I’ve written extensively on gun violence, spoken on international TV and radio on the subject, and even pursued a gun license in the strictest city of one of the strictest states in the country. Despite my first-hand experience, the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment will still tell me things like, “We don’t need more laws! We need to enforce the laws on the books!” or “We can’t stop every shooting because that’s just the price of freedom.” However, those #2A Avengers will still acknowledge that yeah, okay, maybe NICS has some problems, or maybe those Parkland cops should have done something earlier — that is, until they swiftly retreat back into the same tribalistic mindsets that always prevent human progress. But maybe, just maybe, we can find more common ground.
Naming something gives you power over it.
That’s the basic idea behind all the magic in every folktale dating back for centuries, from “Rumpelstiltskin” to the Rolling Stones’ “Hope you guessed my name.” Ancient shamans didn’t practice “magic”; they just had knowledge, and names for things like “eye of newt” that no one else could understand. To name something is to know it, and knowledge is power. Think about the relationship between “spelling” and “spells” and you won’t be so surprised that Harry Potter has been all over the gun violence conversations lately, on both the Left and the Right—which makes sense, considering that they have a word you memorize and practice reciting in order to kill people.
But when we talk about gun violence—or gun control, or gun reform, et cetera et cetera ad nauseam—we’re all too busy tripping over words to see the problems that we’re trying to address. And no, I’m not talking about “gunsplaining,” or even about the eye-roll-inducing “assault weapon” terminology (which is a distinction that I have come to understand and appreciate, and also a debate that is nothing but distracting on every single side of it). It’s hard to deny that gun violence is a problem in the United States of America, but it’s in our attempts to name that problem where we start to lose our footing, and thus, our focus (and I know a thing or two about focus). Perhaps if we learned to name the individual issues of gun violence that need to change, then we can start to identify specific solutions — one at a time, without infringing on civil rights or liberties. Then maybe then we could have some real conversations about how to make our society safer.
Instead of seeing at gun violence at One Big All-Encompassing Monolithic Problem, let’s look at the isolated areas where gun violence needs to be addressed: Domestic Violence, Suicides, Mass Shootings, Gang Violence, and State Violence. Read More
I've been working on this very important research for a year now, and I'm proud to finally share the truth with the world: how Smash Mouth tried to warn us about climate change & modern anti-intellectualism 20 years ago with a little song called "All Star."
This is a very serious work, and you’re welcome for my sacrifice. Read More
Ghana wants to train non-surgeons to repair hernias. But they need your help to do it. A promoted post for Johnson & Johnson. Read More
My ground meat patty don't want none unless you got buns, hun. Read More
They changed his name on Ellis Island, but this larger-than-life athlete still held the flag high for his new home nation. Read More
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Another day, another awful tragedy. Several months ago, I'd pitched a story to Huffington Post about tangible, rational, fact-based suggestions to help curb the epidemic of gun violence in America—specifically, things that might be a little uncomfortable for Left-leaning liberals to acknowledge, but things that would actually make a difference (and have a chance of getting passed).
But every time we planned to publish it, it was always felt too uncomfortably close to another mass shooting. So we put it off for a while longer, again and again and again.
Then Las Vegas struck. And if it wasn't clear before (it was), then it certainly is now (it is) that the time to talk about gun violence is right now, and the longer we put it off out of some kind of expectation of polite social courtesy, then the higher the body count will climb.
So here it is. Now let's do something about it.
(I also had the privilege of speaking with Chris Frates on the Smerconish Show on Sirius XM Potus Politics. You'll need to be a Sirius subscriber to listen, but we had a great chat about finding common ground on gun violence issues, which inspired some wonderful call-in comments from listeners as well) Read More
Clarion is a highly-renowned training ground for sci-fi/fantasy writers, so naturally, I wanted to make an impression. Hence, I introduced myself to my cohort and award-winning instructors by writing a recursive metafictional time travel story. The main “plot” was only about two pages, followed by another thirty pages of footnotes, each with multiple internal references to other footnotes, all to explain the theoretical science behind the causal loop that lead to the main characters’ spacetime-crossed romance. This had the effect of taking the reader on a self-directed non-linear journey through characters’ pasts, presents, and futures, in an endless circle of effect-cause-effect that was unique to each reader.
That was 2013. Me and the other 17 members of my cohort still talk regularly; some of them have already become award-winning authors in their own rights. And to this day, not a week goes by without at least one of them giving me shit for that story. But I have a good excuse for my obnoxious ambitions:
I have ADHD, so it made perfect sense. To me. Read More