I turned up the car radio when the noon news came on Thursday -- hoping I could hear an encouraging word about potential rain in the weather forecast. There was nothing encouraging about the noon news Thursday.
In Clayton County, during a routine traffic stop, a passenger in a car pulled a gun and shot the driver of the car in the stomach. The police wound up shooting and killing the man who had done the shooting. There were reportedly five people riding in the car, one of whom had an outstanding arrest warrant. One of the passengers fled, two were taken into custody and the gut-shot driver was taken to the hospital for treatment. This was Clayton County, understand, not the OK Corral.
Next came the news that a man who had been shot near Turner Field on Wednesday died of his wounds early Thursday morning while a second man, shot in the same gunfight, remains in critical condition. I came home and found out that you can watch a video of that shooting right on the Internet. Police released it in hopes that someone could identify the shooter. The time stamp on the video is 1:55 p.m. It's not exactly high noon, but it is close. The shooter was not wearing a Stetson or cowboy boots. He was actually wearing jeans to his knees, a wife-beater T-shirt and some sort of turban.
Meanwhile, in Union City, the GBI released sketches of two men wanted in connection with two fatal shootings in that town that occurred back in March. In other news, Atlanta police arrested a 24-year-old man Wednesday and charged him with a fatal shooting that occurred Monday around midnight.
These stories were all in one 5-minute newscast, y'all. What is this world coming to?
Teenagers are killing teenagers. People are being slain during funerals. Thugs are killing innocent people for no reason. Day in and day out there is a steady stream of news about people shooting and killing other people and murder has become so commonplace that we are becoming desensitized to hearing about it. Much of the violence is black-on-black crime, but the reality of the situation is that it doesn't matter if those involved are white, black, brown or green with yellow polka dots.
Husbands and sons and brothers and uncles leave home in the morning and don't live to return at night. It is tragic and disgusting and has gone on far too long -- especially in the urban areas of our country. But the violence is not limited to the city streets -- not by a long shot.
Some people would have you believe that it is a gun problem. They would tell you that if only the government would outlaw guns then all of the killing would stop. I don't believe that for a minute, but this is not an attempt to open a dialogue about the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. What we have here is not a gun problem. What we have here is a societal problem. At some point in time a segment of the human population has come to totally disregard the value of a human life.
After I finished my errands Thursday, I came home and began to do a little online research. In the city of Atlanta alone there are almost 6,000 violent crimes reported per year -- according to a website called Neighborhood Scout -- making it safer than 0 percent of the nation's cities. As already noted, however, violence -- particularly gun violence -- has spread across the metro area and all of us have the potential to become victims.
OK. So there is no news flash here. I am not telling anybody anything they don't already know -- at least not if said person hasn't been so wrapped up in which singer would become the next "American Idol" winner or so busy watching Cajuns chase alligators in the Louisiana bayous that they haven't paid any attention to what is happening in our own backyards.
It is easy to identify the problem. We have become a society in which marriage is an afterthought and more and more young people are being raised in homes in which there are no fathers and no moral instruction. Children are raising children in too many cases and grandparents who couldn't raise their own children are equally incompetent at raising their grandchildren. A generation of people who failed to embrace educational opportunities for themselves shows no interest in helping the next generation do better.
And people ridiculed Dan Quayle when he told Murphy Brown this would happen.
Yes, it is easy to identify the problems that have led to the widespread disregard of the value of human life by subsets of our culture. Finding solutions -- now that is a horse of a different color. Meanwhile the beat -- and the shootings -- go on.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.