Texas Outlaw Writers' Newsletter: Just Another School Shooting Edition
What is there to say, to write? Three 9-year-olds and three elementary school staffers were slaughtered in a shooting in Nashville, TX Monday morning.
By the time you read this, they'll have had the candlelight vigil. There will be the usual calls for gun reform. There will be blame placed on the lack of mental health care. Parents will demand safer schools. Cries will go out for more secure entry systems into campuses. There will be requests for better training and more weapons for school resource officers and security personnel.
But at the first demand for specific laws to regulate the purchase or the carry of any type of weapon by any class of person - the mentally ill, criminals, raging teens - that demand will be shot down like so many children. The money will change hands, the campaign ads will be filmed, the NRA will put out a statement. And the fetishists will head for the Gun&Ammo Depot for a few more rounds.
We'll never run out of excuses or reasons why this keeps happening. We've gotten really good at talking about it. The actual reason it happens, you know - guns - is the reason that sends the ultra-right-wing-nuts into a howling tizzy of denial.
I hate to link to a comedy routine... but it's one of those bits that encapsulate the total absurdity of the American Gun Fetish. It's from Australian comic Jim Jeffries, Australia is the country where - after a terrible school shooting there - guns were effectively banned.
Part II can be found here. Jim cannot perform in the US without added security these days.
There is one argument, and one argument only for having guns: "Fuck Off. I like guns."
-Jim Jefferies, Australian comic
Our own Outlaw, Roger Gray is also tired of the same tired defenses of the indefensible. He wrote a great article about this almost exactly a year ago. With some additions, here is what he had to say on America's favorite gun...
Did you see the Florida Principal that was fired from the Tallahassee Classical School after three parents complained about sixth-grade students being shown an image of the nude Statue of David sculpture, with one describing it as pornographic? Oh, Florida... always trying to one-up Texas. In a sort of consolation prize, the now jobless principal was invited to visit Italy to see The David. The mayor extended the invite "...to give her recognition...Art is civilization and whoever teaches it deserves respect."
"...mistaking art for pornography is just ridiculous." -Florence Mayor Dario Nardella
This is all part of the "disruption" and dismantling of public education. Florida, like Texas, is busy censoring art, banning books, and moving to privatize schools. DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law, which says in part, "The parent of each public school student has the right to receive effective communication from the school principal as to the manner in which instructional materials are used to implement the school's curricular objectives." This is, btw, the same bill that put the "don't say gay" policy in place. So, any parent that takes offense or makes a judgment on any topic, any lesson, any teacher, or any library book can demand a review by the Education board. Not even math books are immune from censorship. Parents decide what their children get to learn. Any parent. And they're deciding for your children, too.
Not to be outdone, Texas is right there. Abbott and Patrick don't want DeSantis to hog the spotlight when it comes to making teachers miserable and chipping away at public education. Against the wishes of a huge majority of Texans, the governor and his cronies continue to push "voucher" programs. This is the misguided proposal that citizens should receive a coupon or "voucher" equivalent to the amount of $ spent per child in a public school. So if a school system spends about 7 or 8 thousand bucks on average per kid, you should be able to get a coupon to go to your choice of private or charter school... or use it for homeschooling. It doesn't take a PhD in economics to figure that every dollar handed to a private or for-profit school, is one dollar less going to public schools. Since it's a zero-sum game, imagine how much money would be drained from rural districts so that a few wealthy families can get a private school discount. Most rural areas don't even have a private school. While the programs are falsely framed with the term, "school choice," there is no way that handing a family a few thousand dollars will get them into any private school of their choice.
Ted Cruz's kids? They attend the tony St. John's High School in Houston. The average tuition there is around 30K per year, per kid, give or take one or two grand. So with two kids, it's costing the Tedster and his Goldman-Sachs-director wife over 60K a year to put their kids in private school. (Lamar High, an HISD high school attended by thousands, is across the street.)
Now, hand that 8 thousand dollar coupon to a blue-collar voter who was sold on the idea of getting a "choice" of private/public/charter schools to attend. How far does that coupon go for that family? And can they come up with that additional $22,000 to go to St. John's? Per child? It's back to public school, now more underfunded than ever. Wave to Ted and his spawn!
More news this week in the we're-not-too-bright when thinking about edumacation... There was talk of banning Larry McMurty's "Lonesome Dove." Lonesome Dove! Maybe, just maybe the Bible is a more sacred book to Texans, but it's a close call.
Jared Patterson, Republican (duh!,) state rep from Frisco, TX introduced a little something he calls the "Reader Act." It would "add several new bureaucratic controls on the kinds of books that could be kept in or borrowed from public-school libraries." He claimed that "there should be no sexually explicit books” in a high school library."
When Democratic state representative James Talarico, of Round Rock challenged Patterson... suggesting that many fine books contain at least a few passages that might be considered sexually explicit. He asked if Lonesome Dove - with its feisty characters' talk about getting "pokes" with the local prostitute, men discussing their sexual exploits, and all the other chatter that might be shared on an all male cross-country cattle drive - would it be banned? Well... Jared hadn't read it, see... <get the rope!> BUT, if it had all those things in it, then yes, might need to ban it.
Word of banning Lonesome Dove hit the fan, so to speak. Even concerned Republicans put down their smartphones where they were reading digital copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover and ran for cover. And at a minimum, shouldn't you be required to read the book that you're about to burn?
It makes you wonder... have these GOP tools ever even picked up The Song of Solomon? Did they get past Genesis? When do we fight over that collection of strange and sometimes explicit collection of books? Oh wait, censoring the Bible is already becoming an issue in Utah. And Texas.
This story really sticks in all of our craws, so to speak. None more so than James Moore. Jim thinks that beyond the explicit sex, violence and prostitution, there may be another character/storyline in the book that doesn't sit well with conservatives. But ban this masterpiece? When Jim heard about this absurd act by this absurd idiot, he, like Capt. Call said, "I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it."
Former President Trump held a campaign rally in Texas near the site of the Branch Davidian compound, or as it's known now, "campaign headquarters." -Seth Meyers
Our respected former president announced his campaign this week... in Waco, Texas. This was not a random choice. The 30th anniversary of the Waco siege continues. The infamous 51-day standoff between an apocalyptic religious cult and federal agents cemented a new and quite powerful strain of anti-government sentiment in the country. From the Tea Party movement to the Proud Boys and Q-Anon... the roots of these groups can be traced to the smoldering Branch Davidian compound. Alex Jones was inspired to drop out of college and begin his public access cable show. Rush Limbaugh never tired of invoking Waco to stoke his audience's rage.
Trump's choice of date and place was calculated and symbolized his comfort with violent anti-government fervor. “Either the deep state destroys America, or we destroy the deep state,” he told the crowd. Nothing subtle there. He played his now-infamous music video, the one where he recites the Pledge of Allegiance while a choir sings the national anthem. The choir is the "J6PC" choir... that would be the Jan 6th Prison Choir, the members of which are serving time for their participation in the January 6th insurrection. Nice touch.
Just when Waco was sure that HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines had so thoroughly renovated the town that the public would forget the fire, Trump Force One shows up with a tanker of gas and a flamethrower in a hairpiece.
Former President Trump held a campaign rally in Waco Texas, making him the first cult leader ever to escape that city alive. - Seth Meyers
As always, we turn to Myra Jolivet for a bit of a history lesson, and maybe something hopeful. She closes out Women's History Month with a few stories of women fighting for change. But the fight they took up was against the law itself. Discrimination against women, just as racial discrimination, was baked into the foundation of the country. All states had passed laws that took away women's voting rights when the country was barely a year old. A few courageous women challenged those unjust laws.
One last note:
Things to take your mind off. Of it all.
We're all ecstatic that Ted Lasso is back. And this week? Roy Logan and his twisted progeny have returned to delight us with their twisted, greedy lives in Succession.
So, Ted Lasso, or Roy Logan. Your choice. "Believe," or "Fuck Off."