Richard Martinez, whose only child, 20-year-old Chris Michael-Martinez, died Friday when a deranged misogynist went on a shooting spree at UCSB, is angry as hell:
In addition to the lunatic who shot his son, Mr. Martinez blames the NRA and “gutless bastards” who knuckled under to the gun lobby after Sandy Hook when they rejected sensible gun control measures like expanded background checks that are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Mr. Martinez is mad at the right people.
Martinez is reportedly meeting with the shooter’s father to ask him to join the effort to toughen gun safety laws. I wish him success, but sadly, I don’t see this latest atrocity changing anything.
Nor will the news today that another young man in Isla Vista was found in possession of an arsenal after he accidentally fired a round through a shared wall of his apartment building. Maybe he was planning his own copycat mass killing spree.
After personally experiencing a mass shooting in the workplace many years ago — pre-Columbine — I got somewhat involved in the gun control movement and have followed the issue closely ever since. Not only has zero progress been made, a lot of ground has been lost, even in the face of the increasingly frequent and horrific school shootings that followed. To paraphrase Steve M once again, this is the NRA’s country; we’re just sheltering in place in it.
Where does that leave us? We know that even the wholesale slaughter of 20 lovely elementary school children and six dedicated teachers won’t result in any action on the part of (mostly) GOP politicians. The gutless bastards aren’t going to spontaneously grow intestines any more than Wayne LaPierre will suddenly develop a conscience.
So how do we stop the next Rodger, Lanza, Holmes, Cho, Klebold, Harris, etc.? Every time a mass shooting happens, an op-ed writer somewhere publishes a piece urging the media to focus on the victims, downplay or omit the shooter’s name and stop publishing their bug-fuck crazy manifestos or videos. That’s unlikely too.
For one thing, atrocities like Sandy Hook and the UCSB shootings are news stories, and people are avid for details for reasons both prurient and legit. If CNN or MSNBC declined to discuss the latest killer’s manifesto or play video clips of his hate-filled rant, Fox certainly would. If even Fox declined to air the footage, Internet sites would.
But still, those op-ed writers are onto something because it seems like the prospect of gaining fame or notoriety is a major draw for the madmen who commit these crimes. The latest killer, Rodger, seemed to envision himself the star of a Tarantino-style revenge flick, wreaking havoc on “uppity bitches” who withheld sexual favors to which he believed he was entitled.
Virginia Tech shooter Cho posed for selfies with his weapons, ranted about retribution and sent video packets to media outlets before embarking on his murderous rampage. Even odd, isolated Lanza, who left behind no manifesto, curated killers’ profiles on Wikipedia and eagerly consumed information about notorious predecessors, apparently craving their version of fame.
We laugh about the open-carry “ammosexuals,” gun nuts who are anxious to stroke their shiny muzzles in public. It’s not enough for these people to fondle their guns in the privacy of their own homes. They want to exhibit them at Costco and parade around city hall with them. They want YOU to see how big and hard their guns are. There really does seem to be a twisted sexual element to it.
For that group, I think it’s helpful to give them the opposite of what they crave. Heap derision on the wannabe tough-guy gun displayers for their cowardly insistence that they need to be armed to face a trip to the grocery store and bizarrely sexual firearm fetish. Call them “ammosexuals” or “muzzle-strokers” or whatever other mocking descriptions you can think of.
If enough people jeer at them and show that, quite the opposite of generating fear and respect, they’re beclowning themselves, maybe there’s a chance they’ll stop insisting that they have the right to wave their prosthetic organs in our faces.
As for the mass murderers and copycats, maybe it would be useful to create a special title that precedes all mentions of their names in media accounts of their exploits and even everyday conversations. Something humiliating that doesn’t have the twisted macho panache of “shooter” or “mad-dog killer.” Perhaps something like “Tiny-Dick-Coward.”
Here’s how such a title could transform a news account of a shooting [LA Times excerpt – with proposed language inserted]:
In this video transcript, Tiny-Dick-Coward Elliot Rodger lays out his grievances against women and men. He also vows to “annihilate” as many people as he can, including plans to target a UC Santa Barbara sorority house and people on the streets of Isla Vista.
“Hi, [Tiny-Dick-Coward] Elliot Rodger here. Well, this is my last video. It all has to come to this. Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you.
Is this a stupid idea? Absolutely. But would some budding school shooter read that account and think, “I want to be like Tiny-Dick-Coward Elliot Rodger! He sure showed them, and now he’s famous!”
I realize we’re dealing with deeply deranged people, of course, so it’s impossible to predict how they would respond to such a tactic. But they sure seem susceptible to the allure of notoriety, and they certainly seem convinced that wanton violence is an affirmation of their stunted manhood. Maybe removing that motivation in some way would break the cycle?
Yeah, it’s a dumb idea. But none of the good ideas will work because they’re all perceived as undermining the sacredness of guns in some way, and I’m sick and fucking tired of sheltering in place. If you’ve got a better idea, I’d sure like to hear it.