Thursday, February 15, 2018

Who's in your wallet?

This is the part where elected officials tweet condolences:

"... praying for the victims..."                         $7,740,521. from NRA
"...this tragic violence has no place here..."    $6,986,620. from NRA

"...saddened by the tragic loss of life..."          $4,551,146. from NRA

"...our deepest condolences and prayers...       $4,418,012 from NRA

"...praying for the families of those..."            $3,879,064 from NRA

"...praying for all the victims...."                     $3,303,355 from NRA

"...prayers with all the victims..."                    $3,124,273  from NRA

Thoughts and Prayers and NRA Funding


"After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country 
instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia 
after a 1996 shooting. 
But the United States has repeatedly faced the same 
calculus and determined that relatively unregulated 
gun ownership is worth the cost to society.
That choice, more than any statistic or regulation,
 is what most sets the United States apart.
'In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the
 end of the US gun control debate,' Dan Hodges,
a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter
two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack 
that killed 20 young students at 
an elementary school in Connecticut. 
'Once America decided killing children was bearable, 
it was over.'"
--What Explains Mass Shootings?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Athlete A: She Has a Name

Maggie Nichols on the beam at the United States Olympic gymnastics trials in 2016, before she retired to compete at the college level. Credit

Gregory Bull/Associated Press 

Words we must hear from women who have come forward:  These are just two of the 140 (to date) victims of Larry Nassar, described within these articles as a highly reputable physician with "exceptional interpersonal skills," Sunday school instructor, and beloved community member.  Why does it take victims so long to report?  Read on. 

“Up until now, I was identified as Athlete A by U.S.A. Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University,” Ms. Nichols said in a statement provided by her lawyer, John Manly. “I want everyone to know that he did not do this to Athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols.”

Ms. Nichols’s mother, Gina Nichols, said in a phone interview that her daughter finally felt comfortable speaking out after “living with this torment” for so long.

“We kept being told U.S.A. Gymnastics is handling it, so she just did what she was told to do, and she was told to keep quiet,” said Gina Nichols, who accused U.S.A. Gymnastics of a cover-up. “If she uses her voice and comes forward, she feels she might be able to help others.”

Denhollander said she hesitated to contact police for more than 15 years because "I was 100 percent confident that I would not be believed."

Nassar "was (MSU's) golden boy. He was USAG's golden boy," she said. "He was so loved in the community that I was very sure ... I would be crucified and he would end up empowered to know he couldn't get caught.

"What breaks my heart more than anything," she said, "is that all these women who came forward and did what I didn't do, that's exactly what happened to them."


I fully support hashtags and impassioned speeches.  They are the kindling of important action. 

If time is up, let's see how fast we can change policies and legal loopholes that keep perpetrators of abuse protected, that keep those harmed, silent.

Small changes with big impact could be made quicker than the passing of a 429 page tax bill. They would protect those who have been harmed or exploited, and limit the ability to cause further harm by those who are skilled at this practice.

Ready, set, remove:

Statute of limitations on reporting and prosecuting sexual violence

 The years it takes for young girls, young women, wise women, boys and men of all ages, to speak of the shitty shit that happens and limits their life does not fit into a tidy 2-5 year plan. Time's up on statute of limitations. It is a form of protection, for the abusive individual.

Hush money

We've already seen that this is a legal tactic of abuse. It often follows or accompanies multiple attempts to discredit or further frighten the individual who is reporting.
Most people who report are scared,  and remain scared at every stage of the likely fall out and consequences.
Abusive legal tactics maximize this fear.

Purchased silence:
-harms the victim by exploiting their fear
-emboldens the perpetrator
-places others at risk

Remove the option of those with an army of attorneys to write up an acknowledgment of what happened with disappearing ink and slip it into a sealed document.

Is time up?  Time will tell. 

In the meantime, keep speaking. 
Keep writing.
Keep sharing
Keep listening to those who are speaking. 
Keep looking for actionable steps to create concrete change.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Right To Bear Arms, again

We should no longer be using the term "shooting". They are massacres, and they do not have to happen.

Weapons of this magnitude are not used for hunting, or sport. We should not look away in our grief, but look closer, and hold this senselessness with us until we address, in some tangible way, why we have this senselessness.

Posted in 2012, after the Sandy Hook massacre:

When the shooting at Columbine happened, I was living in Galway, Ireland in an apartment that I shared with two German students and two American students.

I came home from class and found my German roommates standing uncharacteristically close to the television, watching the news. They turned to me as I entered our shared kitchen. On their faces they wore expressions I will never forget. It wasn't anguish. It was complete bewilderment.

It took them finding words, me watching part of the news, and a few minutes for me to come to understand what had taken place in Colorado. But it took their questions and their fumbling for me to start to contemplate this from a different perspective.

My shock as Columbine unfolded was connected to the horror and tragedy. To the suffering, and the lives lost, and the aftermath for each family.

Their bewilderment was different.

Soren asked me: Is this true?

Was what true?

Is it possible? he asked.


This. How could one person have so many weapons? How could this boy get a gun, or multiple guns?

Anybody can get a gun, I remember saying.

There was this blank silence.

But how is this so? Kristina asked.

How is this so?

I had never contemplated gun laws before this conversation.

But I started paying attention to some questions and began to understand Soren and Kristina's complete confusion. They could not even register the tragedy immediately because their minds could not get past the how is this even possible?

I had no problem understanding the how. Guns, weapons, are not hard to come by.

After Columbine, I continued to talk with my German flatmates about crime in their country. I started noticing the nature of violent crime within Ireland.

During that period in Ireland, it wasn't that there were no violent crimes. There were many during my 8 months there. Stabbings. Muggings. Beatings. The reaction within the community and splashed across the newspaper was the same as the reaction we have in the US when a crime is committed: pain, grief, questioning.

It's also not that Americans are a more violent brand of humans.

We simply have unprecedented access to a means which causes excessive harm in a short period of time.

This is an awful point, but here it is: it takes far longer kill 3 people without an automatic weapon than it does to shoot 20, or 30 with one.

The beatings and stabbings in Ireland seemed to line up with Soren's explanation of violent crime in Germany. They are horrific. But intervention can happen more quickly because of the nature of the crime.

We have come to exist with such ease of acquiring weapons that it does not touch the national consciousness until something like this occurs.

It keeps occurring.

We can question the young man and whatever illness plagued his mind.

We can look at how to make a school better protected, with metal detectors.

Or we can ask: why is a constitutional right that was written in 1791 still upheld in 2012?

The Right to Bear Arms was inked at a time when it made sense.

Does it still make sense today?

Does it fit?

Do we need to have such access to automatic weapons to protect ourselves?

This amendment was adopted on December 15. 221 years ago.

Two hundred and twenty-one years ago.

The right to bear arms was written during a time when "arms" were single-shot weapons. Before the existence of high velocity clips and semi-automatic rifles. The technology of our weapons has far exceeded the original "arms."

We are being called---yet again---to explore this right, and who exactly it is protecting.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The World Turned Upside Down

Four score, and seven years ago...there was a poetry jam at the White House, and the mad rapper Lin Manuel Miranda tested out this thing he was working on, and there is no turning back.   Here is what happens once you have been infected:

Someone asks you your name.  At a work event or in some formal setting where you are supposed to simply say your name.  Instead, your brain immediately translates their question into WHAT'S YOUR NAME MAN and there is a very long pause while a very small internal voice, barely audible, pleads,  Don't sing, it's not appropriate, they might not know what you are talking about, maybe they've never heard the song please just answer the question with your name but the louder part of your brain is already halfway through the reprise.  This is what happens to me now, and so it takes 7 - 12 seconds and two deep breaths to answer, every single time someone asks my name. 

On the outside, I say my name.  BUT ON THE INSIDE, this.

For the uninitiated but curious, a crash course below.

But first: it's July 4th*.

*content may reflect significant events that took place within  +/-7 years of Congressional approval of final text of Repeal and Replace The Declaration of Independence

Now.  Ye who have heard of it but not heard it, here are some starter songs, which I've retitled.   This is where you begin, and then when you are ready, jump into Cabinet Battles and King George love songs.   

Then, tell me your name.

Warmup of Wonder
The Unimagineable
Being a Parent Reconstructs Your Heart
How the Sausage Gets Made
Everyone Shall Sit Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree and No One Shall Make Them Afraid

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Season of Giving

The best things in life aren't things.

However, if you are buying for kiddos, look here see: it's A Mighty Girl here to save the day.

Click here for a holiday gift guide.

And for book ideas?  Go here my friend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Screenagers....or, let's be real, a new documentary produced by a physician and mom to teenagers, Dr. Delaney Ruston.

"Kids are on screens too much, but parents don't know what to do about it. So I decided to make this film not only to look at the impact, but to look at solutions."

Check here for a screening in your area.