I had not planned to post anything today. However, in view of this morning’s events down the road in Santa Fe, and the fact that I never posted my previous comments on public violence, I am writing this, now. My soapbox, and my two cents. Not really looking for any response.
. Limited facts available are that this morning a person, probably a student, opened fire on other students at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Up to 10 people were killed. Possibly 6 more were injured. “Suspect” is in custody. “Person of Interest”is also in custody. Explosives found at school and in nearby areas. Search ongoing for other explosive devices. Community asked to report anything “suspicious -looking”.
Facts over. The media “analysis” has has begun.
Loner. Bullied. Trench coat. Guns. Thoughts and prayers. Twitter. “Something must be done”.
I was a “loner”. I was “bullied”. I had free access to guns, knives, and even the makings of explosives. I even have a penchant for trench coats.
Furthermore, I had a livid hatred for the privileged snooty cliques of townies, jocks, and other pathetic losers that made up the majority of my school class, did their best to isolate and ostracize me, and otherwise make my long childhood relatively miserable. I had no real respite or support at home, and only a handful of equally outsider nerd friends as any kind of support group and God knows they were all as messed up as me.
In other words I was the FBI profiler textbook example of a typical school shooter.
Yet somehow, inexplicably and against all odds, I did not, and have not ever killed anyone.
Fast forward a few years to early adulthood and one of the first acts of significant public violence that is part of an ongoing spiral. I was working in San Antonio as an art director when I came down from my office at the back of the warehouse to find everyone transfixed by the pictures coming in from Oklahoma City. One of the ladies in the office was expressing disbelief in the early reports that the bomb had been made from fertilizer. At this point I offered a perhaps too detailed explanation of how one could combine fertilizer of a type with diesel fuel and a blasting cap to do such a thing. When I finished everyone was staring at me like I’d just pulled the head off a bird.
I thought everyone knew this sort of thing. It was fairly common knowledge where I grew up, as the method was employed in the strip mine industry, and we all knew someone who knew someone who knew.
But for some as yet unknown and unfathomable reason, I had not, and have not, blown up major buildings. Neither, to my knowledge, did any of those people who knew someone who knew someone who knew.
So the bottom line appears from my experience to be that simply availability of the means – whether it’s a handgun or a bump stock or a Ryder truck- is not the deciding factor in an act of public violence.
And neither, by the way, is the fact that a person is loner, a nerd, a poor bullied put-upon outsider with a less than supportive home life and facing the systematic repression (if not outright persecution) of cadres of narrow-minded mainstream peers.
Because I am living incontrovertible proof that it simply is not true. I made a rational conscious choice to accept those slings and arrows without harming myself (at least not physically- jury is still out on what it may have done to me psychologically) or others. And yes, I did make that choice – a number of times.
These little bastards that “go over the edge” made the other choice.
And there is not a damned thing you can say to convince me otherwise.
Absent things like a brain tumor such as the sniper at UT in the 1960s, every one of these people committed a deliberate act of public violence for reasons we may not really ever know, and none of which are in any way whatsoever excusable or mitigating.
But it wasn’t the gun’s fault. It wasn’t “society’s” fault. It was not the politicians fault. As much as I could wish it otherwise, it wasn’t even Twitter’s fault.
It was the bastard that pulled the trigger who decided to do that.
Do we need to examine how we handle guns in this country? Hell, yes. The loopholes that allow legal guns to be converted by legally obtained kits into illegal guns are just plain stupid. And really, we need to work actively to ratchet the hell down the idea that such guns are necessary to protect ourselves from some anonymous, but looming apocalyptic event (see just plain stupid, above).
While we’re at it, let’s examine the massively profitable industry that hate-mongering in America has become in the last couple of decades. Whole media empires have been built on it, it’s the core plank in the platform of both the major political parties and it has made the absurdly worthless thing called social media a viable business.
So, you can get swept up in the us versus them thing. You can regurgitate the same rational-sounding platitudes that have been “framing the debate” since the First Amendment got ratified.
Or you can look around and realize that someone is making a whole lot of money from your fear and anger and frustration and it’s not you.
And maybe if we’re lucky enough of us will stop blaming the victims, and stop excusing the attackers, and stop finding scapegoats and actually try to think of ways to fix it instead of just continuing to bitch about it while civilization circles the drain, and some fat bastard hidden behind his well appointed and defended walls makes a financial killing on it.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, whole towns are being slaughtered on a fairly regular basis. There’s no wall-to-wall continuing live-team coverage. They don’t have Twitter. Nor do they have the NRA or BLM, GOP or DNC, Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump. Politically, on paper, one side and the other may record justification or outrage, but it’s murder, and makes no difference to the dead.
The real tragedy is that we never rise up against that.