I know that many of you were hoping that this week’s Valet Boy would bring the hot and tempestuous conclusion to the latest in my series Tales from the Hollywood Hills. I’m sorry to put your literary desires on hold, however, in light of recent events, I wanted to generate a little discussion here.
Unless you’ve been vacationing on Pluto, you are aware of the Tucson Shootings and the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the murder of 6 and wounding of 13 innocent people.
This past Wednesday evening I watched the Memorial Service from Tucson. Listening to the speakers, looking into the faces of those touched so personally by this senseless tragedy, I was struck by just how often as a nation we have been here.
I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon were murdered. I recall vividly sitting in my living room, having my morning coffee and turning on the TV in time to watch that second airliner smash into the South Tower on 9/11.
I am grateful that as a nation we are still stunned, dumbfounded and shocked when tragic events such as the attack in Tucson assault our senses. Our national quota of violence, however, has escalated to the point that I fear we will become so numbed that we’ll come to expect it and be shocked when it doesn’t occur.
Much of what has been written and said in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson has been politically inflammatory. Since VB Readers are by and large well-informed and intelligent people, I don’t need to recap everything here.
Certainly, if you’ve not been snorkeling in Majorca, or panning for dinosaur remains in the Tundra, you know what the pundits, politicians and commentators have been espousing. Blame has been spread far and wide – from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam – everyone has an “A Hole”…er, I mean an Opinion.
I was chatting with my friend Dan shortly after the news broke and I said, “You know, I blame the school administrators for not spotting this aberrant behavior and bringing it to someone’s attention.”
To which Dan replied, “Yeah, but if they accused the guy of being crazy they’d all get sued. And we have the lawyers to thank for that.”
Personally, I’d like nothing more than to believe that all we need do to solve our nation’s problems is put all the lawyers on a bus and drive it off a cliff….All Lawyers except mine of course, My Lawyer is a genuine peach and not the litigious type at all – He really has a soul and I dearly love the guy….(Figured I’d cover my ass in case he happens to read this)
But, alas, it isn’t that simple.
It isn’t even as simple as stricter Gun Controls.
But, it might be as simple as WAKING UP TO OUR NEW REALITY.
In America, we like to say we are Pro-active – but the truth is we are not. We are a reactionary society and as such we prefer to enact policy after the horses have already left the barn. It may have a little something to do with what I call that “Missouri hangover” –
In other words: “Show Me”.
Show me that guns in the hands of crazy people is a problem and I’ll think about doing something about it. We’ve all seen it before: Show me that seat belts save lives; Show me that home fire alarms save lives…And on and on.
Well, now we can add this to the mix, “Show me that mental health evaluations are a worthwhile expense and maybe we’ll consider it.”
Tucson area schools regularly dismiss mental health training for parents, teachers and administrators because it’s too costly. There. We have just put a price tag on human life.
But it’s not fair to pile all the blame on the Arizona schools. Most school systems in America are unable to absorb the cost, time and manpower required to have a fully functioning mental health program.
But, this is something that needs doing. And needs doing Now!
Certainly, one would have thought that after Columbine – and then Virginia Tech – a structured and systematic methodology for mental health screenings, evaluations or some form of intervention would have been put in place.
Consider this from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“The proportion of pediatric patients in which psychosocial problems are seen in primary care has increased from 7% to 19% over the past 20 years. According to the 2001 US Surgeon General’s report on children’s mental health, 20% of children need active mental health interventions, 11% have significant functional impairment, and 5% have extreme functional impairment. These data also found that 13% of children and adolescents have anxiety disorders, 6.2% have mood disorders, 10.3% have disruptive disorders, and 2% have substance abuse disorders, for a total of 20.9% having 1 or more mental health disorders.” (Another study found that 27% of children 9, 11, and 13 years of age have mental health impairment and 20% have a diagnosable mental health condition.)
“In the 2001 study, 30% of youth reported episodic heavy drinking, 14% reported frequent cigarette use, 24% reported using marijuana within the last month, and 9% reported a suicide attempt during the past 12 months. In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth 10 to 19 years of age. Homicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children 5 to 14 years of age and the second leading cause of death for youth 15 to 19 years of age.”
Since children are our future, as the old saying goes, this may well be a harbinger of decidedly unhappy tidings.
I certainly hope that we as a society are not so addicted to our Pharmaceutical Industry that we interpret this information as a license to put our entire population at risk by the wholesale spiking of the country’s water supplies with anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications. (Though I would not put it past some in Washington to suggest it)
Perhaps this problem has no single root cause but rather is the result of an aggregate of influences. Should that be the case, the solution will require more than just the application of a single band-aid.
But, you see here in America we fully support the individual’s right to be just as fucked up, nuts and crazy-weird as humanly possible. Let’s call that “Minority Rights” – And when the actions of those crazed individuals impact the rest of us in a negative way we need to put a stop to it. “Nip it. Nip it in the bud,” as Barney Fife so often proclaimed. So, we enact laws and regulations. Let’s call that “Majority Rules”….
Those of you who attended public schools after the 70’s will likely have no earthly idea what any of that means. The braniacs on our boards of education have determined that being informed in civics and social studies is a waste of time.
“Well, I’m not going to give up my guns! It’s my constitutional right.” You may decry. Yes, and that’s true.
Our right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights. But, do you know why you have that right?
When the Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, America – as a nation – was still in swaddling clothes. Our Founding Fathers had an innate distrust of an all-powerful Centralized Government both from the States’ point of view as well as that of the Individual.
It is a Constitutional Imperative to each of us as Americans that we stand up and defend our rights and our freedoms EVEN TO THE POINT OF OVER-THROWING OUR OWN GOVERNMENT.
Bet you didn’t know that, huh.
Damn, Valet Boy, I guess that makes you a Gun totin’, Flag wavin’ All American Boy don’t it?
Ah, not so fast, Bubba…don’t get your Red, White & Blues all in a twisty-bunch here.
I do believe in the Second Amendment, but we are not at war with England any longer… (Nor are the States at war with Washington, DC – for the most part)… Also, for those of you who received a public school education post 1970…England is where we basically originated – as a nation – and “No, England is not a town in Canada.” I also support extremely tough gun laws and, with extremely limited application, the death penalty.
But then I sometimes wish sweatpants were considered formal apparel…So, you can’t rely on Valet Boy to be 100% on the money. And VB is entitled to his own beliefs, thoughts and opinions. You DO NOT have to agree with them. You have your own brain. And as my dear Mom repeatedly admonished us, as we kids were growing up, “Use your head for something besides a hat rack.”
That brings me to the Discussion Portion of this week’s Valet Boy.
I want to know what YOU THINK.
Faced with these challenges that plague us as a nation: Our civility or lack thereof, our nuclear family gone to the dogs, our selfishness, greed and lust for idiocy, our unrelenting penchant for violence…
How would YOU tackle our problems?
Think it over and in the Reply/Comment section at the end of this Post let VB know. Or use the handy Contact Form included below. Just maybe some of Valet Boy’s deep thinkers will be able to convince us to listen to our hearts and minds rather than the staccato of rhetoric and gun fire.
Thanks for Reading!
NEXT TIME: The conclusion of “Tales from the Hollywood Hills”.