OP-ED: He was ‘Just a Guy…’

Stephen Paddock, murderer, is repackaged to the general public

“The news doesn’t square with Eric Paddock’s image of his older brother, he told reporters Monday — a poker-playing accountant and real estate investor with no apparent political or religious affiliation, “as far as I know,” he hastened to add.

To his brother, Stephen Paddock was “just a guy,” an “army of one” with no known children despite a string of relationships. Someone you might see nursing a drink alone at a bar. Someone who went on cruises and played $100-a-hand video poker. Someone who sent boxes of cookies to his mother.”

What the fuck?

What is it with the news media and their effort to humanize this murderer? Why am I supposed to feel anything but the absolute loathing I would have waking up to a poisonous viper flicking its tongue on my face rearing back to strike…

What is it with white murderers and the news media; this constant attempt to make me sympathize with him rather than recognizing his evil, calling it terrorism, the spreading of terror, the ramifications of scarring people for the rest of their lives, if they were lucky enough to survive the experience.

Why should I care anything about his friends or family? Why should we be interviewing his relatives so they can tell us what we already know.

“He was ‘just a guy.’”

Of course he was. Who says: “Oh my god, I knew he was a murderer, I could see it in his eyes whenever he came over for dinner. He sized me up for a coffin with every cup of coffee we shared.”

NO ONE ever says this. Unless you’re Black. Then the media is quite okay with defining you “as no angel” or somehow like Tamir Rice: “His death was directly caused by his own acts.”

As if the November 2014 Cleveland police shooting of Tamir Rice wasn’t bad enough. The Post’s Wesley Lowery reports that the city of Cleveland is blaming the 12-year-old who was playing with a toy gun in a park near his home for his own death. In response to the federal lawsuit filed by Tamir’s family, city officials accuse Tamir of “failure…to exercise due care to avoid injury.”

Black victims are somehow defamed, humiliated, disgraced even though they are the victim of being murdered by a white man and yet somehow are dragged though the social mire, minimizing their humanity, making it somehow okay for them to be dead at the hand of a white police officer.

He was ‘just a guy…’

The perfect rationalization: a crazy old guy. Harmless on the look of him; surely not a threat to anyone but the nearly 60 people he killed in under ten minutes or the five hundred who were injured because of his actions.

No problem at all. Fuck those people.

What about HIS right to bear arms. What about his right to USE arms? What about his right to convert his hotel room into a sniper’s nest with high caliber weaponry?

Don’t his rights have to count for something? This is America, where I have the right to bear arms, arm bears and shoot whoever happens to raise my ire this week.

No. it doesn’t have to be a conspiracy. But is sure looks like the media is trying to paint him out to be a harmless eccentric who just happened to lug his multiple rifles to his room, with thousands of rounds of ammunition, and his fixings for a fertilizer bomb found in his car and home.

No conspiracy at all. Just a bit of domestic terrorism which no one in the media seems to be able to put into words.

So I did.

Not a conspiracy. Just a motherfucker with a gun and the complete willingness to kill anyone he wanted. With the implied backing of the NRA and the cover of the United States Congress who cannot seem to find the exact moment in space and time to talk about this particular issue of gun control.

Right now it’s too soon. Tomorrow will be too late for someone else.

Let’s ask those 58 people what they think of the non-conspiracy in our midsts.

Oh wait. They’re dead. They can’t be polled. But I bet you not a single one of them thought 8 hours after this concert they would be dead.

So I am going to vote in their stead and say they would rather be alive.

Alive with their families. Alive, without the last seconds of their lives being a moment of sheer terror, screams, shouts, random fleeing, the ratatatatatat of a machine gun in the distance.

  • They would rather a Congress that decided to when the last 20 school aged children and their six teachers were gunned down, they had experienced the last atrocity this nation needed to see.
  • A Congress that made the decision to limit military grade firearms to the military. Made it impossible to find, sell or own such weapons to anyone who isn’t in the military.
  • Making such ownership punishable by time in prison. Making the acquisition of such weaponry punishable by extreme prison sentences.
  • A Congress which would dare to buy back such weapons from the nation no matter what it cost because it valued the lives of its citizens.
  • A Congress which limited the size of clips in automatic handguns, one that would demand only the police be able to have oversize clips. A citizen would be able to have a clip of 8 bullets.
  • Yes, Congress realizes this would not make them popular with the NRA but they realize the number of lives saved would be worth the ire of the IRA.
  • They would rather have a Congress who wouldn’t use the idea of bump stocks to prevent them from having to address the real issues of gun control.
  • As discussed by a political pundit on the BBC: “The decision to pass legislation on “bump stocks” is a politically astute decision on the part of the Conservative party. It prevents them from having to address any real legislation and still look like their are doing something.”

And perhaps this event could have still happened.

Perhaps nothing could have deterred a person with sufficient funds. With sufficient will. But a nation focused on preventing the spreading of such weapons, a nation managing the bullet supply, might have found this gentleman on their domestic terrorist watch list.

If we tracked bullets like we tracked Sudafed, maybe this could have been prevented.

And maybe if Congress had been doing its job, those dead citizens, who would much rather be alive, would have been able to enjoy their concert, go home, get high, get laid and not have to consider their next concert under the shadow of greater scrutiny; they wouldn’t have to live with greater anxiety and the perpetual threat of ‘just a guy’ with a rifle taking their lives because he was dissatisfied with his own.

And for you murder-enablers who want to create the story he was psychologically unbalanced due to his drugs…

Did those drugs included the psychological imbalanced tendency to premeditate his murders? Because being unbalanced is one thing. Murdering an individual in the heat of passion, brought on by drugs is another.

Driving to a hotel, moving a dozen rifles, creating a sniper’s nest, barricading a door, cutting thorough a reinforced window and shooting indescriminately into a crowd belies the idea of spontaneity and an impulsive urge to murder someone who pissed you off today... Not to mention the interesting fact that he might have made arrangements to attend a different hotel and shooting at a different event. But no one is willing to mention the ramifications of this in polite company.

Goes against the narrative of lone, white, deranged, old man who has nothing to live for and couldn’t possibly be a terrorist because he isn’t a Muslim, has not been affiliated with a religious order or any other social organization. He’s a complete loner who sympathetically sent his girlfriend to the Philippines, wired her $100,000 and told her to have a good time.

Staking out other events could also put that lame ass excuse on blast as just another way to justify a White man’s urge to murder people because he could.

I am certain tomorrow will yield new questions but no answers. Excuses, but no relief from the threat of White men as terrorists, in a country which refuses to acknowledge White men as terrorists.

How long will it be before I have to hear another politician say:

“It’s particularly inappropriate to politicize an event like this. It just happened within the last day and half. Entirely premature to be discussing about legislative solutions if any.”

When will it be time, ladies and gentlemen of Congress? Who will have to die before you decide its time? How many will it take? A hundred. Two hundred. A thousand. You let us know so we can prepare to hear so many people mentioning how their “hopes and prayers” go out to the families affected by the impending tragedy. Fuck you, very much Congress inevitably beholden and in the pockets of the NRA. Just let me know. I expect there will be many more people dying before anything gets done to challenge the status quo.

Because, the right to murder your fellow citizen exceeds their right to be alive.

Thank god for Teen Vogue. (A sentence I never, ever, expected to leave my lips across the entirety of my life.)

You disgust me, Mitch McConnell. I can barely contain my rage at your very existence. The very definition of monster…

Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning essayist, author and journalist for various online publications, anthologies and websites which fancy themselves having discriminating tastes in speculative fiction, non-fiction journalism and critical thinking.

You can donate to my Paypal at ebonstorm@gmail.com. If you are experiencing a love affair with my work and who doesn’t, you can donate long term to my Patreon account at http://patreon.com/ebonstorm.

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