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Fear and Loathing Unto Death: Extreme Individualism, Shredding the Social Fabric, and the Sandy Hook Massacre

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 12/18/12

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Terror, whether state sponsored or anti-state in nature, represents the deliberate use of unbounded violence, including the use of torture and the deaths of innocents and many of one's opponents. The indiscriminate use of violence upon others, indeed, is a necessary and inevitable component of terror. It is one of the sources of its efficacy (such as it is): one is supposed to surrender to those who use terror because one could easily be the next arbitrarily and capriciously chosen victim. (Emphasis added. Pp. 211-212.)

In other words, Holmes' decision to shoot at people at random in a theatre is not "senseless" at all; it is instead a graphic expression of terrorism's essence, both as used by anti-state terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and by our government in its use of state terror. The point of terrorism is that the victims of it be randomly and capriciously chosen. This terrible incident in Aurora, then, if people are to grasp its underlying meaning, must be to alert us to the profound connection between the example being set by our leaders and this individual "mad man" engaging in copy-cat acts of what his government is doing every single day.

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If a society's leaders (e.g., its president and its corporate CEOs) and its leading institutions (e.g., its major media, Congress, Supreme Court) breach the rule of law, which is what began explicitly under Bush and has continued further under Obama - on the grounds of the "War on Terror," which will last indefinitely since it's a war on a tactic and you can't obliterate a tactic - claiming the right to carry out illegal, immoral, and unjust policies such as torture - then you have the following inevitable consequence:

Everyday people in the society, particularly those who are slightly unhinged, will begin to adopt the rationales and behaviors of those who lead their society and carry out acts of murder and mayhem. These individuals are, after all, merely following the lead of those in authority in committing acts of indiscriminate violence.

Update 7/27/12:

Obama announced yesterday that he was not going to pursue gun control in the wake of this mass killing/shooting. If ever there was a moment to seize an opportunity to use the outrage and pain of awful violence perpetrated against innocents, this would be it. But then, what can one reasonably expect from this man who has made his political career colluding with the powers-that-be and yielding most of the time without a real fight to the extreme right-wing's wishes, even while sounding invariably charming and disarming? The fact that this massacre can go unacted against other than through meaningless rhetorical platitudes by both major parties about the "senselessness" of it just underscores how much a mirror Holmes' actions are to the actions of these august leaders of our society and the daily killings that their actual policies reap.

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)

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