Tag Archives: gun violence

For gun massacres, it takes a village

<p>Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club, where as many as 20 people have been injured after a gunman opened fire, in Orlando, June 12, 2016. (REUTERS/Steve Nesius) </p>

Reuters photo

Distraught individuals comfort each other at the Orlando Police Department headquarters after the United States’ worst gun massacre in history at a gay nightclub early this morning in Orlando, Florida. Because most of the victims were gay men, whose lives are expendable, this latest gun massacre won’t be in the national discussion for very long, though, and this latest American massacre demonstrates that although same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry finally was recognized a year ago this month, plenty of ignorance surrounding and hatred toward non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals remains.

What a quandary for American wingnuts and other homophobes! The largest slaughter of innocent Americans on American soil since 9/11 — perpetrated by a Muslim man, of course* — must be condemned, but at the same time, most if not all of the Muslim’s victims were queers!

Seriously — this is a conundrum, since most American haters of Muslims hate non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals, too; homophobia is something that fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews all have in common.

I say this with confidence: Even though early this morning we saw the largest shooting massacre in American history (50 fatalities [including the gunman] at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida), we won’t talk about this gun massacre for nearly as long as we talked about the last gun massacre, the one in San Bernardino, California, in which 14 people were slaughtered by a Muslim man and his Muslim wife in December.**

And that’s because heterosexual (and gender-conforming) lives still are valued much more than are non-heterosexual (and non-gender-conforming) lives in the United States of America.

I’m confident that just as millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die of AIDS, millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die in Orlando this morning. (These individuals of course would take issue with my use of the word “innocent” in the first paragraph.)

You know, though, even though I’m a gay man, I don’t feel a bunch of hatred toward the perpetrator, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan and a U.S. citizen (and who was shot dead by police after he’d committed his carnage).

Nor do I feel a generalized hatred toward Muslims, although I believe that their belief system, along with Christians’ and Jews’, is bullshit (with their “God” essentially being a Santa Claus figure on crack [He sees you when you’re sleeping/ He knows when you’re awake/ He knows if you’ve been bad or good/ So be good for goodness’ sake!]), and although I recognize that a relatively tiny percentage of them are capable of great evil (as is the case with all human beings).

I do, however, blame toxic, backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic religion, with its hocus-pocus, bullshit beliefs, and I blame the fact that Omar Mateen was born and raised in a nation whose highest court not even a full year ago finally ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, non-heterosexual individuals have the same human and civil rights that heterosexuals do.

When it comes to massacres, it takes a village to make them happen, people.

We need to examine the village much more than we need to examine the perpetrators.*** They are the symptoms of the village that creates them.

*Actually, of course, it remains that case that a typical American is significantly more likely to be shot and killed in a mass shooting by a white person who considers himself to be a Christian than by a Muslim.

Um, yeah.

**The Los Angeles Times put out this graphic of past gun massacres in the United States:

Note that this latest gun massacre took a real leap in the body count from the previous record. The L.A. Times grimly keeps a growing, running roundup of gun massacres in the United States here.

***That said, I’m confident that Mateen was mentally ill (his ex-wife has said that he was) — you can’t massacre people unless you are mentally ill (and the mentally ill widely don’t get the help that they need in the United States) — spurred on by the ignorance and hatred within his environment (including, of course, the ignorance and hatred that routinely is spewed within religion in the name of “God”), and, of course, I have to wonder if he was battling with homosexual urges himself.

I mean, reportedly he went ballistic when he saw two men kissing in public in Miami recently.

Why? Why would that drive you to shoot up a gay nightclub, if you were heterosexual and comfortable with your heterosexuality?

It seems to me quite possible that the sick and twisted Mateen, by killing gay men who unabashedly were being who they are in public (at least in the nightclub), was trying to kill the homosexuality within himself.

Finally, I don’t wish to exclude lesbians from mention, but the official list of victims in the Orlando massacre that has been released thus far indicates that most of the victims were male and Latino. I don’t know if any lesbians were killed, too. I see one female name on the list, and I don’t know what her sexual orientation was, and of course not all of the males slaughtered there necessarily were gay, but, it being a gay nightclub, I’m guessing (safely, methinks) that most if not all of them were.

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No! Not you, Syed!

Updated below (on Saturday, December 5, 2015)

Above is a selfie that 28-year-old Syed Farook had posted on Facebook sometime before he perpetrated yesterday’s gun massacre in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people in what appears thus far to have been an act of workplace-related violence. While the right wing, which pretty much ignored the recent act of domestic terrorism committed at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs (since the terrorist is a white, probably “Christian” man), will be all over this gun massacre, a look at the gun massacres committed in the United States since 1984 shows that the majority of the perpetrators have been white, native-born males, most of whom probably have self-identified, along with the majority of Americans, as “Christian.”

I was disheartened yesterday when I saw the name of the suspect in yesterday’s gun massacre of 14 people at a county-government holiday party in San Bernardino: Syed Farook.

Sounded awfully Muslim to me, and Muslims (along with “the illegals” from south of the border) already have been turned into scapegoats for all of the United States of America’s problems as it is.

Details will continue to roll in, but the Los Angeles Times reports today:

As authorities continued to comb through the home of the husband and wife responsible for a mass shooting at a San Bernardino holiday party, investigators and legislators from California to Washington, D.C., tried to understand what motivated the shooters.

Speaking at the White House [this] morning, President Obama said the FBI was now leading the probe into the attack at the Inland Regional Center, which left 14 people dead and 17 wounded.

Investigators have yet to rule out terrorism as a motive, but police have also said one of the shooters, 28-year-old Syed Farook, was involved in a dispute at the party shortly before gunfire broke out. Farook and his wife, 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a gun battle with police hours after the shooting.

“We do know that the two individuals who were killed were equipped with weapons and appeared to have access to additional weaponry at their homes,” Obama said. “But we don’t know why they did it. We don’t know at this point the extent of their plans. We do not know their motivations.”

Farook and Malik were identified as the lone suspects in Wednesday’s shooting at the party for employees of the San Bernardino County Health Department. Farook was born in Illinois, but recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman he met online. He had worked at the health department as an inspector for five years.

Malik was born in Pakistan, according to a federal law enforcement source who requested anonymity.

The couple left their young daughter with the child’s grandmother in Redlands shortly before the shooting, saying they had a doctor’s appointment, according to Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles.

They headed to the [Inland Regional Center] soon after. …

Farook and Malik used a pair of .223-caliber assault rifles and two semi-automatic handguns in the shooting, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said [today].

The couple was dressed in “assault-style” clothing when police closed in on their Redlands home Wednesday afternoon, roughly four hours after the shooting. The couple fled, sparking a vehicle pursuit that ended back in San Bernardino. Both were killed in a shootout that involved roughly 20 police officers.

An officer was also hurt, but is expected to survive, Burguan said.

In San Bernardino, relatives of the victims were still trying to process how an event meant to celebrate a holiday turned into a bloodletting. …

It’s safe to conclude that Syed Farook was off of his rocker. My best guess is that his wife was following his lead, that he had her under his control. This tends to be a cultural thing in Islam: the submissive, obedient wife. (Keep in mind that Tashfeen Malik reportedly was born in Pakistan and met Farook in Saudi Arabia; she apparently was not Americanized.)

How much of the shooting (if any) that Farook’s wife did I’m not sure; I mean, it initially was reported that there were three shooters, and it turns out that there apparently were only two, so I have no idea as to what extent Malik participated.

Since Farook reportedly shot up his workplace’s holiday party after a dispute at the party, this (thus far, anyway) is indicative of workplace-related violence, not of terrorism. Terrorism has a political aim.

Robert Lewis Dear, for instance, is said to have muttered something about “baby parts” after he shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and is reported to have made anti-abortion and anti-government statements to law enforcement officials since he committed the act of terrorism. No doubt he listened to right-wing rhetoric, such as Faux “News” and the rhetoric of the Repugnican Tea Party “presidential” candidates themselves, the most guilty one probably Carly Fiorina, who probably knowingly falsely described abortion videos during one of the neo-Nazis’ “presidential” debates.

(Yes, lies uttered by high-level individuals can result in harm. We are responsible for what we say, especially when we have a large audience. I highly recommend Ted Rall’s recent column on this topic.)

Again, my best guess is that Farook had some screws loose. That said, native-born, “normative” Americans almost always claim that they always have treated every co-worker (or fellow student or other comrade) who is odd or different perfectly well, especially after a chronically mistreated co-worker (or fellow student or other comrade) finally snaps and goes postal, as it were.

We don’t know how Farook acted in the workplace and how his co-workers treated him. Someone with mental illness can’t handle workplace mistreatment as well as can someone who is fairly mentally healthy.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s possible that Farook was a paranoid schizophrenic or something like that and that his co-workers did treat him fairly well, but I wouldn’t rule out that he chronically was mistreated for being different, such as for being Muslim, for having a foreign-sounding name, and for having married a woman from the Middle East.

If Farook did experience anti-Muslim treatment at his workplace, perhaps especially after the Paris terrorist attacks of last month, well, there you go. That could set off someone who already isn’t mentally stable.

I recall the November 2009 gun massacre at Ford Hood, Texas, in which Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan claimed that anti-Muslim harassment at the base contributed to his rampage in which he slaughtered 13 and injured 32 others.

Those who knew Hasan described him as a nice, quiet man. But we don’t know what abuse he probably endured within the right-wing atmosphere of the U.S. military (and our military pretty much is overrun with “Christo”fascists, who love guns and killing more than they love “God”), since abusers are pretty good at perpetrating their abuse when they feel safe to do so, when no one in authority who might do anything about it is around (this is for “plausible” deniability, of course).

American wingnuts, especially in Texas, were outraged when the federal government decided to treat the case of Hasan as a workplace violence incident rather than as an act of terrorism — because Hasan (who is still alive and in prison) is Muslim. This reaction of theirs (their assertion that any act of violence perperated by a Muslim automatically qualifies as “terrorism” because the perpetrator is Muslim) demonstrates, I believe, the anti-Muslim sentiment and harassment that Hasan claims he experienced (I believe him that he experienced such harassment, especially at a U.S. military base in Texas).*

Similarly, thus far in the Syed Farook case the only evidence that we have is that this was an incident of workplace-related violence. As Farook and his wife are dead, we may never know for certain his entire motives, and thus we may never be able to conclude whether or not yesterday’s massacre was even quasi-terrorism instead of an extreme act of workplace violence.

While this latest American gun massacre was committed by a Muslim, for perspective you should take a look at the Los Angeles Times’ ongoing roundup of American gun massacres since 1984.

You’ll see that most perpetrators of gun massacres in the U.S. of A. are native-born males, most of them white, and that most massacres take place at workplaces and at schools, such as the infamous Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999, with the rest at public places, such as churches, such as the church in Charleston, S.C., where young white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof this past June shot nine congregants to death because they were black.

The moral of the story for workplace and school shootings, I think, is not to bully or pile on a co-worker or a fellow student (or a fellow member of the military or anyone else); it can have deadly consequences (maybe even for yourself).

Again, some people are wholly off of their rockers and can come to believe that they are being mistreated when on the whole they’re not, but often we do mistreat others, and that mistreatment can send someone who already isn’t very stable over the edge.

And let’s face it: We Americans by and large are a selfish, individualistic lot. When we see that someone is struggling, we don’t do much, if anything, to help him or her. After tragedy strikes, we plead ignorance that there had been any problem at all.

I have no desire to launch into a tiresome, trite discussion of gun control right now. While I don’t like guns and never plan to own one (but in general begrudgingly support the Second Amendment, keeping in mind that today’s incredibly lethal weaponry wasn’t around when the amendment was adopted), the underlying problem, it seems fairly clear to me, is that in this “Christian” nation we largely treat each other like shit — and we glorify violence.

(Militarism, along with capitalism and other evil -isms, has come to be considered part and parcel of American “Christianity,” even though the words of Jesus Christ contained in black and white in the Bible oppose such evils as militarism and capitalism; Jesus eschewed capitalism, having been homeless himself and having stated, among other things, that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and Jesus was, of course, murdered by Roman militarism. Yeah.)

We can talk about gun control until we pass out from hypoxia, but until and unless we examine and then change our ways at a deep, deep level, the L.A. Times’ ongoing roundup of American gun massacres is only going to continue to grow.

We are, I surmise, perfectly OK with that, however, because these gun massacres keep happening at a rate at which they happen in no other developed nation on the planet.

Update (Sunday, December 5, 2015): 

Boy, we really, really want the San Bernardino massacre to have been an “Islamo”fascist “terrorist” attack, don’t we?

So all that we have is that Syed Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, pledged her allegiance to ISIS — on her Facebook page. Wow. There is no evidence that the folks who run ISIS were even aware of the existence of Farook and Malik, so we can’t call the San Bernardino massacre a “terrorist” attack if by that we mean that we have evidence of coordination by the perpetrator(s) with a known terrorist group, such as ISIS.

I mean, fuck: I can pledge allegiance to Satan on my Facebook page if I so wish; it would mean pretty much nothing.

As Vox.com points out, “the fact that Farook used to work in the same government department as the targets suggested a more personal motive.”

Yup. This still looks more like an incident of workplace-related violence than of “terrorism,” even though, per the New York Times, Malik reportedly made her pledge-of-allegiance-to-ISIS Facebook post on the day of the massacre. She was 27; perhaps she figured if she was going to go out in her husband’s workplace revenge, she’d go out dramatically. Young adults sometimes do things like that.

Recall that I have defined “terrorism” as the use of violence or the (credible) threat of the use of violence in order to achieve a political aim or goal.

Shortly after his capture, Robert Lewis Dear, the perpetrator of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, is reported to apparently have talked about preventing there being more “baby parts.” His aim, apparently, was to harm Planned Parenthood and its operations and/or scare women from seeking Planned Parenthood’s services.

That is a political aim and so it qualifies as terrorism.

Even Dylann Storm Roof, who slaughtered nine black people in their church in Charleston, S.C., in June, apparently had a political agenda: white supremacy and, apparently, the elimination of black people; perhaps he even wanted to start a race war, which certainly would qualify as a political agenda.

The political agenda, if any, of Farook and Malik, remains a mystery. Again, it might primarily have been Farook wanting to get back at a co-worker or co-workers, and Malik deciding to pledge her allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page because why not? Or it might have been both of them fully considering themselves to be big, bad soldiers of ISIS, although there is no evidence that if so, they were anything other than so-called lone wolves.

And what, exactly, would be the political objective of shooting up your workplace’s holiday party? To shut down holiday parties? I don’t see a political objective, and thus it’s hard for me to see where my definition of terrorism would come in here. (Perhaps a “political objective” could be just killing any old “infidel,” but if so, that seems to be a very sloppy and unfocused, and therefore a fairly ineffective, political objective.)

We’ll probably never fully know what Farook and Malik had in mind, since both of them are dead.

But let’s not automatically call something “terrorism” just because it was perpetrated by a Muslim or Muslims. Words have meaning.

Thus far, we can call the San Bernardino massacre a massacre. We can call it murder. We can call it mass murder. But we don’t have nearly enough evidence to slap the overused “terrorism” label on it.

P.S. I just read a Reuters news article in which I found two notes interesting.

The first: “It was not clear if the [Facebook] comments were posted by Malik, or by someone with access to her page.” So even Malik’s Facebook pledge of allegiance to ISIS apparently is not settled fact.

And the second: “Farook family attorneys denied [yesterday that] there was any evidence either the husband or wife harbored extremist views.

“They described Malik as ‘very conservative,’ and said Farook also largely kept to himself, had few friends, and that co-workers sometimes made fun of his beard.”

The report that Farook’s “co-workers sometimes made fun of his beard” is not elaborated upon, but again, I have to wonder if he was subjected to anti-Muslim taunts from his co-workers, which might have been behind to shoot them up at their holiday party.

(No, I’m not saying that it’s OK to shoot someone who has taunted you; I’m saying that people usually act for a reason.)

Finally, while reportedly ISIS in its online propaganda claims that Farook and Malik acted on its behalf, there remains no evidence that there was any coordination between Farook and Malik and ISIS, and it’s entirely possible, it seems to me, that ISIS is happy to claim credit for any slaughter of any “infidel.”

P.P.S. (Sunday, December 6, 2015): This additional information from the Los Angeles Times:

… In 2014, Farook traveled to Saudi Arabia to marry a Pakistani woman he had met online, Tashfeen Malik, 29. When he returned, his co-workers teased him about the beard he’d started to grow. Before their baby girl was born this year, they threw him a baby shower at the office. But they never met Malik. …

One of Farook’s co-workers, Nicholas Thalasinos, 57, a Messianic Jew, wore a tie clip with the Star of David. He was outspoken against Islamic extremism, in person and on social media.

Two weeks earlier, he and Farook argued over whether Islam was a violent religion. Recounting the conversation to a friend, Thalasinos said that Farook insisted his God was peaceful but argued that Israel had no place in the Middle East.

Thalasinos liked discussing such topics. There was no indication that their interaction was anything out of the ordinary. …

That Farook’s co-workers threw him a baby shower, as widely has been reported, doesn’t exactly mean that they were all angels to him all the time, and I have to wonder if the reportage about Thalasinos’ religious commentary at the workplace has been understated.

I mean, reportedly “He was outspoken against Islamic extremisim, in person and on social media,” yet “There was no indication that their interaction was anything out of the ordinary.” (As I’ve noted, after tragedy strikes a group of people, everyone pretends like there was no conceivable precursor to it whatsoever. And they apparently search their memories for one nice thing that was done, such as a baby shower, to exculpate the entire group from any responsibility for the tragedy whatsoever.)

I don’t know — one worker slamming a co-worker’s religion isn’t out of the ordinary? It’s acceptable? If the target is Muslim? It isn’t harassment? It doesn’t create a hostile workplace environment? One’s religion is a federally protected class, such as one’s race, one’s sex and one’s national origin, from workplace discrimination.

Tellingly, methinks, Thalasinos was one of the 14 people killed in the massacre.

*Interestingly, there was yet another apparent case of workplace violence at Fort Hood in April 2014. In this gun massacre, four people, including the shooter, an enlisted soldier named Ivan Lopez, were killed.

Because Lopez was not (to my knowledge) a Muslim, no one, to my knowledge, has asserted that this was “terrorism.”

There has been, I suspect, a problem at Fort Hood of military personnel who aren’t white, “normative” Americans being harassed by those who are.

Continuing to blame the victims of harassment and to pretend that we were wholly innocent in our treatment of them will only ensure that these massacres continue to happen.

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We’ll have to pry away the gun nuts’ ignorance and fear

Um, yeah, this is for illustrative purposes and is not anyone whom I know

I recently was tempted to write a post, in jest, that Colorado’s recent fairly devastating flooding obviously is God’s punishment for Coloradans recently having recalled two state legislators over their support of gun control, but, alas, I let that idea go.

Wingnuts routinely claim that this or that is “God’s punishment” for this or that — as a gay man, apparently, not only do I and my kind “deserve” “God’s punishment” of AIDS, but we also are the cause of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, etc., etc. — but whatever. I don’t believe in God, and so I don’t believe in “punishments” from “God,” and even if there were such a thing as a “punishment” from “God,” no mere human being truthfully could claim to be “God’s” spokesperson who truthfully can pronounce such “punishments.”

That said, the concept of karma makes sense to me, but again, who among us can be an arbiter of karma with any actual knowledge of its workings?

Guns, though, are, in a word, bad. For the very most part.

Those who love guns overwhelmingly are ignorant and thus fearful individuals. Therefore, as President Hopey Changey once put it (accurately), they cling to their guns. Their guns give them a false sense of safety and security, when, ironically, they cannot see that it’s their own ignorance and fear that contributes to the violent environment of which they’re terrified.

While I don’t advocate that the guvmint attempt to take everyone’s guns — a position that most of us on the left are accused of holding by the wingnuts — and while I generally support the Second Amendment, it’s incredibly bad public policy for fearful, ignorant people to have such easy access to guns.

When you are drunk and/or drugged and angry and/or frightened, or even sober but angry and/or frightened, maybe having easy access to a gun isn’t such a great idea.

Fucktards like wannabe cop George Zimmerman should not be allowed anywhere near firearms. Frankly, I suspect that he carried a gun while he played cop in that gated community in Florida because he wanted to shoot someone, and that Trayvon Martin was just the poor individual who was the victim of Zimmerman’s quest for a “reason” to shoot someone.

While I can’t see that Zimmerman, as the aggressor, was acting in actual self-defense, guns can be used for actual self-defense, but it troubles me than in the year 2013, when we have so many other technological achievements, cops and others deem a lethal firearm as the best or even the only way to practice actual self-defense in many if not most if not even all cases.

How many times do we read news stories about someone who was unarmed but who nonetheless was shot to death by cops, such as the unarmed 24-year-old black man Jonathon Ferrell, whom a young white cop shot 10 times in North Carolina this past weekend? From what I can surmise, Ferrell, who had just been in a car wreck, was in shock, and so he came in the direction of the cop, probably for help, but did the cop really have to shoot at him — 12 times (hitting him 10 times)?

How can any of us, with a straight face, claim that Trayvon Martin and Jonathon Ferrell were not the victims of racial profiling?

This isn’t all abstract to me; gun violence recently hit close to home.

My 25-year-old nephew sits in a jail cell in Phoenix after he shot and killed another man earlier this month. Details of the incident, as they have reached me through relatives and as I have been able to find them on the Internet, still are sketchy; my nephew claims that he was ambushed or about to be ambushed, that two or more other males had set him up and were about to perpetrate physical violence upon him (to “jump” him, in the parlance).

My understanding is that thus far, there is no witness who is disputing my nephew’s account, as the others who were present at the shooting have evaded the Phoenix police, who would love to question them.

From what details I’ve heard, if they are factually correct, my best guess is that my nephew at worst ultimately will be convicted of manslaughter, but conceivably could be acquitted for the reason of self-defense if he and his defense team can demonstrate that he used the gun in self-defense, which, I understand, Arizona law, like Florida law, allows.

My understanding is that my nephew owned and carried the gun entirely within Arizona law, and that before the shooting incident he had no violent criminal record.

I consider my nephew to be innocent of any crime until and unless he is found otherwise by a jury of his peers (and exhausts any and all appeals, should that happen), but would I choose to carry a gun in public like we’re still living in the wild, wild West?

No.

Do I want to even see people — those of the non-law-enforcement variety, I mean — carrying guns on their persons while I’m out and about in public?

No, absofuckinglutely not, and I’m thankful that I live in California, which is a “non-permissive open carry” state, and not in one of the “permissive open carry” (or otherwise more gun-permissive) states, such as Arizona and most of the red states.

Do you really fucking need to bring a gun into, say, a Starbucks?

It’s in the news today that Starbucks’ CEO has asked that Starbucks’ patrons don’t bring guns into Starbucks locations, but that in those states where it is not illegal to openly carry firearms, Starbucks won’t ask those who are packing pistols to leave.

Where it comes to our rights, our rights end where others’ rights begin.

We sane Americans — we non-gun nuts — have the right, when we’re out and about in public, not to have to see fucktards who shouldn’t be even allowed to own a gun openly carrying a gun as though we’re still living in the wild West. We have the right not to have to fear for our own safety because some fearful idiot is carrying a gun in the name of his or her own “safety.”

Americans have the right to protect ourselves, but, it seems to me, most shooting deaths in the United States of America are not the results of cases of actual self-defense, but are cases of murder, suicide and accidental shootings (and, I suppose I should add, cases of trigger-happy, jumpy cops, many if not most of whom are white cops who are racial profilers and who probably are too young and immature to be cops anyway).

When guns for the most part cease to be about actual self-defense, it seems to me, they have become a public menace, and no one has the right to pose a menace to the public.

At this point, I think it’s fairly safe to say, the widespread ownership of and easy access to guns in the United States causes more harm than good. (I don’t even need to mention the latest gun massacre on Monday that left 12 people dead at the Washington Navy Yard, because these gun massacres are so common in the U.S. these days.)

But gun control, as Colorado voters have just demonstrated, is an incredibly sticky political subject.

The ignorant and the fearful will cling to their guns, which, the late gun nut Charlton Heston famously declared, we’ll have to pry from their “cold, dead hands.”  That’s their way.

Trying to pry the fucktards’ guns from their still-living hands, though, perhaps is the wrong approach.

It’s the ignorance and the fear, I think, that we have to tackle first, because it’s their ignorance and their fear that makes the gun nuts cling so steadfastly to their guns.

After all, ultimately, it’s not guns that kill people. It’s ignorant and fearful people who, using guns, kill people…

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Freedom is impossible without reasonable gun control

I don’t want a gun. I don’t like guns.

But I’m OK with you having a gun — within reason.

When the Second Amendment was crafted and ratified way the fuck back in 1791, we didn’t have the assault weapons, these weapons of mass destruction, that we have today. There weren’t mass school or movie-theater shootings when the “founding fathers” were alive, and no sane and honest person would assert that in the Second Amendment the “founding fathers” meant to endorse the ability of any civilian to shoot up public spaces, killing as many victims as humanly possible with a firearm or firearms.

It’s a long-standing principal in American law that the individual’s rights end where others’ rights — which includes, of course, the right to be safe in public — begin.

So: If you don’t have a violent criminal history and you haven’t been deemed by a court of law to be mentally ill with a propensity toward violence, I’m OK with you owning and safely storing a handgun for personal protection at home and/or owning and safely storing a rifle for hunting (even though I myself never could blow away a defenseless animal, which is not an act of manliness or courage, but is an act of cowardice).

Beyond that, however, yeah, I have a problem.

I don’t want you owning the more destructive, more lethal weapons that the members of the military or the police are able to use.

You may not legally possess an over-the-shoulder rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, so why may you legally possess a military-style assault rifle?

No, the “guvmint” is not coming for your guns and going to impose martial law. The federal “guvmint,” for the most part, doesn’t give a flying fuck about you as long as you pay your federal income taxes and don’t grievously violate federal law.

Wingnutty paranoia over such events that very, very most likely never will occur — um, Barack Obama is not going to round you up in his socialist concentration camps, since not only is he not a socialist, but is a center-right DINO, but he never would have the support of the right-wing U.S. military for such an act — is not justification for allowing every Jeb, Zeke, Cooter and Skeeter to own his own personal weapons of mass destruction.

The Second Amendment never was intended to allow such insanity.

All of our rights are subject to being curbed when our exercise of them begins to harm others. The welfare of the whole trumps the wishes and desires of the individual.

Without such safeguards and limitations and boundaries, it becomes a fucking free-for-all, and therefore there no longer is freedom for all, but only freedom for the few who don’t give a fuck about others’ rights, such as others’ right to public safety.

I don’t want a gun right now, but yes, I want the right to own one in the future, and so, within reason, I support the Second Amendment. But it’s not the “guvmint” that I’m concerned about. It’s the gun nuts.*

*Speaking of the gun nuts, the National Rifle Association’s assertion that it’s hypocritical and wrong that President Obama’s two daughters have more protection than does the average American public school child is insane.

It’s much, much more likely that a member of the presidential family would be targeted by some gun nut that the average American public school child would be. With Obama’s daughters the actual threat is there, so the appropriate protection, naturally, is there. That makes fucking sense. Guns in all of our public schools — which is what the NRA explicitly advocates — does not.

I take the NRA’s inability and/or refusal to make a rational argument as proof that it’s becoming extinct, that it’s a dinosaur whose days are numbered.

You can watch the NRA’s latest wingnutty spot here and practically smell the desperate NRA’s rotting decay.

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Assorted shit Sunday!

On Cuba, Pope Palapatine just hates the competition

Woman sits under banner of Pope Benedict XVI in Havana

Reuters photo

A Cuban woman on Friday sits under a banner in Havana announcing the impending visit of Pope Palpatine. If the Cuban government were as evil as Palpatine claims it is, it probably wouldn’t let him set foot on the island in the first fucking place. Palpatine proclaims that Marxism is dead, yet it’s backasswards Catholicism that is dying in the more developed nations of Europe and the United States, and Latin America remains the last bastion of the dying Catholic empire.

“Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality,” Pope Palpatine decreed of the government of the nation of Cuba on Friday, in advance of his scheduled visit there tomorrow.

I love the apparently unintended irony of that statement: “Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.”

Um, what about Catholicism?

Here in the U.S., we have far-right-wing Catholic nutjob Prick Santorum telling us that as president — as Pope Palpatine’s puppet in the White House — he would support banning contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and “obscene” pornography (which would be pretty much all pornography).

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 (in Roe vs. Wade) ruled that abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy is always legal, and the same year essentially ruled (in Miller vs. California) that the porn that we see today that widely is considered to be legal is protected free speech (and not “obscenity”).

The far-right-wing Pope Palpatine, however, views the mildly progressive reforms of the Catholic church of the 1960s as having gone too far, and believes that the church should revert to the “good old days” before the 1960s.

But Marxism is outdated?

In order to remain relevant any ideology needs to change and grow with the times — which the patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic, anti-science Catholic church refuses to do, which is why its membership is hemorrhaging in the U.S. and Europe — but with rampant global capitalism destroying the planet at record pace, Marxism is even more relevant today than it was when Karl Marx was still kicking around, when the greedy, selfish capitalists’ ability to destroy the entire fucking planet wasn’t nearly what it is now.

Pope Palpatine’s real problem with the government of Cuba, of course, is that he fucking hates the competition for the minds, hearts and souls of the masses.

It long has seemed to me that the people of Cuba have been far better off under Fidel Castro than they ever would be under the tyranny of capitalism, which sees the masses only as a means of making a tiny few obscenely richer in such noble names as “democracy” and “freedom,” or under the theocratic tyranny of the Catholic church, which, like a virus, only wishes to subvert the time, energy and money of the masses from their own benefit to propping up the decaying carcass of the Catholic church, an all-male hierarchy that should have met its extinction long ago.

Prick Santorum still stuck on his Etch-A-Sketch bullshit

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, waves a Etch-A-Sketch while criticizing the policies of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a rally in Shreveport, La., Friday, March 23, 2012. Santorum has strong support among many conservative voters in the state which his campaign hopes results in winning Louisiana's primary on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Associated Press photo

Prick Santorum lamely still waves an Etch-A-Sketch Friday in Shreveport, Louisiana, a state where such retarded tactics apparently work.

The anti-Mittens “Etch-A-Sketch” thing wasn’t worth exploiting in the first place, since its exploitation was based upon wildly twisting its source’s rather obvious intended meaning, but Prick Santorum, having nothing else to offer, continues to use the lame tactic that ultimately only is hurting his own fucking party.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation” today, Prick declared, “Even though a lot of folks are saying this race is over, the people in Louisiana said, ‘No, it’s not.’ They still want to see someone who they can trust, someone who’s not running an Etch-A-Sketch campaign, but one who has their principals written on their heart, not on an erasable tablet.”

Really, how much mileage does Prick believe that he’s going to get out of this retarded diatribe?

Of course Prick won Louisiana yesterday and previously won some other Southern states (including Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee): The Southerners are all a bunch of mouth-breathing inbreds to whom Prick’s preaching about the supposedly Jesus-Christ-based hatred and oppression of self-respecting women, gay men and lesbians, non-Christians, non-whites and many others appeals. Truly: The Prick Santorum voters’ mantra must be: “We love him! He hates everyone we hate!”

Actually, the Repugnican Tea Party presidential race is over. According to The Associated Press, Mittens Romney thus far has more than twice as many delegates as does Prick Santorum, 568 delegates to 273. Newt Gingrich has a paltry 135 and Ron Paul an even paltrier 50, and even if you gave those 185 delegates to Prick, he still would trail Mittens by more than 100 delegates.

The next big state on the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primary season calendar is Wisconsin, which votes on April 3. Even if Prick should eke out a win in Wisconsin (he did win neighboring Minnesota and Iowa, but Mittens won neighboring Michigan and Illinois), Mittens should clean up in April, with several Mittens-friendly states on the calendar, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, and if Mittens actually wins Prick’s home state of Pennsylvania on April 24 — and remember that Prick lost his 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points — then we probably will see Prick actually toss his Etch-A-Sketch prop into the garbage for good.

By that time, though, Prick will only have further damaged Mittens, whose lack of charisma, whose alleged opportunistically changing political positions — accurately and fairly or inaccurately and unfairly — are criticized by the members of his own party as well as by the members of the opposing party, and whose exalted status as a multi-millionaire in a nation whose commoners still struggle economically — as well as his membership in the Mormon cult — never made him a strong candidate against Barack Obama anyway.

Still, Mittens is the best that the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have got, which apparently even they increasingly are recognizing, as evidenced by the fact that Mittens these days is polling in the low 40s in the Gallup daily tracking poll, while Prick can’t even break 30 percent.

And most national polls show a much tighter race between Obama and Mittens than they do between Obama and Prick. Even a Faux “News” poll taken earlier this month puts Obama at only four percentage points ahead of Mittens, 46 percent to 42 percent, and a whopping 12 percentage points ahead of Prick. (A Bloomberg poll taken around the same time has Obama and Mittens tied, at 47 percent each, and Obama six percentage points ahead of Prick.)

The good news in all of this is that the “Christo”fascists, with whom the Richie Riches of the old guard Repugnican Party struck an unholy alliance because the 1 percent can’t win elections on their own, these days apparently are more of a drain than a help to the GOP, at least presidentially.

Wild West bullshit needs to be made illegal in all 50 states

I haven’t weighed in yet on the apparent race-based murder of Trayvon Martin —

FILE - This undated file family photo shows Trayvon Martin. Martin was slain in the town of Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 in a shooting that has set off a nationwide furor over race and justice. Neighborhood crime-watch captain George Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating. Since the slaying, a portrait has emerged of Martin as a laid-back young man who loved sports, was extremely close to his father, liked to crack jokes with friends and, according to a lawyer for his family, had never been in trouble with the law. (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)

Associated Press image

— the 17-year-old who apparently was gunned down in Florida late last month by a vigilante named George Zimmerman who claims that he shot the black teen in self-defense, even though the teen reportedly was “armed” with only a bag of Skittles and some iced tea.

I will get this out of the way, though: As a blue-eyed white guy, I’m happy that George Zimmerman looks like this:

Handout booking photo of George Michael Zimmerman

Reuters image

— and not, say, something like this:

FILE - In a Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 file photo, Andrew Breitbart attends a news conference, at the National Press Club in Washington. Breitbart, who was behind investigations that led to the resignations of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, died Thursday, March 1, 2012 in Los Angeles. He was 43. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

Associated Press photo

— or this:

(That’s a photo of the Archie-Bunker-like Andrew Breitbart that was taken before he went to hell early this month and a photo of “Joe the Plumber” and some other yahoo with a dead bear that I found on the Internet. [I’m sure that it was a fair fight with the bear, you know, mano a mano, because those right-wing white guys are so fucking tough!])

Seriously, though, when I read the name “George Zimmerman,” I’d thought that yet another stupid whitey had gunned down someone for the crime of breathing while being brown or black, and I was, admittedly, at least a little relieved to discover that Zimmerman is half-white and half-Latino.

However, that fact is of no consolation to Trayvon Martin’s family, I’m confident, and what can you say about such a senseless slaughter that very apparently was race-based to at least some degree (and probably a large degree)?

The news today on the Trayvon Martin case is that Zimmerman and his family and friends are fearful for his safety, and so he is hiding at an undisclosed location.

Jesus fuck — is this another right-wing attempt to make the victimizer into the actual victim here?

The Trayvon Martin case screams for us to examine (at least these) four social phenomena (in no certain order): The one in which the victimizers claim to be the actual victims; the one in which many right-wing Latinos, perhaps especially in backasswards Florida, think that the ticket to being accepted by whites is to join whites in their oppression of blacks; the one in which armed-and-dangerous fucktards think that it’s OK for them to play cops and robbers with real guns and real bullets; and the phenomenon, the cancer, of the gated community, which is sick and fucking twisted and probably not what Jesus Christ had in mind, that the rich, who can only become rich through exploiting others, should barricade themselves in ritzy neighborhoods while everyone else slowly dies from poverty.

Most of the focus on the Trayvon Martin case seems to be around the race of the slaughtered and the slaughterer, and while of course the evil of racism still is alive and well in 2012 (the incredibly racist “Don’t Re-Nig” anti-Barack-Obama-re-election bumper sticker is one of many examples that I could give), it seems to me that not enough attention is being focused upon the fact that Zimmerman slaughtered Martin while Zimmerman was volunteering on a neighborhood watchThe Associated Press notes that “Martin was shot dead after Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, believed the young man walking through the gated community looked suspicious.”

Since when did neighborhood watches involve vigilantes gunning people down in the streets? 

The American empire indeed is crumbling all around us, but is this what we have come to — the return of the wild West?

States (like Florida and more than a dozen others) that have so-called “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow people to cap other people in the streets willy-nilly — and which make you wonder if certain paranoid, fearful, gun-loving individuals want to find “reasons” to cap other people in the streets willy-nilly — need to repeal these laws voluntarily or the federal government needs to step in and nullify them, as these woefully misguided laws blatantly violate the United States Constitution.

You have the constitutional right to defend your home from actual grave threats (that is, threats that might actually put you in your grave…), and you have the constitutional right to own a gun, but I have the constitutional right to be able to walk down the street without fear of you blowing me away because you, for some fucking reason, deem me to be a “threat.”

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Politics permeate EVERYTHING

It may be a uniquely American inability or unwillingness — or both — to realize how everything is connected.

So many are screaming that politics have had nothing whatsoever to do with Saturday’s shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others, including a girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and who had shown an interest in a life in politics.*

I read at least one (right-wing, if memory serves) commentator claim that accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner’s act was “random.” (Which, if true, of course lets the right wing entirely off the hook.)

“Random”?

Maybe the Lotto is random, maybe atoms bounce around more or less at random, but human beings don’t act entirely randomly. They might be mentally disordered, as Loughner certainly seems to be, but do they act “randomly”? No. Inanimate objects can act randomly, but human beings do not. Human beings act within and respond to social contexts, even if their mental processes are disordered.

I never have claimed that Loughner was directly “inspired” by Sarah Palin-Quayle’s rhetoric of assassination, but, as I have noted, if he didn’t see or read Palin-Quayle’s assassination rhetoric, perhaps he saw Giffords’ Repugnican Tea Party opponent’s advertisement for a June fundraiser that read, “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly.”**

Perhaps Jesse Kelly saw Palin-Quayle’s March 2010 assassination rhetoric and followed her lead for his June 2010 fundraiser — Palin-Quayle is, after all, the Borg queen of the Repugnican Tea Party — and perhaps Loughner saw Kelly’s Palin-Quayle-inspired assassination rhetoric if he didn’t actually see Palin-Quayle’s.

If so, we still can draw a line back to Palin-Quayle.

We don’t know yet how all of the dots connect, and it’s possible that we never really will, but just as it’s too early to directly blame anyone, it’s too early to absolve anyone whose assassination rhetoric might have inspired Loughner.

A Washington Post columnist makes an interesting argument that the cause of Giffords’ shooting is not politics, but is too-lax gun control.

While I agree that too-lax gun control certainly was a factor in Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, apparently in the widespread fervor to be “bipartisan” and to avoid pissing off the right wing (who do, after all, like to pack heat), the columnist seems to ignore or to at least miss the fact that the members of the National Rifle Association and other assorted gun nuts support the Repugnican Tea Party, not the Democratic Party or the progressive or liberal cause.

The Repugnican Tea Party itself encourages gun violence under the guise of “Second Amendment rights.” (Indeed, in the atmosphere of Repugnican Tea Party rhetoric in which Loughner acted [the available evidence suggests that Loughner has not been living in a cave, by the way], Second Amendment rights have morphed into “Second Amendment remedies.”)

To assert, as the Washington Post columnist essentially asserts, that too-lax gun control is disconnected from politics (or even to assert that it is a “bipartisan” problem) is insane (if we define “insane” as “detached from reality”).

Way too many Americans right now are demonstrating not only their inability and/or their stubborn refusal to connect the fucking dots, but they’re also displaying their penchant for false equivalencies, which demonstrates their moral turpitude or their utter inability to reason (or both). Under the soothing umbrella of false equivalencies, everyone is guilty or no one is guilty — therefore, there is no need to actually do the work of sorting through the facts.

False-equivalency-loving pundits still are referring to assassination rhetoric as “war” or “military” rhetoric (or the like), when, in fact, rhetoric about shooting or otherwise killing a specific individual (usually, but not always, a political figure) is nothing else but assassination rhetoric.

I have not seen a single Democratic or other left-leaning candidate for political office employ assassination rhetoric. Repugnican Tea Party candidates, however, have. (Right off the top of my head, I can name three of them: Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. [And Repugnican Tea Party princess Michele Bachmann has advised her followers to be “armed and dangerous.”])

And false-equivalency-loving pundits still are stupidly comparing such remarks as President Barack Obama’s remark that if the opposition brings a knife to the political fight, then you bring a gun, to Palin-Quayle’s listing of 20 Democratic lawmakers whose congressional districts she indicated on a map with gun-sight crosshairs while simultaneously advising her followers not to “retreat” but to “RELOAD!”

These are not equivalent. Obama never suggested or even hinted that certain, specific individuals actually be shot. Sarah Palin-Quayle did.

I fear for the American empire, because its denizens are either too morally bankrupt or intellectually disabled (or both) to be able to connect the dots, and because they compare apples to blood oranges. 

An empire can survive with a certain percentage of its inhabitants being immoral and/or incredibly stupid, but the United States of America apparently has reached a critical mass of immorality and stupidity that imminently threatens its survival.

*Newser reports:

Pundits aside, most Americans don’t actually think the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was caused by inflammatory political rhetoric, CBS News reports.

Of 673 people polled on the issue, 57 percent said political discourse had nothing to do with the shooting, while 32 percent said it did. In a reflection of the opinion war being waged between liberal and conservative political figures, fewer Republicans (19 percent) felt the shooting was related to rhetoric than did Democrats (42 percent).

Well, again, it remains to be seen, if it ever is seen at all, to what degree inflammatory political rhetoric played a role in Saturday’s massacre, doesn’t it?

And it’s hardly a shock that apparently only one in five Repugnicans believes that there’s any problem whatsoever with the assassination rhetoric of the likes of Sarah Palin-Quayle, Sharron Angle and Jesse Kelly. And it’s a testament to the cancers of “bipartisanship” and centrism that so few self-identified Democrats are willing or are able to make the apparent connection between assassination rhetoric and an actual assassination attempt.

**I just checked out Kelly’s website, and the only thing on the home page of his website is this statement:

In the wake of this stunning tragedy, my prayers are with Rep. Giffords, her husband Mark and the rest of her family. May God’s strength comfort her as we pray together for her recovery. We mourn for those who lost their lives in this horrible act.

Senseless acts of violence such as this have absolutely no place in American politics.

Kelly used the shooting of “a fully automatic M15” with him as part of his campaign, but now (like Sarah Palin-Quayle does) he denounces violence!

How politically, morally and ethically convenient!

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Giffords was on Palin’s hit list

In March 2010, Repugnican Tea Party queen Sarah Palin-Quayle put Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ name on her hit list and indicated Giffords’ legislative district in Arizona with a graphic of gun crosshairs. Today, Giffords was shot in the head in Tucson.

We don’t know yet whether or not Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old shooter of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, ever saw Repugnican Tea Party queen Sarah Palin-Quayle’s Facebook-page hit list — which, along with Palin-Quayle’s Tweeted advice to “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD! Pls see my Facebook page” (which contained her mapped hit list as shown above), I wrote about in March.*

Clearly, however, there are plenty of mentally unstable among us who take such advice as to “RELOAD!” and who take such symbols as gun crosshairs over an elected official’s legislative district quite seriously.

Rep. Giffords is No. 4 on Palin-Quayle’s hit list. Giffords made the hit list because she’s a Democrat in a conservative congressional district who voted for the same health-care reform bill that the Repugnican Tea Party now is trying to repeal.

Of course, members of the Repugnican Tea Party, such as Palin-Quayle and Repugnican Tea Party House Speaker John Boehner, are falling over each other now to express their condolences for the violence that the Repugnican Tea Party condones — and their claims that of course the Repugnican Tea Party does not condone violence!

Fact is, once the idea is put out there, repeatedly, that it’s OK to commit violence against elected officials with whom one disagrees, it kind of doesn’t matter who exactly suggests it (such as Nevadan Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s suggestion that “Second-Amendment remedies” might be necessary for those elected officials who just won’t do what we want them to do) or who exactly the suggested targets are; it just contributes toward making the idea of shooting elected officials whom you don’t like the new norm.

They will deny their obvious complicity in actual acts of violence, as the fucking hypocrites never admit their wrongdoings, but those of us few Americans who still value what is left of what we call our “democracy” have to hold the feet of the members of the Repugnican Tea Party to the fire for the violence that they promote. (Figuratively. [For now.])

*In that post, titled “Bricks and Stones Can Start a Civil War,” I concluded:

Today, bricks — tomorrow, bullets?

It would be interesting to see what would happen in the aftermath of a “tea-baggin’” fascist actually assassinating someone, and I have to wonder if the question isn’t whether that will happen but when it will happen.

Hey, sign me up for the next civil war! I’ll be happy to fight for the blue states! This next time, though, we need to finish the job!

You betcha!

I still feel that way, by the way. I prefer bloodlessness, but if it’s a bloody civil war that the wingnuts want, I still say: Let’s give it to them!

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