Murder for Fun
|September 1, 2013||Posted by Fred Foldvary under Editorials|
Something is very wrong with American culture, when three bored teenagers murder a human being for the fun of it. Something is shockingly wrong when that murder has gotten little social response. The outrage that erupted with the killing of Treyvon Martin, the African-American teenager, has been missing in the U.S. in the case of the murder of Australian student Chris Lane. The teenagers who killed him said they were bored, and were looking to kill someone for fun.
This murder for fun is symptomatic of cultural emptiness and social breakdown. There needs to be a study of the killers’ home life and the community they live in. They and other teenagers like them lack empathy. They did not become truly social. Their communities are violent gangs.
We need to understand how in America there are bored teenagers who have nothing they want to do other than going and killing people. Children raised in good homes and neighborhoods have plenty to do. Well-raised young people have hobbies – collections, sports, music and art. Well educated teenagers read books, play chess, go to dances, take part in scout hikes, sort their rock collection, take their dog out for a walk, do homework, work in part-time jobs, and have conversations with friends.
Bored teenagers indicate a loss of community and cultural life. In traditional village life, teenagers work in farms or help in shops, help cook, go to church, study, and play football. It really does take a village to raise a child, but government is not a village. The village has been replaced by mass society and bureaucracy. Teenagers create their own village, but in the lethal form of gangs. Teenage boys have to join a gang for protection, and they in turn become criminals.
The main media response to this killing for fun has been calls for more gun control. The pundits look only at the weapon and ignore those who pull the trigger. There are places with strict gun control that still have high crime. The prohibition of guns fails when there are already millions of guns in the gangosphere.
The traditional village integrated social life, religion, governance, and culture. In today’s cities, there is government, but little governance. There are laws and prohibitions and taxes, but no social organization. We have isolated families, many without fathers, under some distant bureaucracy. The police arrive after a crime is committed but cannot really maintain order.
To recreate the village, we need to radically change the structure of governance. We need to decentralize governance down to a local neighborhood council. The village would then create clubs and organize activities and meetings. The villagers would know one another and provide help when needed. Single-parent families would have friends and neighbors to provide role models. The town where this killing took place, Duncan, Oklahoma, has a population of 24,000, but a village would have at most about a thousand persons.
The massive surveillance of communications by the U.S. government did not prevent the Oklahoma killing for fun. One of the teenagers had tweeted that they wanted to kill someone. Often there are warnings when thugs or disturbed people are contemplating a crime. But the warnings are not heeded, because what can anyone do? There is no village governance to which one could report.
Teenagers should not be overly controlled, but neither should they be out of control. We need to think about social structure and our culture of violence. Cruelty and torture are freely expressed on television, but human bodies are banned. Something is very deeply wrong with American culture and society when teenagers get fun from killing rather than from social life and culture.