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Thoughts About the Connecticut Killings

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Senseless killings always sting the worst. Last week, when news had spread that deranged gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school killing 20 children,untold numbers of Americans experienced horror, shock and then outrage. Those of us in education especially reflected upon how such a vicious act could be perpetrated on the most innocent of innocents?

Of course, within hours of the carnage in Newtown, profiteering politicians were making statements and gearing up to impose new attacks on Second Amendment rights. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed on Meet the Press that President Obama should make gun control his number one priority for 2013. Forget about the economy, which is slowly and silently slipping into another huge economic downturn. And California Senator Dianne Feinstein promised that she will introduce legislation banning assault weapons on the very first day the Senate is back in session. Never mind that studies on the same ban in effect between 1994 and 2004 have been inconclusive on whether it reduced violent crime during that time period.

But this piece is not about engaging in the never-ending debate over gun rights in our country. It is about the hypocrisy of Americans who mourn the young victims in Connecticut while totally disregarding the child victims of our government’s war machine overseas.

In the last seven years, first the Bush, and then the Obama, administrations, have conducted a lethal undeclared drone war over the skies of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. Its purpose is to seek and destroy al Qaeda targets in the now open-ended war on terror. However, those same American drones have killed at least 168 children in the raids, including 69 in a single attack in Madrassah in 2006. Where is the horror, shock, and outrage of Americans over these deaths?

Beyond the innocent children killed, the drone war has disrupted the family lives of many other kids in Pakistan. Strikes that have killed one or both parents have left many kids orphaned and unable to provide for themselves. Many parents have stopped sending their children to school for fear they will end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and because there are reports that American drone strikes have damaged or destroyed local schools. And there are the mental effects of the constant aerial assault; in a poor country like Pakistan, with virtually no psychological resources, families are left to themselves to cope with loss and the traumatic stress of always living in danger of being blown up.

Now, we are told that these attacks on civilian populations are necessary to kill the bad guys and keep us safe. Have we gotten to the point in America where only we count? Are our children’s lives more important than others? Americans claim the moral high ground in world affairs yet ignore the atrocities committed by our government in the name of national security.

Yes, we are dismayed and outraged that 20 innocent children were taken from their parents last week in Newtown, Connecticut, and we have a right to be. But let’s not forget that on the other side of the world, Pakistani parents are suffering because they, too, have lost children to senseless violence; senseless violence at the hands of our government.

So while we mourn the tragic end of young lives, let’s rededicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence. We could provide no greater memorial to the 20 innocent children lost in Connecticut than to pressure congress and the president to stop the drone war over Pakistan and other countries at once. We owe it to parents in those countries. We owe it to ourselves.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • Glenn Contrarian

    So let me get this straight – because what we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan is killing children (which I’ve stated before is a grave mistake on Obama’s part that is very likely to hurt us badly in decades to come), that somehow means we shouldn’t address the need for gun control here stateside? That’s probably not really what you’re saying, but it just seems like it.

    Kenn, there’s a reason why every other single modern industrialized society is so much more peaceful than America – because each and every one of them realize that too many (and too powerful) guns available to the general public is a BAD thing. Remember the massacre in Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) back in 1996? Australia took immediate action, got assault weapons out of the hands of the public, and how many massacres have they had since then?

    None.

    And yet we continue to have them each and every year.

    Maybe you feel that what we’re doing over in Southwest Asia is building up negative karma against us, and you may well be right about that – but that’s no excuse for us to ignore what the rest of the industrialized nations on the planet have learned.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Unfortunately we humans have got a way to go in order to become perfectly ethical beings, and that’s because for most of our existence as a species we couldn’t afford to be.

    Anthropologically, caring for your own strengthens resolve and improves your capacity for self-defence, whereas expending energy worrying about the dead of peoples far away weakens it.

    So it’s perfectly natural for us to grieve over the shootings in Connecticut, and calling the American public out for hypocrisy because they haven’t displayed similar upset over dead children in Pakistan seems, frankly, churlish.

  • Igor

    The Founders were NOT gun fans. You never see paintings of them with firearms handy, and they never wrote fondly about weapons the way that some modern writers do.

    In fact, you have to look long and hard to find anything written by the Founders that recommends guns. In fact, the Founders took their lead from The Enlightenment, whereby men were to settle differences by properly constituted laws, not with weapons and violence.

  • Igor

    There’s an interesting article in “Atlantic” about the secret history of gun laws which is worth reading:Atlantic.


    The Secret History of Guns

    The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership, and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers, the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight.

    THE TEXT OF the Second Amendment is maddeningly ambiguous. It merely says, “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.” Yet to each side in the gun debate, those words are absolutely clear.

    Gun-rights supporters believe the amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms and outlaws most gun control. Hard-line gun-rights advocates portray even modest gun laws as infringements on that right and oppose widely popular proposals such, as background checks for all gun purchasers, on the ground that any gun-control measure, no matter how seemingly reasonable, puts us on the slippery slope toward total civilian disarmament.

    This attitude was displayed on the side of the National Rifle Association’s former headquarters: THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. The first clause of the Second Amendment, the part about “a well regulated Militia,” was conveniently omitted. To the gun lobby, the Second Amendment is all rights and no regulation.

  • Igor

    Since Newtown, 1600 more Americans died of gunshots.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Christopher Dorner is on the loose in California. Californians have the natural right to defend themselves if he were to show up at their door!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Yes, they do, but getting away from him, if given the opportunity, would probably be the more prudent course of action.

  • Igor

    I bet a buck that the cops get Dorner, not the vigilantes.

  • Cindy

    I think the average person might be more in need of protecting themselves from current LAPD officers, who shot two innocent woman during their manhunt.

    Christopher Dorner is not known for wishing harm to people unaffiliated with the LAPD. More than anyone can say about the racist, corrupt police force.

    I doubt even an event this horrible will cause much analysis along the lines of what the LAPD culture breeds. Too much focus on the spectacle of it all.

  • Cindy

    (women)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy, from your opinion of the police, one would think you’re on the side of those who think that the general public should be able to outgun the police.

    But in any case, I would recommend that you put yourself in the shoes of the police. Yes, there are some bad apples as there are in any group of human beings…but how do you think the constant threat of being outgunned by gun nuts affects the culture of the police force as a whole? Yes, the police have a job to do…but every damn time they pull someone over, they’re asking themselves if this particular idiot is the one that’s going to try to kill them. Think about how that affects their psychology, day after day, week after week.

    The conduct of our police, IMO, is in large measure due to our national gun culture.

  • Cindy

    Cops go on a rampage…shooting 71 year old woman and her daughter, without warning while they were delivering papers, because they are assholes caught up in an oppressive system of assholeness.

    Hernandez, 71, remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit on Friday, recovering from two bullet wounds, said her attorney Glen T. Jonas…

    “There were two women there. They are not black. They are not large. They were not in a car that matched. No danger was presented to the officers,” Jonas said. “It was such a mismatched identification.”

    Hernandez was twice hit in the back, according to her attorney, and was reported Thursday night to be stable. Her daughter received stitches on her finger.

    Police Chief Charlie Beck Thursday called the Torrance shooting “a case of mistaken identity.”

    What a way to get some paid time off.

  • Cindy

    Glenn,

    Please
    don’t
    patronize
    me
    with
    your
    rotten
    apple
    nonsense.

    My husband, a bipolar person, had a major heart attack and multiple strokes while the police sat outside our bedroom laughing and making bets about whether he would get in the ambulance the 2nd time–he didn’t. (He was afraid of going to the hospital.)

    He nearly died of internal bleeding then, he suffered brain injury from blood loss, and had several strokes and a heart attack, which led to heart failure, which eventually killed him. He was not a threat wasn’t even able to walk.

    That is only the worst of what was done to him by untrained police who fucking sneered at me and refused to call the state fucking mandated mental health team because they did not know the law. They didn’t like him because he was mentally ill. They didn’t like having to fucking do their job when they could be parked on the highway eating donuts or harassing my nephew for having a dolphin air freshener hanging from his mirror.

    I paid 9k a year in real estate taxes and the police never, did anything worthwhile in all my experiences with them. But what they did do was come to my house to harass the man who worked for me for ‘walking while black’ (he went to the store to get cigarettes, next thing I have police knocking on my door wanting to know if he’s robbing the house), and 2: almost killing my husband, and definitely contributing to his early demise, not to mention the many times they mistreated him for being manic bipolar (regardless that he made no threats by was just engaging in manic speech).

    I recommend you take your pollyanna blinders off and have a look at the real culture. The police are inherently a coercive culture that attracts assholes. If you don’t understand that, then you skip along sonny, nothin’ here to see.

  • Cindy


    This poor guy
    laid on top of his wife on the floor of their bedroom as the police shot 30-50 rounds at the granny and her daughter. He thought the bullets were coming into his home as they ricocheted off his house and cars.

  • Cindy

    And you know what, Glenn, I am really more pissed off that I let you derail me with your bullshit generalizations about police. I said what I did about the LAPD specifically, because there is substantial evidence of it, which I have researched over a period of years. I am not making a knee-jerk reaction as you are in your advice column. Educate yourself on the specifics of a subject before you break out your giant cup of advice, why don’t you.

  • Cindy

    “Please Don’t kill people. Our government hates competition.” – Occupy Sydney

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Cindy –

    And you know what, Glenn, I am really more pissed off that I let you derail me with your bullshit generalizations about police.

    So how much experience do you have with, say, police in Canada? Or Australia? or Germany? I’ve only had experience with the Canadian police – they were helping me try to track down someone who was trying to sell drugs to my shipmates when we were inport Vancouver B.C. – but the point I’m going to is this: the police in America are a LOT better (better-trained and more trustworthy, more professional) than police in third-world nations (with whom I do have experience) but have a worse reputation than the cops in other first-world nations.

    Yes, Cindy, American police have been building a bad reputation, from the brutality to the fraud to the murders (including here in Seattle), but the thing is, you’re hearing all about the bad things they do, but not so much about the good things they do. For instance, in Seattle the news has given far more coverage to the (almost certainly) unwarranted shooting of a sidewalk artist by a cop than to the four cops who were shot to death when they took a break in a local coffee shop.

    You’ll find that it’s truly not unlike combat, Cindy – when someone sees his close friends gunned down, one tends to see threats everywhere…even when there are no threats. Being exposed to such terror on a daily basis does things to a person’s psychology – PTSD is very real. And yes, it applies to our cops as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, Cindy – I’m not trying to excuse what they do that is wrong. But here’s the main point you must consider: why is it that our cops are SO bad, when the cops commit far fewer crimes and have a far better reputation in the other first-world nations? Why is that, Cindy? What is so different about America that our cops are so much more prone to corruption and violence?

    The only difference I can think of is our gun culture. Can you think of any other difference? If you can, then let’s hear it!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Cindy –

    Let me tell you why, instead of angrily accusing all cops, I instead try to understand that they largely aren’t bad or untrustworthy people.

    In the Navy, there’s a crossing-the-line ceremony that takes place whenever a ship crosses the equator. You can google that if you want, but the point is, I remember that during one such ceremony, I did something wrong. I didn’t realize how wrong it was at the time, but as time passed, I came to understand that what I’d done was really wrong, and that the one who was on the receiving end of what we (those of us who’d already crossed the equator – “shellbacks”) were doing may have suffered long-term psychological damage.

    So as time passed, I spent many hours pondering what I’d done, and why I’d done it – especially given that I am not a violent or malicious man by any means. I came to understand that I’d been drawn in by mob psychology. That does not excuse what I did – of course it didn’t! – but it taught me to not be so quick to judge others, to understand that there are often factors that drive a person’s actions that are beyond his control; indeed, the person is often unaware that these other factors even exist.

    So I’m not telling you to forgive and forget – all men are responsible for their own actions, after all – but to understand that there’s often a lot more to the story than just the man and his actions. Dig deeper, Cindy – ask yourself what would cause a good – and even a gentle – man to do what he normally would never do…and then you’ll learn to identify the deeper causes, the external factors that lead men to do what they’d normally never do.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Dorner has certainly got the cops here in southern California extremely jittery, which was no doubt his intent. He also doesn’t seem to care who gets caught in the crossfire, which again is probably part of his psychological game.

    Such incidents make me glad I’m from a country where the police are routinely unarmed – and where there is strong opposition among the police to that tradition being changed.

  • Igor

    The police are trigger-happy. Partly because criminals are trigger-happy (and they have plenty of guns) and partly because modern police training teaches cops to quickly take charge of a situation by barking out commands; from there it is easy to escalate violence.

  • Cindy

    The police are trigger happy because they watch too much Rambo and have small dicks.

  • Cindy

    Glenn,

    I do dig deeper. That is why I discuss culture not ‘genetically programmed evil’. You are describing indoctrination. That is what I mean when I say indoctrination.

    Indoctrination, Glenn, is no more an excuse when one is carrying the sword of authority than when one is a street thug. I have empathy for the street thug’s indoctrination as well. It comes from the same base.

  • http://www.rosedigitalmarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I completely agree that the US police are out of control, but it is a far more profound, fundamental and far reaching issue than Hollywood and penis size.

    There is an arrogant culture of control, rather than service, throughout public and corporate life.

    It particularly skews the US political, justice and legal systems and is having a really corrosive effect on life in the United States.

    Although easy to see, it is an incredibly hard thing to correct and, short of a revolution or some incredible change of attitude, it may not even be possible to do anything about it before the whole system simply collapses.

  • roger nowosielski

    @23

    … thinking out of the box, Chris, just as Dreadful is lately keen on doing.

    What do you mean, though, by “the whole system”?

  • Cindy

    BTW, Glenn, nothing I say should be taken to mean that my wrath is toward any particular police person. I give every person the benefit of the doubt. The system itself though is coercive, oppressive, and corrupt, thus it is natural that its culture is also based on brutality.

  • Cindy

    He also doesn’t seem to care who gets caught in the crossfire.

    Neither do the LAPD, apparently.

  • http://www.rosedigitalmarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Well, simply put, I mean everything, Roger.

    As an example if, as a business, you want above all to please your customer rather than pursue short term profits, you take a very different approach to how your business is configured and how it thinks about what it does. In effect, you have a different kind of business DNA.

    Similarly, in government, if your focus is on helping people achieve what they want to do, rather than manipulating them to achieve your views of what they should do, again your political DNA is different.

    The USA is all about control at a political and corporate level and, as it can’t really be honest about that, it forces a layer of lies into everything that happens.

    I believe that is a key component of why political engagement is so low and cynicism about corporations (or capitalism as some would say – in my view mistakenly) is so high.

    I believe that leadership is about simultaneously resisting mob rule whilst empowering individuals and I don’t see much evidence when I survey either the political or corporate worlds.

  • Cindy

    26+ I mean if you can call it crossfire when police do this to grandma and her daughter without any warning, reason, or threat.

  • Cindy

    Perhaps he didn’t care, but he wasn’t actually there. Perhaps we could assume since he worked with the clowns, he should have anticipated that the LAPD would go around shooting innocent people up in response to what he did. Is that what you mean by “didn’t care”?

  • Igor

    Crossfire? Is someone saying that grandma was shooting back?

  • Igor

    Most of the Big Government that people lament is oriented to enforcing corporate interests over citizens.

  • roger nowosielski

    Cindy’s reference is to #19. Get a grip, Igor.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    So…Cindy –

    Why is it that there’s so much more problems with police here than in, say, Australia, England, France, or Germany? Do you think that there’s no connection to the fact that our police get killed on the job a lot more often than theirs do?

  • Igor

    I was thinking of getting a personal weapon since I’m old and sometimes I’m at a semi-isolated campsite. But then I read that a household with a weapon is 2 times as likely to be a murder scene, and 5 times as likely to be a suicide scene. So I backed off.

    I have no doubt that a good thief could get my gun, and even kill me. The efficacy of self-defense weapons is poor.

    That leaves the suicide problem to be solved, also. I don’t feel suicidal. But I know from my life experience that depression is common and we don’t have good ways to solve the problem. What has become alarmingly clear to me over the years is that suicide is often impulsive. Perhaps it is more impulsive than compulsive. Suddenly a person decides to End It All. A gun offers certainty and swiftness.

    Here’s an interesting article from Stars and Stripes. We have a huge problem with soldier suicide. I think more soldiers die of suicide than in our wars.

    Suicides: Stars and Stripes

    It looks to me as though the NRA has gone wild and been counterproductive. We need to draw their fangs because they falsely represent themselves to further the commercial goals of their sponsors. The NRA represents a real danger to America.