1. I don’t think we can blame any one thing. And if we want to ban books on the account that they could have a bad influence on someone, there are very few, if any, books that could stay in circulation. Even if a book (or anything really) is perfectly good and innocent, it can be used in a bad way. Take fandoms for example. My Little Pony is pretty clean, but from what I hear there are a lot of people that make extremely crass jokes, or very violent and perverted fan works. There was also a piece of software released as a reference for artists. It was basically for 3d mannequins that they could pose for referencing purposes. Some people started posing the mannequins in kinky ways, taking screenshots, and sharing them online. A lot of times it just really isn’t the fault of the product and more about how people respond to it.

    Another question is if stories cause more harm or more good. It’s very upsetting to hear about mass shootings, but the vast majority of people have probably been influenced by media in positive ways, whether or not they realize it. And a lot of times, media can be violent without glorifying it. Fate Zero is very dark and violent, but depicts violence as a very bad thing. It shows the dark tragedy of the world, and how each of the chars deal with it. But maybe there’s cruddy people out there that would only focus on the violence and not the story’s message.

    Authors should be conscious of how their work can affect others, but in most cases it wouldn’t make sense to hold them directly responsible. (especially when people want to shout Death Of The Author! And act as if the story is DEFINITELY saying something entirely different than what the author intended)

    Stories might even be able to dig us out of this pit we’re in, as far as violence goes, by helping people learn that it’s wrong and all that. But it’s very hard to do that without discussing and depicting violence, and some people will still committ violence no matter what we do. But even then, though, simply finding a violent book in someone’s locker doesn’t mean that that was the direct/primary cause. The shooter could even use the book as an excuse, but in many cases it’s probably way more than that, such as having negative things and disappointments in their life. Or maybe they love violent stories because they were violent people to begin with.

    This could branch out into other discussions, though. Should authors have to put trigger warnings and such in front of their books? That can only go so far, since it can be hard to know exactly what could trigger someone to committ suicide or whatnot.

    • notleia says:

      Well, we know that El Paso was a racist sh*thead. Dayton is a bit of a puzzler, because besides being white, male, and a sh*thead, he didn’t leave much by way of clues. He liked anime and Bernie/Warren. Maybe he was an incel? I think someone would have mentioned that, because people like answers for questions like these.

      Culture and media are interconnected, so it’s hard to blame one without the other. Culture influences media, and media influences culture.

      • Maybe, but the way it influences culture is so complicated. One mistake people seem to make sometimes is to look at one part of media and assume it only has negative effects, and then demand that it gets banned or tossed out.

        In some ways it comes back to the issue that I mentioned earlier. People blame the media for depicting bad things, like violence. Media is a valuable tool for solving societal problems like violence, but it’s hard to critique issues like violence without allowing those things to be depicted and discussed…and any shows that discuss or depict this are at risk of being blamed for society’s ills.

        Perhaps in some ways the popularity of more character driven stories can help. A lot of the more popular stories now days seem to be less about action and violence just for the sake of it and more about social issues and what’s going on in the chars’ heads and hearts.

        So from that standpoint, even if a show is violent, it can help people learn more about the human condition and become better for it, have more compassion for others, etc. The only problem is that some of those stories will depict the thoughts and feelings of chars that make bad decisions, too. That’s important for helping people understand why bad things happen that way we can fix them, but some might still say such chars inspire bad people, whether or not that’s true.

        Also…I don’t know. Can we really say the violence is part of our culture? It really isn’t. Yeah, we depict it in the media, maybe we have some of the machismo types you rail against, but overall our society decries real life violence as a bad thing and doesn’t consider it culturally acceptable.

  2. Some truly evil people twist scripture passages to justify their wickedness. Satan did this when he tempted Jesus.

    Now if I wrote a manifesto saying, “Please murder Group X,” that would be a wicked thing to do even if no one carried out this idea.

    On the other hand, people murder because of the wickedness in their own hearts. They will be held accountable regardless of murderous manifestos that inspired them. Or goofy comic strips. Or the Word of God warped and twisted.

    • Kirsty says:

      I read a story in which some kids decided it was OK to temporarily abandon their aunt’s dog in a quarry because Joseph’s brothers put him in a pit, and if it’s in the Bible it must be OK 😀

What do you think?