Category Archives: Murder

A nation at half-staff

flag

Once again, our nation is in mourning.

We hardly had time to digest the idea of dozens killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting, and now this. Five dead in Dallas. Police officers all, but human beings with spouses, friends, children and lives. Killed by snipers who did not know them and did not care who they were outside those uniforms. To their killers, they were nothing more than symbols and targets; representative of an idea so hated and reviled that to end their lives was worth the snipers possibly losing theirs.

Are you asking yourself where we went wrong as a society at this point? Or just moving on from the headlines and twenty-four hour news cycle, certain that something else will supplant this story, as it always does?

The uniformed professions – police, fire and paramedic – are not only noble and proud, they are necessary. Who are you going to call to save your burning house, catch the thief who stole your car or aid a loved one in a car accident if not any of them? Are you going to learn all those skills, and practice them enough to not only become good at them, but conquer your fear of walking into a burning building, chasing an armed suspect or crawling under a gasoline-drenched wreck?

I get that people are angry, frustrated and looking for justice after a number of recent police-involved shootings and deaths of unarmed civilians. Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, Corey Jones, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner are some of the more famous names. In 2015, over 100 blacks were killed in police incidents. That’s 100 too many if none were justified use of force. If 100 whites were killed the same way, the outrage would bring more than just protests. It would change laws.

But trying to even the score by dealing death from tall buildings and dark corners does nothing to change history. It only perpetuates the us-versus-them acrimony over a gulf so wide that soon, no bridge can ever be built to bring both sides together. Change has to start now and with the youngest and most impressionable: the children. You can teach trust as easily as mistrust. Outreach has to come from both sides: police officers have to make the split-second decision to defend themselves and others, but also have to see their role inside the community as one of peace and leadership, not just continually on the defensive role.

There will be another Dallas; there’s no question that crazy attracts more crazy and they try to outdo each other. But there is something more ominous in this kind of crazy: the fact that people feel left out, angry and unwilling to wait for solutions. And with that disenfranchisement, you often find those willing to deal in desperate measures.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Current news, death, Murder, Police brutality, Police shootings, thought

Using the pen to beat back the sword

Last week, the terrorists tried again. They tried to silence the voices they did not understand, did not agree with and therefore insisted were wrong and dangerous.

Last week’s attacks against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen journalists, police officers and civilians, hurts anyone and everyone who has ever picked up a pen, a camera or put fingers to keyboard in an attempt to express any opinion.

Last week’s show of unity and strength among readers, writers, publishers and everyday people around the world who never read the targeted satirical publication was a message beyond “Je suis Charlie” and “Not Afraid.” It means we can and will read what we want, when we want and make fun of you while we do it. Everyone is fair game, anyone is a target when it comes to satire. We talk a big game when it comes to political correctness, and while we seem to be easily insulted by the smallest racial, ethnic or disability slight, we also get a real howl out of the humor that forms as a result of dark tragedy and suffering. There’s no sense to what’s funny, sometimes.

And there’s no making sense of what happened last week in Paris, just as there is no sense in the loss of 1,084 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1995. There’s no making sense of the fact that number represents one-fifth of my town’s entire population. Those were loved and respected people, with families, friends, interests, hobbies and lives outside the newsroom and beyond the sound bite. Just like there is no sense in dishonoring them, and their Parisian colleagues, by failing to stand up to the savagery disguised as religion but in reality a just-out-of-reach execution squad, capable of inflicting death at will, eluding capture and either unable or unwilling to consider that any way of thinking other than their own could possibly be legitimate.

Support the staff at Charlie Hebdo. Buy the publication, if you can find one of the three million copies slated to come out in this week’s run. Buy it even if you cannot read French, Italian or Turkish, the languages of the print edition. Or take a look at the digital version, which will also be available in English, Spanish and Arabic. And remember that you get to read this, and we get to write this, on this platform, without fear of reprisal. For many journalists, the right to speak their minds even one time is one time too many to ensure their survival.

An opinion well-expressed is never expressed in vain.

An opinion well-expressed is never expressed in vain.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under death, Murder, Violence

If Your Kids Hate School, Tell Them About Malala

Parents, you’ve heard it before. And even though it’s early in the school year, you’re likely hearing it now.

“I hate school!”

“The teachers suck!”

“There’s too much homework!”

“They won’t let us use our [insert personal electronic device of child’s choice]. How am I supposed to keep up with my friends if I can’t text them during the day??!!”

Before you annoy your kids for the bazillionth time about how important education is, why they need to pay attention to their teachers and how it will help them get good jobs and supplement your paltry savings and (possible lack of ) Medicare and Social Security later on,  tell them about Malala, and the sacrifices she’s made in order to go to school.

Malala Yousufzai is fourteen years old, and lives in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley region. For years, the Taliban has fought to gain control of this region, imposing stifling rules and strangling oppression on the people there, particularly on women. The aim of these terrorists is to cut off any Western influences, on the grounds that they are evil. These influences include women getting an education, something Malala has been campaigning for since she was eleven years old. On Tuesday, the Taliban decided it had heard enough from Malala.

They shot her in the head and neck as she left school, critically wounding her and several other girls. So far, she has defied the Taliban’s order to die.

To keep her safe and provide the best care, she has been moved to a hospital away from her home. The Taliban has already issued an edict, saying they are not done with her. For speaking out and encouraging something as revolutionary as education for girls, they will find her again and kill her.

Think about this: an entire terrorist organization, out to get a teenage girl. Not because she hurt anyone. Not because she threatened to bring down a building,  a plane, or an entire government. But because she wants to learn the things your kids take for granted: history, geography, mathematics, literature. Because getting an education means she can help build a society that the terrorists cannot tear down. One built on tolerance, trust and freedom, as opposed to one built on fear, ignorance and the ruthless use of force against anyone who disagrees with an ideology based on control at all costs. That’s what scares the Taliban, and all the tiny-minded ilk that follow a similar path, regardless of where they live.

So teach your children about Malala and what she stands for. And remind them that they don’t have it that tough at school.

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Murder, thought