Please excuse me as I shift from bitching about the $686,000,000.00 playground to focus on national news.
Lately the news has been dominated by incomprehensible violence within schools. Schools are one of the few places where any act of murder or mayhem uniquely affects the American conscience. These are children who are mostly defenseless and need us to protect them. Despite the recent bloodletting in educational settings, schools are considered the safest place for children of any age. Obviously, executions and sexual assaults of innocent young girls still have a way of burrowing under your skin. Something must be done.
Well, something productive anyways. It's obvious that current Republican leadership has no interest in acting productively. Instead, they offer platitudes and batshit craziness. It's par for the course for the American Right.
Just look at how stupid conservatives are acting in Dana Milbank's most recent column. President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Secretary Margaret Spellings all hosted panels and/or gave speeches on the recent spate of school violence. All four failed to talk about the "elephant in the room": access to assault weapons.
Now, it's full disclosure time. Although I've been called a "mediocre liberal in-the-box thinker" in this blog's comments section, one area where I diverge from typical liberal thinking is gun control. I'm one of the few DC residents who thinks that the city's handgun ban is wildly unconstitutional. Yes it keeps the citizenry safer from acts of violence. That's no excuse for a serious breach of the Second Amendment. It's our Bill of Rights. We can't weaken them in the name of safety. That applies to handguns as much as it applies to not sending people to Syria to be tortured without trial or access to evidence. Real liberals should be with me on this. Instead I'm stuck agreeing with Republicans and, shudder, Libertarians.
Of course, like many other liberties, there are limits. And psychotics getting access to assault weapons designed for the sole purpose of taking human life is certainly way outside those limits. Our Constitution certainly has plenty of room for pragmatism.
Republican leadership's failure to discuss the impact of assault weapons in connection to violence within our schools is ridiculously negligent. This is an issue that could result in an excellent national dialogue. But as long as the NRA is writing the checks, the American public is shit out of luck.
So, what do Republican supporters say the real problem is? Hold onto your hats for the surprising answer:
Bush and his fellow participants stood in front of a faux blackboard inscribed with the words "Conference on School Safety" 42 times. With gun control off the table, the questions and comments became a bit repetitious, too, as a long line of participants echoed the belief that school violence would be reduced by values education and religious belief.
"It's illegal to say 'God' in the public schools these days," complained one questioner. He was followed by a representative of the American Association of Christian Schools. Craig Scott, brother of a girl killed in the Columbine massacre, said she was "killed for her faith."
"Lots of folks find answers in their faith," Spellings observed.
They certainly did yesterday. Another panelist spoke about the need for churches to "adopt" schools. An organization started by the Scotts, Rachel's Challenge, distributed brochures comparing the slain girl and her father to Anne Frank and her father.
When Bush arrived, Craig Scott was invited to speak again. This time, he read a poem he said his father read while appearing before a congressional committee.
"You've outlawed simple prayer.
"Now gunshots fill our classrooms and precious children die . . .
"You regulate restrictive law through legislative creed, and yet you failed to understand that God is what we need."
Of course. Of fucking course. President Bush, by the way, lauded Scott's "unbelievably eloquent testimony." I suppose "eloquent" is relative when dealing with President Bush.
What garbage. Christianity, even the evangelical kind that many liberals find so scary, is fine by me. But this is flat-out dishonest. You'd think people so into their Lord and Savior would know that bearing false witness is a big no-no.
First thing first. It is not illegal to say "God" in public schools. For teachers, yeah. Separation of church and state and all that deliciousness. But personal prayer, despite what the Christian crazies might tell you, is perfectly fine. I only spent three years in a non-religious (read: public) school, but people prayed all the time. People even crossed themselves before math class! And this was in Massachusetts, the first place Evangelicals would expect a bunch of crazy anti-prayer laws.
And what's really startling about all this "schools aren't Christian enough" hogwash is that the most startling and horrible act of school violence took place in an Amish school! Are these people suggesting that the Amish aren't Christian enough!? I'm pretty sure Amish schoolhouses feature prayer!
As for the Scotts, well, I'm sorry that this family lost a loving daughter. But passing out brochures comparing her to Anne Frank reeks of self-promotion. Oh, and Craig? Your poem sucks.
The Republicans have decided that giving people the religious willies is more important than a dialogue on access to assault weapons. Why? Because the religious willies are the grease in the GOP voting machine. Shame on these people.