Cuba – Part II

Journeying through historical sights and visiting Cuba’s LGBTQ community…here is Part II of our Cuba series.

Each new day brought with it new excitement and wonder.  We stopped in the Plaza de Revolución; the focal point of the Cuban government and one of the largest city squares in the world.  At 77,000 square feet, the Plaza has been the site of many political rallies, and it’s where Pope Francis famously held mass in 2015.  It’s two steel memorials, featuring two of the most important heroes of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuego, is one of the country’s most iconic images.

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We traveled through Fidel’s childhood neighborhood, and ate lunch in a restaurant with his son at the table behind us.  Speaking with some locals, we learned about Cuba’s churches, and how many of them are considered “sanctuary locations.”  Places where groups meet in secret to discuss the hardships of communism while plotting its demise.

We passed pockets of revolutionary groups gathering on street corners and proselytizing communism at the top of their lungs, as they waved pro-socialist literature in the air.  They’re called CDR Watchers (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), and their job is to remain vigilant and vocal, while spying on their neighbors…looking for those who oppose authoritarian rule.

By mid-week we’d talked with dozens of people on a wide range of issues.  History, art, food, weather, and the importance of smoking a good cigar.  As well as politics…an often times jailable offense should the conversation happen to spill into the wrong ears.

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And while life on an isolated Communist island is hard enough, being gay and living there presents an entirely new set of challenges.  Maintaining an LGBTQ lifestyle in Cuba isn’t an illegal offense, but it is offensive in the eyes of the government.  We witnessed it on our last night in Havana.

On the other side of Chinatown is a bar called, Cabaret Las Vegas.  We’d read about it earlier in the week, as we trudged along on the government-monitored-wifi-hotspot we’d picked up on in the park.

Las Vegas boasted the biggest drag show, in the biggest gay section of Havana. The term “big” is relative, as the “section” was nothing more than a corner with a bar, restaurant, pizza shop, and the club at the opposite end.  Big or not, it was a popular spot.  Hundreds of people gathered along the sidewalks, laughing and dancing to the muffled sounds of different disco tracks, all blending together from the four locations.  It was a festive party in the street…a mini Mardi Gras, where beads had been replaced with slices of pizza and Caipirinha’s.  Just under the surface, however, a germ of danger was waiting to be exposed.

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Standing at the door to Las Vegas was a gaunt young man in a ripped white shirt, with skinny white jeans and worn out white Converse sneakers.  He reminded me of an emaciated John Lennon walking across Abbey Road.  Although, his hair and height was considerably shorter.

“We don’t open for another hour.”  He said.  Looking at my watch it was nearly midnight.  We asked if there someplace to get a drink.  Someplace other than the crowded spots on the corner.  “Follow me.”  He said, as he left his post at the door.

Walking 10 feet in front he asked us to stay behind.  “It’s better not to draw attention.”  He said.  “I’ll go first.  You follow.  We’ll meet at a table once we get inside.” 

Our new friend entered the coffee shop, briskly brushing past a police officer who was arguing with 3 teenage girls standing on the steps of the shop.  The girls wore matching knee-high denim miniskirts, and shared a terrified look on their face.

We entered the shop thirty seconds behind the mysterious man in white, who had secured us a table.  Gesturing with both hands, he offered us a seat in the remaining two chairs.  It was all very covert.

“What’s the story with the girls outside?”  We asked.

“They’re waiting to get into the club and the police don’t like the way they’re dressed.”  He replied.

“And the police don’t want us talking to tourists.  That’s why I needed to walk ahead of you.”

Through sad brown eyes that stared right through us, he began his story.  His name was Martez; 33-years old, soft spoken, and recently released from prison, having spent 12 years of a 15-year sentence.  His crime; selling Marijuana cigarettes.  Although, his real crime, he told us, was being gay.  Martez had never left the island and his parents had never clued in on his lifestyle.

“That’s got to be difficult.”  I said.

“It was easy.  I’ve spent half my life in jail.  They never visited.  They never paid attention to me before that.  I don’t have a relationship with them.”  He said.

His words lacked any form of empathy.

We talked about the Pulse shooting in Orlando and asked what the communities response was.  “What’s Pulse?”  he asked?   An asteroid could be hurling towards us with only a few days of human life remaining.   And while the entirety of the world’s population braced for impact, Martez and his friends would be going about their normal routine.  Closed off from all things news and all things social media.   And for a moment his unplugged world seemed comfortable enough.

“Behind you.  Quick!”  Martez said, motioning with his head.  Outside the three young girls had apparently lost the argument with the police office and were being placed in the back of his car.

Finishing our drinks, we made our way to the Cabaret, as Martez resumed his spot – 10 feet ahead of us.

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By the end of the trip we’d met people who were happy, content, frustrated, scared, and downright angry.  And while the political spectrum ran from one extreme to the other, the one thing everyone had in common, was the struggle.  Whether for freedom with capitalistic independence, or communist state-run assistance, everyone was aware of the restrictions and poverty that surrounded them.

And while there’s much to envy about the wealth the rest of the world has, many Cubans we met were mindful of what else those foreign countries endure:  a populous with soaring education debt, low literacy rates, homelessness, out of control gun violence, and a health care system in disarray.  Those things are available in Cuba.  Everyone can go to college.  In fact, many Cubans have multiple degrees.  Crime is barely visible and health care is available to everyone.  And while it seems the younger generation appreciates those benefits, those we met were fully aware of the toll it is taking on them and their country.

Beauty permeates Cuba like flowers poking through a rusted metal fence.  We found it in  music, food, culture, architecture, and most of all her people.  People equipped to live a life, but forced to do so in a controlled and confined space.  Traveling is about understanding cultures and embracing the unknown.  We were fortunate to have been able to take advantage of president Obama’s easing of Cuban/American relations.  Now, with the new administration’s policy rollbacks, it’s anyone’s guess as to how those relations will be impacted.

 

Signs, Sounds, & Thoughts From My Experience At The Women’s March in Washington D.C.

One Man’s Story: Why I Marched With Women on Trump’s First Day
By: Dan Beckmann/Orlando Sentinel
25 January 2017 

Last week, rather excitedly, I posted, what I thought was a fairly innocuous tweet; “Heading to D.C. for the March!”  I wrote.  So, I was surprised to read the first response.  Not because it arrived so quickly, I have nearly 10,000 followers.  Rather, because it came from a friend with an ambiguous quip. “Last I checked you were a man…is there something you’re not telling me?”  She wrote.  Surely my well-educated friend could not be so confused to think a Y chromosome would be a disqualification for taking part in a Women’s March?  Nonetheless, there it was.  That comment…hanging like a piñata, just waiting for me to crack it with a great big stick.

So, to my friend who wrote, what I’m sure she thought was a comment in jest, I guess there are some things I haven’t thought to tell you.  Allow me to fill you in on a few of them.

For 15-years, as a cameraman, writer, and producer with NBC News, I sat on the front line of many struggles.  This was the first time I would be at the epicenter of something of this magnitude as a participant.  I knew why I was marching because I had the checked boxes all filled out in my head; women’s rights, minority issues, climate change, education.  All the big ones.  But it wasn’t until I was nestled amongst a sea of pink hats and humanity that I realized why I was really there.  By the way, there were quite a few disqualified Y chromosome people marching with me.

Women, and those with minority voices, have always played crucial roles in my success.  They are too often underrepresented, undermined, and undervalued.  So, from what some might call my “privileged” seat in society, I felt it was even more important for me to walk out my allegiance to them.

I marched because Donald Trump promised to serve all people.  And so far, his immediate circle of influence lacks the diversity to make that possible.  Having him hear our voices from his new home on his first day in office was a great start. Not everyone who needed to be heard could be there, so I was marching for them…and for all the people who’ve made a difference in my life.

I marched for my mom, who as a single parent took odd jobs teaching tennis lessons, tending bar, and fixing lawnmowers.  Always making less than the guy next to her who did the exact same job.  My mom never failed to take a college course and never got a failing grade.  Receiving her doctorate 35 years after taking her first class.

I marched for, and alongside, my friends Kent and Caanan.  Showing up with my support to protect their right to stay married.

I marched for my daughter Lauren, and my friend Tiffany.  Each survivors of sexual assault who now must watch a man who’s bragged about assaulting women lead our country for the next four years.

I marched for those so confused that they now believe in “alternative facts.”

I marched for my friends who lost all hope, and got suckered by a manipulative liar who placed a large bet on their fears and won bigly.

I marched as a reminder to those “who won” that they cannot ignore those who didn’t.  And I marched as a reminder to our representatives in Washington that they are bound by an oath to represent all those in their districts.

I marched to promote a global community of diverse members. The outcry of values and priorities aren’t solely “American issues” with isolated consequences.  Millions of others, on all 7 continents, took part in over 670 solidarity events. Our leader may say, “America First”, but we cannot claim to be “America Only”.

And I marched for that friend of mine, the Twitter commenter.  Apparently, there were some things I didn’t tell you.  I’m glad I told you about them now so we can put down our phones and get to the business of building a brighter future for us all.  And that’s something worth tweeting and re-tweeting about.

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Food & Wine Unite To Support Pulse & Orlando LGBT

A group of popular Orlando chefs and hospitality leaders decided to Just DO Something…Anything! by joining together for a barbecue to benefit The LGBT Center of Central Florida (www.thecenterorlando.org). Over 500 people came out to enjoy great food, live music, and a butterfly release and remembrance ceremony in the courtyard. There was no ticket price to attend the event, which ran from 4-8pm at East End Market (eastendmkt.com).

The benefit, Food and Wine Unite Orlando (foodandwineuniteorlando.myevent.com), was organized by chefs Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine & Events. After the Pulse Nightclub attack, chefs Kevin and Jamie wanted to give back to the “The Center,” which has helped so many victims’ families and survivors.

100% of the proceeds were donated to The LGBT Center of Central Florida for assistance in rebuilding resources.

Participating Orlando-area restaurants included; Smiling Bison, Hawkers, Swine & Sons, The Rusty Spoon, Chef Tim Keating and Wild Ocean Market, Se7en Bites, The Courtesy Bar, and all of the merchants at East End Market.

Wines were provided by Craft & Estate: a member of The Winebow Group, Tim’s Wine Market, Stacole Fine Wines, Winesellers, LTD., Augustan Wine Imports, and Breakthru Beverage Group.  Sponsors for the event included K Restaurant, Cuisiniers Catering, East End Market, The Boathouse at Disney Springs, Quantum Leap Winery, Breakthru Beverage Group, Overeasy Events, Platinum Parking, Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals, and Linens By the Sea.

 

3 years – $1 million – & 110 Countries Later

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Three years ago this month Just DO Something…Anything! was created.  At the time JDSA was just a few letters … and Social Discussion was just a blog with a catchy phrase: We have the right to remain silent.  We just choose not to …”

For two months our computer screen sat blank … a blinking black cursor in the middle of an empty white page.  The first piece we posted was an Op/Ed political story I wrote after covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa for NBC News. We thought we were starting a revolution.  But really, we were just beginning an evolution.

We weren’t political writers.  We were social storytellers.  And that’s what we set out to do – tell stories through producing video content: writing commercials and shooting PSAs, developing creative strategies and concept planning for social organizations around the world.

But with nearly 12 million nonprofits, it seemed a daunting – if not impossible task.  So we decided to connect – both ourselves and others – to some of the more unique social organizations in existence.  Everyone knows about The Gates Foundation and Amnesty International.  But how many know about Rebecca Pontius and http://dogoodbus.com? A school bus she “decked out” so as to offer once-a-month community rides to volunteers to and from great causes in her Los Angeles community.

Or Shawn Seipler’s nonprofit, https://cleantheworld.org, who, while on a business trip had an idea for soap recycling after learning the barely used bars of hotel soap he left behind ended up in a landfill.  Today, Clean the World has more than 50 full-time employees in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong.  And they’ve distributed more than 25 million bars of soap to over 99 countries.

And we met Shannon O’Donnell, who created http://grassrootsvolunteering.org and built a dual database of organizations all over the world … helping empower travelers to connect to the causes and communities in the places they travel.

JDSA’s evolution is ongoing.  Today, we’re a 501C3 nonprofit who’s helped raise over $1 million for several unique and innovative nonprofits.  And we couldn’t have done it without you – the 30,000+ followers in over 110 countries. Thank you for turning JDSA into a verb – for JDSA’ing in the social causes you’re passionate about, and for telling us about the one’s that are making a difference in your life.

Please keep us posted on those unique organizations you come across!  In the meantime, check out a few we’ve found – from a variety of social causes.

The Pollination Project – https://thepollinationproject.org

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A Gift For Teaching – http://agiftforteaching.org

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Curbside Chronicle – http://thecurbsidechronicle.org/about-us/

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Zebra Coalition – http://zebrayouth.org

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The Prospector Theatre – http://www.prospectortheater.org

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Soaring Paws – http://www.soaringpaws.com

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Wildlife SOS / India – http://wildlifesos.org

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To learn more about those organizations, and some of the others we’ve come across, check out our “Your Connections” tab on our web site: http://www.jdsanything.org/#!your-connections/czy8

On The Cover of The Rolling Stone

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This photo, showing the face of the alleged Boston bomber on the face of America’s most recognizable pop culture magazine, prompted Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy, to release this photo:

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The “real face” of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Murphy says.  Speaking to Boston Magazine, where he released this picture (along with a series of others) Murphy explains;   

“Glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. …

“What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

We felt this story deserves attention, as it raises several questions. 

Is it another example of the media glamorizing atrocities?  Is Rolling Stone simply trying to be capitalistic and opportunistic with a cover of this magnitude?  Time, Newsweek…other magazines do this all the time.  After all, Rolling Stone featured Charles Manson on the cover of its June 25, 1970 edition.  Is it ill-conceived reporting…hiding behind an attention-grabbing cover?  Did Rolling Stone just turn an alleged monster into a rock star?  

The piece is hard-hitting journalism.  So have lines really been crossed?  Could they have made their point with a different cover?  Has the journalistic bar been set so low we can now step on it?  Or is everyone just making, “much ado about nothing?”

Here’s NPR’s take.  Let us know what you think…

Even before it hit newsstands, Rolling Stone‘s latest cover caused controversy: It features a full-page photograph of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sulking, his curly hair messily tossed in front of his eyes.

As soon as Rolling Stone posted the cover on Facebook, it was inundated with negative comments: “I think it’s wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone?” one Facebook user said, echoing thousands of others.

The editor of the liberal Think Progress tweeted that the cover turned Tsarnaev “into Jim Morrison.”

Others opined that the cover wasn’t offensive, just “uninspired.”

The controversy prompted CVS and the New-England based Tedeschi Food Shops to say they will not carry the magazine in their stores.

(Click here to read our update about why Rolling Stone‘s managing editor stands by the magazine’s decision.)

Stefan Becket, who works for New York Magazine, seemed to be wondering what the big deal was because The New York Times used the same picture for a Sunday cover back in May.

We have to admit that what also caught our attention was the accompanying blurb promoting the lengthy profile by contributing editor Janet Reitman.

How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster,” it reads.

That reminded us of a piece David J. Leonard, a professor specializing in race studies at Washington State University, wrote for Gawker following the Newtown shootings.

Essentially, Leonard argued, white men are profiled as innocent by society, and when something goes wrong, something outside of them must be to blame. Leonard was reacting to the portrayal of Adam Lanza as a quiet and bright boy described as “nice” by some.

Leonard wrote:

Time's cover on the Columbine shooters.

Time‘s cover on the Columbine shooters.

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“When I was pulled over in Emeryville, CA for speeding for several miles and asked multiple times by the police officer if there was a reason for my speeding, I told him the truth. ‘Officer, my ice cream is melting.’

“No stop and frisk. No pretext stop. No humiliating search. No fear of how to hold my hands. No ticket. I, like Adam Lanza and James Holmes, the two most notorious mass shooters of the past year, am white male privilege personified. We are humanized and given voice and innocence over and over again. …

“In fact, the media response to mass shootings often reimagines white men as victims.

“The national spectacle and the hyper focus on Newtown and Aurora especially in comparison to the scant coverage afforded to murders in Chicago or drone deaths in South Waziristan points to the value of whiteness. School shootings and other mass killings matter when there are white victims. Whiteness is thus reimagined as under attack. White suburban kids, white suburban families, white suburban communities and even white shooters are the victims — victims of Hollywood, victims of gun laws that don’t allow them to protect themselves in every context, victims of removal of prayer from public schools, and victims of soiling culture.”

To be fair, Rolling Stone‘s full story is not yet available as we publish this post. (It’s now online here.) But the framing of the story follows the pattern Leonard is talking about. It’s a narrative reminiscent of one put forth by Time magazine’s cover featuring Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The headline asked: “The Monsters Next Door. What Made Them Do It?”

We reached out to Leonard because we’re guessing the Tsarnaev case puts wrinkles in his thinking. The Tsarnaev brothers, after all, represent an unlikely middle for America. They’re white, but Muslim.

       The “Good Kid” Who Became “A Monster” Premise Of The Story:

Now that it’s posted online, you can see what Rolling Stone is writing. This passage seems to sum up much of what managing editor Will Dana said earlier about the piece:

” ‘Listen, [says Peter Payack, Tsarnaev’s wrestling coach in high school] there are kids we don’t catch who just fall through the cracks, but this guy was seamless, like a billiard ball. No cracks at all.’

“And yet a deeply fractured boy lay under that facade; a witness to all of his family’s attempts at a better life as well as to their deep bitterness when those efforts failed and their dreams proved unattainable. As each small disappointment wore on his family, ultimately ripping them apart, it also furthered Jahar’s own disintegration — a series of quiet yet powerful body punches. No one saw a thing. ‘I knew this kid, and he was a good kid,’ Payack says, sadly. ‘And, apparently, he’s also a monster.’ ”

 It Was An “Apt Image” For An Important Story,Rolling Stone Managing Editor Says:

Saying that the cover photo is an “apt image because part of what the story is about is what an incredibly normal kid [Tsarnaev] seemed like to those who knew him best back in Cambridge [Mass.],” Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana talked with All Things Considered host Melissa Block this afternoon.

“I am completely comfortable about the decision that we made,” he said of the cover photo.

Dana sees the story Rolling Stone told as one of how a “seemingly normal, well-adjusted guy who appeared to be on a path — if not to achievement — at least to success” turned into “a monster” instead. And he believes that “if people read the story they’ll see that there’s nothing in here that’s trying to build him [Tsarnaev] up as a hero.”

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Maybe Americans See Tsarnaev Differently:

Professor Leonard emailed us with these thoughts:

“Beyond the fact that I don’t think the cover ‘glorifies’ Tsarnaev or portrays him as a rock star, I think the controversy focuses on the wrong issue. … [The question should be] why is there an effort to explain how a ‘promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.’ Or better said, how a suburban white [boy] (from the Caucus region) came to commit such heinous crimes. The picture and the headline operates through this vision that he was good, he was the boy next door, and that something changed him. The picture in this regard (as it was a picture from before the bombing) harkens his past, what he was like before his turn toward evil. It fits the common narrative afforded to the suburban, white male domestic terrorists.

“At the same time, I wonder how much outrage the Columbine cover you referenced or the covers picturing Adam Lanza or [alleged Aurora, Colo. shooter] James Holmes elicited in terms of ‘glorification’ and turning ‘killers into celebrities.’ The fact that the images of these individuals did not prompt outrage reflects a willingness to see a level of innocence and how race, class, and religion all plays out here. This shows how many readers don’t see Tsarnaev as white; he is different in their imagination from Lanza, Holmes, Kleebold and others.”

Thank You and Happy 2013 From Social Discussion!

Happy-New-Year-Quotes-Wallpaper1-600x450My grandfather told me, “There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those      who talk about doing things.  And those who do them.”

For years my best friend and I have wanted to change the world.  The only way to do it, we decided, was to stop talking about it.  

We created a forum, “Social Discussion” for anything and everything that deals with social change and injustice.  As important as writing, sharing articles and re-tweeting video is, we wanted to do more.  We felt we needed to get out in the world and meet the people we would write about – hear from them so we can tell their stories to you!  So, despite the fact we both have “day jobs,” we decided Nike had the right approach; we’d “Just Do It.”    

For the past three months we’ve gotten our hands dirty by helping tell stories that matter.  Meeting people, writing and creating our own video content on issues from human trafficking and women’s equality, to domestic violence and clean water possibilities in African villages. We wrote about the conflict in the Middle East (my old home) and homelessness (one of my best friend’s many passions).  We’ve met proponents of gay rights and human rights, animal rights and the rights children have been stripped of, being used for slave labor.  We covered politics first-hand; the presidential debates and the conventions.  And although, we’re not experts on these issues, we care…we have opinions…and there’s nothing wrong with a little “Social Discussion” on matters of humanity.     

Nearly 3,300 Tweets and 1,500 Followers later, @Sawworldwide (our Twitter Account) is helping make a difference.  Our blog (thesocialdiscussion.wordpress.com) is making an impact, as well. Having been viewed nearly 10,000 times, we’re now followed on five continents and in over 60 countries; Bulgaria, Gambia, Sudan, Pakistan and India.  Hong Kong, Morocco, Greece and Korea.  Qatar, Norway, Haiti and Sri Lanka.  Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Israel, to name a few.   

Thank you, all of you!  For following. For caring. For joining in Social Discussion.  Most importantly, thank you, for helping us change the world!  We’ve come a long way in a short period of time – and we have a lot more to do.  So here’s to a 2013 of not only making the world a better place, but doing it together.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Peace and Love,

Social Discussion 

                 “To change the world, start with one step.  However small, the first step is hardest of all.” – Dave Matthews

We Demand Gun Law Changes Now!

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After a week of having the right to remain silent, the NRA decided to speak out about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. They should have kept their mouths shut.

In a haunting speech to reporters, who were denied the opportunity to respond with questions, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, blamed violent video games and music for the tragedy. Calling for more guns on the street and armed guards in every school.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!” said, LaPierre. Apparently forgetting that deranged individuals in bullet-proofed vests, firing fully automatic assault rifles with clips holding hundreds of rounds, will most likely, trump the math teacher carrying a semi-automatic pistol in their back pocket.

If you’re concerned about this “Wild West” proposal, don’t be. The NRA promises it will train all these teachers, janitors, school counselors and volunteer workers on just how to properly use a firearm.

Feel better? Neither do I.

Even though a 1/3 of our schools already have armed guards, students in Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, Red Lake, Minnesota, Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania, Chardon, Ohio and the campus of Virginia Tech were not immune. One failed attempt at a shoe bomb on an airplane and we all have to remove our shoes. Yet, after more than 100 of the students and teachers killed and dozens more injured in those shootings, not a single change in our gun laws.

“Guns Don’t Kill People.” slogans are unnecessary. The fact of the matter is, people with guns do. What is necessary, what is needed, is for our elected officials to wake up. Either continue listening to the NRA’s absurd proposals of letting the George Zimmerman’s of the world patrol the halls of our schools, or take a stand.

The NRA is wrong. We do need changes in our gun laws. Don’t think so? Consider these:

In Iowa, food vendors in some parts of the state need a business permit and food license. Gun owners need no such thing. Which makes it easier to buy a gun than to sell lemonade on your front porch.

Arizona, Vermont and Alaska do not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. But if you want to cut hair, you need 1500 hours of instruction and a barber’s license.

Wayne LaPierre claimed sick individuals, will stop at nothing to commit violent acts of murder. Why, then, does he continue to deny a national database to weed out those individuals?

I don’t like guns. Never have. I’ve never had the urge to shoot at targets or live animals. But I’m a proponent of the 2nd amendment, nonetheless. Unlike the NRA, I’m a proponent who doesn’t feel the amendment is a blanket for fully automatic assault rifles for anyone who wants one. Nor am I in favor, as the NRA apparently is, of limited reaches for the ATF to enforce the gun laws currently in existence.

I’m also an advocate for free speech. We can say whatever we want. But I also believe we’re not immune from the consequences of what it is we say. Yell at your boss and see if you don’t get fired. Make a threat against the president and find out what happens next. There are limits to our freedoms. There has to be. Without them, we’d have a far more anarchic society than if we armed every man, woman, and school child’s teacher.

Why did the NRA take such a tough stance with foolish language and asinine statements of armed teachers and gun-toting school counselors? Is their once thick concrete wall now showing signs of cracks? Is DC’s most powerful lobby now feeling a bit vulnerable? I think so. The leadership of the NRA is so out-of-touch with its members they’re making responsible gun owners look bad. Since the massacre in Newtown, many gun rights advocates have been softening their stance on gun control. Which explains why LaPierre said all those ridiculous things. “From my cold, dead hands.” it seems, was already taken.

More than 150,000 signatures scrawled on a petition for changes in our gun laws have reached the White House. Americans want change. Cries for gun regulation have always been present, but with timid tonality spoken in hushed tone away from gun lobbyists; drowned  by both incognizant politicians and the sound of gunfire at rifle ranges everywhere…. But there are no ear protectors to deafen the voices now. There are simply too many voices and finally, they’re being heard in unison.

 

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