Friday, July 24, 2015

The NRA Should Fund Mental Health Programs

Shooting massacres in our country are beginning to be the norm. We are becoming less and less shocked to hear the breaking news bulletins.  So far, three in a month!  People claim they are fed up?  But what are they willing to do about it? 
All three shootings have two things in common:  Guns and mental illness. 

While there are no easy fixes for either, mental illness is much harder to deal with than guns.  But there are a few things we can do.  A good start would be universal background checks to purchase a gun and a clause in existing laws that pose sanctions against mental health professionals who do not report a person with a significant mental health problem that they know is potentially violent.  The German Wings Airline pilot this past March comes to mind because several mental health professionals knew he was unfit to fly.  I’m aware this incident did not happen in the USA but it could.

I have written here before about how funding for treating mental illness has been cut drastically.  A person suffering from mental illness can’t get help, even if they knew where to go.  Everybody knows where to go buy a gun but few know where to go to get mental health help.  Families are the first to know if a relative is mentally ill.  They need to know where to take their loved one for help.

I can hear it now, “there she goes again, wanting the government to spend more money on the needy.”  Nope, my solution is for the National Rifle Association (NRA) fund this program.  Instead of spending their advertising dollars on instilling fear to promote more gun purchases and acquire more member dues, they should promote a public service announcement on where to get mental health treatment.  They should do it to show good faith that the NRA acknowledges that some times guns are used in the wrong way.  The NRA’s role in liberalizing carrying and buying guns is certainly not the solution to gun violence.  The NRA has been responsible for this gun ownership issue getting out of hand through fear mongering.  Just like BP had to clean up the oil mess on the Gulf that they caused, the NRA should have to clean up their mess.  They can afford it and IF they were to do something that magnanimous, even I might become a member.  Nah.

What I do want is for guns to be used for what they were intended for; protecting your home and property and shooting animals to feed your family.  I also don’t see the need to own a gun bigger and more powerful than it would take to accomplish the above.

There is only one group of people who are more powerful than the NRA.  There is only one group that politicians will pay more attention to than the NRA if their voices are loud enough.   That group is the citizens of this country.  We saw in South Carolina how fast the process can move if people yell loud enough. 

As I see it, we can start right here in Georgia by demanding the repeal of the recently enacted Guns Everywhere Law.  That law is just wrong on many counts.  I am going to start practicing what I preach.  If I am in an establishment and I see someone carrying a gun in a place that I typically should feel safe, I will walk out.  If someone enters my church wearing a gun (other than Sheriff Bittick), I will walk out.  If I go to a movie theater and see someone with a gun, I won’t walk out, I’ll run out.  It’s called voting with your feet (or wallet).  We put pressure on business, business puts pressure on the Governor, and if enough people participate, we may get a sensible “carry” law in Georgia as early as 2016 when the legislature meets. 

I know I have really gone over the line now with our conservative readers.  I know it is against the law to mention “guns” and “NRA” in any constructive manner.  I am fully aware that the mere mention of the word “gun” makes the brains of some explode, and normal, reasonable people are transformed into a raging bull. “You ain’t gonna take my guns!”  This is a reaction to the brainwashing by the National Rifle Association.  Hear this!  NOBODY IS TRYING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS!  Regardless of what the NRA says, OBAMA IS NOT TRYING TO TAKE YOUR GUNS!  I DON’T WANT TO TAKE YOUR GUNS!  I just don’t think crazy people should have guns.  If you fall in that category, I’m sorry I offended you.

Marilyn Langford

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Legendary Georgia Cook and Comedian Dies-Glen Buckner

Glen E. Buckner, age 85, of High Falls passed away last week.  Glen Buckner was a legend, not just in High Falls, but all of Georgia.  You may know him as the owner of Buckner’s Family Restaurant just off I-75 on Buck Snort Road.  This restaurant is a source of many memories for families and friends coming together for a meal in a home setting.  Buckner’s is also known for the gospel music hall adjoining the restaurant and has hosted many well known gospel recording artists. 

While he and his wife, Evelyn were successful in the Buckner’s Family Restaurant business, this success did not happen by accident.  Despite years of struggling and facing much adversity, they worked hard and never gave up.  Evelyn told about their first Thanksgiving together.  All they could afford was a can of Spam that she baked and they pretended they were eating turkey. 

In 1974, I was living in Savannah and attended a conference in Atlanta.  I had heard much about “Underground Atlanta” so I decided to check it out.  The only memory that stuck with me about that night was an organ grinder with two trained monkeys.  That act was hilarious.

Fast forward thirty years, just after I moved to High Falls.  I learned that the organ grinder was none other than, Glen Buckner.  Small world, huh?  Over the years I never tired of hearing stories about his monkeys, most of which I could not print.

Too many years ago to count, I was fortunate enough to have a work schedule that allowed me to join the coffee club at a High Falls restaurant. That’s when I got to know Glen and Evelyn.  I soon realized that Glen Buckner was the most uniquely funny person I’d ever known.  Each day the coffee club members looked forward to see what Glen would say or stir up that day. 

Glen Buckner’s comedic talent was star worthy.  Additionally, Glen and Evelyn together took me back to the days of George Burns and Gracie Allen.  I wish they had taken their show on the road.

As I heard more and more jokes and quips, I coined the word, “Bucknerisms” and would like to share some of those with you now.

Glen:    “I’m taking Evelyn to one of those fancy places where they cook the food in front of you.  What’s that place, Evelyn?
Evelyn:  Japanese Steak House?
Glen:  Oh, I know.  Waffle House!

Glen was excited about getting new hearing aids, (and so was Evelyn).  The day after he was supposed to get his hearing aids, he arrived at the coffee club and someone asked, “Where’s your hearing aids, Glen?”  He responded, “They’re here in this box.”  Everyone wanted to know why?  Glen said, “The doctor said I had to get used to them first.”  The next day, when he arrived, he told us that he called back to the audiology nurse and the conversation went something like this:  Glen:  “You told me to put the one with the red dot in my right ear.  Where do I put the one with the blue dot?”  Audiologist:  speechless.

Another time everyone at the coffee club was concerned about Glenn having an MRI.  The next day he walked in and announced, “The doctor said I had the worst case of MRI he’s ever seen.” 

When someone complimented him on the food at Buckner’s, he lamented, “That place is so high, I can’t afford to eat there anymore!”

There are many more “Bucknerisms” but I have space constraints.  I will end this by saying that I will remember Glen for many things, but mostly for his love for Evelyn, his ability to make people laugh, his big heart, and his philanthropy to those in and around High Falls.

By the way, in reflecting for this article, I realized that Glen and I never had a political conversation in all those years.  I couldn’t tell you if he was a Democrat or a Republican.  In the scheme of things, that doesn’t really matter, does it?


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Donald "Trumps" Them All

Geez!  Last week when I read this newspaper, I ran down to the post office to check to see if my picture was on the wall.  After all, surely I must be breaking numerous laws when I express opinions and beliefs that I hold sacred, just as the Republican base does.  Surely I must be among the Most Wanted since I’m accused of having an impact on this country going to hell in a hand basket.  Wow!  I sure didn’t realize I was that powerful.  After all, I’m just a poor white girl raised in the pine and palmetto forests of southeast Georgia.  So, take a chill pill, people.  This is an “Opinion” column! 

And while I’m clearing the air, the Editor of this newspaper writes the headline of my columns.  He is an excellent headline writer as evidenced by his awards from the Georgia Press Association.  However, sometimes the intent of my column can be changed by the headline that accompanies it.  Last week, I said I was for the decriminalization of recreational pot smoking because we needed to stop ruining the lives of so many by giving them a criminal record for smoking pot.  The headline screamed, “Time to Legalize Marijuana.”  Since that is not what I said, since I never said I wanted to legalize marijuana, you need to know that those were Will Davis’ words, not mine.  

Now on to important stuff.  I am very happy South Carolina took down the Confederate Flag on the property that belongs to all residents of South Carolina, the State Capitol.  It’s a travesty, though, that nine people had to be shot down before the lawmakers in that state would even consider not flying that flag. For those of you who disagree that the flag should not have been taken down, don’t despair.  It’s not the last time you’ll see that flag.  As long as rednecks exist who have romanticized the meaning of that flag, it will continue to fly in yards and on the back of pick-up trucks in the South.  That’s part of the freedom of being an American. 

I am totally enjoying the poker game taking place between the Republican presidential candidates. It goes like this.  “I bet on deporting illegal immigrants.”  “I call, and raise you rapist Mexicans.”  “I am against raising minimum wage.”  “I call and raise you “American workers need to work longer hours.”  “I bet “climate change is irrelevant.” I call and raise you  “climate change is bogus, and “global warming is a hoax.” 

The candidate that has the most experience playing poker has a name that epitomizes what he is doing to all the other candidates…..TRUMP!  No matter what hand they play, The Donald trumps them.  I can’t wait to see who wins this poker tournament.  One thing for sure, Donald Trump won’t run out of money because in his own words, “I am very, very, very rich.”  Also, he doesn’t have campaign expenditures.  He sits in the lobby of Trump Towers and the media flock to him.  Even The Donald is not rich enough to pay for the publicity that he’s getting. 

While I find Trump’s bellicose rants entertaining, I am growing more ill at ease every time I see his continuous rise in the polls.  There appears to be more people out there that like his hair-do more than me.  I always thought people preferred someone to be humble instead of boastful.  I’m sure Donald Trump is proud to be the biggest, exaggerating braggart in the history of the universe.

I’m headed to the Golden Isles on vacation.  While I’m gone, please let me know if you see my picture on the post office wall.

Marilyn Langford

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Right-Wing's "Slippery Slope" Argument is "Jiggery Pokery"

It goes without saying that I seldom agree with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  However, I do give him credit for his linguistic intelligence.  Invariably, when Justice Scalia issues an opinion, it sends one scurrying for a dictionary.  When I heard him say the words, “jiggery-pokery” in his dissent in the Obamacare ruling last week, I was certain that he made it up or perhaps it was from a Harry Potter movie. I checked with Mr. Webster and it is indeed a word. 

“Jiggery-pokery” means dishonest or suspicious activity; trickery.  My stomach turned over.  I actually agreed with ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia!  It was jiggery-pokery!  After fifty failed attempts by the Senate and House to kill Obamacare, the Republicans found an error in the wording regarding who could receive subsidies. They found this unintentional error within the thousands of pages of the law.  Instead of saying “United States” the law says States.”  The intent of the law was clear and thank heavens, the majority of the Justices realized that this was nothing more than “Jiggery-pokery” by the Republicans and those who don’t care about lower income Americans having health insurance.  Jiggery-Pokery is my new favorite word.

The other words he used in his decision “that’s pure applesauce” will never catch on.  Somehow that doesn’t express a high level of nonsense and exaggeration as my old favorite word, “BS!”

While we’re on the subject of words, there is a phrase that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear it.  Those words are “slippery slope.”  This term is usually used by right-wingers when they don’t have an argument of facts about a particular subject.  The term “slippery slope” is scary.  Nobody wants to go there.  This term does not conjure up a happy ending in our mind.  Oh no!  We can’t go down that slippery slope!   People who use that term find it very effective because it’s hard for anyone to argue with a fallacy.  However, not all “slippery slopes” are bad.

All progress in this country started on a slippery slope. Opposition to freeing slaves in the mid-1800’s was so great that a civil war was fought.  Thank goodness Abraham Lincoln went down that slippery slope and freed the slaves.  The term “slippery slope” did not exist then, but I’m sure arguments around the general store wood stove by white men went something like this:  “First you give ‘em freedom, then next they’ll want to vote.  Then they’ll take our jobs and demand to be paid the same as White men.”  Of course, they couldn’t see a slippery slope so dangerous that may end with a black man being elected president.

It took 100 years of women protesting by the likes of Susan B. Anthony, to finally be allowed the right to vote. (That was in 1920; not really that many years ago).  I can hear the opponents of enfranchising women saying, “We can’t go down that slippery slope!  If we allow them to vote, next they will demand the same rights as a man.  They will then insist they be paid the same as a man doing the same job.  They will expect men to wash dishes.  Then they may run for public office.  And heaven forbid, one day a woman may be elected President of the United States!”

No slippery slope journey in our country has been quick and easy.  Although we’ve made great strides, the journey for equal rights for women, minorities, and gays and lesbians still continues.

It is my hope that we are on the slippery slope to decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana and we can’t afford to wait another fifty years.  I want to see our prisons and jails with vacancy signs because they are not loaded down with harmless pot smokers.  Over the course of my profession in law enforcement and the legal field, in addition to experiencing life, I have seen too many young people’s hopes for the future shot down because they were caught smoking a weed.  We have to stop making criminals!  All the arguments against decriminalization of pot smoking is a bunch of “jiggery-pokery.”

Marilyn Langford