flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

April 11, 2007

108 And Counting

A few years ago, I went to Ireland on business. As I was being driven to the office, we passed a sign on the road that said “52 people killed on this road this year”. I thought it very disturbing: it was only April or so, and that “52” was in scoreboard numbers. They expected an increase.

Philadelphia has its own scoreboard. The front of the City section of the Inquirer has the number of homicides in the city for the year. We’re up to 108. A large number of those deaths are attributed to gun violence. In the “irony of the year” category, another shooting occurred yesterday, at an anti-violence protest.

This trend has all of the thinkers in the city scratching their heads. Despite the fact that the city is in pretty good shape, the murder rate has been rapidly climbing over the last few years. Our local self-assigned voice of conscience, Monica Yant Kinney, has been posting regularly about this alarming situation. Some of her recent stories have brought to light the tale of a family who lost two sons to street violence.

The first story (reg. req.) is misleading in some ways – she tries very hard to make the suburban reader associate with the victims. She states early in the story that the children grew up with both parents who were churchgoing and employed, and gives examples of how the boys/men were trying to stay above the thug culture. But their home was actually broken (Dad and Mom did not live together), and the victims’ lives exhibited signs of what most burbians look at as low-level thug culture: out of wedlock children with multiple partners and problems with the law. Yant Kinney puts fuel on the fire comparing the untimely deaths of these two young men to the loss of soldiers in Iraq.

As you can imagine, the spin she put on this story drew reactions ranging from apathy for the victims to “just desserts” mentality. This understandably upset the author, but I can kind of understand it. I do not agree with it, mind you. But I understand it. The average citizen is completely frustrated with the thugs who commit these crimes, and when people are frustrated, they don’t act or think rationally or compassionately.

What it really comes down to, in my mind, is a complete disconnect between those of us who view the city’s violence problem from the outside (neither perps nor vics) and the people who are causing the violence. The majority of people are law-abiding citizens who only wish other people well. To ask these people the root cause of the violence is tantamount to asking most of us to speak Chinese. We’ve heard the language, but it’s just beyond our comprehension. There is not a single person with a conscience who can come up with a reason to shoot someone at an anti-violence rally. The people who commit these crimes think differently than we do.

Until we find the motivations and rewards of the gangstahs and remove said motivations and rewards, there will be an escalation in violence. A person who casually shoots another person on a street corner does not care if you’ve outlawed guns. A person who guns down a child on the way to school does not care if the child’s mother cries. They Don’t Care. Period. At least, not about the same things that most people care about. Sun Tzu says Know Your Enemy, and until we acknowledge that there is an enemy in thug culture and attempt to know him, instead of excusing him, we are doomed to see the body count go higher.




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