Tag Archive: violence

Oct 11 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Violence. Without Which Not. by UnaSpenser

I set out here to write about capitalism and how it shapes our relationships to everything. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I had planned to write about how competition, individualism, and the insecurity of having to “earn a living” or be denied survival, defines how we approach one another and the way in which we interact with people in our lives. I started by examining the definition of capitalism. I turned to Wikipedia first and got this:

capitalism is “an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are privately owned and operated via profit and loss calculation (price signals) through the price system.”

Most of my prior thinking had been focused on the profit and loss aspect and how the only valuation system capitalism uses is money. I had originally thought that I would want to discuss the lack of any ethics or social values in the definition and how that void gets filled by the profit imperative.

However, what I found myself focusing on first was the phrase “privately owned”. I was immediately writing about the concept of ownership. In the wake of three mass shootings in the US, this week, I found myself reaching the conclusion that any society which embraces the idea of private property is, at it’s core, violent. Violence is the very foundation that society. I found myself unable to focus on anything else. I realized that any system which includes any kind of ownership claim has to be violent. So, this isn’t a strictly anti-capitalist exploration. It’s an ownership exploration.

So, can we talk about how we are a fundamentally violent culture? How that’s a feature and not a bug? Can we talk about whether we want to be that? Whether we can change that?

I’ll walk you through my thoughts which led to “ownership = violence” and my not-yet-fully-formed ideas of alternatives and a vague sense of how to get there. My hope is that we spark the beginning of a growing dialogue.  

Oct 02 2015

Real Fake News

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

The Onion NEWS IN BRIEF, October 1, 2015, Vol 51 Issue 39    News · Guns · Violence

ROSEBURG, OR-In the hours following a violent rampage in southwestern Oregon in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and seriously injured seven others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Thursday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.

“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Ohio resident Lindsay Bennett, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.”

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the  world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past six years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Jul 21 2014

Freedom, Money & Control

Money is violence

Our system of money visits violence on people.

Economic sanctions are an obvious example:

In case you’re not video enabled, here’s a transcript of a portion of the conversation between 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl and Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on May 12, 1996:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

What Stahl and the ghastly gasbag Albright are discussing are the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq allegedly in order to compel Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and pay reparations, but more likely the unstated plan was to induce the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

Economic sanctions are the weaponization of money. Government talking heads call this “soft power,” because apparently arranging for the slow, wasting death by starvation and disease of hundreds of thousands of children is a lot nicer than bombing them or sending soldiers to terrify and shoot them.

Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz had a particular gift for expressing the barely repressed beliefs of the most reprehensible people in the country.  According to Wikiquote, Butz said two memorable things while Secretary, one was the tasteless, racist joke that got him fired, the other was the following:

Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit.”

In one of the most brutal examples of the use of this technique, the Israeli government, with the complicity of the US government have for years kept the Palestinians’ economy in Gaza “on the brink of collapse.” As the Israelis kept the economy from performing, they made a “calorie count” to “put Gaza on a diet.” Israel’s sanctions and periodic bombings of Gaza have largely destroyed Gaza’s water infrastructure and “hundreds of thousands of people are now without water.”

The people of Gaza were guilty of “voting while Muslim,” and had chosen the wrong party (Hamas) at the polls. Hence the starvation diet and economic warfare:

There can be no doubt that the diet devised for Gaza – much like Israel’s blockade in general – was intended as a form of collective punishment, one directed at every man, woman and child. The goal, according to the Israeli defense ministry, was to wage “economic warfare” that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas.

While these are shocking, overt uses of the power of economic systems, there are more subtle and refined means of using economic power to coerce and subjugate peoples that are often brought to bear. Economic sanctions, by depriving people of their means of survival through the manipulation of money and goods is a means of an elite asserting control over a population. While these techniques are used as a tool of foreign policy or in tandem with wartime goals, this is far from the only situation under which these techniques are used by elites.

Feb 09 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: A Call to Violence by AoT

This is a call to violence.  Not in the ordinary sense. Instead in the sense that I want you to go out and tell people that they should support a violent policy.  What is that policy specifically?  I want the police to start pulling over and if necessary arresting people who are speeding.  You might think this isn’t a call to violence, you might think that this is simply a call for more police enforcement, but that obscures the real issue of what violence is.

Apr 23 2013

Bending to Paranoia and Fear

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

   Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Ben would not be pleased with the government he helped create. Since before 9/11/2001, our rights had been slowly eroding, since then the notion of the rule of law and the Constitution seems quaint. “American’s don’t believe in shredding the Constitution to fight terror,” that was the headline of an article written by Greg Sargeant in the Washington Post‘s Plum Line. he points out a poll done by the Post that asked respondents:

Q: Which worries you more: that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights, or that it will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism?

48% were more concerned the government would go too far; while 41% said it would not go far enough. While not a majority, it is still encouraging that there is a plurality that would like to see our Constitutional rights protected. Yet there are still those who would throw those rights away for false feeling of security. Fueled by the rhetoric of a terrorist in every Muslim community, some of our elected representatives and voices in the mainstream media have called for stripping the Constitutional rights of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now charged with the bombings and deaths that resulted.

But the government and the media seem to be hung up on calling this incident, terrorism and labeling Tsarnaev a terrorist even before there was a motive or a connection to any terrorist organization. Writing at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald wonders why Boston is ‘terrorism’ but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine:

Over the last two years, the US has witnessed at least three other episodes of mass, indiscriminate violence that killed more people than the Boston bombings did: the Tucson shooting by Jared Loughner in which 19 people (including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) were shot, six of whom died; the Aurora movie theater shooting by James Holmes in which 70 people were shot, 12 of whom died; and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting by Adam Lanza in which 26 people (20 of whom were children) were shot and killed. The word “terrorism” was almost never used to describe that indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, and none of the perpetrators of those attacks was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A decade earlier, two high school seniors in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, used guns and bombs to murder 12 students and a teacher, and almost nobody called that “terrorism” either.

In the Boston case, however, exactly the opposite dynamic prevails. Particularly since the identity of the suspects was revealed, the word “terrorism” is being used by virtually everyone to describe what happened. After initially (and commendably) refraining from using the word, President Obama has since said that “we will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had” and then said that “on Monday an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon”. But as (Ali) Abunimah notes, there is zero evidence that either of the two suspects had any connection to or involvement with any designated terrorist organization.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg added his opinion that in light of the Boston bombing, the Constitution needs to be “reinterpreted”:

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.” [..]

“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.

“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.

A noun, a verb and 9/11? Mr. Bloomberg wants us to fear those who would “take away our freedoms.” We should fear the Michael Bloombergs and Rudolph Guilianis of the world.

At a bedside hearing, Tsarnaev was advised of his rights and was appointed a lawyer. He freely answered questions in writing, denying that there was a connection with any terrorist organization and the idea was his brother’s. He also told the court that they were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs. But does that justify calling this terrorist act and labeling the brothers terrorists? Even so, is there ever a justification for denying a person their Constitutional rights?

Glenn joined Amy Goodman on Monday’s Democracy Now to discuss the issues that surround this case.



Transcript can be read here.

Apr 21 2013

Violence v Terrorism: Is There a Difference?

In the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the failure of the Senate to pass a gun control bill that would tighten loop holes in the background check laws, the question of the difference between violence and terrorism has been raised . After the Aurora, CO shooting in a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 58, Andrew Cohen asked in an Atlantic article why there is a 1,000 to 1 spending gap on terrorism and gun violence:

My question now is simple: Why do we spend at least 1,000 times more money protecting ourselves from terrorism than we do protecting ourselves from gun violence? I’m not necessarily suggesting that we spend less on anti-terrorism programs. Like everyone else, I am grateful there have been no mass casualty terror events since 9/11. I’m just wondering, instead, what possible justification there could be for spending so relatively little to try to reduce the casualties of gun violence.

Surely the Second Amendment alone — and the United States Supreme Court’s recent rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago — cannot explain this contrast. Our government has asked us consistently since 9/11 to sacrifice individual liberties and freedom, constitutional rights to privacy for example, in the name of national security. And we have ceded these liberties. Yet that same government in that same time hasn’t asked anyone to sacrifice some Second Amendment rights to help protect innocent victims from gun violence.

If we can reduce the impact of terrorism to a trickle — good for us! — why aren’t we doing more to save some of those 31,000 people who die each year from gun violence? This is not a question for the advocates to spin. It’s not a question for the media to ponder. It’s a question for elected officials to answer. And it’s not apples and oranges, either. Those poor people in Aurora were plenty terrorized. And if they somehow some way don’t merit the same proactive government response that victims of traditional terrorism have received since 9/11, then at least they deserve an explanation why.

Yes, the people of Aurora were terrorized, so were the people of Tuscon, Newtown and Ft. Hood. Despite the greater loss of life none of these incidents were called an act of terror.

So what is the difference between an act of violence and an act of terrorism? Is there a difference?

Incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings, that appear to  be driven by unfettered hatred, shake us to our collective core. They make us think twice about entering public spaces: going out for a meal, taking public transportation, taking a dog for a walk. There is no doubt that the intended consequence of an act like the bombings at the Boston Marathon is to scare. But how should we characterize and define that fear? And what does this fear drive us to do? Does it drive us to suspend rule of law?

According to a Reuters poll taken two day after the bombings in Boston, “most Americans see the biggest threat to public safety coming from random acts of violence committed by other Americans, rather than foreign terrorism”.

Asked which events pose the biggest threat to the safety of average Americans, 56 percent of respondents said random acts of violence, such as mass shootings, committed by Americans; 32 percent said foreign terrorism committed by non-Americans; and 13 percent said politically or religiously motivated domestic terrorism committed by Americans.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they believed an incident like the Boston Marathon attack could happen in their area. A minority of respondents, 42 percent, said the Boston incident had left them more fearful for the safety of themselves and their families.

So what is the difference? Why are terrorist acts, which are far fewer in this country, treated so differently than every day random acts of violence that takes 31,000 lives every year in the US?  

Apr 18 2013

Boston: The Unraveling and a Plea for the Healing of Our Society

I find it hard to write about anything after this happened. Boston is a great city I had the pleasure to visit in a field trip in 2006 while I was in school. There was so much life in that city and there still is despite this attack. It’s still affected me even though I don’t live there because of that fond memory. Senseless acts of violence like this shouldn’t happen. It’s hard enough just to get by.  

I feel a sense of panic and uneasiness as if the fabric of society is breaking and it is; all the record inequality fueling human breakdown; the wars; the bombing of other countries fueling human breakdown. Human breakdown is caused by those that show indifference to their state of being thus breaking down barriers of sanity that keeps one non violent and functioning. Nothing excuses these actions whatsoever and I don’t care about the reasoning of whoever did this; it’s despicable and abhorrent act of violence that killed a child and 2 other human beings and more than 170 were injured many permanently disabled.

That being said, we can try to change the society that breeds these types of people and actions instead of enabling the void. That’s what protects people from terrorism and acts of violence in the aggregate. It may have been impossible to stop this incident, and not all can be prevented. However, given the overall breakdown of society and the marginal extremes that causes within the minds of the population, I have to think every one of our problems contributed to it. Every few months there is either a shooting or something like this. That’s why I talk of the unraveling of society.

Instead of overreacting in the war on terror sense that killed the 4th amendment, I hope we acknowledge that as a country full of desperate people without resources breeds the kinds of conditions for senseless violence to take place. I also hope we realize that this is something the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have to deal with all the time. We cannot continue to think we are isolated from it. I pray and mourn for all the victims, their families, and to the people that will find it even harder than death to move on with missing limbs. I hope you find it within yourself to keep going.

I hope we as a society are able to give you some semblance of happiness so you can smile through all the tragedy, at least, sometimes. I hope we use these tragedies to FIGHT to become a society that lifts people up and gives them the resources they need to deal with the blow back of the angry indifferent society we have become. This cannot continue.

We as a country are NOT taking care of our people and we must realize that. Some people also need to stop enabling this whether by making excuses and lying about the merits of or the inevitability of war and how a useless police state killing our rights and failing all of us is “necessary.” All of this has turned us into an angry violent society; social darwinism at its worst. This is our sad reality and it’s time to get real. I hope this is acknowledged sooner rather than later, instead of just a hallow speech on the day of tragedy. RIP.

Here’s how you can help the marathon victims in Boston.

Apr 15 2012

Rant of the Week: Rachel Maddow

NRA Conference Undercuts Gun Violence

Rachel Maddow reports on Mitt Romney’s confused attacks against President Obama at Friday’s NRA Conference in St. Louis. Rachel also talked with Pittsburgh councilman Ricky Burgess about the conversation the country should be having about gun violence and the need for tighter gun control laws

Andrew Rosenthal: Keep, Bear and Use

The modern drive against gun control started with an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment as bestowing an absolute, individual right to “keep” and “bear” arms, rather than a societal right based on the need for a “well-regulated militia.”

But we are now in a new and dangerous phase of the gun movement, in which extremists led by the National Rifle Association are pushing beyond “keep” and “bear” to “use.” They are pressing state and federal lawmakers to make it easier for people to shoot other people. [..]

They certainly will not discuss these statistics, compiled by the Violence Policy Center, on the homicide rate for African Americans, which is more than three times the overall homicide rate. The overwhelming majority of victims are killed by guns, and the majority of those are killed by handguns. Missouri leads the nation in this appalling statistic.

Missouri Leads Nation in Black Homicide Victimization for Second Year in a Row

Washington, DC–Missouri leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization for the second year in a row according to a new analysis of unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

The annual study, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data,” (http://www.vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide12.pdf) uses 2009 data–the most recent data available from the FBI–and ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates. The study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides.

Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund: What a Difference a Gun Makes

On April 16, 2007, our nation suffered its deadliest shooting incident ever by a single gunman when a student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others at Virginia Tech before committing suicide. Five years later, have we learned anything about controlling our national gun and gun violence epidemic? A look at just a few of the sad headlines across the country so far this year suggests we haven’t learned much or anything at all. [..]

As a nation we can’t afford to keep waiting for common-sense gun control laws that would protect our children and all of us from indefensible gun violence. It’s time to repeal senseless gun laws like the “Stand Your Ground” laws enacted by 21 states that have grabbed so much attention in Trayvon’s case and allow people in Florida to defend themselves with deadly force anytime and anywhere if they feel threatened. More than two million people have signed online petitions saying they want to repeal these laws. It’s time to require consumer safety standards and childproof safety features for all guns and strengthen child access prevention laws that ensure guns are stored safely and securely to prevent unnecessary tragedies like those in Washington state. And in a political environment where the too-secretive and powerful advocacy group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushed “Stand Your Ground” laws in other states along with other “model bills” that benefit some corporate bottom lines or special interests like the NRA, it’s time for all of ALEC’s corporate sponsors to walk away from enabling or acquiescing in destructive laws that protect guns, not children.

It’s a tragedy that five years after Virginia Tech so little has changed. How many years must we wait until tragic headlines about school shootings, children dying, and people using the “shoot first and ask questions later” defense to take the law into their own hands go away? When will we finally get the courage to stand up as a nation and say enough to the deadly proliferation of guns and gun violence that endanger children’s and public safety?

When?

Feb 01 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Comedy Central Presents… Michele Bachmann

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see the large number of reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Trying to watch her taped response is worse than annoying, and the woman makes up her own facts as she goes, which has come to define her.

In short, if this is the best that the Tea Pot party has to offer, then there’s really nothing to see or hear that has not been offered time and again.  I really don’t care for parrots.

Michele Bachmann is also defined by her presumptive beliefs, obtained God only knows where.

 

Jan 19 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Incendiary Political Rhetoric: Just Words?

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma



Jen Sorensen, Slowpoke, Buy this cartoon

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Sorensen writes on her blog:

What really drives me nuts in the wake of the Giffords shooting is the chorus of voices — mostly on the right — tut-tutting that “we can’t jump to conclusions.”  As though they are the source of caution and reason and all things prudent and high-minded.  Well, guess what: your candidates are anything but.  I don’t really care whether Loughner is schizo, or what particular bits of tea party propaganda he swallowed or didn’t.  If you don’t find the violent language of the right utterly repugnant, then it’s a sign of how far we’ve drifted away from normalcy in this country.

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