Thanks

For keeping the discussion civil on my last post. I got a lot of comments from people I know, some from people I don’t know, and at least one from a guy I’ve known since elementary school! Everyone agrees that we have to do something to prevent another tragedy like what happened in Newtown.

So, since we need to be the change we want to see in the world, I’m going to start doing my part to work against the glorification of the gun in my own work. I’m not sure exactly what form that’s going to take – it’s not like Bubba is suddenly going to stop carrying a gun. That would be silly, and out of character. But he might solve a few more problems with brains than bullets, and maybe Jimmy won’t be carrying a shotgun on the cover of the next Black Knight Chronicles book.

Let’s be clear – I don’t think urban fantasy novels are big contributor to gun violence in America. But we may be a tiny part. And maybe that butterfly effect is real. Maybe a small change in my books can create a large change in my world. I have to think so. I have to hope so. Because my ranting on Facebook isn’t enough. Victor Cruz writing on his shoes isn’t enough. Tom Brady wearing a sticker on his helmet isn’t enough. Bob Costas talking isn’t enough. President Obama tearing up on camera isn’t enough. We as a nation have gotten to a place where life isn’t precious to everyone anymore. And I don’t just mean the lives of the children and teachers that were lost. I mean the shooter, too. The mentally ill young man who didn’t get the help he needed.

We failed them all.

That’s why it hurts so much, because you failed them too. I did. I failed my society because I haven’t done everything I can for people who need my help. I’ve turned away from people who are mentally unstable because they make me uncomfortable, without doing everything I can to help. I’ve done my part to make guns “cool,” by putting them in the hands of my wisecracking characters and showing little to no consequence for their reckless handling of heavy weaponry.

Now look, I don’t want everybody to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” For the first point, I don’t know where your hands have been. But I do think that this is an opportunity for every one of us to look at the issues in the world around us and see if we’re doing anything to make them better. We bitch a lot. I know, I’m on Facebook, so I know exactly how much some of you bitch. And I bitch a lot, too. Now’s the time to stop bitching and make the world better.

This is a ramble, but it’s my blog, so get over it. But I think I may have meandered around to a point. Here’s my promise to you – I will be a more responsible writer in the future, and I will continue to use my writing to try and change my world for the better. Bubba will still be armed, and Jimmy will still have a shoot-first, ask questions later attitude, but I can show more consequences, and I can make it clear that I understand that I don’t live or work in a vacuum. I have already used my bully pulpit to try to subtly advance the cause of marriage equality and gay rights (and if you missed that inĀ Back in Black, then you really weren’t paying attention), so this isn’t really a new thing for me.

What are you going to do? How are you going to be the change? Let me know in the comments, so I can hold you accountable. Because I know for damn sure my readers will hold me to it.

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5 thoughts on “Thanks

  1. I’m feeling cranky today, so before I say anything, let me say that I agree with you. What we do in our writings has some effect on the world (we hope, right?). There is some translation between fantasy and reality, but defining what it is and how it works is a problem. I’m pretty sure my entire moral structure about good and evil comes from Star Wars. No, really. I remember playing with my dolls (yes, some were Barbies) when I was little and I had this construction: There was the good one (the heroine) the bad one (the antagonist) and the evil one (the ultimate bad). The bad one could be turned back to good, the evil one, not so much. I never thought about shooting folks with blasters (or their real world counterparts).

    So I’m not sure that changing Bubba is the best response. Showing him not glorifying guns (which I think you do–he’s not interesting in killing monsters, period. He only kills those that don’t leave him a choice, which is an important moral shading), and show him not thinking violence against random folks is a solution (which he also seems to avoid).

    And, because I’m cranky, I’ll note that yeah, we, as Americans, are great about getting teary, leaving teddy bears at sites, or whatever, but we haven’t really been so good with the follow through. I mean, I’m sure ’cause Brady put a sticker on his helmet, we’ll all be fine and this will never happen again.

  2. Sorry. Don’t see it that way.

    We have made laws that protect nutballs and make it all but impossible to put them away. If you have to assign blame anywhere other than Mr. Lanza, assign it to the ACLU for their efforts to “protect the rights” of nutballs, and to the Feds who turned schools into “no self-defense allowed” murder zones. Secondary blame might go to the MSM, which gleefully makes these events into circuses

    Perhaps, instead of worrying about the Newtown incident you should consider the Mayan Palace Theater incident. An off-duty cop prevented a massacre by shooting the perp four times. (Too bad the sorry so-n-so still survived. Oh well.) That is what guns do when the hands of the good guys.

    What am I going to do? I’m going to get off my lazy bum and get those CCW licenses for the wife and I. I’ll get her a Ruger LCP with integral laser sight. I will get a snubbie revolver. Nothing says “I love my children” more than a willingness to kill to defend them.

    Also, we’re not paying you (i.e. buying your stories) to be “responsible” in your writing. Or socially relevant. Tell a good story, dammit. Don’t worry about having “failed” someone. IT’S NOT YOUR JOB.

    BTW: Guns ARE cool. They are beautiful pieces of precision machinery. Like any powerful tool, they should be respected. But they are cool.

  3. The current hoopla over this is now about “assault weapons” There are 5 criteria for assault weapons w. it taking 2 to qualify and that .223 Bushmaster isn’t an assault weapon by all current or passed standards. (threaded barrel, clip fed, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, grenade launcher) The politicians that are making the assault weapon case should already know that. They are playing to the uninformed.

    From what little I’ve read about the perp — and I have avoided as much as possible — he wasn’t an obvious nutcase until after. Throw in the ability in a black market that provides guns for most killings. The answers aren’t there folks.

    Society/laws already do a fair job of finding the obvious people. When people like this aren’t obvious, there is no law that is going to stop it. It is sad but it is a fact of life. Our regard for human lives and rights leaves us in anguish. But, without real answers.

    And, John,
    Write your fun books; play video games; whatever. It isn’t changing you or others. It is escape. And that is a good thing. The sane won’t change and the nuts will always find an outlet counter to reality. Folks here’s imagination isn’t anything like his.

  4. Thank you, John, for wanting to do something and feeling, too, that our society failed the people of Newtown. I agree that we did so but not because of video games or books or characters who use guns.

    I shot my first gun this year and, while fun and interesting for about 20 minutes, I didn’t experience the joy in shooting like others do. I knew that I would probably never own my own gun, go to shooting ranges, or wax poetic on the virtues of the Sig Sauer over the Glock (or vice versa, since I have no idea what the benefits of either are.) However, put a gun in the hands of Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds or Ziva David from NCIS or Selene from Underworld or Angelina Jolie from Salt and–suddenly–guns are sexy images of power and prowess and, well, I’m a lesbian who thinks women are sexy and women with guns are sexier. Sue me.

    I have played violent video games and have enjoyed them immensely. I have watched violent TV and movies, read violent books, even seen violent art. I have experienced violence (not gun violence, but traumatic nonetheless) up close and personally. What I haven’t done in response to any of these things is used exposure to them to support my own potential to deal violence to others. By nature, I’m pretty maternal and cut from a caregiving rather than a damage-dealing cloth.

    The failure of society, in my opinion, is much broader and more subtle. It is in the dehumanization of our fellows, in the distance that grows between us all daily. The rhetoric of this year’s political campaign showed me how stark is the divide. Disagreement with ideology devolved quickly into claims that liberals were godless communists or that Republicans were unwashed neanderthals. Babies everywhere were figuratively thrown out with the bathwater.

    It is no coincidence that many sci-fi movies take the easy route of pitting Humans (the good) against Aliens (the bad) and leave it at that. Aliens are the ultimate other, right? No compassion needed; let’s blow them out of the sky! Epic battles make the audience either cheer for the Humans or vow vengeance for their losses. But consider movies like District 9, where a Human slowly becomes the alien via accidental biochemical exposure, and the truth of Humanity’s inhumanity to man is explored with discomforting depth. Or consider our fascination with zombie, vampire, werewolf, or mutant narratives for more telling examples. Rarely is the goal of one of these movies to cure the disease or to accept the change. Exposed, the Human gains instant admission into the Other camp and is deemed an acceptable target.

    We’ve lost our ability to accept each other as full and equal members of the Human race despite our differences. We categorize and dismiss with alarming ease–all of us, no exceptions. I’m guilty of it myself. Even though I have thousands of friends online, from over 20 countries and with whom I’ve maintained relationships with for over a decade, I cannot tell you the names of the five people who live next door to me, less than 100 feet from my front door.

    We have chosen our tribal affiliations and we look at the members of other tribes with suspicion and a wary eye. You need only read the comment thread of almost any online post to see how wide-spread is the concept of “you are nothing because you believe differently than I do.”

    Fat or thin, pretty or ugly, male or female, liberal or conservative, healthy or sick, sane or crazy, old or young, cool or geek, smart or dumb, rich or poor, white or not white, Christian or not Christian, Muslim or Jew, pro-life or pro-choice, well-educated or poorly educated, straight or other….how often we divide ourselves from others. Only in the wake of unspeakable tragedy do we sometimes all feel the same moment of empathy that leads us to question the wisdom of separation versus connection.

    We as a society have failed in the most basic way: the understanding of the definition of Human.

    What I’ve taken from Newtown (other than support for the ideas in your previous post on gun-control) is a personal pledge to watch how I divide myself from others and to make positive effort toward changing that tendency. It will be hard. Harder than enacting new legislation, donating to charities, or supporting expansion in mental health care access.

    Changing the self is the most difficult change to make.

    And, by the way, I miss you and your beautiful wife, think about you often, and look back on working with you as one of the most wonderful times in my life. Thank you for your influence and inspiration.

  5. John, I have read both over your post, and I thank you for trying to be objective. I am A multiple gun owner and I believe in the right to own a gun. To ban or not to, that is the question. The Question I want to ask is what has changed in the U.S in the last thirty years. My high school had no police officer in it. My teachers were allow to take care of any problems in class as needed. I would have never gone home and told my dad that my teacher was a jerk. There would have been an ass whipping to fellow. My father had many hand guns in my home , never locked up and always loaded.( we even had an M1 with a 30 shot clip) None of those guns ever killed anyone. Though one did help save a man from being beaten to death. By the way my father was a Police officer for sixteen years. I had a heathy respect for my father, and the rest of the world. I was brought up that way. I could watch tv with my parents after 8:00 at night; anyone remember the family hour? My kids can’t do that now. So let us ask what has changed and why. Thank you for the space, take care. ChrisW… By the way I do believe most gun onwers could use regular training with their guns…

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