Laura Hollis / June 24, 2021

Gun Violence Is a Result of Our Broken Culture

Unless we make a concerted commitment to change our culture’s attitude about sex and the family, we will continue to hurtle headlong into chaos.

It’s shameful that it took so long to declare a national holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. But the nation’s first official Juneteenth holiday weekend got off to an inauspicious start, to say the very least.

CNN reported gun violence in multiple locations, including my own small town of Granger, Indiana. My teenage son works at the family-owned grocery store in the same little shopping center where five people were shot (one fatally) at a “Juneteenth Summer Bash” party held at a tavern. When I dropped him off at work the next morning, the parking lot was cordoned off with crime scene tape and homicide investigation vehicles. Nearby restaurants, still struggling after the COVID-19 lockdowns, had to close on Father’s Day, their windows and doors pockmarked with bullet holes.

CNN describes these as “mass shootings,” a term which has typically been used to describe a deranged lone shooter firing randomly into a crowd. In fact, available information suggests that most of these incidents — including the one in Granger — had multiple shooters and involved parties, drinking and arguments.

In other words, these were not the acts of lone lunatics but the type of violence that has come to plague our cities on a regular basis.

Let’s take Chicago — which didn’t even make CNN’s list — as an example. A Puerto Rican couple, Gyovanny Arzuaga and Yasmin Perez, were dragged out of their car in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood Saturday night and shot at point-blank range. No apparent reason. Both died, leaving behind two small children. Arzuaga and Perez were among 10 people killed in Chicago over the holiday weekend, with another 65 gunshot victims who survived.

On Monday, another seven people were shot and killed in Chicago. Nearly 1,500 people have been shot in the city so far this year, of which nearly 300 died. More than a third of all Chicago’s gunshot victims are young Black males. Ever-larger numbers of these gunshot victims are children. And a disturbing number of the shooters are themselves teens or young adults.

An article from 2016 about gun violence in Chicago was blunt. “The numbers are horrifying,” author Devin Foley wrote. Seventy-five percent of the homicide victims and 71% of the murderers in Chicago that year were Black. Things have not improved. The Chicago Department of Public Health released a report last week — “The State of Health for Blacks in Chicago” — which shows that the homicide rate for Blacks in the city is nine times higher than it is for non-Black residents.

Predictably, the latest round of gun violence has prompted our politicians and pundits to blame the same causes and call for the same fixes: “We need gun control”; “We need a different kind of policing”; “We need more federal funding.”

But none of these proposed solutions would fix the real problem because none of them addresses the real problem. As serious as these issues might otherwise be, what is destroying this country is not the prevalence of guns. It isn’t the police. It isn’t systemic racism. It isn’t poverty or income inequality.

The problem is this country’s sick sexual culture, its marginalization of fathers and the corresponding destruction of the family.

Since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, Americans have permitted the sexualization of virtually every aspect of American culture by institutions with profound influence over it, including the entertainment industry, academia, major media and corporations. Advertising, books, TV, film, music and the internet all promote immediate gratification and irresponsible sex. This is not confined to adults; even publications, programming and products directed at preschool and grade school children blithely promote exploration of sexual preferences, risky sexual practices, gender confusion and abortion.

One predictable result is an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases in youth (ages 15 to 24), not to mention increases in substance abuse, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Even worse, the sexual free-for-all has decimated the American family. In 1950, only 17% of Black children were born to single mothers. According to the Brookings Institute, in 1965, slightly more than 20% of Black children and 3.1% of white children were born to single mothers, but by 1990, those numbers had spiked to 64% of Black children and 18% of white children. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported those numbers were 70% for Blacks and 28.2% for whites. Overall, fully 40% of all American children are now born to an unmarried mother.

This is a societal catastrophe. But we refuse to connect the dots, because doing so would mean admitting that the sexual revolution went off the rails. And that runs afoul of both those who make millions selling sex and those who need constant validation for their own behavior. As a result, the innocence, health and well-being of children has been sacrificed for adults’ sexual selfishness. It is no accident that girls see themselves increasingly as sexual objects or that fatherless young men, without adequate role models for healthy behaviors, fall into deeply destructive ones. Without stability, without security, without a proper sense of themselves, they seek validation in sexual conquest, belonging in gang membership, and excitement in drug use and violence.

We do not need more “sex positivity,” better contraception or more access to abortion. What we need is renewed cultural recognition of the scientific fact that sexual behavior is the way the species reproduces and that the children produced by sexual activity thrive best when in stable families with two married parents.

We can change all the laws, defund all the police, add millions of social workers, and spend every last dollar on poverty alleviation and social welfare programs. But unless we are honest about what’s really destroying us, unless we make a concerted commitment to change our culture’s attitude about sex and the family, we will continue to hurtle headlong into chaos.

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