A ‘siege’ and a manhunt and the ongoing American ‘death cult’

A ‘siege’ and a manhunt and the ongoing American ‘death cult’ December 16, 2014

Sunday night I went to bed watching the BBC World News reporting on the hostage situation in Australia and following #sydneysiege on Twitter until long after that hashtag had devolved into a swamp of authoritative speculation, earnest calls for prayer, and racist diatribes.

Sarah Proud and Tall’s post at Balloon Juice reflected a hopeful and helpful spirit that I saw expressed and demonstrated by many Aussies — that of people who weren’t eagerly excited to cooperate with a potential terrorist by enthusiastically seizing the opportunity to be terrorized. The #illridewithyou response that quickly arose was also an encouraging sight.

(The anti-kitten-burning coalition was also out in full force, as was the usual right-wing disappointment later on when the situation failed to escalate into the mass-casualty international event some apparently hoped would bring a sense of meaning to their otherwise meaningless lives.)

Much of the hyperventilating press coverage of the “siege” in Sydney emphasized that this was an unprecedented event — a day on which everything had changed for ever and ever for Australia. Nonsense, Juan Cole says:

In fact, Sydney had another hostage crisis, in 1984, in a bank. A formerly wealthy (secular) Turkish-Australian became unhinged at losing his fortune. Today’s incident is not more important than that one, which few now remember. Both of these hostage-takers were common criminals. Neither is a “terrorist.” Today’s Sydney hostage-taker is not representative of a new activity. He isn’t important, and ordering a black flag won’t make him so. The only one who can bestow recognition on this criminal is the mass media and the press. They shouldn’t do it.

Well put.

I awoke Monday to check on the latest updates from Sydney and learned that a similar situation was happening closer to home.

In one of the region’s deadliest shooting rampages, an Iraq war veteran shot and killed his ex-wife and five of her relatives early Monday, terrorizing four upper Montgomery County communities and sparking a manhunt that continued deep into the night, officials said.

The suspect, Bradley W. Stone, 35, of Pennsburg, had a “familial relationship” with all of the victims, officials said. Besides his ex-wife, he allegedly killed her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. The couple’s two daughters were unharmed.

The killings began before hours before daybreak, and sent SWAT teams scrambling from town to town and put schools into secure mode. Officers discovered bodies in homes in Souderton, Lansdale, and Harleysville, in Lower Salford. A 17-year-old boy, Stone’s former nephew, was shot and wounded

Several reports have said Stone is suffering from PTSD, but the deeper problem is a lethal case of MRA:

Nicole and Bradley Stone had divorced in 2009.

“They’ve been fighting for years, real bad,” a neighbor, Michele Brewster, told the Allentown Morning Call. “He’s been tormenting her. She’s gone to the police, and she has told everybody, ‘He’s going to kill me.'”

The Stones had been involved in a protracted custody battle over their two daughters, according to a friend of Bradley Stone.

“She was trying to hold the kids from him, and he just snapped,” theorized Matthew Schafte.

This is not an unusual story. This precise form of deadly violence happens all the time in America. Every day, several times a day. Men kill women. Every damn day.

“More women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends since Sept. 11 than all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Gloria Steinem said a few months ago, sparking a minor uproar among those who refused to believe it could possibly be true.

It’s true. Between 2002 and 2012, more than 15,400 American women have been slain by their “intimate partners.” Every day, several times a day, American men kill American women.

Here’s the appalling front and back covers of the special edition Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph rushed out in Sydney as the hostage crisis there unfolded.

The Daily Telegraph's special edition featured three factual errors in its front page headline.
The Daily Telegraph’s special edition featured three factual errors in its front page headline.

Rupert Murdoch’s error-ridden sensationalism also shapes the “journalism” of his American news outlets — from Fox News to the New York Post. But even those ratings-chasing carnival shows never speak of the ongoing slaughter of women by their intimate partners as a “death cult.” You didn’t see your local media covering the latest killing by the latest aggrieved male as “The instant we changed forever.” Nor will they cover the next such episode in such sweeping, hyperbolic terms.

But we do have a death cult. It’s not terrorists or jihadists. It’s American men killing American women. Every day.

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