Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Tamara, in reply to B Jones,

    aargh, try either one with me and it's a fail.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This is the first time I have said it - but point taken.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Anne Russell,

    That’s quite a jump, assuming Liza Long is a loving mother. Her ethics in using both Michael’s name and a photo of him are dubious (I appreciate your respect for your son’s privacy), and her other blog entries show she is mentally disturbed herself (http://bit.ly/ZbccQJ). It sounds like her son could do with living in a different environment.

    Knowing what I do now, so do I. But I also know what it's like being judged as the parent of a difficult child.

    I was troubled by elements of her post on first reading, but I didn’t spot some of the historical posts, which raise further questions about her attitude towards her children and her own mental state. I actually linked to the Slate coverage about an hour ago.

    To be, fair, she at least didn’t use her son’s real name.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara, in reply to DexterX,

    “I feel I don’t have to push back at “it"or “anything” in raising my five-year-old daughter.”

    That’s nice for you but when people/media/etc are sending messages to my children on a constant basis I feel bound to respond to the message and the people sending them. It's one way for me to protect my children.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Gwynne Dyer weighs in. Not his best piece, but a couple of interesting points.

    Here's one reason to suspect that it's not that simple: the American rate for murders of all kinds - shooting, strangling, stabbing, poisoning, pushing people under buses, etc - is seven times higher than it is in those other 22 rich countries. It can't just be guns.

    and:

    Pinker quotes historian Pieter Spierenburg's provocative suggestion that "democracy came too early" to America. In European countries, the population was gradually disarmed by the centralised state as it put an end to feudal anarchy. Only much later, after people had already learned to trust the law to defend their property and protect them from violence, did democracy come to these countries.

    This is also what has happened in most other parts of the world, although in many cases it was the colonial power that disarmed the people and instituted the rule of law. But in the United States, where the democratic revolution came over two centuries ago, the people took over the state before they had been disarmed - and kept their weapons. They also kept their old attitudes.

    Um, what? So Americans are less socially evolved than the rest of us? Never been to America, so the many Americans I've met are by definition unusual, but I find that hard to believe.

    Indeed, large parts of the United States, particularly in the southeast and southwest, still have an "honour" culture in which it is accepted that a private individual may choose to defend his rights and his interests by violence rather than seeking justice through the law. The homicide rate in New England is less than three people per 100,000 per year; in Louisiana it is more than 14.

    Anybody more familiar with the US care to comment? That's certainly not something I'd noticed in the Americans I've met.

    Many Americans I've talked to about guns talk about the Revolution and the reasons for it, so yeah, I think there is something about American history that informs the 2nd Amendment. Many, many would be entirely comfortable with a gun control scheme similar to Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Many others talk about the need to defend themselves and their families in a violent, dangerous society - they're often ex-military types* in my experience.

    As for gun control, on the same day as Adam Lanza shot up his old school (feels wrong to phrase it that way, but not enough caffeine yet) a guy took a knife to a kindergarten in Henan and hacked at the kids - 20-odd injured, no deaths. Guns are available in China, but not legally, so not easily. Those who like to shoot for sport can only do so at gun ranges - where I've heard you can play with some pretty heavy-duty "toys" if you're that way inclined - but you can't take the guns home with you. Those who feel the need to defend themselves and their families in a violent, dangerous society learn martial arts. Those who feel the need to attack children at schools do so with knives, and never achieve high body counts. So, yeah, the availability off guns is clearly a factor.

    As for why so many people in both America and China feel the need to attack students at schools, I really don't know.

    Becoming the daddy of a wee girl really highlighted and continues to emphasise to me the radically different ways boys and girls are socialised. But that's not enough to explain things. Kiwi, Chinese, and I presume American boys - boys the world over, I guess - are given toy guns, soldiers, tanks, fighter planes to play with. But while in America troubled young men take guns and explosives to school and in China troubled men (not always young) take knives to schools and kindergartens, you don't often hear of schools being attacked in many other countries.

    *I've talked to and gotten to know people who've served in a variety of military forces - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines; US, UK, Norway, Greece, New Zealand... - gross generalisation, but the American ex-military types tend to be the weirdest, most broken and battered in my experience. Don't know why that is.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Does it really matter if she may appear mentally suspect? If what she writes is what is happening with her son then surely that is the matter that should be the point of the discussion. If her child acts and reacts by lifting a knife and threatening her, that she describes how nice he can be and how quick he can change, and who, what and where she has ventured for help and what she may have to do to get him into the system then surely, one has to accept that this kid has "issues". They may very well be associated and linked with his mother's behaviour. But.....

    Hello! Genes run deep!

    Seems to me it was a bit of messenger bashing going on until the mutual back acratching joint statement came out.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Anne Russell,

    While mental health policy and the culture around mental health in both the US and NZ need improving, there's no suggestion that that Adam Lanza had similar mental health issues to Michael.

    News coverage here (at least local - which this is, for me) has begun to address the fact that, had he only been a few months older, there was absolutely no legal barrier to him purchasing his own firearms - he had no criminal or mental health record (AFAWK) that would have stopped it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But, also, it’s some of the other, somewhat disturbing stuff, she’s written about her children.

    That's a really poor article, and the examples she brings from the blog are either taken out of context or misunderstood (like, the author mistakes one son for his older brother, or identifies as the son somebody who was just a climbing partner.). There have been many good critiques of the post though. Like this one.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    There have been many good critiques of the post though. Like this one.

    See, I had some problems with that one, which largely faults her for not having her disability politics in order. At least the Slate one acknowledges that she might be in a very difficult position. That one is crushingly devoid of sympathy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I'll be the first to admit I found it quite hard to muster sympathy myself.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    John Elder Robison, an influential US 'Aspergian' (as he refers to himself) has blogged.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3227 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Gwynne Dyer appears to be channeling Oscar Wilde: "from barbarity to decadence without the civility in between".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Maybe, but phrasing it more cleverly doesn't strengthen the argument.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Quote from the article:

    “Guns are why we’re free in this country, and people lose sight of that when tragedies like this happen. A gun didn’t kill all those children, a disturbed man killed all those children.”

    Scary.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    A young woman bravely blogs about being one of the 'scary kids'.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3227 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Obama is a President who acts with a wider view/scope than say Bush - with this American problem – now that John Kerry is becoming Secretary of State - it would make sense for Obama to, in addition to seeing at the Federal and State level that existing “Gun Laws” are adhered to, appoint both Clintons and some sensible Senior Republicans to assemble a combined Congressional and Senate Committee.

    Such a committee could sit in every state with a view to researching the issues and hearing from the people - following which a recommendation on a universal approach to gun control is made – A common sense approach for the common good of everyone.

    Such process to be set in place so that a suitable law is passed by both the Senate and Congress well before the expiry of Obama’s second term.

    I may be being gnomic and a FW - the polcitcs may be diificult but a solution can't be impossible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Does it really matter if she may appear mentally suspect?

    It does if it's impacting on her son.

    Autism parent world can be an unsettling place. There are incredible people like Barb Kirby, and there are people who are hurting their children with crank cures and worse. Sometimes the latter can be really challenging to deal with in social media.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, my son is seriously pissed off about the video-game-blaming around Newtown.

    He sent me these two links with the comment "This just feels like an insult to both games and the people we lost."

    Mob Blames Mass Effect for Shooting, is Embarrassingly Wrong

    Fox News Tries to Tie TV, Facebook and Gaming to CT Tragedy

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Despite some clear divisions about the importance of Gender, I hope we can all agree that Bushmaster's (the maker of the semi-automatic used) is really,really, horribly awful

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    “This just feels like an insult to both games and the people we lost.”

    The young man is right. These kinds of arguments always come out just after another gun related tragedy. You also see lots of mental health discussion at this time too. Yet neither video games nor mental health have any statistically significant association with gun deaths. It's almost as if there were a group of people trying to distract the discussion away from the issue of gun control.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Hood,

    Despite some clear divisions about the importance of Gender, I hope we can all agree that Bushmaster’s (the maker of the semi-automatic used) is really,really, horribly awful

    Jesus. That's like gender fucking warfare.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    I admit it. I was wrong. And I take back anything I said. It's the girls' fault.

    I would argue that maleness and whiteness are commodities in decline. And while those of us who are not male or white have enjoyed some benefits from their decline, the sort of violence and murder that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary will continue to occur if we do not find a way to carry them along with us in our successes rather than leaving them behind....From the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and onward, young men – and young white men in particular – have increasingly been asked to yield what they’d believed was securely theirs.

    SERIOUSLY.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to David Hood,

    Maybe NZ should stop equipping our cops with their guns, then?

    Dunno who else to buy from though. Kalashnikov? Used by the good side and the bad in many wars. Probably never spent a penny on advertising. Also, designed for illiterate peasant use, so even the dumbest cop should be able to avoid jamming or breaking one.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Here is an interesting article that adds some insight to the subject.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323723104578185271857424036.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

    Most interesting part.

    Finally, it must be acknowledged that many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend "gun-free zones," such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. According to Ron Borsch's study for the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, active shooters are different from the gangsters and other street toughs whom a police officer might engage in a gunfight. They are predominantly weaklings and cowards who crumble easily as soon as an armed person shows up.

    The problem is that by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. So when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved. The media rarely mention the mass murders that were thwarted by armed citizens at the Shoney's Restaurant in Anniston, Ala. (1991), the high school in Pearl, Miss. (1997), the middle-school dance in Edinboro, Penn. (1998), and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. (2007), among others.

    At the Clackamas Mall in Oregon last week, an active shooter murdered two people and then saw that a shopper, who had a handgun carry permit, had drawn a gun and was aiming at him. The murderer's next shot was to kill himself.

    So that explains why there were only 2 dead in Oregan last week, but the media being in favour of gun control hasn't reported that. Adam Lanza fits the profile described above as he shot himslef as soon as he heard the cops arriving. Imagine if the headmaster at Newton had had a gun (even one firing blanks or rubber bullets) and been able to engage Lanza rather than throw herself at the gunman and get killed. It would seem that it would be much less likely that we would be mourning 26 deaths.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It's almost as if there were a group of people trying to distract the discussion away from the issue of gun control.

    oh look, here's James

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

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