Friday, December 21, 2012


     Seven days ago, twenty children went to school.  On that same day, twenty children didn't get the opportunity to go home.  They died where they learned.  They were slaughtered in the place they were supposed to be safest.  Despite heroic efforts by their teachers, twenty children lost their opportunity to be more than the subject of memorials and tributes.  I haven't spoken to a single person, several states and far removed from the Newtown Massacre, who can finish the conversation on this topic.  It sickens all of us.  A week later, we're still asking why.  On our death beds, that question will remain unanswered.
      This is a crime, a tragedy, without motive.  When Adam Lanza decided to turn Sandy Hook into his own disgusting, evil playground, he ruined innocence.  He made every parent of every six year old in the country wonder if home schooling was a safer option.  He stormed into that school and ruined countless numbers of lives.  There isn't a parent of the twenty children who were murdered that will ever be okay.  Every birthday, every Christmas, every single milestone that they were expecting to celebrate will instead be turned into solemn days of prayer and remembrance.
       While I am neither a parent nor a teacher, Lanza's massacre makes me feel sick because I am friends with both.  Every time I pop on facebook, I am greeted by smiling photos of my friends' children.  Almost every time I catch up with an old friend, I'm talking to a school teacher.  It makes me like everyone else who takes the time to read this.  This one, this school shooting, touches everyone's life in one way or another.  We ask why, we wonder what could've been done to prevent it, and we'll scratch our heads forever to figure it out.
       That, or we, as a country, will realize that legally available assault weapons need to be eliminated from our society.  There is no argument that I can accept for those guns.  I'm 100% in favor of responsible gun owners.  I'm 100% in favor of man's right to hunt.  I'm also 100% opposed to allowing man access to weapons that were designed to kill people.  I don't give a damn how pro-gun or old school you are.  I've seen deer killed with a compact car by accident.  I see no reason to need a virtual tommy gun to harvest some venison.  No more is it okay to justify bigger guns because gun owners like how loud they are or how fast they reload.
        While I support the right to defend your home and support the right to hunt for food, I can't turn a blind eye to the over indulgence in guns that our society has accepted.  If there were ever a time for our nation's leaders to look at our gun culture, that time is now.  It was discussed after Columbine and Virginia Tech.  It's imperative now.  Previous school shootings were peer to peer.  There was at least a glimmer of hope that one of those kids could overpower their attacker and stop the assault.  When a twenty year old enters a room full of six year olds with a weapon, they have no chance at survival.  That is, of course, unless their attacker isn't capable of wielding a gun with the ability to fire off round after round at will.
         I hate talking about gun control.  I'd rather discuss religion with an atheist in the first pew at a Catholic church.  However, I'll talk gun control ad nauseum before I ever want to walk by a television again and see that twenty babies looking forward to Christmas had been murdered by a maniac with easy access to a weapon that could bring down a grizzly bear with one good shot. 
         Overly enthusiastic gun owners have often said that guns don't kill people, people kill people.  This is one of the most ignorant statements ever uttered by man.  People pull the trigger, but the weapon does the killing.  Saying that guns don't kill people, but people do, is akin to saying space shuttles don't land on the moon, people do.  Without the space shuttle, astronauts are limited to just how high they can jump.  Without the shuttle, they fall pretty short of their goal.
         We like to blame video games and movies for giving kids bad ideas.  Many of those video games encourage the theft of vehicles, yet we haven't seen a spike in 14 year olds stealing cars.  Blaming video games or movies for the abnormal and indescribable behavior of school shooters is like blaming the lottery for bank robberies.  It doesn't compute.  Adam Lanza never played a game that encouraged the massacre he committed.  Adam Lanza was a reprehensible and violent individual with access to guns that were capable of killing innocent people at an incredibly efficient rate.  It's time to stop scapegoating video games and movies and start looking at the true reason these crimes are capable of being committed.
         The bottom line is that eliminating assault weapons eliminates the number of deaths that can take place in a classroom full of backpacks with Christmas lists inside them.  It's time for our country to stop being so damned stupid.  I don't ever want to read about two classrooms of first graders being methodically murdered.  I don't ever want to feel compelled to comment on something like this again.  It's time for our leaders to take action to prevent this from ever happening again.  It's time to stop finding excuses for things like this, and start eliminating the actual reasons for these tragedies.  I have friends and family whose lives ultimately depend upon the right decisions finally being made.  God bless the families of all of the victims at Sandy Hook, and God willing, we'll find a way to make our nation more responsible so that the next Adam Lanza doesn't have access to weapons that can inflict more damage than can be reasonably prevented.

- To my friends who are teachers, this tragedy makes me think of you every single day.  I hope none of you are ever faced with anything close to this, and I fully respect your committment to our youth.

- To my friends who are parents, I can't imagine what runs through your head when you kiss your kids goodbye for the school day.  I hope we can make some changes that make your children safer.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paterno loses his legend.

The masses swarm and the city swells.  PSU football makes the community bigger, better, and more relevant.  The chants of "We are, Penn State" echo through the nearby hills.  Fans of all ages typify the eager college football enthusiast.  The finest grilled meats and coldest local beers fill coolers on the hill.  Tailgating reaches it's peak in a typically sleepy college town.  Everyone in attendance is there for one reason and one reason only.  It's a Saturday in Happy Valley and the Nittany Lions are ready to go.

On the way in, every fan from everywhere stops by the Paterno statue and pays their respects.  The man built the program and the program built the fan base.  On a single Saturday the crowd swells to disproportionate size.  What is typically small-town Pennsylvania becomes the third largest city in the state.  Everyone's dressed in white, and when the lights flicker on, the fans almost glow.  It's time for another night game at Penn State.

Meanwhile, in the depths of PSU's athletic facilities, Jerry Sandusky is doing things we relegate to 20/20 and shows of that ilk.  In the depths of the programs walls, there is a sexual predator lurking, almost hunting, with no restriction.  The team's next in line has just finished showering with a kid who struggles with the demands of 5th grade.  The coach is on the verge of facing his first Big Ten game and gets ready by taking a shower with a 12 year old...... if only that locker room had a hair dryer, this whole mess would've been swept under the rug as mom wouldn't have had her questions.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Problem is, as much as I agree about the absurdity of the situation, it's basically what happened.

Therein lies the problem.  Jerry Sandusky is a terrible human being, a sexual predator, and based on accusations, an incestuous sexual predator.  That's horrific, appalling, and repulsive.  We can't just dismiss that and ignore it, but we can accept it as fact.  What takes this whole ordeal over the top is knowing now that Joe Paterno knew it.  As I said in November, Paterno was affiliated with Sandusky almost 50 years ago.  What has become an alarming reality is that Joe Paterno actively chose to hide what he knew.

Now we watch as the Paterno family clutches at any hope that the man we all considered to be virtuous is proven to be, quite frankly, an egotistical scumbag.  He actively chose over multiple years to ignore the atrocities occurring at Penn State.  He chose football over humanity at EVERY level.  What Paterno supporters fail to recognize is that JoePa was made aware of Sandusky's behavior, at the LATEST in 1998. Conveniently, Sandusky retired shortly thereafter.  To think, for one second, that Paterno was innocent and without culpability this past year, is to think that Paterno knew nothing of prior allegations.  It's already been proven that Paterno was in the know and also included in the emails that chose to ignore the terrible accusations.

It's hard to believe that the Paterno family is so dedicated to inappropriately protecting Joe's name that they ignore the obvious.  Everyone, from the top of the ladder to the bottom rung, knowingly disregarded a sexual predator in their midst.  It's cliche to say, but necessary to put out there.... Penn State, from the top down, needs to be punished in a way we've never seen before.