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I had an "aha" experience when the Arkansas director of the F.B.I. presented a public lecture on "Sex Trafficking." She said that the language we use about the crime of "Sex Trafficking" is too soft and can be misleading. The language needs to be changed and that change can guide our response.

We already have laws against slavery. Sex slavery would be when a person(s) "owns" and manages the women or men that are "rented out" for the sexual gratification of a consumer. Today's "slaves" cannot physically, economically and emotionally say no and walk away. A positive development is laws in some states that would publish the names of the owners and the consumers and not only the names of the "slaves." There is a political pushback from the consumers. Surprised?

Like others that preach, I am keenly aware of the power of words that can inspire and those that will turn off the ears of the congregation that may mutter, "Oh, here we go again."

But that is how I feel after another mass murder and elected officials' who offer condolences, prayers and promises to do something about it to the victims' survivors.

It might be informative to match the year of "condolences and prayers" to a congressman's election, to the year of a mass murder. It is easy to "Google" for this information. For example, an Arkansas representative to Congress was elected in 2011, and the Sandy Hook Elementary school pre-meditated murders were on Dec. 14, 2012. Any progress in effectively providing the pubic with some security and relief from this horrific mental, spiritual and ethical crisis, continues to be blocked. Every poll indicates that 90% of Americans want something done!

Our elected officials are impotent. So, let's unite and start by changing our language. We are not T.S. Elliot's "Hollow Men." Let's accurately name these deadly attacks as domestic terrorism and premeditated murders.

These murders are part of an epidemic. When there is a pending flu epidemic, we know the protocol. When Dr. Gary Slutkin, a world-renowned epidemiologist, applied his Epidemic Model to several cities, the rate of weapon violence dropped from 79% to 41%. The three components of the model are to interrupt the transmission, reduce risk and change community norms.

We need to say thank you to Walmart and to Dick's Sporting Goods stores for interrupting the transmission by removing the AR 15s from their inventory and raising the age to purchase any weapon to 21 years old. I personally contacted by mail other chain stores and asked them not to sell the AR15s. They didn't reply. The El Paso murderer legally purchased his weapon, ammunition and large-capacity magazines at one of those stores.

In the between times, we can pray fervently for wisdom and the courage to be an instrument of peace by halting this domestic terrorism epidemic and that can be our legacy.

My next articles will focus on reducing risks and changing community norms.

Ken Parks is the former rector of St. Theodore's Episcopal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email at Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 08/28/2019

Print Headline: Language changes could help address crimes

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