American Violence Essay, Research Paper
Why has America become so violent?
an essay about american violence.
Murder is regarded as a crime in all modern civilized societies. Crime is shown in the media and is prevalent in society. Early in America s history, killing a human being was a relatively private matter to be dealt with by families or larger kinship groups. Deliberate killing (such as infanticide, cannibalism, head hunting, or the killing of the very old) is classified as murder in modern law, but such practices were viewed as customary and acceptable early in America s history when the settlers first arrived on the continent.
New laws or views of existing laws may make criminal acts that were once legal; or, on the other hand, they may legalize acts that were once criminal. For example, the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified on Jan. 29, 1919, prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages and the importing of them into the country. From 1920 until the amendment was repealed in 1933, something that had been legal in most parts of the United States had become a crime. Also, abortion, which had long been a crime in the United States, was decriminalized in 1971. Two years later, in the landmark decision Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court reaffirmed this situation by asserting that the right to privacy guaranteed in the Constitution includes a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Many groups that disagree with the Roe vs. Wade decision have attempted to reverse it or have turned to more violent actions (protests and other criminal outbursts, including murder). The changes in views and interpretations of laws have made America appear violent or peaceful.
Morality and crime, what is the true difference? Every crime is legally a wrong, but not every wrong is defined as a crime. In every modern society there are significant minorities of people who hold moral or religious views about what types of behavior are right or wrong. Some Christian groups, for example, believe that Sunday should exclusively be a day for worship and a time for rest away from labor. Therefore, some Christians conclude that businesses should not be operational on that day. If this view gains sufficient support in society, sometimes laws are passed forbidding commerce and industry to operate on Sundays. What was initially a religious wrong becomes a legal wrong, or crime, as well. Prohibition is another example of something that was regarded as morally wrong by some and became a crime. No matter how immoral or harmful an act may be, it is not a crime unless it is covered by a law that prohibits it and prescribes punishment for it. Violence is in the eye of the beholder, violence can be interpreted by recorded crimes or a persons morals.
When people first began to live in groups they had few rules or laws, but they soon realized that each individual had to pay attention to the needs and welfare of his neighbors in order to make life not only tolerable but pleasant for the greatest number of people. It was considered necessary, for instance, for each person to recognize everyone else’s rights to life and the ownership of property. Probably the most famous of the written laws are found in the first five books of the Bible, the laws of Moses. The basis of these laws are the Ten Commandments presented by Moses to the people of Israel. These commandments are the basic summary of all moral law designed to regulate the behavior of individuals with regard to each other. Without this mutual recognition, society could not function in peace. Yet having laws drives some people to want to break these laws, peoples need to rebel may actually cause violence.
All other societies in the ancient world devised sets of laws. In the 7th century BC, a lawgiver named Draco drew up a very harsh code that punished offenses, no matter how trivial, with death. Not many years later, another Greek lawgiver, Solon, repealed all but the laws dealing with murder. In the Greek city-state of Sparta, there was a legendary lawgiver named Lycurgus who, after giving the Spartans a code of law, left the city with the instruction that the laws were not to be changed until he returned. He never did return. So it is in human nature to want to make up individual rules for other people to follow. Therefore, it is possible for people to think that their own punishments (homicides, hangings, beatings) can be made up for those who break the law. They become their own judge and jury, committing crimes to punish those who also broke the law.
Capital punishment is the extreme penalty for crime for violators of government laws. Execution of criminals for a great variety of offenses has been carried out by such methods as drowning, stoning, hanging, and beheading. Modern executions are usually done by means of electrocution, the gas chamber, or a lethal injection of a drug. Hanging is still used in some places, as is an execution by firing squad (but mostly in other countries).
Some forms of execution were extremely brutal. In the Roman Empire, Persia, and in medieval Japan, crucifixion was for a variety of offenders was common. This involved binding or nailing the offender to a crossbeam fixed on a vertical beam set in the ground. Death eventually ensued–from exhaustion, suffocation, bleeding, or heart failure. The purpose for combating crime and enforcing punishment is to prevent the disintegration of society. In other words, the preamble to the United States Constitution uses the phrase “to insure domestic Tranquillity” to describe this goal. Nevertheless, different reasons have been used historically as justification for punishment. This justification is also present in our society in the form of revenge.
Revenge is the most natural motive people have had for wanting to inflict punishment. The argument is simple: the individual who has harmed someone should have harm inflicted upon him in return. Revenge is still a common motive for the use of punishment, especially as a response to the most brutal and senseless crimes. But the revenge motive is usually excluded from legal processes. People act upon themselves to distribute the punishment. In our society today it is even more apparent today. In a national pole it was recorded that most homicides were committed out of revenge. Violence on other people only brings more violence by today s standards.
When violence and cruelty occur against children, particularly at the hands of adults, they are crimes without any reasonable defense because the victims are extremely vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. Too often the crime goes unpunished because a child is afraid that exposing an abuser will only bring more pain. Abusive parents and caretakers may try to justify their methods of punishment as a way of punishing children for being “bad” or of scaring them into being “good.” Parental cruelty may escalate from the “shaken-baby syndrome” and routine spanking to battering, burning, stabbing, or other acts of mutilation. Other forms of child abuse are more subtle, though equally cruel. Children are emotionally scarred when they are labeled as stupid or ugly or crazy or unwanted. Before they are even born, babies may be addicted or suffer brain damage because their mothers abused alcohol or other drugs during pregnancy. Sometimes people who abuse children are repeating a pattern of child abuse learned when they were young. So the outcome is a whole new generation of more violent people. Psychiatric evaluations of abused children show that they have a tendency to grow up and be violent towards others themselves. They are impressioned to commit crimes because that is what they have grown up with all there lives.
In sexual abuse which often involves parents, siblings, or other family members in forbidden relationships, children are exposed to sensations and practices that they are not quite mature enough to understand. The types of abuse may range from fondling to rape, and kidnap victims are often molested before they are killed. Others may be the objects of pedophiles (adults who prefer child partners). Sexually abused children who try to break the pattern by running away may be lured into street crime or exploited in child prostitution and pornography rings. These children also show a high tendency to self destruct on society, often very violently (serial killers).
Drugs are not always beneficial to their users, they can be a breeding ground for violent activity. In the sense of treating the cause or symptoms of an illness, some drugs have no beneficial use at all. People who use these drugs take them without medical approval and for recreational, not medical, reasons. Often the consequences of recreational drug-taking are harmful both to the individuals who abuse drugs and to the people around them. They destroy their bodies and minds and often do it to others.
In severe cases, drug addicts direct all their energies to getting more of the drug to which they are addicted. In less severe cases particularly dependence on such legal drugs as the nicotine in cigarettes and the caffeine in coffee users simply make taking the drug part of their daily routines. In this case the inconvenience of dependence may be considered the personal problem of the users themselves. In the more severe cases of drug abusing problems there addictions no know bounds. These people have become so dependent on the drugs that they will do anything for money in which to buy them. Much of the theft and recorded mugging in this country are directly linked to drug abuse. The drug war has gone on in this country for quite some time now and has been linked to many violent acts. Wars that break out involving gangs, police, and the general public are much to frequent in this country.
Hollywood, a single word that, when spoken in any nation on Earth, evokes worlds, even galaxies of memories. The motion-picture industry did not start in Hollywood, and it did not stay there. But for most of a century the little section of Los Angeles, Calif., called Hollywood brought comedy and tragedy, song and dance, heroes and villains, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, horror and slapstick, romance and
adventure, and fantasy and realism to generations of moviegoers. Cary Grant, one of the industry’s most respected actors, remarked of his profession: “We have a factory, which we call a stage. We make a product, we color it, we title it, and we ship it out in cans.” But the film in those cans, when projected upon the silver screen, often lifts audiences, however briefly, from the routines of daily life and dazzles them. Yet, where does the fantasy stop? When do we know that the show is truly over. These motion pictures have the power to educate and influence, but not always for the better. Violent crimes have often been inspired by movies and television shows. People often mimic the acts that they see on the silver screen, often without good outcomes. A child in Memphis Tenn. saw a police related action movie on cable once when his mother was out shopping. This child then remembered that his dad kept a similar gun in his dresser drawer. This child then got the pistol and acting like he was in the movie shot his baby sitter 6 times killing her instantly. America can also blame Hollywood for its problems with violence.