A Tale of Two Cities

Paint swatches. Gray, black, extra white.

WHAT THE &$*!?

That’s all I could come up with as I facepalmed in utter disbelief. Although my disbelief was quickly booted aside by a recognition that this would, of course, happen.

Let me let the New York Times tell you. I will interrupt them occassionally with my analysis or maybe, more accurately, my rant.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Armed antigovernment protesters led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, charged in the takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges.

[Armed antigovernment protesters!!??] What the hell kind of euphemistic bullshit is that? How about thugs with automatic weapons who charged into federal buildings and threatened law enforcement? Or maybe you can’t be a thug if you’re white and wrap yourself in a Christian flag?

And then, [acquitted??!!?] << This. I can’t even.

The surprise verdict in Federal District Court was a blow to the government, which had argued that the group used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve, impeding the federal workers there. But the jury appeared swayed by the occupiers’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat.

Wait. [they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat?!!??] Everybody saw a dozen or so armed cowboys forcefully occupying a federal wildlife refuge, blocking access of federal employees who were unable to do their work onsite. There were 30 guns seized after the standoff. An FBI agent testified that 16,636 live rounds and nearly 1,700 spent casings were found. The terrorists set up a defensive perimeter. They forcefully occupied the area for five weeks. The insurgents destroyed federal property, including archaeological artifacts. By the way, the staff felt threatened, and indeed the people in the county did, too.

In a sign of the high tensions throughout the trial, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford, was restrained by four United States Marshals in courtroom tussle after the verdict on Thursday. He was enraged that the Bundys were not being immediately released.

Oh and then their friggin lawyer starts throwing punches in the courtroom? Yeah, like that would go over well in a Baltimore City court. Well, if he did that in Bal’more he’d be shot dead. Maybe not. He’s white.

All of them got off. Even the guy who acted as his own lawyer.

Meanwhile, almost 1,300 miles due east a different verdict is being played out. I can’t give you a link to the NYTimes, though, because they are not covering this other story. So let’s try the BBC. You know, the news source from across the pond.

Riot police have begun removing protesters from private land in the path of the Dakota Access pipeline…Dozens of officers in riot gear, some armed, moved in on Thursday assisted by trucks and military Humvees.

So police are taking down teepees that were erected just yesterday. They are rolling up in tanks, suited in full riot gear. They are shooting “bean bag” shotgun rounds “designed to incapacitate people without causing death or permanent injury” and using pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters.

There were reports of rock throwing. After the police moved in, there was a report of gunfire and a woman was arrested. In addition, over 100 people have been arrested. This type of protest–you know the one that disrupts the oil or natural gas industries–must not be allowed to continue. And we can hurt these types of protesters.

To be clear, the protests are being led by Native Americans trying to protect their sacred lands. You know after the Trail of Tears and whatnot.

It’s the best of times for white terrorist ranchers who use violence and a warped interpretation of the constitution to justify stealing from the government to line their own pockets. And, as it has been historically, it’s the worst of times for people of color.


Eff Your Guns (where Eff is the f-word)

We can do BETTER [sign, I almost typed "sigh"]

I can’t do this. I was writing a post about people leaving, but I just couldn’t.

I couldn’t write another sentence about missing someone who is physically away, because it is selfish since he’s still alive.

I couldn’t think about the loss in my heart as my child grows up, because he has the chance to continue his journey.

Others have none of that. Parents will not see their children again. Friends will not see their friends again. Brothers and sisters will not see their sibs again. In Orlando. In San Bernardino. In Sandy Hook. In Aurora. In too many places.

My feelings of loss are still real, and I’ll finish that post another day–maybe even tomorrow, but today I am stuck on one thing.

I don’t care about your fucking guns. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FUCKING GUNS.

I am not safer because you have guns. My children are not safer because you have guns. Nobody that I love is safer because you have guns. My neighborhood is not safer because you have guns. And my city, which is the capital of our country, is obviously not safer for your gun fetish.

I’m at a breaking point.

I’m broken.

I don’t personally give a rat’s ass about guns. But I respect my friends, colleagues, some cool hunters and whoever get a kick out of guns. I give such little rat’s ass that I don’t care that people have them for their reasons. Like they hunt. Or collect. Or are sportsman. Or whatevs.

But today, I have to tell you, with all due respect, fuck your guns. Really. I’ve had it.


Let me say it again.


Really. Don’t tell me how powerful they make us. Because there is no data that convinces me–and I really really loves me some data. Because those constitutional arguments as validated by a Supreme Court intellectual black hole make absolutely no sense vis-à-vis any discussion of any other bill o’ rights issues. And I gotta say, I really really really loves me some U S of A constitutions. Like sickly in love.

Until we can include guns, and any rational role they have in a modern society, in our discussion of solutions to issues of religious extremism, homophobia, hate and intolerance that are expressed in mass murder, I am totally through. There is not a single silver bullet–pardon the gun reference–to stop terrorism and hate crimes. If we don’t put everything on the table, we just keep talking in circles. Like we have. Dizzy. And 50 more dead.

I am very sorry, Loyal Reader, to rant in an incoherent fashion. But this was all I could write today.

And I am sorry. So, so, sorry.  Yes. I am sorry.

Except for saying, fuck your guns. They are not more important than people.


Tear Chasm

President Obama with tears running down his face because more people were killed with guns and he wishes it would stop.

I saw the President cry yesterday.

One of the most powerful men in the world wept. On national TV. In front of God and everybody.

I watched him wipe away a tear of sorrow, tears of frustration and tears of anger. Tears of mourning as he, once again, remembered the little kids–kindergartners–who were massacred by a man with a gun in Sandy Hook. You can see photos of their beautiful faces, and those of their brave teachers, here.

Go ahead and look at them. I’ll wait for you.

See their smiles with missing teeth, their dimples, their smirks and their headbands. See their birthday candles, itty bitty sneakers, temporary tattoos and baseball caps.  They are frozen in time as children. They won’t get a chance to become the amazing young women and young men that they could have been.

That is a vast sadness. A sadness that chokes you if can bear to think about it.

I’m glad that the President cried. Everyone should be able to cry. Men, even powerful men, need to cry. And it’s okay. No, it’s more than okay. It’s what humans do when they are feeling sad, frustrated and angry.

The President asked us to feel those feelings with him. Of course he cried. I cried, too.