Category: Tragedy


Non-violence

Nationwide protests are a logical outcome of the recent seemingly unprovoked attacks on black people by police.  But in too many cases, these protests have become violent.  This violence diminishes the impact of the protests and takes the focus away from the purpose of the protests in the first place.

This generation of protesters should explore the history of non-violent protests during the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s.  By refusing to be baited by those who wanted us to “mind our own business,” we ended up winning some major battles.

I remember my involvement in helping blacks getting registered to vote in southern Illinois in the late 60’s.  When confronted by those who disagreed with us, we held our

civilrights

The epitome of non-violent protests

ground and sang songs (“I shall not be moved” was a personal favorite) as we were hit with axe handles and had urine thrown in our faces.  We were taught to shield our bodies as best we could, but not to strike back.  Even as the German Shepherds dragged us to the police cars where we were arrested for “disturbing the peace,” we continued to sing and never once tried to strike back.

Looking back on that time, I believe to this day that we made a difference – and that this would have been diminished if we struck back.  Today’s protests will be far more effective if the protesters are non violent – no matter what the provocation may be.

Like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved.

 

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Tragedy at Sandy Hook

Last week we all experienced a tremendous tragedy when a gunman took the lives of so many people in a gun attack at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. I was enraged when I heard the news, but could not write a blog on the topic at the time. That has changed.

On the day of the incident, White House spokesman Jay Carney said “today is not the day to discuss gun control.”

That is pure bunk. Friday would have been a perfect day for the President to do more than offer condolences. He could (and should) have called for immediate legislation to regulate guns and the make sanctions against gun-produced crimes extremely severe.

I’ve heard all the arguments against gun control: “If guns are outlawed then only outlaws will have guns;” “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” These platitudes make nice sound bytes for the NRA, but they don’t sound so convincing when juxtaposed against a photograph of a six-year-old girl laying dead in a pool of her own blood.

Why our President is reluctant to take on the NRA is beyond me. He isn’t running for office again, and doesn’t need their support. If the issue is the Second Amendment, maybe he should read it again – in its entirety. “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.” Note the “well regulated militia part.” If you really want to shoot weapons at people, join the armed services and hope for war. Don’t spray classrooms full of bullets, killing many young people, destroying families, and bringing sadness to the entire country.

Yes, I”m aware that In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision concerning the Second Amendment. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and to use that firearm arm for traditionally lawful purposes. This ruling flies in the face of the Second Amendment as written, but what do I know – I only have a PhD and am able to read without moving my lips. Maybe an attorney can explain this too me. I’m sure the Supremes would argue that the mass murder of children was not a “traditionally lawful purpose,” and argue that their ruling was just (even though it conflicts with the very clear language of the second amendment.)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I used to shoot on a regular basis (and even have some marksmanship medals in a box somewhere). But my rules were clear – I either shot at paper targets or at dinner. I am not against game hunting – only against the ease with which your typical nutcake can get weapons and use them against innocents.

So, what would I do if I could?

First, I would make any fire-arm-related shooting of a person (by non-police or militia) a federal offense with a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Then, I would track down the place or manufacturer from whom the gun was purchased and impose a mandatory fine of one-million dollars per shooting event to be paid to the families of those who were maimed or killed as a result. Say the perpetrator had a mental breakdown, fine – then the incarceration starts in a mental hospital and moves to a prison later, with no chance of parole.

My guess is that, if this was the law of the land, we would see firearm-based attacks drop by a tremendous amount.

If it kept even one child alive, it would be worth it. Children don’t belong in caskets, and our President’s failure to speak out on this issue makes me sick. We have a right to expect more from him.