Early this morning, Flag Day here in the United States, was celebrated by a Bernie Trump supporter who felt moved to spray a baseball diamond with bullets resulting in four people being seriously wounded.
Why in the world would anyone decide a baseball field was a great choice for target practice? Now the apparent perpetrator, a James T. Hodgkinson, age 66, was himself killed as a result of two Capital Police officers who fired back at Mr. Hodgkinson. The two Capital Police officers were assigned as security for one of the players who were on the field at the time for batting and fielding practice. The player? Republican House Whip, Representative Steve Scalise. Why was he at the field? Because tomorrow is the long held, annual, charity baseball game between Democrats and Republicans that benefits disadvantaged children. As house whip, Mr. Scalise is part of the house leadership, and as such was afforded extra protection.
What these two exemplary officers did was exactly what they were trained to do in such a situation — stop the shooter.
Mr. Hodgkinson learned the hard way, an extreme way, that doing something stupid has consequences. The consequence he had to face was death. In this situation there was no slick lawyer, no softhearted judge, no suspension of a sentence, no assignment to “anger management” therapy, so there was no way he could mitigate the consequences of his own actions.
Whether this man could have learned the error of his ways without dying is impossible to know. But based on the idiocies that we see every single day in the media, learning without enduring any consequences for your actions appears to be almost impossible.
Earlier in his life, Mr. Hodgkinson has had several interactions with law enforcement, none of which could really be classed as a “consequence”. Without a consequence for bad behavior, it appears that he didn’t learn anything. As a very good friend of mine once mentioned to me, “pain is mother nature’s way of telling you that you just paid a tuition bill to help you learn”
Mr. Hodgkinson, sadly, did not have enough time to reflect on that thought. But Mr. Hodgkinson was not alone in thinking that they would never be consequences for his actions. Within the past several weeks we’ve seen other examples of people act stupidly and then are stunned when they find out there are consequences for their idiocies.
The first is the so-called comedienne Kathy Griffin who posed holding a mock severed head of Donald Trump covered with faux blood. Since she’s an entertainer of sorts she more than likely had the chance to watch the film Casablanca and seen Claude Rains (playing the corrupt police captain Louis Renault) claiming that he was “Shocked, shocked!” that there was gambling going on in a local establishment.
Even though Ms. Griffin claimed after vigorous criticism that what she had done was simply “art”, she then tried to claim protection by using the victim card. She couldn’t seem to understand that making fun of the assassination of a sitting president is (A) not particularly funny and (B) will have consequences. The fact that her target, the president, was not particularly pleased but worse for her, Mr. Trump’s eleven-year-old son, Barron, was distraught over seeing that image of his Dad on television.
Even Mr. Trump’s sharply worded Tweet didn’t really qualify as a consequence. So can anyone honestly tell me they think she learned something from this disaster? No actually it didn’t appear to teach her anything. At least it didn’t seem to teach her anything until theaters around the country were canceling her performances. Or in other words they fired her. Now THAT was a real consequence. It threatened her income.
Within the past week, New York’s famous Shakespeare in the Park festival showcased Julius Caesar. Of course, being a part of the New York art culture, portraying something by William Shakespeare (who technically, is an old, dead, white guy and can be ignored with impunity) requires members of the art culture in New York to present it in a new and interesting way.
The play was presented in a very new way. Julius Caesar was portrayed by a Donald Trump look-alike and was (in keeping with the original script) assassinated. Following on the heels of the blowback against Kathy Griffin and her stretching the term “art” to its limits, the audiences were offended by using the (simulated) assassination of a president. But the peasants who are the audience could be ignored as they perpetually are. But what couldn’t be ignored was the fact that almost immediately private commercial sponsors of the Shakespeare in the Park festival yanked their sponsorships. No more donations would be coming in. People would be much more reluctant to be associated with any theatrical production that had such an adverse reaction.
Once again an illustration of what happens when someone who has lived a consequence free life suddenly finds that consequences are not an urban myth. There really are consequences. Serious consequences.
And they found that not all consequences are meted out by old people in long black robes in courtrooms. Occasionally the consequences are the hands of others. Police who are being shot at by the perpetrator. Employers who find their behavior reprehensible. Or worst of all their careers being all but destroyed because of words spoken from a “bully pulpit”.
One can hope that these three incidents can illustrate to the members of the cabal of big-mouthed and small-brained zealots who have been overly protected and shielded from consequence by mommy and daddy regardless of what their demands on others might be, no matter what their behaviors might be, who are protected so that they ultimately never learn. They not only never learn from their own conduct, they don’t even learn from widely publicized screw ups from those who are older if not necessarily wiser than they themselves.