In 2012, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz claimed that she was raped. The university investigated, and found no evidence for the claim. In protest, Sulkowicz started an art project called “Carry that Weight,” in which she lugged her mattress around campus until her graduation last month. Even after dismissing the claim — and as questions about the veracity of the underlying allegation grew — the school endorsed the project as Sulkowicz’s senior thesis. Soon, images of her carrying her mattress went viral, and she became an international feminist icon. Many stories were written about her on sites like Salon, Jezebel, and Cosmopolitan. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand invited her to the State of the Union speech. Even fellow feminist icon and Girls star Lena Dunham tweeted her support:
Dear Emma, anyone who wants can call us anything they want, but you helped me to stand in my skin & I am so grateful: http://t.co/2H6dBzN6BX
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) May 21, 2015
On Friday, June 5th, news broke about Emma Sulkowicz’s newest art project, a sex tape:
Having graduated from Columbia University and completed her “Mattress Project,” a performative protest against the school’s decision not to expel her alleged rapist, Emma Sulkowicz has officially embarked on her post-graduate career as an artist with a provocative new piece.
Sulkowicz stars in an eight-minute video which shows her engaging in sexual activity that “is consensual but may resemble rape,” she writes in her artist’s statement.
Titled “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” (“This Is Not a Rape”), an on-the-nose reference to surrealist artist René Magritte’s iconic painting of a pipe (“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”), the film shows Sulkowicz being slapped and choked by a blurry-faced man while the artist “whimpers and protests in pain,” according to Jezebel.
Emma Sulkowicz was all over the news, yet again.
Carol Bowne wasn’t.
That same day, news of Bowne’s brutal murder started coming out of New Jersey. She had been stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, against whom she had filed a restraining order. It was also revealed that she applied to get a gun for self-protection, but New Jersey’s ridiculous gun laws got in the way, and she didn’t get her permit in time. She also installed a home surveillance system, which according to Channel 6 in Philadelphia, “captured the entire incident.”
Right after the story broke on Friday, I searched for coverage of Carol Bowne’s murder. Other than local New Jersey websites and a couple of conservative outlets like Bearing Arms and Breitbart News, there was hardly any. I found myself starting to get annoyed at both liberals and conservatives for ignoring this horrific story.
How could you be a feminist who believes Emma Sulkowicz on the basis of nothing more than her highly-disputed story, and not be outraged by the murder of a woman that was actually caught on video? Feminists will start entire Twitter campaigns against manspreading, stare rape, and the lack of women in comic books. But I couldn’t find a single one who tweeted about #CarolBowne.
On the flip side, many conservatives who normally rail against draconian gun control measures like New Jersey’s were also largely silent. While many spent Friday playing the hashtag game #MarcoRubioCrimeSpree, few seemed to care about the #CarolBowne story.
There are many issues raised by the story: Gun control, the early release of convicted felons, self-defense, why some stories go viral and not others, how feminists decide who to get behind, and on and on. Surely, many articles and thought pieces should be flowing from Carol’s murder, but for now it’s just a trickle.
Late Friday afternoon, Charles C.W. Cooke wrote a great piece about Bowne in National Review [editor’s note: listen to Charles and Kevin Williamson discuss the issue on Ricochet’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast] which says, in part:
There can be few clearer illustrations of the folly of draconian firearms regulations than this. The killer was a convicted felon who had previously been found guilty of weapons offenses and aggravated assault, and who is now on the run from federal authorities. The victim was a “bubbly, well-liked,” law-abiding woman who did not want to run afoul of the government even when she sensed that her life was in danger. If “government” is just another word for the things we do together, then, frankly, we failed — and damnably. All Carol Bowne asked was that she be permitted to exercise her right to protect herself in her own home; instead, she ended up bleeding to death in her driveway, as the paper-pushers and know-it-alls decided whether they would deign to indulge her request, and her killer sped away, without fear of retaliation or injury.
While her death is a tragedy, the lack of national attention her story has gotten only deepens the hurt of her senseless murder. We should all stand up and refuse to allow another case like hers to take place. We are the watchmen. Our duty is not only to protect ourselves and those around us, but to stand tall and speak loudly for all victims like Carol [Bowne], in an effort to ensure every individual looking to legally defend themselves with a firearm is not ignored, but granted the opportunity of a fighting chance.
There is much to be outraged by in the Carol Bowne story, not the least of which is how the gun laws of a state — which many feel are for the public good — can actually cause the public harm. In my job for NRA News, I get to talk to many people in the gun rights movement, and many who had huge problems with New Jersey’s gun control laws even before this incident.
The murder of Carol Bowne highlights the flaws in every argument for gun control. Ms. Bowne followed the law, she had a restraining order, she relied on the police to protect her while she waited weeks to get permission to purchase a pistol… and she was stabbed to death while waiting for permission to legally defend herself.
This is a story the media is ignoring because it shows the abject failure of a system they trumpet- that the police cannot be there to protect us, while the politicians remove our ability to protect ourselves. Gun control advocates want a “discussion” regarding gun control laws. We agree — and the discussion should start with Ms. Bowne.
I also talked to Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, one of the people most involved in trying to change the gun laws of New Jersey. He emailed me to say:
Carol Bowne did not have to die. New Jersey gun control prevented her from having a fighting chance. New Jersey’s anti-gun legislators have Carol Bowne’s blood on their hands. New Jersey’s backwards and antiquated gun laws restrict only law-abiding citizens, making them prey to the predators who ignore them.
State law mandates that permit applications must be approved or denied within 30 days. Police departments routinely ignore this requirement, and some towns take over a year to issue permits. Last year ANJRPC launched its “Permitting StrikeForce” – an ambitious initiative to bring each and every one of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities into compliance with state permitting law.
In the digital age, even New Jersey’s 30-day requirement is absurdly and unacceptably long. Databases can be searched in seconds, and the simple NICS check that suffices for firearms purchases in the rest of the country should be more than sufficient for the state of New Jersey.
When the state interferes with the Constitutional right of peaceable citizens to defend themselves, people die. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the police have no duty to protect individual citizens. New Jersey adds insult to injury by making it all but impossible for its citizens to take responsibility for their own protection.
ANJRPC is calling for the immediate strict enforcement of current permitting deadlines, replacement of those deadlines with electronic instant checks, and elimination of all impediments to the Constitutional right of peaceable citizens to defend themselves with firearms both inside and outside the home.
At the end of the day, I’d love for a story like Carol Bowne’s to be seen as important as Emma Sulkowicz’s. Right now, it doesn’t feel that way.
Also on Friday June 5th, in Texas:
A woman was “cool as a cucumber” Friday evening when she opened fire at a man who tried to rob her at a gas station in northeast Harris County, sheriff’s deputies said.
The woman, in her mid-30s, pulled into an Exxon station about 6 p.m. along FM 2100 and Saddle Creek Farms Drive.
She was in the driver’s seat when a man suddenly got into the passenger side. He pulled out a knife and demanded her cash, Harris County sheriff’s deputies said.
The woman agreed and reached over to her purse. But instead of money, she pulled out a pistol.
“She shoots him one time in the left shoulder,” Deputy Thomas Gilliland said.
The man fled, running north along FM 2100. He collapsed about a quarter-mile away.
The man was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to the Texas Medical Center because of the blood loss. He was later listed in stable condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital, authorities said.
He is facing a charge of aggravated robbery.
The woman is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Although the case will be referred to the Harris County grand jury, authorities said the shooting appears to be self-defense.
How different would the Carol Bowne story have been if she lived in Texas?