10 January 2011

Gabrielle Giffords, Part of a Long List

Back in September, HERE I wrote of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her "Sense of Congress" letter in defense of the preservation of Social Security as the right-wing re-energized its drive for privatization and reductions in benefits. This took courage on her part, as her district is largely Republican. Today she lies in a hospital fighting for her life after being gunned down by a crazy man said to be angry with her politics.

As with all such events of violence upon the innocent; people are slinging accusations, and blame, and grasping for answers.  Liberals are blaming right-wing rhetoric and Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" website "targeting" liberals.  At some point, I have no doubt that violent video games will be trotted out as a contributing factor. There might even be hearings.

But, the real problem, the underlying problem, will be, as always, ignored.  We Americans exalt violence, and praise and highly reward those who practise violence as a profession.  Doubt me?  Watch the NFL playoffs, watch a hockey match, or boxing match and come here and try to dispute me.  We tolerate and even venerate violence on on hand, and deplore and tsk-tsk its manifestations on the other.

H. Rap Brown said it very well back in the "Day's of Rage", when our inner cities burned, "Violence is as American as cherry pie!"  No, he did not say apple, he said cherry.

Doubt him?  Lincoln, McKinley, Garfield, Huey Long, George Wallace, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton, John Lennon, Matthew Sheperd, Martin Luther King, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church shooting, Oklahoma City, Harvey Milk, Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan, Allan Berg, George Tiller, Columbine...OK?  Enough? Got it?

There's others if you demand it!

Our problem is multi-fold.  One, we are very ambivalent about violence, and two, we have not yet decided, as a culture, that we want to develop a way, or programs, which will, early on, identify the deeply disturbed among us, intervene, and effectively treat them or else remove them from the general population so that they no longer present a risk.  I believe the first contributes to our lack of will on the second.

And, three, how do we, as a free society, devise a means to monitor and identify violence prone people without relinquishing our freedom and individuality to some sort of totalitarian mental health overseer?  Well, starters would be effective, universal, and standardized childhood education with professionals trained to recognize the warning signs and readily available resources and programs designed to intervene or segregate those who display the warnings signs.  It really is that simple!

If course we won't. We'll burn candles, pray, weep, wring our hands, and hold vigils and marches for awhile, blame each other, then we'll forget about it until the next tragic event wrought by some maniac.  I'm betting by Superbowl Sunday we'll have pretty much moved on.

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