Over the weekend, Anthony & I went to grab a coffee with his mom one evening. While we were out, we passed by a white van on the side of the road, in the pitch dark. Now, I think we all know what comes to mind when we see white vans. At least I personally have to talk myself off the cliff of “is this a see something, say something moment?” when I pass one pulled off to the side of any road, let alone a dark one, in a wooded area on a Sunday night.
Turns out, when we drove by a second time on our way back home, it was still there and, actually sitting in… a driveway— ha! Fear not! Okay, so, our investigative instinct needs a little work. But it did get us talking about a real case my mother-in-law had heard about on some Facebook group she belongs to down in the sunshine state. She had seen a police sketch slightly resembling an out-of-towner client they had down south, and she wanted us to take a look with our objective set of eyes.
It was alarmingly similar. But 99.9% sure he’s not the guy. Based on my Facebook stalking.
The case itself however, really got to me. I’m not sure if anyone heard much about it, and I didn’t personally see it on the news, so I’m not sure how far it got. But in a nutshell, two Indiana 8th graders went for a walk on a trail one afternoon in February 2017 and were killed. By some screwed up “human.” They don’t have a lot to go on except for a chilling audio clip of him telling them to “go down the hill,” and a grainy picture that one of the girls thought to take possibly minutes before she was murdered. They were able to come up with a police sketch based on the photo, but according to police, there were no eye witnesses who even saw this man leave the park. A year later, they still have no suspects, but they did have a small segment on the Today Show, the one mainstream bit of coverage that I found 12 links deep in a Google search.
On the other hand, there has been a lot of news coverage following the mass shooting down in Florida a week ago. A lot. As in, you can’t turn on the TV without seeing something about it, or demands for tighter gun control, or an overwhelming amount of survivors being interviewed this go-around, or marches on capitol buildings, etc.
17 people were killed and that’s why we are back on our soap boxes, beating the s*** out of each other on social media about whether it’s the gun’s fault or the human’s. The truth is, it’s both. The truth is, 17+ people are killed by some form of violence all over the US every single day, but for some reason, it needs to happen all at once and at the hand of a gun-wielder for people to do something about it, or for it to even stand out in the headlines.
I keep hearing echoes of “even one is too many” when one side is stating a mass shooting statistic and the other side is arguing that that statistic is a lie. Because that’s what’s important now, between funerals of high school students.
Yes. One shooting is too many. One murder is also too many, and yet somehow not enough to reach the Twitter accounts of our celebrities & government officials unless it somehow feeds one political agenda or another. Two children were murdered because they decided to go for a hike on an abnormally warm February day not unlike today. Where are the protests, and the walkouts, and the political shouting matches? Oh, that’s right, they’re nowhere to be found, because this particular cold-blooded killer didn’t have a gun.
If you ask me, the problem isn’t the guns. (Although I absolutely agree that better regulations need to be in place, yesterday.) It isn’t the mental health. It’s all of it. Together. The problem is people. The people who are too busy trying to be right, that they ignore the solid fact that as long as both sides are screaming about who is more correct and what side of the spectrum is more important in the wake of a tragedy, nothing will change.
The people who don’t say something when they see something. Because they were afraid they’d be offending someone, or be accused of racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or general intolerance or insert politically correct buzzword here. Because nowadays, it’s a competition to be the most tolerant. And because people are so quick to brand everyone else as intolerant, the idea of speaking up and potentially losing popularity has somehow, tragically, become a bigger consequence than the potential (and now actual) loss of life we just witnessed this past Valentine’s Day.
The people who think a little background check is enough to determine whether or not someone can own a semi-automatic weapon. Hear me. I come from a family of gun owners. I am in no way anti-gun. In fact, I think they are badass as a hobby, and a quite literal lifesaver in an emergency situation where it comes between you and someone who wants to hurt you or someone else. Do I think a 19-year-old should be able to purchase one? Probably not. But I also don’t believe that the argument “he can’t drink but he can buy a gun” that I keep hearing on Good Morning America is useful in any way. Considering you know without a doubt that those 19-year-olds who “can’t drink” do drink. If you use that argument, you’re basically wrapping this fight in a pretty little bow and handing it over to the 2A side of things. Because it does nothing but prove that people don’t follow rules “just because.”
The people who think “mental health” is not an issue. Do I think it is the only issue? Absolutely not. But when a celebrity gun owner who shall remain nameless is writing essays in her Instagram captions about how we only need more regulations and mental health isn’t the issue, I want to straight up ask her if by that logic, we can reasonably be on the lookout for her to go on a random mass shooting spree. Um. No. Because she isn’t suffering from a mental health problem. So I appreciate the platform. I applaud you for speaking out on issues and using your fame to reach the masses. But I implore you to stop acting like this is one-sided, because it’s not. And to focus solely on one factor in a multi-sided issue is like putting out a fire in one room of a burning building and expecting the rest to extinguish themselves.
The people who ask children if they made the right choice, rather than telling them it was wrong and asking them why they made that choice in the first place. Telling them what they don’t yet know, instead of having their still-developing brains have to guess the answer they think you want to hear to that yes or no question. I don’t have children, but I was one, and I’m also not braindead. Arriving at why the choice is wrong, is so much more important than just knowing that it is. Even for me, now, as an adult. The why is always the most important detail.
The people who let their children drown in technology. Again, I don’t have children. But I have a mom. And I thankfully grew up in a time where moms didn’t just shove a tablet under our noses to make us be quiet. Just because we can’t exist without constant electronic stimulation anymore doesn’t mean that we need to pass that onto the next generation. Children can be entertained by things other than apps and video games and TV shows and movies. Some of which are violent, and graphic, and honestly, are you even paying attention? Because that’s what the tablet is designed to do. Make it so that you don’t have to. Do you have any idea how easy it is for a child to wrangle the child-proof lock off of a bottle of pills? Well it’s even easier to skate around parental controls and happen upon some pretty filthy sh*t in the deeper ends of the online world. Games where your goal is to literally assassinate the other player? Cool. No big deal. And in reality, it shouldn’t be a big deal. And it wasn’t when I was a kid and we learned the difference between real and fake, and the difference between right and wrong. And that actions have consequences. But, it’s cool. Don’t use the word “no” around your kid, and treat them like they deserve a trophy just for showing up, or else they may end up with self-esteem issues when they are 23 because some “child expert” says so. I’m sure adjusting to the real world full of real expectations and hurt feelings will go very well.
I don’t have all — or any, really — answers. But I do know without a doubt that the only way to move forward and expect actual change is for congress, activists, etc to come together, politics aside, and tackle what is becoming a uniquely American crisis at its core. To consider for just a minute of their morally bankrupt, political lives that the problem is not black and white. And that there is more than one. It’s time for them to grow up and act like the representatives they are elected and paid to be. Hug it out, talk it out— whatever. Realize that there is more at on the line here than your political pride. Because you know what? My vote in 2020+ goes to whomever can solve this problem. To whomever can make me feel like having children is not a selfish choice. So, crawl out of the sandbox, because there is so much more at stake now than who has the bigger Tonka truck.
It’s liberty and justice for all. Not just for the ones who push your particular agenda.
Thank you to anyone who made it to the end of this novel-length saga. It’s been weighing on my heart for the last several days, and sometimes I just need to vent. Anyway, if you’re still with me, here is the image of the person of interest in that case I mentioned above. God only knows where this guy is and if he’s hurt other people or intends to. I’m posting just this rather than the police sketch, because without any eye witnesses, the sketch is based solely on what you can see of his face in this image, which isn’t very much, so who even knows if the sketch looks anything like the guy. Not that I expect anyone to know him, but hey, Unsolved Mysteries has gotten more with less so, worth a shot!