The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Bob Owens, R.I.P.

Posted on | May 9, 2017 | Comments Off on Bob Owens, R.I.P.


Yesterday I saw on Instapundit the news that Bob Owens, editor of the Bearing Arms site, had died. I remember Bob from his days as an independent blogger at Confederate Yankee, back in the paleo-blogging era, before giant media organizations zoomed in to scoop up all the traffic. News of his death — he was only 46 — was disturbing, and I figured it must have been a heart attack. However, the Washington Post reports that Bob apparently committed suicide, after posting a message to Facebook in which he called himself a “coward, and selfish son of a b–ch.” What happened? We may never know, although his friend Katie Pavlich writes that Bob “recently landed a book deal,” and perhaps the extra burden of that project on top of his other work overwhelmed him. As I’ve sometimes remarked, a deadline for a non-fiction book is a crisis that probably can’t be imagined by anyone who hasn’t endured it. He was already working as an editor and as a firearms trainer. Was this book contract too much? I make that suggestion, not knowing what might have been troubling Bob Owens, but knowing how easily depression can snowball for any writer if your productivity starts lagging.

People have become too comfortable in recent years speaking of depression as a clinical disorder, an incurable disease whereby as soon as you’re diagnosed as afflicted with it, you will require professional treatment the rest of your life. This medicalized view of depression is, not coincidentally, a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry and providers of psychiatric care. And while I don’t want to start an argument with the mental health profession, I think that in general our society is over-diagnosed. You see this problem very clearly in the world of feminist Tumblr, which is full of young women claiming to be victims of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, even PTSD, like they just got back from the Battle of Khe Sanh or something. Reading their endless whining, you want to reach through the computer screen, slap their faces and scream: “You are not a victim! You’re a pathetic spoiled brat with a bad haircut! Log off the Internet, go get a job and stop blaming the patriarchy for all your problems! Also, maybe you could stand to lose 20 or 30 pounds, just sayin’ . . .”

Anyway, if having a diagnosed mental illness makes you a victim of oppression, I’m sure anyone who knows me could confirm that I’m crazy, but what I’ve tried to do is to monetize my insanity, turning craziness into a career skill. And “depression”? Well, I don’t know that you need a diagnosis if you write for a living. Writers are inherently prone to depression, simply because it’s such a solitary endeavor. Whatever else is involved in the job, ultimately it comes down to sitting alone in front of a computer screen for hours every day. Even if you’re going out to do on-the-scene reporting, when it’s time to turn your notes into a story, you’re still going to spend three or four hours at the keyboard banging it out. Anybody who’s ever been around me when I’m writing on deadline — filing from a convention or a debate or a campaign rally — knows what a horrible monster I can become under those conditions.

All of this discussion of the psychological stress inherent to writing for a living, however, may be entirely irrelevant to Bob Owens’ suicide. We don’t have any explanation for what may have been bothering him, and in the absence of facts, we should not speculate. We have lost a valued comrade, and Bob leaves behind a widow and two daughters, ages 9 and 17. There’s a Go Fund Me page where you can contribute to help, so please go hit the tip jar for old Bob. I already did. R.I.P., Confederate Yankee!



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