Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Month in Hell

Is there any way we could make February even shorter?

I have always hated this second month of the year and nothing in the 2008 version has happened to change my opinion, what with being sick and unemployed.

And there really seems to be something going around.

In the last week alone, America has been hit with tornadoes, a factory explosion, and a series of multiple fatal shootings that must have the staunchest NRA members diving under their couches--until it's safe to come out, of course.

Just google "shooting" and then stand back as a tidal wave of news stories, blog postings and other such material will burst out of your monitor.

Here are some of the week's greatest should pardon the expression:

Los Angles, CA: a man killed his father, two brothers and a highly respected police officer before being killed by an LAPD sniper.

Kirkwood, MO:a gunman invades city hall and shoots five city officials dead and injures two others, including the mayor. The killer--nicked named "Cookie"--left a note saying "the truth will win in the end."

Portsmouth, OH:a teacher’s estranged husband charged into her classroom firing a gun, then stabbing her. He later killed himself while the teacher survived.

Baton Rouge, LA: a 23-year-old woman shot and killed two other women in a classroom at the Louisiana Technical College and then turned the .357 revolver on herself.

I'm sure I'm leaving out many others, but you get the point. And if you do get the point, please explain it to me, because all I see is pointless violence.

I see photo after photo of people sobbing and cops aiming their guns and those grainy portraits that tell you the person in the picture has just been killed.

It seems like there are a lot of people out there with no self-control and easy access to firearms. Does this combination make sense to you?

I'm thinking of how depressed and angry I've been during the last week, how even the smallest things have been setting me off, and it makes me a little concerned.

I'm not going on any shooting sprees, but I'm having a lot of trouble holding my temper. The physical health is a large part of the problem.

It sounds like I'm making excuses, which I am, of course, but when you're not well, the whole world seems to be ganging up on you.

The gun nuts are saying that firearms are not the problem, that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Yes, I've often seen guns leap up in the air and start firing into crowds. Those damn guns--they should learn to behave.

Crowded Crosshairs

Firearms fanatics say we should have even more guns, so that when one person starts shooting, we can all turn around and shoot him.

Sounds great. But why stop with adults? Let's give guns to teen-agers, toddlers, mentally-challenged people, chimpanzees, anyone and anything that can pick up a pistol, feel free to do so--and start shooting.

We'll have people cart away the bodies and clean up the mess in time for the next slaughter, though at this rate they'll have to move pretty quickly.

Oh, and look, another addition to the hit parade:

Baghdad, Iraq: Five American soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in Iraq on Friday. But, that's okay, the surge is working, can't you tell?

What about that bin Laden guy and the weapons of mass destruction? Oh, that's right, you're not supposed to ask those questions, unless you want to be accused of being in bed with the terrorists.

And, just to show the mayhem isn't happening just in the U.S., here's this item:

Islamabad, Pakistan: A suicide bomber blasted a political gathering Saturday in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people.

We also had a big mafia roundup here in New York this week and it brings back fond memories of the days when we seemed to have this mass mob arrests every other week.

Some people followed--and continue to follow--the comings and goings of gangsters the way other people track Britney Spears and her ilk.

I made the mistake of looking at the comments section of the Daily News after reading their mob arrest story. God, I hate when I do that. It's a such waste of time and invariably I'll read something that will piss me off. (Hide the guns.)

I keep saying that I don't care what these yin-yangs think. And they I'll read the next stupid comment.

The whole comments concept infuriates me. Obviously, I'm prejudiced being a former newspaper reporter, but it's so annoying to have some dimwit click on to your story and add some idiotic, ill-formed, often inflammatory statement to your work. It's like cyber-graffiti.

You got something to say, write a letter. It won't kill you to pick up a pen. (Whereas picking up a gun is a whole other matter.)

Just look at what was tagged on to the mob story:

Why isn't the GOVT in Bay Ridge tracking potential terrorists. They were literally dancing in the streets on 9/11?

I live in Bay Ridge and I didn't see anyone dancing in the streets on 9/11. But then I was across the street from the Trade Center when the planes hit and it took me hours to get home. But I doubt anyone was dancing in the streets.

Let's not forget the FBI Hit Marilyn Monroe and agent Delvecchio killed a whole bunch of people in Brooklyn.
Marilyn Monroe? Was she a terrorist?

F.B.I. - Forever Bothering Italians I like this one, even though I disagree with it and even though I'm half-Italian.

Although I dislike these comments, that hasn't prevented me from joining the digital chorus. After Mitt Romney threw in the towel, thank God, I posted a comment on one of the liberal web sites asking if Romney's five sons were now going to join the army.

You see, when someone asked Mitt, a big war supporter, why his sons weren't over in Iraq, Romney had the gall to actually say that his sons were helping America by working on pop's presidential campaign.

He later back off--flip flopped?--from this asinine assertion, but I still wanted to ask the question. And I still want to see his sons in Iraq.

Now Mitt is saying he's quitting the race for the good of America, which is hard to argue with. Maybe he can leave America for the good of America, and take his quintet of yellow-bellied Mitt-wits with him.

But Mitt meant (Mitt meant? What the hell kind of name is Mitt anyway?)that he was throwing his campaign under the bus to keep the terrorist-loving Democrats from taking over and trying to take our soldiers away from all those roadside bombs.

The nerve of those Democrats. I wonder how Mitt feels about gun control, the sort of thing that might cut down on the number of mass shootings in America the Beautiful.

Nah, no gun control for Mitt and his brethren. People have a right to kill people in America.

Is it March yet?


Mark Brown said...

Fantastic post!

Anonymous said...

You can't have the 1st Amendment without the 2nd Amendment.

Rob K said...

You can't have a first amendment if we're all shooting each other.

The Missouri case in particular underscores that point: the gunman attacked the local government.

Tell the victims' families your amendment ditty. I'll sure they'll be very impressed.

Here's the second amendment, btw:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

This refers to a militia, not lunatics gunning people down 5 at a time.

Rob K said...

Oh, and thanks, Mark!

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is running around shooting each other – this isn’t a civil war.

The idea of disarming American citizens demonstrates a foolish faith and trust in the goodwill of the government. The founding fathers understood fully and first hand that government may be a necessary evil, but that the temptation to power was too strong always. Hence the internal checks and balances on the government designed in the Constitution. The second and tenth amendments were external checks on the government, empowering the people against the possibility of absolutism.

Just because there are statistical anomalies cited in Luna Park’s post does not mean the people of the land should be disarmed. Look at Switzerland, where the country’s tradition is for most citizens to be armed. It has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world!

What you really should be looking into is the causes of a morally bankrupt and psychologically unbalanced America today that finds itself pumped full of chemical depressants, dumbed down by a broken education system, and ever-distracted by a centralized corporate dominated (pop) culture.

Once you look into that, you’ll open your eyes to the wisdom of our Constitution and the potential for absolutism at the hands of neocons and you’ll wish more decent and law-abiding Americans were armed.

Rob K said...

After this week's slaughter, it certainly feels like we're in a civil war.

And while I agree that this country suffers from all those ailments you listed--chemical depressants, broken educational system and Britney-mania, I still maintain that this country is chocked with firearms.

Whatever the Swiss are doing, God bless them, but I don't live in Switzerland.

I live in America, where guns are as plentiful as Ipods and where the NRA has the country's politicians in its hip pocket.

Anonymous said...

Rob, you have no idea what a civil war really is.

But let's get past the sentimentalism and metaphors. It doesn't have to be a civil war.

In a complete shit hits the fan scenario like Katrina you'd be banding with the first armed neighbor you can trust who can help protect you and your family against marauding bandits.

We both agree that the real problem is a spiritual, moral, and cultural malaise in America today. Guns are not the problem.

If you disarmed people you'd only be putting a band aid on the wounded soul of the country, and stripping decent people of the only protection they would have in a time of upheaval.

Please, worry less about guns and more about the real issues in the country leading to all this madness. Otherwise you are merely adding one more distraction to a heap of distractions plaguing America today.

Rob K said...

I'll thank you not to tell me what I do and what I don't know.

As far as the shit hitting the fan, I think the concepts of "armed neighbor" and "trust" will be far apart when disaster strikes.

That neighbor you supposedly trust today may go through a pretty severe personality change when things turn ugly.

Like the song says, you can't talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.

And refresh my memory--were there rampant shootings after Katrina? I know certain right wing scumbags were claiming that was going on, but, as usual, they were lying.

What I remember from the Katrina disaster were people crammed into the Superdome or stranded on rooftops and a president sitting back in the White House with his thumb up his ass.

I don't recall any marauding bandits...outside of the Republican Party.

Guns are a large part of the problem because we have people who cannot express themselves or control their anger so they decide they can only get their way by picking up a gun.

Again, I point to the slaughter in Missouri as an example of that. The shooter in that case--and in many others--had apparently decided he was living in a time of upheaval already.

Decent people need to go to work or go shopping or attend government meetings without fear of getting their heads blown off.

I do worry about guns because they are a threat. The distractions I see are spurious arguments about stripping decent people of their protection and marauding bandits.

We agree on some issues and disagree on others. Ain't that America?

Anonymous said...

Your comment actually adds to my side of the argument.

You say you wouldn't trust your neighbors if the shit hit the fan and they were armed. All the more reason why you should be armed as well - to protect your family from those who might act unpredictably in such a scenario.

You also point to the failure of the gov't in Katrina. I agree with you that the gov't failed there. And regardless of the administration (Democrat or Republican, they're really both the same), I wouldn't have expected much better from the gov't.

While it would be nice if the gov't did what it was supposed to do (primarily protect people), we're sheep to the slaughter if we put blind faith and trust in the gov't and give up our responsibility, right, and liberty to protect ourselves.

Obviously the gov't showed in Katrina that people shouldn't rely on the gov't for help. It's a sad fact and one that seems illogical to generations of sentimentalists and serfs bred in the shadow of the New Deal, but we have to get over it - and fast.

I wouldn't dismiss Switzerland as quickly as you do above. I think there is much the USA can learn from Switzerland, a multi-lingual federation.

You say "Whatever the Swiss are doing, God bless them, but I don't live in Switzerland. I live in America, where guns are as plentiful as Ipods and where the NRA has the country's politicians in its hip pocket."

Let's examine your statement a bit more honestly, please.

Guns are even more plentiful percentage wise in Switzerland than in the USA, and they don't have nor need the NRA because of their traditions and values.

The Swiss have a long and proud tradition of safe firearm training and know how to respect guns. Percentage wise they have one of the largest armed citizen populations in the world, and yet they also have the lowest rate of homicide in the world!

We agree that there are deep-seeded pathologies in contemporary American life. Banning guns is not the answer. In fact I dare say banning guns would be akin to cutting off one head of the hydra - multiple more heads will emerge that would cause even more harm.

Instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by the gun control scam, focus your energies to cut at the root of the moral problems in our society that are leading all these crazy people to do these horrible things.

It’s a much more worthwhile fight.

Calamity Jen said...

"Gun control scam" - wow, I guess all those shootings you hear about on the news have been made up.

Rob, I think you know better than to continue arguing with Anonymous, who feels that it's wise for people to arm themselves in a country full of "deep-seeded pathologies."

I'm just a self-righteous Canadian, of course, so what do I know?

P.S. I've lived in Switzerland. There are plenty of reasons for their lack of violent crime. Gun ownership isn't one of those reasons any more than their many bomb shelters are the reason they haven't been nuked.

Rob K said...

Thank you, Jen. Clearly I touched a nerve, as Mr. Anonymous won't let this go.

Here are some nice stats for Mr. Anonymous to think about:

The U.S. leads the world in gun deaths--and that's because have all the guns.

And, looky here--why Switzerland is batting third in the roster! Nice try making Switzerland into a gun-toting uptopia, but the facts don't bear you out.

Gun Deaths - International Comparisons

Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):
Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.

I don't chose my battles--I can focus my energies on moral problems AND rampant gun ownership.

It's the least I can do for all shooting victims in my country. (which isn't Switzerland, btw)

Happy shooting!