"One only wishes Wayne LaPierre and his NRA board of directors could be drafted to some of these [violent] scenes, where they would be required to put on booties and rubber gloves and help clean up the blood, the brains, and the chunks of intestine still containing the poor wads of half-digested food that were some innocent bystander’s last meal."
So wrote horror writer Stephen King in a Kindle essay Friday entitled "Guns."
"[P]lenty of gun advocates cling to their semi-automatics the way Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson clung to the shit that was killing them," King wrote in his 25-page essay.
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of hypocrisy in King's piece noting "to claim that America’s 'culture of violence' is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of cancer."
“It took more than one slim novel to cause [these teenagers] to do what they did," King said.
As Slate noted, "He points out that the top 10 books and the top 10 movies in the country do very little to glorify gun violence, specifically, and also cites a slight dip in the sales of some gun-centric video games, concluding that 'Americans have very little interest in entertainment featuring gunplay.'"
That's not what King said in 1999 after the massacre at Columbine when he spoke at a Vermont Library Conference saying, "[T]he amp-cult atmosphere of make-believe violence in which so many children now live has to be considered part of the problem. We may like our Jackie Chan movies, Walker Texas Ranger on TV, and the ultra-violent survivalist paperback novels--not to mention the pseudo-religious novels in which the Tribulation Days promised in the Book of Revelations are depicted in gory detail--but we need to recognize that these things are hurting us, just as so many of us had to recognize that our cigarettes were hurting us, much as we enjoyed them."
In fact, King himself had direct experience with this.
In 1977, under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, King published "Rage," a book about a Maine high school senior who kills his algebra teacher and holds the class hostage.
In subsequent years, numerous school murders occurred around the country with the assailants saying they had gotten the idea directly or loosely from "Rage."
King spoke about that in 1999:
I can't say for sure that Michael Carneal, the boy from Kentucky who shot three of his classmates dead as they prayed before school, had read my novel, Rage, but news stories following the incident reported that a copy of it had been found in his locker. It seems likely to me that he did. Rage had been mentioned in at least one other school shooting, and in the wake of that one an FBI agent asked if he could interview me on the subject, with an eye to setting up a computer profile that would help identify potentially dangerous adolescents. The Carneal incident was enough for me. I asked my publisher to take the damned thing out of print. They concurred. Are there still copies of Rage available? Yes, of course, some in libraries where you ladies and gentlemen ply your trade. Because, like the guns and the explosives and the Ninja throwing-stars you can buy over the Internet, all that stuff is just lying around and waiting for someone to pick it up.
Do I think that Rage may have provoked Carneal, or any other badly adjusted young person, to resort to the gun? It's an important question, because it goes to the very heart of the wrangle over who's to blame. You might as well ask if I believe that the mere presence of a gun makes some people want to use that gun. The answer is troubling, but it needs to be faced: in some cases, yes. Probably it does. Often? No, I don't believe so. How often is too often? That's not for me or any other single person to say. It's a question each part of our society must answer for itself, as each state, for instance, must answer the question of when a kid is old enough to have a driver's license or buy a drink.
There are factors in the Carneal case which make it doubtful that Rage was the defining factor, but I fully recognize that it is in my own self-interest to feel just that way; that I am prejudiced in my own behalf. I also recognize the fact that a novel such as Rage may act as an accelerant on a troubled mind; one cannot divorce the presence of my book in that kid's locker from what he did any more than one can divorce the gruesome sex-murders committed by Ted Bundy from his extensive collection of bondage-oriented porno magazines. To argue free speech in the face of such an obvious linkage (or to suggest that others may obtain a catharsis from such material which allows them to be atrocious only in their fantasies) seems to me immoral. That such stories, video games (Harris was fond of a violent computer-shootout game called Doom), or photographic scenarios will exist no matter what--that they will be obtainable under the counter if not over it--begs the question. The point is that I don't want to be a part of it. Once I knew what had happened, I pulled the ejection-seat lever on that particular piece of work. I withdrew Rage, and I did it with relief rather than regret.
As such, it seems preposterous that almost fourteen years later, King would say " to claim America’s 'culture of violence' is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of cancer" or "It took more than one slim novel to cause [these teenagers] to do what they did."
But as I've stated for years, it takes a tremendous amount of rationalizations to be a liberal these days.
For the record, here are some other crazy statements by King: