Tag Archives: violence

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Dead horse at the OK Corral

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I do hate to beat a dead horse — or a live one, for that matter — but there was a shooting today at Lone Star College, a community college near Houston.

That’s in Texas, in case you didn’t catch the “Lone Star” bit.

This wasn’t your typical “crazy guy with an AR-15 walks onto campus and starts shooting” kind of shooting. This was two idiots getting into some kind of idiotic argument and at least one of them deciding shooting was the best way to resolve it. One bystander, a school maintenance man, was wounded, as well as one of the arguers. Another person apparently had a heart attack.

Nevertheless, Rep. Ted, Poe, RWNJ-Texas, immediately hit the airwaves to explain how “defenseless” the poor students at LSC were and how students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons so they can defend themselves.

But apparently, that’s exactly what happened.

Reports now indicate that at least one of the two idiots arguing was a student, and at least one was illegally carrying an concealed weapon. By Rep. Poe’s reasoning, if other students had been carrying concealed weapons … well, I don’t know. If more students had been carrying concealed weapons and started shooting, I’d guess more people would have been hit, maybe even killed. But that’s just a guess, y’know. Has no basis whatsoever in reality and is probably just a bunch of fallacious reasoning to boot. Because it’s certainly not logical to think that if two idiots arguing equals three wounded people, then, say, four people shooting at each other might equal six wounded people. And how many wounded people before you get one dead? Two dead?

Of course, maybe ole Ted is right. Say there was only one guy with a gun, and the guy he started shooting at was a student. But the student didn’t have a gun, so he got shot, along with the maintenance man, who also didn’t have a gun, while the shooter ran off into the woods, where he was later found by police.

If only that student and the maintenance guy had had guns! Then it woulda been the OK Corral all over again … well, maybe not. Some of those guys were law enforcement, hired to back the businessmen of Tombstone, Arizona, against the Evil Rancher Cowboys and … oh, never mind. That’s more than 100 years ago. The only reason I brought it up at all is that those nine guys who’d been feuding with each other for a very long time back in 1881 fired about 30 shots in about 30 seconds, and in the end three were dead, and three were wounded. Of course, they were all shooting at each other, and in a narrow lot between a couple of buildings (not the OK Corral at all), which probably prevented any bystanders from being hit.

These guys at Lone Star College were out in an open courtyard.

My point, and I do have one, is just this: Think it through, people. We don’t live in Deadwood. We don’t live in the Tombstone of the 19th Century. There’s a reason they called it the Wild West. And the Earps and Clantons didn’t have AR-15s.

Once upon a time, in a whole ‘nother life, I owned a gun and frankly wasn’t a bad shot. But I’ve grown up some since then, and my owning a gun just isn’t something I want for myself or for anyone who comes in contact with me.

But in case you’ve not heard me say it before, I don’t favor banning guns. I favor humanity willingly putting down the damn things because we finally understand that killing people is a bad thing to do, whatever the reason. And no, I’m not some whacked out idealist who actually expects this to happen anytime soon — but it will, eventually, provided we don’t blow up the planet first.

There are no good reasons, however, to block some kind of regulation. If you want to own a gun, you do not need to own an AR-15 or armor-piercing bullets unless you plan to kill people wearing armor, and if you plan to do that, I’d suggest psychiatric help. Oh, and NRA, children in elementary schools aren’t usually wearing Kevlar, although I suppose that is something you think would be a good idea.

And one more thing. Some folks like to blame violent video games for the crazy people who go out shooting other poeple, but I think they’ve got it backwards. It’s the whackos who think that arming everybody on the planet will end gun violence are the ones inspired by video games. Think about that one for while, until I find another dead horse, possibly in the OK Corral.

Incitement

This post was scheduled to appear here a few days ago, but fortunately for all of us I realized what a scattered mess it was and pulled it back for more thought.

I think I’ve finally gotten around to understanding that I was trying to make too many points fit into a cohesive narrative, and instead what I ended up with was a circular and jumbled bit of incomprehensible ideas, barely held together by a few words like “incendiary” and “unhinged” and “inflammatory” and  ”batshit insane.”

Those words are likely to resurface in this revamped post, but they’ll likely make more sense, or at least be in better context.

Except, of course, to those whose thought processes never deviate from the straight and narrow. Seriously, these folks exist. I’ve known horses wearing blinders that saw more.

But here goes. Consider this a bit of stream of consciousness.

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The rabid right is so determined to go into a hissy fit over everything any Democrat, particularly Barack Obama, says, that they’ve been in a tizzy since Wednesday over his “partisan” speech at the Tucson memorial. The latest of course is their determination that the closed captioning on the McKale Center’s jumbotron was a cue for people to applaud. Morons. Deaf people can’t hear applause either, so, yes, idiots, they do put (applause) in the closed captioning just like they put every other sound in the closed captioning, not just words. Also not unusual to put closed captioning on the big screens at events, because not everybody can be close enough to see an interpreter. But the right gotta bitch. Kinda like they’ve been freaking out over a t-shirt, given out by the University of Arizona (which organized the thing) that says “Together We Thrive — Tucson and America” (It was, by the way, the name of the event). I can’t for the life of me understand what’s partisan about any of that. Terrance Heath pointed out one line from Obama’s speech — “I believe we can be better.” Guess that’s kinda hard to take for a conserverati that thinks it can do no wrong already. I don’t understand that. I always thought it was a good thing to strive to be better, and that if I ever thought there was no room for improvement, I need to be sharply reminded that I ain’t all that.

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Sarah Palin. Bless her heart. All she had to do was say, “Y’know, maybe that crosshairs thing was a little over the top, but I certainly never intended for it to be taken literally by anyone on either side of the partisan divide. And I regret that it was.” Instead, she deleted the crosshairs map from her website under cover of darkness, sent some underling out to say it wasn’t crosshairs, it was a “surveyor’s symbol” (and I guess all here tweet about it — “target,” “don’t retreat, reload” etc. are just surveyor talk too) and then, on the day of the Tucson memorial, put out a video in which she uses a highly inflammatory phrase in pursuit of portraying herself as the poor little victim of all this. I am reminded of something Dorothy Gale said to The Scarecrow: “What would you do with a brain if you had one?” Seriously, though, I’m surprised she hasn’t fired her speech writer and claimed s/he was a liberal infiltrator out to make her look bad. And to the conserverati who think Palin scares progressives: Please. She does make me wince, as in, OMG, did she really say that? And watching her poll numbers sink among those who aren’t batshit insane makes me feel a little better every day about the American people, although I still don’t trust them all that much. And should the half-term, quitter governor actually become president, well, then, it will prove I was right to begin with. The American people are in complete moral decay, and they’re getting what they deserve. Kinda like when they elected GW Bush. Twice.

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Jared Loughner. Appears to me he’s a lunatic of the Glenn Beck variety, what with all the conspiracy crap and the gold standard bullshit that I think he’s talking about in those pieces of shit “videos” (if, by “video,” you actually mean rambling nonsense text in white on a black background with some pot-induced music behind it). Do I think the Palins et al caused this guy to go try to assassinate a congresswoman? No. Never said I did. But the incendiary rhetoric that passes for political discourse these days does create an atmosphere where such things are much more likely than they would be without it. Terrance Heath says the bullshit that spews out of the mouths of these irresponsible assholes is just a “spark” that needs “kindling” — kindling like an economic crisis that Republicans refuse to acknowledge exists because, well, because it doesn’t exist for them and nobody else matters. But the real fuel is the fear and paranoia the conserverati preach when they’re not urging their parishioners to be “armed and dangerous.” The Mexicans are taking our jobs! The Muslims are trying to kill us! Liberals are trying to destroy America! Obama is a socialist! Obama is a Kenyan! Obama is a fascist! Obama is black!

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I am amused. The defensiveness on the right when someone suggests that their crazy talk might not be helping things makes me laugh, at least for a little while, until I realize how serious this all is. Oh, the left does it too! they say, and then provide a list of anonymous bloggers, t-shirt designers and just plain crazy people who have done and said outrageous and offensive things. What they don’t come up with is nationally known media folk (and if you think Keith Olbermann’s “worst person in the world” is remotely equivalent to things Limbaugh, Levin, Savage, Hannity, O’Reilly etc say, you should be forced to listen to Olbermann over and over again for at least a year. He’s a blowhard, but he doesn’t have the nerve to say anything actually incendiary), former governors, former vice presidential candidates, sitting senators and representatives, state party chairmen, gubernatorial candidates, senate candidates, house candidates, state legislators or legislative candidates, or even mayors and city council members on the left who say comparable things to what’s on the right. It’s not there. I’ve looked. Oh, and you have to look at the context, too, something that seems to be very difficult for the right to do. Instead, they like to do things like edit videos to make it look like someone says the exact opposite of what they actually said.

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Another amusing part. The right all in a snit, afeered that somebody on the left is gonna shoot Palin or somebody. Please, again. Project much? They’d love that to happen, y’know, because then we could completely forget about all the crap they’ve been spewing for years and focus entirely on the one single incident that proves both sides do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody on the right didn’t decide to do it themselves so they can blame it on the left and get what they want, liars that they are. Y’know, that’s not funny at all. That’s just sick, just like this whole political state we’ve created here in America. It’s sick, diseased. Dying. Maybe euthanasia would be a blessing.

This diseased society we’ve allowed to spring into life here makes shooting a congressman is perfectly OK, because all we have to do is say the shooter is crazy and we won’t have to worry about it. But crazy doesn’t explode in a vacuum. Crazy needs permission to explode. It needs enough unhinged, irresponsible ideas to make it possible for the unstable mind to justify what they do.

And then, of course, we just say it was a “lone wolf” or some such, and then we can be surprised all over again when it happens the next time.

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That, my friends, is the real tragedy. Instead of standing up and saying this is enough — and I don’t mean making laws barring these wingnuts from saying their bullshit, because that really would be a violation of the 1st Amendment.

What I mean is standing up and saying Enough. We can be better.

I lived in a neighborhood once that had a section that was a heavy drug area. There was this one house — the proverbial crack house. This happened before I moved in, but fairly recently before I got there, so the tale was told quite often. What happened was that the good neighbors got together. And they stood out in front of that crack house every goddamned night, chanting and shouting. There were 20-30 of them, every night. They shouted at the crackheads — get out of our neighborhood! We don’t want you here! I don’t have to tell you that it didn’t take long for them to pack up and leave that rental house, before they’d completely destroyed it too. Now, of course, they just went to some other neighborhood and started up the same crap, but I like to think that the same thing happened there, and in the next neighborhood and the next and the next until finally they just had to quit.

Probably didn’t happen that way. But this is where sometimes things can get taken care of on a big, national stage more easily than they can on a city-wide stage. How long do you think we’d be talking about “second amendment remedies” and “we came unarmed — this time” if the irresponsible talkers were shunned and soundly condemned for their crap on a daily basis instead of just when something comes up?

Ah, but that would mean the sane people would have to understand that something is dreadfully wrong here and it has nothing to do with Obama gonna take our guns away.

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In that respect, maybe the Republican victories in November are a godsend. We got a reprieve. After all, these folks promised that if the ballots don’t work, they’ll come back with bullets. It’s not enough, though. They only got the House.

The rhetoric that the right uses now has a name, and it’s not “incendiary,” “inflammatory” or “violent.”

It’s called eliminationist.

They want us completely subjugated, or, better yet, gone. That’s why they demand “their” country back. We’re usurpers.

Don’t bet on this language stopping, and don’t bet on the rise in violent acts — and violent groups — stopping either.

Not until we come to our collective senses. I’m just hoping that’s before the real war breaks out.

The man who wanted change

This week in the crazy, it was one of us.

Well, one of us who clearly had a few mental problems — and I’m not talking about James Lee’s manifestoed belief that the world is overpopulated by “filthy” humans. That part’s true, as is the part about war being incredibly damaging.

But just because you’re right about some things doesn’t mean you’re right about everything. Lee’s chosen methods to get his point across … more than that, really. The delusional Lee wasn’t really trying to his point across to the Discovery Channel. He wanted the Discovery Channel to get his point across to everybody else for him. Bottom line, James Lee wasn’t interested in dialog or debate. He wanted absolute change.

And that is Difference No. 1 between Lee and, say, Richard Poplawski, the Pittsburgh nutcase who holed himself up in the house he shared with his mother and killed three cops. Poplawski wasn’t looking for change. He believed Barack Obama was coming for his guns because Glenn beck told him so. Poplawski wanted things to stay the same.

It’s truly disheartening when One of Us adopts the tactics of the conservatives, who generally have no internal prohibitions on using violence, physical or verbal, when they don’t get their way. We’re supposed to be better than that, aren’t we?

But alas, leftists have a history of violent outbursts too, although, as noted above, it’s generally employed in the service of change to an unbearable system. Sometimes it works for the better (the American revolution) and sometimes it doesn’t (the Bolshevik revolution in Russia).

Still … why would a guy who holds a lot of the same ideals we hold arm himself to the teeth and barge into Discovery Communications? Frustration, maybe. We filthy humans appear to have no clue what we’re doing to the planet with our pollution and unsustainable population growth. The latter, in fact, is the elephant in the room that nobody, and I do mean nobody, wants to talk about. “Be fruitful and multiply” made sense back when earth’s entire human population was maybe about 4 million widely-spread people. Now? Not so much.

Frustration, though — that shouldn’t spark violence.Iif it should, there’d be even more violence in the world than there already is.

Some of my esteemed colleagues, particularly those with progressive tendencies, are pointing to some apparently anti-immigrant lines in Lee’s screed — filthy anchor babies, etc. — in an attempt to portray him as a right-winger. But what he writes in that section reads more like an add-on — he heard this stuff on the television in the background of his delusions and thought it fit with his general “humans stop breeding” campaign, so he added it.

He wasn’t a right-winger though. They don’t come in an atheist, Darwin-loving variety, although, frankly the Darwin-loving part is a little skewed. He seems to be more interested in returning to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle pre-dating the invention of farming, and I can’t quite figure if he wants us to shrink the population or eliminate it. It was certainly more sustainable then. But he is quite right about modern life messing up Darwin’s theories a bit. Natural selection has become very unnatural selection — ain’t nothin natural about having more money than god or the ability to build and deploy the nastiest weapons.

This image appeared on a blog called Shelley the Republican that is so bizarre I suspect it may be a fake, a la Jesus' General.

But neither is wrapping yourself in bombs and bringing guns into a television network, although now we approach Difference No. 2 between our man Lee and, say, Jim David Adkisson, who charged into a Tennessee church during a children’s performance and started shooting, killing 2. In fact, Lee wouldn’t have done any damage even if he had stormed in with guns a-blazin. He was carrying a pair of starter pistols.

Adkisson, like Lee, left a manifesto — and the latest books by Fox personalities Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly — although his manifesto was handwritten and not posted on the interwebz. In it, he complained that liberalism was America’s worst problem and that liberals are “a bunch of traitors.” Oh, and liberals are evil too. That’s why he picked a Unitarian Universalist church for his attack and clearly declared it to be “a hate crime,” “a political protest” and “a symbolic killing.”

Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of them is kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather.

Adkisson fully expected to be killed by a police officer, but instead the evil liberals wrestled him to the floor, holding him there until the police arrived.

James Lee didn’t go in shooting. He did go in wired with explosives. The cops are not yet sure how much damage his homemade bombs would have done, but apparently they were not very powerful. They almost certainly would have killed him, but the hostages were likely safe unless they were very close to him. Very close.

And here we are, at Difference No. 3 between James Lee and say, Timothy McVeigh, who meticulously planned and carried out the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Cuilding in Oklahoma city, which killed 168 people, some of them children at the building’s day care center.

Despite his anti-human rant (“The planet does not need humans”), James Lee didn’t kill a soul, and likely never even planned to harm a single living human, with the probable exception of himself.

McVeigh’s body count was much higher than Lee’s, which was zero. In fact, McVeigh’s was the worst act of terrorism on American soil until September 11, 2001. And while some on the right have hailed him as a hero, he was the last American my colleagues have easily called a terrorist. “Home grown” terrorist no longer means people like McVeigh, Poplawski, Adkisson or Eric Robert Rudolph — now it just means American Muslims, because “terrorist” only applies to Muslims.

I have a funny feeling they may change their tune a bit about Lee. He wasn’t white, you know.

Lee was, clearly, a sick puppy, like, say white supremacist James von Brunn, who believed a Jewish conspiracy was afoot to “destroy the white gene pool.” To keep that from happening, von Brunn spent months planning an assault on the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. He walked into the museum in June 2009 firing a .22-caliber rifle and killed the security guard who opened the door for him.

But James Lee, he wanted a fundamental change in the way we live. His delusion led him to believe the Discovery Channel was the perfect outlet to get his message out. He spent years trying to get the network to change its message, to warn the world’s people that they are the root of the world’s problems. Finally, when Discovery wouldn’t listen, he armed himself and marched into the network’s headquarters to force the network to do his bidding. He didn’t go in shooting — in fact, his guns weren’t even real. His bombs were, of course, and regardless of his beliefs and intentions or lack thereof, his actions were wrong.

Some on the right have unbelievably tried to pin Lee’s assault on Al Gore, apparently the only environmentalist they know by name. But Al Gore has never advocated anything remotely similar to what Lee did. The same can’t be said for the right-wingers who fed lies and other bullshit ideas to von Brunn, McVeigh, Adkisson and Poplawski.

If Lee had only actually been a right-winger. Then we wouldn’t have to fret for one little moment about what happened, why and how. We’d just chalk it up to Second amendment remedies and go on with our lives.

On the other hand, we all really ought to be better than that.