School days

A little trip down memory lane…

I was sitting in my classroom at one of those desks with a fixed work surface that slanted down toward the student. Perhaps you’ll recall they had a little groove cut into the desk, a short distance from the top, where you could place your pen or pencil.

When I picked up my book or paper that day, my pencil started rolling toward me. Probably because my hands were full, I did not catch it. However, as it fell toward my lap, I brought my legs together to keep it from hitting the floor.

It worked.

The pencil came down between my legs and was caught in the squeeze, eraser on my left leg, the point on my right. I might have squeaked a bit when the pencil lead dug into my thigh, but nobody said anything. I didn’t like drawing attention to myself back then.

It didn’t appear to bleed, so I waited until I got home to check it out. The only visible evidence was a dark spot, the approximate color of pencil lead, the skin giving it something of a blue tint.

Today, more than 55 years later, the spot remains on the inside of my right thigh, a few inches above my knee.

Here’s the point.

That was probably the most dangerous thing I experienced during fourth grade at Pine Tree Elementary School in Longview, Texas.

The most bothersome thing for me was never getting up the nerve to tell Wendy I liked her.

But absolutely no school shootings.

One more thing

Per everytownresearch.org, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens.

Important stuff

What are you, Team Amber or Team Johnny? I can’t say, as I’ve not paid any attention whatsoever to the goings-on.

However, I have some thoughts about the length of the trial.

Back in my reporter days, I covered a handful of murder trials. I suspect none of them garnered headlines outside our area. No celebrities, not even any local heroes. (There was one man convicted of murder who was in a wheelchair, having lost his legs several years earlier; that might have gotten some attention somewhere.)

Here’s the thing.

These murder trials – involving punishing someone for causing the death of another human, involving the question of putting someone in prison for maybe the rest of his life, involving the most basic offenses of humanity – were all conducted and wrapped up in a matter of days. As I recall, only one extended into the second week and lasted only one or two days more.

Yes, almost all of the murder trials were conducted within four or five days.

Meanwhile, this celebrity civil trial is entering its sixth week.

Why?

Because defamation is more complicated than murder? More heinous?

Because rich people are more deserving of a carefully considered verdict?

Or maybe because they make “better television”?

I don’t know, but I am confident our judicial system is being misused, if not outright abused.

One more thing

Why do judges wear black robes? According to classroomlaw.org:

“Upon the founding of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed on the attire judges should wear. Adams wanted judges to wear red robes and wigs as English judges did. Jefferson wanted judges to simply wear suits. A compromise between these two points of view was reached in which Adams and Jefferson agreed that judges in the United States would wear black robes without the wigs.”

Close to home

“We are grieving with you, as well.”

My wife had her phone on speaker while talking to a friend about the shootings in nearby Bryan, Texas.

“Are you OK?” she asked. I tuned in and it was obvious the woman was crying. Later, she sent me the link to a local newscast, shown above. She said that was what caused her to lose her composure.

It all hit close to home. Our friend termed it a time “when news gets real.”

We do not yet know anything about why the shots were fired. Witnesses have been quoted as saying it appeared obvious the shooter was targeting certain individuals. We know nothing about that, either.

But those types of questions are seldom answered to our satisfaction following senseless brutality.

The point right here, right now, is this shooting may seem more real to locals than other mass shootings in places further removed.

But that is an illusion.

Any act of inhumanity is always real. Some people simply have a closer look at it.

When we all are able to feel the realness, then maybe we’ll become motivated enough to do something about the problem.