Colin Woodard writes:
Beyond a vague awareness that supporters of violent retaliation and easy access to guns are concentrated in the states of the former Confederacy and, to a lesser extent, the western interior, most people cannot tell you much about regional differences on such matters. Our conventional way of defining regions—dividing the country along state boundaries into a Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest—masks the cultural lines along which attitudes toward violence fall. These lines don’t respect state boundaries. To understand violence or practically any other divisive issue, you need to understand historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.
The original North American colonies were settled by people from distinct regions of the British Isles—and from France, the Netherlands, and Spain—each with its own religious, political, and ethnographic traits. For generations, these Euro-American cultures developed in isolation from one another, consolidating their cherished religious and political principles and fundamental values, and expanding across the eastern half of the continent in nearly exclusive settlement bands. Throughout the colonial period and the Early Republic, they saw themselves as competitors—for land, capital, and other settlers—and even as enemies, taking opposing sides in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.
Full Story: Tufts Magazine: Up in Arms
Pamela Haag writes about a paper published last fall in the American Political Science Review about ending or reducing domestic violence against women globally:
Out of this herculean research effort, Weldon and Htun conclude that the “mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians” in a country, according to the APSR press release.
The authors found that these vibrant and autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the issue of violence against women, mobilize political will against it, and catalyze government action. Other organizations, even those with progressive leanings, tended to sideline issues perceived as being only relevant to women. […]
This is heartening news. There’s a tendency to feel hopeless in the face of the Big Trends and the analyses of the violence and degradation against women as collateral damage of what feel like almost insurmountable “larger problems” and social pathology. For example we sometimes think of violence against women as mostly a by-product of economic development and educational opportunities, or lack thereof.
Conversely, there’s a consoling tendency to think that once these economic conditions improve, violence against women will diminish naturally, as a happy consequence of other social changes.
This research concludes that the work of individuals in civil society not only makes a difference, but makes the difference in comparison to other potential but more indirect levers of social change, such as having left-leaning parties or more national wealth. Write Weldon and Htun, the “effects of autonomous organizing are more important in our analysis than women’s…representation inside the legislature or the impact of political parties. Nor do economic factors such as national wealth trump the societal causes of policy making. Although these intra-legislative and economic factors have received a great deal of attention…they are inadequate to explain the significant changes in policies on violence against women. Civil society holds the key here.”
Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci on ways that media and law enforcement can reduce the number of copycat killers after a mass shooting:
1. Law enforcement should not release details of the methods and manner of the killings, and those who learn those details should not share them.
2. If and when social media accounts of the killers are located, law enforcement should work with the platforms to immediately pull them.
3. The name of the killer should not be revealed immediately. If possible, law enforcement and media sources should agree to withhold it for weeks.
Similarly, the killer should not be profiled extensively, at least not at first.
4. The intense push to interview survivors and loved ones in their most vulnerable moments should be stopped.
These points are not unlike forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz’ principles for not propagating mass murders:
Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.
Don’t have photographs of the killer.
Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.
Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.
The tragic events in the Milwaukee suburb were also treated differently by political élites, many fewer of whom issued statements on the matter. While both Presidential candidates at least made public comments, neither visited, nor did they suspend campaigning in the state even for one day, as they did in Colorado. In fact, both candidates were in the vicinity this weekend and failed to appear. Obama hugged his children a little tighter after Aurora, but his remarks after Oak Creek referred to Sikhs as members of the “broader American family,” like some distant relatives. Romney unsurprisingly gaffed, referring on Tuesday to “the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple.” Because the shooting happened in Paul Ryan’s district, the Romney campaign delayed announcement of its Vice-Presidential choice until after Ryan could attend the funerals for the victims, but he did not speak at the service and has said surprisingly little about the incident.
Meanwhile, white power activity in Oregon:
Last year, the number of armed conflicts in the world increased markedly, with the strongest increase taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the conclusion in a new report by researchers at the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), published in the Journal of Peace Research. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has presented the statistics to the UN General Assembly in his report on international mediation. […]
Following a year (2010) that signaled hope for a more peaceful development, the number of conflicts increased by nearly 20 percent, from 31 to 37. Last year’s jump in conflicts deviates from the long-term trend line, which shows that the world is gradually becoming more peaceful.
(via Social Physicist)
Lindy West writes for Jezebel about all the gruesome stories ricocheting around social media lately, and how they marginalize the real issue: lack resources for the mentally ill.
I don’t mean that the people who latched on to this particular meme are bad people (though I would say they’re a bit thoughtless), or that it’s never appropriate to respond to unthinkable tragedy with macabre humor. But I’m not feeling particularly charitable toward wacky zombie jokes today. There’s no such thing as undead people, only dead people. And sad people. No one deserves to be publicly ridiculed for their identity — gay people, fat people, black people, poor people — but when we ridicule and marginalize mentally ill people, actual innocent people get killed.
See also: It’s Bigger Than “Bath Salts” and “Zombie Apocalypses” by Subhash Kateel, who writes:
-Florida is the second to worst state in the country when it comes to funding mental health services. Of the 325,000 people with persistent and severe mental illness, only 42 percent receive treatment.
-In 2010, the State Legislature cut adult community mental health funding, children’s mental health funding and adult substance abuse services by more than $18 million. This year, the state legislature tried to make Florida the worst state in the nation at funding mental health, and almost succeeded.
-Prescription drug overdoses and the prescription drug death rate are up in Florida by 61 percent and 84 percent respectively. That didn’t stop state politicians from trying to cut funding for drug treatment by 20 percent, which would have kicked 37,000 people out of services while they were trying to kick a habit.
- First responders across the state say that they are seeing mental health cases that they have never seen before, such as a Palm Beach man that was held in custody 50 times in one year under the state’s Baker Act because he was a threat to himself and others.
It’s much easier to place the blame on some weird new designer drugs (that the perpetrators might not have even been using) than it is to talk seriously about complex issues like lack of funding and access to social programs and deep rooted problems with mental health institutions.
Update: Rob Arthur notes that both mental illness and drug abuse are lower predictors for violence many other factors.
On Monday, Danny Chaoflux and Nova had their home invaded by a man on the run from the cops. Nova escaped with his son but Danny and the other housemates were taken hostage and had to fight their way free. Now their home is in shambles thanks to the attacker’s gun fire and the police’s tear gas canisters.
You might know Danny as the co-founder of EsoZone, mastermind of Portland Occulture and a Technoccult guest blogger. You might know Nova for his comments here at Technoccult, or for his own blog Third Mind. If you can, please help the mutant community with a donation for cleaning and repairs to their house.
Here’s The Oregonian’s write-up:
A neck hold wasn’t working. Not knowing what else to do, Rafatpanah bit the man’s ear.
"Let go of the gun, let go of the gun!" he yelled through clamped teeth.
"Let go of my ear!" the gunman responded.
The two tore apart, and Rafatpanah spat out a bean-sized piece of ear.
"I tasted the blood of my enemy in my mouth," he said. "And so at that point you realize the stakes have gone so much higher because blood is being drawn — my blood, his blood."
Rafatpanah lunged toward the gun and wrestled it away.
He bolted out the front door into a sea of police, his arms reaching skyward with the gun, their guns pointed at him. Unsure of whether he was the suspect, officers tackled and handcuffed him.
After scuffling with the gunman for a few moments, the other two housemates also ran out. Mooney grabbed his own gun and ammo on the way so the man couldn’t use them.
Slashdot has an excellent feature up today: Are Kids Turning Your Kids Into Killers? “The truth is, many more kids kill themselves then others, often because of bullying, a subject about which Ashcroft had nothing to say. The question really is whether vicious kids and hostile school environments are turning kids into killers. It’s a question neither politicians nor the media seem to want to ask.”