Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    Yes, I saw that, but since you were so busy accusing me of making shit up it got a bit lost in translation. ;)

    I said sorry. I just thought you’d made an unfair paraphrase when you hadn’t. Soz again.

    I have to go and do an interview about drug law reform in Latin America now. Bizarrely.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    people who didn’t seem to grasp the immense privilege of being neurotypical in a world designed by and for neurotypicals

    I'm still struggling to grasp it. Your boy was a real eye opener for me. The thing about non-neurotypical is that there's 500 million flavors. It's really hard to make generalizations about what works for them and what doesn't, or what they might be capable of. The same goes for everyone else too, but in a much tighter range.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Society tells young white (cisgendered, heterosexual) men, still, that their viewpoints and desires and beings are privileged over everyone else's. They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn't make all of them powerful. And the question arises - if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?

    Same thing drives anti-immigrant sentiment in non-rich white young men (who vastly outnumber the wealthy and influential ones). Being part of a non-marked social group has its disadvanatages as well as its privileges.

    How we each deal with realising our own power and lack of it in the world is encultured and part of our upbringing. Most people get through somehow, though not always without hurting others. Adding permissively-regulated assault weapons to the mix sure raises the stakes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But I *am* a sometime historian. That appropriate attribution shit runs deep with us, yo. :)

    non-marked social group

    Speaking of marked social groups, I meant to say, I really liked THAT article linked way back in answer to my question by... David, I think?... in Salon.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3624 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    Ta. That's the one I was remembering.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    The same goes for everyone else too, but in a much tighter range.

    I reckon people are both more different and more similar than we think.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m still struggling to grasp it. Your boy was a real eye opener for me. The thing about non-neurotypical is that there’s 500 million flavors. It’s really hard to make generalizations about what works for them and what doesn’t, or what they might be capable of. The same goes for everyone else too, but in a much tighter range.

    Good observation. I've said more times than I can recall in talks about this that the great gift of learning to understand how my boys were different was learning along the way how everyone is different. That people may respond differently because their actual experience of the world is different.

    I actually regard that insight as a significant professional benefit in my line of work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That people may respond differently because their actual experience of the world is different.

    Learning that academically helped me understand myself. Many worlds.

    I actually regard that insight as a significant professional benefit in my line of work.

    Same. Doesn't mean I listen as well as I could. #notajourno

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh, this. I could not agree more unless I was you saying it.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 546 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Any, thanks everyone: this is a difficult, complex and emotional range of topics we've covered here.

    Matt Frost has offered me a guest post from an Aspie perspective, which I'll hopefully publish tomorrow, and my son says he'll write something about blaming video games for public violence.

    I'm struck by how many layers a story from another country has proven to have.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Wow, this discussion has come out really caring and civilised and fascinating. Thanks all. And I look forward to those guest posts, Russell.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3413 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m still struggling to grasp it. Your boy was a real eye opener for me.

    It's been hard work for him to understand the impact of his behaviour on others. When I grasped that I was able to to stop whining "why are you doing this to me?" which helped quite a lot. Why don't you see this my way? Oh. Because you can't.

    I also think there's a neurological level on which he sometimes doesn't distinguish between people and objects. That's a weird thing, from my point of view.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I've said more times than I can recall in talks about this that the great gift of learning to understand how my boys were different was learning along the way how everyone is different.

    Wha........????? Where have I been?
    Is this universally known?
    The government should do something!!!

    Oh...they are...

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m struck by how many layers a story from another country has proven to have.

    Same.

    One thing I’ve progressively become less comfortable with over the last few days is the focus on the mental health or otherwise of the perpetrator. What worries me is that it becomes easy to say
    “oh well he was xxxx, and therefore we don’t have to worry about anyone else unless they are xxxx”
    It frames the discussion that excludes the possibility that the trait in question has nothing to do with the crime.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That's a weird thing, from my point of view.

    We all relate to some objects though, right? Cars, buildings, coffee machines, other toys.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    But I don’t think that we serve anyone well when we talk about what men have “lost” to others. Shouldn’t we talk about what they have to gain?

    Yes, absolutely.

    And there is much more in your comment that has got me thinking, but it's too early in the morning.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2000 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Sacha,

    Society tells young white (cisgendered, heterosexual) men, still, that their viewpoints and desires and beings are privileged over everyone else’s. They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn’t make all of them powerful. And the question arises – if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?

    The term "born to rule" comes to mind. It applies as much to entitled blue-bloods, as it does to the rugged individual/Manifest Destiny myth.

    Same thing drives anti-immigrant sentiment in non-rich white young men (who vastly outnumber the wealthy and influential ones). Being part of a non-marked social group has its disadvanatages as well as its privileges.

    In Britain, it's usually taken the form of soccer hooliganism, lending credence to George Orwell's quote that "sport is war minus the shooting". And in the last few years, the soccer hooligan movement has directly given rise to the neo-crusadist English Defence League.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4130 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    And having privilege doesn't necessarily mean having power. Which is a huge part of the problem. "Everything is supposed to work for me, but I feel powerless. So what am I meant to do? If the world is set up for (white, cis, hetero, able men like me, and I still feel "emasculated", then what alternative do I have but violence?"

    False dichotomy alert, cap'n.

    Self-obssessed creeds have picked powerless groups and blamed them for many problems in the past - and will continue to do so into the future. When people decide to scapegoat a race, gender, orientation and blame this "other" group for their problems - its a reflection on the problems of the people doing scapegoating. Privilege theory is just one of the later iterations in a long and tragic line, generating ill will by blaming the powerless for things the powerless are literally powerless to change.

    Privilege theory is wrong, because privilege does not equate to power. And the world is set up for the powerful, not the privileged.

    Peversely privilege theory is ensured ongoing success as a creed of belief by being so usefully wrong it serves the purposes of some powerful groups. It is a favourite theory taught in rich, first world academia who serve to educate the powerful.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I think the core of the problem is actually that most of the people in power are still old white guys – in America even more so than in NZ. Society tells young white (cisgendered, heterosexual) men, still, that their viewpoints and desires and beings are privileged over everyone else’s. They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn’t make all of them powerful. And the question arises – if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?

    But this isn't quite right: power in America is dominated by rich white men (and, increasingly, rich white women). Being poor is being marked, it is being othered, it is all those things we attribute to race and gender and it is hugely frustrating that it's class which gets dropped the quickest.

    Because you can apply the same analysis to a rich white women as a poor white man. If success/normativity is defined by being me (which in America it very often is now) then why etc? (If you are a rich women you retain privilege: the ability to buy things in hardware stores, say.)

    It also interesting to what extent this is a conversation about (supposedly) disempowered young men initiated and dominated by women; there's a who's-speaking-for-who problem here.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1311 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    What worries me is that it becomes easy to say
    “oh well he was xxxx, and therefore we don’t have to worry about anyone else unless they are xxxx”

    But has anyone really said that? I take your point about the possibility, but I was far less comfortable by Barack Obama's description of the shooting (within an otherwise sensitive speech) as 'unconscionable evil'. That's far more obfuscating, I reckon.

    It seems to me that the conduct of this discussion so far lends itself to the opposite conclusion, which in itself provides the best 'answer' to the issue being discussed: people have cited different potential contributing factors (male chemistry, masculine cultural stereotypes, white privilege etc etc), and seem to have come to a place where we can agree that all of these apply some of the time. People are different, and acts like the one being discussed stem from a range of motivations, rational or otherwise.

    This means that there is no one solution, and that addressing even the main issues will involve cultural shifts that will take time. And, if understanding and addressing the ends of mass killing does take time, surely limiting the means has to be a necessary interim measure?

    PS thanks to all for an incredibly edifying discussion. This public sharing of such personal stuff really is a quite remarkable thing.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to John Armstrong,

    incredibly edifying discussion

    Mostly.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to John Armstrong,

    But has anyone really said that?

    Not here no.

    And I also agree characterising it as simply "evil" is disturbing as well.

    I just have to wonder if given these mass murderers are so damn rare (out of 300 million in the USA we see how many?) what if none of the things we can rationally think of are anything to do with the decision to go and kill (or harm) as many people as they can? That thought scares me a bit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    what if none of the things we can rationally think of are anything to do with the decision to go and kill (or harm) as many people as they can? That thought scares me a bit.

    Me too. Particularly as it would leave gun control as the only option. Given the barriers that that course of action seems to face, that might mean accepting these admittedly rare but horrific acts as part of the human landscape. Which is even scarier.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Being poor is being marked

    And has practical consequences that have not been addressed nearly as much as some other group barriers have been.

    However as Russell and others have noted, this latest mass killer was not poor.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It also interesting to what extent this is a conversation about (supposedly) disempowered young men initiated and dominated by women; there’s a who’s-speaking-for-who problem here.

    That can be almost entirely attributed to another problem, which is that the construction of gender roles is a topic “marked” as a chick thing. A *feminist* chick thing. When in actuality it could be so much more than that. So men end up not having any practice in talking about their own gender as a category.

    (I rather take issue with “dominated”: that word shows the extent to which “several women speaking in a non-women’s-only-area on the internet” is… unexpected.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3624 posts Report Reply

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