What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings. D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News and Review, has spent two years compiling Fatal Encounters, a croudsourced national database of police violence and publishing stories with his findings.
On Monday, the Supreme Court (with a recovering Ruth Bader Ginsburg) will hear argument in Elonis v. United States, a case where a man was convicted for posts and messages on Facebook that prosecutors treated as threats of actual violence. (trigger warning: descriptions of violence) [more inside]
Last night, a 28 year old man named Akai Gurley was shot to death in a stairwell by an NYPD officer who was patrolling the Pink Houses in East New York. Gurley and his girlfriend had decided to take the stairs because the elevator was taking too long. Police Commissioner Bratton said today that the victim was “a total innocent” and called the shooting "an unfortunate accident." [more inside]
Since September 11, 2001, according to the START terrorism database, there have been twenty lethal terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in the deaths of forty-six people. There have been, at most, a handful of assassinations. According to the FBI, from 2001 to 2011, there have been nearly 250 mass shootings, defined as the death of four or more people. According to USA Today, whose data on mass shootings is considered at least as reliable as the FBI's, there have been 191 mass shootings since 2006, with 34 described as "public" shootings—seemingly random events, stranger to stranger. Nearly a thousand people have died; many more have been wounded. What America feared after the 9/11 attacks—that it would be perpetually attacked by outsiders calling themselves Americans—finally has transpired, only with an awful twist: It is perpetually attacked by Americans who call themselves outsiders.[more inside]
"A hypocrite knows right from wrong; they know they sin when they sin," Chmielarz said. "They find excuses for these sins just like we find excuses to mow down another hundred enemies in a video game. And even though they don't follow it, deep down they know which way the moral compass is pointing. Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open." Outrage and debate over the announcement of the upcoming video game "Hatred," in which players take the persona of a mass shooter. (Disturbing content in both video and company website.) [more inside]
Whenever Dewan Smith-Williams sees Janay Rice on television, she feels like she's looking into a mirror. Smith-Williams, 44, remembers the denial, the secrecy, the sense of isolation, the shame. But most of all, she remembers the fear of ruining her husband's career as a National Football League player — the feeling that coming forth, or seeking justice, would destroy her four children's financial security. She understands that struggle not only because she, too, was a domestic-violence victim, but because she watched so many other NFL wives, many of them her friends, go through the same nightmare. For each of them, it began with their husbands' attacks and worsened with a culture that, they felt, compelled silence.Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea investigate for WaPo: For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet.
[TW: domestic violence] [more inside]
Jordan Davis's mother, Lucia McBath, reflects on the guilty verdict in his murderer's trial. by Ta-Nehisi Coates (SLAtlantic) [more inside]
Over the past 20 years, medical researchers have found new ways to quantify the effects of the relentless violence on America’s inner cities, [and are] only now beginning to trace the effects of untreated PTSD on neighborhoods that are already struggling with unemployment, poverty and the devastating impact of the war on drugs. [...] Despite the growing evidence of PTSD in civilians, little is being done to address the problem. Hospital trauma centers often provide adequate care for physical wounds, but do almost nothing to help patients cope with the mental and emotional aftermath of trauma.
Earlier today, TMZ released a new video (warning: graphic/disturbing) of a February 12 incident involving NFL running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancée. A few hours after the video's release, the team terminated Rice's contract; shortly thereafter, the NFL reportedly suspended Rice indefinitely. [more inside]
Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (28 min 33 sec; here's a pointer to the identical video at YouTube). Warning: contains graphic sexual and violent game footage. Presented by Anita Sarkeesian of the video blog, Feminist Frequency. The website version (first link) is annotated to include links and resources, an "about the series" section, games referenced in this episode, and a transcript. [more inside]
It was just after dark when Michael Martin, 56, was walking back to his home in New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood, after helping a friend move... That's when he was jumped by a group of 13-year-olds and kicked, punched, and choked unconscious. He's not alone. It turns out that New Orleans middle schoolers are beating the shit out of artists and gays.
Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson? - According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas and wooden rounds into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling, the paramilitarization of police and media depictions of black shooting victims have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety.
Bill de Blasio has reduced the use of stop-and-frisk, but he still supports the kind of policing that led to Eric Garner’s death. New York City cops are fuming. On Tuesday, union officials gathered to publicly denounce “police haters” and defend the conduct of police officers involved in the apprehension of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was killed while being placed under arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week, the state medical examiner’s office said Garner died as a result of being put in a chokehold — a tactic banned by the New York Police Department. [more inside]
"It is a spellbinding narrative, a multilayered tale of murder, insanity, and mystery replete with shocking twists and turns. It is a startling pastiche of late-nineteenth-century characters, from the most elite figures of Austin society to the poorest African Americans. Yet amazingly, it is almost entirely absent from the annals of history." Before London had its Ripper, before H.H. Holmes had his Murder Castle, Austin, Texas had its very own Servant Girl Annihilator... [more inside]
A young girl's questions about the Boko Haram abductions reveal an increasing consciousness of a misogynist world. How can her mother—a survivor of kidnapping and abuse—respond?Lacy M. Johnson writes for Dame Magazine: "I Don't Want to Be a Girl."
[TW: graphic recountings of gendered violence] [more inside]
Chris Gethard: Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man
California drive-by shooting: 'Son of Hunger Games assistant director' Elliot Rodger suspected of killing six in attack. Rodger embarked on his shooting spree hours after posting an online video detailing his plans for "retribution" for rejection by women. [more inside]
A Short History of Game Panics: [Boing Boing] "Do you know where you child is? Watch out: they might be in an arcade! Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine on video gaming's juciest moral panics." [Previously] [Previously] [Previously]
Alan Prendergast writing in Westword reflects on the history of "Bloody Ludlow."
The Dangers of the Monster Myth In 2012 Jill Meaghar was murdered. Today, her husband, Tom Meaghar speaks out about the dangers of the "monster myth". "I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man, and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Jill’s memory, and other women affected by violence to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual? Adrian Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person. I am the first one who wants to see him vilified and long may he be one of Australia’s most hated people, but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men’s violence against women
The original story of Kitty Genovese’s death, first promulgated by the New York Times in a front-page article 50 years ago today—young single woman brutally murdered while 38 strangers watched and did nothing—was incorrect in almost every particular.
What we talk about when we talk about gangs "Gangs (and their many incarnations) are complex social networks whose roots are deeply intertwined with those of the communities and socio-economic environments they call home. Not unlike the military, they offer youth a surrogate family, something to belong to, someone to watch their back, and something to fight for. But they also offer so much more – the promise of a social circle, the possibility of controlling what would otherwise control them, an outlet for frustration or revenge, and a name, status, and “juice” (respect). Respect, in particular, is a highly coveted commodity for kids that feel beat down or oppressed by circumstance. If they can prove themselves worthy of being feared, people will be less likely to mess with them just for the hell of it." [more inside]
Burt Likko is a lawyer who used to handle litigation arising from bar fights. He's learned a bit about how and why they happen.
“People have this idea, because it’s a ‘community’ garden, you’ll have a bunch of people sitting around holding hands, singing ‘Kumbaya,’” says Julie Beals, executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC ). “Have you seen an actual community?”
... is a time to commemorate past victims of violence — and rededicate ourselves to ending it. [TW: brief descriptions of some murders.]
Anthropologists weigh in on Jared Diamond's latest: lack of citations, ethnographic carelessness, and the smoothing of complex narratives into quotable fables. The World Until Yesterday has prompted a flurry of commentary from anthropologists unenthusiastic about the physiologist turned evolutionary biologist turned geographer. In a recent London Review of Books, leading political anthropologist James C. Scott doesn't buy Diamond's description of the modern nation-state arising to curtail primitive tribal violence "[i]n a passage that recapitulates the fable of the social contract" given how "slaving was at the very centre of state-making." Anthropologist Alex Golub, who shares Papua New Guinea as a major research site, wrote "Still, it is telling that we live in an age when a member of America’s National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s foremost public intellectuals has less concern for citations and footnotes than do the contributors to Wikipedia." David Correia pulls no punches in his opinion piece "F*ck Jared Diamond" calling Diamond's resurrection of environmental determinism as racist apologia and his latest book as essentializing primitivism in order to define Western industrialized exceptionalism. [more inside]
"There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way." " [more inside]
Erica Chenoweth studies political violence and non-violent resistance. Her research indicates that nonviolent campaigns have been more successful than armed campaigns and that movements are effective when they (1) attract widespread and diverse participation; (2) develop a strategy that allows them to maneuver around repression; and (3) provoke defections, loyalty shifts, or disobedience among regime elites and/or security forces. Her TED talk and an interview.
The Trouble with "Carrie": Strong Female Characters and Onscreen Violence.
Whether she's volunteering to take her sister's place in the arena or grooming her son to lead the resistance; gunning down the gangsters who sell drugs to the kids in her neighborhood or swinging swords to avenge her daughter, the "strong female character" is often stirred by a maternal concern, a quintessential desire to preserve her community, to protect the weak and vulnerable. Her bad-assery must be in the service of a greater good. Even when she's more ethically complex (like the Bride, who begrudgingly admits that all the people she killed to get to her daughter, "felt good"), she never takes a place at the table of Walter White's grand epiphany: "I did it for me."
Carrie does what Beatrix Kiddo and Ellen Ripley and Katniss Everdeen don't: She does it for herself. Her vengeance, her violence, is in service to no one, no noble good. She doesn't kill because her family and friends have been threatened. There are no friends, no fellow outcasts, to protect from the bullies. No little sister to shield from Mama's wrath. Only her. And she is enough. Carrie kills because she was wronged.
Marijuana MAKES You Violent "We are a community based organization that aims to raise awareness that marijuana causes violence. We are a science based, secular, apolitical group. We are seekers of peace and truth. Don’t believe the lies put out by the media that marijuana addicts are just harmless peaceful hippies. Anyone who consumes marijuana becomes violently enraged and is capable of committing atrocious acts of violence. The toxins in the marijuana destroy the hypothalamus and amygdala, all centers of reason and rationality disappear from the brain." [more inside]
Celebrate Banned Books Week by perusing The comics that corrupted our kids - but mind your eyes! Meanwhile the American Library Association’s list of this year’s most challenged books is led by another comic, Captain Underpants.
On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously) and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
Kelli Stapleton kept a candid blog about the struggles of raising Issy, a teenager with autism who suffers frequent violent episodes. A newspaper profile from earlier this spring detailed the family's trouble accessing the professional help Issy requires. Kelli admitted in her most recent blog post on September 3rd: "I have to admit that I’m suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue." Later that day, [Kelli's husband] received a message from Kelli that police described as "despondent". Kelli Stapleton is now under arrest on charges of attempted murder and Issy remains hospitalized after what appears to be a failed murder/suicide. Bloggers from the national autism community have responded.
The first postcard on today's Postsecret is disturbing. (TW: murder, abuse) The text reads "I told everyone that she dumped me, but I dumped her (body)", along with a picture taken from Google Maps. It was determined that the location was likely Wooded Island in Chicago, IL. A search was made, though nothing was found. However, as a commenter on Dianna E. Anderson's blog posting about this points out, the postmark reads 2008. Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret has said he didn't go to the police, and instead sees this as a free-speech issue. [more inside]
What the hell is going on in Russia, and why did it take Jay Leno to get America to notice? (previously)
A new meta-analysis finds that extreme changes in temperature increase the likelihood of inter-group conflict. (SLA)
In 1973, The Who released their sixth album, Quadrophenia. The epic double album tells the story of a boy named Jimmy Cooper who deals with mental illness on top of the run-of-the-mill stresses of teen life. But Jimmy Cooper isn't just any London teen. Jimmy Cooper is a Mod. [more inside]
There have been some high profile examples of sexism in the UK media this summer. Are we seeing a groundswell of strong female voices calling out sexism? Big Brother has in the past caused the UK media to focus on uncomfortable issues such as bullying and racism. Following the removal of a housemate for aggressive behaviour towards a fellow female housemate, how will the conversation continue this summer? [more inside]
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
The upcoming game Saints Row 4, an over-the-top open world action game that features weapons like a Dubstep Gun, has been refused classification (banned) in Australia. The new R18 classification for games was supposed to make this less common, but Saints Row 4's (trigger warning) 'alien anal probe' weapon and 'alien narcotics' have caused it to fall afoul of the new guidlines. Developer Deep Silver said they'll resubmit Saint's Row 4 to the reclassification board, while The Guardian sees this as evidence of Australia's conservative culture. Saints Row previously.
Domestic violence becomes news - only when it turns into a mass murder As the report points out, there's a glaring flaw in Washington State's protection-order system: "With very few, recent exceptions, law-enforcement agencies did not have protocols in place to remove firearms from protective-order respondents or convicted domestic-violence offenders." [more inside]
At just after 2:20pm this afternoon, two men exited a crashed vehicle in Woolwich, South East London, close to the Royal Artillery Barracks near the corner of John Wilson St and Artillery Place. Armed with a knives, they proceeded to attack young male pedestrian. [more inside]
People are more likely to kill their fellow citizens as the gap between rich and poor increases. The same is not true of civil war — although you’d think people would be more likely to turn against the state rather than their neighbor as income inequality increased, this isn’t the case.
The Guardian has a nifty infographic of violence in the top 50 video games sold in 2012. Just over half are considered violent if "cartoon violence" is excluded.
Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.[more inside]
The UK Peace Index [PDF], a new publication from The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has produced a startling new headline: against public perceptions of crime, both crime and homicide have fallen significantly. The fall over the last decade has resulted in the UK homicide rate now being roughly equivalent to that of the Western European average, and it is now at its lowest level since 1978. [more inside]
Bioshock Infinite (previously) has been hailed as brilliant by many but others, even while enjoying it, have questioned the way the game deploys violence and whether this limits the audience that may otherwise have enjoyed the fascinating narrative put forth by the game. While not directly implicating the game's violence others have suggested that Bioshock Infinite might be the last of a dying breed (the Triple A, big budget, narrative game) due to the lack luster returns of such fare in the face of cheap, accessible indie and mobile games.