While not undocumented, it is a tenuous string that connects rock- and-roll music to the seemingly increasing urge to light up a high school with a shotgun.
To listen to society's critics we, as a people, have blasted down the highway of moral relativism, carefree to the ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, et cetera. The secret hope of these critics is to slam on the brakes, throw it into reverse and head back about 40 or 50 years. If you'll recall this was the same plan of attack against rock music in the '50s, drugs in the '60s, sex in the '70s, and all three in the '80s.
The conservatives of our day hope these shootings will act as a wake-up call, much the way they hoped aids would end the sexual revolution.
Fifteen dead in Colorado will stop the joyride, the critics pray. They see us teetering on the edge of the abyss. Unless we pull back, we shall crash into the depths of human depravity.
Which brings us to Taber.
The Taber shooting, which involved a killing within a high school, was the first crime of its type in Western Canada in 25 years. This fact has drowned in a torrent of mourners who lament the death of small town life. Aside from the infrequency of this sort of violence, another overlooked truism arises from this fact: a similar crime happened 25 years ago-when Marylin Manson was in diapers.
The highest number of fatalities in a shooting spree was a McDonald's restaurant in Los Angeles in the mid '80s with 39 fatalities. But a more interesting rampage took place in 1940s New Jersey. The man, I can't remember his name and don't care to find it out, was described as "mentally deranged." He took a hunting rifle and shot a dozen of his neighbors while screaming, "I wish I had a thousand bullets!"
Remember, this was the 1940s, when a dollar was worth a dollar and people slept with their doors unlocked. There was very little in the way of controversial media. Big
band was all the rage. Innocuous cinema and print media gave us no clue; all of the enticing books were banned.
People are dead and that is tragic, but I'm not so sure that pointing fingers and screaming "infidel!" at Hollywood will prevent a recurrence.
The censorship point, or counterpoint, seems a little out of place in the controversy. There are those who call for Manson's head, but few are calling for his albums to be pulled. Perhaps the basic idea of free speech has finally taken root. The new battleground is not "we should be able to listen to terrible music," but rather, "we should tune out things that are bad."
The idea that terrible music, or more precisely music about terrible things, makes us do terrible things is troubling. It is for this reason that Richard Wagner is banned in the state of Israel. The German composer cannot be heard in Israel because he was an anti-Semite who, apparently, through his musical arrangements, helped the Nazis gain power. This is a stupid law.
Charles Manson, the fountain of shock-rock inspiration, told the world that he masterminded the butchering of Sharon Tate after the Beatles told him, through secret messages, to start a race war and bring about World War III
You can buy the White Album at any record store-any good one anyway.
The shootings in various high schools around the continent are not symptoms of a society rotting from the inside out with the foul odor of rock music. Today's youth may well be crippled with the inability to judge or criticize, but you can't help feel critics would have an easier time if it were socially acceptable to condemn. It is their opinion of how the world should work and they are entitled to it, but frankly it is wrong.
Is this the first retrograde step to burning books, or possibly witches? Most likely not. But it does start an ugly train rolling.