I never met “Oh Six” though she was a rather famous up-and-coming film star with thousands of admirers. I thought that maybe I did see her once when we were out looking for Forrest’s treasure chest and she and a companion were up for an early morning jog along the Lamar River but the whole thing went by so fast I really couldn’t tell.
“Oh Six” wasn’t her real name, of course, but that is what her fans and the paparazzi called her. Her handlers, those who knew her real name and who followed her closely, knew of her travels, her fits of jealousy, her sexual affairs and her loyalty to those around her. But like all handlers of the famous, her’s were also generally tight-lipped about such things as a way to give her some protection from both those who loved her as well as from those who hated her.
Hate is a strong word, I know; and I seldom, if ever, use it to describe the feelings of anyone no matter how uninformed, bigoted, obtuse and downright frustrating they may be. But, as used here, the word is accurate. Those who hated her did so precisely because of her travels and talents, her habits and sexuality, her trajectory towards fame, her family and friends, and how, by force of personality, she dominated anything and everything around her.
She died in early December; killed by one of those whose hate was sufficiently intense to give no second thought to taking the life of another. I’ve seen nothing about just whose finger pulled the trigger and I don’t want to know.
I wish that I could have warned her though; told her that where she was going was not safe. “No!” I would have shouted. “Don’t do that!” “Don’t go there!” But then, I didn’t know her, had no way to make contact and it wouldn’t have helped anyway.
I don’t know if those who followed her every step, her handlers, tried to build a real protective capsule around her or not but my guess is that they didn’t. For them it was a question of granting her a short, happy life of freedom or a longer unhappy life with freedoms restricted.
I want to think that I would have made that same choice for her but right now, I’m not sure.
Note: I wrote the above piece the night before the horrendous events in Newtown, Connecticut. The killing of Oh Six fades to almost nothing when placed beside what happened there. Indeed, I debated putting up the Oh Six post at all. In the end, as you can see, the post went up because there is, in my mind, a connection between the two.
Although I no longer hunt and don’t now own a gun, I am not against hunting—as long as there is a keen respect, indeed reverence, for the hunted. Anything less than that diminishes the hunter, the activity of hunting, and the culture within which the hunter resides. That is why the hate that killed Oh Six matters.
Likewise, I believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution to be an important part of that document though I disagree with interpretations made by the Supreme Court regarding challenges to that amendment. Like you, I have friends who believe the Constitution to be the final word; that the courts cannot place their “modern” ideas above what the founders “wrote down in plain English.” Yet, they remain silent when I ask them why they hunt with semi-automatic, high-powered, scoped rifles instead of a muzzleloader. Do these modern arms somehow raise the shooter’s skill level in the hunt? Accrue added value to a trophy? Or make the story more heroic and meaningful?
Neither do they respond when I ask them why they haven’t joined the National Guard or the local police force if they want to play with weaponry that has no place in the sport of hunting or on the streets of any city or town in the United States. A “well regulated militia” had meaning when the amendment was written and it has meaning now. But, neither then nor now does that have anything at all to do with “concealed carry,” “stand your ground,” or to private ownership of the implements of war.
There is a debate that is needed in our country—a debate about freedom, and guns, and culture, and rules, and tradeoffs, and conflict, and fear, and pride and the moneyed interests that encourage something alien to citizen welfare. But I fear that the debate is not going to happen; at least not in a meaningful way and the list of gun mayhem grows longer: Newtown, Connecticut; Portland, Oregon; Aurora, Colorado; Kansas City, Kansas; Manchester, Connecticut; Binghamton, New York; Blacksburg, Virginia; Littleton, Colorado; San Isidro, California; Hyattsville, Maryland; Austin, Texas and most any street corner, alleyway, or parking lot in America on any given day.
Ezra Klein of WonkBlog who recently reviewed the statistics on gun violence involving multiple deaths summarizes the findings:
“Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not.”
We can do better; much, much better.