This is not going to be a helpful post, a healthy post, a post of solutions and fixes, a post that makes sense of anything, that catalyzes what we’re all going through, that attempts to be optimistic or do anything at all to understand the pervasive miasma of trauma we are all standing in and breathing. It is a post of sadness and rage, words that I’m not even sure will make much sense, but right now I don’t have anywhere to put them so I’m putting them here.
At the time of this writing, 19 elementary school children are dead in Uvalde, Texas, alongside two teachers at that school. They were shot by an 18-year-old gunman who by all reports went out on his birthday in order to purchase the weapons he used to commit the mass murder of innocents.
If this happened in a vacuum, if this were a single instance, it would have been a colossal failure, a failure that he was able to have those weapons, a failure of a society that produces those weapons, a failure of a system that was unable to protect those children. If this were a singular horror, it would still necessitate scrutiny and action to follow in the wake of sadness and rage. But it isn’t a singular action. It was not one-and-done. There will likely be another mass shooting today or tomorrow. There have already been hundreds this year. There have already been several this week, from the supermarket shooting against Black Americans in Buffalo to the shooting at a Taiwanese-American church in California. And now this. This, another cup of blood poured into an ocean of it. Blood with the hellish stink of gunpowder burned into it. Shell casings gleaming at the bottom of this sea of pain.
And I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know what to do. The greatest frustration with this and so many of our problems isn’t that we are up against an insurmountable problem. We aren’t facing an issue without solution. We have the answers. We have answers that we collectively agree upon. We know there are some very simple, common sense regulations we can levy against both the gun industry and against the buyers of guns. We know what guns are the problem. We know that there are things we can look out for, like how so many of the shooters are also domestic abusers. It is easy and obvious to say, if you have to learn to drive a car, you should learn to use a gun. If you need a license to operate a vehicle, to sell houses, to run a business, to run electricity through a building — then it stands to reason you should have a license to wield a concealable device that can kill dozens of people in the blink of an eye. We can all probably even agree that concealable is a fucked-up metric for guns, and we would wisely ask, why is that even allowed? The (often mythical) “good guys with guns” shouldn’t want to hide that they have them, so the only people who want to conceal a weapon would be someone who intends to do harm. It follows easy logic that if you have to be 21-years-old to drink an alcoholic beverage –you should at least be that old to use a gun. Most of us can understand and agree that a gun is a tool whose sole purpose is to commit violence. That’s what it does. That’s all it’s for. Even if you view it as necessary for defense, that defense means using it to put holes in other people. It’s not a hammer. It doesn’t cook food, despite what that odious shitstain Ted Cruz would tell you in some pro-gun propaganda bullshit video. It’s there to shoot animals or people. It’s there to inject a little metal missile into meat at around 1100+ feet per second. To turn it to pulp. To butcher it. To make it bleed out and end it, same as it was yesterday, when guns were chosen for the explicit purpose of killing kids — killing them so brutally, so profoundly, that the only way to know who they were was by fetching DNA from their parents in the hopes of making a match.
We all understand. And most of us probably even agree on it. Same as we know how to slow or even halt climate change. Same as we know what helps stave the spread of COVID-19. We know how to save lives, how to accept our kids for who they are, how to share love to stop hate. We know the answers. We even want the solutions. But here we are. Year after year. The same problems. The same problems, growing worse. Cracks in the foundation spreading, poised to collapse. And nothing is done. And nothing is done. And nothing is done. Children dragged onto an altar, killed in service to monstrous capitalist Christofascist interests who will lie with their shit-slick tongues and tell you they are pro-life, pro-life, pro-life, that they care about kids in schools, that masks are abuse and we cannot have them, that the cure is worse than the disease, that we don’t want kids to learn anything harmful, oh no, not ever, but wait, what’s that, they don’t care if their policies lead to kids getting shot again and again, to kids considering suicide because they are denied joy and love because of who they love or how they identify or what the color of their skin looks like, and when kids die, when women die, when anybody dies, they say oh, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, maybe if we armed more people, maybe if we paid more blood and money to get more bullets, maybe if we gave teachers guns, maybe we give kids guns, maybe we give fetuses guns, more guns, more bullets, more blood, as long as we are getting paid, as long as we are getting re-elected, as long as we are biting into the meat of power with our teeth and holding on so tight you’ll never, ever shake us.
Republicans want obeisance to some mad, deranged version of the Constitution, as long as that version keeps them fat and happy and in control. They’ve lost the thread, lost their humanity. They’ve lost democracy, the very thing their precious Constitution hoped to entrench. And the other party, the Democrats, are generally on the side of justice, but can barely be seen to do so because they mumble and shrug and shuffle their feet instead of getting loud, getting mad, throwing (metaphorical) punches in the media and on the chamber floor. They’ve so bought into this collegial lie, this notion that the GOP won’t cut off their fingers just for trying to shake hands, that it’s killing us. The GOP are greedy aggressors; the Democrats are mealy-mouthed glad-handers. On one side: the monsters. On the other side: the cowards. Here we are, banning books, when we need to be banning guns. But who’s fighting for us? Who’s not only speaking out, but genuinely fighting? Who will help us?
I don’t know what to do or what to say and it feels all the more angering. I only know that we are all on this bus, driving fast down the highway with a driver who is increasingly cruel and unstable. All we have to do is unseat the driver. And I don’t know how we do that, but there’s more of us than there are of them. There are a lot of passengers, but only one driver. And we better figure it out real goddamn soon, because our tires are wet with blood and it won’t be long before they drive us off a fucking cliff. It’s already too late for those 19 kids in Uvalde.
But maybe we can save the next 19 if we’re willing to get up out of our seats.
34 responses to “Monsters Are In Charge, And Nobody Is Coming To Save Us”
Hi, Chuck. Meet Anne Helen: https://annehelen.substack.com/p/this-is-what-happens-when-you-live?s=r
I think you’d like each other, if you haven’t met yet. It’s doing me good to see the beginnings of a shift in this conversation. Feels better than crying alone in my empty classroom after school yesterday, sad and angry and so goddamn fucking weary. Of all of it.
Breaks my heart, as it does yours unfortunately your voice isn’t as loud as Tucker Carlson’s who will drink the tears of the victims whilst laughing maniacally. I’m scared as a blank woman to set foot in the US.
RIGHT ON, CHUCK!!!
There are too many people who don’t go to the polls because they think “it won’t do any good”. REALLY?? SITTING ON OUR ASSES DURING AN ELECTION IS WHAT “WON’T DO ANY GOOD”. EVERYBODY HAS TO VOTE!!! THEN RECRUIT YOUR NEIGHBORS TO VOTE!! GET THESE EVIL BUTTHEADS OUT OF OFFICE!!! I sure as Hell don’t know what else to do, but I am going to VOTE and repugs will not get a vote on any ballot of mine! Even a weak dem is better than any repug ever was. It’s time to turn over the stink of scum on the top of this pond.
Chuck, your post from the heart is from my heart as well. Nobody currently in office in Dc or your state capitol should be allowed to stay. Term limits can be set by the voters. Status quo is their goddess, the Dems are acquiescing to the insane far right and we as a nation are sleepwalking to complete disaster socially, environmentally, even economically. You’ve nailed it and I’m with you 100%. It’s time for courage not business as usual.
I keep thinking about the timing of this. The children at the Sandy Hook school were murdered a bit less than 10 years ago. These children murdered in Uvalde were 9 or 10. I keep imagining their parents, back when the Sandy Hook murders happened, clutching at their own infants and newborns and praying, “Please God, no more, not my little baby.” And here we are.
I have lost all hope that anything will ever change. If a classroom of murdered first-graders wasn’t enough to prompt a reckoning, why would a classroom of murdered fourth-graders suffice?
Change can happen but it will take people rising up and forcing it. I don’t mean mass riots in the streets (although Facebook took down my post from yesterday where I did say mothers should be marching in the streets), I mean normal, ordinary parents who *refuse* to let the NRA run the country and their politicians any longer. It’s been done in Scotland and elsewhere. There’s power in the hands of ordinary people who say “no more” and put pressure on their politicians. If the carnage of 19 innocent Grade 4 children won’t do it then maybe your country is lost. But I believe *parents* can make the change happen. Get organized. Get loud. Get out there and have legal protests. Don’t stop because your kids lives are literally at stake.
*hugs* Chuck, thanks for sharing the words. Sharing love to all the teachers, staff, parents and kids in our country.
Thank you, Chuck! You speak my mind. That this keeps happening . . . is just monstrous.
The GOP took this fight to the gutter and the Democrats took the “when they go low, we go high” approach and the result from both sides is the same. Death and destruction. But not for the privileged. Oh no, not for them. The pasty white, the affluent, and the men folk will be okay regardless of which side of the political aisle they sit. Democrats need to grow a spine, get rid of the filibuster, pack SCOTUS and the lower courts with a metric butt ton of progressive judges, and codify into law every god damn thing they can before November and then stand back and let America choose if getting shit done and saving lives was worth it. At this point I’d be willing to bet that inaction will cost them, and the rest of America, much, much more.
I totally agree Andrew but unfortunately the Dems don’t really have a majority–with Manchin and Sinema voting with the GQP. They simply don’t have the votes to remove the filibuster, which is necessary to get anything meaningful done. It’s a mess. As Chuck pointed out, the Dems are no bargain either. Their timidity has to stop. But realistically it’s Dems or Fascists, so…The only (slim) hope is that voters turn out in giant numbers, that their votes actually get counted, and that we pack every branch with NOT Republicans. The “state of our union” is exhausting and sad.
Then let’s stop calling them Democrats and allowing them to receive all that designation entails. Kick them out and make them run as independents or Republicans. At least that way everyone will know the score.
Agreed! This is an example where Dems can start leading. Lord knows anyone who is not in lock step (goose-step?) with the GOP gets ousted, or at least their power is curbed. Ask Liz Cheney.
Agree wholeheartedly. Been looking at my 4 year old girl and crying too much lately. The rage and fear are palpable.
You are 100% correct. I can’t put a roof on my house without a permit and inspection, yet we have people running around with guns, not ordinary guns, but guns of mass destruction with practically no strings attached. How, as a nation, can we watch our children murdered and turn our heads? How as a nation can we let the few override the wants of many? How after Sandy Hook could this possibly happen again? If we cannot protect our youngest, our most innocent, how can we protect anyone? How can we sleep at night knowing somewhere in the future this madness will touch someone we love, someone we can’t bear to lose, someone that means the world to us – just like each one of these victims yesterday, last week, last month, last year mean to someone else.
It started in the 1950s with the loathsome McCarthy, who eliminated the left in US politics. It never came back, and now people there don’t know what a real left wing is.
I live in the UK, and I know you know about Dunblane. It only took one for us to do something about it, whatever political party we belong to. But that doesn’t mean we’re living in Paradise. We have knife crime, terrorism, bomb threats and now we have Bozo threatening to destroy the peace in Northern Ireland, which, lest we forget, American politicians helped to broker.
But we don’t have the same gun threat. Guns are allowed, but they’re regulated. Criminals and people of unsound mind aren’t allowed to own them. They have to be kept in strictly regulated circumstances. They are inspected, followed up, and of course any form of automatic weapon is banned. We’re far from the only country to do this, to promise it will never happen again, mean it and swiftly deal with it.
But that won’t help the US, whose politicians are so up the backsides of the NRA that nothing will be done. As far as I can see, the only solution is to throw anyone who won’t vote for gun control out of office, or make them so diminishingly small in number that all they do is to remind people how vile it is.
Climate change, women’s bodies? Same. But you have to do it fast, and work hard to get it done. I found myself in a discussion yesterday where the arguments were so insane, I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe that. It takes brainwashing, a cult mentality to think like that. When they got to Godwin’s Law, I left, and blocked. I hate blocking. But I had to stop myself answering back, looking up all the details, taking time to refute it. My time’s more valuable than that, and it would acheive precisely nothing.
Maybe we’re doomed. Maybe there won’t be any humans on the earth in a hundred years. Maybe that’s a good thing.
What I find the most sickening of all this is the same group of forced birthers who tell me I MUST have a kid are also the same people who refuse to educate them properly, protect them from being shot and killed or allow them to live in a world where they’ll at all feel safe in any way, especially if they are gay, trans or any religion besides conservative Christian. This isn’t the America I was supposed to grow up into, and I won’t have kids because of it.
This week, we had the ongoing exposé from the Southern Baptists of hundred of abusers given cover, supermarket and school shootings, climate change, forced births, and continued plentiful platitudes flowing from vermin like the self-important stand in for Mr. Bumble, AKA Ted Cruz. And that’s actually unfair to vermin. I’m 68, and if I were younger, I wouldn’t have kids. Humans, for all the good they do, are a cancer on the face of the earth who harm everything they touch.
Politicians have power. The rich have wealth, serious wealth. As long as you allow the rich to give money to the politicians without complete transparency, you will have corruption. Add to that the fact that, under the current system, a politician can make a lifetime career out of corruption and you begin to see where the problems lie.
If you want a solution, get rid of the politician-for-life and put back term limits. Short term limits. How about six years in the House and six years in the Senate? This business of needing time to learn the ropes doesn’t pass the smell test with me. In any other job, if an employee can’t figure out how to successfully perform the required tasks within a few months, that employee would be gone.
The problem in this country, as I see it, is leadership. If you can’t respect your leaders (and who can, at this point?), you tend to lose faith in your system. If you lose faith in your system, you will grasp at any offered straw that promises you stability and honor, no matter how illusory. I have in mind the white supremacist propaganda here, for example. And once you buy into the propaganda, you can be convinced that it’s only right and honorable to do heinous things.
Gun laws? Yes, let’s pass laws that make sense. Universal background checks would be a good start. That would keep guns out of the wrong hands. Anything we can do to keep the wrong people from having guns, I’m all for it. Guns themselves? A gun is just an inanimate object. It can’t do anything without someone picking it up and using it. I’m an ex-cop and I’ve seen some bad things, but I’ve never seen a gun shoot anything unless a human picked it up. So let’s keep them out of the wrong hands.
We have some serious problems in this country. They didn’t happen overnight, and they won’t respond to knee-jerk reactions. I think changing things in your home state via citizen referendums may be the best approach.
Making a Senator the only elected official in Washington subjected to a One-Term Limit?
No. Give a representative 3 terms (6 years total); give a senator 1 term (6 years total); president and vice-president get 2 terms (8 years total). These are only possibilities. They aren’t set in stone. My thought is to ensure being a politician is not a job-for-life, it is instead something someone does as a service for their state and country.
Please keep in mind that Madison Cawthorne will get retirement for life as he “served” in the House of Representatives. Term limits without retirement reform would bankrupt us. Other than that, I’m all for term limits plus restrictions of after-term employment.
Not true, even though it’s been widely circulated on the internet. The reality is that no member of congress qualifies for a pension until they have served at least 5 years in congress. Cawthorn does not qualify.
It’s not enough to create term limits — the people holding things up will be replaced with other people holding things up. If you want to look at the people who are our last resort and let this happen, look to SCOTUS. That’s where we need something different, maybe term limits, or maybe someone needs to go after the individuals still on the court who let Heller stand
Oh, and by “go after” — I mean sue the pants off of them as individuals who are responsible for these crimes (yeah, I know, too many legal problems with this), but we can’t just sit around waiting for them to leave the court.
In the wake of this latest school shooting the BBC afternoon news programme interviewed some American twonk whose answer was to fortify the schools to keep children safe – a jaw-droppingly stupid, escalatory idea. In the UK we had ONE school shooting in Dunblaine (13 March 1996, when Thomas Hamilton shot dead sixteen pupils and one teacher, and injured fifteen others, before killing himself.) After that we banned private individuals from owning guns (even under licence). Sports shooters must keep their weapons locked up safely at their club. Farmers can have shotguns… and that’s about it. I know the mantra is ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’… but if there were no readily available guns, then that would not be possible. I know criminals have easy access to guns in the USA and that guns are used for crime (which is terrible, but… but these mass shootings are generally NOT career criminals, they are carried out by deeply disturbed individuals, in some cases, children themselves. The answer seems obvious from this side of the Atlantic, and fuck the NRA and the gun lobby.
I watched this too it left me speechless. The idea that more guns and traumatising teachers who are already underpaid, stressed and under resourced is mind boggling stupid and will lead to a teaching shortage and more leaving the profession, no child or teacher should have to suffer PTSD due to their education.
Yes, and the same righteous loving people who are defining a 24-hour old grouping of dividing cells as a human life that is more important than the raped girl or woman they inhabit won’t lift a finger to save second grade children!
Fighting tears here, the sad kind and the angry kind.
Thanks for this, Chuck. Thanks for giving some shape to rage. That must have hurt to write, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who needed to read that. Love and peace to you and your family.
I was shocked to hear that the majority of American evangelicals consider being American as more important to their identity than being Christian. But you know what – it shows. They couldn’t make it more obvious that Jesus “love your enemies” Christ doesn’t have a say in their world view, their beliefs, their choices, if they tried.
Like AOC says, ‘It is an idolatry of violence. And it must end.’ Their heroes are not those who face death for others, such as Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles (and, ironically, Jesus), but the all-American guy with the bigger gun, who “saves the day” by inflicting death on others.
As Shane Claiborne said, ‘These “pro-life” politicians are killing us. Pro-birth is not pro-life. Life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth. You can’t be pro-life and ignore gun violence. It is the #1 cause of death for our kids… after they are born.’
Even if someone is pro-gun ownership, I can’t fathom how anyone thinks they have a legitimate need for an AR-15. They are designed to kill many people. That is what they are for, their sole reason for existence. No one has a legitimate need to kill a lot of people.
I am depressed, so take that into account when you read what follows. Depressed and despairing.
We are barbarians. We eat our own children. We no longer deserve the title of civilization (if we ever did). Those who cling to power by pandering to the know-nothings and the extremists and the haters, are hard at work solidifying their grip on power. They are doing it openly, bragging about how they’re doing it, so that there will never be an uncontested election in this country again (except those that go their way, of course). And when a horror like this occurs, those autocrats trot out their excuses and their lies to defend the indefensible– like the right of a disturbed 18 year old to buy weapons of mass destruction, which is somehow, tacitly, more important than the lives he took with those weapons. We are far gone, lost in the looking-glass. We are in the dystopia.
Thank you for this.