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Celebrator of the grotesque

Apr 19, 2017 - By Steven R. Peck

Would Steve Stephens have shot Robert Godwin if he couldn't have posted it online?

Steve Stephens was having girlfriend problems. He'd had an argument with his mother. It was Easter, and he was feeling pretty low.

Then he thought of a solution. Kill somebody, and put the video on Facebook.

By now these questions are entirely rhetorical, but one wonders if 74-year-old Robert Godwin of Cleveland, Ohio, might still be alive today if the internet didn't exist.

Would Stephens have decided to gun down the total stranger as Godwin was cleaning up the neighborhood by picking up trash along the roadside if there were no Facebook to post the video to, if there were no social media feed in which to post his absurd, self-pitying, dumb-ass statements blaming his girlfriend and his mother not for something he had done, but for something he was about to do?

As if we were supposed to understand? As if we were supposed to see his point of view? As if we were supposed to empathize, even sympathize?

Another question: Isn't there some way that these live-streamed monstrosities can be blocked or somehow limited once they appear? Not doing so is grotesque, and it degrades us as a nation and a species.

If ever there were a guy who didn't deserve a national audience for his philosophy of life, Steve Stephens was the guy. But he got it, thanks to you-know-what, the greatest celebrator of malcontents, bigots, ignoramuses and general jackasses ever conceived.

And now it has given us Steve Stephens, who got his clicks and his fame. (Before he shot Godwin, Stephens made the well-regarded grandfather say Stephens's estranged girlfriend's name. Clever.)

We say "got" his fame because "got" is a past-tense word. Steve Stephens is past-tense, too. He shot himself Tuesday morning after he was spotted at a McDonald's in suburban Erie, Pennsylvania. Guess he needed an Egg McMuffin. Senseless depravity must work up an appetite.

As police closed in, Steve Stephens put a bullet in his head. Looks like his troubles are over. Those left behind can try to cleanup, repair, heal and move foreward.

Here's a suggestion for Steve Stephens and his like: Next time, leave out the middle man.
 

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