Why did this happen? It happened because something has been changing: our attitudes. It happened because we don’t respect lines anymore: lines no one should cross.
People didn’t suddenly become mentally ill. They were ill before. We have always had mental illness. They didn’t shoot people to this extent. It would be hard for a song like Harry Chapin’s Sniper about the 60s Texas Tower mass murderer to stand out now. There are so many mass murderers: sometimes in a single week.
We have had a gun culture for a long, long time. I grew up in one. I bought guns through the mail when it was legal. Regulations have come and gone, but we didn’t have this.
Video games, drag queens, open borders? We’ve had these things, more and/or less, for many years. We didn’t have this.
Something radicalized the shooters. Something moved them in this direction. Something inspired this behavior. Something changed attitudes. Something has more people crossing lines no one should cross.
Perhaps I should have typed “a lot of things?” Certainly the meteoric rise of such mass killings in the past two years has been caused, in part, by rhetoric that shifts attitudes. Rhetoric like “2nd Amendment solution” if someone might lose, or offering to pay for the defense of someone if they beat up a protestor, or demonizing immigrants with rhetoric so close to “vermin” you can almost hear the corpse of Hitler chuckle. He’s certainly dead by now, right? Or, given all the weird TV “History” suppositions, I suppose alive in some secret Nazi lab, his Abby Normal brain in a jar filled with solution, hooked to a computer?
Is that computer synched to the White House? Steve Bannon’s computer? Some computer owned by Trump’s favorite entertainers, and Russian assets, Boris and Natasha? Just asking.
I do feel presidential rhetoric has helped more people cross the line than previously. I also feel when he has to read teleprompter pre-written niceties instead of being his beloved natural nasty self he gets so bored he makes mistakes like “Toledo” instead of “Dayton.” Trump reading some platitude filled speech like he’s spitting out rotted teeth doesn’t help. But it’s not all Trump. Other influences too, like the idea that more guns are the solution, have us crossing lines no one should cross. Even in the supposedly “wild west” guns were often checked at the saloon doors. We used to have schools with unlocked doors, no armed guards. We didn’t need any guns there before, we shouldn’t have to now.
”More guns” has helped us cross lines we shouldn’t. The “we need more armed citizens” talking point pervasive, persistentand sometimes quite thoughtless. I can’t count the number of people who tried to argue with me that if the patrons at that movie theater during the Colorado shooting had been armed that would have stopped the shooting, the shooter.
Dark theater, lots of noise including a film running; guns going off everywhere, sound echoing everywhere: what could go wrong? Poorly trained, if trained at all, patrons; what could go wrong? Everything. Everything.
Politically we have crossed the line: compromise is evil, those who don’t agree are evil, ‘good’ defined as anything to win, no matter how unethical the effort is. Even war has some lines, or it used to. These days, politics? Not so much.
We have been told by the president’s spokesperson that the perp “has felt this way a long time,” so don’t blame the president. I offer a backatcha: he went a long time before he did this, so what changed? What was his source of presidentially inspired anger?
Put that well deserved stink bomb in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Spokesperson.
We are being told a solution is more guns. I propose it is part of the problem. Years ago trained officers chased a dangerous perp in NYC. Bullets flew, innocents shot. I don’t blame them. If officers were forbidden to stop extremely dangerous, well-armed, suspects imagine what would follow. But anyone who thinks just more guns is the solution might need some of the mental health solutions pols are advocating.
Anything to piss off the ‘libtards?'” These kinds of attitudes are a step very close to, “Anything to get rid of them.” And, of course add “guns as the solution” mindset, what are we to expect? Hugs and kisses?
Sidebar time! Some offered solutions would make the Grim Reaper laugh. The death penalty? Really? Hey, Mr. Kamikaze! Don’t do that! We’ll kill you!
Then we have Stand Your Ground-like situations. Regardless of the specific nature of this vast network of screwy statues the ATTITUDE they inspire is that one can stalk a teen in the dark, without even identifying yourself as neighborhood watch. When the teen defends himself the courts back you up. No STG for him. Music too loud? Car full of teens? SHOOT! …even as they flee: just claim you felt threatened.
My point being, attitude-wise, we have been crossing all kinds of lines for a long time. Trump is NOT the fire, but he is a potent accelerant. White Nationalism certainly provides some of the flame, not all.
Lastly, I have told this story many times…
In elementary school I was terrorized by bullies for about two years. It went from stopping me on my bike and insulting me to punches, pushing off me my bike, kicks, trashing my bike. One morning I went up to my brother’s bedroom and grabbed a pellet pistol that looks like a .35 revolver. I put it in my pants. I reached the property line and stopped. I thought to myself, “This is wrong.” I returned the pistol to its rightful place and solved my problem another way.
We are NOT stopping at the property line, and we desperately need that dedication to right or wrong back again. My father used to say, “Do what’s right, even if it’s wrong for you.” Now it’s more like, “Do what gets you what you want. Period.”
We have leaders who encourage them, like ‘solutions’ for those seeking asylum or maybe crossed illegally…
”Shoot them! Shoot them!”
”Oh, you can get away with that on the Panhandle!”
We need the ethical sense John McCain had when he stopped the crowd demonizing Barack Obama instead of making some ‘joke’ out of it and therefore encouraging that behavior.
We need to understand guns are often not the solution.
We need to get back to “this is wrong” and stopping at the property line.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved