Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's the Matter Here?

If you've been paying attention to the news, then you must have heard about the woman who was killed and her 8 month old fetus cut from her body. If not, you can find the story here.

The whole thing is appalling, of course, but this is the tidbit that caught my eye:
"'We used to hear her crying and screaming but no one ever really did anything,' Toledo said, adding that neighbors did not want to get involved (emphasis added)."

What's wrong with people? Time and time and time again you hear tragic stories that might have been prevented had people gotten involved. Granted this woman wasn't killed by her ex-boyfriend, but had her neighbors done the right thing to begin with and called the police then maybe, just maybe, she might be alive today. Cowards.

I spend a lot of time watching our neighbors. Ida says I'm like the nosey neighbor on "Bewitched." I want to know what they're up to so that if something out of the ordinary happens, I'll know it's out of the ordinary and can take action either for our or their own good. I don't police my neighbors but if I saw two men trying to break into a house (even if one was a Harvard professor), I'd call the cops; if I heard a woman scream, I'd call the cops; if I knew or suspected a child was being abused, I'd call the cops; if someone was abusing their pets, that's right, I'd call the cops. I'm going to get involved by getting the police involved.

It's not as though I want to get involved; in fact, I prefer to be left alone by my neighbors. I'm nice and polite and talk to them if they talk to me, but I don't go out of my way to make conversation or befriend them. Still, I watch out for them because it's the right thing to do on every level. This world isn't about me or you or them; it's about us, and if we aren't willing to risk intervening when someone or something is in danger, then we're as worthless as the person(s) who killed that woman.

I love the lyrics from the 10,000 Maniacs' song "What's the Matter Here?" and this refrain sort of sums up how I feel:

I'm tired of the excuses everybody uses,
He's their kid I stay out of it,
But who gave you the right to do this?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guns All Around Me

Due to Obama being elected and Sotomayor's hearings, it can't be helped that there's been a lot of talk lately about gun control, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line. Bow howdy! The National Rifle Association is on the prowl, sniffing out the tiniest mention of gun control, and, of course, the Democrats get all defensive and flustered and usually blow the opportunity to state a coherent case.

For the record, I'm pro-gun ownership. When I was growing up there always seemed to be guns around, even in our basement. I like to shoot guns. Christmas break occasionally found us shooting at bottles and cans. In college a friend got a semi-automatic handgun just before they were banned by Clinton, and we'd go to the firing range and shoot off a few rounds. As a child, there always seemed to be a new toy gun under the Christmas tree each year, and I was annoyed to no end when years later I tried to find a toy gun for my nephew and none of the toy stores sold them. Granted, I was in hippie Boulder and should have known better but it still made me mad. I probably wrote a letter to my congressman, my standard response to societal ills. So, yeah, I don't have a problem with guns.

That being said, I'm an ardent proponent of gun control. I think the waiting period is a great idea (think Homer Simpson: "But I'm angry now!") as is requiring trigger locks. Concealed weapons laws are an invitation for some stupid drunk to shoot someone in a theater, restaurant, or, if some yahoos in Georgia get their way, while you're waiting at your gate at the airport. I know the arguments against gun control and they aren't without merit. Maybe if one or two students at Virginia Tech had been carrying a firearm less people would have died that day. That assumes a lot, though. And come on: what private citizen needs to own an AK-47 or any automatic rifle?! They should only be in the hands of the military and the police. If you think the government is the menace then you have more problems then I care to address.

One of the many things that annoy me about groups like the NRA is that they get all hot and bothered about their right to bear arms being restricted, and yet they are often the same people pushing for things like Internet filters in public libraries and book bans, basic infringements on free speech. People like that expect you to honor their constitutional rights but have no qualms in trying to limit yours.

Everyone has the right to bear arms, but that doesn't mean everyone should bear them. There's a difference. Owing a gun should be more like driving: a privilege that can be taken away.