Taking Note of a Few Things: The Killing Edition

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Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a good mass shooting — and in case you missed it, there has been a rash of them the past couple of weeks. There is nothing I can think of writing that might change anybody’s mind on the issue of this nation’s perverse fascination with guns. Nor is there anything I can say over our horrifically easy access to getting our hands on them. By now, it’s impossible to sit on the fence over this issue. You either believe there is or is not a problem with guns in this nation.

In my lifetime, I have never met or heard of a single person who has said, “Gee, I wish I had owned a gun when that happened.” However, how many times have we been exposed to the gut wrenching videos and words of people who have lost loved ones to gun violence?

Guns are not the problem. Conservatives are, however. Their refusal to directly address any restriction on gun access would be laughable if it were not resulting in mass shootings and deaths. They are all for locking up the mentally ill, but to implement any law that restricts gun ownership is a non-starter with them.

Assault rifles, semi-automatic guns, and homemade 3-D designed guns are precisely what our Founding Fathers wanted all of us to have access to. Hell, even Jesus and his posse of 12 disciples were card carrying members of the NRA. And if you have the slightest inkling to speak out against the Second Amendment, gun nuts want to remove your right to free speech.

How many Americans are going to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year by opening up the gift of a gun? If not a gun, maybe it will be more ammunition for the guns you already own. Perhaps you will be blessed with the gift of body armor because we all know it sends the message of peace on earth and goodwill to all you shoot.

Nothing — and I mean NOTHING — is more sacred to the gun crazed than owning any sort of gun imaginable. Not even our right to go about and place limits on gun ownership is acceptable. In the eyes of gun nuts, the Second Amendment is totally off limits even though we have restrictions on all our other rights.

I taught for thirty years. In that time, I confiscated notes passed among students, most of which were from a guy and meant for his girlfriend’s eyes. I also had to take more than a few drawings from kids who were unable to do their class assignment because of their fixation on something. Almost always it was either porn or gun related. When cell phones became an issue, it was the same. I’ve seen kids fixated on violent video games, but never on free speech.

The far right is not the only problem when it comes to our love of guns. The far left has done as much harm as any other group. If you disagree, then why is it that Hollywood will get up in arms over the casting of a straight person playing a gay role, but do nothing to end films that glorify guns and the damage they inflict? If Hollywood was able to stop making cigarette smoking look sexy, it makes sense they could eliminate the glorification of firing a gun and killing another human being.

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”
( https://youtu.be/lQkpes3dgzg?si=_n3z7lkRHm2Kzyqf )

How many Travis Bickles does it take before Hollywood stops making violent films that are nominated and win major awards? When will the lightbulb go on inside movie studios’ brains before they stop going ahead and making our days? When will we stop cheering all the yippee-ki-yay motherfuckers who shoot all the bastards who have shot all the good guys in the films we love?

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sick when studios argue in favor of free speech when they are encouraging the use of guns to “solve the problems” shown as entertainment. That slow motion shot of the brains of a victim being splattered on the walls of a dingy apartment is really for our brain’s craving for quality entertainment. We just don’t realize it when we claim otherwise.

The sad truth that is not depicted in our culture is that most bad guys in real life who resort to using guns to commit their crimes are nabbed by good guys who arrest them and bring them up on murder charges. Most police officers never fire their service weapon at a bad guy. Most service weapons that are fired are used to commit suicide or kill a loved one in an act of family violence. In fact, most gun deaths in this nation would never happen if guns were not in the hands of private citizens. Again, suicide and family violence are the reason and not self-defense. What’s the number one item taken in home burglaries? Yep. Guns.

We have been running through the jungle ever since Creedence Clearwater Revival sang the words, “Two hundred million guns are loaded.”  Yes, according to John Fogerty, “Run Through the Jungle” was never about Vietnam, it was about the mass ownership of guns in our country. Unfortunately, today we have over 350 million of them in the hands of private citizens. That’s more than one per citizen and it is safe to say when you add up children and adults, far less than half the nation owns a gun.

But then we all know this by now. We will march en masse over a war fought thousands of miles away between people who are not part of our country and demand changes from our government, but when there is a mass shooting, half of us throw up our hands and claim there is nothing that can be done about it while the other half drive up gun sales out of paranoia. Worse, we refuse to take note of how other nations effectively handle the issue of guns in their society.

Last gun thought. I would urge all people, gun owners and gun haters, to Google what Einstein said was insanity and see if it doesn’t apply to this issue.

Speaking of insanity, the manager of my apartment complex thinks I am nuts to want to leave the coastal location where I live and move back north to Chico where I went to college. He will have no problem finding someone to rent my apartment, all 450 square feet of it at almost $2,000.00 a month. In his mind, I am leaving a bargain because it rents for below the current market. Worse, I am taking on the headache of home ownership.

I’ve done the math and figured that if I kept renting for the next four years, I would pay more than what I can profit if I were to sell the home I am buying. That alone is not a bad deal to scratch an itch that I have. If money is tight, I can rent out a room rather than work an eight hour shift at a job I may or may not enjoy. I can paint the walls any color I like and work on outdoor projects. While I may not live across the street from the Pacific Ocean, Bidwell Creek and the Sacramento River will offer me far more beauty with much less development.

I’m constantly amazed how many Americans feel we have a border problem and then claim the people coming across, either legally or illegally, are taking jobs away from Americans. I have been living in the heart of the strawberry capital of the world for more than seven years. Not once in that time have I seen any U.S. citizens picketing and demanding they be hired to do the back breaking work done by migrant workers. I was one of only two non-Spanish speaking employees when I worked for Motel 6. I have yet to see a white person cleaning public restrooms. I have never heard a parent complain that their son or daughter can’t get a job because most do not expect their kids to work.

White people who claim we have a border problem make this claim because it justifies their hatred for people of color. They know their ancestors are to blame for blacks being shipped here for slave labor, so browns become an easy target for their racism.

Americans should have more concern over losing their jobs to A.I. than to someone coming across our border. If you don’t believe me, look how easy it was for a once great magazine, Sports Illustrated, to fill their pages with A.I. generated articles and then attribute them to false authors complete with biographies.

It’s never been easier to generate fake news that appears real. The same with advertising and entertainment. If we are the greatest nation on the planet, how come we have allowed ourselves to become so easily manipulated? Unemployment is inching closer to less than three percent. Two hundred thousand new jobs were created last month. Despite this news, Americans allow themselves to be brainwashed with lies and fake news about who is coming into this country and how it is costing us our livelihoods.

I have yet to read a news story involving illegal residents running a smash and grab crime syndicate. It’s U.S. citizens who are walking out of stores rather than using the self-checkout registers that cost people jobs. It’s rare when we hear about businesses failing to E-Verify new employees to make sure they are here legally. Finally, the violence that plagues our nation is largely the result of U.S. born citizens. Anyone here illegally knows if they so much as get popped for a minor traffic violation they will be sent back [to their country of origin].

Politicians who rely on paranoia are hiding from the facts. They rely on generalizations and stereotypes because they lack facts to support their arguments. Actually, they do it to hide the fact they have nothing real to complain about so they create their own false narratives.

The $700 million dollar man. That’s a bit more than what Steve Austin was valued at in the 1970’s, but it is what the Los Angeles Dodgers were willing to fork out for former L.A. Angel Shohei Ohtani. I’m still waiting to see one of these gigantic long term contracts payoff for the teams that dole them out. By paying off, I do not mean in terms of team profits. I mean in terms of World Championships. At age 30, how many good years does a baseball player have left? I mean the ones who don’t dope.

I’m not saying the Dodgers will be guilty of this, but how many sports franchises over pay for players and then turn around and ask for public funds to build a new stadium or upgrade what they have? Let them leave town.

Remember when old farts complained whenever an athlete was paid more than the President of the United States? Imagine if our president was paid $70 million a year? The closest we ever came to that was Trump being paid by the Russians.

If the Dodgers can get five good years out of Ohtani, that’s one more than we can get out of Biden if he is re-elected and five more if Trump wins.

When people complain about foreigners in our country, are they aware that without foreign born players, Major League Baseball would be down to about 12 teams? Major League Soccer might not exist, and the NBA would have about 20 teams. Of course, that is assuming fans wouldn’t miss these foreigners if they were replaced with less talented Americans.

You know what we would notice? If all our migrant workers were replaced with white Americans, the price of products would increase at least 50%. We will see robots working our fields before we see Whitey.

A huge shout out to the Acalanes Dons, my high school alma mater, for winning their first ever California State football championship. Prior to this, our biggest claim to fame was once being quarterbacked by Norm Van Brocklin. As a kid, I used to sit on top of the timekeepers table on the sidelines while my dad volunteered as the team doctor. In junior high school, I must have run thousands of pass routes for my brother as he would go on to quarterback the team. My big contribution was to become the school’s first soccer style place kicker. Let’s hope their next title doesn’t take another 83 years.