Harvest Century September 22nd

Yearning for change after a painful week

Posted by on July 8th, 2016 at 12:16 pm

No week passes without violence somewhere. And as we’ve watched the horrific deaths this week in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas ricochet around our country, it’s been impossible to ignore the ways violence shapes and constrains human lives — for some of us far more than for others.

Jonathan, heading back from a family vacation today, wrote me this morning to suggest that even for a site that’s proudly obsessed with bicycling, it’s worth acknowledging the number and depth of the other problems in the country and the world. And it’s worth considering what actions each of us can take to help solve them.

We don’t have answers. But we’ll see you, as usual, on Monday.

Feel free to discuss these issues here if you’d like. If you do, please be conscious that this may be a painful and potentially frightening time for many people of color; for many people in law enforcement; and for many other Americans of every stripe.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

28 Comments
  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    At the root of this problem are pervasive guns and a toxic police culture. But transportation plays a part as well. Many of the people killed by police were pulled over for minor traffic violations. If we can remove the officer from this situation entirely, it might help a little. Speed cameras and red light cameras can’t murder innocent people. We also need to decriminalize minor infractions such as jaywalking, cycling on the sidewalk, public intoxication, etc. which invite officers to profile. These are small steps we can take today. They won’t solve the entire problem, but if black lives truly matter, we can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

    We can’t pretend to be urbanists while ignoring the racial problems that plague our cities. Housing and transportation are inherently linked to racial equality. How can we fight to make our city better when it is still inaccessible to minorities and people of color? When a black man fears for his life simply for walking to the store, that is a city problem. It is also a human problem.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers to this. This is a multi-faceted cultural issue. I just want the violence to stop. I can only do my part by being a good ally and listening to the people most affected by this. As allies, we can push our elected officials to make police reform a top priority and pressure them for strict gun control laws. We can join in on the conversation – in person or online. But staying silent is not an option.

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    • kiel johnson
      kiel johnson July 10, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      eloquently said Adam!

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    WK did a good job giving their opinion on Black Lives Matter: http://wk.com/

    Unrelated, we decided to skip the Weekly Video Roundup. Please go read some news or some thoughtful discussions instead.

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    JRB July 8, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    We can wring our hands or we can take action. Consider this: you can help stop killings by police: call the offices of your elected federal and state officials and demand they support the specific reforms called for in Amnesty International’s report, “Deadly Force” https://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/aiusa_deadlyforcereportjune2015.pdf

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      Angel July 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      What’s the best contact info to use?

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    Doug July 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I served in the U.S. Navy 20 years and we had lots of weapons, shotguns, 45 pistols, M-14 rifles, we had nuclear weapons to guard. I could lay hands on an M-60 machine gun if need be. But it wasn’t in some closet it was lock up nice and safe in the Armory.

    Why the general public has access to devastating firepower like this sniper is just a mystery. But the deeper fantasy is how anybody convinces themselves that these weapons make you any safer.

    So many tragedies I ever investigated in the service were firearms related. Couple of drunks from the USS Florida were playing Russian Roulette and one murdered the other. Multiple suicides I also saw caused by firearms in base housing. Simple depression, but if you have a high caliber handgun handy…

    I just see personal firearms as a social evil. Anybody that convinces themselves otherwise is just kidding themselves and probably endangering others.

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    Mike Quigley July 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    How about repealing the 2nd Amendment? This would take away the excuse everyone uses for owning guns. It worked for the 18th Amendment when it didn’t work as expected.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      Do you really want to tinker with the constitution in this political environment?

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      still riding after all that July 9, 2016 at 12:40 am

      If you don’t want a gun, don’t have one. Make that choice for yourself, but not for me. I have owned guns since 1980 and have yet to go on a shooting spree, rob a bank, murder anyone, etc. On two occasions, faced with serious *criminal* threats, I was able to save my own life and the lives of others because I had a weapon and made it clear that I could and would use it if necessary, thus dissuading attackers from continuing their behavior.

      I leave you free to live your life in your way, and I expect you to extend the same courtesy to me. Thank you.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 9, 2016 at 10:16 am

        The problem with this logic is that, your choice to own a gun can directly impact other people — if you shoot someone, obviously, but also if your gun is stolen, or a child gets their hands on it, etc. It just doesn’t work to say “don’t own on of you don’t want to.”

        That said, it is a complex issue and while I think guns have no place in an urban environment, I’m less sure how to address the issue. A simple ban probably would not work, and the constitutional issues are thorny, to say the least.

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        LW July 11, 2016 at 4:18 am

        There are too many unstable people to have easy access to guns. If an ordinary person gets very angry, its a temptation to use a weapon, even if some decide not to use it. Look at European countries. They don’t have to problems with guns that we do here. This nation is out of control and as things get worse, killings will get worse. The economy, condition of our planet, fear and intolerance is getting worse. We are also overpopulated – which is fuel to the fire.

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        wsbob July 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

        People that want to kill somebody, will find ways to do that, despite restrictions on accessibility to and possession of firearms. Less easily acquired firearms could help some to make it more difficult for some people to so easily kill a lot of people at one time. Today, even that’s not so certain, as use of explosive vests have shown.

        Increased loss of, and absence of ethics and morality in society in general, and on the part of many individual people, may be a far bigger source of violence perpetrated on other people, than either guns or explosives could ever be.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 11, 2016 at 10:30 am

          So Americans are disproportionately homicidal? e.g., we are 2.5x more murdery than Canadians and 4x as murdery as Brits?

          The “kids these days don’t have morals” argument is always a red flag to me.

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          Chris I July 11, 2016 at 1:41 pm

          Not true at all, and the statistics show that countries with higher rates of gun ownership have higher murder rates, and higher suicide rates. Guns make it easy to kill. Period.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 11, 2016 at 1:46 pm

            Switzerland has a very high rate of gun ownership, but a far lower murder rate. I don’t disagree that easy availability of firearms is part of the problem, but I think there’s a lot more going on than just that.

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              Alex July 11, 2016 at 2:47 pm

              The also have mandatory military service.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 11, 2016 at 2:54 pm

                And fondue.

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                Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 11, 2016 at 2:58 pm

                and crazy expensive everything.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 11, 2016 at 3:09 pm

                It’s probably the high cost of bullets that keeps a lid on shootings.

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                Chris I July 12, 2016 at 3:13 pm

                And most citizens are not permitted to keep bullets at home. Seems like more of a “train and enable your citizens so the government can distribute ammo in event of war” compared with America’s “I need to be armed to the teeth to protect my family from the government in brown people”. Which policy is working better?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 12, 2016 at 3:21 pm

                I am very ambivalent about gun ownership, but I don’t think asserting that those who own guns are racist is a constructive statement, especially given that a number of “brown people” also own weapons.

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      Doug July 9, 2016 at 12:49 am

      The 2nd amendment is talking about militia and not a general right for everyone to carry a weapon anywhere. No that the nitwit Scalia is gratefully dead maybe some common sense will prevail on the supreme court.

      The right to bear arms is, in fact very limited. If it’s illegal to own a full auto machine gun and it has been since the Tommy Gun era. Then we could limit the hardware now and keep the 2nd amendment in tact. We should make the AR-15 style weapons illegal along with large capacity magazines. That’s too much fire power for civilians.

      Hell after a 4th of July in Kelso I’m convinced the average civilian should NOT be allowed to own a lighter or matches, let alone any type of weapons.

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        Psyfalcon July 9, 2016 at 10:12 am

        I don’t think you can ban the typical AR-15.

        On a mechanical level, it uses the same reloading mechanism that 90% of modern handguns use. Pull the trigger once, and it fires once. A large number of shotguns and a few “deer rifles” use the same principal too.

        So does it make sense to single out the Ar/Ak types instead of all semi- autos? Just the ones with detachable magazines? Try to limit them to a certain number of shots? [Most rifles now come with a 3 or 5 round magazine].

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          J_R July 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm

          Absolutely, let’s ban weapons with magazine capacity of more than five rounds, barrel length of less than 20 inches, and overall length of less than 30 inches. Those specifications still allow you to hunt and defend yourself in your home.

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    Holtz July 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Go for a ride. My antidote today included the Terrace of Serenity out NW Skyline https://t.co/zSWR3SIcnm

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    daisy July 8, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    And please remember that if today you feel sad, but you can otherwise go about your normal routines and activities and not worry about what might happen to your son or daughter or brother or sister, that is a tremendous privilege.

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    El Biciclero July 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Frickety frack. The violence blows. I will continue to submit that in my admittedly uneducated opinion (I’ve never studied sociology in detail), the root of a lot of the problems we have is a form of classism. I will freely acknowledge that some of this classism is race-based, but much of what we see happening has its root in “I am better than you”. Perhaps it is “I am more important than you”, maybe “I am richer than you”, “I am whiter than you”, “I am smarter than you”, “I am more educated than you” (which doesn’t always translate into “smarter”), “I am more law-abiding than you”, “I am more entitled than you”. Whatever one person’s criteria is for being “better”, will translate into treating other people with less dignity, value, respect, kindness–general goodness–than they should. When such treatment persists by one group–especially a group with power, whether that is police, rich folks, government (i.e., rich folks), white folks (i.e., probably rich folks), whatever–against another, a backlash of sorts is to be expected.

    Unfortunately, there is no easy cure for the tribalism, cronyism, protectionism, whatever-ism, that strives to maintain the privilege of one class at the continued expense of another. It is up to individuals to check their attitudes when encountering persons of a different class, or when hearing reports of events that involve persons of a different class. A good example of this is a story I heard on the radio about the Orlando shooting of a few weeks ago. The reporter was wondering how many people were horrified when they first heard of 49 victims being shot to death at a night club, but then felt some degree of “relief” to learn that it was “just” a gay night club.

    We all have to be mindful of those we disdain. Whether it’s people of color, the homeless/houseless, the poor, Old White Men, Christians, Muslims, others of one faith or another, atheists, the uneducated, the addicted, climate change deniers, global warming alarmists, Republicans, Democrats, small children, professional athletes, dog owners, old people, teenagers, the tattooed, LGBT folks, women–I don’t know (and this list in no way reflects my personal feelings…). Everyone needs to be treated with the same level of dignity and respect that we would afford our friends and family. Everyone needs to be given the benefit of the doubt (until they remove all doubt) and given equal treatment. I catch myself constantly making snap judgments that are completely unfounded and I have to adjust my attitude. Sometimes I am successful, but we all must continue to live consciously, recognize our own biases, and strive to counteract them when needed.

    [cash value $.02]

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    LW July 11, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Live with tolerance, compassion and hope. The media and many politicians dish out news slanted toward fear and intolerance to serve their own ratings, agenda and power. It’s social conditioning. Everything we do has consequences. It’s up to us to forge our future.

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