What. The. Fuck.

From RawStory:

An enraged Waffle House customer shot and killed a waitress early Friday who asked him not to smoke.

Police said Johnny Mount was eating about 1 a.m. at the restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he lit a cigarette, reported WLOX-TV.

A waitress asked the 45-year-old Mount to put out the cigarette or smoke outside, and he began arguing with her.

Police said Mount then pulled out a 9 mm handgun he had concealed under his shirt and shot the 52-year-old waitress in the head.

She was taken to a nearby hospital but died from her wounds.

Mount was arrested as he tried to leave the restaurant and has been charged with first-degree murder.

He remains held on $2 million bond.


This week’s school shooting (not to be confused with last week’s or the one the week before that or next week’s or the one the week after that) got me thinking about violence in America; something that as a society I believe we’ve grown increasingly numb to.

Perhaps numb isn’t the right term, but there’s no denying the schizophrenic way that violence is viewed by our society. Violence is woven into the American DNA and celebrated with an almost orgiastic frenzy in everything from our popular music to our movies, television shows and video games, yet we seem shocked and appalled when a shooting occurs. Do we really need car chases and killings in every damn episode of {Fill in pretty much any Television Show Name}?

Just the other night we were watching a preview of some upcoming series and I turned to Ben and said, “Does everything need to have a shoot out in it?”

It’s past time that we throw off any illusion of being a nation of Peace, because we most certainly are not. As a society we revel in death and destruction as exemplified by our popular entertainments—except of course when that death and destruction happens to visit itself upon good, god-fearing white christians or in those infrequent instances when karma comes back to bite us on our national ass. (See 9/11.)

I’m tired of politicians, lawmakers, and so-called “men of god” saying they want peace, yet with every step and word uttered, fetishize and advocate for never-ending violence and bloodshed. In short, I think it’s time we cut the crap and just embrace our murderous, bloodthirsty national identity. The ancient Romans never apologized for it and certainly never made excuses.

So yes, we are the planet’s dominant serial killer—not only of the other, but also of our own people. And we have the guns, the tanks, the missiles, the nukes and the military spending to prove it—not to mention the psychopaths with their personal arsenals wetting themselves over fevered visions of turning the United States into a christianist theocracy and meting out Old Testament punishments upon non-believers with impunity. ‘Murika! Fuck yeah!

It’s not like any of this is new—and to be honest it certainly is not limited to only the United States. But our country was birthed in bloodshed and it comes with the territory as much as we’d like to deny it as a nation. Yes, the United States was created with noble ideals (something I think has kept some of our basest instincts in check), but again and again it seems that as a society we reach for the gun, the assault rifle, the switchblade, the missile or the bomb to settle our differences—or to simply make a point instead of examining why we do it—or seeking alternative methods of resolution. And when something bad happens, we wring our hands ask, “How could this have been stopped?” while remaining stunningly, blindingly oblivious to the obvious answer and unable to affect any real change because of the NRA’s death grip on our politicians. And then we promptly forget about the whole thing until the cycle repeats. Ad nauseum.

Another Day, Another Shooting in America

This is just too good not to pass on in its entirety:

From AMERICAblog:

Earlier today, someone took a killing machine and loads of ammunition into a heavily-trafficked area and opened fire, killing some and wounding more. The shooter may have a history of mental health problems; they may be a militant racist; they may be a Men’s Rights Activist; they may be a religious extremist; they may have just gotten laid off from work. Whatever their motive, they will almost certainly have obtained their killing machine legally.

You’ve probably read the details elsewhere by now, but at the end of the day, they don’t matter. This story isn’t all that different from the many that came before and are sure to come after. America averages one shooting of at least four fatalities per day, with one shooting per week at schools. These shootings are happening faster than we can meme them. The routine is familiar, and we already know how the next few days are going to play out:

First, we will be reminded that this is definitely not the time to discuss ways that we could have prevented this shooting, along with tomorrow’s and next week’s and the ones to follow. At times like these, a bad reading of the Second Amendment is more important than a basic understanding of the First:

There needs to be a mandatory waiting period imposed on anti-gun extremists commenting on breaking news crime incidents. #UCCShooting ~ Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) October 1, 2015

Instead, it would be much more productive for all of us to quietly appeal to a higher power—one that has pretty clearly signaled to us that they’re agnostic when it comes to American gun policy:

Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy. ~ Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 1, 2015

Second, we will be reminded that although America’s homicide rates are practically off the charts compared to other countries, now is definitely not the time to second-guess our borderline religious commitment to the killing machines that make it way easier to kill a bunch of people at once:

After all, don’t you know we might need to revolt against the government some day?

Third, someone from the NRA will say that the real solution that would have prevented all of this is more guns. Most of America will find this ridiculous. Congress will find this reasonable. President Obama will scold them.

Fourth, there will be a new round of public opinion polling showing broad support for public policies that could have prevented the shooting, ranging from universal background checks to a ban on high-capacity magazines. We will flash a momentary glance at Congress to see if they will pass any of these policies, and then remember how unbothered they were by what that guy from the NRA said.

Fifth, gun sales will go through the god damn roof.

Sixth, this video will go viral:

Seventh, another mass shooting will take place. We will go back to step one.

See you next week.”

Why We Look

We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

We look because it’s always available. There is a moment, as you watch a violent video, that you feel you need to fast forward. ISIS fighters in front of ragged flags, knives out – fast forward to the death. Gunshots on a pier – fast forward to what thousands of live viewers saw. The destruction of culture, of lives, of futures, of belief in the decency of mankind – we look because in the end we want to see how far we’ll fall if given the impetus. We want to see how thin the spiderweb veil of sanity really is, how deep the well truly goes until we hit rancid water. And we look to feel superior and to give the amygdala that tickle of surprise we crave. Broadcasting is not new. We learned to sing so we could make others feel strange things, we learned to orate to raise the blood of soldiers, we learned to repeat horrible stories to outrage and distract. From the Lives Of Saints with a pierced St. Sebastian to the latest LiveLeak link, we need violence to feel whole. And that’s why we love these videos. We love them. We share them – “OMG” “#prayers” – we post them, the news organizations replay them over and over. They are our reward for staying out of trouble.


Fuck the NRA

“So while the NRA may be a bloated, possibly corrupt, excessively powerful lobbying force, partly staffed by horrible racists, it’s also the mouthpiece of a fandom more widespread than Bronies, Trekkies, and Furries combined and multiplied by a hundred. Gun ownership is almost inarguably the single most popular hobby in America, and the NRA is a consequence of that.

Even popular gun-control efforts that failed, like the 2013 bill, would have been nothing more than tiny, symbolic changes, such as making background checks more ubiquitous, or eliminating high-capacity magazines. Elliot Rodger passed his background check and didn’t use high-capacity magazines. The presence of the NRA makes real reform so far-fetched, nothing has even been proposed, let alone voted on, that will get us anywhere close to Richard Martinez’s “Not One More” promised land.

And meanwhile, there’s shooting after shooting. When these things happened, the president used to fly out to the grieving town and give a speech. Now we don’t even fly our flags at half mast. They’ve become an ongoing problem we can’t take the time out of our day to be individually upset about, like Adam Sandler movies.
Matching shooters gun-for-gun isn’t a solution anyone takes seriously, not even the NRA. The real answer is that we, the American people, see that there are school shootings, and we all agree that they’re tragic, but then we’ve done the David Foster Wallace thought experiment in our heads: Gun control would mean an America with fewer school shootings, but we would lose some of our gun freedom.

And apparently we don’t want to live in a place like that.”

Guns in Schools: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Lapeer, MI — A security officer at a Lapeer charter school left a firearm unattended in a school bathroom on Monday, Jan. 14, a school official said.
The security officer “made a breach in security protocol” and left an unloaded weapon in a restroom “for a few moments,” said Chatfield School Director Matt Young.
Translation: The idjit unholstered his firearm, put it on the sink or shelf or somewhere in there, and walked away having forgotten he’d done so. The fact we’ve heard about it likely means someone else found it before he remembered his gun was gone.

Young said the school has been in contact with local authorities about the matter and wouldn’t discuss any possible repercussion for the officer, calling it “a personnel matter.” Young also declined to name the security officer.
Translation: If they won’t say he was fired or formally reprimanded or fined by the local PD for reckless endangerment, in all likelihood it was just a verbal reprimand.

“The school has put additional security procedures in place that follow local law enforcement practices and guidelines,” Young said in a statement.
Translation: We’ve told our armed guards they’re never to unholster their firearms, even when taking a piss, a dump, or merely washing their hands because they might forget them. Because apparently we needed to point out the obvious.

“At no time was any student involved in this breach of protocol.
Translation: This happened during class periods and we’re pretty sure the adult teacher or custodian who found the weapon was the first person to encounter it. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Because legally, if a child found it, we’d be in big $ trouble.

“We will continue to work on improving school security.”
Translation: We really hope you all forget this ever happened.

Young stressed that no children were exposed to the handgun or put in danger, and declined to comment more on specifics of the incident.
Translation: We really, really hope you all forget before some irate parent decides to file a lawsuit. Besides, we asked the kids if they saw anything and they all said ‘no’, and we all know kids never lie about anything if you ask them in your serious-voice.

The school recently hired the officer, who is retired from the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office, as a means to bolster school security.
Translation: Because police officers never make dumb mistakes like the rest of us humans do. Like, for instance, shooting up a paper delivery truck that looks nothing like the one the police were looking for.


To Be Filed Under Stating the Obvious

“What strikes me is we’ve actually gotten a glimpse into the mindset, though, of the pro-gun people like Wayne LaPierre and some of these others. It’s bizarre. They have this vision that we’re living in a ‘Mad Max’ movie and that nothing can be done about it. There are plenty of gun owners who are fine, but the lobbying groups—the NRA—is now revealed as an insane organization.” ~ Economist Paul Krugman


From the Daily Kos (bolding mine):

The Connecticut Post, via Joe. My. God.:

A false fire alarm, 45-minute waits to get into the Capitol complex, even the heckling of a bereaved parent of a Newtown shooting victim marked Monday’s day-long legislative hearing on gun control.

“The Second Amendment!” was shouted by several gun enthusiasts in the meeting room as Neil Heslin, holding a photo of his 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, asked why Bushmaster assault-style weapons are allowed to be sold in the state.

I’m going to put “heckling the father of murdered six year old” right at the top of my updated list of signs that America can safely ignore you, or at least not give a single flying shit as to what supposed rights you think you have, but I do want to reiterate one point: For a sizable percentage of America’s most aggressive gun fetishists (not “enthusiasts,” please—there’s a difference between shooting as a hobby and stockpiling guns as your own personal anti-government, anti-society religion) the ability to quickly murder a classroom or two of elementary school kids isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

This would be the prime argument of all the loons citing incipient “tyranny” as the reason they deserve guns, and all possible guns at that. If you’re claiming that you need your guns because you might need to murder members of the government (yes, that is what “fighting tyranny” comes down to, when you’re doing it with stockpiled ammunition), then the ability to murder a large number of people quickly is a prime feature. These aren’t people who mumble about needing high capacity, military style weaponry because today’s modern deer really need 30 or so shots pumped into them before they’ll stay down—they’re perfectly blunt about saying they need it because someday, there’s gonna be “tyranny,” and if they themselves wake up one morning and decide that “tyranny” has come they need to be able to go to their closet, arm up, and start killing people who think otherwise. Often, for some reason that most of the rest of us can’t even begin to parse, it’s couched in crackpot religious terms, often citing “prophesies” and other Jesus-sounding stuff as the reason why potential mass murder is, well, just around the corner.

That someone can easily dispatch a roomful or two of elementary school children, or college students, or theater-goers, or restaurant-goers with these same weapons is not seen by these people as something that needs fixing—at all. Yes, it’s sad that those particular people got murdered, but whether Americans have the God-given right to murder a large number of people quickly, and easily, if they feel the circumstances warrant it is something the tyranny fetishists will go to their graves, or your grave, or the local sheriff’s grave believing in.

The other tricky part of this is that (of course) the people most obsessed with defending themselves against government “tyranny” are the people who see “tyranny” in absolutely everything. The United Nations is coming for them; Barack Obama is a crazy Marxist; bicycle paths are a sign of the devil. The most unhinged people among us are the people who have volunteered themselves as the judges, juries, and executioners of any American government figures they’ve decided they don’t like—and those are the people that a large segment of our no-gun-regulations-ever crowd are catering to. Why? You could suppose the NRA, as obvious example, is merely acting as passthru for the manufacturer’s lobby, which makes a very sizable income off of crazy frightened people, or you could suppose them to be unironic believers in the tyranny theory of American proto-terrorists someday becoming American freedom fighters—but why does the we’d like to maybe someday be able to kill members of the government theory get so much mainstream love from supposedly mainstream sources?

It seems rather obvious that we could take all the arguments as to why one might need a 30-round clip because of potential tyranny and just flush that entire population from legitimate discussion. If tyranny does come to America, your little closet stockpile is not going to do a damn bit of good against the Air Force, and basing all our public safety decisions around your own little delusion that it might, someday, is not a very good reason for our continued enabling of frequent, convenient mass murder. So that seems a good first step: If you’re arguing that people need to be able to speedily murder other people because someday you and your little band of societal malcontents may want to murder the right people, the ones who really need murdering, all of the policymakers concerned with American public safety ought to write off your opinions on the matter from the outset. Then the rest of us can begin to have a discussion on guns in America that isn’t objectively, you know, insane.

Fucking Insanity

Just when you think gun nuts cannot get any crazier…

From Talking Points Memo:

We know what people mean in a political context when they talk about “gun rights.” And the Supreme Court has now said that there is an individual right, though not an absolute one, to own guns. But now an NRA boardmember in Arizona is taking it to a whole new level—claiming the guns themselves have rights. Now Todd Rathner is threatening to sue Tucson police over yesterday’s gun buyback program, saying they have no right to destroy the guns themselves, despite the fact that the owners sold them ($50 gift certificate per gun) to the police to destroy them. In other words, the guns—not the people who have a right to own them—but the guns themselves, i.e., the metal and miscellaneous composites that make up the firearm, now have rights.

"FRC's Own Activities Are What Brought This Down On Them"

I haven’t written anything about the shooting at FRC Headquarters because frankly, the words eluded me. My first thought was, “Karma is a bitch,” but I couldn’t expand further on that thought. It comes as no surprise to me that an organization (indeed the entire Christian Right movement) that has been spewing hatred toward gays and lesbians  finally gets hit with blowback—even if it came from a mentally unhinged individual—in the exact form of violence they’ve been not-so-subtly advocating for decades.

John Aravosis at AMERICAblog has written extensively on this topic, and his thoughts expand on the “Karma is a bitch” theme much more eloquently than I could ever hope to. For that reason I’m passing on his most recent post in full, here:

Classliberal2 writes in the comments to my earlier post about the Family Research Council and the recent shooting at its headquarters in Washington, DC:

The FRC is loudly claiming the “hate group” designation brought on this attempted massacre, and I think it needs to be pointed out, much more loudly and forcefully, that their own activities are, in fact, what brought this down on them.

People shy away from that, because they think it sounds too much like apologism for this would-be terrorist fellow, but there’s no way to look at the history of the FRC and come to any other conclusion.

And even after something like this happens, which could have turned into a real horror, it didn’t inspire one moment of pause or reflection on behalf of anyone there, no thought that maybe they’d gone too far and should tone it down — instead, they’re off blaming someone else, so they can continue to do what they’ve always done.

The Family Research Council has decided to treat this tragedy as yet another opportunity to defame its victims. First, they blamed the shooting on the Southern Poverty Law Center for standing up to the Family Research Council’s decades of hate and defamation against gay and trans people.  Then they went so far as to blame President Obama for the shooting.

Since the FRC has been shameless in playing the blame game in an attempt to milk this tragedy for political benefit, then so be it. Let’s do what they’re demanding we do, and talk about whose rhetoric is to blame for the shooting.

First, the shooter is clearly to blame.  And he probably has a screw loose somewhere (I don’t care how hateful an organization is, picking up a gun and planning a shooting rampage (which is what I assume he was planning), which is almost certainly going to end up a suicide mission, is more than a bit screw-loose-y)).  It’s also interesting to note that it’s difficult to remember even one recent act of violence that involved a gay person targeting the religious right – violence on our side simply doesn’t happen.  (Though, I’m not sure we even know the shooter’s orientation.)

Second, the absurd availability of guns in our country (the shooter reportedly got the gun legally) is also to blame. We can thank conservative groups, the Republican party, and Blue Dog Democrats for making guns so easily available to nuts like this shooter, and the shooters in all the previous mass murders.

Third, since the Family Research Council wants to talk, incessantly, about what motivated the shooter besides insanity – about how, in the FRC’s mind, words can absolutely positively push someone to violence – then let’s talk about whether words could push someone to violence, including the Family Research Council’s own words.

Is it possible, as the commenter wrote above, that the Family Research Council’s own decades of hate and defamation against the gay and trans communities, and more generally the religious right’s decades of defamation, finally pushed one of its victims, who was already unstable, over the edge?


Does that mean that the FRC deserved to be shot at?


But if the Family Research Council wants to make this debate about words inspiring violence, then let’s have that conversation, and make it an honest conversation that considers their words in addition to ours.

The Family Research Council says that the SPLC, and the rest of us, called them a hate group and that that caused someone to open fire on the FRC.  The thing is, the SPLC calls lots of groups hate groups, and you don’t see people regularly opening fire on any of those groups.  These include the Klan and white supremacists, who are pretty well-hated groups. Yet, there’s little violence against them.  Thus, the appellation itself does not historically seem to lead to violence.

Second, the FRC would like you to believe that calling an organization a hate group is enough to push someone to murder; but actually being a hate group, acting like a hate group, talking like a hate group will have no impact whatsoever on some unhinged person’s decision to take up violence.

That’s a bit naive (and I suspect the FRC is anything but naive).  As I explain in this other blog post, the FRC is essentially blaming the SPLC for exposing the fact that the FRC is hateful.  Are we really to believe that the shooter would have been fine with the FRC’s hateful anti-gay words and deeds – would have been fine being repeatedly mislabeled a pedophile – had the Southern Poverty Law Center not also added the moniker “hate group”?  Unlikely.

The thing is, it’s not really news to gay people, and our allies, that the FRC is hateful.  As victims of far right hatred for all these years, we knew about the FRC and its brethren long before the SPLC spoke out in 2010.  So it’s, again, naive to think that gay people, or our allies, were unaware of the Family Research Council’s anti-gay rhetoric until the SPLC decided to call them on it.  If we were motivated to violence by the fact that we thought the FRC was hateful, you’d think the violence would have happened long before the SPLC got involved because all of us thought/knew they were hateful the first time they wrongfully accused us of being pedophiles, oh so many years ago.

Second, the FRC is, in essence, (and pardon the cliché under the circumstances) asking us to shoot the messenger.  FRC would like you to believe that even if someone didn’t know about FRC’s hate before, the fact that they learned about FRC’s hate now via the SPLC, makes the SPLC responsible for any subsequent actions by any unhinged persons.  I explain the logical fallacy:

Isn’t it a bit like complaining, “Joe punched me because you told him I slept with his wife.”

But you did sleep with his wife.

That doesn’t mean Joe should resort to violence, ever. But you did sleep with his wife. So let’s stop pretending that the sinner here is the guy who caught you.

The Family Research Council has made a business out of calling out “sinners,” as they lovingly call us.  Yet when they’re called out for theirsins, their accusers are accused of inciting murder with their words, and told to STFU.  So the FRC is saying that it’s okay to intentionally mislabel an entire class of Americans as pedophiles, but it’s not okay for the so-called pedophiles to say “stop.”

Not only is the Family Research Council’s anti-gay rhetoric so hateful that I think it could inspire one of its less-level-headed victims to violence, I also fear, and have said so many times before, that their hateful rhetoric could motivate one of their less-leveled-headed followers to violence as well.  And it wouldn’t be the first time “good Christians” took up violence against gays in order to be true to their God.

The Family Research Council has claimed for 20 years that gay men are after America’s children – either to convert said children into a Satanic lifestyle of emptiness, disease and death; or we simply want to rape the kids, a lot.

Now, I’m not a parent, but I am an uncle.  And if I met someone who wanted to rape, or kill, my nieces and nephews, God help him.  That’s all I’ll say on the matter.  The suggestion that such language might not inspire violence in the defense of children is ludicrous.

The Family Research Council, and more generally the anti-gay right, can’t have it both ways.  Either words can incite violence or they can’t.  Falsely labeling someone a bad person can either provoke violence, or it can’t.  The FRC would have us believe that our admonitions incite violence but theirs couldn’t.

But if words can incite violence, then it’s fair to examine all the words of all the parties to the dispute, not just the words of one side.

And if you examine what the Family Research Council, and really the entire religious right, has said – lied – about gay and trans people for the past two decades, not only is what they’ve said is far worse than what any of their critics have said in response, but their language is so hateful, so damning, so incendiary on its face (and false, which only makes it all the more incendiary), that I believe it’s difficult not to consider the possibility that the religious right might share some of the blame for recklessly inciting the violence that finally, and sadly, unfolded this past week.