Gun Violence and the Apathetic

Angry football fans are often cheering local sportscasters on who cite the need for defenses to get that killer instinct and “destroy” their opponent’s offense to knock out the quarterback.  But some apparently don’t want you to talk about real life violence during the half-time ceremonies.

angry Cowboy fan

Disappointed as I became watching the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their Sunday night game with the Philadelphia Eagles this last weekend, I turned it off shortly after Philly scored their second rushing touchdown.  Jesus!  Where’s the defense I thought and here they go again, displaying another poor performance.  As a life-long Cowboy fan I cannot stand to watch such insufferable games.

But it seems I turned the TV set off too soon.  No, not because they had a great comeback in the second half and eventually won the game.  Even as good as this was, the prospects of the Cowboys making it to the playoffs are about as good as making it passed the first rounds should they succeed in knocking the New York Giants from the division title – little to none.   Not this year anyway.

No, what it turns out I missed were some comments by Bob Costas that addressed the issue of gun violence following the suicide-murder of Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher who blew his brains out in front of his coaches at their locker room shortly after killing his girlfriend at their leased home earlier.  Costas’ comments took up about two minutes but apparently for some watching the game here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area you would have thought he deprived all zombies of human blood.

One of the people I follow (make that followed) on Facebook, a former reporter for the Denton Record-Chronicle, was apparently upset that Costas would use this time between halves to raise the issue of gun violence.  I have followed Donna Fielder for years in her reporting days on the staff of the Record-Chronicle and have always thought she was one of the few bright stars for this small local paper.  She recently retired and with little fan-fare from her former employer too, which many of us who have followed Donna thought was extremely insulting.

But a reporter’s life isn’t all that revealing from the stories they write and I could only glean from Donna’s reports along with a weekly column she wrote which direction her political compass pointed to.  Not that it surprises me in red-state Texas but Ms. Fielder appears to be another gun advocate who thinks gun control is some kind of liberal conspiracy.  At least that seems to be the likely conclusion based on her recent comments from her FB page regarding Costas’ comments about Jovan Belcher’s death:

NBC I don’t want to hear your simplistic rheteric (sic) liberal pap on gun control in the middle of a football game. Get bent.  SOURCE

I didn’t even know what “Get bent” meant until today.  Thanks Donna & Urban Dictionary.

But my biggest concern was why this 2-minute spot at intermission was found to be offensive to anyone other than the most extreme 2nd amendment zealot.  Did I discover that the woman who I’ve followed for years in the local paper was little more than the Sarah Palin of North Texas?  I can only hope I’m over reacting to the whole thing.

Costas was quoting Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock but the conclusion drawn in his remarks that if Jovan Belcher hadn’t had a gun that “he and his girl friend, Kasandra Perkins, would still be alive today” , is a bit of a stretch.  Why?  Because we have some of the most lax laws in the world for gun ownership. Unless Belcher had some kind of criminal or mental record, there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t have a gun if he chose to purchase one for personal security reasons.  Surely Whitlock and Costas weren’t calling for all guns to be removed from American society.  I’m a gun-control advocate and even I don’t see this happening in my lifetime or for the next generation or two.

Maybe it was that notion though that brought out the reaction it did from Donna and some of her supporters on Facebook.  “Just more ‘liberal pap’ from the commies who want to take away our guns.”  Yet to become that irate was still a little unsettling.  What harm was really done here by Costas’ comments that disrupted their game day state-of-mind?   Were the sportscasters words really viewed as that political.  If so, I can’t say I blame them entirely.  Lord knows that the last few months prior to the election have been political overkill for all of us.

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And though I may even share this feeling at some level, I have to ask, what does this say about us who want to attack the messenger of such unpleasant news?  The timing of it put aside, isn’t this a serious enough issue that we can surely spare two minutes of our lives to at least consider it until the second half of the game begins?  Have we become that desensitized that such interruptions incur emotional outbursts like this?

Costas’ comments didn’t really center around politics per se.  It’s more a mental health issue.  Gun violence is about someone’s child or the family down the block.  It’s about all the innocent people who die because rage now has a deadly weapon that can do more damage than any other tool of death that a killer can use.  “Studies have shown that guns in the home increase chances of homicide two to three times, and gun death rates are seven times higher in states that have high household gun ownership, …  according to the Brady Campaign”  Numerous studies also show that where there are firearms, suicides are a greater occurrence.

This was about something that hits close to home everyday for people in our community, our state and this country.  In just this last year we have seen 11,000 homicides in the U.S. as a result of firearms.  1800 of those were women caught up in domestic disputes with boyfriends or ex-husbands.  The United States ranks fourth in the world with murder by firearms.  The only reason we’re that low is because the other three – South Africa, Columbia and Thailand – are embroiled in political corruption, drug battles and civil unrest.  I know, it seems like we exist under these conditions some of the times too.  But the culture of violence in these countries are the results of decades long conflict and where the rule of law is extremely weak.

What seem to come across in Donna’s comments was the type of apathy that seems so common in our culture today when one more violent act at the hands of a gunman occurs, especially if they are black.  Not that such violence is associated with being black.  But it is associated with poverty and blacks in this country are disproportionately poorer than most other ethnic groups.  I’ll save that argument for another day.

Such apathy is more common when senseless killings occur through American militarism, done in the name of National Security.   Few people are probably aware that 176 children have been killed in Pakistan from U.S. drone strikes going after suspected terrorists.  These kids are part of some 885 innocent civilians killed over the last eight years in our use of drones, with the vast majority of them occurring on Obama’s watch.   But when we do become aware, how many of us are actually motivated to protests such actions by our government?

Drones kill innocent children like us

We are less likely to prevent a shooter from taking innocent lives in this country since they are so random in nature.  But the use of drones isn’t.  It’s a policy established by political leaders that we elected.  It’s thought about and strategically planned on who to target and where to use these weapons.  The fact that innocents may get caught up in this doesn’t always, if ever, prevent their deployment.  The notion that “collateral damage” is a sad but expected consequence of such policies is the reaction of people who are far removed from the death and destruction these decisions result in.

Like the drone attacks and the other horrific acts of war, the daily gun violence we have been enduring for years has made us immune to one more tragedy. So much so it seems that there are people who get easily upset if they are reminded about it during their sporting events or other non-threatening activities.  We just don’t want to be reminded that our world is always chaotic and there but for the grace of the gods go each of us.

This appears to be where Ms. Fielder is at and apparently my comments on her FB page responding to her acerbic diatribe has elicited an ultimatum from the former Record-Chronicle reporter:

“Larry. I don’t fear conversation. But I have the right to limit the drek(sic) people post on my space. Get off my page.”

Thanks Donna.  I learned another printable word for a vulgarism – dreck.

The natives were clearly getting restless and I didn’t want to hang around for the lynch mob to arrive so I willingly obliged Ms. Fielder.  I would have expected this kind of response from the whacko conspiracy theorists and the anti-government troglodytes out there.  Furthermore I would have understood why Donna didn’t want to pursue this conversation.  But to imply that my views were shit seems out of character for someone who once graced the pages of our local print media.

Clearly we have a long way to go before we can break down the barriers of those who insists that only “people kill people, not guns”.  Like the gridlock that exists in all other socio-political spheres in this country, the toughest part of working toward some kind of compromise is getting a civil conversation started on the critical issues.  Costas’ Sunday Night Football comments were in my view an attempt to do this.  It remains to be seen what lasting effect it had.

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RELATED ARTICLE:

Bob Costas on Gun Control Comments: “Availability of guns makes mayhem easier”

 

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23 responses to “Gun Violence and the Apathetic

  1. There is really only one purpose for a handgun; to kill people. All this “sport” “target shooting” talk is bullshit. You only go to the range to get better at “putting three in the center”. That’s what I was taught when I had firearms training as a probation officer. If you’re gonna un-holster your weapon, You better be ready to use it.
    Costas was doing a public service.

    • “There is really only one purpose for a handgun”

      I agree. Some in society are capable of controlling how they use them but those that cannot are not always apparent until it’s too late for some innocent victims. We are at the mercy of a mind-set that allows its worse fears to justify having guns for anybody in the hopes that they will be able to prevent some event that have no control,over when and where it will happen.

  2. You say Costas spoke for two minutes during half time on this subject? I’m surprised anyone heard his remarks. Don’t viewers save that time for a bathroom break? To get more beer and snacks? Or am I being too simplistic?

    • “I’m surprised anyone heard his remarks. Don’t viewers save that time for a bathroom break?”

      My thinking too Paul. Relieving themselves must have occurred on all those commercial breaks and the two minute warning at the end of the first half. :-(

    • Just goes to show CW how easy it is to piss away time when it matters. :-)

      Not that this event really mattered in any universal sense but clearly the gun lobby zealots were having a bowel movement while watching Costas’ comments.

  3. What we have here is a lot of really marginalized folks who work every day, and don’t get anywhere in life. They are angry. The ownership of a gun gives them the feeling that they ultimately can do something if they have to to rage out at the system or the somebody who is messin’ with them. Most of them won’t, but of course, guns in the hands of angry people who are not upwardly mobile is a recipe for disaster. Usually the victim is a family member or friend. Drinking is usually involved. You won’t get them to agree that gun ownership is probably not useful no matter how many statistics you show them that proves otherwise. If people want to target practice I say fine. Go to a range, choose the weapon of your choice and blast away. But the gun belongs to the range operators and that’s that. Hunters, I make exception for, since apparently blowing up defenseless animals is considered a hobby by some. But the type of weapon needed for that is fairly limited. No hundred clips, not high powered hand guns, etc. And some decent investigations into people’s backgrounds would be nice…everybody on the same page at least. I can rant on, but I won’t.

    • “The ownership of a gun gives them the feeling that they ultimately can do something if they have to to rage out at the system or the somebody who is messin’ with them. “

      I honestly believe that most gun owners Sherry are people like you or I who simply have allowed the fear of being assaulted overwhelm them. We all watch with horror the events in and around us on the TV news of such tragic incidents but if we calmly put it in proper perspective, it is likely to happen to you or I as it is being hit by a falling airplane. The sense of fear is a strong motivator that enables our survival but some have amplified notions of threats around them and owning a gun somehow makes them feel they can overt such tragedies, should they in fact occur to them.

      Too bad that some of these people also have some mental health trip wire that wounds up allowing the source of their comfort over such fears play out in their own tragic creations.

  4. I like neither Bob Costas or Jason Whitlock – especially Jason Whitlock — not an unbiased bone in his body and an arrogant ass to boot. However, I don’t care that Costas spoke about gun control. I am so for it on so many levels. I did think his diatribe was flawed. His argument was that if Belcher had no gun, his girlfriend would not be dead. That I don’t agree with. This man was so irate, he would have just stabbed her to death or strangled her or whatever. He intended to kill. That being said, I don’t understand the desire to own these weapons. There are definite hunting weapons and the majority of the people who own guns are not hunters.

    • “I like neither Bob Costas or Jason Whitlock”

      Yeah, Costas has never been one of my favorites either. As for Whitlock – I’m not familiar with him at all.

  5. Get Bent? I think you have to use a time machine to figure that one out…..actually, I never heard Costas use the term gun control and his statement was about a piece that a local KC guy wrote about the incident……once again the Right makes a lot outta of nothing but a simple reading of an opinion…..

    • “Get Bent? I think you have to use a time machine to figure that one out”

      Actually, once I became aware of its meaning, it makes so much sense. My first inclination was that it had something to do with twisted states of mind.

  6. Ms Fielder – a journalist? NO WAY! She’s seems a bit hysterical, frankly. Yeah, what a bizarre, bizarre reaction to Costas’ comments. Thousands of people sit there watching football players give each other serious head injuries and they object to a brief opinion on gun violence. But yet, here we are again – we can’t even discuss gun control in this country because loonies start screaming about their “freedoms” being taken away.

  7. “Ms Fielder – a journalist? NO WAY!”

    Indeed she was Jean. Rather a well adept one too. Time and the absence of journalistic restraints however seem to have revealed a darker side to her that wasn’t there before. Letting down her hair appears to have freed up all those loony demons she’s been living with all this time.

  8. Donna //f Belcher had no gun, his girlfriend would not be dead.// … in all likelihood, Costas is correct. pulling a trigger is an irrevocable act with irrevocable consequences. Belcher was undeniably in a deranged state and would likely have used some sort of violence….

    To the greater point….. Costas expressed a view that belonged IN THAT VENUE.I am hearing more and more the logic that.” it was inappropriate to comment in a fashion that may prevent tragedy right after a tragedy” Right after a forest fire is no time to speak of preventing forest fires???? I do not believe that all guns should be banned; I grew up in a family of responsible hunters though I disdain the activity. I strongly believe more controls and regulation is desperately needed. My son pointed out that he needed to take more tests and background checks to get his bartenders license than it would have to purchase a gun. It takes a lot more to get a driver’s license.Good control is no violation of any constitutional right. It is just common sense

  9. gees… I thought I left a reply to your reply…..see, it was a two ply kinda thing. Anways….I’m hanging in there. Not looking forward to winter. sheesh….when does spring arrive anyways

  10. That was a great post, Larry. Really made me think. I don’t agree that if Belcher didn’t have a gun they’d be alive today. He was unhinged. He could have stabbed her or choked her and jumped off a building. I couldn’t agree more, though, with this:

    Like the drone attacks and the other horrific acts of war, the daily gun violence we have been enduring for years has made us immune to one more tragedy.

    It’s scary that when I read stories like these, it really doesn’t faze me anymore.

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