suicide

The Message in a Bullitt

[#rapeculture]

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

The permeating sense of inevitability of Akela Lacy’s report for Politico

A Kentucky lawmaker died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday evening after facing allegations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012.

Dan Johnson, a Republican state representative, shot himself on the Greenwell Ford Road bridge in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, according to the Bullitt County coroner. The apparent suicide came after his Republican colleagues called for him to step down following reports that he assaulted a young woman on New Year’s Eve of 2012.

—is its own curious, unhelpful beast. The the former self-described “pope” of Heart of Fire, later elected to the Kentucky House, was accused after the incident several years ago, but police closed their investigation without charges. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting spent seven months investigating the legislator, leading to a report Monday; on Tuesday, Rep. Johnson (R-KY49) denied the charges during a press conference.   (more…)

Advertisements

Dangerous and Unadmired

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). (Detail of photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Follow the bouncing Crapo:

Of all the congressional Republicans who’ve struggled with Donald Trump’s candidacy, arguably no one’s story is funnier than Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.). The Illinois Republican endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed Trump, then endorsed David Petraeus, then endorsed Colin Powell, then un-endorsed Powell, then said he no longer wanted to talk about it.

But if Kirk’s story is the most amazing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho is a competitive second ....

.... Yes, the Idaho Republican initially endorsed Trump. Then Crapo un-endorsed Trump. Soon after, the incumbent senator, up for re-election this year, said he’s an undecided voter. Yesterday, Crapo came full circle, re-endorsing the presidential candidate he un-endorsed two weeks ago.

(Benen)

This is important: Of all the unbelievable insanity we have witnessed through the 2016 electoral cycle, just how much of it is unbelievable, and why?

(more…)

Musical Existentialism (Box of Noise)

Detail of frame from music video for "Box of Noise" by Lilly Wood and the Prick. (2016, Choke Industry Records; dir. Benjamin Cotto)

Ladies and gentlemen, Lilly Wood and The Prick.

No, really, I’m not certain what else goes here.

If I am ever stuck in silence, please kill me; for I would rather die than hear nothing. When I attempt to sleep, I get scared of the emptiness; I am so afraid of disappearing. If so, kill me. And if I feel like I am losing it―if so, kill me, kill me. If there is no reason to be, then kill me. Please put my body in a box, in a box of noise. Please don’t write anything on my box, on my box of noise. If they ever find a way to happiness, please wake me from this sleep. I can’t stand this: Is it bad to say that I am okay with numbing through this all? I won’t stand this: Could we please admit that nothing will fix this? I can’t stand this; I won’t stand this. Please put my body in a box, in a box of noise. Please don’t write anything on my box, on my box of noise.

Lilly Wood and the Prick, “Box of Noise” (2016)

(more…)

The Donald Trump Show (Death Wish Double Trouble Super Fun Follow-Up Sequel Pak)

Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

“He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance.”

Andrew O’Hehir

Sometimes the setup requires a bit of seemingly otherwise useless melodrama; and sometimes that seemingly otherwise useless melodrama―your buzzword for the week is, well, okay, two words: “October surprise”―works well enough to address certain otherwise seemingly obvious questions somehow obscured by a hazy addiction to synthesized melodrama. Or, more to the point:

We can’t be sure how many people really support Trump, [Thomas B.] Edsall reports, since there’s considerable evidence that they aren’t telling pollsters the truth. Voting for Trump, it appears, is something white people do in the shadows. It’s a forbidden desire that is both liberating and self-destructive, not unlike the married heterosexual who has a same-sex lover on the down-low, or the executive who powers through the day on crystal meth and OxyContin. Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)On some level you know the whole thing can’t end well, but boy does it feel good right now.

I have argued on multiple occasions that white Americans, considered in the aggregate, exhibit signs of an unconscious or semi-conscious death wish. I mean that both in the Freudian sense of a longing for release that is both erotic and self-destructive―the intermingling of Eros and Thanatos―and in a more straightforward sense. Consider the prevalence of guns in American society, the epidemic rates of suicide and obesity (which might be called slow-motion suicide) among low-income whites, the widespread willingness to ignore or deny climate science and the deeply rooted tendency of the white working class to vote against its own interests and empower those who have impoverished it. What other term can encompass all that?

Trump is the living embodiment of that contradictory desire for redemption and destruction. His incoherent speeches wander back and forth between those two poles, from infantile fantasies about forcing Mexico to build an $8 billion wall and rampant anti-Muslim paranoia to unfocused panegyrics about how “great” we will be one day and how much we will “win.” In his abundant vigor and ebullience and cloddish, mean-spirited good humor, Trump may seem like the opposite of the death wish. (He would certainly be insulted by any such suggestion. Wrong! Bad!) But everything he promises is impossible, and his supporters are not quite dumb enough not to see that. He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance. No wonder his voters are reluctant to ‘fess up.

(O’Hehir)

Nor is this a matter of making the obvious point; with Americans, it’s all in how you say it.

I mean, sure, we can all see it, but explaining the mess is a whole ‘nother thing.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate. (Detail of frame from Shonen Jump One Piece.) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support”. Salon. 11 May 2016.

Spectacularly Awful

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

When this is the message―

“This sad example is what we get when we have folks who decide it’s their responsibility to use their guns to redress their grievances,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said Thursday at a news conference.

Mayor Tom Barrett earlier in the week called Brown’s shooting an “assassination.”

“Someone got angry,” Barrett said. “Someone took a gun and basically assassinated this gentleman.”

―you know the situation is spectacularly awful.

Like the proposition of the best something, so also is the worst something entirely subjective. Thus disclaimed, it is still fair to say that Gretchen Ehlke’s report for Associated Press does qualify as potentially the worst news you might read this week.

To the other, nobody would blame you for skipping the detail.

____________________

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

Ehlke, Gretchen. “Uncle Suspected In Twin Killings Commits Suicide After Toddler Is Run Over”. The Huffington Post. 16 April 2015.

The Next Step

Leelah Alcorn (d. 27 December 2014)

In January, all of a week after Leelah Alcorn committed suicide, the White House “We the People” program received a petition for a new law, named in her honor, that would prohibit a devastating fake therapeutic practice called conversion therapy.

The petition drew 120,958 signatures before its period closed. This week, the White House responded.

The statement, authored by Valerie Jarrett, begins as follows:

“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us―on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”

— President Barack Obama

Thank you for taking the time to sign on to this petition in support of banning the practice known as conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy generally refers to any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, this practice is used on minors, who lack the legal authority to make their own medical and mental health decisions. We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer youth.

When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.

As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors ....

This is important.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(more…)

More Missouri Madness

New York City, 30 March 2015: Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star during an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc in New York City, 30 March 2015, discussing the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, communications director to former State Auditor Tom Schweich, who took his own life last month after accusing Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock of a whisper campaign accusing Schweich, a 2016 gubernatorial hopeful, of being Jewish.

It … it happened … again.

For the second time in a month, Missourians struggled Monday to understand the unfathomable — why a leading political figure in the state would take his own life.

Robert “Spence” Jackson, a prominent Republican spokesman and media liaison for more than a decade, was found dead Sunday night in the bedroom of his Jefferson City apartment.

He died from a single gunshot from a .357 Magnum revolver, police said. He left a note. Authorities consider the death a suicide.

They were unwilling Monday to officially tie Jackson’s death to that of his boss, former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who shot himself Feb. 26. But politicians and consultants easily connected the two events.

(Helling and Hancock)

Rachel Maddow hosted Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling on Monday, in hopes of trying to put at least some of the pieces together.Robert "Spence" Jackson died 27 March 2015 of an apparent suicide. Mr. Jackson's death is the second suicide in Missouri's 2016 Republican gubernatorial primary, after his boss and friend, State Auditor Tom Schweich, took his own life a month ago after alleging a whisper campaign against him by state Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, accusing that he was Jewish. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

The Missouri GOP verges on coming apart; Mr. Helling describes in his interview with Maddow calls for the proximal players in this awful chapter to simply step away in order for the party to save itself. One might also wonder if that would have any real effect; will a handful of closely associated Republicans choosing to depart change enough about the Grand Old Party in the Show-Me State? After all, the looming question here is what, exactly, is going on with Missouri Republicans?

____________________

Image note: Top―Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling regarding the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, 30 March 2015, on The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc. Right―Robert “Spence” Jackson. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

Helling, Dave and Jason Hancock. “Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead of apparent suicide”. The Kansas City Star. 30 March 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Second suicide shocks Missouri Republicans”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 30 March 2015.

Another Reason to Fight; Every Reason to Win

Transgender pioneer Blake Brockington died 23 March 2015, at age 18, by his own hand.

“Swaying hills of green, rolling sea of blue; if you say life is beautiful I guess it must be true. In a grave beneath the grass, remember how I used to be―made peace with all the things I used to hate, except for me. And so my kingdom comes, my will is done; this thing I know.”

Floater

Blake Brockington is dead. Reports from North Carolina tell us the transgender pioneer, who last year won the title of Homecoming King at East Meck High School, took his own life.

“I honestly feel like this is something I have to do,” Brockington said last year, noting few other transgender male students have had the opportunity.

Brockington said at the time that winning will mean the most for several younger transgender students he had mentored, including a nine-year-old boy.

“He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” Brockington said of his mentee. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.'”

But the homecoming win came with a price, Brockington told The Charlotte Observer earlier this year.

“That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” Brockington told the daily newspaper. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”

He had a strong message for the public — “we are still human.”

“I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our heads). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”

(Comer)

Good night, Brock. And thank you. I’m so sorry we couldn’t do better.

And for the living, the question looms: How is this worth it? How is the hatred and cruelty worth it, in Jesus’ name, amen? How can you do this to your neighbors? To you children?

Transgender signBecause there are those of us who know why it’s worth it; our job is to fight the hatred, stop the madness, and keep each other standing, day by day, step by step, because damn it, we’re almost there.

Stand. Speak. Love. Live. Fight. Win.

There is so much more at stake than just our own selves.

____________________

Comer, Matt. “Young transgender activist Blake Brockington mourned”. qNotes. 24 March 2015.

A Disaster in Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, candidate for Republican gubernatorial nomination in August, 2016, committed suicide 26 February 2015, amid swirling rumors of a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy against him despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.

That elections should not have death tolls is itself a grim enough statement insofar as there exist circumstances in the human endeavor requiring such reminders; but these are the United States of America, and, really, elections should not have death tolls.

Rachel Maddow tries to summarize the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

Tony Messenger, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.

Mr. Messenger again, in an official statement released via the Post-Dispatch.

The story itself is unbelievable, not for any implication that this is something other than a suicide. Rather, the question of how and why things got so far out of hand.

Steve Kraske and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star bring us a statement from Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock that pretty much makes the point:

I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).

If words seem to fail, there is a reason.

This is apparently the scandal at the heart of it all. This is apparently the reason Tom Schweich has killed himself.

Elections should not have death tolls. What is happening in our society that we are seeing these outcomes? How does having Jewish ancestry even come into play in the first place? And how is it that this is the second year in a row we have seen a suicide in a primary election?

____________________

Maddow, Rachel. “A shocking death in a harsh Republican primary in Missouri”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 27 February 2015.

Messenger, Tony. “From voicemail to voicemail: The short political life and times of Tom Schweich”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 February 2015.

—————. “Statement of Tony Messenger, Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor, on Schweich Death”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 February 2015.

Kraske, Steve and Dave Helling. “Missouri GOP chairman denies spreading rumors about Tom Schweich’s religion”. The Kansas City Star. 27 February 2015.

Your War on Drugs (Cherryburst Edition)

Suicide is never funny.

Then again, if you want the detail, Oren Yaniv, et al., of New York Daily News have an article for that. Still, though, there is something much more succinct about Dan Savage’s capsule summary:

Authorities in New York City raided a maraschino cherry plant in Brooklyn looking for environmental violations because illegal runoff from the factory—maraschino red syrup and waste—was turning bees in the area red. When they spotted a false wall in the plant … the owner excused himself, went to the bathroom, and blew his brains out.

Just say 'No' to the War on Drugs.Right. Not funny. Nor is the war on drugs.

Seriously, this guy killed himself over marijuana, because, you know, it’s just like methamphetamine: “‘Underground, it was really Breaking Bad,’ said the astounded law enforcement source.”

Frankly, between growing dope and manufacturing maraschino cherries, I’d say the abuse of fruit is probably more detrimental.

Look, none of this would have happened but for the war on drugs.

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. And this is your brain spattered all over the bathroom because there is a war on drugs.

____________________

Yaniv, Oren, et al. “Owner of Brooklyn Maraschino Cherry company kills himself after police find huge marijuana-growing operation: sources”. New York Daily News. 24 February 2015.