Good Guy With a Gun: The Day I Stopped Loving Mike Rowe
For a long time now I’ve appreciated Mike Rowe, from that lovely shirtless-on-a-rock photo of him to his operatic prowess. This Dec. 23 post, however, has changed that for me with his use of this phrase: “Good guy with a gun.”
Here’s what Rowe posted:
Eight years ago, a bad man with a gun walked into a meeting of the local school board in Panama City, and threatened to kill everyone in the room. To prove his point, he began shooting at those assembled, creating a measure of terror that is simply impossible to imagine. Happily, Mike Jones – a good guy with a gun – was in the building at the time. Mike ran to the scene, drew his weapon, and told the bad guy to surrender. The bad guy fired three rounds at Mike, each missing his head by less than an inch. Mike returned fire. He didn’t miss.
You can read about the incident here http://bit.ly/2DGqFuC, or you can just take my word for it; Mike Jones is a hero. He’s also the “Salvage Santa” featured in this week’s episode of Returning the Favor.
It occurred to me as I watched this episode, just how badly we in the media have butchered the word, “hero.” It’s a shame, because the country needs heroes. Desperately. So much so, that we’ve redefined the term to include anyone who isn’t a schmuck. Teachers, athletes, civil servants, and every single soldier and first responder to ever put on a uniform are routinely described as “heroic,” just for showing up. Now, the truly bizarre expression, “everyday heroes,” is commonplace.
On Returning the Favor, I try not to present the people we honor as heroes, because by and large – they aren’t. They’re do-gooders. Do-gooders are people who make the world a better place through acts of kindness. Heroes make the world a better place through acts of bravery. The distinction is important, because all virtues require us to overcome different things. Kindness requires us to overcome selfishness. Courage requires us to overcome fear. Thus, it’s easier to be kind, than it is to be brave. Unless of course, you happen to be Mike Jones. Who just happens to be both.
And today’s the day I stopped thinking anything about Mike Rowe was amazing, because he’s politicized this event, misrepresented it in his post and then patently put down people who — rightly so — deserve to be called heroes.
What’s that, now?
Well, Read the story on CNN and watch the video, in case you’re skeptical. Jones wasn’t a “good guy with a gun” — he was a retired police officer who was *working at the time* as the head of security and, I’d assume, carrying a gun as part of his job, not because he was a “good guy with a gun.” As a police officer, he was trained in the use of deadly force and when and how to use his weapon.
That phrase — “good guy with a gun” — is politically charged and I am disappointed to see Rowe twist this story to imply this was something more extraordinary than a human doing his job, which was extraordinary without the misrepresentation. Rowe then goes on to decry how we identify heroes — “Teachers, athletes, civil servants, and every single soldier and first responder to ever put on a uniform are routinely described as ‘heroic,’ just for showing up. Now, the truly bizarre expression, ‘everyday heroes,’ is commonplace.”
Mike Jones was a civil servant for most of his life and, Mr. Rowe, I can assure you our civil servants — our police officers and first responders come to mind — are heroes. Every goddamn day. Because they don’t know when they’re going to make a routine traffic stop and have to draw their weapon to protect civilians, or when they’re going to have to run into a burning building to save a elderly grandfather. Also, while I’m thinking of it, every black man who takes a knee at the start of a football game? A hero. Teachers who help a dyslexic child read, or show a poor child a way to change his or her life and perhaps break the cycle of poverty? Heroes. Soldiers? Definitely heroes.
The soldier comment gets me, by the way: “every single soldier and first responder to ever put on a uniform are routinely described as ‘heroic’, just for showing up.” It smacks of another comment, “I like people who weren’t captured,” because that’s
What the hell is wrong with you? “Just for showing up.”
My cousin “just showed up” in Desert Storm. My grandfather “just showed up” to fly the Burma Hump. But I guess, to you, they aren’t heroes and don’t deserve to be called as such, because… why, exactly? Because they didn’t make national news for their specific act of heroism? Because they were doing their job, it doesn’t count?
Incidentally, your definition of a hero isn’t correct, according to the dictionary. A quick Google returns this definition: “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”
By this definition, Mike Jones is a hero, but by your own, he must not be because he was “just showing up.” But you conveniently leave that — and a few other facts — out of your retelling. He was doing his job. Of course, your narrative — that “good guy with a gun” narrative doesn’t fit if that’s the case. You know who wasn’t “just doing his job” that you fail to mention? Ginger Littleton, the woman who swung her purse at him and knocked him down — before Mike Jones showed up. Of course, she didn’t stop him, so I guess you don’t consider what she did heroic.
Good guys with a gun are rare. A well-regulatedmilitia (our police and armed services) is not rare; it’s there so we don’t have to rely on random acts of bravery and people without top-notch marksmanship training.
In one post, Rowe’s diminished the importance of soldiers, first responders and police officers everywhere, all to tailor this story to his not-so-subtle political agenda.
So, Mike Rowe, this is where I vote with my feet. As much as I’ll miss the cute stories about your dog and as much as I think you have many talents, responsibility to the truth is not one of them and I’m done with your shows, your Facebook feed and having any respect for you.
Good day, sir.
I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.
View all posts by Cathy