Saturday, December 15, 2012

Children slaughtered here, slaughtered there

Yesterday, a 20-year-old man killed 27 people, mostly kindergartners, along with his mother and himself, at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  Americans are understandably shocked and horrified.

But a couple of points do spring to mind.

Most of these distraught Americans are indifferent at best to such slaughters committed at least weekly in Pakistan and Afghanistan by the servants of the Drone-bomber in Chief - and unlike Americans, millions of people are compelled to live in daily dread of their children being killed in such massacres.

I got myself unfriended on Facebook for making the observation that the really unfathomable thing is not the one-time massacre by this nut case, but that Americans should be so horrified at it while at the same moment utterly indifferent to the same thing being done continually in their names all around the world, and usually with their active approval.  Indeed we're urged to be thankful to the soldiers sent to defile us with all this innocent blood.

And of all people, America's Afghan puppet, Hamid Karzai, was dancing on his strings yesterday, making the same point:

"I express my sorrow and condolences to the American people for this painful accident and I hope that nobody around the world suffers from such incidents. Afghanistan, especially, feels the pain of such incidents and almost every day such pains come to our people and we are dealing with it."  Hence his punch line that in 2013: "There will be no military activity of foreign forces in Afghanistan".

Here's another enlightening comparison.  In which way are more students killed in American schools each year - by school shooters, or by school staff?  Well, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), school staff killed 143 students in school in 2009, and that's about what it is every year.  School shooters don't come close, in any year.

And what is being done about that?  Well, since George Brown first introduced legislation in 2009 to protect kids from this violence - besides the 150 deaths every year, tens of thousands of kids maimed or otherwise traumatized - the superintendents' associations, the school boards associations, and the other education industry lobbyists have managed to fend off any legislation to protect these kids.  Their institutions and the butts of the perps, they're not slow to protect.

Here we see how how profound the word of God can be, "Whatever you want men to do to you, do so to them, for this is the law and the prophets," or in Rabbi Hillel's formulation, "Whatever you hate, do not to others.  This is the whole law.  Now go study."

Hillel's last word is life-changing.  Now go study.  You that are grieved and horrified by those school shootings, now go study those feelings.  Know that three times a week in the United States, a family experiences the same murder of their child by school staff, the same grief and horror - and the sadistic perps are protected by the school districts, by the indifferent cops and Child Protective Services agencies that refuse to investigate child abuse in schools, the state and federal education agencies that don't want to do anything about it, and the legislatures that don't want to upset the education industry lobbies that want to keep things as they are.

And you know - and you do know! - parents in Pakistan and Afghanistan are just as distraught when their kids are slaughtered by American drone bombers as Americans are when their own kids are slaughtered by a school shooter.  If you don't think American parents ought to suffer thus, how long will you go along with inflicting such torment on others?  "What you hate, do not to others." 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are 150 students really killed by school staff? If that is really the case do we not hear about it because the cases are ruled as justifiable?
Teenagers are often violent. Could all or the overwhelming majority of the cases be cases of self defense?
i woould think that if someones child was killed at school by the staff and it case of self defense the ACLU for one would make huge fuss about it.

12/16/2012 1:06 PM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

There's a time for thinking and a time for looking into things, Anonymous. Tell you what. Why don't you gather some facts, so you know what you're talking about, and then we can talk. Deal?

You could start here:

12/16/2012 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK I typed in your link just as you had typed it and it came up page not found. I did find a couple of closely related pagrs though. On these pages it stated that there have been hundreds of reports of abuse by school staff and SOME students have even died. Some that means 3 or 4 maybe 10. It does not mean 143 over the past twenty years let alone in one year. If that were the case a word like many would have been used. Furthermore not one example of a student dying at the hands of staff was given. I bet that the reason no example was given is because then a person would be able to read about the incident in the online version of a local paper and see thhat the students death, like most modern tradgidies was caused by a chain of events not just a principle deciding tosmother a student with a pillow becausee he is certian that it is Dameon on the chair in front of him.
No the evidence that many children have died at the hands of staff is so weak I do not think that I want to spend my time looking in to it unless I come across more credible evidence.
On the otherhand the evidence that school staff sometimes abuse students is credible. In some cases students may falsely accuse staff of abuse as a tactic to try to get a staff member punished when the staff member tried to hold the student accountable for his own bad behavior. Non the less there should be guidlines covering restraint. I imagine that no one wrote guidelines up until now as this issue was considered a mater of common sense. But since it appears that common sense sometimes escapes even the best of us written guidlines would be appropriate.
If tradgidies are often caused by a chain of events I can see two important implications of understandding tradgedies in this way. First it is difficult to blame someone. When people do something really stupid it is easy to blame them and then take the next step and punish them. But when they do something that is I guess what I would call not chosing a better option how can we blame them when no human consistantly goes through the day mistake free.
The other implication is if tradgidies are caused by a chain of events YOU could be the one to break thhe chain. YOU can break the chain each time that you make a decision that is good enough, good enough to break the chain. It is very possible that everyday we make a decision that is good enough to break the chain of tradgedy but we do not know it because no tradgedy occurred.
This thought just occured to me as well maybe your small decisions can not only be part of a tradgedy but can be part of a success, not just the routine outcome of things but an outcome that was even much better than expected. Of course we can only expect routine most of the time. But if we look at it as a batting average if everyone on the team raises their batting average from .275 to .278 the team could go from being 80-80 at the end of the season to playing in the penant.

12/17/2012 4:51 AM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

It turns out that the 143 is the number of cases the GAO discussed in their report. We actually don't know how many kids are killed in school each year, because it seems that it's not being officially tracked.

I think, Anonymous, that if you copy and paste the link instead of typing it, you'll avoid a typo and it will work. You'll find other links there to interest you.

One thing going on here is that if something is routine and without drama, it easily goes unnoticed. So when Shah Mohammed Pachlevi's army shot down about 800 people with machine gun fire in Tehran in September 1978, it shocked everyone, and the regime was done for, although it struggled on for another 3 months. But they had tortured and murdered thousands a few at a time before then, with small impact.

Likewise, it's a big deal if 500 people die in plane crashes during the year, but the 35000 that die in traffic accidents over the same interval - who notices?

In this way, by Madeleine Albright's admission in May 1996, the US deliberately and with calculation brought about the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children through a sanctions regime designed to kill through bad water, and who noticed? It drew much less attention than when Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians in Baghdad one day, or when US Marines calmly went from house to house one day murdering families and first raped and then killed a 14-year old girl.

You can do a lot of horrible stuff without notice, if you're undramatic and routine about it. But if we care about what happens to people, including ourselves, we need to consciously counteract our tendency to be oblivious to routine atrocities.

Here are a couple of other links that may interest you:

12/17/2012 7:08 PM  

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