Are random shootings part of the American culture?

by camille.hebert on September 18, 2013 - 12:33pm

Those mass murders like we saw in Boston, or at the primary school in Connecticut last year seem to happen more in the United States than in any other industrialized country. The American population is getting used to it.

After the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, who made 12 victims on September 16, life seemed pretty calm in the city. Nobody made a big deal of the event, not because they were not aware of it, but because they’ve already heard many others like that. According to the past years, we can expect 3 of 4 big ones every year in the United States, and that’s without counting the many small ones that are not covered by the medias. The perpetrators are often the same type; middle aged men, considered mentally ill, who suffered from isolation, intimidation or a job loss. However, people all around the world can mentally suffer at a point in their lives, but that doesn’t make them go out and shoot random victims. Jack Levin, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston who has studied mass murderers thinks: “It’s about American society and American culture.” In America, the neighbourhood life disappeared and let place to the search of better jobs and money. There is no more sense of community and people don’t know where to turn to when they are in trouble. In the U.S., there is practically no job insurance and no free health care. That’s why when some individuals feel desperate, they take their vengeance by opening their fire towards the American Society.

This article made me see another side of this American phenomenon. A big debate took place in regards to the control of fire arms, but this might not be the source of the problems, just like the issue about violent video games and movies. A lot of other countries, like Canada, have those two elements, but we don’t have as much shooting as in the United States. I think the pursuit of money and power should take less place in the life of American people and they should concentrate a bit more on the human side. Basic services like healthcare and job insurance should be put in place to fight the feeling of loneliness.



Your article is very well written and pertinently addresses the disturbing reality that random shootings are on the rise and have become part of the American culture in today’s society as suggested by your expert criminologist. Even more disturbing is how American society has become complacent and accepts this uncontrollable violence as normal. While I am an avid supporter of increasing social programs that target health care and job insurance, I disagree with your rationale that this will solve the rampant violence. I believe that discussing the concept of violent masculinity and socialization of boys in today’s society will provide insight into why 80.4% of perpetrators arrested for these horrendous, violent crimes are men (US Dept. of Justice). The Patriarchal worldview stresses that men are to be: dominant, powerful, and virile and must embody these attributes in order to be considered “real men”, we see this message in films, violent video games, and advertising. Men, of all ages, perform this duty by conformance to the guidelines of the “man box” which outlines the four tropes of hegemonic masculinity: violence, power, sexuality and stoicism. This modern masculinity encourages men to be violent (in actions and words) not only towards women (seen as sexual objects) but towards “weaker members” of society in their quest to claw their way towards success. This male socialization begins at a very young age “Be a man”, “Big boys don’t cry”; this message teaches boys that showing emotion is considered feminine and weak and should be avoided otherwise their masculinity will be questioned. It should be no surprise that this socialization leads boys to becoming men that are emotionally inept and violent. As a society we must steer away from this hegemonic masculinity through education. Exposing the destructive consequences of the “man box” will encourage men to express their vulnerabilities without social stigma, before these men reach their breaking point and define themselves through violent crimes.

Some interesting articles to further your understanding: