Rape, Guns and Cognitive Dissonance

06 Jan

Just read this headline:  Greek tax scandal distracts from collection shortfall.

A Greek minister personally scraped names of family members off the tax records. That sucks, what sucks even more was that Greece was a tax free heaven, where taxation was more akin to the church collection plate: spare some change?

26 casualties at Sandy Hook elementary school. That sucks, what sucks even more is the 406 gun related casualties since then (, but it’s been a month, let’s focus on the 100 in the first week (Huff Post).

Need I say more? Or should Americans spend the next two years on banning assault weapons? It hurts, because it’s kids, but 26 gun related dead on any given day is within the statistical mean (10,000 gun related deaths a year means 27.5 people a day).

I don’t have the actual data, so I can’t promise this, but it stands to reason that while the children in Newton were being slaughtered and America was glued to the screen, another 25 people were busy getting shot that day, making December 14th an exceptionally violent day in 2012, but not by much. If not we were 1.5 casualties short that day. ‘Merica!

Gang rape turns to murder in India. That sucks, what sucks even more are the women who were raped that day, and have been since, are being raped now, will be tomorrow, while everybody looks at Dehli, as if time stood still for us to get popcorn and watch the show. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the lack of Indian rape statistics right now.

I can’t verify this but I am absolutely certain that in many Indian households, young girls were discouraged from watching coverage of the rape on TV by their fathers and brothers, and only get to discuss it with friends, quietly, lest they draw their male relatives’ ire.

Will there be meaningful action taken for these sickening crimes? Sure. The culprits in Dehli will be judged, and hopefully hung (I didn’t know castration was an option) as an example for all the rape that went unpunished for so long. Not so simple for Newton Connecticut (murder suicides preclude any closure), but Joseph Biden gets to discuss his assault weapons ban (again), and we can still get ours with the Colorado Joker, but that was six months ago.

Will hanging or castrating the murder-rapists, or instituting yet another assault weapons ban make a difference? Not much. Maybe a hundred casualties a year in the US and maybe a few less rapes in India, or, and I hope not, just less bodies found, because reacting to occasional episodes of horrific violence, numbs us to everyday violence, which we condone, excuse, brush under the carpet, and when it comes to rape: justify and explain away.

Sensationalism has the positive effect that it forces confrontation between the public and its complacency.  It has the negative effect of reducing epidemics to their symptoms.

Of memory I can only recall two mass killings since Sandy Hook, and a total number of casualties of roughly six. That’s 400 less than actually occurred since (as of two days ago), but those massacres drew attention because of the casualties (multiple) and given the politics right now, probably the weapon that was used. Did you know that a 14 year old was tied to a chair and murdered at home during a robbery? Or that a husband shot his wife’s killer who shot her over a collision? Both this last week? Do you care? Maybe, or are you busy reading about Marine impersonators at high schools?

Some will argue that the number of gun related deaths is declining, so are all forms of crime apparently, so why bother?

And tomorrow 27.5 people will die, not counting the 4.4 who died since I started typing this and the couple more who will by the time I publish this.  The debate is not focused on less guns, but on arming more people. Perhaps we should close high schools, kids aren’t learning much anyway, and there wouldn’t be so many to shoot in one place. Home schooling? Unless they accidentally shoot themselves there.

There is hope for more meaningful action in India, because the issue isn’t split along party lines, gun lovers, and gun haters, but represented by a much larger, and more unified demographic on the issue: women.

Posters circulate about educating boys rather than criminalize girls. In the subcontinent and much of the developing world, this has value because rape is not only a matter of sexual deviance. In the West such campaigns would be less efficient.

It is theorized, that in India, the loss of economic power by women (in agriculture) led to an increase in violence against them (Vandana Shiva). Recent plans by the Indian government to allocate social security in cash handouts to families to avoid corruption, coupled with studies showing that women make much better household managers than men, could help fix the imbalance created by the confluence of agricultural output and stock market interests for instance.

Regardless of the measures chosen to address the issue, we need to move away from Dehli and look at what happens in the countryside, where there are no buses, and no cameras.  20% of women in the US army suffer from sexual assault or rape (1% of men report rape, making the numbers actually much larger than women, if less statistically), and that’s in the United States, where people are educated (to an extent) and women’s advocates have much stronger voices.

Focusing on the horror of Dehli might give immediate closure, but it would be detrimental to much larger efforts to empower rural Indian women and educate Indian boys.  Just as focusing on assault weapons won’t stop anyone from dying today.

In India, there is hope for progress, in the US…

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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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