Gender: Do not display
Home country: USA
Current location: Dallas, Texas
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,994
Home country: USA
Current location: Dallas, Texas
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,994
One of these days, maybe you'll take a trip into the back country or the wilderness, seeking to get away from the city for just a little while. You may find yourself an hour's drive away from anything remotely resembling a town. In some parts of America, if you come across a four-way intersection with a traffic light, a dollar store, and a Dairy Queen, that qualifies as a metropolis by local standards.
I've been in a few areas like that, checking to see if I have enough gas in the tank and any bars on my cellphone before launching myself into yet another hunt for a ghost town or a forgotten cemetery. And sometimes along the road, I'll see the carcasses of these huge feral hogs left to rot in the sun. These poor fellers are built like tanks, and they can sometimes be quite aggressive. If they charge at your car in the middle of nowhere, you're in serious trouble.
Out there, open carry isn't such a bad idea.
My home, however, is in a fairly large city where the downtown area is intersected by two interstate highways. We have a decent network of paved roads, ample hospitals and medical clinics, plenty of restaurants and coffee shops, and even a few bookstores that aren't choked with romance novels and religious writings. My city also boasts a large and reasonably competent police force as well as a sheriff's department.
And I look at some of these people who have been engaged in open-carry exercises in order to prove the point that you can openly carry a gun without society going all to pieces, and while I understand where they are coming from, it seems that the stubbornness and gratuity of their demonstrations has quickly become counterproductive. Here we have a guy toting an AR-15 through a JCPenney, and some other guy lugging an AK-47 into his local Staples.
Guys. Come on.
While I'm all in favor of a workable and competent CHL system, I tend to like the idea of people coming together to build and sustain a society that doesn't require all of us to be strapped 24/7. If you are far removed from city limits and testing your own endurance out in the boonies, then by all means, sling that AR-15 around your neck and do what you gotta do. But here in the city, I look forward to the simple pleasures of taking a walk in the park if that's what I'm in the mood for, then retiring to a good Tex-Mex restaurant for some chips and queso followed perhaps by some good enchiladas (how's the mole here, dear server?) and, ideally, a night on the town with good friends with whom I can discuss politics, play a few card games, or just enjoy each other's company.
About a week ago, however, as I was stopped at a gas station before heading home for the night, I found myself watching a heated argument between two guys, and it looked like it was going to come to blows at any second. So I stepped between them and broke it up - with nothing more than a flashlight. Nobody got hurt, no weapons were drawn, and everybody went on their merry way. Could one or both of the antagonists have been packing? Perhaps. But that was a chance little unarmed me was willing to take.
I like the whole "Renaissance man" concept of ordinary Americans broadening their horizons in the sciences and the fine arts. As my wife's great-great-great-great-granduncle Ben Franklin once opined, "There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self."
But if you really want to master your own self, you'll know there's a time when you just need to put down that gun.
Posted by derby378 | Sun Sep 29, 2013, 07:42 PM (11 replies)
As President Obama is urging Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school last year, Mrs. Obama said it's important to remember the children who have been lost to gun violence -- such as Hadiya Pendleton, the 15 year old who was shot and killed in Chicago after participating in inaugural festivities last month.
"She was standing out in a park with her friends in a neighborhood blocks away from where my kids...grew up, where our house is. She had just taken a chemistry test. And she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn't need," she said. "I just don't want to keep disappointing our kids in this country. I want them to know that we put them first. That, you know, our rights and our privileges take a back seat when it comes to the safety of our children in this country."
Mrs. Obama, I love you. Everyone on DU loves you. But I'm sorry - it's time we had a little talk.
It should go without saying that no child should have to worry about being gunned down by gangsters or criminals of any stripe. A child needs to feel some measure of safety in the neighborhood where she lives and plays with her friends. That's a no-brainer. We were all kids once.
But when someone hints that freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to a trial by jury can be endangered by calls to "keep our children safe," a phrase from the late, great George Carlin comes to mind - child worship.
Now, I realize that Carlin and I hold widely divergent opinions on gun control, no argument there. But one reason we all want safe neighborhoods for our kids to grow up in is because children won't stay children forever. They grow up and become adults. And when that child's corpus callosum finally matures and that person is entrusted by society to vote, to serve on a jury, to own a firearm, and to enjoy more alcohol than the occasional sip of wine at Mass, we want to have some reassurance that this person is ready to take on the responsibilities of an adult.
Part of the reason people like me harp on our Constitutional rights so much is because the Constitution treats us like adults. It was drafted by some folks who were already figuring this "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" shit out. It's been tweaked at times, sometimes unwisely so (re: 18th Amendment). But it still retains the potential to be tweaked, as long as the rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution are preserved. Rights, Mrs. Obama. The sort of thing that adults require in order to make our form of society work. If it weren't for our rights, the government could encase us all in bubble-wrap, forbid us from using scissors with pointy ends, outlaw the consumption of alcohol (and soda, and coffee, and...), and treat us all as though we had just stepped into third grade. And the government could justify it all "for our safety." And the safety of our children, no doubt, provided some of us find a way to strip off enough bubble-wrap to reproduce.
We want kids to laugh, love, and thrive. More importantly, we want them to grow up into adults with some measure of character and responsibility. That way, maybe they can help solve a few of the lingering problems that we jackasses cannot. As adults. Preferably, as Democrats. But most definitely with rights.
Okay, off my soapbox for now...
Posted by derby378 | Sat Mar 2, 2013, 04:51 PM (8 replies)
I'm not doing all that good today. Here I am, stuck at the office because I just had to make a few extra bucks in overtime in order to offset my bills and allow myself a creature comfort or two, and everyone else has left for the holidays, fighting traffic, queueing at the airport, rushing as they try to get home for the holidays. And me, I no longer feel the need to rush. What's the point? My home was with Ginny, my beautiful bride, my dearest, sweetest friend.
Dammit, I thought I was done crying. The past year and a half has been so rough on me, between losing Ginny as well as my job. I learned what it was like to have the power turned off in the dead of winter last year, not to mention face eviction. Unemployment sucks, but underemployment isn't much better.
But I guess I shouldn't be too sad. At least I still have my Banjo, and I have my own family to spend Christmas with, along with my newly-minted nephew, James. He is just so adorable, and he's starting to sit up on his own, which is terrific. And I've had DUers reach out to me when things looked their bleakest, especially one in particular, whom I cannot thank enough. And there will be food and laughter and a couple of presents under the tree and time with my family and loved ones.
Meanwhile, somewhere down in Houston, there is a meth addict. He has a friend who has a place where he can crash for the night, but that might be all he has of any value. His addiction and his refusal to stay in rehab have taken a toll on his own family. The final straw came when he tried to talk - or possibly intimidate - his grandmother into giving him money so he could go buy some more meth. Now he's been cut off, no longer welcome at home unless he is willing to accept help for his addiction for real. This addict is one of my relatives, someone I've known since he was a little boy. I can only sit here and hope that he's safe and warm and maybe even eating a half-decent meal this Christmas weekend.
Then there's the young woman I barely know who's the daughter of an old friend of mine. "Jane" has fallen head over heels for a young man whom she's known since grade school, someone who helped keep the bullies in check to make Jane's school days a little more bearable. But now this boy has grown up into a drunkard and a thief, and Jane's inflexible love for this young man is tearing her family apart. He just got out of the psych ward a couple of weeks ago because of all the trouble he's been in, and he celebrated his freedom by drinking for three days straight and causing a scene until the cops hauled him off to jail again. Jane doesn't care. She's vowed to stay by his side for Christmas, even if that means they're homeless, cold, hungry, and on the street. She deserves so much better than this.
I wish I had a little more Christmas spirit in me, a little more of the spark I used to have with Ginny at my side. Maybe tomorrow it'll start when I pay a visit to Ginny's mom and sister; it'll be so nice to see them again. But sitting in this office chair, that reunion seems so far away. Still, it could be worse. And for too many people, including those I care about, it already is.
I am the last one out this holiday season, and maybe I should thank God for that.
Posted by derby378 | Fri Dec 23, 2011, 06:42 PM (5 replies)
Go to Page: 1