Ellis Paul

May 3 2007 - Thoughts on Virginia Tech

May 3, 2007

I originally posted these thoughts in an e-mail newsletter sent on April 19, 2007, but I also wanted to have them archived here on my blog so that you all would have an opportunity to reply. I look forward to reading your comments.

Hello everyone,

Like everyone in the world this week I am disheartened by the horrible tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech. And like many of us, I wish there was something more I could do to help prevent these kinds of horrendous events from taking place. We have potential in this country to create a society where senseless violence is a rarity rather than a common occurrence.

A recent CNN statistic states an alarming discrepancy between Great Britain's murder rate from handgun violence and that of the United States. England's murder rate from handguns is 0.1 per million, whereas the United States is 41 per million. There's some obvious room for improvement here in the United States.

This week in Virginia, a crossroads of psychological, societal, and gun issues all came together in one violent day. The problems obviously go deeper than just our guns. But guns are the necessary place to start.

Virginia has some of the most liberal laws in the country regarding gun control. I'm hoping these will be addressed in the next few weeks in our state legislature; If you are a resident of Virginia please contact your representative or Governor's office demanding change in the laws governing gun availability. As a parent with two kids in Virginia, I'm concerned for their safety as they prepare to enter the state's public schools. Be outraged. Write them and let them know you want change.

Here is the link for you to contact: Governor Tim Kaine

The media and entertainment industry's unbridled lust for money through the glamorization of violence must be addressed through some sort of conscious consumer ban on so called art that crosses the line in depicting violence. Nobody can stop them but us.

The first amendment guarantees them the right to free speech to create any kind of garbage we want, we can also smoke cigarettes. But there are restrictions on them. Heavier taxes. Advertising restrictions. All because the government has recognized their danger to those exposed to them.

Why don't we have advertisement restrictions on these movies, music and TV shows that show a flagrant use of violence? Make people pay a higher ticket to see them? A warning label has become like a tag demarking cool content. Let's tax it. Use the tax proceeds for anti-violence counseling in schools.

Clearly someone intent on creating this much damage wouldn't let something like a law hold back his intention. But restrictions on the kind of automatic handguns Cho purchased may have decreased the number of people killed and wounded.

The restrictions on guns in Great Britain and here in the U.S. in states like Massachusetts have resulted in significant statistical improvements in handgun fatalities.

I have written a song, "Autobiography of a Pistol" that addresses gun issues and accountability that I am offering as a free download on MySpace. Please spread the song among friends as a vehicle for dialogue and change. Please leave comments there.

This month I am also finishing a group of songs for a children's album called The Dragonfly Races. Many of the songs are focused around creating change towards a more peaceful world. It seems ridiculous to me that people could think the word "peace" has become trite when scores of people are being killed every day in Iraq in numbers that make that awful day in Virginia seem small. We are sending messages to our children in this country that violence is an acceptable form of communication.

It's clearly time to (once again) create art that carries a message of peace that leads us away from this crazy, dangerous crossroad where our way of life has stalled.

Thanks for your tremendous support out there on the road,
Take care,

updated: 3 years ago