Columns

One Small Voice: Thoughts and prayers are inadequate

by Lynn Mandaville

“Where in God’s name is our backbone to stand up to the lobbies?” – President Joe Biden, speaking to the nation on 5/24/22 following the mass killing of Robb Elementary School children in Uvalde, TX.

“The police are outgunned by the killers in this country” – Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut on 5/25/22 in an interview on the CBS Morning Show about the mass killing in Uvalde, TX.

“The best way to beat a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun.” – paraphrase of a commonly heard defense from the conservative right following mass killings in the United States since the Columbine massacre of 1999, which was heard again, in slightly different forms, on Wednesday, May 25.

I know Townbroadcast reader Ralph Capone will be horribly disappointed in me for reverting to the bad news version of “One Small Voice.” If you read his response to my last column, you’ll recognize this as his comment to said column from just a few days ago about kindness education at my grandsons’ school:

“Thank you, Ms. Mandeville], for an article I can completely get behind. I was one of your critics last week, as I often read your articles, and we seldom see eye to eye. But this positive story looks good on you, and I would love to see more of this. You can become the Steve Hartman of the Town Broadcast.”

I also suspect that reader and frequent commenter John Wilkens will feel vindicated about his observation of May 16 following my column about how sick our collective American society is after the Buffalo killing of ten innocent people by a cruel and troubled 18-year-old with an assault-style rifle. His kind words were these:

“Ralph, Please don’t waste your time, she has been spewing the same hatred for as long as she has been writing here.”

I’m sorry that Mr. Wilkens interprets my observations – all of them true, you can fact-check them – as the spewing of hatred. Sometimes the messenger is the one who gets “killed” for delivering bad news. So it goes.

Despite Mr. Capone’s back-handed compliment, I don’t write what I write to be liked. I don’t pretend to be the bringer of sunshine to this publication. I doubt I’ll ever be the Steve Hartman of Townbroadcast.

I write what I write because the editor gives me freedom to express myself on whatever subject I choose. Sometimes it’s in gratitude for my blessed life, sometimes it’s to highlight something wonderful or less than wonderful, and, too often, it’s to purge myself of the negative feelings I have about the things that I think are completely off the rails in our country. (A country, which, by the way, I love very much in spite of her many faults.)

Thus, today I’m back on my high horse, utterly outraged to my core by another senseless mass murder at the hands of yet another 18-year- old boy with yet another assault-style rifle!

And I really, really wish I weren’t.
Over and over children are killing children.

Over and over presidents are in or near tears as they come before a horrified nation, enraged that Congress has failed to do anything in the more than 22 years since Columbine.

Over and over again, parents are crying in abject despair for the loss of their innocent babies. And I honestly don’t know where to begin or end my thoughts as I write this tonight.

I know many of you share my feelings of deep-seated anger at a do-nothing Congress. Left or right, they seem incapable of doing anything of substance that will truly benefit average Americans like you and me.

Worse than incapable are the Republicans, who I honestly think don’t give a damn about anything other than the money they pocket from the lobbyists and the power they believe their offices grant them.

How else can they (the Republicans) justify comments like “the best way to beat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?”

(To which I counter, there was a good guy with a gun stationed outside Robb Elementary, and the bad guy overpowered him! Shot him! And shot two more good guys with guns!

So how’s that theory working out so far?)

Or how about this old chestnut, which I actually heard today, from U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican Congressman serving the very district in which Uvalde, TX, lies, “I’m not willing to discuss policy today.” Or as you may better know this sentiment, “It’s too soon to talk about it.”

(“They” always say it’s too soon to talk about. But then there’s never a good time, or any time, to talk about it, much less legislate a solution!

There is never a good time, as my Pop used to say, to “sh*t or get off the pot.”)
Among those who were interviewed today, Nelba Marquez-Green spoke in two capacities.

First, she spoke as the mother of a child murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre. She described what the parents of these children are feeling like today. She said their grief is like “inhaling shards of glass into your lungs.”

I want you to think about that image. Think what it would feel like to try to catch your breath as little knife-like pieces of glass fly into your lungs. Imagine that feeling you get when you gasp in pain, inhaling the pain, while wanting to expel that painful breath at the very same time. Have you ever felt that kind of sudden intake of pain? Can you feel it again now?

Ms. Marquez-Green also spoke to viewers as a grief counselor, where her advice was more to the friends and loved ones of the parents who lost children. She said caring friends need to be there for them for the next year, or two, or ten, or twenty or more, because they will never be without the need for that love and support for the rest of their lives after losing a child in this manner.

But what I most remember her saying was about our elected representatives in the House and Senate. When asked what she thinks they should be doing about the killing of children in schools, she said that what they are doing is, “They are deciding to be cowards!” (You can look that up. It’s a direct quote I wrote down as I heard her say it this morning.)

I agree with her one hundred percent!

Anyone in the Senate who does not step up, today or tomorrow or net week, in support, at the very least, of legislation requiring background checks for anyone who wishes to buy a gun (ANY GUN) is a coward. A coward who is willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people for money or power.

And I would go a step further.

Anyone in the House or Senate who would not legislate the banning of assault-style weapons outside of the military is worse than a coward. He or she is a damned coward!

There is absolutely no reason for non-military individuals to own assault-style weapons. There is nothing in the Constitution that delineates that specific right. No reasonable citizen would disagree with my statement.

Here’s a fact that was shared today, and I looked it up to confirm that it was a valid claim. According to the Small Arms Survey of 2022, there are more guns (of any kind, both registered and unregistered) than there are people in the United States. US population as of the 2020 Census stands at 326,474,000 while gun ownership stands at 393 million. (The claim that there were more guns than cars I found to be untrue.)

And here’s another more disturbing fact that was shared today.

Parents of children at the Robb Elementary School were required to give DNA samples so that their children could be identified among the dead.

This one I REALLY want you to think about.

Some of these babies – only 8 to 10 years old – the ages of my grandsons – children who still have their baby teeth, as Gayle King likes to remind us – some of these babies had to be identified through their parents’ DNA because the bullets from that assault-style rifle made what was left of their innocent little bodies unidentifiable!

Think about that!

Imagine being a parent who has had to wait more than 24 hours to know if your child is among the dead? Who has had to give a DNA sample to identify what remains of their child among that carnage!

Is this too gory? Is this too horrifying? Of course it is!

And if it doesn’t bother you, then you are as bad as those senators who will not do something, anything, about that horrid, wretched violence that continues to be visited upon the children and all the other innocents among us.

I go on too long for a lot of you. But I’m not sorry.

Maybe in closing I should direct you to seek out the YouTube video of Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, and how he reacted during his postgame interview during the NBA playoffs yesterday. (Search “steve kerr postgame interview” on YouTube.)

The whole interview is powerful, but this stood out for me: “I’m tired of the moments of silence,” he said, before he stormed out of the interview, having said nothing about the game. “I’m tired of the moments of silence.”

Aren’t we all?

We’ve all gotten tired of “thoughts and prayers” to the point that it has become a gallows-humor expression of our sympathy for any relatively insignificant trial or tribulation in life. (Got a flat tire? Thoughts and prayers! Spilled your coffee? Thoughts and prayers!)

Steve Kerr is tired of the moments of silence. So far that’s an original sentiment. It’s his original statement of absolute outrage at the gun violence visited on the children.

I urge you to listen to his speech.
I urge you to hear his outrage.
Then I urge you to ask yourself this question:

How many more gun-fueled tragedies must we endure before “moments of silence” becomes a trite, overworn sentiment like “thoughts and prayers?”

The answer should come back: NONE.

16 Comments

  • IK very much appreciate your thoughts on this. And, I too, thought Coach Steve Kerr was worth hearing. Ted Cruz had some ideas, also, but they didn’t seem to sit very well with AZ Rep. Ruben Gallego.

    • Basure,

      Mr. Cruz’s remarks didn’t sit well with a lot of people. Mr. Cruz appears to be quite beholden to the gun lobbies. Shameful. Selfish and shameful.

  • Editor and Readers: I need to make a correction to my comment that there was an armed guard present when the killer made his entry into the school. There was no “good guy with a gun” at the outset of this horrible attack. When I wrote this article that was the accepted fact, but we know as of today that the entry to the school was unlocked and unguarded. I felt the in the interest of truth this correction needed to be made.

  • Reading your words spew out both sides of your mouth makes me want to vomit.

    Mr Smit, Lynn’s words not mine:

    “their innocent little bodies unidentifiable!

    Think about that!

    Imagine being a parent who has had to wait more than 24 hours to know if your child is among the dead? Who has had to give a DNA sample to identify what remains of their child among that carnage!

    Is this too gory? Is this too horrifying? Of course it is!”

    My words, and when the little baby in the womb is squirming away from the tools that are going to dismember his or her little body, no longer able to identify the little one, end the precious life and flush it down the drain like it never happened……..And you support this…………..Try again, you have no credibility……

    • Mr. Wilkens,
      You, too, apparently don’t read all that I write.
      I don’t advocate for abortion. I advocate for the right of all women to have ultimate dominion over their physical selves. If a woman reaches the gut-wrenching decision to abort a baby at almost any time in her pregnancy, it is no one else’s business if that is her difficult choice. She alone, unless she chooses to include a spiritual advisor and doctor, or other family confidantes.
      I believe firmly that everything should be done to help women prevent unwanted pregnancy, including free birth control, free pre-natal care for the poor, and free services in order to facilitate the raising of an unexpected baby so the mother can work, receive free child care, and provide adequate nutrition as the child grows.
      Currently, there are political forces in this nation who would have their cake and eat it, too. You cannot ban abortion if you do not assist in the stages before and after to bring such pregnancies to term and raise that baby.
      Talk about no credibility. Talk about speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth.
      The ultra-conservative right needs to get its priorities in line before it pretends it has a right to control women’s bodies. No such control is ever exerted over men’s bodies. You can’t have it both ways, sir.

  • Ms. Mandaville,
    I read, with interest, your comments concerning the gun problem in our country and society. It set me to thinking about a whole bigger problem in our society.

    Some time back, i read a story about a police officer that shot an armed 12 year old, at 3:00Am, in an alleyway, in Chicago. My first question was, how did a 12 year old come to possess a Glock 9? My second question was, what was a 12 year old doing, roaming the alleyways at 3:00 AM?

    Recently, I have heard tell of a woman being raped on the floor of a subway station. I asked myself, how would one become so emboldened that they would dare rape a woman in a public place?

    During the summer of 2020, I watched as many of our cities were looted and/or burned. I asked myself, where are the cops? Why aren’t they doing something about this? And why are some not only condoning these acts but cheering them on, even to the point of providing financial aid?

    And, I have come to the conclusion, that it is not just a gun problem that we suffer in America.
    You see, I remember a time when there were actually shooting ranges in some high schools. But, I don’t recall 18 year-olds massacring school rooms full of children. Even then, Americans were armed to the teeth, to the point that the Japanese hierarchy, during the second world war, felt it would be impossible to invade the United States, but someone going berzerk and killing a crowd was a rarity in America.

    No, there is or are bigger problems within our enlightened society. It appears to me, that as our society evolved and became more enlightened, we encouraged permissiveness to a destructive degree.

    You mentioned you grandpa in your comments. And I wonder what would have happened if one of his sons were caught roaming the streets and alleyways at 3:00AM? And God forbid, he had a gun when caught? I would suspect Gramps would have issued a good old fashioned ass whuppin”. But not today. Gramps would find himself in jail for child abuse. Don’t get me wrong, ass whuppin’s are not the cure for what we are now witnessing. But I must say, they do and did serve a valuable purpose.

    In our society, it is verboten to allow a 10 year old to watch a porn flick of two people having sex. But, it is permissible now for our children to be taught about homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. at an age when those subjects were once far from the thoughts of an 8 or 10 year old. In addition, while the idea of a pre-teen watching porn is unacceptable to us, it is acceptable for he/she to plunk down with a play station game of killing combatants, police officers and perhaps families. I wonder how that affects a young impressionable mind?

    In closing I will say that I have no use for an AR-15 or the like. And I do wonder why anyone else would have. And I also say that our problems are not just gun massacres, after all, some massacres were accomplished with automobiles as well as explosives. No, the real problem is our mistaking an enlightened society as a permissive society, to the point of accepting subway rapes, defecation on our public sidewalks, violent indoctrination of our children as a form of entertainment, publicly flaunting sexuality, our disregard for a human life, aborted in the birth canal and so many other enlightened accepted norms of our evolved society.

    Is it no wonder that such atrocities, as we just witnessed, occur so frequently? I say it is more than just a gun problem. It is the ever creeping permissiveness that we encourage, in the mane of enlightenment. And as others have suffered and witnessed the fall of great societies, in the name of enlightenment, thus shall we.

    • It is much more than a gun problem, it is our demented and perverse society that denies what is wrong and condemns objects instead of the person(s) committing the crime
      We allow perversion and filth on video games and movies and think it will not affect young and sick minds?
      We turn our heads from what is right and revel is degradation. We shun God and worship evil.

      No wonder we have killings, rapes, and murders.

  • Ms. Mandaville, I understand your impotent attack on others you say aren’t doing anything. I really want you (and others who wish to comment) what should be done?
    Almost every one of these attacks and killings are done by mentally deranged young men having a history of mental illness and dark thoughts, but nothing happens to get help for them. When they do the killings, what do you and others attack? Not the mental health industry and teachers/administrators that know of these kids and their troubles, the first line of observational mental disease.
    I challenge you to give us your remedies for these attacks from happening.

    • DTOM:
      If you have read my columns closely you will see I have offered exactly what you request. I have advocated for an intense push for more mental health care for all citizens. I have suggested a total ban on assault-style weapons and massive ammunition magazines. I have advocated for background checks, training requirements, licensing of types of guns, and renewal requirements for such licensing.

      The most common “common denominators” in these killings have been troubled young men and high powered, assault-style rifles.

      The solution, as I’ve enumerated in the past, includes universal, free mental health services and a total ban on assault-style rifles. That, in my mind, is a good start.

      Challenge met, I hope??

      • Your comments have little reality. Background checks are already in place. With the AR15/M16 platform only slightly less popular than the AK47 worldwide, I doubt any of these weapons will be banned. The states may take it upon themselves to change the age of purchase.
        I notice you don’t say much about the perpetrator of the crime, only the weaponry used to commit the crime. If he had run over and killed 50 kids on a playground with a Ford F150 pickup, would you clamor for F150’s to be banned. Makes about as much sense as your reasoning. I’ve been around weapons my whole life and have yet to have one fire on its own. The trigger puller is responsible. Get that in your head and we would have a breakthrough in reasoning.
        I’ll bet we’ll find out plenty of people knew he was nuts and a danger but did nothing about it. That is what must change!

    • If mental health is the problem that I agree with, why did the GOP governor of Texas cut over $200 million out of the budget for mental health? Not Biden the GOP! Give parents their rights back to raise their kids with discipline, not child abuse!

  • I read the comments from the self-identified “conservatives” mocking and insulting Lynn Mandaville’s views on mass shooting followed by false equivalence argument saying mass murder and abortion are the same.

    In 1996 the late George Carlin said the following:

    “Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re eff’ed.” (last word edited)

    That pretty much sums up the self-labeled “conservative” commenters critical of the author’s commentary. They are far more concerned about defending someone’s rights being able to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle designed for military use to kill and state’s rights than the lives of people in this country. Most recently it was a school in Texas, a week before people doing shopping in upstate NY.

    I’ve read the same pious hand wringing and false equivalency by many of the same commenters after every mass shooting for years because its what’s been repeated by “conservative” talking heads for years.

    A week after the mass killings at Stoneman Douglas HS in Florida, NRA President Wayne LaPierre spoke how the Second Amendment was part of American Exceptionalism and a God granted right: “It’s not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright. So I call right now today on every citizen who loves this country and who treasures this freedom to stand and unflinchingly defend the Second Amendment, the one freedom that protects us all.”

    Think about that. The leader of the NRA is telling his organization’s followers our representative democracy is some kind of a theocracy. I see a dystopian America where people like LaPierre, many politicians (almost exclusively Republicans ) are combining gun ownership and religion to fight any changes to gun laws. In fact, there are politicians in many states campaigning t make their gun laws more like those in Texas.

    Like George Carlin said, “conservatives” don’t care about individuals after they’re out of the womb.

    • Quote the comedians already….they are the true intellectuals. You forgot to quote the vile comedian Zelensky.

    • 2030 & Lynn,

      I see you are the wise ones on this forum. Educate me, please define an Assault Rifle?

      Cheers!!

    • Dick,
      This article brought up another pathway to “the gun problem” that I hadn’t considered. It takes a more positive tack than the banning of guns alone. I don’t think it’s a full solution on its own, but it seems to have a very valuable philosophy to be included in the mix.
      Thanks, as always.
      I hope others take the time to read this short article.

Leave a Comment