The Violence Behind the Violence

by on December 20, 2012 · 16 comments

in American Empire, Life Events, Media

America cannot truly address gun violence unless it is prepared to address the root causes of gun violence.

by Nadin Abbott / San Diego Free Press

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut, we have had many discussions on the sources of gun violence in our country. We were all shocked. Many fingers are pointing at both Hollywood and the video game industry. If we are to believe them, all this would go away if we removed the glorification of violence from the media.

I will be the first to admit this: Call of Duty is violent. It simulates war. We would be surprised if it wasn’t. It is also rated M by the ESRB, that would be for seventeen year olds and older. It’s not meant for kids. Ratings work, only if we use them as a guide.

I will also admit that a James Bond movie is pure schlock with quite a bit of violence. There are many other titles out there that include explosions, gun play, and bloody gore. Need I mention the Die Hard series? Argue all you want about how video games and movies encourage violent acts. But that’s merely scratching the surface and doesn’t get to the root of the real problem.

Fingers, in other words, are being pointed at popular culture, as if pop culture is the root of all of our problems.

Yesterday the Unions gave Christmas fixings and toys to five hundred families at Qualcomm Stadium. These people are suffering from chronic food insecurity. They are unemployed, or under employed. You see them often. They drive our transit buses and cannot get enough hours to make ends meet. They are low paid workers, many making under $20,000 a year. Some are quite bluntly unemployed. They are suffering from great stress. Oftentimes they don’t know where their next meal will come from.

The other day I covered another story of great violence: People making $17,000 a year who are being asked to pay $2,000 in health insurance for the year. They are the heads of their families and work at a hospital. You might as well ask them to travel to the other side of the moon. The health insurance is just as reachable.

This is crushing poverty, and this too, is violence. This is the kind of violence that at times leads to suicide–sometimes murder-suicide–often via the use of a gun.

When an inner city school comes out of lockdown after a shooting just outside the school grounds and the body remains on the other side of the fence, that is a form of scarring violence. When a kid is shot in the arm, and the police have to fight EMS to get that kid taken to the ER because they don’t have insurance, that is violence.

When the kids have to know to drop when they hear popping sounds because it happens so often in their low income neighborhood, that is violence.

Here is more real violence: A young teen, runaway, taken to the other side of the country–rarely across international borders–where he is used for sex and forced to have sex upwards of fifty times a day. When the authorities finally rescued him, he was a shell. That is violence.

The younger man, begging for money on the corner, while still very much “in country” with no treatment for the PTSD caused from being sent over there, that is violence. The older woman standing on the corner begging for money, that is real violence.

When you cannot get mental health care and you are treated like a disposable entity that is somehow less than human–that is violence. When an adult is next to impossible to commit if need be, that is violence. The almost non-existent mental health system in this country is simply not acceptable.

So tell me, when are we doing something real to stop that violence? Perhaps a good first step would be the enactment of strong living wage laws. Notice I did not say minimum wage. I said living wage. People who are not on the edge are less likely to commit violence themselves, with or without guns.

Prattling about popular culture is a nice distraction coming from the comfortable middle class. And it happens after every mass shooting. Not merely every shooting, but every mass shooting. The reality is that 34 Americans die by gun fire every day, and 34 thousand every year. Those are the grim statistics. So we need to also deal with the culture of violence and fear that encourages despair and violence.

Do we need to talk of what to do about the guns? Yes, but we also need a more global approach to what ails us as a culture.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Wizard of Cape May December 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

“People making $17,000 a year who are being asked to pay $2,000 in health insurance for the year. They are the heads of their families and work at a hospital. You might as well ask them to travel to the other side of the moon. The health insurance is just as reachable.”

I’m sure they’re aware of something called Medicaid.

“The younger man, begging for money on the corner, while still very much “in country” with no treatment for the PTSD caused from being sent over there, that is violence.”

I have yet to see any (authentic) Iraq veterans panhandling around SD. Just the ablebodied trying to look pathetic as possible at busy intersections (or hanging outside of Subway guilt tripping for change) while wearing nicer shoes than most. I do have a soft spot of homeless women and older men but I don’t consider it violence – more like bad life decisions.

“The almost non-existent mental health system in this country is simply not acceptable.”
Really? Tell that to these fine public servants that make ($822,000!?!) more than Moonbeam.

Calif. state psychiatrists’ see salary increase with bidding war
http://www.news10.net/news/article/221006/2/State-psychiatrists-pay-skyrockets-with-bidding-war

While the median salary for state psychiatrists across the country was $195,000, here in California 93 made more than $300,000 and another 15 made over $400,000.

“So tell me, when are we doing something real to stop that violence? Perhaps a good first step would be the enactment of strong living wage laws. Notice I did not say minimum wage. I said living wage. People who are not on the edge are less likely to commit violence themselves, with or without guns.”
So we have to bribe the proletariat with a living wage (how about $30 an hour) so they don’t rob or kill the rest of us? Ever heard of the rule of law?

Is this what passes for modern progressive though?

Reply

avatar obecean December 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Hey Ebineezer—- Merry Christmas to you even!

You sure have yours, don’t you??? Glad for you right now. Butf you ever found yourself homeless possibly due to no fault of your own. I’d still hand you a quarter or two!! Merry Christmas!!

Reply

avatar Goatskull December 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm

“I have yet to see any (authentic) Iraq veterans panhandling around SD.”

I have. As a matter of fact, there are three that I know of because they were processed out of the Navy in the very building I work in. Just because you haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Reply

avatar Wizard of Cape May December 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

@obecean
I work hard for what I have because I know what it’s like to be poor. There are always options available to improve one’s station in life no matter where you come from or what you look like. But it’s easier to be a “victim” and blame others than it is to work yourself out of poverty or a dead end job.

@Goatskull
Don’t think there are a whole bunch of former sailors with PTSD panhandling around SD. I’m sure there’s a few Iraq vets begging here and there but I’ve never seen one. Might start asking. Before moving to OB I lived in downtown next to the central library/post office for three years so I know a bit about the homeless. The homeless in OB are a joke compared what you’ll find there. Parts (15th st/Island) of East Village are like skid row in LA.

Reply

avatar Nadin December 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Yes, I am aware of Medicaid. I’m sure you love the structural violence.

I am sorry your solution is to deny the reality. And yes, San Diego has one of the highest numbers of homeless vets in the nation, including gulf war one and two.

Reply

avatar Wizard of Cape May December 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

“Yes, I am aware of Medicaid.”

Then you’re aware these “families” most likely qualify for Medi-Cal if they make $17K a year and have children. I know their children would get free healthcare. Some violence you got there.

“I’m sure you love the structural violence”

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“I am sorry your solution is to deny the reality.”

Don’t know where in SD you live but I’ve lived in East Village for three years. I know the reality.

Reply

avatar Goatskull December 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Didn’t say there were a lot, but there are some and probably more than you’re aware. Yes most Navy vets have never experienced boots on the ground combat but a few in special circumstances have.

Reply

avatar Wizard of Cape May December 28, 2012 at 7:56 am

I’m sure there are some here and there. The big question is why activists/politicians(Filner) only focus on military homeless since non-military homeless in my personal experience is more prevalent. Maybe it sounds better and appeals to people’s heartstrings than regular old homeless that drive from across the country to San Diego for good weather and tourist change.

Reply

avatar John December 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm

“Really? Tell that to these fine public servants that make ($822,000!?!) more than Moonbeam.”

Your argument there is both logically fallacious and irrelevant. The pay scale for state psychiatrists being inflated does not address that the mental health system is inadequate, and can be argued as validating that it is by positing if each make so much there are not enough of them to meet the need.

“So we have to bribe the proletariat with a living wage (how about $30 an hour) so they don’t rob or kill the rest of us? Ever heard of the rule of law?”

At what point does the cost of corrections and incarceration overburden the revenues citizens pay into maintaining it? What’s your position on tax increases, do you fully support them? Or are you one of those who wants to balance the budget by cutting gov’t spending? If you aren’t fully supportive of tax increases, how are you financing your “rule of law” and funding your police and prisons?

” I do have a soft spot of homeless women and older men but I don’t consider it violence – more like bad life decisions.”

That used to be a justifiable attitude, in times when you had to be stupid to not be able to find a job that paid enough to at least put a roof over your head, but not any more. What fantasy world are you living in? Times are so tough now and the safety net of resources to depend on is already at the limit, lots of people out there who worked hard and did everything right are still ending up on the streets.
Never mind, how would you be able to tell by looking at them if someone were an “authentic” Iraq war veteran? From my experience anyone who would go out of their way claiming they are something, they aren’t what they claim anyway.

Lots of holiday cheer and goodwill toward mankind in your post!

Reply

avatar Wizard of Cape May December 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

The article said “non-existent.” If the state is paying 800K for a psychiatrist that would mean mental health does exist. That’s a grip of $ for one person paid by us (those that make enough to pay taxes).

“At what point does the cost of corrections and incarceration overburden the revenues citizens pay into maintaining it?”

One can have the same question on a variety of govt spending…
“At what point does the cost of [insert govt program here] overburden the revenues citizens pay into maintaining it?”

They should do what Sheriff Joe does with tent cities, pink underwear and green bologna. Save some mullah.

“What’s your position on tax increases, do you fully support them?”
I support a flat tax on everyone. 10-15% so everyone pays their fair share.

“Or are you one of those who wants to balance the budget by cutting gov’t spending?”
Yes. We can start by cutting the pay for state psychiatrists.

“If you aren’t fully supportive of tax increases, how are you financing your “rule of law” and funding your police and prisons?”
Cut other programs that aren’t part of the role of government to fund those that are – like law enforcement/prisons.

“What fantasy world are you living in?”
The one where Obama ran for president as a protector of civil liberties and “Constitutional scholar” only to go light years beyond GW Bush in dismantling them. Where are all those “not in our name” and “ANSWER” marches at? Things that make you say um?

BTW the economy is doing great so all the stuff you’re saying must be right wing noise or something. Stop watch Faux News already.

” From my experience anyone who would go out of their way claiming they are something, they aren’t what they claim anyway.”

Like homeless and hungry or willing to work for food? Don’t get me started on the ones with dogs. If you can’t support yourself why on earth would you have a pet?

Reply

avatar John December 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

“The almost non-existent mental health system in this country is simply not acceptable.”

That’s actually what the article stated, which I paraphrased into “inadequate”. If you’re going to turn this into a semantics argument to avoid the underlying issues, at least be correct about it.
I think that’s the only issue that should be relevant anyway since this is about the school shooting. He didn’t do it because he was broke, or homeless, or faced with paying into Obamacare, in fact from the looks of his family’s house they were well off.
He did it because he was nuts and had easy access to a lot of guns. It’s not even clear he would have been above the radar in an expanded mental health care system but many in this situation would.

I would further comment on this however:

“BTW the economy is doing great”

That, is just plain nuts. Going by what, please? Government unemployment figures? You do realize they just consider new filings, and this forgets all who gave up or can’t file?
What would you base this claim on, when everyone and their dog realizes more people than ever live below the poverty line?

Reply

avatar Nadin December 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I am sorry, it is well accepted that Reagan did empty the mental hospitals and that our mental health system is almost non existent.

It must be great to live in your world.

Reply

avatar John December 23, 2012 at 2:21 am

It does sound as if he isn’t too happy about that one guy they kept on, either. :-)
It might be said that a supposed intent of the “reform” of the mental health care system was to end many of the forced institutionalizing practices common in the 1950′s. Lock up a relative and give them a daily thorazine shot. However the end result was that some end up on the streets unless they pose a threat to themselves and others (which is usually only proven when they actually do something) which leads to the bigger problem: The prison system replaced the mental health system.

Reply

avatar Nadin December 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

We need a balance between families dumping people and what we have right now. The reality is the US has a very poor safety net, which is what alluded to in the editorial.

Reply

avatar John December 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I couldn’t agree more, it’s just that a problem arises when you can’t force people into treatment but they really need it. Things like paranoid delusions, where the sufferer could never be convinced they even have a problem or trust anyone to help them. If they are forced in to treatment against their will, it becomes a human rights issue.
While we’d like to believe we should have institutions where a homeless mentally ill person can go for food, shelter and mental care on their own accord, it rarely works because most will engage in anti-social behavior such as drugs or alcohol once in it- and such places do exist, privately, like at Father Joe’s.
They won’t tolerate that behavior so we end up with mentally ill homeless on the streets who won’t be told how to live their lives.

Reply

avatar mr.rick December 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Someone will have to pay the bill somehow. Maybe we could let all the shoplifters and other petty thieves with three strikes and pot heads out of the pen. Then maybe we could afford to take care of someone less fortunate than ourselves. It would be alot better than what we’ve got now. Probably alot less costly, too.

Reply

Leave a Comment


5 + 3 =

Older Article:

Newer Article: