Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Gacy and Trump: the surprise connection

"The Farce is Over," by Honore Daumier (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

     John Wayne Gacy sued Des Plaines and its police department. For harassment. For illegally searching his home in unincorporated Norwood Park. For insisting on following him around, prying into his affairs, undermining his reputation as a pillar of the community with their relentless questions, implying some kind of link between him and missing young men.
     His lawyer filed the suit on Dec. 19, 1978, seeking $750,000. Two days later, bodies were discovered in a crawlspace in Gacy’s home.
     Consider the chutzpah of the criminal. Their minds are skewed, warped. They have already deceived themselves into believing they have the right to do evil, to rob, to kill, to rape, to satisfy themselves while hurting others. They also are skilled at fooling their victims, tricking them, luring them into ruin. And so certain criminals believe, not without reason, they can deceive you, too. Because they are so much smarter, in their own minds.
     Part of the contempt that allows a person to do evil is an unshakable sense of superiority. Gacy claimed self-defense. As the bodies piled up, he confessed. Later, he insisted he didn’t do it. This shape-shifting dynamic — squinting, evaluating any current situation and then trying to squirm out of it — is the grease sociopaths skid through life on. Or try to. The baldness is shocking.
     When the FBI executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8, the range of excuses immediately offered by the former president and his army of enablers almost exhausts the range of human imagination. These are just mementos. No, the papers were overlooked briefings, brought home by our hardworking chief executive. No, the classified documents weren’t classified, because he said so. No, it was all a plot. No, the papers were planted. And on and on.
     The brio is breathtaking.
     I know we’re not supposed to be surprised at this point. But any decent person almost has to be surprised. There is a baseline assumption of truth, rationality, that holds back law-abiding citizens, causing us to lag many steps beyond those who leap ahead, unhindered by any pang of conscience or shred of humanity.
     That’s why we still remember Gacy after nearly half a century. We know killers exist. We know Gacy was a killer. But the specifics of his crimes are still shocking. He raped and tortured and killed 33 young men and boys. We don’t want to live in a world where that’s ordinary, accepted, forgettable.

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11 comments:

  1. Among New York, Georgia, the Justice Dept. and whomever else is going after him, Trump has to get charged with some crime. Should he be charged and convicted of anything there will literally be rioting in the streets. I'm sick to death of hearing "nobody is above the law (the Supreme Court said so of Richard Nixon). If Trump is never convicted, obviously somebody is above the law. A truly scary precedent.

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    1. I hope they nail him on the business charges. That he was an incompetent untrained and untrainable government officer is clear to all -- his supporters think it's a virtue, but that he is, has been and will forever be a lying, cheating, overbearing businessman, who regularly stiffs people who work for him and allows others to suffer for his crimes, might allow some people to see him in a different light: not a hero, but a lowdown, contemptible thief.

      john

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    2. A monster fighter turned monster!

      john

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Perhaps Joe and other Dems in high places fear the violence and rioting, by the domestic terrorists, if Trump is charged...and hopefully convicted. That's why we have the National Guard and the armed forces. Every public official in America has sworn an oath to defend our Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

    Yet, it’s long been taboo even to acknowledge that we have domestic enemies. Today, such willful blindness could be fatal, unless Joe takes the gloves off when the crazies go crazy. Even if Trump doesn't go to jail, a felony conviction would disqualify him from public office. That alone might be enough to save us....as in U.S.

    My first wife's kid brother was married to a woman who knew the sister of one of John Gacy's victims. She may have also known him, as well. Gacy met him in a Des Plaines drug store. His body was found four months later, in the Des Plaines River. Whenever Gacy's name came up in conversation, she would mention that she knew that victim's sister, which would essentially put an end to any further discourse.

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  3. During the summer of 1977 I worked at Walleys hot dogs on the northwest side. The owners daughter sent me to the grocery store to buy canned chili . Along the way a guy tapped his horn at me and made the hitch hiking gesture . I waved him off and he tapped it again and made the want to smoke a joint motion. I flipped the creep off.

    That night I told my friends about this and forgot about it. Until a few months later when his picture was in the paper and I was like hey remember the guy I told you about that tried to pick me up? Well thats him!

    We rode our bikes over to his house to check out the scene. Totally surreal.

    The thing that made me sure it was the same guy was his car, once I saw pictures of it the story of his fuckery had become pretty clear. Thinking about it still makes me nauseous.

    We rode our bikes over to his house to check out the scene. Totally surreal.

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  4. It's true that most people are good and decent. Also true that they want an honest, law-abiding society. Tragically, that may not be enough; given effective voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Supreme Court and the absurdly antiquated Electoral College.

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    1. The world is full of countries with good and decent people but controlled by those who are not. What we experiencing was inevitable as Trump aggravated the festering sore known as white supremacy.
      Things will not improve until supporters of his ideology realize they were duped and things are not better. Even then, that type doesn't like admitting mistakes so they just may stay the course.

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    2. While I agree that if Trump were to be actually convicted of something (or, heck, simply arrested for something), his idiot followers would probably stage some kind of violent protest in multiple locations, that would really not surprise me.

      What does surprise me is that we have a good capacity for forgetting that there have been plenty of past episodes of all kinds of violence in this country, especially bombings, and you don't need to go all the way back to woodcut images of the Haymarket riots. Google the FALN bombings and you'll be reminded of numerous bombings by them and others in just the past few decades. For example, the Merchandise Mart, Woodfield Mall and other familiar places were all hit in the 1970s, and yet I think we mostly associate that level of violence with upheavals in other countries.

      If Trump's followers get sufficiently torqued-up, we can expect some really bad stuff, but probably nothing that we have not seen before, only that which we may have forgotten about.

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    3. From its earliest beginnings, even before it was an independent country, America has always been a violent society. There was the violence of the frontier, and vigilante movements. There was violence among immigrant groups, racial violence, lynchings, organized and unorganized crime, political violence...and, of course, labor violence.

      America has had the bloodiest and most violent labor history of any industrial nation in the world. Bombings connected to labor disputes have, historically, been routine. And political violence is as American as cherry pie. The "culture wars" are no longer just a figure of speech. They are a source of vast reservoirs of anger...and rage.

      I believe we are going to see a lot more "bad stuff" in the next few years. The real question is...how bad? Northern Ireland on steroids? The Troubles, American style? Trumpist militias adopting the tactics of the old SDS Weather Underground? We may already be approaching that point. And we will see things we have never seen before...bad things...and then wish that we could unsee them.

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