Tuesday, April 14, 2009
  On Guns, Murder and Terrorism
Bob Herbert writing in the New York Times, makes a passionate appeal for more sensible laws about guns. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/opinion/14herbert.html)

He says:

"Since Sept. 11, 2001, when the country’s attention understandably turned to terrorism, nearly 120,000 Americans have been killed in nonterror homicides, most of them committed with guns. Think about it — 120,000 dead. That’s nearly 25 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

He goes on to ask why we lack the motivation to do anything about this epidemic of murder, calling for more stringent gun control laws. The article is great, but it doesn't go far enough.

The problem goes far deeper than merely the ready availability of guns. As much as I disagree with the NRA, there is a certain amount of truth to their slogan that guns don't kill, people do. Our popular culture, our news media, our entertainment glorifies guns, and posits violence as the solution to many, if not all problems.

Often times, the "good guys" in movies behave in ways that are identical to the "bad guys," they are just posited as being on the right side of the issue. With few exceptions, there are no ramifications to their actions, and no consideration of the impact upon innocent by-standers. When, for instance, has a movie hero even given a passing thought to the scores of injured -- or dead -- people left in the wake of the spectacular and incredibly destructive car chase he just undertook escaping or chasing down that bad guy? What consideration is there given to their pain and suffering, the months of rehab, the loss their families and friends suffer? When standers-by are merely props to the good guy's heroism and the bad guy's evil, slight wonder that we see an increasing tendency to use fellow citizens as props in personal narratives of dysfunction and pain.

The way the news media reports events only contributes to the problem. The hype and sensationalist reporting around mass killings, combined with the dehumanizing of people with whom we are in conflict (Hamas militants, or the Somali pirates, for instance, have no human face -- they are statistics, not people with families, friends, and reasons, no matter how wrong-headed, for their behavior.), serve to make violence all the more acceptable, or even alluring.

Until we cultivate a culture that rejects violence as a solution to our personal problems, gun control is not likely to be very effective.

Let me be clear -- I favor stringent gun laws. Guns are potent enablers. An alienated student who doesn't have access to an assault rifle may kill himself, but the likelihood of him being able to "take out" 33 of his classmates and professors in the process is pretty much nil.

But until we deal with the glorification of murder and mayhem in our popular culture, you can bet that these types of incidents will only continue.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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