I like my new local paper, the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I still have the Boston Globe bookmarked, but I’m proud of myself that today was the first day I read the FWST first. The pull of that Globe sports section is tough, though. After two articles in the Start Telegram this morning, I was thinking: Was I the only one who saw Fahrenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine?
In a story the Star-Telegram picked up from the Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson report on the Bush Administration’s attempt to pass further domestic spying measures that would “Turn Cops into Spies.”
Under the Justice Department proposal for state and local police, published for public comment July 31, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals and to launch an investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or is providing material support to terrorists.
Results could be shared with federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Criminal intelligence data starts with sources as basic as public records and the Internet, but also includes law enforcement databases, confidential and undercover sources, and active surveillance.
This reminded me of Peace Fresno, the peace group in Fresno, CA that was infiltrated by a law enforcement officer from the local sheriff’s department.
Another front-paged articled from the Star-Telegram had this incredibly disturbing headline – remember Tina is an elementary school teacher: Texas School District OKs Pistols for Staff. Are they completely insane? What happens the first time an out of control students wrests a gun from a teacher? Have fun explaining that one to the parents of the kids that die in that incident. Again, I am so proud to be a Unitarian Universalist. In the wake of the Knoxville tragedy, our response was not “LREDA issues demand for DREs to pack heat or “the UUMA demands congregations recognize need for ministers to carry guns in the pulpit.” We live in a violent society, but bringing the guns into the classroom is not going to the make the classroom any less likely to have a random act of violence occur and will in all likelihood escalate the violence should one occur. Just because one is trained in the use of a firearm, and has a license to carry it -which would be true and required of the Texas teachers in the Harrold Independent School District – does not mean one is trained in managing stressful encounters or knows how to act under extreme stress and pressure, the exact situation for which one is supposedly carrying the firearm in the first place. The classic example is the Amadou Diallo shooting in New York City in 1999. Diallo was an unarmed African immigrant shot 41 times by plainclothes NYPD cops while pulling out his wallet to show ID.
Going back to my last post, I have to let the Boss tell this one in American Skin (41 Shots):
Is it a gun? is it a knife?
Is it a wallet? this is your life.
It ain’t no secret
It ain’t no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living
In your American skin
And how do incidents like the Diallo shooting impact our living? Bruce gets to that in the verse.
Lena gets her son ready for school
She says “on these streets, Charles
You’ve got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you
Promise you’ll always be polite,
that you’ll never ever run away
Promise Mama you’ll keep your hands in sight”
This fear that has gripped us on a personal and national scale is a weapon in the hands of those who have us be scared. Scared people are easy to control, to form, to mold. Scared people stop thinking rationally and stop looking out for what may in be their best own self interest as long as they feel safe.
Scared people live in fight or flight response, tense, waiting for balls to drop, instead of living by their best values, seeking to be their best selves. Scared people, as Bono sings end up becoming the monsters they fear so as to protect themselves from the monsters they fear:
They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you
It’s already gone too far
Who said that if you go in hard
You won’t get hurt
What lessons do we teach our children by having teachers carry guns? That it’s a violent world or a violent culture? They already know that. The lesson we teach them by having teachers carry guns is that an appropriate response to an unpredictable violent world is more violence and that’s the exact opposite of what we should be teaching them.
And we certainly don’t become safer by spying on each other. We will just become more prone to not trusting each other, looking over our shoulder, being more afraid and more stressed out. No people should live like that and if anyone wants us to, the question we should be asking is why?