Friday, July 20, 2012

Violence in Denver, Toronto, Barrie, Scarborough, Somalia, Syria, Bulgaria...where next?

By Dan Frosch, William K. Rashbaum, Timothy Williams and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, July 20, 2012
( The story details the Aurora Colorado theatre massacre, during the midnight premier of "Dark Knight Rises,| the last of three BatMan movies.
Michael Bloomberg's reactions will likely typify the reactions of millions, inside and outside the U.S.
His reactions will not, however, be echoed by the National Rifle Association.)
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has waged a national campaign for stricter gun laws, called on President Obama and Mr. Romney to more concretely address the issue of gun violence in their campaigns.

“You know, soothing words are nice,” Mr. Bloomberg said during his weekly radio show, “but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”
The United States is, effectively, an armed encampment, with guns in the bedside tables of many citizens, in the gloveboxes of many cars and trucks, in the desk drawers of many executives and apparently the violence depicted in both movies and in video games is generating bomb-making enterprises in apartments and houses. The second amendment apparently guarantees the "right to bear arms" although the original intent of the law was to provide legal 'cover' for a national militia, clearly not to provide legal justifiation for the proliferation of weapons, even to the extent that some states now provide legal cover for those who shoot "when they think they are being threatened" as in Florida.
Hunters, and members of both the active military and the Reserves, all of them, learn the skills of the operation of guns. And, most of the time, those who know how to use guns use them appropriately, in the bush or on the shooting range.
However, the easy access to guns, in a society addicted to the thrill of violence, and dependent on the "drug" of easy access to violent video games, and violent movies, not to mention the undeterred violence perpetrated by the U.S. against Iraq, more recently Afghanistan (when the real enemy was in collusion with Pakistan, the recipient of billions of American support, while they played their own game of double-cross), the violence in Syria perpetrated by the official government and its president, the terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah (accused by Netanyahu of killing 7 Israeli tourists in Bulgaria this week) the violence of  El Shabab in Africa, the pirates off the coast of Somalia....and there are just the highlighted theatres of violence that make it to the front pages....

What are we to think and to believe about the relationship between this latest wanton act of violence and
  • our pursuit of profit through the sale of violent games and military weapons         
  • our pursuit of political revenge  
  • the  apparent gang violence that disrupts a block party in Scarborough, just this past weekend,
  • the shooting that erupted in The Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto only weeks ago,
  • the current investigation of what can only be called a domestic bomb factory in a residential street in Barrie Ontatio, a bedroom town of Toronto workers not known for its violent reputation,
  • the historic levels of gang-drug-and criminal activity that is currently holding Chicago hostage in the middle of the worst heat wave and drought in a century
  • the uncontrolled and likely even unmonitored violence that is killing hundreds, if not thousands in Syria, most of it committed by the state authorities
  • the bombing by Hezbollah of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria
  • the tidal wave of guns that flows north across the 49th parallel into Canada every day
  • the secret and public provision of weapons by states like Russia, Iran, North Korea to states like Syria, and their disastrous president
  • the terror threats that hang over the London Olympics, to begin later this month...
  • the thousands of live, undetonated land mines that contaminate the land of VietNam and that have already killed, injured and maimed thousands of people in that country
And the list could go on, and on, and on.......
And that list does not include the millions of young people, around the world who, inspite of a quality education and training, are unable to find work and income, in order to establish their families, while draught and high food prices threaten the existence of millions....
Could we be, through no single, identifiable act of either commission or omission, be producing the perfect storm of violence as the instrument of choice for whatever unrest, discontent, political advantage or mere pursuit of infamy? And could that storm be "catching" in the way that all viruses (both literal and metaphorical) are caught, through exposure, and through imitation, when the conditions in the social petrie dish are warm, wet and easily able to replicate the deadly bugs?
And could the collective omission of public attention, including the failure to generate funds for both
policy and research into the causes and the likely roots of this eruption of the human capacity and need for excitement, in a culture which seems to disregard the "other" including even the other's life, result in a
catastrophic enmeshment of societies, both micro and macro, in webs of espionage, identity theft and overt violence as the way for the ordinary citizen to claim "power" when many feel completely powerless?

 And accompanying most of these "dramas" we hear the usual public statements by elected officials:
  • "Our's is a safe city!" or
  • "We will not tolerate violence against the innocent!" or
  • "This is a tragic, cowardly, despicable act!" or
  • "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this terrible violence!".....
all nice words, gapingly vaccuous and meaningless without the necessary political action that can only come from  resolute, confident and independent political leaders who shun the support of the "gun lobby" in whatever country is has taken root, and also is willing to confront, directly, the militarization of so much of our foreign relationships, that our national budgets and our budgets for international aid are being drained, while the terrorists and their methods gain power by simple association and imitation...and their manipulation of our fears.

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