Thursday, August 27, 2015

America is chock full of nuts...

More information has come out about Vester Lee Flanagan II (aka Bryce Williams), the racist, misanthropic asshole who shot WDBJ anchor Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward yesterday as Parker was conducting an interview on live TV.  It seems Mr. Flanagan, now thankfully deceased, perpetrated this crime because he was feeling oppressed in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.  Yep, that's right.  Flanagan blames Dylann Roof, another racist asshole, for shooting up a church.  And, apparently, life has been tough for Mr. Flanagan, who was both black and homosexual, but was once well regarded enough to find jobs in broadcast news.

When I read the news report that included tidbits from the manifesto Flanagan faxed to ABC news, I have to admit that it made me very angry.  My first reaction to the "reasons" given for yesterday's violence was not quite rage... it was more like disgust and disdain...  and frankly, fatigue...  The constant violence and stories about shootings in the United States have left me tired.  It's getting to the point at which this kind of thing is no longer shocking.  It's just disgusting.  It's a senseless waste of human life.  Who needs ISIS when your own countrymen are turning on each other?  No, we don't have a bunch of marauding men with AK47s kidnapping, raping women, and brutally murdering people with swords, but we do have crazed lunatics buying guns and shooting up random places.  How can anyone feel safe in the United States anymore?  You can't go to church, to school, to the movies, to a mall, or even do your job without risking being killed by a psychopath.

It's amazing the ripple effects that come from these acts of violence.  White guy Dylann Roof shoots up a church in Charleston, pisses off a gay black man in Virginia, who then takes it upon himself to target and kill two people in Virginia.  One person is shot on live television while doing her job, so millions of people get to hear her scream and try to run away before she's gunned down.  We see the camera being dropped as her co-worker is also brutally murdered on live TV.

I understand that Flanagan had a personal beef with Alison Parker and claimed that she made racist statements to him.  And that was one "reason" Flanagan decided that she needed to die.  Ward supposedly complained to human resources about Flanagan, which is the "reason" he needed to be killed.  Flanagan drew from the hatred that fueled Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho and put down a deposit on his murder weapon on June 19, 2015, two days after Roof's shooting spree.

Clearly, he wanted to be just like Roof and Cho and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and all the other crazy, violent, hate-filled people in the United States who think they have the right to decide who lives or dies.  These are the people who have helped make living in the so-called "Land of the Free" a very oppressive experience.  They have helped change our way of life, and definitely not for the better.  People like Flanagan steal hope and spread misery and hatred.  And we reward them with notoriety.  They become infamous for the things they do.  Everybody is going to be talking about Flanagan today.  People will remember his name.

If I stop for a moment and think about it, I can only guess that Flanagan was not a well man.  He claims he heard voices.  He killed his cats, perhaps as a way to work up the nerve to commit murder.  Maybe it was a sort of practice.  Maybe murder didn't come that easily to Flanagan, so he had to test his killer instincts on his cats.  

"Yes, it will sound like I am angry," Flanagan writes in his manifesto. "I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace....”

There is a side of me that wants very badly to feel some sort of compassion for Flanagan because he was obviously angry and very sick.  Knowing what I do about mental illness, I can only surmise that Flanagan really was suffering.  I think part of the reason we have so many gun slinging nuts on the loose is because it's easier to buy a gun in the United States than get decent mental health care.  Mr. Flanagan was obviously in dire need of services from a competent mental health professional.  He didn't need a gun.  He needed psych meds... and perhaps a bed in a locked facility somewhere where he couldn't hurt himself or other people.  

At the same time, Flanagan deliberately purchased a weapon two months ago and planned to kill two innocent people in cold blood.  These people had lives, loved ones, friends... all things that Flanagan evidently didn't have and apparently couldn't get for himself, even though he was once given opportunities to work in broadcast news that he pissed away.  He blames racism and homophobia for the fact that he was a loser.  He hated his victims for what they had, and he felt compelled to take it all from them... and everything from all the people who loved them... and all the people who didn't know them, but are still profoundly affected by this murderous act.

Ripple effects...  how many people are going to have nightmares because of what Flanagan chose to do?  How many children are going to be scared to go outside because there might be a gun wielding madman on the loose, ready to pick them off with a few random gunshots?  How many people are going to be outraged by the actions of an angry black homosexual male and decide that more people who happen to share those characteristics "need" to be killed?

We have a bunch of people wanting to become President of the United States in 2016.  Well, I truly hope at least one of them comes up with a strategy to deal with the angry, crazy, well-armed people we have running loose in our society.  Something needs to be done.        

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