Friday, March 04, 2016

Deep in the Shit in Texas

Something is happening in Texas that the rest of the country needs to heed.  It's not getting a lot of attention, but it should.

It's bad enough that maniacs can get lots of guns, but it's a lot daunting that guns turn people into maniacs.  That's the charitable view of what's been happening in predominately GOPer state legislatures and state houses, as they compete to see who can come up with the most dangerously insane gun legislation.

Not to be outdone, Texas pushed the boundaries with a law that states that its universities MUST allow concealed firearms on campus.

But now that this law is actually going to take effect, the ground is moving beneath Texas, and its deep heart is in deep shit.

First, the law could only cover state-sponsored universities.  Private universities were given the option of allowing open carry and concealed guns.  Since the law goes into effect in August, they're making their choices. So far exactly none of the Texas private universities is allowing guns.  Zero.  This includes Christian colleges, though some are still praying on the matter.

But public universities and colleges have no choice, and it's freaking them out.  At least one University of Texas dean has quit and found a job in another state, announcing his opposition to the law and stating that it was a factor in his decision to get out of  Tombstone.

And that, it is feared, may be just the beginning: a brain drain that includes faculty leaving or not replenishing the ranks, and smarter students not coming at all,  Gee, who could have seen that coming?

As Texas public universities study the law, they find their options are few.  They can apparently keep guns out of dorms but not classrooms.  (How does that work?) But that's apparently still being debated by some universities.

 Meanwhile, the University of Houston has come up with suggestions for managing this new classroom situation, and it boils down to: don't say anything that might make somebody mad.

Don't teach controversial topics.  Unfortunately, as almost everything these days is controversial to someone, that's going to be difficult.  Not to mention an obvious deterrent to learning.  Academic freedom is on its way to becoming the latest victim of guns.  As well as education.

Some professors are pushing back.  Some at the University of Texas have signed a public petition vowing they won't permit guns in their classrooms, citing free speech concerns.  Ya think?

Other states are watching.  Georgia and Tennessee are among states with similar bills in process.  But it's not just southern states.  There are laws on the books in states like Pennsylvania that prevent city and other local governments from regulating guns in their jurisdictions.

 Guns in bars and restaurants, at Little League games, city council meetings, rock concerts, PTA meetings etc. are legal in lots of places now.  And of course,the stories of gun violence in these places, and in homes brimming with firearms, are ever more numerous.

 So why not guns on campus? Where late adolescents are exploring sex, drugs, drinking and new ideas, experiencing group pressures and learning about themselves as individuals, feeling the assumptions they've grown up with challenged in multiple ways (often simply by the presence of students from different backgrounds),  questioning anything and sometimes everything, while worrying about careers, grades, job prospects, teachers, family, each other and how the hell to pay back those loans.  What could possibly go wrong?

The absolutist interpretation of the second amendment trumps all other rights in America. This despite the fact that the words "well-regulated" appear in the amendment text.

So Americans have no right to peaceably assemble, to speak freely, eat lunch or apparently to learn anything, without the high threat level of an armed person going off and maiming and killing friends, family members and total strangers--lots of them, who may never even see who shot them.

We're so focused on the terrorist threat that we spend billions to counter it, and have given up most of our privacy.  But most Americans are less likely to be harmed by a foreign terrorist than by another American with a gun.

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