On Monday, driving home for Gabe’s doctors appointment we were witness to a state trooper shooting a man to death on I-5. Kamel was hissing at me to “Get down, get down!” as I watched the cop shoot twice, then pause, then shoot 4-5 more times. And then the man died.


The man had lit the cab of his truck on fire, and had been running around the freeway with a knife. A few minutes after the incident, as we were parked just behind and just in front of police tape, we were told to abandon our car and walk 200 yards up the freeway, weaving between a sea of parked cars with drivers in them, because there was some sort of bomb or explosive in the truck.

We were there for a few hours. I gave a few statements to police, the baby cried and whined the entire time, until he finally fell asleep in Kamel’s arms.


The whole next day Kamel and I couldn’t stop thinking about the what-ifs. What if we had gotten there sooner? We wouldn’t have been involved. The truck had been swerving, witnesses said – what if missing the on ramp the first time actually saved us from getting hit? Did the cop have to shoot him? Did he have to shoot him so many times? What if. What if he hadn’t. What if he didn’t. What if the bomb would have worked. What if. What if.

Before Monday it was the school shooting outside Portland and before that it was the school shooting in Seattle and before that it was Santa Barbara. And before that 75 other school shootings happened, and before those it was Sandy Hook and all those tiny children were murdered. And all of the media frenzy that comes along with all of these horrific events. All of the violence. We are fascinated and sickened by it at the same time.

I read an article about the message boards Elliot Rodger had been frequenting before he went on a killing spree. I read the hate that was festering there, boiling over. The absolute misogyny, the beyond terribleness. Ididn’t know it existed, but now I do. Now I wonder, is the guy walking on the other side of the street one of the people who says these things?It’s like a field of land minds. Which ones hate me because I don’t want a free drink at the bar? Which ones think ‘No’ is  suggestion? Which ones see me as subhuman?

[11:04 AM]: she doesnt weigh that much but shes only 5.3″

[11:04 AM]: women under 5’5 shouldnt be above 100. i fucked an escort who was 5’5 120 and i thought she was fat. i realized women withotu clothes are much uglier than with clothes

11:04 AM]: i see most women as some skinnyfat dude with a pussy. they are just subhumans acting liek they are the shit

It’s scary. The stuff the men in those message boards said about raping women, about how it is the ultimate “masculinity,” how they have sexual rights to our bodies, and on and on and on. I mean, it wasn’t just rape culture, it was encouraging each other to participate in these mass shootings to draw attention to their cause, just like Elliot had done.

And then there was the Game of Thrones episode where they *semi spoiler alert* smash the guy’s face in by squishing his eyes until his head explodes like a melon. Squish. They showed the whole thing from beginning to end. And then they showed his dead body, sprawled out and terrible.

I plugged my ears and closed my eyes and turned away and cried because it was too much. It was too graphic. It was too in your face. There was no subtlety. The camera didn’t pan away. And it’s not real, but that’s not the point.

I’ve had enough with the violence. With the shooting and killing and all of the badness. I’m done. I don’t care anymore about the philosophical gun debate. I’m no longer going to participate in those conversations. There is no hypothetical, there is just dead people, dead kids.

We don’t need to be ingesting it all. We don’t need to be shoveling our faces full of terrible news, of violence and torture, of victims and murderers. It’s too much. I don’t want it in my life anymore, I feel like it makes us sick. Maybe it makes us broken, maybe it just makes us numb, maybe it makes us hyper anxious, unable to discern the real threat from just the feeling of threat.

The innocent victims of gun violence aren’t fighting a silent war to protect the 2nd amendment. They die for nothing. They die for being female, or for being blonde, or for being mentally ill, or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And there is never any justice because nobody ever wins. I’m over the violence. I don’t want it in my life anymore.


8 thoughts on “Violence”

  1. Yes. So much yes. I don’t want to watch violence glorified on the TV or in movies (or even read about it in books), but even more, I want us to do something to make it stop happening SO often in real life. I really think this country needs to enact some common sense gun control, but there doesn’t seem to be the political will to make that happen, and I am just at a loss on what do.

    I’m so sorry you witnessed this. I’ve been thinking of you guys.

  2. How absolutely terrifying to witness something like that. I’m so sorry that happened and I can’t imagine the impact it had on you and Kamel. I’m so glad you and your family are physically okay, though. Yikes.

    I don’t watch GoT, but my brother does and I caught the tail end of that episode you mentioned. I am usually not affected by violence or gore, and I do love a good horror movie, but that scene totally upset me. I find myself being more numb to the acts of violence in the news lately, and I think it’s because if I think about it too much, I’ll never leave my house again. It’s a crazy, scary, world out there.

  3. Gah, sounds like a pretty surreal/scary thing you guys witnessed.

    I have to say, shutting off the news and avoiding violent movies/shows in general has been a TOTALLY valid strategy for me, especially as parenthood and age have made me more sensitive. Even when you know something’s made up or happened far away, it still sticks in your brain and is hard to get rid of.

    I also recommend sipping some coffee (or tea or wine or whatever) and watching birds outside for a little while. Works wonders for when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the world’s craziness.

  4. I’m so sorry you all witnessed that; I can’t even imagine how scary that must’ve been, and how difficult afterwards with a wiggly toddler and nowhere to go. I’m glad you’re safe.

    I have cut out a lot of fictional violence, just as a matter of having an overactive imagination + anxious personality; I just don’t need it. I think it’s had the effect of making it more shocking when I do see it now. I’ve also cut out most news as our older kiddo has gotten to an age (nearly 4) of understanding what’s being talked about and asking questions about things so far out of her control/my control. I dread her having to do drills in kindergarten to practice staying safe from hypothetical gunmen; that’s not what 5 & 6 year olds should be thinking about. No one should have to be thinking about that. With regard to cutting out news, I feel better, knowing that we’re not supporting that endless loop of media coverage of violence, but I wish that it didn’t have the effect of me not knowing as much about what’s going on in the world, but like you, I just can’t anymore.

  5. This is one of the reasons I stopped being a journalist. I started feeling like a trashcan into which all the world’s ills were thrown. And then I was passing it all on. And in the same breath as all that death and destruction and misery, I’d utter something inane about sport. One hundred and twenty thousand people are dead from a tsunami but boy, aren’t you glad some guy in white scored a hundred runs in the boxing day test? Those weren’t the words I wanted to give to the world.

  6. I’m so sorry you (and I imagine the dozens around you) were in this position. I wish the outcome for that situation was that the man received the help it seems he needed.

    Violence and glorification of violence really does feel like an incoming tide to me. I don’t know if that is just the logical progression of growing up and noticing more happening around you or if our world is actually beginning to drown in it as it seems to be. I try to separate myself from it in my personal life because working where I do I deal with it – at least remotely – every single night.

  7. I’m way late to this post, Lauren, but it hurts my heart. I try so hard to ignore so much stuff like this — I live in a small town, only read the business news, etc. — but then I wonder, am I doing myself a disservice by trying to forget that things like this are happening? I don’t know. It’s hard to walk the line between awareness and self-protection. I’m sorry you had to witness that awful scene 🙁

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