Thursday, June 21, 2007

The summer of love, or hate?

Here comes the Sun, and here comes summer.

June 21st marks the Summer Solstice — the first day of summer — in the northern hemisphere. People around the world are celebrating, formally and informally.

It's also the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

At Stonehenge, in England, 20,000 people gathered to welcome the summer sun.

"Druids, pagans, punks and New Age travelers mingled with the merely curious," the London Times reported.

King Arthur Pendragon, a self-styled Druid leader, said, "The fire welcomes the Sun for the longest day of the year, part of the seasonal wheel which we as Druids and pagans celebrate. At the end of the day, this living temple we call Stonehenge belongs to all of us. We all have a right to come here and celebrate the solstice."

The group celebrated by dancing, drumming, and smoking cannabis, now reclassified as a class C drug in the UK, meaning the police now usually ignore pot-smoking or only give a verbal warning and confiscate the cannabis, though possession can still officially bring a two-year sentence.

Meanwhile, in the United States, yesterday two people in separate cities were pulled from their cars and beaten, one to death, by merrymakers at summer events known as Juneteenth, which celebrate the freeing of American slaves.

In Austin, Texas, David Rivas Morales, a passenger in a car that had struck a young child, was pulled from the car and beaten to death. The child had non-life-threatening injuries.

Officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are now denying that the mob attack on a driver there was related to the Juneteenth celebration. The attack happened after the official celebration was over, it is now claimed, while celebrants were leaving the area. It was a spilling-over of a fight between a group of girls. An earlier report indicated the attacks were indeed related to the Juneteenth event.

Later news stories from Austin also deny the attack had anything to do with the Juneteenth gathering.

I don't have any answers, but I've pondered a few questions.

Are Americans by nature more aggressive or violent? Or are pagans, British or otherwise, less prone to violence?

Were the Juneteenth attackers abusing alcohol?

Were the pagans too stoned to be violent?

Were the Juneteenth attacks racially motivated? Most Juneteenth celebrants were probably black, and the name of the man who was killed in Austin would indicate he was most likely Hispanic.

Did the different mindsets of the groups make one peaceful and one prone to anger? Those at Stonehenge were in a spiritual mood and those at Juneteenth had just spent all day reminiscing about their ancestors being enslaved.

Why did a subset of a relatively small group estimated at 2,000-3,000 people turn violent, while 20,000 people halfway across the planet stayed mellow even in the rain?

Peter Carson, who manages Stonehenge on behalf of English Heritage said, "It’s wonderful. We are delighted that people have been able to come here and enjoy the solstice in a safe and peaceful manner."

By contrast, Austin police commander Harold Piatt said, "It's that same crowd mindset of being one face in 1,000. Things get out of hand pretty quickly and people don't have the good sense to stop," and Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said, "Unfortunately at closing time everything came unhinged and there were some problems."

Image: Revelers at Stonehenge summer solstice celebration, June 21, 2007

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  1. Are Americans by nature more aggressive or violent? Or are pagans, British or otherwise, less prone to violence?

    You haven't seen British soccer, have you?

  2. you haven't been to one of our temple board meetings!

    or when we discussed raising dues!

  3. I think the question should be, "are Americans by CULTURE, more violent?"

    America is the Rome of the 21st century. Love it or leave it, baby, or else we'll put a boot in your ass, because it's the American way.

    When did this become the mentality of the average American? Is it because this is the land that attracts people from all corners of the world who are greedy, selfish, thoughtless, and heartless?

    Is it because we are riding on the coat-tails of our Grandfathers and Grandmothers who brought victory to the free world in WWII? Is this how they would expect us to act?

    Or have we always been this way?

  4. Widow's Son writes: "Are Americans by nature more aggressive or violent?"

    If it's acceptable to entertain the thought that Americans might be more aggressive or violent than citizens of other nations, why is it "politically incorrect" to entertain the thought that certain groups of Americans might be more aggressive or violent than others?

    Perhaps more to the point, when objective analysis reveals differences between various groups, why should it be "offensive" to admit the statistical truth?

    If we can accept that individuals rightfully deserve to be judged by their individual merit, why can't we also accept that groups (whether racial, religious, or otherwise) rightfully deserve to be judged by their group merit?

  5. Cannabis and alcohol take you to different places because pot loosens your mind where booze only loosens your muscles. Robert Anton Wilson (God rest his soul) said pot brings us to a higher level of, well, high than booze which only gets us drunk.


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