Three birds with one stone.
Not again. On Monday, Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr. took a gun to Perry Hall High School, northeast of Baltimore, and fired shots in the cafeteria at lunch time. He hit Daniel Borowy, a student with Down Syndrome. Daniel remains in critical condition. Thanks to quick action by staff — namely, guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, who wrestled the gun out of Gladden’s hand — there were no more injuries nor any casualties. Gladden’s lawyer, George Psoras, begs the public not to jump to conclusions, urging that this was not another Columbine, and saying, “This is a typical teenager who was just starting this school year. He was being bullied, and the bullying has to stop.”
You’re wrong, Mr. Psoras. For one, Gladden himself told police there was no bullying, and two, his action prove he is not a typical teenager at all. On the first day of school, typical teenagers take books, notebooks, pencils, nervousness, fear, thoughts of old crushes, and the anticipation of reuniting with old friends to share summer vacation stories, and the excitement of making new friends and meeting new teachers. Typical teenagers do not take guns to school and fire shots in a crowded cafeteria.
I understand Psoras is the defense attorney, and he has to come up with some argument in support of his client, but come on. At some point, he must admit that the teen knew what he was doing. Gladden updated his Facebook status that morning with “First day of school, last day of my life. F— the world.” He also stashed “a bag with a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka” in a restroom before taking the gun out at lunchtime. Also, police say he took a drink of vodka before the shooting. (Heck, even Sandusky’s lawyers had a strong feeling of his guilt.) Shame on you, George Psoras, for trying to argue what can’t be wholly be argued.
In related news, on Monday, I returned home to a notice on my apartment door. There have been recent day-time burglaries at gunpoint in my neighborhood, which included a woman walking to the bus stop at 6 AM, and a middle school student coming home from school at 3 PM, and there have been a few apartment break-ins. The flyer called for an emergency community meeting to take back our neighborhood; I went, and was welcomed by the mostly black, mostly senior group of residents (“You’re a sign that our neighborhood is changing for the better,” they said. “We need new people.”) Kudos to a changing D.C. neighborhood for being brave and civic-minded enough to demand their right to safety.
My point is this: I like to think that if I had to encounter a gunman in my neighborhood on my walk to and from the bus stop, that I’d be quick-minded enough — like guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer — and do something like kick the gunman in his crotch so I could get away, but I don’t know. I hope I never have to experience such an encounter. (I was mugged at gunpoint in 2006 near the U Street corridor; oddly enough, I told the three teens they could have my fifty dollars but I wanted my wallet back. And, they gave it back to me!)
Three New Jersey teachers and two principals have been suspended for “coaching” third graders on state-wide exams in 2010. The report says the students won’t be punished — after all, they didn’t know better — but the adults surely will be. These adults have set a bad example to students, at an early age, that what matters are high ranks and scores, not discovering and learning. What they did is not education, and these people are not educators. Shame on them! (Sadly, no kudos in this story.)
Here’s another shameful story. Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger are suing Continental Airlines, claiming that baggage checkers removed a dildo from their luggage and taped it outside for everyone in baggage claim to see, says SF Weekly. On May 21, 2011, the couple flew from Costa Rica to Norfolk, Virginia, via Houston, only to find, at baggage claim, that their privacy had been invaded when their luggage rolled onto the luggage carousel.
The lawsuit states: “Plaintiffs’ bags were sent to the baggage carousel where plaintiffs discovered, to their horror, that a private sex toy had been removed from one of their bags, covered in a greasy foul-smelling substance and taped prominently to the top of their bag.”
It further states: “Plaintiffs were experiencing such a high degree of shock and embarrassment that they felt compelled to call two friends to come to the airport to assist them. Fortunately, the friends arrived and were able to assist plaintiffs out of the airport and to their home, but by that time the damage had already been done, and plaintiffs had suffered severe emotional trauma.”
Emotional trauma seems like such a meek phrase for such a scurrilous act. Heck, I would suffer emotional trauma, gross embarrassment, and humiliation, too, if it had been me! I feel terribly bad for the couple; their disturbing experience is yet another example of how gays are discriminated against in this country. Of course, the baggage checkers — employed by Continental Airlines or TSA? — may not have known the luggage belonged to a gay couple, but still, at the very least, we all expect that when we check our bags, which might undergo a routine search, we can trust in full discretion and professionalism. Shame on you, Continental Airline baggage checkers, and double shame on the airline for not making a statement or offering an apology regarding the allegations. Kudos to the couple for being brave enough to take action.