Let’s Stop Manufacturing Mass Murdering Weapons

I don’t know much about Ian Long, the young man who killed 12 then himself in a California bar this week, other than the basic facts and a few stories from his mother’s neighbors.

There was a great deal of speculation and rants by social media pundits about what happened in a Thousand Oaks, California bar, and about Long and why he did what he did.  We still know very little.

There is just one thing I know for sure about Ian Long and what he did.  He wasn’t born a mass murderer.  We crafted him. He is the latest mass murdering weapon we as a society have manufactured in this factory we call post-modern western society.

Yes, we are manufacturing mass murdering weapons but they don’t go by the names of AR-15 or AK-47.  They have names like Ian Long, Adam Lanza, and Nikolas Cruz.  They aren’t manufactured in buildings.  They are formed and assembled in the great wide open, right in front of our veiled eyes.

Even as I write this, the event is all but forgotten because fires are raging in California, people are mourning the death of a 95-year-old comic strip artist, and there was no evil AR-15 involved in the shooting.

Most don’t realize or refuse to accept that the blame lies with each of us for each of these horrific crimes or all of the other murders that occur but fly under the radar of social media and network news because the death toll isn’t high enough to move the ratings needle.

As there always is in the immediate aftermath of crimes such as Long’s, there was the predictable and mind-numbing gun vs. anti-gun nonsense, each side hoping against all hope that a certain gun was used so it would help bolster their argument.

To discuss guns in the wake of these incidents is intellectually lazy.  The weapons that need to be discussed aren’t made of metal and wood. We manufacture weapons made of flesh and blood. The process often starts in childhood. We start with raw material, then slowly re-wire each brain — devaluing and stripping away fathers, filling brains with violence, pornography and warped values.

What’s lying beneath the surface is all of the other murders that don’t titillate with body counts — murder-suicides, spouses hiring hitmen to eliminate the other, murders for $20 or for some invented offense.  These are all still the result of what we have created.

We churn out these mass murdering products then get upset when they work as they were designed. Reports indicate that PTSD may have played a role in Long’s rampage. Can we honestly be surprised?  But every previous generation has been at war, too.  Why is the result so different today?

My wife works as a nursing supervisor at the local VA Medical Center.  The stories she brings home invariably include the words ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict,’ especially when addressing the young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why have these wars produced so much alcoholism, drug abuse, and violent or troubled behavior?  The greatest generation of the 1940’s had to go to war.  They were trained to kill and many of them did. They came home and went back to the factories and moved on to live normal lives.

What happened to this generation of soldiers who are suffering from addictions and PTSD at much higher rates than their fathers and grandfathers?

Twelve people are dead in Thousand Oaks, California and scores more in Florida, Connecticut, and other places not because of a gun. Their deaths are the result of a long history of collective decisions we made over the years.

We traded true commitment to a marriage for no-fault divorce & temporary living arrangements

We traded fathers for visits

We traded faith in something greater and consequences for actions for YOLO

We traded having children for having things

We traded information for entertainment.

We traded working toward a goal for instant gratification.

We traded the long haul for the shortcut.

We traded community for isolation with handheld devices

We traded coping skills for participation trophies

We traded hard truths for easy prescriptions

We traded intelligent and respectful discourse for social media diatribes

We’ve taught two generations that not all human life is equal and made the slaughter of 60 million humans at the direction of their own mothers not only acceptable, but something that should be shouted with pride. You can even buy a t-shirt to celebrate your child’s dismemberment and death.

We’ve given an entire generation instant access to all the violence and pornography — and violent pornography — that their minds could possibly crave with just a few taps on a smartphone or a button on a video game controller. At the same time, we’ve erased any delineation between right and wrong, sacrificing it at the altar of political correctness.

We’ve spent more time in war than in peace.

We hollowed out the middle class by sending manufacturing jobs — the best and easiest way for non-college graduates to find a spot among the middle class — to other countries to build their middle classes.

We did all of this without a single thought or care as to the effects and outcomes. Actions have consequences and we are living all of them.

We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

We all know the solution is prevention, but that goes way beyond having more psychologists and group therapy.  It’s much bigger than that. It’s taking a long, hard look at ourselves — individually and as a society.  What do we value and what are we willing to sacrifice?

That’s a long, hard road and there is just no place for that in the land of instant gratification. We are western society. We don’t have time for long-term solutions. We want a shot of ‘feel-good-about-ourselves’ and then get back to our reality television, Netflix, and Instagram.

We want our vote for the right candidate and the right party to be the extent of our involvement in the work that needs to be done. We want to spare feelings rather than collectively learn hard truths.

Even in 2018, society has no idea what to do about mental illness and has no willingness to suppress its pride to admit that the true fault lies not within our guns but within ourselves.

Until we realize that the troubled person is the weapon, the best we will do is continue the endless arguments over gun metal. Until we admit the failures of the free-love 60’s and the long-term effects it has had on society, we will continue to think first of ‘me’ long before we think ‘us’.

Are you ready to do the really hard work?  Are you prepared to let go of much of what you’ve been led to believe? Can you subdue your pride to move forward on this?

Advertisements

STOP LEGITIMIZING ALEX JONES

Alex Jones is a psychopath.

Alex Jones is a carnival barker, a charlatan, a sick joke.

His name shouldn’t even be spoken.  Yet, here we are.

Jones, a proud purveyor of accusations without evidence, forced his way into the national spotlight by shamelessly leading the “911 Truther” movement, which based all of its ‘theories’ on debunked claims first put forth by a small band of individuals who were physically barely out of their teens but whose minds, reasoning skills, and physics experience remained well within the haunts of adolescence.

The easy and obvious debunking of those claims didn’t phase Jones.  It never does.  In the alternate reality he creates on a daily basis, the ‘government’ dutifully plays the convenient boogeyman and universal excuse for Jones when the truth blows up in his face.

Jones was preparing his conspiracy schtick while still in college, long before 9/11.  He first concocted his potion of psychosis mixed with his utter lack of shame to join those accusing the government of staging the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.  It has continued unabated since, including last year’s Charlottesville tragedy which he immediately labeled an operation contrived by the CIA.

Make no mistake.  A healthy cynicism of and an ever-vigilant and critical eye on the federal government and its power are good and necessary.  But when they are dragged down into the abyss of self-serving vitriol and the theater of the absurd that is Alex Jones and his ilk, it tarnishes that good and everything it accomplishes.

He is called a conspiracy theorist, but that is not accurate. Theorist is far too legitimate a title for someone so cretinous as Jones. His intellect does not rise to that level.  He is conspiracy theater.  He creates fiction out of misdirection and sells it as reality.  Within minutes of the carnage of the Boston Marathon bombing, Jones was already freeze-framing raw footage of the event and drawing circles of what he deemed mysterious people and things. It is troubling that so many can be led to believe there is legitimacy in the simple act of drawing a yellow circle on a grainy frame of film.

All of the above pales in comparison to Jones’ most egregious act, which in came in 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.  Jones called it a hoax.  Twenty-six people dead. Twenty-five families shredded and Alex Jones commits the ultimate act of callousness by claiming — repeatedly and to this day — that it was all an elaborate hoax.  He even went so far as to posit that the murdered children were actors.

It is disturbing that so many actually believe the twisted words that come out of his mouth.  It’s sad that so many feel disaffected enough to be taken in by his swindle.  His YouTube videos collectively boast over one billion views — that’s a ‘b’ for billion, folks.  He also uses his outlets to sell supplements and survival gear.  The estimated annual revenue from the sales of these products is between $7 and $12 million. 

There’s no doubt that Jones ends each day with a wide smile as he puts his head to his pillow, knowing that his deceit goes on one more day and the pool of his blood money grows in his bank account.

While Jones’ brand of crazy appeals to people across the political spectrum, it is concentrated far more on the right. The right needs to assume responsibility for this or risk delegitimizing itself. Jones is a boil that needs to be lanced.  The right believes in the free market and it must use that mighty invisible hand to squash this piece of human debris called Alex Jones.  He needs to be vanquished and left to the ash heap of history.  The right must stop acknowledging Jones and his verbal sewage.  Stop quoting him.  Stop sharing his videos and website links.  Stop inviting him onto shows, even if it’s to Stop citing him altogether.

The opposite of love is not hate.  It’s indifference.  That’s how Jones will be stopped because he cannot bear to be out of the spotlight.

The market is the way and the only way this should be accomplished.  It is the market, led by those who can wield the most influence, that must mark him for what he is and destroy him.

Worse than enabling Jones to profit from his snake oil is using force and censorship to shut him down.  In the era of the Internet, that will will never be successful.  To do so would only play right into this charlatan’s hands.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what is happening.  To earn a medal from their neighbors inside their shared political echo chamber, tech titans — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al — are removing Jones’ accounts, no doubt with fists raised in the air to the delight of their own sycophants.  But those sycophants are no better than the members of the Alex Jones cult.

Banning Alex Jones — or anyone — is not the answer.  It has never been the answer and never will be. 

Yes, it is sad and maddening that he can enrich himself through deceit.  But the market must take care of that.  Banning Jones — especially someone like Jones whose followers are practically a cult — only legitimizes him.  He will now self-appoint himself as the poster boy for censorship, raising a sword to the jackbooted social media giants and quoting Braveheart as he leads his deceived warriors into battle, a battle after which he will undoubtedly enjoy even greater spoils.

Yet, that is exactly what they’ve foolishly done.

Instead of the tech giants banning Alex Jones, perhaps they should take a look at the fiction put forth from Michael Moore, who is just another version of Alex Jones. Moore hides behind the cloak of film-making, as if it’s more sophisticated and legitimate than talk radio, thereby shielding it from scrutiny and scorn.  His ‘documentaries’ are riddled with the same baseless garbage and conspiracy voodoo that Jones peddles.  They should even take a look at Hollywood and its fork-tongued soldiers of fortune for the years of garbage and lies it has spewed without the threat of correction or censorship.

If they still have time after examining the baseless conspiracy theories put forth by Moore and Hollywood, perhaps they could turn their attention to college campuses across the country where only a certain political viewpoint is allowed.  Come to think of it, they’re probably using the strangulation of thought on today’s college campuses as a guide.

If the left wants to start down the dark road of censorship, banning content, and trampling over the first amendment, it should keep in mind that should a block of well-heeled conservatives decide to join forces to buy majority positions in the publicly traded social media companies, the crime of censorship will find its victims among those whom the left holds dear. 

Alex Jones may be the worst of offenders, but his insidious buffoonery is present under more names than just his own.  Censor one and you must censor them all.

The weight of Jones’ absurdity would have eventually led to his demise.  Censoring him and banning his content have handed him a victory and significantly prolonged the time between now and that glorious day.

THE CHIVALROUS MAN IN A POST-CHIVALRY WORLD

There was a time that I was all in on chivalry. It went way beyond simply opening doors and pulling out chairs. I stood when a woman entered a room, approached a table, or rose to excuse herself from a table. I gave up my seat whenever a woman was standing, whether it be in a public meeting, at a children’s sporting event, or those rare times I’ve been on public transportation. I held a coat for a woman to aid her in putting it on and picked up anything a woman had dropped. I still cannot rest if I see a woman carrying something, just about anything, especially if the item seems heavy or if she is toting a child in her other arm.

That has faded over the years. It’s not that I don’t believe in doing all of those things. I do. Rather, the gestures have made me an anomaly; a quasi-time traveler hopelessly out of sync with a 2016 world. In rare circumstances, I will stand when a woman approaches a table, but, if it happens in a room full of people, it is a half-hearted stand in both posture and conviction and is tempered by an aversion to drawing unnecessary attention to myself. Today, these chivalrous gestures generate little more than suspicious glances from both the women for whom they are intended, as well as the onlooking men present.

The first incarnation of chivalry in the late middle ages actually had little to do with interactions between men and women. It was focused far more on men as warriors and citizens than as gentlemen in affairs of the heart and as defenders of a woman’s honor. The latter seems to have been more of an add-on. It was a “fusion of Christian and military concepts of morality” according to encyclopedia.com.

Since the end of the Middle Ages, chivalry has undergone revivals followed quickly by movements to bury it. Ironically, each time a revival was beaten back – from the Renaissance, to the Civil War, to the turn of the century — the reasoning was the same: it was outdated.

(Here comes the part where women throw sharp objects at me in their heads)

Even as the remnants of chivalry have attempted to survive within the cloak of Victorian/Emily-Post-ian codes of gentlemanly behavior, they’ve withered under a brutal beating from a wing of the feminist movement. The Gloria Steinem brand of feminism has aimed to advance its cause by erasing the differences between men and women under the guise of empowerment. It encouraged women to be one of the guys.

The inherent irony of such a misguided pursuit is that it is a woman’s femininity that is one of the essential keys to that very empowerment that was sought. The fatal oversight in that drive toward sameness is this: women are the most powerful civilizing force on the planet.

It is unfortunate that much of the resistance to chivalrous behavior from such women is based on the false notion that chivalrous behavior somehow invalidates the advances that women have made. Too many would have women believe that chivalry is an insult, the residue of an oppressive patriarchal system

Meanwhile, shell-shocked men are on the sidelines seeing nothing more than this in their gentlemanly behavior: one group of people (men) showing respect for another group of people (women) and nothing more.

Very early in life women are asked to take on a daily routine, not for their own benefit or other women, but for men and ultimately for the survival of the human race. They apply makeup, shave their legs and underarms, walk in heels, and stress over their hair, clothes, and weight. Early in their lives, they begin enduring a monthly cycle. Women then agree to have our children and voluntarily subject their bodies to more changes — some permanent – than we care to know. They then give from their bodies sustenance essential to the child’s survival. Women literally give of their bodies to ensure that the human race perpetuates and survives. As if all of that isn’t enough, they have another great change to which they must accept in the form of menopause. Every step of the way, they must contend with the inherently visual nature of men and a culture that feeds and intensifies it.

I cannot speak to the motivations of those who first devised the concept of chivalry centuries ago. I can only speak to my own desire to do what I do. For me, chivalrous acts have nothing to do with a perceived weakness in women. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are a recognition of a woman’s strength, what she is asked to endure, and the honored role that women play in society. Men are well aware that a woman can open a door, carry a box, etc. That is obvious. Opening that door or carrying that box for a woman shouldn’t be seen as an insult.

Every gesture from a chivalrous man is an act of gratitude and honor. It is a silent acknowledgment and ‘thank you’ for everything that a woman goes through, much of it for men and children.

So, what is such a man to do in a society that increasingly rejects such behavior? To continue would be to accept life as a pariah. It is to endure the wary looks from onlookers. To stop is to go against instinct.

In a world that is quickly losing its graces and turning from civilized behavior, it’s troublesome that attempts to keep them alive are seen as outdated (again) and are failing to take hold.