An excuse is not the same as a reason. A reason is simply, WHY. An excuse is the why with blame buffers applied to diffuse the reason.
There are reasons things happen, there are excuses for why things happen and there are things that have neither reason nor excuse, they simply happen. Not just in America but all over this planet whenever something happens that we as people can’t just accept, there HAS to be a REASON it happened or at the very least an excuse for WHY it happened. Events simply can not happen because they happen, that is to simple of a way of thinking, there is always someone or something that caused or set in motion the events that caused it. I have to ask why this is? Why is it that when a crazy man goes on a shooting spree or a cult commits mass suicide that it can’t simply be a crazy man went on a shooting spree or a cult committed mass suicide? Why does there always, and I mean always, have to be some cultural/societal/media/pop culture reason that happened? You don’t do this when an earthquake hits so why do this when crazy people act crazy? Is there a cultural reason that a volcano erupts? Then why does there have to be a cultural reason when an undiagnosed crazy person similarly erupts?
Humans love to hunt witches both historically and metaphorically. Face it, we do. We love to blame some person/object/plant/event/product/trend for anything and everything that we perceive as wrong. We look past the obvious and real causes that trigger the effect and we can’t deal with the fact that the very structure of our society is usually the cause at issue. The recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is a perfect example. In reality a crazy person who remained undiagnosed as such and with to much access to guns snapped and killed roughly 30 people, most of them children. This is a true tragedy in every way but in true American fashion we refused to look at the mental disease this person had (coupled with the social rejection he felt as part of that mental illness); we instead chose to blame the fact that he liked video games as the EXCUSE for his actions. To the mass populace and the mass media it was video games that were to blame for all of this… not the mental issues, not the mom who was a conspiracy nut and survivalist, not the almost Norman Bates like hold she had on the shooter… nope, it was that he liked video games. It’s just that simple and with that a witch hunt was born.
We love these kind of witch hunts as I stated previous. Not just the literal ones (1692 I am looking at you) but the more esoteric ones too. In the 1950’s psychiatrist Fredric Wertham decided that comic books were the reason for juvenile delinquency in the united states. His basis for this? Most (if not all) of his children patients loved comic books so therefore comic books are the reason for them having mental issues. Boom, case closed. This of course ignores the MILLIONS of law abiding and great kids out there at that this time that read comics as well but who I am to wedge facts into a witch hunt huh? He wrote a book called Seduction Of The Innocent which spread through this country like a plague and caused massive comic book burnings, comic book fans being exiled to the far corners of the social stratum and nearly caused the entire comics industry to collapse… all because we needed something to blame as to the growth of juvenile delinquency. No, it was not the war or even more rampant poverty that caused this. It could not have been parental arrogance and ignorance coupled with the red scare and fascist fears in the US. I HAD to be comic books.
This very same thing is now happening to the video game industry in response to Sandy Hook. We don’t want to address the real issues so we find a convent witch to burn, in this case the video game industry. In just the few weeks since Sandy Hook, video games have been blamed for this as a cause on every news program, some communities are banning coin-op video games from public display, another tried to have a good old Seduction Of The Innocent style collection and burning of games, the vice president of the united states is “meeting with video game companies” about this. ALL OF THIS LAYS THE BLAME FOR SANDY HOOK ON VIDEO GAMES, NOT ON MENTAL ILLNESS AND PARENTAL INCOMPETENCE. I have not heard a SINGLE person talk about needing to help the mentally ill from this, just that VIDEO GAMES DID IT. It makes me sick to see this kind of shit happen. Post Sandy Hook should have resulted in a greater understanding of mental illness and more help for the crazies out there but it instead resulted in video games being brandished with a scarlett letter and getting potentially censored. After the Hal Bop morons went all Scifi Jonestown it was movies and books that caused it, not the clearly fucking insane people that did it. Nope, there always is blame to be assigned. Crack is the reason that the 1980’s drug business boomed, and while that is true it also ignores the issues that made crack not only so lucrative but also enticing to those that sought it out. Nope, it’s just that drug itself, not those that prey upon their own kind, not a criminal justice system that is about as racist as they come, not thugs with no regard for human life looking for a fast buck, it’s movies and rap that caused it.
Why is it so goddamn hard to lay blame where the blame exists instead of finding some convenient and easy thing (usually something tangential such as video games or comic books) to assign blame to? After Columbine you had music and video games blamed same as with Sandy Hook. With Columbine though you had music that the killers never even listened to or liked blamed for their actions, now THAT shows just how far people are willing to go to avoid looking a the real issues. Real issues like just how easy it is to amass an arsenal of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition when you are clearly mentally ill (not just Sandy Hook but Aurora as well). Real issues like how survival nuts and gun nuts are a far greater threat to freedom and safety then Call Of Duty is. Real issues like getting true mental illness diagnosed and controlled instead of pawning off these people to the dark corners of society where you no longer have to look at them (out of sight out of mind right)…
As a culture we don’t want to be forced to deal with mental illness, social isolation or any of the real problems we face, we want a scapegoat to blame as the excuse so we can continue to ignore the reason that these things happen.