I was recently having a conversation on Facebook with a conservative woman about gun control and school shootings. She gave me the typical nonsense: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Being a writer and not wanting to miss the chance to one-up a cliche with a more truthful turn-of-phrase, I responded by saying that yes, guns do kill people because gun violence is impossible without guns. I went on to say that among developed nations, America had a fairly unique gun violence problem. We can’t continue with business as usual and keep watching students get gunned down. Something needs to change. The conservative responded immediately by posting the Israel teacher meme, it’s a pic of an Israeli teacher standing behind a group of kids with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Do we really want that for our schools and for our kids? Most Americans don’t, but if we armed teachers, that sure would be good for gun manufacturers. Profits would boom, stock prices would soar, and the money would come rolling in.
Manhunt is an intriguing series. It dramatizes the story of Ted Kaczynski, aka the UNABOMBER. Those of us who grew up in the Nineties remember the story of bombs that arrived by mail and exploded in the hands of the recipients. It went on for years and years, the FBI’s most expensive manhunt. The new Netflix series, Manhunt, is a compelling crime story, but it’s far more. Before he was caught, Kaczynski was actually able to negotiate to have his manifesto printed in the Washington Post. At the time, the public dismissed the manifesto whose premise seemed ridiculous: The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. It was easy enough, back then, to reject Kaczynski as mentally insane, but this Netflix series raises the provocative question: was Ted Kaczynski right?
Having read the book, I watched the film — the most recent version of True Grit, done by the Coen brothers. I’d seen it before, but my memory was a bit skewed. In my mind the film was focused on the male cowboys, played by Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. I said as much in my review of the book. I may have been confusing the recent film with the original John Wayne movie, or my recollection may have simply been skewed by my own male-centric perspective. In any event, I’m happy to report that the 2010 version of True Grit is just about as true to the book as possible.
It’s quite clear that for a large segment of the U.S. population, allegations of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump will not deter their political support. As with anything else, for these people, Trump always gets the final word on what counts as fact and what should be ignored as “fake news.” It’s a danger road, to say the least, the road that leads to totalitarianism; however as many have pointed out, the greater harm is the legitimizing of sexual objectification and the normalizing of toxic masculinity. Trump sexually assaults women, and Trump holds the most powerful political position in the United States. The Guardian has published a full list of the allegations of sexual assault made against Donald Trump.
Having recently concluded the last episode in the most recent season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, my enthusiasm seems to know no bounds. I’m ready to declare it the best damn thing I’ve ever watched, of all time. Then again, I’m fresh off the adrenaline rush, so I’ll hold off in making such sweeping declarations.
The kinds of violence that we are seeing in protests, on campuses and in Charlottesville will likely only continue to escalate. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been worse, frankly, but I’m grateful that we’ve been able to hold it together — but the kinds of violence we are seeing are symptoms of a social sickness, and hence the answer is not to condemn the violence itself, despite how affirming it may feel. President Trump does what he always does: heap as much blame for the violence on liberals and the left as is humanly possible (hence “violence on both sides”). The left justifies itself and condemns fascist violence. But condemning violence completely misses the point of what is happening in our society.
Dude I’m talking to says: “Okay okay but what’s wrong with talking tough? It’s refreshing, for me it’s refreshing to see that there’s someone finally willing to stand up to North Korea. And what’s wrong with that?” Me: Look man, I’m old enough to remember the last time America did the tough guy song and dance. It led us into Iraq and Afghanistan, two unwinnable wars that we paid for with borrowed money. It made the Middle East situating worse and led to the rise of ISIS. Dude I’m talking to: Well okay, maybe, but ISIS? That’s a stretch.