Oscar, Louisa, and More: When the Guns Go Off…

I’m not a PUMA sympathizer, but I think this woman’s rage needs to be heard. Her daughter, Louisa, was shot by her other daughter’s ex. She is in a coma and not expected to make it. Her other daughter is battling cancer. In 2009, it looks like this woman, Betty Jean, may lose two daughters. In a particularly horrifying twist, the man who shot her daughter is now claiming that Betty Jean was his intended target.

Betty Jean and her commenters talk a lot about advertising that celebrates violence against women – although I am as appalled by it as anyone else is, I think it’s a symptom, not the cause. Violence against women has existed for millennia, it won’t go away if we make disturbing Dolce & Gabbana ads go away, although this may be a good start.

Neither do I think that banning porn and refusing to wear tight blouses, or whatever, as some commenter suggested, is going to prevent women like Louisa to become the hapless victims of assholes armed with guns. I think this violence is much more primal and horrible than that.

I was reading horrific news concerning another shooting (this one of an unarmed, restrained black man) on Feministe yesterday (check out RaceWire too, please) – and I wondered about how people, men in particular, are encouraged to view violence as a great way to solve a problem – be it financial, emotional, work-related, etc.

Homo sapiens had to employ violence in order to survive. Our violent instincts are there for a reason. But in trying to build a just society – a civilization, even – we cannot use instincts as our excuse.

There are hierarchies in this world. The mother of your ex, a young black man, or anyone else – you prioritize when it comes to their lives and their lives’ value. You prioritize, and then you pull the trigger. And then what happens? There is the danger that Louisa’s shooting will be written off as another “domestic spat” (much like what occurred at the start of the Virginia Tech killing spree in 2007). There is the danger that Oscar’s death will be framed as “just another black guy dead, *shrug*.”

I was in a bar the other night, watching the carnage in Gaza unfolding on Al Arabiya network. I was looking at these children, screaming in pain and fear in overcrowded, grim hospitals. I recalled the jubilation of some American writers at the violence – the glee at the notion that, in one case, the Israeli military was able to “wipe out a [Hamas leader’s] entire family” – and I had to, once again, think about priorities and hierarchies. Some screaming, terrified children instantly deserve compassion and support. Others can just be blown to bits over whatever it is that the adults are fighting about. And it’s perfectly cool when it happens, it sends a message, and so on (I’m not going to get into the politics of this thing, so SHUT UP if you’re about to start writing a comment that starts off with something like “but what about…” Israeli lives are no less valuable than Palestinian lives. But neither are they more valuable).

Those among us who are least capable of defending themselves make for the most excellent targets. Is it because, deep down, we fear and loathe vulnerability in all of its forms? Do we just want to punish it, cull it, stomp it out? Are we disgusted by the people who trust us, who depend on us, in one way or another?


12 thoughts on “Oscar, Louisa, and More: When the Guns Go Off…

  1. Also note: the man who shot Rodas, one George Hartwig, had already been convicted of abuse. Specifically, apparently, for attacking his wife, the -other- daughter, the one who’s dying of cancer. With a hammer. In the face. Because he wanted her cancer drugs. He went to jail, yes, last summer. For three months. And then, they let him out. And then this happened. Gee. Who’d have thunk it, huh?

  2. I really can’t reconcile that last paragraph with the rest, honestly. When someone’s ex attacks her, isn’t it about the loss of dependence (usually two way, whether the attacker realises it or not) and trust? Doesn’t the triumph over killing the vulnerable seem to come from their being dependents/family of the enemy?

    Should have come to the right side, should have chosen the right protectors … never mind that nobody told them they were invited. They should have deferred.

    Or she should have stayed in place. She shouldn’t have questioned me, shouldn’t have left.

    (sorry, novel. Probably why I generally lurk here.)

  3. I think it’s true what you’re saying, Shani, but what I was actually referring to was the very moment of approaching someone with a weapon, or thinking about it, fantasizing, etc. It’s, like, why do people get off on it in the first place? Obviously, a big part of that is being able to feel powerful – but in relation to what? Someone else’s “pathetic weakness,” I think.

    I notice that while abusive partners need the abused next to them to feel great, they also despise them. Or that’s what it seems like to me.

  4. Well, as I understand it, the despising has to do with their -own- vulnerability, the abuser that is–there’s a recognition at some level of their own dependence on the abusee, and that’s intolerable, so the needed-object has to be denigrated.

  5. So sad youre reputation as feminism’s dumb blonde is true. Keep crying for terrorists and terrorist litters. I am embarassed I defended you to other people in the past. People like you don’t deserve to be Americans.

  6. LITTERS, eh? I’m impressed. Most people like you try to cloak their genocidal hatred with bullshit buzzwords about how “casualties among children are certainly unfortunate, but…” You just lay it all out there. *clap*… *clap*… *clap*

  7. Pro-Israel:
    “Keep crying for terrorists and terrorist litters.”

    You’re an idiot. You clearly know nothing about modern warfare, asymmetrical warfare, counter-terrorism, Just-War theory or the Geneva Conventions. This not to mention the fact that your hatred and callousness toward innocent life is appalling.

    You are in fact allowed under international law to inflict civilian casualties, IF the strike is a “vital target.” This is the difference between terrorism/war-crimes and collateral damage. The Israelis show less care than I would like about causing collateral damage, but they do attempt to minimize it.

    The strike in question is allowable under international law, if, IMO, having a regrettably very high level of collateral damage, a level which if I were on an IDF target selection team, I’d be asking myself the rest of my life if it was too high.

    Your attitude, and the one apologized for by Goldfarb in the link Natalia provided is that there is NOTHING regrettable about killing innocents, that in fact that they are legitimate targets for retaliation strikes.

    That’s a war-crime. And it’s most emphatically NOT the official position of the IDF or the Israeli government.

    I think the Gaza fight is strategically stupid for Israel, but it can be justified.

    What your defending can not be defended or justified at all. It’s the exact thing we prosecuted Nazis for at Nuremberg. -Direct targeting of civilians in retaliation for attacks against Nazi targets in occupied countries.

    You’re attitude would get you thrown out of the IDF or any other Western Nation’s officer corps as unsuitable.

    Natalia is a “dumb blonde?” Better than a wannabe War Criminal any day. If I were her I ‘d take any insult hurled by you as a compliment.

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