Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twenty Seven Souls.

The seeds of this post started yesterday.  I posted a snarky comment on Facebook that the teachers and police who saved the children of Sandy Hook and in some instances gave their lives in doing so, were all 'union thugs'.  I got unfriended and berated about being insensitive and political.  Well after that little dust-up I posted the following:

Okay so apparently my snarky post about teachers being "union thugs" was not well received. 

Let me be clear, yesterday teachers, who as an institution are routinely demonized, saved the lives of several hundred children. Almost daily teachers are asked to do the impossible. They are painted by some people as lazy, stupid, uncaring, just in it for the money (ha!). 

I don't have an answer to 

gun violence, I don't have an answer to mental health, except that mental health treatment needs to be cheap and accessible.

I just think while as a nation we are examining the tragedy, and sloganeering and memeing our way to the next tragedy, we owe it to the teachers who care for our kids 8 hours a day 5 days a week, to be respectful of them and the work they do.

Yesterday I didn't have a ready answer to gun violence and mental health. Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the tragedy, guns, violence and the culture of gun fetishism in this country.  I've also been thinking mental illness, the dirty little secret of America.  

The gun violence visited on Sandy Hook and Newtown was quite possibly the most heinous thing I had ever heard of.  I've been to crime scenes with dead kids. A lot of dead kids, but never 20 and never kids the exact same age as my youngest.  

You get jaded doing my job, and things like death, sexual assaults, burnings, beatings, starvings, cagings, wear on your soul, but you harden against it and go on. Friday I was in tears most of the afternoon.  I take the title Child Protection Specialist very seriously and on Friday we as a nation failed to protect our kids yet again. 

Let's talk about guns. 

Now is the time to do so.  A recent survey showed the 71 % of the NRA! support limits on gun ownership including background checks. This via Think Progress shows that 87% of NRA members believe the roll of the 2nd Amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of criminals hands. 

The assault weapons ban and  the Brady Bill need to be reintroduced and re-signed post haste. Internet limits on ammo sales and the gun show loop hole need to end now.  We need gun owners to be as thoroughly licensed and tested as car owners. This is not difficult, it takes will and according to what I've read today, the will of the people is to do this.

Today Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Dumfuckmont TX)* opined that he wished the principal had an M-4 to kill the shooter first. This sort of magical cowboy thinking runs rampant on the right and in the gun fetishist mindset. 

They often refer to the fact that the there weren't school shootings when they were kids and often say this is because people had guns at school.  This is patently false. If you were in kindergarten in the 50's 60's 70's 80's EVER, did your teacher have a gun? No? Shocking. 

The reason there were no school shootings back in the day is that nobody had assault weapons with extended magazines. Those that did maybe had a souvenir from World War Two, Korea or Viet Nam.  You couldn't buy them at the fucking Wal Mart or the corner gun shop. 

Don't come at me with the argument that guns, conceal carry etc, make you safe.  Again false. The deterrent factor is a myth. On the streets of Chicago, New York, LA and ever place, even in my Quad Cities, there are gang members armed to the teeth and they go packing and shoot each other every day. Every day. Every day. The fact that a rival may have a gun doesn't stop them from anything.  

Come to think of it, my work is a perfect example of this.  We are not allowed to carry a gun on our person in our cars etc.  Yet every day my colleagues and I go to armed neighborhoods to investigate child abuse.  You can say I chose my job and you would be correct, but the next time you vilify our jobs, remember that fact. 

There are those that say we need our guns to protect us from tyranny.  Blogger Eric Garland, completely destroys the myth of overthrowing the government here. Its not going to happen.  Someone postulated to me that we need guns in case the Chinese try to take the debt we owe them by force. Red Dawn much? That Army  you think you can over throw? Yeah if the Chinese come calling they'll get knocked back to the Ming dynasty. 

So really beyond recreational shooting and hunting, why do we need guns? Police need them to keep the peace.  The military needs them to protect our shores, but really that's about it. Until Bambi comes packing TOW missiles and anti aircraft guns, a shot gun, or bow and arrow should be fine. 

Mental Illness is America's Dirty Little Secret

As of this writing, no one is saying for sure that the shooter at Sandy Hook had a diagnosed mental illness.  Maybe he did maybe he didn't.  The fact is that there is an epidemic of mental illness that has gone untreated since the 80's.  St. Ronald Reagan severely restricted the funds for mental health, the result was that the mentally ill went to the streets or the prisons. 

Right now, almost 40 percent of my case load involves people with mental illness. Very few are getting the treatment they need. What I mentioned above about confronting guns in neighborhoods? That's a lot less scarier part of my job than walking into a home with a severely mentally ill and untreated person. 

People treat the mentally ill like mental illness is communicable.  Insurance companies fight paying for treatment.  The gutting of social services and mental health services by the government at every level is unconscionable.  These people are citizens, they have the same rights as you and I and they deserve better than scoffing and disdain. 

Let This Be The Last

There should never be another Sandy Hook.  We are a nation of laws. We are a nation of incredible resilience. We are a nation interconnected with each other in ways that most can't fathom.  Passing some common sense gun control, caring for our mentally ill are things that we can and should do.  

People use the words patriot so glibly these days.  I challenge everyone who reads this to be patriotic. Demand from your elected officials that guns are controlled and kept safe.  Demand that our mentally ill are treated, quickly and cheaply. 

27 Souls, 20 of them who would have been friends with my Rowan, demand no less. 

*Dumbfuckmont TX is south of Shiner and west of Houston

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fuck it.

In light of today's tragedy, I have cried, I have sworn and I have drank a whole fucking lot.  The senseless murder of children in a school in Connecticut is almost unspeakable.  I've seen dead kids in my work, and this is still killing me. 

I majored in history, psychology and theology so here's a quick history lesson. In 1787, America was a small, weak country. The 2nd Amendment was passed in part to have a ready militia to repel invasion from England or France or Spain. Those three countries were the super powers of that time. 

When the idea was put forth that the well regulated militia was there to protect people from government tyranny, they were not talking about the United States government.  They were referring to foreign tyranny trying to retake what they'd lost in the New World.

Today, the US is the last super power. Our military is nonpareil. There is no threat of foreign invasion. 

I don't care if hunters have a rifle.  I do care that people have access to assault weapons, extended magazines, etc. This fetishism of guns needs to stop. 

You're not cool because you own a .223 Bushmaster. You're not safe because you own a Sig-Sauer or Glock 9. 

We need to have a safe, sane, existence for our children.  I have two daughters who I love more than life itself. Bailee is in 7th grade and Rowan is in Kindergarten.  Today I had to fight myself all afternoon to go get them from school.  

We need to stop having to worry about sending our kids to school.  The gun fetishists are suggesting that if only the teachers or principal was packing, this would not have happened. This logical fallacy has been repeated over and over.  More guns are not the solution.  

The 2nd amendment calls for a well regulated militia. Well regulated to me means regulated. It doesn't mean that everybody should have a gun.  It doesn't mean that guns protect us from the EBIL KENYAN MUSLIM.  It means regulation.  

At this point I'm rambling.  You get the point.  Fuck today with all  the fuck. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kasi Get Your Gun

In the wake of Jovan Belcher murdering his girlfriend Kassandra(Kasi) Perkins there has been quite a debate about guns.  

I am agnostic when it comes to the gun issue, I generally try to stay above the fray because it serves little purpose to argue with avid gun owners or their counterparts who want all guns banned.  Most people are as firmly entrenched in their beliefs regarding guns as they are about their religious beliefs, or their love/hate of Notre Dame. 

That being said, there is one facet of the recent debate that I feel compelled to comment on.  In recent days columnist Gayle Trotter writing for the Daily Caller and the merry band of brain dead fucktwits on FOXNews' The Five, have opined that if only Kasi Perkins had a gun, she'd be alive today.  

Trotter's piece is a logically flawed mess.  Not only does she try  to counter the statements of Bob Costas with "women who own guns are safer" nonsense, she also blames the lack of marriage stability in the family making the stress worse and therefore pushing Belcher to murder Kasi.  Utter nonsense.  An average of 3 women a DAY are murdered by their husbands in the United States. Do a google search for chrissakes. 

As to what the Five had to say, along with putting forth the "if she only had a gun" meme, Dana Perino added this tidbit: “Well, maybe, or make better decisions,” .  That's right, it was Kasi's decisions that got her murdered.  Nice slut shaming there Dana. Sweet Baby Jeebus make it stop. 

Aside from the flawed logic of their arguments, neither Trotter nor the FOX's the Fucktwits bothered to actually check the facts of the Belcher case.  According to the reports out of Kansas City, Belcher and Kasi went to  shooting ranges together.  She knew how to shoot.  There were guns all over the house including one report that their were as many as 5 or 6 handguns in the living room in easy reach. 

Given that Belcher killed himself after murdering Kasi its safe to assume that had she gotten to a gun and tried to hold him off, he would have still murdered her.   He was a man blinded by a killing rage, they call it that for a reason. 

I have had this debate many times with a friend at work who has a conceal carry permit.  The fact that everyone may be packing, won't make a maniac think twice.   Women may say they feel safer if they carry a gun in their purse.  Men may say the feel safer carrying a gun on their person, but that's the rub.  They may "feel" safe, but are  they any safer in reality.  

Wonder how safe Kasi felt with all those guns around her while staring down the barrel of her murder weapon?

Monday, December 3, 2012

War on Women: Murder is Domestic Violence

Jovan Belcher was a murderer. He shot and killed his girlfriend and mother of his child, Kassandra Perkins. In the days since the murder, and Belcher's subsequent suicide, there has been a throbbing hum of stupid regarding the whys and wherefores of domestic violence, guns and the NFL.  I have some knowledge of the subject. One of the child abuse/neglect allegations my agency investigates is Risk due to ongoing domestic violence in the home.

First, for those who are looking for simple answers as to why this happened, stop.

There are no simple answers.  A combination of mental illness, and easy access to guns? Maybe.  A man hell bent on controlling his woman even if it meant ending her life? Perhaps.  Early onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and alcohol abuse? Could be.

You see all of these factors could have made a man a murderer, but not all will be discussed.  Media rarely discusses domestic violence.  I want to discuss the people hell bent on controlling women.  These are the guys we commonly call batterers, domestic abusers etc.  And yes I am using the pejorative 'guys' because almost all batterers are men. In 20 years I've investigated maybe 15 women who battered their husbands in front of the kids.  Out of around 3000 or so reports.

What Belcher did was domestic violence taken to its ultimate end.  I had a twitter fight on Saturday with someone trying to say it wasn't DV.  By definition, killing  your lover is domestic violence. Period.  We will never know if Belcher battered Kassandra before Saturday, it just doesn't matter.  What matters is that a man who was mad at his girlfriend, murdered her when he couldn't keep her in her place.

That's what domestic violence is.  Domestic abusers want to keep their women in their place. They do so with physical assaults, sexual assaults, finances, using the children as pawns.  Much like rape is about power and control, so too is domestic violence.

A short disclaimer, when I first started my job and thought I knew it all, my default positions were either "what did she do?" or "why won't she leave?'  I've learned a lot about the cycle of abuse and I know longer look at things that way.

Women don't have to "do" anything to get battered.  Batterers will find any excuse. The "she had it coming" mentality that a shocking number of people have is truly unfathomable to me.  Nobody has it coming.   Nobody.

So many women who are victims of abuse can't leave the abuser because of finances, threats that things will be worse, or threats made to the children.  Many women I have interviewed really love their partner, think he will get better, think that "this will be the last time".

Some women do walk away, but even then they need support and counsel to help them get their lives back together, and to help them continue to make good choices.

Jovan Belcher was a murderer. I have no idea what the NFL is going to do regarding Belcher.  I do hope the league and the Chiefs put Belcher's remaining contract $ in a trust for his daughter.

Whatever is done by the league, here's what we can do as a society.  We can stop looking down on women as inferior. We can stop blaming and slut shaming women for choices they make.  We can make sure our daughters are treated respectfully.

Most of all when a man murders his girlfriend, we can stop pretending it was something other than domestic violence.