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OH HAI Sunday News Round-Up: New Year’s Resolutions Edition

January 6, 2013

three orange cats on a cat tree

Judgy cats will overseeing posting

Unmentionable personal things of late have kept me from really wanting to blog more than I have been. I can’t really describe the details here, but suffice it to say, it’s one of those things that sort of takes up your whole brainspace and doesn’t leave much emotional energy leftover for doing anything else – one of those things that can cause you to spin down everything you *like* doing because you’re busy dealing with *the other thing.*

Ugh. So, happy new year! One of my goals for the new year is to spin those likable things back up, and focus on arranging things for less of the bad and more of the good. You all wish me luck with that, now. A tangible outcome of that should be more blogging. (See Heather Corinna at Scarleteen for more talk about “more, not less” for the New Year).

That said, here are some stories and issues of interest from recent days:

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Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, CT:
I can’t talk about this one without first extending my sympathy and condolences to everyone affected by this violence.

SE Smith has a “factbomb” on mental illness and gun violence, including fact vs. reality on the stigma against mental illness that seems to be deepening in some ways in the wake of Newtown.

My thoughts, and response to someone who made the stigma-increasing, ableist comment, “How about instead of worrying about the guns, we worry about the fucking crazies.”

The problem with “worry about the fucking crazies” is that mental health is not a fixed state, any more than physical health. Sure, some people have chronic mental illness, and deserve the dignity of effective, accessible treatment (and not to be denigrated as “fucking crazies”). However, just as physical ailments can be acute and time-limited, so can be mental instability (as many folks who were once adolescents know). If you’ve ever been *this* close to punching somebody due to road rage or tipsiness or what have you, then you know the boundary between a person acting safe vs. unsafe is porous. The question then is, can you always screen for that? Is sufficiently good mental health consistent across a lifetime? Are crisis services readily available, and the attached stigma negligible? Nope. Can we reduce the number and types of guns around, then?

In other words, I don’t think the answer to gun violence is to further stigmatize people with mental illness. I think it’s to have fewer guns around. Further thoughts (blockquoted because I first posted them in comments in a private forum):

Something I’m thinking about today – on a local blog, a commenter keeps insisting that the people who get bullied in school get bullied because they’re not big jocks with giant muscles. In his mind, whoever has the biggest, most dangerous weapons wins, and those getting bullied should just have bigger muscles and more popularity. My take on this is more that because we value stereotypically masculine characteristics, it’s not as readily apparent to bullies that the larger group is going to stick up for the skinny gay art kid – it’s not the size of the muscles, it’s how we socially construct the value of people. Likewise, all those many illegal guns people keep talking as evidence for why stricter gun laws won’t work aren’t just out there because lots of individuals think guns are awesome and getting them illegally is even better – there’s stuff going on underneath – things we value, harm we do, rewards we give – as a culture. Do I know what all those things are and how to affect them? No. But you want to do something about gun violence, I think you have to go there.

So, yeah. I don’t think gun violence is as simple as rules about guns and mental illness and whatnot. I think it requires a hard look at how we socialize boys to dominate, and how we teach them how to have control, how to dominate, and what the consequences for that are. It’s not because “men are bad.” It might have something to do with how our culture values the biggest toy/muscles winning, and teaches that the way to win is through physical domination, that men have a right to that domination. That violence is “masculine,” and a useful tool.

Here are some other folks talking about violence and masculinity:

One last thing on that, via an Ani Difranco song on a 1999 album [lyrics here]:

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Yeah, that probably should have been it’s own post….

Okay, I think that’s a good enough start for getting back into the swing of things, don’t you?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. onesillyme permalink
    January 12, 2013 5:22 pm

    So very glad you are back!

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