Death is forever. Your spiritual background may influence your attitudes about that, but death sticks around and never leaves, and that's the truth. The expiration of a human life, particularly when that life has been ended by sensationally violent means, the episode continues to send ripples and temblors and wildfires throughout the universe, inside and out, until the end of time.
Today we read about the death of Horace McCoy, one of the brave men who stormed the observation deck of the UT Tower on August 1, 1966, to put an end to the mass-murder rampage of Charles J. Whitman, who had commandeered that vantage point and, during a 96-minute terror spree, fatally shot 16 individuals and wounded another 32.
A former USMC sharpshooter and Eagle Scout, Charlie was well-prepared. A list of the things he carried can be viewed here
Like many people my age, I was a kid doing summer vacation-type stuff on that blisteringly hot day when the news came on TV and we sat and watched the terror unfold on our black-and-white TV set. We lived in Johnson City, 45 miles from Austin. The Tower massacre changed our consciousness. It was the first time that a mass murder of such scope had occurred in a public space.
Now, sadly, these things are almost routine. The Newton school massacre on December 14, 2012, seems to have shaken people anew, as if it were a new escalation in our self-inflicted war against ourselves, and it almost seems possible that some meaningful action will be taken to reduce the excess number of guns, to peel away the idiotic paranoia of radicalized gun advocates and their ultra-right-wing lobbies. The NRA position, bolstered by sack-job Tea Party tin-hat squads and Libertarians who'd much rather protect the rights of oil rigs and guns than our drinking water, estuaries and the air we breathe, is that no action of any kind can be taken that infringes on the rights of an individual to own or purchase firearms of any caliber. That the only answer to public safety is more guns, bigger guns, freer access; that everyone, particularly the media, is the enemy of freedom and nothing spells freedom more explicitly than guns, especially big guns, lots of guns, guns everywhere, all the time. Even in churches, schools, kindergartens, funeral homes, whatever.
The entire story about Horace McCoy, written by Austin American-Statesman
reporter Ricardo Gandara, can be found here
. However, I wanted to call attention to an excerpt, which ties into my theme:
McCoy fell on tough times after he left the Austin Police Department. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and battled alcoholism.
Shoquist said he was aware of McCoy's troubles: "Like most of us, Houston battled some demons during his life, but I believe, in the end, he won the war.
"It is hard to separate the man from the police officer due to the notoriety surrounding the 1966 tragedy," Shoquist said. "Houston was a modest, unpretentious man. His word was his bond and a handshake was as good as a written contract. He was loved by his wife, children, grandchildren and his friends for who he was, not for what happened on the UT Tower that day."
McCoy was asked in an earlier interview how he wished to be remembered. He answered, "That he's just a good old boy."
I have written about my own experience with murder, most expansively in my memoir Never The Same Again: A Rock N' Roll Gothic.
Writing about the experience helped tame some of the demons, but I was forever altered by the experience.
What happened, briefly: I came home after a gig and walked into the South Austin home I shared with my girlfriend, Dianne Roberts, and it was like falling into a black hole. Time stopped. Everything was silent. The air felt like a heavy weight, yet the walls and other objects seemed to have lost their solidity. I had to touch one of the stucco walls to make sure my hand wouldn't go through it. Dianne was sprawled across the bed.
Dianne Roberts, poet and artist from Houston, Texas, murdered by a serial killer in 1976 at the age of 22, in the South Austin home we shared. by Jesse Sublett
I assumed she was asleep and knelt down and touched her shoulder and said, "Sweetie..." anxious to tell her about how great the gig went, how we rocked them out there at the Helotus rock festival. But her skin was cold and with just a bit of pressure from my hand her body rolled over like a plywood board and I saw her face and what he had done to her.
And really, that's when the world spun upside down. Shock isn't really the right word. You become disconnected from everything. It took a long time just to dial the phone. My fingers wouldn't work. The cops came and assumed I was the murderer.
Lyle Richard Brummett had no gun, of course. But I have no doubt that he could have obtained one easily if he had wanted one.
Ever since that day, which happened to be August 16, 1976 -- a blistering hot Monday afternoon exactly ten years and two weeks after Charlie Whitman's Tower spree -- I have been a changed human. I have had many serious post-traumatic stress experiences. I want my family to be protected, and I believe that a firearm might be helpful in certain instances, and I've also always owned firearms, including the old hunting rifle I used when I accompanied my father deer hunting. But I also seriously desire protection from the gun madness that has gripped this nation for so long.
As has already been pointed out, other nations have violence-prone insane people, too; but they have fewer guns; therefore they do not have anything near the number of mass murders that we have.
It's a no-brainer. Unfortunately, to date it appears that there are more guns than brains out there.
As some of you may be aware, I had other issues come up earlier this year when the serial-killer Lyle Richard Brummett was almost accidentally released by the State of Texas, and I wrote about that in this post A K A SERIAL KILLER
, published last May.
As you'll read in that post, it was a very stressful period, fighting to present my case to the parole board and convince them that releasing the man who not only raped and brutally murdered my girlfriend, but at least two others, and quite possibly several more, not to mention other brutal crimes for which he was indicted but the charges dropped in a complex and probably flawed plea arrangement which sent him to prison to serve two life terms. The way the math works out, two life terms can end up being as little as 17 years.
A life term to the survivors of a crime like this lasts considerably more than 17 years. Not a day passes that I am not confronted with the psychic wound, the shattered and warped reality, the window on hell that this monster ripped open for me and the family and friends of the victims of his crimes.
Wayne LaPierre, CEO of National Rifle Association, has stated many times that there are "monsters" in our society, and that the only way to protect ourselves from these monsters is more guns and fewer restrictions upon ownership of all those guns. I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination to say that Wayne LaPierre and his pals should take a look in the mirror before they say words like "monster."
This guy is an alien emissary from the planet n-RA. Like all those alien invaders in 1950s sic-fi movies, he seems to have learned our language from watching old TV shows and movies. He even quotes lines from old westerns like:
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Who said that, anyway? John Wayne? Clint Eastwood (long before his empty-chair wrangling days)? Walter Brennan?
I'm quite confident that line is from some corny 1950s western, but I can't place it right now. Anyway, you can just imagine the gears clicking in the brain of alien Wayne LaPierre when he came up with that corny stupid idiotic line. By the way, it's the theme behind Planet n-RA's "PLAN OF ABSOLUTE PROTECTION," which calls for armed guards in every school in the USA.
(And, by the way, I hope you're all aware, Philadelphia Mayor Michale Nutter has summarized the worthiness of that plan in a far more economical style than I. The Mayor calls the NRA plan: "a dumbass idea." Read about the Mayor's thoughts in more detail here
Remember that famous Twilight Zone episode when, too late, the hero discovers that the title of the "friendly" aliens' book, "How to Serve Man", has nothing to do with servitude, but everything to do with dinner? This is a similar situation. The emissary from Planet n-RA, which is populated exclusively by gun-people, has nothing to do with protecting humans and everything to do with protecting guns. It's all about guns, guns and more guns.
Every point that alien Wayne LaPierre tried to make in his speech arguing for more guns and less gun control is easily refuted by the facts
, and those facts are easy to look up, which leads us to conclude that it's either arrogance or ignorance that spurs alien Wayne LaPierre to keep spouting off these insupportable ideas.
Perhaps they don't have Google on Planet n-RA.