Some days, it’s tough to find topics that get the blood flowing for the Morning Jolt. This was not one of those mornings.
Enough with the ‘We’re All Responsible for Individual Acts of Horror’ Nonsense
Oh, great, we’re headed to another giant “teachable moment” in which a politically unfashionable group of Americans is blamed for the actions of a disturbed or deeply troubled violent individual.
In case you missed it, on Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, the mother of his three-month-old daughter, and then committed suicide in the team’s stadium parking lot.
On the telecast of Sunday night’s Dallas Cowboys–Philadelphia Eagles game, NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas got up on his soapbox and quoted a column from Jason Whitlock, declaring, “Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. . . . Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”
Now that we know that Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock believe that guns emit some sort of magic mood-altering or mind-controlling wave that make people more confrontational and flawed, we can all hope that neither Costas or Whitlock get their hands on a gun. (One wonders if they’re secretly Carl Rowan–style gun control advocates.)
Stephen Kruiser: “Sanctimony has always been a Bob Costas hallmark, it’s just creepier now that it’s coming from his Madame Tussauds face.”
Over at Breitbart, Ben Shapiro calls our attention to a CNN.com column by Kevin Powell, former Democratic congressional candidate in New York, and a cast member on MTV’s original season of “The Real World.”
For the past several years, I have privately advised and counseled several professional and amateur athletes, and entertainers, all men, all grappling with very warped definitions of manhood. The recurring theme over and over is fear of expressing themselves fully, fear of letting others down, fear of not being the tough and rugged men they were told they had to be. And on the inside so many of them are damaged as a result. The very definition of manhood they’ve embraced is more an emotional prison than anything else.
This is probably why the one scene that is locked in for me is of Belcher thanking his coach and general manager for what they did for him. Then walking away and shooting himself in the head.
We must struggle, harder than ever, as men, as boys, as a nation, to reach the point where a heart-to-heart conversation is the first and only option, not a gun, not gun violence. The lives of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins will have been in vain completely if we do not go deeper within ourselves to teach and show our sons, our husbands, our boyfriends, our fathers, our men and boys, that there is another way.
Okay, once and for all: Enough with this ‘we’re all to blame, we must all struggle to prevent tragedy’ bullcrap. Because none of us had anything to do with the actions of Jovan Belcher. You and I and every other reader of this newsletter and about 99.999 percent of the American people prevent these sorts of tragedies every day . . . by not committing them, and by never seriously contemplating considering them. We are not all ticking time bombs, one stressful day away from committing mass murder. If we were, civilization would collapse.
“Show our sons there is another way”? News flash, pal, the vast majority of the fathers you encounter do exactly that, every day, day in and day out. And the ones that do need to be reminded to tell their sons that you can solve problems without firearms aren’t reading CNN.com.
Why the heck is some former reality-television host running around telling us that all of us who never met or knew Belcher somehow have let these tragedies happen, or that we’re supposed to take responsibility, or to tell other men that . . . oh, that’s why.
Oh, and is anyone else unsurprised that the people who Powell finds “dealing with a very warped definition of manhood” are “several professional and amateur athletes, and entertainers”? Because if there’s anything we’ve seen in our modern culture, it is that once you become a celebrity, the rules and societal expectations change suddenly and dramatically, to the point of certain laws seeming to never be enforced. (How many times will Lindsey Lohan get convicted, with no real consequence? How does Chris Brown still have fans, and why do they give Red Eye’s Andy Levy grief?)
In The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America, Dr. Drew Pinsky — former host of a VH1 television series about celebrities going through rehab — lamented, “According to research by John Maltby and his colleagues, as the level of religious devotion decreases, the level of celebrity worship increases. The rich and famous are the most prominent, and exclusive, in-group we have. And the more we watch, and feel excluded from, such a desirable group, the more we’re unconsciously motivated to mimic their behavior.”
Ace offered one of my favorite takes on all this:
Another thing Costas does here is to ignore three cultural matters that are less easily burbled about than his anti-”gun culture” kick, which of course safely targets White Republicans. Adam Carolla talks about this a lot — it is a favorite posture of the liberal urban elite to discuss safe villains, White Republicans, who have nothing to do with the ills they’re discussing, in order to avoid talking about things that aren’t so easy to talk about. Things that actually do have something to do with the ill they’re talking about.
The easiest of the other three cultures to discuss is the bubble that athlete heroes live in, in which most of their personal problems are “fixed” by a large and wealthy organization that has a lot of investment in them. This leads to the idea of action without consequences and all the evils that flow from that.
More difficult to discuss is the very violence implicit in football itself — violence that leads to concussions and brain injuries (and brain injuries of course may well lead to defects in thought and judgement).
This is especially difficult to discuss because you can’t have football without this. You cannot have what we know as “football” without the very real risk and frequent incidence of serious brain trauma.
Thus, we’re all kind of complicit in this, or, putting it a different way, we’ve all accepted the violence as a necessary evil for a bit of entertainment. The athletes accept the cost-benefit tradeoff; the teams accept it; NBC accepts it; the public accepts it. We all accept that to have the game as we’ve had the game, and as we want the game, there are going to be some serious casualties along the way, the most serious of which involve the brain and spinal column.
And that’s kind of a heavy, ugly idea. But it’s true. Ninety percent of human thought is, I sometimes think, devoted to rationalizing why things which are obviously true are not true. And we reward people who give us the best, most plausible falsehoods denying the obvious truth.
Finally, I cannot recommend enough Kristina Ribali’s account of defending herself and her family from a vile, vile man. It’s not easy reading – even more unnerving if you know her – but her point is clear, and yet somehow forgotten in these debates:
This serial offender has not bothered our family again. He did go on to “peep” again and his crimes escalated to breaking and entering and attempted rape. More victims. More nights of sleep lost for countless women. This man’s actions were illegal: trespassing, attempted rape, peeping, drug use and breaking and entering.
There are laws against all of those actions and yet, imagine that, it didn’t stop him. The only thing that finally stopped this man was an armed citizen exercising her legal right to own a firearm.
So in the wake of the Aurora tragedy, let’s reflect on the true nature of the problem. It is not the gun that slain those innocent people in that theater. It was the actions of an evil man who was willing to risk death for the opportunity to shed blood. No law will ever stop someone with a penchant for death. Evil is present, and there will not be less evil because you choose to ignore it or not to defend yourself against it.