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Alleged Kentucky Kroger Shooter Had a History of Racist Comicsgate Rants

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Late last month, two black people, 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and 67-year-old Vickie Lee Jones, were shot and killed in a Kroger grocery store outside of Louisville, Kentucky. The shooter is believed to a white man named Gregory Bush, who allegedly told an armed white bystander that “whites don’t kill whites.”

Bush had written online about his struggles with mental illness, but it seems clear that the biggest motivating factor for the murders Bush is believed to have committed is racism. Just before entering the grocery store, Bush reportedly tried to gain entry to a predominantly Black church but was “unsuccessful.”

On Twitter, Bush posted a lot about a few subjects, mainly sports and comics. He also didn’t hide his beliefs that he thought people of color and “SJWs” were ruining those things. Over the last few years, he tweeted about Colin Kaepernick “ruining” football, he railed against the idea of a black Human Torch, and he used the hashtag #StopFuckingWithOurComics, along with homophobic slurs, in response to the fan push to give Captain America a boyfriend.

screenshot @GregoryAlanBush

Mostly, though, he had a lot of thoughts about Iron Fist. According to Bleeding Cool, Bush used pictures of Iron Fist as his Facebook cover photo and posted long rants about “the whole SJW reasoning as why Danny Rand should be Asian or white,” proclaiming making the character Asian would be the real racism. “In my opinion, demanding that Iron Fist should be Asian, even if it is to correct a long lasting lack of Asian American heroes, etc, is FAR more offensive,” he wrote. “Why? Because people are literally demanding that our hero be a racial stereotype, in a most ironic demand from people who claim to be progressive.”

On Twitter, he talked about his own identity politics, telling Eisner-winner comics writer Marjorie Liu, “As a pre-teen blonde haired blue eyed boy in the 70’s I identified with Danny Rand rather than dark-haired heroes.”

We know that racism online, even in pop- and geek-culture spheres is not limited to the online world and can have dangerous real-world effects. Obviously, not everyone that posts racist rants about racebending superheroes is going to engage in violence IRL. But this is why racism, antisemitism, and misogyny cannot be dismissed as harmless or “trolling”–because some do. This is why we see pop-culture related bigotry as a serious issue. The links between online hate speech and actual violence are very real, and dismissing online speech or conversations about superheroes as trivial only works to normalize bigoty. When someone is declaring themselves to be a racist or a misogynist, it needs to be taken seriously, even if all they’re talking about is a comic book character.

Making this even more horrific is the fact that authorities were reportedly reluctant to investigate these murders as hate crimes. (That appears to have changed.) He literally walked outside the grocery store and declared his racist motives to a bystander. He made these beliefs public online. Why are people so reluctant to listen?

(via Bleeding Cool, image: Marvel Comics)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.