Tag Archives: Parkland shooting

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.”

Nothing from POTUS

Linda Beigel Schulman is a better person that I am.

She and Michael Beigel lost their son in the Parkland, Fla., massacre of 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day. Their son, Scott, was a teacher who died while protecting students from the gunman who opened fire.

Schulman told The Hill that she has received a “beautiful letter” from U.S. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and from former President Obama. The former president wrote, in part: “We can only imagine the hardship you are going through; hopefully all the wonderful memories can help ease the pain. We’ll get the details about your fund in his honor. In the meantime, you are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Has she heard from Donald Trump, the current president? No.

Schulman said, “I received no correspondence whatsoever. I received nothing from the White House.” She has demonstrated, though, a bit of a magnanimous spirit that I likely wouldn’t exhibit.

Although she believes the president should have reached out, she isn’t disappointed. “Because I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I have realistic expectations.”

I cannot pretend to know how she feels about the loss of her son. I do get that she is angry about the gun violence that has erupted yet again in this country, this time striking her straight in the heart, shattering it.

This is a national tragedy, one that has enveloped an entire nation. It has spawned deeply impassioned debate about gun policy and violence. It requires — in my view — the leader of this great country to reach out, to speak directly to the victims of this scourge.

He didn’t do what is expected of him. I am left to sit on the sidelines and look on with awe at those who are stricken and who have it within them to soldier on with their “realistic expectations.”

A sobering sign of today’s era

I was talking with the mother of one of the March For Our Lives organizers in Amarillo, Texas, when the thought recurred to me.

“You know something?” I said Saturday. “I never once — ever — had this conversation with my parents when I was in school. Not in grade school, junior high or high school. My mother never told me to to ‘stay safe’ when she sent me off to school.”

Indeed, Mom and Dad always assumed I would return home at the end of the school day. There never was a single thought that I ever remember that someone would open fire with a weapon in school.

Oh, how we have entered a new era.

The March For Our Lives event in Amarillo was just one of hundreds of other community events called to demand remedies to the gun violence that has killed so many children, teachers and others.

Violeta Prieto, the mother of Carla Prieto — an Amarillo march organizer — responded to me that neither did she have that discussion with her parents. And she graduated from Palo Duro High School just 21 years ago, in 1997. I reminded her with a chuckle that “I am a whole lot older than you are.”

We would take part in fire drills and those once-quaint “duck and cover” drills to prepare us to respond to a possible nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. It was the “cold war” back then. Those drills don’t seem quite so quaint these days in light of recent international developments … but, I digress; more on that another time.

Today’s students and their loved ones are facing a potential “hot war” in the fight to eradicate gun violence in our schools and other public places.

And while I’m on this topic, I must share with you that we have members of our family who likely are having — or will have — discussions with young children that we never dreamed of having. I don’t recall talking with our now 40-something sons about gun violence when they were in school; they graduated from high school in 1991 and 1992.

So … this is new to us. It is chilling in the extreme to wrap our heads around the potential danger facing our children in communities throughout the country.

I join them in their fright.

‘We are not anti-gun!’

Of all the public pronouncements I heard today at the start of the March For Our Lives, one of them stands out foursquare in front of the rest of them.

“We are not anti-gun!” came the proclamation from an elevated stage calling the crowd to order as the march was about to commence.

It came from one of the student organizers who had rallied hundreds of Texas Panhandle residents, summoned them to Ellwood Park, where they would take their march through downtown Amarillo, Texas, to the Potter County Courthouse grounds.

The March For Our Lives took places in communities throughout the United States. It was spawned by the Parkland, Fla., high school slaughter of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The “We are not anti-gun!” proclamation reveals a certain sophistication among the students who organized this march. The Texas Panhandle students clearly know the audience to whom they are preaching. They want an end to gun violence. They do not intend to argue for the confiscation of firearms. They know better than that.

They know they live in a community that supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s always fascinated me that the nation’s founders sought to codify certain civil liberties; they started with guaranteeing the right to worship, protest the government and a free press in the First Amendment; then came the Second Amendment, which establishes the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Texas Panhandle residents take their Second Amendment rights seriously. Well, at least a lot of them do.

Thus, the March For Our Lives organizers sought to tell the marchers — and some onlookers who had come to Ellwood Park — about their intentions in staging this march.

They want “common sense” legislative remedies that assure that the Second Amendment remains viable. They say they have no intention of lobbying for repeal of the amendment. They want to assure the right to own firearms remains written in our nation’s government framework.

I haven’t yet heard of any proposed solutions that deny Americans the right to possess firearms. I also applaud the organizers of our local event for making clear that they intend to retain that right.

They simply have seen too many young people — just like themselves — gunned down while they are studying in school, a place where one can presume they would be safe.

They aren’t. The students who marched today want our politicians to do what they to ensure safety and to end the national scourge of gun violence.

Responsible for deaths? Nope!

I have to share with you a comment that came to me today after I posted a blog on today’s March For Our Lives in Amarillo, Texas.

I don’t like doing this, but I feel the need to share with you a point of view that is highly critical of yours truly, and it also accuses me of something I’ve never before heard.

Here it is, in part:

The writer of this article, with his slant, is partially responsible to the moral decline that has lead to children being killed and rights having been eroded.

You are accountable as a public writer, and I hold you responsible for lying to our youth and ultimately getting them killed.

I do not know the author of this comment. That is, if I do know who it is, the writer didn’t reveal his or her identity to me.

The item I posted on High Plains Blogger offered a word of encouragement to the several hundred marchers who trudged from Ellwood Park to the Potter County Courthouse in downtown Amarillo. They gathered and marched to protest the gun violence that has taken too many young lives in our country; the marchers want change and they want it sooner rather than later.

I don’t mind criticism of the items I post. I welcome it if it is constructive and well-reasoned. Most of it is. This item, though, isn’t. It ascribes some really nefarious consequences to my little ol’ blog.

As for who is responsible for causing the deaths of young people, my inclination is to lay that blame at the feet of those who support unrestricted gun ownership, believing that the Second Amendment guarantees it. These weapons do have a way of ending up in the wrong hands … you know?

Maybe I should feel somewhat — more or less — flattered that the individual who responded to this blog thinks I have that kind of influence on our society.

I’ve never seen myself as having such stroke. I like to think High Plains Blogger is able to have some impact on elements of the human condition. But to suggest that it is partly responsible for the deaths of young Americans, well … that’s going a bit far. Don’t you think?

I have no real ulterior motive in sharing these thoughts with you. Perhaps you can read them in their entirety when you click on highplainsblogger. com — which I invite you to do.

They marched for a cause that could make history

With that, I believe I’ll go about the business of coming up with other topics on which to pontificate.

They marched for a cause that could make history

They came. They marched. Perhaps they have added even more sizzle to a growing movement among young Americans.

I’m guessing a crowd of about 300 or so Texas Panhandle residents gathered today at Ellwood Park in Amarillo. From the park they marched toward the Potter County Courthouse, where they would bring a message of fear, anger and perhaps a healthy dose of hope to those in power who are willing to listen to their message.

It is this: We are tired of gun violence and we are tired of being afraid in our public schools.

It was a March For Our Lives, carried out by the Texas Panhandle “chapter” of a movement spawned in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School slaughter of 17 students and staffers in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day. Parkland is the latest in a growing list of American communities scarred by gun violence on a mass-murder scale.

The students there went to Washington today to protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. They want legislative change. They want stricter gun regulations.

But as the organizers in Amarillo noted today while commencing their march to the County Courthouse, “We are not ‘anti-gun.'” They do not intend to confiscate guns from responsible owners of firearms. They simply want what they call “common sense change” in the nation’s gun laws.

Violeta Prieto was one of the marchers who came to Ellwood Park. She is showing support for her daughter, Carla, one of the Caprock High School honor students who organized the Amarillo march. One of her sons, a middle-school student, said he came to the march “because my mom made me.” He’ll get the message that’s being delivered; of that I am quite sure.

“I am afraid to take my kids to school,” Prieto said. “I cannot know what will happen” any day here children are in school, she said.

“I want more control and I want to end this easy access to guns,” she said.

Prieto is a 1997 graduate of Palo Duro High School, an institution with some gun-violence history of its own. A student at PDHS opened fire in 1992, injuring six fellow students before he was arrested. Prieto said her older sister, who was attending PD, remembers the incident “very well.” The shooting occurred a couple of years before Prieto entered the high school, “but I remember it, too.”

“I support my daughter all the way,” Prieto said. “She is our future. All those kids are our future.”

To be sure, not everyone at the Ellwood Park gathering was singing off the same page in the proverbial hymnal. I chatted briefly with a couple of young men, one of whom was carrying a Confederate flag, the other a “Don’t Tread on Me” banner.

I asked if they were there to “counter protest.” One of the young men, whose name I didn’t get, said: “Oh, no. We’re here for the same reason. We want to end gun violence, too. We just believe there’s another way to do it.”

He said the emphasis should be on ending the bullying, making schools more secure, safer and “enforcing the laws we have already.”

The young men didn’t march with the rest of the crowd. When the marchers started walking away, they went to their vehicles and drove off, presumably to the courthouse — perhaps to listen and make their own statements heard.

My wife and I didn’t stay for the march. I wanted to get a feel for the Ellwood Park crowd’s mood and its sense of hope. I saw a lot of smiles and expressions of guarded optimism that we well might be seeing the dawn of a new era.

Even here. In Amarillo, a community not known as a hotbed for community activism. However, times — and communities — can change.