The shooting had barely stopped at the Washington Navy Yard last week before the finger-pointing began. What societal force was responsible for this latest rampage of violence that left 13 people dead? Possible suspects included budget sequestration, violent video games, deficient care for the mentally ill, and the breakdown of the traditional family.
Instead of assessing blame, it would be far more productive for all of us, on both sides, of the great political and social divide in our country to start taking responsibility for reducing these increasing acts of violence.
I realize something in the following paragraphs will cause everyone to bristle, but that’s fine because the status quo (which President Ronald Reagan often defined as Latin for “the mess we’re in”) is clearly not working. It is going to take a coalition of all ideologies to solve the problem of escalating violence in our country.
Those of us who are identified as religious conservatives need to start speaking out against the celebration of violence in our culture as vehemently as we condemn abortion, sexual immorality, and other practices that we believe violate Biblical standards. Most parents would never dream of allowing their children to view a pornographic movie, yet think nothing of allowing them to watch gruesome acts of torture and murder on television or even be an active participant in those violent acts through video games.
When I was a child my father used to take me to the movies every Saturday to see a Western which always included its fair share of death. But those killings were as antiseptic as the love scenes between Doris Day and Rock Hudson during the same era.
Today’s movie and videogame mayhem is filled with explicit gore that has made violence the new pornography of our age.
Those of us who have platforms need to remind our audience that God detests violence. The Creator’s stated reason for destroying the world with a flood was not because of the rampant sexual immorality in the world, but because “the earth is filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).
Libertarians in our country are also going to have to acknowledge that while the Constitution provides very real freedoms for every American, none of those freedoms is absolute.
The Supreme Court has recognized that the First Amendment right to free speech does not allow someone to shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre, nor does that right give license to child pornography. It’s time to have a serious discussion about the merits of limiting or banning the production of violent movies and video games.
Likewise, the right to privacy that is implied in the Ninth Amendment needs to be interpreted in light of these violent attacks. Pastor Rick Warren, whose son suffered from mental illness and committed suicide, expressed frustration last week over privacy laws regarding medical records that hinder families from adequately caring for their loved ones. Those same privacy laws may have played a role in the government’s failure to flag shipyard shooter Aaron Alexis’ military clearance.
The right to bear arms that is guaranteed by the Second Amendment must be protected at all costs but should never be used as an excuse against reasonable background checks that might serve as a partial deterrent to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
Finally, secularists must acknowledge that there is a spiritual dimension of human beings that needs cultivating. Secularists’ unrelenting attempt over the last sixty years to rid the public square of any acknowledgement of God and His laws has not served the public interest. It is no accident that the oft-cited decrease in personal faith in God over the last several decades parallels the increase in violence and immorality that has infected our country. As Dostoyevsky wrote, without God “everything is permitted.”
With budget battles looming over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of opportunities for rank partisanship. But all of us need to own the responsibility for working together to lessen violence against our fellow human beings.