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.