Sometimes one altered aspect of a society is overlooked for another. The news media only has room for the most sensational scoops. So many interesting things fall through the cracks. Much has been said about our right to bear arms, the need to curb availability of handguns, or the often disastrous deeds of gun owners legal and not.
The NY Times today has a short editorial on a Florida law that loosens accountability for people who shoot first and ask question later. It’s troubling at best considering similar laws are on the books or slated in other states.
The law, passed in the last year in 15 states and being considered in eight others, allows the extraordinary use of deadly force when a person simply doesn’t want to back away from a confrontation.
We’re going back to the wild west, here. Who is most likely to benefit from such a law? Police, for one.
In one case, a retired police officer shot twice and seriously wounded an apparently unarmed neighbor who had knocked on his door in a dispute over the number of garbage bags put out for collection. The shooter will remain free as long as his self-defense argument holds, and it well may.
I would add others: people struggling with anger management issues; disgruntled employees; ex-military types affected by PTSD; people engaged in questionable activities that could lead to a crime; bouncers; and fearful people.
Fear is becoming endemic in America. Although much has been written about our emerging Culture of Fear, the new media has been largely silent on the topic. Perhaps the omission is out of a echo of guilt?
We Americans fear, more each year. In our escalating fear, we become controllable. Media broadcasts bombings, shootings, rape, traffic fatalities with abandon, forgoing any mention of goodwill, charity, civility and helpfulness. As a result, we lock our doors, alarm our cars, hand cell phones to our teens, send the young ones to day care centers after school to keep them off the streets. We’ve installed metal detectors in our high schools, airports have them, too, and x-ray machines. We drink water from store bought bottles because we fear contaminates in tap water. We worry about data theft, identity theft, burglary, contracting diseases, baldness, bad breath, our weight. Many things we worry about are statistically unlikely, many are silly. But some fears are indeed wise. Chose for yourself which are valid, and trust your assessment.
Commercials and advertising feeds our fear of countless little things. Mostly, ads exploit us in three ways: our fear of rejection; our fear of insecurity; and our fear of belonging. In addition, ads promote themselves through three channels; power, sex appeal, and status. through these messages, some overt, some subliminal, we are fed artificial needs, and artificial fears. It make us buy things.
The combination of fear and slack gun laws will directly affect many of us. It will kill and maim many people. As fear expands and guns proliferate, situations that could be mended with words will instead end in gunfire. And it can happen anywhere.
Am I promoting fear by writing this? You bet! This one’s real, though. Be aware of the dangers in our dysfunctional world, but don’t give in to them.