I had planned to post my second half of a Glenn Beck ideological autopsy today, but the occasion demands a change of plans. I don’t have much time to waste… so here goes.
Could the primed-and-scented boneheads of the broadcast media please stop referring to these incidents as tragedies? The word for which you grope, Talking Heads, is “atrocity”. A tragedy occurs when a basically good person is hoist on his own petard through some ill-advised act of excess. An atrocity occurs when some animal in a human hide savages his fellow beings like a tiger in a goat pen.
As I wrote eons ago after the 9/11 atrocity, these events are in part due to the high-tech lifestyle. Huge aircraft sometimes come down in the wrong way—with huge consequences. Speeding bullet-trains sometimes jump the track. If the electricity upon which we depend for food, water, transportation, communication, and even defense should suddenly cease to work (as after an electro-magnetic pulse), our society would number about one-tenth its present size within a year, and the survivors would be living in the Stone Age. The catastrophic “ignition events” to these nightmare scenarios could be either manmade, as by terrorist act, or they could occur naturally. We’re simply living at too fast a pace, and without seat-belts. As we climb higher and higher up the ladder, an innocent slip of the foot or a wicked push from a partner will send us plunging from heights that are ever more certain to prove fatal.
Staging an enormous gathering under a high-rise of any sort is a very bad idea. If the building itself doesn’t fall, then an inexpert psychopath could use its height to pump hundreds of lethal shells down upon the massed crowd. High-velocity bullets that enter the body from above and travel downward are likely to rip apart many more arteries than shots that enter laterally; and in a panicking horde, a severed artery is guaranteed to mean that you bleed out before help arrives. The location of the Country-Western concert, though a local tradition, had become a very bad idea.
Now, this atrocity is scarcely twenty-four hours old, and what I’m about to write is almost pure speculation at the moment… but the specific circumstances surrounding this shooter remind me very much of James Hodgkinson’s profile—you know: the psycho who gunned down Steve Scalise during a softball practice. Both men were white males of middle to late-middle age who were furious at the election of Donald Trump. Both had money to spend and time to kill. Neither was particularly proficient with or enamored of firearms, but both apparently fantasized about the utility of deadly weapons for cleaning society of its inhibitive “scum”. Their outlook on life—and here I’m speculating on the merest of hunches, but I smell the old rat—was jaundiced by a meaninglessness reinforced by atheism, a nexus of shallow personal relationships, and a growing sense of embittered victimhood. Children of my generation, they had been told since their youth that progress was real, would come at an accelerated pace, and would satisfy all their selfish wants. Now they were seeing only stall and delay—all because of right-wing “fascism”.
Hayley Geftman-Gold, described as “a VP and senior counsel in strategic transactions” for CBS, was fired yesterday for tweeting taunts at the shooting’s victims because they were Country-Western fans, and… well, we know that most of those voted for Trump. The side that loves to fling “hater” across the aisle and insists that all of us fascist bourgeois nullities need to be disarmed manifests—if you haven’t noticed—a very real affinity for murderous hatred and for gunning people down. Those Ché tee-shirts they so affect are no accident: they think the Orkin approach to political opposition is entirely acceptable, and even commendable.
Could it be that this is why we’re seeing so many more indiscriminate gundowns of innocent people assembling for innocent fun—is the ideology that finds no innocence in Middle America not the real percussion cap in the atrocity?