Reality Check – Generation Dead

  There have been 18 school shootings in this country in 2018. We’re six weeks in at the time of this writing. That is two school shootings a week. That means it is highly probable that by the time this hits the newsstands there will be a school shooting. Extrapolate that out over a year and it’s roughly 104 school shootings. That is people walking into our schools with guns, most of them automatic weapons, manufactured to kill as many living things as possible in the shortest amount of time over the swath of the widest geographic landscape. This is America in 2018.

  At this rate, it is fairly likely that someone you know, in a place pretty close to you, is going to have to endure this tragedy. The odds are heading rapidly in that direction. This is America in 2018.

  I merely write this not to begin an anti-gun rant or even to call for stricter gun laws or to whine like the bitches over at the NRA or Fox News. If you have read this space even for a week, never mind two decades, you know that is not where we reside. Freedom is a messy, horrible thing. It can and will get nuts, simply because people are nuts. Or at least people who are free to do things with that freedom that is antithetical to our purported Christian, exceptional view of America, which is, of course, total bullshit.

  America elected Donald Trump. He is a violent, combative bully, who drew huge crowds egging on his supporters to beat the people who protested against him. He supports police violence and violence against illegal immigrants, and brags about assaulting women. He loves calling people mean-spirited names and seems to have a preternatural need to act like a tough guy. This is the part of Trump I get. I grew up in the Bronx in the 1960s. We took beatings and gave them. We learned then that this is a nation of punks. We celebrate punks in film, video games, music, religion, politics, you name it. Of course, our president is a punk. This is the land of punks and bullies and people with guns shooting kids.

  And sometimes the punks like to say, “It ain’t guns, it’s people!” And they may be right, but then nearly a year ago today in a closed-to-the-media move, the punks go and pass a law to allow crazy people to get guns and the punk in the White House signed it.

  So, let me reiterate, as a free-thinker, I am not about tossing laws at everything nor am I inclined to believe this country is great or its people generally decent. I may be a little iffy on allowing the crazies to buy guns illegally — but, hey, someone has to pay for all those campaign costs — and the NRA ponies it up, so they get to force their agenda — see the punk/bully theory here. I also choose to believe we have less violent people than we like to think when 17 high school kids are suddenly gunned down in cold blood in class. If we were truly off the rails this would happen twice daily, instead of twice a week. The question one has to ask oneself at this juncture is how much can you accept this violence?

  And here’s some free-thinking for you: Pretty soon all these kids who are being shot at are going to grow up, if we don’t kill them all, and they are not going to entertain a free-thinking, open-minded stance on the whole guns and crazies issue.  They might — what did our nifty Speaker of the House call it the other day? — have a “knee-jerk reaction” to it all. We are slowly building a generation of the dead, and those who might survive it are not going to be in the mood for nuanced discussions on guns.

  Just saying.

  Take cigarettes for an example.

  When I was in high school I would conservatively estimate that half the kids in my graduating class smoked cigarettes. This was June of 1980. I was 17. This was the generation where there were cigarette ads in magazines, especially magazines aimed at teenagers, and on TV and in billboards and posters everywhere. During that time, you could smoke on airplanes and in elevators and hospitals and restaurants. Now, you can’t smoke in any of those places and there are no cigarette ads, even on the Internet, where I can buy the materials to build a bomb right now to blow up the next Boston Marathon, legally. Time and a shitload of scientific study and its resulting evidence ostensibly killed the dominating presence of the cigarette. Of course, this was ushered merrily along by the entire controlling board of William Morris perjuring themselves in front of the U.S. Congress in the 1990s claiming that not only wasn’t nicotine not addictive, but that they had no knowledge of the chemicals they were dumping into it to make it even more so.

  A generation of smoking, more or less, gone. I mean, kids smoke, but half of the senior class? Come on.

  Speaking of smoke, it is becoming painfully obvious to the same kids that this nonsense they have been fed about marijuana is bullshit, as did my generation, which is why my generation, not the lazy, lying, self-absorbed, hypocritical Boomers, are now taking over states to legalize it. Because we know it is not as addictive or as harmful as alcohol or even caffeine. This is due to more scientific study and its resulting evidence. So, pretty soon, despite 80-year-old fossils temporarily running the justice department as a way to bring us back to the stone age, it will be legal everywhere. Even sooner than that it will be legal where I write this, New Jersey, or there is one Irishman in the governor’s office who is in for a world of shit around here.

  But I digress.

  We now have a lot of kids — and they are growing with every shooting, and if things continue the way they’ve been going, and I see no end in sight, do you? — then they are going to be pissed. And usually those who are pissed finally get involved. And you wonder how long it will be? Ten years? When the idea of the freedom to shoot people will be as restricted as the freedom to smoke. You can smoke, you just can’t find out anything about it anywhere or really do it anywhere. This makes my free-thinking wince a little, but hey, this is how we roll. Who would have even imagined in 1980 or even 2010 that marriage equality would find its high-water mark and become the law of the land. A land run by punks and bullies and people with guns killing kids?

  I have no thoughts on this matter that does not include cynicism, disgust and loathing. But this ain’t about me. I’m going to be dead soon, and hopefully not at the hand of a crazy man with an automatic weapon, but you never know. But probably not before Jeff Sessions or Donald Trump. They are old and will die soon and they don’t give a shit whether you die or not, kids. I only had to endure bomb threats and kids trying to punch me in the face repeatedly in the schoolyard. There are kids right now on TV crying because their friend was cut down in a hail of bullets.

  They’re growing up.

  And they will vote.

  Generation dead will then have the floor.       



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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey,” “Fear No Art,” “Trailing Jesus,” “Midnight For Cinderella” and “Y”. “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” 

And coming in June, 2018; “Accidently Like a Martyr – The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon”