Please don’t have me arrested. Last year, I went into the local hospital for counseling — the depression was too much, I knew I needed help. I only went in for a few sessions before deciding nothing was going to help, other than my usual thorough bottling up of everything, but now I am a marked man. If I do anything socially unacceptable, you know, like pissing on the shoes of the next Republican I meet, you can bet it’ll be on the local newspaper with the declaration that I have “mental health issues,” and the police will put out an APB for the “mentally ill” man wandering the streets of Stevens County.
I shouldn’t have tried. Everyone is supposed to be 100% capable of bootstrapping themselves into happy, well-adjusted confidence, no matter what their circumstances, and failure to be constantly grinning like a used car salesman is a sign of weakness. That glum fellow over there in the corner could snap at any instant, you know.
I’m seeing it right now. There’s a killer on a rampage in Lewiston, Maine, and what does every news story have to say?
Police said Card had spent two weeks at a mental health facility this summer and was subsequently released.
He checked in to get his mental health evaluated (a good thing), and was released (presumably a good thing). This will now taint every story about his criminal act. It’s front and center, even though it may be entirely irrelevant. I can think of a lot of prominent individuals who ought to get a mental health consult who don’t.
There are other factors that are far more indicative of a problem. A history of domestic violence, for instance.
Robert Card, the alleged perpetrator of the shootings in Lewiston, carries a troubled personal history that is now under intense scrutiny. A retired military officer, Card has confronted legal troubles in the past, including multiple arrests for domestic violence and other offenses. Notably, one of his ex-wives had obtained a restraining order against him, revealing the troubling dynamics that marked some of his previous relationships. While the investigation continues, no conclusive evidence has yet linked his past behavioral issues to the recent shooting incidents.
Another telling bias in the stories is that many say “he may have voted for Barack Obama” — as if that’s an unlikely, weird thing. Only a few so far have been bold enough to say he’s politically right-wing.
Heavy reviewed the page shortly before it was suspended by X. It shows that Card followed and/or liked posts by X’s CEO, Elon Musk, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as well as a professor who studies terrorism and a number of prominent conservative politicians and pundits, including Donald Trump Jr. and Tucker Carlson. He also liked and shared posts by CNBC, as well as posts on finance.
In March, he liked a tweet by Trump that read, “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years… by far the largest group committing as a percentage of population… maybe, rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bulls*** on our kids?”
Man, Twitter was lightning-fast in pulling that account. A fan of Elon Musk was a mass-murderer? Better cover that up quick. Also, he was transphobic? That complicates that Trumpian narrative. For the record, there have been only four non-cisgendered mass shooters.
“4 shooters out of over 300 mass shooters since 2009 are transgender or non binary. That’s just 1.3 percent of all shooters,” Anthony Zenkus, a lecturer in social work at Columbia University, wrote on Twitter. “You just proved our point: 99 percent of mass shooters in the United States are cis gendered.”
Also for the record, I don’t think liking Elon Musk or Tucker Carlson is indicative of a tendency to go shoot up a bowling alley, because an awful, embarrassing lot of stupid people like them without any attempt to go on a murder rampage. It is just an indictment of our media that they are doing this ill-informed pattern-seeking, looking for any feeble correlation to rationalize a contemptible crime.
Maybe we should be more concerned with condemning domestic violence, or any history of violence, than with people’s efforts to improve their mental health.
Or better yet, let’s also do a better job of regulating guns.