Friday, 23 January 2009

Death and the motorway

Not far away from where I type this, just at the bottom of the hill, there's a motorway which is empty and clogged by turns. Heading west, it's a morass of grumpy drivers, stuck in their hot metal boxes in the sun. The city-bound side is car-less from a point defined by flashing lights and the beginning of a carpark, just at the edge of where I can see to with any clarity. After that the motorway disappears around a bend.

Somewhere out there, assumedly where all the police cars are, someone has been shot dead. We don't know yet who was shot, or who shot them, just that it's a man. And probably not a cop, or the police would have said that by now.

I'm sitting in this windowless office with the sounds of the helicopters overhead as background music, and thinking about how this might have started. Probably a domestic dispute or a custody battle, I think. One of my colleagues suspects it was a traffic infringement. The Herald report indicates it began when a vehicle was stolen, and maybe it is as simple as that.

Whatever was the trigger I don't imagine that anyone thought, five minutes before this all began, that anyone would be dead by mid-afternoon.


Anna said...

Julie, like you I feel really disturbed by incidents like this. For me, one of the key lessons to learn is the importance of gun control. Restricting firearms doesn't eliminate violence or the impulse to violence, but it reduces the capacity to do irreparable harm in that moment of stupidity following a traffic dispute or domestic conflict.

Julie said...

Earlier today I was having a discussion with some early childhood teachers about gun play, and it's role (or not) in kindergartens and early childhood centres. It was quite a thought-provoking discussion, because my instinct was to be shocked at the idea of allowing gun play amongst small children. But thinking about it some more, and listening to them talking, really challenged me to consider why, and whether there is a framework that gun play can happen with that would be beneficial, more so than banning gun play or discussion, because it means talking with children about what a gun is, and what a gun does, and gun safety, etc.

Deborah said...

A couple of weeks ago, we were having dinner with friends in Wellington, at their home. Our friends had gotten their children's old toys out for us to play with. Our youngest daughter scrabbled around in the box, and then brought out a toy gun (some sort of rifle, I think). She brought it over to my husband, and said, "Dad, what's this?" She had no idea that it was a gun, and when he explained what it was to her, she held it up to the middle of her nose to "sight" along it.

I was very proud.

But... I have three daughters, and I suspect they just haven't focussed on guns at all. My mother, who taught in early childhood education for over a quarter of a century, says that it's impossible to ban gun play altogether, because children, especially (though not exclusively) small boys, will make them out of blocks of wood, or bite bread into gun shapes, or even just use two fingers and "bang bang you're dead." Much better to talk about why killing people is wrong, why guns are dangerous, and why we should never, ever play with real guns, and why we should never point guns at people.

Joanna said...

Julie and Deborah, it's weird, because your posts have made me remember one of th e reasons why I loved going over to play at the house of the boy next door when I was 6-9ish; because he had toy guns. I had two older sisters, so I was raised without guns just by default I guess - I can't imagine my mother ever taking a stand against them, but I _loved_ playing War with Michael. We shot pretend things with his pretend guns, we played Transformers who were at war, and violent lego castle battles. But then again with my sisters we made bows & arrows out of bamboo (influenced by The Dark Crystal and Ronia The Robber's Daughter and also because I was so into pioneers, my Playmobile were always building forts and defending themselves against the Native Americans (even at 8, I knew not to say 'Injuns', unlike Laura Ingalls) so maybe the violent impulses will happen no matter what, and/or maybe I'm off on a tangent because I've been drinking.