Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Criminality of the State

This says it all, doesn't it?

"No, 'democratic' State practice is nothing more or less than State practice. It does not differ from Marxist State practice, Fascist State practice, or any other. Here is the Golden Rule of sound citizenship, the first and greatest lesson in the study of politics: you get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you. A citizenry which has learned that one short lesson has but little more left to learn."

Our Violent Nation: a philosophical resolve

Why do incidents like that which occurred on the Virginia Tech campus happen? Why are we so violent? Why is there not a solution?

Is there a solution?

Yes! There is!

The process towards a solution for violent behavior will always inherit the complexities of mental illness, brain injury, abuse, and just plainly, evil people. There is no solution to this reality, but a change in Americas attitude towards violence can, in some cases, minimize a disposition towards violence and can limit, or even eliminate the resources necessary to commit the violence: guns, violent video games, the violent lyrics of Rap Music, and other media presentations of violence beyond what maybe necessary, as well as correcting Americas insensitivity toward each other. We need to bring civility into the lives of Americans who have the psychological wherewithal to be civil, and work to understand, help, and marginalize the conditions in which violence festers in those who do not.

We will never be able to prevent all violence but we can minimize and marginalize it.

There are voices that point to the lack of satisfactory gun control laws. Hunters have limitations placed on them on the type of weapon and ammunition they can use for killing an animal. Why do we have no limitations on the weapons and ammunition that are intended to be used on humans? We desperately need a comprehensive federal gun control law.

“The federal law banning the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons, known as the federal assault weapons ban, has expired. It was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. President Clinton signed it into law on September 13, 1994. Despite his promise to renew the ban, President George W. Bush and Congress allowed the ban to "sunset" in September of 2004.” (1)

“… we value more their killer Cho Seung Hui's untrammeled right to purchase not only a Glock 19 and a Walther P22, but also the ammunition clips that, according to the April 18 Washington Post, would have been impossible to obtain legally had Congress not allowed President Clinton's assault-weapon ban to expire three years ago.” (2)

“The semiautomatic, lightweight Glock, a favorite of police and gangbangers alike, can fire five rounds a second. A magazine of ammo, holding up to 33 hollow-point bullets (effective at tearing up internal organs), can be swapped out for another in under two seconds.” (3)

There will always be people who are violent but we do not need to give them the resources to be deadly.

Why do Americans accept this deplorable need for guns; why do Americans have a violent nature? The reason is because we have a gun cult in America; Americans are addicted to violence; Americans are addicted to killing: “War Is The Force That Gives Us Meaning” (4), abortion, capital punishment (the death penalty); Americas insatiable need for revenge; Americas insatiable need for retaliation; Americas schadenfreude; Americas avarice; Americas voyeurism; Americas lack of civility.

Many will argue that some of these conditions are not related. However they all have interlocking threads. I would argue that you cannot have one without the other in some way, shape or form. They are at the core of what is wrong with America.

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is the best-known slogan of the National Rifle Association, the most effective pro-gun lobbying organization in the United States. But it’s really a cultural thing: the British have bad teeth, the French smell of garlic, Americans tend to have more bullet-holes in them than other people. Despite the nationality of the Virginia Tech killer, the slogan should actually go: “Guns don’t kill Americans; Americans kill Americans.” (5)

(Interestingly, all of the reasons for violence are the same reasons for war.)

Man is addicted to hate; the sibling of hate is fear; and fear creates a need to have a weapon. The greater man’s fear the greater the need to increase weapon lethalness. This perpetuates the need for an American to own a gun and for those who posses weapons, law enforcement and militias, to increase the lethalness of their weaponry. This is perpetuation, where violence begets violence, which creates the need for weapons of greater destructive power and there intensity to do harm; an ever increasing need for a personal WMD.

Just look how we have evolved: from the Musket, Six-Shooter and the Thompson Sub Machine Gun to AK47 Assault Rifles and the Glock 19. When police forces adopted the Glock 19 it was argued, at the time, that they needed increased firepower to combat the criminals who were arming themselves with weapons of increasingly deadliness.

There are those who advocate an armed citizenry in order for all of us to be able to protect ourselves and others. No one would dare to be violent if everyone had a gun to respond to the violence, or so the argument is expressed. This mindset is nothing more than an advancement of the perpetual need for weapons, and of which would result only in a perpetuation of violence: It’s the “cowboy mentality.

”There are other voices who direct their concerns at the lack of our ability to detect psychological conditions: Abuse, mental illness, brain injury and evilness. (6) Yes, we need to learn more.

Our attempts at solutions have been reactive. All police and militia actions are reactionary. We cannot rely on the police or other agencies as a way to resolve violence or to protect us from it. Their entity and the environment within which they work is violent in nature. They must have a violent response in the reactionary world in which they work. Their work is investigatory. They show-up after the crime has been committed.

No one addresses the question: What can we do proactively to minimize violence? Although there have been some meager attempts.

There are no voices expressing our lack of sensitivity towards each other. There is a very ubiquitous lack of civility. Two recent examples: Don Imus’s faux pas and Actor Alex Baldwin recent visceral response to some disagreement with his daughter.

Our lack of civility is represented everyday in realty shows, news reporting, sports and in particular extreme boxing, boxing, wrestling (why not bring back the blood sport of the Roman Colosseum!), and our comedy. Don Imus’s remark was intended to be considered funny (?).

Seung Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech Campus murderer, through his behavior, demeanor and countenance, and his writing, raised many “red flags,” but few cared enough to take the action necessary to prevent this tragedy. There was insensitivity towards this man as a human being. We only looked at his mental condition, and so there was a failure to act. There were those who showed their concern and took extraordinary action to curb what appeared to them as an extremely disturbed individual, but there was not a satisfactory protocol or societal commitment to address their concerns; again, they were looking at the psychology and not the man when they needed to look at both. Americans use the phrase “falling through the cracks.”

At the outset, news programs reporting the Virginia Tech shootings were more concerned with delineating the gory details of the massacre, the psychology of Seung Hui Cho, the police response and technicalities of law and security, whom to blame, and the heartbreak of people, than with an authentic concern for human beings and how we got to this point in time. That’s because the gory details and technicalities are what Americans want, it sells. But the story of how we got to this point in time needs to be told.

We do everything to desensitize our response to violence. We do everything to promote violence in the way we conduct our lives; our acceptance of war; our acceptance of abortion; our acceptance of violence in sports, our acceptance to retaliate or take revenge in the form of war and the death penalty for capital offenses.

We say its okay under some circumstances to kill. We say it’s okay to violently react in retaliation and revenge. Its examples are all around us — just consider the Iraq War.

We express our outrage of the University of Texas massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, the Columbine High School massacre, and the Virginia Tech massacre by Seung Hui Cho, as we should, but we do not have any outrage when it comes to firebombing of Germany during World War II, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Vietnam War, or the Iraq War, or the possibility of the United States using a Nuclear Weapon in order to win a conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere.

As bad as the Virginia Tech massacre was, violence is day-by-day getting exponentially worse in Iraq. The number of murders, as a result of our chosen war, each day far exceeds any one of these tragedies. No one was concerned until it was apparent that we were not winning, but not before that realization. We were more concerned with winning than the lives of people.

We do not conduct our lives within the paradigms of moral leadership or moral best practices. We do not provide the best example as a nation or as individuals.

We must have greater expectations of ourselves.

We lack respect and compassion for the poor and disenfranchised, the mentally ill, the abused and those who are different than ourselves. We accept poverty and homelessness. We are not compassionate nor do we care enough for others. We need to respect all life, our earth, and our universe. We need civility.

For success, Americans and the people of other nations must live a value-added life. Each of us has an individual responsibility in our attitude, our behavior, our demeanor, our countenance and in our voices to demonstrate against violence.

Until we start proactive processes we will continue to have an unmitigated solution.

That proactive process begins with you and me.

Meekness is strength not a weakness

(1) The Assault Weapons Ban: Frequently asked questions

(2) How Sorry Are We? For Blacksburg, not enough. By Timothy Noah

(3) Making of a Massacre by Evan Thomas, Newsweek

(4) “War Is the Force That Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

(5) “With Liberty and Guns for All” “The tragedy at Virginia Tech isn’t likely to change our violent nation.” By Gwynne Dyer

(6) The Anatomy of Violence: Pathological genes, a disturbed mind, social isolation and a gun culture are not enough. Mass murderers also need the individual will to pull the trigger. By Sharon Begley, Newsweek