A Few Thoughts on U.S. Homicide Rates (Part I)

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: (FILE PHOTO) A fiery blasts rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building September 11, 2001 in New York City. Almost two years after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the New York Port Authority is releasing transcripts on August 28, 2003 of emergency calls made from inside the twin towers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

An issue of some concern to me is that Americans perceive themselves to be in greater danger than they have ever been. The problem with this is that the ensuing fear is motivating political behavior that, at this point, many liken to terrorism itself (imagine how that five year old boy — a United States citizen no less — felt when he was separated from his mother, handcuffed and detained for FIVE HOURS at a Texas airport). Let’s not go into the part of me that becomes a mama bear and wants to rip out someone’s throat. What idiot thought that this was an appropriate response to Trump’s executive order?

What’s even worse is that the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer then maintained that this five year old boy could be a threat to U.S. security (LMAO!!!!). He said, “…that if they’re a 5-year-old, that maybe they’re with their parents and that they don’t pose a threat but to assume that just because of someone’s age or gender, or whatever, that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.” Or whatever? That’s precise!

Misguided and wrong? Choosing to detain a child wasn’t misguided and wrong? Something’s rotten in Denmark folks.

As our President so often likes to say, something is indeed going on. That something is not that we’re all getting our heads cut off! I still have mine. At least I think it’s where I left it last night (at the top of my spinal column just hanging there like it should). But America is losing its head!!! The problem is that this hysteria is causing Americans to support a President who is also terrified, and who is behaving in a reckless and dangerous manner that is actually going to put us at more risk. The idea of thinking through what he does before he does it appears to be anathema to our newly elected President.

I used to research and study — and am returning to further study this week — mass murder and spree killings at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. It was the focus of my studies when I was completing my externship on 9/11 at Bellevue Hospital in the Forensic Inpatient Psychiatry Unit on the 17th floor. My colleagues and I had a bird’s eye view of the towers as they fell that morning. As everyone knows, it was devastating. Words cannot express what is was like to watch that, to go to work the next morning to be confronted by weeping family members showing me pictures of their loved ones, their sons, their daughters, their husbands, their wives, begging me, pleading with me to tell them where their loved ones were. I walked by that “wall of prayers” that was spontaneously  created by those grief-stricken family members of the dead every day for four months. I cannot tell you how depressed I was the entire time. As I write this now, I am in tears.

The devastation of that day stays with us. The terror of that day stays with us; it has not left us nor should it. Yet, to combat this threat, we actually need to keep our heads! Terrorism is nothing new, and the notion that it can be stopped by extreme measures is a dangerous one. Simply observe Israel and Palestine. Has the terror ended? Does it look like it ever will? Does it look like extreme measures have solved or will solve the problem? I’m not an expert, as I’ve said, but I strongly doubt it.

I am no expert on terrorism either but I do understand homicide more than the average person and I understand its nuances. I focused on mass murder and spree killings when I completed my masters in Forensic Psychology. I became something of an self-styled expert whilst at John Jay and I still have boxes and boxes and boxes of research packed away, soon to be opened up again. In Part II of this blog post (coming soon, I promise), I will elaborate further and in more detail on the issue of homicide rates and our perception of danger.

Part II — Coming soon!!!

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