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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pop culture violence equals trouble

Monday, December 24, 2012

In 1774 British troops took control of powder magazines and cannons. In 1775 Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, moved gunpowder aboard ship, essentially disarming the colonists. 237 years is a short period in the history of mankind.

The Newtown, Connecticut, massacre is one of dozens of similar mass murders in this USA over the last 50 years. In 1966 sixteen people were killed in the 'clock tower' incident at the University of Texas. "Going postal" became a part of our lingo in 1986 when an Edmond, Oklahoma postal worker killed 14.

There are some common threads connecting mass murders, but only "disturbed" seems to fit all. Other similarities include the fact that all but one was a man, and most used legally obtained guns. Murder is, and will continue to be, a part of human behavior (see Cain vs. Abel) and bloodbaths will continue without basic societal changes for the better.

Knee jerk proposals ranging from arming school employees, to getting rid of all guns, to strengthening mental health problem detection and treatment make the news. Nothing, though, will work until the culture in our homes and on our screens changes for the better.

According to Wikipedia, Australia, Germany, Brazil, some Arab countries, North Korea and South Korea have banned many video games, but lists only one banned in the USA. The games and movies most popular with young men feature violence.

How many elementary teachers, principals or custodians do you know who would want to carry a weapon? How many "cowboys" would you want to be armed in front of your school children?

If school personnel are armed it won't be long before some unhappy kid, dismissed from the chess team, reaches for his cell phone and is plugged by a trigger happy custodian. In most mass murder cases the perpetrator is prepared to die, so he might welcome a gunfight.

Although I don't know any reason for John Q. Public to have an assault rifle, or high capacity magazines, such a ban will not stop mass murders. It will be a cold day in Hades before handguns and hunting guns are banned, so anyone with a lick of ingenuity, or crookedness, will be able to access a gun.

If not a gun, do you really think there is anyone determined to wreak havoc who cannot concoct a pipe bomb or Molotov cocktail? Locked down schools inconvenience honest people but won't stop a killer. And, there are always crowded malls or street corner targets.

A requirement that psychiatric practitioners report everybody they suspect would go too far. Should relatives or friends take their concerns to local law enforcement? Should troubled people be forced to seek counseling? I obviously have more questions than answers.

Iowa's worst mass murder happened 100 years ago in Villisca when two adults and six children were hacked to death with an axe. Unless, that is, you count the 1857 massacre when 38 settlers living in the Spirit Lake and Okoboji areas were killed by Inkpaduta's Dakota Sioux Indians.

"Any one who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of them better take a closer look at the American Indian." (perhaps by Henry Ford)

Thirty-eight people were murdered in Iowa, population 3.0 million, in all of 2010. Chicago, population 2.7 million, killed 436 in just the first 10 months of 2012. Culture, parenting, education and jobs are major differences between the two areas. In Afghanistan this year 317 Americans have died.

At 1.1 murders per 100,000 population Iowa and Vermont tied for the second fewest in our country in 2010. New Hampshire had the fewest and the District of Columbia (24), Puerto Rico (23), and Louisiana (12), followed by Maryland, Missouri and Mississippi, killed off the most. The rate for the United States was 4.2 per 100,000.

Some of the safest countries were Japan (0.3) Germany (0.8), Australia, (1.0), China (1.0), the United Kingdom at 1.2 and Canada (1.6). Much more violent were North Korea (15), Mexico (17), Greenland (19), Columbia (33), Venezuela (45) and Honduras (92), all per 100,000 population.

Don Paulin, 2carpenterdon@gmail.com, 7557 30th Ave., Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236.

By Don Paulin
Been There, Done That


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