And You Thought Aaron Alexis Was Crazy

Washington Navy Yard Shooter, Aaron Alexis.

Washington Navy Yard Shooter, Aaron Alexis.

Two weeks ago, another senseless mass shooting occurred in the U.S. The perpetrator, Aaron Alexis, stole twelve American lives (in addition to his own), injured another eight, and decimated most of what remained of the fragile hope I carried in my heart. The hope that this attack would be the one that removes semi-automatic and automatic weapons out of the hands of anyone but the police, security personnel, and the military. The hope that this attack would be the one to convince anyone suffering from a mental illness to seek help – without the threat of societal judgement. The hope that this attack would be the last. For a long time, anyway.

Perhaps I was naive.

The worst part is that when I write about this attack, I don’t mean the shooting committed by Aaron Alexis. No, I’m still reeling from Aurora. James Holmes’ hang dog face was burned into my eyelids the moment I glimpsed his cartoonish red hair and sly, but vacant – maybe too vacant – expression. Most serial killers don’t stand out because they’re too busy blending in. They live lives that don’t draw attention. Or suspicion.  (Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter recently, so I’ve got mad criminal profiling skills.)

Similarly, many who’ve known mass murderers – defined as a person who kills four or more people in a single incident – will confirm that they were shocked to discover that their friend, family member, neighbor or colleague was arrested for the first-degree murder of, not one, or even two people, but a dozen. All at once. When interviewed by the press, they nearly always say: “He seemed like a nice guy.” “He was always friendly to me.” “He kept to himself, but was really pleasant.” No one ever says, “I saw this coming from a mile away. That dude was a burnt sienna short of a box of Crayolas.”

Mass murderers are almost never biker-types with tat sleeves, shaved heads and a long, deep facial scars. They don’t typically look like Walter White; they more closely resemble your next door neighbor with the expensive landscaping and the Lexus…or his shy, college-educated son. Aaron Alexis could have passed for my friend’s husband. But James Holmes remains an enigma. On the surface, he makes Charles Manson look like your favorite babysitter, albeit one with a swastika carved into his forehead. James Holmes looks utterly cray cray, but he’s almost textbook – and that’s where the problem lies. After all, he was enrolled in a prestigious, neuroscience doctoral program. He had access to thousands of scholarly tomes about mental disorders, and made a classroom presentation entitled,”Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.” Certainly, we’re all hoping that he is mentally ill, because if he’s not, it’s terrifying to conceive that a sane person could mow down a dozen innocent moviegoers, and injure another 58, with such cold precision.

Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs Or Master Manipulator?

Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs Or Master Manipulator?

So when I read that Aaron Alexis had been hearing voices in the weeks prior to the shooting, I felt a sense of relief. The monster who terrorized the employees of the Washington Navy Yard was mentally ill. He wasn’t a bad person; he was a sick person who did a badbad thing. One whom believed his insomnia was caused by people “using some kind of microwave machine” that made his body vibrate and prevented him from sleeping – a fact that only cemented my resolve that Alexis was as much of a victim as the innocent people whom he killed. A victim who had notified authorities about his paranoid hallucinations, and, yet, nothing was done to prevent the heinous crime Alexis was to commit mere weeks later.

Last night, I was reading an article about the politicians responsible for the federal government shutdown. When I came across the following statement, my heart lodged in my throat:

And I am concerned. They are shipping all the, I’m concerned about the microchips. That they are in many, many of the things that we own. And some of those are embedded, I believe, with, with detection and, uh, capabilities or tracking capabilities.

If You Ate Your Daily Allowance Of Fruit Every Day, I Wouldn't Have To Spy On You, Vicky San.

How About A Little Fiber In That Smoothie To Ease Your Constipation, Vicky-San?

That’s no mass murderer; it’s Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri (R), who apparently believes that her Chinese-manufactured blender is listening in as she makes her morning smoothie. What’s her solution to this dilemma?  “We need to have a new 007 James Bond movie with China as the bad guys.” Erm, didn’t we do that already in Tomorrow Never Dies? I would think if China actually feared Hollywood, they wouldn’t illegally manufacture and sell bootleg copies of every major motion picture released, without paying a yuan in royalties.

Not surprisingly, she’s also a birther who has publicly said, “I have doubts that it is really his [President Obama's] birth certificate…” Funny, she hasn’t questioned Sen. Ted Cruz’s citizenship – and he admits that he was hatched in Canada. (Yes, Canada, you owe us big time for that one. I don’t care if you gave us Ryan Gosling and William Shatner; you’re also responsible for Justin Bieber, so this is strike deux.)

More alarming is the fact that she also appears to be hearing voices. Just yesterday, she was quoted as saying, “The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare.” Really? According to RealClearPolitics.com, five times as many people have already visited the Obamacare website than have ever visited Medicare.gov. In fact, it’s been reported that 4.7 million people dropped by Healthcare.gov within the first twenty-four hours of the site being launched, despite the fact that the federal government had just been shutdown by a handful of Tea Party zealots attempting to hold it hostage. So, who are the faces behind these “American people” Hartzler speaks of? Maybe this one:

As Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I Say That The American People Don't Want Obamacare

As Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I Say That The American People Don’t Want Obamacare! Yeah, I Elected Myself. Wanna Fight About It?

Rep. Hartzler credits God with inspiring her decision to become a politician. At the age of nine. Did it occur to her that God may have only been encouraging her to run for Playground Committee Chairwoman, not Congress? What does God’s inspiration sound like, anyway? My vote would go to Morgan Freeman, but I suspect Hartzler’s God sounds more like Charleston Heston: “Run for Congress, Vicky, or I’ll pry this gun out of my cold, dead hands and show you how I parted the Red Sea.” The poster child for the anti-choice movement, she supports charging women who have abortions with first degree murder, and the physicians who perform said abortions with second degree murder. Climate change? She’s not buying it. She’s not even certain it exists…but if it does, she doubts “that man has a very significant role in that.”

I’d bet that Rep. Hartzler believes unicorns shit rainbows, but considering that she is a rabid, anti-LGBT activist, I doubt she recognizes the existence of rainbows at all. Kinda like gay marriage. Evolution. Gravity. On the upside, Hartzler supports increasing the size of the Navy in her land-locked Missouri. Erm, okay. You never know when North Korea is going to invade Mark Twain Lake.

Kim Jong-Un: "I'm Coming For You, Rep. Hartzler!

” Kim Jong-Un: “I’m Coming For You, Missouri. Prepare yourself!”

While I’m relieved that it appears that Rep. Hartzler is suffering from a mental illness – much like Aaron Alexis – I’m concerned that she, along with a small Tea Party minority, seems to possess the power to shut down the federal government. When did we decide to hand the keys to the asylum over to the inmates? Why is John Boehner listening to a vapid, former home economics teacher whose greatest, single accomplishment so far is her contribution to passing a Missouri constitutional amendment banning gay marriage…in a state in which gay marriage was already illegal. Nothing like killing a fly with a jackhammer, huh, Hartzler?

If we continue to allow politicians who hear voices and hold conference calls with God, yet speak in whispers when within sight of a household appliance, to make decisions about the future of the United States, we could end up with much worse than 800,000 federal government staffers being furloughed indefinitely and Panda Cam going dark. In some ways, political terrorism is no different than a mass shooting, and the perpetrators no different than Aaron Alexis. Both wield power through fear. Both directly and indirectly impact the lives of thousands of people through intimidation, through terror. Both control the majority through the acts of the minority. Both hurt people.

For her sake, I hope Rep. Vicky Hartzler is mentally ill. Because if she’s not, that would make her a monster.

***

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***

Note: This post was not written, in any way, to trivialize or capitalize upon the victims of both the Aurora movie theater or Washington Navy Yard shootings. Please know that I offer my deepest condolences to both the victims and their families. Nor is this post intended to poke fun at those who bravely suffer from mental illness. Except for Vicky Hartzler. I was totally making fun of her.

***

Update: As per The Huffington Post, a Government Accountability Office analysis of Drug Enforcement Administration data has named Missouri the “methiest” state with 1,825 meth lab busts and seizures in 2012. One of only three states with over 1,000 incidents, Missouri beat out West Virginia, which ranks second with 1,585 arrests and seizures.  Mother Jones reports that the most common victim of meth burn, often caused by the “shake and bake” manufacturing method, is under 4 years of age. Way to go, Rep. Hartzler! Maybe you should focus less on your anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-Chinese appliances, and anti-Affordable Healthcare Act platform, and focus on something that’s a genuine problem in your state. 

58 comments

  1. Carrie Rubin

    Reminds me of the congressman on the science committee–yes, the science committee–who said women’s bodies shut down during a rape so they couldn’t get pregnant.

    I am so sickened by our congress that I can’t even listen to the news anymore. I normally have CNN on whenever I’m doing chores around the house, but I can’t take it right now. I don’t want to listen again until I hear the shut down is over. Otherwise I’m sure to be on blood pressure meds soon.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      I know. I’m the same way. I’m such a news junkie, but the whole thing just sickens me.I don’t understand people who think a shutdown is a good idea. They’re knowingly hurting at least a million people who are either directly or indirectly impacted by the furlough. So selfish.

      Oh, I remember that congressman. What an idiot? Does it also shut down when you’ve lost your job and can’t afford another kid, too?

  2. tomwisk

    Hi, you make sense. The thing you missed was that Rep. Hartzler makes it bad for people who are mentally ill. Her kind of illness is one that doesn’t come from within but rather from right wing tin hats who unfortunately were just loud enough for her to hear. As a young man I knew Republicans who were pro-capitalist and anti-poor, but they kept it to themselves because they knew that the majority of the GOP wouldn’t vote for them because they knew it was crazy. My solution, in 2016 start tossing the asshats out and electing commonsense politicians,

  3. Geoff

    I was also impressed with her decision to vote No on 30 some odd billion dollars of food stamps last month but has no issue with farm subsidies, no surprise given that she reportedly has taken in a little less than one million dollars in farm subsidies in her lifetime. Of course, mocking politicians like Hartzler for idiocy is like condemning Michelle Bachman for her ‘praying the gay away’ center or snickering at Sarah Palin for her vast knowledge of supreme court rulings. It’s fun.

  4. Dr. Rex

    Came across this awesome post at 4:30am, while on my phone, through The ObamaCrat.
    Excellent post, touching on several topics. Very well done. Didn’t know about the lady who heard voices thought.
    I always learn so much when reading …. Anyway …. Great job & I’m reblogging too!! TY for educating me!!

  5. grahamatlinc

    The comprison that you have made is very apt and they also have something else in common, a defining feature. They are deficient in the human quality of pity and the sense of social justice that stems from it. That deficiency marks them accurately as abnormal and therefore insane relative to normal humanity.

    I believe the truth of normal humanity is shown by “Boatlift, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilence” found on youtube but posted by Cindy Knoke (cyndyknoke.com) under the inspiring title “The True Nature of Humanity”. I found it to be deeply moving and recommend seeing it. It shows the sane truth of us but, without having the intent, also firmly damns the pitiless as an insane aberration.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll check it out. Glad you enjoyed the post. I’m not sure if Aaron Alexis lacked pity and a sense of social justice; I think, in his case, the voices just took over and compelled him beyond reason. I hope that’s the case, anyway. If he had a shred of sanity remaining left that could have prevented this tragedy, I’d be surprised.

  6. theauthorrwfoster

    Sorry, Madam Pants, I have to be the voice of dissent. There is no such thing as mental illness. People are just monsters and assholes. To swipe a term from Ian Malcolm, (via Micheal Crichton), “People are thintelligent, not intelligent.” Or, the much simpler one from Zeddicus Z’ul Zorrander (via Terry Goodkind), “People are stupid. Given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they’re afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”

    And that is why we have people like James Holmes taking forever to be tried and punished because he has folks wondering if he’s crazy for the very reason you mention above: “…we’re all hoping that he is mentally ill, because if he’s not, it’s terrifying to conceive that a sane person could mow down a dozen innocent moviegoers, and injure another 58, with such cold precision.” So, instead, you’d rather he not be held accountable? It was “The voices, the devil, the one armed man, in my head” that made him do it? Did you ever notice that you never head of a so-called mentally ill person being told by those voices to be especially kind? Why is that?

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Excellent point, but I definitely believe that James Holmes needs to pay for his crimes. I’m not certain at all that he is mentally ill, which is why I pointed out that his expression is a little TOO vacant and a little TOO textbook. I think there’s a good chance he’s faking it. Regardless, if he is mentally ill, he still needs to be locked up for the rest of his life because he is clearly a danger to others. I just think he belongs in a heavily-guarded mental institution if it can be proved that he was mentally unstable at the time of the incident. I also doubt his attorneys will be able to prove it. Guilty by reason of insanity is not an easy defense; it’s almost always a loser. I guess my point was that I feel better about these atrocities when I know that the perp was schizophrenic, as opposed to a psychopath. It removes some of the element of malice. As to why voices never seem to tell people to be especially kind, I don’t know, but it really is a great point. I have a few friends who are psychologists and I plan to ask them that very question the next time I see them. I shall report back to you, oh observant one. Thanks for reading and commenting as always. :)

  7. Valentine Logar

    Have you considered how much mental illness there must be in this nation? There are people who actually elected her and others. How many of them heard God tell them to run for their offices? God was very busy sending personal messages.

  8. bharatwrites

    Some of the huge acts of evil we see are a result of people being nuts, but we need to remember that some people are flat-out evil. In our desperate desire to believe in the goodness of all things human, and I confess to such naïve optimism myself, we can’t rule out plain old psychopathy.
    Having said that, we need to go through the rigmarole of due process because it is possible, even if infinitesimally so, that a person is falsely accused, or mentally unsound enough to not appreciate the gravity of what they’ve done.
    As far as Obamacare is concerned, while I’m skeptical of the Jesus-like fervor its supporters have, the Republican criticism of it lacks substance.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Well said, Bharat! I support it because the system we have right now isn’t working. Delaying Obamacare on the part of Republicans isn’t in order to work out the “quirks,” as some have claimed, but an attempt to dismantle it entirely. Yes, programs need tweaking, but we’ve got to roll this one out in order to fully analyze what aspects of it need further work. There isn’t a program out there today that hasn’t been tweaked. Thanks for reading. I promise to make it over to your blog this week. I’ve been training and testing for a new job, so it’s taken up a bit of my time…as will the actual job. :) But I’ll get adjusted to the new schedule soon enough.

  9. Stacie Chadwick

    BB,
    I like your more serious side. I also like the term Playground Committee Chairwoman, because you’re no one in this world until you have a title.

    Love seeing you back at it,
    Stacie

  10. annabanana210

    I detest that she and Todd Akin represent Missouri, the state that I’m from. It makes me sad and sick to my stomach how terribly Missouri is represented. Please don’t hold it against me. I may be from one of the most ass-backwards states in the Union, but I myself am not. I moved to the east coast, to DC, where shootings are becoming a regular weekly occurrence. I did enjoy your piece (as usual) as you always lend an alternate and intriguing point of view.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Thanks, chica! I would never hold your representatives against you, but I will hold them against themselves…if that makes sense. So I take it you got out of the meth lab business? If the “Breaking Bad” dude had to walk away, it’s probably a sign. ;)

      • annabanana210

        Meth labs and consumption are so common in Missouri. When I started my nursing career so many of my patients’ parents and family members were users…it made my head spin. I still love my “homeland” and always wish they’ll represent me well until the next dumbass opens their mouth :)

      • Miss Snarky Pants

        I recently began binge-watching “Breaking Bad.” While it’s an incredible show, I almost wonder if it’s removed the edge of meth use for some people, almost like it’s just a chemistry experiment gone wrong. Meth is a serious drug and a serious problem. I’d much rather have a marijuana grow house next door to me than a meth lab; those places are dangerous. While I like mustard, I’m not a fan of mustard gas and I like my eyebrows unsinged. Seems like Missouri politicians should focus on that problem and stop worrying about toaster spies. Thanks for dropping by!

  11. Laura

    Well done! I really like the parallels you’ve drawn between the different types of insanity in this country. It makes it even more unfathomable to remember that one contingent actually gets paid — under and over the table — to work their magic in destroying lives and livelihoods in the name of their own agendas. Sadly, we are not rioting in the streets. Why not? This could be published on an Op-Ed page somewhere…. so well-written, missus! xx

  12. Fathead Follies

    Can you really blame her for ignoring her state’s meth problem? Tweakers hardly ever vote and as long as they don’t have an abortion or marry another dude, they aren’t so bad. Nobody can figure out how to solve the drug problem anyway, so it’s best just to ignore it. Maybe they should just send Up With People out on another state-wide tour through the problem areas.

  13. Inion N. Mathair

    Excellent post Ms. Snarky! We are new to your blog by way of mutual blogging friend, Carrie Rubin. And what a great post this is! We wholeheartedly agree with you & wonder as well, how many lives have to be sacrificed before the government will wake up and see we have a horrific problem. The lady hears voices? It’s a shame the Congresswoman Hartzler doesn’t hear the voices of the people who’ve been speaking to her & the other politicians for years! And as we read your post, yet another popped into our mind. Adam Lanza. I believe it was 12 children who we’re brutally gunned down by that psychotic shooter, who chose to take his mental frustrations out on Kindergarteners. Something needs to change. And though it doesn’t seem like much, what you’ve done here, is the exact type of first step that needs to be taken around the country to bring light on a much needed subject that doesn’t appear to want to go away any time soon. Our hats off to you my dear! :)

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Thanks so much, Inion! Carrie Rubin is one of my favorite bloggers and authors. What a talented, intelligent, funny and kind lady! I’m glad that people are taking this particular post in the manner in which it was intended. Change is definitely needed and thank goodness we have people like you who are pushing for it. When they don’t listen, we’ll just talk louder. :) Thanks again for visiting my blog. Hope to hear from you again soon!

  14. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    Great posts and right on target. I’m with you in that automatic weapons belong only to law enforcement and the military. Last time I checked, you don’t need an automatic in a deer blind. The situation that really stirs me, not that they aren’t all equally dreadful, is that the Sandy Hook perpetrator’s weapons were initially provided by his mother. She had to know he was mentally ill. He hadn’t talked to her in over a year and they lived in the same house. She was the one that took her son to the firing range with her in hopes he might become more socially integrated. Each shooting is equally tragic and we seem to have more and more as the days go by. I do know that most mentally ill individuals that purchase a weapon do so to commit suicide and not hurt others. The mental health system is not the fix for this problem that bleeds the fabric of our society.
    I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the power of so few to close the government. Of course, as a retired fed, I watched the crazy making closely. There’s absolutely no reasoning for our government any longer.

    • Miss Snarky Pants

      Did you read the article about the police shooting and killing someone in Iceland? It was the first time it had ever happened. Ever. They have tight gun control laws there…and they seem to be working.

      • sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

        I haven’t read about the police shooting in Iceland. I’ll have to look it up. You are right in they must be doing something right. After the first of the year, my blog will dig into the issue of guns and mental illness. I’m really ticked about the alloted funds from congress going to mental health facilities (community) in an effort to ease gun violence. Why isn’t someone insisting the gun shows be closed down? I could go on and on but feel strongly that our country is going in the wrong direction with gun control. Obtaining guns must be stopped but it’s not the large population of the mentally ill that make the largest purchases. Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.

      • Miss Snarky Pants

        I recently heard on Sanjay Gupta’s program that the vast majority of mentally ill people who purchase a gun use it on themselves and no one else. Gangs and drugs are truly our biggest source of gun violence. Perhaps if we decriminalized certain drugs and reformed our gun laws, things would improve. They certainly can’t get much worse.

      • sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

        Yes, you are so right about how the guns the mentally ill purchase are for suicide and not to kill anyone else. We have so many rules slanted in the wrong direction. If we stopped exporting guns to Mexico, etc. and the drugs into the US were stopped (perhaps by making marijuana legal) then we might take a look at what we can do for gun control.

      • sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

        I haven’t read about the police shooting in Iceland. I’ll have to look it up. You are right in they must be doing something right. After the first of the year, my blog will dig into the issue of guns and mental illness. I’m really ticked about the alloted funds from congress going to mental health facilities (community) in an effort to ease gun violence. Why isn’t someone insisting the gun shows be closed down? I could go on and on but feel strongly that our country is going in the wrong direction with gun control. Obtaining guns must be stopped but it’s not the large population of the mentally ill that make the largest purchases. Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.

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