May 24, 2022
I cannot properly express the rage I feel about today's school massacre in Texas (and there are an absurd number of shootings across the United States...every. single. day). After Sandy Hook, I volunteered with Everytown For Gun Safety, and a number of other organizations that work tirelessly - against the infuriatingly mulish - to discourage and prevent this insanity. I developed work within my theater community, and even wrote an article about all of it for the Theatre Communications Group.
And, so, now, I am just going to express this, which does not encapsulate the totality of my thoughts and feelings, but it's something, anything... I am so angry, I am not mad, I am white hot.
Just because something is not monocausal (very few things are) does not mean nothing can be done - yet, this is the indolent thinking that conservatives and the Republican Party in the Senate like to rely on to shirk responsibility for terrible atrocities (like gun violence against babies and children), and power grab women's health and autonomy in the name of babies and children...and originalist sin? (By the by, women aren't in the original US Constitution at all, so by a lot of this abortion logic, the fairer sex should just be shipped off to Mars...oh, wait, sorry, Venus...aNyWaY...).
I do not believe liberals are always in the right, by any means. I am disgusted by so much of the liberal gutlessness, especially over the last few years; BUT, the absolute impotence of the conservative class - and their gibberish 'manly virtues' - is without potent enough language. They are a class of ethical cowards, disguised in large verbiage and abstractions so broad they are meaningless; muscular gestures, tweets, and bluster. There is far too much extremity on the Right (far more than on the Left), far too much all or nothing. It's immature and crude; but, most importantly, flacid on this Earth's plane of existence, devoid of true manly virtues. When confronted with the difficult realities that the Right so belligerently claims to defend, they run right out the door because they can't see the spectrum of possibility in the in-between; they can only see the upside down. This thinking is deeply unperceptive, cynical, thin and without prism. From abortion rights to school shootings, conservatives bury their tails in their asses, submerged by their own terror of imagined possibility and their truly riskless careers. They often whine about the lack of bravery of liberals, and I don't disagree that there is a lack of bravery among libs, but the right-wing actually DOES NOTHING for the urgent, immediate, collective greater good in the face of what they plainly call evil. They shrug and make mercurial arguments about the 2nd Amendment and the rarity of kids being shot up in the their elementary schools (not conceding that this should never happen in a developed nation, ever). And while the Right flips out over the Left's prediliction for turning words into 'triggers' and 'violence' (which I also, frankly, find too often is a bogus cover for a lack of accountability - conflict is not abuse), when faced with real violence, the Right bows to pathetic fallacy: gun violence is just America. The US is a creative, experimental, solution oriented country, so I find this particular clench on tradition to be profoundly un-American. They won't temporarily plug up a leaking faucet with available gum because gum is resin, wax, and elastomer, as opposed to brass. The philosophy that nothing except source eradication will do is a verifiably insane approach to dealing with any sickness.
Courage, in and of itself, is not necessarily a moral or ethical pursuit. Hitler had courage. Courage, alone, is usually pretty cheap. Conservatives yap laboriously about a dearth of courage, and then morosely, apathetically throw up their hands when something, anything actually needs to be done, or worse, changed through intensive debate and negotiation... The Right's cancel culture is timid acknowledgment and then a cruel, insidious resistance to having the conversation at all. The Republicans are the party of 'law and order,' and yet they won't work to further legislate firearms, to find any common ground on grounding civilian gun violence. No actionability for deterrence and consequence? There is often the claim of patriotic backbone when it comes to guns, but, more often than not, theirs is drenched in egomaniacal contrarianism, too skewered and stunted by the insecure, evasive drive to 'win,' for pragmatic solutions to unfold. Disgusting is too pitiful and lazy a word.
We need to move out of the cyclical theoretical and act. There are many things that can be done when it comes to gun violence in America. We need better mental healthcare (and, above all, this is a boy's and men's mental healthcare issue). And, more broadly, we need to re-evaluate the romanticization of guns and revenge fantasy in media (which is really in the lib's domain). We need gun safety. We need gun control. The vast majority of Americans believe we need gun control. That's the hysterical, 'tyranical' will of the nation. There are many factors, of course. Gun violence is not monocausal, but, ya know what? It's also not cavernously complex. Without the guns, it wouldn't be gun violence. The insistance that the 400 million guns circulating in the US are not the problem (or even part of the problem) is wild, willful blindness; a desperately frightful response to relinquish connectivity to a corporeality. Easy access to firearms - and easy access to assault weapons - makes it exponentially easier to commit homicide, mass homicide, and suicide. There are hundreds upon hundreds of studies on this. A 2021 Northwestern study found the federal assault weapon ban to be significantly effective at preventing mass homicides. Small town school police officers possibly have difficulty apprehending a gunman with an AR-15 because (though somewhat debatable) an AR-15 is a rifle that was originally made for military combat, with bullets designed to explode the human body. More stringently regulating assault weapons (or outright banning them), requiring universal background checks, closing gun sale loopholes and requiring background checks on all commercial gun sales, increasing prohibition on high capacity magazines, increasing CDC research, raising age limits, adding red flag laws, enforcing laws already on the books, and locally investing in juvenile gun violence organizations, community based organizations and religious organizations represent just a few of the multipronged, common sense steps to the non-monocausal quandary. What will be the fallout? Autocracy? More likely: law and order. My chips are on protecting our most vulnerable because, though not monocausal, civilian gun violence, especially with semi-automatic rifles and/or military-style assualt weapons, is pretty much singularly destructive. (And instituting more structure around gun culture could even be an answer to the Right's grievance over loss of institutional faith). All of this is baseline. American freedom can and should be able to withstand the baseline.
Link below. ("People still die in car crashes, so why bother with seatbelts?"). Something, anything. God and the devil are in the details.
NYC. I went to see SJP and Matthew Broderick in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite. Gotta say, I am really, really impressed with Parker's and Broderick's physical comedy skills. It's easy to overlook this kind of mastery on the screen; onstage, it's on obvious display. Broad comedy gets a bad rap in theater these dayz, and/but these two manage to play their slapstick with so much simultaneous zing and gentle charisma. They also have such delightful chemistry (and I hate the overused 'chemistry'...but they have such great chemistry). The play is definitely dated, but, also, who cares? It's fun, it's decadent, and they are supremely charming. It's also great to see seasoned performers - who are married - play with each other with the kind of verve, love, excitability, irritation, boredom, and fight that perhaps only longterm coupledom can grant. The audience is having the BEST TIME.
NYC. Woodshed reunites for some workshopping (pre Broadway shenanigans, before about half of the company invades Circle in the Square): a new piece, text by Jason Gray Platt, direction by Teddy Bergman... Been a loooong time since we were in space together. Great to see these faces NOT on Zoom.