Monday, January 10, 2011

I Could Have Told You This Would Happen

We've got a few big problems going on:

1.  People-- even questionably sane people--are allowed to own and carry semi-automatic weapons in the U.S. 

There has long been a push-pull battle between people who think everyone should bear arms (because duh, the Constitution says we have a right to!) and those who believe maybe only people with a true need, like police officers or soldiers, should have weapons.

I hate guns. I hate guns. I hate guns so much it's not even something I can intelligently discuss beyond muttering incessantly, "I hate guns."  I have a visceral repulsion when I see a gun. 

If you own a gun, I don't hate you, but I want you to keep that gun out of my sight.

If there is a sincere, documented need for a gun in your life, I think you need to keep it in a locked cabinet, hide the ammo, and don't take it out unless there's a rabid bobcat in the backyard that's just about to eat your dog. Seriously. 

Guns are only for killing, and very rarely do I believe that killing is necessary.

Now, having said that, why the hell does anyone need a semi-automatic weapon? Jared Loughner, the alleged shooter in the Tucson debacle that killed six people and gravely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, had a Glock 9mm. Do you know how many rounds that gun can shoot?

Unfortunately, I do know. I know someone who owns one. And let me just take a moment to add there is no reason why people should be able to 1) buy such a weapon and/or 2) legally carry it around. 

That Glock 9mm is a weapon for mass murder--nothing less than that.

Self-defense? No way. No one needs a Glock for self defense.

Anyone carrying a gun is, I believe, just itching for a chance to use it, and just asking for trouble. The likelihood of a gun-owner shooting and killing someone goes up exponentially when he or she is actually carrying a gun.

I want to see stricter gun laws. I want to see semi-automatic weapons made unavailable for purchase. Guess who is anti-gun-restrictions, even semi-automatic weapon restrictions? People like Pat Toomey, and other "conservative," and, ironically, staunchly anti-abortion Christians.

Does that make any sense? No, my friends, it does not. It is just plain absurd. 

I've said it before, and I will say it again: you cannot be "pro-life" and pro-gun. You just can't. One negates the other.  I think that some people need to re-examine the issues and take note of this inherent contradiction. I think that some people need to work harder at trying to make the world or even just the United States a more humane and civil place.

2.  Political rhetoric has been more violent in tone and imagery for quite a while now. When Sarah Palin first posted her infamous "crosshairs" SarahPAC page that used gunsight logos over certain states with a list of politicians who had voted for health care reform and the call for her supporters to "RELOAD!"--well, when she did that last March, many sensible people said, "That's really going too far. That's just asking for trouble. That's frankly dangerous."

Even Gabrielle Giffords spoke about how inciting anger and hostility that way "targeted" her and will undoubtedly have "consequences."

Sarah Palin only scrubbed that notorious page the other day, after Giffords was the victim of an assassination attempt.

Many people are all over the place now either commenting how Palin is partially to blame for the AZ massacre or in no way to blame. But one person whose words I read on Twitter had an excellent point: if anyone BUT Sarah Palin had disseminated such a list of targets with freaking gun sights by their home states and names, that person would probably be in jail right now and under questioning.

I don't doubt that there is an epic lawsuit about to come Sarah Palin's way, courtesy of the dead and wounded in Arizona. 

Whether or not you agree that Palin had anything to with Giffords' shooting and the cold-blooded murder of six innocent people, I think it's pretty clear that her hunter rhetoric did not help matters and perhaps even gave a crazy man a really bad idea.

3.  When I taught writing, I made a serious, well-intentioned effort to teach non-hostile tone, especially (even though I specifically said that I did not want to see political speeches) when dealing with naturally contentious issues.

I was then "dismayed" by the tone of a speech. I said so, on this blog. I was dismayed by the tone and the rhetoric I heard (absolutely nothing personal involved)...mostly because I requested something completely different. 

We all have to watch our tone and our rhetoric because even if you argue that "only a crazy person" would act on certain words or ideas, there exist people who just do not understand metaphor, who will take everything literally. 

Those people cannot be fed with their favorite pablum: angry we all must watch our words. We all must be civil and gentle and careful.

I don't want to live on the set of "The View," after all. I can't bear that show and I certainly don't want to experience a "View" like scene in a classroom.  I doubt anyone does.

Ironically, after blogging about my "dismay," I then lost my job in part because of it. I was simply telling the truth and making a point about teaching speechwriting to other teachers: it is, in fact, dismaying (understatement, a word specifically chosen in order to be kind) to hear or read words filled with blame that exemplify the hyper-partisan, deeply divided mindsets that currently co-exist in this nation. 

It is also deeply disturbing to get a palpable sense (mostly through publications, online or otherwise, and on television) of all the hatred in the air, and even, in some cases, hear or read calls for violence. 

It makes me fear for not only the future but also the present.

I am dismayed now by the tone and rhetoric of total strangers who are arguing the Palin issue, the weapons issue, and the sanity of the shooter.

I regret to say that I predicted this was going to happen. Many thoughtful people did. That's why we all said, "Hey--let's be careful and not use violence-inciting rhetoric."

Will the lesson finally get through now?

Watch this gentle, well-planned speech by Keith Olbermann, who very sensibly calls for a "repudiation" of anyone who--intentionally or unintentionally--incites violence through words and images:


  1. Great links and powerful words. It is indeed ironic that such an intelligent, well-meaning person such as yourself would have been the victim of a vitriol fueled political attack. Hateful is as hateful does. I hope this current tense time makes more people wake up to how they may have unwittingly been making things worse.

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks, Susan.

    That is all I ask: that people wake up and start being more careful with their words.

    I am all peace-loving and gentle, so it is doubly ironic that I would be attacked for precisely that which I did not do. Pot, kettle and such...the same old, tiresome story.

    By the way, I hope you watched the Olbermann speech. Spot-on perfect in terms of exactly what I was teaching, with polysyndeton and all sorts of effective rhetorical devices!

    Thanks for reading.



  3. I am forwarding your post to the admin, the so called "leaders" of the Academy. They are IDIOTS and here's more proof why.

  4. WTF? Anonymous should remain silent. This is not a surprise. The rhetoric lead to this. There are mentally unstable folks out there who cannot decifer between reality and make-believe. There are people who accept imagery as reality and will react to it. Case in point above.

    Guns have no business in our society except for hunting; high powered guns and automatic weapons are senseless except in wars (we're not in a war here, folks as some may believe).

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Glenn Beck has been making me want to puke (even more than usual) today, with his bullshit about loving peace and "doing it for the children." The man has been inciting violence for years, and now people are finally able to really hold him to his own hateful verbiage.

    As for the "school leaders," I do not care a whit about them. They are useless. They are not my problem, but they should enjoy my book.

    Thanks for reading,


  6. Glenn Beck is a mayhem causing, rabble rousing tool of evil. That's probably an inflammatory statement, but so what. If people can't see that, I can't help them or even have sympathy for them. I just can't.

    He is the root cause of this, I think, though Palin's dumbass "RELOAD!" graphic was very poorly planned. No one should be suprised that she is being called out for it now (even though she was called out for it back when she first posted it, too).

    Keep fighting the good fight. Your words are perfectly sensible, as are you.

  7. Thanks, Jim. I only hope that some good comes of this mess, but already I am seeing certain people reacting with their trademark outrage and incendiary words, and the neocon loons are all over the place trying to sow the seeds of dissent and armed revolution. That's dismaying (hey, I used that word again. It's a very useful word, but I wish I never had to use it).

    I actually feel really bad for Palin right now, but part of me knows she deserves some of the flack. I also know she thinks that her posing-with gun and mentioning-guns-all-the-time shtick was working, but let's hope she puts that one aside because it's well, untoward and mildly crazy.

    Thanks for reading.



  8. If you are not already a member of the Brady Campaign, I will be sorely dissappointed. Google it.

  9. Oh, I know about the Brady Campaign. Thanks for mentioning it. I have been vehemently anti-gun for ages. Which leads me to wonder about another blogger who constantly posts about shooting, his gun collection, getting yelled at for making so many "double taps" to chest followed by shots to head on paper targets that it alarmed a gun range guy...his blog is all anonymous but clearly the man has an arsenal at home. This is, to say the least, disturbing.

    Thanks for reading, Dornier.