Imagination Connoisseur, CJ Dunn, sends in a letter recalling a conversation he’s recently had with his father about gun control, violent entertainment and personal responsibility.

(edited for clarity)

Dear Rob,

I wanted to write you this letter due to recent current events coupled with a conversation my dad and I recently had. As you know, and I have stated before, my dad is more of a conservative and I am more of a liberal. We find middle ground, my dad and I, more often than not and agree more than we disagree.

Mostly, we agree or agree to disagree.

Given the recent events in El Paso (I was once stationed there and love the food and people), Dayton, OH and Baton Rouge, LA… I thought I’d share some comments on the topic.

My dad has expressed valid concerns about gun control. I agree that there should be “gun control” – but the way you have expressed how people should HAVE to obtain them, Rob. If people in the military can’t join without an extensive psych eval, than no one should be able to purchase a gun without one.

The reason why the military has such an extensive mental evaluation is because, they (the military) puts rifles in the hands of individuals and asks them to use those guns responsibly. That includes protecting the men and women standing to your left and your right. You can’t do that if you are mentally unsound. If it’s discovered you are not mentally capable after your initial evaluation, you will find yourself out of the Army. This includes simple mishaps and incidents of misconduct, as well, which might be considered a lower standard than “mental instability.”

My dad asked me a simple question that I had to stop and think about for a second. Before I get to that question, I have to mention that the media and even he have pointed some blame at movies and video games. That seems to be a classic throw-away excuse when unspeakable acts of violence touch us, as a society, to our core.

People and the media shoot (no pun intended) straight to video games and violent movies when it comes to assigning blame.

With all that said and out of the way, my dad asked me, “Son, you have been through and have seen a lot of the atrocities that come with the experience of war. What would drive someone to just act out of violence in such a way? What would could make someone do that to others without any consideration or thoughts of consequences?”

I have to say, I was ready and quick to rebut most of this humble debate. But I had to stop and collect myself on this one. So, after careful consideration I answered my father with one word, “socialization”. He answered “what do you mean?”

My response to my father is as follows:

“Well, Dad, socialization is what define us to our core. It’s what influences our decisions and makes our decision-making process what it is.

At the core of socialization are the parents. I blame the parents first and foremost. I’ll use myself as an example. You allowed me to watch the original Robocop when I was 5. Which, has some really gory depictions of violence among other very adult themes that a 5 year-old really has no business watching, let alone understand. But, you can’t just underestimate the abilities of a child’s understanding. I still, to this day, appreciate and understand that movie. Also, we can’t just stop at Robocop. You allowed me to play violent video games and watch violent or just flat out adult-themed movies.

You always made sure that I knew it was just “make believe” – derived from someone’s imagination and that it was NOT how the real world works. You always taught me the value of respect and the value of treating others with respect and that violence is never the answer unless I am backed into a corner and have no other choice but to protect myself or others.

Fast forward to my deployments. When faced with decisions that would take other’s lives, even if I “felt” threatened and I always thought before I pulled the trigger. More often than not, I waited until I was being shot at or I was sure they were a threat.

I instantly thought of these things because of you, dad. It was what YOU taught me. “What if the shoe were on the other foot” was a constant saying/teaching you always made a point of discussion. That saying is one word, Pop, and that word is emapathy.

In those instances of trigger hesitation, I could only think if that were me. What if I was coming home from after taking my kids to a mosque and my kids were acting up in the back seat. So, I take my eyes off the road only to not paying attention for a military road block from another country’s occupying military. And, that military shoots my whole family up because of my negligence.

Now, would I want to be THAT GUY who pulled the trigger?

That, dad, is because of you. And, that is why parents, not video games or movies is why atrocities such as a mass shooting or any idiotic thought is carried out. There’s more to it than just that. I’m only saying that parents are a very important part of our core social makeup and thought process starting from a very early age.”

The conversation goes on but I can pick it up in another letter. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the recent tragedies and how we can’t put all the blame (or even a lot of blame) on artistic fantasies.

Love you and the PGS, Rob and thank you all for this awesome community.

-CJ Dunn

* * *

(Editor’s Note: CJ sent us an update a little later on in the day. Here it is …)

Dear Rob/PGS,

Here’s an update to my last letter on recent events.

My dad also asked me: “What could drive someone to do such a thing? Why that much level of hatred? I friggin’ love to go to Wal-mart!”

I laughed out loud and explained it to my BF/Dad like this: “Pop, again I will point you to socialization. My son, your grandson (Dominic), is a very lovable child and he is also 2.5 YR old. He knows nothing of hatred. You stick him in a room with other kids/toddlers/adults of all walks of life/ethnicity/race/gender and he has no idea how to hate. All that kid knows is love (for now and I would like to keep it that way).

With that being said, hate or angst toward another human being of a differential walk of life, is not genetically inherited… it is taught. If I have it my way, like the way you raised me to better, that kid will love/respect all walks of life. There is more to it like, vulnerability of acceptance but, in a nutshell hate is learned not inherent.”

I truly believe that. The same goes for seeing agendas or “social justice agendas” in simple/complex art forms. There isn’t a problem there, unless you yourself perceive one to be present.

I say that because of perception. The perception of normalcy.

Normal can be defined by a mass majority/community as being said ok, or for lack of a better term, normal. As long as a mojority collective agrees that something is “ok” to proceed as “normal” than a minority of people who have a problem with this decision, because it doesn’t benefit themselves or their “group”, only sees it as oppression. However, if that collective, majority, decision benefits everyone as a whole; then those who are offended only are offended because they see themselves as inferior/oppressed by the decision that was made by the majority.

Perception is typically broken down in 3 different ways. The way an individual perceives the world around them, the way an individual perceives themselves and the way those individuals actually are. I propose a fourth view of perception. The way the world (a majority collective) actually is.

This can affect some people who have been taught, or socialized, to hate/feel offended by some sexes/races/ethnicity/genders are depicted as superior or overcoming adversity/ feel inferior because of the aforementioned depiction.

That is internal, not external.

Not bashing on anyone in particular, just using a trope I have been taught. This doesn’t pertain to anyone/group in particular. If it does not pertain to you, than let it roll off your back. If you feel a certain way about it, than I have made my point.

However, this is in no way directed at anyone/group in particular. It is just my view on the feeling of hatred toward certain groups/peoples/etc.

Love you, Rob, and the Post-Geek Singularity,
– CJ