How Americans Celebrate

[UPDATE]:

Apparently there were not one but two “celebratory gunfire” injuries in downtown Nashville. Slow clap.

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Happy Birthday, Murica! How did you celebrate our national holiday? Did you do it with guns? C’mon, you know you did. You know you did!

Did you remember the law of gravity? That what goes up must come down? You know you didn’t!

What follows is a brief and by no means comprehensive look at American gunfail, Fourth of July style. And I’m going to start right here at home:

• Nashville:

A 9-year-old girl was struck by a bullet in downtown Nashville Saturday night while waiting for the fireworks show to begin.

The girl, who was visiting Nashville with her parents from Mississippi, was waiting with her family at First Avenue South and Korean Veterans Boulevard before the show when she felt a pain in her back, according to a news release from Metro Nashville police. She was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and treated for a small caliber wound, the release says. The injury is not critical.

ALSO:

A man also sustained a gunshot wound from a stray bullet while in the parking lot of Nissan Stadium during the fireworks.

The male victim was in parking lot C with his wife and two friends when a bullet traveled through is right arm and became lodged in his left wrist.

He was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Police told News 2 his injury was determined to be accidental and to have come from someone shooting a gun in the area.

Not exactly a tourism selling point, guys.

• Pittsburgh, PA:

Woman shot at Kennywood amusement park, possibly by celebratory gunfire

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. (AP) — Police say a woman was shot while inside an amusement park in suburban Pittsburgh, and they’re investigating whether the bullet came from someone nearby celebrating the Fourth of July.

Allegheny County Police say the 26-year-old woman was in stable condition following the shooting just after 10 p.m. Saturday at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. She was struck in the upper chest near her shoulder.

• College Park, GA:

Fulton County police have identified a person of interest in the death of a 16-year-old girl they believe was killed by celebratory Fourth of July gunfire.

Rasheedah Evans, 16, was inside her home on Harper Valley Drive in College Park on Saturday night when she was struck by a stray bullet and killed. Fulton County police spokesman Lt. Scott McBride said detectives have since identified 23-year-old Marcel Smith as a person of interest.

Inside her home. Even in your own home you aren’t safe. UNbelievable.

• Council Bluffs, IA:

A 7-year-old Council Bluffs boy is recovering after being wounded in the shoulder by a stray bullet fired into the air Saturday night.

Police say the boy was standing in the driveway of his home near North 26th Street and Avenue J around 10:30 p.m., watching the neighborhood fireworks with his grandparents when he began crying, complaining of pain in his right shoulder. His grandmother noticed a small amount of blood and thought he’d been struck by a firework. When she took him inside to clean the wound she discovered the bullet.

Spartanburg County, SC:

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. —The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office says a young man is in the ICU after getting accidentally shot in the head by his friend.

According to investigators, the friends were setting off fireworks for the July 4 holiday when someone — apparently angered by what they were doing — drove by and fired shots into the air.

Lt. Kevin Bobo said the two then got into vehicles to retaliate for the gunfire. Upon reaching the intersection of Chelsea Street and Old Farm Road, the friend fired at a vehicle but ended up striking the car where the victim sat.

Wild wild West, y’all. Weren’t we told that would never happen?

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Tennessee Terrorism Update

Here’s an update on Tennessee’s own home-grown anti-Muslim terrorist, Robert R. Doggart. I wrote about him back in May. He’s a failed Congressional candidate who plotted to “utterly destroy” the upstate New York village of Islamberg.

Doggart confessed after he was wiretapped discussing his plans to burn down a Muslim school, mosque and to shoot anyone who tried to stop him and his “militia.” But if you thought getting caught plotting a terrorist attack on Muslims would actually get you labeled a terrorist, you would be wrong:

Doggart was arrested April 10 and charged with soliciting others to violate civil rights, attempts to damage religious property because of the religious character of the property and making threats through interstate communication. He pleaded guilty to interstate communication of threats and was released on bond to home confinement. He may not face any jail time.

“If a Muslim had planned to carry out such a religiously-motivated deadly attack, he would certainly have been labeled a terrorist and charged accordingly,” said National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We ask the Obama administration to rescind the plea agreement, which – as it stands – could see this individual free in the community.”

What is it about white, male right-wing hate that is never recognized as terrorism? If this was Muslims planning an attack on a church or Christian school, every cable and network news program would be covering it non-stop. I’ve seen little if any news coverage of Doggart in Tennessee newspapers, even though the guy ran for Congress.

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Filed under conservatives, right-wing hate, Tennessee

Happy Independence Day!

I hope all of my lovely readers enjoy the holiday! Fourth of July traditions at our house: queso and margaritas, watching Wimbledon, and trying to avoid the crowds. This year Nashville’s fireworks display is supposed to be the country’s largest, and we plan to avoid downtown at all costs.

This is Willie’s first Fourth of July (he just turned one year old) and he’s already decided this is his least favorite holiday. His nerves are completely shot. The other night one of our neighbors was setting off fireworks in their backyard while I was walking the dog and he nearly took my hand off when he bolted.

Last night the private Christian college down the street from us had their annual fireworks display. We usually forget about it until we see a few sparkles high above a huge stand of trees across the street from our house. So this year we decided to set up some lawnchairs in front of campus and watch the display. Let me tell you: we were so close to the action, we could see the stuff coming out of their charges on the ground. When I asked a security guard if it was safe to be this close to where the fireworks were deployed he answered, “This ground has been blessed by Jesus!” Alrighty, then. Well, we survived.

I snapped a quickie video for y’all. Enjoy, be safe, don’t drink and drive, keep the pets indoors, and remember: no celebratory gunfire!

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Panic At The Mall

So, this happened yesterday:

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) — The Fayetteville Police Department has charged an Army soldier after getting multiple reports of an armed gunman at Cross Creek Mall Thursday evening.

A huge number of law enforcement officers flooded the mall located off the All American Expressway when 911 calls started coming in just before 6:30 p.m.

Photos showed several stores with security gates pulled down. Some store employees locked themselves inside businesses until officers told them it was safe to come out.

Eyewitnesses said it was a moment of sheer terror.

“They were, very panicked, actually a lot of kids were crying,” said eyewitness Francheska Penn. “They did not understand why adults were running – kind of a scary thing. Everyone just dove in sheer panic. They did not understand what was going on.”

On surveillance video, the man wearing a military vest and carrying an assault rifle was seen walking into and out of the mall entrance. Police said he was arrested outside the building near the Macy’s wing of the mall.

Bryan Scott Wolfinger was charged with “going armed to the terror of the public.” Wolfinger said he intended to get his picture taken with the military gear,

…something police called a “poor decision.”

Gee, ya think?

Meanwhile, Nashville, Tennessee has its “Radnor Lake Rambo,” who wears body armor and carries his rifle in front of high schools and in popular state parks:

embody

Hey, can we get one of those “going armed to the terror of the public” laws, too? Because in an age where people are opening fire on schools, shopping malls and Bible studies, there is no way of knowing whether someone is there to open fire or open carry until it’s too fucking late — and everybody knows it.

I don’t know if Wolfinger is just a dumb kid or an activist gun humper like Nashville’s Radnor Lake Rambo. But the result is always the same: terrorizing the public. They know, it too. They troll the public and use our court system in an effort to normalize that which will never, ever be normalized. It’s not normal to walk around armed to the teeth, guys. It’s just not. And I’ve gotta ask: what kind of asshole causes panic at the mall and makes small children cry in the interest of “exercising mah rahts!” An open carry asshole, that’s who.

So, here’s the Fayetteville Mall last night:

FayettevilleMall

Gotta wonder how much longer major retailers like Macy’s are going to tolerate this “sheer terror at the mall” shit before they start trying to exert some influence over state legislatures. Gun loons are trolling the Gun Sense crowd on social media, saying the problem is us — those people shouldn’t have been scared, they say. What they’re really saying is, Bryan Scott Wolfinger is a white guy so why should anyone be worried about him wearing body armor and carrying military weaponry? Well, Dylann Roof was a white guy, too. As were Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In fact, since 1982, white people have committed 64% of mass shootings in the United States. And 90% of all murders are committed by men. So yeah, if you’re a white male exercising your Constitutional right to open carry while wearing body armor, the ensuing panic is not unfounded.

Again: nobody knows if you’re there to open carry or open fire until it’s too late.

Meanwhile, there’s a bill in the House of Representatives that would require gun owners carry liability insurance. HR 2546, the Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2015, makes way too much sense for the gun humpers, thus it carries a “0% chance of being enacted” prognosis. With the House under the thumb of the NRA, oops I mean, Republicans, this very sensible piece of legislation will never make it to a vote. Which is too bad. Because when one of our many Second Amendment Heroes causes property damage or physical damage due to their inability to clean, load, unload, carry, hold, practice shooting or in all other ways be around their manliness substitute, the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for it.

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Sign of the Times

Sign in front of what I affectionately call the Wingnut Bible Church located near my house:

WingnutBibleChurch

The Wingnut Bible Church appears in this space about once a year. Last year they were (illegally) advertising a fringe U.S. State Senate candidate. Every Memorial Day and July Fourth they put dozens of American flags out on their lawn, too. Because Jesus was totally all about America, you guys.

Wonder if they’ll go all in with the American flag display this Independence Day or if they’re so disgusted with SCOTUS that they’ll take a pass.

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Filed under gay equality, GLBT, Nashville, Tennessee

Congratulations, Unidentified Texas Man Joseph Austin of Kansas! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

[UPDATE]:

He was trying to unload the gun when it fired and another man was nicked in the leg.

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Dude, seriously? At the airport?

HOUSTON (KTRK) — A gun was accidentally fired at the ticket counter inside Bush Airport today.

According to airport officials, a passenger at the Delta ticket counter in Terminal A had a gun in his carry-on baggage and was taking it out to check it in. That’s when it reportedly fired inside the bag.

The man was detained and questioned at the airport. He’s facing a deadly conduct charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Safest, most responsible ever? How about safest, most responsible NEVER!

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TN Legislature Grandstanding Over Nonexistent Threat

Apparently Tennessee legislators are unfamiliar with the First Amendment of our Constitution because they have been crafting a “Pastor Protection Act” to make sure no pastors are forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies:

A new bill in Tennessee seeks to “protect” churches and clergy from performing same-sex marriages. But is it necessary?

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday. State Reps. Bryan Terry and Andy Holt anticipated the Supreme Court ruling and have been working on the bill for several months, reports Nashville’s CBS affiliate.

Both representatives reject the validity of yesterday’s decision. “God is the ultimate Supreme Court and he has spoken. Marriage is between one man, and one woman,” Representative Holt said in a press release.

The proposed law would reiterate protections already in place. As Representative Terry noted, “The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.” He also cited Article 1 Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution and said “personal freedom of religion is protected and no human authority can interfere in the rights of conscience.”

Oh. So they know this law is unncessary but they want to “reiterate” protections already in place because Tennessee politicians can never pass up an opportunity to grandstand on the culture wars. Which they are always losing, I might add.

Hey, if you guys want to write in stone how you’re yet again on the wrong side of history, be my guest.

What this really comes down to, of course, is religious conservatives wanting to be protected from criticism for being on the wrong side of history. Sure as day follows night, there will be a case where a same-sex couple wants to use a pavilion or building owned by a religious non-profit and they will be denied — legally. And it will hit social media, and they will be mocked for their recidivist stance, and there will be pearls to be clutched and couches on which to faint, and once again conservatives will confuse free speech with the free hand.

This will happen because this always happens. Hell, churches around the South still have a problem with interracial couples.

So why don’t we dispense with the bullshit and remind everyone that nobody is forcing anyone to perform a ceremony they don’t want to perform — hell, religious groups have been refusing to officiate ceremonies between divorced couples, interfaith couples, etc. since forever. None of that is changing. Lots of churches already refuse to rent out their buildings for weddings to couples who are not church members. Why? Because weddings are a huge pain in the ass for church staff.

So nothing is going to change. And every time you idiots grandstand about how God doesn’t wants gays to get married and God Hates Fags and all that crap we’re going to mock you and tell you you’re wrong and call you names. And that noise is just going to get louder and louder.

[ALSO, let me repeat: Tennessee Republicans are really off the mark when they grandstand on the homophobic crap but can’t be bothered to grandstand with a vote of disapproval when the goddamn Ku Klux Klan holds their annual meeting at one our state parks.]

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Filed under culture wars, gay equality, GLBT, religious right, Tennessee, Tennessee politics