Picture This

There’s an old saying arguing that one picture is worth a thousand words. An activist named Joe Quint is testing that thesis.

The promotional postcard reproduced below describes the project, sponsored by the “Faith, Justice and the Arts” program of St. Paul’s church.

On the website giving additional information about the project, Quint explains what motivated him to produce graphic representations of the consequences of gun violence.

It was mid-2014 – right after the University of California at Santa Barbara shooting – and I happened to glance at that weeks’ issue of PEOPLE magazine. The cover story was about some Kardashian wedding and there was a little blurb in the upper right corner about the shooting… with a subhead saying ‘How could this happen – again?’. Setting aside the disproportionality in importance of these two stories, I was struck by both the naivety and irresponsiblity of that copy….

I became increasingly frustrated by inaction – my own and the inaction of my country. I could no longer pay lip service to the importance of reducing the over 36,000 senseless and preventable deaths that take place every year. I could no longer just sign petitions or – worse – scratch my head in amazement every time there was a national tragedy and wonder what it was going to take to change society for the better.

The result of his frustration was It Takes Us, a long-term documentary project about the impact of gun violence on the survivors, their family members , and on witnesses to these horrific acts.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the turmoil generated by Trump and his administration is the sheer number of important issues competing for our attention. Gun violence and our need to address its causes must compete with assaults on women’s equality, efforts to undo environmental protections, defund public education, eviscerate the ACA…the list goes on. But as the teenage survivors of Parkland have reminded us, America’s gun culture can no longer be ignored.

If you live in or around Indianapolis, or another venue listed on the website, go see the exhibit.

32 thoughts on “Picture This

  1. I have come to Believe everyone in the world has become a victim of Trump. We have taken a Narcissistic, Sociopath, Egotistical, Self Centered, Pathological Lier and made him the most powerful man in the world. And in doing so have reinforced his on Superiority complex.
    And that I believe is the most dangerous and irresponsible thing Americans could ever do.

  2. It’s a sad statement for society, but it’s true. The media industry has to sell entertainment because people want to ignore the bitter truths. Escapism is showing up everywhere.

    How do you convince a society to rise up that has been enculturated to sit down and be quiet?

    Every time we get excited enough to take a stand and hit the streets, the elders tell us to sit down and behave. Act like adults. Go to church and pray.

    Think about the messages we send.

    Gun violence among some people is population control. “Who cares if they’re killing each other? It’s one more deplorable off welfare or drugs.”

    Please tell me what exactly our leaders are ‘doing’ (actions) that makes you think we are worth anything?

    Our only purpose is to produce profits for the machine by working and consuming. Period.

    As ML likes to say, we are nothing but Proles. We on this blog are Winston Smith and O’Brien.

    Here’s a snippet about Orwell’s 1984:

    “Winston writes in his diary “If there is hope, it lies in the proles.” This view is challenged by O’Brien, who claims the proles would never revolt because they have no need to do so, so long as they are kept well-fed and distracted. The novel alludes to the unwillingness or inability of the proles to organize politically, noting that any prole suspected of independent thought is simply marked down by the Thought Police to be killed, further decreasing the possibility of revolution.”

    Thought police = Surveillance State 🙂

  3. My thoughts immediately went to the on-going and accepted argument in criminal trials is the argument over submitting explicit pictures of dead victims as evidence, to be shown to the jury. Those pictures show what was done to the victims, why the defendant is on trial and why they are there as jurors. I also thought about the members of Congress who belittled Michael J. Fox, a late-state Parkinson’s disease victim, for not taking his medication prior to testifying before them. His spastic and uncontrollable body, arm and head jerking IS Parkinson’s disease and why he was sitting before them seeking their help. How else could they see why help is needed?

    You can read explicit written descriptions of 20 dead 5 and 6 year old Sandy Hook shooting victims and feel bad, or sicked that it happened again. President Obama was unable to hold back his tears after seeing the pictures and spending time with the parents who lost their small children to gun violence along with 6 of their teachers.

    I’m sure everyone on this blog grew up in this country watching cowboys vs. Indians and cops vs. robbers killing each other off; only to see the same actors on another program, in another movie, on another day. That is one of those obscure “dog whistles”; shooting and stabbing victims aren’t really dead.

    “The result of his frustration was It Takes Us, a long-term documentary project about the impact of gun violence on the survivors, their family members , and on witnesses to these horrific acts.”

    Horrific acts go beyond gun violence and survivors, family members and witnesses have those mental “pictures” embedded in their minds forever. We all need to see the results of these individual and acts of mass murders…or be a surviving victim of violence ourselves before we can full understand and feel the reality of criminal violence.

    Indiana has some of the laxest gun laws in the entire United States of America; the Indianapolis murder rate on our streets and in our homes is at historic numbers for the 3rd year in a row. President Obama reported from Chicago that approximately half of the weapons from their horrendous murder rate were traced back to Indiana gun dealers due to our lax laws. My Uncle Don, of Don’s Guns, lobbied for years for Indiana to enact the same background checks on all long guns as this state had on handguns. Instead, they lowered the handgun background requirements; he returned to selling all guns and made a few more million dollars. Which is what it all gets down to…FOLLOW THE MONEY. Indiana is, was, and always will be a Republican owned and operated state unless we voters change that.


  4. This may be a completely naive thought, but……..I have long wondered if those who live in ghettos or poor neighborhoods would not be pulled into lives of crime if they had the opportunity to earn a decent living wage and even had hope that they could further improve their lives.

    I do believe the lack of hope for a better life leads many into lives of crime.

    As I stated before, I may be completely naive on this subject.

  5. Nancy,

    It would be a worthwhile experiment to test that hypothesis. Unfortunately, the idea has two things going against it. First it would take time to conduct such an experiment and we are notoriously bad at waiting. We need instant gratification. Second, it would cost money, probably in the form of taxes. We don’t want to pay taxes for anything that we don’t see as an immediate, personal benefit.


  6. Nancy, Another question to ponder is does living in a wealthy neighborhood pull people into lives of white crime like tax evasion, stock manipulation, or embezzlement? My experience teaches me that it isn’t the neighborhood that produces the crime; it is the neighborhood that produces the type of crime.

  7. Theresa, that is a valid assumption. The major difference might be that murders are rare with regard to crimes committed by the upper class/wealthy. Another difference would be that wealthy criminals are able to afford topnotch lawyers to keep them from going to jail/prison.

  8. Nancy,

    “This may be a completely naive thought, but……..I have long wondered if those who live in ghettos or poor neighborhoods would not be pulled into lives of crime if they had the opportunity to earn a decent living wage and even had hope that they could further improve their lives.”

    You’re not naive.

    From “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass” by Douglas S. Massey & Nancy A. Denton (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1993)p. 7:

    “Theoretical concepts such as the culture of poverty, institutional racism, welfare disincentives, and structural economic change have all been widely debated. None of these explanations, however, consider residential segregation to be an important contributing cause of urban poverty and the underclass. In their principal works, Murray and Mead do not mention segregation at all; and Wilson refers to racial segregation only as a historical legacy from the past, not as an outcome that is institutionally supported and actively created today. Although Lewis mentions segregation sporadically in his writings, it is not assigned a central role in the structural factors responsible for the culture of poverty, and Banfield ignores it entirely. Glasgow, Pinkney and other theorists of institutional racism mention the ghetto frequently, but generally call not for residential desegregation but for race-specific policies to combat the effects of discrimination in the schools and labor markets. In general then, contemporary theorists of urban poverty do not see high levels of black-white segregation as particularly relevant to understanding the underclass or alleviating urban poverty.”

    “The purpose of this book is to redirect the focus of public debate back to issues of race and racial segregation, and to suggest that they should be fundamental to thinking about the status of black Americans and the origins of the urban underclass. Our quarrel is less with any of the prevailing theories of urban poverty than with their systemic failure to consider the important role that segregation has played in mediating, EXACERBATING, and ultimately AMPLIFYING the harmful social and economic processes they treat.”

  9. Nancy, good points. Violent face to face crimes appear to be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods, but hidden violent crimes (the pharmacist who watered down the chemo meds) seem to appear among the wealthy more often. Having topnotch lawyers and “connections to the powerful” keep knowledge of the prevalence of white collar crime obscure and undocumented. I would bet that the percentage of criminality is the same in both types of neighborhoods.

  10. Nancy,

    No, your idea about putting the poor to work is not new and has an excellent example. The CCC, during the depression, took inner-city kids who were illiterate, starving or “hopeless” and sent them to beautiful places to build the infrastructure of our national parks. They also conducted classes to teach them to read and write. WPA put unemployed men and women to work building infrastructure in our cities and our highways. The Marshall Plan placed billions of dollars of materiel and journeyman expertise in countries to help the destroyed cities from WW II rebuild their infrastructure.

    The same ideas could be modified for today’s needs in inner cities and in poverty belts around the country. BUT, that takes political will, something in acutely short supply in our governments. Any government dominated by Republicans lacks any political will that helps the poor, the elderly, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable. Republicans would rather give money to the monied classes than invest it in our country and its people. They would rather build another $15 billion aircraft carrier than improve teachers’ salaries. They would rather cut health care and social safety nets so their donors could become richer still.

    It is Republicanism and its operatives that have created the environment for violence, hopelessness and dysfunction. Oh, and did I mention that the gun industry is a major lobbying (bribery) entity? Connect the dots and realize that voting BLUE is our only real hope of doing something correctly for our country and its people. I know there are those who think the Democrats are just as culpable to bribery as Republicans, but look at the two agendas and there are far more differences between the parties than there are similarities.

    Also, look at what the Republican Congress is trying to do to the “contract” with the citizens of this country. Does cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits in order to pay for a tax cut to the wealthy sound like a plank in the Democrat’s platform?

  11. Desperation, as in poor neighborhoods, is a motive for crimes/shootings. So is a disregard for life, whether one’s own or others. When you see each day that no one values you the result is anger and/or agreement with that assessment. This can, and does, often lead to violence.

    But what about the crimes of the relatively well off and rich.? They are driven by greed coupled with a disdain for the lives of others while they value their own more highly. What else would lead bankers to steal, banks to fail, and as a result, see honest homeowners forced into bankruptcy? Most of the “greatest” thieves also know that they will be punished by a mere slap on the wrist, or a fine that is small relative to what they have stolen.

    The most evil of criminals are the rich. Their crimes crush the lives of those less fortunate–and while they don’t use a gun–the violence they cause effects countless more lives than gun violence.

    Gun violence is horrible. Crushing the lives of people is pure evil.

  12. There are news articles about the influence of Russian money on the NRA. Could the irrational stances on gun control taken by the organization in recent years be a result of Russian attempts to destabilize the US. The increasingly strident calls to jingoistic nationalism of the public seem to be directed by agents who don’t wish the US well

  13. Homicides, should be viewed from motive. There is a specific directed homicide, by say something like the Mafia, street gangs battle over turf and have no concern for collateral damage, domestic violence that escalates, and macho homicide – road rage, etc. Finally, we have the mass murderer, who for some reason selects “soft targets”.

    Motives certainly exist all over the world, but the huge difference between the USA, Japan or Western Europe is the availability of firearms to the general populace. The McMega-Media and our elected politicians refuse to factor in the availability of firearms into the equation.

    The NRA types view the 2nd Amendment as frozen in time in the 18th century.

    The First Amendment has been modified and clarified over the years – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment is not a blank check.

    When the Second Amendment was written, the primary firearms were single shot muskets and single shot pistols. Even by the end of the Civil War in 1865 the primary firearm was a single shot musket.

    Since 1865, the Gatling gun, machine gun, sub-machine gun, carbine, and assault rifles were invented. These weapons were invented for the military, and were to be used by trained soldiers to kill other human beings. These weapons were not invented for civilians to hunt, take target practice or stock them up in someone’s bunker, waiting for some invader.

    Personally, I think Gatling guns, machine guns, sub-machine guns, carbines, and assault rifles should be banned for sale to civilians. A buyback program from defense department funds could be used to purchase the weapons and then the weapons should be destroyed.

  14. The OJ Simpson trial put “American Justice” in the spot light. Innocent or guilty of murders, Simpson could afford the Dream Team of Lawyers and we saw that every day with 24/7 commentary. If it bleeds it leads, and leads for an especially long time if it involves the rich and famous.

    If OJ Simpson would have been a poor man from the underclass, he would not have stood a chance of being found innocent with a public defender. It was not only American Justice on trial, it was the American Class system, as I was told in the US Army Rank has it’s Privileges.

  15. Wray,
    re your comment “Desperation, as in poor neighborhoods, is a motive for crimes/shootings. So is a disregard for life, whether one’s own or others. When you see each day that no one values you the result is anger and/or agreement with that assessment. This can, and does, often lead to violence.”

    You wrote about what I was referring to – Desperation and knowing that no one cares whether you live or die. I believe that any one of us could become one of those people if we were in their shoes. “No one cares about me or if I have food or a place to sleep, so why should I care about anyone else?” You then have the choice to commit crimes to survive or to accept your lot in life, give up and starve to death.

    Minimum wage jobs have maintained our country’s history of slavery. The wealthy ruling class has never really been forced to pay a living wage to their employees and they have elected legislators who agree to cater to the demands of the wealthy donors. Those corporate donors are the welfare queens who legally able to rob the taxpayers and their underpaid employees.

  16. Vernon,

    We do put the poor to work, but they are not paid a living wage. That is the problem. If I were in the shoes of some of the inner city criminals who have the choice of working for $7.25/hr or earning more by stealing and burglarizing, I might end up choosing the latter out of anger and desperation.

  17. Marv,

    This country has never ended slavery. It just claims it was ended by being forced to pay meager wages to the less fortunate. African Americans have never had a fighting chance economically and the poor uneducated caucasians are barely treading water with no hope of a better life.

  18. Nancy,

    Your points about a living wage vs our current minimum “slavery” wage are spot on, and I’m with you in regard to corporations and the ruling class. There are so many working poor who, even with one or two jobs end up living on the street. It is sad.

    I know the focus of today should be gun violence–and that is a real concern–but I always think of the “civil” violence as another horror. Reasonable gun laws and mandatory background checks should be a starting point. There was a time when the NRA weren’t complete lunatics and Russian stooges that even they supported some restrictions. That time is long past. It may be that now that they have been exposed as accepting Russian money, enough members of congress will be willing to stand up to them instead of cringing in their offices at the thought of an NRA censure. We can only hope.

  19. While low wages keep many people trapped in some neighborhoods and add to feelings of low self esteem, they do not cause crime. In the neighborhood where I live, designated as a “high crime” area of the city of Indianapolis, the local known criminals are all unemployed adults and living with their parents. If there is an economic factor in their lives it is their inability to get a job and keep it, not low wages. What I witness here with the up and coming teenage criminals is poor parenting… extremely poor parenting.

  20. Theresa,

    You mention poor parenting. Is it due to a single parent working a couple jobs that doesn’t have the time or energy left to spend raising their children to become good citizens?

    Have the unemployed adults chosen a life of crime over a life of slaving away for minimum wage?

    Could you enlighten me about the specifics of poor parenting that you see?

  21. Nancy, what I see are two parent homes where there is ample income for the necessities and then some. Not much, but not grave poverty. Here the poor parenting takes different forms; lack of discipline, too much discipline as in verbal and physical abuse, enabling, addiction on the part of one or both parents, and a kind of disrespect for authority on the part of the parents as in, “Those dumb cops. What do they know?” Gaming the system is looked upon as normal behavior by the parents.

    The unemployed adults chose their life style not to avoid “slaving away for minimum wages”, but rather to avoid putting in the effort needed to have a different life. Why work if mom and dad are providing food and shelter? Why work when you can party all night and sleep all day? Why work when it means giving up the drugs and alcohol?

    Then there are the households where real poverty, the kind you mean, are prevalent. This is where the single mom struggles daily to feed her children. This is where the children learn the streets before they learn their multiplication tables, not because of poor parenting but because there is not time to parent period. And these children see on TV a world they do not have, cannot have, and early on make those fateful decisions about either working hard and staying in school or dropping out and working the streets for all they can get. On some blocks this is all there is.

  22. Wage inequality, rooted in more profit for the rich who will pay as little as possible in order to bulk up their bottom lines, generates more negatives than lives of crime and despair. The system from a pure economic point of view has a deflationary effect on aggregate demand, the sole arbiter of economic growth, though Republicans would have you believe that tax cuts and other trickledown tactics have something to do with demand and thus growth. More money in the economy will have an early positive effect on growth, but WHAT IT IS SPENT FOR determines the ultimate value of such a policy choice.

    Our fundamental mistake is that we are SPENDING our money to enrich the already rich in a quid pro quo deal with politicians instead of INVESTING it in our infrastructure and our peoples’ health, education and general well-being. Tax money spent in making the rich richer does little to nothing for the general populace and America’s future and trickledown economics, like Smith’s invisible hand, never existed outside academic theory. As I often write, that other than our psychotic leadership, wage inequality is our number one domestic issue.

  23. Gerald

    Re: “trickledown economics”

    As I have said before in a number of places, ask any plumber what trickles down. His answer won’t be, “Money.”

  24. We each were born with and into capabilities that either have proven to be advantageous or dysfunctional for us. In my case, I realize now, it was almost all advantageous, with just a little dysfunctional parenting in the mix. I’m sure that my kids would say that too.

    Of I course I had nothing to do with that but I ran with what I was given and have no complaints at all as it slowly (hopefully) winds down.

    What if I had been born with less or more? Who knows? I’d be a different person.

    So who am I to judge others?

    Poverty is a global problem that we all share the consequences of. Can we fix it? No. Can we make it less of a problem? Seems like most of us have contributed in some way or other to help some.

    That’s productive life. That will eventually lead to a better world for everyone not that every effort will be successful but our collective collaboration will create progress at some rate.

    Why not do that rather than complain about life being imperfect?

  25. Eugene Debs:

    “While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

    “I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”

  26. Some hypothesize that Trump’s antics and lying are a mere distraction to the real damage his administration is doing to this country: rolling back consumer and environmental regulation, and appointing agency heads hell bent on doing everything possible to sabotage the mission of their agencies, such as the EPA and DOE. Sheila mentioned the risk of outrage overload, and she’s right, but we must stay focused on the big prize. Do everything possible to get friends, family, neighbors, etc. to the polls in November.

  27. Natacha; you nailed it! The most recent hair-brained scheme is to release what should remain confidential government documents pertaining to an ongoing criminal investigation. Those irrational level tariffs – which you and I and our family and friends will pay for – is another hair-brained scheme. But…they are accomplishing what Congress and this administration are fully behind. Does anyone believe Trump is actually smart enough to come up with these ideas on his own? Is he actually smart enough to accomplish the “deconstruction” Steve Bannon stated is the goal of this administration. He has no understanding of government, the Constitution or Rule of Law. yet he is striding forward destroying it day by day by day managing to use the most destructive weapon within his control. We are paying him to accomplish this destruction as he continues to ignore laws, morals, common decency and amasses more millions as he does this. And this day isn’t over yet.


  28. Why is it that none of the comments even address the use of drugs and alcohol in altering the mental capacity of those who are committkng or have committed crimes?
    Perhaps if we also brought mind, and action, altering substances into the circle of discussion regarding underlying factors which might be leading to criminal acts we might get a broader and more definitive picture.

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