The world's gun crazy

WHAT I'm about to describe will shock you. At least I hope it does.If it doesn't, you're probably in your teens or early 20s and it will show we've already gone too far.

WHAT I'm about to describe will shock you. At least I hope it does.

If it doesn't, you're probably in your teens or early 20s and it will show we've already gone too far.

If you're of a nervous disposition, or about to eat your tea, you may wish to look away now.

A young girl has been stripped naked, hung in a meat locker and sprayed with water, which hardens to ice.

Another has an eye burnt out with a blowtorch.

A semi-naked cheerleader is impaled where her underwear should be.

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Unspeakable things are done to innocent victims with saws and power-tools.

Fortunately, these things aren't real. Horrifically, they have been filmed in a realistic style in the name of entertainment. I haven't seen Hostel, or any of the Saw movies. I followed Quentin Tarantino no further than 1994's Pulp Fiction.

But I've seen enough in trailers to know that there has been an inflation of sadism in the movies since we all thought A Clockwork Orange was the hard stuff.

The ads appear between songs on music TV channels aimed at a young audience. Torture-porn is no longer the preserve of a squalid underground, but a thriving part of the movie mainstream.

The most extreme scenes may be edited out for cinema showing, but restored for DVD viewing at home.

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone who sees these things will go out and copy them.

But has anyone investigated properly the emotional and psychological effects of such entertainment on young minds?

The association of sexual excitement with ultra-violent behaviour cannot be good.

At the very least, it objectivises and dehumanises women more brutally than conventional porn.

The attitudes it breeds can only be unhealthy at best, at worst highly dangerous.

I wouldn't want to suggest the film-makers are responsible for events such as those at Virginia Tech.

But they are another lurid example of the culture of violence that America wallows in and exports to the world.

DAVID Workman spoke out in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.

In terms purely of the number killed (33 including the gunman himself), it was the worst campus or school shooting in US history. But it was hardly the first.

In fact, it was the 19th multiple shooting at an American school or college in the past ten years. That's 19 more than we've had in Britain since the 1996 Dunblane horror, in which 16 children died.

Setting aside the appalling terrorist outrage at Beslan in Russia in 2005, the US must surely have the worst record for such acts of armed insanity.

And Workman believes he has an answer. The trouble, he reckons, lies in the fact that shootings like the ones at Virginia Tech, Columbine and the rest all took place in “gun-free educational zones”.

The victims, you see, were unable to defend themselves. If they'd been armed, Workman reasons, one of them would have shot the killer before he shot them.

So that's it, then. Let students carry loaded guns into class. That'll cure the problem. If only the five-year-olds and six-year-olds of Dunblane had been equipped with handguns…

Of course, Workman has an axe to grind. He is senior editor of Gun Week, an American paper devoted to the wonders of weaponry.

He is a prominent, outspoken supporter of the right to bear arms. He calls it a civil right and a natural liberty.

I call it plumb stupid. Plumb deadly.

And it is, of course, the American way.

Which may just have some bearing on the fact that the Land of the Free leads the world in fatal shootings.

I HOPE for a long, fulfilled and reasonably healthy life. I'd like my body to stay fit enough for that - but once I'm dead I won't have any further use for it.

If my organs can be recycled for the benefit of others, great. If they are of more use for research, to help others in the future, then that's fine too.

I happen to know my loved ones share and approve of this attitude.

But if they didn't? Well, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them, would it?

This is the flaw in the thinking that makes a “scandal” of the former Sellafield workers' body parts. Just as it did some years ago in the cases of Alder Hey and Bristol hospitals.

The bereaved families were not harmed by the valuable research done on the bodies of the departed.

The only harm was done when someone told them about it.

If that telling prevents future research being carried out, then the harm is multiplied.

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