breaks your goddamn heart

— So did you hear about Thousand Oaks? The mass…
— Yeah.
— You hear about the kid who survived the mass murder at Vegas only to…
— Yeah, I heard. Tel Orfanos.
— Is that his name? You see the video of his mother talking to…
— Yeah. Saw it.
— Breaks your goddamn heart.
— Yeah.
— Guns, man. I dunno.

— Thing is, the shooter? He wasn’t mentally unstable enough to be committed. So he could legally buy and own a…
— Just stop.
— What?
— Just fucking stop.
— What?
— Stop with the ‘nobody knew he was that disturbed’ shit. I’m sick of hearing it.
— I’m just saying maybe there should be some sort of law where people who aren’t unstable enough to be committed but are still pretty fucking unstable should…
— There is.
— There is what?
— There IS a fucking law. In California. Right now. A gun violence restraining order law. It allows law enforcement to temporarily disarm somebody who’s shown dangerous behavior, even if it’s not extreme enough to commit them.
— Seriously?
— Yeah. They passed the law after the Isla Vista mass murder.
— Which one was that? I can’t keep track of all…
— Elliot Rodger.
— Why do I know that name?
— He’s the patron saint of the incel movement.
— Aw, fuck.
— Yeah.
— So they…
— Yeah. After this guy went on a killing spree because he hated women California passed a law to disarm angry dangerous people who’ve demonstrated a capacity and a propensity toward violence.
— But they haven’t enforced it?

— No, I guess not. I wonder why. Maybe the law is just unpopular?
— Let’s ask Tel Orfanos’ mother.

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keep saying it

There’s too much to say today, and it feels like there’s not much point in saying any of it. We’re dealing with yet another mass shooting, this time a hate-inspired attack on a synagogue. We’re dealing with this just a day after the arrest of a hate-inspired series of bomb attacks on prominent critics of President Trump — which took place just a couple of days after a hate-inspired double murder of African-Americans in a Kentucky grocery store (after the shooter failed to gain entry into an African-American church).

In the face of all this hate, President Trump has once again proven himself incapable of performing the basic functions of his office. Instead of trying to unify the nation against this hate, he’s continued to encourage the anger and resentment of his followers. Instead of showing compassion for the victims of this shooting and offering comfort, he blamed the temple for not having an armed guard at the door. Instead of making a sincere call for unity, he continued to fuel the bitterness and the hate. He has falsely indicted Democrats and the news media for a lack of civility while absolutely refusing to acknowledge that his rhetoric plays any part in the problem.

Many of Trump’s supporters insist that all the hate and violence being inflicted on the public — including this mass murder — is a product of false flag operations conducted by Democrats and the Deep State, intended to hurt Republicans in the midterm elections. Instead of decrying this, Trump has fed into it, insisting that he is a victim of some sort of conspiracy. In doing so, the president has deliberately undermined public trust in many of the fundamental systems of representative democracy — law enforcement, the courts, the news media. And he’s done it purely in the interest of political expediency.

Again, there’s too much to say today. And right now  it feels like there’s not much point in saying any of it. But I still think it’s important to say it. And to keep saying it. Over and over and over. Even if it doesn’t seem to do any good, it’s important to keep saying it.

spink spink spink

Okay, I’ve come up with a plan to put an end to mass murder events. After the most recent mass killing (and it’s the sad nature of mass killings that the phrase ‘the most recent’ becomes meaningless almost immediately — so just to be clear, I’m talking about the mass murder of journalists and support staff at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, MD on 28 June), I knew we had to do something. I mean, thoughts and prayers just aren’t getting the job done.

I think we need to try a new approach. Bracelets of Submission.

Okay, I admit, I see some branding issues there. That ‘submission’ business would make it hard to market. But you see, that’s the actual name for Wonder Woman’s cuffs. The Amazons of Paradise Island wore them as a symbol of their loving submission to the goddess Aphrodite. They also served as a reminder to the Amazons ‘of the folly of submitting to men’.

So yeah, that goddess and submission business might discourage some folks. But I think we just need to shift attention to the bracelets’ awesome ricochet properties. I mean, these things are made from Amazonium, which everybody knows is the industry standard for deflecting projectiles. Not only that, the bracelets are imbued with magic that makes them impermeable to fire, invulnerable to traditional weaponry, immune to blasts of energy, resistant to deceleration trauma (as a result of, say, falling from a great height), and can repel ticks and prevent insect bites. Plus, can you say fashion forward?

But granted, we’d have to rebrand them as something other than Bracelets of Submission. Maybe we could call them Second Amendment Cuffs. Or what about MAGA Bangles? No, wait, I’ve got it. Freedom Gauntlets. Yeah, that would work. 

So I propose we issue Amazonium Freedom Gauntlets to every citizen of school age (at the very least, to those who have health insurance coverage) and hey, bingo, problem solved. Angry white guy breaks into school and starts shooting? Spink spink spink until the police arrive. Angry white guy walks into your place of employment? Spink spink spink and a bit of patience and it’s all over. Angry white guy attacks a women’s health clinic? Spink spink spink and maybe a couple more spinks. Angry white guy shoots up a gay nightclub or a mosque or a pizza parlor? Spink spink, bitches.

Spink spink spink, bitches.

Now, some folks will say this is silly. Some folks will say I’m making light of a terrible situation. Some folks will say I’m mocking the notion of thoughts and prayers.

All of those folks are right. It is silly, it is making light of a terrible situation, and I’m totally mocking thoughts and prayers as a response to mass shootings. Thoughts and prayers are no more effective at mass murder prevention than magical Amazonian Freedom Gauntlets. The response of the United States to gun violence deserves to be mocked.

Because we know this to be true: five men and women were killed couple of days ago by yet another angry white guy who legally purchased the weapon he used to kill them, and aside from the ritual thoughts and prayers, absolutely nothing will be done to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again tomorrow. Nothing.

forgetting

Yesterday we had the school shooting. Today we’ll name the victims. We’ll create a makeshift memorial, with teddy bears and balloon hearts, with heartfelt handwritten notes and painfully sincere poems, with photos of the dead before they became the generic dead. Today we’ll swear to remember them and keep them in our hearts and prayers forever.

“To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High School – we are with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever…” — President Comrade Donald J. Trump

Like so much of what Trump says, this isn’t true. We won’t be with the victims and their families forever. Tomorrow — maybe later today — we’ll start the forgetting.

Not the parents, of course. Not their family members and their friends. They actually will remember the dead and grieve for them. But the rest of us? Well, school shootings are like buses; another one will come along pretty soon. Most of us will retain a better memory of the last bus we took than we will of individual victims of any school shooting.

We’ll forget. That’s just a fact. Back in December of 2013, on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, I made a similar comment about another school shooting victim.

Yes, a 17-year old girl got shot, but if it weren’t for the Sandy Hook anniversary thing, the national news media would probably have ignored it. Still, they did what they could with what they had. They emphasized the Cute White Girl Who Loved Horses angle, making her a classic innocent victim. They found some really nice high school photos of her. What was her name? Kaylee? Claire? Callie? Something like that — pretty sure it starts with a ‘k’ sound. She got shot in the head. With a shotgun. Nobody wants to hear about that. And nobody other than her friends and family will remember her in a couple of weeks. Same with what’s-his-name, the school shooter. Karl.

Her name was Claire Davis. She died ten days after she was shot. She and the shooter were the only physical casualties of that event. In the discussion that followed that post, I was taken to task by the mother of one of Claire’s classmates.

“Claire died and a entire community cares. My daughter was in that school. Many students will have post traumatic stress disorder due to this shooting. We care about this and it has nothing to do with the media. You came across very callous in this post and whatever you tried to communicate got lost in that.”

That, sadly, is exactly what I tried to communicate: that we’ve become callous, that we’ve become numbed by the sheer number of mass killings. There are so many mass killings and so many victims — so many dead, so many wounded and maimed — that as a nation, we can’t keep track of them. We identify them as individuals shortly after they’ve been killed; we give their names, we mention something specific about them in an effort to stress the magnitude of the loss, we try to say Look, this is a real person who had hopes and dreams and the potential to live a full and happy and productive life, and now that potential is GONE.

But the reality is there are just too many of them. Ten yesterday, seventeen a few months ago, three a few days before that, fifty-some in Las Vegas, a dozen here and there and they’re all inevitably clumped in the public mind as generic victims. We don’t remember them. We can’t.

But we should try.

This is Claire Davis. She was seventeen years old. She was a student at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. She loved horses. She was a real person who had hopes and dreams and the potential to live a full and happy and productive life. She was shot on December 13, 2013 and died ten days later.

Her name was Claire Davis.

they don’t say that anymore

Making America great again, that’s what this fuckwit says he’s doing. Another school shooting, eight to ten dead, explosive devices scattered in and around the school, and this guy’s first response? Strap on his pistol (because Texas is an open carry state), grab an American flag, slap a Trump/MAGA hat on his melon, and head to the scene to stand up for the Second Amendment.

And the other guy in this short video? The one who is outraged by the fuckwit with the flag? His answer is that we need prayers. Prayers. I suppose it’s better to ask for prayers than to strap on your little friend and start a one-fuckwit Second Amendment parade. But prayers? Hasn’t helped yet, has it. Hasn’t made America noticeably great again.

And the patriots at FreeRepublic? They know who is responsible.

“[S]ingle mother whores having children indiscriminately because they don’t need a father figure. Their bastard children growing up without morals, values or ethics. An utter sense of depravity and lawlessness. Liberals have only themselves to blame for this chaos.”

“False flag event to distract from yesterday’s IG Horowitz report on illegal acts by FBI to whitewash Clinton email investigation. As the heat increases against the deep state, watch for more of these.”

“The deep state is the group who covered up Holder’s, Obama’s, Brennan’s, Rices’s, Clapper’s, Lynch’s and Clinton’s crimes, who then tried to to stage a coup against a rightfully elected president by creating a completely fictitious narrative about collusion with the Russians. They’re funded by a global cabal that includes the wealthiest families on earth. The same families who financially fund both sides of World Wars.”

Single mothers, liberals, the Deep Fucking State. How can you possibly reason with people like this? They also know how to put an end to school shootings.

“Perhaps time to bring back public hangings.”

“It’s time to arm the teachers and students.”

“Ban violent video games. Hollyweird’s crap spewing violence is also not a help to these unstable kids of leftisms rotten fruits.”

Ban video games. Hang offenders in the town square. Arm everybody. Carry a flag to the site of a school shooting. That’s how to make America great again.

I rarely get discouraged. I’m an optimistic person by nature. But it guts me to know that this shit is NOT going to stop. It guts me that the people with the authority and power and the goddamn obligation to reduce this shit aren’t going to do it. It guts me to admit that this county, which has done great things in the past, isn’t capable of greatness now. And won’t be for the foreseeable future.

Kids used to say “I never thought something like this could happen at my school.” They don’t say that anymore.

if i had enough bullets

Howard Unruh. Odds are you’ve never heard of him. He was born in 1921 and raised in Camden, New Jersey, not far from where the poet Walt Whitman lived in his declining years. He was a shy, unassuming, working class kid who took a blue-collar job out of high school, and when World War II broke out, he signed up with the Army.

He was assigned to the 342nd Armored Field Artillery of the 89th Infantry Division. His unit fought in several major combat operations in Europe, including the relief of Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. By all accounts, he was a good soldier. Followed orders, fought well, killed several enemy soldiers, earned some commendations, and at the end of the war, after three years of military service, he was honorably discharged.

Private First Class Howard Unruh

Like a lot of veterans, he had trouble adapting back to civilian life. He suffered from a lot of free-floating anxiety, argued with his neighbors, was mocked and harassed for being gay, kept track of slights and insults in a notebook. Then on September 6, 1949, after breakfast with his mother, Howard Unruh dressed himself in a brown tropical-worsted suit, put on a striped bow tie, and laced up his old Army boots. He loaded the Luger he’d taken from the body of a dead Nazi during the war, left his house, and began to walk down the street shooting people.

He shot people he thought had treated him poorly. And he shot people who were somehow associated with somebody he thought had treated him poorly. And he shot people who just happened to be passing by. He killed thirteen people in all; the oldest was 68, the youngest was two weeks shy of his third birthday. It all happened in a span of around twenty minutes.

Howard Unruh can be considered the progenitor of the modern mass murderer. He never stood trial for his crimes because he was adjudicated legally insane (though by modern standards, he’d almost certainly be considered fit to stand trial). When he died just over eight years ago in the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, hardly anybody noticed. He’s probably only remembered by criminologists.

Howard Unruh being arrested.

Here’s why Howard Unruh is important today. He committed his murders with a Luger P08, a semi-automatic pistol which Guns and Ammo magazine called “the most important automatic pistol ever.” It held eight rounds. Eight rounds, which means Unruh had to reload at least twice and probably three or four times (several of his shots missed). It took him around a third of an hour to kill 13 victims.

A week ago Nikolas Cruz killed 17 and wounded 14 in less than six minutes. In 2012, Adam Lanza killed 27 in less than five minutes in the Sandy Hook massacre. In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and wounded 25 others in less than nine minutes during the Virginia Tech shooting. Last year, Stephen Paddock killed 58 and wounded over 400 people in about ten minutes. And just to repeat myself, it took at least twenty minutes for Howard Unruh to kill 13 people.

Do the math. Then consider whether banning magazines capable of holding 30 rounds would reduce the butcher’s bill.

It’s worth noting the very last public statement Howard Unruh made. He was being interviewed by a psychologist. He said:

“I’d have killed a thousand if I had enough bullets.”

Today, he could have had enough bullets.

school shooting — alert the koalas

There’s nothing wrong with thoughts and prayers. I mean, they’re completely fucking useless, but there’s nothing wrong with sending thoughts and prayers to victims and their families. Hell, send along some unicorns as well, and a few koala bears in party hats. It’s all about letting folks know how you feel, that’s what matters.

Ain’t none of it going to stop the next school shooting, of course. I figure that’ll happen in the next ten days or so. Probably won’t be as bloody as the one in Parkland, Florida yesterday. The butcher’s bill probably won’t be as high. Most school shootings have a lower body count. But, again, it’s all about the shooter letting folks know how he feels, that’s what matters.

You know what else matters? Doing something. And if there’s one thing about which we can be absolutely certain, it’s this: we won’t do anything. Oh, after I finish writing this I’ll call both my senators and my local congressman, but I know they won’t do anything. Some of you may do the same. Most of you won’t; most of you will voice your anger on Facebook or Twitter, maybe repost a meme, maybe sign an online petition. But most you won’t do more than that.

I’m not being judgmental here. Well, yeah, I guess I am — but really, why should you do anything more? We all know it won’t make any difference, because Congress won’t do anything. And why should they? It wasn’t their kids who were killed or wounded. It wasn’t their kids who’ll have nightmares for the foreseeable future because of the shit they saw in the hallways of their high school. And let’s be honest, the folks in Congress won’t suffer any real consequence for not doing anything.

Sure, some of them will get voted out of office in the next election, but it won’t be because of this. By the time the next election rolls around, we’ll have had another half dozen school shootings and other mass killings — and when you enter the voting booth, the odds are you won’t be thinking about any particular school shooting, let alone any particular shooting victim.

Still waiting for the unicorn. In the meantime, here’s a blue daisy and some thoughts and prayers. Sorry your kids got all killed.

We’ve reached a point in this nation where we treat mass shootings as a sort of localized natural disaster or an industrial accident. A tornado in Oklahoma kills five, an explosion in a chemical warehouse in Texas kills eight, an earthquake in Alaska kills three, a mass shooting at a McDonald’s in Tennessee kills nine, a flash flood in Arizona kills six, a train derailment in Montana kills eleven, a school shooting in Florida kills seventeen.

Wait, that’s not true. A train derailment and a chemical explosion will lead to an investigation, after which there’s a decent chance legislators will seriously consider implementing a change in the law to prevent shit like that from happening again. And tornadoes might spark a drive to improve weather forecasting. And a flood might lead communities to prevent houses from being built on a flood plain. And earthquakes have led to more stringent building codes.

Mass shootings? Sorry, nothing we can do. Except call out those thoughts and prayers, Send in the unicorns. Alert the koala bears in party hats. Sorry so many kids got killed again.