Your Solutions To America’s Rate Of Violence?

Filed in National by on February 2, 2014

We read nearly daily of mall and school slaughters in our country?  Our prisons and courts are brimming with violent offenders.  Petty garden variety shootings are an everyday occurrence on our city streets.  New and better data on physical violence within families and rape and molestations in the military  suggests we’re just discovering the tip of the iceberg on violence in our society.  In this the richest country in the world?  What are your solutions?

What got my notice was a 2012 report from the U.N. suggesting the the USA is #15 of our 85 countries studied for its rate of homicides per 100,000 population.  Our rate, 9.4 per 100K.  We are exceeded by countries  and territories like Columbia, Armenia, Brazil, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Latvia and Russia, all well into the double digits and above.  Homicides are not the only violence indicator per my opening comments but a pretty good start at understanding the level of our problem.  Yes, the data collected from 85 countries may be suspect in terms of the accuracy of their reporting and measures but the homicide rates are most likely actually higher, not lower; under reporting of bad news is pretty endemic, even here in the USA.

What are the common elements between these high rate countries?  The homicides are committed overwhelmingly by young, undereducated, poor men.  What do you think this tells us?  Here’s my take.  I’d like yours.

We live in a country with a history of the institutional use of violence, per the “taming of the west” .  Our early history indicates its use not only to acquire control over the land, but also as a means of “taming” offenders, both native people and the euro-Americans. This is still a country that loves the death penalty for violent offenders such as the recent report on the Boston bombers federal charges levied by President Obama’s Justice Department.

Yes, the Spaniards and Mexicans share similar violent histories with us on this land.  But the dozens of wars launched by the USA in the lifetime of our country, rationalized as a means to protect our freedom supports this take on our institutional history.  Almost always there was land and property, ours or others that we claimed to be protecting.

On an individual basis, turf,  personal prerogatives or possessions or means of generating self-supporting income are the described motives for these homicides.  Sometimes, often the motive is further shaped by mind altering substances or mental health issues.

So, my solutions.  Education, poverty relief and intense support to teach the very young, especially young boys and men appropriate means of solving disputes and provision of alternatives to drugs, such as recreational outlets and mental health therapy.  And major changes in our public policies in managing international disputes.  Yes, and removal of easy possession and acquisition of firearms, our major means of rendering homicidal violence.   And damned good research to better understand potential causal connections, if any  between on the ground violence and violence depicted on t.v., movies and video games?  And while were at research, also definitively understanding whether the death penalty, and yes, hunting and killing of animals (hunting)  actually deters violent criminal acts or models them.  Expensive?  you bet.

I’d like to know your solutions or whether this issue requires solutions.

 

 

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  1. puck says:

    Start with jobs – good jobs. Income security stabilizes people, and loss of hope destabilizes them.

    :Our prisons and courts are brimming with violent offenders. ”

    Legalizing marijuana would help in a number of ways.

  2. kavips says:

    Incarcerate all known conservatives.

  3. Mark Blake says:

    Actually arrest and prosecute those persons prohibited, committing crimes, caught with illegal firearms. This would be a huge improvement in DE, where “a person prohibited…with a firearm” is one of the first charges to be plea bargained away or down to a minor offense.

    Beyond that, it’s all about jobs, something that the current Governor hasn’t a clue on how to actually foster private business growth here in DE. Evidence the 6th or 7th highest energy costs in the US, higher taxes (and more being levied or proposed every day), poor “investments” in businesses that never produced a single sustainable DE job (Fisker, Bluewater Wind, etc.), Bloom Energy, where every Delmarva Power customer is a unwilling “investor” without the ability to actually receive a dividend from that illegally forced redistribution of ratepayer monies. Endless extensions of other taxes and surcharges that should have reached their sunset provisions ($0.04 bottle tax that was once a $0.05 deposit) and more.

    Yes, Taxing Jack never met a tax that he couldn’t increase, extend or create. When you have a vibrant economy, violence starts to recede as there are more opportunities for everyone to have a job, from entry level and up.

    Also, by the way, Puerto Rico isn’t a “counties” (or even a country), it’s a US territory.

  4. kavips says:

    Yes! what Mark Blake says. Arrest and prosecute those Conservatives with illegal firearms….

  5. Mark Blake says:

    Funny Kavips, but I didn’t know that illegal guns had any particular political affiliation, or do they? So much for attempting to have a conversation… *sigh*

  6. kavips says:

    Mark Blake.

    You ran too easily. no one said guns have particular political affiliations. Just like cars don’t have political affiliations. Unlike guns, Conservatives DO have political affiliations. If you do a close reading of my text, you will notice I am talking about Conservatives, not guns.

    If Benedict Arnold were alive today, and trying to underpin America by selling us out to another foreign power, would anyone be on his side? That is what conservatives are doing. Selling out the American Middle Class to 1% of the population who couldn’t care less about America.

    For that reason, any Conservative should be arrested and prosecuted for possession of illegal firearms… Just as one would arrest Benedict Arnold….. or any other Tory walking through the countryside in 1782….

    If no judicial court be handy, rolling them in hot tar until they scream, and then cooling them off in chicken feathers, would be a good secondary alternative….

    Bottom line; no difference between Benedict Arnold and say, Sean Hannity.

  7. DEvol says:

    I think we all realize that these problems are systemic: there is no one answer, nor is there a quick one. As you pointed out, education, gun control, gun safety, and jobs are all part of the solution. So is keeping families together.

    I’m convinced that teaching mindfulness and healthy conflict beginning very early is part of the solution. Hawaii has some very interesting examples, they call it Social and Emotional Learning: http://www.sig.hawaii.edu/products/briefs/sel_brief.pdf. Of course, it probably requires smaller class sizes and well trained and well paid teachers.

    How about free access to state parks? Let’s raise some taxes for that! Kids play video games because their parents won’t let them out of the house to wander free and discover. If I didn’t get to play in the woods when I was a kid, I think I’d probably tend a little more towards violence now.

    Why is it that we need a license to drive a car, but not to buy a gun? A little gun safety class, a little quiz, a little 3-point turn? Why are people so opposed to simple things like this? What about gun insurance? The whole reason we must have car insurance is because they can harm others; why does this same theory not apply to guns?

    Keeping families together. Keeping dads out of jail. Making sure people who served their time can get a job and be a parent when they are out. 2-parent households are more resilient than 1-parent households. I read an interesting article from the conservative viewpoint about social policies on marriage. Yes, I disagreed with most of what it said, but there is truth to the benefits of having mom and dad, dad and dad or mom and mom all together under one roof.

    The recent steps to “ban the box” may help some former criminals get a fair shot, but there are far too few opportunities for most folks with less than a college education.

    And yes. Legalize it.

  8. Liberal Elite says:

    @D “What about gun insurance?”

    ‘Twould never work. The insurance industry would classify being a gun nut as a pre-existing condition. Would you insure any of those guys??? …like that ex-cop in Florida who couldn’t deal with a cell phone in a theatre BEFORE the movie started?

  9. Liberal Elite says:

    Here’s another genius.

    “Man allegedly points gun at girl selling cookies door-to-door”
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-girl-selling-cookies-gun-temecula-20140203,0,3590633.story

    And someone is going to sell that guy gun insurance???

  10. Dave says:

    I think there are a lot of contributing factors to violence, including the ease in obtaining the tools of violence (yep, guns). Economic opportunity, education, yadda, yadda are not to be ignored. Rather, we should consider the fact that violence is seen by far to many as an acceptable situational response.

    Has it always been that way? From the America’s early days, violence was often a way of life, a necessity to protect oneself or one’s family. Native Americans did not live in peaceful harmonious societies. The competed for resources. They waged ware with other tribes over grievances. They fought for slaves and brides. In short, they were pretty much the same as the European tribes that came to North America and used violence as a means to an end.

    Is conflict leading to violence part of our DNA? I’d like to think we are more advanced than that, but if that is the case, we send the wrong messages to our children. I don’t mean movies and video games, although I won’t dismiss their influence. What I really think is that in the home and the family, there is something missing.

    Creigh Deeds, state legislator from Virginia, lost a son to suicide by a .22. Creigh said (paraphrasing), that he ‘didn’t think there was any ammunition in the house for the .22′. Yet, over the years his son Gus exhibited erratic and odd behavior even as a child. Yet, tools such as guns were part of the home. There are so many cases that are similar to this, I could go on for days. If I had a child who exhibited unusual behavior, I would have not had a gun in the house or anywhere else where my child was allowed.

    So partly, I think that parents need more awareness and objectivity about their children, more information and tools (actually I think there is plenty of information and tools, but I’m not an expert so, maybe I’m mistaken) AND a support system as opposed to a social service bureaucracy. Maybe it does take a village to raise a child and while we need to be sensitive and cognizant of parental rights, we also need to be more sensitive to parental obligations. And to be quite honest, part of that obligation is to recognize that not everyone is cut out to be a parent.

  11. Camptown Lady says:

    It’s simple; we are a society without rules. If ‘art’ is a refection of society (traditional art and media), then we are in the garbage can; just watch a movie or listen to ‘music,’ or go see Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’ or Maplethorpe’s ‘Virgin Mary With Feces.’

    Plant the seeds of your own destruction and destruction you shall reap.

  12. Jason330 says:

    “…go see Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’ ”

    Hey, 1987 called. They want their outrage back.

  13. Camptown Lady says:

    Okay, name a more famous contemporary artwork.

  14. Jason330 says:

    Artwork or contrived scandal? When you are rounding up evidence that the world is turning to shit, you need to look into something called confirmation bias. Seriously. You will thank me.

  15. Camptown Lady says:

    Let’s remember that traditional ‘art,’ i.e., paintings, sculpture and so on has a very limited audience. While some Americans are familiar with ‘folk’ art, the Hudson River School and the work of men like Homer and Wyeth, fewer are aware of major movements like the Ashcan School or the Luminist School and fewer still would recognize the work of Louis Lozowick or Larry Rivers. Many know Warhol, fewer know his prolific contemporary, Lichtenstein while a photorealist like Richard Estes labored in near anonymity. So, when I say that art reflects on society, I am speaking mainly of mass-media, i.e., television, music and Hollywood; for most people, ‘real’ contemporary art (painting, sculpture) is on the periphery of awareness.

    Look at some of the first ‘art’ known to man, the cave paintings of France. Naturally, the focus is the hunt, and the animals that were hunted, since the people of that time were preoccupied with staying alive.

    In Native American art, we see style incorporated into everyday objects; pottery, blankets and clothing.

    In ancient Egypt, gold adornments were preeminent. In Greece, the human body and the gods who gave it life. The Renaissance period focused on Christianity, the neoclassical on nature and portraiture. The art reflected societal preoccupation.

    The mass-’art’ of today consists of what? Explosions. Murder and other perverse, gruesome crimes. Pornography. Women as ‘hoes and bitches and fathers as buffoons. The derision of religion and money, money and ‘mo money.

    An anthropologist of the future need only watch our movies and listen to our music to understand our societal collapse.

    We are a society without rules; and obviously, man is not ‘hard-wired’ toward benevolence. Our no-rules ‘art’ is a mirror on a violent, no-rules society.

    As an aside, the incredible work of fairly unknown Estes can be seen here

  16. Jason330 says:

    I happen to think religion deserves it.

  17. Camptown Lady says:

    I happen to think religion deserves it.

    In the 20th Century, how many did the postmodern, self-avowed secularists- Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Mao- murder? Two-hundred-million? A half-billion? A billion?

    Apparently, violence and postmodernism go hand-in-hand.

  18. Jason330 says:

    It doesn’t follow that religion should not be derided. Especially, in my opinion, American protestantism.

  19. cassandra m says:

    postmodernism

    This word does not mean what you think it means.

  20. Camptown Lady says:

    This word does not mean what you think it means.

    Well, for my purposes this ‘definition’ is as good as any, although there can be no definitions in a world where there is no truth;

    postmodernism: A rejection of the sovereign autonomous individual with an emphasis upon anarchic collective, anonymous experience. Collage, diversity, the mystically unrepresentable, Dionysian passion are the foci of attention. Most importantly we see the dissolution of distinctions, the merging of subject and object, self and other. This is a sarcastic playful parody of western modernity and the “John Wayne” individual and a radical, anarchist rejection of all attempts to define, reify or re-present the human subject.

    I’ll go back to my original observation; we are violent because we are a society (postmodern) without rules.

    When the very concept of truth is rejected and the Judeo-Christian ethic is scorned, what do you think will govern behavior? Egalitarian fantasies nowithstanding, I see no evidence that man is ‘hardwired’ toward benevolence. If anything, the opposite is true.

  21. cassandra_m says:

    Well, if you are going to define this word to mean what you want it to mean, then I guess you plan on speaking to yourself.

    The world is full of truth, but you will note that it is only conservatives who are spending a bloody fortune to make sure they never have to face it — Fox News, the Creation Museum, the Discovery Institute, etc. In fact, if we use your definition of postmodernism, you are looking at the core of the conservative playbook. No Dioysian passions, but plenty of full on resentments of a world they have to work alot harder to be a part of.

    We have plenty of rules. Otherwise why would we be undertaking a project to life the ones governing marijuana? Or the ones excluding gay people from being married? If we didn’t have enough rules, then why are conservatives on this *regulatory relief* bullshit? Seriously, just go away. This is not the kids table.

  22. jason330 says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/bill-nye-debate-creationist-ken-ham-video_n_4714370.html

    Bill Nye is going to debate a conservative Judeo-Christian tonight. It should be interesting (provided Nye doesn’t do anything unethical owing to his lack of religion.)

  23. Camptown Lady says:

    Well, if you are going to define this word to mean what you want it to mean, then I guess you plan on speaking to yourself.

    I italicized the ‘definition’ of ‘postmodern’ because it is not mine. And I used an outside source to define the word in anticipation of your question.

    For what it’s worth, it belongs to:

    Christopher Keep, an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario. His articles have appeared in journals such as Novel, Victorian Studies, and Cinèmas and in several collections, including Postmodern Apocalypse (1995) and Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory (1999). He is currently working on a book-length study of literature and the emergent information economy of the late-nineteenth century.

    If necessary, I can provide hundreds of similar examples. But even if you disagree with ‘my’ definition, now you know in what context I use the term. Now, try contradicting the argument.

  24. cassandra_m says:

    There is no argument if you aren’t using the term as it was meant — unless you are having a conversation about David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, Don DeLillo; or even Rorty or Jameson — I’m probably less good on the music, visual arts or architecture. Are you catching this drift? Or is it too postmodern for you? (Even though the clue is in the background of the Assistant Professor you cite.)

  25. Steve Newton says:

    >>Dodging the whole postmodernism tangent<<

    I don't have any huge, global solutions to violence in our society, but this struck a chord with me:

    http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-absolutely-wrong-with-what-we-do-to-boys-before-they-grow-into-men?g=2&c=reccon1

    I do believe that we raise young boys in particular to "be a man" "boys don't cry" "man up" "don't be a wimp" and if that is done to millions and millions don't be surprised if that leaves a few dozen ticking time bombs out there that otherwise might not have been activated . . .

  26. Camptown Lady says:

    There is no argument if you aren’t using the term as it was meant —

    “As it was meant?” By whom? You?

    The subject is societal violence. Hence, it shouldn’t take too much intellectual effort to conclude that since societal violence involves society or mores or values and not criticism, architecture or music, I was using ‘postmodern’ in a philosophical context. I submit that although the average American is unfamiliar with the works of Lyotard (the high priest of postmodernism), or even predecessors like Marx or Hegel, they have been influenced by postmodernist philosophy, simply because of the ‘trickle-down’ effect in academia (and media and so forth). The curricula envisioned- and implemented- by Franz Boas and subsequently by his adherents within anthropology departments being one extant example; there are hundreds of others.

    My original post stated that “we are a society without rules.” And there can be no rules (in the context of mores) in a postmodern world. Perhaps our destiny is either the chaos of an unbridled society or the dictatorship of a police state. As for now, there is no reason to believe that violence- senseless and without any rational motive or any regard whatsoever to the age, sex or condition of the victims- will do anything but escalate.

    Have a happy day.

    A short synopsis of postmodern philosophy

  27. cassandra_m says:

    Nice try, but no cigar. There is very little about basic American life that has postmodernist influence — we’re still pretty firmly stuck with the Enlightenment types. And again, I’d single out the conservative project as the one piece that sets itself apart from the reality-based community, justifying that effort by noting that the basic rules of knowledge or even discourse do not apply to them. That’s the societal violence that we should be talking about.

  28. stan merriman says:

    So little time, so little progress even among our own. I read today that Wendy Davis, Gov. candidate in Texas whom I’d be working for if I were still in Texas has endorsed open carry legislation to expand carry to small arms. Geeze. We then can all be vigilantes ! Come on Wendy, that Harvard Law degree is totally wasted if you cave to the rednecks down there thinking you might change some of their votes toward you? The women base hugely supporting you will begin to wonder about your judgement. Sadly, your campaign, the financing at least, in the hands of Matt Angle, whose centrism has always stunk.

  29. Camptown Lady says:

    There is very little about basic American life that has postmodernist influence —

    No, just academia, politics and the media. Remember, God is dead!

  30. cassandra_m says:

    And the media is Fox News fake stories meant to stoke the resentments of old white people.

    Keep spinning. The postmodernist project in society is the conservative one.

  31. Jason330 says:

    I’d point out Camptown’s fallacious thinking about “God” being the only possible source of ethical behavior, but it isn’t worth it. For some people, If the mythical sky dad isn’t standing over everyone with his hammer, …then its wall to wall gay sex, boobs and Andres Serrano!

  32. Tom Kline says:

    Jobs? Who would hire these illiterate animals?

  33. Camptown Lady says:

    Keep spinning. The postmodernist project in society is the conservative one.

    ‘Conservative’ is the antithesis of ‘postmodern.’

    I’d point out Camptown’s fallacious thinking about “God” being the only possible source of ethical behavior…

    I didn’t say that; I did say that the Judeo-Christian ethic essentially codified Western mores. I also said that those who wielded power under the socialist systems theoretically beholden to Marx, which vociferously rejected Christian ethics, killed millions (Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Kim, et. al).Of course, societal violence was suppressed; they were all police states.

    My main point is rather simple. There must be some generally accepted set of rules; not laws, but rules for conduct. As we see today, laws are irrelevant; the shocking, heinous crimes we observe daily proves that. These seems to be a correlation between the rejection of Judeo-Christian mores and societal violence. There can be no state-induced moral code.

    Some believe that man is ‘hard-wired’ toward benevolence; observation proves otherwise. And as our postmodern, leviathan bureaucracy expands, don’t expect benevolence from the hierarchy; upon what standards of conduct would ‘benevolence’ be based, when there is no truth, only a rationalized, postmodern construct?

    A short, interesting read for those who think; if pressed for time, focus on Chapter 3.

    The Abolition of Man

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