Looking For Clues...

sorabji.com: What are you doing here?: Looking For Clues...
By R.C. on Friday, May 22, 1998 - 02:25 am:
    ...trying to make sense of the world. Needing to get these thoughts out of my cranium & bounce them off someone else's brain. (Yes, this will be another of R.C.'s long rambles/so depart now if you're not in the mood.)

    This has been a very intense week/& I'm a bit shellshocked. I don't know if it made the national media/but there was an armed-hostage crisis in Tampa (just an hour from where I live) on Tuesday. A 4-yr-old boy was shot in the face. At home. The mother's boyfriend was with him at the time. (He was not the dad.) He grabbed the kid/ran to a local firehouse so the EMT's cd work on him until the ambulance came. At the firehouse/the guy's story abt the shooting sounded fishy. (1st the kid was dragging the gun around & shot himself/then he accidentally shot the kid trying to retrieve the gun.) He went back to the house after the ambulance came (why not go to the hospital with the boy?)/but fled when the cops arrived to question him. So the cops caught him & cuffed him. Only they cuffed him in the front (odd/considering that he had just run away -- why wd they extend such a courtesy?). Turns out the jerk always wears a universal handcuff key on a chain around his neck. Apparently/he's been cuffed a few times in the past.

    While they were driving him to the stationhouse (& there's no bullet-proof pane in the cop cars in Tampa)/he got out of the cuffs/reached in the front seat/grabbed one of the cop's guns & shot him. So now the kid is dead & a cop is dead. Then he takes off to a gas station & takes the woman working there hostage.

    It was all over the t.v. for the next several hrs. Like O.J's slow-speed Bronco chase. In the end/he released the hostage & shot himself. Three gun-shot deaths in one day.

    Then yesterday/that kid in Oregon comes to school & shoots 15 people in the cafeteria -- before classes have even started.

    No one from the NRA has deigned to offer any comment on either shooting.


    Maybe I'm oversimplifying things here -- if so/ then let me know. And yes/I was considering buying a gun over the next couple of weeks/to have when I move into my new place. But not anymore. I decided today that I will never, ever own a gun/or live in a house where guns are present. (Altho' I grew up in such a house -- my Dad was a cop.)

    There have been, what, half a dozen incidents of kids gunning down their fellow students at school since this year began? And the shooters were all White. Which makes me wonder... I remember living in NY 3 years ago & how often shootings went down at schools in Black neighborhoods. You cd read abt it in the Daily News almost every week. But I don't remember any of those stories getting national coverage. Even the local media lost interest after a day or so/once the kid had been arrested. And crime has dropped considerably in NY in the time I've been gone. Yet the shootings this year/all by White boys from comfortable homes in suburban or rural areas/have been covered as extensively as Monicagate. Does the country not care when it's Black kids killing other Black kids? Does the media not care? Or is it just my imagination?

    And what will it take for parents to start marching & protesting/calling for a referendum to ban civillian ownership of ANY type of gun? Fuck hunting & target shooting -- who needs that shit? Those aren't 'sports' -- & they're not valid justification for allowing guns in homes. I don't know what was on that 14-yr-old's mind/what cd possible have filled him with such hatred & rage ... But I know that whether he was mentally ill or just pissed off/if his parents hadn't had guns in the house/he wdn't have been able to go out & shoot anyone. It's that simple.

    How many times does this have to happen before the NRA-types get it? The gov't. can't fix all the social & personal problems that kids are forced to deal with today. Conservatives point the finger at 'liberal-induced moral decay'. But nobody's willing to say it's immoral to put kids at risk by having guns in the homes they live in...?
    Everyone knows children have low impluse control. Everyone knows they aren't always able to make the right decisions. Which is why we don't let them drive or drink or get married before they reach a certain age. It's illegal for kids to buy a gun in Oregon -- but they can get a permit to carry & use one (in hunting & target shooting)! What kind of ass-backwards thinking is that?

    Is it irrational for me to think that it's time to completely ban private ownership of all guns? I don't care abt the 2nd Amendment -- I'm willing to sacrifice my 'right to bear arms' if it will guarantee that what happened yesterday & on Tuesday never happens again. And I don't care abt men wanting & their macho bloodlust -- nobody needs to 'bond' with their kid by killing animals for the hell of it. And little boys don't need to be taken out to shooting ranges & taught 'how to handle guns responsibly'. We've seen what all that 'training' leads to. Anyone who doesn't get it by now is just too stupid for words.

    I dunno... Maybe I'm being overly emotional in the wake of such a bloodbath. But I don't think so. I think the parents of that boy wish they had never brought a gun into their house. Yet even in the other cases/none ofthe parents ever came forward to say "We made a mistake. We never shd have had a gun in our home. Don't make the same mistake in your home." Not one parents was willing to stand up for getting rids of guns. Becuz they were so much 'a part of the lifestlye where we live".

    Any thoughts or comments from my fellow Sorabjians wd be greatly appreciated. My head hurts now/so I'm going to bed.

By PR on Friday, May 22, 1998 - 02:20 pm:
    And Oatbrains has a problem with black people? I agree, it has been nothing but white kids gunning down other white kids....what's their problem? I don't know.

    I do know that they say that if you buy a gun for your home, your are X times more likely to be shot yourself by that gun than you are to actually shoot some intruder....(fill in whatever number for X). I would never own a gun only because I feel that gun ownership should be left to the professionals, i.e. police, etc. The NRA is screwing themselves royally over the fact that they fight so vehemently over their so-called rights....and perceive any attempt to support modest gun control is seen by them as an attack on their constitutional rights. When was the last time a hunter needed an assault rifle to go deer hunting? Yet they scream and yell and cry when someone tries to impose a (sensible) ban on the importation of assault weapons. Or trying to ban armor-piercing bullets....how many game animals are there who are wearing bulletproof vests that would require these bullets to be sold?? Yet the NRA will fight to the death even the slightest perceived encroachment to their gun-owning self-righteous asses....

    And now we have school kids bringing guns to school and students are being shot left and right and it just is too crazy to be real. Metal detectors in schools? Bomb sniffing dogs in schools? Where does it end?

    The NRA claims that if taught at a young age to respect weapons and the proper procedure for handling guns, we wouldn't have these shootings. And what image does everyone remember from the last round of shootings? Right, the little kid being taught to shoot....what was he then? Five??? Well they did a real bang-up job of raising him, didn't they?

    Don't get me started...I could go on all day and there is so much to say on this.

    Thanks for the opportunity to ramble and vent and so on and so forth R.C. This country is gone to hell, anyone realize that?

By Markus on Friday, May 22, 1998 - 08:17 pm:
    Who gives a fucking shit about the race of the kids shooting each other? Except you guys, of course. I'm getting damn tired of everything having to have a racial component to it, from Oatmeal for Brains to people who capitalize people's races like it was not only the most important aspect of their humanity, but a proper noun as well.

    One example, RC - You complain because the media is making a big deal of "White" kids shooting each other; must mean nobody cares when "Blackfolks" do the same. But if it was the other way around - the stories seemed to be mostly about black city kids whacking each other - then you'd be the first to decry the media's portrayal of blacks as violent while ignoring whites doing the same thing. RC, I respect you, but you've got a serious hangup with race. It's far different from the trash who has been posting here lately, but it's almost as intense.

    And that's what this is - impressions. Have you done, or even read, an objective study on actual vs. reported violent incidents nationwide broken down by race? Doubt it. So everyone sees what they're predispositioned to notice. That's why the racist notices when a waiter of the opposite race doesn't bring his food quickly or some other insignificant perceived slight, but when a person of the same race does the exact same thing, it goes completely unremarked upon and unremembered.

    I don't know how it happened, but I grew up pretty much color blind, and remain so. Just one more reason to thank God I grew up in the Midwest. While I think that this society has come leagues even just since my childhood (just think what fucked up things were common in the sixties that seem almost as remote as slavery to someone born later), and is heading in the right direction in fits and starts, I sometimes despair over the unresolved issues and the obsession this country has with something as fucking idiotic as race. And it's not just the Grand Imperial Cyclops wannabees, but the self-proclaimed moralist liberals flagellating themselves and everyone else, to the smug white country club types, to the intragroup prejudices of various ethnic groups, to......hey, screw baseball, this is the national pastime.

    Everyone just take a deep breath and.........just forget about it all for a minute. Whew. Doesn't that feel a lot lighter, just dealing with people on the basis of rational things. OK, time's up, you can go back to wringing your hands over she's Hispanic, he seems gay, I think that guy might be a Muslim.....

By Nate on Friday, May 22, 1998 - 09:54 pm:
    I tend to agree with RC. Black boys have been shooting each other up for a while, but the problem rarely hits the media. These occurances with the upset white boys shooting up their schools are relatively small and minor in comparison. (time to dig up those stats no one looks at.)

By R.C. on Saturday, May 23, 1998 - 12:47 am:

    Your point is well taken. All I can say is that my experiences in the world are filtered thru the prism of race. I can never remember a time in my life where I was not conscious of being Black. I can remember 1st becoming aware of being female/ around age 4 or 5/& beginning to understanding how that made me different from boys. But I've always known that I was Black & that Black was different from what most people around me were. And that knowledge/coupled with what I know of our history in this country/ are what shapes my perception of events. Maybe that's a bad thing/but if it is a 'hang-up' as you say/it's not something I can or want to change.

    In regards to the media coverage/the fact that Blackfolks doing terrible things gets so much coverage is precisely why I noticed how little national-attention was paid to the Black-on- Black school shootings a few years ago. There weren't any Nightline specials or town meetings abt it that I can recall. So the fact that the more- recent shootings are getting so much coverage only leads me to one conclusion -- that race is playing a part.

    I cd be wrong. Maybe it's a Black thang. But I can't help but analyze those kinds of glaring differences.

    FYI: Re: The Tampa Shooting

    I was mistaken abt the number of people who were killed. Three cops were shot/in addition to the boy. One of them was a rookie who just joined the force last year.

By Markus on Saturday, May 23, 1998 - 02:07 pm:
    I'm sorry about the tone of my previous message. I'm cranky these days. But this topic really does distress me. And it doesn't help that I'm living near DC, where the racial issue is routinely manipulated on all sides for the basest of reasons: personal gain, whether political, financial, or otherwise. Also, the media coverage here sometimes does go the other way: the overwhelming impression in these parts is that the parts of DC where "we" would go are are safe, it's just those (black) parts where all the drugs and slaughter and craziness are.

    The other major problem in our society (and one which is probably more intractable than the racial issues, since it seems to be getting worse, whereas we've seen some encouraging progress on the other) is the violence issue. It's so deeply ingrained from the beginning, and is so much more complicated an issue than fucks from Oz or Switzerland can catch on to. I don't know whether it's from the violent founding of this country and the frontier it was forged in, or the overwhelming personal freedoms found nowhere else on the planet or in history carried to an extreme, weakening the feelings of group obligations, or something else. But there's no question that we're a violent society. Now, in the name of freedom, we're willing to assume some risk. This country was founded on risk, and not coincidentally is the only one so far to put humans on the moon, and done some other pretty bold and kickass things that mild, safe, stay-at-home brush your teeth three times a day nations couldn't even begin to dream about, much less accomplish. (I enjoyed the hell out of Tom Hanks' recent HBO series From the Earth to the Moon). But violence seems to be getting worse, its corrupting tentacles reaching even into my homeland of rural towns in the land of Grant Wood. I don't have an answer; just muttering out loud like everyone else here.

By Oatmeal Boy on Saturday, May 23, 1998 - 02:12 pm:
    White Male 22, middle Class.

    Marcus must be having his period right about now.

By Blindswine on Saturday, May 23, 1998 - 10:09 pm:
    y'know... i just typed out a couple pages worth of response to this string, and when i went to post it my browser crashed.

    i'm taking that as an omen.

By R.C. on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 02:12 am:
    Well, I know I can't solve this problem/but I can & did write (via snail mail) to the bums in D.C. who can at least get the ball rolling.

    If any of you wish to call or e-mail yr Senator or Congressman & send them a letter asking for tougher gun control laws/you can find out who speaks for you in Washington & contact them via Congressional Addresses.

By Markus on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 02:55 am:
    Oddly, perhaps, I don't generally favor gun control laws. But that's another story indeed, that (hopefully) none of us want to get into here and now. I just wanted to say that I spent four years in the House in charge of constituent contact for three different Members. On this issue, at least, most of them have already made their bed, and just shoot out one of two form letters out under the semi-automated correspondence management system (the main one of which I also helped a VAR develop and support for a year and a half). Constituent letters are an assembly line business, unless you're one of the five percent writing in about something truly offbeat; I mean, we even had a form letter about the Park Service's plan to stop maintaining the boat ramp at the St. Mark's Wildlife Sanctuary.

    But if you do want to write in, always make it a personal letter, not a form letter of your own; handwritten can be a plus, if legible. Most offices keep a tally of the pros/cons on issues, and a few of the selected letters cross the Member's desk. But there are thousands of pieces of mail coming into each office four times a day. Your missive will almost certainly go to a legislative assistant who deals with that issue, who will type in your name and address, any relevant codes they can glean from your letter (NOGUN, AFRO, PINELLAS) for future self-promotional mass mailings at your expense, and assign it the relevant form letter to be automatically printed, folded, sealed, and mailed. Or if it's a real obvious issue with high volumes, particularly organized campaigns of identical postcards, it'll be done by an intern.

    Sorry to throw cold water on the image of democracy in action that you got in high school civics class. Ask me about How a Bill Becomes a Law.

    But on the big ones such as abortion, gun control, and the like, almost every one already has her/his mind made up and is just going to try to justify this to constituents on the other side in the manner which will piss them off the least. The only real shot you've got to influence how your rep votes on these issues is on election day.

By Pete on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 09:00 am:
    That's depressing man....is it too early to start drinking?

By R.C. on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 08:08 pm:
    Not at all, Pete. Have some of my Gold 'Ritas. The pitcher's too big for me to finish alone.

    Thanks Markus for the 411. I've never consider writing to politicians anything more than a symbolic gesture. But in the wake of these recent tragedies/I figure that if enough letters come into Washington screaming in favor of tougher gun control/the pols are going to have to rethink their positions. Becuz they never know when voters are going to make their choice in the next election a single-issue vote -- i.e. "I can't find a pol who supports my beliefs on all the issues/so I'm gonna vote for whoever's pro gun contro/since that's at the top of my list."

    But that cd be wishful thinking too. You want salt on that glass, Pete?

By Christopher on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 08:46 pm:
    I'm in favor of "gun control", but not neccesarily the extreme kind that legislates it into impossibility for anyone other than cops or military to own them. Measures that would require a locking mechanism make the most sense. In the dim future we may one day have a gun that won't fire except for the person who owns it. It's easy to jump onto the reactionist bandwagon (I'm not calling ANYONE a reactionist...), and say "lets outlaw the damn things altogether!", but on reflection even the most anti-gun lobbyist would have to realize the inherent danger of a country who's only armed force are the people "in control". Just because we don't have a junta government right now, doesn't prevent it from happening in the future. The democracy we live in is one that needs to be defended. Perhaps even from enemies that claim they are doing something for our own good. My $.02.

By Pete on Monday, May 25, 1998 - 10:01 pm:
    Yes R.C.....a little salt please.

    Now didn't Scotland recently ban all handguns, firearms, weapons, etc. And that was because of just the one mass school shooting....what was it? 16 kids and a teacher?

    We probably have more than 16 kids a day dying from handgun violence and nobody bats an eyelash....*sigh*. Maybe you're right Christopher, but wouldn't it be nice to just get rid of the damn things altogther?

    *What a wonderful world......* -- Louis Armstrong


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