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Jeff Whitten: A world gone sideways
editor's notes

Have you ever sensed the world’s grasp on reality and decency was becoming ever more tenuous by the day?

Me too. And here, a brief digression. I tend to try to stay away from writing angry in this space, or lecturing people, but the May 24 massacre of children in Uvalde sort of blew that for me this week.

This week I just want to know what kind of twisted, miserable, angry little teenage monster loads up a weapon, goes into an elementary school and starts shooting? In what sort of a society does that happen? Again and again?

What does that say about the kind of people we are that we accept it as some inevitable cost of a free society and move on to the next nightmare?

And there will be more, because the horror that took place in Uvalde, Texas isn’t even remotely close to being the first killing spree of its kind.

It isn’t even first time this month a deranged teen went out and opened up on people he didn’t even know because he was gutless and stupid and soulless and just plain evil. Remember Buffalo? That was just a week or so ago.

So here’s a dumb thought. If you’re in the mood to go out and get you a wicked-looking AR-15 and some 30-round magazines and go on a shooting rampage to try to kill as many people as you can, why not join the Army?

I’m joking. The military has standards. Besides, I suspect mass murderers don’t have the moral or mental toughness to serve. If they did, they wouldn’t be out there killing innocent people just because they’re mad at something.

Here’s another dumb thought. It’s past time we start holding parents accountable for the children they turn loose on the rest of us, no matter how old that child is.

If you raise a rotten monster, you fix whatever it is he or she broke. And if you can’t fix it, you do the time for whatever pain the kid you brought into this world inflicted on others, and you do it for as long as it takes. I think that principle could be applied to misdemeanors and less terrible felonies, as well. It might cut down on crime.

Further, and this might smack of some weird Big Brother stuff, I’ve often wondered why in the world we have to have a license to drive a car, or cut hair, or open a business, but we can have kids left and right without any qualifications other than biological. Makes no sense to me.

As for those calling for a ban on AR-15s, I get it, but I get the other side, too. Banning stuff tends not to work. Remember prohibition?

Besides, I’ve been around guns all my life, own my fair share of firearms, and I toted an M203 in the Army for six years and sometimes in traffic I wish I had one, but I’m also glad I don’t.

Truth is, I would no more spend good money on an AR-15 than on a new goat, but I suspect for a certain type of lifelong civilian who “never got the opportunity to serve,” buying an AR-15 and putting a decal on the back window is as close as they’ll ever get to that sort of firepower. Makes ‘em potent, I reckon.

That’s why AR-15s are made to look like military firearms. Sure, somebody with some smarts could probably make something out of PVC that looks like a potato cannon and is capable of doing just as much damage, but nobody would buy it because, well, it just doesn’t look the part.

Onward: You might notice a difference in the layout of this page and the one opposite it this week. That was done to get in a police blotter after your’s truly waded through a flood tide of recent incident reports seemingly extra-laden with bizarre things.

Yep, Bryan County has had its fair share of petty meanness and drunken or drug addled stupidity, and wanna-be gangsters and so on.

What’s more, scrolling through copies of local incident reports makes me leery of driving since it seems I stand a pretty good chance of getting run into.

Based on incident reports, I’d wager dozens of people a week motor through this county without a license, without insurance, without the sense to slow down or stay sober or avoid hitting other cars. There just isn’t enough time to write them all down, or paper to put it on if I had the time.

But there’s something else I get reminded of while wading through incident reports.

In short, thank God, for first responders, and by that I mean the cops and firefighters and EMTs and paramedics who try to keep a lid on a world that seems edging further sideways every week. They don’t get paid near enough.

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