Posts Tagged ‘shootings’

Mass Murders, Insanity … Our America

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

 F6BB8580-548F-45C1-9ADC-21E887D51A37   How messed up is America? This messed up:

    Having written far too many editorials and columns in my lifetime on violence and the need for sensible gun control and more resources for mental health programs, I stopped after writing a couple of paragraphs on the murder by a teenager of 10 black Americans who simply happened to be in a supermarket in Buffalo one afternoon.

     I was too depressed. It’s the same, old story. Do some yard work. Give it a couple days.

     He who hesitates. A couple of days later I was watching the escalating body count as yet another teenager slaughtered virtually an entire fourth grade class in Uvalde, Texas.

     Nineteen children. Two teachers. The slaughter in Texas knocked the massacre in Buffalo off the front pages before we had time to properly grieve that senseless loss of life.

     That’s how messed up America is.

     After reading the early reports of the escalating body count in that fourth grade classroom in Uvalde, I turned off my phone and shut my eyes.

     I cried. If you’re a parent, you’ll get it. Hell, if you’re just a normal, caring adult who appreciates the joy and promise of children, you’ll get it. I pictured myself as one of the parents standing outside the school, screaming and crying as police stood frozen, also outside, while a deranged teenager with a military-style killing machine blew their children apart inside. And I wept. And I cursed.

   And I said, what the hell, I’ve written this editorial dozens of times already. We know the solutions.

   Apparently, we don’t. Not all of them. We know that universal background checks for purchase of a firearm makes sense. Most Americans support this. We know that banning the sale of military-style assault rifles will reduce the civilian death toll. It’s already been proven. We know from sad experience that more mental health resources, especially for young people and schools, are vitally needed in our social media era.

     We also know that the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers have the Republican Party in their pockets. Bought and paid for. They will fight gun control measures to the last student’s dying breath.

      And that’s the last, obvious, part of the solution to mass shootings in America: Voting for state and national representatives who will support the necessary changes. The one we keep ignoring.

   It has been said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Well then, screaming about the need for changes in gun laws and repeatedly voting for people obviously opposed to them — paid to oppose them — is a form of insanity.

     Worse yet is screaming for the need for change and not bothering to register or even bothering to vote for people who would fight for those changes. Deadly apathy.

      It comes down to this: For whatever their individual reasons, Republicans don’t seem to care about the slaughter in our schools. They have sold their soul for some votes, power and their twisted image of what “liberty and justice for all” means.

       We know very well what needs to be done. We just need to get the final part right. If we want to clean up this mess, we have to behave like responsible Americans and stop voting for Republicans. It’s time to stop expecting different results. Otherwise, nothing will change but the body count.

(Full disclosure: The author is not now and has never been a member of any political party. He is a registered independent voter.)

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at


Rummaging for the future in the past

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

By Bob Gaydos

I’ve spent the past few days rummaging through cardboard boxes and those old post office mail crates (tell me you don’t have a couple stashed away) on a search for some personal stuff long ago relegated to the archives, AKA the walk-in closet. I do this kind of stuff when I’m avoiding writing for this blog or, as is more often the case, when the only stuff to write about is seemingly the same, old nasty crap. Sorry for the bluntness, but that’s the way I feel about it.

My co-bloggers, Jeff Page and Michael Kaufman, bless their ever-acerbic minds and hearts seem to have no difficulty rising to the challenge of commenting on whatever may be the controversy du jour. They continue to call out the bad guys and thank God for that. I pretty much agree with what they write, but to me it is all part of an endlessly recycled argument in which nobody ever listens to the other side. It’s the stuff that ends marriages and divides nations. At some point, it’s pointless.

So I wasn’t going to write about the shootings in Arizona because I didn’t think I had anything new to say and, more to the point, it wouldn’t make any difference. And then, as I’m rummaging through the boxes, discarding old memos and scanning old editorials, I come across a copy of the Times Herald-Record from Dec. 22, 2006. Why am I keeping this? I flip through to find out and suddenly it hits me in the face: “ ‘Final’ thoughts of an editor.”

My last editorial at the Record. The one they let me sign. The one that expressed exactly what I talked about at the top of this piece and that still holds true more than four years later. I wrote about my worries. To wit:

“I’m worried. Not about Iraq, or global warming, or terrorism, or even urban sprawl. Well, sure, I’m worried about those things, but, truthfully, they’re mostly out of the control of any one of us. It requires collective action, a meeting of the minds, — compromise — to do something positive about complicated issues. What worries me is I think we’ve forgotten how to do this — all of us, not just Congress and the state Legislature. … I think our society has become coarser and, in many ways, less tolerant. This is evident in our culture, our schools, our political debate.

“Honest differences of opinion over the most mundane issues now routinely degenerate into personal attack and shouting matches. You hear a lot of this on TV and radio. The internet puts no filters on any opinion, however hateful or unfounded in fact. It is ‘buyer beware’ and pretty much free of charge. We have abdicated debate to the extremes. We complain about politicians who can’t work together, yet constantly return to office those same officials because they delivered some money for a favorite cause. …

“Here’s where the stuff comes in we don’t want to hear, the stuff we call hokey or lame or naïve. Sorry if you feel that way. Complain to the next guy.

“We have to stop whining and yelling at each other and listen for a change. We need to stop looking for someone to blame and accept personal responsibility. That doesn’t mean ignoring the liars and charlatans in our midst. It means expressing in clear, no-nonsense, non-threatening terms what we expect of each other. It means respecting those who mean us no harm but may disagree with us. It means recognizing our common roots and dreams, as individuals and neighbors. It means teaching our children by deeds as well as words. It means fessing up to our mistakes and honestly trying to fix them.”

Yeah, that’s how I still feel. Nobody is trying to fix things. Well, almost nobody.

My 16-year-old son, Zack, came home from school Thursday and said, “Obama’s speech was really moving last night.”

“Really?” I replied, confessing with some embarrassment I hadn’t known the president planned to speak and never bothered to listen to him later.

“Yeah,” Zack said, “I was going to watch ‘The Office,’ but Obama was speaking so I listened. It was powerful.”

Well now. I was reminded. Yes, Barack Obama, someone I have criticized for not facing down his hypocritical critics on the right, clearly understands the need to find the solution rather than living endlessly in the problem. It is in his DNA as well as in his books. It’s why I and many others were thrilled when he was elected president. Persistently trying to bring people together, to disagree civilly, to compromise, is often seen as a sign of weakness, but it’s what I was looking for when I said goodbye to the Record.

Now, I will still have trouble rising to the challenge of the controversy du jour, so don’t expect a flood of harangues and harrumphs all of a sudden. But Zack reminded me that the future may not be as bleak as I had thought. You have no idea how good that made me feel.