Friday, January 21, 2011

Snapshots II

The ridiculous nature of our discourse in the wake of the Tuscon shootings just won't end. The right continues to act the real victim, ignoring the six dead and multiple wounded. Stupidity piles upon ignorance as the leader of the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, continues her highly profitable star-turn as the biggest victim of the shooting (as a side note, as I watched her appearance on Sean Hannity's television program, I was amazed at his ability to ask questions while his tongue was stuck so far up her ass). The impossibility of any serious discussion of violence, guns, politics, rhetoric was clear enough in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, as some on the left decided to point the finger of blame absent any evidence whatsoever. The right, however, decided to play the game, using the trump card of victimization. What follows, like my previous Snapshots post, is just a random, stream of consciousness list of stories, facts, and other items. Rather than offer a way out of the discursive impossibility we face, I want only to break through, perhaps, with some bits and pieces from the reality we all live without even realizing it.

In a review of a recent scholarly work on guns and violence, Reload: Rethinking Violence in American Life by Florida Atlantic University professor Christopher Strain, Scott McLemee notes an interesting, yet desperate, statistic. In 1996, there were 15 handgun-related deaths in Japan. In the US, that same year, there were 9,390. That is, on average, almost 26 per day. Even accounting for differences in population, that is an astonishing, horrible reality.

Incidentally, the comments on Scott's review are a marvelous example of why having a sane, sober, restrained conversation on guns and violence is impossible. If I weren't used to it, I think I would cry a little.

On July 18, 1984, James Oliver Huberty walked in to a McDonald's in San Ysidro, CA carrying a 9mm Uzi semiautomatic, a 12-gauge shotgun, and 9mm Browning. He killed 22 people before being shot by a SWAT sniper.

On March 24, 1998, at a middle school just outside Jonesboro, AR, 5 people were killed and ten wounded in a shooting. The perpetrators were a thirteen year old and an eleven year old.

The phrase "going postal" has become a commonplace for marking workplace violence, due to a spate of shootings in postal facilities that began in the mid-1980's in Edmond, OK and include other incidents in New Jersey, California, Oregon, Michigan, and Tennessee.

In a summary of a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they report that, in the fourteen years between 1992 and 2006, there were 11,613 workplace homicides in the United States. While the CDC does note variances among the years, the average is 829.5 people dying each of those years from violence in the workplace. Not accident, not unsafe working conditions directly related to workplace performance or equipment. 830 people died, on average, each of those years due to homicide.

The summer of 1919 was known as "Red Summer". As the United States tried to adjust to the post-World War I era, including the heroic actions of segregated African-American troops, the re-establishment of white supremacy, north and south, led to a series of race riots across the country. Between May 10, in Charleston, SC and October 1 in Elaine, AR, there were 34 separate racially-motivated attacks by whites upon African-Americans. The dead were numbered in the hundreds.

Two years later, the Greenwood section of Tulsa, OK, a thriving, economically and socially successful black neighborhood, disappeared, burned to the ground in an orgy of racial violence.

On January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy opened fire on the crowded playground of Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, kiling five children.

From today's Chicago Tribune:
Three men were killed and two others wounded overnight in a house on the south side of Gary in what police believe was a drug-related shooting.

According to police, a man called 911 at 10:40 p.m. from another home nearby, saying he had been shot in the home at 3829 Washington Street.

When police arrived, they found three adult males dead, all apparently from gunshot wounds.

They also found a 4-year-old girl, uninjured and now in protective custody. Police said her father was one of those killed.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, there were 88,097 forcible rapes reported in the United States in 2009, among the lowest figures from the past 20 years. That is 241 rapes per day. Hurray for lowering it to that figure.

I'll stop for now. All the blather on television, on radio, on the internet, at least as it is currently conducted, is meaningless. It seems impossible to grasp that there are 241 rapes - just forcible rapes - reported - just reported - each and every day in the United States. This is a low figure, as the violent crime rate continues to decrease. As long as these realities receive, at best, a sorrow-filled shake of the head, and a dispassionate shrug of the shoulders (what can you do, crazy people will do crazy things blah blah blah) we will continue to talk about inanities like "blood libel" and talk about pogroms of conservatives, all the while the bodies pile up, lives and families and whole communities lie broken and bleeding, as long as no one says quietly, but firmly - "Enough".

Virtual Tin Cup

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