Monday, January 28, 2008

Students At My School Shot Dead

Today, near the end of the school day, a student from the school I teach English at went to his girlfriend's house and shot her dead. He then turned the gun on himself. I did not know either student personally, but am a bit shocked. Working at a school, I think about gun violence every day. The thing that is going to be the most difficult for me is listening to all of the "causes" people come up with. The gossiping is going to be unbearable over the next few days. I am sure that I will be nauseas from gun-control talk by the end of tomorrow. Everyone will be looking for a reason, and the most obvious one, that society and parents and teachers failed this angry kid, is going to be most likely completely overlooked.

I've been contacted by my department head and told not to talk to the press. The story is on the news, but I cannot find anything about it online just yet.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

This Film is Not Yet Rated

I just watched the movie, "This Film is Not Yet Rated." In the film, Private Investigators are hired to investigate the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). It turns out, this is one of the most secretive, corrupt organizations in the country. There ratings are entirely arbitrary, and the member names are kept entirely secret, among other things.

One scary fact from the movie is that the oganization employs not one, but two religious leaders to oversee their proceedings! Did you know that when a movie is rated, there is ALWAYS an episcopalian and catholic priest in the room, watching the movies and offering their opinions on how the movies are rated? I couldn't believe it. This makes clear why any movie is rated NC-17 if there is anything homosexual in it, while straight sex is simply an R in most cases. For instance, the movie "Boys Don't Cry" had its female-on-female sex scene shortened to avoid an NC-17 rating, while the board had no problems with the very graphic and obscene shot-in-the-face that kills the lead character, who is a homosexual.

It's a very disturbing look at one of the most powerful organizations in the American film industry, and I suggest you watch it before you put any stock in those little letters telling you how "good" or "bad" the films you watch are.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

When Was The Last Time You Thought About Blowing Your Brains Out?

Some shocking statistics show that if you are in the United States Military, then there is a good chance that it hasn't been too long since you thought about suicide. After reading this distressing article, and doing some further research of my own around the web (mainly at this site), I came up with some startling figures.

The suicide rate amongst members of the United States Army is the highest it has been in twenty-six years. There were 118 suicides in the American Armed Forces in 2006, which is a staggering number when you consider that the number-one killer (come on, you all know what that is - IEDs) of our children in Iraq only killed 462 in 2006. This means that self-inflicted deaths have caused one quarter as many deaths as the cause of death we all know from the evening news. IED is a house-hold term nowadays, and yet we never hear about how frequent suicides are today within our armed forces. The total number of dead United States troops in Iraq was 822 in the year of 2006 alone. That means that 14.35% of all the deaths in 2006 were from suicides! That's an enormous percentage!

All of this comes at a time when the Army, in particular, is attempting to find ways to help their members to a larger degree as far as their mental health is concerned. It's a good thing, because 100 of the 118 suicides in 2006 came from the Army alone. Fourteen were from the Marines, and four were from the Navy. There were no suicides in 2006 amongst members of our Air Force.

Why is this? Experts say that it is mostly because of the protracted involvement we have had with Iraq. Things have gone on much longer than expected, and the reasons for our occupation are becoming less and less clear as time goes on. Well, that's what I got from the article, but I would contend that it doesn't take an expert to figure that out.

Frankly, it is disgusting when the numbers are crunched. We hear constantly how this soldier and that soldier got blown into hamburger by an IED on some stranger's street in some stranger's country fighting for no good reason. I cannot recall one instance of hearing a news story about suicides in our armed forces. If it causes roughly 25% as many deaths, you would think there would be at least one story about it, right?

The report that announced these numbers said that there was a direct correlation between the number of days deployed and suicide. Before I get emails from people saying that this report must be published by some "liberally biased site," let me just state that the report was published by the United States Army.

I hope this blog gets you to think, and to perhaps take some action.

"But R.A.Matheson," I can hear you asking, "what action can I take?"

If you are in a major city, then I can guarantee that there are plenty of anti-war rallies in your area. If you aren't in a city of substantial size, you can hook up with like-minded individuals by posting on bookstore bulletin boards, or handing out flyers. Start your own thing if there is nothing around. If these options aren't doable, get online and start blogging about it, or go and support websites such as, or do all of the above.

No matter what you do, it helps. Even discussing it with friends or family helps raise awareness of the issue, and awareness is the first step to taking action.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dalton Trumbo, Where Are You?

We need another Dalton Trumbo. Someone who could write in a way that would stir us, a way that would shock us. Someone who would stand up for what they believed in even at the cost of their freedom, even at the cost of having to change their name and flee to Mexico.

Who was Dalton Trumbo? In my opinion, he is one of the greatest American Novelists, and a true American that lived in the Twentieth Century. He wrote the movie "Papillon", and wrote and directed the movies "Exodus" and "Spartacus." More importantly, he wrote the novel Johnny Got His Gun. For an example of his writing, I provide the following from his Vietnam-era introduction for Johnny Got His Gun, where Dalton does a little arithmetic for us:

"Numbers have dehumanized us. Over breakfast coffee we read of 40,000 American dead in Vietnam. Instead of vomiting, we reach for the toast. Our morning rush through crowded streets is not to cry murder but to hit that trough before somebody else gobbles our share.

An equation: 40,000 dead young men = 3,000 tons of bone and flesh, 124,000 pounds of brain matter, 50,000 gallons of blood, 1,840,000 years of life that will never be lived, 100,000 children who will never be born."

His book, "Johnny Got His Gun," which I read for the first time in Tenth Grade, changed my life. It instilled the mostly pacifist and antiwar viewpoints that, except for a few years in my early/mid twenties, are still with me today as I enter my thirties. It is the most powerful book I can imagine ever being written. Dalton was blacklisted, spent eleven months in prison, and eventually fled to Mexico to avoid the reprocussions of having written Johnny Got His Gun. Eventually, he found favor in the U.S. and Hollywood again and did a film adaptation in 1971 for his novel, which inspired Metallica's song "One." Metallica used scenes from the movie in the video for the song, and instead of wrangling with legal rights, the band bought the movie rights outright.

I am saddened to think what you would consider of today's situation in Iraq and elsewehre in the world. I am sure you would be even more ashamed. Back in your day, Dalton, the politicians were at least able to convince the masses that words such as "freedom" and "democracy" meant something. Nowadays, no one believes in those words anymore, and yet we still send our sons (and daughters now) off to be blown into little meaty bits for absolutely no good reason. It's sick, and I bet if you could choose, you'd be glad to remain dead so as to not face the disgusting world we now live in.

Dalton, I'm sure you know what Plato said about war, and I'm sure you've found it to be true.

Rest in Peace Dalton Trumbo.

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