Did They Really Have to Shoot Her


If you love crime novels set along the coast of Southern California, you’ll love South on Pacific Coast Highway. Think Chandler and Hammett and the great noir films from the thirties and forties. Sultry dames and unsolved murders, bad cops and even badder criminals. A crisp but measured pace, with the desert wind for a backdrop…
Or perhaps you’d like to read about Americans incarcerated in Mexican prisons during the sixties. My fact based, crime fiction novel, The Trip Into Milky Way, captures unforgettably those wild years, from the early days, when we were just kids growing up and were still young and foolish enough to believe there was magic in this world and the great counterculture adventure waited ahead of us…

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What a week of ironies. What a sad and senseless day at the capital. In the wake of Tom Clancy kicking the bucket, the capital police and secret service pulled off just the kind of gung ho, rah rah, we’re America and don’t fuck with us type of military operation that Clancy loved to champion, except it happened to be an unarmed, 34 year old woman they plugged full of holes, with her 1 year old daughter strapped into the back seat. The further irony being, those idiots in Congress were busy trying to kill a law that would have provided just the kind of mental health care this woman so desperately needed.

To hear the various members of Congress give praise to those who purportedly protected them left me feeling sickened. Couldn’t they have just shot out her tires? Is there never an alternative course of action in situations like these, besides 20 guys unloading their magazines into a person’s chest? Do any of us really feel safer tonight with this poor woman dead? Is there anyone else out there shaking their head to know that poor little girl will never grow up to see her mother?

In watching the news, I could not help but think back to when Reagan, in his zeal for smaller government, cut funding for mental health and thousands of refugees from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were unceremoniously tossed out on their ears. I was living in San Clemente, CA at the time and remember vividly how we suddenly had dozens of poor souls wandering the streets with shopping carts and babbling to themselves. As with every mass shooting we have had to endure in recent years, thank you NRA, mental health has been at the core of the tragedy. We sweep this problem under the rug at our own peril. We sweep this problem under the rug at far greater cost than it would have demanded of us, had we simply started out with a simple credo. Take care of our own.

Can’t speak for anyone else, but the death of that poor woman continues to haunt me. What in God’s name was she thinking? How do these things get this far? I could channel Twain and say, they shot the wrong guy. We would all be better off if those gunslingers had shot some of the idiots they were sanctioned to protect, but none of it’s funny. Imagine if that was your sister, or your mother, or your daughter. While some are so busy trying to undo a law, however flawed, that was intended to help our most vulnerable citizens, perhaps we can remember that young woman as a symbol of what happens when we fail to work together as a society…

 

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