WITH CAFFEINE-INDUCED GUSTO—what other kind is there at 6:30 in the morning?—I opened my sole “conservative” newsletter, a sort of rightwing-lite version of TruthOut and other progressive newsletters that I receive. It arrived with this headlined story: “Donald Trump Blames Mass Shootings on 2 Words President Obama Won’t Dare Bring Up.” I knew it was going to be a great way to start the day. 1
Was my curiosity piqued!
How could it not be?
What two words could it be?
I couldn’t think of anything that could replace “gun control” to put a halt to these episodes—episodes which now seem to be one of the defining characteristics that sets America apart from other Western/democratic-based countries. Read on: 2
“Donald Trump recently went On the Record with Greta van Susteren, and although he spoke to her on several topics, it was his assessment of the Umpqua Community College shooting that’s making waves. Trump lamented the closing of mental health facilities and the fact that the President chose to shift the focus to guns:
‘I would have really responded by talking about mental health. A lot of the institutions that used to be open are closed because of budget reasons. I would have certainly talked about mental health as opposed to guns. The President talked about guns, it’s not the guns that do the shooting. it’s the people, it’s the minds that do the shooting.’
He essentially echoed his own assessment of the Roanoke shooting, when he responded to a question from CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
‘Mental illness is a massive problem. This isn’t a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem. You’re not going to get rid of all the guns. People see the signals, but figure it will never happen. In the old days, we had mental institutions for people like this.’
John Tozzi of Bloomberg Politics was among those who disagreed:
‘Blaming violence on mental illness obscures the fact that most people with mental illness will never injure anyone and most violence is perpetrated by people without mental illness.’
Tozzi admits that better mental healthcare is needed, and better background checks to keep guns from those with violent criminal histories, but balks at the underlying assumption:
‘Trump’s analysis makes the same faulty assumption as people on the left who paint all gun owners as extremists. Neither gun ownership nor mental illness is a good predictor of who will go on a rampage.’
The trouble is that not only do most people with mental illness not commit mass shootings, but neither do legal gun owners—of which there are around 80 million people in the United States.” (IJR)
Cartoon by Rick McKee of The Augusta Chronicle.
Psychopathic karate instructor killers
I read this with bated breath (sic) waiting for Trump to cite real life examples from the media to bolster his argument. You know, all the times that mentally ill people went bonkers and killed four or more people with weapons other than guns. I went searching for all the documented instances of such events as: 3
• mass blunt-object clubbings by bipolar killers with baseball bats;
• mass stabbings by rampaging hebephrenic killers with knives;
• mass hand-to-hand beatings by psychopathic karate instructor killers;
• mass stranglings by delusional New Age killers who believe themselves the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper; and
• mass sword-skewerings by besotted Spaniards muttering, “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya . . .”
But there none—zero, nada, nothing—for none of the above!
“Oops!” said I.
And that’s when I realized that Donald had a problem with his theory.
Cartoon by Pat Bagley of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Blame it on Ronnie
I need to say that I completely agree with Mr. T’s statement concerning the handling of the mentally ill in America due to budgetary reasons. In 1978, I moved from Pennsylvania to California, where I discovered that my new state was ten years into a “plan” for dealing with disturbed residents that would become a national trend:
“Over 30 years ago, when Reagan was elected President in 1980, he discarded a law proposed by his predecessor that would have continued funding federal community mental health centers. This basically eliminated services for people struggling with mental illness.
He made similar decisions while he was the governor of California, releasing more than half of the state’s mental hospital patients and passing a law that abolished involuntary hospitalization of people struggling with mental illness. This started a national trend of de-institutionalization. In other words, if you are struggling with mental illness, we can only help you if you ask for it.” (Poverty Insights)
Finally, the last paragraph above is such flawed reasoning that at first, I thought the writer in need of a stay at one of the facilities Trump remembers so fondly. Then I recognized it as the obfuscation so often used when addressing folks with no skills in logical discrimination or critical thinking. Hell, modern testing of the brain may lead us to realize that they are biologically incapable of such thinking.
As someone once famous once said, “La de da!” 4
I do so look forward to tomorrow’s edition . . .
HEADER IMAGE: The cartoon at the top of this page of p The shooter killed 59 people, making it the largest mass shooting in US history. For now.
1 I usually place the word conservative in quotes to indicate that I am using it ironically: modern “conservatives” rarely conserve anything but their own rights.
2 Wholly Grommett! Is that why the righties tolerate mass-killings-by-firearm: because it sets us off from the other non-Americans taking up place on the planet?
3 The FBI defines mass murder as murdering four or more persons during an event with no cooling-off period between the murders.
4 My fourth footnote is my third movie reference/allusion/quote in this essay!