It was reported yesterday that comic book legend Steve Ditko passed away at the age of 90. Most of his online tributes talk about how Ditko was the co-creator of such legendary comic book icons like Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. Others will talk about how Ditko shunned notoriety and just wanted to draw comics. Even others will talk about how he was a devotee of the Objectivist philosophy. Instead, I’m going to talk about how Steve Ditko indirectly influenced me into the writer I am today.
I’ve been a fan of comic book heroes since I was young. From watching the Batman ’66 reruns to the Super-Friends cartoon to picking up my first copy of The Flash from a 7-11 in the 70s, I’ve always been a fan on the superhero genre. In the late 80s as a young adult, I came across a comic at my local comic shop that caught my eye because of the protagonist’s aesthetic. It was Hub City’s trench coat and fedora-clad vigilante, The Question as written by another comic book legend Denny O’Neil and drawn by gritty artist Denys Cowan.
For those who may not be familiar with the character, news reporter Vic Sage dons the faceless visage of The Question to get the answers a journalist just can’t get. While Ditko wrote him in the 60s as a vigilante with a black and white moral code, O’Neil took the very unique approach of writing The Question as a Zen detective dealing with various shades of gray. While O’Neil’s take was a far cry from Ditko’s, he stayed true to the character’s core principle of an insatiable need to find the truth.
I first got on the internet and started creating websites back in the late 90s before blogs were even a thing. Back then mostly everyone used screen names to protect their identity. Influenced by The Question, I chose the name of TheTrenchcoat. (Not a typo, all one word with two capital Ts.) As many of you know, when Columbine happened, this led to me being confused with the so-called Trenchcoat Mafia. This was the impetus which got me into writing about crime online since I wanted to dispel many of the mistruths of that fateful day, which many are still told today. You might even say that I had an insatiable need to find the truth. The rest is history.
As I posted on social media yesterday, had it not have been for Steve Ditko creating The Question there probably would not have been the Trench Reynolds you see today. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mr. Ditko.
This past Tuesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was addressing a group of community leaders in Danville, Kentucky. When the subject of school shootings came up McConnell said there was nothing the Federal Government could do to prevent future ones from happening.
“I don’t think at the federal level there’s much that we can do other than appropriate funds,” McConnell told a group of community leaders in Danville Tuesday.
“You would think, given how much it takes to get on an American plane or given how much it takes to get into courthouses, that this might be something that we could achieve, but I don’t think we could do that from Washington, I think it’s basically a local decision,” he said.
If that isn’t passing the buck I don’t know what is. President Truman is probably turning in his grave.
I don’t know if Senator McConnell is aware of this, but he’s a member of the legislative branch of the Federal Government. It’s kind of their job, as the name implies, to pass federal legislation. So, what kind of federal legislation could Congress pass to try to prevent future school shootings? How about offering federal assistance to people in need of mental healthcare? Or they could pass legislation regulating, or outlawing, the private sale of guns where background checks aren’t required. They could enact laws requiring the prosecution of ‘responsible’ gun-owning parents who allow their unsecured guns to be used in a school shooting. They could also raise the federal age limit of gun ownership to at least 21, although personally, I think 25 would be more apropos. The possibilities are endless.
What Senator McConnell obviously means is that the party he leads refuses to do anything about preventing school shootings because not only would it mean compromising with the opposing party, but it would also risk jeopardizing that sweet sweet gun lobby money.
Sometimes the measure of a man’s worth is standing up for what’s right rather than supporting what keeps you employed.
Before I get into the meat of this post I want to preface it by saying two things. The first is, I realize a victim in this story died and I am not trying to lessen the impact of or make light of their death. The second thing is, I also realize how much life and limb has been lost due to school violence this year, more than any other year I can remember. I’m also not trying to downplay the severity of the number of tragedies that have happened this year. However, I do have to take the media to task for calling everything a school shooting.
For example, here is how I received a news article from Google News Alerts about a shooting that took place in Overland Park, Kansas, on Tuesday.
Only one of those four headlines doesn’t call the incident a school shooting. When I clicked on the link from WIBW here in Topeka the headline at the time still referred to the incident as a school shooting although the headline has since been corrected. But the first paragraph of the story betrays the original headline.
Authorities have arrested a suspect in a shooting that killed one and critically wounded another outside an Overland Park elementary school.
What happened is that 32-year-old Anthony David Grable was working with two other people installing playground equipment at the school when an argument ensued and Grable allegedly shot his two co-workers, killing one of them.
No students or faculty were at the school. No students or faculty were involved in the shooting. Schools in the district have been out of session since late May. However, I can almost guarantee you that some gun control group like Everytown for Gun Safety will consider this as a school shooting in order to overinflate their stats used to further push their agenda. Then it becomes a vicious cycle with media as they take whatever number Everytown puts forth as gospel and the cycle continues. While I think that the country is obviously in desperate need of gun reform, no one benefits from lies and hyperbole. Because once they’re accepted as fact and then the truth is revealed, it will give the opposition just as much ammunition, so to speak, to reverse any benefit and once again we’re back at square one where nothing has changed and kids are still dying for no reason.
Hey, look at me working on a current story. Go me.
Anyway, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced today he will be donating metal detectors to the school district where the Santa Fe High High School shooting took place. Earlier, I tweeted that this was tantamount to closing the barn door after the horses get out. What I mean by that is it’s extremely rare for a school shooting to take place at a school where one has happened before. Off the top of my head I can’t even think of one instance but if I’m mistaken please feel free to correct me.
Getting back to the metal detectors, not only is it too little too late, but they really don’t discourage anyone from committing a school shooting. If someone is determined enough to commit a school shooting, they’re not going to automatically stop at the site of a metal detector. Unless these mental detectors carry strong electromagnets that can rip the gun from an assailant or a laser grid that would slice them to bits, school metal detectors are nothing more than security theater. Again, I have to point to the shooting at Red Lake High School in Minnesota where a metal detector and an armed resource officer failed to prevent nine from being killed.
Back in June, it was reported that Zachary Cruz started an anti-bullying foundation. Cruz is the brother of Nikolas Cruz, the psychopath who murdered 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida back in February. Zachary Cruz is no stranger to law enforcement after he was caught trespassing on the school’s grounds shortly after the shooting claiming he wanted to ‘soak it all in’. While in custody, Zachary Cruz allegedly bragged about how many girls he and his brother were going to get due to his brother’s infamy. He has since been allowed to leave Florida and has moved to Virginia.
Before we get to the obvious point, is this really the type of person who should be running an anti-bullying foundation? I’m not saying bullying isn’t a major problem within our schools, considering I experienced it on a first-hand basis almost daily for 12 years. Victims of severe bullying definitely need more resources to help them deal with the problem, but those resources should not be inspired by someone who tries to capitalize on mass murder.
Now on to the obvious point. Zachary Cruz claims a program like his could have helped his brother…
“He was open to trying new things, so this organization – let’s say a kid would’ve saw him at Douglas by himself and that kid would’ve approached him and became his friend, I really think that person would’ve changed this whole thing.”
In late May, not too long after the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, there was a school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana. I haven’t done much research on it yet, but from what I gather a male student from the school shot a teacher and a female student. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.
However, in this article from USA Today, a parent whose child attends the school said something that still permeates the American psyche even after the year we’ve had with some of the most lethal school shootings ever. This parent said…
“Never thought that this would happen,” she said. “Not in Noblesville.”
For years I’ve been advising against having this mindset. In the grand scheme of things, school shootings are actually rare occurrences compared to the number of schools we have even though they’re ever increasing. However, they can and do happen anywhere. If school shootings hadn’t happened, how many of us would be aware of the towns of Littleton, Parkland, and Newtown if we didn’t live near them? That’s not even taking into account lesser remembered places like Chardon, Ohio, Aztec, New Mexico, Red Lake, Minnesota, and the like.
I’m not saying any of these are factors in the Noblesville shooting, but until we tackle the issues of lax parenting, mental health stigmatization and ease of access to firearms, we’ll never be able to say it can’t happen here.
UPDATE:According to Indiana law, since the suspect is 13 and has not been charged with murder, his case will remain in juvenile court.
21-year-old William Ingle of Piqua, Ohio, was arrested back in may for allegedly threatening a school shooting. According to reports, Ingle was said to have called a local school threatening a school shooting while calling other school shooters ‘amateurs’. Ingle appears to be another edgelord who referred to himself on his Facebook page as ‘The Satanic Monster’
The supposed reason for Ingle calling in the threat was because his 14-year-old girlfriend was being bullied at the school. Yes, I’ll repeat that for you. His 14-year-old girlfriend was supposedly being bullied.
Ingle was arrested for the threat but I was unable to find any information on if he had been charged with having a 14-year-old girlfriend.
In the wake of the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, which is a sentence I’m getting tired of writing, Susan Klebold, mother of Columbine coward Dylan Klebold, was interviewed by the New York Times about columbiners due to the similarities between the two shootings. I’ll be addressing the Times article in a future post. However, I would like to address something that she said about the aforementioned similarities and for that, I’ll be using The Hill as my source.
In speaking about the trench coat wearing Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Klebold said…
It was like the shooter was being her son “all over again,” Klebold said.
“I do believe there is a contagion,” she said.
No shit it’s a contagion and your demon spawn was patient zero, Just about every school shooting that has happened since Columbine has been influenced by your son and his psychopathic cohort Eric Harris. From major catastrophes like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland and Santa Fe to more forgotten but still deadly events like Red Lake, NIU, and Dawson College all have your son’s fingerprints all over them.
The sad part is while your son was the contagion you could have been the vaccine that could have prevented all the bloodshed that hs conspired over the past 19 years if you had just not ignored the obvious signs. Instead, you blame Columbine on the mythical bullying, the easy access of guns, which your son obtained illegally, and even more insulting is that you blame your son’s mental illness, which you did nothing to help. You blame everything except your son who helped light the fuse on almost two decades of senseless killings in his and Harris’ name. You’ve even said that you had nothing to apologize for.
Maybe one of these days you’ll stop acting like you and your bad seed were victims and take responsibility for what the two of you have wrought.
Back when I opposed any form of gun control/gun reform I still wasn’t that much of a fan of the NRA. Not long after Sandy Hook I thought then NRA President Wayne LaPierre was a clueless putz for thinking more police in schools would prevent school shootings. In case you were wondering, armed school resource officers have either been killed or have been the potential targets in various school shootings, Red Lake and Socastee come to mind. So it should come as no surprise that LaPierre’s replacement is just as much of an ignoramus.
“They’ve been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male, and they’re young teenagers in most cases, and they’ve come through a culture where violence is commonplace,” he said. “Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten. Now, I am certainly not a doctor, I’m a Marine, but I can see those kinds of things happening.”
Yeah, no shit you’re not a doctor. You’re not exactly the ideal picture of a Marine either. The only reason you’re not considered an actual criminal is that your convictions from the Iran-Contra affair were overturned due to a technicality.
Not only is this a grossly misinformed thing for North to say but it’s dangerous as well. It’s another statement made by someone who is in the pocket of the gun lobby that adds further stigma to mental illness. Think about how many people in our country who abide by the ‘from my cold dead hands’ principle that will believe any falsehood told by some gun-toting authority all because they think the gubmint will take their guns if they don’t. This is along the exact same line of people who say that antidepressants cause school shootings. They don’t care how many people suffer from mental health issues as long as gun owners can continue to maintain a small arsenal in their basement compounds or Unibomber-style shacks.
Guns are far from the most important thing in our country. Hell, they’re not even the most important right in The Constitution. Yet zealots like North and his cronies act like guns are the answer to everything. While guns may not be the cause of school shootings, you can’t have school shootings without the shooting part and too many of these guns are legally finding their way into the hands of a multitude of mass murderers.
And just for shits and giggles here is Oliver North’s mugshot.
In the past, I’ve discussed how much of an assclown I think Texas Governor Greg Abbott is, especially when it came to him kowtowing to the conspiracy theorist nuts over military exercise Jade Helm 15. Apparently, assclownery runs in his administration as his Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, must have recently graduated from assclown college.
Really? We’re going to have this argument again. While Lt. Gov. Patrick claims that according to psychologists and psychiatrists, they will tell you it leads them to become numb to violence, to have less empathy to their victims and be more aggressive. Bullshit. No credible psychological study has ever linked violent video games to school shootings. Mr. Patrick has fallen victim to the belief that correlation equals causation. I will say that there are a plethora of maladjusted people who are attracted to violent video games, but they’re mostly disturbed, to begin with. However, you can say that about any pastime. Would he say watching sports causes domestic violence? Not in Texas he wouldn’t.
Removing religion from schools
Again I say, really? While I am a somewhat religious person and believe a lot of these kids could use some Ten Commandments in their life, what religion is Mr. Patrick referring to? I’m guessing it’s not Judaism and it sure as hell isn’t Islam. If I had to hazard a guess, I would imagine Mr. Patrick is referring to white Baptists. Just a hunch. I wonder if Patrick even knows Dimitrios Pagourtzis was active in the Orthodox Church. Religion and morality should be taught at home and church, not at public schools. There are plenty of avenues for people to take if they want their kids to have a religious education. It can even be argued that religion may contribute to the behavior of school shooters since a number of them are edgelords who claim to be atheists just so they can rebel against an ambiguous ‘church’.
Abortions and ‘broken’ families
While I don’t talk about it that much anymore, I’m not a fan of abortions because I was adopted. However, I don’t see why Patrick is bringing it up here. He says there have been 50 million abortions but doesn’t give a time frame for them. So, wouldn’t more abortions cause fewer school shootings since fewer school shooters would be born? My thought here is that he’s just playing to his pro-life voter base for no discernible reason other than to kiss their collective asses. However, he brings up a talking point I’ve been hearing since Parkland, that broken homes cause school shooters. I find that interesting since both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came from two-parent families as did Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui. Adam Lanza was raised by both parents until they divorced when he was 17. Nikolas Cruz had both parents until they passed away, and more specifically to Santa Fe High, Dimitrios Pagourtzis came from a two-parent household. It’s not the number of parents you have, but the quality of parenting you receive. I also find this kind of ironic since Patrick himself has been divorced. Glass houses and all that.
Irresponsible gun owners
Now this one I kind of agree with, however, Patrick doesn’t go far enough with his assertions. He says that gun owners have a responsibility to be sure their guns are safe at home, but he doesn’t say what should happen to gun owners who aren’t responsible. In a number of school shootings, including the one at Santa Fe High, the shooter obtained their firearms from their parents who didn’t realize their guns were missing until it was too late. Rarely do these negligent gun owners face criminal charges and if they do it’s usually because they’re former felons who are forbidden from owning firearms. What is Lt. Gov. Patrick planning to do with these irresponsible gun owners other than give lip service since even irresponsible gun owners vote in Texas?
Too many entrances to schools
LOL…WUT? Patrick says schools should have the necessary fire exits but then we should funnel students into schools. Yeah, because no one in the history of forever has ever snuck into someplace by using the fire exit. That’s not even taking into account that if someone is determined enough to enter a school armed, fewer entry points are not going to deter them.
Yes, because the answer to school shootings is obviously more guns. Arming teachers is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard. Let’s have guns that are in the schools on a daily basis that could easily find themselves in the hands of a would-be school shooter. That’s a tremendous idea. Let’s also not forget that teachers are not infallible. While many of them are happy to do their thankless job, there are enough bad apples to make the idea of arming them ridiculous. The only way I would even remotely consider arming a teacher is if they had former military or police experience, otherwise you’re asking for more casualties being caught in the crossfire between an active shooter and an untrained civilian.
The elephants in the room
Lt. Gov. Patrick left out two glaring omissions in his public morality crusade to stop school shootings and they are lax parenting and easy access to guns, especially in a gun-happy state like Texas. That’s because speaking out against those things in the Lone Star State won’t get him re-elected. Remember kids, politicians aren’t acting on your behalf, they’re only acting on theirs.