Gotta’ hand it to the kids. Tens – hundreds – of thousands of them are marching for an end to gun violence in the US today. I was going to go to the Boston rally, but have been battling off a cold all week and decided to take it easy for a change. I’ve been following the action on social media. This is a big one, folks, and one that will definitely have an impact on public policy.
I’m really proud of these young people. They’re standing together and have that fire-in-the-belly vibe that makes me really, really happy. And they’re not just marching. They’re talking about specific policy changes they want Congress and the President to enact. They’re saying if they don’t get the protection and common-sense gun reform they need, the eligible ones will vote the naysayers out of office this November.
The young people are joined en mass by adults, many of whom have spent years banging their heads against a wall trying to get our government to do something – anything – to change our insane gun laws. Black Lives Matter was out in force and no wonder, given the black male death rate by guns. I also saw a sign that read “Docs Against Glocks.” Saw lots of folks from Everytown for Gun Safety, too.
Common sense seems to have finally arrived, at the hands of women (at the Women’s March last year) and children (at the March for our Lives). And why not? Weren’t they the first to get into the lifeboats as the Titanic sank, while the rich, white males stayed where they were and eventually drowned?
Now there’s a lesson for you.
The country’s largest veterans home was invaded by a gunman, who took three women hostage and engaged in a shootout with police. He and the three hostages were killed. The facility, which houses veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, was locked down. Despite that, four people died. The hostages were employees and no one knows the gunman’s motives.
I just read that in the paper. There was also a shooting of some kind in Alabama, but I don’t have as much information about that. I’m sure there were more killings, too. It just goes on and on.
Is this how we honor and care for our veterans? Men and women with injuries and probable PTSD? And this took place in a pretty liberal state: California. It’s a fucking massacre, state by state.
I miss the days when I could just relax and write about walks through gardens, snow monuments and dinner plans. So much has changed, so fast, that I can barely keep up with it. Russian election interference, unbelievable corruption in DC, the exposure of sexism and violence against women and – now – the deaths of even more children carried out by unstable people with no apparent protections against their purchase of weapons more suitable for a battlefield than for a city street or building. I’m glad to see that the victims of this violence, the children themselves, are leading a renewed charge against gun violence. At the same time, I’m horrified to realize that the victims themselves are the only ones willing to take a stand against the prospect of their own eventual murder.
I welcome this new demographic to the Resistance, but am appalled that teenagers and not adults are the ones having to carry this torch. I live in a state with very strict gun laws – Massachusetts. After this, our legislators are debating making them even more strict. There have been no mass shootings in my state. There are gun deaths, but nothing on the scale of what’s been happening in places like Florida or Texas.
Until now we’d all become used to the regular reports of shootings in this place or that place. Like many, I sighed and shook my head. I hoped things would start to change in November, at the commencement of mid-term elections. Then these teenagers stepped onto the scene, crying enough! even as tears ran down their cheeks. I watched Emma Gonzales, one of the survivors of the recent Florida high school shooting, giving a speech at an anti-gun rally. I suddenly realized that this time was different. This time people were standing up to the NRA and to the politicians who placed their lives in danger every single school day. She called out Trump especially, as a major recipient of NRA funding and as someone who’s doing nothing to address the overwhelming prevalence of guns in this country. Nobody wrote that speech for her. It came from her gut and she had to step several times during its presentation to wipe tears from her eyes.
Kids shouldn’t have to do this. They shouldn’t be facing possible execution every time they enter a classroom at school. The gun industry and their supporters, the NRA and gun-friendly legislators in DC and in the states where these things happen are responsible for this.
Boston will have a rally on Saturday, March 24 to stand against gun violence. I plan to go. I feel it’s necessary, in the same way I felt that attending the Women’s March last January was necessary.
Baby boomers may remember the demonstrations and sit-ins of the 1960s and early 1970s. This moment in time reminds me of those days, only these days are deadlier. A few days ago I assembled a playlist of songs from that time. I was a teenager in those days and a very different person. One of the songs, “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young resonates on a number of levels. Look up the Kent State shootings on Google. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed anti-war protesters, killing four and wounding others. On the one hand, its a catchy song by a band whose music I still really like. On the other hand, my first reaction to hearing it for the first time after all these decades was, “only four? Wow. That wouldn’t headline the news these days.”
Listen to this song and substitute teenage bodies on the ground. Or elementary school students. Or college kids. Replace the soldiers with alienated and angry shooters, armed to the teeth with legally-obtained weapons. Then, with the protesters, raise your fist and say, “No!”
And march. Students are organizing marches throughout the country. Do your goddamned duty, grown-up America, and stand with them.
Four dead in Ohio. 17 dead in South Florida. 20 dead at Sandy Hook. 58 dead in Las Vegas. 27 dead in Sutherland Springs. Do I need to list them all?
I love this challenge. Participants agree to snail-mail an honest-to-god real letter, card or postcard to someone every single day in February. In the past I’ve had correspondents from as far away as India.
I haven’t done it in a while, but would love to take a shot at it this year. Only 7 days to go until it’s February!
Want to participate? You send me a letter and I’ll send you one. Here’s the website, which looks a whole lot like BuddyPress to me. If you haven’t registered, do that:
If you’re already registered, sign in with your user name and password. Then, LOOK FOR ME! My user name is:
Request a friend connection once you find me and we’ll exchange addresses. Doesn’t matter where you live. Like I said, I’ve written to people in India from Boston, MA, USA.
Hope to drop you a line in February!
Thinking a lot about immigrants and immigration lately. That’s certainly not the only disaster looming over our horizon, but the human element affects me strongly. Maybe it’s because of the music I’ve started listening to – a strange admixture of blues and the traditional music of the Sahara desert. There’s been a great deal of dislocation in that part of the world, and not in just the places we’ve all heard about. You can hear that pain in the music. Colonial Europe has a lot to answer for, I think. Just read about the Belgians in the Congo, or the fact that colonial powers arbitrarily divided countries in the Middle East without regard for traditional tribal or ethnic boundaries.
There are a lot of bands out that way: Tinariwen, Tamikrest, Bombino and more. With any luck, their electric guitars and international tour schedules will eventually take the place of IEDs and automatic rifles. In any event, they’re trying.
This song is a rock opera of sorts – powerful, but plaintive and rare as rainfall in the desert. Jimi Hendrix with orchestral backup. It makes me feel pensive and divided between one path or the other. Yes or no. Here or gone.
The book I bought this weekend. The title is all too on point today. pic.twitter.com/Y4uAUGRdPR — John Scalzi (@scalzi) January 24, 2018 I’ve written a remembrance of Ursula K. Le Guin; it’s up at the Los Angeles Times. As I wrote there: “The speaking of her name and of her words goes on, and will…