My Post About The Thing That Happened That I’d Rather Not Talk About

baby polar bear, cute bear, cute polar bear

Enjoy this picture. After the last few days, you’ve earned it.

I don’t want to write about what happened. I don’t want to think about what happened. For the last few days, I’ve done everything I can to avoid reading about what happened. I just can’t bear it — as a parent, as a (usually) proud American, as a human being. I don’t want to hear the details or see the pictures or listen to eyewitness accounts. I just can’t bear it.

But I can’t ignore it either.

A few weeks ago, there was a horrific incident in Manhattan where a nanny — well, I won’t rehash the details, you know the case. I was so wrecked by that I almost wrote a post on the subject, but then I just couldn’t. That would mean thinking about what had happened some more.

I haven’t forgotten about that incident, though, and I won’t forget about this new incident either. And there will be another incident, we all know there will, where someone who desperately needed help does something horrible to someone innocent, and all we can do is hope that it won’t affect us or anyone we care about, that we’ll be able to go on living our lives and hugging our own kids and saying, “Isn’t it horrible what happened to those people?”

But every time I go on Facebook, I see friends arguing about the causes of this latest incident — I won’t dwell on the specifics. I don’t need to type them out, and you don’t need to read them. Every time I see someone else writing about it, though, all I can think is, “Good! Argue. Debate. Keep talking about this. Tweet it, pin it, tumbl it, whatever. Do everything you can to work through this for yourself and to keep the subject alive.”

So fine, here’s my post. You may not want to read anything else on this subject, and if so, I don’t blame you. Go back and look at the baby polar bear at the top of this post. You’ve earned it. I’m just going to go ahead with my little rant, though, for my own benefit. I hope you don’t mind.

First of all, debate is good, but let’s just not get bogged down in the debate over what we should be debating. Guns, mental health, media coverage? Yes, yes and yes. Let’s look at them all. Now.

Here’s my philosophy on guns: Before you let a gun into your home, picture the worst-case scenario of what might happen with that gun, on purpose or by accident. Now take whatever precautions you need to take to ensure that horrible thing doesn’t occur — locks, double locks, a hundred locks or, if necessary, not buying the gun in the first place. Unless you’re willing to take gun ownership that seriously, you’re probably not qualified to own a gun.

We need to stop indulging people who think guns are toys, that there’s something cool or fun about seeing how many people a gun could kill, how fast… just hypothetically, y’know. That it’s just awesome to have the latest, most lethal killing machine hanging on your wall as some kind of trophy. Again, consider the worst-case scenario of what that gun might be used for… because we’ve seen the worst-case scenario occur over and over.

That’s why the “arm the teachers” argument falls flat. Think about all the things that could go wrong if we put more guns in schools. Trust me, the worst-case scenario will happen, a lot. Also, I had some crazy teachers growing up. Enough said.

I don’t understand the mind of someone who would commit a mass murder, and I’m not sure anyone truly does, but we should be doing everything we can to figure it out. No one should pick up a gun and start firing randomly because we were too heartless or too lazy or too cheap to help them.

Some people think the killers are just seeking fame. I always doubted that argument myself. If I ever wanted to be famous, I would audition for America’s Got Talent (and surely find myself in a montage of people who most assuredly don’t got talent). But let’s assume there are people who would commit these kinds of acts just to get their names in the news. Let’s say that at least some of the killers want to be as notorious as, you know, that guy and the other guy and those two nutjobs from that state.

It’s certainly possible. For a while, people thought the way to get attention was to send someone powder through the mail — either anthrax or, in some cases, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Anthrax. When the media hype died down, so did those kinds of attacks. Maybe we can do the same thing with gun violence. It’s worth a shot. (No pun intended.)

So how do we keep the bad guys from gaining any level of notoriety? Well, here’s my modest proposal: Instead of blasting the perpetrator’s name everywhere, we refer to them like we do hurricanes, from a predetermined alphabetized list of antiquated, almost absurd-sounding first names.

We’ll call this guy Almonzo. The next one will be Bartleby.

You want to make a name for yourself? Go right ahead. Just be warned that name is going to be Clementine.

Sure, the person’s given name will still get out — and it probably should, to some extent, so we can study these people, interview their families and help prevent the next Dudley, Jasper or Phineas. But for the large majority of us who’d rather not make a psychotic into a celebrity, we can just call them Hubert or whatever we’re up to alphabetically at that point.

It’s a starting point. Let’s do that and see how it works out. Meanwhile, we’ll keep working on reducing unnecessarily overpowered weapons and helping the mentally ill.

I don’t want to think anymore about what happened last Friday, and you probably don’t either, so let’s make a pact that for now, we won’t shut up about it. Let’s make it a priority to do whatever we can, so won’t ever have to wonder what name comes next after Zelda.

An Open Letter To Everyone With a Vote

Look, I know no one needs me to tell them how to vote.  I’m just a guy, like you, and while I’m full of opinions, I know the cool thing about opinions is that everyone’s entitled to their own and that if I don’t like yours, I can clasp my hands over my ears or put down my newspaper or click on one of the other ten gadzillion blogs written by someone I don’t really know and go, “Hmm… I wonder what they think?”

Besides, if you’ve read my site before, you probably can probably guess how I’m voting tomorrow.

I don’t want to talk too much about this, because I know some people I care very much about will be voting a different way from me.  Let me first tell those people no, I won’t hate you forever.  Some other people I care about have been arguing very vehemently that Romney is so anti-gay (which he is) that voting for him amounts to some kind of personal attack against every gay person you know (which it isn’t).  I mean, it sucks.  You want to vote for Romney?  Yeah, that bums me out.  But I’m not going to take it personally.

I’ve written before about how I don’t want to be anyone’s token gay friend, and I stand by that.  But I’m not looking to shun half the voting public forever.  So if you support my equal rights but you’re voting for Romney anyway, that’s OK.  Just don’t tell me that you’re voting for him in spite of his stance on gay rights — tell him.  Tell everyone you vote for.  Make sure politicians of both parties treat this as what it is — a human rights issue, not a partisan one.

If you live in Washington, Minnesota, Maryland or Maine, you can do this tomorrow, because your state has a ballot measure on gay marriage.  I’m sure you already know this because you’re probably sick of all the TV commercials, flyers, yard signs and personal haranguing you’ve been subjected to over the last few months.

Yeah, I’m sick of all the hype about this subject, too.  I wish we didn’t have to debate it again every single election day.  But the only way that’s ever going to stop is if people support gay marriage sooner rather than later.  The homophobes aren’t going to stop fighting until they realize they can no longer win, until the millions and millions of dollars they pump into fighting my equality every chance they get nets them exactly nothing.

So far, they’re undefeated.  Every time gay marriage has been put to a vote, the public has voted against it.  And that’s the #1 argument against gay marriage.  Most people don’t want it, they say, so vote against it.

Well, now’s the time to tell them you’re not falling for that argument anymore.  You know what’s right.  You believe in equality.  You may still be uncomfortable with gay people personally, maybe your religion assures you all gay people are going to burn in Hell, but you believe in the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  Yes, I know the Declaration of Independence says “All men are created equal”, and there was a time when they did mean “men” only.  White men, even.  But you know what?  That was wrong, and so is limiting equality to heterosexuals.  Over time, America has gotten more fair, not less.  Let’s keep moving forward.

And to those of you who aren’t cool with gay people, who worry what will happen to this country you love if you vote to support gay marriage, let me give you a glimpse of the future as I see it.  I know the TV commercials are telling you that legalizing gay marriage will lead to kids being indoctrinated in the mechanics of sodomy in preschool, but I’m guessing that’s a bit of a stretch.

You want to know what “the gay agenda” really is, what kind of world us radical homosexuals are hoping for?  Well, here’s a glimpse of a world where gay marriage is legal, as I see it…

- Every kid probably has one or two classmates who have gay parents.  Maybe those parents are cool, or maybe they’re weenies who smell of scented candles and you’ll try not to get stuck sitting next to them at PTA meetings.  “Yikes, here come Mindy and Jill!  They never shut up about their Labradors!”

- By kindergarten, most kids know some people have two mommies or two daddies or that Uncle Dave and Uncle Joe are in love, just like Mommy and Daddy.  They still don’t know where babies come from or that the Tooth Fairy is a crock.

- The gay people you know are more comfortable with themselves, more open about who they are and your relationship with them is closer than ever.  Guessing who among your friends is closeted is less fun than it used to be because almost everyone is out.

- The topic of homosexuality is raised in high school health classes, by a teacher who’s just as uncomfortable discussing it as he or she is talking about heterosexuality with a bunch of horny teenagers.  But all the kids, regardless of orientation, learn how to protect themselves from STDs, which makes the world safer and healthier for all of us.

- If your own kid turns out to be gay, you can be comfortable knowing that they’ll grow up with all the rights and opportunities you had, and they probably won’t kill themselves before they’re old enough to vote.

That’s it.  That’s our endgame.  If you vote to support gay marriage, that’s the world you’re voting for.  Notice nothing happened to your marriage or your rights in that scenario.  That’s because gay marriage does nothing to infringe on the rights of straight people, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a shameless, unprincipled liar.

I’m lucky enough to live in New York, one of the states where gay marriage is legal, and the world I just described is pretty much what it’s like in my town.  It’s nice here.  People are happy.  I’m happy.

If you live in one of the four states that’s voting on gay marriage tomorrow, do the right thing.  You really can’t have it both ways on this one.  You can’t say you support me and my equality and then vote directly against it.

So vote like this chart says.  Do it for me, do it for your gay friends and family or your favorite gay celebrities.  (You don’t want to hurt Neil Patrick Harris, do you?)  Just do it.  And spread this message to everyone you know in Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota.  Tell them you care about this issue, and that they should, too.

Regardless of whether you’re red or blue, tomorrow, let’s paint a couple of states pink.  Let’s show people that a world where gay marriage is legal is nothing to be afraid of.