The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s some other kind. The sensible kind.
Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?
Sensible Violence: Good reasons to kill
— “He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.
— “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”
— “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the wood chipper and use his remains as fertilizer. Sensible. tidy, and green. “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?”
— “Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only sensible response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”
— “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you were angry. You were right.
So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, anyone would have done the same thing, or your plan went awry … it’s sensible violence. The good kind.
“Hey pal, what’s up?”
“Hey! I got trouble with my damn kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?”
“Last night they wuz shootin at cops and hoes all night.”
“I heard you. That’s terrible.”
“You’re tellin me. I tried to call them little pests to dinner but they would pay me no mind. I spent a lot of cash at KFC, but it’s all good.”
“Good, what do you mean good?”
“I mean I can eat that chicken again today.”
“But the kids…what happened to the kids?”
“Hell if I know. They were at it all night.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, but you must have terrible trouble with the police.”
“No, I don’t have no trouble. It’s those kids, they got the trouble, but I guess they’ll get the hang of it soon.”
I have only this to say tonight – after a day of news about people murdered while praying.
Start where you are
Use what you have Do what you can
Don’t wait to be asked. Find out where people are needed and go there. Send money to people running for office who believe in equal rights, justice, fairness, and inclusion. Sign up to knock on doors or make phone calls. Go to the march. Make a sign. Hold the sign over your head so people passing in cars will see it.
Do not be afraid. The people who were killed today can’t march, they can’t vote.
My husband is a sweet and gentle man. He is not aggressive and doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Yet he spends hours a day watching violence on TV, in movies and actively participating in it with video games. What is going on? His appetite for onscreen blood and gore is unfathomable and unsettling to me.
He says that it’s all make believe, that none of it is real. But my problem is that to me, it’s all way too realistic. I have no tolerance whatsoever for any kind of on screen blood and guts. I can’t even watch realistic operating room scenes on my TV medical shows. The sight of someone getting an injection makes me cringe, let alone someone being sliced and diced, even by a pretend doctor. I am a total wuss.
I may have become more sensitive as I get older. Or maybe it’s just that the entertainment industry has taken onscreen violence to another level. It’s more extreme and more gruesome these days. It’s also more graphic and much more realistic looking.
Onscreen violence used to be more suggested and less in your face. When someone got shot or hit on the head, they just fell down and maybe bled a little. Now, wounds are gaping, flesh is torn, internal organs are everywhere and blood is all over everything.
I can’t handle it. I could deal with pretending that someone’s hand was cut off. But in a recent episode of my favorite show, “Outlander”, the cutting off of the hand looked so real I almost lost my dinner. This is true everywhere in the mainstream now, not just on the military, underworld, superhero or shoot ‘em up shows.
There is so much fighting and brutality on TV and in movies. People seem to be more inhuman to each other, and also more creative in their violence. Torture is portrayed, again realistically, all the time. People don’t just shoot each other or stab each other, they use more inventive and sicker ways to inflict pain and suffering.
The world is portrayed these days as a much more brutal place. Man’s inhumanity to man is front and center and perverse sadists are everywhere you look. Many shows are very dark. They are dark in theme as well as lighting. I can tolerate some, like “The Blacklist” and “Blindspot”. But some, like “Gotham” are over the line for me. They portray the underside of life, the worst of the worst. The public’s appetite for darkness, crime and just plain meanness seems boundless.
Close to half the shows my husband watches on TV, he has to watch without me. I can’t stomach them. If I did try to watch them, I think I’d be depressed and anxious all the time. I know there is horrible stuff going on out there. But I can’t focus on it or wallow in it. I can’t even bear to read stories about cruelty to animals or children. If I think about it, I become obsessed with awful images and I literally feel sick.
I need to spend most of my time dealing with the normal and the positive. I get enough angst from reading and watching the news. I don’t need to add to that by watching sadism and butchery as entertainment. There is enough crazy and destructive going on in the government, I don’t need to watch pretend craziness and destruction on television in my down time.
Please let me keep some of my illusions about people having common sense and caring about each other. If I can’t keep some of these fantasies alive, I don’t think I’ll ever make it out of bed.
Deep in our mid-November funk, last night we watched a very dark “Longmire” episode. I told Marilyn I was depressed. Looking out at the bleak night sky, Marilyn also said she was depressed too. What to do? As the furry kids played their late night version of “Spartacus.” I grew desperate. No booze. No opiates. No sniffing glue.
How to deal with the blahs?
Marilyn: “Let’s watch ‘Tombstone‘ again.” By Jove, that was the ticket!
We watched, like kids from the “I like Ike” generation. We enjoyed the violence. We smiled as Kurt Russell yelled, “And hell’s comin’ with me, You cur!! Tell ’em! Hell’s comin’ with me.” I thought that would make a nice clip to send to the White House squatter.
But we weren’t satisfied. As narrator Robert Mitchum said, ” … and Tom Mix wept” while the film segued into its end credits, we needed another Rx for the blues. Quicker than bandits raiding a small Mexican village, I put another DVD in the slot. Within seconds, the familiar theme began and we settled back. More smiles.
I decided to keep tabs on how many of Calvera’s original gang of forty thieves were killed by the seven (magnificent) gun temps.
I counted fourteen dead, including those knifed or axed by the villagers in the first fight after Calvera laments, plus the two who were shot while scouting the village.
“Generosity, that was my first mistake.” Calvera had a point.
Tough! That left him with 24 banditos — without green cards.
Fast forward to the last scene where the magnificent seven gun temps return for the final battle. Four of the good guns go down. Harry, Lee (sorely chaffing his lips as he fatally falls against a brick wall), Brit, with knife neatly left as a souvenir. Bernardo O’Reilly, shot as the nagging village brats divert his attention. I counted another twenty hombres sans bodges — MUERTE!!
That left six — siete — by my tally. Calvera’s original forty were now six.
Six bad hombres versus three good guys!!
Got it? Get it?? Good!
After Chris fatally shoots Calvera –“You came BACK! A man like YOU! To a place like THIS! … WHY??” — Calvera expires and another eight Mexican banditos are wiped out, the garlic breath nearly choking Chris who seemingly wanted to kiss the bandito Jefe goodbye. Professional courtesy?
Calvera’s gang is now minus two as the villagers and the old man say adios to Chico, Chris, and Vin.
Chico, realizing the hot village girl is better company than Chris and Vin, rides back to the village to resume life as a grungy farmer. Chris, realizing how lonely life will be with just Vin to share the campfire, says “The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We’ll always lose.”
A poignant moment with Vin upstaging Chris while twirling his saddle reins. Truly poignant. Calvera and his minus two gang are buried. Chris and Vin drift off, searching for a sequel.
(Music up full.)
A Mirisch Brothers Production — from United Artists.
The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s some other kind. The sensible kind. Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?
Reasonable, well thought-out violence.
“He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.
“No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”
“I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the clothes dryer. Sensible and tidy. “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. And, I was selling dope, so I couldn’t call the cops. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?
“Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”
“I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you’re angry. You were right.
So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Sensible.
When I was in Medellin, Colombia, someone had brought up the name of Pablo Escobar when we were out for food and drinks. Escobar was an infamous drug lord who had lived in the Andes mountains near Medellin. My friend commented unhappily that they have to keep telling people that Escobar was killed in the 1990s, meaning he does not live there anymore. I told him I understand. We have to keep telling people that Al Capone no longer lives in Chicago. The crime boss died at his home in Florida in 1947. Sometimes the truth does not help you to shake your reputation.
At the present time you may hear that Chicago is the murder capital of the country, just like in the Capone days. The leader of our nation has said that crime here is “totally out of control.” He even tweeted recently that they might send in the feds if we do not solve the problem. While we are all dismayed at the uptick in violence in our city, one thing we know. We are not in the top ten in murders per capita on anyone’s list. We are not in the top twenty either. Depending on who is doing the measuring and what size cities they go by, we may even miss the top 30. I know it is hard to believe. Google it! You will find many news stories about Chicago, but you will also find plenty of articles about cities complaining they have a higher rate. You will find many web sites with rankings and wonder where we are. We’ll wait right here. Then come back and let’s talk about this.
The murder rate was up in 2016. We have not seen such rates since the 1990s. It was a big increase over 2015, but when you look at this on a per capita basis for large USA cities, you may ask, “What about Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis? What about Baltimore and Dayton? What about Milwaukee? Can we send the Feds there, too? Can we send them to Atlanta and Houston and Camden?” In fact there are many cities with increases, so why does Chicago get so much more coverage than the others?
Perhaps it is because we are the third largest city in the country. In comparison to New York and Los Angeles, the crime numbers are much higher. It is easy to look at the three together, as many newspaper articles are fond of doing. From that vantage point, we look very bad.
Perhaps it is because we are the center of the country. We have the busiest airports. We are at the crossroads of the nation. Highways, railways and even ocean carriers move through here, making this their hub and their home. As a center of commerce, there is no overstating Chicago’s significance.
Perhaps it is because the 44th President of the United States hails from here and the current leader — number 45 — would like to embarrass him. Perhaps it is because Chicago voted overwhelmingly for his opponent and he is trying to make an example of us. Or not. This is likely a minor issue as we were already getting plenty of coverage. But why don’t we read tweets about any of the cities in the Top 10 of murder rate per capita?
No matter where we rank, the problem has grown and something needs to be done, but send in the Feds? Absolutely. No big city mayor is going to turn down help fighting crime. But there is a slight problem with the leader’s promise. “What does it even mean?” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale asked. “It is so vague.” What kind of help is he sending?
Representative from Chicago, Luis Gutierrez, (my Congressman, by the way) is not impressed with our leader “beating up” Chicago. “Chicago’s murder epidemic is more serious than a late night twitter threat from the new Tweeter-in-Chief,” he said. Other Chicago leaders from local aldermen to the Cardinal are unhappy with the treatment.
Instead of vague tweets, where is the partnership with the Justice Department, the FBI, DEA? If there are resources to send, our mayor is all for it. We are a big city with big city problems. There are certain types of help that would be meaningful and possibly effective. “Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement entities in a more significant way than we’re having today,” Mayor Emanuel said.
In a breaking story this weekend, 20 more ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents are being assigned to their office here. A request for this help is long-standing and the Mayor mentioned it to then president-elect 45 in a December 7th meeting (apparently fearless leader forgot about it). Federal gun prosecutions in this District fall way behind other big cities and resources were needed. If more agents have any effect at all, we know who will take credit.
It is tough to be in the spotlight, especially when the light is made brighter by a guy with a Twitter account. We are a world-class city with world-class attractions. We have fine airports and railroad stations. We have a lakefront that runs the length of the city with land that is open and free for all.
We have one of the largest fresh water lakes that supplies our drinking water and our summer playground. When I stand at the Planetarium out on the lake, I see what I think, in my biased viewpoint, is the greatest skyline in the country. If someone wants to send help, we are glad to have you. If someone wants to wage a Twitter war, can he pick on St. Louis and the Cardinals instead?
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