Thursday, July 28, 2022

Inured to Violence - Does It Have A Purpose?

People today are so blasé about mass-shootings. If a political organization wanted to use violence to achieve its ends, this would come in handy.

We are staying in a gay campground, one of dozens across America.  It was founded many years ago by an organization of men that just wanted a place they could come and relax and be themselves.  And it wasn't without difficulty.  As one of the owners explained it, they initially opened up in Pennsylvania and were harassed to the point where they had to shut down (there are at least three gay campgrounds in Pennsylvania today).  So they reopened here in Tennessee and it wasn't easy - locals would drive by and throw pipe bombs or shoot at the signs.  Fortunately no one was injured or killed.

Of course, today, it is all different, right?  Gays are accepted and people are more open-minded.  Well, at least they were, until about six months ago.  Then Fox News and Tucker Carlson went on this rant that all gays are pedophiles and "groomers" - much like earlier rants about "stop the steal" or "crises actors" or "anti-vaxxer" or "cancel culture" or whatever - just made-up stuff trying to get ratings and viewers and get people all riled up.

But this latest version of hate-speech is troubling, as some of the listeners are taking it seriously and vandalizing and harassing.  One fellow, who promises to "hunt" gay people, goes to stores and makes Tick-Tock videos of himself harassing the store staff to take down "gay flags" - which means anything with a rainbow on it.  Reading Rainbow is now deemed politically incorrect.  Talk about your cancel culture!

What troubles me about this is that there are windup soldiers out there and they might go further.  Usually these are young men in their 20's who are mentally ill.  They go online and read racist and misogynist and homophobic nonsense and then decide they need to shoot people. Usually they have a bowl-head haircut and an AR-15 that Mommy gave them for their birthday.  There was the guy in Charleston who shot up a black church.  There was the guy in Buffalo who shot up a black grocery store. There was the "incel" in California who shot up cafes with attractive women in them.  There have been a plethora of attacks as well on Muslims and Asians.  And yes, there was the guy who shot up the Pulse nightclub in Florida - although law enforcement there bent over backwards to claim that he wasn't targeting gays, just the nightlife.  (WTF???).

There are many more that don't seem to have specific targets, other than school children or fellow students, or like that guy in Las Vegas, just crowds of people.  With each shooting, the outrage is more muted, and the news cycle is even shorter.  We have, like frogs in a pot of water, become used to this, to the point of being boiled to death.

Political violence is nothing new - historically it has gone on for ages, since the dawn of mankind.  You can have a nice mamby-pamby democratic vote, or Og the caveman can just club any dissenters over the head and take power.  Lately, a lot of people have been rooting for Og - "He gets things done!  He stole fire from the other tribe!"  And if enough people are intimidated by Og and his henchmen, well, they go along with it.

You could say this spate of mass-shootings happened organically - just a combination of lax gun laws, untreated mental illness, and the mental illness that is social media.  Toss in lack of action by Congress or the States - plus a Supreme Court willing to toss out century-old gun laws, and you have a perfect storm - by accident or design?

Sure, you can ignore mass shootings when you and no one you know is a victim.  You can ignore them when you live in a gated community and have Secret Service protection.  Funny thing that - one of the Supreme Court Justices who tossed New York's concealed-carry gun law as well as Roe v. Wade lived in an ordinary house just down the street from me in Mt. Vernon.  Boy was he surprised when protesters showed up outside his door!  Good thing they weren't armed - although one guy did show up a Justice's house with a gun, but quickly turned himself in.  Maybe when the nutjobs are doing mass-shootings at the Country Club, the upper classes will pay attention.

When the chickens come home to roost, maybe they will change their mind. So long as it is just young white guys shooting "other people" you're safe, right?  Maybe not.

I have digressed, but what worries me is all this hate-speech on Fox News (and elsewhere) these days, claiming that gays are "groomers" - it is only time before one of these windup soldiers goes off, and gays are a pretty good "soft target."  Mark my words, there will be some sort of mass-shooting at a gay bar, campground, pride event, or other gathering in the near future.  This isn't some wild prediction, you can see this going down.  It is predictable.   But maybe not inevitable - unless it is too late to act.

And maybe there is a nefarious purpose to this - although I don't believe in conspiracy theories.  It may have just fallen into their laps - or not.  Hitler came to power not because he was popular with a majority of the German people, but because a lot of people liked him and a lot more wanted an end to the street violence that was going on.   They gave into Hitler, just as the people of Afghanistan gave into the Taliban after Russia left, just to stop the constant violence.

Keeping a population in fear is useful, as it allows you to manipulate people emotionally.  And we are being taught to fear one another and some folks seem to believe that if the don't get their way at the ballot box, they'll get it at the end of a barrel of a gun.  People are being trained not just to disagree with their neighbor, but to demonize them and, if necessary, kill them in the name of patriotism, or Jesus or whatever.

Sadly, I don't see this getting better, or at least not getting better before it gets a whole lot worse.  I thought the age of unreason was behind us, but it seems that was just a warmup.

Sorry to be a downer, but you have noticed all these mass-shootings lately, right?  Or are you already inured to it?  We all are, you know.