Imagine the Outcry

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BREAKING: A series of larger-than-life statues of Hilary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry will soon be on display throughout significant places in this great United States. Even though each of these three lost an election, the statues are meant to honor our past and heritage. Therefore, no one should ever, and I mean ever, challenge the fact that they were created and placed in a location where future generations can see it. There’s no political agenda here. Their legacy shall be honored and maintained forever. Anyone who believes they should be taken down is unpatriotic, disrespectful, and un-American.

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The Power of a Single Word

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It’s late.  I should probably be in bed.  However, I ended up talking politics (online) with a former student.  He knows who he is…  Anyway…here’s my wacky take:

It’s election season here in the USA, and there’s a lot of talk about the -isms.  Capitalism.  Heroism.  Judaism.  Communism.   Pokemonism.

But no one seems to talk about Americanism.

Not all Americans are Christians, but much of our country’s founders were.  Thus, there is a large percentage of Christian-oriented language in our early political documents.  While “Americanism” is on nary a page of those documents, I firmly believe we as a nation subscribe to this lesser-known -ism.

Observe:

An Americanismist is probably inclined to donate a buck or so to the wounded veteran sitting in a wheelchair outside a Wal-Mart.  To us, that seems like a obvious choice.  We think, “I’ve come to this shit-hole store to buy something.  I have money.  This guy can’t walk anymore because he put his life on the line X amount of years ago to protect what I believe to be my freedom, so…yeah!  Here’s a buck!”

Someone who follows Americanism also thinks it’s nice to have a firm structure above him or her at the time of sleeping.  That roof could be made of torn umbrella pieces, crystal, or something in between.  We tend to prefer to reside in some type of living space that covers us.  Gosh.  How many times has anyone reading this learned of a family or friend who has suffered through some type of accident or damage to one’s abode?  Here, we think, “Your house burned down?  That’s terrible!  What can we do?  Would you like to stay at our house?  Can I take your kids to school?  I know your insurance is pretty good, but we’d like to help you out because, you know, you’re my uncle.”

Example three:  Americanismists are pretty touchy about education.  While I can’t possibly gauge what all readers do while engaging in social media interactions, I can wager that the following occurs quite frequently:  Parents discuss teachers’ methodology (positively or negatively).  Teachers discuss parents’ involvement or lack thereof.  Students’ discuss their parents’ and teachers’ ability to constantly piss them off.  Politicians or political strategists discuss the importance of mainstreaming, inclusion, individual educational plans (IEPs), schools’ performance grades, schools’ performance scores, schools’ accreditation, schools’ budgetary states, etc.  Every damn one of these Americanismists want kids to not only go to school, but to be educated to the point where they can  a) contribute in some way to society, and b) move out.  For this example we say things like this to young people:

“Boy, school wasn’t like that in my day, but I guess times change, huh?”

‘When you’re older you’ll understand how important it is for you to graduate.”

“I work hard so you have opportunities I didn’t have.”

“Please, for the love of God, put down that phone and listen to me!”

So…a while back a few of those “founding” guys thought that our new country ought to have some type of basic educational system for every child.  In their infinite senselessness (ahem), they further thought that said education should not come at a huge cost that would leave some young people out of those schools.  Make it free, they said.  They’ll be like an investment toward the next generation.  We can teach them all how to read, write, understand trapezoids and protons, and they’ll strengthen our local-, state-, and federal work force to a higher point YEAR AFTER YEAR!  (I’m paraphrasing, of course…)

That’s why, in 2016, it’s pretty much illegal for a public school to turn away a student who wishes to enroll.  It’s Americanism.  It’s because we care about one another.

Which, if you think about it, is a societal thing.

We are also quite social.  We attend social gatherings such as church, PTA meetings, AA meetings, and even ice cream socials (if you went to my elementary school).

At these social events, we talk to one another, ask about each other’s families and work.  We engage in what is commonly known as “respectful behavior” and “common sense.”  We support fundraisers.  We buy lemonade from the neighborhood kids every summer.  I mean…come on.  We’re not against being social, right?  We’re not anti-social.  Right?

We can’t wait to hang out.

We can’t wait to leave work and see our families and friends.

We can’t wait for our lunch break at work to have some time to socialize.

We love to be social—in person and online.

But are we SOCIALISTS?

Hell no.

Wait….what?

This Year, Give Tranqs!

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So, I think I’ve figured it all out.  Okay, not all all.  But one thing that has bothered me since I was young.  

Once, when I was (probably) nine, my mom asked me what I would do if I won a million dollars.  With very little preparation or thought, I said the following:

“I think I’d like to buy everyone’s guns–maybe for about $50 each–and throw them in an incinerator.”

Yeah.

Okay, you got me.  I didn’t say “incinerator.”  I know that because, as I write this, I just now had to look up the correct spelling.  I have always had a thing where I do not normally use words that I cannot spell.  

I remember looking at the sidewalk–I’m pretty sure we were in front of my school–and not at my mom’s face when I answered her.  Because she’s never liked guns–and always made that abundantly clear to my brother and me throughout our childhood–I have a suspicion that she probably welled up and felt pride in raising her son to subscribe to the same beliefs as she’d held for so long.

Now, the point of this (quick?) blog post:  As a high school- and college writing instructor who lives and works in southern Indiana and assigns argumentative essays, I have read a “fair” share of pro-gun essays.  Often, within the argument, the student-author will mention a recent event where a responsible gun owner prevented a heist or mass shooting to impress upon the reader that state- and federal governments should not stand in the way of this potential for heroism.  

In those classes as well, we discuss the Rogerian argument method.  In short, it’s a technique in written argument that suggests a compromise and not a complete reversal of one’s perspective.  

As I sit in my chilly kitchen writing this–at least 100 yards from the closest firearm–I’m the eternal pacifist–the guy who always thinks that guns are not the answer to any of the world’s problems.  

If I were in a gas station, however, waiting in line to buy one of those hot “taquitos” they have spinning on the metal rollers as the place was suddenly being held at gunpoint, perhaps my tune would change.  I mean, those fucking things are good as shit!

Seriously, though, I have an idea.  If the real concern is that everyday Joes and Janes who own and like to shoot guns ALSO want to feel protected as they stand behind me in line as I’m ordering a grande chestnut praline frappucino, I suggest the following:

Tranqs!

Let licensed gun owners have the ability to carry tranquilizer guns!  Since their apparent objective is to take down any threat, why not just prevent the threat without killing them?  Let’s explore a couple more ideas and alternatives first:

Knives:

Lots of people carry knives.  They are quite popular in Switzerland, I hear.  In America, we use them to spread butter and open Amazon deliveries.  The bigger ones can be worn on hip-sheaths and can cut through anything else from tennis shoes to cows’ necks (if needed).  In a hostage situation, however, being close to the threat is key–unless, of course, the knife-owner happens to be one of those guys at the circus who can purposely miss hitting a bikini-clad lady on the spinning wheel from fifteen feet.

Grenades:

This would definitely end the ordeal, but it would also cause a bit more havoc than a bullet (or series thereof).  Let’s move on.

Tasers:

These are advantageous, but they also could succumb to electrical shortages.  As anyone knows, battery-powered objects have the proclivity to jam or simply be out of power when absolutely needed.  Who among you has had his/her phone die at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME???

Swords/Nun-chucks:

These would send the right message to these would-be thieves or killers would even draw a weapon, but they are not the most convenient items to carry when all you really want is some Big Red soda, a roll of toilet paper, two doughnuts, and a NASCAR-themed lighter.  

While I have not been to a scene such as those suggested where heroes have (or could have) saved innocent lives, I have seen news footage of the aftermath.  There are typically thirty-six EMTs, police officers, news reporters, and bloggers surrounding the crime.  These people have other responsibilities and should not have to waste their time on this preventable situation.  If the perpetrator was tranquilized, he or she could have been arrested while “under” and handled by less than three dozen professionals.  

Those people who have to clean and sanitize the place probably have other agenda items for their day.  Do you think any of those people enjoy wearing haz-mat suits and being crouched down on a tiled floor cleaning up bone fragments and grimy human blood?  

Yuck.

Lastly, what about the friends and families of the alleged criminals?  Should the only option of civilian peacekeepers be to take the life of this person?  They (presumably) have families and friends who probably don’t want to be at a funeral any time soon.

Thus, it is clear that the cleanest, most efficient way for responsible civilians to help prevent crimes (and countless hours of 24-news entities “covering” these deplorable events) is to let them carry tranquilizers guns to take down threats and keep America safe.  

As for my taquito, I prefer salsa to blood spatter.

#NCTE14 Experience (Day 1-ish)

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It has been about seven or eight years since I last had the opportunity to attend the NCTE national convention.  It was the year Indianapolis hosted.  This year the convention is in Washington, D. C. which is also where, coincidentally, many US Presidents have lived.

It’s probably as good a time as any to explain that this is horrendous writing and merely for my own amusement.

Anyway, the convention center (Gaylord National Resort) is a gorgeous building that reminds me of absolutely nothing from my childhood.  There are a few sessions this afternoon, but the real craziness begins Friday.  I have a added the app, hashtagged appropriate lines on my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  I’ve even blogged about the first day before the day really began!

I came alone, but I’m not shy.  My wife says I’m not so much “friendly” to strangers as much as I am “creepy.”  I’m hoping to learn a lot from this experience.  I made business cards.

In the 18 hours or so since I’ve landed, I’ve really enjoyed my time in the capital.  I miss my family immensely, but I plan to stay alive long enough to see them again Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy the convention, everyone!