Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Of guns, drugs and madness

I was never an Obama fan, but this was a truly great speech. I hope that elementary school students study these words fifty years from now -- and that Donald Trump is remembered solely as the clownish footnote figure who prompted Obama to say what he said.

Let's take another look at Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass murderer.

Despite his much-discussed sympathies for ISIS/Nusra/Hezbollah/whatever, his motives probably were not political, and he almost certainly did not operate at anyone else's behest. Evidence indicates that this man began to lose his grip on reason well before ISIS came into existence.

Whatever your stance on gun control, can we not agree on the need to keep AR-15s out of the hands of lunatics? We'd solve many problems in this country if we spent more money on identifying the seriously unstable. If we can't segregate them from the general population, let's at least make it difficult for them to purchase assault weapons.

On a related note: The security contractor G4S needs to explain how they could have such a man in their employ. Obviously, their screening process is a bad joke. Why didn't they speak to his former wife? A proper psychological evaluation must take into account not just what the subject says of himself but also what others say about him.

It's now clear that Mateen suffered from sexual confusion: See here. Many news stories have reported that he made at least half-a-dozen visits to that nightclub in order to plan his attack, but I think that his patronage had deeper motives. In his brief life, Mateen spent more time in gay bars than I've spent in bars of any kind. Both his anger and his sexual issues may relate to steroid abuse. "Roid rage" is a well-known phenomenon -- and there also seems to be a link between steroid abuse and sexual identity, although the topic is under-researched.

Bottom line: I believe that this man's issues were psychological and pharmacological, not religious or political.

The Telegraph story at the other end of that last link says that Mateen suffered from bipolar disorder. If you research the most mysterious vanishings and murders of recent years -- Elisa Lam, Shannon Gilbert, Michael Cavallari, cases like those -- you'll soon notice that the phrase "bipolar disorder" keeps coming up. I can't help but wonder if tragedy results not from the psychological ailment per se but from the drugs used to treat it. Prescription drugs may interact with OTC medications and with illegal drugs in ways that are hard to predict. 

We'll return to that topic soon. Right now, I'd like to publish some heartfelt words written by the best friend this blog ever had. She prefers to remain anonymous, although many of you may guess her identity. She intended these words for her Facebook feed but feared to speak her mind "because of the gun nuts out there. How pathetic is that?"

* * *

Mass shootings. We spew banal and trite sound bites like "Never forget" or "Pray for Peace." Then we move on. We move on too quickly. Mass shootings have become such a part of our news cycle that we are sickened by the message, but we do forget. We pray for the present and forget the future.

Is it because we have become so accustomed to the carnage that happens on a regular basis?

I remember as a kid watching the news and seeing airline after airline being hijacked and sitting on the tarmac awaiting for the demands from the terrorists. After 9/11 what did we do? We passed legislation that made it difficult to carry the weapons which perpetrated the heinous crimes. It took that level of carnage to learn our lesson.

How many more must die before we start to scrutinize our gun regulations policies?

Yes, have a gun for safety. Carry it. You want to shoot an assault rifle? Join the military. You do not need one to help "provide for the common defense."

Just a guess, but I would bet that authoritarian types, often spiced with a dash of crazy, are the ones most likely to want jobs in security and law enforcement. I would expect to find lots of them among the ranks of private security contractors. Hopefully, the screening systems police forces use are better -- but I wouldn't bet my life on it.
To quote myself from another venue:
"But, setting aside the empty blather and small-minded xenophobia [evident in Trump's 'Appreciate the congrats' tweeted nonsense], it takes an heroic amount of willful stupidity to call this an act of 'Islamic terrorism.' The idea this was an officially sanctioned act of terror -- that, as its first action on U.S. soil, its keynote strike against the American Satan, ISIS would choose as its target a gay Latino discotheque -- is too dumbfoundingly, absurdly stupid an idea for anyone serious to take seriously."
I'm still not counting out Zoolanderesque hypnosis, especially because of the gay Latino club in Florida, but even sans that it would be crazy to rule out religion. Imagine the torment of being gay and Muslim...and then having the drumbeat of how evil gays are....not from the extremists, but from the "normals." The "moderates," the everyday church/mosque-goers.

It was disgusting prayer-circle "normals" (aka imaginary sky daddy cultists) who drove the Columbine massacre. They tormented the shooter.

Yes, the shooters may be mentally fragile and on dubious prescription drugs, but that's exactly who the religious nuts, priding themselves as moderate and normal, ought not to torment.

Joseph, do you have anything specific about Mateen and possible steroid use? I reread that paragraph and maybe I missed it, but is it your speculation and a possible scenario offered as good a guess as anything else?
It's not speculation. His first wife said so in a CNN interview. Also see here...


Weirdly, this guy worked at a gym, just like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
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