ATLANTA -- This weekend, the NCAA Final Four Championship comes once again to Atlanta. And the indictment of dozens of Atlanta educators and administrators in an alleged test-score-cheating scheme has both locals and the national press buzzing.
Atlanta is symbolic of most big American cities, where the excitement of sports or the splash of scandal somehow masks a daily routine of violent and brutal crimes, where victims are robbed, injured or killed. And reading the newspaper or watching Atlanta's local news may have visitors wondering if they themselves will survive the "big shootout."
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, which deserves a Pulitzer for its work revealing the "Atlanta School Cheating Scandal," as it is now known, chronicled a day in the life of their town through its usual "Metro Section" reports of Thursday, April 4, 2013.
Here is a selection of the headlines that ran in that section, on that random day: "Driver faces DUI in fatality; Arrest made in high school student's death; Burglar shot by women gets 10 years; Teen pleads guilty to tot's slaying; Teen sentenced to 5 years in younger brother's shooting; Cobb man accused of beating 8-week-old baby; Woman indicted in daughter's death; Man accused of stabbing his roommate to death; Sandy Springs toddler shoots himself in hand."
All that in just one day's morning paper, and in one metro area.
Wow. That is some serious stuff with some really bad outcomes. And trust me, these type of headlines are not just limited to Atlanta. They are all over this nation.
Basically, the combination of years of a bad economy, a declining quality of education nationwide and the failure of a "War on Poverty" that began with LBJ and continues even today have combined to create a whole lot of desperate people who do really desperate things. And it seems many policymakers are more interested in a showy "offense" in dealing with problems than a more reasonable "defense."
Is the answer to violent crime to have stricter gun control or weapon bans? The answer is likely "no" because in this country there are just too many bad guys who already have access to a lifetime supply of weapons. And the weapons most legislation would continue to allow would not have stopped most of the gun-related crimes described by those headlines.
Instead, we need to determine what really justifies the time of law enforcement, the court system and our prison systems, as well as how to fix our broken system of education.