Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mass Murder: An Oblique Approach

The solemn nature of this post, along with yesterday's, prompts me to abandon my typical whimsical opening. Be sure, though, that I do care for those who read this, and ALL my posts. 

Yesterday, I called for a return to federal and state support of mental health services. I referenced a WORKABLE solution to the specific problem of school shootings, which I had personally been involved in establishing in my home county, about 30 years ago. 

My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, had some mild concern that my linking the shooting with mental health would serve to further stigmatize that problem. This was troubling to her. As is the case with many, if not most, of you, there are people we know, and love, who are struggling with some mental health issues. I hope NEVER to add to the burden these must bear already.

As I said, Vanessa had some mild concern. This she expressed in both digital and analogue form. The digital manifestations were comments that she added to yesterday's post, as well  as on my BootFace posting. These were written in brief, in passion, and on her scant lunch break.

However, when she got home, she expressed those same concerns in analogue fashion; although, her approach COULD be termed as analogue digital, as she used her DIGITS (fingers, get it?) to get my attention. After grasping my mat off chest hair and drawing me close, and driving her knee into an area I'll not be using for much of anything for a while, she whispered gently, directly into my ear, at about 120 decibels: 

"It's not mental health, dear. It's sin."

I disagree not at all with my wife, for her scintillating exposition gently brushed away any objections I might have. In addition, even before she explained her position to me in a way I could understand, I, too, believe the root problem is one of sin. In fact, I'm inclined to say the sin runs far deeper than what my Sweet One was suggesting.

Vanessa, despite my jokes about her affirmative approach, is above all a nurturing mother (and grandmother and great-grandmother). When she heard of the shootings, her heart  turned first to the families of the eight dead, and the wounded, and almost simultaneously to the family of the shooter. (My policy is NEVER to mention the name of shooters, thus I can't identify them here.) Vanessa is appalled and horrified that the innocents are paying a terrible price for something they bear no responsibility for. 

And thus, not ONLY does she wish to protect the people suffering from mental illness from being compared to a murderer, she also can NOT tolerate the idea of the bringer of so much suffering and grief being excused by a casual classification as "he is mentally ill." Who could NOT appreciate her perspective?

I agree with her. One of the FEW things we know about the shooter, is that he stated that he was driven to eliminate sources of sexual temptation, stating that he was a sex addict. Clearly, treating other humans as an object, only useful as a means of gratifying lust, is sin. If you are willing to admit that such a thing as 'sin' exists, then treating other humans as things has to qualify. 

In fact, I regard a core element of most, if not EVERY vile action to be regarding humans as things. Genocide: get rid of those things; they aren't us, therefore they aren't worth anything. Looting pension plans: the people who invested their life savings aren't real; they are barely significant as entries in a ledger somewhere. Slavery; Rape; Pedophilia; all have at the core the concept that these are not humans to be considered, but objects to exploit. Even trivial, misdemeanor crimes likely have some element of objectifying humans. Would you speed in traffic, if you were thinking about the people in the other cars as people, not barriers to your progress?

Four dead; one wounded.

I do NOT know what transpired inside the three businesses that were attacked on Tuesday. I know the names of the businesses; I know that seven of the eight people killed were women, and six of those were Korean; and, I know that the shooter regraded them as temptations. I have ZERO evidence that they did anything unethical, immoral, or illegal. And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms quickly, and correctly stated that there was NEVER going to be any blaming of the victims. She is right, she is right. SHE IS RIGHT.

But, let us return to the concept of sin, and to the idea of victims.

Even without the assumption that the employees of these businesses were performing lewd acts, I maintain that they were already victims, before the shooter entered the building.

About five years ago, my family lost a close friend, a smart, charming, beautiful young single mom who had grown up eating meals and hanging out at Vanessa's house, classmates of our (now adult) daughters. Struggling to make it on her own, while earning a degree in psychology, she took a job as an "exotic dancer." In other words, a stripper. 

She was a victim. Men paid outrageous sums of money to see her take her clothes off, and that is all they valued her for. She was a victim, in part because there was NO WAY that she could make the money she needed to support herself and her little girl, and pay for school, without being a stripper. 

Look, I GET it. Consenting adults. Freedom of speech. And so on. ALL of those are good ideas, and I will not speak against them. 

It's just that I happen to know, via private sources, that the women in the clubs are paid as independent contractors, and thus are denied ALL fringe benefits, INCLUDING employer payments into Social Security, any health insurance; AND!!!! they are not truly in the status of independent contractors.

So, let us NOT blame the victims, but let us DO consider the sins against them. 

Mayor Bottoms: you had four women killed in your city. Were these women essentially forced into working in these environments because there was NO OTHER WAY they could support themselves and their families? I think that's systematic, institutional sin. Were they ALSO being paid as independent contractors, without really qualifying? Also institutional sin. 

Also: two of those killed in Cherokee County, and all four killed in Atlanta, were Korean women. I don't know; perhaps those six consisted of ALL the Korean women working in massage parlors. Maybe the shooter went after them specifically, although the cops are saying that doesn't seem to be the case. But if we were to investigate, and find that Korean women are vastly over-represented in employees of massage parlors, then I think that is evidence of a systematic sin. 

I'm sick about this. I'm sick thinking about the way things were before the shooting, and I'm sick thinking about the fact that unless the institutional sin is addressed, victims will still suffer.

SO: I'm going to start by writing my congressman, to address the mental health issues I discussed yesterday, and I'm going to contact the IRS to see if they will investigate the employment status of the women in the shadowy industry. And, I'm gonna pray, too.

Peace be on your household. 


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