While the domestic violence charges against 50 Cent, have been dismissed, he has lost his guns. It has been reported that the rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, has been given three years probation. The judge hearing the case, informed 50 Cent that he had a restraining order forbidding him from having any contact with his former girlfriend and he also had all his guns confiscated by the court.
Tom‘s grandpa called him from outside his grandparent’s house. “Tom, come on out here. I want to show you something.”
Tom reluctantly tore his eyes off of the roller derby he’d been watching and stood up. It must be something interesting, Grandpa wouldn’t have called him otherwise. “Okay.” Tom shouted back. He switched the television off and glanced guiltily at his Grandma. She was sleeping setting up on the couch, but she had not even blinked when he’d shouted.
Grabbing his straw cowboy hat, Tom ran out the closer front door and crossed the porch with its covering of yellow grains of fly poison and dead flies. He knew that later Grandpa would sweep all the bodies and poison up and throw it in the ditch; he’d then spread new poison and remind Tom needlessly about not touching it.
Even though Tom was 12, he knew that Grandpa wasn’t treating him like a baby, he was just being careful. Something that Grandpa was very good at. Years before when Tom was about 5 or 6 Grandpa had worked at a lumber mill two towns away. He worked the big band saw that made planks out of trees.
“I was just standing there feeding the tree through the saw. It was stupid what happened. That damned old place was noisy as hell,” Grandpa paused and looked around cautiously for Grandma, she did not like it when he swore, she went to church every Sunday and would get really cross when he used foul language as she put it. “I heard a horn honk outside the factory on the main road. I glanced out the window and when I looked back, four of my fingers were laying in the sawdust on the floor. I don’t remember anything after that because I passed out.”
He stopped and pulled a machine-made cigarette out of his shirt pocket; put one end in his mouth and struck a match on the seat of his jeans. “They said it was damned lucky that I fell backwards when I passed out. If I’d fallen forward, I would have lost a lot more than my fingers.”
He always chuckled when he got to that bit while his eyes kept looking for Grandma. He never tired of telling that story, Tom knew because he’d asked him a least a hundred times how he’d lost his fingers. Grandpa always used to say that he learned all about being careful after his accident.
When Tom rounded the corner of his grandparents stone house, he saw his Grandpa standing in between the garden plot and the two rows of grapes in front of the barn. He held his .410/.22 over and under shotgun in his left hand. His right hand with a thumb, one half of a middle finger and all of his little finger rubbed his mouth; he alternated this gesture with licking his lips.
Tom found out years after his Grandpa had died that he had a drinking problem and that the rubbing and licking was a dead give-a-way that he wanted a drink. He went around the back of the house, skirting the ivy that grew on the corner of the house because it had a tendency to sway in the breeze and sometimes it would tap you as you walked near it. He glanced quickly at the stuff that was full of big black spiders and the odd tarantula; just looking at it made goose bumps dart up and down his back.
Grandpa was wearing his old grey work trousers and a snappy blue striped long sleeve shirt that he’d rolled the sleeves up to his elbows to ease off the explosive heat of the day. He also wore his grey hat, its brim was round and the crown had been fixed into a flat Arizona style that was pinched in the front from him taking it off and putting it on. He never used the brim to remove the hat, because as he put it, “It would make the brim droop so I couldn’t see very well.”
Grandpa smiled that perfect false teeth smile that Tom had grown up seeing, the one that made years drop off his face and had the curious effect of making him seem both kind and contrary. Thinking about it, that pretty much explained grandpa’s personality in a nutshell, kind enough and good-humoured, but, he did bite if you got him riled.
Tom had no idea how old his grandfather really was. His age changed from year to year. His birth records and the family Bible had been destroyed in a fire and he claimed to have no real idea when his birthday was. Mom said she thought he knew perfectly well how old he was but that it was his idea of a joke to keep changing it each year. Tom had to admit, he found it pretty funny. Grandma never said one way or the other how she felt about it.
“Come on up with me to the barn Tom,” Grandpa said. “There’s something I need you to check on for me.” He turned and started walking up to the gate that led to the barn. The chickens, which were fenced in by the barn along with their henhouse, started clucking and chasing each other around at the sound of the gate being opened.
Tom liked looking at the ground when the weather was this hot and dry; each time your foot touched the ground a puff of pale dust would drift lazily up, just like in a western where the horse’s hooves would make little dust geysers when they trotted across the ground. Tom wished he had spurs on his boots so they make that ca-ching noise while he walked through across the dusty ground. That would have been so cool.
“Stupid damn things think they’re going to get fed,” Grandpa said. He chuckled and closed the gate behind Tom. As they approached the barn the air seemed to get very still and a lot hotter. Grandpa took off his hat and pulled a bandanna out of his pocket to wipe his forehead. “The top of that barn is blasting out heat like a furnace, ain’t it?” Tom nodded and the old man finished wiping his brow and put his hat back on while the damp bandanna wound up back in his pants pocket.
“I need you to go up into the loft of the barn for me. You don’t need to stay up there it’s too damned hot to spend too long up there.”
“What do you want me to do, Grandpa?”
“I need you to tell me if you see a possum’s nest up there. Something has been stealing eggs and I’m pretty damn sure it’s not a weasel. A weasel would kill the chickens or at least worry the hell out of them. They’d be all bloodied up and spooked.”
They both arrived at the ladder leading to the barn’s loft at the same time. Grandpa was right, Tom thought. It was like a furnace in the barn and not just in the loft either. The heat made shimmery waves in the air as you looked up at the barn roof. Tom hoped grandpa had meant what he said about not being up there too long.
“Climb on up there boy and look for that nest. Tell me if you see anything.” Grandpa sat on a stump and pulled out one of his cigarettes and lit it. “Like I said, don’t take too long. It’s too hot.”
Tom went slowly up the ladder. He didn’t like heights and had a fear of falling. He gritted his teeth and went up; he wasn’t going to chicken out in front of his grandpa. He’d just concentrate on the barn wall in front of him and not look down.
As he went up he could hear the cicadas buzzing, the noise sounded angry and loud. The first time Tom had heard the sound he was scared. He’d never heard anything like it before. His dad had just laughed and said, “Don’t be scared of that. It’s just a jar-fly.” Dad had looked on the ground and found a dead one to show him. “It’s their wings that make that noise, I reckon. They’re pretty big so that must be why they’re so loud.”
Tom got to the top of the ladder and took a cautious step or two into the barn’s stifling loft. The buzzing seemed to be louder in here and sweat ran down his face and body. The hay in the loft made his skin sticky and itchy in seconds and you could see hay motes swirling in the air, despite the lack of breeze in the barn.
Suddenly Tom caught the whiff of something rotten. It smelt like the sulphur water at his friend Hank’s house only worse. Putting his hand over his nose and mouth he headed towards the smell. Looking down at the floor he saw a lot of eggs scattered around one corner of the loft. He picked one up with the idea that he would show it to grandpa, he then noticed that the smell seemed to be coming from the eggs.
He dropped the one he had been holding and it exploded on the floor by his feet. Instantly the smell got ten times worse and he started to gag. He whirled around and headed toward the ladder to get down. His eyes were watering so badly he couldn’t see properly and he almost walked right off the edge of the loft. He waved his arms for balance and then backed blindly down the ladder.
He was in such a hurry to get away from the smell that he actually fell off the ladder just before the bottom and he landed in a huge puff of dust.
Grandpa stood up with his mouth gapped open for a minute and then started laughing. “What the hell was that all about? Are you okay?” He stepped forward and stretched out his almost fingerless hand for Tom to pull himself up.
Getting to his feet, Tom used his hat to dust himself off. “There’s lot of rotten eggs up there Grandpa; all in one corner of the loft.”
“Did you catch any sign of that damned possum?”
“No, sir just lots of rotten eggs.”
“That’s where he’s taken em alright. I’ll have to come back tonight after dark and grease his skids.”
“What does that mean, Grandpa?”
The old man shook the gun gently, “I’m gonna turn him into a possum angel, boy.”
Grandpa walked off toward the house chuckling to himself and Tom followed after him. When they got near the ivy corner of the house, he suddenly veered off to the right and went behind his work shop.
There was another small fence behind the shop that didn’t have a gate, it was too low. Up against the back wall of the building were a bunch of strawberry plants; the smaller fence was meant to keep rabbits away.
Grandpa stood just outside the fence staring hard at the plants. He stepped carefully over the small fence and moved slowly towards the plants. Tom started to say something, but the old man held his hand up and he shut his mouth. It was almost like grandpa had eyes in the back of his head.
He put the gun up to his shoulder and clicked the safety off. Leaning forward he put the barrel of the shotgun down into the strawberry plants. Tom leaned forward and saw that at the end of the gun barrel was a possum. It was playing dead.
Grandpa shot it and a fountain of blood shot up in the air. He leaned down and grabbed it by the tail and slung it over the fence by the garage’s back door. He broke the gun open ejecting the spent .410 shell and quickly put another one in. With a quick flicking motion the he closed the gun back up and it was ready to fire again.
He stepped over the fence and poked the possum with the gun barrel. The animal whipped its head around and bit the barrel. The second the possum’s mouth closed down on the barrel, grandpa pulled the trigger again.
There was an explosion of blood, teeth and brain matter that flew over everything and everyone. To Tom the whole thing seemed to be in slow motion and the shotgun sounded ten times louder than when grandpa had initially shot the possum.
The old man stood with his chest heaving as he panted and reloaded the shotgun again. This time when he nudged the now headless animal it did not move. He leaned down and grabbed the tail again, this time slinging it into the field behind his workshop. He took out his bandanna and wiped the bloody mess off of Tom’s face and then his own.
“No more free eggs for that little bastard.”
Both Tom and grandpa jumped like they’d been shot. It was grandma and she was furious. “What have I told you about shooting so close to the house?” She was wiping her hands on her ubiquitous apron and moving quickly towards the two of them.
Grandpa just gestured to the spray of gore that was spread across the once white door of his workshop. “Varmint.” He broke the gun open and handed it to Tom. “Boy put that in the house while I go get the hose to wash this mess off.”
Grandma didn’t say another word and went back into the house shaking her head. Grandpa disappeared into the workshop and was moving things around looking for the hose. Tom stood staring at the mess and then he turned to look and see if he could see the animal’s dead body from where he was standing.
Nope, it was completely out of sight.
Grandpa came back with the hose and hooked it up to the faucet at the back of the house. He began spraying down the door with the water. The water ran red along the side of the shop and Tom could see the animal’s teeth moving along with the stream.
Years later when he’d killed his first man and the man’s teeth had exploded out of his mouth like shrapnel, Tom thought of his grandpa and the possum teeth that had floated down the rushing water like white and red rafts floating out to sea.
Shoving the gun back in his coat pocket he murmured, “There you go you little bastard, no more free eggs for you.”
Michael E. Smith copyright 28/01/2013
So the President has submitted for our consideration a new gun control bill. Just looking at the bare essentials being presented via the internet I don’t really see why the NRA has taken the automatic (pun intended) stance of deriding the Presidents bill. In case you’ve missed it the bill sets up banning automatic weapons, limiting magazines to 10 bullets, introduces universal background checks for all firearms buyers and increased scrutiny of mental health patients. Personally I see nothing wrong with the above measures.
Taking an overall look at the measures it looks like the most sensible for a gun culture society. In a nutshell (to me anyway) the bill says to me that psychotic nutcases with a hard-on against anyone cannot easily get access to an automatic weapon with 20 rounds in the magazine and more importantly if the prospective gun owner has a history of mental issues he has no chance to purchase one either. Yet the majority of the population will still be able to purchase fire arms. I do think that semi automatic weapons should be left out of the equation, because that is one step away from banning Mr or Ms Average from owning a handgun.
I expected the NRA to scream like a raped panther and I was not disappointed. In a perfect world the NRA would not necessarily embrace the new bill, but would actually use their powerful lobby to fine-tune it. Unrealistic I know.
I have always firmly believed that the right to bear arms is not open to debate. To open this constitutional right (that is spelt r-i-g-h-t and not p-r-i-v-i-l-e-g-e) to debate leads to the inevitable issue of the common man not having the right to own a firearm to protect his family and property and letting the criminal (who does not follow the law) own whatever weaponry he wants. It could be argued that the new gun control bill will be ignored by the criminal fraternity.
Of course it will. There is a huge black market out there for illegal weapons up for purchase by whoever has the contacts and the money already. The only thing that is a guarantee in all this controversy is that the criminal fraternity will make money out of all this. I have become a more fervent believer in the right to be armed after spending most of my adult life in a country where no one owns handguns and only a few have shotguns. I hasten to add that this is the law-abiding citizenry here, although a “law-abiding” citizen took his “legal” shotgun and killed a lot of people in Wales not too long ago while he drove his taxi cab around a village; the criminal’s are armed and not just with shotguns, automatic weapons and handguns are used when they feel it necessary.
I can also tell you that in a country where guns are illegal the government do not want you as a private citizen to protect yourself. It is far better in the law’s eyes to let yourself be shot, stabbed, robbed, raped or murdered first and then let the overworked wheels of justice grind on and solve the case (or not). In essence it is more or less a law that you as a private citizen can only be classed as a victim, otherwise you can find yourself locked up with the very people you were protecting yourself from.
But let me get off my soap box for minute, I did not really mean to step up there anyway. The thing that brought all this issue to the front of my mind was the reference to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown Connecticut. The current administration is waving the massacre around like a “Remember the Alamo” flag. The very act of surrounding the podium with school children reeks of purposeful emotional blackmail. “Look” it says, “look at what is at stake here. Don’t you want to save your children?”
The very fact that they feel comfortable trotting out the young corpses of the Sandy Hook tragedy says a lot. I am not going to trot out old tired statistics here. I’ve done so in another post. But in a sort of recap, I will point out that fewer people die each day as a result of gun violence than in a car accident. Don’t get me wrong though, the numbers are damned close. But if thinking that reducing the average law-abiding citizen’s access to guns will lower this number, I think you are being too optimistic.
The whole Sandy Hook thing has a touch of unreality to it. Not only because it seems unreal that anyone, madman or not, would shoot little kids; but also the parents reactions to the situation seemed bizarre. One news coverage video on the day of the massacre showed parents who were saying how awful it was and how frightening, etc while they both stood smiling for the cameraman. That in itself is disturbing on a deeper level, but just as disturbing are all the cries of “hoax” and “staged” and the seemingly inevitable conspiracy theorists.
In 1984 a man entered a San Ysidro California MacDonald’s and shot 21 people to death. The killer, 41 year-old James Huberty only stopped after a SWAT sniper took him out. No one suggested there was any staging going on nor did anyone come up with a conspiracy theory.
Too long ago? Okay, how about the 1999 Columbine shooting. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 people; 12 of which were fellow students, and injured a further 21 fellow students. This duo of death then committed suicide. The great outcry at the end of all that death and violence was not one of conspiracy, but one of anguish and looking for a reason for the horrible thing that happened.
People interviewed the day of the shootings were in shock. Tears were shed by people who had not lost anyone in the tragedy, but they cried at the very thought of it. Sandy Hook for some reason has fallen into a Twilight Zone event in the public’s eyes. The two parents with their child in the video clip I referenced *But guess what? I cannot find that clip anywhere.* seem to have a problem of deciding whether to be cheerful for the camera or concerned as parents. The whole country seems confused and that concerns me. Apart from the usual, “Let’s blame this on violent video games,” argument; the country has descended into a sort of conspiracy madness.
A madness that implied that the event hadn’t even really occurred; it was staged by the US administration. It was a publicity stunt set up to allow gun control to be legislated. Fingers are being pointed at anything that doesn’t “look right” by some arbitrary standard that seems to change daily. I am not jumping on the conspiracy train here; I’ll walk if it’s alright with you. I will admit that deep down the very timing of Sandy Hook seems wrong and (if I am really honest) pretty damned convenient for a President who is very much for gun control.
Conspiracy has been a watchword or catchphrase of America since Watergate. But I honestly think that someone in the White House is secretly glad that Sandy Hook happened. I do not doubt that someone up there gave a victory fist-pump in the air and went, “Yes! Just what we have been waiting for; a target that will appeal to every single parent out there, Mr President the time is now for our new gun control bill.”
So there you have it, a new gun control bill and a re-visit to Sandy Hook and the horror associated with it. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take a walk down that memory lane with you. In the meantime, I will worry about the unreal direction this entire thing is taking and I am hoping that I do not see Rod Serling hanging around. Of course the other thing I’ll be watching for is whether or not there will be a concerted effort to change the Constitution as it is currently in respect to the right to bear arms.
- Rebuttal to the Sandy Hook Fully Exposed Conspiracy Video (wafflesatnoon.com)
- Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories (spiffysean.com)
- NRA Fires Back at President’s Proposal to Curb Gun Violence (wsaw.com)
- CNN/Time Poll: Slight dip in support for gun control measures in last month (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Why Sandy Hook Massacre Spawned Conspiracy Theories (livescience.com)
- Can These Two Determined Forces Stop the NRA? – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- NRA in firing line after launching gun app (thehindu.com)
- NRA Releases Shooting Practice Game for Kids Aged Four and Up (usnews.com)
- Obama plan draws sharp attack from gun lobby (thehindu.com)
- Obama presents bold gun control plan as NRA promises ‘fight of the century’ (guardian.co.uk)
Well it did not take long for someone to make a tenuous connection between the Sandy Hook Shootings and video game violence. The Independent (one of the less tabloid-like newspapers in the UK) featured the following headlines on their website:
Journalist David Usborne writes that, “ He [Lanza] is said to have been a fan of computer games featuring warfare and killing. Did he cross some line from the fiction of these games into some twisted, self-realised reality last Friday?” and that ” Ms Lanza [the first victim of son Adam’s killing spree] also had a significant gun collection. Why? Tragically, it was from there that her son took his weapons.”
It didn’t take very long for the “nay-sayers” to drag out the modern all-purpose scapegoat of video games. No doubt this will garner a lot of attention from the same folks who scream that films and television are too violent. According to these ninnies, our youth are being traumatized by all this violence and are having a hard time distinguishing from the fiction of the game world and reality.
I am sure that there are some “twisted” young (and not so young) individuals who do have a blurred line between fiction and non-fiction. But video games did not cause it.
I remember when I was a teenager in high school in the seventies church groups were handing out pamphlets and getting on television and the radio and screaming to high heaven (pun intended) about horror movies and how they were damaging our youth. The same groups completely ignored the fact that most of the films that they were complaining about (slasher films) were actually modern morality plays. In a “slasher” film, if you did things you weren’t supposed to you died. Underage drinking – death; promiscuity – death; smoking – death; basically if you weren’t a sober, virginal non-smoker your clock was cleaned in a pretty gruesome fashion.
Sure people are influenced by the media. Television went through a Salem witch trial in the 1970’s as well. There was a glut of cop shows and detective shows. You had Colombo and MacMillan & Wife to name just two. Because of the outcry against violence being shown on the telly, shows were not allowed to show acts of violence. In one episode of McCloud you had a scene where a bad guy walked up behind his victim with a monkey wrench in his hand. You saw him raise the wrench over his head and…Commercial break. When the commercial break finished you came back to the body of the victim lying on the floor (if you were lucky) or you never saw the victim again. This had the effect of leaving you wondering just what the hell had happened.
The thing that started the whole “violence on TV is ruining our kids” was two events. One was a made for TV movie called Born Innocent where a young Linda Blair is sent to Juvenile Prison and is raped with a mop (or broom) handle by a gang of prison girls. Right after the movie aired the crime was repeated for real by a group of kids who cited the movie as giving them the idea. The second event was the television airing of the movie Fuzz.
Based on Ed McBain‘s 82nd Precinct series it was adapted for a “comic” cop movie starring Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welsh and Harvey Keitel. The basic plot of the film (as in the book) was that someone was going around pouring gasoline on homeless people and burning them alive. Just like Born Innocent, right after Fuzz aired on the “Movie of the Week” on TV somebody got the bright idea to copy the film’s plot. Also again, when they were caught, the perpetrator’s cited the movie as the source of their action.
So the American television networks had to “censor” their channels and their output. Did this action stop the crazies from performing heinous acts of murder, mutilation and rape of their fellow-man? I think we all know the answer to that one.
There was a similar movement brought against comic books in the 1940’s and 50’s where the industry had to tone down some of their more gruesome comics. Tales of the Crypt was just one comic that got “white washed” in an effort to protect America’s youth from corruption.
Rock and roll had a similar problem, on television Elvis Presley could only be shown from the waist up because of his “promiscuous” gyrating hip action while he sang. Heavy Metal bands were accused of putting Satanic verses on their LP’s that could only be heard when the record was played backward. The list goes on and on.
Books dealing with violent themes and horror fiction in particular have been given short shrift by a public who were desperate to pin the blame on anyone but the criminal who actually committed the violent crime.
But now we have the video game to blame for all the violent crime that today’s youth are committing. Too many hours spent playing Grand Theft Auto or Hitman or *insert game name here* and your child will turn into a homicidal maniac.
Of course Usborne doesn’t just infer that video (he actually uses the term “computer” games) games are to blame, but the fact that Momma Lanza had a gun collection is thrown into the mix as well. Of course that was the lethal combination. Never mind that Lanza’s own brother stated for the record that Adam had mental problems.
But rather than accept that something in the kid snapped that had nothing to do with violent video games and that this something had obviously been building up for some time. The sad thing is, that while people are playing the “blame game” and trying to come up with a palatable reason for Lanza to have gone out and murdered an enormous amount of adults and children, they are ignoring the plain and frustrating truth. We will never know why he did it because he’s dead.
The Independent trying to make a link between “computer” games and the guns that Lanza took from his mother is just despicable. It is attempting to milk a bit more out of a horrible situation without waiting for all the facts to be gathered. By printing the article by Usborne, who is after all only doing his job as a journalist, the paper is adding more fuel to an already touchy subject.
The fact that the games industry has been self policing their games for some time now; putting recommended age restrictions on the games that they release has not impressed anyone. It is a lot easier to point the finger at the games the companies produce than to point the finger at the parents who do not monitor what their underage children are playing.
If anyone has played any of the Call of Duty (COD) on-line multiplayer games they will notice that some of the other players are so young that their balls have not dropped yet squeakily cursing you for killing them.
So the first question that comes up, after I’ve told the kid that his “momma is calling for him” is to wonder where the hell his parents are and why they let him buy, let alone play, a game that is not intended for little kids.
But I digress.
I think that if the media is going to try to make this story run a bit longer, they need to look at the whole situation as the facts become available and not add to an already eager public’s desire to find a scapegoat.
- Don’t hate the games, heal the players (thefutureamerican.wordpress.com)
- Writing with a heavy heart (mommybrainblog.wordpress.com)
- Initial Thoughts on the Newtown Shooting (thelivingnotebook.com)
- y (margosblog.com)
- Gun Laws in the wake of the Connecticut Mass Shooting (blogtruth.wordpress.com)
- Mob Blames Mass Effect For School Shooting, Is Embarrassingly Wrong (kotaku.com)
- America Has A Morality Problem, Not A Gun Problem (dailypaul.com)
- Viewers question violent ‘Gangster Squad’ ad aired during NFL game (twitchy.com)
- Weeping for Sandy Hook Elementary (masculinityu.wordpress.com)
- CT Sen. Lieberman: Video Games, Movies ‘Cause Vulnerable Young Men To Be More Violent’ (mediaite.com)