What is the picture on your computer's desktop screen? Your kids? Your dog? Maybe a memorable vacation photo? Mine is a shot I took one October morning in 2012 as I was about to wade into the Little Red River. A mist is coming off the water, lit golden by a rising sun. The streamside trees are glowing yellow and red and that pale, dry green that says autumn is here. The photo captures everything I like about being on a stream. I put it on my computer so I'd see it each morning when I began to work — a reminder of the beauty that's so easy to lose sight of in the hustle of everyday life.
I haven't really looked at it in a long time.
That's because what's beautiful can fade with time and familiarity. So can what's horrific — like mass shootings of innocent people by a crazy person. What unfolded on an Oregon college campus last week was the now-familiar nightmare: an insane gunman with multiple weapons acting out some disturbed fantasy, destroying the lives, hopes, and dreams of others before shooting himself or being shot or captured.
Next come the somber statements of support for the families of the victims, the prayer vigils, the tweets of sympathy, the Facebook postings, the presidential statement calling for lawmakers to pass some sort of sensible gun-control laws, the funerals.
Then comes the gun-fetish chorus, spurred on by Big Ammo and the NRA: "It was a gun-free zone, liberals ... "; "If one of those students had been armed ... "; "Obama will take our guns ... "; "The Second Amendment guarantees my rights ... "; "Why don't we ban cars?"
And on it goes, the perpetual circle of death and dialogue that is unique to this country. We've had 294 mass shootings in 2015, more than one a day. It's because we've created a culture where gun rights trump all else. And we have allowed it to flourish because not enough people have the guts to stand up and say "Enough. This insanity doesn't happen anywhere else on the planet. We have a gun problem, and we're going to address it."
Instead, we get the moronic response of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who, in the aftermath of the Oregon massacre, said, "I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise."
Not exactly the approach Jesus would have taken. But then, maybe he wasn't as serious about his faith as Ron is.
Then, as icing on the cake, comes a story this week out of Blount County, Tennessee: Eight-year-old McKayla Dyer was approached by an 11-year-old neighbor boy who wanted to see her puppy. When McKayla refused to let him, the boy went back to his house, grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, returned, and killed McKayla.
If only she'd been armed, like a serious Christian, she might have been able to shoot the 11-year-old first, and we could have avoided this tragedy. Because the answer is always — say it with me, now — more guns.
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."