This is not a post about gun control — pro or con or somewhere in the middle. No, this is about some inspiring kids.
The young people who survived last week’s horrible shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have impressed me with their passion for making the world a better place. Right now, the issue may be guns, but I doubt their activism will stop there. As the parent of a young man who will turn 18 tomorrow, I’m excited about the next generation. He’s a good kid, too.
These articulate kids seem to understand that it’s not enough to simply complain and protest. They are demanding accountability from politicians. And — in a move that ought to scare the hell out of career-bought-and-paid-for politicians — they are vowing to vote. And if young folks ever come out to the polls in force, no amount of gerrymandering will be able to stem their power for years to come.
These kids are demanding common-sense gun regulations. What’s next? Are they going to demand we stop punishing kids financially for going to college? Are they going to want a clean planet? Are they going to try to help sick people instead of treating them as cash cows for greedy pharmaceutical and insurance companies? Are they going to demand campaign finance reform and an end to Citizens United? Are they going to fight income inequality and the debt? Are they going to steer us from a constant state of war? Are they going to work to empower the less fortunate rather than demonizing the poor? Continue reading
For a 47-year-old guy, I’ve owned relatively few vehicles in my lifetime. That’s because I drive them until well after they are paid for. In fact, if it weren’t for a kid destroying my car — and almost terminating me — at a red light on Veterans Parkway in 2000, I might still be driving a 1995 Saturn coupe.
The truck I drive today is paid for, and I’ll drive it until it blows up, hits another deer or I win the lottery and pay cash to upgrade myself to some other base model pickup — although perhaps one whose payload capacity allows it not to sink down when hauling life’s necessities like a small cooler or Nerf football.
My wife, on the other hand, had recently grown tired of her nearly-paid-for SUV, which meant that we closed out 2017 by going car shopping. Continue reading
There have been some truly remarkable inventions over the past couple of centuries — the automobile, the airplane, the microwave, the television, the computer and the Weeble Wobble, just to name a handful.
But I think we can all agree that the greatest invention of the past 100 years — perhaps even the last millennium or two — clearly is the snooze button.
Sure, an awful lot of us drive cars, too many of us watch TV and only a handful of disturbed people do not love Weeble Wobbles, but all of us use the snooze button. Those extra nine minutes of sleep — and another nine minutes, and another nine minutes, and “Oh, God! How did it get to be 7:30? I’m late!” — make you truly appreciate how wonderful sleep is.
I know some folks like to brag about how they don’t need much sleep. When I hear of doctors or nurses pulling long shifts without sleep, I’m not impressed but worried.
“Um, would you mind getting someone who’s not shaking from 10 cups of coffee to put that needle in my arm?”
Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump have all claimed to operate on four to six hours of sleep while in office. This allows the leader of the free world more time to chase interns, pick NCAA brackets or tweet — whichever is the most pressing issue of the moment for that particular administration. Continue reading
For many years now, I’ve published my annual Year in Preview in the print edition of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. However, the Ledger-Enquirer’s pages are filled with reports from legitimate journalists about what’s going on in Columbus and around the world — or as President Trump calls it, “Fake News! Sad!”
I cannot afford to have my annual Year in Preview — which is not a bunch of predictions and prognostications about the year 2018 but an actual collection of soon-to-be-proven-true facts — associated with “Fake News!” This is too important.
I’ve already run these by both Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer and they verified that all of what is to follow is a genuine, 100 percent, verified assemblage of words.
Spoiler alert: If you want everything that’s going to happen in 2018 to be a surprise, stop reading now! However, if you want a sneak peek, here’s everything that will happen in … Continue reading
I’m going to take President Trump and Republicans at their word that what they really want to do is boost the middle and lower classes with their tax reform plan. Not only that, but I’m going to help them get everything they want. All they have to do is tackle tax reform in two phases.
Start tax reform with small businesses instead of corporations and with the bottom 90 percent or so of Americans instead of the top 1 percent. President Reagan famously noted that a rising tide lifts all boats as he pitched trickle-down economics in the ’80s. Unfortunately, it lifted all boats in a small pond. Trickle-up economics relies on an oceanic rising tide to lift a whole lot more boats, from the poor boy’s canoe (or kayak in my case) to the greedy man’s yacht. Continue reading
My latest column in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (also shared by the Macon Telegraph here) begins with a question as the headline: “Is it time we replaced America’s national anthem?” This, of course, predictably produced knee-jerk angry reactions when shared on the Ledger-Enquirer’s Facebook page, including one suggesting I should no longer be breathing. (Thank you, James E. B. Miller of Columbus, Georgia, for that one. I can see why you are a valuable employee in the security industry — you gotta know when to take folks down, such as for asking a question.)
Also predictable is that most of the angry folks — if not all — clearly didn’t (or can’t) read the commentary. No one is quite so vociferous in America these days as the ill-informed or ignorant-by-choice. I love it when the angry clueless masses scream at me. However, I actually respect those who disagree after thoughtful consideration and perhaps even the consumption of the written word — beyond the headlines, where so few dare to tread nowadays.
The California NAACP prompted the column idea by calling for replacing the national anthem. I thought that seemed a bit of an overreach and planned to sarcastically offer a multitude of silly suggested replacements. However, after reading more about “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I realized their proposal at least warranted a second look. It’s amazing how reading can help alleviate knee-jerk reactions.
But no. In today’s America of required nationalism and forced patriotism — gee, I wonder where in history we can look for something similar — you can’t question. Submit. Accept. Bow. Pledge your allegiance. Or get out.
I will suggest to those who will not allow even the question “Is it time we replaced America’s national anthem?” that when you’re singing along with your fellow patriots to “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the next football game, don’t sing these six words toward the end: “o’er the land of the free.”
Because, obviously, freedom is not a concept with which you agree.
Last night I took my 17-year-old son to his first real concert — Poppy at a small club called Vinyl in Atlanta. If you haven’t heard of Poppy, she’s an unusual YouTube sensation, more of a visual and sound experiment than a true music star. But she does have an album out and is now touring smallish clubs with most shows selling out.
It’s not my kind of music. The crowd is not my crowd. But it is fairly innocent, and the fans loved it. My son was among those at the front of the stage, while I stood well in the back. If you were there, you may recall having seen an old guy in a Georgia football t-shirt. That was me. Trust me, no one else looked like me — which, granted, may be a good thing for them. The important thing was my son had a blast. That’s all I cared about.
My first real concert as a teenager was in Columbus’ old Municipal Auditorium in 1987. I also was at the front of the stage to witness the tribute to debauchery provided by Murphy’s Law, Fishbone and especially the headliners — the Beastie Boys. It got out of control enough that the cops shut it down, which only enhanced the Beastie Boys’ reputation, much the way slapping those “explicit content” labels helped sell more dirty records. (Probably not the goal Tipper Gore was pursuing with that effort.)
I also had a blast at my first concert, but I didn’t have much fun explaining it all to my parents the next day when the stories and images from the show made the rounds of Columbus media. I remember Columbus DJ Bear O’Brian banning them from airplay on his station after everything he witnessed. As an adult, Bear was repulsed. As a kid, I was thrilled.
But now that I’m an adult, I’m glad my son didn’t start his concert-going with a show like that. Poppy’s weird, and the music is for people who like computer-generated sounds. But she didn’t throw beer on people, didn’t have half-naked girls on stage and the cops didn’t have to shut her performance down.
I think they may have been too weirded out.
Don’t know Poppy? Well, here’s a clip from a show a few days ago. Brace yourself:
Another mass shooting. Another good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun. Another call for everyone being armed everywhere. The left and right reacting predictably. As they say, if you can’t make meaningful changes after Sandy Hook, you never will be able to.
Every time this happens, the gun lovers point out — accurately — that laws won’t prevent a bad person from getting their hands on a gun or from doing evil things with a gun. They say gun laws won’t help. Even paying attention to that key term — “well-regulated” — in the Second Amendment won’t help.
They have a point. No amount of laws can prevent gun violence entirely. In fact, they are so right that we should take it a step further. For instance:
We should eliminate laws against speeding. I see people speed every single day that I drive. Few get caught. The laws aren’t stopping them. And any new laws to curb speeding are really just a slippery slope toward the government ultimately confiscating our vehicles.
No more laws concerning sexual misconduct. From our president’s happy little hands to Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch, it’s obvious they aren’t working.
Theft should be legal. Well, except my gun, of course. You can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Speaking of cold, dead hands, murder should be legal. There are nearly 16,000 homicides per year in the United States — 70 percent by firearms. Murder is against the law and keeps happening.
The same folks who resist laws to restrict firearms usually are for laws restricting abortions. Won’t they keep happening anyway like they did before it was legalized in 1973? Well, maybe not so much. Abortions last year hit their lowest level since 1973.
I definitely agree with their “laws don’t work” stance when it comes to drugs. The drug war has not worked and has, in fact, exacerbated the problem. It makes the drug trade more dangerous but also more profitable. It has treated an illness as a crime and ruined families. And it has increased the rates of theft, murders and firearms violations.
So, they’ve got a point. Laws don’t prevent crime from happening or stop bad people from doing bad things. Let’s just turn America in a constant episode of “The Purge” — but let me buy an AR-15 and a gazillion rounds of ammo first, please.
If you're the kind of person who has a sense of humor, is not easily offended, enjoys resurrecting memories of the good ol' days, misses your grandma's cooking and wants to make the world a little better while having a good time along the way, you're in the right place.
I'm a proud Southerner, even though I buck a lot of Southern stereotypes. Some might consider my perspective to be "out of the box," but I prefer to think of myself as the kind of guy who crushes the box and plays with the bubble wrap. In short, I like to toss rocks and make ripples in the pond. If unique perspectives rattle you or you don't have time to have a little fun in this crazy world, then you're probably in the wrong place.
Be sure to like my Facebook page, sign up for email updates and check out my columns in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer every Tuesday.
Chris Johnson is a multi-award-winning columnist for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, although his real job is in communications — writing, video, publishing, photography, social media, websites and all that jazz. A native of delightfully small Oglethorpe, Ga., he now lives in Perry, Ga., with his wife Shellie. They have three children.