Thursday, April 19, 2007


Violence, in the U.S., is an institution unto itself. So I think we have to be careful not to let our grief for the victims become an inadvertent homage to the criminal act or the criminal actor. Our loathing of the perpetrator blinds us. We see madness--a complex condition with individual and social origins--and call it "evil." We see television and movies, and call them "fun." We see poverty, hunger, starvation, death, repression, and call them, alternatively, "business," "democracy" and "economics."

In a society in which the cult of the individual explains all, Americans too often come to the conclusion that the anecdote is more important than the trend. Because of the insanity of one person (to the degree to which such a thing exists), we will be told how violence is getting worse when in fact it is getting better:

New rule for journalism school: several courses in social statistics.

Meanwhile, how far has the gap between rich and poor grown? How many people have died trying to cross the border? How many Iraqi children are in their graves? How many American's are without insurance? The perpetrators of these crimes have no courts, except those for which they appoint the judges.