Sunday, February 17, 2013

Documentary Review - Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal

This is the most hardcore documentary that I've watched in a while. This information is real Gorilla tape and steel-toed boots reality. This one is graphic, like fear of God graphic.

This one is true.

Director Emil Chiaberi delves into the dreadful phenomena of American mass killing sprees, especially in the workplace. This social dysfunction emerged in the 1980s at the U.S. Postal service. The infamy of postal employees going on crazy workplace shootings created the phrase "going postal" that is now a sadly familiar part of the American lexicon.

The investigation placed the blame on hostile work environments in which management relentlessly bullied employees. Sadly some reached the breaking point and delivered unspeakable violence upon their workplaces.

Specifically at the Postal Service, the documentary explained that in the 1980s the culture at the post office dramatically changed. What had once been viewed as a friendly civil service became something that had to be run like a business and demanded ever increasing production. Processing machines that moved mail faster than humans could deal with it stepped up stress levels, inflicted physical disabilities, and gave management plenty of reasons to write up employees for failure to perform properly.

Postal employees, including survivors of shooting sprees, repeatedly expressed in interviews that they understood why the coworker went on the rampage. Prolonged harassment from managers and supervisors was cited as the reason for the violence.

Although the documentary focused on the glaring example of the Postal Service, the story expanded its commentary to include the erosion of worker rights since the Reagan Administration and the prevalence of employees being bullied by management. The legal system is overwhelming skewed toward supporting employers against employee complaints. Employees have no legal protections from managerial abuse.

Ever increasing demands for production coupled with reduced benefits, lack of job security, and few options for alternative employment are widespread throughout American workplaces. Unhappy workers often feel trapped in their dignity-stripping situations because they can't find work that pays a living wage or offers benefits.

The deterioration of people's ability to earn a living or at least be treated with human dignity fosters widespread alienation. Alienated hopeless people sometimes turn to violence. A business culture that encourages worker abuse and treats people like garbage sucks the compassion out of society.
Murder by Proxy: How America Went Postal is such an important documentary. So many American workers suffer under the boot heels of abuse meant to make them feel small and helpless. Many people can't know their work schedules even a few days ahead of time. Countless petty supervisors hold their power to fire people and potentially put them and their families in the street over their heads. Many people have physical demands placed on them that grind their bodies down with chronic pain. More workers every year have to labor in the limbo of temporary employment and never gain a permanent position, all by design and without any hope of getting ahead.

It's completely accepted as part of our society that most people hate their jobs. The collective misery of so many workplaces has spread throughout society into mall shootings, highway shootings, and school shootings.

When most people live in hateful situations, then flare ups of terrible rage will become routine. The documentary presented awful images from the workplaces shootings. People felled at their desks with rivers of blood soaking into meaningless paperwork. Then chilling images from surveillance cameras showed brutal murders. Eerily calm murderers stalked the halls, guns in both hands, and killed people left and right as casually as playing a video game. Something had stripped them utterly of their humanity.

This documentary is terrifying. There is so much pain and fear out there. If you are being bullied in the workplace, I have no answers for you. Just please know that you do not suffer alone. Please don't copy what so many other destroyed souls have been driven to.

I applaud Emil Chiaberi for making this important documentary. See more about the film and buy Murder by Proxy on DVD or download.