100 years ago today: Violence before video games

\”They\”, the punditry, the speakers for the kyriarchy, (the politicians, religious speakers, government officials, managers of major institutions and such) speak often of \”the good old days\” and lament the loss of the innocent and idyllic world of America before such modern innovations as women\’s rights, rights for people of colour and recognition of and respect for people who are QUILTBAGS. One standard response to such statements is to point out that one hundred years ago things were in no way innocent, safe and idyllic for many women, people of colour, people who were blind, people who were QUILTBAGS, people who were deaf, people who used wheelchairs……

The problem with that response is that by saying \”yes, but not for….\” one is conceding that there some grain of truth to the statement. The SFTK (speakers for the kyriarchy) are claiming that for those who do not fall into those groups the world, a hundred years ago, was a much nicer, safer, quieter place. The implication is that for the world to become a safer place for \”those people\” \”their\” people had to become less safe. Even though the SFTK might concede that it is fairer that everyone share the same amount of fear and unsafeness many will feel sorry for the pundits and their ilk because they have been asked to give up some of the safety and security that we all wish for.

But they haven\’t. The kyriarchy is not less safe than they were a hundred years ago. I don\’t know how many of them are speaking out of ignorance, how many are lying and how many have managed to convince themselves (and re-convince themselves when necessary.) The kyriarchy then, as now, had the means to buy for themselves the greatest amount of protection and comfort possible.

What about the \”average\” American then? Did they live in a safer, kinder, gentler world than does the average American today? No, the \”average\” American of one hundred years ago did not live in a world whose quiet slumbers were only rarely broken by violence or intimations of violence. Violence, crime and inequities lay all around them and they read of them in their newspapers every day.

For example:
The front page of the November 4, 1911 edition of The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, SC.

Deaths and/or injuries due to crimes:

  • HEADLINE: SHOT HIM DEAD / Edgar H Farrar, Prominent New Orleans Attorney, Killed by Thugs / HAD ROBBED HIS HOME (two men are pointed out to the attorney as the people who had robbed his house on the previous day, he pursued them on the street. One took out a revolver and shot him dead.)
  • HEADLINE: DID SHE DO IT / Nine Deaths in Chicago Arouse Suspicion of Murder Most Foul ./ WIDOW MAY BE CHARGED (two husbands, two step-children and some borders had died. It was either murder or, as the paper put it, \”a remarkable series of coincidences.\”)
  • HEADLINE: RICHESON FORMALLY INDICTED / Minister Will Be Tried for Poisoning Girl (for weeks this story made the front pages across the United States. Richeson, a Boston minister, was charged with giving a young woman poison instead of an abortifacient he had promised her. The young woman was pregnant and such pregnancy would stand in the way of his marriage to a very wealthy woman.)
  • HEADLINE: BANDITS HOLDS UP TRAIN / They Fled When a Switch Engine Was In Sight. (somewhere between Bridge Junction and Hurlburt, Arkansas bandits stopped a train and robbed a train and its passengers.)
  • HEADLINE: Five Prisoners Break JaiL (in Brunswick, Ga)

Deaths and/or injuries due to lack of modern safety regulations:

  • HEADLINE: DEATH CAME SLOWLY / FORTUNE AND CREEPING DEATH WERE CREEPING / A Miner Pinned in a Shaft by a More [sic] of Rock and Lived Thirteen Day (minor who was trapped in a mine shaft and who slowly died over a period of almost two weeks)
  • HEADLINE: Four Killed By Train (a woman, her sister and two small children were killed by a fast train at a crossing.)

The SFTK like to blame movements (all those people asking for their rights!) and technologies (cartoons! television! the internet! video games!) for all the ills of the world. Don\’t fall for this line of argument. It is a shell game. Your attention is being directed away from the real cause for shortages, violence and inequities in the system–the kyricarchy and structures that maintain it.

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