Years back, Scott caught some flak when discussing American culture, violence and guns. As an outsider (like Scott), it was quite interesting to see an apparent defensive stance by the generally rational and clear-headed community here at the League. From my perspective, Scott’s thesis was not particularly controversial, though many of his points were debatable.
It wasn’t until today that I began following the Trayvon Martin story. I had missed Ethan’s excellent post, and had not seen any other news coverage of it. Thinking about the tragedy, I remembered Scott’s post, for one of my first thoughts was about the ridiculous level of violence in America, and the associated gun culture of which I am so glad to have no part.For those who don’t remember Scott’s post, here’s the meat of it (at least as I saw it):
Indeed, the media frenzy around this event has been so focused on the potential racial over tones that next to no attention has been paid, as Mark notes, to the violence present. That one child chose to beat another child in a relatively violent fashion over the moving of a book bag in his search to find a place to sit on a bus seems to largely be an after thought, if it registers as much of a thought at all. I mention Michael’s comment in this regard because I think the general undercurrent of and predilection towards violence encapsulated in the now infamous scene is far more ubiquitous than we might be able to write off by talking about poor neighbourhoods vs. well-off neighbourhoods or public schools vs. private schools.
Let me be blunt, as an outsider who spends a lot of time paying attention to and attempting to analyze US politics and culture, America comes across as an especially violent nation on the whole. And I have a hard time understanding why that isn’t more of a concern to people.
Full disclosure: Scott’s post is the original blueprint for the 49th.
What I found so interesting about the ensuing discussion was that no one seemed to pick up on the underlying theme: regardless of whether or not these highly publicized violent episodes are common or just sensationalized by the media, this is how others view your society. This is how Canadians – your closest neighbours, the “51st state” – reacts upon news of another senseless shooting/stabbing/murder/rape south of the border. It looks incredibly violent. It looks like there is a reverence for the violence. Whether it’s John Wayne or Bernie Goetz, there seems far too little revulsion at the degree to which violence is woven in the American fabric.
In his post, Scott showed (it seemed to me) too little respect for the 2nd amendment. I’m not going to play the typical anti-gun card and just suggest that y’all ignore it. I get it. It’s in the constitution and your governments don’t just get to take away your rights and freedoms. Had I been born in your fair republic, I’m pretty sure I’d be an ardent 2nd amendment supporter (or, at least, I’d only ever argue that gun rights should be abridged by a constitutional amendment, not mere legislation).
But this is one reason I’m glad I was born and raised up here.
This is, of course, the usual time of the discussion that the Canadian know-it-all gets asked for a solution for America’s gun problem (assuming there actually is one). It’s a fair response, but the response just makes the matter all the more problematic. You see, I don’t think there is a solution. I don’t think that Canadian gun control laws could be exported and everything would be fine.
From where I site, it appears that the U.S. is so violent and there are already so many guns, that it’s beyond rectifying. There’s no solution, only coping mechanisms.
I’m pretty certain that this post would not be taken well by most Americans, but please remember that I’m not actually offering an analysis of the current state of American society. I’m only talking about the perception that others have of American society. It’s easy enough to brush such an observation as being completely off the mark, and perhaps it is.
But if others see you as a bloodthirsty vigilante*, it might be wise to step back reflect on why they do.
*Before I seem way too self-righteous, don’t worry, Canada has a vigilante problem, too.