Tuesday, July 05, 2016
I'm glad I know my place in the world.
It's my job to hopefully put a smile on your face should you happen to get five minutes to visit my little neck of the newspaper. I feel blessed to lead a light-hearted and mostly inconsequential life that I hope we can laugh about together from time to time. I wouldn't want things any other way, and let's be honest: you people are a LOT cheaper than a therapist.
But it's hard to find joy in life this week. There's no silver linings in the news out of Orlando. I can't write silly nonsense about my cats or whatever while I'm in system shock over evil this brutal. World, you might have gotten the better of me this week.
Trust me as a guy who spends his weekends moonlighting in DJ booths around the area, there's few locales more joyful and life-affirming than a packed dance floor. Our country was founded on the principles of freedom and liberation, and if there's anything more indicative of freedom and liberation than "Latin night at a gay dance club," I'll eat my hat. The shooter's name isn't worth the price of newsprint. With any luck, the only thing he accomplished will be a footnote in history that says, "Once upon a time, some jerk thought he could justify his hate through terror and violence. He was wrong."
How could anyone place such little value on human life? How can irrational hate fuel such evil? We, as rational people, might never be able to understand. I tried to see what others were saying. I should have hung out with friends. I should have embraced the people I love and taken stock in everything great about this big blue marble we're lucky enough to share. Instead, I got on Facebook. Bad move.
There I saw people hurting, sad, and reaching out. But I also saw fear breeding anger breeding hate. I saw people using fear to advocate violence and politicians using fear to gain votes. I saw one of my own family members post that "we are officially at war with Islam." No, we're not. To lay this tragedy at the hands of Islam is the same as blaming Christianity for those nutbags at the Westboro Baptist "Church."
And honestly, it seems a little hypocritical when some of the people I saw demanding "justice for the victims" were the same folks threatening those victims a month ago for wanting to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. The same people who were telling those victims last year that their right to marry threatened the fabric of American life. I'm glad that you folks now feel compassion.
I get the need for action, though. It's tough to sit idly by, wondering and worrying when the next horrific event will occur. I don't want to walk into every DJ gig taking note of the best escape route should something go down. I prefer a world governed by love instead of fear, compassion instead of retribution. At the very least, I want to go back to writing frivolous columns about cats.
Yes, it's a good thing I know my place... or else I'd use this column to tell you that stricter gun control measures should be a priority in this day and age. I might even tell you that no private citizen needs to own a weapon capable of shooting over 100 people in a matter of minutes.
But then you'd tell me that "guns don't kill people, people do." I'd agree, but the guns certainly help. But then you'd likely respond with something about the 2nd Amendment and our right to bear arms. And then I'd tell you that I'm no Constitutional scholar, but the Second Amendment was created with the intent of establishing the militia we now call the National Guard and was NOT designed for you to stockpile an arsenal of military grade weapons for your pleasure. If you need a rapid-fire assault weapon to protect yourself, you must have a LOT of enemies. If you need to let loose 100 rounds of ammo to hunt Bambi, you're either a really lousy shot or WAY over your venison limit.
"But Shane, if we ban guns, bad guys will just find other ways to attack us!" That might be true, but does that mean all laws are pointless because rulebreakers will just break the rules. If common-sense gun laws could hinder even ONE mass shooting, isn't it worth it? I don't want to come for your guns or tread on you. I just want to make it harder for deranged nutbags to walk into a gun store and come out like Rambo fifteen minutes later. Isn't it just common sense?
It's certainly more sensible than the guy who just said, "Had more of those club kids been armed, fewer deaths would have occurred." I've been DJing longer than some of you have been alive. I've seen what can happen when intoxicated idiots rub each other the wrong way. I've watched dozens of dancefloor scuffles play out. Now imagine if every one of those morons had a GUN. If this cult of fear and hate continues, what's next?
I don't have the answers. I'm the guy who writes silly cat columns. I just don't want to see things escalate to the point where all the bad guys have guns, all the good guys have guns, and I can't go to the grocery store without fear of it turning into the OK Corral.
That's why I shut off Facebook. Let others argue about guns and retribution and blame and fear and hate. Me? I went to the vigil at the Unitarian Church in Davenport where I held hands with folks who were gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, young, and old. I watched as people poured their hearts to an open microphone. I watched as sorrow, sympathy, anger, and pain gave way to healing, strength, and love.
At that time, in that moment, I certainly knew my place.