The Reality Of Our Violence. . .

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By Hermene D. Hartman

Our politicians are failing us and America is living in the political basement. Mass killings are occurring in this country every other week on average – in schools, at the movies, on the streets, in church, at the shopping center, on the job.

The profile of the mass shooter is White, male, young, societal reject, failure and most of all, angry loner. Their parents are usually surprised by their actions. Their neighbors usually say they were nice quiet young men. Sometimes those around them miss their troubled souls because they are quiet.

The shooter in Roseburg, Oregon went to the Umpuqua Community College and shot his teacher and other students. Before killing, he asked his victims if they were Christians and if they answered yes, he said, “You are about to meet your God” and shot them in the head. If you answered differently, he shot you in the leg.

This was a religious killing, a hate crime, without dispute. He admired former mass killers and thought the more you kill, the more notable you would become as the news media reported your name.

The police chief of Roseburg said he would not call the shooter’s name. This is a good practice, so as to curtail the notoriety the killer gains from his despicable actions. In the case of the Roseburg killer, the thought of his name being on the news was inspiration.

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The Gun Debate. . .

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The politicians debate gun control. Should we or shouldn’t we? The gun lobbyists come forth to fight and always win. There is a mixed emotion. What is often overlooked is that these murderers usually have done all of the proper procedures to obtain their guns. So the strict gun controls might not help in all cases, but how about a dose of common sense?

The murderer in Roseburg had 14 guns and lived with his mother. Did she notice the weapons? If so, didn’t she think something was unusual? Is she guilty of something?

Profiles of these young angry men show that they are mentally disturbed. How do you prevent the mentally ill from getting a gun? How do you prevent the societal reject from being able to obtain a gun? How do you detect the angry young male? How do you identify the hater?

America is raising a violent generation. The young men, Black and White, are angry. Watch what they do. They consume video games, television shows and movies that not only promote violence, but moral corruption as well.

Facebook allows negativity. The more negative you go on Facebook, sometimes the more friends you get. The negative behaviors are encouraged. The video games played say shoot somebody in the head and get more points. Kill somebody and make your mark. Shoot somebody in the leg and get fewer points. The games are gateways to real killing. Parents are not always monitoring and generally oblivious to it, though teachers hear it the classroom.

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Should Teachers Carry Guns???

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This is a real question. Many do. In another career, I was a community college professor. After the Oregon shooting, I thought back to my days of teaching. I taught sometimes in all-White male catholic schools and I had a couple of incidents.

The most memorable was in a seminary. My father overheard me discussing the situation, in which I had felt threatened. The young men in a joking fashion engaged in some obscenities with racial overtones in the classroom and on a cold wintry day, they physically picked my car up and moved it to demonstrate their strength. I was supposed to be afraid and I was.

I had another incident at a Black school, where gang activity was talking place in the classroom. I was nervous. My father picked me up one day to take me to the shooting range. Afterwards he gave me a small gun to keep in my purse or pocket. It was registered. I was nervous.

My father was a hunter and a marksman. He enjoyed big game hunting. He explained that a classroom is close quarters and gun violence in a classroom would probably render death – because of close range, not necessarily sharp shooting.

He commented that he would rather get the call that I had shot somebody than from the hospital telling him I was dead because I could not defend myself. He said that if I felt threatened and someone walked up on me in close quarters to start shooting and empty the gun and that would probably stop the aggressor. He said, “You have one question, ‘is it them or is it me?’ I choose you.”

I was uncomfortable carrying the gun, but his point was made and I eventually stopped teaching in the classroom. I just felt that if I had to pack to teach, I should exercise other career options.

Many teachers are afraid of their students and most teachers you speak with can cite violent classroom incidents.

I once had a college student approach me from behind, while I was at the blackboard, with a knife. The students tackled her and probably saved me from a stabbing. The deranged student claimed she had not taken her medicine for the day. I found out she was a student known to have mental issues.

Because of the rules of the institution, the student was readmitted to the class. This was a crazy ruling to me and I took a couple of days off in protest mode.

Should teachers be armed, though, in these days of the heinous school shootings, when a policeman on the grounds is not always enough? The policemen down the hall may not or cannot act soon enough if a crazy with a weapon opens fire in a classroom. A teacher with a gun can at least defend themselves and the class. Maybe. And now along with the fire drill we have kids having shooting drills, too.

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Violent Media Programming. . .

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My doctoral thesis was way ahead of its time. While teaching, I could see the decline of reading. Book reports were often fabricated with a movie. I saw college students reading less and less. I saw TV dominating and students sometimes confusing TV with a book story. I saw violent behavior being developed.

I recognized the correlation between the hours watched on TV and aggressive behavior. After a while, after a brief conversation with students, I could tell how many hours a person watched TV versus reading. Cognition was being formed, or not being formed in these cases.

And today, with social media and the dominance of the Internet and mobile platforms, it is even more so. Attention spans are very short. Immediate gratification, no matter what, dominates. I observed a lack of patience, more aggression and violence as a means of conflict resolution.

Our educational system is failing. We are raising robotic people with artificial intelligence minus the ability to reason. Intellectual comprehension is challenged as exposure to violence increases.

Our politicians are focused on gun control, but we need to also be watchful and concerned with what our youth are consuming as entertainment.

White young males are killing en mass and Black young males are killing individually, claiming territory. We read about the mass murders and react strongly for the moment, then that subsides until the next incident.

President Obama makes what he is now calling his “routine” speech, but he does not sound presidential. His presidential office could be more authoritative with solutions. Begin the discussion. How about no guns in urban America? That’s a bold move. How about bring your hunting license when you register your gun?

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Chicago Violence. . .

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We overlook or seemingly have grown accustomed to the murders in Chicago that are occurring at record levels on the weekends.

Last month was the most violent month in the city since 2002. In the last week of September, 14 people were shot, six fatally. Between January and September of this year, 2,329 men, women and children have been shot in Chicago. The news media reports the weekend murder and shooting statistics like they are giving the score for a sporting event, and it’s become “just another bloody weekend in Chicago.”

The gunfire has spread from struggling neighborhoods long plagued by poverty and violence to so-called “safe” areas of the city, such as Hyde Park-Kenwood, the Chicago home of the President of the United States.

Some of our communities are war zones, yet we embarrassingly deride movie producer Spike Lee for making a movie called Chiraq. Chicago has become a dangerous place; it does not matter the neighborhood.

Police Supt. Gary McCarthy speaks of his former New York efforts and sounds as though he has forgotten REAL TIME in Chicago. Sophisticated police methods are not working on the streets. The police are not fully responsible; neither is the mayor or the aldermen. It’s time for parents to assume responsibility for their children.

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Living In Fear. . .

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Protests Rising. . .

Nationally, every year, the epidemic of gun violence is responsible for 10,000 homicides, 70,000 wounded, 18,000 suicides, 2,000 accidental deaths, and costs the country around $230 billion.

As citizens, we should be able to live normal lives. However, this epidemic of street violence is the cocktail discussion in about 15 minutes, no matter what the occasion. As Rev. Jesse Jackson says, “The public space has become Russian roulette – every place is a potential risk.”

People are afraid. Seniors end their days early. If you have to go into certain neighborhoods, it’s a beeline straight in and out, no dallying. Teachers are considering carrying guns, “just in case it’s my classroom.” People are going into extreme mode to protect themselves.

Parents are afraid to let their children grow up normally – playing ball with the guys or going to the playground, or riding the bus, or going to the party, or sitting on the front or back porch with friends. Parents are watchful and think before saying yes to their children’s most mundane outdoor activities.

Families are on watch control, waiting for the call that Johnny or Jill got home safely. Families are having discussions on which family member will take the kids to the show, the party, or the shopping center.

Fear approaches. The violence has metastasized and the terror is expanding. We need solutions. We can’t keep lighting candles, flying balloons and bringing stuffed animals to the site of the crime. It’s time for the political class to engage the people they represent.

When a pregnant mother and grandmother are killed and an 11-month old boy is wounded in an early evening attack on a single family on the streets of the South Side, it’s time for Chicago to bring in the National Guard and to admit that the violence is beyond our capability.

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