This is how I feel in the moment. I have to search for my pen and search for the words but I don’t have to look far to find my anger and my pen digs into the paper but I feel so impotent. What can I do?

This feeling permeates our society, trauma ringing in our ears because we don’t know where it came from—why here, why us. Questions without a ? because we don’t expect an answer anymore.

Too common, too often. No time to recover in between, to heal, to ask how to help, to follow the bread crumb trail and the why, why. It’s desensitizing—we can’t care any more than we cared about the last one and the last one and the last one and the next one. It will happen again all too soon.

The media cannot offer any more comfort. They can’t come up with any more hashtags. It’s now a canned response, a formulaic fucked up mad lib. Just plug in the data and hit publish. People don’t understand—people who don’t pay attention, who trust, who go about their lives and mind their own business, assuming that simply being a good person is enough. Oh how I wish it was enough.

The realization that I am unable to cry makes me turn inward. Nine is the death toll as of 10:58 am. Plus one shooter, but who’s counting anymore? What comes next then? Will the spirit of Charlton Heston fly to my city on a brushed nickel chariot to tell the good people not to fear, that they have their rights and they can keep their arms? Then he will open his trench coat and offer to sell me one, because it’s my right to feel safe.

This has become the acceptable price to pay. We accepted a human price tag for driving automobiles long ago, and we accept the risk every time we get into one and pull out onto the road. When someone dies on their way home from work, it’s called an accident, and it’s sad and tragic for a while, then life scabs over and moves on. As it always does, as it must. But murder after murder should have no such consolation. There is no way to excuse it or smooth it over in such a way. If one only looks at numbers, we should be far more outraged by preventable vehicle deaths than preventable firearm deaths; but when random terror is involved, it is cold to think it’s comparatively no big deal. But this is the difference between things like automobile accidents and mass shootings: how many laws and regulations were put in place to help prevent vehicle accidents? When a new cause for an accident was discovered, how quick were we to make changes and take preventative action?

There’s a lot of spitballing as to the cause of all of these freak events. There is only one thing most of them have in common: the perpetrator is a white male, usually young. That’s the single thread that connects nearly all of them. Politicians and the media, all they can do is grab one or two things that apply to the latest shooter and assume that if we stop that thing, everything will be ok again. But nothing is simple anymore, and we can’t indulge in simplistic or idealistic solutions to problems that are very complex and difficult to disentangle. White supremacy is one of the provable causes, some of them proudly owning the ideology in a manifesto left behind, but that doesn’t apply to all shooters. So what else could it be?

Details about the Dayton shooter thus far are unclear and uncorroborated. What the fuck would have made him leave the bar that night, arm himself and return to spray bullets at the crowd? If you believe the media, factors that may have effected his actions so far appear to be mental instability, Satan worship, video games, and drug use. Beyond that there are few clues. Social media leaves a crumb trail, following along the lines of antifa and far-left ideas. His family, naturally, has no insight to offer. Would that we could know what his sister’s last conversation with him was about; the word eventually came out that she was just beginning to confide to those close to her that she was transgender.

Misogyny has deep roots in humanity all over the world. It easily clings to every other class of hatred, amplifying and spreading it. It’s like the MSG of hatred. Some have accused mass shooters to be incels, and that his hatred comes from the crippling inability to incorporate into society and therefore cannot get laid. One thing that we can observe about the difference between men and women: sexual frustration in women manifests itself in low self-esteem and depression. It also does in men, but is much more capable of escalating to unchecked aggression.

Ludicrous claims such as video games have become scapegoats, and the tossing around of the term mental illness like the dusting of the hands- oh my, what can ya do? He was just fucked in the head. They should know by now, it is foolish and dangerous to look for an excuse not to find out the truth.

It is also foolish and dangerous to claim that someone who kills in honor of the ideology that killed civil rights heroes is mentally ill. If we want to live as an inclusive and caring society, we must declare ideology of hatred as the enemy. When waging war with ideology, it is paramount foolishness to assume that your enemy is inbred, stupid, or that their reasoning could only boil down to mental illness. When waging war, never underestimate your enemy. Never fail to take up an opportunity to better understand your enemy. If you fail at these two things, you lose, period. You are doomed to suffer one attack after another with no idea how to stop it. But is this always the reason for random mass murder?

Gun laws vary widely by state. It is shockingly easy to purchase, borrow, steal, or receive as a gift a firearm without any training or safety education. Australian citizens, hot off the heels of a mass shooting in 1996, either forfeited or sold back to the government the great majority of their firearms. It pains me to say it, but that would never happen in the US, no matter how severe these killings became. Violence begets fear, fear begets violence. Several countries that already have sensible gun legislation and therefore much less firearm death did so as a reaction to a mass shooting event. Our country has suffered through so many; yet when the outcry afterwards demands change and legislation to make these events more difficult to execute, nothing happens.

The Dayton shooter’s story got stranger by the day. Not only did he make threats of violence against classmates as a high school student, but a former friend who claimed to have done drugs frequently with this guy presented to the media some leaves of notebook paper with all sorts of scrawling which could mean anything or nothing; talk that could easily incite a second Satanic Panic. And they do not give any more clues as to his motives that the cops didn’t already have.

Three days later, The President visited our city. He shakes the hands and says the words that someone else told him to say. The ones who truly understand him know he says them just to please the media. It’s a reality show performance. Thankfully I didn’t check social media much that day. The Right still does not believe that the cost of life is too high, and the sense of panic the public now feels is nothing to be worried about. By the evening of this day three public places across the country suffered a mass freak-out because of what people thought were gunshots, but were really a backfiring motorcycle or a falling sign. People literally trampling each other and flinging their shoes off as they ran. A couple brave republicans have spoken out against their own party, and admitting the complicity amongst all lawmakers, particularly their own. Dissent is worth noticing, but it isn’t enough.

I’d love to blame someone too. It would feel hotly satisfying to point a finger at the religious right and yell that it’s all their fault. While I believe this problem belongs to all of us, there are certain individuals who road block progress for the sake of money and control. When they speak out against reforms and firearm laws, which are the only way we can prevent these tragedies from occurring, I feel a very focused sense of rage.  When these parties attempt to justify terrorism I feel refreshed in my sense of purpose; but don’t mistake that feeling for a comfortable or welcome one. This is why I am a Satanist. This is why I feel the need to be the counterweight. Don’t give me your fucking thoughts and prayers, I don’t want them and I have no need for them. I have no use for your spineless passivity, the way you sad emoji and keep on scrollin’. Doing nothing is no longer acceptable. And for those of you reading this who really do believe in heaven and hell, and have only made the most intangible of offerings, be sure that there is a special place reserved for you after you die.

I must try to think of something positive, a good that may have come from all of this chaos. From Gilroy, California to El Paso, Texas to Dayton, Ohio, all the county has finally flipped the table. We are more than speaking up, we are screaming for change. We are goddamn fed up with inaction and silence from elected officials, the ones who are supposed to be representing us and instead are accepting NRA hush money in exchange for complicity in the murder of young people, parents and children. It is time for politicians and law makers at all levels to dig in and do the real work, do the real research and actually give a damn about people again. It simply will not do anymore, and those who continue business as usual will find themselves ripped from their seat and cast into the void.

Now is not the time to be silent. Be the fire of change. Evolve or die.


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