Military, modern problems, true crime, Virginia

Mass shootings in the United States have become almost banal…

The featured photo was on Facebook last night. There was a time when I would have found it funny, but I have to admit that I was actually a little triggered seeing it… Given all of the gun violence these days, it’s hard for me to laugh at jokes involving weapons, even if the actual joke is about men peeing and missing the toilet. But at the same time, I no longer feel “shock” when I read or hear another story about someone dying due to another person’s hatred, rage, and inability to control their violent impulses.

Yesterday morning, I was reading about the terrible mass shooting incident at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There were many people at the club, there to have a good time watching a drag show. Suddenly, 22 year old Anderson Lee Aldrich burst into the venue and started shooting, eventually killing five people and wounding at least 19 others. He was tackled by Richard Fierro, a man who spent fifteen years as an Army officer and went on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Fierro left the service in 2013, just a few years before he would have been eligible for retirement. I don’t know the circumstances of why he left the military. My guess is that the repeated war zone deployments had a lot to do with it.

On Saturday, November 19th, 45 year old Mr. Fierro had gone to Club Q with his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend, who would sadly perish in the chaos that erupted that night. The family was having a good time watching Fierro’s daughter’s friends perform in a drag show, when Aldrich ruined everyone’s evening with his AR-15. Without a single thought, Fierro leapt out of his seat and charged toward the hulking young man, said to weigh at least 300 pounds and wearing body armor. The combat veteran tackled the gunman, throwing him to the ground as the AR-15 clattered out of his reach. Aldrich pulled out a pistol, which Fierro immediately relieved him of and began beating the shit out of Aldrich with the gun until he was bloody. Another man grabbed the AR-15, while a drag queen stomped on the man with her high heels.

As the wife and the daughter of men who went to war, I have seen what time in a literal war zone can do to a person’s psyche. Fierro went into action because of his training, and because he spent a long time in combat, training himself to go on autopilot when violence erupts. He didn’t think. He simply reacted to the indoctrination that he had to kill or be killed. This is an instinct that never really leaves a person. I saw it in my father, who went to Vietnam and came home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband, Bill, also spent time in Iraq during the war. Fortunately, he wasn’t involved in any war zone violence; he just had to work with a malignant narcissist, which was certainly triggering enough. But there were still some lingering effects from his time downrange. War changes people.

In this case, it was a lucky thing that Mr. Fierro had been to war and had the reflexes and will to take action. He is a genuine hero. However, I know that this incident will traumatize him. He’s not at home enjoying his hero status. I know that all he wanted to do was go out with his family, and have a good time. He never should have had to use those sharply honed war zone skills again. He did enough for his country, having earned two Bronze Stars. And now, he’s going to have to live with the trauma of what happened at the Q Club, where people had just wanted to dance and have a good time. I fear that he’s never going to feel safe again… not that he necessarily did before this tragic incident occurred. I pray that he’s able to access adequate mental health services. I’m sure he’s going to need them.

Bill and I talked about Mr. Fierro over breakfast yesterday, not knowing that today, November 23, 2022, we’d be hearing about another incident. This time, it happened at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. I happen to know Chesapeake, because I grew up about an hour away from there. I have friends who live there now. This morning, my friend Mary Beth posted on Facebook about a shooting in her town… and then I saw the news.

Not to be outdone by Anderson Lee Aldrich, a man believed to be the store manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, opened fire in the store and killed six people and injured more before killing himself. The man who did this has not yet been named, as, at this writing, the crime happened only a few hours ago. It does appear that, at this point, the man acted alone. Naturally, there are a lot of “thoughts and prayers”, which do fuck all to stop the violence. I guess it sounds nice to offer up prayers… but what good are prayers when someone suddenly loses their parent, child, or friend to gun violence?

Leo Kosinski, a spokesman with the Chesapeake Police Department, said “I mean it’s sad, you know we’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday.” As if it wouldn’t be just as sad in the middle of September or March? Okay, I guess a mass shooting does cast a sad pall on the holiday, especially for those who lost loved ones in these horrific attacks. Still, I find that statement kind of shocking in its banality. I think a lot of us are just numb to the violence. I haven’t set foot in the United States in 8 years. I haven’t seen most of my family in the time I’ve been away. You’d think I’d miss being “home”, but home is becoming less recognizable by the year, as more people go off the rails and kill perfect strangers with high powered weapons.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole contingent of people who are hellbent on forcing women to gestate, no matter what. And there’s no shortage of internet based idiots who want to argue– even with board certified OB-GYNs like Mama Doctor Jones– about what constitutes abortion. I ran into one of those idiots last night. She was relentlessly arguing with people about this subject… shaming Mama Doctor Jones for correctly referring to treatment for an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion. That is PRECISELY what it is, by the way. Abortion is not a dirty word. But these folks refuse to understand that, and they want to pass barbaric laws that will KILL women. Or force them to birth babies they aren’t ready to raise… which will lead to a childhood potentially full of poverty and abuse, as well as escalating violence from gun toting right wing nuts. Below is what one idiot posted to Mama Doctor Jones’ Facebook post about treating ectopic pregnancies. She was taking on all comers, berating them for pointing out her lunacy.

Abortion is directly related to the uterus. Literally. Once you started with that lie that treatment for ectopic pregnancy is abortion in order to minimize actual induced abortions, I stopped watching. Do better.

Reading these kinds of moronic comments enrages me… but still, even as angry as I get at people who want to deny freedom of choice to women and spread LIES, I don’t wish for them to be blown away by the gunfire from an AR-15. How is it that the people who claim to value the lives of the unborn so much, are so unwilling to do a fucking thing about the gun toting wackjobs? And they want to send people like my father, my husband, and Richard Fierro into war zones, so that they come back traumatized to the point at which they willingly hurl themselves into violence?

I haven’t even addressed the recent gun violence at the University of Virginia, where three football players were murdered by a former football player who opened fire in a garage. Yeah, I saw the headlines and the photographs of three smiling young Black men, wearing their orange and blue striped neckties. But again… I feel so numb. Because there have been SO MANY shootings. A person in the United States can’t even go to the damned grocery store nowadays without having to worry about being shot! And yet, some folks want to bring more innocent souls into the world, with no plan for supporting them, nurturing them, and protecting them from crazed lunatics with guns, invading churches, movie theaters, nightclubs, schools, and grocery stores.

When did our society become so incredibly hateful and violent? More importantly, WHY are people like this? It’s just so sad. People just seem to hate each other so much now. I kind of wonder if it’s because of social media, to be honest. It’s like we can’t stand to be so exposed to people who are different than we are… and that somehow translates to feeling like murder is the answer.

Anyway… I think I’ll take care of some chores so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving, such as it is celebrated among Americans in Germany.

true crime

14 years old? Put away that costume!

Halloween is coming. It’s not much of a thing here in Germany, although there are some folks who celebrate it. We weren’t living in Wiesbaden last year when Halloween came around, and for the total of six years (in two different stints) we were down near Stuttgart, I could probably count on one hand the number of people who rang our bell looking for candy. But we still dutifully get candy in case someone is looking for a handout. It’s a habit. I remember trick or treating as a kid and coming home with huge hauls of candy that would take weeks to finish eating. It wasn’t healthy, but it was fun.

This is me in England, aged five, and dressed in my lame gypsy costume. We weren’t culturally aware in the 70s. I was a gypsy a lot of years because it was easy.

I was born and mostly grew up in southeastern Virginia, save three years at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England and a couple of years in Dayton, Ohio during babyhood that I don’t remember. In fact, I came of age maybe an hour’s drive from Chesapeake, Virginia… if the traffic was light, anyway. I know the area, which is maybe about thirteen miles from Norfolk. I watched TV channels from the Chesapeake area and, a couple of times, even visited Greenbrier Mall on a whim. My mom was horrified when I told her that I did that. I was bored, still enjoyed driving, and gas was cheap in those days.

In all of my years living in the Tidewater area of Virginia, I never knew that since 1970, it was against the law in Chesapeake, Virginia for anyone over age 12 to trick or treat. In fact, until last year, violating the law could have resulted in up to a $100 fine and a six month jail sentence! This news went viral last year, but I missed it because Bill and I were neck deep in house hunting and cleaning in October 2018.

A news report about the trick or treating law from last year, after Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at it. Click the link to see the whole routine on Twitter.

I saw something about the law a couple of days ago, but didn’t really read up about it until this morning, when The New York Times shared a piece about Chesapeake’s controversial trick or treating rules. Apparently, the ordinance was passed in 1970 because a couple of years prior, a couple of teenagers threw firecrackers or some other explosive into kids’ trick or treat bags. There were injuries, so lawmakers determined that there ought to be a law against costumed teens running amok on Halloween. As I read the story about how the law came to be, I was wondering if what had really happened was that teens answering the door handed out explosives. But the law was made many years ago… in fact, before I was even born! And although it was a legit law, it was largely unenforced and kind of obscure.

Since news about the law went viral last year, local lawmakers in Chesapeake changed the rule. Now, if you trick or treat when you’re older than 14 years old, you could be fined $250. It’s considered a misdemeanor. But even though this ordinance exists, Chesapeake cops aren’t even planning to enforce it. I’m sure they kept it in case a teen commits an illegal act and they need another reason to levy a fine or something. Instead, the cops are going to focus on controlling traffic so the costumed kiddies will be safer as they beg for sweets. Below is a screenshot of the new law, passed in March of this year.

Here’s a link to the official source of this new law.

I had a good laugh reading the comments on the New York Times Facebook page about this law. Most of the people commenting, naturally, did not read the article. They lamented how “stupid” the rule is and how it’s impossible to enforce it, particularly since kids are notoriously at different stages of growth between 12 and 14 years of age. I myself never grew past five feet two inches and looked pretty young when I was that age. I had peers who looked more mature or less mature. Those years are topsy turvy when it comes to human development.

However… my favorite comment was this one:

A kid drenched in blood with a string out the top of his head. Rang my bell at 10pm. I opened the door…… “ I’m your period, sorry I’m late” Gave him the rest of the bowl.

Man, I think I can go back to bed now! My day is officially made! Especially since this month, Aunt Flow happens to be late. She’ll probably show up on the weekend, because she always shows up when it’s time for fun. What can I say? I am totally gross on so many levels. I love jokes about periods. I love Halloween, too.

Someone else commented that adults trick or treat by carrying a wine glass and getting a refill at each house. I like that tradition, although in my current neighborhood, we have a “wine stand” every other Friday night. I believe there will be one tonight, too. I’m sure Bill and I will be there.

I also agree with Foamy about this… if some teenager rings my bell looking for candy on Halloween, I’m gonna hand it over. I’d rather teens trick or treat and enjoy a wholesome activity with other kids, than get into mischief.

But anyway… I hope everyone has a happy Halloween and no one’s teenager gets arrested for trick or treating over-age. I kind of miss living in the country, where it was easy to see all of the fall decorations and visit farms selling pumpkins and such. I’m sure we have them up here, too. I just haven’t found them yet.