I’m not wearing a safety pin.

Not that I think less of fellow liberals who put on safety pins to show solidarity. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything. The problem is more that literally any asshole can put a safety pin on their jacket and act like they care about marginalized people, and they may not be trustworthy. Already the neo-Nazis are talking about co-opting the safety pin for themselves. I wouldn’t expect a POC, religious-minority, immigrant, or gender-non-conforming person to trust me because I’m wearing a little pin on my shirt. I wouldn’t expect them to trust me no matter how I present myself. If people trust me, it’ll be because of my actions.

I’m not too worried for myself, to be honest. I’m slightly worried about how much I’ll have to pay out of pocket for mental health care if the ACA is repealed and I can’t stay fully employed, but mostly, I think I’ll be okay. I’m an able-bodied white cis woman with native-born citizenship; I’m not really a target for anyone. I’m female and queer, but as I live in a brilliant-blue area, I’ll probably be okay. I have money in the bank. I have much better chances of making it through a Trump presidency in one piece than many people I know.

Also, I’m well past the sign-this-petition stage. Of course holding the government accountable is an end unto itself, but by this point I’m thinking of the situation less as Italy under Berlusconi and more as something much more screwed up. I’m working on questions such as: how many people can I jam into my house? Where can they hide if the uniforms come a-knockin’? What can I use as bartering commodities, and how do I keep stocked? Whom can I trust? How do we communicate if we’re under surveillance? 

If you don’t see me blogging about politics here, it’s not because I’m not concerned or I’m not doing anything. I’m very concerned, and I’m making plans. I’m in survival mode. 

We are well past the “dialogue” stage.

If you’re a white woman who voted for Obama but stayed home rather than vote for Hillary, you helped elect Donald Trump and you don’t get to blame Susan Sarandon for your inaction. That’s on you.

THAT SAID, certain news media sources and celebrities did contribute to the problem in this election. Example:

Referencing this:

Referencing this:

Yeah, no. People who voted for Trump are, by definition, not our allies. I’ll be open to dialogue with any Trump voters who admit their mistake within the next four years. But they are not the priority. My priority is the well-being of the people who get screwed over by the actions of the Trump administration. It’s not on us to “reach out” to people who decided we should eat toxic waste for dinner. Susan Sarandon, and everyone else who discouraged people from voting for Hillary, are not entitled to an opinion in this matter.

The problem is with us.

Rebecca Solnit at the Guardian says exactly what’s been on my mind since the election: the problem is not that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a good enough candidate. She was not a sub-par candidate who had the Democratic primaries rigged in her favor. (I can’t believe this is actually a thing I’m hearing from otherwise reasonable people.) She was an outstanding candidate and the climate surrounding the general election was unfairly stacked against her in tactics going back decades. Rebecca explains:

You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.

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What are we eating for dinner?

florida-peanut-crusted-chicken-with-carrot-cucumber-salad_recipe

I feel like the country was all seated in a giant dining room, hungrily waiting for our dinner to be served, and the restaurant manager came out and told us: “We can only cook one dish for everyone, so we’ll choose based on which option gets the most requests. There are two meal options, so the vote will be simple. One option is a chicken entree. The other option is a heaping bowl of toxic waste garnished with broken glass.”

The outcome is that we’re all going to spend the next four years (hopefully not eight) eating toxic waste and broken glass because too many people couldn’t be bothered to ask for chicken.

 

They can bury themselves so we don’t have to see their faces.

I don’t want to find out the latest mass shooters’ names. (I’m hearing on Twitter there are 3 of them, white guys in military gear. FUCKING CLOCKWORK, FOLKS.) I don’t want to see their faces in the news. I might like to hear something about their motivations, but that information doesn’t need to be attached to their specific identities. They don’t deserve to be famous. Their names should not be on our lips. I want to see their victims’ smiling faces with names attached. I want to hear about the people who stepped up to protect the innocent.

The shooters’ names and faces are of no interest to me. They’re just another 3 assholes who should’ve used the first bullets on themselves.

 

Who will insist the location is totally a coincidence?

Since this is America, the question is not really whether we’ve had a mass shooting today so much as whether we’re hearing about it.

Well, today, we’re hearing about it.

Police in San Bernardino, California are responding to reports of an active shooter in an office building. There are 20 victims, according to the fire department. The location is around the corner from a Planned Parenthood.

As of this writing, the story reports 12 fatalities.

I’m not even angry at this point so much as disgusted.

 

Random Thoughts on Friday Night

I see a news notification from Yahoo! on my phone earlier this evening, and my train of thought, interacting with the unfolding story, was basically thus:

News: Several people shot, including 2 police officers, outside Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

Me: “So, the #BlueLivesMatter people should be latching onto this incident like snapping turtles, as we have police officers actually getting shot?”

News: Suspect is white male in 40s, wearing hunting gear.

Me: “BEHOLD MY NON-SURPRISE, YOU SORRY FUCKERS.”

News: 3 people have died in Planned Parenthood shooting, including 1 police officer.

Me: “Any time now, Blue Lives Matter! No, seriously, I was hoping there wouldn’t be fatalities.”

News: Suspect taken into custody alive.

Me: “IT’S LIKE FUCKING CLOCKWORK.”

This is yet another incidence of anti-abortion-provider violence, this is yet another mass shooting perpetrated by a white male American gun owner, and this is yet another example of cops managing to get a violent, armed suspect into custody in one piece. If we only pay attention to what happens when an unarmed black civilian is under fire for doing basically nothing at all, we might get the impression that policing offers no options between “killing innocent people” and “letting the bad guys get away.” This one went so far as to kill a police officer, yet somehow the cops managed to get him under control without using deadly force.

 

Gun Violence, Correlations, and State Lines

One of the talking points from the pro-gun side is that the states with the strictest gun control laws have the highest rates of gun violence, the implication being that so many people are getting shot because too many law-abiding citizens are unarmed.

First off, I haven’t seen these statistics that show a correlation of strict laws and higher prevalence of violence, so I haven’t run the numbers to see whether this correlation exists. I can totally believe it, though, and I can see how it happens. The problem we’re seeing is, approximately, in three steps:

1. Some states have higher gun violence than others, because gun violence does not happen in isolation from other types of crime, and some states have different social problems than others. For example, the higher the population density, the more opportunities there are for people to shoot each other. Anyway, some states have higher body counts than others due to sociological factors.

2. Therefore, those states with the higher rates of gun violence pass stricter gun control laws as an attempt to get their body counts under control. Unfortunately, these gun control laws do nothing to address the drug wars, gang rivalries, wealth inequality, and other dysfunctions that tend to surround gun-related violence. Situations continue to arise in which people decide to spray bullets.

3. Meanwhile, those states with the strict gun control laws share borders with states with little or no gun control at all. And it’s not like we have border patrols on our state lines, nor should we. The practical upshot is that literally any asshole can buy a gun or several in, for example, Virginia, load them into the trunk of a car, and drive them into Maryland without incident. Sure, there may be penalties if you get caught carrying a weapon without a license, but that’s only if you get caught. Getting the firearm, in itself, is not difficult. Bullets: same thing. Once the ammo is procured, it can be transported anywhere on land.

This is why, for gun control laws to be effective, they need to be nationwide. Transporting anything smaller than large livestock across state lines is no trouble at all.

Therefore, the causation behind the correlation is that higher rates of gun violence lead to stricter gun control laws. It is NOT that the presence of more bullets leads to less shooting.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Bullets Kill People

Thought experiment: if we had sufficient technological advances to make tranquilizer bullets a viable option for human encounters, so instead of injuring/maiming/killing someone with a squeeze of a trigger, you instead just made them take a nap, would that be sufficient to satisfy most American gun enthusiasts’ criteria for “self-defense”? How many current gun-toters would be content with using sleepy-time bullets, and how many would insist that they don’t really have “freedom” unless they’re allowed to possess and carry an easy way to kill many people in a short span of time with minimal athletic ability?

(Of course, making someone take a nap at a moment’s notice is also a minor act of violence that can enable more serious acts of violence, but it still leaves you to go to some effort to kill someone.)

Safety vs. Illusion of Control

I’m sick and uncomfortable, so let’s see if I can do this coherently with a low word count.

The idea of civilian gun ownership as a matter of “self-defense” reminds me a lot of the prevalence of “safety tips” aimed at women for avoiding rape. 

I get that we all want to have something, or do something, that makes us feel in control of a situation. That’s the idea behind “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” It’s about control. We ladies keep going through all these safety rituals, no matter how cumbersome and ineffective they are, because we need to convince ourselves that if we just do XYZ, we’ll stay on top of the situation and we’ll be okay.

And with that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned from years and years of seeing lots of people’s stories of rape and assault, with all the ways they tried to protect themselves, all the ways they couldn’t protect themselves, and all the ways they were blamed and shamed for having failed to protect themselves: sometimes, a situation is simply out of your control. Sometimes, some shitty person decides to do something awful, and there’s nothing you can do about it except try to live to fight another day. It’s not “empowering” to admit that sometimes shit happens no matter what we do, but it’s a lot more constructive than constantly moving the goalposts of what we should’ve done.

America’s law-abiding gun owners have had plenty of time to demonstrate that good guys with guns keep us safe from bad guys with guns, and they’ve failed. This is a testable hypothesis, and the evidence speaks for itself. You don’t get control of an already-chaotic situation by adding more bullets. There were decent people with concealed firearms near the shooting at Umpqua; they couldn’t help. There was one guy who actually did get in the shooter’s way and protect other people from getting shot; he did it by taking seven bullets in his own body. I hear he’s recovering. He shouldn’t have had to do that. There’s no good way for non-police to deal with a bad guy with a gun. Some ways are less shitty than others, and the less-shitty ways involve not trying to shoot anyone else. The more bullets flying in a given area, the more people getting shot. Doesn’t matter if some of the shooters have good intentions. 

I realize this isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but at some point we need to prioritize saving lives over maintaining our illusions.