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Member since: 2001
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I Call It "Leetsplaining". And I'm Done With It.

A discussion began on a blog I follow: Reader Request Week 2018 #6: The Fall(?!?!?) of Heinlein

(Capsule summary for those who missed the last 20 years of posthumous literary dissection of RAH --aka "Robert A. Heinlein"-- and his ouevre: He started writing Sci-Fi stories in the 30s and 40s, became something of a phenomenon in the 50s with popular YA-oriented Sci-Fi novels, hit the Cultural Fooforaw jackpot in the 1960s with "Stranger In A Strange Land" and kept on writing a buttload of novels.

Many of his novels were controversial in their depictions of alternate histories, societies, etc., based on ideologies and concepts that ranged from hippie-lefty-libertarianism to anarcho-libertarianism to rightwing neo-fascist authoritarianism with a libertarian cherry on top. His depictions of women have been widely criticized as misogynistic in the extreme, and much discussion has focused on evidence of racism and white supremacy in his framing of cultures and characters. But even many of his most passionate detractors grant his storytelling expertise and his influence on speculative fiction and storytelling. He remains popular, his books still sell.)

I put in my two cents' worth on the discussion. I'd read and enjoyed some of RAH's oeuvre, then I ran across "Farnham's Freehold" which slammed every "squick" button I had, even at a much younger and less-philisophically-developed age. And that was more or less the end of my enjoyment of the RAH oeuvre, with one or two exceptions.

But people started talking about "Farnham's Freehold" ("FF" ) and it was pointed out that no, no, people who thought it was racist, misogynist dreck were all wrong, it was SATIRE (or maybe "zany madcap humor" or something.) And how RAH, in spite of his quite freely expressed embrace of white supremacy, was actually making a courageous stand on behalf of civil rights in a time before the great victories of the Movement.

Thing is, none of the folks carefully providing their highly enlightened literary interpretation of RAH and his underlying motivations, themes, and accomplishments in "FF" mentioned being African American, and, I strongly suspect, none of them were.

Which meant they were Leetsplaining.

Leetsplaining happens when guys tell women about how some misogynist fuckery isn't really all that reprehensible because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when white people analyze for black people why "all lives matter" can't be racist because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when straight people provide copious philosophical and ideological glosses on why opposing gay marriage isn't an expression of actual homophobia because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.)

Or when people without any kind of physiological or cognitive impairment or challenge present the case for why making public facilities accessible just isn't reasonable because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.) Or when cisgendered individuals defend other cisgendered individuals' (rarely their own-- isn't that peculiar?) "right" to be squicked out by trans people because (insert pseudo-concerned/reasonable/intellectual WHARRRGLLLE here.)

Let me be very clear, here: I'm not saying that white readers and fans of RAH have no right to have, or express, an opinion of "FF" that differs from mine. Had such a reader responded with, "Well, I didn't read it that way, it felt like satire to me," well, fine. Your experience, your opinion. We can happily discuss why we think each other are deluded without ever hitting leetsplaining territory.

But when that reader presumes, from their place of omniscience and, very likely, shared privilege with RAH (who was, well, yeah... caucasian, duh) to analyze and explain why "FF" isn't actually racist, it's kind of a classic example of leetsplaining.

And I have to say, I'm done with that shit. In all its forms. I expect to be called on it if I do it.

To be ultra-ultra-ultra clear: As someone who's been negatively affected by misogyny, I will identify misogyny, describe it, and call it out. I may even take it upon myself to dismiss something others who do not share the experience of being negatively affected by misogyny claim to be offensively misogynistic as not offensive. Ditto on other kinds of shit that's negatively affected me because I don't enjoy the privilege of an exclusively heterosexual orientation or the privilege of never experiencing mental illness and its stigma and consequences. None of that is leetsplaining.

But if I, who enjoy the privilege of a melanin deficiency, decide to explain why something isn't really racist, I am leetsplaining. Call me on that shit.

And if someone who does not have a melanin deficiency but who DOES have a Y chromosome decides to expound on the whys and wherefores of how something makes it okay to treat someone without a Y chromosome as less than fully human, and I call them on that leetsplaining, I am not speaking from my privilege as melanin-deficient, but from my lack thereof in respect to not having a Y chromosome.

This shit gets complicated fast, I know. But the essentials are fairly clear: If you enjoy some type of privilege, then analyzing, dissecting, and/or deconstructing oppression against others who do not enjoy that privilege in any way that contradicts or invalidates their experience with that lack of privilege becomes leetsplaining. And it makes you look like an ass.

Expressing an opinion based on your privilege may make you look a bit ignorant and unenlightened. I have done this, and learned from it. I think everyone does. But asserting some kind of Higher Knowledge of What Really Is and bloviating thereupon with an assertive assumption that You Have The Real Answer? That's leetsplaining and it puts you squarely in "asshole" territory.

And all of the foregoing is, of course, my opinion.

See what I did there?


House GOP conservatives kicking off an Evangelical vs. Catholic cage match?

Conservative leader: Next House chaplain should have a family

“I’m probably looking for somebody more of a non-denominational background, that has a multicultural congregation,” said Walker, who is leading the search for a new chaplain with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), a pastor, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), an Air Force Reserve chaplain.

Some Catholic Democrats erupted upon hearing Walker’s comments. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said some lawmakers had surmised that Ryan’s move was designed to appease anti-Catholic sentiments in the GOP conference. Walker, Connolly said, “is now confirming our fears.”

I have to wonder how much the current Pope's vocal concern for social issues, the poor, refugees, responsible stewardship of the environment, and other stuff the GOP would like out of sight and out of mind is affecting this.

There are certainly plenty of hardcore troglodyte American Catholics, in Holy Orders and in the congregations, who are also unhappy with the shift in emphasis. But my Catholic friends and family report that there is a very definite propagation of a more "Red-Letter Gospel" approach. And there are plenty of very liberal clergy in the various Orders who are invigorated and encouraged.

If this kind of stupidity pries apart the religious conservative coalition, it may actually be a positive development for Democrats. But it will put many in a tough position, because with all the will in the world to embrace the more liberal social agenda, the hardline anti-choice agenda will not be going away.


An Escape Hatch for [Redacted]?

A couple of things I never forget:

Mueller, Rosenstein, and virtually everyone involved in the "main" investigation have been Republicans or substantially aligned with, appointed by, supported by, and generally supportive of Republicans, all their careers.

The Intell services and DOJ have never been liberal or progressive bastions-- their stake is in the Established Order of things. This includes consideration for the rule of law insofar as it supports a capitalist small-r republican democracy. It's about How Things Are Supposed To Be Done, both within their own sphere and in the larger geopolitical dance.

And their most fundamental value is SECRECY. Control of information is the bedrock of power.

With these realities in mind, I am getting what might be a wild-hair idea of how the Endgame is being shaped.

No question, the Old Establishment wants [Redacted] gone. He's far and away too uncontrollable, too unpredictable, and above all, too flappy-mouthed and loose-fingered on the Twitter Machine.

So they're doing their jobs very thoroughly and accumulating a motherfucking TSUNAMI of information about a borderless, multilayered web of financial and political skullduggery. It will tie in a cast of hundreds or even thousands of sleazy oligarchs and their tools. They are, indeed, "getting the goods" on the toxic, suppurating carbuncle that is the [Redacted] campaign and Administration.

But what I can't get past is this: These folks live and breath in the rarefied Cone of Silence that is predicated on We Know But We're Not Telling.

Using the information they're compiling in the Mueller investigation as the lever to dislodge [Redacted] would create way too many channels for that information to escape, leak, expose things they DON'T want exposed, etc.

And they may finally have realized that while such information might horrify and motivate an ordinary GOP elected official who wants to maintain the public illusion that they're in office for higher motives, it will all go straight over [Redacted]'s pasted-on skullmerkin. He won't believe anyone could care about him and his cronies selling out our democracy to establish an authoritarian kleptocracy, so long as he and the propaganda machine aligned with him can keep pandering to the hate and fear of the deplorables supporting them.

IOW, they're starting to see that the evidence they're collecting and documenting will elicit the equivalent of a "so fucking what?" from the wannabe Dictator for Life and his enablers. He doesn't have either the intellect OR the political nous to see how damning it is.

And that's where the Cohen raid comes in. Tabloid sleaze, [Redacted] gets. The kind of PR swamp he thrives in has rules, and the lines between "locker room talk" and a gathering weight of unassailable and click-baity sex scandal, cheapass payoff hustle, etc.-- those he DOES understand.

So my wild-hair notion is, they're working on amping that stuff up hard enough, and assembling a team of hardasses to meet quietly with [Redacted] and offer him an ultimatum:

Resign over the tabloid sleaze, and escape prosecution that would be required by the exposure of the Mueller investigation data. He loses some reputation, gets embarassed, but it's to some extent mitigated by the whole "too much of a horndog for the stuffy Washington Establishment" narrative he can spin post-resignation.

And they never have to expose all the dots they're connecting with the special investigation. They can go right on pulling strings from behind the scenes with it all.

They'll hold a Sword of Damocles over Pence's head to keep him from upsetting the applecarts they care about, and do little or nothing to interfere with two years of deadlock between him and a split Congress with Dems in control of the House.

Everybody happy with that?

'Cause to me, that looks like what they're planning to have go down.

Oddly enough, if this is their plan, I don't think it'll succeed. [Redacted] won't play.

So they're in as much of a cleft stick as they think they have him pinned in.

We live in fucking interesting times, and I for one could use a little more tedium.


Parsing the Ryan Retirement

Short summary: The GOP has largely conceded the House in the 2018 election cycle. They'll still throw effort and money into some key races, but by and large they're reorganizing as the prospective Minority Party in the Senate. The bulk of Koch money and what's left of Russian hacktools will be diverted into expanding their control of the Senate.

In a little more detail:

GOPpies have always been more comfortable monkey-wrenching government than actually running government, for which they lack all the essential qualifications. Their qualifications in the area of "nuisance value", on the other hand, continue to accrue and expand. They're still (essentially) the party of "Oh, hell no!" and they're damn' good at that.

Ryan's pretense of being able to actually govern will be no longer needed as a Minority Leader. Believe it or not (I know it's hard!) they have WAY more effective bomb-throwers than Ryan, many from districts that will remain safe no matter what.

Ryan can now retire and take up his lucrative "consulting" practice, selling influence, promoting sleazy treason from behind the scenes, and providing media cover for the ongoing genocide of poor and disadvantaged Americans. His government pension and retirement benefits are safe, the consulting cash will be lagniappe.

The role of the GOP House Minority will morph into feeding red meat to the base via Sinclair and Faux, with leadership chosen for its rhetorical skills and extremist "policy" ideas.

However, look for them to throw money into, and work hard to defend, some relatively low-profile, pseudo-moderate "establishment" Congresscritters whose long experience and backroom infighting skills will still be necessary to stall committees, waste time with specious amendments, and employ every trick the House Rules allow to keep responsible legislative action from ever happening.

In the mean time, watch the targeting on key Senate races, looking for large influxes of money and a huge media slime machine to focus on vulnerable incumbent Dems. The Kochs have earmarked $300 million, I'm guessing more than two-thirds of that will be expended, one way or another, to defeat four or five Democratic incumbents.

They are also counting on the Democratic base to "write off" some Dem incumbents, including Donnelly, McCaskill, Heitkamp, and Manchin, who have all done things to piss off the most-progressive wing of the Party, making it hard to mobilize the grassroots fervor that will protect some of the others up for re-election.

It's a viable strategy, when you're increasingly vulnerable, to shrink your defensive perimeter and make strategic offensive selections.

Ryan's "retirement" is just the beginning.


What would a world be like...

What would a world be like, where no one had to worry that strangers would take advantage of their vulnerability?

Where an elderly person could answer the phone and not be afraid that the person on the other end was a scammer focusing on people like him?

Where an adult with Down's Syndrome whose last close relative dies wouldn't have to fear that no one would be 'on my side' in trying to live the best life possible?

Where a young woman with dreams of a better life could seek a job or schooling in a far-away place and never have to worry they'd end up trafficked into sex slavery?

What if you could choose a neighborhood to live in, a place to live, based entirely on your own needs, without concern about whether you were too "different" to "fit in" and might be at risk?

If you were traveling in a place you'd never been before, and your rental car broke down by the side of the road, and you felt nothing but relief and confidence when someone stopped to help?

How about a world where a kid might want to 'take a sick day' from school because they didn't do their homework-- but never because they worried about being a new kid and getting bullied?

What would that world be like?

Where we could trust each other because we're all human, rather than fear each other for the same reason?

Sometimes, I just wonder.


So, I've Negotiated Some Agreements for a Few of My Favorite DUers...

CaliforniaPeggy is hereby required to disclose a list of every DUer with under one hundred posts to whom she's addressed a "Welcome to DR (name)" post, since 2012. In return, EarlG will accept a payment of seven dollars and fifty cents ($7.50) from me, TygrBright, to add a bright rainbow-and-unicorn background to her Profile page.

MrScorpio is hereby required to post the 256-character Code Key for the non-existent Project Scorpio Files in the DU Lounge. In return, Skinner will accept a payment of one dollar and eighty-seven cents ($1.87) from me, TygrBright to add a "DU winner!" diagonal banner to said MrScorpio's DU avatar for the month of April.

Floyd R. Turbo is hereby required to post his entire catalog of R&B and Doo-Wop music video links in a single post, in the Video & Multimedia Forum. In return, elad will accept a payment of nine dollars and thirty-four cents ($9.34) from me, TygrBright to automatically jack the "likes" on every Floyd R. Turbo post by not less than one hundred (100) for at least twenty-four hours after the post goes live.

These agreements are of course fully binding on all parties, because I have negotiated them and the payments are in the mail.

Negotiating agreements is fun! Negotiate your own! Post 'em below!


"A source emailed me his life's work. Then, he ended his life."

By Gregory Korte, in the Columbia Journalism Review:

A source emailed me his life's work. Then, he ended his life.

By Monday afternoon — now five days after the emails — I still hadn’t heard back, which was somewhat unusual. I went to his Twitter feed and his blog and saw no recent posts. I did a Google news search and found a headline in the Rockford Register Star from Saturday: “Sheriff’s department investigates double murder-suicide at home of RVC professor P.S. Ruckman Jr.”

His sons, found shot to death in their bedrooms in Ruckman’s house outside Rockford, Ill., had not been to school since Wednesday — the day of the emails.

My heart sank. I wrapped up my work and headed home. I didn’t even tell my editor I was leaving.

On the way home, I called the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, in case the emails helped to pin down a timeline or establish his intent. (On the advice of our lawyers, I did not provide the emails or the data set itself.) The detective said the emails were potentially significant — he seemed particularly interested in the value the data had to Ruckman. For him to suddenly give it away — something he had previously been unwilling to do — might demonstrate that he was wrapping up his affairs.

One in three American adults will have the symptoms and/or diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives.

One in three.

Here are some things we know about psychiatric disorders:

1. The variety of conditions, symptoms, etiologies, and manifestations that fall under this umbrella term fill a very large book indeed, the "DSM-5" or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. More than 900 pages worth of description, speculation, and accumulated documentation on conditions that range from neurodevelopmental disorders to paraphilic disorders.

2. Disorders may last anywhere from days or weeks to lifelong.

3. Many, even most, psychiatric disorders produce no easily-recognizable physiological alterations, and many, even most, have NO physiological "markers" that are reliably diagnostic by means such as blood tests, brain scans, etc.

4. The extent to which psychiatric disorders may impair an individual's ability to function can range from imperceptible (except to the individual suffering from the illness) to profound, and the nature of the impairments varies across an enormously broad spectrum that includes perceptual, sensory, cognitive, and behavioral elements.

And that, frankly, is pretty much all we KNOW about psychiatric disorders in the aggregate.

What is truly shocking, given the incidence of psychiatric disorders in the U.S. adult population and the levels of suffering they cause, including the mortality risks to those with the disorders and those around them, is how little we know about most specific disorders.

Most of the research being done in connection with psychiatric diorders is focused on finding pharmaceutical substances and other treatments that will alleviate, control, or eliminate particular symptoms. In comparison, the amount of research being done on the causes of various disorders, their specific physiological/neurological processes, methods to reliably diagnose them, understanding how various disorders interact with each other, etc. is grossly underfunded.

In the mean time, people with disorders suffer the stigma related to "mental illness" and have oceans of inaccurate and degrading propaganda to cope with, in addition to their own suffering. Which is mostly done alone.

Why Professor Ruckman chose to commit a heinous crime before he ended his own life, we may never know. The question of how to treat the crimes committed by people with psychiatric disorders is a thorny one, to say the least (see "Mental Illness, Evil, and Blame").

However, it's clear that Professor Ruckman had better access to a gun than to treatment and support for psychiatric disorders. Or at least he felt there was less downside, perhaps less stigma? to using the gun to end three lives, than there would be to examining the source of his own pain and getting treatment for it.

May I humbly suggest that until such time as we can actually destigmatize 'mental illness' in this culture, spend the resources needed to adequately understand psychiatric disorders, diagnose them reliably, and provide treatment and support for those who suffer from them, we make GUNS JUST A LITTLE LESS AVAILABLE?

The tragedy of this story is quantitatively smaller than the seventeen youngsters killed at Parkland, but qualitatively it is no less agonizing.

And it's going to keep happening. Until we do something about the guns. Or the mental health infrastructure, or (preferably) both.


First Use Them, Then Destroy Them: GOP's Third Party Strategy

And every voter of every Party needs to be aware that the candidate identification mechanism in many states is porous as all get out, rendering third party identifications "up for grabs" to unscrupulous candidates:

Green Party candidate was on state GOP payroll

A man who registered as a Green Party candidate for Montana's U.S. Senate race was on the state Republican Party's payroll and heads a newly formed anti-tax group, according to a review of election documents.

Timothy Adams filed as a challenger Monday against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who faces a tough re-election campaign, in a race where a Green Party candidate could siphon votes from the Democrat.

The Green Party qualified as a political party in Montana on Monday, which was also the state's deadline for candidates to file for office. Green Party officials blasted an email that morning to solicit candidates who could register by the day's end.

Adams was one of six people to file as a Green Party candidate for the races on the ballot this fall. A total of seven people are looking to unseat Tester, including four Republicans vying for their party's nomination.

In all too many cases, a third-party vote is worse than not voting.

While there is, and should be, a place for viable third parties to operate within the system (especially for local and state jurisdictions), and possibly even rise to the level of major party, the candidate certification systems in many states don't keep this kind of game-playing from happening.

Until they do, third parties do more harm than good.


How Wild Man Wally Helped Me Figure Out the Mueller Investigation

Don't bother to Google it: "Wild Man Wally" is an alias, one of those name-changed-to-protect-something designations.

More or less three decades ago, before we even met, my Beloved Esposo (BE) got a job working for Wild Man Wally.

The summary the BE most often uses to explain Wally is "Reader's Digest used to have a recurring feature about 'The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met' or something like that. Wild Man Wally outdid them all."

He was working for Wally when we got married and for a coupla years after, and I spent a fair amount of time in Wally's company. So that description stands up to my fact-checking compulsion: TRUE

Wally shoulda been a Texan, in some ways. He had that you-bought-lunch-so-I'll-buy-the-cadillacs expansiveness when he was in a good mood with his posse.

Good things about Wally first: He cared deeply about helping the suffering alcoholic. He'd been that road himself. Like everything else about him, his drinkin' days mistakes had been vast and in Technicolor, and they'd done him and everyone around him a lot of damage. And he tried hard to make amends for that.

He was a 12-Stepper, what's called in the XA community a "black belt" who could always be relied upon to respond to that 2 am call from a frantic family member or friend of someone who'd just plowed nose-first through the bottom of the barrel. And his response was usually a two-fer: tough-but-compassionate program wisdom, plus a step-up-and-make-it-happen offer of help with treatment.

Wally'd started out as a real estate developer. It's a field that attracts, encourages, and potentiates grifters of all stripes, and Wally's no exception. He was never deliberately malicious about it but he never saw any reason to let trivia like, you know, ethics, laws... stuff like that... get in the way of making a bundle.

At some point in his recovery he decided to put his two passions (making money from real estate deals, and helping suffering alcoholics) together, and back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, he got into the treatment business himself. Since he didn't know much about actually providing treatment services, he pulled in some experts, which was how the BE entered his orbit.

Wally understood the real estate end of the business, though. He was the one who'd buy up the properties, then lease them to the treatment-providing-business entities, or bid on contracts to 'improve', set-up, and run publicly-owned facilities as treatment programs, etc. He had plenty of enterprises, plenty of financial partners overt and shady, and a keen sense of exactly how to get money out of all kinds of banks.

At one point, he told the BE "I like you, you do great work, but I can't ever really trust you, yanno? You're too damned ethical." He said it like a joke, of course, and at the time he sort of meant it that way, but ultimately, that's why the relationship ended. In the mean time, though, being part of Wally's posse was a real education for us.

And one thing he told the BE has stuck with us through the years, and is now helping me make sense of the whole Mueller investigation. Here's how it came about:

Wally never used his own money for a project if he could avoid it. He was into leverage. He'd always get the banks or investors to pony up the cash for a project, sometimes in surprising, even shocking, amounts. Amounts far beyond what the BE, who knows the operating economics of treatment programs intimately, could ever imagine a project would return or support.

But Wally explained that it was always necessary to go for the BIG loan, rather than the small loan.

"See, it's like this: If you owe a guy ten thousand dollars, he owns your ass. But if you owe him ten MILLION dollars, you own HIS ass."

I've been thinking a LOT about that as snippets of information have come out about the people and things being drawn into the Mueller investigation. And the topics and questions apparently being asked of various witnesses.

And I've been adding that up with Mueller's own history of what, who, and how he's investigated large-scale crime and chicanery in the past, and the results of those investigations.

I believe Mueller knows exactly how people like Wild Man Wally think. Writ a bit larger. "When you owe some guy/oligarch/emir/government/mob boss five million dollars, they own your ass. When you owe them five BILLION dollars, you own theirs."

So. What happened to Wild Man Wally?

Well, about what you'd expect, operating on that principle. Eventually the web collapsed. Most of his grand enterprises are gone, the private planes and fancy cars sold, the word on the street has gotten around that he's untouchable as far as legit and even semi-legit financing goes. He still manages to grift a few projects in a small way. He's avoided jail time so far, as far as we know. But he's playing in a much smaller league where the damage is comparatively minimal. And, as noted above, Wally had his own kind of code- he drew the line at bilking widows and orphans, tried to at least do some good with some of the money he grifted. He was genuinely likable, and had a lot of real friends, even when they had to back off and keep their distance from the toxic stuff.

Mueller's investigating something much, much bigger, almost infinitely more complex, and way, WAY darker than Wild Man Wally and his little network of rehab real estate grifts.

But you scale up that kind of freewheeling griftery and I bet you find the same underlying assumptions. Follow those assumptions where they lead, and eventually that web, too, will collapse.

They're gonna be writing books and teaching college classes about this one well into the 22nd Century, assuming the human species survives that long.


Three paths to ending mass shooting deaths. Choose one.

Stipulate these three major factors that contribute to the steep rise in mass shooting fatalities in America are collectively (though not exclusively) causative. The proportions and relationships between these factors may vary somewhat from incident to incident, but data strongly indicate that they are all three present in some combination in nearly ALL mass shootings over the past ten years.

The three factors are:

1. Easy access to high levels of firepower, through multiple firearms, high-capacity magazines, and/or weapons with high firing rates via automatic or semi-automatic firing ability. The "ease of access" factor is made up of a number of elements including limitations on background checks, lack of age restrictions, etc. This combines with the reality that high levels of firepower can be amassed quite legally via purchase of weapons with such firepower and/or purchase of easily modifiable weapons and the accessories or equipment necessary to convert them.

2. Inability of social services, medical services, and law enforcement to combine a demonstrated pattern of domestic violence with confiscation of weapons already in perpetrators' possession and prevention of their obtaining more weapons. In some cases this is because (in some cases multiple) reports of abuse have never been pursued to the point of the arrest, prosecution, conviction, and reporting that would initiate the process of confiscation/prevention where such statutes apply, and in some cases this is because there are no such statutes applicable.

3. The presence of high levels of 'toxic white masculine inadequacy (TWMI)' psychology in the perpetrators' worldview and motivations. Indicating factors include patterns of verbal and physical bullying, abuse of animals, claims of experiencing victimization based on ethnicity and gender, identification with aggressive, violent cultural and social sub-groups, and increasing social isolation outside such groups.

The elimination of any ONE of these three factors would sharply decrease the incidence of mass shooting fatalities in America. The elimination of all three would bring a virtual end to such incidents altogether, but it's probably too much to hope for.

Each path has its own costs, barriers, challenges, and chances for success.

Path One: Eliminate access to high levels of firepower
This is the 'gun control' route: Enactment and vigorous enforcement of nationwide legal restrictions on the acquisition of specific quantities and/or types of guns, accessories, etc. While from a technical standpoint it is probably the simplest path, it is neither easy nor cheap. The political will is almost certainly lacking and it would take considerable time and money and possibly some sacrifice of Constitutional liberties to achieve, as well as a large investment in enforcement and possibly in an effort to remove most or all of the existing weaponry that would contravene such restrictions, from the hands of existing legal owners.

It would likely be quite effective in greatly diminishing mass shooting fatalities although it would not guarantee against escalations of other types of fatal mass violence (bombings, plowing through crowds with automobiles, etc.) and it would not alleviate the growing toll of 'retail-level' gun fatalities such as one-on-one shootings, gang violence with handguns, suicides, and accidental deaths.

Path Two: Facilitate reliable identification and disarmament of domestic violence perpetrators
This is a complex challenge as it combines overcoming the cultural tolerance of domestic violence against women and its enabling by multiple systems, with the enactment and enforcement of uniform legal mechanisms to disarm, track, and prevent the rearmament of perpetrators. While political will in this direction has gained some momentum, it may take considerable time and investment to build support for the solution and reassure those threatened by the notion that such a system could be abused and/or used against them.

Also, getting law enforcement and all those other systems to actually work together and/or vigorously implement threat assessment and targeting would be... extremely challenging. (Law enforcement is one of the professions that seems to be associated with an elevated risk for engaging in domestic abuse.) However, it would likely be quite effective in reducing mass shooting fatalities (although again, it might not have much impact on other gun-related fatalities.)

Path Three: Develop a robust system to prevent, identify, and treat TWMI nationwide
Personally, I think this one is least likely to be successful as a dedicated effort on any timeline short enough to significantly reduce the death toll. But in the long run it could effectively be brought about as a side effect of numerous other social and political changes potentiated by demographic and cultural trends. Reversing income inequity, strong and substantial investments in quality public education and environmental sustainability, massive infrastructure investments, could provide the younger population cohorts with hopes for meaningful human connection, quality of life, and fulfilling work.

Combining that with the aging and natural death of the older population cohorts, and the improvement of social conditions generally, would diminish the death toll-- particularly if one of the other paths was also implemented to reduce mass shootings and their attendant anxiety, paranoia, division, and social disruption. Without that additional intervention, consistent and expensive effort might achieve the result, but not for several decades or even a century.

How much passion, how many resources, how much political will can we commit to ending mass shooting deaths?

Personally, I don't think we can do all three. But it's an option. Which (if any) do you think offers the likeliest hope? Respond in the poll below.


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