Violence is a tool for achieving justice. Or what those players determine is justice.
That's the theory of psychologist James Gilligan. And, as John Mack Faragher explains in his book "Eternity Street," America has the highest homicide rate of any democracy.
American The Violent is our global branding. Tabloids are full of sensational stories of tourists who seemingly get murdered for no reason in Los Angeles. In "Eternity Street," Faragher chronicles how justice was achieved in frontier times in that city.
The same narrative is captured in Tombstone, Arizona. The graveyard in that 19th century mining town is a record of home-spun justice. Including the miscarried type. One gravestone poignantly notes that the person interred was hung in error.
On the east coast, from the get-go, the Puritans were busy with their own forms of justice.
The public shame it inflicted could be as deadly as a bullet, fist, boot, or hangman's noose in the wild west. The psychological kind of torture administered by the Founding Fathers was captured in the novel "The Scarlet Letter." The violence was psychological.
In the vestiges of WASP America, it still is. Have you ever had a Boston or Southern Brahmin as a boss? Deadly stuff.
But we might be still ruled by Queen Elizabeth and paying taxes to support the fun lives of the British royals had we not been so preoccupied with justice. John Adams and his buddies viewed as unjust the British tax system being imposed on them. So they pushed back. With violence. That was the Boston Tea Party. Bring on the muskets.
That conviction of being right and the need to set things right continue today, of course. It isn't American to be socialized to think a point of "justice" through.
Joe is in my parking spot. It's my duty to smash his windshield.
Joan humiliated me as she pranced around town with her new lover. I must kill her to set things right.
How wrong of the company to fire me. I'll show them.
The message violence sends is pretty profound: See the world through the other's value system and you might live to see another day.