July 14, 2016 By Jack Jodell.
A few mornings back, I watched Amy Goodman’s DEMOCRACY NOW! on FREE SPEECH TV in absolute horror as scenes of two unnecessarily brutal murders of black men by police officers were shown – one in Baton Rouge, LA and one in Falcon Heights, MN. It sickened and disgusted me. The very next day, I awoke to the utterly terrible news that 11 police officers had been shot in retaliation in Dallas, TX, and that 5 of them had died. I am in complete shock and dismay and am outraged at these brutal and unnecessary acts of deliberate MURDER.
These are unjustified and senseless tragedies which this country can no longer sustain. It is time to put an end to this needless violence and hateful brutality!
I was raised to believe that we are a just and civilized nation built upon a system of laws which provide justice. I was also raised to believe that all persons are innocent until proven guilty. As I matured, I began to see strong evidence that these beliefs are not fully accurate, nor are they always evenly or fairly applied.
We love to refer to ourself as “the land of the free”, but even that assertion is flawed. Consider this very sobering FACT: the United States has more people in prison than any other nation on earth – per capita and in total number! This is acknowledged by persons in both major political parties, as you can see here: “It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago despite the fact that crime is at historic lows.”
–Hillary Clinton (D), from a speech on criminal justice at Columbia University, April 29, 2015
“Though only 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the United States, it is home to 25 percent of the world’s prison population. … Not only does the current overpopulated, underfunded system hurt those incarcerated, it also digs deeper into the pockets of taxpaying Americans.”
–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), from a news release on his website, March 9, 2015
These are astounding and totally unjustifiable figures. The fact that we have a private, for-profit prison system operating here and is even allowed to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as Corrections Corporation of America helps to explain this and is thoroughly disgusting. It is also symptomatic of the greed and profit-obsessed mindset which is so sadly dominant in our nation today. Thanks to that god-awful Citizens United 2010 Supreme Court decision which forbade all limits on corporate campaign giving, we are now literally flooded with corporate campaign cash – so much so, in fact, that nearly every single legislator must spend an incredible amount of each work day on raising funds for his or her own re-election rather than dealing with the pressing issues we elected them to deal with for us. Plus, due to sneaky, behind the scenes unreported donations and efforts by corrupt wealthy donors like the government-hating Koch brothers, far too much legislative time is spent on developing bills friendly to big business interests rather than to the wants and very real needs of the lawmakers’ constituents. THAT, my friends, is why our government is so ineffective in delivering beneficial legislation for us, the overwhelming MAJORITY 99% of this country! Regretfully, most of the time, only the wants and needs of the minority 1% are being met.
The rise in power of the National Rifle Association and similar pro-gun groups also is to blame for the upswing in violent gun-caused deaths. The NRA’s paranoid and greedy leaders like Wayne LaPierre have lobbied very successfully for many years to defeat any attempts to restrict any type of gun being owned by anybody – including criminals, the mentally disturbed, and even terrorists! They argue that guns aren’t the problem and that everybody should own a gun for their own protection, and that the solution to gun violence is more – rather than less – guns. Obviously, sane people completely dismiss this thoroughly ridiculous stance – by this preposterous logic, everybody should also be able to own their own nuclear weapon for protection! Utter insanity, yet there are a lot of paranoid kooks out there, and the leadership of the NRA just keeps fanning their flame. Reasonable, wise, and realistic persons know that there is NO need for anyone but those in the military to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons with large ammunition magazines. But again, we will never be able to convince these paranoids that there should be an immediate ban on such weapons – it might rob these greedy people of profit from increased gun sales.
Still, in the interest of sanity and safety, we must continue to push for such a ban!
For the sad fact is, violencce begets violence, and only good will and understanding begets good will and peace. This latest spate of gun violence and murder will only cause more incidents of one-upmanship and that is not only crazy, but extreme and dangerous to all, The ONLY answer is to ban all assault weapons and severely restrict weapons sales to potentially dangerous individuals like criminals, terrorists, and the mentally unstable. We have had far too many mass shootings in recent years. The great gun-loving nation of Australia instituted the type of ban I am suggesting in 1996. From that time they have not had even ONE incident of mass shooting since! This proves that sensible gun restriction laws can and DO work – it is up to US to use the political will to enact and enforce them! As for those who are fearful and are obsessed with Second Amendment “rights”, keep in mind that our Founding Fathers did NOT want everyone to own their own personal AR-15! All they wanted was for the STATE to have a “well regulated militia” that could protect the citizenry from outside invasion. This NONSENSE about every man, woman, and child having the “right” to their own personal firearm is a lot of BULL conjured up by slick, greedy NRA attorneys to get the public to buy more and more guns. The end result of these fools’ efforts has been a steady rise in mass shootings and violent gun deaths, and that is completely UNACCEPTABLE! We would be very wise to at least study Australia’s fine example and to adopt and adapt it to our own needs here!
We must also immediately deal with the very real problems of racism and police militarization. In this so-called “land of the free” we MUST become more tolerant and understanding of those who don’t look, act, or dress exactly like we do! We can no longer look down on or reject those we do not understand: we must make a genuine attempt to talk with them and get to know them better before passing judgment on them. We must commit ourselves to always using the Golden Rule! In this day of widespread gun ownership, police must be ever wary, but must also stop automatically assuming that every person of color they encounter is guilty of some crime and must be apprehended at once. Cops must alter their mindset from being a macho, no-nonsense tough guy whose first aim is to dominate, control, and kill into one of being a watchful, helpful, supportive person whose aim is truly to protect and serve. Additionally, police departments must junk all this unnecessary paramilitary equipment like tanks and automatic rifles they have been oversold by greedy and paranoid defense contractors. After all, protecting and serving is not the same as forcibly occupying! Perhaps the adoption of tougher gun laws as Australia did will help them in this quest – I would strongly urge them to seriously look into this! We can no longer afford to be complacent – the time to stop all this hatred and murders is NOW!
Lastly, cooler heads must prevail. We can no longer tolerate rash, bigoted and hateful hotheads like Donald Trump or ex-congressman Joe Walsh and other like-minded Tea Party-infested reactionary Republicans polluting our better judgment. Hateful statements and sentiments like Walsh’s “Watch out, Obama – watch out, Black Lives Matter activists – this means war!” serve absolutely no useful purpose whatsoever, and should be rejected by all fair-minded adults of every race and creed and all political persuasions! They are inflammatory and UN-AMERICAN!
I therefore offer you my humble call for wisdom and moderation in this time of extremism. We are a much better people than we have shown in recent days, and the time has come for us to begin to act like it, Thank you, readers, for your consideration.
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