Thursday, February 12, 2015

GIGO 2: Guns, Islamophobia, and the Politics of Atheism

Craig Stephen Hicks is charged with murder in the deaths of three Muslim students.
Old, White, Crabby and Flabby Craig Stephen Hicks,
concealed carry permit holder, and gun obsessed alleged murderer
photo via the WSJ
Craig Stephen Hicks (allegedly) shot three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week.

A lot of fuss and fury on the right has focused on him being an atheist.  He was an atheist, and more recently an anti-theist.  That means he called out the bad things done in the name of religion and underlined how religion contributed to the sense of justification for doing those bad things.

But he was not an Islamophobe.  Rather he railed against extremism, including BOTH Christian and Muslim extremism and fundamentalism, equally.  He did not single out either as being the unique in that regard, but rather saw the problems as being similar and coming from the same root causes of the Abrahamic faiths.

Hicks was pro-civil rights for the LGBT community, and he came out in support of the inaccurately dubbed Ground Zero Mosque.

Where the source of the problem with the shooting of the three students, who were apparently incidentally Muslim comes from is the obsession Hicks had with guns, owning them, carrying them, along with an intense interest in other weapons, drones, knives, body armor etc.

Hicks is reported to have confronted the three people he shot on prior occasions, making it clear he was wearing a gun, an implied threat.

Hick's now-estranged wife says this was all about parking issues.  His social media accounts show him to be obsessed with weapons, especially guns, and quote the local PD as saying Hicks was a legal carry permit holder, who was observed by multiple people in the course of his parking place obsession carrying a gun.

This is almost certainly the most pertinent information in this shooting.  From the WSJ:

Alleged Chapel Hill Shooter Had History of Parking Disputes, Tow-Truck Driver Says

Local Driver Says His Company Regularly Received Requests From Suspect to Tow Cars

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—A local tow-truck driver said that the man accused of killing three Muslim students Tuesday night had a history of reporting neighbors for parking in spaces that weren’t theirs and creating “a lot of drama.”
Christopher Lafreniere said his company had a contract for towing in the Finley Forest neighborhood where the alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, and two of the three victims lived. Mr. Lafreniere said the company was called “every day, or at least several times a week” for more than a year by Mr. Hicks with requests to tow cars that Mr. Hicks said weren’t parked in the proper spaces. In one incident, Mr. Hicks had a gun, Mr. Lafreniere said.
“This guy towed an obscene amount of cars,” Mr. Lafreniere said. “It got to the point where we stopped answering his calls.”
Mr. Lafreniere said he was shocked when he saw coverage of Tuesday’s fatal shootings in the quiet neighborhood. “The news is saying, ‘hate crime, hate crime,’ but then I found out it was that guy and I thought, ‘Hmm, it actually might have been a parking issue,’ ” Mr. Lafreniere said. “He was all about towing.”
Mr. Hicks brought a gun into the small parking lot outside his condominium during a parking dispute on the night of Dec. 14, 2013, Mr. Lafreniere said. A report in the online database of the Chapel Hill Police Department naming Mr. Lafreniere and Mr. Hicks confirms that there was an argument that night involving a tow that Mr. Lafreniere had been called in to make in the small parking lot outside Mr. Hicks’s apartment.

Spaces in the Finley Forest condos are assigned and it was inconvenient for people coming home at night to have a car in their space, Mr. Lafreniere said. Mr. Hicks was by far the most frequent person to request a car be towed in the sprawling neighborhood dotted by small lots.

Mr. Lafreniere said he went to Finley Forest that night to tow a Toyota Prius parked in the wrong spot. The request was called in “for once” by a different neighbor, he said. The Prius owner was upset about being towed, and Mr. Hicks called the police to report noise in the parking lot, Mr. Lafreniere said.
“He comes out with a gun and says, ‘I’ve called the police,’ ” Mr. Lafreniere said. “I heard sirens from miles away.”
The story reminds me quite a bit of George Zimmerman the self-appointed boss of the neighborhood watch, and his gun carrying proclivities, along with the history of anger issues.  These people get a little power crazed, thinking they have some authority they don't, and then eventually shooting people because of it.

These gun obsessions are never healthy.  For those who will argue that guns don't kill people, people kill people, without the gun and without the obsession over guns, and without the carry permit that entitled him to parade around with his gun to try to order people around who were not armed, it is unlikely three people would be dead.  People WITH GUNS kill people; it's much harder to do it without guns, especially if you're old, white, flabby and crabby.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're exactly right here. First, this guy was REALLY motivated about every day, ordinary issues, parking spots, probably money, probably even his lot in life. If he's like nearly anyone who becomes "angry", he looked at religiosity (and likely other things too) as part of the reasons for his own lot (such as those who blame government or taxes for their lack of affluence). So, one day, he was in a bad mood, and these folks told him to get bent about a parking space and weren't going to be "pushed around" by his threats with a gun, so allegedly, he shot them, allegedly executed them really. It wasn't about their religion, it was about their affront to his will, and the subsequent feeling of being disrespected, even WITH having a gun, so, apparently and allegedly, he took his frustrations out, with a gun.

    And that's the point, he, like so many people who commit crimes, even those who are radicalized, like the shooter in Denmark, are very commonly simply sitting in a room growing angrier and angrier day over day, until the blow their top, like say Adam Lanza did. It's THAT which is the issue, that anger and increasing isolation and self-righteousness which is the problem. Extremism is the outcome. You can't take up a firearm and "even the score", because it doesn't work for you, and of course it's also ahborant behavior for which you'll only be remembered as a murdering thug. We've added the idea of "hate crimes" because we felt that the criminal courts in some states were unwilling to otherwise act when someone acted primarily from bias. Expanding that use to things where someone simply held a general view (like not liking religion - which has a lot to be not liked over) means we create a governmental power to act in a very broad way, and way we don't want. We've seen far too often in this country laws used to prosecute people in manners which we never meant, like taking people's homes (confiscation) PRIOR to trial for drug offenses over trifling amounts. Do we really want to make the definition of "hate crime" so expansive that it no longer fulfills it's goal but instead makes it so that the government can do things we never wanted?

    Shame on the left and the right, they're both very wrong here. This guy was simply a kook who didn't like religion, but he killed these people, allegedly, over his ordinary, every-day "hot buttons", that and his feelings of inadequacy so profound he felt he needed to carry a gun and use it to demand compliance.

    Last, yes, let us never forget his easy access to guns when he was angry made these crimes SOOO much more possible.