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By Kitty Testa
I’m not one to buy into fantastical explanations of events, but I’m starting to believe in The Mandela Effect, and that I have somehow slipped from my original timeline into a timeline that is very, very similar, but not exactly the same. Why? Because I used to live in a dimension in which my culture embraced rational thought. Certainly there were crazy people who did crazy things in my original timeline, but I clearly remember that most people were rational. They could call out crazy when they saw it. In this dimension, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
In this timeline, facts and truth are irrelevant, and emotions are sacrosanct. Social media is there to constantly agitate and frighten, with its fake news and its dire warnings of imminent ecological Armageddon. Two plus two can equal five in this dimension if someone feels strongly enough that it should be so. I just can’t go along with it anymore. In the wise words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, “There are four lights!”
Political hyperbole has become the currency of discourse. I thought this would calm down after the election, but it has just gotten worse. Wednesday morning, James T. Hodgkinson, motivated by political vitriol, showed up at a baseball diamond and started shooting at duly elected Republican congressmen. That’s crazy, but a lot of people in this timeline didn’t think it was crazy at all. Yes, all of our political leaders provided obligatory condemnation, but many rank-and-file Trump-haters expressed approval for Hodgkinson’s actions on Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because of memes.
Yes, people are crazy enough to believe that the GOP congress is trying to kill them—on Trump’s behalf, of course. They believe they will die without Obamacare, even though they all survived years and years without it. Irrational. Crazy. Now normal.
The response to the shooting had its own brand of crazy.
Within hours of the GOP baseball practice shooting in Alexandria, VA, the state’s governor, Terry McAuliffe, couldn’t help but make political hay of the tragedy. There were too many guns on the street, he said. “We lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence,” he added.
Governor, do you even math?
In deference to the purported 93 million lost every day to gun violence, McAuliffe trotted out the usual cures, background checks and closing gun show loopholes. We’ve heard this before, virtually every time there is a prominent shooting. Of course, yesterday’s shooter had a licensed gun and a valid FOID card, so McAuliffe’s calls for extreme vetting of gun owners wouldn’t have changed a thing. That doesn’t matter because it was an emotional appeal. And we all know that emotions have the power to make things real—at least in this dimension.
The arithmetically challenged McAuliffe may be an embarrassment to his elementary school teachers, but former Secret Service agent, Evy Poumpouras, proved to be an embarrassment to her former agency (and all blondes) when she appeared on NBC News Wednesday morning, seemingly ignorant of the difference between an automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon. She mimicked the rapid fire pops of an automatic rifle and used them to imply that the shooter was using a semi-automatic weapon. To be fair, Poumpouras admitted her mistake later, but her exaggeration may well have influenced more than few NBC viewers who don’t know the difference.
I bet a lot of people in Chicago know the difference. Just this month, 36 people have been shot and killed, 130 have been shot and wounded. Chicago has tough gun laws, but a lot of people—especially criminals—don’t follow them. Ah, it doesn’t really matter because most people don’t get emotional about Chiraq. Yes, it’s madness, but we’re down the rabbit hole in this timeline.
Yesterday’s event had the unusual element of being politically motivated, and was committed by a man who supported a candidate that supported strict gun control, Bernie Sanders. That really doesn’t fit the Leftist narrative, and presented a bit of a conundrum, so a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. Most of the initial attempts to resurrect gun control buzz gave way to talk about our nasty political climate, which has worsened through the 2016 election, and has railed at fever pitch through the #resist movement against the Trump administration. Although Trump’s challenges in implementing policy show that, indeed, our system of checks and balances is working, there has been no shortage of calls for violent acts against the Trump “regime.” A New York production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in which the emperor is styled as President Trump, enacts a rather brutal assassination of the president. Oskar Eustis, the show’s producer, stated, “When we hold up the mirror to nature, often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting and provoking things.” It makes me think of The Mad Hatter: “I’ve been considering words that start with the letter M. Moron. Mutiny. Murder. Mmm-malice.” Surely, the metaphorical assassination of Trump, much like Kathy Griffin’s severed head meme, is hyperbole, but prior to the shooting, The Huffington Post ran an op-ed by Jason Fuller calling for Trump’s execution—not an exaggeration—but an actual execution (if convicted in a court of law). HuffPo has since taken the article down. Perhaps there is now a feeling of being on the brink. Political hyperbole kills.
Guns didn’t manufacture Hodgkinson’s murderous anger. Social media hatred certainly played a part. I’m stunned by the silence from the gun control crowd. So are the folks over at CNN.
Why aren’t they all over this? We have hundreds of mass shootings every year, right?
Usually they ignore the facts when it comes to mass shootings. Most “mass” shootings (four or more victims) are domestic in nature, people who shoot their family members or exes, and rarely affect strangers. This one did. Are they ignoring this one because the perpetrator was on their side? Is that rational?
Or have they finally given up? The trend over the past thirty years has been toward support for 2nd Amendment rights, not against them. In 1986, only Vermont had an unrestricted right to carry a concealed firearm, while sixteen states—including many in the south and southwest—did not permit concealed carry at all. Thanks to a 2013 SCOTUS decision, state laws prohibiting the carrying of weapons were deemed unconstitutional, and in 2017, thirteen states have unrestricted rights to carry concealed weapons. And yet gun violence has actually dropped dramatically in the past couple of decades nationally.
Also, gun ownership itself has been declining since a peak in 1993. So it’s clear that the availability of guns doesn’t necessarily mean more people will own them, nor must it result in increased gun violence. But these are facts, and facts are garbage these days. Only feelings matter.
In yesterday’s tragedy, a man who was convinced that he lived under a non-existent tyranny tried to kill politicians whom he believed to be a mortal enemy. It had nothing to do with guns and everything to do with grim fairy tales of imagined oppression and one man’s hyperemotional response.
I’m wondering if it’s time for a coalition of the rational, people who check their facts and check their feels, and reject manufactured outrage. Either that, or I have to find a way back to my own timeline, or at least a way out of this rabbit hole.
EDITOR’s NOTE: The views expressed are those of the author, they are not necessarily representative of The Libertarian Republic or its sponsors.
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