See No Evil

I find myself often accusing our society and my particular milieu of an unjustifiable reluctance to face the uglier elements of our culture. Movie and television studios pulling or changing programming after the tragedy in Newtown is a case in point. 

So why don’t we like to talk about unpleasant things? That’s not a rhetorical question. I am a firm believer in the old cliche about the path to hell being paved with good intentions – no one does more harm than a person with his or her heart in the “right place,” because that moral certainty allows us to act with centered confidence and sometimes turn a blind eye to unfolding realities. 

I’m not saying that pulling violent programming from the airwaves is the wrong move, per se. But it is a knee-jerk reaction. This isn’t quite like studios editing out scenes of Manhattan-based destruction in the wake of 9/11. The Twin Towers were a significant icon; what upsets us further about Sandy Hook is that it could have been any elementary school in any American suburb.

It is precisely that fact that makes me reluctant to endorse the studios’ move. Yes, it will be traumatizing for those affected by this tragedy to face anything related to it for a while, and in a way, every parent in this country is affected. Violence in our society is real and ongoing – many people were surprised by the list of gun violence victims President Obama outlined at yesterday’s press conference. Why shouldn’t we be forced to face the culture we have wrought? Are the studios acknowledging that perhaps they should not be putting out this kind of programming in the first place? If so, why did it seem okay to make it before? If not, why not stand behind it?

My theory is that, when something awful happens, we look at the issue for a split collective second. If an easy preventive solution appears, we jump on it. If not, we wait until the sad feeling subsides and go back to doing what we always did. Sometimes, thinking about the repeat of that pattern makes me reluctant to put my own reputation and career on the line for what I believe in.

My hope is that, by speaking out, I add to an increasingly noisy conversation that will someday be difficult to ignore. I put my ideas out there to test them against the perspectives and insights of others, with the hope that they will point out weaknesses and help me develop a more accurate view of things. I hope that those of us with patience can study the problems that afflict both men and women, so that when the time comes to really do something, we can present a solution that is a little bit easier to understand and implement. The honest debate over gun policy that is emerging now is, to me, an excellent sign. 

One thought on “See No Evil

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s