The crisis spreads
Hey all you suburbanites, exurbanites and other assorted denizens of the far flung estates! Yeah, y’all, safe in your hermetically sealed bungalows, checking your net worth on the Internet and voting your conservative values. Thought you were immune from the effects of a society that has lurched frightfully to the right? Think again. First, a cautionary tale for bedtime, kiddeez.
Once upon a time there was a republic named Rome. It was composed of citizens freely exercising the franchise to choose their leaders. But the electioneering became nothing but show, a method for the wealthy elite to pad their portfolios with political victories. Soon these grasping businessmen on the make led the republic into massive imperial conquests, creating a standing army which was revered and lavished with praise.
Eventually the trappings of the republic were deemed too cumbersome and Rome was converted into a true empire, with violence and bloodlust replacing reason and fellowship as methods to gain favor. Sport became an orgiastic celebration of violence, the military reigned supreme over civilian governance, the economy relied more and more on imported slave labor, and problems were repeatedly solved through war against perceived enemies from without and within.
You know how it all ends. The empire overextended, the citizenry grew overly reliant on luxury and gore for their pastimes, and Rome collapsed from its own reactionary successes. Sound familiar?
Crossing the Rubicon
Fast forward two thousand plus years. We live in a society that actually has to debate whether torture is humane, whether assault rifles should be easily available to everyone, whether pre-teens should be executed, and whether women should be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies. These are issues the rest of the civilized world has decided long ago. But they aren’t from ‘Merica! The land of the free and home of the brave, where we don’t prosecute war criminals, we re-elect ‘em!
We have written repeatedly in this column about the escalation of violence in our society and how it manifests itself here in the Swamplands through domestic violence turned murderous and problems solved by gunfire using all-too-available weaponry. But now the disease is spreading.
Consider the following: on July 13th a woman and her sister were shot and killed in Blissfield, allegedly by a decorated war veteran identified as the former boyfriend of one of the women. On July 21st a man holed himself inside a Lambertville house with a gun, allegedly shooting at law enforcement officers, demanding to speak to his wife, with whom he had a domestic dispute in Toledo the previous night. On July 22nd a woman was shot and killed in Perrysburg Township, and the main suspects include her estranged boyfriend who is the father of her infant daughter.
See a trend? In about a week and a half, three acts of gun violence perpetrated by men related to domestic disputes. All three in the “safe” parts of the area, far from the Toledo’s urban core.
Let the bodies hit the floor
That’s a mere ten days worth. The long-term reality is in fact much worse. Domestic violence has been a problem since, well, before America was a republic. But the violence has turned overtly murderous, and it should now be obvious the crisis is spreading.
Some might argue that these acts were completely random. That they have nothing to do with a culture that celebrates violence, that denigrates the agency of women, that venerates gun ownership, that seeks solutions to complex international problems in military campaigns. We think they would be wrong. When folks are surrounded by cultural messages in which reason and fellowship are treated as liabilities, that separates folks into simplistic categories of us and them, when might is trumpeted as the road to making right, we fear deadly outcomes of personal disputes become a natural outgrowth.
Just ask the ghosts of Rome where that leads.