The Wild, Wild West circa 2007: Philadelphia

Recently I’ve considered packing up and leaving the city where I’ve lived, gone to school, and worked in for my entire life. I love this town and think it gets a bad rap, but have gotten bored because I am so familiar with it. It’s as if the city has become a safety blanket for me. I’ve become comfortable and content and Ive always felt those were somewhat bad feelings to have. Now it seems I have more reason to leave this city and this state.

Since Sunday 3 police officers have been shot in Philadelphia (29 officers have been shot at this year). Philadelphia police have fatally shot 14 people this year. Last year, 20 people were killed in the city in police shootings, the most since 1980, according to FBI statistics.   There have been 333 homicides in Philadelphia as of Monday.   Because of the NRA and the idiots that think taking a gun to shoot a deer is a sport, the state and more importantly the city are awash in guns. And as importantly, the city is awash in dangerous people who are willing to brazenly use these weapons.   Authorities talk about “no respect for authority” – it goes beyond that, there’s no respect for human life.   It literally has become the wild, wild west here. I have never feared for the safety of friends and family, but I now believe that to naive if not outright foolish.

I have a lot of hope for Michael Nutter as the incoming mayor – the policing strategy has got to change, but there needs to be a response from this state that does something about the guns on the street.   The fact that they don’t do anything in light of the people being killed in increasing numbers shows what they feel about the residents of this city – but I know rural Republicans support the police – let’s see if they leave the people that put their lives on the line to protect others hanging.

As for my friends and family, you can’t hide from violence, but be careful what areas of Philadelphia you visit.   Be mindful of your surroundings.   I guess this is good advice anywhere.

Shooting kids in a barrel

student_weapons_da_300.jpgInvariably after getting married come the flood of questions about children; “when will you have kids?” or “how many will you have”. A couple of days ago I was discussing this with co-workers and wondered why anyone would choose to have kids in this day in age with little way to keep them safe. You can do a great job raising intelligent, unselfish, self-aware children only to see the damage done by their peers. The threats seem to increase in volume and in seriousness with each passing year. The bullies don’t just beat them up after school, they create blogs, and post videos on YouTube, and trash them on Myspace; the bullied retaliate in kind. And in some rare cases they go much farther than we could when I was a kid.

I’m sure you’ve all read about the 14 year-old kid and his arsenal of guns. 14 year old kids aren’t renown for their impulse control so the number of guns this 14 year old had immediate access to is sobering. This comes one day after a 14 year old in Cleveland killed himself after shooting four people.

I want to blame the parents for this. Not the parents of this kid (although there’s a ton a blame there). I want to blame the other parents. On whole, today’s generation of children are uninformed, selfish, and unintelligent. It’s a combination that might make you President, but not a good person. Parents have created monsters and don’t know this because of either ignorance or a lack of caring. Most of them don’t worry as long as their kids are on top – no matter how they get there. Is it no surprise that the cheating in school, in sports, in society is at an all-time high? When I was a kid, if you found out your child was a bully, you were ashamed – now it’s “better you than him”.

You wonder if you can send your kids to good schools, but Plymouth Whitemarsh is a good school. (I guess the poor get shot on their way to school, the rich get shot in school). How in the world do you keep your children away from this element? And if you can’t, how does a parent live with it?

Mind you, I don’t want the parents of this child to go unnoticed. The mother bought and gave guns to her son. The guns were in plain sight. The NRA will say we don’t need new gun laws, to enforce the ones we have, but these guns were legally purchased and once in the house, what’s the police to do. How can anyone not see a problem with the system here?

In the book Children of Men, the world suffers from mass infertility. With this, there is a selfishness that grows because people can only live for themselves – there’s no future in the world, no children to instruct and pass wisdom to. It’s as if we’ve created a similar world in reality. No mass infertility, but no future either.

I’d love to hear from parents on this.

Mad world

If you needed to be reminded how insanely violent this world has become, a wakeup call was provided this past week. The mass murder that took place at Virginia Tech is senseless but not surprising. In Philadelphia as of last Sunday 114 have been murdered, many of them children, many of them by guns. That’s almost four days of Virginia Tech. In Iraq today 170 people were killed by a suicide bomber. That’s almost 6 days of Virginia Tech. This is a violent world we live in.

What’s maddening is the refusal to even address gun laws in this country. The subject was broached on Monday to Shrubya and he dismissed it by saying he supports the 2nd Amendment. Well support of the 4th Amendment hasn’t prevented the Patriot Act. Support of 6th Amendment hasn’t prevented military tribunals in Guantanamo; so why can’t corrections to the 2nd Amendment be discussed? I’m not saying that gun control is the only idea or even the right one. I for one believe that the increase in violence has more to do with the utter lack of disregard people have for their neighbors; guns only provide the opportunity for people to act on that disregard. But there’s got to be some middle ground. But why can’t we even discuss the middle ground? Why is any restriction regarded by the NRA as entirely untenable? Doesn’t the government already police us? I can’t watch nudity and excessive violence on TV no matter what the 1st Amendment says. God forbid a nipple shows up. Then all sorts of hell breaks out and every politician will be introducing a bill to protect our “children”. How about speaking up now and protecting our children against a hail of bullets while trying to learn?

Don’t believe that the tragedy in Blacksburg is any different than what is happening in the streets of our large cities. The only difference is that these mothers and fathers have a lot more company in crying over their dead children. It’s just a shame that these children are dying and we won’t do anything out of regard for some words on a piece of centuries old paper.