Suicide by gun doesn’t count! UNFAIR!

Our democracy is pay to play, now more than ever.   The Federalist Society caucus on the Supreme Court, in its infamous (unanimous) 5-4 Citizens United v. FEC decision, in 2010, ruled that money is speech and limiting its power in politics offends the First Amendment’s freedom of speech.   If you have more money, you get more speech, unlimited money equals unlimited speech, fair is fair.   Even if you’re a legal fiction, a certain perpetual type of business organization, you get additional, unlimited speech as a “person”.   Corporations are people.   You want proof?   They have freedom of speech, the intoxicating freedom, since 2010, to spend unlimited sums to advance their political aspirations.  That’s freedom, baby.

Sometimes such freedom is not reasonable or explainable.   Let me explain.

I’ve long noticed that gun suicides, an alarming number of American dead every week (about 458 at the 2018 rate), are not counted for purposes of gun fatality statistics in the United States.  I know, I know…  The National Rifle Association (reputedly Trump’s largest single donor during the 2016 election cycle) insists that including the bloated number of gun suicides would totally skew the gun fatality numbers and make gun ownership look way more dangerous than it actually is.  They don’t even have a rationale for not including gun suicides in the tally, but, the beauty part, they don’t need one.  The mass media always seems to go along with the NRA on this.

I noticed last week that PBS (our public broadcasting service), in a recent NewsHour piece about gun violence, didn’t mention the shocking number of suicides by gun — which they excluded while simply noting that gun suicide “makes up the largest proportion of gun deaths in America.”    PBS reported, in another recent piece I found, that last year 23,800 Americans killed themselves with guns.    We also hear that American suicide numbers are going up constantly and that suicide by gun is by far the most successful of the way of doing it, comprising more than half of the deaths (although only 6% of all attempts).  [1]

An hour after sending off a piece on this hideous truth to the Times, which I titled Et tu, PBS? I was watching a clip of Ari Melber from MSNBC that made me add (to myself) Et tu, MSNBC?  Melber spoke of encouraging signs of bipartisan progress on combatting the gathering climate catastrophe and our American plague of deadly gun violence.   He showed this graphic of gun deaths so far in 2019:

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 8.39.24 PM.png  

I did a quick mental calculation of 7.5 months of 23,8000 annual suicides by gun and realized the Gun Violence Archive (whatever that is) [2] had not counted (here I reached for my calculator) at least 14,875 victims of fatal gun violence (seven and a half months at last years rate).  Neither had MSNBC. 

So here we have another cooked “statistic” that is served up to us as a sobering “fact”.  Ari Melber and his team could easily have done the quick search and the calculation I did — in our instant information age it would have taken them a moment to get the actual number of gun fatalities in America. 

The number they would have arrived at for 2019 gun deaths so far is 23,967 (using last year’s gun suicide number).  Admittedly, 9,092 dead sounds better than 23,967 dead — by a long shot (or even a point blank shot to the skull), but still…

What the fuck, what the fucking fuck?

We live in emotionally unstable times, the predominant public emotions being fear, anger and hatred.   These emotions are stirred constantly by personally tailored notifications on the little computers we all carry with us in our pockets.   Our president, the billionaire offspring of the son of a lawless man deported from his native Germany (tax evasion and draft dodging) and a dirt-poor Scottish domestic servant, speaks on behalf of the desperate Americans who are setting new records for blowing their own brains out and killing themselves by drug overdoses in areas that no longer have paying jobs.  The president says, most recently, that only immigrants who are not dirt poor, or criminals (as he’s pointed out, many Mexicans are rapists.  they’re rapists) are welcome here.   Fuck refugees, people fleeing horrors of every kind, fuck all those subhuman fucks.  No room.  Get the fuck out.  USA!   USA!!!!

This troubling, divisive, false creature has a puncher’s chance of winning re-election, particularly in a system where a 78,000 margin in “swing states” is good enough to win, no matter how many millions of “popular votes” that candidate loses by.  Add to it that his party is successfully resisting all efforts to safeguard the integrity of our elections and ensure fair and accurately counted voting.   This in the face of proof that the 2016 electronic voting systems  were sweepingly and systematically hacked into, in all fifty states.  We’ll never know if vote totals were manipulated since there are no longer any paper records to consult.   The status quo seems to have favored Trump, look at his historic election mandate, so his party sees no problem with it.

Donald Trump may seem like a vain, thin-skinned strutting idiot who has no business running a candy store, let alone the world’s most powerful nation, but at least 60,000,000 Americans love him unconditionally.  His support has never varied much from around 40%, no matter what he does.   A writer named Adam Serwer put it perfectly, at the top of his piece The Cruelty is the Point:   [3]

President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear. 

Meanwhile, due to the policy of a powerful lobbying group, the voting public can’t even get basic information like how many of our desperate fellow citizens are using a few of their 393,000,000 constitutionally protected guns to blow their own heads off every day (about 65).   The NRA says “nothing to see here” and “UNFAIR!”.   And so it is.

Opinions are like assholes, true, but it would be nice if they were washed once in a while.   Lots of clean water would help, and some soap.  Sunlight, we are told, is the best disinfectant. 



[1]  I wrote a long, detailed piece on this the last few days, larded with quotations and citing every number I included,  that I was urged to send to the New York Times.   The Grey Debutante has two business days left to tell me if they’ll run some version of the overwrought piece.  They want an exclusive, so I had to take down the original and rewritten pieces from this blahg, just in case they did a google search.   If I don’t hear back by end of business Friday, I’ll be free repost it here.  And I shall.

2]  The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive has this cryptic statement on its daily ledger of gun deaths:  22,000 Annual Suicides not included on Daily Summary Ledger.  

{3]  The article ends with this beautiful, horrific paragraph:

Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.





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