I’m a teacher… and I think I’m pretty damn good at it. I know for a fact that at least a few of my former students read my blog, and I bet they’d say I’m pretty damn good too. But I wasn’t always a teacher. I’ve had a lot of other jobs. I’ve designed computer software. I’ve been a photographer. I’ve written comic books. I’ve worked in retail. I’ve worked in a restaurant. I worked at a TV station. I was a paperboy. Hell, I was even a professional wrestler for a little bit there. That’s a lot of jobs, and I’m not even Jamaican.
One job I’ve never had was being in the military. And it’s not that I couldn’t have been. I totally could have. I was a poor black kid in high school in the 90s. Military recruiters love poor black kids. So I was totally offered a chance to be all I could be and see the world or whatever the fuck the slogan was back then. I turned it down. I was offered a ROTC scholarship. Turned that down too. A recruiter from the Air Force Academy came to my school to try and get me to come there too. Once again, I said no. See, I just wasn’t interested in being a soldier. It didn’t excite me then. It doesn’t excite me now. And in all the years since, I have never regretted that decision. See, when I think of the idea of “risking your life to fight for the rights and safety of others.” My next thought is something along the lines of “well, that doesn’t sound like something I’d want to do.”
I have no particular ill-will against the military. I had a lot of friends who did enlist. Good for them. Good for cops too. These people provide a very important role to society. I am thankful that there are people out there willing to fulfill it.
I’m not that guy. Honestly…. I’m just not that good a person.
And see, this is important. In fact it’s very important. This is something that everyone who is ever one of my students, and ESPECIALLY everyone who is ever the parent of any one of my students needs to understand.
See, every time there’s a school shooting, the national conversation predictably turns to the question of gun control and school safety… and this becomes predictably political. You have a lot of politicians on the left saying “this is why we need gun control” and then the right retorts with “have some respect. This is not the time, these families are going through tragedy. Now is not the time for your political agenda.” (As a side note, whatever it is that ultimately kills me, I want the record to show that anyone who loves my has my permission… and in fact my INSISTENCE… that you immediately start petitioning Congress to ban whatever killed me. If I am crushed to death in a freak accident by two tons of cotton balls, I want a fucking bill trying to take down the cotton ball cartel on the floor of the House by the end of the week).
Anyway, nothing ever comes of these talks because it’s apparently never the time to talk about gun control, So regular everyday people start passing around memes. Some of them are really stupid. I had the pleasure refuting the ridiculousness of one that my wife’s cousin, William, posted earlier today, which pointed out that there were only 374 “rifle deaths” in 2016 and there were 478,000 cigarette deaths. Actually the meme cited a bunch of stuff that was “more deadly than rifles.” Including “fists.” Of course, it was bullshit… which was pretty easy to prove if you spent like 5 minutes reading the sources that the meme claimed to be citing… or if you gave it 10 seconds worth of intelligent thought on your own. But whatever… as I’ve said many times before all facts are alternative, some are more alternative than others. But whatever… the nice thing about dumb memes is that they’re pretty easy to refute and I can go make fun of people by being smart and this amuses me… because I’m just not that good a person. I’m a petty little man and I kind of delight at being smarter than other people and sometimes take pleasure in their misfortune.
Every time one of these big mass shootings comes around and kills white people (killing brown people is much smaller news) we get a different take on it. In the past we’ve blamed video games. We’ve blamed movies. We’ve blamed mental health. We’ve blamed bump stocks. But this particular go round, led by the “genius intellect” of the B-movie super villain that we’ve elected President we’re actually trying to have a serious discussion about whether or not the problem would be better if we armed teachers. Arming teachers… you know… like me.
Now, I want to point out that this isn’t the first time this has come up from this administration. During her actual senate confirmation hearing the current Secretary of Education actually floated the need for armed teachers in order to defend students from possible bear attacks. She wasn’t joking. This was a serious concern of hers. Of course, then on her first day at work she also tweeted she couldn’t do anything because she was unable to find the pencils. So that’s the bar of intelligence we’re working with here. But now, the US President has piled on… and because he’s said it a couple times (and then in a brilliant tweet storm today, denied that he said it and then went on to reiterate it over the course of half a dozen tweets) it’s become news. And something that people are having to have a serious conversation about.
So let me make this clear. This is a dumb idea.
Earlier today, the Broward County sheriff’s department released a statement that apparently there was an armed deputy on duty at Stoneman Douglas high school during the shooting. He was a trained law enforcement official. He knew that there was a shooting going on. And he opted to do… nothing. He made a decision that there was gunfire happening in a building and even though he had a gun, the smartest thing for him to do… was not enter that building. Basically he was faced with the option of protecting his own life or the lives of others… a position that no one forced him into… he volunteered for that career. He swore and oath to serve and protect. But in the heat of the moment, when faced with the reality of the situation… he chose himself over others.
I get it…
My wife, Stephanie, linked to this story earlier. And of course, a right wing friend of hers, Jeffrey, immediately tried to refute it by saying “a single person lacking the courage to act does not mean that others in that situation may have saved lives.” I laughed at this. Jeff then tried to counter me by pointing out “Somebody took out the Texas church shooter with a gun. It happened to late to prevent the initial killings but someone did step up and we don’t know if that shooter would have attacked others. Its no guarantee but to say it won’t ever happen just doesn’t make sense.” And my friend Adam pointed out that just because it worked out once doesn’t mean it’s a particularly good idea.
I’m actually going to split the difference. It’s happened more than once. In fact, because I happened to do some research earlier to refute William’s ridiculous rifle’s are safer than fists or cigarettes meme (I bet you didn’t expect that to come back around), I just happen to know that in 2016, there were exactly 276 justifiable homicides using some type of firearm by a private citizen. Of course, from the same research I also happen to know that contrary to the meme there were 58,853 reported criminal shootings that year. So, that means 0.4% of shootings result in a justifiable defensive kill.
And sure… oh right wing reader… I know what you’re thinking: “But if more people had guns, there’d be more saves.” Well, it turns out at that from the same research, I also just happen to know that the 276 justifiable homicides were out of 1,980 attempts to defend oneself with a firearm. So it works about 14% of the time. Usually against someone with a similar class of weapon. And sure… better than nothing. Except… I also happen to know that there were 2,203 accidental shootings reported by registered gun owners that year. So while you are 14% likely to be able to kill an armed assailant if you have a gun… it turns out you’re 8x more likely to end up shooting some random other person during an attack or otherwise as you are to shoot a bad guy. So… to any parent who thinks this is a good idea… understand that the likelihood that I can defend your kid from an active shooter if one can happen is about 14%. And I’m 8x more likely to end up actually shooting them than I am defending them. Do you still want it? Math is fun!
And if your answer is yes… well, ok fine… I’ll take it.
See, because El Presidente also floated the great idea that hey, why don’t we give a bonus to the teachers willing to go through the training and carry a gun in the classroom. And… well, I like money.
But really.. understand who you’re asking and what you’re asking of me. I’m not a soldier. I’m not a hero. I don’t want to be. As I said at the beginning, I had that opportunity and I passed it up because I don’t want it. What I am, is a guy who reads funny books for a living. I’m the guy who gets paid to teach your kids to write. I’m the guy who gets paid to teach your kids about literature and it’s connection with feminism and sexuality and gender and race and marxism. Have you been reading this post? I’m an ultra-liberal, socialist, agnostic, feminist, pro-LGBTQ, pro-BLM, pro-union, pro-drug, pro-sex, pro-polyamory, pro-pornography, anti-religion, anti-establishment, damn-near anarchist SJW asshole. And you know… if you really want to pay ME to carry a gun around your kids… ok fine, I guess.
But understand something… I’m not going out of my way to take a bullet for your kid. I’m not going out of my way to shoot someone to protect your kid. I’m just not. Much like the deputy from Stoneman Douglas, if I see a gun, I’m probably running in the opposite direction. I’m just not that good a person. The only difference is, I’m telling you this right now upfront.
And I don’t think any of my students would expect any differently. As I said, I know for a fact that some of them read these. And they all know me very well. So, Ayana, Brooklin, Elysse and any of the other couple hundred students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching these last few years and might be reading this, I say to you… you are all wonderful, lovely, bright and intelligent people. I love and care for you all. And just to be clear, should you ever find yourself in a classroom with me again, and someone comes in with an automatic weapon, then RUN! FUCKING RUN!!! RUN AND HIDE!!! DO NOT WAIT FOR ME TO SHOOT THAT PERSON!!!
And see… because all of my students have been bright and intelligent. I’m pretty sure they know that. To their parents… I mean, don’t get me wrong… if I have a gun and I’m cornered, I’ll probably take the shot. But given the choice between trying to hunt down a guy with an assault rifle and well…. not doing that… I’m going to choose not… EVERY SINGLE TIME. Because that’s who I am. I’m a guy who’s pretty damn good at my job — reading funny books and talking about how they reflect culture — and I chose that job because I didn’t want to deal with bullets! I’m just not that good a person.
And the thing is, a lot of my friends are also teachers. I’m sure a lot of them are reading this and laughing… And honestly, most of them are far nicer and better people than I am. But I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a hard time finding a single one of us who is looking to take a bullet for your kid. Sorry.