mel gibson delusions

Kyle fucking Rittenhouse. In a rational universe, I’d feel sorry for this kid. I mean, he seems the sort of kid who grew up loving action hero movies, imagining himself fighting Commies and other monsters, but was always one of the last kids picked when teams were chosen. I obviously don’t know him, but he seems like an inadequate dweeb with Mel Gibson delusions.

K. Rittenhouse — inadequate dweeb with a rifle and Mel Gibson delusions

But we don’t live in a rational universe. That dweeb is currently on trial for murder and has become the chubber-cheeked darling of a warped, right-wing fan club.

Here are a couple things you probably ought to know when discussing the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: 1) it’s not about right and wrong, it’s about the law as it’s written, and 2) the law regarding self-defense in Wisconsin has a lot in common with the Florida law that allowed a jury to acquit George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. We’re talking about Wisconsin Code 939.48, which deals with self-defense and defense of others.

Let me make it even more simple. A lot of the stuff you probably think ought to be important in the case, isn’t going to be important. For example, you may think it’s important to question whether a 17-year-old high school dropout living in Illinois had any legitimate fucking reason to be in Wisconsin, at night, during a violent demonstration, illegally carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. Right? You may think it’s important that the people who owned the business that Rittenhouse said it was his ‘job’ to protect, never asked him to protect their business. You may think it matters that he described himself as an EMT, when his only ‘training’ came during a youth police cadet program that was canceled due to the pandemic not long after he joined. You may think all that stuff matters when deciding if Rittenhouse is guilty of murder.

But nope. Because Rittenhouse claims he was acting in self defense. None of Rittenhouse’s bad behavior has any bearing at all on whether he believed he was defending himself when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum four times and killed him, or when he shot Anthony Huber and killed him, or when he shot Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm, nearly severing his bicep.

I know, that sounds crazy. But the primary question of law is whether Rittenhouse, at the moment he shot and killed/wounded those people, believed it “was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.” That’s it, that’s the point on which this trial will almost certainly turn. Did this kid think he was about to get the shit kicked out of him? Did he think he was about to die?

Rittenhouse, having fatally shot Huber and about to shoot Grosskreutz

But, wait. What’s this? The Wisconsin law has a ‘criminal conduct’ exception? Why yes, it does. Except that exception is confusing as fuck. Here it is (with my emphases included):

“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”

So, was Rittenhouse engaged in unlawful conduct? Well, yeah. He was carrying a gun that had been illegally purchased for him by a straw buyer (a crime in Illinois), and he was carrying the gun illegally in Wisconsin, where the crime took place. Wisconsin law says, “any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” Was that conduct likely to provoke others to attack him? Maybe? Being an asshole is certainly likely to provoke folks. But here’s the key: did Rittenhouse reasonably believe he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape?

Nothing about this is legal.

Here’s the problem: Rittenhouse was running away at the beginning of each fatal confrontation. He was running away from Joseph Rosenbaum when he heard a gunshot (a ‘warning shot’ fired by a third party). At that point, Rittenhouse turned and aimed his rifle at Rosenbaum, who apparently attempted to wrestle the firearm away…and was killed. He was also running away from Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, who were chasing him after he’d shot Rosenbaum. When Rittenhouse tripped and fell, Huber hit him in the shoulder with a skateboard; Rittenhouse shot and killed him. Grosskreutz (who actually IS an EMT and was legally carrying a handgun for self defense) apparently pulled out his firearm at that point, and Rittenhouse shot him.

It seems to me that everybody who ran into Kyle Rittenhouse after a certain point, had a reasonable fear for their lives. And that’s the problem with all these ‘stand your ground’ or ‘no need to withdraw’ self defense laws. The only person who gets to take advantage of the laws is the one who shoots first and survives.

This was a clusterfuck. No, that’s not right. It was a series of cascading clusterfucks. Absolutely NONE of it would have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t an arrogant, fuckwitted, asshole with Mel Gibson delusions. None of this would have happened if he’d just stayed the fuck home. As far as that goes, none of this would have happened if the Kenosha police hadn’t shot an unarmed Black man seven times.

But legally, none of that really matters. What matters, according to the law, is this: was Rittenhouse legit in fear for his life at the time he pulled the trigger?

The answer is probably yeah, he was. That may be all that matters at the burnt end of this trial. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not anything remotely like justice, but don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks. All it takes is one juror who believes the Mel Gibson wanna-be was really and truly in fear for his life. And to be fair (man, sometimes I fucking hate to be fair), I can’t blame Kyle Rittenhouse if he walks. I mean, I completely blame him for killing those people. I completely blame him for stupidly inserting himself into a situation where he didn’t belong. But I firmly believe every accused criminal deserves a fair trial and a competent defense. A competent defense includes using the law to help the defendant.

There’ll be a lot of blame to go around if Rittenhouse walks. Be sure to focus a lot of that blame on the motherfuckers who wrote the law.

this week in responsible gun ownership

May 18Hemet, CA. 1 dead, 4 wounded. A fight broke out among a group of women. One pulled a handgun and opened fire. Four were wounded. Bystander Tamika Haynes, sitting in a car nearby, was killed. She was three months pregnant, a mother to an 8-year-old son.

Oakland, CA. 2 dead, 5 wounded. A party bus carrying young women and girls celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday was fired on by a passing car. The dead were Alayasia Thurston (19 years old, mother of a three-year-old) and Zoey Hughes (16 years old). At least 70 rounds were fired at the bus.

May 20Evansville, IN. 0 dead, 4 wounded. A fight between two people escalated; one man opened fire with a handgun. Four were wounded.

May 21Jersey City, NJ. : 2 dead 12 wounded. A house party broke up after a noise complaint. Some party-goers then attended another nearby party, where violence broke out. Asia Hester, 25, and Kevin Elliott, 30 were killed. Multiple guns and shell casings were recovered at the scene, suggesting more than one shooter (some of whom may have been returning fire). According to police, some of the wounded were released after treatment, “while others continue to fight for their lives,”

May 22Albany, NY. 1 dead, 5 wounded. A drive-by shooting left one man dead and five others wounded.

Minneapolis, MN. 2 dead, 8 wounded. Two man involved in “a verbal altercation” in a local nightclub drew handguns and began shooting at each other. One of the shooters was killed, along with a bystander. Eight were wounded, including the second shooter.

Ft. Wayne, IN. 1 dead, 4 wounded. A group of people drinking and visiting in the parking lot of an apartment complex yelled at 20-year-old Jamarion Thomas for carrying a rifle through the parking lot because children were present. Thomas went into his apartment, then returned outside still holding the rifle. He yelled at the people who’d yelled at him. At that point, another man drew a handgun and pointed it at Thomas, who opened fire with the rifle. 30 spent rifle casings were found at the scene, as well as more than 15 handgun casings of various calibers–suggesting several people had weapons and were shooting. An unidentified woman was killed; four were wounded, including Thomas.

North Charleston, SC. 1 dead, 13 wounded. A fight broke out near a stage that was set up for an unauthorized concert. Multiple people drew handguns and fired on each other. Thirteen were wounded; 14-year-old Ronjanae Smith was killed.

Columbus, OH. 1 dead, 5 wounded. A group of teens on social media decided to gather in downtown Columbus and ride kick-scooters. The event became larger than expected and a fight erupted, resulting in multiple shooters firing at each other. Five teens were wounded and 16-year old Olivia Kurtz was killed.

May 23Paterson, NJ. 0 dead, 5 wounded. A large block party ended in somebody pulling a handgun and wounding five people, whose ages ranged from 26 to 36 years.

Youngstown, OH. 3 dead, 3 wounded. And argument that began inside a bar moved outside. At least two men pulled handguns, including a bar security guard. Police describe the event as involving multiple guns fired by multiple people. Some of the victims were wounded/killed in the crossfire.

Bay Shore, NY. 0 dead, 4 wounded. A gunman opened fire at a group of people gathered near some basketball courts. Four were struck by one shot each.

Norfolk, VA. 0 dead, 4 wounded. Little information is available about the four adults who were shot. They were taken to the hospital suffering non-life-threatening injuries.

Inkster, MI. 2 dead, 2 wounded. Four people were shot (two critically wounded, two fatally) while playing basketball in the street. Multiple shooters were involved. Police are investigating if the murders were related to a pair of May 18th incidents involving the non-fatal shooting of a woman, followed hours later by fatal shooting of the victim’s boyfriend at the same address.

May 24West Jefferson, OH: 5 dead, 0 wounded. Police found three people shot dead inside a building with “at least two more found fatally wounded outside.” No other information is known at this time. “Things like this just don’t happen in West Jefferson, or don’t happen in small towns,” said West Jefferson Police Chief Chris Floyd

That’s 21 dead and 78 wounded in 14 separate incidents of firearm violence in the past week. There’s no universally agreed definition of ‘mass shooting’ or ‘mass murder’ but there are some generally accepted guidelines. Here’s the most common ‘mass shooting’ definition: a shooting at a public place in which four or more people (not including the shooter) are shot in a single episode, excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence. Here’s the most common definition of ‘mass murder’: four or more people killed during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders, generally in a single location (or close proximity), excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence.

Using those definitions, only one of the multiple casualty events of the preceding week (the killings in West Jefferson, Ohio) MIGHT actually qualify as a mass murder. If the killer in that case turns out to be related to one or more of the victims, it will be disqualified as a mass murder and considered a mere ‘domestic’ crime. Similarly, many of the apparent mass shooting incidents are disqualified as mass shootings because they involve multiple shooters–some of whom were armed bystanders who because reaction shooters.

What we can see from the last week is this: more guns in the hands of more people means more people get shot. Shot because of poor impulse control–and easy access to guns. Shot because of inadequate (or no) training regarding when and how to shoot–and the ease with which people are granted the power to carry concealed guns.

Gov. Abbott loves the guns.

And that brings me to this massively stupid motherfucker in Texas and his massively stupid decision. Gov. Greg Abbott is about to sign a law allowing people to carry handguns without a license, without a background check, and without any training. Why the fuck would Abbott do such an astonishingly stupid thing? Because he says it will allow Texans to better defend themselves in public. He wants Texas to be…and I’m NOT making this up…a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. You know, a place where guns and gun owners can feel safe and secure against…against people who have guns and want to hurt them? Fuck if I know.

It’s been almost 18 days since the last mass shooting in Texas, when Larry Bollin opened fire on his co-workers at Kent Moore Cabinets, killing one and wounding four more (five, if you count the Texas police officer who was wounded trying to arrest him). Gov. Abbott issued a public statement after the shooting.

Cecilia and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.Cecilia and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.”

I’m sure that helped. The governor also visited the victims. In an interview on FOXNews, he said:

“Let me tell you something about the shooting in Bryan, Texas, that will answer your question [about firearm safety legislation]. I went to the hospital where the victims’ families were on the night of the shooting. And we hugged and we cried and we talked to them about it. As I was talking to family members of one of the victims, they said: ‘Governor please, do not allow this shooting to strip us of our 2nd Amendment rights.'”

I don’t know…it’s Texas. Won’t require you to wear a mask in a pandemic; won’t require chemical plants to safely store volatile chemicals, won’t prevent lunatics from carrying guns.

something you hope never happens

This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home.” That’s from Vince Niski, the Chief of Police in Colorado Springs, following the mass murder of six people (and the suicide of the shooter) in the early hours of Mother’s Day.

Something you hope never happens in your own community. As if this was the first mass murder in Colorado Springs in Vince Niski’s experience. As if Matthew John Murray hadn’t killed five and wounded five others in a pair of church shootings (one in Colorado Springs, one in Arvada) in 2007 when Niski was just a lieutenant in the Colorado Springs PD. As if Noah Harpham hadn’t killed three random people in the streets of Colorado Springs in October of 2015, when Niski was the Deputy Chief of Operations. As if only a month later, in November of 2015, Robert Lewis Dear hadn’t killed three and wounded ten at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. I’m sure each time Vince Niski hoped it was something that would never happen again in his community.

Colorado Springs Chief of Police Vince Niski

At this point, they police aren’t releasing the name of Colorado Springs’ newest mass murderer. The Colorado Springs police describe him as ‘the boyfriend of one of the female victims.” Former boyfriend is more likely. Or a boyfriend in the process of becoming a former boyfriend. Or just another angry man who doesn’t feel he’s getting the respect he deserves as a man. Regardless, he drove to the party, walked inside, and began shooting people–including his supposed girlfriend. Then, as happens routinely in these man-angry-at-a-woman mass murders, he killed himself.

As Chief Niski says, this is something you hope never happens in your community. Except it does, all the damned time. Maybe not with such a high butcher’s bill, but it happens all the time in every state in the US. You can hope your fucking heart out, but angry men with access to firearms are going to continue to make it happen. If your community is Colorado Springs–if your community is in a state that doesn’t require a permit to purchase a firearm, it’s more likely that this will happen. If your community is in a state that doesn’t require firearm registration, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community is in a “shall issue” state–meaning local sheriffs MUST issue a concealed weapons permit if an applicant meets certain criteria**–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows people to openly carry weapons without a permit, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows you to make, possess, or own a ghost gun–a handmade firearm without a serial number–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If you live in a state that has actually banned local communities (with the exception of Denver) from enacting their own stricter firearm safety laws, then it’s more likely it’ll happen.

It’s not Chief Vince Niski’s fault that Matthew John Murray was able to assemble a small arsenal in preparation for his angry man murders–a Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle and three semi-auto pistols (a Beretta .22-caliber, a Beretta .40-caliber, and a Springfield Armory 9mm). Or that Noah Harpham was able to buy a DPMS Classic 16 semi-automatic rifle and two handguns (a Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum revolver and a Springfield Armory XD-M 9mm pistol). Or that Robert Lewis Dear bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle (and the multiple propane tanks he’d brought to the Planned Parenthood clinic with the intent to turn them into explosives). Niski had nothing to do with it. But he’s been around the block long enough to know that if those three angry men could find the means to kill sixteen people and wound about that same number, it’s no surprise another angry man could find the means to murder half a dozen people at a birthday party. Which, according to Chief Niski, is something you hope never happens in your community.

But if it’s happened four times in the last decade and a half, it’ll probably happen again. It’ll probably happen again because the people of Colorado LET IT HAPPEN. Because they’ve elected people who have refused to take any step to reduce the likelihood that it’ll happen again. Chief Niski’s hope is fucking worthless unless somebody takes action to implement actual reasons for hope.

What happened on Mother’s Day is NOT Chief Niski’s fault. He’s only guilty of voicing the stupid platitudes that chiefs of police are expected to repeat every time something you hope never happens in your own community happens in your own community.


** What are the criteria for being automatically issued a concealed weapon carry permit in Colorado? You have to be a Colorado resident, age 21 or older. You have to attest that you’re not a felon or mentally incompetent. You have to attest that you don’t chronically or habitually abuse alcohol, and that you don’t use (or are addicted to) controlled substances. You have to be free of a civil or criminal restraining order. You have demonstrate ‘competence’ with a handgun. How do you do that? By 1) having an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces within past three years, 2) having proof of pistol qualification in Armed Forces within past ten years, 3) being a retired law enforcement officer with pistol qualification within past ten years, OR 4) completing four-hour handgun training class within the past ten years.

the latest news is not the last

Bah, the latest news, the latest news is not the last.”

I wake up and before I finish making the bed, I hear there’s “a mass murder incident” in Indianapolis. A mass murder incident. You know how the meaning of some terms change over time? Like ‘cheater’ used to refer to an officer appointed to look after the king’s escheats — property that reverted to the State or the King when somebody died without a legal heir — and now means a person who cheats? Well, in terms of mass murder, the original definition of ‘incident’ still applies. An incident is ‘something which occurs casually in connection with something else.’

There was a mass murder incident in Indianapolis this morning — the murder of at least eight people occurring casually in connection with…well, with going to work in a nation that has a small but powerful minority who worship firearms. The incident was described as “the country’s deadliest shooting since ten people were killed on March 22.” That was less than a month ago.

Last night in Indianapolis more people were murdered while casually going to work than were murdered three and a half weeks ago while casually shopping for groceries at a supermarket in Colorado. This is how we measure mass murder incidents now.

The authorities have said the mass murder “wasn’t precipitated by any kind of a disturbance or an argument.” As if ‘a disturbance or an argument’ would actually explain in any way why eight people were shot and killed. The authorities are also trying to “understand the motives” of the shooter. Because if we understood the murderer’s motives, we’d be able to…to what? Do something about it? Nobody, it seems, is bothering to understand the motives of legislators who continue to weaken and erode firearm safety legislation. That might be something we could actually do something about.

It could be anyplace. It could be everyplace.

This is just the latest news, and as Samuel Beckett says, it’s not the last. We’ll make the effort to pretend what happened is explainable, that it’s understandable — but it’s not. It never really is. People call it a tragedy — and it is, and it isn’t. It’s an incidental tragedy, a casual tragedy, a temporary tragedy that will eventually become a passing reference in a news story — ‘the country’s deadliest shooting since eight people were killed at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.’

“I know my eyes are open,” Beckett wrote, “because of the tears that pour from them unceasingly.” But the problem with unceasing tears is that after a while, they no longer indicate grief. It’s just crying. Some families and friends in Indianapolis will be grieving, but as a nation we’ll go on today and tomorrow as if this is all normal. Which it is. Our boy Beckett understood too.

To go on means going from here, means finding me, losing me, vanishing and beginning again, a stranger first, then little by little the same as always, in another place, where I shall say I have always been, of which I shall know nothing, being incapable of seeing, moving, thinking, speaking, but of which little by little, in spite of these handicaps, I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always, the same which seems made for me and does not want me, which I seem to want and do not want, take your choice, which spews me out or swallows me up, I’ll never know, which is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hands, my feet, my back, and ever murmuring my old stories, my old story, as if it were the first time.

I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always. A FedEx facility in Indianapolis, a supermarket in Boulder, Asian spas in Atlanta, a brewery in Milwaukee — the same place as always. Murmuring the same stories as if it were the first time. The latest news is not the last.

still the guns

In December of 2012, I said it was the guns. It’s still the guns. All the guns. The easy availability of guns. It’s the goddamned guns.

Do hate and bigotry and prejudice play a part? Sure. It doesn’t help that we have a president who feeds into the hate and bigotry and prejudice. Inadequate mental health care? Yeah, sure, that’s part of it. The entire for-profit health care system in the US is fucked up, and the mental health system is more fucked up than the rest. Economic tension, free-floating anxiety, inchoate rage, fear of change? Sure, all that figures into it.

But basically, it’s the guns. It’s obviously the guns. Other nations have all the social problems that trouble the United States, but they suffer only a small fraction of the mass killings. Because it’s the guns. Guns make all the difference. Guns and high capacity magazines. They make killing easier, they make body counts higher. THIS IS WHAT GUNS ARE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO DO: KILL THINGS.

Who would this guy in Dayton be without his AR15? Who would Patrick Crusius be without access to an AK-47? He’d be just another angry young white guy with a dodgy understanding of history and the influence of social forces. Just another inadequate person man who wanted so very desperately to believe he had an important part to play in some imaginary racist redemptive narrative.

Who would Stephen Paddock be? Who would Devin Kelley or James Holmes be? Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz, Omar Mateen, Robert Bowers — who would these guys be without easy access to guns and high capacity magazines? Without the guns, they’d be…insignificant. These guys think the guns might make them matter.

Sadly, they’re right. It’s the guns.

You want to tell me guns don’t kill people — people kill people? Fuck you. Jumping off buildings doesn’t kill people — deceleration trauma kills people. You want to tell me the majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens and shouldn’t be punished because some asshole misuses a firearm? Fuck you in the neck, life doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to cook meth, but I still can’t buy Sudafed without a huge amount of fuss because some asshole misuses it. You want to tell me you can also kill people with a knife or a baseball bat? Fuck you, you half-witted ballbag. That’s so damned stupid it doesn’t deserve a response. You want to tell me the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun? Fuck you, fuck your whole family, fuck everybody you know. Texas is jammed with ‘good guys with a gun.’ But Crusius was still able to waltz through the aisles of Walmart shooting folks IN TEXAS, walk out unmolested, get in his car, and start to drive away before police officers stopped him. And this asshole in Dayton managed to kill nine and wound a couple dozen more in about 2-3 minutes before he was shot.

I’m going to say it again. It’s the guns. The guns and high capacity magazines and lax gun laws. Patrick Crusius and the Dayton shooter (who hasn’t been publicly identified yet) were both law-abiding citizens until they opened fire. It’s legal in both Ohio and Texas to openly carry long guns. Seriously, you can walk down the street in Dayton or El Paso with an AK or an AR slung over your shoulder, wearing camouflage and tactical gloves, with a pouch containing a few high capacity magazines and it’s absolutely legal (although it wouldn’t be wise to do that if you’re not white).

This morning in Dayton.

I’m going to say it one more time. It’s the guns. Guns, high capacity magazines, and lax firearm laws. You get yourself a semi-automatic rifle and a few 30-round magazines, and you can rack up a high body count in a very short time. Doesn’t even have to be an assault-style rifle, though the military design of those weapons makes them more attractive to would-be mass killers. Any semi-auto rifle would do the job, so long as you’ve stocked up on hi-cap magazines. Gear up, take a walk, and until you open fire, you’re probably acting within the law.

Basically, it’s the guns. It’s the easy access to guns. It’s always been the guns. It’ll be the guns again tomorrow. It’s the goddamned guns.

what it’s come to

The deadliest mass shooting in a house of worship. That’s how the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was described last night on the evening news. We’ve reached the point at which we find it necessary to categorize our mass shootings.

The deadliest mass shooting at a college campus, the deadliest mass shooting at a shopping mall, the deadliest mass shooting at a festival, the deadliest mass shooting at a public school, the deadliest mass shooting at a place of employment.

We’ve had two of these deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history within the last 35 days. In the 309 days of 2017 we’ve had 307 mass shootings (remember, not all mass shootings are mass murders). We’ve made mass shooting ridiculously easy to commit. Semi-auto weapons are readily available, high-capacity magazines can be found without any fuss, bump-stocks that permit even more rapid firing have become somewhat scarce because people bought them up after the Las Vegas massacre, bulletproof tactical gear — vests, helmets, masks, gloves, trousers — can be purchased online or very likely at some local shop. If you have an active credit card, you too equip yourself in the latest mass murderer style.

Ruger AR-556

And we don’t much care who can buy all that gear. Devin Patrick Kelley had no trouble buying a complete mass murder outfit, even though he’d been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child, did a year in military detention, and got his ass kicked out of the Air Force. He also apparently had a misdemeanor conviction for cruelty to animals. Didn’t slow him down at all when it came to buying a semi-auto rifle. We make it easy because, you know, a man has to be able to protect his family in case some nut decides to start shooting up a church.

And hey, it’s just as easy to mourn the dead. A few thoughts, a few prayers, that’s all it takes. Oh, and the promise to remember the dead. Comrade Trump his ownself said this about the victims:

“All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families — we will never ever leave their side.”

Except that, yeah, we’ll absolutely leave their side. Of course, we will — just as soon as the next ‘deadliest mass shooting at a location to be determined’ takes place. Trump is always saying pointless shit like that. We “will never ever forget the beautiful lives that have been taken from us.” That was the eight people killed a few days ago as they rode bicycles down a bike path in Manhattan. And this: “We will NEVER FORGET the victims who lost their lives one year ago today in the horrific #PulseNightClub shooting.” The hashtag, of course, because this was TwitterTrump. And again: “We mourn them, we honor them and we pledge to never, ever forget their names.” The victims and first responders who died on 9/11. And this: “So wonderful to be in Las Vegas yesterday and meet with people, from police to doctors to the victims themselves, who I will never forget.” Yeah, so fucking wonderful, I’m sure that’s what the victims of the Mandalay Bay shooting thought. And also this: “We will never forget the 241 American service members killed by Hizballah.” Sure, Donald.

First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas

Does anybody really believe Donald J. Trump remembers the names of any of the Pulse nightclub murders, or the names of the cyclists in Manhattan, or the names of any of the Marines who were killed in Beirut? Does anybody really think Trump was even aware of the Marines killed in Beirut in 1983 until a speechwriter coughed up that fact for a speech on terrorism?

We will always forget their names. Always. We will always leave their sides. Always. As a nation we will never remember for very long, because there’s always a brand new horror ready to crowd out the old one. The nine men and women slaughtered in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015? Now they’re just victims of the second deadliest mass shooting in a house of worship. Nobody remembers who came in second.

I am sincerely sorry for the victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre. I’m gutted with hopelessness over their tragic, pointless deaths — just as I’ve been for so many other victims of so many other mass murders. I’m genuinely sorry, but I’m also disgusted. I suspect many (or most) of that Texas congregation voted for politicians who believe that this sort of routine shedding of innocent blood is the price we have to pay for our national firearm fetish. And you know what it says in the Bible. ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’

That’s a pretty grim, tough approach. The apostle Paul wasn’t a very forgiving guy. You broke it, you bought it. Me, I’m more inclined to take the Socratic tack; I prefer the gospel according to e e cummings.

and what i want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

this is not somebody that would have been prohibited from having a gun

So this guy walks into…wait, let me start over. This guy who has military experience walks into the FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, and tells them…wait, let me start over again. This guy, who served in Iraq but received a general discharge from the military after having gone AWOL a few times, walks into the FBI office…wait. Let’s try that again. This guy who’d served in Iraq and was basically kicked out of the military, and who was facing domestic abuse charges for having hit and strangled his girlfriend, walks into the Anchorage office of the FBI and tells them he’s hearing voices. They send him…wait, damn it, let me start over again.

This guy, Esteban Santiago, who’d served in Iraq, who’d gone AWOL often enough that he’d been given a general discharge from the military for ‘unsatisfactory performance’, who was being prosecuted for punching and strangling his girlfriend AND who’d been arrested for violating the subsequent restraining order forbidding him to go near her home, walks into the Anchorage office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tells them he’s suffering from auditory command hallucinations directed by the CIA requiring him to watch violent propaganda videos released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which sparks the FBI into contacting Anchorage law enforcement, who subsequently seize Santiago’s Walther 9mm pistol and transport him to an area psychiatric facility for four days of evaluation, which determined Santiago wasn’t mentally ill.

So the Anchorage police gave him back his handgun.

esteban-santiago1

I shit you not, they returned Esteban Santiago’s gun to him. Why? Because, according to U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler,

“As far as I know, this is not somebody that would have been prohibited (from having a gun) based on the information they had.”

What bits of information did they have? Let’s enumerate them, shall we?

  1. He was awaiting trial for assaulting his girlfriend. During an argument, she’d locked herself in the bathroom and called the police. Before the police arrived, Santiago (allegedly) kicked in the bathroom door, struck her, throttled her, then fled.
  2. He was also awaiting trial for violating the restraining order keeping him away from the woman who was now his ex-girlfriend.
  3. He presented himself to the FBI, confessed to having auditory hallucinations, and stated he’d been watching violent videos put out by militant Islamist terrorists.
  4. He was given an evaluation that determined he didn’t meet the criteria for being legally considered mentally ill.

Let’s look at that last issue first. Can a person who suffers from auditory command hallucinations NOT be mentally ill? Sure. In Alaska, mental illness is defined as having “an organic, mental, or emotional impairment that has substantial adverse effects on an individual’s ability to exercise conscious control of the individual’s actions or ability to perceive reality or to reason or understand.”

This sort of nonsense really happens. I once had a client who suffered from auditory command hallucinations. My client believed he had Go-Bots (these were transforming robot toys similar to Transformers) sitting on his shoulder. The Go-bots would identify gay men, then tell him to shoot those men the kneecap. (Spoiler: Go-Bots have shitty gaydar; none of the men he kneecapped were actually gay — not that it matters.) My client wasn’t considered medically ill because he knew shooting people in the kneecap was wrong and because he felt he could refuse to obey the Go-Bots if he’d really wanted to (he just didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t trust the Go-Bots).

If Santiago was able to “exercise conscious control” of his actions, then legally he wasn’t mentally ill. By going to the FBI and informing them he was being controlled by the CIA, he was demonstrating that conscious control. Seriously — by reporting that he was hearing voices to the FBI he was proving that he wasn’t legally mentally ill.

estebansantiagomugshot

Now, you’re probably saying ‘Dude, the guy STILL assaulted his girlfriend! Shouldn’t that disqualify him from toting around a firearm? WTF? Allow me to respond. Dude, this is Alaska. In some other states, Santiago’s firearm would have been confiscated. But Alaska? They don’t even stop folks who are convicted of domestic abuse from buying and carrying firearms — and Santiago hadn’t even been tried yet.

So hey, let’s give him back his gun. And hey, while we’re at it, let’s let him transport that handgun from Alaska to the Gun Nut Mecca of Florida. Sure, we’ll make him transport it in checked luggage (not carry-on luggage, because that would be crazy), but let’s give him access to it once he lands. I mean, we don’t want to make it difficult for Esteban Santiago to protect himself once he lands in Fort Lauderdale, do we.

Because as T. Jefferson said, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. And unsuspecting passengers idling around waiting for their baggage to arrive. Freedom isn’t free, right?

acts of belligerency and the way the world is today

When you think of Ringgold, Georgia (and I know you do), you probably only think of it as the county seat of Catoosa County. Some of you may think of Samuel Ringgold, the hero of the Battle of Palo Alto. I mean, the town is named for him, after all. But mostly likely when you think of Ringgold, you think of the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.

Oh, c’mon. You know — that daring American Civil War raid? The one in which Union scout James J. Andrews hijacked a locomotive known as The General at Big Shanty, GA and led Confederate troops on a chase? Well, you probably remember the Buster Keaton movie based on the event. That’s right, that Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. Anyway, the chase ended in Ringgold, when The General ran out of fuel and stopped. It’s pretty easy to catch a train that’s stopped. Anyway, the train stopped, Andrews tried to escape, was captured, charged with “acts of unlawful belligerency” and eventually hanged.

Acts of belligerency, lawful or otherwise, remain an important part of Ringgold culture. Every month the American Wrestling Federation stages an event there. Last Saturday night featured an epic match between Paul ‘Nature Boy’ Lee and ‘Iron’ Mann.

Paul 'Nature Boy' Lee at the office.

Paul ‘Nature Boy’ Lee at the office.

During the match Nature Boy executed a classic Greek wrestling maneuver, which involved trapping his opponent in the ring’s ropes, then striking him repeatedly with a chair. Patricia Anne Crowe, a passionate aficionado of AWF matches, was distressed at witnessing the seemingly inevitable defeat of Iron Mann. It seems Iron Mann is ‘good’ whereas Nature Boy, despite his tranquil nom du stade, is ‘bad’. Ms. Crowe could not restrain herself. She spoke out in Iron Mann’s defense. When her logic did not dissuade Nature Boy from his blatant misuse of a chair, she went to Iron Mann’s aid.

She produced a knife and attempted to cut through the ropes in the forlorn hope of freeing Iron Mann, thereby allowing him to defend himself. Brave Ms. Crowe.

The situation was tense, to be sure. It might have been defused, though had Nature Boy not suggested that Ms. Crowe return to her seat and “sit her toothless self back down.” It was a rash remark that Nature Boy would soon regret. As Nature Boy himself put it:

“I had him tied up and was beating on him, and this lady jumps up with a knife, cuts him loose, and then pulled a loaded gun on me.”

It was a Romantic gesture, really — a swashbuckling exploit worthy of Errol Flynn. Or maybe Orlando Bloom (in the pirate movies, not Orlando Bloom in Main Street, a film which was appalling on several levels and had no swashbuckling at all). The courageous Ms. Crowe risked her own life in a desperate effort to save Iron Mann, as well as in defense of her honor.

“He was talking mean to me, and I got mad. I guess I just let my temper get the best of me and I pulled my pistol on him”

That ‘toothless’ remark, it must be admitted, was rather ungentlemanly. But Ms. Crowe demonstrated great restraint. She didn’t actually fire the .38 caliber pistol. That probably accounts for why she was only charged with aggravated assault and reckless conduct. She was released Monday on US$4000 bail.

It’s unclear whether or not Ms. Crowe’s pistol was returned to her.

Ms. Patricia Anne Crowe, 59, amateur swashbuckler.

Ms. Patricia Anne Crowe, 59, amateur swashbuckler.

AWF promotion officials have stated they intend to install metal detectors before any future events in Ringgold.

“The way the world is today, things happen at movie theatres and malls….you have to take extreme measures to protect fans.”

Yes. The way the world is today. It’s actually getting to the point where it’s difficult to trust American Wrestling Federation fans to be responsible gun owners.