violence | Not in Our Town


This is Part 3 in a three-part series featuring content from Variety magazine's special issue on Violence & Entertainment, which encourages a variety of voices to speak up and address possible solutions to this national problem. See Part 1 and Part 2.     Do videogames inspire violent behavior? Absolutely not, says developer
Violence in our country is a scandal worse than almost anything Hollywood could dream up. Variety, the magazine of the entertainment field, has launched an industry-wide conversation about the influence of media and entertainment on the appalling level of violence in our country. I picked up a copy of Variety’s Violence & Entertainment issue at the Sundance Film Festival, and was encouraged by the thoughtful debate that Editor Tim Gray and his team inspired for the issue. His opening editorial is both a call for reflection and action. In an editorial opener called “A variety of voices looking for solutions,” he makes a three-point call to colleagues in media and entertainment. 1. Don’t wait for legislation.2. Be patient and persistent. Take action now.3. Be hypersensitive to content. It’s hard to imagine anything good emerging from the horrible and painful loss from the Newtown, CT killings. Yet, the dialogue and potential for broadscale action against violence is pushing out from legislative halls to grassroots and local actions. These tragic moments of trauma can lead to a breakthrough for change.
In communities across the country, people are joining together for vigils to remember the twenty-six people lost to mass violence on Dec. 14 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Twenty of those killed were six- to seven-year-old children; the adults were their teachers and school leaders. President Obama joins a vigil Sunday evening in Newtown, CT. People are gathering from Bangor, Maine to Tucson, Arizona;  Lubbock, Texas to Berkeley, California. Why did this happen? Why Aurora, Tucson, Portland, Oak Creek, and cities like Oakland where young people are lost to violence almost every week? The answers may be different and hard, but the asking of the question is imperative if we want it to stop. As the political battles swirl and blame gaming clouds our ability to seek solutions, the loss of these very little children may compel us to agree on one simple message and quest: Stop the violence in our country.
Today is the 11th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember those killed because of anti-transgender hate.  The event was created in 1999 to memorialize Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in San Francisco.  Her case remains unsolved, as do so many murders of transgender people, who face extremely high rates of discrimination and violence. TDOR has a partial list of those we remember today. In the past year, we have seen the convictions of the killers of Lateisha Green and Angie Zapata, and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Act, the first major piece of federal legislation extending legal protections to LGBT people; yet there is much more work to do.