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H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 09:53 PM Jul 2015

H2O Man Survey #39

"What you think, you become." -- Gandhi

If you lived in a neighborhood, where in one house there were frequent shootings -- including some fatalities -- you would likely recognize that household has serious, deep-rooted problems.

If you lived in a community where, in one block, there were frequent shootings and murders, you’d likely recognize that neighborhood had some serious, deeply-rooted problems.

If you lived in a state where there was a city that had an extremely high number of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that city had serious, entrenched problems.

If you lived in a nation where one state in particular had an extremely high rate of shootings and killings, you’d recognize that state had those serious and deeply-rooted problems.

However, you live on a planet, where on one continent, there is one country that has extremely high levels of gun violence.

I’m not writing this to discuss “gun control.” I trust people’s common sense to figure that one out.

I am writing to suggest that the United States has rates of violence -- from murder to child abuse, from rape to road rage -- to convince any rational and objective person to understand that large segments of the population present very real dangers to the safety and well-being of every day citizens.

It’s not a case of being somewhere else. It’s not just in some other state, city, or neighborhood. Obviously, 24/7 news on television, plus social media, create heightened awareness of individual cases of extreme violence. And the federal government’s statistics suggest that the rates of some specific violent crimes is decreasing ….at least percentage-wise. Still, it would be rather difficult to believe that our culture isn’t at a saturation point in terms of violence.

My questions are: What do you think the primary causes of gross violence is? Is it a genetic issue? A cultural problem? A combination? And, what steps can people take (again, other than ”gun control”) can people take? Government? Individuals?

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this OP, and respond to it.

H2O Man

57 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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H2O Man Survey #39 (Original Post) H2O Man Jul 2015 OP
I feel strongly that acknowledging and changing the way this country feels about race, its culture Brickbat Jul 2015 #1
Great answer -- thanks! H2O Man Jul 2015 #3
Definitely lots of overlap -- which makes it hard, because so many people just want to focus on one Brickbat Jul 2015 #8
Very important points. H2O Man Jul 2015 #36
Cultural and very little Motown_Johnny Jul 2015 #2
Interesting and well-said. H2O Man Jul 2015 #7
Too many people NV Whino Jul 2015 #10
there are far more densely populated places than here Motown_Johnny Jul 2015 #37
I have been to countries far more dense and a lot less violent.in fact USA is wide open spaces Person 2713 Jul 2015 #53
I think it is lack of economic opportunity notadmblnd Jul 2015 #4
Huge. H2O Man Jul 2015 #9
Part of it is always demographics, part of it is likely environmental lead Warpy Jul 2015 #5
Interesting. H2O Man Jul 2015 #38
Yeah, imagine being a cop, belt loaded with gear to abuse your fellow citizens, Warpy Jul 2015 #41
Right. H2O Man Jul 2015 #45
I'll give it a go. There is a high level of stress in this country right from shraby Jul 2015 #6
Good answer! H2O Man Jul 2015 #39
Great questions! Its economics, with unregulated capitolism, IMHO. kydo Jul 2015 #11
Gun ownership is just too fucking simple in too many places... catnhatnh Jul 2015 #12
heck, the planet's actual murder capital feels sorry for us at this point MisterP Jul 2015 #13
I think there's quite a few reasons. F4lconF16 Jul 2015 #14
Funny and true routine, thanks! Warpy Jul 2015 #28
I have to fall back on Justice Louis Brandeis. Downwinder Jul 2015 #15
I found some interested statistics.... CajunBlazer Jul 2015 #16
Purest speculation, but I believe it is worth considering... Zorra Jul 2015 #17
Man is an adaptable creature... kentuck Jul 2015 #18
IMO part of it is the way we educate our young in today's United States. Tommymac Jul 2015 #19
Every man a king in his own right... ellisonz Jul 2015 #20
IMO, it's a genetic issue. We have a too varied genetic pool and our melting CK_John Jul 2015 #21
A lot of good replies in this thread Hydra Jul 2015 #22
Sometimes I hate you as much as I love you for what you make me address. herding cats Jul 2015 #23
Gun violence sets us apart from our cultural peers. hay rick Jul 2015 #24
Depends on who you consider our "cultural peers" Recursion Jul 2015 #31
I suggest we look first to Lord of the Flies... Thespian2 Jul 2015 #25
And A Brave New World awoke_in_2003 Jul 2015 #50
Good point Thespian2 Jul 2015 #51
We also have to look into police violence. Unknown Beatle Jul 2015 #26
Many other countries also have better health care outcomes (and for far less money). merrily Jul 2015 #27
Culturally, we're a nation of toddlers. blogslut Jul 2015 #29
We aren't particularly world standouts for violence rates Recursion Jul 2015 #30
What Brickbat said plus malaise Jul 2015 #32
We have a cottage industry of hate in this country. Vinca Jul 2015 #33
Many poignant and profound contributions PuraVidaDreamin Jul 2015 #34
A major problem: the existence of the Second Amendment. Nay Jul 2015 #35
I'm not sure about that CajunBlazer Jul 2015 #44
Lead JonLP24 Jul 2015 #40
don't know the primary causes G_j Jul 2015 #42
Inequality of Income and Depression of Citizen's Rights. KoKo Jul 2015 #43
Testosterone n/t Holly_Hobby Jul 2015 #46
Clever apes in complex systems Fairgo Jul 2015 #47
We have looked at the issue carefully nadinbrzezinski Jul 2015 #48
If a politician is receiving funds fadedrose Jul 2015 #49
The US has literally always been at war. guillaumeb Jul 2015 #52
America has been an aggressively violent country since day one MrScorpio Jul 2015 #54
I may be ridiculed for my comment but at least am honest! akbacchus_BC Jul 2015 #55
I think it is, for the most part, a cultural problem. LWolf Jul 2015 #56
This message was self-deleted by its author Alkene Jul 2015 #57


(19,339 posts)
1. I feel strongly that acknowledging and changing the way this country feels about race, its culture
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:00 PM
Jul 2015

toward casual violence and casual aggression, the way it treats mental health and the concept of economic equality would go a long way toward solving its gun problem.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
3. Great answer -- thanks!
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:09 PM
Jul 2015

I think that each of the issues that you mention are all solid -- if we do not deal with them, there is likely not going to be a meaningful "solution" to what seems like never-ending tragic murders in this country.

More, while you list a number of issues, I think it is accurate to say that there is a lot of overlap between them.


(19,339 posts)
8. Definitely lots of overlap -- which makes it hard, because so many people just want to focus on one
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:12 PM
Jul 2015

issue, without seeing the interplay. It would take a lot of work -- work I'm not sure this country is ready for. But it can be done.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
36. Very important points.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:17 AM
Jul 2015

The nexus points are difficult because, as you note, people do not "see" them for what they are. Hence, they cannot understand the connections. Add to that the synergy of the combining factors, which results in the problems becoming more entrenched.

It can be done. Absolutely. But the country isn't really ready, because various groups view the problem differently, and therefore believe in very different solutions. I have neighbors who, while good people, have stocked up on weapons over the past 15 years. In their opinions, I'm nuts for not stockpiling weapons.

I'm not opposed to people having the ability to protect their homes. But the fellow who shot my cousin and his son last October quite literally had a stockpile of weapons in his car. And for what? Protection against a dangerous, aggressive person?



(22,308 posts)
2. Cultural and very little
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:06 PM
Jul 2015

You can't change a culture over night.

This is a multi generational struggle which will not be solved in the short term. Any and all gun control measures will help. Any and all education on the public safety hazards caused by the ubiquitous presence of firearms in this nation will also help.

If I were asked to develop a "silver bullet" to greatly reduce the problem (since it can't really be solved so easily) I would suggest mandatory military service for all, and this service would include training on the proper handling of firearms.

I think the gun owners that are the problem (since not all of them are) gain some false sense of power by owning powerful weapons. Maybe, and again I say MAYBE, if these people were properly trained then this false sense of power might not ever take hold. Seeing that everyone else can also handle a weapon and do pretty much the same thing with it that you can might remove that aura.

Again, I think the problem is multi generational but a journey of a thousand miles begins by backing your car out of the driveway. We should take every possible step we can, even if they are small ones.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
7. Interesting and well-said.
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:12 PM
Jul 2015

I like that you organized your thoughts extremely well here. Thank you.

It really has taken a long time to reach this point. And I absolutely agree that there are no quick fixes.

NV Whino

(20,886 posts)
10. Too many people
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:13 PM
Jul 2015

We, like rats in a maze, are beginning to eat our own. The U.S. is but the harbinger of what is to come world wide.



(22,308 posts)
37. there are far more densely populated places than here
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:24 AM
Jul 2015

unless you can show some direct link between population density and murders committed with firearms, I don't see how you can draw that conclusion

Person 2713

(3,263 posts)
53. I have been to countries far more dense and a lot less violent.in fact USA is wide open spaces
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 11:34 PM
Jul 2015

Here congested cities via rules and regulation never meet 2Nd 3rd world crowd mass


(112,134 posts)
5. Part of it is always demographics, part of it is likely environmental lead
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:10 PM
Jul 2015

Violent crime started to roll down slowly once they removed lead from gasoline. Smaller cohorts of teenagers and young adults also produce lower crime rates.

However, you're talking about rage, not crime, especially rage against any formerly disadvantaged group that is inching toward full rights as citizens. My own feeling is that it's because in a worsening economy, white males have taken the biggest cuts. Their safe union jobs that excluded blacks and women not only got integrated across those lines, they then pulled up stakes and went overseas. Median wages for white males have fallen and that's the only reason women have done better than getting 59 cents for every dollar a white male makes. She's only getting that 78 cents to his dollar because he's making so many fewer dollars. Her wages are the same shit they've always been.

You can squeeze people only so hard before they pop. The problem with seething rage is that it's hard to control and impossible to predict. That guy cutting you off in traffic might just be that last little squeeze that has you ramming his car and reaching for the tire iron when he gets out to confront you over his damaged bumper.

This is the main reason it's mostly white guys who are slaughtering strangers, neighbors, and their own families. They used to be on the top of the people pyramid in this country. The fall has been rapid and inglorious and there is no hope that anything is going to get any better. Being stuck with that "strong, silent" male paradigm means he's not going to have the outlet of squawking about it, either.

This is a lot of what I'm seeing, at any rate.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
38. Interesting.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:24 AM
Jul 2015

While I don't want to make this discussion "about me," I note that the off-duty cop that shot my cousin and his son last October was enraged because he believed the young man was driving too slowly ....he slowed down to 53 mph as he approached a curve.


(112,134 posts)
41. Yeah, imagine being a cop, belt loaded with gear to abuse your fellow citizens,
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:59 PM
Jul 2015

developing that cop swagger for years, and all of a sudden you're an old guy and it's gone.


It can certainly explain one reason that guy finally killed somebody. Your cousin was just in the way when the bomb went off. There was nothing your cousin could do to prevent it, that cop was going to kill somebody when he finally popped.

My post came from years of listening to people in the middle of the night in the hospital when they hurt and couldn't sleep, that and knowing what's happened to people economically over the last 40 years.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
45. Right.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 03:03 PM
Jul 2015

My childhood "best friend" visited me as soon as he heard the news. He said the same thing -- that fellow was going to kill someone that day; it just happened to be my relatives that he encountered.

The DA has found this was the 4th time the guy has had a similar incident, where he threatened people who's driving annoyed him. Each of the first three times, he "showed" his gun. Just my opinion, but I think that was a clear indicator that he posed a real danger.

I think the amount of road rage incidents -- most of which do not even come close to a shooting -- indicates that our culture is way beyond "on edge." And depersonalized.


(21,946 posts)
6. I'll give it a go. There is a high level of stress in this country right from
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:11 PM
Jul 2015

the young to the very old people.
The young are inundated with unnecessary testing in the schools instead of having comprehensive lessons that cover the subjects they need to know before they advance to the next grade level. At graduation, there are if's and's and but's as to whether they will receive their diploma like they should if they have completed the courses.

In college the costs involved make advanced learning unattainable for many and a heavy debt for those who go.

The ones who don't go to college find few jobs that pay enough to branch out on their own without working 2 jobs to pay rent, food, health care, transportation, etc.

Middle age presents new problems, high mortgage/housing costs, not much savings, 401K's decimated periodically with stock market downturns so it doesn't grow much. Pensions being cut back if there are any at all, threats from the government constantly that retirement age is going to go up, or social security cut back or eliminated, medicare same story. Medicaid threatened with cut backs and putting restrictions on what food stamps can buy for those receiving them (these are programs for those on the rock bottom).

Old age is being constantly threatened by the government with cutbacks to their social security and medicare and threatened by laws to eliminate both which causes anxiety among the very old. Pensions also being eliminated and cut. Those are pensions that were being counted on to help live a decent life in their retirement because we all know Social Security isn't enough to live on.

Stress throughout life causes a lot of the problems we have in this country. The very government we count on can't be counted on to do what's right, and no matter what elections bring they haven't helped one iota.

H2O Man

(74,284 posts)
39. Good answer!
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:27 AM
Jul 2015

Financial stress creates anxiety in every area of a person's life. Our current economic reality is grinding far too many people to a breaking point.

Thank you, my Friend!


(2,679 posts)
11. Great questions! Its economics, with unregulated capitolism, IMHO.
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:32 PM
Jul 2015

We are taught to do what you can to be as rich as you can. Wealth is very important. It determines everything. What and where you eat. Where you live. What you do. People that have it do everything they can to protect it and get more. People that don't have it do everything they can to get it. In trying to gain wealth we have become numb and uncaring about everything around us.

And sadly humans have always loved violence.

This is of course the simple short answer for my opinion. There are many issues with in our society that influence how our economy works, like racism and how we deal with mental and emotional issues to name a few. But it always comes down to money. If you have none you don't eat well, you don't have a safe place to live, you don't have access to an education, you don't have many things. If you have money well you probably need more at least that's how our economy is working right now.


(8,976 posts)
12. Gun ownership is just too fucking simple in too many places...
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:36 PM
Jul 2015

I'm a 61 year old with a history of alcoholism and there ain't a thing on earth to stop me from buying a gun...I'm ex-military as are my brother and my brother in law. BIL has multiple weapons because he rolls a little libertarian but is basically OK. Brother is an actual combat vet with a single .45 pistol. I brought home multiple weapons when I left the army but was bright enough to know I should not own them because of the way I was living and my temper. I traded them for a motorcycle...

I would say that any private gun ownership should be dependent on either actual military service or equivalent public service FOLLOWED by a full military small arms training course. Felony conviction should rule this out. Serious mental illness should rule this out. Alcoholism should rule this out.

Any magazine or weapon should contain 6 or less shots. Ownership of a weapon should require a license tested at regular intervals at least as restrictive as a drivers license. An owner of multiple weapons (say over 3) should be noted in a national data base.

Open carry should be illegal except for purposes of hunting or transport to a licensed gun club or range and concealed carry severely restricted based on need.


(3,747 posts)
14. I think there's quite a few reasons.
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 10:59 PM
Jul 2015

I don't really have the time tonight to assess which are the stronger factors, but a few thoughts ran through my head. Here they are, in no particular order:

--our economic and societal structure

The individualism inherent to and encouraged by capitalism pits people against each other on a daily basis. We fight each other for food, for jobs, for attention. We are scared to death of losing what little we have, and we are constantly on the defensive, looking for ways to. Our economy depends on growth, expansion, and exploitation. We are embroiled in constant war. And it is all done in order to consolidate power (which often means wealth and capital) for a select few that grow more select each year.

In short, we trivialize human life with the manner in which we run our society.

Colin Quinn did a bit in "Long Story Short" that I liked that described this conflict pretty well (start at 3:41, go to around 5:00--I can't get DU to do it automatically. The whole bit, starting at around 1:52, is worth watching.)


Tribalism. Extreme tribalism. I've had people threaten to hurt me for not liking their team, for not enjoying the sheer bloodthirstiness of much of American sports. The world in general has a lot of issues relating to sports, but America is particularly intense in the way it venerates sports, teams, and the individuals within them. This isn't to say sports are bad, but that we approach them in an all-too-often violent mindset. As with other things in this list, it may be a result rather than a cause, but also like many of those other things, it is self-perpetuating and feeds on itself.

--education system and authoritarianism

We teach a constant submissiveness to authority, with little attention to teaching empathy, understanding, and perspective. Our education system is often not about education, but control and societal norms.

--gender inequality

Gender inequality creates violence through the process of dehumanization. There's a lot, lot more to go into on this topic, but I'll just mention it for now.

--racial hatred

We can't escape history. Our treatment of PoC is beyond abhorrent. The causes of racial hatred are complex (not undefinable, though), but suffice it to say that violence rather easily stems from that history. I shouldn't have to dig too deeply into why for this audience.


I believe religion often helps to create violence by establishing an unchanging, unprovable "truth". Since it does not require evidence, we are free to create our own versions of that truth. Unfortunately, religion is such an ingrained and important part of our lives that to disagree with another's truth is an affront, and often is taken as an attack, resulting in often violent retaliation. I would guess most atheists understand this point to some extent. I'd also argue that religion prevents us from fully realizing our humanity and understanding our place in the universe, and in doing so, prevents us from empathy.

--biology and our environment

Due to many of these other factors, we do not sleep and eat enough. Stress kills; sadly, this takes on many literal meanings. There is also much else about living in crowded cities, limited water/resources, etc., that causes conflict.

On edit:

holy crap, I forgot to add the criminal justice system. What a fucking mess that is. If there is one thing that embodies the problems with violence in our country, it is that. Oppressive, dehumanizing, racially biased, strict gender roles, lack of physical and mental care--I could go on. It's absolutely insane, and perhaps the greatest cause of direct violence in the US. It may be a result of capitalism and our societal structure, but it is a cause in it's own right (as are some other things I've mentioned).

There are more, but I am tired and hungry. Hopefully this made some sense. I appreciated the question--I will be thinking on this in greater depth tonight and tomorrow. As usual, your words are welcome and well stated. Thank you.


(12,869 posts)
15. I have to fall back on Justice Louis Brandeis.
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 11:12 PM
Jul 2015

Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

Edit to add:
Government includes the local representatives of government. Law enforcement and the court system.


(5,648 posts)
16. I found some interested statistics....
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 11:17 PM
Jul 2015

When you look up statistics of countries ranked by the number violent deaths per year 100,000 of population, you first notice that the US is not as violent as you might think. Of the 192 countries for which statistics are available, the US ranks in the middle in 92th place with 6.5 violent deaths per 100,000 of population. Guatemala is 1st with 74.9, more than 11 times worst than the US. Many of us have visited Jamaica which I was surprised to find in 4th place with 52.9 deaths per 100,000 in population. Russia occupies 53rd place with 16.2 - 2 1/2 times that of the US.

On the other hand of all of the countries of Europe, including those formally belonging to the Eastern block, had violent death rates of 2.2 or less per 100,000. That is Finland's static in 126th place. Canada ranks in 140 place with a 1.6 rate and Japan 181st with a 0.4 rate.

Looking at the countries in the with their various statistics, three factors seem to lead to greater violent death rates, 1) the poverty of large numbers of people a country's population, 2) greater ethnic diversity, and 3) the availability of weapons.


(27,670 posts)
17. Purest speculation, but I believe it is worth considering...
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 12:14 AM
Jul 2015

Last edited Sun Jul 26, 2015, 02:09 AM - Edit history (2)

Never before in the known history of the planet has any land been such a "melting pot" of differing strains of DNA as the US. People from almost every geographical region of the planet interbreed here, and have been doing so for hundreds of years.

mtDNA is passed from mother to daughter

YDNA is passed from father to son

Autosomal DNA is passed 50% from the mother and 50% from the father. Siblings get different mixes of their parents autosomal DNA. Meaning your sisters and brothers did not inherit the same mixes of DNA from your parents that you did. And none of your siblings have the same mix of autosomal DNA that each other does. Every child is different, regardless of the genetic makeup of the parents.

Anyway, could the rapid and repeated mixing of different autosomal DNA that originated in so many different geographical areas be responsible for causing genetic "wiring" malfunctions in certain people's brains when they get a certain autosomal mix?

I don't believe anything near like this long term sustained amount of mixing so many varieties of autosomal DNA at such a rapid rate as ever been done before.

If mutated autosomal dna can cause disease, why can't it flat out cause a propensity toward violence, or a propensity toward violence that can be triggered by stress or other environmental factors in certain individuals with the gene or genes that cause an environmentally triggered violence reaction?

Mother: Her father was Scottish, German, Romanian, and Russian. Her mother was Finnish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish.

Father: His father was Irish, Basque, Serbian, and Japanese, His mother was Native American, French, Estonian, and Tunisian.

Child: a wild mix of a whole bunch of different autosmal dna from all over the place, 50% of which comes from the mother, and 50% of which comes fro the father. Then the offspring with the wild mix of autosomal DNA mates with another offspring with a different wild mix of autosomal DNA, has offspring, and on and on and on.

And this kind of thing has been going on for hundreds of years in the US, and is diversifying exponentially each generation. And I don't believe anything remotely like this has happened before in human history.

No one can possibly know what all the potential effects of the different autosomes are, and how they could affect the human body, and our national population is growing rapidly, so the expression of a "wiring malfunction", a "violence gene" would be much more widespread today than it was 40 years ago. Canada is not really comparable, due to far less mixing and population, so there's nowhere in the world except for the US that has ever experienced this phenomenon.

Again, don't quote me on this, it's just pure speculation, an outside the box idea to consider.


(7,266 posts)
19. IMO part of it is the way we educate our young in today's United States.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 12:22 AM
Jul 2015

We no longer teach them how to think. How to reason, How to make informed, rational choices. How to understand that actions have consequences.

Instead they are taught to follow rules. To fit in the same slot as everyone else. Whether they are a round peg or a square one. To remain ignorant so that they can conform more easily.

Violence is one outlet for the ignorant. And rage is the flower of ignorance. A brutal circle for those without the tools to reason their way out.


(10,005 posts)
21. IMO, it's a genetic issue. We have a too varied genetic pool and our melting
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 12:58 AM
Jul 2015

pot culture is a myth. We have let old world cultures bring their pet hates with them and not pressed assimilation.


(14,459 posts)
22. A lot of good replies in this thread
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:01 AM
Jul 2015

And it's a wide ranging problem. As usual, I would like to attack what I can see of the root, if I may.

I believe it's cultural: We encourage bullying and violence, establishing a pecking order. We encourage it as a way of socially controlling others, up to a very specific point. You're not supposed to murder someone...or, at least, it's not supposed to LOOK like you did.

That kind of thinking keeps out society always at the boiling point, someone always close to crossing the line on either side of the "arrangement." The Nerd who brings a gun to school to kill the jocks that have been beating him up, or the Jocks who killed Matthew Shepard, thinking they wouldn't be punished for it because he was gay.

In shorter form, we freak out about naked people, but don't bat an eye at some of the worst forms of violence done to people. It's a really weird cultural value that has no place in a truly civilized nation(which we aren't).

herding cats

(19,577 posts)
23. Sometimes I hate you as much as I love you for what you make me address.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:06 AM
Jul 2015

Last edited Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:58 AM - Edit history (1)

I'll settle for saying I appreciate you for making me think. That seems fair.

Based on the premise of your question, which isn't an easy one to address, I have to say I think we're losing a culture war of some sort.

We're plagued with poorly, and untreated mental illnesses, some of which are severe, even though most are not. Certain areas of our society are preying on, and inflaming the more vulnerable ones among us. It works to their advantage when they're exploiting them for their specific reasons. Not so much when they push one of the most vulnerable ones past their breaking point, but then they tend to deny and distance themselves from those people. Leaving no lasting scars on them in our extremely short-sighted society. That's a sad reality of where we are and who we are at this point in time. If you're deemed to have fallen within the "spectrum" your actions will be easily forgotten.

I suspect we're a bunch of manipulated fools. Fighting the wrong fights over and over again, to the same tragic ends. Never bothering to address the real problems in our society because they're too complicated. The hate and the anger which is being used by some to fuel an ideology sets us on edge. Never actually thinking about the vulnerable people who are being exploited beyond that they're not on "our side" or the thought process. Because that's what it's about all too often. You're with us, or you're not. Not you're being exploited by "them," whoever they may be. There's more than one of "them" out there in this country for what it may be worth. We lose our empathy at times when the weak ones being exploited aren't in agreement with us. At least I do, to my shame

Is it genetic? No, I don't think so. It would be easy to pretend it was such, but I suspect it's also dishonest. I think it's a symptom of multiple flaws in our culture. The cure to the problem is going to be an entire overhaul in how we deal with more than one thing. The problem is we don't seem to be willing to evolve to the point, as a culture, to even acknowledge that we're flawed. That we're broken as a society. That's too painful to acknowledge. We keep wanting to look for one or two easy things to blame, depending on our ideology. Then when we can't agree on the cause, we keep twisting the issue into something different. Too often then creating a wedge issue from it. Even if it's not the real issue that we're facing. It works, and it's easier to sell to your specific target demographic. So, it becomes the new reality. I suspect that works for the politicians, and its leaps and bounds easier than actually looking deeper and trying to find a sustainable cure to the problems plaguing us as a society. Which no one is actually even attempting to address in depth. Even us, the people. At least not as a majority.

In summation; I'm as lost as most people. I have no clue how to affect any sort of real change. Even if I can feel that there are real problems. I wish I were wiser, I want to be wiser, but I don't know how to fix what ails us as a society.

ETA: I want to say I know you have a personal experience in how violence effects a family. I hope my words don't feel too flippant to you considering what your family has been forced to deal with. Just because I don't know how to fix what's wrong with us, as a society, does not mean I don't feel deep empathy for those who have suffered horrific losses from the current level of hate and violence. Please, know that.

Peace and respect to you.

hay rick

(7,872 posts)
24. Gun violence sets us apart from our cultural peers.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:18 AM
Jul 2015

The availability of guns and the lack of rational controls on their possession and use gives people in our society opportunities for carnage that aren't available elsewhere. That's obvious.

I feel that the dominance of commercial television in this country has contributed to the carnage by making people think of themselves as consumers rather than citizens. Consumers are free agents seeking the best possible deal. It's all about them and only them. The downside of being a consumer is nobody owes you anything either. The consumer is not closely attached to other people. Citizens, on the other hand, have rights which are balanced by obligations. Our country and our society should be our family writ large.

Commercial media pressed into the service of our plutocratic, corporate society also promote violence by constantly pushing myths of extraordinary self-reliance. While statistics show that median incomes have been stagnant or declining since the mid 1970s, the media trumpets the wonders of entrepreneurship and deifies the "winners" in an imaginary land of limitless opportunity. If you're not one of the deserving rich, you're a loser.

I suspect there may also be a public health component to the violence. I look at the startling proliferation of autism and new allergies in the population and it would be no great surprise if some of the violence we see is a symptom of newly emerging diseases.


(56,582 posts)
31. Depends on who you consider our "cultural peers"
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 05:54 AM
Jul 2015

I know Americans like to look over to Western Europe for that, but I think a better comparison is Brazil or Mexico. And we have rather less gun violence than they do.


(2,741 posts)
25. I suggest we look first to Lord of the Flies...
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:20 AM
Jul 2015

under the surface, man/woman are capable of murderous behaviour toward other creatures including humans...

Then 1984 teaches us how the proles can be made to serve the few...and gives us a clear picture of Oligarchy at work...

Then the hideous history of America where humans were able to indulge in their basic savagery...from the country's beginning, Americans were slaughtering humans and beasts alike...

Laid on top of basic savagery are the weapons designed to allow humans to kill successfully and in large numbers...military training strips away basic humanity from the soldier, provides him/her with murderous weapons, teaches their use, and sends them forth to do what they would not choose to do---kill another human being...for too many others, blood lust is ingrained in their human psychology...

My last factor is fear...Americans are scared shitless of their fellow Americans...just like the oligarchs and the GodOffalParty want it...divide, divide, divide...



(34,582 posts)
50. And A Brave New World
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:08 PM
Jul 2015

shows we will give up a lot of our freedoms for entertainment and drug of choice. Huxley and Orwell got to about the point taking different roads. I think America is a mixture of both.

Unknown Beatle

(2,682 posts)
26. We also have to look into police violence.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:27 AM
Jul 2015

The police in the US are acting like brownshirts. They're racist and are prone to violence on the citizens of this country.

People are mistrusting the police and will ultimately take emergency matters into their own hands, thus increasing the level of violence.


(45,251 posts)
27. Many other countries also have better health care outcomes (and for far less money).
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 01:49 AM
Jul 2015

In all things in the US, the primacy of greed is a factor and the gun lobby is very strong and well-financed (as is the war machine lobby, the health insurance lobby and so on). Lobbies that represent humans tend not to be so strong and well-financed, especially the more vulnerable humans. However, it is not only greed of those who try to buy off politicians. It is also the greed of politicians who are more than happy to be bought off. And don't have a lot of political courage. It's not only campaign donations and "the system." It's the job for your spouse or your kid, the luxurious trip, etc.

We need less greed, more profiles in political courage of the kind Sorenson wrote about (not necessarily the ones Caroline Kennedy has been rewarding), politicians who are not corrupt and money out of politics. That's my diagnosis. Anyone who cures that combination of symptoms can have everything I own. And probably a few Nobel prizes.


(38,175 posts)
29. Culturally, we're a nation of toddlers.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 04:20 AM
Jul 2015

And I mean that in an historical context. Other countries have thousands and thousands of years of culture to reference. They have the benefit of having survived wars, plagues, dynasties, revolutions, devastation and assorted cultural upheavals. Their governments came and went and their people adapted.

America wiped out its existing indigenous ancient culture and began to construct a new one. Granted, all of us come from those other, wiser nations but instead of blending those wisdoms into a mix of the best of all of us, we've collectively chosen to, literally, make it up as we go along.

We're a nation of unparented toddlers, running too fast, throwing tantrums and crying ourselves to sleep.


(56,582 posts)
30. We aren't particularly world standouts for violence rates
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 05:52 AM
Jul 2015

We're pretty much identical to Thailand, Estonia, or Latvia. Only slightly above Cuba. Far better than Brazil or Venezuela, far worse than Switzerland or Bahrain.

We're a developed economy, but we have the population of a developing country; this leads to unique problems. Even in OECD, the only countries with the non-homogeneity we have are Israel and Mexico, and they're right up there with us in the crime rates.


(50,471 posts)
33. We have a cottage industry of hate in this country.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 06:34 AM
Jul 2015

It's been active for decades. The more a radio/television/print personality can hate "the other," the more money they rake in. They, of course, are perfectly content in their gated communities and some even churn out their hate in studios within their luxury prisons. A parent might listen in and become a believer in the hate message and they, in turn, pass it along to their offspring. It's like hamsters on a wheel and the only way to stop it is to control the hamster.


(4,162 posts)
34. Many poignant and profound contributions
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 07:24 AM
Jul 2015

Melting pot, disparity, greed, extremism.... I think it is probably impossible to single out just 2- or 3,
but when you add propaganda overload by corporate media and especially Fox News it almost seems


(12,051 posts)
35. A major problem: the existence of the Second Amendment.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 08:10 AM
Jul 2015

We can argue all day about what the founders meant when they drafted the Second Amendment, but the upshot is that gun ownership has been defined as a constitutional right for individual citizens. That means that any sort of control imposed on gun ownership has to amend the Second Amendment before any progress at all can be made, and we know exactly how that will go over with the populace.

Woven in with these other factors, it's a perfect storm:

>hyperindividualistic behavior being reinforced for commercial and control purposes
>nonexistent/unaffordable mental health care
>treatment of citizens as consumers who must war against each other for a piece of the pie
>racism and misogyny reinforced by hate radio/TV



(5,648 posts)
44. I'm not sure about that
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 02:54 PM
Jul 2015

From the law library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/second-amendment.php
"In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller (PDF), the United States Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1939 interpreting the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right."

This ruling went somewhat counter to earlier 19th century ruling of the court:
Again from the law library of Congress:
"In cases in the 19th Century, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment does not bar state regulation of firearms. For example, in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1875), the Court stated that the Second Amendment “has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government,” and in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886), the Court reiterated that the Second Amendment “is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.”

However, I think the key to even the 2008 ruling is the phrase, "U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense" and in this case dealt with banning hand guns and having to keep firearms in unusable conditions. So it looks like the court is yet to draw the line on what an individuals need for self defense and what they don't.

Going to extremes I don't think that the Supreme Court would strike down a state law which restricted the right of individuals to own nuclear weapons or even fully functional Abrams M1A1 tanks for self defense purposes. However an open question remains as to whether the Court would rule sometime in the future that large ammo capacity assault weapons are allowable for self defense purposes.


(29,324 posts)
40. Lead
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:51 AM
Jul 2015

There are, it turns out, plenty of theories. When I started research for this story, I worked my way through a pair of thick criminology tomes. One chapter regaled me with the "exciting possibility" that it's mostly a matter of economics: Crime goes down when the economy is booming and goes up when it's in a slump. Unfortunately, the theory doesn't seem to hold water—for example, crime rates have continued to drop recently despite our prolonged downturn.


Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the '60s through the '80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early '90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

So Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the '40s and '50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to "fill 'er up with ethyl," they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.


I don't know the primary cause because I do believe things you mentions are systemic and complex and require deep complex solutions than a bumper sticker slogan or paragraph answer, whatever it is it cannot be a lie. I think the invention of the telephone was a powerful device to expand & begin this military control of globalization which in turn encouraged and increased spying. right at the beginning they were plotting CIA assassinations, COINTELPRO, Operation Chaos, etc which the media was helpful in assisting creating false perceptions, hate... Reagan did a lot of damage.

I think the a huge contributing factor for recent times have to do with -- I'll start with my home state like Jan Brewer telling the DOJ or administration what she is not going to do, stripped and cut funding down to everything. Arizona ranks last in job recovery since the 2008-11 Recession. There have been cuts to everything, medicare, education, everything but gave her staff bonuses. The politicians here are so openly corrupt and Sheriff Joe -- I don't even know where to start with him -- the same day he answered the judge in his contempt of court trial if he hired an private investigator to spy on his wife and he said he did but with the "I"m incompetent" defense with he gets a tip from someone in Seattle that he heard that the judge's wife is going to try rig his next election but said that he required a payment to investigate the claim that he made to see if it was true or not and Joe paid him.

That isn't really what happened but it was the best he could say which he ended with a sob story "in all my years of law enforcement" & apologized profusely he routinely uses law enforcement to spy on political opponents & judges -- Andrew Thomas was disbarred and ran for Attorney General where the debate featured both accusing the other of corruption and they were right. Tom Horne exited office on a scandal and unfortunately one of my favorite Democrats Rotellini lost back-to-back 50/50 elections (statewide Dems lose by 70% or more). She prosecuted cases in the area of financial crimes which the GOP strategy was to go with she has no experience with violent offenders therefore she is going to make Arizona less safe in campaign aids.

The same day Sheriff Joe made that admission a case was dismissed a year after a 30-year-old family business was raided and the owners and workers were charged with "forgery" on the documents proving their citizenship. The same day the family filed suit.

Russell Pearce & the SB 1070 thing. I really feel like I'm in the middle of a far right movement that's brewing.

Brewer privatized as much as she could. Education, anything you name it. Prisons is especially cements the callous, cold, reality status of America. They're privatized and Arizona has incredible strict laws -- felony for one seed of marijuana. She told critically-ill inmates to "pray" for their injuries rather than provide necessary treatments.


Powell, 48, died May 20, 2009, after being kept in a human cage in Goodyear's Perryville Prison for at least four hours in the blazing Arizona sun. This, despite a prison policy limiting such outside confinement to a maximum of two hours.

The county medical examiner found the cause of death to be due to complications from heat exposure. Her core body temperature upon examination was 108 degrees Fahrenheit. She suffered burns and blisters all over her body.

Witnesses say she was repeatedly denied water by corrections officers, though the c.o.'s deny this. The weather the day she collapsed from the heat (May 19 -- she died in the early morning hours of May 20) arched just above a 107 degree high.

According to a 3,000 page report released by the ADC, she pleaded to be taken back inside, but was ignored. Similarly, she was not allowed to use the restroom. When she was found unconscious, her body was covered with excrement from soiling herself.
Powell, who was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, actually expired after being transported to West Valley Hospital, where acting ADC Director Charles Ryan made the decision to have her life support suspended.

(Ryan lacked the authority to do this, but that's another story, which you can read about, here.)


Private prisons lobby for tougher & longer sentences, life sentences on 3rd strike drug possessions. They send someone to a slow sentence to work for pennies while live in very violent prisons. This recent wave as a the government sucks (because they usually hand off to a contractor but while things can be improved on & more efficiently getting rid of it for a for-profit service is not the answer. Tax cuts & subsidies while simultanously slash the safety net while privatizing literally every thing is creating an everybody for themselves while consciously unaffected by the lives destroyed for profit creating a very desperate environment and the world becoming very cold & especially cruel.

Phoenix Program

The Phoenix Program (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Phụng Hoàng, a word related to fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix) was a program designed, coordinated, and executed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States special operations forces, special forces operatives from the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV),[1] and the Republic of Vietnam's (South Vietnam) security apparatus during the Vietnam War.

The Program was designed to identify and "neutralize" (via infiltration, capture, terrorism, torture, and assassination) the infrastructure of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong).[2][3][4][5] The CIA described it as "a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong".[6] The major two components of the program were Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected NLF members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on NLF activities. Many of these people were then taken to interrogation centers where many were tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area.[7] The information extracted at the centers was then given to military commanders, who would use it to task the PRU with further capture and assassination missions.[7]


Former CIA analyst Samuel A. Adams,[27] in interview to CBC talked about the about the program as basically an assassination program that also included torture. A former Phoenix Intelligence Officer , Barton Osborn, in an interview broadcast in 1975, talked about the torture practices used by the Americans and detailed a case in which a man was dragged out of the interrogation's hooch with a dowel protruding from his ear. The dowel had been tapped through in the course of torture to hit the brain. These were activities performed by American Marines. They would also kill people by throwing them out of helicopters to threaten those they wanted to interrogated and who were forced to watch other men being thrown out into the air.[28]

Abuses were common.[13][29][30] In many instances, rival Vietnamese would report their enemies as "VC" in order to get U.S. troops to kill them.[31] In many cases, Phung Hoang chiefs were incompetent bureaucrats who used their positions to enrich themselves. Phoenix tried to address this problem by establishing monthly neutralization quotas, but these often led to fabrications or, worse, false arrests. In some cases, district officials accepted bribes from the NLF to release certain suspects.[11]


I thank that right there highlights the cruel, unforgiving, desperate & cold world which has only expanded and privatization but hopefully and I believe there are generational aspects of this and with the internet and access to open sources there is potential for hope but growing up in the "9-11 era" I've seen the world became a different places. Better in same ways, yes, but worse in so many others in terms of prejudices, hate, poverty, fear, etc.


(40,385 posts)
42. don't know the primary causes
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 02:08 PM
Jul 2015

but in my humble opinion, the cruelty that permeates our food supply through factory farming contributes to a numbing callousness.


(84,711 posts)
43. Inequality of Income and Depression of Citizen's Rights.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 02:34 PM
Jul 2015

Whenever Equality of Income and Citizens Rights get out of balance...violence flares up. Its not just the USA....look all over the world in the aftermath of the Wall Street Banks Bail Out out after the 2007-08 Crash when no one has been held accountable.

Austerity Programs for us here in America and now in the EU Countries have had a regressive effect on all world countries and their economies as the citizens have watched the already wealthy (Wall Street Bankers, Private Equity, Venture Capitalists, Media/Entertainment Moguls, Defense Contractors) prosper. Plus, the Revolving Door in Washington from Govt. to Business to Banking, to Regulators and back again to Govt. get even more wealthy all enabled by the loosening of regulations in the previous decades.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have the Message--But, will enough people want to hear it?


(1,571 posts)
47. Clever apes in complex systems
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 07:24 PM
Jul 2015

I'm going with "all of the above".

We are a genetic hypothesis in Earth's Living System laboratory. And the question is, Can our evolved ability to reason sustain the species? Freud was prescient in pointing out the battleground of the ego as base urges and higher thought wrestle for control in individual, community, state and global spheres. The problem that unites all of the above is that our technical cleverness has played in to hands of our collective id before our collective superego could shape the collective human psyche. The original sin? Not knowledge, as ascribed to our exile from Eden, but the unquenchable thirst for more...power. It expressed itself in the extermination of civilisations, through to its latest incarnation in capitalism. The assumption of ever increasing profit, however benignly defined, ultimately destroys the system, the host. And our cleverness has built levels of technology that are artifacts of that existential greed, great machines bent on consuming everything and ignoring the growing poisons in the backwash. Oddly, it was the ghost of Christmas present who drew back his robe and revealed Want and Ignorance, and warned us all, "Fear these."

Violence is how power is wrested from the just person and the just path. You can see it baked into everything that proceeds my comments, and ever commercial that crosses your screen. What is missing from the list is the violence against our better nature (the worship of want and ignorance), and the violence against the planet.

So we go careening into a rather assured depopulation as there is a Physics at work that ultimately will require a return to balance at odds with our stewardship. That will be the final test of the clever apes. For the few who are left, can they imagine a world where profit is replaced by balance? Where the search for understanding replaces the search for more?



(154,021 posts)
48. We have looked at the issue carefully
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 07:35 PM
Jul 2015

reading things like oh the Federal statistics. They are fun, trust me. Damn XL tables!!!!

Crime is as low as it has been since the 1970s. For some types the 60s. But... media amplifies it. What has increased and it is due to the tensions in society and a changing society are mass crimes.

Statistically, when you take them alone, they are off the charts.

We need to face it. Our society has a lot of internal tensions that are leading to problems that should be faced. Poverty. is part of it But racial tensions is also part of it, as well as a feeling of despair among certain types in the population.

My favorite example is helicopter parenting... child kidnappings are at an all time low (we still refuse to run photos of children in the very remote chance that they would be affected) but since media reports are what they are, parents are far more protective of their kids than they have ever been. To the point some hover even in college.

Now, there is a story I might want to write, assuming I can find an expert or two. According to the Onion they quit. (A little levity in very serious subjects is good)


(10,044 posts)
49. If a politician is receiving funds
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 07:39 PM
Jul 2015

from any corporation, his vote will not be acceptable on an issue involving those corporations, and he should recuse himself as a judge does who knows any of the parties involved in a trial.

This would solve all our problems, not just about guns, but medicine, cars, hospitals, etc.


(42,641 posts)
52. The US has literally always been at war.
Sat Jul 25, 2015, 09:45 PM
Jul 2015

Against other countries, against the indigenous inhabitants of this country, against the non-white inhabitants of this country.
Against drugs, against alcohol, against sex, against women.

The US spends more on its war machine than every country on earth combined. So much that the US alone among the OCDE countries does not have universal coverage for health care.

Number 1 in violence but number 37 in health care.

Is it any wonder that the most warlike country in the world is awash in gun violence?


(73,652 posts)
54. America has been an aggressively violent country since day one
Sun Jul 26, 2015, 12:05 AM
Jul 2015

We view our own violence as a God-given right.

It's never going to change, except perhaps as varying degrees of a constant, shifting slightly up and down.

I don't see ourselves doing anything about this problem, because far too many people believe that a right to be violent is a core factor in being an American.


(5,707 posts)
55. I may be ridiculed for my comment but at least am honest!
Sun Jul 26, 2015, 12:13 AM
Jul 2015

America has always been a bully and ISIS is the result of America invading Iraq. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 but the US needed to make money for its military industry.

The US fucked up Iraq and Afghanistan too, and the war mongers still have it in for Iran. This current President is trying to mend bridges and the Congress and Senate is against him. These fuckers do not care for the American people, like they said on day one, they want to get President Obama to not get a second term.

I am glad President Obama is using executive order.


(46,179 posts)
56. I think it is, for the most part, a cultural problem.
Sun Jul 26, 2015, 12:14 AM
Jul 2015

This nation glorifies violence in many different ways. It's embedded. The nation takes pride in our military, expects us to be the big bully on the block globally, likes "action" movies that are almost always violent, likes violent games, and generally takes pride in being bullies while complaining about bullying at school.

We're all about competition. We look down on others, use put downs to put ourselves up, as a matter of course. Put downs are considered jokes, as well, so when we aren't blatant, we're passive/aggressive about it.

We're about the "bootstraps" thing, and expecting people to survive on their own. The only kind of "charity" we approve of is church-sponsored. When something goes wrong, it's always somebody else's fault, unless it went wrong with somebody else, and then it's their own fault.

When I say "we," I don't mean DU or any other individual or subgroup. I'm talking about the attitudes and values saturated so deeply into our culture that it's part of our identity without even being aware of it. Those who are aware are struggling upstream with dam after dam after dam in the way.

There is, for many, a sense of desperation, hopelessness, helplessness, depression and anger that feeds the lashing out. For some, violence is a way to establish a territory and protect it, or to claim existence, to be visible, in a world that doesn't fit or accept them.

Fear and hate are expressed in a myriad of ways, but I think that's at the bottom of our national violent nature.

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

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