Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis the Season

Christmas is almost here.  The most wonderful time of the year the song says.
  • Raise a glass.  
  • Light the tree.  
  • Wrap the presents.
  • Listen for the sleighbells.
  • Remember to put out the milk and cookies for Santa.
Count the bodies.


Christmas Eve 2008, about 11:30 at night.  Bruce Pardo put on a Santa suit, gathered up his gift-wrapped flame thrower (you can't make this shit up) and a 9mm semi-automatic and went to visit his ex-in laws in Covina, California.  Big party at there house - about 25 folks were there.  By the time Pardo left, 9 were dead from gunshot, fire, or both.  Pardo changed into civvies, drove to his brother's house and shot himself.

Christmas Day 2011, late morning.  Aziz Yazdanpanah put on Santa suit, gathered up his 9mm and his 40 caliber handguns and went to estranged wife's apartment.  Family gathering.  For the last time.  Yazdanpanah killed his wife, his daughter and son, his brother and sister-in-law, and his niece.  Then he killed himself.

The guys in the Santa suits are pikers.  The real Christmas massacre was on Boxing Day 1862 in  Mankato, Minnesota.  No Santa suits.  No flamethrowers or handguns.  38 nooses on a single scaffold.  That's a lot fewer than the 303 who'd been sentenced to die, but still. Thirty-eight. Thirty fucking eight. The largest mass execution in US history.

Of course, we're not talking  rich white guys here.  These were redskins, injuns.  Charged with rape and murder, they were all tried, fairly of course, by military tribunals at Guantanamo.  Some of the trials took a whole five minutes.  That's 5.  Of course, some were shorter than that.  And as I said, 303 were sentenced to be hanged.  Lincoln carefully reviewed each case.  He commuted all but 39.  Then one got a reprieve.

So they built a scaffold big enough to do it all at once.  

Tuesday is Christmas, the day most Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the one who instructed 
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
John 8:7 (KJV)

The execution of Jesus stands, of course, as the best known of wrongful executions.   He died for you, for us, for them, whatever, and Christians of different stripes will disagree about exactly what it all means.  But the general answer they'll give is that Christ died to bring life.  

And so at this time of celebration . . . 

Count the bodies.

Forget the men in the Santa suits.  They were just a couple of guys pissed off at women they thought would put up with whatever they did and however they acted because they were so goddamn wonderful.  So they killed a bunch of folks and then themselves.  

Sadly, that's almost quotidian, a day to day occurrence.

Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, ordering the killing of 38 in a single, calculated, cold-blooded act.  Fewer than 303, certainly.  But 38 men.  Native Americans.  


Ben Franklin, just before putting his name to the Declaration of Independence:
We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang sepaately.
Though the Mankato Massacre isn't exactly what he meant.

In our names.  The day after Christmas.

December 26, 1962.

'Tis the season.


  1. There is always something with this season eh? Though I am not a huge Abe Lincoln fan, I think that there is no singular president in any country's history who did not made a mistake, considering that the nation was a bit young when Abe took over. However, there were no excuses with this one. With no fair trial, a mass killing is still a mass killing, whichever way you put it.

  2. Mr. Gamso:

    You forgot to mention that Hitler often played music at his mass killings and al. What you point out in a humorous and sardonic way (which is what I like) is that the so-called nation that we founded as "Christian" is anything but....let's wipe everyone out so we can "save" the ones who other words, G-d bless America and fuck everybody else....we participated in our own mass genocides here and elsewhere....Vietnam....

    S.M. Russell