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Enough is enough for Natchez crime

Countless hours have been spent watching and worrying over the fiscal cliff, but Natchez should be worrying about the moral cliff.

Whether we’re teetering on the edge or in a broken pile at the bottom of the cliff is certainly subject to debate.

But our community has to address the serious, frightening issue of violence.

Last week Tyrone Bernard, who friends and relatives described as a hard-working man, one who had served in the military, was gunned down while he was simply trying to do his job at a local store.

Robbery was the apparent motive. By late last week, police were still working leads, but had made no arrests.

In 2011, a group of young men shot and killed another young man at a local cemetery.

A few years ago, a group of teens beat a man to death on the street, just blocks from a school.

Our world is increasingly filled with people who simply disregard human life, people who seem to have no problem killing a man in cold blood.

The racists among us will quickly make this a “race thing,” pointing to a higher number of local black on black crime. Only looking at race diverts the real issue.

It’s not a black or a white thing; it’s a human decency thing.

The longer we tolerate this in our community, the more pervasive this becomes.

It’s not unlike the ever-worsening use of foul language on television.

Many years ago, words such as “hell” and “damn” would never have been uttered on a mainstream television show.

Now those words are so commonplace that many of our ears have become desensitized to them and even worse words.

Flip on the TV now and your likely to hear a litany of words that would have got you sent to the principal’s office back in grade school.

Yet, because we — the viewership — didn’t do anything about it at the time, things got worse.

One could say the same thing about sexual innuendo and violence. Drama shows today are the soft porn of yesterday and today’s investigative crime dramas show violence on the level of the worst horror films of a few years ago.

But what does all this mean for violence in Natchez?

If we don’t — as a unified community, black and white, rich and poor — stand up and say, “enough,” things are only going to get worse.

How many more lives have to be taken senselessly because some teenage punk wants to cheat the system and get money without work?

We must change the culture and that will take adults who put their foot down.

If it means ripping the headphones pumping messages of sex, violence and misogyny out of youthful ears, fine. Do we have the resolve to do that?

If it means not being afraid to call the police to report crime, we must get residents over these silly fears that such a move makes them “bad.” It’s the bad criminal punks who ruin our community.

Making it end also means investing in our crime-fighting teams and being citizens willing to become involved and serve on criminal juries and elect tough judges and sheriffs.

Fiscal cliff worries pale in comparison to the larger, moral issues we should fear.

Unfortunately, the moral cliff seems to get little attention and even less action. Overcoming that may start with a serious and frank discussion of the cultural issues that permeate the acceptance of violence.

If we ever hope to excel, as a community and as a group of diverse people, that conversation must start soon and it must carry on to real action and cultural change.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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