Calhouns Cannons for May 29, 2014
As harsh as this sounds -- your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights."
Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher
That's Joe, "The Plumber." You remember him? A few years ago, he was the darling of the right, the poster child of the aggrieved White Guy. His cri de coeur comes from his open letter to Richard Martinez, whose 20 year-old son was murdered during the recent Isla Vista shooting spree.
Mr. Martinez also had a cri de coeur of his own. Hours after his son was gunned down, he cried out, "“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A.,” he said. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: not one more.”
And there it was, those perfect bookends: A grieving father asks why we have to live like this and a reply from America's NRA-fueled Gun Culture: Guns trump kids. Guns trump sanity. Guns trump everything.
Then, since nobody was willing to deal seriously with Mr. Martinez' key question -- "When will this insanity stop?" the collective public attention veered off to the shooter's weird obsessions, all spelled out in his loopy "manifesto." Instead of America's addiction to guns and gun violence -- which nobody wanted to deal with -- the Twitterverse pivoted onto the psycho-sexual problems of the "Entitled White Male." And before you could say #YesAllWomen, the site was a-bloom with women bearing witness to another poisonous strain running through American life -- misogyny.
Did Elliot Roger, with his fancy car and privileged life, feel entitled to all the pretty women? Did he blame his sad, sick life on all those women who wouldn't give him what he wanted? Well, in short order the #YesAllWomen site was filled with testimony that Mr. Roger wasn't in the least unusual. Called tramps and whores, blamed for every male failure, groped, insulted, dismissed, demeaned, harassed, assaulted, raped, killed, the #YesAllWomen's list of daily insults and assaults was long and sad and pervasive.
And, I have no doubt, for too many men in this culture, that list and litany was completely off their self-awareness radar. Who, me? As Jessica Valenti, a columnist with the Guardian US, noted: "We don't view misogyny as an ideology. We see it as a given for young men." Which means that as an unquestioned ideology, it continues to fly under our awareness. It simply is a given in America. Just like another ideology: Our relationship with guns.
So the collective huffing and puffing veered safely off into a related but diversionary topic -- Angry (armed) White Guy As Misogynistic Jerk-wad -- then it was time to move on. With the final note being set by filmmaker Michael Moore. When the shooting took place, he was asked whether he would write or speak on this latest slaughter. His reply was quite brief: No. He'd said all that needed to be said and now it was up to the American people to decide whether they wanted to live like this. And unless we did that, we should "rest assured this will all happen again very soon."
The Isla Vista slaughter took 7 lives, including the shooter. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "eight children and teenagers are killed each day" in America. Eight kids. That's more than one Isla Vista every day.
Joe "The Plumber," would no doubt find that an acceptable tradeoff.