Friday, March 05, 2010

Men Running Amok

When I was a small boy, I had a neighbor who'd been a jar-head in the Phillipines before the second world war. One time Mother was having coffee with Louie and his wife and I tagged along.

Louie looked at me and said "C'mere, kid. Let me show you something." He reached into a footlocker doing duty as a coffee table, pulled out a wicked looking knife with a heavy blade, and said "This is a real machete, the kind that village blacksmiths would make out of a leaf spring from a Ford. I took it off a Phillipine rebel who'd been laid out. Y'know, these fellows would run amok as they call it. They'd go crazy and start whacking anyone and everyone with their machetes, and it'd take several of Uncle's best .45 rounds to get their attention-nothing of lesser caliber would do the job like a big assed slug of .45 caliber lead."

The phrase stuck with me, and there it sat until I thought about it a few moments ago on my way out the door to retrieve my phone from the Ford Ranger.

A little Googling produced the following from the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911 on the subject of amok:

A Malay will suddenly and apparently without reason rush into the street armed with a kris or other weapons, and slash and cut at everybody he meets till he is killed. These frenzies were formerly regarded as due to sudden insanity. It is now, however, certain that the typical amok is the result of circumstances, such as domestic jealousy or gambling losses, which render a Malay desperate and weary of his life. It is, in fact, the Malay equivalent of suicide.

The reason this came to mind was the breaking news story of one John Patrick Bedell, who approached the Pentagon yesterday and, when asked to show identification, pulled out a pistol and opened fire. He didn't get far, and was cut down in a hail of bullets.

What of this Bedell fellow? It seems he was a computer programmer from California and a physics graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz who had an interest in smoking pot, right wing conspiracy theories, and cooking up something he called "information currency", although a gander at the youtube video he posted on the subject is a pedantic migraine producer.

"B-b-but Sparky!" you say, "w-w-where's this all going?"

Simple. This week it was Bedell. Last week it was Joe Stack, a right wing fantasist computer engineer crashing his airplane into an IRS building in Texas over some fancied tax avoider freeman type grievance. Also last week was the case of Ricky Ray Liles, that wild and crazy California gun crank who shot two police officers attempting to serve a search warrant to death and then blew his brains out.

Three white men, running amok, in the space of a few days? Clearly that's what happened.

As Joe Leaphorn, Tony Hillerman's fictional Navajo detective opined, if you believe in coincidence you're not looking carefully enough.

There is a common theme here, and it's right wing teabagger Koolaid in large economy size packages that's getting swigged. I keep coming back to one of Grassley's town meeting teabagger rantfests and some old guy got up and said "Well, the only thing to do is get a gun and go to Washington."

Loose talk, perhaps? Maybe, but the fact that a person's so disconnected as to be willing to get up in public and say such a thing speaks volumes about the madness that's taking hold in the National Lower Intestinal Tract teabagger movement.

It's a stunning reprise of the recently released George Romero inspired flick "The Crazies".


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