Available on kindle (reader, tablet, and phone)at atheoryof.me: a memoir. And follow me on twitter: @caseysschroeder. (Only the following snippet from the memoir is duplicated in this blog. The memoir is entirely new and original material.)
“God came into my life literally two months ago and boy did it hurt. I don’t believe all that crap about God carrying us our whole lives and we just don’t realize it ’til we’re older. Sure, I knew he/she/it was hanging around, but I didn’t let him in. I fought tooth and nail not to let him in. And you know what, I don’t regret that either. I don’t think you’re really human if you don’t fight him. I mean that. And oddly enough, I wouldn’t have the confidence to say that if he hadn’t come into my life. I mean that too. But now that he’s in my life, I have to say, I think he is kind of nuts. I mean, he wants me to write a memoir. A memoir entails people and places and events and all I can see is a s**t storm of blowback. Sure he’s not so stupid as to let me make a mess that he has to clean up alone. But still, the only thing I can take from this is that he thinks the whole world is such a mess anyhow that we have to try something. So I guess that’s what I’m here to do. Why not?
I have to assume that I am pretty dense. I’m not very big after all, but everywhere I go, I seem to warp the field around me. There are any number in perpetual fall about me at any time, and when I show up, they bump into others as though they do not know where they are going. Sometimes I cause an inexplicable pull and when they arrive, they are a bit distorted and can’t communicate much at all. Other times they plot a course to come in for a landing and attempt to take me off course with them as they leave. Then there are those that appear right up close, by means that I can’t quite discern, and I’m pretty careful, but sometimes I let them stay, for better or for worse. For a while though, I think I had a reputation for being too dense. That anything that got too close would be sucked under into oblivion. That happened more than once actually, and it is the worst. I guess I had to lighten up.
This is a theory of me.”
Calling the perpetrator of a mass shooting ‘mentally ill’ is another way of saying ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’. It is clear that anyone who comes to the point of killing dozens of innocents is by everyone’s lights, not right. But calling them ‘mentally ill’ and simply ‘mentally ill’ does not go far enough. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent. Even fewer are in any way ‘deranged’. A tendency towards violence may itself mean that a person is among the mentally ill, but that does not mean that the mentally ill are violent – much less deranged.
As someone who suffers from mental illness, it can be very difficult to determine what can be done to change the stigma but to go on living an honest life, while standing up for your rights and against the stigma. But if there is any right that the mentally ill can concede, it is the infringement on their right to bear arms, in the name of peace. This may seem like a hopelessly paradoxical position to some who, under feelings of persecution or duress, believe that they are the ones that need protection more than anyone. But a certain faith and intelligence must go far enough to overcome the fear and feeling of injustice.
Automatic weapons have no place among our citizenry. They make violence too easy at critical moments and for anyone. But those with mental illness can go further and be willing to give up firearms entirely, finding other, honest and non-violent ways to protect themselves. In exchange, they should ask, as I have advocated previously, that there be a taxation on the sale and transfer of firearms, which goes to fund mental health care in our communities. That seems the least society can do.
Trump is an old man. He is no stranger to the history of the cold war. He is also no stranger to America’s continued efforts to maintain its standing in the world against some of its historic enemies. Yet with every move he makes, America loses ground in Europe against our two most feared rivals: Russian Intelligence and Islamic Terrorism. And a single failure in judgment could set American back fifty years, at home and abroad.
If there is a question of motive as to why Trump was propped up by connections in Russia during the election, you have to look no further than Europe. With the Muslim immigration into Europe – some of whom have a propensity for violence and distaste, if not hatred, toward America – there is the making of an Anti-American army on the continent. And there could be no better Emmanuel Goldstein for Big Brother to lambaste in order to drum up hate for, than our current president. Making Americans and American affiliations heightened targets of terrorism. The result is the capacity for the Kremlin to create further distance between America and a European citizenry hostage to random acts of violence, explicated as Anti-American sentiment – true or false. The perceptions are as important as the reality. Should a people, not knowing otherwise what they can do to protect themselves from violence, decide that they can at least disassociate, just in case, then they may – provided they do not see it for what it is.
The Kremlin wants, and at all cost, for Europe and the world not to see it for what it is, and America cannot dawdle bringing it to light.
Should the Europeans see this presidency for what it is – an attempt to prop up a (notably non-Jewish, though not anti-Jewish) Goldstein in order to win hate against America – they are integral enough not to collapse under the weight of pressure from anti-American sentiment. Should the means and methods by which Trump came into power remain even too slowly dragged into the public consciousness, a single misstep can destroy American objectives for years to come in the meantime. This may well be the intended purpose of this presidency itself. And with it the Kremlin gains what Authoritarians always desire most, control.
The best hope is for the FBI to move swiftly with their investigations – something that Trump is now fighting with the release, and threat of release, of previously classified intelligence documents. But the best case scenario is admitting we have been had by the Kremlin, so in any case, America will have to realize it has some fighting to do, but at least we stem the tide of tyranny.
When you know a lot about a person, there is at least two ways you can approach them. The first is as a human. Compliment them on their positive qualities; compliment them on their good ideas and good actions; try to help them where they are failing, both in action and in principle; help them to help themselves with what they have to offer and by correcting where they are failing.
The second approach is to ask how a person may be used (exploited?); how can we take (steal?) from a person as much as we can while paying as little as possible; how a person can be made (coerced?) to agree; how can a person be made a non-factor by playing them against others or by stripping them of wealth, credibility, relationships, etc.
It goes without saying that a capitalism without ethics lends itself to the second approach, and breeds a species of men which are sad at best; but it must also be remembered that we cannot legislate ethics – it must come from us as a people.
In the battle for liberty there is not one enemy but two. There is first the ignorant who think they are fighting an oppressive establishment with violence. There is second, a class of the establishment more than willing to let the ignorant carry out their violence in the hope of future control. At the front lines in this battle are the police. They are the keepers of the peace, and a power structure which does not like an overarching oppressive establishment any more than the violent perpetrator. It is not, of course, simply correct to say that the police and the violent perpetrator are on the same side, only that if the violent perpetrator were not also ignorant, then they would see that the police are not on the side of oppression, and serve as protector of the common man’s liberties in the face of others who wish to strip them.
The violence that makes it to the headlines is what gets people’s attention. It is the kind of thing which sells us on psychopaths and a solely black/white divide. But to anyone who has faced it in their community or abroad, a quiet disdain – the ice and not the fire – is the far more prevalent atrocity and more atrocious when it is systematic. This is not something faced by one type of person and not another – and it is a greater difficulty when one is very much isolated, even should they have faith.
There are no provisions in the constitution for attaining a warhead. Yet we allow people to attain automatic weapons – legally – which can do the same damage to human life in a short period of time as a warhead. We have a constitutional right to bear arms, but there is no constitutional right to human destruction. The notion of a slippery slope applies equally in the other direction and if one has to choose, they should choose peace over mutual destruction in the name of ideological self-defense. It is just not that difficult to realize that legislation against automatic weapons is not only appropriate but necessary.
Homosexuality is a victimless crime, if it were a crime at all. As such no self-respecting libertarian would consider making it a crime. Additionally, homosexuals are a fact of life. There are people who prefer the company of their own sex for sex. So the short answer to anyone who does not like homosexuality is: deal with it. The long answer is that we should welcome the day when we ask someone of their sexual orientation and they respond with an answer which we believe and have no reason to doubt – and have no real interest in unless we ourselves are sexually interested or know someone who might be. Not only is this a reprieve from deception, but it would give those who wish to manipulate with what-does-not-matter-in-the-first-place less ammunition. It is a sad fact that although the western world is largely able to see the progress in this direction, the eastern world does not. The eastern world, at least as represented by the Arabic countries, largely allow for – if not dictate – the persecution of people based on their sexual orientation.
I have been a long time supporter of Islamic Americans. They have quite clearly drawn the short end of the stick. But there is a fact of intolerance in antiquated Sharia law which the Arabic countries must overcome in their quest to catch up to the western world. And it should be said that despite the intolerance, there is this ambition. The Islamic world has been trying to catch up and we should not hesitate to help them, but they remain woefully behind if this map from the Washington Post has any credibility.
But therein, too, is the problem. The Washington Post does a lot to overemphasize the importance of homosexuality to the Islamic world. They say nothing of the actual convictions for homosexual behavior and instead are inciting the flames against Islam at a very critical moment. The shooting on Sunday of this week cannot be thought of anything but the worst of intolerance, but we cannot let the shooter himself speak for Islam – doing so stinks of the very kind of manipulation which the US is being accused of overseas.
Dontre Hamilton was a Schizophrenic black man. A Starbucks employee contacted police, presumably for his aberrant – a.k.a. ‘mentally ill’ – behavior when he was trying to take a nap in the park. The first pair of cops to arrive on the scene thought he was not a threat and just wanted a nap. When officer Manney arrived to the scene – a situation which he apparently didn’t know had already been covered by different officers earlier – he antagonized Mr. Hamilton. Officer Manney eventually caused a situation by striking Mr. Hamilton and entering close quarters combat – only to lose and subsequently pull his trump card, the gun… shooting Mr. Hamilton an unbelievable fourteen times.
This is not a matter for party politics. Democrats – much less Socialists, much less Communists – do not own the high ground on this matter and neither does the Right. This is matter of basic decency and understanding of the existence and legitimacy of people not like ourselves. However, I did attend and spoke up at a forum on gun control, where Hilary Clinton was the lead figure. I reminded the crowd that Mr. Hamilton was Schizophrenic in addition to being a black man. It is fair so say that Mr. Hamilton’s being black and his being Schizophrenic, may have both contributed to the bias which officer Manney brought to the situation and led to the escalation which could have so easily been avoided. But it should not be lost among the wave of ‘Black Lives Matter’ that Mr. Hamilton was Schizophrenic, and the Starbucks employee was likely not a racist. Among all the torrential political spin, it must be said that Mr. Hamilton’s Schizophrenia was part – even the most prominent part – of what led to the injustice of his being shot. 14 times.
I suffer from mental illness and though with age and understanding it has become easier to deal with, it is quite clear from my own experience that the mentally ill are and will remain under greater scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security. At the forum I said that what the mentally ill need most is hope and opportunity in the face of what can feel like persecution. In exchange for this scrutiny and infringement of liberties – and subsequent undue social resistance among the general public – they deserve the chance, with time, healing, and understanding, to be heard. In addition to efforts to stop mental illness altogether, this is the least we can do for those who have suffered and endured without causing social harm themselves.
At the forum I also insisted that the mentally ill should not own guns, as it only puts the mentally ill in a more difficult situation should there ever be an incident. But the case of Dontre Hamilton shows that officers of the law too must do their part to make it clear that the mentally ill do not need them.