SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
"Actions speak louder than words" and "We teach by example" are two truisms that have stood the test of time. But that doesn't make them any easier to practice.
As a nation we mourn with the families and loved ones of those so frightfully killed and wounded in Connecticut last week. But as grief is joined by reflection on how this could happen again, I believe we do those close to the victims as well as ourselves a disservice unless "all options are on the table" as we examine Americans' predilection for killing en masse.
I know that this world must often seem confusing to you. It's noisy, dirty, and filled with adults scurrying about their busy lives without noticing you all that much sometimes. It's filled with rules and people telling you what to do, mostly without asking what you want to do. It's also a world where adults teach you about all of the dangers around you, but not as much about the wonderful, beautiful things.
You see, things weren't quite like this when we were kids. We had our rules and dangers, to be sure, but nothing like the ones you face today. Back then (which is not really that long ago) people talked to each other more, neighbors knew one another, and schools were less like factories and more like playgrounds. There were less televisions, computers, and phones calling for our attention, and there were more open spaces to play like kids are supposed to do.
When reading about the murders in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, one point in particular stood out to me as a woman: Adam Lanza killed his mother. This point reveals something essential about the nature of all violence and gives a clue as to why these horrific events take place. For though it is reported that Nancy Lanza taught her son how to shoot a gun and she believed in guns for "protection," in order to kill a mother, you have to learn how to hate her. In order to learn how to hate one person, you learn hatred itself. My hope is that with the call for more responsible gun laws we might in the same courageous breath witness the misogyny of his act because it provides a key for unlocking any sense of "mystery" of how this could have happened and understand that women are often on the receiving end of hatred, however subtle or however much of an "aside" it might seem. This is an important point, I think, because if we are to rid ourselves of misogyny we have to trace it to its root cause; and when we do we find ourselves at the striking at the root of all acts of such violence.
For more than 20 years of my life, I was a ward of the state of California. When I was 28, I committed a violent crime that landed me behind bars. After I was released, I was locked up again, this time for grand theft auto. Mythird and most recent stint was for making violent threats.
I've made many mistakes in my life, some of which caused harm to others. I accept my punishment for those mistakes. But what I was subjected to behind bars far exceeded what was in my sentence. In 2009, while I was serving time at a state prison in San Diego County, I was sexually assaulted, multiple times, over a period of several days. The person who raped me was my cellmate. His criminal record was filled with acts of sexual violence, both inside and outside prison. It was also widely known that he preyed on gay inmates—like me.
We have been down this road before. Remember the divisions we had in the community around the organizing drive(s) of Mexican Industries. Families were on both sides of the struggle; some hated the union, others wanted the union. There were many outside forces in the mix, and at that time many different unions weighing in. When Hank Aguirre died and his family took over the business, his spirit was not sufficient to keep the union out. There were so many labor violations and workplace indignities that the people voted to roll the union in, and the company, it turned out, without Hank at the helm, was going broke. The union took the hit for the demise of the company, despite the facts.
The federal government, including the President, Congress and Supreme Court are effectively intimidated and immobilized by the right-to-bear arms lobby, and state legislatures are powerless to enact effective laws to regulate the ownership of firearms.
Nonetheless, across the nation, in thousands of cities and towns, people are asking if there is anything they can do locally to prevent such tragedies.
Before the election, Obama told John Stewart of the daily show: "one of the things we've got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in terms of some of the decisions that we're making."
Putting that legal architecture in place could start with House Resolution 819.
The arms trade fuels the world's wars.
Governments' support for this death-dealing trade is something of a mystery for decent people round the world. So Vincent Cable's very recent public defense of the trade is of more than local interest.
Why, then, do governments of the West support the arms trade with such vigour. Some flickering glimmers of light were shone on this question in relation to the UK government by an encounter between Dr. Vincent Cable, Member of Parliament for Twickenham and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (UKTI) and his constituents.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who served as the chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, proclaims the "glories" of hydrofracking in her December 10 letter in the Sacramento Bee entitled "Hydraulic fracturing is safe for California."
Her letter responds to a Bee editorial on December 7, "Rules on oil and gas fracking are way out of wack."
"The editorial inaccurately implies that hydraulic fracturing projects have been approved in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), suggesting that environmental regulation has been inadequate," said Reheis-Boyd.
Frank Richards recalled:
"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.