It only took 80 years to get here…

It only took 80 years to get here…

There it is. The magic phrase.

“It is believed that Bowers acted alone.”

Found it here, on Pittsburgh’s CBS Local website:

11 Dead, Several Others Shot At Pittsburgh Synagogue

So, lone wolf narrative is it? Continue reading “It only took 80 years to get here…”

Orlando…

Orlando…

In January 2013, after the Sandy Hook massacre, I was moved to write this post. Last night I attended the Orlando memorial and vigil, combined with the movie Pride, which my art house theater showed for free. I held one of the candles early on in the evening, before the movie, to honor the dead.

While I was watching Pride, some things boiled back up to the surface, not the least of which was my time at New Paltz as part of the theatre community. The scenes where the wives of the miners go to the London scene could have been right out of my own experience.

I tried briefly to call up all the names and faces of the people I met then, to remember my high school friend Eric, the first guy I knew was out and proud, and all the people I’ve met in between. I can’t count them all.

Before I got through the movie, I knew already how it would end, at least in part. And I wept, not just for those killed or injured at Pulse, but for every one of the people I’ve met or been friends with in my life.

Even without my theatre experience, I knew I was always an ally. The community that the shooter violated is in part my community. If this had happened 1984 or 1985, in the bars where my friends and I went to dance, it could have been me.

Empathy. That’s what this is.

Any 2A argument that this could have been solved with a good guy with a gun fails to understand the nature of these safe havens. Guns aren’t necessary when you’re home. And if you think they are, I feel sorry for you, because you have no safe place.

That is why I weep for my country, for my brothers and sisters, wherever they fall on the spectrum. AIDS wasn’t a punishment or divine retribution. Neither was the attack last weekend. If you think otherwise, I feel sorry for you because you have lost the ability to empathize.

May you come to your own peace. I am still working on mine.

( i )


GOP Congressmen Offer “Thoughts and Prayers.” Here’s How Much the NRA Gave Them to Offer Nothing More.

Is your Representative in the NRA’s pocket?

Gingrich: Let’s Create New Version Of House Un-American Activities Committee

NRA breaks its silence and blames ‘Obama administration’s political correctness’ for Orlando shooting

STONEKETTLE STATION: The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

Obama Had This Haunting Confrontation With A Pro-Gun Activist Just Days Before The Orlando Massacre

Democratic senator frustrated by inaction on guns wages filibuster

Guns? No. Radical Islam? No. LGBTQ Rights? No. Insanity? Close…

Guns? No. Radical Islam? No. LGBTQ Rights? No. Insanity? Close…

UPDATED: 7:49pm

 

I didn’t want to go there, but I sure had a sneaking suspicion, and I’ve just been proven right.
According to Gawker Magazine, the shooter was a regular at Pulse. This was no random attack. It was cold blooded, premeditated murder. Daesh had nothing to do with it.

 

Orlando Shooter Was Reportedly a Regular at Pulse and Had a Profile on Gay Dating App

 


There are plenty of words for what happened in Orlando but I promised not to say any of them yesterday because the families and friends of the dead deserved that much.

It’s disgustingly typical of Conservative America that the 2nd Amendment remains more important than human life, but how will the deluded reconcile too many guns with radical Islam and manage to keep the dialogue from devolving into “more guns would fix this?”

Make the problem into a self-righteous rant that they must have deserved it because LGBTQ? (Nope. No cognitive dissonance there.)

No. Not quite.

Whether the lone wolf shooter, who will remain anonymous in this post, is or is not an actual member of DAESH is truly irrelevant here. He was born in New York City, was not even observing Ramadan (the holiest month in the Islamic year), and in the usual 20/20 hindsight that comes after these events, was unstable, violent, threatening, and still employed despite a co-worker’s warnings that he was dangerous. The shooter was licensed and fully able to acquire the firepower he needed to do roughly a third the amount of damage as took place November 13, 2015 at Le Bataclan in Paris.

The problem lies not in the shooter’s actual affiliation but in the dialogue that will come from this horrific event. It lies in this statement, posted by WTOP at 5:50 a.m.:

The Islamic State’s radio has called the Orlando mass shooter “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.”

Al-Bayan Radio, a media outlet for the IS extremist group, on Monday hailed the attack that left 50 people dead [including the shooter], saying it targeted a gathering of Christians and gays and that it’s the worst attack on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Authorities say [the shooter] opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at a gay nightclub early Sunday before being killed in a shootout with police. Another 53 people were wounded in the shooting.

The broadcast is apparently an opportunistic statement as IS has not officially claimed responsibility for the Orlando attack.” [emphasis mine]

You want to see how this stacks up against reality?

Have you been reading my posts? I’ve explained this already. And I’m not alone.

As mass shootings plague US, survivors mourn lack of change

There can be no rational discussion ever again about common sense gun control, because GOD NRA FORBID we exercise control of our emotions long enough to realize we’re talking about human lives, of people with the same exact rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whether it’s the brand of happiness we think is acceptable.

When single issue voters choose the Second Amendment over anything resembling sanity, this is what we get as a result: “The state of Gun Violence in the US, explained in 18 charts.”

In 2009, when there were still enough Democrats in Congress to make a difference, the House and Senate finally passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama later signed into law. It would never have passed today.

According to Vox.com, the bill, which added perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities to the list of protected classes under existing federal hate crimes law, was passed as a rider to one of that year’s Defense Spending bills, no thanks to the following individuals, who voted against the bill.

[The names in RED are running for re-election this November. Remember that when you go to the polls this year. Again, emphasis mine.]

In the Senate:

Sen. John Barasso (R-WY)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

 

In the House

The following are ALL up for re-election, except where noted, and you can vote them out in November:

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Rep. John Boozman (R-AR), who’s now a US senator
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. Dan Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Shelley Capito (R-WV), who’s now a US senator
Rep. John Carter (R-TX)
Rep. John Chaffetz (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX)
Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who’s now a US senator
Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who’s now a US senator
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Rep. Steven Guthrie (R-KY)
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS)
Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), who’s now a US senator
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Rep. Pete King (R-NY)
Rep. John Kline (R-MN)
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Rep. John Mica (R-FL)
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)
Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI)
Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who’s now a US senator
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX)
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL)
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

 

What are YOU doing on November 8, 2016?

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

In this world, too many people see discussions as only about one topic or another, and these folks shun the idea that topics have many subtopics and sources.

The world of Elliot Rodger is by no means exclusive, but if his actions bring these multiple threads of discussion to a head, perhaps we can have the discussions we need to that will help us get past what corporate interests prefer not to discuss for the sake of continuing to generate revenue at the cost of human lives.

In this discussion, but by no means an exhaustive list: Misogyny, misandry, gun control, mental illness, autism, entitlement, politics and more. Every single one of these topics has something to do with the murders and injuries in Santa Barbara, but not the way you might think. And for me, this post has been coming since Sandy Hook and Aurora, but until now I couldn’t wrap my mind around the pile of implications and threads without being afraid either of outing myself or offending someone else, so I’ll say this first and get it out of the way, because you need to know.

It all starts with

#YesAllWomen

And it ends with

#NotAllMen

Now before you blow up all over me and say I’m interested in taking away ALL TEH GUNZ, as some now-unfriended people have done in the past, let me share some facts with you:

1. I have been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager. Losing a parent early is bad enough, but I also suffered bouts of depression and headaches and cramps that were bad enough to put me out of commission for a couple of days. Add to that being unable to get organized because I would start one process and then ten hours later find I’d gotten sidetracked and only partially finished the original goal, but forgot those 15 other things that also needed doing (along with the food I was supposed to eat regularly), well, that’s ADHD in a nutshell. Add to all this a separation from my husband and how to handle his behavior and the aftermath of the break-up, and death of a parent, and it’s not a surprise. I have been on medication but am not now and have not been for the better part of a year, and in that year I’ve accomplished Dean’s List two semesters running. My ability to cope has been tested sorely and I’ve come out okay on the other side.

Mental illness comes in all forms and so do other mental issues. I’ve never considered myself a danger to others. I used to think it was all on me, that I was broken, but no more. Having watched my ex-relationships and how they handle their current relationships, I’ve come to realize my biggest fault is in the relationship choices I’ve made and not so much with me. Some of the problems I’ve had could be chalked up to immaturity, narcissism flawed logic on the part of the opposite sex. I’m tired of playing romance roulette and I’m not looking anymore, mostly for this reason. And I’m mostly okay with that.

2. I grew up in a household with an NRA member who also smoked. I never picked up either habit, though I am a fair shot with a .22 rifle. I have spent time with people who were doing drugs, but never knowingly took drugs on my own or sought out more than alcohol and I don’t drink much now because I don’t like the effect or (in many cases) the taste.

3. I have suffered sexual abuse, above and including the “dirty phone call” variety. In more than one instance I was not a consenting adult. Only one time did someone of the opposite sex hit me, and he’s been out of my social circle for an extended period of time. No, I won’t go into details. The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago.

4. I like movies quite a bit, but am increasingly uncomfortable with what I see in them, especially when they revolve around relationships between men and women. The Bechdel Test is weighing particularly heavily on my mind just now.

So, when the news broke about Santa Barbara over the weekend, I had plenty of thoughts on the subject, but until I started seeing responses on my Facebook feed, I was willing to ignore them until I could get my thoughts to gel.

What follows are a number of articles and videos, in what I think are appropriate order. You can feel free to follow my path down through the material or just take my word for it: We have a major problem on our hands and we don’t even know how to talk about it because these issues are coming up and getting in the way of the conversation.

We can start with Ann Hornaday’s response (auto-launch video warning!) to the critical feedback she received on her scathing article published May 25, 2014, in which she indicts the Hollywood movie machine as a foundation for the problem of male entitlement.

What follows here are four reactions, every one of them written by men. I want you to read what these four men have to say on the subject. I am excluding from this conversation the father of one of the male victims in the Santa Barbara rampage because he’s addressing his questions to congress. In the end, this is what you must do, as well, or the conversation will not change.

First, regarding the shooter’s mental health condition, a subject that should really be investigated further because we do NOT treat mental illness the way we should and we never ever have. Worse, assumptions by the police that it isn’t as bad as observers have seen has much to do with lack of training, coupled with a lack of beds in hospitals and the lack of trained medical staff for dealing with violent mental illness.

Washington Post: Sheriff: Calif. shooter Rodger flew ‘under the radar’ when deputies visited him in April

That the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies restrict access to care and shunt everyone to drugs first is a failure to address the fundamental problem: We are not equipped to handle mental illness because it’s not in the interests of drug companies to fix a problem that nets them billions of dollars annually.

These situations exist because we have failed both the families of our most fragile citizens who know better and try to warn about the dangers and those victims who likely never knew what hit them or why. There is but one target for this: Our laws fail us and our lawmakers fail us because they answer to the industry and not the people.

But then, there are those in congress who prefer to blame the mentally ill and regulatory failures instead of looking at why those gaps exist:

Washington Post: GOP’s Rep. King calls for more background checks in wake of Calif. killings

Rep. King’s views aren’t new, but they are politically motivated, and it’s still easier to point a finger at background checks without recognizing that without a universal database to check, such a system will fail, and such infrastructure simply doesn’t exist because of the taboo discussion regarding mental illness in the first place. So sure, go ahead and talk as if a background check might have kept the violence from happening, but it’s a smokescreen on a much larger problem.

And on top of all this, there’s the dreaded “Autism = Murder” issue that came up with Sandy Hook. I read the article below when it came out, and I think it bears rereading. I know at least a dozen people in my social circle who fall somewhere on the spectrum. Everyone wants something to blame to try and explain the actions of murderers. Consider these words before you become part of the problem:

Psychology Today – Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder: Let’s stop the rush to judgment.

Two more articles, and I’m done for now. I’ve posted at least one of these on my Facebook feed already, but both bear reading and further reflection.

First:

Slate – Not all men: How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

and second:

Patheos.com – John Beckett: Dude, It’s You

If you want to have the discussion here, you’d best spend the time and read these last two articles because I will boot you otherwise.

You can feel free to share this information. We can’t have the discussion if we don’t recognize the foundation for the problem.

Rachel Maddow has it right.

Rachel Maddow has it right.

The Rachel Maddow Show covered Sandy Hook in crystal clear terms. If you are at all squeamish about discussions over how the students and teachers of the school lost their lives…watch this anyway. She bases her report on an article in the Hartford Courant

The Rachel Maddow Show: March 14, 2013,

First Segment

Don’t want to take the time to watch? Let me save you some time. Here’s the transcript of Rachel’s show, dated March 14, 2013, published on the same site.

This summary of all that Rachel’s report represents, the timeline of the murders (a graphic description of the event and not for the faint of heart, but mandatory reading for anyone who wants to block the efforts to ban high-capacity weapons), including how the Bush Administration’s deconstruction of Senator Feinstein’s law ultimately led to this tragedy, together with the unspeakably snide, condescending, patronizing attack by Texas Senator Ted Cruz leaves me absolutely speechless.

So, frankly, does any pro-gun attack on Senator Feinstein.

I dare anyone–ANYONE–who speaks against Senator Feinstein’s experience in San Francisco, at ground zero for Mayor Mosconi and Supervisor Harvey Milk’s assassination, or in that office building in San Francisco in 1993 to put themselves in her place and still tell me they don’t understand the Senator’s views  about assault weapons.

Let me summarize: It took just over five minutes for the shooter to walk into the school, shoot every one of the teachers and kids in his path and exhaust his four high-capacity cartridges before turning the pistol on himself.

Five minutes.

Here’s an exercise for you.

Look at your clock. The one over the stove, next to the desk, on your computer, on your phone. Whatever.

Don’t look away from the clock. Don’t listen to the radio. Turn off the video and stop reading.

Feel how long five minutes is.

Ready?

Go.

Now imagine.

Imagine the horror of being in Sandy Hook Elementary School as this is happening.

Imagine being six.

Being the only student in your classroom to make it out alive, and then only because you played possum.

Imagine how this experience has changed you.

You’re just six. You have your whole life ahead of you while your classmates are gone.

Blown away.

And then tell me why you need that high-capacity cartridge again.

Because if you can still feel so strongly about the right to promote this carnage, to allow unfettered access to these weapons, you can go find somewhere more appropriate for your exercise of that particular freedom. You do not stand for the right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

These weapons do NOTHING to support our three basic rights as outlined by the Declaration of Independence.

I don’t particularly want you or your high-capacity guns near me, my friends or family.

Thank you, Rachel, for your perspective.

Following up on gun ownership in the United States…

Following up on gun ownership in the United States…

On December 14, I was cleaning my dining room in preparation for home construction to come. I ran late, got distracted and spent more time than I should have doing the work, which meant I ran late getting up to meet my friends for lunch.

Heading back to the office, I turned on the radio and switched to NPR. That’s when I first heard about Sandy Hook. Continue reading “Following up on gun ownership in the United States…”

There are words…

There are words…

In 2005, I lost eight people (either through direct relationships with them or indirectly through my friends). Children, parents, people with whom I was friends, and one I worked with weekly as a parent in a co-op nursery school. I found I couldn’t make sense of some of the things I heard during the funerals I attended.

In January, 2006, I began to attend the Unitarian Universalist congregation I now call home. I’ve begun to make some sense of my reactions, even though I can’t make sense of losses on days like yesterday.

I’ve dealt with loss all my life. Some days I handle it better than others.

Are you having trouble wrapping your mind around what happened yesterday? Feeling numb? Not sure why?

Not feeling anything?

You will.

People grieve differently. They process horror differently.

In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book that described for the first time the five stages of grief. When I was in 7th grade, I took a class on death and dying, in part because of my mother’s long-term illness, but nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close member of my family.

I learned a lot when my dad died in 2010, thanks to the hospice nurses in Colorado and the grief counselor I met with weekly near me at home. I understood on an intellectual level what I was seeing, knew the signs to watch for, and knew in my heart when my dad was truly gone for good.

I knew from the descriptions I heard that my mother in law was dying, that same year, because I had already experienced the steps with my dad. And I knew when I was going to lose two more friends in October and November of 2010.

I learned more when my friend Richard died at the end of that horrible year and took away Christmas for me. My greatest gift was the ability to talk with him before he died, and to be there with him and with friends the night before.

I will learn again as I watch one of my earliest friends in this area die from cancer over the next several months.

There are no words that provide as much comfort as a hug and a sharing of sorrow that comes from grief.

None of these deaths were brought about by someone else. None of them was the result of random violence, accidental association, or any other logical reason.

The deaths in Connecticut of twenty children and seven adults happened because someone took it on himself to play god, who had the means to accomplish this horrific act and who had no sense of the long-term, incomprehensible damage he would do, no thought to care about the ramifications of his act.

And more than anything else, he will never know the effect his senseless act of violence will have on our lives, on the lives of the people of Connecticut and most of all on the families of those he killed, because he killed himself, ending his mad spree of death.

As John Dickerson says in his article on Slate.com:

Today Is a Day for Tears, Not Politics The president’s job today is to comfort a nation, not score political points.

If you have trouble processing what happened yesterday, that might be one reason why you are numb. It’s too much to process all at once. You simply can’t do it.

There is no greater act of faith than waving goodbye to your kids on their way to school in the morning, thinking no matter how hard it was to get them to that point during the day, all the petty arguments or smiles you have with them might somehow disappear after they leave your sight.

Somehow, whether you are a parent or not, you can find a way to relate to the tragedy unfolding in Connecticut. Do what you can to come to terms with what you know, what you’re learning and what you will say to others, but take these things into consideration:

Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children

This is unimaginable. Christmas lights are already everywhere. In many of these houses, trees are likely already up, decorated and waiting for laughter and footsteps that won’t ever come on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.

There is still one day left to Hanukkah, one last, bright day when all nine candles burn brightly and then burn out.

Yesterday was the Sabbath, the day some people recognize for giving thanks for what they have, and bless their children.

Today we are left wondering what pushed the shooter over the edge. We are left to wonder whether we are still right to guarantee access to weapons that can do this damage. We wonder how we could have stopped this from happening.

But we’ve been wondering this for years.

We wondered at the tragedies in Blacksburg (Virginia Tech).* In Aurora. And in other places and at other times throughout our history. And I wonder how much longer it will take us to recognize that the question isn’t so much about access to weapons but how we treat our mentally ill and what we do to ease the pain of those who most need the help before they take it out on other people.

This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about our attitude regarding those whose brains work differently from ours.

Give yourself time. Hug your kids. Curl up with popcorn and watch a movie. Make it something innocuous. Or play a game with them today.

And let your brain do its work.

When the time comes, give in. You’ll get there. Everyone does.

And then, start to take some action.

David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook, Jason Alexander, an actor I’ve come to respect for any number of reasons, Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station), and others have all had things to say about senseless violence.

When you’re done reading all these things, go sign yourself up for an account on whitehouse.gov and sign this petition:

Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/immediately-address-issue-gun-control-through-introduction-legislation-congress/2tgcXzQC

and this one, too:

Make Mental Health a National Emergency
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/make-mental-health-national-emergency/DLwvxxzJ

[note that the links are dead. Thanks, Trump!]

And after all that, restore your faith in humanity. Because you’re still here and you can.

*edited to fix an error gracefully pointed out by a reader…

Theme: Elation by Kaira.