Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fade to Black (Friday)

Recently people were thinking about where they were fifty years ago on Nov. 22, 1963. I was in the fifth grade classroom of Dorothy Leader, one of the notoriously few Democrats residing in the town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. When the word came that President Kennedy had been shot, Mrs. Leader collapsed in tears. School was dismissed early that day.

Why do we remember some days so well, while the memory of other momentous days--not one whit less significant in the large or small scheme of things--fades into nonexistence? My children remember the Challenger explosion; I don't.

Where was I last Dec. 14? At work, probably; I don't remember. It was the day of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. A horrific Friday, which I probably followed via news reports on the Internet. Probably. What would there be for me to remember? Sitting at my desk looking at a screen? I do that every day. But that's what I remember about 9/11: I was sitting at my desk looking at a screen. I remember it very well.

But even if not the stuff of visceral memory, 12/14 to me became something more important. It became a symbol of quite a different kind of vulnerability than did 9/11: a symbol of America's failure to accomplish the Second Amendment.

Rather than a single, flashing moment that can be replayed in slow motion, it's more a sense of inscribing marble.

The Sandy Hook massacre, a Black Friday for the ages, happened last year during Advent. My Advent is shaped not so much by liturgical dates as by the traditional songs sung during the season, including The Coventry Carol, about the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod. I used an instrumental version for a little movie that I put together a couple of days later.

A couple of days after that I wrote a blog to explain it all. To explain why Sandy Hook was the result of a monumental failure of the country to live up to the Second Amendment. The real Second Amendment, not the one spouted by the N.R.A. You know, the real Second Amendment? The one that begins "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state ..."? The one whose current, eponymous Wikipedia article leads off saying has nothing to do with service in a militia?

What settled in was kind of a sense of horror, matched by a huge, questioning kind of wonder: horror at this colossal void in our civic makeup--something's supposed to be there, but it just isn't--and then why not? And why isn't anybody talking about this? "Well-regulated militia" ... "necessary" … "security" … "free state." But ... but ... but ... There is no well-regulated, citizen-armed militia. There hasn't been one since forever. Does anybody not feel the least bit insecure? No? Well, I guess not. After all, we have the National Security Agency.

It's obvious that we don't believe what the Second Amendment says about a well-regulated militia.

I spent the year inventing a stage where there are people who talk about it, think about it, dream about it, sing about it. Because isn't that the way the real Second Amendment imagines it to be? Not "when the caissons go rolling along," or "off we go into the wild blue yonder," or "to the halls of Montezuma." Listen to that, forefather revolutionaries: The devil of a standing army has all the good tune. Somebody needs to change that.

So now, in time for the first anniversary of that awful day in Connecticut, is a book written so it will always be remembered: Bathrobes Pierre. It's out, for sale, available in print or ebook. 80% of royalties will go to the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which I'll track on the book's website. There'll be a launch on Dec. 14 at the Acoustic Coffeehouse in Johnson City from 3 - 4:30 p.m. Not many books come with a soundtrack.

Just because this is a benefit for Sandy Hook, don't think that this is going to be your knee-jerk, libtard, gun-nut-hating screed. Part of the problem is that the country is unnecessarily divided by the reigning, unbalanced interpretation of the Second Amendment. This is very much a "we the people" kind of book. We need to stop thinking about gun control and start thinking about gun organization. We need to stop contracting out our fighting and start having to do it ourselves: it's a proven way both to cut down on the number of wars and make decisive the ones you do fight. Part of the purpose of the book is to remind all Americans--men and women-- that, according to the Second Amendment, the dimensions of our civic duties are much greater than we currently imagine.

But hey, it'd be more interesting to read the book. There are some interesting characters. There's a plot. There's a denouement. Oratory. Humor. Sarcasm. It doesn't ask "Who is John Galt?" but "Who are we?" Give it a, er, shot. Aim it at your friends. Here's some trailers you could share:

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