When It All Began

This Is the Earliest Shooter Incident That I Can Remember

August 1, 1966 came during a strange period in my life. Within six weeks, I would be in a coma at Fairview General Hospital in Cleveland while a team of doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. My family physician, Michael J. Eymontt did not have access to CAT Scans or MRI, but he was an endocrinologist and figured that something might be going on with my pituitary gland.

He was right. I read about the Austin, Texas shooting incident in the Cleveland Press and Plain Dealer. Never before had I or my family seen such a gratuitous act of violence toward the innocent. Charles Whitman first killed his mother and his wife, and then took guns to the tower on the University of Texas campus and opened fire at random people who were just going about their business. In an hour and a half, he killed thirteen people and wounded thirty-one. Too bad he didn’t have access to the hi-tech military weaponry that was used in the Las Vegas mélée by Stephen Paddock.

When I was recovering from surgery in the hospital, the news came out that Charles Whitman had had a brain tumor. Okay, so did I, but I didn’t kill anybody. That’s a pretty lame excuse.

The Tower at the University of Texas from Which Charles Whitman Fired His Shots

So now we’ve come full circle with another Texas shooting—one in which half the victims were children, at a church no less!  Between the two incidents, I would have trouble counting how many mentally twisted gun collectors decided to take it out on innocent people. It’s becoming a very popular way for gun freaks to commit murder and suicide at the same time. Thanks to the NRA, there is no danger that Hell will ever be underpopulated with American sickos.

Things I Don’t Really Want to Write About

Subject A

Subject A

It is difficult for me not to write about certain subjects, especially when I am so upset about them. But then, I have to think about you, my readers. However strong I feel about certain things, what if I really don’t have anything to add about what has already been said?

Anyhow, on to the list, in no particular ordure [SIC]:

  1. Presidential Elections. Let’s face it: Even the pundits whose job it is to opine on the political scene either have nothing new to say, or else they are in the business of influencing opinions.
  2. Donald Trump. You know what I think about the Cheeto-haired beast. ’Nuff said!
  3. Awards. Whether it’s the Oscars or the Nobel Prize for Literature, it’s all about politics, usually who hates whom.
  4. American Conservatism. It seems to be segueing into National Socialism (Nazism).
  5. Police Violence. Black lives do matter! All Americans matter!
  6. Terrorism. Everything we do emboldens the terrorists, so let’s just get on with our lives.
  7. Guns. Since when does a “well-regulated Militia” mean that crazy people get to play with Bushmasters?
  8. Ecology. Even if the Earth is on the point of being irretrievably poisoned, we gotta dig coal and chop down trees, no?

There are probably a handful of other subjects which aren’t worth ranting about, mostly because of the seemingly irresolvable split between the Union and the Confederacy. Occasionally, I will still blab out a post when I know I should keep my mouth shut. Please forgive me in advance!

Fast and Furious

Too Many Tragedies

Too Many Tragedies in Too Short a Time Frame

It seems that flags have been at half mast for so long— beginning with the Dallas police shootings—that one no longer knows which disaster is being commemorated. With the 24-hour news cycle, the shootings are coming fast and furious, and the border between events is being blurred.

When one big news event happens, it triggers a news orgy in which the particular story fills all the news time until it is abruptly replaced by the next disaster. I cannot help but think that all the breaking news stories work on the minds of disturbed individuals, making them think that a mass shooting would be a good idea.

I don’t think the perpetrators do it with suicide in mind, but, hey, their minds don’t work all that well anyhow. The San Bernardino shooters, for instance, thought they could stage a getaway. If one is unable to reason well, one gets a certain amount of magical thinking going that, once “the point” has been made, an escape path is possible. Killing multiple human beings with a Bushmaster, however, is so traumatic that it isn’t likely that the shooters could waltz out of the slaughterhouse they have created.

So I never ask why the flag is at half mast any more. It might as well always be at half mast. I wonder if the person who raises and lowers the flag even knows.

 

The United States of Fear

Kalashnikov AK-47

Kalashnikov AK-47

When we won the Second World War, we changed as a people. It’s like the gunfighter who’s gained such a fearsome reputation that everyone comes gunning for him. And, indeed, as a nation we got our asses kicked in Korea, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and a number of other places we never heard of before our famous victory. (Besides, truth to tell, the Second World War was more of a Russian victory than one for America and Britain: Stalin did far more to destroy the German war machine than we did.)

Sometime later, after we clumsily started being the world’s policeman, we discovered that we were not liked. For me, it all started in Caracas, Venezuela, in May 1958 when our Vice President, Richard M. Nixon, was met by an angry mob which attacked his limo. “How could that be?” I thought as a grade school student at the time. “Aren’t we the good guys?”

Then, shortly after I returned from Iceland in September 2001, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by Al Qaida terrorists. Then we learned there are all these Muslims out to get us, people who revered the terrorists and decided to name their sons Osama. As recently as yesterday, I heard a Syrian refugee blame Washington and Moscow for destroying his country—as if ISIS, Al Qaida, and the Syrian Baath Party had no part to play in it.

With the world turning against us, we started to look fearfully at Afro-Americans and Mexican immigrants (whom Trump calls “rapists,” except for a handful of good ones). Among our own kind, there were these strange homosexuals who started attacking our cherished institution of marriage.

Well, I guess we should all buy guns, the more the better. Let’s all build ourselves a fort and blow the heads off anyone who crosses its perimeter. Or if we’re feeling particularly depressed, maybe we could shoot up our old school or our workplace. How dare anyone criticize us? After all, aren’t we the good guys?

Not any more we aren’t.

 

 

 

The Problem With Our Super Heroes

There’s a Reason for Ferguson and Baltimore

There’s a Reason for Ferguson and Baltimore

Violence is woven into the warp and woof of American life. When we are young, it takes over our dreams and make us imagine a super self that can take revenge on the bullies that steal our lunch money and slam us into the hallway lockers. Even when we grow up and become strong, we want to have an edge over all the people we imagine could harm us. Perhaps these people are Black or Mexicans; they’re not our kind of people. Hence, they represent a threat to us.

Perhaps we don’t get into our superhero uniform and cosplay our way out of trouble. Instead, we get guns and use them when we are threatened. We go in for such nonsense as “open carry” and claim that we, in the spirit of the Second Amendment, constitute a militia. But we really don’t. Instead, perhaps our wives yell at us or make eyes at Ralph next door. We pull out our guns and blast away. Or Junior gets upset that Little Bobby stole his tricycle. He knows where Daddy keeps his loaded gun. He find it, and before you know it he’s on the evening news.

Notice that our superheroes are not interested in getting along with people, in negotiating calmly with them. It’s either blood, or you’re a wuss. We make fun of Europeans for being more civilized than us, but down which mean street would you prefer to walk? Laugavegur in Iceland’s Reykjavik? or Hough Avenue in Cleveland?

In his novel The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon depicted the cartoonists who created America’s superheroes as transferring the Jewish Ghetto hero that was the Golem to American streets. The problem is, things got out of hand. The translation went awry.

I’m not saying the superheroes are to blame: It’s just that they represent one of the elements in American life that symbolize the mess that we’re in.

 

No Nuclear Weapons for Ferguson PD!

Also: No Drones or Bombers Have Been Approved

Also: No Drones or Bombers Have Been Approved

President Obama today declared in an impromptu press conference that no drones, bombers, or nuclear warheads would be approved for the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department for riot control.

National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre protested the President’s decision, followed quickly by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who stated, “The Second Amendment gives us full authority to pulverize any nigras who threaten public order—by any means possible.” House Speaker John Boehner could not be reached for comment, though it is suspected he was either being briefed by Tea Party representatives or putting a new coat of orange paint on his face.

In the meantime, Vladimir Putin has authorized two hundred white trucks to cross the Mississippi River to give humanitarian aid to the white population of the Saint Louis area. It is suspected, however, that these trucks may contain RPGs and automatic weapons to assist the Robocops of the Ferguson Police Department.

 

 

Shooters, Shooters Everywhere

Shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia

Airport Shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia

Just as the Christmas shopping season is about to begin, people are newly afraid to go to shopping centers, airports, and other public places because of the growing trend of what the New Jersey police call “Suicide by Cop.” Some unbalanced person gets a cache of firearms with enough bullets to depopulate a mid-sized town and then goes on a shooting spree until he is felled by the police. In the meantime, a number of innocent people who just had the misfortune of being there at the time lie dead or wounded on the ground.

For this trend, we must thank the members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) for their desire to promote the sale of firearms to certifiable loonies and, in general, to deteriorate the quality of life in America. The pudgy-fingered, middle-aged members of the NRA are accessories to murder and mayhem, which they defend by referring to themselves as a militia per the Second Amendment. Since when are militias created to thin the population of innocent men, women, and children? I am sure that Wayne La Pierre and other gun whores have what they consider to be a perfectly legitimate argument. To which I counter thus: There was a time when this sort of thing didn’t happen. You gun fanciers made it possible and, in fact, easy. Therefore you are responsible.

After November 15, I avoid visiting shopping centers and other places where people congregate to buy gifts. I feel sorry for the so-called brick-and-mortar retail establishments because I feel that their influence on American culture will eventually wane. For years now, I have done virtually all my holiday shopping on the Internet. It is just not worth exposing Martine and myself to well-armed fruitcakes in large target-rich public places. And, besides, the parking has always been a major hassle.

So, is it possible that the shooters will put an end to most public manifestations of Christmas? That’s something to think about. After all, the trend is nowhere near dying down. If there’s one thing the United States is richly endowed with, it’s lunatics.