firearm violence

A Minor Detail (Tennessee Six)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

Perhaps it seems nitpickety, but if we attend the setup from Steve Benen

In the aftermath of the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, opponents of gun reforms came up with quite a few culprits to blame for the bloodshed. None of them, of course, included easy access to firearms.

The public should blame the number of doors at the school, for example. And abortion. And video games. And Ritalin, secularism, Common Core, and trench coats.

And while some of this was expected—the right consistently tries to steer public discussions away from guns after mass shootings—Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) broke new ground when she tried to connect school shootings and porn.

—and the detail via Jennifer Bendery

During a meeting last week with local pastors, Black raised the issue of gun violence in schools and why it keeps happening.

“Pornography,” she said.

“It’s available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there,” she continued. “All of this is available without parental guidance. I think that is a big part of the root cause.”

—it seems well enough to note Mr. Benen’s punch line—

Her argument raised a variety of questions, though I’m inclined to start with this one: where exactly is Diane Black buying her groceries?

—might be leading with the wrong question. To the other, who really wants to make the point when the result means listening to a bunch of Republicans talking about internet pornography.

(more…)

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America (Unthinkable)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

A grim reminder:

There have been over 200 school shooting incidents―an average of nearly one a week―since the horrifying morning when 20-year-old Adam Lanza marched into Sandy Hook Elementary School and did the unthinkable.

Four years ago today, Lanza shot and killed his mother in her home in Newtown, Connecticut, before making his way to the school and opening fire, leaving 20 children and six staff members dead.

(Miller)

Why do we say unthinkable? One of the interesting questions of once upon a time was the question of killing children onscreen in cinema. You’re not actually supposed to depict such acts; it’s one of those codes that isn’t a law, but still, you know?

So you wouldn’t show what we see in the movies if it’s a child. Show an airplane full of children crashing, though, and, well, according to the old code that is, quite technically, just fine. And then perhaps we might recall the beginning of T2: Judgment Day, and so much for fretting about traditional codes.

Still, though, there are a lot of things we might think are unthinkable; perhaps what we mean is that actually doing these things is unthinkable.

All of which only reminds how much easier it is to talk about something else.

We’re halfway through December. Let us please, as many as possible, make it through to next year. Sure, that sounds like a grim joke, but come on. This is America, and there just isn’t much left we can call unthinkable. Take care of yourselves; take care of each other. Be well. Stay safe. Live through this.

Please.

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Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Miller, Hayley. “There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre”. The Huffington Post. 14 December 2016.

An Echo of Freedom (Just About Right)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

Speaking of just another day in America:

A 3-year-old boy is dead after being shot in Ypsilanti Township on Sunday, Nov. 13.

The incident is under investigation, but police believe the incident may have been an accident, said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Police believe another child was playing with a gun when it went off, fatally striking the 3-year-old boy, he said.

(Moran)

The problem with saying that sounds just about right is that it should be possible―merely possible―to say such a thing.

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Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Moran, Darcie. “3-year-old shot, killed by child playing with gun, police say”. MLive. 13 November 2016.

FOX News and Fear

Megyn Kelly of FOX News, left; career traitor and moron Morten Storm, right.  (Credit: FOX News via Salon.com)

It is a prediction both grim and petty. FOX News calls in a career gangbanger to predict terrorism:

Not that Fox News is committed to providing fuel for elderly white people’s nightmares or anything, but on “The Kelly File” last night, host [Megyn] Kelly spoke to a former al Qaeda terrorist who said that a terror attack on United States soil is immanent — likely within the next two weeks.

“The people who are on the run at the moment from ISIS in Europe are very desperate, and they know their time’s up, and they will need to do as much damage as possible,” ex-terrorist and CIA double-agent Morten Storm told Kelly.

“I believe that copycats in America will do their best to do what their brothers have done in Europe,” he added. “I believe that within the next two weeks, we will have an attack.”

“In these people’s mind,” Kelly said, “America is the real trophy.”

(Kaufman)

Note the essential lack of any useful detail. Here’s the thing: Certes, an attack in the next two weeks is possible; this is an easy suggestion to make when your job is fearmongering.

But what is the standard? To the one, we might look ahead eight days to Thanksgiving, acknowledge a long weekend, and pray―if one is inclined to prayer―for Chicago, where the Labor Day weekend saw nine dead and forty-six wounded, Independence Day weekend racked up another nine bodies and fifty-three wounded, and the Memorial day weekend counted twelve dead and forty-four injured. We certainly have reason to wonder what misery the Windy City will find while giving thanks. By Storm’s standard, if even one of the shooters decides to claim Daa’ish affiliation he is right and FOX News gets another feather in their cap.

To the other, we might consider Chicago and the basic idea of regular, terrifying violence. True, it’s not specifically relevant to Storm’s prediction, but the question demands: If we are so worried that Daa’ish can strike even one American in the homeland, why are we not coordinating a massive societal response to the terror and death of more traditional American violence?

Or is that the point? That guns and pride and murder are traditional American values?

Statistically speaking, in my lifetime, the people who are most dangerous to me are white Christian males.

Nor am I unique, or even unusual.

Nor do we treat Christians as so many Americans would have us treat Muslims.

And, you know, what the hell is the deal, here? How does being a career moron and traitor qualify Morton Storm as a terror expert? And what about his FOX News analysis isn’t lowering the bar for expertise?

Two weeks? This better be a hell of a spectacle.

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Image note: FOX News host Megyn Kelly, left; career traitor and terrorist washout Morten Storm, right. (Image: FOX News via Salon)

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Be very, very afraid: Megyn Kelly talks to former terrorist who predicts attack on US soil within two weeks”. Salon. 18 November 2015.

The Twenty-First Transgender Female Murdered in 2015

Please #SayHerName.

Zella Ziona was twenty-one years old when she was shot to death in Montgomery County, Maryland, 15 October 2015.

A witness who wished to remain anonymous told Washington, D.C. TV station WJLA he saw the gunfire around 5:50 p.m. Thursday.

“I only saw one gun. It just happened so fast, and kind of scary,” said the witness, who claimed to have seen Ziona surrounded by four or five teenagers.

In the midst of an argument, he says one of the teens pulled out a gun and shot Ziona in the head. He said he heard the gunman fire four or five rounds.

”They argued and things happened so fast. I don’t know what they argued for,” the witness told WJLA.

Ziona died at an area hospital around 8:12 p.m. Thursday, said police, who at first identified her as a male and by her birth name, but corrected that report after speaking to her friends and family.

(Ennis)

Ms. Ziona is the twenty-first transgender female known to be murdered in 2015. It would be my deepest honor if we could make it at least until TDOR without adding another name to this most terrible, horrifying list.

For those of you who are not murderers, though, it would be my honor if you would please #SayHerName. Zella Ziona. Twenty-one years old. Dead.

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Ennis, Dawn. “Victim Number 21: Trans Woman Murdered in Maryland”. The Advocate. 16 October 2015.

The Value of Prayer in the Twenty-First Century

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

It is a straightforward headline: “Politicians Can’t Pass Actual Laws to Stop Gun Violence, So They Tweet Prayerfully”. And HuffPo’s Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney deliver the goods.

All of which reminds the basic point: Prayer is something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.

(more…)

American Terrorism

Detail of Wanted poster offering thirty million dollars for the murder of Dr. George Tiller;  in May, 2009, Dr. Tiller was gunned down at a church service.

We should not be surprised that anti-abortion terrorists are offering bounties.

Laura Bassett of Huffington Post gets the unfortunate duty of explaining:

According to abortion rights advocates, Joseywhales’ post is just one example of an alarming spike in death threats and violent acts against abortion providers, clinics and companies that work with them since the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood were released. Two Planned Parenthood clinics have reported arsons, anti-abortion protesters are showing up in large numbers at doctors’ homes, and commenters on conservative websites and online forums are calling for the bombings of abortion clinics across the country, according to Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Saporta is so alarmed by the escalation of threats against providers that she asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to intervene.

“In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “We have enlisted law enforcement’s help.”

If history is any indication, death threats against abortion providers should be taken seriously. Two abortion doctors have been murdered during Saporta’s tenure at NAF: Dr. George Tiller in 2009 and Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Slepian was shot in his home after returning from synagogue, and Tiller was shot in the head while attending church services on a Sunday morning.

Saporta had worked with them both.

And that’s the problem; it easily sounds like the kind of big talk many enjoy around the internet, a manner of vice and hatred that allows one to feel better for ephemeral and illusory sensations of empowerment.

But there is history.

“I’ll pay ten large”? Yeah, it sounds like someone has been watching too much television, or something. That a certain business executive “should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached”? Yes, at some point it is problematic that this is what a person so needs to say in order to feel better about life, the Universe, and everything, otherwise known as self.

Except for the fact that we know where this goes. Arsons and shootings and even that weird aspiring mass murderer in Wisconsin a few years ago.

(more…)

Bloodlust, in Jesus’ Name

Detail of 'Corpus Hypercubus', by Salvador Dali, 1954.

Because cruelty and stupidity are American virtues:

It doesn’t matter that a California lawyer’s outrageous Sodomite Suppression Act ballot initiative proposes executing gays with “bullets to the head,” or that it’s unconstitutional and could never become law. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is forced to allow the measure to circulate for signatures, legal experts said.

The initiative, which mandates 10 years in prison and permanent expulsion from California for anyone who advocates gay rights to minors, stands no chance of collecting 365,000 valid signatures it needs to appear on next year’s ballot. But because its backer, Matt McLaughlin, paid the $200 filing fee by the February deadline, Harris is bound by law to prepare a title and summary of the initiative by May so that its sponsor can begin collecting signatures, legal experts told the San Francisco Chronicle.

(O’Connor)

And remember, this is all in Jesus’ name

Okay, I suppose that part isn’t surprising.

But if you want to know why so many of our neighbors are ending in self-destruction, well, I guess we can call it God’s love.

The only real question, I suppose, is what sort of person would be willing to stand with such a brutal, vicious farce.

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O’Connor, Lydia. “California Forced To Allow Signatures For Appalling ‘Shoot The Gays’ Ballot Initiative”. The Huffington Post. 23 March 2015.

Bill O’Reilly on His Mother

Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' "Today" show, 6 June 2014.  (Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire)

One of the infamous jokes of the nineties was the occasion when President Bill Clinton, back to the wall in a scandal that was itself scandalous for having come about, decided to parse the meaning of the word “is”.

Bill O’Reilly of FOX News is taking so much damage in the rising scandal of just how much he lies that he has resorted to trying to argue what it means “to see”.

While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered. The mention of the nuns on my program came the day of the Newtown massacre. The segment was about evil and how hard it is for folks to comprehend it. I used the murder nuns as an example of that evil. That’s what I was referring to when I say, ‘I saw nuns get shot in the back of head.’ No one could possibly take that segment as reporting on El Salvador.

(qtd. in Benen)

This is the latest response from the FOX News host best known for inflammatory exaggeration lies. But compare his explanation with the statement in question:

Soon after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, O’Reilly spoke on the air about the nature of evil. “I don’t think a lot of people understand,” he said. “My mother, for example, doesn’t understand evil. When I would tell her, ‘Hey, mom, I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head,’ she almost couldn’t process it. She couldn’t process it.”

(Emphasis added)

One strange aspect of O’Reilly’s explanation: By his own standard, his mother likely saw the nuns get shot in the back of the head, too. So did I. So did anyone who was alive and aware enough of the news in December, 1980.

(more…)

Something About Happiness Having Nothing to Do with a Warm Gun

Detail of cover art for Golden Earring's 'Cut' Lp.

A brief note on narrative, and how details can change the context.

Alexis Krell of The News Tribune posted this lede today:

A man was shot Tuesday in Federal Way while trying sell a phone, police said.

On the surface, it sounds like a routine, run-of-the-mill, idiots-all-around neighborhood crime. According to police spokesperson Cathy Schrock, the buyers stole the phone, the seller chased them down, and in the resulting struggle someone shot the seller.

And some might pause here to wonder why one would chase multiple criminals; it didn’t work for a boxing champ, and Federal Way is a town with few boxing champs.

Maybe if one was, say, a Triwizard Champion, or some such.

It turns out there is a reason, though, one might wonder why one would chase multiple criminals, getting shot in the process, for a phone. After all, few secondhand phones transfered in street deals are worth much money.

But guns are; hence the update as more accurate facts came in:

Police said it appears the man was selling a gun, not a phone, and that he was shot with the gun he was selling, Schrock said. The victim is about 21 years old.

The victimized gun trader will live. At least there is that.

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Krell, Alexis. “Police: Man shot with gun while trying to sell it in Federal Way”. The News Tribune. 18 November 2014.