guns and violent video games.

You know how it came out a couple of years ago that the government had some kind of arrangement with Television that, if shows had a sufficient anti-drug message, they’d reap some governmental benefit?  I don’t remember the particulars, just that the government was encouraging shows to subtly preach that drugs are bad.

Watching this show last night?

I’ve begun to suspect that there may be a similar program against guns, if not also violent video games.

The premise of the episode was that there was a mall shooting, similar to Columbine, in which two deranged kids opened fire on a mall full of people, killing some number of them before killing themselves.  A video tape of the shooting appears after a number of years and it becomes clear that there was third person involved in the shootings in some regard, because the killers pass the camera off to that person before they start shooting.

It turns out that, right before the shooting, the local jocks gang-raped a girl and she was the one who encouraged the murderous kids to pick that day, of all days, to start their rampage.

The big plot hole being that they came to the mall with knapsacks full of guns.  Did they carry their arsenal with them every place, just in case one day they’d meet a girl who encouraged them to start shooting?  Did they plan on committing the murders that day and she just happened to coincidentally also be in a situation where she’d like them to start shooting?

I don’t know.  It was a big enough problem with the plot that I kind of couldn’t get past it. 

But so, the police go to interview the parents of one of the shooters and the whole point of the interview seems to be so that the police can make all kinds of snarky, judgmental comments about how come he needs such high-powered weaponry.  Now, if the police had wanted to make snarky, judgmental comments about how he’s a shitty gun owner for not noticing that his son seems to be carrying said weapons around with him 24/7, I’d be with them.

But this kind of gratuitous "If you’re such a good person, why do you own guns like that?" tone?  It just seemed weird.

And then, at the end of the episode, the girl who was the "trigger" for the killings goes to the mall with a gun and threatens to kill herself because she deserves to be punished, at which point, the main character has to go and deliver a heart-felt speech about how guns never just punish the person they’re aimed at, but punish all kinds of innocent bystanders.

All the while, mind you, the main character is armed and both characters are surrounded by an armed SWAT team.  It was really as if the moral of the show was that good people don’t need guns–only bad guys and the people supposed to protect us from bad guys need them.

Which, maybe even is also fine, as far as morals go, if you like your TV shows with morals.

But the thing is that the whole show seemed to be some meditation on just who’s to blame when something like this happens and the conclusion the show seems to come to is that the blame always exists outside the person.  

Why did those two kids open fire on a crowded mall?  According to the show, it’s because they had access to guns, because they played violent video games, because some girl told them to, because the jocks picked on them, because other people said they said they wanted to be famous etc. etc.  But the thing is that we never get to see what motivates them internally.  Were they crazy?  Angry?  Who knows?

And all the solutions that the show toys with seem then really hollow.  Would these kids have done that if they hadn’t had easy access to guns?  Would they have found some other way to wreck havoc?  Who knows?  They seemed deliberately indecipherable, which left the blame to be put on everyone but them.

I’m all for collectivity, in a lot of respects.  But this aspect of it troubles me deeply.  People are responsible for their own actions.  We can understand a lot about why they chose those actions and not others based on their circumstances, and, because of that understanding, we can and, I think, often, should feel some measure of sympathy for how they ended up doing what they did and should work to help other folks not end up in those circumstances.

But at the end of the day, each person must be responsible for his or her own actions.  It’s trite when the NRA says it, but it’s true.  If I deliberately aim a gun at you and pull the trigger, it is not, ultimately, the gun’s fault that I shot you. 

 It bothers me to see television shows devoted to proving otherwise.

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28 thoughts on “The Gun Nuts Ruin Crappy Television for Me

  1. law and order did one too. it had all the anti-gun cliches. White dude turns his ‘assault weapon’ into machine gun. Kills people. Files the barrel (so it can’t be balistically fingerprinted) and they have no case. go after gun dealer but the new law says they can’t.Totally lame and unrealistic.

  2. I blame you. You know, before I started reading you, I used to be able to watch crappy TV without thinking a thing about this shit. And now? Now I’m all "That’s not right."Thanks for nothing, there, Uncle.

  3. I am sending this womanhttp://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=11963417to your blog immediately. It disturbs me to read your blog and see something there that sounds like it came from the fecund libertarian mind of Uncle, Sarcastro, Blake or me. Have we slowly begun to possess you?Whether the answer is yes or no, I still think you’re right. I’m finding myself hysterically amused at the number of cop shows I’ve seen in the last year where (heavily armed) police chastise a lowly citizen. For owning guns. That’s to me even worse than the Guns=Bad message. It’s an even more hideous message of "We, the police, in order to protect your dumb ass from doing stupid shit, need lots and lots of guns. You dumb ass noncops have no business around guns at all."

  4. I sincerely think it’s Say Uncle. He has tainted my otherwise pure liberal soul with his gun nonsense. My first thought when the show ended was "Gosh, I bet if Uncle is watching this, he just kicked in his TV."

  5. Well. I love Cold Case. The part I (usually) like best about it is when Lily, at the end, ‘sees’ the victim and gets a sense of vindication. That did not happen on last night’s show; as it was, sadly, not that kind of an ending.As a parent, I also got both sides of the scenario. If it was MY kid who did something like that? I don’t know if I could ever get beyond the guilt or sense of personal accountability for such a thing, even if we had done our best to bring the child up ‘right.’ But how could a parent not know? How can you NOT keep better track on your kid to intervene BEFORE it got to that point? Yeah, teenagers are sometimes angry and confused, but, for God’s sake, parents need to be attuned to this shit before it gets out of hand. And yes again, I think if one has guns in their house, it foments a level of response that takes that into account. (I am pretty much VEHEMENTLY anti-gun, for what it’s worth, as least in those ways as it plays out in today’s society of violence.) That other chick, being the ‘trigger,’ as you put it, was just there, for…I don’t know what reason. She was just a person to blame, I guess, as she lived (in the story). And while I agree with people being responsible for their own actions, I have a bit of a problem with assigning that responsibility to kids 15, 16, 17, and 18 years old. Absolutely, they should have learned the basic tenets of adult responsibility by then. Like you don’t KILL a person, beat up a person, don’t rob a person, you know, the Ten Commandments sort of thing, even if you aren’t Christian. It’s just basic human decency. To have a kid be that off the charts, violence-wise, well, there certainly would have been signs before that. And yeah, also as a parent of two teenagers, I get the part about violent and misogynistic video games and videos and shit: I if I can’t protect my boys from it all the time, I do try my damdest to keep the dialogue open, at least. I can only hope I’m doing a decent job.The other part that pissed me off about last night’s show was having the girl ‘want’ or ‘condone’ the rape scenario, and then turn to the killers for ‘revenge.’Oy. It was all so fucked up I don’t know what to be enraged at first.

  6. "It’s trite when the NRA says it, but it’s true. If I deliberately aim a gun at you and pull the trigger, it is not, ultimately, the gun’s fault that I shot you."That’s a big statement coming from a liberal based person. You are letting the libertarian creep in little by little. The idea of personal responsibility for one’s actions is on the verge of dying out. Thank you for the mini-revival.But beware of the slippery slope-much like some religions-once you start to question the story lines in your telelvision shows and not just blindly accept the message they are trying to give you, they will lose all their interest and entertainment value.

  7. ‘"Gosh, I bet if Uncle is watching this, he just kicked in his TV."’I don’t watch TV much, and never watch crime dramas.’How about a compromise slogan: "Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people."’And so do people with cars, machetes, poison, etc. Seems the ‘people’ are the common denominator.

  8. OK, here’s a compromise. The gun nuts* allow us to regulate the ownership and use of guns as closely as we regulate the use and ownership of cars, machetes, and poison. Plus, we get rid of all TV shows that exist only to be mocked on MadTV, and promote The Wire until it becomes the country’s #1 show.*I do not use the phrase "gun nut" to mean "person who owns or fires guns, or who is a supporter of the Second Amendment along with all the other amendments making up the Bill of Rights," but to mean "person opposed to the regulation of guns."

  9. Your copy of the Constitution guarantees me the right to vote (well, I’m assuming it’s up to date and includes all the amendments), and yet we have (perfectly Constitutional) poll watchers. I’m just saying.

  10. The Wire will only be the #1 show in America when random yet nearly identical blonde women start handing out suitcases full of money to the people of Baltimore as they eat bugs and raise cute but insolent children.

  11. ‘Your copy of the Constitution guarantees me the right to vote’Err, no it doesn’t. It does state that you cannot be denied the right to vote based on race or sex. But it doesn’t enumerate any such right, as voting laws are generally left to the states.

  12. Was this the episode that aired the commercial clip where the blonde cop said, in an interragation room, "We can do anything we want. We’re the cops."? And people watched it without thinking that they were going to send strange moral tones about what citizens shouldn’t do that cops must?Clearly this is about how I prioritize my values, but I am less concerned about the anti-gun message (which I do actually agree is excessively stupid) as I am about the message that cops can do what they want, that we have to do whatever they say, that asking for a lawyer is tantamount to admiting guilt, etc. Didn’t I read about a show about lawyers overturning bad convictions & vindicating the innocent that were prosecuted for political & racist … reasons? Where’s more of those themes?

  13. We have laws regulating the exercise of all the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Why not the right to bear arms?

  14. ‘We have laws regulating the exercise of all the rights mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Why not the right to bear arms?’I don’t oppose regulation so long as said regulation is not designed to prohibit the law-abiding from excercising their rights.’Was this the episode that aired the commercial clip where the blonde cop said, in an interragation room, "We can do anything we want. We’re the cops."? And people watched it without thinking that they were going to send strange moral tones about what citizens shouldn’t do that cops must?’Heh. I’ve addressed that very thing many times.

  15. Professor–Yes, it was! And the worst part is that that kid wasn’t even a suspect, just a witness obviously still suffering from post-traumatic stress who wasn’t being as cooperative as they liked.Very icky.Peg, I get what you’re saying. But I think we’re blind, sometimes, to things that would never occur to us. My parents have never used drugs. They don’t even drink. Before the cops showed up at their house with drug dogs, I think they suspected that the boys were using, maybe, you know, experimenting, just a little.They certainly had no idea that the boys were dealing at the level that they were.And, both of them will tell you that, in retrospect, it seem embarassingly obvious. But it’s not something they’d ever think to do, so why would they ever think their kids would do it?

  16. "Didn’t I read about a show about lawyers overturning bad convictions & vindicating the innocent that were prosecuted for political & racist … reasons?"There was a show last year (I don’t think it’s still on) that was about overturning bad convictions. The bad convictions were always overturned by the lawyers finding the *real* criminal(s). So that, you know, there were no loose ends, and there had never been deliberate perpetration of injustice, and the actors were all pretty but couldn’t act and their hot sex lives were the continuing theme of the show. I watched it twice and gave up.There was also a show I liked a lot about juries–a different case and a different jury every week, with the bailiff and D.A.s and other court people recurring, and you saw the crime over and over from the juries’ point of view as their discussion advanced. I’ve been on a jury and it seemed very real to me. The show was a summer replacement, and didn’t get picked up in the fall, though.

  17. "I don’t oppose regulation so long as said regulation is not designed to prohibit the law-abiding from excercising their rights."That would separate you from the gun nuts, according to my definition.

  18. ‘That would separate you from the gun nuts, according to my definition.’I’m as gun nut as they get, and if you don’t believe me, I’ll shoot you. ;)

  19. In my book, that would mean that you had ceased to be law-abiding, and I believe that someone might well take away your right to bear arms. Now, are you going to jeopardize that right just because I don’t believe you? It’s your call, I guess, but that seems like an over-reaction to me. And it would put you in the category I call "hot-tempered," and also the category of "people I want to remember not to be around in states that permit concealed carry, especially if they get riled."And don’t even get me started on how I would retaliate.

  20. So was my response. Do you think I would calmly discuss the Constitutional ramifications of shooting me with someone who wasn’t joking about it?Or maybe you do think so. In which case my work at perfecting a humorless persona is done. (I’m sorry, but I don’t do emoticons–they make me crosseyed.)

  21. Uncle, I have a gun question. Do you answer emails from people you don’t know who have gun questions?Perhaps I should read your archives first. Maybe you covered it.

  22. "OK, here’s a compromise. The gun nuts* allow us to regulate the ownership and use of guns as closely as we regulate the use and ownership of cars, machetes, and poison."If my gun and my permit were as widely accepted as my car and my driver’s license, then I’m all for it.My driver’s license is valid in all 50 states; I can drive my car pretty much anywhere in the US, including New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, and almost every national park and monument.In addition, I don’t need a driver’s license to own a car, nor do I need to pass a background check at the dealership. I can own "high-capacity" vehicles such as vans or station wagons, or high-performance models like Ferraris or Corvettes (which are clearly designed to break the speed limit).Hell, I can even own an "inherently unsafe" car like the Corvair.So if that’s what you’re suggesting, it sounds good to me."I do not use the phrase "gun nut" to mean "person who owns or fires guns, or who is a supporter of the Second Amendment along with all the other amendments making up the Bill of Rights," but to mean "person opposed to the regulation of guns.""In my experience, they’re one and the same.

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