Just when you thought you were rid of a Bad Penny. I turn up again. Mwhahahahaha! Actually, Charlie asked me to continue because things went so well, and the situation is mutually beneficial. I won't be here every day, but I will appear at least twice a week, maybe more for as long as Charlie wants me. I'll check the comments once a day too, maybe more--depending upon how much of my own work I get done. Don't worry. Charlie will be back. You aren't stuck with me. During my stay here I've wandered into quite a few sensitive subject categories. Ignoring problems doesn't solve them. Discussing them, does. The more complicated the issue, the better off we are in talking about it. Like anything important, there's a balance to it, mind you, but Charlie did a brilliant job of creating this space, and the moderators do fabulous work keeping it that way. Sooo... let's talk about... violence.
I've been attracted to the whole warrior thing since I was a little kid--I wanted to be one. I'm not sure why. Most little girls don't. Maybe it's due to being female and living in a world where female is not the norm? All things male are considered more desirable, after all--even literature is dominated by male interests. (Write about female interests and you're likely to end up ignored or ridiculed.) I very much didn't want to grow up to be like Mrs. Clever on the Leave it to Beaver re-runs. I wanted to be an independent human being with a personality of my own. I wanted to have adventures. I wanted to do stuff. I was also very thin, tall, and shy. So, I was bullied. Early on, I went through an extensive King Arthur period. I blame Camelot. That whole "might for right" thing was coooool. Therefore, I wanted to be knight when I grew up. (Among other things.) However, the Vietnam War was happening at the same time. I remember the anti-war protests. I remember the students being shot for having the audacity to declare themselves in favor of peace. I remember returning soldiers being spit upon too. (Our next door neighbor served in Vietnam.) Add to this the fact that when I was seventeen a student shot and killed another student in my school cafeteria. Note: my school was one of the affluent, "safe" schools in the area. I wasn't scheduled for lunch until after it happened, mind you. It still hit me pretty hard. All of these experiences taught me that violence is terrible, and violence should be a last resort to the point of not being considered an option.
After studying NI for years, I've come to the conclusion that there is an economic factor to violence. When a nation's economy bottoms out an escalation in violence occurs. America has been in an economic decline since 2000. Reading about the latest mass murder spree in Connecticut--America's seventh in 2012 alone, depending upon how many casualties one uses to determine the use of "mass murder." One thing is for certain, two of the bloodiest such incidents in American history occurred in 2012--within months of one another. If you ask me, we are beyond the point of needing stricter gun laws. Clearly, making semi-automatic guns available and guns in general easier to purchase has worsened the problem, not lessened it. I do not believe that arming citizens is the answer because of the research that I've done about human beings in emergency situations. Statistical data indicates that those trained to perform under emergency conditions are known to harm innocent bystanders and their own team members. (Ah, friendly fire.) What makes anyone think that an untrained individual could perform better, is beyond me. That said, the easy availability of guns in America isn't the only factor. I believe the economy is as well, and we need to address it. (Austerity isn't the answer. If it were, Greece would be great shape.) As I keep saying, the problem is a complex one. If it were as easy as restricting guns or having them be more available, then violence wouldn't be a problem. Period.
That said, I do believe in stricter gun control, and it's past time Americans did something about it. However, I find it interesting that no one seems to have snapped to the economic factor in violence.
 Because I'm listening to Rory Gallagher this morning. And, you know... Rory Gallagher.
 Politics? Check. Religion? Check. Feminism? Check. There are only two more I can think of and that's violence and sex.
 And every time I hit that part in Hogfather when the little girl asks for a castle, an army and a sword I grin because that was me all over.
 Strangely, if someone bullied other kids, I often screwed up what little courage I had and stood up for the kid in question. But if I was the target I rarely did anything about it. Although, there was one time that a kid did push me way too far, and I punched him. Luckily for me, the bus driver only saw the bully poised for retaliation. (So the driver said, anyway.) The bully got busted. I didn't. He also stopped picking on me.
 Our school was almost 100% white too. I don't view that as a good thing. My freshman year we had zero persons of color in my school. My junior year, we had one POC student. My senior year, we had two. I felt sorry for those kids. The crap they endured was massive. America likes to pretend we don't have race issues. That's bull crap.