Last night, as you probably have heard, a Dallas man named James Boulware launched a one-man quasi-military assault on the Dallas Police Department headquarters, firing an automatic rife with such abandon that early reports suggested that there were as many as four different shooters. After fleeing the scene in an armored “Zombie Apocalypse Van,” leaving behind an assortment of improvised explosives as a kind of going away gift, Boulware was cornered in a restaurant parking lot; after a long standoff, he was eventually killed by a police sniper’s bullet. It was something of a miracle that no one but Boulware ended up dead.
Boulware’s father told local news that his son had been “pushed past” his “breaking point” after losing custody of his son. Men’s Rights activists often describe men who “resort to violence” after losing a custody dispute as victims of a cruel family court system.
But in Boulware’s case, it appears, nothing could be further from the truth.
Because, you see, he lost custody of his son two years ago — after a violent incident that offered a chilling prequel to last night’s rampage. As the local NBC affiliate reported at the time
A Paris man was arrested after family members reported to authorities that they were concerned he could go on a shooting spree. …
Officers confiscated several guns from a Paris home, after arresting the owner. “There are four or five long guns and three or four pistols, tubs full of ammunition, and the body armor,” says Paris Police Chief Bob Hundley.
James Boulware, 33, allegedly grabbed and choked his mother in Dallas on Tuesday morning, and he has made other threats, police and family members said.
“That he was going to just kill all the adult members of the family and then that’s when he made the comment he may shoot up some churches and schools,” says Hundley.
“He had been talking about the schools and churches being soft targets, being easy targets because no one in them was armed,” a man who identified himself as Boulware’s brother “Andrew” said.
After this incident, a judge handed over custody of Boulware’s son to Boulware’s mother; it seems rather clear that the court was right to deem him unfit to care for the boy.
Further confounding the standard Men’s Rights narrative is the fact that the mother of the child, reportedly a drug addict, was also deemed unfit; both were ordered by the court to pay child support to Boulware’s mother.
Boulware was well-known to local police for this and other family disputes — as well as for repeatedly threatening the judge involved in his case.
Indeed, he littered Facebook and other websites with comments ranting about the alleged injustice done to him, alongside angry and often hateful attacks on “Comrad [sic] Obama” and the “fag loving, abortion have typical queer American brain washed troll[s]” who argued with him online. After a commenter called him “dumb” in one recent discussion of American foreign policy, Boulware declared that “I’M TRYING TO FIND OUT WHERE YOU LIVE SO I CAN DRAG YOU OUT OF YOUR TRAILOR AND BEAT YOUR BITCH A$$!!!!”
His conspiracy theories may have been driven by delusions; Boulware’s mother says her son “heard voices” and that she and other family members had tried in vain to get him the mental health treatment he needed.
After last night’s events, Boulware’s father told local media that, while he didn’t think what his son had done was right, “we all have a breaking point, and they pushed him past it.”
But Boulware, it seems fairly clear, was already plenty broken long before “the system” got to him. And no matter how sad or angry he was about losing custody of his son, nothing justifies a violent attack on innocent strangers with assault rifles and explosives. Most people, even if they were pushed far past their breaking point, wouldn’t respond with attempted mass murder. We are not all rage bombs waiting to go off.
And that’s when this post comes back around to the Men’s Rights movement. No, despite his anger at the police and courts for “taking away his kid,” and his penchant for calling people “BITCHES” in comments sections he doesn’t seem to have been a Men’s Rights activist.
But his was the kind of rage that Men’s Rights activists like to “warn” us all about; his violence was the sort of violence that MRAs all too often excuse.
I’ve written many times before about the way the Men’s Rights movement has lionized Tom Ball, a New Hampshire man who committed suicide several years ago by lighting himself on fire outside a court building — in hopes, as he explained in a long and inflammatory manifesto — of inspiring other men to start fire-bombing courthouses and police stations to avenge the wrongs allegedly inflicted on men by the family courts.
We’re lucky no one took him up on this suggestion, just as we are lucky today that no one except Boulware died in his assault on the Dallas police.
Boulware’s apparent mental illness, and the extreme nature of his assault on police, may keep him from becoming the MRA martyr that Ball became after his death. But MRAs have been willing to excuse if not justify similar violence in the past.
Consider, for example, “How we kill Johnny,” the story Men’s Rights celebrity Paul Elam has just posted to his new “consulting” site An Ear for Men.
In the story — presented as a true one — Elam describes his feelings upon learning of the murder-suicide of a young man he’d worked with as a substance abuse counselor. After a quick mention of the murder part of the murder-suicide — Johnny was said to have “killed that little girl he was married to” and shot, though not fatally, the man she was sleeping with — Elam moves on to the real victim, in his estimation: Johnny, the guy who pulled the trigger.
Johnny, as Elam sees it, was really only guilty of loving the woman he killed too much.
You see, men love. They love with the most profound intensity and selflessness of which any creature on this earth is capable. And the steely bond between them and women is, unlike their hearts, unbreakable. …
They will lay down in traffic for the women they love and stand in the way of bullets to protect them.
Yes, that’s right. He’s waxing poetic about men protecting the women they love — in the middle of a story about a man who killed the woman he loved.
I hope, more than anything else, that at some point in our future that people start to think. When you see the story on the evening news about a man who set himself ablaze outside a family court, ask yourself what kind of pain could drive someone to cure it with fire?
I can only assume this is a reference to Ball, who hoped that men would rise up to avenge his pain with firebombs.
When you read in the newspaper about the man who holed up in his house with a gun and his children, threatening to take them all out, ask yourself if this is just a crazy man, or a man driven to the brink by a pain so monstrous and devastating that even the unthinkable could become an option?
The fact is we “read in the newspaper” and on the internet about men like this all the time. And they are virtually always men. Murder-suicide, while rare, is an overwhelmingly male crime. Women lose custody too — as did the mother of the child in Boulware’s case — but outside of a few exceptional cases they don’t react to this by trying to murder fathers or judges or an entire police departments at once. Men sometimes do.
Elam has in the past “warned” us all that unless we start kowtowing to angry men like him, and soon, we will create a massive “male bomb” that will tear apart society as we know it today.
But men — or at least the vast majority of them — aren’t rage bombs. Those men who do resort to extreme violence — like Boulware and all the men we read about who kill their partners and sometimes even their children before, as they say, “turning the gun on themselves” — aren’t the victims they and Men’s Rights activists would like us all to see them as. They’re the perps — invariably men with an overgrown sense of entitlement, too in love with their own rage.
Those who use these men as a “warning” to the rest of us are playing a very old game, perfected by domestic abusers and bullies of all sorts. Abusers and bullies learn very quickly that they don’t always have to use violence to get what they want; the threat of violence is enough. “Don’t push me,” they say, and the implicit threat of an “explosion” of rage does the rest, all while enabling the bully to pretend to be the victim.
The Men’s Rights movement, to a large extent, is all about taking that implicit threat to the societal level.
It’s up to us to keep them from getting away with it.