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Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@okgazette. com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Creating violence

In the wake of the recent Dark Knight Rises shooting spree, we should probably begin to consider the variables that lead to such tragic events.

For years there have been groups protesting music, movies, and video games. But their arguments seem to break down over time.

Remember how AC/DC was supposed to mean Anti-Christ/Devil’s Child, and the band was indoctrinating children into devil worship? Madonna’s famous onstage simulated masturbation clearly led to a rash of adolescent self-discovery. Marilyn Manson’s loud, nonconformist, screaming social satire has been mislabeled as demon rock, and Lady Gaga, with her pro-gay stance, is on a mission to turn all your children Queer as Folk.

Of course, that’s complete hyperbole.

No musician has ever created a Satanist pervert anti-establishment homosexual.

Popular video games such as Doom, Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty are all M-rated games which wouldn’t be in the hands of children without parent complicity.

Movies like Dirty Harry, Death Wish and Saw have glorified violence for decades, but like video games, the caveat is that the rating system fails impressionable children when a parent allows.

So what’s behind our overwhelming desire to pin the blame on entertainment? Could it be that parents know that violent children are more likely the result of lax parenting and this is just a pathetic attempt to shift blame? After Columbine, no one really questioned how children acquired automatic weapons, bomb-making materials, or where the parents were when all this was happening. But there was great pressure to illegitimately castigate the video game and music industries.

During a recent commencement speech, historian David McCullough flat-out told graduating students in Boston they weren’t “special.” This harsh reality could be the crux of the problem.

Those young individuals who take up violence after they’ve left home could be clambering to control an existence that feels out of control. Many will get degrees in fields that are hard to get work in and resign themselves to a life of mediocre income to pay back thousands of dollars of student debt — essentially becoming a slave.

Our media’s mentality is “if it bleeds, it leads.” If one’s goal is to be the person everyone knows instantly, you can accomplish this easier with five minutes of senseless violence than years of good deeds.

Unfortunately, as our population continues to grow and people endeavor to be relevant in a world that considers all life trivial, we may find greater instances of this type of violence. As long as the press glorifies it on Page One, there will always be incentive to be evil.

—Brandon Wertz Oklahoma City

Guns and freedom

When Richard Westmoreland writes “How many children must die?” (Letters to the editor, July 25, Oklahoma Gazette), he insults all Americans who believe in the Second Amendment. He writes, “I don’t care what the Second Amendment says...” Evidently he also does not care about the oath of office he took as a Marine officer (to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic). I took the same oath as an Air Force officer, and I do care about it.

He implies that it is foolish to be armed to defend oneself. If someone tried to kill him in a theater, he would pray to God that someone besides the criminal had a gun. If someone in the Aurora, Colo., shooting had a gun besides the criminal, the death toll would have been less.

Westmoreland forgets that the main reason our founding fathers gave us the right to own guns was not for hunting, home defense, or recreational shooting.

It was to take up arms against the government should that be necessary to get back our freedom. That is how this country was created, by Englishmen taking up arms against the legal government in North America.

The Englishmen who took up arms against the British crown were guilty of treason, but I am glad they were willing to commit treason. Mr. Westmoreland, I am sure, is not glad.

—Robert Morris Oklahoma City

Lowbrow attacks

Having read the item about the feud between Messrs. Al Gerhart and Charlie Meadows (Chicken-Fried News, “When conservatives attack,” Aug. 1, Gazette), all I can say is that these two gentlemen need to drop the ad hominem attacks.

It’s a very lowbrow logical fallacy, and it really doesn’t work. More often than not, it makes one look really stupid. Reasoned political debate, regardless of who the contending parties are, starts with the individual parties themselves.

Am I expecting too much from a climate in which ideology seems to trump actual cogent policy? Perhaps so. In the end, this kind of posturing just turns me off as a voter. I’ll be at the polls this November, and I’ll be voting, but it won’t be as a result of this manner of pusillanimous pugilism. Then again, maybe it might play a small factor in my decisions, but the belligerents probably won’t be pleased. A pyrrhic victory for them? Perhaps, but then again, history has shown that bullies eventually fall, usually on their own swords.

—Glen Garcia Edmond

Taking us to task

In your Aug. 1 edition, you exclaim how unhealthy Oklahomans are getting because of their diet and lifestyle (News, “State of health,” Mark Beutler). Why then, when showcasing local restaurants of note, do you show fried foods, sweets galore, and foods filled with saturated fats?

I appreciate you letting everyone know what we’ve already been told by other publications, and seen with our own eyes. Your clever cartoon is a great social commentary, as well. If we need to eat better, why not show us some of the great new vegetarian/vegan restaurants around the city? Just showing us the newest unhealthy spots is not going to cut it anymore.

You need to be part of the solution more than any individual can. Take a stance! Make a bold statement! Lead the charge to a healthier Oklahoma!

—Kris Snow Norman

Our vacationing congress

Our do-nothing Congress gave itself a five-week vacation even though Congress so screwed up the post office that the U.S. Postal Service recently defaulted on a $5.5 billion debt. Do House members deserve 38 days off, when their documented interest in our mail service equals 60 bills filed to name post offices? Not one bill, meanwhile, has been considered on the House floor aimed at reforming the Postal Service.

Equally bad, the current farm bill expires Sept. 30. Most of Oklahoma and major areas throughout
the U.S. are in a severe-to-exceptional drought, and farmers are in dire
need of relief provided by the farm bills, now held up by House
Republican leadership.

The
Senate in June and the House Agriculture Committee (chaired by
Oklahoma’s own Frank Lucas) passed similar farm legislation to spend
almost $100 billion a year over the next five years for farm and
nutrition programs. House leadership refuses to bring a farm bill to the
House floor fearing defeat from “small government” conservatives who
say the bill spends too much.

Also
left on the table: A cybersecurity bill to protect the U.S. electrical
grid, water supplies and other critical industries from cyberattack and
electronic espionage. Re-authorization of the Violence Against Women
Act. A bill to end Cold War restrictions and extend normal trade
relations with Russia. And other important measures.

Isn’t
it time to replace our current vacationing representatives in Congress
with those who will stay until they get the job done?

—Wanda Jo Stapleton Oklahoma City

Fox in the henhouse

Nationally,
26,000 heat records have been broken in the last 12 months. Oklahoma’s
hit with two consecutive years of severe drought, roaring wildfires,
water shortages, crop failures, and record-breaking temperatures. Does
Sen. James Inhofe believe in global warming yet?

Inhofe
is one of the staunchest deniers of climate change. He held witch-hunt
hearings against established peer-reviewed climatologists like Dr. James
Hansen at NASA and Dr. Michael Mann, a scientist on the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), trying to discredit
them by misquoting their scientific reports and telling outright lies
about their science.

In
his effort to discredit real climatologists, Inhofe pushed non
peerreviewed science and denier scientists like Fred Singer, Richard
Lindzen, and Frederick Seitz whose fake “science” has been summarily
publicly debunked. They were exposed for receiving millions of dollars
from the fossil fuel industry either directly or funneled indirectly
through “think tanks” like The Heartland Institute and the George C.
Marshall Institute.

Inhofe
is infamous for saying that “climate change is the biggest hoax ever
perpetrated on the American people.” More than anyone, he is responsible
for derailing vital climate change legislation in Congress.

If his campaign contributions were overlooked, one might think he were crazy. Curiously, on The Rachel Maddow Show on
March 15, Inhofe said, “I was actually on your side on [global warming]
when I was chairing the committee (Senate Environmental Committee) and I
first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out
what it would cost [to fix it].”

What?
Perhaps it had everything to do with how much being a denier pays.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Inhofe accepted $311,800 in oil
contributions during the 110th Congress. He received $662,506 from oil
companies between 2000 and 2008, making him the top congressional
recipient of oil money. He has received $152,800 in coal industry
contributions during the 110th Congress.

OpenSecrets
listed Inhofe’s top five campaign contributors from 2005 to 2010 as:
Koch Industries, $41,800; Murray Energy, $31,100; Reed Elsevier Inc.,
$29,450; OEG Energy, $21,800; and Contran Corp., $21,500. His campaign
contributions from the fossil fuel industry since 1998 total $1.1
million.

While
receiving all this money, he’s been serving on the Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works; as chairman from 2003 to 2007 and now as
ranking minority member. Talk about the fox in the henhouse.

Meanwhile,
scientists measure 91 million tons of CO2 pumping into the atmosphere
globally every 24 hours. They watched CO2 levels rise 114 parts per
million (ppm) in the last 120 years or so, to today’s 394.29 ppm. This
increase in CO2 levels comes after an 800,000-year period of CO2 levels
hovering at a steady natural average of around 280 ppm.

That
sudden jump comes directly from burning fossil fuels. Continuing at our
current rate, according to the International Energy Agency, would raise
the global temperature by almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit within the next
16 years.. To continue burning fossil fuels at this rate is total
insanity.

Inhofe
doesn’t represent the people of Oklahoma; he’s a pimp for the fossil
fuel industry. It’s time to get him out of government — our futures
depend on it.

—Richard Whiteford Downingtown, Penn.

Whiteford is a published environmental writer and activist.

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