Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No More Songs - Rachel Bissex, Phil Ochs, 20 Children

You're looking at one of the sickest front pages of all time. It's the Daily News for Sunday, December 16th: a dozen innocent murder victims called: "FALLEN ANGELS."

I understand the dynamics of grief. This cover was supposed to be part of the healing process. Put on a brave smile through the tears, and pretend 20 children weren't shot dead and left on the schoolroom floor….they just fell. And never mind that "fallen angel" has often been used to describe the "whore with a heart of gold," or some other person tempted by Satan. And never mind that a newspaper is supposed to deliver the news, and not be a Hallmark card.

Fortunately most people aren't buying the "fallen angels" story. They know these innocent children didn't fall on their own. They were gunned down. They were killed by an assault rifle in the hands of a maniac, a well-known neighborhood creep who got the weapons from his paranoid gun-nut mother. The act was so heinous that the NRA actually shut down their Facebook page and went into hiding, hoping the outrage would eventually cool down.

It hasn't. Finally, some pro-gun senators in America actually said: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH." Once again, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has vowed to present her colleagues with a bill they should pass, and maybe this time, they will. Mayor Bloomberg of New York, a long time fighter for gun control, has gotten booked on TV and has explained all the common-sense ways the nation can be a little more secure, without affronting the jackasses (hunters who love to kill things) and the reasonable gun owners (who do need a means to protect themselves and their property).

No more assault rifles. No more multi-bullet clips (like Loughner used in Arizona to kill a child as well as adults in that shopping mall). While sicko parents such as Loughner's and the creep's mother in Connecticut share some blame in not medicating their monsters or keeping weapons from them, it's time that laws cut down the number of times innocent people are cut down. We need to have a waiting period for meaningful background checks, and to shut the loophole on morons who go to "gun shows" to buy "collector's items" that can spray bullets into a classroom so that not one scurrying little kid can make it out alive.

The NRA (not the subject of the attacks by "hacktivists" who have gone after such "evil" organizations as RIAA, MPAA and Sony) is a terrorist organization that thrives on greed. The weapons Adam Lanza used in his attack cost between $600 and $1200 (ammo, extra). The NRA is paid by gun manufacturers to promote weapons of mass destruction, and to camouflage this by some bullshit about how helpful it is for a hunter to keep down the deer population, or for a Dad to bond with his son in shooting a turkey and bringing it home to Mom to cook for dinner. This evil, greedy organization doesn't want to limit the profits to a cheap handgun a home owner might have in the bedroom in case of a break-in, or some lousy rifle used once a week for target practice. Nope, the NRA thrives on putting assault weapons in the hands of the ignorant, maladjusted, violent and often mentally and socially incompetent. The more of an arsenal the gun manufacturers can sell, the happier the NRA is…and their employees should get their paychecks each week etched in blood instead of ink.

Many songs could've been used to illustrate this particular entry, but the title "NO MORE SONGS" (by Phil Ochs) fits. Because "Fallen Angels" do not hear any songs. They are not up on a happy cloud somewhere singing campfire songs. These are children that no longer exist. No more songs, laughter, joy. Nothing.

Now, Rachel Bissex. She's gone, too. Some will be marking her birthday on December 27th (1956). She died of cancer on February 20th, 2005.

Her first album "Light in Dark Places" arrived in 1991, but it was a long ten years before she became known outside of Vermont. Her breakthrough year was 2001, when she won the Wildflower Songwriting Contest," got the "Kerrville New Folk Award" and released her fourth album, "Between The Broken Lines." She was also the force behind the local Burlington Coffeehouse. She was working on a new album…but in 2003 came the diagnosis of breast cancer. Her fifth and last CD, "In White Light," contained mostly the songs she'd written back in 2002 and 2003, but also, eerily enough, a cover version of the Phil Ochs ballad "No More Songs."

No more mass killings? Such a thing is not possible, but the odds can be taken down quite a bit. There is hope. Just look at what happened in Australia, following a killing spree in 1996 that left 35 people dead.

Lawmakers in Australia created a "national firearms agreement," buying back 650,000 automatic weapons from their trigger-happy citizens, and establishing new rules for gun licenses. The murder rate in Australia, and the suicide rate, dropped by 40%. On average, in the 80's and 90's, there was a mass killing via guns in Australia every year. Since the ban? None.

In Canada, there are similar encouraging statistics. Gun violence has been down in that country thanks to their laws that require gun nuts to wait 28 days before they can get their hands on a new weapon. Troubled loners can't get a gun at all…the law requires two people to attest to the character of the person wishing to buy the weapon.

There is no excuse, none, for any more delay in gun control laws. John Lennon imagined no heaven, "above us, only sky." It's pretty to think the "Fallen Angels" are on the fluffy cloud we can see floating along in the afternoon sky. But it would be better if those kids were on Earth, playing with their friends and their siblings and parents, and growing up the way you and I did…without quite the atmosphere of climate decay, moral decay, violent video games, selfish Internet abuses and the easy access to guns, drugs and all kinds of means of misery and destruction. The planet may not have long anyway, given over-population and the damage done by the greedheads in the oil industry and the religious fanatics and power-mad loons in various disgraceful and backward countries around the world…but there is no excuse for any more headlines about "Fallen Angels."

Rachel Bissex No More Songs (Phil Ochs over)

1 comment:

Stu Shea said...

Thanks for that post. I appreciate and agree with your sentiments.