The [Wednesday] Papers
"Census Bureau estimates say that there are nearly three-quarters of a million veterans currently living in Illinois. Over a third of these veterans served during the Vietnam War," the Tribune reports.
"Illinois veterans have a higher rate of unemployment compared with veterans nationwide. St. Clair County, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, is estimated to have the most veterans per capita in its population, with nearly 15 percent of people over age 18 being veterans."
"On Tuesday, the 240th anniversary of his beloved Marine Corps, Balcer made a triumphant return to his old political stomping grounds to champion another issue important to vets just in time for Veteran's Day.
"At Balcer's behest, the City Council's Finance and Public Safety Committees approved an ordinance designating attacks against military personnel as 'hate crimes.'"
Here we go.
"Balcer ticked off a long list of attacks against military personnel across the nation, including the one that left five people dead and two injured at a recruiting station and nearby U.S. Navy facility in Chattanooga, Tn. But, the most recent violence Balcer could cite against Chicago recruiting stations and selective service offices occurred in 1969 during the height of the Vietnam War."
So naturally the city council, without many other pressing matters, spent its time taking up Balcer's ordinance.
"And the most recent local hate crimes against military personnel the former alderman could recall took place in 1999. That's when local bars refused to serve men and women in uniform and Balcer experienced the same thing after donning his old Marine uniform."
What bars did that?
I took the 30 seconds to check both the ProQuest and NewsBank databases of our esteemed Chicago newspapers and found zilch. Boy they missed a big story!
And why 1999? The United States did not enter a war that year; it was ending its involvement in Kosovo, but that hardly sparked domestic resentment at the military among area bartenders.
And even if bars did refuse service to military personnel, how would that have been a hate crime?
Maybe Balcer doesn't understand that a hate crime doesn't make hating someone a crime. And I mean that sincerely, because to put it frankly Balcer is one of the dumber boxes of rocks to sit on the city council, and reporters know it. A hate crime occurs when a "regular" crime is motivated by bigotry and designed to instill fear in others who share the ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation of the victim, like its big brother terrorism, which is defined as a political act meant to spread fear through a civilian population.
Distinguishing definitions of crime by using the language properly is important; otherwise everything meshes into one, words begin to mean nothing and soon it's a terroristic hate-crime to jaywalk. The way we define and treat crime is also important to our perception of crime and its origins, an understanding of which is vital to providing punishment and solutions. The motivations for one type of crime are different than from another, and each demands a different response. For example, the murder of Tyshawn Lee was not a terrorist act, as much as at least one Cook County commissioner wants to define it as, and to call it one distorts our understanding of it, and thus our policy response as we try once again to figure out how to prevent such horridness.
"Still, Balcer argued that there's a need for the local ordinance sponsored by Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th).
"You had four Marines and a Navy personnel killed in Tennessee because they're in the military. Someone has to do something. At least start it and do something. Make people aware of it," Balcer said.
Someone has to do something, and that someone should be the Chicago City Council!
Somehow, though, I have more faith than Balcer in the ability of the U.S. military to "do something," namely, to better secure their facilities.
(Reports the Military Times: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter has amplified his call for better security at military recruiting stations and other small, remote facilities, issuing new directives aimed at preventing another attack like this summer's deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
("Efforts will include more training alongside local law enforcement, accelerating use of extra 'physical security enhancements,' and improving mass notification alerts meant to inform local authorities and other nearby military personnel when there are specific threats or attacks already unfolding.")
"If someone has this in the back of their head, they'll think about not doing something against the military [in Chicago]."
I'm not sure the type of person who would have this in the back of their head is the type of person to dig deep enough into the Sun-Times to stay on top of ordinances put forward by former aldermen, so I'm not real sure of the deterrent effect here.
"It is shameful when you wear the uniform of this country and you're subject to having 500 people around you, having Molotov cocktails thrown at recruiting stations. Having your tires slashed."
Is that happening? Is Balcer surrounded by 500 people when he wears his uniform in public? Is someone slashing his tires?
"I'm not saying everyone is bad. But, there are groups out there that go after the military."
"Currently, Chicago's hate crime ordinance covers crimes based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability. The new language adds 'active or prior military status' and raises the fines for crimes against military personnel - from $200-to-$500."
"Burke noted that, since 2008, at least 35 service men and women have been killed and many of their colleagues have been injured simply for their association with the U.S. military. The attacks occurred in: Fort Bliss and Ford Hood, Texas; the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.; the Washington (D.C.) Naval Yard; Arkansas; and New York's Time[s] Square, he said."
It's really not accurate to say those attacks occurred on service personnel "simply for their association with the U.S. military."
Those attacks occurred mostly because of mental illness.
Fort Bliss: "The 2015 Fort Bliss shooting occurred on January 6, 2015, when Jerry Serrato, a 48-year-old U.S. Army veteran, fatally shot Dr. Timothy Fjordbak, a mental health doctor, at the Veteran's Affairs clinic located on the grounds of William Beaumont Army Medical Center of Fort Bliss, Texas. No further casualties were reported during the shooting."
Fort Hood: "On April 2, 2014, a shooting spree occurred at several locations on the Fort Hood military base near Killeen, Texas. Four people, including the gunman, were killed, while fourteen additional people were injured, twelve by gunshot wounds. The shooter, 34-year-old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
Norfolk Naval Station: "Lax security at the gates of the Navy's largest fleet base allowed a disturbed civilian trucker to trespass deep into the base late on the night of March 24, 2014, and provoke a fatal confrontation that took the life of a heroic sentry.
"The 35-year-old civilian, Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, passed 'unchecked through layers of security' according to the Navy's command investigation, released to Navy Times March 17. Savage, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or otherwise impaired, was able to access the base without proper ID and wasn't followed until it was too late. By then he'd walked onto a pierside destroyer, where he killed Master at Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo, who had shielded a fellow sailor from whom he had wrested a gun. Savage was killed moments later."
Washington Navy Yard: "After the Navy Yard shooting, the media speculated that Alexis had appeared to be suffering from mental illness. The media reported that Alexis had filed a police report in Rhode Island on August 2, 2013, in which he claimed to be the victim of harassment and that he was hearing voices in his head.
"According to an FBI official after the shooting, Alexis was under 'the delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves.'
"A message later obtained by federal authorities from Alexis' personal computing devices said, 'Ultra low frequency attack is what I've been subject to for the last 3 months. And to be perfectly honest, that is what has driven me to this.'"
Arkansas: "The family of Larry McElroy, the man shot and killed as he threatened Little Rock Air Force Base Monday, is speaking out about their loved one's past.
"They describe McElroy as caring and outgoing, but also as a man who was deeply troubled and desperately seeking help."
Times Square Recruiting Station: "On the morning of March 6, 2008, an unknown individual placed a small bomb in front of a United States Armed Forces recruiting station in Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. There were no injuries. A security camera shows the bomber riding a bicycle as he approaches the station, dismounting the bike and planting the bomb, and then speeding off shortly before the blast."
"That list of attacks is chilling and unacceptable. As community leaders and legislators, we must acknowledge our own duty to protect our troops . . . and utilize every power in our authority to do so," Burke said."
So you're going to re-open the mental health clinics you closed?
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Posted on November 11, 2015
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