Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Further meditations on the Dunn case, thug culture, etc.

Read the original meditations here. 

When speaking of the killing of a teenager, it's distasteful to say, "I'm glad the shooter wasn't white." A dead teenager is a dead teenager and a tragedy regardless of circumstances or social overtones. But in this case, coming so closely on the heels of the controversial Dunn verdict and its ongoing fallout, if there had to be a shooter, I'm glad he wasn't white. We don't need any more fuel on that particular fire at the moment.

There's a second reason why I think it bears noting that both shooter and victim are black, because it goes to the point I made in yesterday's "update" of my initial thoughts on the Dunn case. Here, in this latest shooting, we have a case where a bunch of kids riding around a neighborhood apparently decided to prank the shooter's son by egging his car. There would not seem to be a racial component to the case, but clearly this does fall into the category of the rudeness and general misbehavior that may have played at least a supporting role in the killings of both Jordan Davis and movie-theater texter Chad Oulson. (Click on link at top of post for more details on Oulson.)

I'm telling you, people... There are more and more of your neighbors out there with short fuses, with zero remaining patience for this kind of nonsense or horseplay or lack of consideration, and, as also noted, too many of them are armed.


Jenny said...

How horrible! I don't even think about race here. Forget race. This is about meanness. Human cruelty. Let's start with the cultural implications of the name "Kum and Go." What a crass name and I'm glad not to have to pass by that one every day in my neighborhood. People with the mentality to pull "pranks" like egging and worse are the kind of people who can easily fly under the radar and avoid being caught. I speak from experience as someone whose car has been egged; this act of criminal mischief happens mostly without consequence to the perpetrator, who gleefully imagines his or her target in pain. This is the kind of "sport" people with sociopathic tendencies find entertaining and they are rarely caught. If we can figure out a way to curb human cruelty, maybe "accidents" like this senseless death won't happen.

Steve Salerno said...

I think that many of us have increasingly low tolerance for these pranks, and also for the lack of consideration shown by people who, for example, carry on full-throated conversations on cell phones in nice restaurants, then hang up...and the damn thing rings or buzzes 14 seconds later, and there they go again. Same goes for the kids (teens) who drive through a quiet neighborhood or grocery-store parking lot blaring profanity-strewn music from their car. That is not to be interpreted necessarily as a jab at Jordan Davis, for I've seen (heard) the same phenomenon with head-banging white teens, where the music is metal/alternative (and the profanity is just as profane). Then there's also "that guy" who's always the last one to turn off his phone or laptop/tablet as the plane is taxiing down the tarmac. Makes my blood boil. Where did these folks get their sense of entitlement? The belief that the usual laws and practices don't apply to them?

Don't you know that that's what the retired cop was thinking when he told Oulson to shut off his cell phone? "Look at this yuppie asshole, who does he think he is?" That's how it starts.

I'm not implying that kids who blare music or egg cars or throw snowballs at passing motorists, or adults who carry on extra-loud conversations or wait too long to shut off their iPads, deserve to be shot. I'm just pointing out that there are a lot of people with guns out there, and some of 'em are even a lot more agitated than I am by the ongoing breakdown in common courtesy. It's a recipe for heartache.

RevRon's Rants said...

I learned early on that I should never point a gun at anything I didn't fully intend to shoot, and suspect that this simple basic rule is the missing element in many of the shootings we see nowadays. Too many folks view a gun as a statement in and of itself, and think that pointing it at soneone will somehow resolve the situation they face.

It takes very little in the way of intent or effort to go from pointing the weapon to actually using it, and consideration of the grave aftermath is apparently absent from the equation.

I remember a defensive shooting class for women, and at the end of the class, the instructor had one of the students shoot a gallon can of tomatoes, which naturally wxploded when hit, spraying tomato pieces all over the backdrop. He then calmly informed the class that this is how the scene would likely appear after a shooting. The entire class was dumbfounded.

At least part of the answeer to the problem - IMO - would be the requirement of a comprehensive gun safety course as a prerequisite for purchasing or possessing a gun. Such a requirement would go a long way toward eliminating the element I describe from the equation, and since it would be a qualification of the person (much like a driver's license), rather than adding their name to a database of gun owners, it should offset the concerns of all but the most paranoid gun owners.

Would it stop such incidents as you describe from happening? Of course not. There will likely always be rage-driven idiots. But I do think it could reduce their incidence significantly.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, I think you reference an excellent subtlety that--precisely because of its subtlety--seldom makes it to the fore in discussions of these tragic events. I live near Allentown, PA, about an hour's drive north of Philly, so our local news each night is rife with incidents involving a gun, in many cases where a gun was brandished, put to some poor store clerk's head, or otherwise used in a threatening "statement" manner. A lot this statement-making is by urban teens, often in gangs or on the periphery of same; awash in testosterone and the excitement of the moment, they don't seem to realize that once they pull a gun from their waistband, they have "gone nuclear," as it were, setting in motion a sequence of events that may escalate into tragic, irrevocable results...for themselves as much as for any innocent bystanders. (The person on the receiving end of the threat, and surely any cops that arrive on-scene, will take the "statement" seriously and respond with more than a mere show of force; they'll shoot.) The same often occurs in domestic disputes, where someone invokes the gun ("I'm gonna blow your fucking brains out!") and the very act of introducing that wild card into the equation has self-fulfilling consequences.

Gun-safety courses will help, but I certainly don't see them as a panacea here; I think that in too many cases the mere presence of a gun is a catalyst for all that follows. No, guns don't literally shoot people--people do--but how many deaths could be avoided if there were no gun present to turn to at moments of high drama?

RevRon's Rants said...

There is no panacea, Steve. Certainly not an ill-fated attempt to eliminate guns entirely. Even if such a task were feasible, all that would change would be the weapon of choice. And frankly, there are plenty of weapons that are more efficient at killing (and less troublesome to procure and use) than a firearm.

In my ideal but workable solution, the licensing of individuals rather than the firearms would include a *comprehensive* background check, based upon a truly comprehensive database that contains criminal records, instances of violent behavior, and documented psychiatric pathologies that indicate a propensity for or likelihood of violent behavior.

Of course, the implementation of such licensure would also necessitate a rebuilding of the mental health system that was deconstructed during the Reagan administration. And while I recognize that we have to balance the concerns of society against the liberties of the individual, it is increasingly obvious that in our politically correct quest to protect the personal liberties of the few, we have abandoned the "balance," to the detriment of the liberties of both. All but the most deeply psychotic or sociopathic will feel deep remorse for the effects of their violent behavior, and we do them no favors by virtually ignoring their pathology until it results in harm to another.

As always, I believe we need to seek that balance, rather than sacrificing both our freedoms and our security by taking ineffective, knee-jerk steps to resolve our problems.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, much as it pains me to say so, I agree with you that the "get rid of all the guns" argument is an unworkable non-starter; and in any case, as you suggest, it seems extreme and onerous to abridge the rights of the many (law-abiding gun enthusiasts) in a (doomed?) attempt to curtail the behavior of the few thugs. Yes, thugs.

We seem trapped. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. There is no question in my mind that more guns = more death, but more sportscars also probably = more death, so...where to from here?

RevRon's Rants said...

OMT - I do not hold a concealed carry permit, and don't carry a gun, for the very specific reason that I don't choose to identify myself to law enforcement as one who might be motivated to respond violently. Furthermore, unless the potential victim actually has their weapon in hand at the moment of confrontation, they're more likely to be shot when reaching for their weapon than they are to use the weapon in a successful defense.

Anonymous said...

Jenny I like the way you white folks say to forget race. You have that luxury.

Revron, with all the racism that's out there plus all the guns that are out there these tragedies will continue. The best gun safety course in the world still isn't going to tell bigots to "stop shooting niggers". That's probably the reason 90% of your people buy guns! to protect yourself against the terrible black menace!

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon - On the other hand, we white folks don't have the "luxury" of a strawman we can blame for all our problems, rather than taking any responsibility for those problems and their resolution.

Most of the victims of shootings by white people are, in fact, white. And black on black violence is far more prevalent than white on black violence. White bigots are a problem for black people, but are far from the biggest problem. Perhaps black people need to get the message to "stop shooting niggers," rather than trying to lay blame for their murders - and every one of their other problems - on someone else.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I bothered posting I could see as soon as I read what Mr. Salerno had to say that this was one of those white backlash sites where it's all about blaming the victim. You're so comfortable in your deep-seated racist thinking, it's just the natural way to think for you, and you can't begin to comprehend the black experience.

Steve Salerno said...

Anonymous, let me turn your thinking around: Did YOU even read the post? Or did you just develop a quick impression of where you thought I was going and dismiss the rest of what I had to say because it didn't fit YOUR world-view? Let's be fair here, this cuts both ways. I think Ron's reply to you was very reasonable in light of what the stats say...not what bigotry says...not what pre-/misconceptions say...but what the stats say. And if we're not going to vest at least some legitimacy in the stats, then you're right, what's the point of talking?

As the late great Sen. Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

Jenny said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I hear you. I've already commented on the previous thread about white privilege. I acknowledge it exists. I acknowledge the difference in my experience as a white female and somebody else's experience as anything other than that. When I said "forget race" in this instance, I was actually thinking about another incident in my own background, involving a family in our old neighborhood who had targeted my family. They were actually of mixed race; my family, too, is mixed race. The issue in our situation was child abuse. My husband had witnessed a gross display of it by our neighbor and had set wheels in motion to bring his behavior to the attention of child protective services. From that point on, we suffered multiple eggings (house, car); we had a "security" camera pointed at our bedroom window; the verbal harassment went on almost daily. It got so ugly, a physical confrontation eventually broke out and charges were filed against my husband for using a broomstick to defend himself against these people who appeared to froth at the mouth and wield pitchforks, an angry white trash mob. So, long story short, our conflict was about retaliation. Race was beside the point.

Jenny said...

I don't know about Steve and Ron, but I'm definitely not "comfortable" in a discussion of this nature. The issue is not comfort, though. If we don't show up and talk to instead of about each other, not much will change. A good day to you. I'm glad to hear your voice, Anonymous.

Jenny said...

Steve, I can appreciate what you say about invoking the gun. That's a good way to put it. On one hand, a person who is packing a concealed weapon might feel a sense of extra confidence and a bit of a power boost or adrenaline surge about being armed. On the other hand, it could also promote a type of arrogance, a one-up attitude of having a perceived advantage.

Ron, I appreciate what you say, too, about being perceived by law enforcement as someone who might be motivated to respond violently.

Anonymous, I appreciate your provocative attitude! Many people shy away from conflict; clearly, you don't. (I'm not being sarcastic.) If you care to discuss: In general, what are your thoughts about gun ownership and use?

This seems relevant for the discussion, a mention of a person whose name came to my attention recently. Our neighbor is a SWAT team leader and has urged me to read a book by Dave Grossman called On Combat. I didn't find it in our library but did find another one of his books, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, and am currently reading it.