( I'm going to interrupt this for a moment to mention that as I was writing a series of explosives went off not far from my house, my first thought was, well this is ironic, but then I quickly realized it was fireworks. Thais like to celebrate, especially in the country side and my apartment is almost literally on the limits of where city becomes country. I can look to the right from my balcony and see city. If I look left, I see country with all of the shanties, old style Thai bars, and lots of old Thai music. It's fun living here because of the two worlds thing. Anyway, the fireworks were nice. Back on track)...
Few could forget the shootings in Toronto over the last few years, like the guy just putting his fruit out to sell and was killed by a stray bullet. American cities certainly know what horror gang violence can bring.
What can be done? If it would solve anything, I would advocate imposing the War Measures Act (I know, it's been softened but I'm sure it could be done) and rounding up everyone who might have the vaguest connection to a criminal gang and prosecuting to the fullest extent. But, I don't think that would solve anything. Punishment is not as much a deterrent to criminal groups as it is to generally law abiding people. I don't steel because I think it's bad, but when I'm poor I would steel a little but I don't because I don't want to be punished. If it was not illegal, I would justify taking a little of something from a store now and again. But, for those who have joined a criminal syndicate or other organization, I don't think they really care so much about living within the bounds of law. I don't think they think much about punishment. Though, in Thailand the shoot first, ask later policy that was used a few years ago did seem to get rid of a lot of the drugs for a while. Obviously that policy is just not going to fly in Canada, and I don't think anything less than that is going to be sufficient deterrent.
That leaves us with the question of what can be done. I think that we, as a country and we can include the U.S and a lot of other countries on this as well. We as a society, Canadian, American, or whatever, have to evaluate what is going right and what is going wrong. Why are young people falling into crime? Why are murders happening in ever younger groups?
I think these kids just don't feel engaged with society. They don't feel that they are stake holders in the political and legal process. They don't have strong connections with the greater community and they don't have the social structure and extended family support that Asians have. Asian Canadian gangs have become a problem. In their country of birth (or their parents birth) they had a place in society. In Canada, they are living out the dream of their parents, but it's not their dream. In short, they feel powerless and without a culture so they go out and join illegal groups and get all of those warm family feelings, and feelings of belonging from their gang.
I had an old psychology professor once (Dr. Charles F. Preston). He was really one of the early psychologists at the university of Toronto and he once commented to me that he believes some of the problems in Western society are caused by the lack of male to male affection. I commented that it's viewed as homo-erotic in Canada for men to hold hands etc, and he replied "that's because Western society is sick". I think he might be right.
My mother blames it on the television. She recalls how when she was young the people in the town would all get together to listen to the election on the radio...and continued to do so with the TV for the first number of years. She recalled everyone sitting around the living room waiting to see if Diefenbaker would get back in. Tough being a Tory in those years. She told me about how differently people behaved towards their neighbours at that time. Now, the last time I lived in Canada I could hardly imagine my street all having a common party. If we were to, it would be slanted in a really Bree Van de Kamp sort of way.
Tony Blair was right (as always...when one doesn't take a stand either way, one is seldom very wrong), we need to fight crime and the causes of crime but I think the causes of crime are very complex.