We are all Crazy

I wrote about the Aurora massacre, called it American Blood.

Children were massacred at Sandy Hook elementary school last week, and we’re all a little nuts.  Hyper vigilant.  Defensive.  Angry.

So, David Simon, whom I’ve written about in the past as being one of my heroes, posted some commentary on his website – www.davidsimon.com/Newton, and a follow up – www.davidsimon.com/Addendum

I post frequently on his site, because I’m a David Simon homer.  I was obsessed with The Wire.  I’ve traveled hundreds of miles to meet him.  I’ve had a conversation with him, a high point in my life.

I got bitch slapped by my idol.

Mr. Simon is a parent.  He’s got two kids, one very young and he, like all parents right now, is justifiably fucking freaked out.  I get that.

Our exchange is reprinted here:

I stopped weeping after Columbine.

Then I started reading American history.

Everything that is happening today, happened in the past.  We (the dominant culture) seep our omnicidal impulses under the rug and move on without acknowledging the past much less atoning for it.

David Simon still has faith in our systems.  He rails and tilts at windmills, even as he shows us how broken our systems are.  I love him for that.  But it won’t change a thing.

His response:

Brother, if you’re going to patronize me, you need to come with some stronger shit than that.

And if you’ve been reading American history, you’ve been reading selectively. Mass killings such as the kind that are now becoming a monthly occurrence were far more extraordinary in our history because of the transformations in ballistics. That’s the amazing thing about this debate: Everyone wants to pontificate about society and mental health and ideological horseshit. No one wants to discuss mechanics.

A handful of people died from a full volley fired by a British military unit in the Boston Massacre. Or on President Street in Baltimore at the commencement of the Civil War. Why? Because smooth-bore musketry was remarkably inaccurate even at closer ranges. Rifled weapons became predominant by 1864 and the resulting trench warfare was the result.

But the transition from single-load rifles and revolvers to semiautomatic weaponry has been revolutionary. There is actually a technological transformation in the killing ability of the individual that makes your I-stopped-weeping and it’s-all-happened-before stance embarrassing. This hasn’t happened before. Not in our history. Not in these numbers. Not this often. Not from single assailants operating with a minimum of handheld weapons.

In my professional life, I’ve actually lived through the moment when the Baltimore Police Department went from six-shot revolvers to 18-shot semiautos in a necessitated move to keep pace with the firepower on the street. The number of shots fired in the average assault, gunfight or police-involved shooting in my city was dramatically increased.

To sneer at any attempt to assert our intellect or concern, or the responsibilities of good citizenship, over these developments isn’t insight. It’s intellectual and moral surrender. It’s the opposite of citizenship. It’s cynicism of a kind that is undeserving of anyone’s serious consideration or respect. What is eating you, brother? Is some libertarian ideology so all-consuming, is your hate for even the notion of collective governance so overpowering that you want to sit in the middle of the floor and fold your arms and tantrum away any chance at even fighting a good fight? I think I’ve written a great deal that suggests that my faith in our institutional dynamic is at an ebb. But none of that precludes participation in the struggle between better governance and worse governance. No governance? That’s really where you want to hole yourself up?

That doesn’t make you a philosopher-king of liberty. Not by any means. It makes you seem, at best, juvenile in your approach to the needs of your society and your republic. It is simply selfishness wrapped in the robes of ideological justification.

A law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of firearms with magazines of larger than ten bullets will save some — though certainly only some — lives. A law requiring thirty-day background checks and a licensing process that forwards falsified information to federal prosecutors for mandatory charges of fraud will save some — though only some — lives. Sound crazy? Shit, we have statutes that threaten thirty years in prison for falsifying a bank loan, though I’ve never seen a bank loan gun down twenty children at a time. A law that threatens felons, those under ex-parte orders for domestic violence and others deemed unfit for gun ownership with mandatory minimum sentences if caught with a firearm will save some — though only some — lives. A law that requires mental health professionals to report concerns about unstable and potentially violent patients to law enforcement — as they are required to report pedophilic proclivities to law enforcement — will save some, though only some, lives.

We can try to act collectively and save some lives. Or, brother, we can sit back in our La-Zee-Boys in our favorite slippers and read some fucked-up version of American history that suggests that government had no role in making this country more functional and more utilitarian over the last couple centuries.

If we embraced your stance, there would be no registration or mandatory insurance or licensing of autos and drivers. Why bother? Government is no answer. Nothing can be solved. People are gonna crash cars and die. So be it. Hope it’s not a school bus. Or anyone I care about.Or me. But regardless, I stopped weeping. Why rail and tilt at windmills?

Christ, brother. Take a breath and read some of that tripe. It’s not merely that you’re becoming one note on this site, it’s that the one note is intellectually and morally empty.

Does anyone want to discuss the actual mechanics of mass killing and how to respond as a society to that transformative reality? Or is an onanistic cirle-jerk of political ideology, psychobabble and blame-throwing political distraction simply more fun? Brother, if you’re going to patronize me, you need to come with some stronger shit than that.

And if you’ve been reading American history, you’ve been reading selectively. Mass killings such as the kind that are now becoming a monthly occurrence were far more extraordinary in our history because of the transformations in ballistics. That’s the amazing thing about this debate: Everyone wants to pontificate about society and mental health and ideological horseshit. No one wants to discuss mechanics.

A handful of people died from a full volley fired by a British military unit in the Boston Massacre. Or on President Street in Baltimore at the commencement of the Civil War. Why? Because smooth-bore musketry was remarkably inaccurate even at closer ranges. Rifled weapons became predominant by 1864 and the resulting trench warfare was the result.

But the transition from single-load rifles and revolvers to semiautomatic weaponry has been revolutionary. There is actually a technological transformation in the killing ability of the individual that makes your I-stopped-weeping and it’s-all-happened-before stance embarrassing. This hasn’t happened before. Not in our history. Not in these numbers. Not this often. Not from single assailants operating with a minimum of handheld weapons.

In my professional life, I’ve actually lived through the moment when the Baltimore Police Department went from six-shot revolvers to 18-shot semiautos in a necessitated move to keep pace with the firepower on the street. The number of shots fired in the average assault, gunfight or police-involved shooting in my city was dramatically increased.

To sneer at any attempt to assert our intellect or concern, or the responsibilities of good citizenship, over these developments isn’t insight. It’s intellectual and moral surrender. It’s the opposite of citizenship. It’s cynicism of a kind that is undeserving of anyone’s serious consideration or respect. What is eating you, brother? Is some libertarian ideology so all-consuming, is your hate for even the notion of collective governance so overpowering that you want to sit in the middle of the floor and fold your arms and tantrum away any chance at even fighting a good fight? I think I’ve written a great deal that suggests that my faith in our institutional dynamic is at an ebb. But none of that precludes participation in the struggle between better governance and worse governance. No governance? That’s really where you want to hole yourself up?

That doesn’t make you a philosopher-king of liberty. Not by any means. It makes you seem, at best, juvenile in your approach to the needs of your society and your republic. It is simply selfishness wrapped in the robes of ideological justification.

A law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of firearms with magazines of larger than ten bullets will save some — though certainly only some — lives. A law requiring thirty-day background checks and a licensing process that forwards falsified information to federal prosecutors for mandatory charges of fraud will save some — though only some — lives. Sound crazy? Shit, we have statutes that threaten thirty years in prison for falsifying a bank loan, though I’ve never seen a bank loan gun down twenty children at a time. A law that threatens felons, those under ex-parte orders for domestic violence and others deemed unfit for gun ownership with mandatory minimum sentences if caught with a firearm will save some — though only some — lives. A law that requires mental health professionals to report concerns about unstable and potentially violent patients to law enforcement — as they are required to report pedophilic proclivities to law enforcement — will save some, though only some, lives.

We can try to act collectively and save some lives. Or, brother, we can sit back in our La-Zee-Boys in our favorite slippers and read some fucked-up version of American history that suggests that government had no role in making this country more functional and more utilitarian over the last couple centuries.

If we embraced your stance, there would be no registration or mandatory insurance or licensing of autos and drivers. Why bother? Government is no answer. Nothing can be solved. People are gonna crash cars and die. So be it. Hope it’s not a school bus. Or anyone I care about.Or me. But regardless, I stopped weeping. Why rail and tilt at windmills?

Christ, brother. Take a breath and read some of that tripe. It’s not merely that you’re becoming one note on this site, it’s that the one note is intellectually and morally empty.

Does anyone want to discuss the actual mechanics of mass killing and how to respond as a society to that transformative reality? Or is an onanistic cirle-jerk of political ideology, psychobabble and blame-throwing political distraction simply more fun?

Just re-reading this makes my heart pound and my palms sweat.

A)     I’m female.  I’ve identified as such multiple times.

B)     A partial bibliography of my reading material.  If there is an ideology here, I’m completely unaware of it, but enlighten me:

The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed, John Adam and 1776 by David McCollough, Thomas Paine by Craig Nelson, Revolutionary Characters by Gordon S. Wood, American Sphinx, Passionate Sage and American Creation by Joseph Ellis, A People’s History of the United State by Howard Zinn, Washington by Ron Chernow, The rise of American Democracy – Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz, Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn, The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers, Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford, Savages and Scoundrals by Paul Vandevelder, Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gynne, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt, Geronimo His Own Story edited by S. M. Barrett, The Earth Shall Weep A History of Native Americans by James Wilson, A Sorrow in Our Heart The Life of Tecumseh by Allan. W Eckert, Columbus and Other Cannibals by Jack Forbes.  I bought and began Empire of Liberty by Gordon S. Wood and just couldn’t choke it down, especially after reading that the Native American’s called George Washington the Town Destroyer.  I would have thought that a few of the “Indians” on Treme would have enlightened him about our history, but I guess they are too busy with the sequins and feathers and strutting than actually,  you know, educating.

I read because I’m trying to understand why we do what we do.  I started my journey looking at the evolution of homo sapiens.  I’ll leave that part of the reading list off, just concentrating on American history here.

If I have an ideology, it is based upon the knowledge that we humans have been killing each other with whatever technology is available to us.  Rocks.  Spears. Starvation. Smallpox laced blankets. Cancer clusters. Bushmasters.

Some genius is working on a weapon you can print from a 3D printer.  Drones are the size of hummingbirds.  Technology continues apace.  The solution you propose, Mr. Simon, is a tourniquet.  And you’re right, it will stop the bleeding right this minute (assuming any of our systems actually work anymore).  It will not stop technology.  It will not stop the killing.  You do not want to see that.  It’s very hard to look clearly at the world we’ve made and face the truth.

Is facing this reality sneering?

I’m a nobody from nowhere, howling at the moon.  I look at this culture, this western civilization, crumbling before our eyes and am trying really hard to be, in the words of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut, a merely decent human being.

I majored in Political Science in college.  I walked my first picket line at 10, and since I’m 55 today, and Mr. Simon is in his forties, I think it’s accurate to say that I was protesting while he was still in diapers.

If we embrace my stance, brother, this country would be organized under the precautionary principle.  Do no harm.  Of course, that crashes capitalism and industrial civilization as we know it, but that’s what I would do.  If we embraced my stance, brother, we’d have universal health care and would not be subsidizing the fossil fuel industry that is killing us, and many other species that we don’t seem to give a shit about, in fact, we wouldn’t be burning them at all.  If we embraced my stance, brother, we’d give some land back to the Native Americans, make Columbus Day a National Day of Remembrance, and try to live together with a true fucking appreciation for our collective history.

Take a breath.

And notice, here, what is happening.  You want to see rage?  Tell a white man no.  They hate that.  Even the best of them, apparently.

The average income in Newton Ct is over $100k.  It’s on the East Coast, a train ride away from NYC and D.C.  It’s a zip code that matters.

Anyone shedding any tears for the fucked up genocidal situation at Pine Ridge?  Oh hell no.  That is a zip code that does not matter.

Mr. Simon is famous for saying that all of the pieces matter.  He’s even had it translated into Latin.  But he ignores the death and destruction our civilization has externalized as well.

We’ve got our computers (ovarian cancer in Thai women), we’ve got our clothing (sweatshops in Bangladesh), we’ve got our smartphones (Foxcomm) and we’re the largest freaking exporters of arms in the world.

Madame Albright says on national television that it’s worth it to us to kill 100,000 Iraqi children and no one hangs her from the highest tree.  Iraqi doctors have begun telling women to not even get pregnant anymore because our depleted uranium bullets are causing massive numbers of birth defects and miscarriages, but we’ve got our oil.

And because I view the gnashing of teeth over the latest atrocity as part of our national hypocrisy, I’m the problem?

Wow.  Just……wow.

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