Yeah. I know. Not me, not the guy who gets outraged over gun crimes and the horrible way this country is treating people.
But it’s true.
After being rejected by a woman I really didn’t like that much in the first place (“I couldn’t date anyone who didn’t have a doctorate” she said), I got good and pissed. I was drinking hard at the time, Absolut vodka and my favorite beverage ever, cognac. I couldn’t afford much, so I was limited to half pints after work. I lived a mile away and always threw the empty bottle on the dewey nighttime lawn before I went inside.
As it wrapped its comforting tentacles around and into my brain, the euphoria and the easing of all my worries battled with extreme anger and worry that my future was looking very dark. And of course the witch who probably couldn’t even spell “PhD” was merely a snobby goat who should never have gotten under my skin.
But anger and insult and alcohol. What a mix that shit is.
I boosted a car. Ran the snot out if it. Ran over pedestrians. Hit parked and moving cars. I only bailed when the engine caught fire.
But what a high that was! Tunes from some 80s station blared New Wave and weird stuff that I’d long since forgotten.
And there was no denying, it was fun. I laughed maniacally hearing people scraping the chassis of the car.
Then I got a hold of a pistol. Well. And a club. And between the two of them, I started some real shit. I’d kill people for nothing. Just being where they were when I came along. I’d steal or highjack cars, throw the drivers to the ground and take off.
It would be little time, of course, before the police began to find and chase me.
By then I was already highly skilled and always lost the cruisers and pursuit cars.
Someone else, besides the police, took notice. Offered work. Killing people, pulling heists.
The coppers started sending armed choppers after me. There was no turning back. If I stopped, I would die.
That pissed me off even more because you know, rejection by a snob who probably didn’t even use toilet paper, plus a drinking habit that was so bottomless that anything would do. From Jack Daniels to Captain Morgan spiced rum, anything would do.
I got into trouble one night. The shakes got so bad I couldn’t think of anything else. A friend brought me a fifth of rum. It wasn’t even out of the bag before I had it open and a third of it gone.
Nothing happened. I thought, Okay. Wait for it.
Twenty minutes later still nothing. Half the bottle was empty before I began to feel the tentacular penetration of my sick mind.
Somehow I managed to get an Army uniform. Stole an Apache helicopter. Blew up the airport and so many people that I managed to become the most prolific mass killer in American history.
I was never caught.
Of course, you know, except for the liquor and the rejection, the rest is not true. I’ve never stolen a car. Never shot anyone. Never used a scoped rifle to shoot someone’s head off. Can’t fly.
Because that part was all in a video game: “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”, and it never motivated me to go forth and kill anyone. But at a time when I needed distraction, I had therapy with a PlayStation 2. I don’t like guns. I don’t drive anymore. And I don’t want to kill anyone. But…
Every time a mass shooting by anyone who’s younger than 30 happens, video games and mental illness get thrown around by people who have no clue what they are talking about. Suddenly experts come out of the shadows like roaches from the woodwork, and they know every fucking thing there is to know about gun crimes and a definite connection to violent videogames.
What a crock of shit.
There’s no connection. There never was. When Grand Theft Auto 3 was released, everyone from outraged parents to reactionary Christian groups warned us that it would be the end of us all. A total breakdown of morality. A disregard for life caused by the lowering of sensitivity. Well you should know that every time in history that something Christians didn’t like–every innovation–like the camera, which of course was used for porn at the earliest possible moment, they shouted from the rooftops, “Repent, the end is nigh!”
Archaeology isn’t immune. An unknown number of frescoes and paintings, tapestries and other art that depicted nudity or sexual acts have been defaced and lost to history. Books have been burned. Now, even videogames.
When are we going to get over ourselves? CoverGirl has a new mascara out called “Exhibitionist”, which is pretty funny, really. Just wait until Christian groups pass out emails with petitions to CoverGirl to change the name. It’s going to be hilarious.
Societies have always faced existential threats, and some are gone forever. We know little except that some breakdown occured. Our theories include lack of water because of river course changes, crop failure and warfare as well as disease.
None of these lost civilizations are thought to have been doomed by leisure activity.
Mass shooters generally don’t play videogames, and those who have are not inspired by them. Mass murder goes way deeper than an interactive cartoon.
Racing games have little to do with actual street racing, which has been around since way before games came out. First person shooter games can’t teach you how to shoot. And MMORPGs don’t influence people to go on quests to fight dragons.
Sure, civility and respect are often forgotten on the headsets, and I’m upset about it but it hasn’t caused mass destruction in a school. There was one dreadful incident where a guy lost a game in a tournament, came back in shooting. I forget the details. But it’s not a typical reaction and the kid was obviously off balance and shouldn’t have ever been near a gun. In fact school shootings and youth shootings as a rule are always done by young people who either got access to a parent’s gun or in some other fashion obtained a firearm illegally. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold should never have been able to get their hands on anything more than BB guns yet they set the bar for grotesque murderous fury unleashed in school. They did play videogames, even wrote code for a crude shooter game which took place in a school. Being kids, I’d feel sorry for them, because they paired up with obviously serious mental health issues, and mental illness is a fucking lonely place, I assure you. But the Columbine Massacre should never have happened and I fear those boys are in a darker and more terrible place now than they ever knew in life.
But how was anyone supposed to stop them? Warning signs were there. But you can’t arrest someone unless they’ve done a crime. After Columbine, sure, if a kid made a threat he was–
Wait a minute.
This is bullshit. Are we psychics who can clearly see every future event? Fuck, no, we’re not. And parents bear the brunt of responsibility and guilt for missing signs and not fucking doing enough, but in the end, all they can do is what we all do: sit by the TV and wait for the news to report the next massacre.
Meanwhile we watch movies like “Deadpool” and “John Wick” or even piss-hard-shitty teen movies like “Cruel Intentions” and eat popcorn by the bucket. What is the fucking difference? Movies are, like videogames, rated. You would not want to take a four-year-old to see a film rated for mature audiences. Same with a video game, right? Doesn’t it happen anyway, though? I mean, haven’t you or someone you know ever bought a violent movie or game for a kid not of the age recommended on the box? How’d that work out? The kid go and get the illegal Ingram submachine gun off the top shelf of your closet and go kill 15 classmates at school?
I thought not.
Because life is not that fucking stupid and simple. Every human being is different. At times too different. At other times, practically the same. We cannot be labeled in small groups or even by race. That’s called bigotry. It’s judging more than one by your opinions and perceptions of one individual or a few. And that’s a far bigger issue than mental illness.
Or is it? Don’t you think, don’t you see, as I do, that white nationalist groups are finally getting the attention they’ve craved, don’t you see that they are being catered to by the president, who knows he needs their votes? One day he denounces them. The next day he’s saying some bizarre shit they eat up. If he has any idea how dangerous they are, he won’t linger on the subject. Instead he has whipped them up and given them power. He’s actually directed his audience to violence. Hillary Clinton was doomed from the start and we didn’t see it. We underestimated the forces of bigotry and evil.
Well don’t we do that with everything? In 1941–before that, actually–our government knew that Imperial Japan was fucking with us as they expanded their empire. We ultimately underestimated them and vowed that it would never happen again. But no matter how much intelligence is gathered, we miss warning signs consistently. Because not everything can be accounted for. Not everything can be seen coming. We had high confidence that a terrorist attack was imminent prior to September 11, 2001. And sure. Men who should have been caught at the gate were breezed on through. But who in the whole country knew what was really about to happen? Come on. Conspiracy theories still abound to this day, and I’m sorry, but it’s all bullshit. If we’d known, it wouldn’t have happened.
You look at the warning signs. Sometimes you see them for what they are. Sometimes you don’t. Of all the things that fall under the rule, the absolute rule, of Chaos Theory, human behavior is at the very top. Bigotry broke the fucking walls after 9/11. Bodega owners were dragged into the streets and beaten. Vandalism and terrorism sent a lot of people back to the countries of their roots. And I’m here to tell you, Muslims were enraged and heartbroken on September 11, 2001. They helped people escape the smoke, gave them water, anything. They’ve been huge donors to relief actions and they are us. Citizens of the United States of America, many born here, some families for generations have called this land home. But look at Donald Trump. Hates every Muslim on Earth. Tried like hell to close airports to their arrival, even citizens. What the hell…
While courts have knocked his dick in the dirt and continue to do so, he focuses more power, more money and more attention to bigoted programs and policies. Hate is the fuel that powers his presidency. He warns about things that won’t happen. Scares people who otherwise would hate him into endorsing shit like putting kids in cages and cells without access to toilets and soap. We know this is so because the government argued in court, twice, that it should not and is not compelled by law to provide children with such luxuries.
What a fucking mess, and people don’t care.
Posturing with Putin may be nothing more than a show. But I’d wager Putin sees it otherwise.
And meanwhile mass shootings continue. We think we’re smart enought to analyze Trump and his shitty inhumane policies, but we know jack shit. Because we think video games kill people. We can see beneath the clouds of Jupiter, but we can’t see human behavior does not often hinge on one factor, one character trait, one experience.
Trump brought up mental illness a couple of times. My fear is that the government will detain anyone with a diagnosis, especially those who disagree with his politics. This happened before mental health care reform.
Mental illness does not automatically make someone a potential mass murderer. You work with people who have it and you’ll never guess who they are. They’re achievers. Hard workers. Critical thinkers. Innovators.
Until we decide to take this problem seriously and talk real gun control reform, just keep watching the news. For the next time.
I know people like Alex Jones like to believe Sandy Hook was faked. I hope you don’t believe nutters like him. Because it happened. And if it happens again, it’s on us. All of us.