July 28, 2021
Updated: Jul 28, 2021
One part of keeping a blog should be as a repository for those bits of writing that don't correspond to a formal subject, but function more as a reflection on life, or a memory, or an attempt to pin down a fleeting sensation. They're not so private that they can't be shared, but they are personal enough to be meaningfully subjective.
Take this photo, for instance. I snapped it of a vehicle in front of me using my phone, partly because what I was seeing/reading didn't add up in the remaining seconds before the light turned green, so I decided to just check the image later. Sure enough, it's an explicit call for random acts of vigilante justice, in the form of premeditated murder, to be carried out against the heroin dealer closest to whomever happens to be reading this bumper sticker right now. Presumably, of course, most people don't know many heroin dealers, or probably even one, so there's a sense in which this is meant to land as a form of trash-talking: menacing words that don't mean anything resembling a threat.
Except they do clearly mean something. In fact, the words here are grimly serious, as demonstrated by what's underneath the command to kill: memorial dates for someone who clearly died of a heroin overdose at the age of 31. Without minimizing in any way the unbearably painful loss of a child or sibling to an overdose of any dangerous drug, the logic of this message is that the way to address this tragic loss is to go out and kill another human being.
So this is definitely not a PSA about supporting your local drug treatment facility, or even about joining in community efforts to educate young people about drugs, or least of all in telling citizens that if they know anything relevant to the actual sale of lethal substances in their neighborhood, they should share that information with the police. But it's definitely presented in the form of a solution to a problem: a loved one ODs, so just grab a gun and blow someone away that looks to you like they might resemble a drug dealer. Because, in the end, how would somebody know that another person is a heroin dealer unless the first person was somehow familiar enough with the business to know when & where the product gets sold? Granted there are exceptions, like if it's happening on the stoop of your apartment building, or your child or sibling are using, or your best friend happens to mention that they're dealing heroin these days.
But back to the imperative to kill a complete stranger as the ideal response to a loved one's death. Visually, the message is framed in starkly 2nd Amendment terms, with two gun barrels substituting for the double O in Shoot. If we interpret this literally, it seems like a clear reference to the frontier justice motif of a lone sheriff armed with two guns, one in each holster. Put in starker terms, the sticker seems to be saying, 'Why the hell do we even have these guns if we're not going to use them?'