Musicians dying prematurely is almost cliche at this point.
Musicians dying in general in 2016 is definitely cliche.
Musicians being killed is even it’s own kind of weird cliche.
Then, there’s Christina Grimmes’ murder this week. One might just dismiss this as being a Florida thing, because of course it happened in Florida. But, it’s more than that.
It’s one step removed from the horrific murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbot when his life was taken while performing on stage.
These kind of incidents are rare only in that they involve a musician and occur while said musician is doing their job. But, murder in-and-of itself is all too common.
It’s a tragedy only in so much that there’s a lot that could be done to prevent such things but not a lot of action actually takes place to safeguard musicians or the public in general. While this isn’t going to be a post about how the answer is NOT more guns but more safeguards for more responsible firearm ownership it is important to remember that guns do in fact kill people. Their sole purpose was to produce death until the recent ammosexual movement and as a tool guns did exactly what they were designed to do by killing once again. This also won’t be a post about mental health and how the social stigma surrounding both treatment and overall wellbeing undermines care in general and how the medical community is held hostage by these stigmas resulting in poor care overall and likely played a role once again. This also won’t be a post about prevention and the reality that we live in a world that likely could require an endless series of checkpoints where our liberties and privacy is secondary to ensuring we are unable to harm anyone and our presence is cataloged taking us into the semblance of a police state to protect us from ourselves (because we don’t take mental health and gun control serious enough).
No, this won’t ben just be a post about how disheartening it is that someone who’s sole interest was sharing their unique gift with the world was cut down because they were sharing their gift with the world.
This is a post about the perpetuation of the worst elements of the Human Condition.
What happen was an extremely violent and physically manifesting example of what happens with words over and over again. It’s the extreme of what we get by increasing our tolerance for being outright aggressive to one another.
While trolling in-and-of itself might not have created this particular act the art of trolling culminates in the acceptance that disdain and hatred, anger and rage, frustration and jealousy where it eventually can and usually does transcend from “mere words on a page” to something more. And, we as a society not only allow this kind of existence but do our best to encourage it by giving an even greater voice and power to bullies. Some bullies remain verbal attackers, some take their frustration out physically. All bullies however are held increasingly less in check by the social norms that used to be in place to attempt to quell their more intolerable behaviors.
There’s a certain acceptance to the inevitability of it all coupled with a willful denial that there are common sense ways to curb the ongoing violence. A a society there’s a broken logic that says because it’s always been this way that it cannot or should not change. Violent behavior is inherent to the human condition and, in as such, nothing you can do will ever fully remove it so why bother trying to even lessen it if it cannot get to zero. We engage in a selective viewing of the facts in which we can rationalize this insane view that the status quo can only improve by increasing the possibility of violent encounters (both verbally and physically) rather than decreasing them – That the threat of violence is the only way to hold violence in check. This is delusional.
Countering trolls with more trolling or gun violence with more gun toting people is only going to increase the problem by putting more people on edge by increasing the threat level. And, you thought the mental health situation was bad now, imagine if everyone was fearful of what might happen if whenever they spoke they would be trolled or acted a certain way they might be shot. Nothing clouds judgement like paranoia and fear.
While there’s still a lot of unanswered questions about Christina Grimmie’s murder, the killer was obsessed with her and seemingly was upset in having to share her with the rest of the world. We accept this as an isolated incident of a fan taking their interest in an artist to an extreme.
Except, it’s not an isolated incident at all. Obsessed fans have terrorized the famous for years and obsession is hardly limited to the famous to begin with as it’s quite common even among the more mundane of us. Individuals feel ostracized from the world and perceive being bullied by society all the time and many who have no “history” of mental illness still lash out in violent ways. People legally purchase guns and use them exactly as they are intended, to injury, all the time. Anger and jealousy are natural human feelings that do get taken to extremes that result in injury and death not only to ones self but likely others around.
It’s only isolated in that it happened only once today that we were made aware of. That’s it. Everything else about it is pretty common and routine, unfortunately.
So, while we mourn another musician who’s life was cut short tragically in an incident that hits pretty close to home for metalheads who will never witness another blistering Pantera set again due to some kid’s disillusioned obsession and easy access to guns it’s important to remember that while the circumstances are rare the situation itself is hardly unique.
We shouldn’t be asking if club owners could do more by installing more metal detectors, hiring armed guards and putting up additional barriers between performers and fans. We should be asking how do we cultivate an environment where performers and fans, ney, were people in general aren’t so fearful of one another that it might require metal detectors, armed guards and barriers in the first place. We should be asking how we can produce a society where the outcome isn’t using a tool designed to kill in order to express anger or frustration. We should be asking how we can promote situations were people can come together without having to feel like they need to constantly be on guard against their fellow humans, be it on stage performing or in the stands watching or just being in-and-of itself. Until we can get to the point where prevention isn’t solely defensively minded we are just going to keep perpetuating the problem and next time it might not be Christina Grimmes or Dimebag Darrel – it might be you.