By Mark Lipman
Finally, a serious debate and the political will for gun control has emerged in this country, and it only took the massacre of a school full of children to do it.
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, President Obama delivered what I consider to be the best speech of his career, where he spoke sincerely about a culture of violence, whose systemic root causes go much deeper than just the regulation of arms, but of a problem that pervades every aspect of our society.
Yes, I fully agree that no one should have the right to carry assault weapons. There is no need for these instruments whose only function is to kill masses of people within a matter of seconds. There is no place for these weapons anywhere on this planet, and least of all in our schoolrooms and city streets.
Yet, this is far from the end of the conversation. They talk about mental illness, how it is spreading, that what we have seen to date is merely the cracks in the pavement, where below huge sinkholes of deep national trauma exist. Twelve years of war will do that to a people.
And it is all connected, from Guantanamo Bay and other torture chambers, to secret kill lists and drone wars that sterilize murder; war makes us all more violent in subtle and growing ways that go unnoticed until it is too late. When civil war returns to the United States – and we are quickly heading in that direction – it will be the bloodiest carnage in history. We must reverse course with all urgency – and that includes our government.
In a time of economic crisis, with austerity looming at every turn, we are ramping up our police budgets to militarize our local departments with tanks and sound cannons and bat-mobiles – all aimed at the general population, while continually expanding our prison-industrial system, farming out management to for-profit corporations that require maximum return on investment, meaning a body for every bed, so the schools-to-jails, defund-public-services, while criminalizing-the-poor, politics as usual is just as much a part of the underlying problem, as are the armor piercing bullets.
However, to solve this it would mean restructuring our entire society from a war-based economy, to a peace-based economy. Right now, every single congressional district in this country employs workers to build something in support of war, to ensure the war-makers and profiteers are able to maintain a stranglehold on our economy, the direction of this country and our very way of life. We must divest from war and invest in peace.
It is a question of retooling our factories, our government and our frame of mind, and that takes courage.
We must redirect our entire culture and actually say to Hollywood and X-Box that yes, we do have the right to censor your violence, for just as it is illegal to incite a riot, the filth that you are projecting – primarily to the youth of this planet – is a danger to the well-being of our entire civilization.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is where the discussion needs to be going.
By Mark Lipman