Monday, August 04, 2008

A Brief History of Violence; or, Guns for show, knives for a pro

A few incidents of gun violence have made me realize that you could do a pretty solid blog consisting of nothing but the day's reports of gun deaths.

America (or the United States of same) has a problem with gun violence. Guns are easy for the wrong people to get. Criminals. Crazy people. Even when safeguards are put in place to keep guns from being sold to these people, there is a thriving "secondary market" of stolen guns being sold to anyone with cash.

I have blog friends from all over the world. I'd love to see some of them come to America to see what it's like firsthand. But many of them are afraid to come here. In their minds, if they come to America they will be carjacked, raped, shot, and murdered, not necessarily in that order. I've tried to assure them that the odds of this happening to them on any given day are less than 1 in 100, so they shouldn't let such a concern keep them away. They haven't responded favorably to this argument yet.

Still, it's not like the United States is the only country with a problem. England and Japan have had some pretty spectacular stabbing incidents recently. Canada just had an incident of a man beheading a stranger on a bus, while Greece had an incident of a man beheading his girlfriend - and then carrying her severed head around with him for a while.

When I was in Ireland - I'm not sure if this was my 2006 visit or an earlier one - a man was beaten to death with a toaster. Not a fast or pleasant way to go.

Locally we had an incident a few weeks ago where someone tied up two people while holding them at gunpoint, and then killed them - using hammers and what I believe are being referred to as "other construction tools." Chisels? Screwdrivers? I have no idea.

When I met Chelsea Clinton in Scranton earlier this year I had a few seconds to talk to her. Nothing much. Not that I was being rushed at all, and in fact I could have hung out with Chelsea at a nearby bar/restaurant afterwards, but I didn't want to delay the nice lady who took my picture and her daughter from getting to talk to Chelsea. So I think all I said to her after the picture was taken was something like, "I have a lot of friends who are afraid to travel to America. I hope your mom helps change that." I wasn't just thinking about our culture of violence. I was also thinking of the ever-more-draconian steps that are being taken to discourage any visitors from coming to this country, all in the name of National Security.

I don't know what the answer to any of this is. I don't know how to solve the problem of gun violence in America, or non-gun violence everywhere. I don't know how we can strike the correct balance between maintaining a free and open society and maintaining a level of safety and security. I don't know what I can do to make this country less frightening to my blogging friends from other countries.

Any suggestions?

TITLE REFERENCES: "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking; "A History of Violence", the graphic novel and later film; and a quote from "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", when a mild-mannered chef's friends realize there's a side of him they never suspected.

1 comment:

whimsical brainpan said...

I really wish I had some suggestions. The current regime has cultivated a culture of fear and we have bought into it.