The Pop Culture of Violence

Radio Shows and Congress Encourage People to Kill

If [the federal agents] come to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they are gonna be wearing bulletproof vests... Head shots, head shots."

Oh, my, What is this? A provocative speech given by some domestic terrorist group before they decided to blow up Oklahoma City?

Not really--it's only a talk show on the radio. G. Gordon Liddy, host on WJFK, Fairfax, Virginia, is The Man. After issuing his instructions on how to shoot federal agents in the head, he obviously spent some time thinking over the possibility of missing such a relatively small target. Calling back the next day, he came up with a more practical solution: "So you shoot twice to the body, center of mass, and if that does not work, then shoot the groin area." Gulp. Better use a machine gun and mow everybody down.

The Oklahoma bombing still seems like it happened yesterday. One suspect, who the officials fear may bomb again, is still on the run. Rescue workers are still fighting falling debris and menacing storms. Then there is the over-whelmingly supported Liddy Show, broadcast to the site of the tragedy, aiming at pushing the anti-government emotions beyond the extreme--as if one city had not been enough.

"Am I advocating the overthrow of the government? I am advocating cleansing. If you combined everybody in the United States of America that you would even estimate to be on the other side, you would only have a drop in the bucket compared to the masses in rebellion. Why are we sitting here?"

Still from the tough Liddy Show? Yet to be. The patent for spreading this far-right opinion now belongs to Chuck Baker from KVOR, Colorado Springs, Colorado. You'll just be amazed how many shows there are like this in the country, fueling the fires of unrest with the gasoline of reckless language, hostile implications and dark ideas. Here, the extremists feel at home. Believe it or not, a Michigan Militia leader even served as the popular host of a radio show while members affiliated with his group were assumed to have been involved in the Oklahoma case.

So this is the freedom America has always taken pride in. When the Oklahoma State Senate voted unanimously to ask broadcasters to stop Liddy's show, news directors hesitated. This was not because their own hearts were also distorted and petrified--it was because a poll of listeners clearly supported keeping Liddy on the air. Sure enough, those calling in to support Liddy would be innocent and good people. They watched the aftermath of bombing with the utmost curiosity. As long as nobody they knew or loved had fallen victim, lying helpless and hopeless under the collapsed building, the entire event was merely news only for them. They might even find the non-traditional, unheard-of rhetoric on the air waves interesting. Truth be told, however, to some who view our world in different eyes, these talk shows offer nothing but encouragement, agitation and signs that it's time for an upheaval in the federal agencies they hate so much.

You don't like that, but there is more to come.

Fully aware of the danger of its $2.5 million riflery program, the government continues to aid its domestic adversaries by providing extremist groups with cheap weapons, free bullets and Army training facilities. Despite some futile battles in Congress to eliminate the program, it has existed unchecked since its establishment in 1903, when American marksmanship in the Spanish-American War was deemed terribly below standard. The program itself was designed for a blameless purpose then--but that was 92 years ago. Today, such a program is ludicrous, especially since the end of a Cold War that never led to open conflict. What, then, will be the point of teaching people how to fire rifles? Army officials describe this program as a recreational affair that hones people's skills of operating weapons safely, effectively and peacefully. But weapons are weapons, and the only thing weapons can do is to kill. How can they be used peacefully?

Officials also defend it as a "valuable public service particularly useful in training youths to handle weapons." Let's go back and ask ourselves why youths have to handle weapons at all. This seems an especially cruel joke in the days when we anxiously talk about a Gringrichesque cut in such programs such as welfare benefits. Do we really want a world where kids not yet in their teens know how to shoot handguns but don't know how to read and write?

In a free nation like the United States, people long for changes as they find things around them unfair and unsatisfactory. But clearly, it can be agreed that a revolution, or war, is not needed, even if Colorado's Baker is correct in estimating the masses "in rebellion." If the American citizens have no connections to the bombing at the World Trade Center, this time in Oklahoma City we have no one else to blame. It's not hard to realize the fact that a tolerant government is actually providing its hideous adversaries with resources they should never have access to. The method of generously distributing weapons and training in the name of creating an environment where weapons are used properly, instead of taking them all away, is just like drinking poison to quench one's thirst; ammunition flows almost smoothly into the hands of the very people that the rifle program intends to control. Moreover, some talk show hosts are advocating the job of introduction of more fragile souls into the realm of hatred and violence. Freedom of speech, here, has gone too far.

Ugly, isn't it? If you will carefully notice, things are indeed getting ugly. There are comedies like the never-ending Simpson trial and tragedies like the bombing in Oklahoma City. And if you read newspapers, put yourself into the frame and think for a little while. You will be scared and disgusted, just like me.