The evils of social media dragged an OC Weekly contributor into the middle of Friday's mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Portland, Oregon-based Matt Bors, whose cartoons you may recall from our Hey, You! column–and whose work has also graced the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and Village Voice, among other pubs–had the misfortune of having as a Facebook friend the man originally named as the killer.
Before noon Friday and based on a police source, CNN identified Ryan Lanza as the suspect, even though the real killer was his brother, Adam Lanza. Like countless businesses, performers and even CNN journalists who get shit wrong, Bors adds complete strangers as Facebook friends because he assumes they are fans of his work and he wants to keep them in the loop about the progress of his career.
And so it was that despite Ryan Lanza's private Facebook wall setting, Bors as a FB friend could read the brother's protests, “Fuck you CNN it wasn't me” and “IT WASN'T ME I WAS AT WORK IT
WASN'T ME.” And so it was Bors posted a screen shot to Twitter and Facebook letting the world know Ryan Lanza was not the suspect dead at the scene of the carnage.
And so it was, Bors writes on Salon.com, “That's when things got crazy for me.” Messages streamed in from journalists seeking confirmation. Then came members of the public venting against Ryan Lanza and, gulp, Bors.
“One demanded to know how I
could be friends with such a monster,” the cartoonist writes. “Could I help a random Internet
sleuth create a 'psychological profile?' Did I see warning signs in
Ryan? Why did I suspiciously post cartoons about mass shootings only
The answer to that last question is because three days before the mass shootings in Newtown, a gunman killed two and wounded a third at a shopping mall in a suburb of Bors' Portland. That sparked calls to limit crazy people's access to guns, counter-calls to arm everyone to achieve safety through strength and Bors' take on the debate.
The kicker on Facebook was a soul who accused Bors “of
having something to do with the killings, 'which you take delight in.'”
That commenter “hoped the FBI would hold me accountable,” Bors relates.
Do yourself a favor and read Bors' piece to see what, in addition to tightening gun laws and increasing access to mental health care, America needs to have a “national discussion” about.
Speaking of gun laws, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein vowed Sunday to introduce
legislation to ban assault weapons at the start of the next Congress. A previous federal ban expired in 2004.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.