Tag Archives: Parkland shooting

Not all government officials view the press as ‘enemy’

Donald Trump’s vendetta against the media, his spiteful message of the media allegedly being the “enemy of the people,” hasn’t filtered down to all levels of government.

And that, I want to declare, is a very good thing.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel this week was honored by a county commission for its reporting on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Fla.

A former colleague and a friend was part of the team that collected the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the massacre that erupted on Valentine’s Day, 2018. The Sun-Sentinel walked away with the highest honor given by the Pulitzer board: the award for Meritorious Public Service.

Today, the Broward County Board of Commissioners took time to honor the Sun-Sentinel for the work it did reporting on the hideous eruption of gun violence.

My friend, Rosemary Goudreau O’Hara (she’s in the center of the picture linked to this post), called attention to the recognition today on her Facebook page. The Broward County Board of Commissioners declared today to be Sun-Sentinel Day in Broward County and gave the newspaper’s team a plaque to commemorate it.

This is precisely the kind of recognition that many in journalism appreciate beyond measure. It is heartening to me, even though I sit in a faraway peanut gallery seat, to realize that government officials are able to give the media the bouquet they deserve.

That’s what happened in Broward County, Fla.

As O’Hara said today on her Facebook post: This was such a nice thing to do. It’s unusual, too, for government to applaud the Fourth Estate for watchdogging government, especially when everybody doesn’t like the coverage. With our president calling the media the enemy of the people, it means a great deal that the Broward County Commission today recognized the South Florida Sun Sentinel for our reporting on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. It’s Sun Sentinel Day in Broward!

These elected county officials have demonstrated their understanding that a free, unfettered and aggressive press is essential to the society we cherish.

Congratulations to the Sun-Sentinel staff and many thanks to a county government board for giving that staff the honor it has earned.

Almost forgot about this guy’s bad manners!

D’oh!

I almost forgot this item. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who tweeted a threat to Michael Cohen on the eve of Donald Trump’s former friend’s expected blockbuster testimony before Congress, has acted boorishly before.

He tweeted a threat of exposing alleged affairs Cohen had with women who aren’t his wife. Bad form, dude. That kind of witness intimidation can get you in serious trouble.

But then there’s the tirade he launched during a House committee hearing with survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre. He threatened to boot them out of the committee hearing because he didn’t like the tone they were using while giving testimony about gun violence.

I just hate it when members of Congress act like horses’ asses.

You may spare me the “both sides do it” crap. I get that already. I’m talking about this clown.

A member of Congress, a guy who writes federal laws that affect all Americans, needs to act with some measure of decorum and dignity. Matt Gaetz is sorely lacking in both qualities.

Comedian steps into it

Louis C.K., a discredited and disgraced comedian, had this to say about the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., that occurred this past Valentine’s Day.

“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you?” C.K. said as audience members are heard laughing along.

“How does that make you interesting?” he continued. “You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I got to listen to you talking.”

This doesn’t rise to the level of radio blowhard Alex Jones contending on the air that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a fantasy, that the kids who died were actors. It’s still pretty damn hideous.

Louis C.K. has some baggage, you see. He was accused of pleasuring himself in front of women — and has joined the list of powerful men accused by those during this “Me Too” era. So for this idiot to make cheap fun of the 17 victims who died and those who had the good fortune to survive the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is, shall we say, beyond disgusting.

The response has been furious.

There’s this from Aalayah Eastmon, one of the survivors: “Hey Louis CK — since you like making fun of me and other Parkland survivors behind closed doors, I’m right here if you want to talk. Just try to keep it in your pants, OK?” 

Disgraceful.

Get out and vote, you young people!

Rosemary Curts has pitched a positively capital idea dealing with increasing voter participation among young Americans.

Put early voting locations in our schools, writes the Dallas Independent School District math teacher in an op-ed written for the Dallas Morning News.

I am slapping myself on the side of my noggin over that one. Why didn’t I think of it?

Curts is one of four essayists whose ideas were published in the Sunday Morning News. I want to focus on her commentary because it makes so damn much sense.

She writes that government “must make it less of an ordeal to vote. In my experience, students are willing to vote — as long as they don’t have to go too far out of their way.”

Her idea is to install early voting stations in high schools. Hey, 18-year-old citizens can vote; many of them are still in high school. According to Curts, “Government classes could take a class trip downstairs to the polls, and because early voting stretches over days, students who forgot their voter identification cads one day could simply come back the next day.”

Dang, man! This is a good idea!

We have heard a lot of talk in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about high school students being “energized” to get out the voter among their peers. They want to make a difference. Some of those students at Douglas High have become media stars, making public appearances around the country.

I am not yet certain their outrage over the deaths of their classmates this past Valentine’s Day is going to manifest itself in a surge of voter turnout among young Americans, who traditionally vote in puny numbers compared to their elders. These kids’ grandparents came of age in the 1960s and 1970s when they were rallying against an unpopular war in Vietnam and against government shenanigans relating to that scandal called “Watergate.”

I want to salute Rosemary Curts for putting forward an outstanding idea to make voting just a bit easier for today’s young people … not that it’s all that hard in the first place.

Still, whatever works.

Why did Judge Kavanaugh snub this child’s father?

A video segment from today’s opening of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has gotten a whole lot of attention.

For good reason.

As Kavanaugh was leaving the hearing room, Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter was among those slain by the gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. — extended his hand, apparently to shake Judge Kavanaugh’s hand.

The judge turned away. He didn’t take Guttenberg’s hand.

I do not know what Guttenberg might have said to Kavanaugh to prompt such a chilly non-response to what looked like a gesture of common courtesy. Maybe the grieving father said Kavanaugh’s wife wore combat boots, or some such childish statement.

I doubt it.

Surely the dad didn’t accuse Kavanaugh of complicity in the mass shooting. Surely he didn’t tell him he is responsible for the tragedy that erupted on Valentine’s Day.

So, why did the judge turn his back? Doesn’t a father in mourning deserve a handshake and an expression of good wishes?

These kinds of images have a way of imprinting themselves into observers’ collective memory. Just as Midland, Texas, oil mogul Claytie Williams who snubbed a handshake from Gov. Ann Richards during the candidates’ campaign for Texas governor in 1990. Williams paid for that rudeness by losing the election.

ESPYs honor courageous athletes, coaches

It’s not always fashionable for athletes to make political statements. They expose themselves to criticism — much of it shrill and strident — as some pro football players might acknowledge.

However, the ESPYs — the awards provided by ESPN, the nation’s premier sports and entertainment network — hit it out of the park Wednesday night during its annual award ceremony.

Why? The ESPYs spoke to the politics of the moment. The statements were profound and powerful.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award went to 141 young women who had the courage to stand up to Michigan State University and to a physician who abused them sexually. You’ve heard of the former MD, Larry Nasar , who’s now spending the rest of his life in prison for what he did to those athletes.

All the women stood on the stage, covering it in the courage exemplified by the man whose memory is honored. Tennis great Arthur Ashe died 30 years ago of complications from HIV/AIDS, but exhibited tremendous courage before he passed.

The women stood tall they stood strong. They are the faces and the voices of the “Me Too” movement. They so richly deserve this honor.

Then we have the Coach of the Year honor. Who got that one? It went to three high school coaches, and not necessarily for the leadership they showed on the field of competition — but the selfless courage they demonstrated this past Feb. 14 when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The coaches all died protecting their students. They threw themselves into harm’s way to save the lives of the youngsters they promised to keep safe.

Chris Hixon, Aaron Fies and Scott Biegel paid the ultimate price on behalf of their students. Their names are now memorialized forever to remember the heroism they exhibited during a terrible spasm of gun violence.

It’s not all that often when you have the perfect juxtaposition of politics and sports. We saw it Wednesday night at an annual award ceremony.

Well done, ESPN.

Tragedy strikes another school

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said today what many of us already believe: It’s not enough to offer “thoughts and prayers” to communities stricken by a spasm of gun violence. The time for action is at hand.

Yes, governor. You are so right.

Santa Fe High School near Galveston is reeling today in the wake of another school shooting. Ten people — most of them students — are dead; another 10 are injured, with a couple of the injured victims suffering life-threatening injuries.

The shooter, a student at the high school, is in custody.

By all means we offer our prayers. Now comes the hard part. What are we going do to stop this insanity?

Abbott said today that everything is on the table. Everything? Yep. That’s what he said. Everything. I’m going to presume he means what he says.

Putting something on the “table” does not guarantee anything substantive will arise from a serious discussion.

Gov. Abbott wants to convene a town hall meeting. He wants to talk to constituents. He said he is open to anything they have to offer.

The shooter’s father owned the weapons, a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver. Here’s a thought for the governor to ponder: Stiffen liability punishment for parents who fail to do all they can to keep the guns out of the hands of their children. OK, that’s just a thought off the top of my noggin.

Is this yet another turning point? Has it supplanted the Parkland, Fla., carnage as the catalyst that will bring action in place of rhetoric?

I cannot wrap my head around all of this at the moment.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Motor City Madman pops off yet again

So help me, sweet Mother of God in Heaven, I don’t know why I’m concerned about the blatherings of a washed-up guitarist.

I am, but only for a brief moment.

Ted “Motor City Madman” Nugent went on a radio talk show to blast the daylights out of many of the high school students who have been speaking out against gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre of 17 students and staff members.

They “have no soul,” said The Nuge. He called them “mushy-brained.”

Oh, please.

The U.S. Constitution grants Nugent the right to spew his garbage. It also grants the students the right to speak their minds, too. By my way of thinking, the students are sounding much more intelligent and reasoned than Nugent, an avid outdoorsman and gun-rights-ownership advocate.

He also is prone to making his point in highly offensive manners, such as the time he called President Obama a “sub-human mongrel.”

I did offer a tweet that said Nugent should “just shut the f*** up.” Actually, upon reflection, I think he should keep yapping, yammering and yowling his point of view. It’s better to have the fruitcakes visible and audible so we know where to find them.

Ingraham vs. Hogg: A foolish fight

David Hogg is one of those teenagers who has risen to the top of the public’s awareness in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre.

He is an articulate young man who’s become a leading spokesman for the survivors of the shooting that killed 17 students and staff members on Valentine’s Day. He has spoken eloquently about the need to end gun violence. The media have glommed onto Hogg and a few other of the leading student spokesmen and women who have emerged from this horrific tragedy.

He also has gotten involved in a silly dispute with a noted conservative columnist and commentator who had the bad taste to tweet something disparaging about Hogg.

Ingraham has since apologized “in the spirit of the Holy Week.” Hogg isn’t accepting here apology and is now mounting a boycott against her show, encouraging more advertisers to drop their sponsorship of her radio show.

Let’s hold on for a second.

This tears at my sensibilities. For starters, Hogg didn’t deserve to be called a “whiner” in Ingraham’s tweet, which was in response to something Hogg had said about being rejected by several universities despite his stellar 4.2 GPA at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He also has been accused falsely of being a “crisis actor,” someone hired to play the part of someone involved in a school massacre.

Then again, Ingraham’s apology was full-blown. She said she is sorry for any hurt she has caused among the “Parkland victims.”

If it had been me, I would have accepted her apology and then moved on. Hogg doesn’t see it that way. He said Ingraham apologized only because the advertisers were bailing on her.

Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill newspaper, says Hogg’s anger may be setting a potentially dangerous precedent if he persists on trying to end the career of someone who has said she is sorry and has admitted to making a mistake.

Read his analysis in The Hill here.

I have to concur with Concha’s analysis.

Hey, no one’s perfect, young man.

Why not just ‘mend’ the 2nd Amendment?

President Gerald R. Ford thought he was appointing a conservative jurist to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 when nominated John Paul Stevens.

Wrong, Mr. President. The justice turned out to be a liberal icon on the court. The retired justice has ignited a wildfire. He writes in a New York Times essay that it’s time to — gulp! — repeal the Second Amendment.

Justice Stevens is 97 years of age but he still has a razor-sharp mind. He’s a learned and brilliant man.

That all said, I happen to disagree with him on the need to repeal the amendment that says the “right to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Stevens writes, in part: Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

Read the entire essay here.

I don’t intend to suggest I can match Justice Stevens’s intellectual wattage. I just want to offer the view that the Second Amendment contains no language that I can identify that says it must remain sacrosanct.

With the March For Our Lives emboldening literally millions of young Americans to seek legislative remedies to the spasm of gun violence, I am going to cling tightly to the view that those remedies exist somewhere in the legislative sausage grinder. And those remedies can be enacted without repealing the Second Amendment.

I know what the amendment says and nowhere does it ban any reasonable controls on the purchase, sale or the possession of firearms. Gun-rights proponents keep insisting that any legislation that seeks to impose tighter controls on gun purchases launches us down some mysterious “slippery slope.” They fill Americans with the fear that the government is coming for their guns; they’ll be disarmed and made vulnerable to governmental overreach.

That is the worst form of demagoguery imaginable.

Surely there can be some way to allow “law-abiding Americans” to purchase firearms while keeping these weapons out of the hands of lunatics. This can be done under the guise of a Second Amendment guarantee that Americans can “keep and bear Arms.”