Writing is therapy

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‘Loaded gun in my purse? Silly me.’

Denver Post columnist Mario Nicolais writes here that officials made the right call by not pressing charges against Colorado State Rep. Lori Saine, who was caught carrying a concealed weapon through airport security.

I’m not so sure.

It was “an honest mistake,” writes Nicolais, who says he carries, too, and easily forgets that he’s doing so. He says the lawmaker shouldn’t have to defend herself in court for an honest, understandable episode of carelessness. Presumably he is now absolved, too, in advance.

Mistakes like Saine’s, however, aren’t much different from those that lead to the tragic deaths of children who find guns that parents or others forget to secure properly and safely.

Saine likely beat herself up inwardly, Nicolais said. Maybe even with expletives! He guesses that she asked herself within a second of being caught how she could be so careless.

Yes, how horrible that imaginary inner dialogue must have been for her.

An individual who is prone to forgetting he or she is carrying a deadly weapon should not be permitted to carry a deadly weapon, concealed or otherwise.

Still, forgetful Coloradans Saine and Nicolais could be carrying in any state soon if proponents of concealed carry reciprocity get their way.

 

Knives and hammers are irrelevant when the topic is death by gunfire

Denver Post columnist Jon Caldara left out some important numbers in his attempt to trivialize the role of rifles in U.S. mass murders and to mock the growing outrage that millions of Americans feel over our monstrous epidemic of death by gunfire.

boy-958478_1920bHe accuses people of focusing on and misunderstanding assault rifles, as if those details were all-important, while entirely missing the much larger picture of this nation’s gun fetish himself. He points out that rifles were used in only a tiny fraction of last year’s 11,004 homicides by firearm (So what?) and he completely ignores some 20,000 or so other gunfire deaths.

It’s true that there is no media sizzle in the deaths of one or two people at a time. To our eternal shame, most of the 93 individual deaths per day by gun are not newsworthy on a national scale because we are so used to them and there are just too damn many of them.

Caldara can rest assured that a single mass murder by knife, blunt instrument or hammer would make the national news. There would be sizzle, but those murders would still be irrelevant to guns.

Robert E. Lee as tragic figure?

Not too long ago I started following more conservatives on Twitter and reading—or trying to read—articles that might help me understand them better.

This article caught my attention today, in no small part because of my recent renewal of interest in the song that it features:

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

I’ve always liked the song but had never before reflected very deeply on its meaning. It is moving and tragic and, as that article in The American Conservative said, it is sad. I re-read the quote from a Wikipedia page that the writer cited just a couple of days ago.

The AC article was interesting but ultimately a disappointment as it tries to get the reader to sympathize with Southerners and their “shame-honor” culture. I was buying it all until this part of the article:

Robert E. Lee embodies the tragedy of the American South: he was the best military man in America — remember that Lincoln offered him command of the Union Army — and wanted to keep the Union together.

Never mind that others say Lee’s flaws and bad decisions were key to the defeat of the Confederacy. Never mind that he so wanted to keep the Union together than he went to war to destroy it. He “wept tears of blood” over the decision, the article says. How many shed real blood in those years and how many died in that war?

To position Lee as the embodiment of that tragedy is a grievous insult to the memory of the millions of enslaved human beings that he and his army fought to keep enslaved.

While touching and sad, the AC article’s portrayal of white Southerners as helplessly and hopelessly loyal to family and place by virtue of their Scots-Irish cultural heritage reads like a lame excuse for owning slaves and going to war to keep them. My own Irish roots are rather deep, but I have never heard anyone in my extended family, or anyone else for that matter, lionize Irishmen who killed innocents with car bombs the way Lee has been idolized in the land of cotton.

Lee made his choice, and calling it honorable is to pervert the very meaning of the word.

But, the song…

Again and again in recent weeks I’ve watched and listened to the video that turned up in the AC article, the one of The Band performing the song about “the night.” I don’t see it as glorifying the rebels or Lee or even the war, although I understand why some might. It is about terrible loss in more than one sense and, if anything, a reflection of the tragedy that is war.

I always wonder about the seven words one of the musicians says just before the music starts:

“It’s not like it used to be.”

In some ways it is, in some ways it isn’t.