So that was a Presidential response to the latest mass killing in Parkland, Florida costing the lives of 17. Lives snuffed out well before their time by another broken boy. Our dear leader stopped in Parkland on his way to a disco party weekend at Mar-a-Lago for the required photo op smiling and giving the “thumbs up” while visiting with hospital staff and praising first responders and police who were “finally getting the credit” they deserve. In a tweet on Saturday he stated that he and the First Lady had “met such incredible people in Broward County Florida. We will never forget them or the evening!”
At the hospital
Meanwhile on Saturday less that a short drive from the killing field there was a gun show. Come on in and get your weapon of choice. You need to be 21 to buy a beer but 18 gets you an AR-15 assault rifle. Even under 18 you can own one if your parents approve but once you reach 18 you need no one’s approval. Don’t you love the industry sensitivity? Couldn’t even postpone the show a week until the latest victims were buried.
This morning I checked my email and there was a missive from our local Republican Congressman: Italics are mine –
|February 18, 2018
Like you, my heart broke for the families of those whose lives were lost in last week’s senseless act of violence. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with them and with all of the innocent children who were traumatized by this tragedy. I am also grateful for the life-saving efforts of the educators and first responders. The stories of heroism and sacrifice that unfolded throughout the day are nothing short of miraculous. Theirs are truly a noble and selfless profession.
Despite the attempts by some to sensationalize this tragic issue, we can all agree that it highlights the fact that we have a broken mental health system. It is often too difficult to get seriously ill people access to the care they need, despite multiple warning signs, until its too late. That has to change. This cannot be a partisan issue. Mental illness affects people of both political parties, both genders, all races, all income brackets, and all ages. It is one of the root causes of many societal problems. We have to work together to enact meaningful change. I was a co-sponsor of mental health reform which was signed into law in 2016. It made many improvements; however, there is much more work to be done including ensuring that those with mental illness do not have access to weapons. These are issues upon which I believe there is widespread agreement.
To which I ripped off a pointed reply, to wit:
“Sorry Congressman. Ban assault weapons, bump stocks and high capacity
magazines. Raise the age limit for long weapons to 21 from 18. Jesus – you can
buy an AR-15 3 years before you can buy a beer. Those on a no fly list should
not be permitted to purchase weapons. Tighten background checks including gun
shows.And yes we must address mental health issues and the availability of fire arms
to the mentally ill. But it is not the ONLY issue. That’s the NRA’s line. How
much do you take from them??
What would your attitude be if it happened in Tarpon?
I’m sure I will receive an automated response pointing out I need to contact the Congressman through his contact page and not through a response to his publicity emails. (Indeed I did!)
This week we saw another broken boy/man lash out at a society which has completely socialized him to violence since the day he was born. He carried his AR-15 into his former high school, pulled the fire alarm bell and opened fire. It is nearly always white men who commit mass murder but little attention is ever given to the prominent place of violence in our lives. And while my Congressman turns his attention to “mental health” issues, little attention is paid to the ways we raise boys in this country or the ready availability of fire arms.. It never is though it seems to be an obvious place to start.
Violence is woven into the fabric of male development from early on, naturalized by dubious “boys will be boys” claims of biological inheritance. Every male has intimate acquaintance with violence — whether from physical abuse in their homes, intimidation on their streets and athletic fields, bullying in the hallways of their schools, or more extreme forms of relational aggression and fighting — boys live with its constant threat. Boyhood immerses boys in violence.
Preventing violence must begin early — well before a boy imagines getting his hands on an assault rifle and becoming a “professional school shooter.” In her Thursday op-ed in the New York Times, Erica Goode quoted forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy, who analyzed school shootings and found that many shooters had consciously emulated the perpetrators of the Columbine, Colo., massacre of nearly 20 years ago. As Meloy explained, “From the perspective of the young male, being a school shooter is something that can be idealized, and … brings coolness … that otherwise does not exist in his life.”
What does normative masculine socialization, built into boyhood, have to do with preventing violence? Boys first learn to assert themselves with aggression and even violence to “ward off or eliminate the feeling of shame and humiliation. From very early on boys contend with peer norms legitimizing meanness, putdowns, and domination. To survive, each boy learns to harden his heart, suppress natural feelings of empathy, and exhibit a public face meant to deter efforts to take advantage of any weakness.”
Many have learned the antisocial skill of gaming whatever system they are in with remarkable dispassion. “Sometimes, searching their faces is like looking into a yawning abyss: nothing there. How cold-hearted a man can become is stunning.” We males all remember life in the jungle of boyhood and, upon crossing over, welcoming the relative relief of manhood.
No one will say how desensitizing constant images of violence are to the humanity of others.
Is are young Parkland killer mentally ill? How about at Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Isla Vista?
Finding them mentally ill (though none were legally insane in that they all knew right from wrong) neatly solves all of our problems.We don’t have to address gun violence, media, video games, bullying, the eroticization of violence, loneliness and isolation.
He must be mentally ill otherwise he would be just like us.
We can’t seem to admit to ourselves that he is us. He is our son, the native son of 21st century America where we don’t care about anybody but us.
This is the “exceptional” society in which we live. We hear the cries of no one. We see the loneliness of no one. Most of us do not know nor care to know our neighbors living three houses away. It’s our dog eat dog, every man for himself country. We judge our communities by the quality of the lawns.
We don’t give a rat’s ass if people are hungry, children die of malnutrition, veterans are living in our streets, most of the homeless are schizophrenic, that people die because of a lack of health care, or that we have spent a decade plus waging unjustified war against a couple of third world nations and have killed millions of Iraqis and Afghans. Not to mention what we do elsewhere. These young killers are symptoms of our societal illness.
We are a nation of communities where the Cruz’ of the world sit writing manifestos, scribbling in note books in the basement or posting pictures of themselves and their guns on a Facebook page. No friends and no girl. In their isolation they live in the fantasy world of revenge on “happy popular” people, on “society”, on the “bitches”. There is no help available for the likes of them. No one to confide in; no where to go.
The end product of a broken boyhood.
We must find a way to address this societal illness and help those who live in the fantasy world of revenge.
But first we must ban assault weapons, bump stocks, and high capacity magazines, raise the age for long gun ownership to 21 as it is for handguns, tighten up background checks (currently non-existent at gun shows) and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
These are sensible proposals; machine guns are not used for hunting deer and raccoon. Ban the weapons in private hands and offer a buyback program with an expiration date. The weapons not turned in voluntarily must be registered to the owner under a stiff penalty of law.
Enough is enough.