A Few Important Items

Before we get back to our a semblance of our normal routine, I want to share a few things with you.

First, for those who want to help the Sandy Hook families with funeral expenses and paying for counseling, Atheists Giving Aid has set up a fund. You can donate here.

Roses at Avery Park, Corvallis, OR

Roses at Avery Park, Corvallis, OR: A reminder there are still beautiful things in the world.

I will have some more substantial things to say at a later time. I do know one thing: things here will change. We’ll still have our fun and our geology and so forth, but you’ll see more of a focus on social justice issues than before. This latest mass shooting crystallized the entirety of A+ for me. The reason why we need movements like A+ is because we have so damned much to fix. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past few days, there’s no single way to prevent these shootings. Getting an assault weapons ban passed is just taking the keys out of the drunk person’s hand – it will probably reduce the incidence, but it won’t eradicate the causes. We will never completely solve these problems. That’s no reason not to begin somewhere.

And on that subject, I literally cannot speak to people who refuse to hear word one about a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips. One of my friends, whom I love and know to be a good, caring person, argued with me on the way to work that even if we restrict those sorts of things to the gun range, people wanting to shoot up a school full of kids will just go fetch their guns. And I was so angry I was spluttering. It’s like hearing someone say, “Well, rapists are just going to break in anyway, so don’t even bother locking your doors.” “Well, people are just going to die in car crashes anyway, so you might as well give keys to anyone who wants them.” “Well, children are just going to find a way to get into the cabinet anyway, so we might as well not put drugs and cleaning products on the high shelf behind a lock, and to hell with child-safety caps.”

Add your analogy of choice here.

You know something, people who don’t think it’s even worth trying? I can’t even buy fucking pseudoephedrine. It’s locked up behind the counter, and I have to present ID and all kinds of bullshit, and by the time I need a cold medicine, it’s usually at a time when the pharmacists have gone home for the night, and I’m too fucking sick to chase down a 24-hour pharmacy. If I do manage to drag my sick arse to the pharmacy when the pharmacist is on duty, I have to present ID and put my name on a register where it will stay for two years saying, “ZOMG she bought a packet of Sudafed, she’s probably cooking meth!!!” I can’t buy as much as I want. I can’t stockpile the shit because I can’t buy enough of it in a month to even begin. I can hoard freeze-dried food and assault weapons and ammunition that is designed to kill humans (not shoot at targets or hunt deer, let’s don’t get stupid and pretend it’s anything but murder-inna-casing), but I can’t stock up on fucking cold medicine for the coming apocalypse.

And that’s not right, but only because guns and ammo aren’t subject to stringent restrictions. We’re willing to make it extremely difficult for sick people to get some decongestant because criminals use it to cook meth. They still cook meth, have been ever since the restrictions were put in place, but are we shrugging and saying, “Meh, they’re doing it anyway, might as well make it easier for them to get their hands on pseudoephedrine so I don’t have to suffer an extra five minutes’ worth of sniffles”?


And so when you say to me, “But killers will just find a way to get guns anyway,” what you are saying is that you don’t care about making it harder for them to get their hands on serious fucking weaponry. You don’t want to give them that extra bit of time to think things through as they drive to the gun range and get their guns out of their locker. You don’t want to give other people a chance to notice something’s up as Johnny Mass Killer goes bopping out the door of a busy range with enough weaponry to supply both sides in a small civil war. You don’t want to consider things like, oh, I don’t know, making it illegal to remove your very dangerous shoots-umpteen-rounds-a-second-people-killer-and-its-zillion-round-drum from the gun range and also putting tags on it that will set off an alarm if you try to waltz off with it? So that maybe, just maybe, one of those NRA nuts who thinks we should live like it’s the 1870s, only with less gun control, can have his chance to play hero as the cops are called? This is too much to ask to prevent horrific violence on our streets, in our schools, our malls, our theatres, our restaurants?

To my friends who say they’ll just find a way to get guns anyway: fuck you. On this issue, I think you are an appalling excuse for a human being.

Also, read this. Seriously, anyone who is against gun control, or who thinks they’re for it but then starts coming up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t do anything more than cosmetic bs, read this. Do it now. These are the things I would say to you if you hadn’t just reduced me to sputtering, incoherent rage.

Then read this. Read it all the way through to the ends, where it says, “I didn’t think, ‘Damn, I wish I had a gun, too.’ I thought ‘Damn, I wish he didn’t have a gun.'”

You know what? That’s exactly what I think every time I hear of some fuckwad shooting people. I thought it with Zimmerman, and Dunn, and all of the endless stories of some assclown getting quick with the trigger and taking some kid’s life because they were too loud, or too black, or both. I thought it when a mother came into my bookstore looking for books on how to grieve because a man had shot her teenage son for cutting across one small corner of his yard. I thought it when foreign exchange student Yoshihiro Hattori stopped by the wrong house on his way to a Halloween party, and ended up shot by a man who’d rather have his wife fetch a gun so he could shoot down a kid in a silly costume rather than go inside and lock the door if he was so frightened of the young Japanese dude. I’ve thought it every time I’ve heard of someone getting shot because they were careless, or foolish, or doing all the right things but still getting shot because guns are dangerous. I’ve thought it every time I’ve heard of a child getting killed because the parents couldn’t be bothered to properly secure their deadly weaponry. And I’ve thought it after every mass shooting.

There was a time when I thought a gun would make me safer. Right after I was raped at knifepoint in my home, I thought a gun might be a pretty good idea. Then I thought of the kids in the neighborhood, and my friends who sometimes like to pull pranks, and family members barging in unexpectedly, and pets making strange noises, and non-dangerous strangers making me nervous without realizing, and the fact that a gun would not have helped anyone but my rapist that morning, and I said, “Naw.” Not worth it. There were so many times I might have ended up taking someone’s life by mistake, and no time when a gun would have done me any good.

Now I just think, “I’m glad my rapist didn’t have a gun. I wish other assailants, I wish incautious people, I wish kids, hadn’t had one, either.”

And one last thing. Listen up, because a lot of people I otherwise love and respect have been making a bloody stupid mistake and I want it to stop:

Stop blaming mental illness for what Lanza did.

Seriously. Stop it.

We don’t know much about him yet and may never, but at this stage it’s not sounding like he was so terribly different from many of us. If these early reports are to be trusted (you know how that goes), he didn’t even play first-person shoot-‘em-up games. There goes another famous scapegoat. Oops.

There are no broad, bright and shining lines between us and them. Stop trying to paint one, because all you’re doing is tarring the vast majority of the mentally ill for being something they’re not. It doesn’t help us prevent these killings, it doesn’t help folks with mental illnesses, and it certainly doesn’t help your humanity.

That is all for today. Go do something good.

I Am Civically Literate Enough to Write This Blog

I am nearly 100% qualified to opine on political and governmental issues. Ha!

And no, I didn’t cheat and Google the answers. If I had, I wouldn’t have missed bloody Question #7. Go see if you do better.

This is an interesting little project the ISI’s got. Their official survey – the one people can’t cheat on – shows that 71% of Americans fail the test. The average score for regular citizens is 49%. For people who held public office, it’s 44%. That’s just pathetic.

Here’s a finding that shows a dramatic confusion about religion in this country:

Seventy-nine percent of those who have been elected to government office do not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the U.S.

Only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.

I think we need to get to edumicating people.

At least we know without taking the test that we’re likely smarter than average:

The civic knowledge gained from engaging in frequent conversations about public affairs, reading about current events and history, and participating in more involved civic activities is greater than the gain from a bachelor’s degree alone.

And people wonder why I didn’t opt for crushing student loan debt…