My nominee for the quote of the week has to go to Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton. Reacting to the Sons of Anarchy-like shoot-out between rival biker gangs in front of a local “breasteraunt” that left nine dead, eight injured, something like 170 weapons scattered about and as many bullet holes in bodies, buildings and vehicles as an ISIS jihadi attack, Swanton, a Texan let’s remember, remarked, “This is one of the worst gun fights we’ve ever had in the city limits.”
Key words: ” … one of”.
Merely, (“… one of”).
‘Murica. Where nine dead in an OK Corral gunfight between thug gangs in an Anywhere USA strip mall still doesn’t rate as “the worst”. And where thanks to misinterpreted gun laws, lobbyists and powerful feelings of personal inadequacy we keep well-armed militias on the highways and in parking lots terrorizing innocent shoppers popping into Cabela’s to restock their ammo before grabbing a lunch of burgers and fries with a side of large-ish jiggling boobs.
I’ve been more embarrassed for this country. There was George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004 and “Rocky” beating “Network” for Best Picture in 1977. But the scene in Waco was such a stunning convergence of so many of the elements that make us a morbid laughing stock to the rest of the First World you really have to give yourself a few minutes to absorb it all.
I mean, after you’ve digested the particulars I’ve just mentioned; the gangs of free-roaming thugs, the quantity of weaponry they’re always carrying, the booby-bistro setting and the first line casualties, you move on to the high likelihood that just like every other over-the-top gun rampage we’ve endured this one too will be quickly forgotten (which in a way is to say “forgiven”), because the media, which pays no real attention to organized crime until it explodes into view in an episode like this, is far more comfortable covering the crises of Bruce Jenner and the buffoonery of Ted Cruz than getting sideways with people who would actually … kill them. (Not that I’m blaming them. I’m just saying that’s reality.)
Then, just for icing, scroll through the pictures of the Waco aftermath. Were the only cops and bystanders allowed on the scene the morbidly obese? Did you have tip past 300 pounds to get through the yellow tape? Does that particular strip mall have a requirement that you be at least 150 pounds overweight before you’ll be served? Or is it just Texas? Frankly, I’m astonished there weren’t more deaths by diabetes than gunfire. But that’s the land we love.
Forgetting the usual gun debate, since it is abundantly clear after the the Sandy Hook massacre that the only legislative response we will ever in response to our own home-brewed terrorism is to make it easier for psychos to buy guns, let’s just make a comment on the male and intensely ‘Murican need to project … badassery.
The Waco thugs — and do note that the usual right-wing pundits are not deploying that loaded phrase on 99% white biker gangs — are flat-out criminals, running drugs, guns and women pretty much as they please, with the biggest threat to their bottom line coming from other gangs, not the FBI or local (grossly over-weight) police. The Bandidos even have the phrase “we’re the people your parents warned you about” as their club motto.
They are, put another way, a bunch of psychos.
So, walk me through the psychological gear links that make aging urban desk jockeys so eager to emulate the look of these feral lunks? And I’m not talking people riding motorcycles. I’m talking the whole black leathers, do-rag, probably-packing, flash-me-in-Sturgis, has-to-be-an-unmuffled-Harley crowd. Certainly there’s a conscious association the bond salesman/weekend Bandido is making to the celebrated criminal class. Why?
The claim will be that it’s all a bit of ironic fun. Another tribal thing for (mainly) guys who’d blow out a knee or rotator cuff if they engaged in anything more fraternal and physical than cruising all day on a 900-pound motorcycle. But, come on. The sense that you’re (still) a threat (if you never were to anyone but yourself) is fundamental to the faux biker ethos, just as it is to the gun fetish crowd. It’s the cheapest imaginable buy-in to a veneer of warrior masculinity. Go to a store. Try on some chaps, a vest and a bike and … voila! … one dangerous dude. Or so you hope the chicks will think.
It’s be ridiculously, laughably adolescent if the white collar wannabes weren’t lending a form of credibility to their criminal/mostly Aryan role models.
But that’s what we tolerate in the land of the free, over-armed and over-weight.
Finally: We had some technical issues with WordPress here at “Wry Wing” lately. But we’re better now.