From the Head Down

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by Eric Peters EricPetersAutos.com

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America is a violent place. But I don’t mean the much-discussed shootings — which are both sporadic and incidental. No, the real violence is invisible because it is all around us — routinized and legalized to such an extent that most of us hardly take notice of it anymore. But nonetheless, it has corroded our souls — and some of these souls lash out in ways that differ from the acceptable way — that is, via the ballot box — but which when you stop to think about it express the same ugly ethics: Other people’s lives are my playthings. And, expendable.

Are you any less a victim if you are murdered by an Adam Lanza — or the thug scrum sent by the government to do exactly the same thing? If anything, Lanza’s motives were purer, more honest. He cut to the chase without all the intermediate folderol. Such as “you owe” letters from the county (or federal) tax thugs. In both cases, aggressive violence against peaceful people is the common thread.

The only difference is the preliminaries.

My statement will chafe in some quarters precisely because of the near-totality of the conditioning of this country’s people to the idea of acceptable aggressive violence. It is considered — by most people — perfectly ok to restrict the liberty of another human being or deprive him of his property so that it may be given to others . . . via the ethical alchemy of the ballot box. Hey, presto! Theft and extortion become taxes, “paying your fair share.” Kidnapping at gunpoint becomes “arrest” — and your execution (if you attempt to defend yourself) resisting arrest.

All nice and lawful.

But aggressively violent, just the same.

Process does not obviate the violence — it merely masks it. Makes it palatable by evasion — in much the way that sauces were originally invented as a way to cover up the taste of spoiled food. But the rot remains — and it poisons all who partake of it.

Expecting people pickled in authorized, legalized violence since childhood to not occasionally become overtly violent themselves is probably expecting too much. The ethical line has already been thoroughly trampled. Surely, it is no coincidence that as American society and thus, American government, grows ever more predatory — internally as well as externally — violent lashings out by ordinary people become ever-more-commonplace.

Monkey see — monkey do.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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