The Sandy Hook Discussion: “But I Think The Gun Helps”

photo of president obama talking about the sandy hook massacre pictures
This post is, perhaps, a bit more of a rant than most. So . . . enjoy.

The horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was a national tragedy.

I think that that is one thing on which most of us can agree. I will not regurgitate the upsetting details here. Because I want to talk about the response to the shooting—the things on which we do not all agree.

A lot of people are blaming the lack of access to mental health services in many places in the US.

A lot of people are blaming the easy access to guns throughout the US.

There are some loony people who are blaming outlandish things. I mean, for one thing, the idea that prayer being “banned” from schools is responsible for the shooting would be an absurd and, frankly, insulting concept even if prayer were banned in schools. But, I mean, it is not. I went to public school. Some students pray before they eat their food at lunch. My high school did not, to my knowledge, have an Abstinence Club, but there was a Fellowship Of Christian Athletes and they certainly prayed. I know that students might pray fervently and silently before, during, and after taking particularly important tests. Some students pray during the raising of the flag in the morning, though for the life of me I have no idea which school club or what is responsible for doing that.

What people complain about being banned is mandatory prayer in schools. And people complain about exclusive prayer in schools. When you go to a friend’s house and his or her family prays before a meal, it is polite to remain silent as it happens and to wait before you eat and perhaps to hold hands—depending upon the customs of your friend’s family. That’s called being polite, and you are at a friend’s house of your own volition. School is a very different situation. No mandatory, teacher-led, or student-let classroom prayer could ever be “non-denominational” enough to not exclude at least some of the religious students. And, oh by the way, not all students are religious at all. There is no need to bully students of minorities (or majorities) by excluding them. Formal and informal student-groups and afterschool clubs are more than sufficient for any student religious group.

I have even heard some proponents of “bringing prayer back to our schools” speak as if those students (and parents) who object to institutional prayer in schools are invading parties. That is not the case. Even if that mattered, I know that my family has been in this particular county of this particular state since before the Civil War. We have not invaded anywhere recently.

Interestingly, Mike Huckabee and the Westboro Baptist Church (that’s the “God Hates Fags” group) seem to have similar views on the shooting. Mike Huckabee has blamed “taxpayer-funded abortion pills” (his concept of reality is a little shaky) and other signs of the US having laws differing from those of conservative Christianity for the shooting. The Westboro Baptist Church (that’s Fred Phelps’ thing and, oh by the way, he is …

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Male Killers More Overt, But No Crueler Than Females

Scales with Men and Women

The recent movie theater massacre in Aurora shocked the country.  On some level, it did to movie-going what 9/11 did to flying—essentially, took away the innocence of what had hitherto been a common, everyday occurrence.

And, predictably, in the face of world-rocking disasters set into place by humans, the situation has been parsed on many levels.  Who was this James Holmes?  Why did he go with “The Joker”?  What could happen to cause a doctoral student to run amok?  What does this mean to the gun-control pissing contest?  Did Holmes’ psychiatrist have an obligation to alert authorities as to his profoundly violent tendencies?

I found myself most intrigued by a piece from Erika Christakis, an administrator at Harvard University, positing that mass murder has a tendency to be … well, a male-dominated club.  While Christakis admits that it’s not like women never kill (and there’s the odd female serial killer that’s floated through history), it’s an inarguable fact that the most shocking acts of violence, including but not limited to mass murder, have been “overwhelmingly perpetrated by men”.

In fact, Christakis goes so far as to say throw out there that “our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.”

Hmm …

From Time:

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims. The numbers are sobering when we look at young men. In the U.S., for example, young white males (between ages 14 and 24) represent only 6% of the population, yet commit almost 17% of the murders. For young black males, the numbers are even more alarming (1.2% of the population accounting for 27% of all homicides). Together, these two groups of young men make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.

A lot of my teacher friends and colleagues and I have a theory on fighting that goes on in schools—basically, if girls get into a fight, it’s forever.  Oh, they may smile and “make up”, but both sides (and their legions of friends) will never forget the situation.  It gets dragged up repeatedly, often into adulthood.  Boys get pissed at each other, beat the shit out of each other, and have basically forgotten the whole thing within a month and often become friends.

As this has always been my attitude, I found those statistics troubling, to say …

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So What’s the Dealio With This Herman Cain Guy?

Photo of Herman Cain
I was having a conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago when he asked my thoughts on Herman Cain.  I’m embarrassed to admit it, but my initial reaction was, “Who the hell is Herman Cain?”

His response?  “The Godfather’s Pizza guy.”

Which made me feel marginally better, considering the guy’s all over the news and I’d barely noticed his existence.

It did get me thinking, though, about how bizarre it is that a presidential candidate can pretty much rise out of the middle of nowhere and somehow become fairly popular.  It also  made me realize that I knew virtually nothing about Cain’s positions, and I have to tell you, the research has been pretty interesting on that one.

Cain on a woman’s right to choose, courtesy of Wonkette:

We are beginning to wonder if Herman Cain actually understands …

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Rethinking Kids, Television, Violence … and Guns

Poster Against Gun Violence for Children

I was behind a truck plastered with NRA stickers at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru today.  I remember thinking about how interesting it was that gun lovers feel compelled to advertise so passionately before telling myself that, really, anyone with a heavy agenda is going to be rather vehement with the bumper décor.

But then I got thinking about a recent story out of Logansport, Indiana about a 14-year-old girl shot in the head by her sister during a reenactment of CSI, and it got me contemplating many things, notably the ease with which children can get their hands on weapons and the glorification of guns …

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