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Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Amendment 2a

by Tom Sullivan

Freedom as sociopathy.

A pickup truck "rolling coal" cruised by a downtown sidewalk crowded with tourists Saturday night here in the Cesspool of Sin. Rolling coal, says Wikipedia, "is the practice of modifying a diesel engine to increase the amount of fuel entering the engine in order to emit large amounts of black or grey sooty exhaust fumes into the air." Vice described it in 2014 as a way to "piss off cops, Prius drivers, and anyone else who happens to get in the way of their big-ass trucks."

It's an in-your-face weapon in the culture wars. Like flying big Confederate and Trump flags from your truck, only no one sees it coming until you flip the switch. Dave Weigel wrote at the time:

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” said one seller of stack kits from Wisconsin. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

Why bring it up in 2019? Because that grinning, "fuck your feelings" sociopathy behind rolling coal and Trump rally tee shirts has morphed into threatening passersby with a hail of bullets. A flip of the safety switch to "Fire" and watch people scatter. If they are not scattering already.

20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko filmed himself strolling into a Springfield, Mo. Walmart Thursday carrying an AR-style rifle, a handgun, and wearing a tactical vest with over 100 rounds of ammunition. It was just days after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio left 31 dead. His wife and his sister warned him it was a bad idea.

The manager had an employee pull the fire alarm to clear the store. A former member of the military held Andreychenko at gunpoint until police arrived.

But Missouri is an open-carry state, he told police. It was just a “social experiment” to see if his Second Amendment rights were still intact. He didn't see a reason why "people would freak out." Police charged Andreychenko with making a terrorist threat. A Battlefield City officer and another driver went to the emergency room with "severe injuries" after a collision as police rushed to the scene.

Dahlia Lithwick ponders the mentality it takes to practice belligerence as a form of free expression:
I am mindful of privilege today more than most days because it is the second anniversary of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, and we all know how that ended. I am mindful of what privilege buys you in America: the right to not get shot when you’re armed to the teeth, and the right to not have to explain beyond the fact that you were just “experimenting” with constitutional freedoms. The privilege of violent white men is the privilege of an almost-perfect failure of empathy, imagination, or regard. It buys you the right to ignore your wife and sister, to ignore current events and history and murder statistics, to ignore the fact that reasonable people should reasonably fear being shot in a bloody massacre. It allows you to stagger blindly through the world and not get killed, while you practice the fine art of looking like you can and will shoot hundreds of others, without even wondering why people are fleeing the building with their children clutched tight.

White men with guns, quickly becoming the most lethal cohort of Americans, don’t just benefit, every day, from the presumption of innocence, and eternal boyhood. They benefit twice over—first from that, and then from the presumption that their perfect self-absorption and solipsism are themselves enduringly worthy of constitutional protection.
That is Lithwick's polite way of saying some Americans' idea of freedom is the right to behave like an asshole. Now they have elected one to the White House who tells them every day to go to town. "Perceived grievance, either political or personal" motivates these shooters. Trump, who has built his life around grievance and revenge, validates theirs.

How about this? Swap out the Second Amendment for the constitutional right to be an asshole. You just won't have the right to be an armed one.