Violent Culture: Not much optimism for changes 2012.12.19

Written by David Green.

It’s the large-scale murders in public places that grab our attention the most, but mass shootings are anything but rare in America.

In fact, shootings occurred in every month but June this year. August was particularly hard hit with seven people dying Aug. 5 in Wisconsin, three people dying Aug. 13 at Texas A&M, one death and nine injuries in New York City Aug. 24, and three deaths in a New Jersey supermarket Aug. 31. There was also a high school shooting Aug. 28 in Baltimore.

Every month but June…. The year’s tally of fatalities now stands at 93, not including the killers who often took their own lives.

None of the 18 incidents in 2012 hurt as much as the recent elementary school shooting in Connecticut and of course it’s launched another round of the continuing debate about why the United States is such a violent country.

Some blame the ease of obtaining weapons. Others cite the legal status of assault weapons, questioning the need for that weaponry among citizens not engaged in a war.

From the other side comes the argument that those weapons will be needed when it’s time to fight against an unjust government, and some citizens believe that time is already here.

Some people note that it’s easier to obtain an assault weapon than to obtain mental health services—something desperately needed by the murderers. Others criticize the adverse effects of the medication prescribed through mental health services.

Some people favor an “arms race” approach and are certain that more guns is the solution. Armed guards are needed at every school and school personnel should have weapons. Others cite public health studies that point to the opposite: the more guns available, the more shootings that follow. An estimated 300 million guns are now in the U.S.—one for every citizen.

Does the “virtual violence” of video games affect a small subset of young people? Is the early recognition of psychosis a key?

A few big name personalities are quick to point to what they see as the obvious problem: We’re being punished by God. It’s the same reason given for hurricanes and other disasters.

All of these conflicting opinions suggest that not much is going to change, that guns will continue to be very pervasive in this country, that our culture of violence is here to stay.

That’s a very bleak look at our future, but disturbing events such as the Newtown shooting don’t offer up much hope.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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