I’m on a pseudo-vacation this week, or the closest thing I’ll get to time off. I’m in Austin at a Southern Lit conference and let me tell you, this city is Nashville part II with decent public transit. I got from the airport to town for a buck twenty-five. Highly recommend this city. Anyways, I’m going to keep this short because a.) I woke up at 3:50am to catch my flight and b.) any and all news or political conversations must be about the mass shooting that happened in Florida yesterday, and I don’t know how valuable my voice will be to that conversation.
Last week, I posted a short and sweet rundown about crystal meth’s perception as a redneck drug of choice. The next day, The New York Times published a feature on meth’s comeback. The short and sweet: there are fewer dangerous meth labs, but more meth users and trafficking in the country than twelve years ago when sweeping legislation counteracted some of the nation’s meth abuse called the Combat Methamphetamine Act (which placed limits on Sudafed sales). The article focuses on Oregon, where twice as many people have died from meth than opioids in 2016. So meth is being overshadowed by opiates but, more importantly, whenever policies are created to combat meth use, a new formula or way to traffic emerges.
The news has been inundated by reporting of the shooting that took place in Florida yesterday committed by a white supremacist. My heart breaks not only for the kids and parents who lost their lives or loved ones but also by the media’s shockingly disturbing capitalization on their trauma. Their snapchats of the event have been distributed. Cameras shoved in their faces. It breaks my heart to see any kind of quality journalist turn into a vulture, but I also recognize how important it is to have a first-hand account. Multiple students are coming forward to shut down stupid arguments about how it “isn’t the right time” to talk about gun violence.
First off, yes, I am a redneck. I enjoy crossbows the most, but I delight in shooting a gun at a target in the woods. I remember hunting with my grandpa and watching him laugh when I would scare the deer away so he wouldn’t shoot them. Guns were always around at my grandparents’ house in the country. Most boys my sister went to school with had gun racks on their trucks. While I enjoy shooting a gun as much as the next redneck, I have to say Sandy Hook did it for me. Seeing the horror of that day—those babies being murdered on repeat on the news—made me a staunch gun control supporter. There is nothing wrong with vetting gun buyers with background checks, licensure, the terrorist watch list or no-fly list, and any and all vetting processes possible. There is nothing wrong with placing limits on the amount of ammunition a person can stock. There is nothing wrong with banning AR-15s, the weapon almost every major mass shooting has been committed with. There is nothing wrong with banning semi-automatic weapons; they cannot be used to hunt or for sport.
Regardless of my opinion, I would like to reiterate here—no matter how randomly—how important it is to have exceptional literary people in law and politics. The second amendment reads in full (and I’m quoting this by heart): “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.” Let’s talk about interpretation, referents, and basic grammar. The third clause—from my supported perspective—is a referent of the first clause separated by an appositive. Which means “the right to keep and bear arms” is a subsection of a “well-regulated militia.” So shut about your rights, especially if you can’t quote your right in full.
Two plans have failed on DACA. Dems and Them Lizards shot deals down for either being too hardline against legal immigration or too rational for giving citizenship to 690,000 Americans. You can read the details of the most recent fight here. While there is still work to be done, check out 100 Days in Appalachia’s reporting on DACA in the last few weeks to see what the stakes are for Dreamers in rural areas. When you’re good and riled up, go here to CONTACT YOUR SENATOR.
I’m finishing up Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, and I know I’m about five months late. It is unfathomably beautiful, painful, raw, and all of the signifiers we typically apply to the latest book of one of the best authors of the twenty-first century. Yes, I’m going there. She’s wonderful. Please read it. Review soon.
Peace and blessings. Tell your mama and them I said hello.