The Great Wave of North American Violence

This has been a devastating week in the news. In Toronto, just a couple of days ago, at a peaceful family block party, gang warfare broke out and two innocent bystanders were shot to death, and twelve others were injured, including an infant. When police officers went around to interview witnesses, they all just sort of stood there, shell shocked. One mother had rounded up her children at one point in the evening because the party had grown from a manageable forty some odd neighbors to an overwhelming one hundred and something. She felt that it was getting a bit too hectic for her and her children, so they left and went home. Only a few hours later, gunfire rang in the air, and violence ensued.

A couple of days later, a young man dressed up in combat gear walks into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, hurls some gas canisters of unknown gas into the crown and opens fire in dark movie theater. The twenty-four year old murders twelve innocent people and injures fifty nine others. The suspect was a twenty-four year old neuroscience student. When the FBI were investigating whether or not the suspect had acted alone, they discovered that his apartment had been booby trapped. Ironically, the neighbor that lived below the suspect said that all of a sudden, loud, blaring techno music came on that was so disruptive, it was shaking her entire apartment. She had gone upstairs to confront the suspect and ask him to turn his music down, but there was no answer when she tried to open the door. What investigators realized later was that the music had been timed to come on at the same time as the shootings at the movie theater. Can you imagine what would have happened if she opened the door? One more senseless death.

The common thread here is guns. Why is it so damn easy for everyone and anyone to get their hands on a gun. In the United States, the answer is simple, everyone there has the right to bear arms. But in Canada, the gun laws are slightly more strict, in that you can’t just stroll around town with a pistol in your purse, and if you do, the sentencing is pretty hefty if you ever get caught. But still, that doesn’t seem to discourage youth from purchasing illegal firearms off the street, and using them to gun down innocent bystanders. The really sad part about all of this, is that one of the victims from the Denver shooting, Jessica Ghawi, narrowly missed being gunned down in the recent Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto. She was a talented sports writer who had been in Toronto visiting her hockey player boyfriend, and just happened to be at the mall that day. It’s a cruel twist of fate that she was gunned down in her own town, after just dodging fate.

Something has to change. Gun laws in both countries are absurd, and they’re not doing their part to ensure that our streets are safe. Why should I have to worry that the next time I go to a movie theatre that someone is going to step out from the shadows and gun me down, just for the sake of anarchy? The laws aren’t good enough, the police don’t have enough resources, and meanwhile, innocent people lose their lives before they’ve even begun.

The Pitfalls of Political Parenthood

Like every morning, I rolled out of bed at around 7am this morning, sauntered off to the kitchen to throw on a pot of tea, and I flipped open my laptop (which I got for free BTW) to see what the latest BBC headlines were. I scanned through the usual stories, Europe in the grips of an economic crisis, Syria still under the thumb of a vicious and callous ruler and in the midst of civil war, and finally a story that I while I wouldn’t expect to make headlines, there it was; British PM Leaves Daughter at a Pub. The story wasn’t so gripping that I abandoned my whistling kettle, but it was intriguing enough for me not to click to another page. So after I had made myself a proper cup of Earl Grey and slathered my toast with way too much grape jelly, I finally sat down and scanned through the most ridiculous non-story I’ve read this week.

Apparently British Minister David Cameron had unknowingly abandoned his eight year old daughter in a country pub after the family had enjoyed a Sunday brunch. Nancy, Cameron’s eight year old, tottered off to the WC while the rest of the gang was outside busy piling into the family car. Apparently, Cameron was in one car with his army of armed guards and he assumed that his daughter was in the other car with the rest of the family. It wasn’t until the family arrived home that the little girl was missing. Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending! Once Cameron and his wife realized they were down one kidlet, they rang up the pub, and low and behold, little Nancy was there waiting for mum and dad. The whole ordeal lasted a total of fifteen minutes, which I’m sure will only equate into about two months of therapy for abandonment for the little tyke. Hopefully the Cameron’s take a stiff upper lift on this one, and treat it as a non-issue.

The thing is, this actually happened months ago? So why break the story now? Well, obviously Cameron has lost a few popularity points in the polls and nothing makes a politician look worse than painting them as a poor father figure. Like you’ve never left your kid somewhere and forgotten about them?!  C’mon! I can think back to a handful of times my parents forgot about me in the supermarket aisle, lost me at an amusement park, or had forgotten to come pick me up at school. I remember once when my dad was supposed to come snag me from the airport when I was about thirteen years old after I had returned home from a high school seniors field trip. I waited at the airport for five hours before he realized that there was something he had forgotten to check off on his list!

Parents are busy, they’re human and they get preoccupied. Is it really necessary that the newspapers produce a nothing story about a political figure leaving his kid at a pub for less than half an hour? Of course it is! It’s brilliant really, isn’t it? The masses will read it, and David Cameron gets painted with a whole new brush. Okay, so maybe he won’t be getting any father-of-the year awards, but I just don’t think it’s really that big of a deal, and neither should the British public. Parenthood is difficult for everyone, even for high powered politicians with armies of child minders at their beck and call. Let’s stick to stories that really matter.