A live performance at the Bass Performance Hall
A live performance at the Brady Theater
A live performance at the Peoples Bank Theatre
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
A live performance at the Saenger Theatre
We’re all waiting patiently for the Supreme Court to decide the Colorado wedding cake case, whether a baker can be required to bake one for Adam and Steve––as he’s baked them for Solomon and his 700 wives, though the baker says his religious beliefs tell him homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord.
As a legal issue, this ranks rather low. Most people I know are capable of purchasing a cake icing pen and writing “Congratulations, Adam and Steve” on a cake, rather than making a federal case of it. But okay. There it is.
Meanwhile, a kid walks into a high school in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 and shoots up the place. The same people who defend the baker’s right not to make the wedding cake argue that the kid was entitled to buy an assault weapon, no questions asked, and to carry it on his person as he waited for school to let out.
To most of us, this makes no sense at all. Those of us who mingle with the general population and use public transportation now and then are fairly well accustomed to the presence of gay persons in America. Gayness is no more remarkable than having brown eyes. What’s weird is to see someone carrying a gun who doesn’t have a badge.
The statistics are clear. Hunting used to be an ordinary ritual and it isn’t anymore: about 6 percent of the population hunts. This is about the same as the percentage of Christians who believe the Second Coming will occur in their lifetime.
If you believe that, then politics has no meaning to you. If the world is about to end, then what’s the point of higher education or scientific research or long-term investment? Why have babies?
About 3 percent of the population owns half the guns. Think on that for a moment. Now we are talking about true weirdness: men who are fascinated by weaponry and feel good about owning an arsenal. Deer hunting is about tracking an animal, getting in position for a good shot. You don’t fire 30 rounds to bring down the deer. You don’t go to a shooting range and fire a hundred rounds at a paper target. Now we’re talking about men who simply love to cradle a semi-automatic in their arms. They belong in Wyoming. Florida is too heavily populated for that.
To the overwhelming majority of Americans, it would feel exceedingly weird to be led down to the basement by a nephew or cousin and shown his armory of AR-15s and pistols. You would not feel good about coming back to that house, any more than if he had shown you his pornography collection or his secret shrine to the heroes of the Confederacy.
This tiny, tiny minority is what resists the idea of taking a closer look at young Mr. Cruz before he is sold an AR-15.
I’m not so concerned about Adam and Steve. Gay America has power in the marketplace. The baker who won’t make a cake for them is headed for unemployment. In Oklahoma and Texas, Adam and Steve can simply walk into a bakery with an AR-15 over their shoulder and ask for a cake and probably the baker will reconsider his religious objections.
I’m more concerned about schoolkids. Kindergarteners all over this country now know the meaning of “lockdown” and “active shooter” and have gone through drills to prepare for the eventuality. In the America I grew up in, school was unlocked, and we thought about history and poetry and didn’t listen for big boots in the hall. The horror visited upon the families of Parkland is a horror we have come to accept. The deaths of our young, due to the political cowardice of the middle-aged, is a slash of shame on the name of America.
I give up on my generation entirely and the one after us, but it’s encouraging to read about teenagers in Florida and elsewhere who are prepared to make an issue of this in November. Good! This is a way to learn something about democracy you won’t learn by reading about the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The younger generation has gotten a bad rap, going around with wires in their ears, tattoos on their necks, iPhones in their faces, but if they showed up at campaign rallies with signs that said, “Stop Killing Kids,” it would be a step toward maturity. The first rule of politics: stand up for yourself. Time for the 97 percent to make their feelings known.