Recently, a young man named Mark Twitchell posted an online ad posing as a woman looking for a date. When a man named John Altinger responded, he captured and tortured him to death. Evidence showed Twitchell to be a fan of Dexter-he had even written a script for a Dexter movie. This prompted Jonah Goldberg to blame the show Dexter and it’s creators as complicit, due to it’s worship of the serial killer as hero. Of course, Twitchell was just as obsessed with Star Wars. Twitchell also seemed to miss the fact that his identification with Dexter Morgan was false. He tricked and killed an innocent, the opposite of Dexter. But that is not the real point.
Every couple of years, somebody wants to blame the sins and crimes of persons on something in pop culture. It’s the music of Ozzy, Marilyn Manson, Eminem or Twisted Sister. It’s Doom, Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Combat. It’s Dirty Harry, Chucky, Natural Born Killers or the Matrix. It’s Beavis and Butthead, the Burning Bed or Magnum P.I. Adults become horrified, lawsuits begin and eventually, after one controversy dies down, another begins.
This is what always perplexed me. If someone is shown to have used religion as an inspiration for their crime, especially Christianity, suddenly, it is not the fault of the faith, religion or holy book (of course, the great exception is Islam-it is okay to suggest a basic reading of the Koran could lead to murderous acts). Yet many people have committed heinous evil acts in attempts to save people from their sin, based on their religious beliefs about abortion, homosexuality and other things they opposed. But somehow, the Bible is not considered suspect. People do not wonder if Christianity should be banned for inspiring someone to commit evil acts. They don’t presume Christianity is bad, and nobody should have access, just because some people abuse it.
Just why is it that pop culture is held to a higher standard than Holy Writ?