“Wreck It Ralph” and the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut today

Today, December, 14, a gunman killed 26 people in Newtown, CT, including 20 elementary school children.

“Wreck It Ralph” opened in November I didn’t have a chance to see it until today. I was driving home from seeing the film and listening to the news on NPR. The newsperson described President Obama as wiping away tears as he spoke words of comfort to parents, his behavior noted by many news outlets.

2012 has been a year marked by gun violence tragedies.

On August 22 I recorded a video and posted a study guide after the shooting at in Aurora, CO at the midnight screening for “The Dark Knight Rises“. This is for parents, teachers, and caregivers on how to assist children, how to talk to them, in the face of gun tragedy.

On October 5, 2012 I posted an essay  on the gun culture: The media’s part in the culture of guns.And now we have another mass shooting, actually several in the last week alone. The shooter killed himself.

Five people died in a shooting at the Tule River Indian reservation in Visalia, CA on December 10. The shooter, a male aged 31, was killed by police.

Three died in a shooting at a Portland, OR mall on December 11. The shooter, a male aged 22, took his own life.

I just heard the president say on CNN that he does not respond as president to these gun tragedies, but as a parent.

But he is the president and when is enough, enough? As a presidential candidate Obama promised to confront the gun problem in America before he was first elected in 2008. But nothing.

How many more people, children, have to die because no one will do anything?

Why do the males in our country carry out such spectacular deeds of violence with guns? What does this say about men in the United States? Who cares about the boys growing up in our culture?

The gun problem has many fronts: the fragility of the family, lack of gun control, schools and education that focus on test results rather than the education of the whole person of the child, entertainment and information media, the normalization of the military as a way to solve problems, a lack of respect for life, greed, and a lack of political will to actually do something to prevent another gun massacre. The gun lobby is the most powerful in Washington, DC. Why?

I don’t care that the Connecticut shooter had the guns legally. The guns are registered to the shooter’s mother, according to news reports. Obviously this made no difference whatsoever.

Obviously, it’s not good enough to register guns or get them legally.

“Wreck It Ralph” is an overly long animated tale about characters in a variety of arcade games. It’s overly sweet – most of the gaming action takes place in a kind of confection heaven called “Sugar Rush” – and Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) “plays” a bad guy who wants to play a good guy in his video game. Included the arcade game movie is a storyline about a female soldier wielding a huge stylized assault rifle and accompanied by her unit and a tank. Normalizing violence to pre-schoolers by creating an attractive female character, Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch), to destroy giant virtual bugs, may be a good commercial choice but it does not make sound cultural sense when our country has to deal over and over again with tragic incidents of unrestrained violence, especially when it is violence against children.

“It’s just a movie!”

Until it isn’t.

Sergeant Calhoun, one of the “good guys”,  exemplifies video game violence for the youngest among us. Click here to read Sgt. Calhoun’s bio on the Disney website.

It’s too bad that I saw “Wreck It Ralph” on the day that this mass shooting occurred. Without this context I would have noted the guns and soldiers but the film would, perhaps, not have struck me so strongly as another misrepresentation of violence as acceptable. Why socialize the youngest among us into this world of violence? Are parents talking to their kids about what they see and experience on television and at the movies and in video games – even in a Disney movie? Do they question the film: What’s going on? What’s really going on? Does it make any difference? How can I make a difference?

Films that have fantasy violence and stylized violence are still films with and about violence.

Tonight, I pray for the victims and their families and their unspeakable grief.

I pray for the next victims of gun violence because these shootings are not going away as long as we refuse to take steps to resolve America’s love affair with guns and violence as the preferred way to solve problems.

I pray that President Obama will keep his promise to control guns more, to have the courage of his convictions.

I pray that entertainment media will tell stories that do not use violence to build up and “resolve” the drama by killing. I pray we will get more television programs like USA’s “Fairly Legal” (that did not get renewed for a third season, much to my dismay) about a lawyer who left the courtroom to become a “mediator” and resolve problems in a peaceful, fair way. The news people will lead the national mourning and sound concerned – and then, nothing.

Violence, the depiction of violence, isn’t sweet, funny or fun.

Why do we as citizens, as people of faith, refuse to hold our politicians accountable for their lack of action on gun control?

I pray the news media will tell the truth about the gun lobby.

I am so tired of the killing and the violence.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Lack of gun regulation isn’t freedom, it is the imprisonment of our humanity.

Until next time, folks.

I took a vow of non-violence in October.

Parents, you can do this, too. This is how parents can model ways to resolve conflict yet it is for all people of good will.

RECOGNIZING THE VIOLENCE IN MY OWN HEART, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus

  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.

Thanks to Pax Christi

  • Tim Backstrom

    Sister, what else particularly do you want the federal, Constitutionally controlled government to do about gun violence?

    • http://SisterRoseHomepage.com sisterrose

      All states with State-wide registration, age limit, training, insurance, central state database. Just like a car for starters. But as I said this is a multi-faceted problem. We need to put our heads together and come up with solutions.

      • bill bannon

        These guns were registered by a woman teacher ( the mom) who lived in a state in which the Petit home invasion was infamous and would make many single females buy a gun. Two men in that incident raped and killed a mother and two daughters after tying up the husband, a physician. If the husband had had a Sig Sauer pistol ( which is issued to the papal Swiss Guard besides being used in this tragedy), he might have stopped the men who killed his wife and daughters. The problem as to guns is in the excessive number of non military guns in circulation…310 million…which does not match the number of households that are armed for self defense. If the Pope in actuality has top of the line guns in his protective bodyguards….the Sig Sauer pistol and the Heckler and Koch MP7 small machine gun, then let us follow the Pope’s example and defend ourselves.. while seeking to remove guns from felons through greater freedom of police to search high crime areas for guns that are not being used for home defense.
        Newtown was about our failure to process deeply isolated young males into therapeutic settings in a mandatory manner….the guns were legal and might have been purchased in light of the Petit home invasion or a like incident.

        • pagansister

          Bill B. Lanza wasn’t a felon. His mother owned the guns legally and she was killed by one of her own guns. The area was not a high crime area, thus no search would have been warranted. IMO and others, Lanza was probably mentally ill, and unfortunately it wasn’t detected by his mother or perhaps she didn’t want to admit he needed help. None of this, IMO, was her fault—but the combination of his mental state and the easy access he had to guns caused this horrible event.

      • Loud

        It was stolen. The man KILLED HIS MOTHER. Have we all lost sight of the plain fact that she is dead? He killed her? Robbed her? My heart hurts when I think of the children, thier families, friends, teacers, neighbors, and anyone else in CT now acutely aware of the hole this act of meaningless violnece has made in there lives by abruptly stealing these children and teachers away. But a woman was killed. I know you all feel for her, but it seems the back of our minds are more ready to grasp the terribleness of those school empoyees’ and kids’ abrupt deaths. “How horrible for the families.” But ‘mother of the killer…’ Just because that one young man has no reason for our smypathy in the matter losing her, dosen’t mean she isn’t missed. Yes we heard about the shooter mistakenly arrested brother, but because the criminal is front and center in our minds, her husband and remaining familie’s grief is only sitting in tne back seat. She was killed, her guns stolen. She was the very first victim of her son’s crime. Stop saying “legally obtained.” She may not have been a child, but we should never belittle any murder.

        • pagansister

          Well said, Loud.

  • Jim

    Blaming Wreck It Ralph for the shooting is not productive.

    • http://SisterRoseHomepage.com sisterrose

      If you read my piece I did not blame the film. Please read the post. Thank you.

  • Gerry

    So, since you’re obviously not very bright, I’ll address this to others who read the comments. Gun violence has gone down as gun ownership has gone up in the country. Got math?

  • http://SisterRoseHomepage.com sisterrose

    Your argument doesn’t really console the parents and families of those who die because of gun violence. The collateral damage argument and statistics don’t help either. Each life is precious. Your rights end where mine begin: freedom and responsibility.

  • Pattie, RN

    Sister, I respect your opinion and your obviously hurting heart in the wake of all these shootings. I am a cradle Catholic, and I am also a former US Army officer, as were my father and father-in-law. Mu husband is an Army retiree, and one of our sons is currently active-duty.

    We all grew up with weapons in our homes, and learned to handle and respect them at a very early age. I would like to point out the other side of the coin….if more decent, sober, law-abiding citizens were armed, madmen like this could be stopped. The crazy men (and yes, they are 99.9% men) count on everyone around them being UNarmed, and it gives them a literal license to kill. The mall shooter did not kill anymore people than he did due to the actions of an armed citizen. I am middle aged and no longer the young warrior who could run and fight. However, my Glock 9mm gives me the advantage over a 225 lb 19 year old male…or at least give me a chance.

    • http://SisterRoseHomepage.com sisterrose

      I have heard this opinion. But increasing guns for self defense conjures up an even more horrific scenario – complete lawlessness. We have the rule of law in this country; I hope and pray that at least the same requirements that exist for vehicles will be applied to gun ownership: training, testing, licensing, back ground check (would be new), statewide databases, and insurance. semi-automatic and automatic weapons would be outlawed. Law enforcement would be enabled to implement these laws. The gun owner would be held responsible for all crimes committed with his/her arms. And so forth. Almost the same as for those who own a car. Re-registering fire arms every year. No more gun shows that skip the steps. No loopholes.

      We have a right to life; your having guns is limited by my right to live.

      The current scenario is not working.

      This is only one aspect to remedy this multi-dimension problem. But it is doable, and it could cut down on these massacres soon.

      • Loud

        Sister, you right to live is not infringed upon by my owning something dangerous.
        A man once commented to Gilbert Chesterton that he did not have truly have a right to his unbrella because he had no right to hit Gilbert in the head with it for no reason. GKC replied that it wasn’t that he couldn’t own the unbrella, but that the man dosen’t own Gilbert Chesterton’s head. We have a Constitutionally garrunted right to own guns and defend ouselves by the same virtues: we own our heads, we may protect them. Guns, although they should be regulated (and they are!), should not be tacken away. If they are taken from the people who have so far lived lawfully, what right do we have to unbrellas?

  • Karen

    My family–my husband, myself, and our four young sons–recently had to move because of guns. Our neighbor decided to set up a target in his backyard–10 paces from our house–for the “benefit” of his stepson and grandson, so they could come out and shoot guns up range of my childrens’ play structure. Had any bullets ricocheted off their wooden target (yes, wooden, not earth, not a bullet trap), my children could have been seriously injured or killed if they were outside when the shooters showed up. Even when we were inside we worried about bullets ricocheting or misfiring and hitting our house. There have been cases of people being shot in their own homes, from a gun fired outside.

    We tried to talk to him. My husband explained the sound was deafening, the danger real–and they just shrugged and said they’d “limit” it and maybe tell us before they started shooting. My husband offered to pay for a family membership at a local gun range and was turned down. Our only recourse was–until our rental property was vacated and we could move into the city–to set up an alarm system to warn us when he showed up (because he did not, after all, “warn us” before he’d start shooting) so we could leave our own home and property.

    This man felt his “need” or “right” to practice shooting guns superceded our right to raise our children in a safe environment. We turned to the police and the prosecutor and they all said that in the township where we live, what they were doing was legal. Legal…but not moral.

    As for protection, why does anybody need MORE THAN ONE GUN for personal protection? The mother of the shooter had six, maybe more, guns in her collection. Did she have more than two hands, that she could wield that many? Our country has taken the 2nd Amendment, which only allows us to bear arms (not to shoot them off in a backyard near children, a prospect I’m sure the Founding Fathers could never have imagined) and turned it into a full blown gun fetish.

  • Thomas R

    Although I think you sound very good hearted I’m pretty sure “fantasy violence” has always been in kids entertainment. And to be honest I don’t think that’s something that can be eliminated and maybe even shouldn’t be eliminated. (If you’re implying such) It would be very difficult to tell many stories of the saints or the Bible if you want to forbid depictions of violence to children. And the faith, as I understand it, is not pacifistic in the way of the Quakers or Mennonites. Some forms of self-defense, even with guns, are permissible. “To Kill a Mockingbird” doesn’t tell kids dog-murder is fine, I don’t think, but shooting a rabid dog I think would even be justifiable in Quakerism. I would need to know if these bugs are like “rabid dogs” or if there is legitimate self-defense issues or if it’s just glorifying shooting people. Context kind of matters and I’m not sure if I was clear here from the review/musing.