Friday, December 14, 2012

Why what can't happen in your town happens

Millions of Americans think mass shootings can't happen in their community - until it happens.

We've seen it in schools, malls, and other places. School shooters have sometimes been students, but at other times adults from the community (as is believed to be the case in Newtown, Connecticut).

When we look at America's spree shootings dating back some 20 years, one feature is a common denominator in almost all cases. I'm going to anger a lot of people by saying this, but the truth has to be told: Most of these incidents were in overbuilt outer suburbs.

Shooting sprees are significantly less of a threat in inner-city America. Cities have a few rough parts, but nothing like that. If we were to weigh mass killings by population density, I'd think we'd find astounding evidence of cities' safety.

Let me be frank: The problem is the hypocritical values honored in suburbia. The further from the city you go, the more you have to listen to people preaching to everybody else how to live their lives - when these dour scolds can't get their own lives straightened out. I know this from experience, so don't tell me to be quiet. I will speak about this problem because I am American.

What do you think this does to a person who might not fit the community's economic or social mold? I know we can't tolerate somebody killing innocent people (especially children), but we must get to the root of how the shooters became shooters. There's no evidence that the assailants were simply born bad. What factors allow them to become mass killers?

Start with this: Suburban life means being surrounded by people who just don't give a shit. In the city, people care. I regularly perform community work in what is reputed to be Cincinnati's roughest neighborhood, and if a young person there is in trouble, at least somebody in the neighborhood takes the time to care about their plight. An attack against an innocent teenager is considered an attack against the whole community.

Contrast this with suburban Campbell County. I grew up in that part of town, and one thing became clear to me in the mid-'80s: If you're in trouble in the suburbs, people...just...don' You can't depend on anybody. Anybody! You can count on years of beating your head against the wall.

I felt like if I was shot in the middle of the street, people would just step over my body and go about their lives. Everything was all about them, them, them. They only cared about who their favorite celebrities were screwing - and policing what ordinary people did. These are individuals who are so preoccupied with gossiping on the phone that they consider people falling apart around them to be mere objects.

I remember a couple of teachers who liked to lecture students about how they were all on drugs or how the country's morals were going down the dumper - yet it turned out later they had their own issues they didn't want to deal with. And while school personnel called us druggies, they force-fed us Ritalin and other toxins.

Let me repeat: In outer suburbs, Understand? You are considered a mere machine to them.

That's how spree killers are made. They're raised in the wrong environment.

Despite today's terrible events, school shootings in America have declined precipitously since 2009. Last year, the number of deaths resulting from such sprees was the lowest in 20 years. But society clearly has more work to do to reestablish the principles of community that we have a right to expect in a civilized society.

No comments:

Post a Comment