My initial reaction to Wednesday's horrific shooting death of a Roanoke television reporter and cameraman during a morning news broadcast, other than shock and sadness, was that we need fewer guns and better mental health care. But I like a friend's comments on Facebook:
There is a really offensive meme going around that says to "like & share if you blame [Vester Flanagan] for the Virginia shooting...not the gun." My response to the people who have posted it and it showed up in my feed:
"I blame every single person who prevents implementation of policies and procedures to keep people like him from having access to guns in the first place. I blame everyone who refuses to recognize the critical need and provide funding and help for people who suffer with mental health issues. Then I blame him. I don't blame the gun."
Mr. Flanagan was sufficiently responsible to know what he was doing...otherwise he would not have had the wherewithal to send a manifesto or liveblog his actions. He could and should have voluntarily walked into any hospital or police station and declared he was in crisis and the tragedy could have been averted.
He plainly was a troubled man. I hope his family tried to get him help. Even so, the system failed everyone in this case...same as it has before...same as it will again. Anyone who claims they are pro-life, pro-family, and a Christian, is anything but if they oppose fixing our laws and our society to prevent tragedies involving guns. It's just that simple. Stop playing along with them and they will lose their power.
Some on the right, I suppose inevitably, are blaming the shooting on #BlackLivesMatter activists, whose advocacy is nonviolent and in protest against state-sanctioned violence against black citizens. The fact that the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, was also gay (according to a manifesto posted in his name, purportedly by him) only gives more red meat to the haters.
A few months ago, around LGBT Pride, I announced a policy of apologizing for every crime or calamity that anyone blames on gay people as a class. This of course is ridiculous, unless you are prepared to blame (say) Ted Bundy's serial murders of women on all straight guys. But reason has little to do with scapegoating of minorities, so I wish to apologize for these horrific killings. I am so sorry. What was I thinking. Please forgive me. And fuck you ignorant motherfuckers. Oh, sorry, I was temporarily channeling Samuel L. Jackson.
Seriously, we need to do something about the proliferation and glorification of guns in this country. Due to a second fatal shooting Wednesday, you couldn't bring up "the shooting" without clarifying which one you meant.
As another friend said last evening, in response to a colleague who snarkily suggested it is "peak assimilation" when a deranged shooter announces he's gay:
The fact he was gay, and his complaints around such, are irrelevant. He was severely mentally ill. If he'd been told they were out of his favorite cone at Dairy Queen, he'd have imagined some slight that was worthy of massacre.
Yes. Let's address the problem, not exploit it to score cheap points on social media.
A remarkable display of grace by our 39th president.
Gov. Christie thinks the rights of trans people are laughable. What is laughable is that this smug bully is the governor of a state, much less a presidential candidate. But the rights of our transgender brothers and sisters are no laughing matter. The legal denial of trans people's existence is cruel, pointless, and must stop.
Our friend Andy Bowen at Garden State Equality comments:
Hey Governor Chris Christie: 33 trans women have been murdered in the US in the last two years. Our survival is #nolaughingmatter
Elizabeth Warren Standing Strong in Support of Planned Parenthood
Watch Senator Elizabeth Warren crush it on the Senate floor during the debate to defund Planned Parenthood: “Did you fall down, hit your head and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”Posted by AlterNet on Tuesday, August 4, 2015
A bracing speech in defense of women's healthcare and reproductive freedom.
(Hat tip: Ernest Hopkins)
The Republicans' war on women's reproductive health and freedom is not over, but their bluster and doctored videos do not give them the votes they need. I stand with my sisters.
Devon Still of the Bengals and his daughter Leah, who is battling cancer, were honored last night at the ESPYs.
Here I am, testifying at the July 10 hearing on the Death with Dignity Act. My hair looks less gray in my mirror in the morning.
Our friend Rev. Cedric A. Harmon, who was on the steering committee for D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, and is co-director of Many Voices, testified on July 10 in support of the Death with Dignity Act of 2015. Thanks to him.
32 states criminalize HIV status. We should repeal laws, replace with comprehensive sex education and healthcare. http://t.co/GTSdxqylMU— NCLR (@NCLRights) July 13, 2015
GLAA has long agreed with the National Center for Lesbian Rights on this issue. Criminalizing HIV status is insanely counterproductive.
Today at a hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services, I will testify for GLAA in support of Councilmember Mary Cheh's Death with Dignity Act. I will be accompanied by former GLAA president Craig Howell, who drafted our testimony. Here's a passage from the ending:
The Humanist magazine reported last December that Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu publicly "declared himself in favor of assisted dying should he ever find himself terminally ill or in a situation of unbearable suffering." Stephen Hawking, probably the most famous differently-abled person in the world, has said he too might one day want to exercise his right to die: "To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity."
The openly gay retired Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, writes, "There is nothing innately good about allowing 'nature' to take its course in a prolonged and painful journey to an inevitable death. It doesn't make you a better person because you endured the indignity and trauma of it."
Contrary to Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, this legislation is not based on a "eugenic philosophy" but on compassion and respect. We urge its passage.
The bill is based on a 1997 Oregon statute, and includes appropriate safeguards to prevent coercion or other abuses. The experience in Oregon and other right-to-die states should allay concerns in this regard. Read GLAA's testimony here.
Well this is disturbing. NBC4 reports:
In one week in D.C., police say, a woman abandoned a baby in a stroller alongside a busy D.C. street -- and a young man who had been in college just a year ago stabbed a passenger on a Metro train 30 to 40 times.
The two crimes were tied together by the drug police believe the suspects may have been using: synthetic marijuana....
Mayor Muriel Bowser will sign into law the "Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015" Friday at noon.
Supreme Court rules Affordable Care Act may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help people buy health insurance http://t.co/eaJF9Y56Jr— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 25, 2015
What? The Obama administration is working to advance transgender equality? Outrageous! Interrupt the president at the Pride Month reception!
Dear GetEqual: If you can't get some manners, get a frigging clue.
Our friend Dana Beyer writes on Facebook:
Good story by Geidner on the continuing progress towards trans equality in the administration. We're now at the stage where muscle needs to enforce the words as they're being clarified.
The 25th anniversary Chef's Best was held Monday evening at the Marriott Marquis. I was a guest of my friends Alan Savada and Will Stevenson. Here's a picture of our table. The whole thing was a bit chaotic, but was a lot of fun and we had some wonderful food. One highlight was a small plate of cookies from pastry chef Peter Brett. Also the lobster mac and cheese, but I forget who that was from. And there was a tasty shrimp and corn salad, and the most incredible deviled eggs, and....
The event was a fundraiser for Food & Friends, which is expanding to serve people with diabetes.
“The rate for transgender people of color is as high as 4x the national unemployment rate.” http://t.co/J7er6HOpZo— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) June 5, 2015
Here are a few thoughtful entries in the national discourse prompted by Caitlyn Jenner's coming out on the cover of Vanity Fair. Also at WaPo, a story on social conservatives dancing the Apocalypso.
The national movement to protect youth from the discredited and dangerous practice of “conversion therapy” has another victory. On Thursday evening there was a celebration of D.C.’s new law prohibiting conversion therapy for minors. Four survivors of the practice told us their stories, which were troubling but also inspiring. There is growing energy in this movement.
Right-wing groups and members of Congress are determined to block the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 for things it does not do. The few, the obnoxious, the illiterate.