Let Them Have Guns!

I had never considered giving our teachers guns because that seems a little North Korea-ish and also goes against everything we should have learned from Matilda, but this week it keeps coming up on my news feeds. Even the president mentioned it. Trump suggested that we could give teachers guns and also give them a little bit of a bonus for being armed, which would be “practically for free”, acknowledging that we pay teachers so little that a bonus on teacher pay standards is barely even noticeable in any type of realistic budget.

Anyone who thinks administrators want their teachers to have guns has no clue how the education system in this country actually works. Recently, there was a video circulating where an unarmed teacher was escorted out and handcuffed for questioning why the superintendent’s new contract included a $30,000 a year raise when teachers and other staff were not receiving raises. I am guessing that particular superintendent is not going to vote for arming his teachers. He doesn’t even want his teachers armed with a voice.

Teachers have been undervalued in both respect and compensation basically since teachers, so when I make the argument that teachers should not, under any circumstance, be armed, maybe I am being hasty. Teachers are amazing at multitasking, and I embrace the idea of considering our teachers as heroes, but imagining a teacher as she diagrams sentences on the board, with dry erase markers she bought with her own money, pulling a John Wayne as a troubled and maniacal killer bursts into the room is a bit of a stretch. For starters, the idea that the teacher is going to shoot someone who is most likely a current or former student, seems problematic. For ending the conversation entirely, it might be important to consider the liability issues.

I don’t think teachers should be armed in order to serve as low cost security guards, but perhaps since we keep suggesting it to them, teachers might be interested in having guns and taking advantage of their second amendment right. If any group of citizens in America has the need and the capacity to form a well-regulated militia, it is our teachers. What kind of group could emerge in our society that would have the motivation and capacity to join together and stand up in arms against tyranny? It would have to be a group of people who are not only dissatisfied with their current conditions, underpaid and over stressed, but also highly organized, educated and energetic.

Creating an ad hoc army would not be easy; it would require the type of people who are able to get twenty children who are ordinarily unable to sit still long enough to eat four chicken nuggets to sit at attention for eight hours. It would take the kind of people who can raise their hands like Moses and get a table of first graders to stand up in the lunchroom, gather all their dishes and trash, and exit out of the room single file. It would be people who can get our most unruly citizens to march in a straight line and then get them to fall silent with the simple motion of an index finger to the lips.

A citizen militia will be low on resources, so it will require the kind of people who know how to get by with almost no budget and are willing to put up their own money for the cause, people who have been taking no for an answer for decades and continue to show up, not for money but because they believe what they are doing each day makes our country a better place.  It will require people who know history and how to print legibly. It will definitely require custom t-shirts.

My point here is that maybe everything deserves at least minimal consideration. When I hear people talking about arming the teachers, my first thought is that it is an asinine idea and is an attempt to sidestep any real solution to America’s gun problem. But who am I to deny citizens their right to secure a free state? For some people, maybe that means having employers that pay for their pens—and not that Bic Ballpoint bullshit. Real pens with ink. Maybe it means demanding equitable pay and a reasonable level of value placed on doing a job that is vital to America’s future.

 

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Dating Across Party Lines

In the spring of 2017, I went on a date with someone I met online. It was Bumble, the supposedly feminist dating app, which is different because men can’t message a woman unless she messages him first, so basically women are stuck with more of the work. I have been on many online dates since my divorce four years ago, and this one didn’t necessarily start out any different, but we had chemistry, and I was fairly confident we would see each other again. I wasn’t sure what would happen beyond that because we were somewhat different. We didn’t talk about it, but there were signs. I had recently marched in Washington, D.C. in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump, and he drove a big white truck with a YETI sticker on the bumper.

If we met a few years ago, I may not have gone out with him again. I might have crafted a T-chart, with things like “wears cowboy boots” on one side and “makes me happy” on the other, as if those were equivalent in importance. Luckily, I had experience dating post-divorce and after many break ups and some good therapy sessions I learned that I should not plan my entire future with, or without, someone on the first date. Maybe instead I should just have fun and see what happens, which feels like driving down a dark, canopy road with no headlights. As someone who prefers to plan ahead, I want my dating endeavors to be like doing taxes with Turbotax, “You are now 75% done!”

With this particular person, I climbed up into his front seat and just went along for the ride. During the first several weeks, I was having too much fun to perform any kind of assessment, and I never felt insecure enough to freak out because he was different than most of the other guys I had dated, meaning that he was not a jerk, married, or dead inside. We did not discuss our political opinions at the beginning, and sometimes that was a bit of a cloud, leaving me wondering if it would eventually rain on our love parade.

As a writer, who writes about my personal life and opinions, it is difficult to keep my ideologies out of the public sphere. I am one quick Google search away from being an open book. One night leaned up against a railing staring at the Gulf of Mexico, we bridged the subject. He said he did not want to be with someone who was his mirror image. I agreed. I work with a radical feminist group in Tallahassee, and when I first mentioned that I was going to a meeting, I called it “a women’s group” as if we were gathering to talk about the new edition of our local cookbook and not working to topple the patriarchy. He was not fooled and told me he was proud that I fight for what I believe. With that moment, I metaphorically inched a little closer to him in the cab of his truck.

Now, I have space in a closet he cleared out for me at his house. He moved some suits that he never wears and a few jackets to make room, but left a half-dozen shotguns. Every time I slide open the closet door, I see them lined up between my row of strappy sandals and the ruffled hems of my sundresses. They are a reminder that life is most interesting when it offers up the unexpected. We do not often talk about politics when we are together. That is why I have a Twitter account. When an issue does come up, I am usually able to at least understand why he would feel that way, unless he mentions something about emails. What I have realized is that I love him more than I love being right, and I am not sure I could have felt that way in a relationship before my 40th decade. We probably won’t ever celebrate 50 years together, unless both of us make some serious lifestyle changes, like cryogenics, but I am thankful every day that I did not meet him a moment sooner.