Thursday, February 15, 2018

“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults.”

Second update: a link to the 14 students and three staffers who were killed.  Open the link and look at their faces; next time, it could be your child.  There is NO safe place left in this country.

From an excellent article in the New Yorker:
The gun lobby, and the Republican Party it controls, have accepted as a matter of necessity the ongoing deaths of hundreds of children as the price that they are prepared to pay for the fetishization of weapons. The claim of this lobby’s complicity in murder is not exaggerated or hysterical but, by now, quite simple and precise: when you refuse to act to stop a social catastrophe from happening, you are responsible for the consequences of the social catastrophe.
Do something today.  Tell your family and friends on Facebook. Stand up and be counted.

 Tell your state and national elected officials; no more.

Most of all - do you remember high school?  Consider that those students killed might have been the person another student was sweet on.  What a crashing end to a first crush.  What will Valentine's Day mean to their families - a new Valentine's Day Massacre?  Probably.

Don't let this be your child.  And most of all, every - single - time you leave your child, say "I love you." 

end of update

Updating the Parkland, Florida story

Seventeen (17 !) people dead.  At least two are staff who stood between kids and the gunman.  As in all the other school shootings, not a single staff person ran to save themselves.
From the New York Times:
A janitor appeared, he said, and began to wave. “Stop, stop!” he said, “Go over here!”

Then the school chef opened a door to her office and hurried the teenagers in — first 10, then 20, then some 30 or 40 students crowded in the office. They shut the lights. And then students turned to their phones, and began the horrifying experiencing of watching a school shooting unfold at their own school — through the news apps on their phones.

Kelsey Friend, a freshman at the school, appeared alongside Mr. Hogg on CNN, and grew emotional as she thanked a geography teacher who she said had saved her life.
“I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students of the classroom,” she said through tears. “And if his family is watching this, please know that your son or your brother was an amazing person and I’m alive today because of him. Thank you.”
What a student had to say:
David Hogg stood in the Florida sun on Thursday, not far from his now shuttered school, and described the events of the day before.

Mr. Hogg, 17, a lanky senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the student news director there, was in his environmental science class when a single shot rang out, echoing down the hallways.

Mr. Hogg’s younger sister, 14, was also in the building. Two of her best friends were among the 17 people who died, he said.

In an interview with CNN earlier on Thursday, Mr. Hogg expressed his frustration with politicians in simpler terms: “We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults.”
About the shooter:
The leader of a white supremacist group said on Thursday that the suspected gunman in one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history was a member of his group and had participated in paramilitary drills.
The Governor of Florida:
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said he would meet with state lawmakers to secure more funding for school safety and the treatment of mental illness. “If we have somebody that’s mentally ill, they can’t have access to a gun,” Mr. Scott said.

Governor Scott is considered one of the most friendly-to-guns governors in the country. 
What's fascinating is that these calls for mental illness help don't get follow-up with policy and change (and dollars).

Early Warning
Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman in Mississippi, said in a video posted Wednesday that he reported a suspicious comment left on his YouTube channel last fall by a user named “nikolas cruz.”
“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the Sept. 24 comment said.

Mr. Bennight took a screenshot of the comment and flagged it to YouTube, which removed the post. 

Mr. Bennight said he then left a voice mail message at his local F.B.I. field office alerting it to the comment.
With the Parkland shooting, three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history have come in the last five months. Here is a graphic that records the grim toll of school shootings across the nation.

Mr. Bennight did not fault the F.B.I., he said.

“We live in a country where you can’t just lock people away for saying something,” he said. “You can’t just stuff somebody in a black hole because they said something that makes you uncomfortable. I believe the F.B.I. took it seriously. I hope that they followed up.”
So painful to hear but yes, there are plenty of people with big mouths who don't kill people.  (Reading about the shooter's background, though, it seems he was one of the people who would act.  Almost to a person, people who knew him thought he would do this.) 

Later, in his televised address, Mr. Trump said he plans to work with state and local leaders to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.

The president has blamed mental illness for previous mass shootings, even as one of his first acts as president was to repeal an Obama-era regulation that would add the names of mentally ill Americans registered with the Social Security Administration to the database used for gun purchase background checks.
And is this the time when "enough is enough?"
“At some point, we’ve got to say enough is enough,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said on the Senate floor. “Let’s talk about that 19-year-old carrying an AR-15. Let’s do what needs to be done, and let’s get these assault weapons off our streets. Let’s accomplish something on background checks.”

Representative Ted Deutch, whose district includes Stoneman Douglas High, said in an interview that skirting the gun question by focusing on mental illness was not enough — an opinion shared openly by numerous students and parents in Parkland, an affluent suburb in Florida’s most intensely Democratic county. 
 NRA, your days of power are numbered and I hope that any politician that continues to take money from them and not support gun control measures gets voted out of office.


Brian Duncan said...

I sent this note to my kids' HS and MS principals yesterday:

Florida HS mass shooting, and Everett ACES HS near miss news probably hitting principals and teachers hard today, and in coming days.
I have your back, working toward gun law reforms, through Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and electing Dems, with goal of removing too- easy access to assault rifles and other weapons of war to troubled young people. This will help reduce suicide, as well as these massacres. High schools (and middle schools) are on the front lines of our society's dysfunctions; I am grateful to all who work there, making it better everyday, as best they can.
Brian Duncan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminders and updates Melissa, particularly the reminder of the diametrically opposed words and actions of the POTUS.

Fundamentally though, the President (by his own admission), and likely many Republicans, only respect money and those who make a lot of it. If you do not make enough money to send your child to a school wherein you can assure this type of carnage is unlikely then that is your tough luck and not anyone else's problem. I really do not see a way past this fundamental road block in our government 'leaders'. Sorry.

The bravery of the teachers and school personnel is breathtaking.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous (who not only can’t read but also wishes other people to be dead.

“morons I hope you're next”

Hope you are proud of yourself when you look in the mirror. You are the problem, not us.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be best to just shut down that voice rather than repost it. We can expect more and more of those sorts of posts in the future. As the Stranger reported back in October, Seattle actually has an increasing number of alt-right, white nationalists appearing here. To underscore that point, I walked past a pub in Ballard last night and saw Greg Johnson there - networking with a number of, presumably like-minded individuals. Johnson, if you remember, was tossed out of a gym in Fremont once he was recognized. He's a nationally known white supremacist who runs an extremely juvenile website called Counter Currents and organizes meetings of like-minded white supremacists called the Northwest Forum. Most of the young Republicans at the UW (who have invited these white nationalists to speak) are Informatics majors which suggests, in essence, they are in training to be trolls (young Breitbarts). I've no doubt that the above post originated from one of these little angels. The anonymity of the internet gives them courage and power beyond what they could earn on their own merit. Now, one other problem with these white nationalists is that many of them do indeed fit the profile of many school shooters: They are young, they are awkward, they are vicious, many are obsessed with guns and they have fairly serious problems relating to women. The Florida shooter was aligned with these people. I think these groups feed unstable people's anger. One interesting, but unsubstantiated, point made by the Stranger article - in which the author infiltrated a meeting of these people over in Queen Anne, is that many appear to be new to the area and associated with the tech industry (no offense meant to the majority of hard working tech workers). However, this suggests that we might have a veritable influx of neoconservative white nationalists moving into the Seattle area. Anecdotally speaking, I tend to agree with this idea. While the Pacific Northwest has always had problems with white supremacists settling here. I think Seattle has a growing problem.....right.....now.


Anonymous said...

In tonight's NYT, Seattle's Timothy Egan gets as pointed and poignant as we all need to be to end this perpetual cycle of national tragedies.

It also spells out the top receivers of NRA political money. John McCain is not burnishing his legacy at the top of the list. He has taken more than $7 million in NRA money. The man may be dying but still: Shame. Shame. Shame. Florida's Marco Rubio? Ranked 6th with more than $3 mil in NRA campaign contributions. In the state where the Pulse Nightclub mass murder is still fresh and where yesterday's innocent souls were slaughtered. Shame. Shame. Shame.


Anonymous said...

Ban all guns.

Delridge Dad

Anonymous said...

Delridge....you want to disarm our police and military? Please elaborate on how that would work.
Signed...Overreact much?

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy to disarm most police officers. Maybe just SWAT keeps them. Military can keep their guns on the base. No private purchases.


Anonymous said...

Think nationally but act locally. Hate to be a Debbie Downer but slim to zero odds that any one or small group of us is going to impact the country's lack of priority of for sensible gun control and basic mental health.

What can you do other then post on blogs and sign on-line petitions? Make damn sure you kid's school is secured from outside intrusion to the extent that it can me. This includes metal screens on first floor doors/windows, buzzer access to the school and ability for teachers to lock their classroom doors from the inside in the event of an active shooter situation. Each classroom, and whole school, should have updated emergency supplies for general emergency situations and in shooter situations in which students are confined to their classrooms. Update and communicate your emergency plans including where kids will be evacuated to in the event they need to be taken offsite.

Dont let your school and SPS administrators off the hook when they say that your kids saftey is there number one priority when many schools dont/cant lock all their external doors during the day. If anyone can walk into the school off the street, often unknown to school admin, your kids are not safe. This includes not letting parents into the school at the start and end of day to pick up kids without being buzzed in and signing in at the office. Yes this is inconvenient but is the price we need to pay if you really want a safe school.

The physical security measures and supplies cost money and I get that. I know at least one south end school that inquired about buzzer access and got installed by the start of following year. I know of another school that used PTA funds some upgrades/supplies. I'm not going to debate how some schools are more resourced then others but if you cant pressure SPS to fund this stuff (how about a couple hundred of us attend the next board meeting?) then I cant think of a more serious use of PTA funds or reason to raise funds within the PTA or neighborhood community to keep your neighborhood school safe. The alternative is a worse case scenario from which your school and community may never recover.

Please, please dont mention the smeasures an individual school may or may not have as this type of info should not be shared outside that school for security reasons.

Mad Dad

Anonymous said...

Police absolutely should be disarmed. They've made it quite clear they cannot be trusted to carry firearms.

The military can have the guns, but private ownership shouldn't be allowed. Private citizens have shown they are unable to responsibly use firearms. There are many law abiding gun owners, but unfortunately for them, not everyone is so good. So we have to take away that privilege. The law abiding gun owners should get upset at people like Adam Lanza and Nicholas Cruz for the end of private gun possession.

Delridge Dad

Anonymous said...

Hey Delridge Dad,

Are there any other of our civil rights you'd like taken away?

"There are many law abiding gun owners, but unfortunately for them, not everyone is so good. So we have to take away that privilege"

There are many law abiding RELIGIONS, but unfortunately for them, not everyone is so good. So we have to take away that privilege

There are many law abiding PEOPLE EXERCISING FREE SPEECH, but unfortunately for them, not everyone is so good. So we have to take away that privilege

There are many law abiding PEOPLE EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO ASSEMBLY, but unfortunately for them, not everyone is so good. So we have to take away that privilege

Believe what you want. I'll side with the Constitution.

Civil Rights

Anonymous said...

All of those rights are limited by people acting dangerously. The first thing you learn in law school is that you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, even though you have the right to free speech. It's the clear and present danger test. The way people are exercising their right to bear arms is killing children, so similarly that needs to be limited as it has created a clear and present danger. Perhaps states can maintain small militias, which was the original point.


Anonymous said...

Sleeper, it’s already limited.
If you yell fire in a crowded theater, you will be prosecuted for any injuries/deaths that result.
If you kill someone with your gun, you will be prosecuted for any injuries/deaths that result.
Bill ofrights

Anonymous said...

You can be prosecuted just for acts, regardless of resulting harm, because of the danger they pose. You can't buy lawn darts because they are dangerous. Even if that infringes on your first amendment rights, even if you say it's your religion. Private ownership of guns clearly creates the same threat to personal safety. Far greater. It should be banned. I am hopeful the gun lobby's no compromise stance in light of mounting statistics will backfire and result in this sort of law.


Melissa Westbrook said...

As I have posted, there are things that can be done to bring gun owners to attention.

Keep your guns but understand you will be brought to your financial knees if you don't secure them. Doesn't matter if it's your kid or your neighbor who's visiting, if you don't secure your gun, you will be prosecuted.

Doesn't matter if it's accidental or on purpose; at some level, as the gun's owner, you will be held responsible.

Accountability is a good thing and if O.J.'s case taught us nothing else - if you can't get someone criminally, go after them civilly.

Anonymous said...

Cynic, I was with you in most of the post but I think linking white supremacists with the tech industry isn't wise. I don't think you were being disingenuous, just maybe misinterpreting the numbers.

I read that article about the meeting in Queen Anne (fascinating!). I don't remember exactly how many people were at that meeting - hundreds, maybe? No more than a thousand, I don't think. The journalist was also struck by the fact that many appeared to be techies - but how many tech workers move here per year, for the past ten years? If you look at any random group around the city, particularly men, particularly newcomers, it'll be weird if a substantial percentage aren't tech workers, no matter the context.

The message we should be taking from that is that, yes, white supremacists aren't all college students or rednecks in trailer parks or whatever the stereotype is. But the tech workers I know are a fairly diverse and liberal bunch (and okay, I may have some in my family, as bleeding heart as they come). They get enough grief for having "invaded" Seattle and all the other negative stereotypes; please don't add "and probably a white supremacist" as well.

-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

Also I apparently skipped over that "no offense" but so I probably come off as over-the-top. I just saw this sort of talk a lot after the initial article was published so I had a kneejerk "not again" reaction. Whoops.

-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

It's time for Congress to stand up to the NRA (and their Russian backers).


Anonymous said...

@Islam Kills
Not every muslim is killer-- only the radical islamists who have twisted Islam into something unrecognizable in order to satisfy their blood lust. And anyways what do muslims have to do with this situation?

Concerned Student

Anonymous said...

I agree, Mad Dad. SPS says safety is the highest priority when reality shows otherwise.

My kids went to an older elementary school that had the front door unlocked ALL DAY LONG and wasn't visible from the front office. The only security measure was a sign saying visitors had to sign in at the office. That's it. That was their idea of safety. Anyone could have walked in at any time and the office would have had no idea. The kindergarten classrooms were up a short flight of stairs and one door to the left. The office was the opposite way to the right. The unthinkable (actually, very thinkable in this day and age) could happen before the office had any idea anyone was in the building.

I mentioned this a few times and some parents agreed with me that we needed better security, but most wanted the doors open all day long for access and community. I asked about cameras and a buzz-in system and was told it was too much money and the school would get upgrades when it was renovated. Ummmmm, this school has been on the levy list for years but nothing has been done. My kids have come and gone. And I have to say at the end of each school year I always breathed a sigh of relief there wasn't a shooting, and I still feel this way even though my kids now go to schools with better security. The world is insane.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

I just saw a social media post that high schoolers are planning a walk-out April 20th to urge Congress to tighten gun laws. Has anyone heard momentum on this?
-In support

Anonymous said...

Very subjective solution. Please tell us what change in the law would prevent this type of crime? Also, I would give up the 2nd for elimination of all religions from the US.

Let's make a deal.

KLM 291

Anonymous said...

You are 100,000 time more likely to be killed by a drunk drive than shot in a school It's time to eliminate all alcohol or cars from the US, you pick.

KLM 291

Melissa Westbrook said...

In Support, I have indeed seen several posts from around the country in support of some kind of action on April 20th. Diane Ravitch is encouraging a walkout where parents/ teachers hold hands or an actual walk-out.

KLM, no one needs an assault weapon but the armed forces. That’s #1.

Your last point is silly because we actually do regulate cars more than guns.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It appears the Russians have found this blog. Cool!

I'm only half-kidding, but seriously I liked it a lot better when the parents and concerned Seattle citizens outnumbered the trolls here. Reading the snarky remarks is tiring. If I wanted that I'd stick to Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to Melissa and the others who post thoughtful comments—even those that don't agree—about happenings with SPS.


Melissa Westbrook said...

SolvayGirl, do you still have your blog?

Eric B said...

Just like cars, KLM? Awesome! Competency test before you can own a firearm. Registration, licensing and insurance for all firearms. Cops can confiscate a firearm if the owner is carrying while drunk. Clear definitions of what firearms are and are not street legal. Continuous upgrade of safety systems within firearms to reduce number and severity of accidents.

Man, would I love that.

Just the facts said...

You already have to have a license to carry a concealed hand gun.
It's illegal to be in the possession of a fire arm while intoxicated.
It's illegal to conceal a rifle or shotgun.
It's illegal to brandish a firearm.
All firearms sales must be registered with the exception of black powder and shotguns.
It's illegal for felons to possess firearms.
It's illegal for convicted domestic abusers to possess firearms.
It's illegal for persons with a restraining order against them to possess firearms.
It's illegal for persons who were found to mentally incompetent to EVER possess a firearm.
It's illegal for persons prescribed psychotropic drugs to possess a firearm.
It's illegal for a civilian to possess a firearm on school property.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, but there is clearly still more to do.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa

The blog is still up, but I have not updated it in ages—life and work got in the way and since it is a non-paying labor of love it has to take a back seat. Thanks for asking though. It will be a post-retirement task to get it back up to speed.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I heard you and understand but I miss your voice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa. I still post on my GQ Facebook page, but it seems like the environment has taken a back seat to the mountain of other serious problems we have in the country right now—though it is, of course, one of those problems just lower down the list. Who could have thought it would be as bad as it's been?