Nel's New Day

November 23, 2022

‘Thoughts and Prayers’

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and more people will be in mourning, thanks to the U.S. obsession with guns. Mass shootings don’t kill that many people, cry gun fanatics who want no laws for the safety of people in the United States. Although somewhat accurate, every mass shooting creates not only murders and long-lasting injuries but also others who face these losses. Mass shootings occur everywhere that people gather such as festivals, places of worship, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, concerts, shopping areas, and workplaces—locations frequented by most people in the U.S. Yesterday, it happened again. A Walmart manager in Chesapeake (VA) walked into the break room where he killed 6 people and injured another 6. The shooter is dead.

For the third consecutive year, over 600 mass shootings, defined as at least four people shot at a single accident, have hit people in the U.S. With 39 days remaining in 2022, the number this year is up to at least 602 mass shootings. That number skyrocketed from the 273 mass shootings in 2014 when they were first recorded. The current number is over a dozen each week, and the majority of people in the U.S. say “so sad” and “thoughts and prayers” before they move on to believing they won’t be personally affected. This country is unique: the rest of the world is appalled by the U.S. indifference to the violence.

Questions arise regarding many mass shootings, but there is no doubt why someone attacked an LGBTQ club in ultra-religious Colorado Springs last Saturday, killing five and injuring another 19 people. Colorado Springs, home to the anti-queer hate group Focus on the Family founded in 1977, has been virulently anti-LGBTQ, reflecting the ultra-conservative culture of the area. Anti-LGBTQ hate crimes have drastically increased during the past several years; hate crimes related to sexual orientation almost doubled between 2018 to 2019 and those related to gender identity from 2019 to 2020.

The hatred and violent rhetoric fomented against LGBTQ people by many GOP politicians and other Republicans, led by Fox network Tucker Carlson, and anti-trans troll Matt Walsh, left no doubt about the motivation. Far-right groups have gone into libraries to assault drag queens reading books to small children and vandalized drag shows in bars while police ignore the damage. In just 2022, state legislatures introduced over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills. In the same year, candidates spent at least $50 million on political ads attacking LGBTQ rights and transgender youth.

For a few days after the tragedy, conservatives stayed largely quiet about it or tweeted in general terms like conservative Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin who didn’t mention the word “gun” or “shooter.” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who just won her deeply red district by only 500 votes after her Democratic opponent graciously conceded, pushed the lie that she’s never criticized LGBTQ people. 

That honeymoon, such as it is, is over. Conservatives are back to attacking LGBTQ people and their allies. More people would have been killed and injured if Richard Fierro, an Army veteran at Club Q with his wife and child, and not tackled and disarmed the shooter. Extremists now question Fierro’s sexuality because he was at a drag show, call him “groomer” and “faggot,” and assert this story is false. Those commenting on Parler, Gab, Truth Social, The Donald, and Telegram have been vicious about Fiero. Jenna Ellis, right-wing lawyer representing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his attempts to overturning the 2020 election, said the five murdered people at Club Q showed “no evidence … they were Christians” and therefore are “reaping the consequences of having eternal damnation”—i.e., burning in hell.

Conservatives have more fuel for their fire after public defenders for the killer stated that he, now they, has identified as nonbinary and should be “addressed as Mx. Aldrich.” Much more will be written about this claim than the killer’s criminal background.

The 22-year-old shooter was born two years after Coloradans passed its anti-LGBTQ amendment to the state constitution. It was later overturned as unconstitutional. Yet within the past few years, he hid his violent past by changing his name. People who refuse to recognize the hatred for LGBTQ people will declare, as usually happens with mass shooters, that he was bullied in an attempt to engender sympathy for him.

The question is whether they can cover for his June 2021 arrest when he caused a partial evacuation of a Colorado Springs neighborhood by threatening his mother with “a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.” Yet he was never prosecuted for charges of kidnapping and felony menacing. That arrest could have kept the shooter from obtaining a weapon under Colorado’s 2019 red-flag law, but the police didn’t follow through. The killer wasn’t stopped from buying an AR-style rifle and a handgun because his records had been sealed. The county sheriff where Colorado Springs is located refused to issue Extreme Protection Orders, and Boebert, who damned drag queen events, cheered him on.

The killer’s maternal grandfather is California state Rep. Randy Voepel, a MAGA supporter of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Voepel lost his seat this year.

Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter who is driving the company into disaster, is also promoting hate crimes against trans people by returning accounts to influencers who have violated Twitter’s anti-trans harassment policies as well as those banned for breaking rules about the abuse of LGBTQ people. One of them is DDT.

Soon to be master of conservative misinformation, Twitter is facing a world of problems. Musk is beginning to realize the massive problems he caused with his missteps:

  • Hundreds of high-level workers left after Musk’s refusal to allow them to work remotely. He also ordered workers to sign a pledge to work longer hours and reduced staff. They were excused only for family emergency or inability to “physically get to Twitter HQ.” In a third email, he told them to fly to San Francisco to be present in person to see him. Although he backed off on the no-remote policy, employees didn’t return, leaving at least six critical systems with no engineers or skeleton crews. The top Twitter trend became “#RIPTwitter,” followed by names of alternative social.
  • Musk has called for “anyone who actually writes software” at the company to meet him. Decimated departments are finance and accounting after the disappearance of all employees working in payroll, U.S. tax, and financial-reporting.
  • Criticizing Musk is justification for firing, even if it’s in private, according to the new owner who bought the company to promote “free speech.”
  • Sara Fischer writes for Axios, “Waves of layoffs and departures [will cause] an increasing volume of glitches, delays and decay around the edges.” She listed problems such as extensive copyright violations for movies, hacked accounts, faulty security measures, and bad content for advertisers.
  • Musk himself doesn’t seem worried about problems caused by sweeping changes to support teams and products.
  • DDT’s return to Twitter came from a poll, and Musk plans the same system for “general amnesty,” letting everyone back on Twitter. Highly unscientific, Twitter polls are open to all users and can be targeted by fake accounts and bots.
  • Apple and Google can ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.
  • Racist comments, including those for the biggest Black World Cup stars are permitted to remain.
  • Twitter employees at its Africa headquarters are accusing the company of “deliberately and recklessly flouting the laws of Ghana” and trying to “silence and intimidate” them after they were fired. They demand Twitter comply with the nation’s labor laws and give them additional several pay and other benefits. 
  • Twitter has opened up to anyone without proof of identity causes security problems for fraud, other market problems, etc.
  • Musk refuses to pay millions of dollars in travel bills generated by Twitter executives before he finalized the purchase of the company, saying he didn’t authorize them. He also also issued an order to slow or stop transfers of funds to Twitter’s vendors and contract services. Corporate credit cards for Twitter employees have also been closed.
  • Shares of Musk’s electric-car maker, Tesla, are down over 50 percent, partly because he pulled over 50 Tesla engineers to work at Twitter.
  • A Tesla shareholder sued Musk for the $50.9 billion pay package given him with the claim that he exploited his control of Tesla and its highly-paid board of directors to obtain the package. The suit also claims that Musk and his board didn’t uphold financial responsibilities to shareholders. Musk still controls 20 percent of Tesla shares.
  • National security may be at risk with Musk’s incompetence because the National Weather Service had joined Twitter and is now subject to parody. Accurate up-to-date information is vital in times of rising floodwaters or rapidly moving tornadoes.

Musk’s 2022 losses top over $101 billion as he loses over $400 million every day. Tesla is hurting because of tightened COVID restrictions in China, a recall of over 321,000 vehicles because of a taillight problem, and a criminal investigation into the car after a dozen crashes, some of them fatal. The current probe examines whether Tesla misled customers, investors, and regulators with unsupported claims. (Left: drawing fro Bulwark) 

Conservatives, however, are ecstatic about Twitter’s changes and think guns are more important than people.

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