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Tag: oregon shooting

This Week In Crazy: The Stupidity Of A Free State

A well-regulated militia — which consists predominantly of disturbed white men who retch at the mere mention of “regulation” — being necessary to the stupidity of a free state, we can always look forward to hearing more pro-gun idiocy after a tragedy, such as the one that took place last week in Oregon.

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Michele Bachmann

Michele BachmannOh good, Michele Bachmann is still posting every crass, cold-blooded, idiotic thought that pops into her head on social media.

You may recall that back in April the former congresswoman protested the Iran nuclear deal by likening President Obama’s leadership to the Germanwings pilot who deliberately steered his plane into the Alps, calling the president “a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks.”

She’s gotten less creative with the metaphors, but no less insipid with her remarks, telling her Twitter followers on Sunday that the catastrophic flooding in South Carolina is God’s punishment for our pursuit of diplomacy in the Middle East. The United States, she tweeted, “turns it back on Israel, disasters following [sic].”

Cause and effect aren’t Bachmann’s strong suits, if she has any. This isn’t the first time Bachmann has coarsely invoked divine wrath as our comeuppance for foreign policy decisions she doesn’t agree with. Right Wing Watch notes that she had suggested back in April that natural and economic disasters would befall the nation if we, as she characterized it then and now, turned our back on Israel.

And this has been a recurring motif for Bachmann, who shortly before she left office told the president (to his face) to bomb Iran, and she did it at a holiday party. Ho ho ho.

Next: Tucker Carlson

4. Tucker Carlson

It can be tempting for gun-control advocates to see those countries that pass strict regulations on assault weaponry as utopian safe havens where the streets are paved with background checks.

It is equally tempting for conservatives to mischaracterize any reasonable attempt at gun control as a full-throated war against liberty — and so any country that has achieved it must be demonized.

So it was on Fox & Friends Sunday morning, when co-host Tucker Carlson declared that because they had the temerity to enact sane gun laws in the wake of their own tragic mass shooting, there is “no freedom” in Australia.

In fact, he continued, if you say anything unpopular Down Under, you can be locked up in jail. Really, any country where gun laws are in effect is under the thumb of tyranny.

Carlson claimed that the problem with passing gun control laws in Australia is: “They also have no freedom. You can go to prison for expressing unpopular views in Australia. And people do. And in Western Europe, by the way. And in Canada. No one ever says that.”

Suffice it to say, this big Aussie bugaboo described by Carlson is about as far from reality as… well, as Fox News.

If I’m being charitable, Carlson is referring to hate-speech laws that exist in both Canada and Australia, but his portrait of these nations as Orwellian hellholes where freedom doesn’t exist is disingenuous in the extreme. (In case you were wondering, democracy is alive and well in these countries.)

You can see the video of the segment below, courtesy of Raw Story:

Once again, Fox News has speciously mischaracterized other nations as dystopian simply to make a point. Earlier this year, the network had to backpedal in a big way after a guest, Steven Emerson, explained to Fox viewers that various enclaves in Western Europe has been converted into “no-go zones” ruled by Sharia law, and his claims went completely unchallenged on the air.

Next: Bryan Fischer

 

3. Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer — the spokesman of the American Family Associate hate group and perennial TWIC piñata — has been on a roll this week.

On his radio show Focal Point Tuesday, Fischer explained to his listeners that gay men are more dangerous than guns.

“Did you know that there is something that is entirely preventable… and it is killing more people than guns? You know what that is? It’s men having sex with men.” Fischer claims that this is “not my opinion” by invoking CDC and FBI statistics, comparing gun homicides to deaths from AIDS.

“The bottom line,” he said, “is that we could save more lives by banning homosexuality than we could by banning guns.” (Insert usual clarification about how nobody who has a pulpit worth a damn is talking about “banning guns” en masse, but that’s the least of Fischer’s transgressions here.)

This is a constant hangup for Fischer, who — like many conservatives of late — has advanced the notion that we need to be more like Russia, particularly by emulating that country’s anti-gay propaganda crusade.

(After Fischer’s rant concludes, he takes a call from a woman lamenting that the military hasn’t overthrown Obama, and that Christians need to stand up to him and his jihadi Muslim brethren waiting in the woodwork to steal the country “that God gave us.” Give a listen and shed a tear for the nation. “I think a lot of people agree with you,” Fischer says, but that as “attractive and appealing” as the idea of a coup is, it’s ultimately inadvisable. Better to go the impeachment route. Whew.)

Fischer had some other highlights this week, including a lengthy rant on his show Thursday about how Americans could stand to learn more from “the anger of Jesus.”

Using his own recent blog poston the subject as a touchstone, Fischer claims that in our culture, “The Gospel has been feminized. The Gospel has been emasculated. Christianity has been wussified.”

“Jesus,” Fischer said, “was the ultimate muscular Christian.”

Enough of this “turn the other cheek” hokum; eschew that namby-pamby “tolerance.” Be a “muscular Christian” and take the fight to the sinners! You can begin by banning homosexuality (see above). Fischer is careful to note that Jesus used a whip.

Next: Ben Carson

2. Ben Carson

Ben Carson has gotten plenty of well-deserved flak for his tone-deaf and tangled responses to the shooting in Oregon last week.

He said on his Facebook page, that despite all the horrible gun violence he had witnessed as a doctor, he “never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” implicitly putting the sacred right to fire 10 rounds without reloading on a par with the lives lost in Roseburg, Charleston, Aurora, Newtown, et al.

On Fox & Friends Tuesday, he encouraged would-be victims of a gun shooting to charge at the shooter (great doctor’s advice).  “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said. “I would say: ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'” 

The Nightly Show‘s Larry Wilmore called attention to another one of Carson’s characteristic chasms of ignorance, pointing out that the presidential candidate was so uninformed he apparently did not know that someone had tried to do just that in Roseburg.

Carson didn’t stop there. Per Mother Jones:

On Wednesday, Carson doubled down on these controversial comments in an interview with CBS This Morning. “I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time,” he said. “That way, we don’t all wind up dead.”

That brings us to Wednesday evening, when Carson appeared on a radio show and described an actual episode in which he was faced with a gunman. In Carson’s telling, he responded quite differently in this real-life scenario than he said he would have reacted if faced with a possible shooter. “I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s in Baltimore,” Carson told Sirius XM’s Karen Hunter. “[A] guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'”

You can view Carson’s remarks here.

Honestly, the notion that Carson wouldn’t take his own advice can only be a comfort — considering some of his advice.

Next: Ted Nugent 

1. Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent is the gun nut who gives other gun nuts a bad name. And when a mass shooting happens in America, he is not to be outdone by anyone else in the vulgar, remorseless remarks department — not even Dr. Carson.

Writing in his WorldNetDaily column, Nugent describes a “fundamentally transformed America, a heartbreaking embarrassment where rugged individualism, self-sufficiency and self-defense is scorned and condemned and, horror of horrors, outright forbidden” in any state that maintains reasonable gun laws or in any library, school, airport, or church where — y’know — you can’t bring your gun.

“I smell dirty, rotten, anti-American, criminal loving, constitutional oath violating infringement running amok where the Second Amendment no longer exists,” Nugent raves.

Echoing conservatives’ debunked line about the dangers of gun-free zones, Nugent continues: “Gun-free zones are a self-inflicted suicidal curse and send a big, crazy message to evil people to come and get us. We are unarmed. We are helpless. Do with us as you may.” (For what it’s worth — and being a pesky fact, it’s probably worth very little to Nugent and his ilk — one is allowed to carry a gun on the Umpqua Community College campus.)

Any reasonable measures taken by lawmakers and activists to restrict the senseless proliferation of assault rifles in our country is, in Nugent’s schema, a “big lie of political correctness.”

Charging at the shooter, as Carson suggests, is insufficient. The only answer: “Get a damn handgun. Practice with it. Train with it. Learn to carry it hidden and discreetly.” He continues:

If someone is approaching you with the intent to do grave bodily harm, and you will know it when it happens, try to escape to the best of your ability, but if there is no escape, pull out your weapon and aim for center mass and start shooting. Keep on shooting until you believe the threat to be over.

With zero irony or perhaps without a functioning mirror, Nugent decries his countrymen for being “so callous, so dishonest” and so beset with “denial as to ignore this self-imposed death wish upon their fellow Americans.”

And I think Nugent is absolutely correct when he writes: “Insanity is pandemic when a society continues to repeat the same thing over and over again and again and have the life-destroying audacity not only to expect different results, but to actually push for more of the same and increase the conditions resulting in yet more massive loss of life.”

“What sort of blind, uncaring idiot fails to admit to the pattern here?” he asks. He doesn’t need to look very far.

Via Mediaite

Photo: “2015 ‘Southern’ But Really Confederate Heritage DC Rally.” Taken September 5, 2015. (Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr)

This post has been updated.

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

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Bush Family’s War On English

And the Bush family’s War on English continues.

You are, by now, familiar with the astonishingly tone-deaf response by Jeb Bush, the nation’s would-be 45th president, to last week’s shooting at a community college in Oregon in which a gunman killed nine people. “Look,” said Bush, “stuff happens.”

Like a stink bomb in the flower bed, the dismissive-sounding words were buried in a longer comment about whether this latest massacre should spur new legislation. Said Bush: “…I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this … I had this challenge as governor, because we had … look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

When a reporter asked about the wording afterward — perhaps trying to spare Bush some grief — the former Florida governor turned attitudinal. “No, it wasn’t a mistake,” he said. “I said exactly what I said. Explain to me what I said wrong.”

“You said, ‘stuff happens,'” said the reporter.

Whereupon, Bush hunkered deeper into his snit. “‘Things’ happen all the time,” he said. “‘Things.’ Is that better?”

Um … no.

And the pasting that followed was entirely predictable. Bush was slammed by Hillary Clinton and President Obama. In Mother Jones, the liberal magazine, his words were called “callous.” In Salon, they were dubbed “tactless, graceless and ham-handed.”

But let’s not miss what’s truly offensive here.

At one level, after all, this is just a new round of the gaffe gotcha game where you strip clumsy language of inconvenient context so as to imply the candidate said or meant something he never said or meant. So let’s be fair: Bush was not being callous toward the Oregon tragedy any more than Barack Obama was denying small businesspersons their due when he said, “You didn’t build that.” Rather, Bush simply offered an inarticulate statement of GOP orthodoxy: There are no legislative responses to mass gun violence.

And while that’s a point some of us would dispute, it is not what makes his words appalling. No, what makes them appalling is the surrender they imply.

“Stuff happens”?

That’s what you say about the hurricane or the earthquake, the hail storm or the flood, natural disasters beyond the power of humankind to prevent. It’s what you say about cancer or Alzheimer’s or dog droppings on the lawn, the major and minor challenges that are an inescapable part of being alive.

To say “stuff happens” about a mass shooting is to suggest that mass shootings are somehow inevitable and unavoidable. But that is simply not true. This “stuff” doesn’t happen everywhere — not with the numbing frequency it does here.

It doesn’t happen like this in Great Britain.

It doesn’t happen like this in Brazil.

It doesn’t happen like this in Israel.

It doesn’t happen like this in Japan, where gun ownership is strictly restricted, nor in Canada, where gun ownership laws are more liberal and there are, by one count, about 10 million firearms in private hands.

Ten million. Yet, you know how many gun homicides there were in Canada in 2013? A hundred and thirty-one.

Even as we mourn this latest mass murder, another is taking shape. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. That’s how predictable this “stuff” has become.

So it would behoove us to try and figure out what other countries know that we do not, what it is about our laws and/or our national character that returns us inevitably to this nexus of tragedy and recrimination week after week. You see, Bush is only half right.

It is not that “stuff happens.”

No, stuff happens here.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

Twisted Social Media And Mass Murder

The first details about the mass killer at the community college in Roseburg, Oregon, were that he was a young man, lonely and full of hate. Of course he was. They all are.

Lonely young men full of hate have been with us since there were lonely young men. The modern phenomenon of their acting out their madness on a large scale started almost 50 years ago, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and shot to death 16 people down below. There have been similar assaults against innocents ever since, but what accounts for the current rapid pace of what used to be rare, horrific events?

One change may be the growth of social media, creating an online community to ease the loneliness of these mentally ill time bombs — and perhaps endorse their perverse fantasies. The community lets the killers know that after the deed, which usually includes their death, they will have lots of people following them.

Christopher Harper-Mercer, who slaughtered nine at Umpqua Community College, had made an online reference to Vester Lee Flanagan, who murdered two former colleagues from a Roanoke, Virginia, TV station while they were on the air. Flanagan had referenced Dylann Roof, a young white man accused of murdering nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Flanagan was enraged at Roof and then copied him.

In between, there was John Russell Houser, a rare older mass shooter, 59, who posted his political ravings online before killing two and wounding nine others at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. And he may have been copying James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 70 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

The natural response after these multiple shootings is to blame lax gun control. The appalled father of Harper-Mercer went on TV and did just that. Politicians agreed or not, depending on their fear of the National Rifle Association.

Yes, bans on weapons of war and gun sales to the mentally ill are desperately needed. Looking back at these massacres, most of the weaponry was legally obtained.

But perhaps as dangerous as the flood of arms are the fumes of paranoia spread by the NRA and other peddlers of gun mania. What better audience for the instant-empowerment-of-guns message than depressed, lonely men?

Ours seems to be the only culture that uses guns for psychotherapy, as was well-portrayed in the movie American Sniper. One creepy similarity between Harper-Mercer and Adam Lanza, who slayed 26 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, was that their mothers took them out shooting.

Certainly in Lanza’s case, the mother bizarrely thought she could channel her boy’s sick obsession with guns into a bonding thing. Both mothers had left lying around the house the guns their deranged sons used.

In the meantime, these lonely men find companionship, however imaginary, in these online communities of gun worship, places that often validate their paranoiac thoughts. (Many also seek refuge in violent video games.) What they desperately need is real community to offer reality checks and interface with mental health professionals.

Some law enforcement is trying to withhold the perpetrators’ names to deprive the criminals of the celebrity they crave. These officers fully understand the motive, but their good efforts can’t go far. The curious public does want to know names and the killers’ grievances, however crazy, and media will provide them.

The bigger concern is the ugly public seething online, honoring killers past and certifying the most twisted worldviews. Social media have some very dark corners that encourage mass bloodshed, and what can we possibly do about it?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Umpqua Community College alumnus Donice Smith (L) is embraced after she said one of her former teachers was shot dead, near the site of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

Oregon Sheriff Wrote, ‘Gun Control Is NOT The Answer,’ And Residents Agree

By Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

ROSEBURG, Ore. — Carolyn Kellim’s upper lip snarled to the left at the mention of gun control.

“I think that’s the worst thing in the world that can happen,” said Kellim, 86, who runs KC’s Exchange gun shop out of her home.

The words “2nd Amendment” are pasted in a decal onto her front door and there’s a Rifle Range Street nearby. In Roseburg, deer antlers line people’s driveways and locals hardly notice the pop-pop-pop of gunfire from nearby shooting ranges.

“This is hunting territory,” Kellim said, smiling proudly. Her views about guns — and who should be able to buy them — didn’t change, she said, when a gunman shot and killed nine people and wounded at least nine others at Umpqua Community College not far from her home.

In Connecticut, state leaders called for stricter firearm laws after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

People in Tucson rallied behind then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who became a loud supporter of gun reform after surviving a 2011 shooting at a grocery store.

And when a 22-year-old man stabbed and shot several students in California’s Santa Barbara County last year, one of the victims’ fathers, who grew up hunting, went on every national TV station that invited him and begged for stricter gun laws.

The tone in Roseburg is different.

An ex-girlfriend of a surviving victim scoffed at the idea of tightening gun laws, and Kendra Godon, an elementary education student who hid from the shooting in a nearby classroom, said she hoped her community’s tragedy wouldn’t get spun into the national debate about firearms.

“That’s not the issue,” she said.

John Hanlin, Douglas County’s sheriff and the public face of the community since the shooting, is also an outspoken critic of increasing gun control.

On his work biography, the broad-shouldered lawman who once attended Umpqua Community College lists three interests: fishing, riding his Harley and hunting.

When Vice President Joe Biden asked for stricter gun laws after the Newtown killings, Hanlin decided to speak up.

He wrote Biden a letter.

“Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings,” Hanlin wrote in a letter posted on the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page.

He asked that Biden “NOT tamper with or attempt to amend the Second Amendment,” and informed the vice president he didn’t plan to enforce any laws he found unconstitutional. His deputies wouldn’t either.

Around the same time, Hanlin — who keeps his gray hair cropped close on the sides and flat on top — shared a conspiracy theory video about the Sandy Hook shooting on his Facebook page.

“This makes me wonder who we can trust anymore … ,” the post read. “Watch, listen, and keep an open mind.”

The post has been deleted and much of Hanlin’s account went private since the shooting, but the posting is saved in Internet archives. Asked about the video, the sheriff told CNN last week, “I know what you’re referring to, but that’s not a conspiracy theory that I have.”

This spring, Hanlin testified before Oregon lawmakers about legislation requiring background checks for private gun sales. He argued that the measure — which has since become law — would keep guns from criminals about as much as laws keep methamphetamine out of the hands of drug addicts.

“What I fear most,” Hanlin said, his face red, “is that we’re going to create criminals … out of some of our most ordinary, normal, law-abiding citizens.”

Dennis Harper, 50, who works at an auto parts store near Umpqua Community College, said Hanlin’s views matched his own and those of most people in Douglas County.

“He’s trying to protect everybody’s Second Amendment rights,” Harper said. “We’re in Oregon; that’s what we do.”

At a prayer vigil Saturday, a local pastor said he was proud of Hanlin for leading a charge to avoid saying the shooter’s name. Several people in the crowd clapped and a woman shouted, “That’s my sheriff!” A sign outside a Roseburg barbershop read, “We stand with Sheriff Hanlin.”

Since the shooting, Hanlin has steered clear of public critiques of gun control.

Asked about his image as a Second Amendment advocate at a news conference Friday, Hanlin lowered his head. His lips tightened and he said his mind was consumed with the investigation.

“Now is not an appropriate time to have those conversations,” he said.

As Hanlin walked away, someone shouted one last question: “Sheriff, why does this keep happening in America?”

Hanlin kept walking.

Photo: Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin speaks during a news conference, updating the public a day after after a mass shooting Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Oregon Town Reels From Classroom Carnage

By Eric M. Johnson and Courtney Sherwood

ROSEBURG, Ore. (Reuters) – Residents of a quiet Oregon town struggled to comprehend the carnage left by the latest U.S. mass shooting as investigators puzzled over what drove a young gunman to kill nine people in a college classroom before he died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

The Thursday late-morning shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, a former timber town of 20,000 on the western edge of the Cascade Mountains, ranked as the deadliest mass killing this year in the United States.

The gunman stormed into a classroom in Snyder Hall on campus, shot a professor at point-blank range, then ordered cowering students to stand up and state their religion before he shot them one by one, according to survivors’ accounts.

Seven people were hospitalized, three of them listed as critical.

The killer died after exchanging gunfire with two police officers who confronted him.

The gunman was not identified by local authorities, and Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin vowed never to utter his name. But a law enforcement source confirmed media reports naming the suspect as Chris Harper-Mercer, 26.

In a photo posted on what was believed to be his MySpace profile, a young man with a shaved head and dark-rimmed eyeglasses stares into the camera while holding a rifle.

“WE’VE BECOME NUMB”

At the White House, a visibly angry President Barack Obama challenged Americans across the political spectrum to press their elected leaders to enact tougher firearms-safety laws.

He lashed out at the National Rifle Association gun lobby for blocking reforms and lamented how common mass shootings had become.

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here, at this podium, ends up being routine,” he said. “We’ve become numb to this.”

Residents at an apartment house a short distance from campus where the suspect lived recognized him from photos and described him as edgy.

A man identifying himself as Ian Mercer, the gunman’s father, spoke briefly to a throng of reporters and camera crews outside his home in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

“It’s been a devastating day, devastating for me and my family,” he said, according to a transcript provided by KNBC-TV.

Authorities offered no motive for the shooting. Hanlin, the county sheriff, said an investigation was underway by homicide detectives and federal agents. Residents of Roseburg, about 260 miles (420 km) south of Portland, were left to ponder the how and why of the violence.

“ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?”

Accounts from survivors were chilling.

Stacy Boylan, the father of an 18-year-old student who was wounded but survived by playing dead, told CNN his daughter recalled seeing her professor being shot point blank as the assailant stormed into the classroom.

“He was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was,” Boylan said, relating the ordeal as described by his daughter. “‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them. … ‘If you’re a Christian, stand up. Good. Because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’ and he shot and killed them. And he kept going down the line, doing this to people.”

Scores of people huddled at a somber candlelight vigil in a park on Thursday night.

“We need to start loving each other as people … or our nation is going to start falling apart,” said Michael Sprague, 35, a businessman who lives in the Roseburg area.

The violence in Roseburg was the latest in a flurry of mass killings in recent years across the United States and the deadliest so far in 2015. It surpassed the nine killed in a gun battle between motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas, in May, and the nine who died in the rampage at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.

Not counting Thursday’s incident, 293 mass shootings have been reported this year, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker website, a crowd-sourced database kept by anti-gun activists that logs events in which four or more people are shot.

The violence has fueled demands for more gun control in the United States, where ownership of firearms is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and for better care for the mentally ill.

Those grieving at Thursday night’s vigil said they were still trying to understand the tragedy.

“You know, there’s all this stuff in the news and with politics going on about the Second Amendment and gun control,” said Ken Shemel. “It’s like, ‘Come on, guys, just give us a second to breathe,’ you know?”

(Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Roseburg, Shelby Sebens in Portland, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Jeff Mason and Robert Rampton in Washington, Dan Whitcomb, Piya Sinha-Roy and Daina Beth Solomon in Los Angeles and Katie Reilly in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo: People take part in candle light vigil following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon October 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Steve Dipaola