The senseless murder of 4 yr old Jasmine Owens horrifies us and, to be honest, leaves us stumped. To his credit, Governor Doyle has committed to helping the city fund police overtime in Milwaukee. While I think that the Governor is over fond of spending and I recognize that some conservatives won't support state taxpayers "bailing out" the city on this, it is impractical to think that Milwaukee can deal with this crisis on its own. Doyle is doing the right thing.
I wish that handwringing about guns and greater controls promised to help. I'm actually in favor of a lot more regulation of the sale of firearms. I think background checks should be required for not only gun show sales but private transfers. (I understand that the latter requires gun registration but that doesn't scare me.) I might even be willing to listen to arguments for a legislative mandate of smart guns should that technology ever become workable and affordable. (But imposing liability for the failure to adopt it is pure mischief.)
But it is entirely implausible that any of this would make much difference in the rate of gun violence. People who conduct drive-by shootings tend not to care much about the law. You'd have to get guns off the streets to make a difference and I don't see that happening.
If complaining about gun laws is beside the point, so is bemoaning the absence of good jobs. The guys who drive around in SUVs shooting at one another are not doing so because they can no longer work at Tower Automotive. Expecting nothing different until that day in which the lamb lies down with the lion because the kingdom of perfect righteousness is at hand will leave a lot of lambs to the slaughter.
Actually, tomorrow morning"s Journal Sentinel editorial suggests the larger answer: Inner city neighborhoods must rise up and reclaim themselves.
How does that happen?
It raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions. How do you tolerate a political leader who calls for "no snitchin'?" If you are properly concerned about the high incarceration rate of African American males, is there a solution for the problem which will not require, at least in the short run, continued high incarceration rates for African-American males? If you distrust - with some justification - the Milwaukee Police Department, is there any solution that doesn't require more cops who will tolerate less anti-social behavior? Everyone - and I mean everyone - who I ever speak to who works at MPS says that a significant minority of disruptive and uninterested students materially impairs the education of the rest (and drives the middle class out of the system). If you want to oppose extraordinary measures to restore extraordinary disorder because they seem stigmatizing or racist, then what is your alternative?
And perhaps most difficult: what do you do when too many people (it doesn't have to be all that many) become amoral and deracinated? Do you ostracize those who indulge in any aspect of thug culture? Do you stop tolerating cruising (dropping the McNally-ite illusion that it is just an urbanization of Richie and Pottsie)?
If these questions can be avoided, tell me how. If the answers do not require the abandonment of much of the rhetoric that we have traditionally heard from Milwaukee Democrats who do not represent districts on the south side, tell me why.