Apathetic is pathetic…


It doesn’t seem so long ago that death was something shocking and emotional.

What happened to us?

Several months ago I responded to a house for a baby in distress, but by the time I had arrived, there was no more distress.

The baby was dead.

A formerly healthy two month old baby was dressed in her onesie, laying on her back with her arms to her side, eyes closed as if she was asleep. One could imagine she was asleep, without having to use much imagination.

As teams of first responders made their way through the house, the mother, a teenager herself, pecked away on her phone with enough seeming disinterest that part of me wanted to slap her upside her head. The baby’s grandfather couldn’t wait for all of us to leave, because he had to water his flowers. He left at one point to go and buy a bag of chips, all while this little person who lived with them for two months laid dead in a bed upstairs.

A few weeks later, we got what has become a dime a dozen call these days, an overdose.

Heroin is a hell of a drug, and its contribution to the death toll in the St. Louis region isn’t insignificant.

This particular woman was also on her back, arms to her side and eyes closed. There was no pretending that she was asleep though. Her pale and bloated body was on the floor of the disgusting apartment she shared with her drug addict boyfriend. Dressed in nothing but her purple panties, her contorted face tried in vain to share the horrors of what her last few minutes on earth, as she realized she was dying, must have been like.

The boyfriend’s convoluted story about what happened to his girlfriend were also significantly lacking in empathy or sorrow for the woman he allegedly loved. His emotions all centered around the possibility that he was about to be in a heap of trouble, with no hint of concern over the death of this woman.

Accidental deaths and deaths from drugs and violence, especially gun violence, is nothing new.

The types of drugs change, as do the players and the reasons for the violence, but the one thing that society could deal with for years was that most of the issues surrounding drugs and violence were other peoples’ concern.

Poor people, usually.

Druggies were people who lived on the streets, maybe they were hippies or high school drop outs. Violence was mostly afflicted upon people who didn’t have clean hands themselves. Mob and gang violence was mostly reserved for other mobsters and gangsters. People who were buying or selling drugs should know the dangers of such activities.

Shame on them, we could all say from suburbia as we stockpiled our guns and worry just in case one of these crazies tried to come into our homes.

As the drugs and violence spread into suburbia, laws were changed to protect the kids. Suburban kids had joined the homeless and high school drop-outs as everyday drug users.

To protect our new suburban drug addicts, drug laws became looser, even going so far as to incentivize calling 911 for help, should one of your loved ones find himself overdosing on heroin. In Missouri, if you call for help on behalf of a person overdosing on drugs, and drugs are found on them or somebody nearby, they can’t be arrested. The idea that we want people to call for help instead of worrying about going to jail and letting another human being die instead, isn’t a bad one, but let’s not pretend it didn’t take white kids in the suburbs becoming the drug addicts to change the rules of the game.

The violence that often follows drugs has also made its way into suburbia, not only into suburbia, but into the most trusted of places in our communities, our schools.

School gun violence was never even an afterthought when I was a kid.

I remember in junior high that one of the bussed city students was dismissed from school for having a gun in his locker. He used to sell us baggies of bubble gum, which we weren’t allowed to have in school, so his sudden absence was noticed.

I doubt a letter was sent to our parents, and it never occurred to any of us that he ever intended to use it against another person.

Our junior high student body had a fight date every Friday after school. If two people got into it, they would agree to fist fight each other behind the nearby McDonald’s. Sometimes, other kids would choose sides and it would turn into quite a rumble, but nobody ever died and by Monday, we had all forgotten what we were mad about on Friday.

Today, fights are too often settled with guns, and those that are settled with fists are videoed and posted online and talked about incessantly, so that it is next to impossible for today’s kids to forget on Monday why they were mad on Friday.

Kids have always had cliques with other, similar kids in school.

The jocks and cool kids hung out with like minded friends, as did the nerds and goth kids and all the other different groups that I’m sure still exist today.

The popular kids did their thing and the less popular or social kids did theirs. On Mondays, the less popular kids may have learned that there was a big party they weren’t invited to, but it could be shrugged off, because they didn’t necessarily know what they were missing. The nerds or “weird” kids did their thing on the weekends, and nobody cared or gave them grief.

Today’s kids know what they missed at the party they weren’t invited to because they see it on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever app that these kids know how to use that adults don’t. The things that weird kids do to make them weird are likewise shared online, meant to tease them as a joke, but oftentimes, they go viral and that joke ends up more hurtful than we could ever know to those private kids.

Bullying is a big deal nowadays because it often leads to suicides, and even violence.

Seventeen people were killed in a high school in Florida last week, and if you read most of what can be found online, very little of the response has to do with empathy, sympathy or love for each other.

Most of it is vitriol and politics.

Extremists on both sides of the political spectrum are yelling and shouting nonsense at each other, and it’s causing those of us in the middle to tune it out.

We have become apathetic, even to death in our schools.

Our childrens’ schools.

I think the kids have noticed this and have come to the conclusion, rightfully, that if things are going to change, then it’s up to them.

Watching empassioned kids articulably plead for their futures is encouraging.

How we as adults can’t draw the line at kids being murdered in the streets, and especially in schools, is mind boggling, but not surprising. In a society where Nazis have made a resurgence and racism is proudly trumpeted in public, any asinine occurrence is possible, especially anything that lacks logic and reason.

More guns in schools is one such illogical and unreasoned potential occurrence.

Arming teachers or custodians with guns literally makes a bad problem worse by introducing guns where they weren’t before.

There is no argument, no matter how passionate you are about whether or not gun possession is your God given right, that guns make it easier to kill people.

Don’t even try.

AR-15s are fun to shoot.

I’ve shot them at targets and it really is a rush, but they are meant for killing, and they do it well.

These sorts of rifles are not only popular with rural/suburban school shooters, but also with the murder suspects in many urban neighborhoods.

Victims shot by most handguns, assuming the bullet doesn’t go through their brain or heart, actually stand a pretty good chance of surviving, if they make it to a decent trauma center.

These same victims, shot by rounds from an AR, are normally less likely to survive. The damage is exacerbated by the speed and strength of the round.

That’s why the homicide rate has gone up in so many cities recently. The firearm used now isn’t a .22 or a .9mm. ARs are turning yesterday’s “assault” charges into today’s homicides because the victims are dying more often as a result of being shot.

The rounds will more easily go through doors and cars and even a police officer’s bullet proof vest, because that’s what they’re made to do.

The idea that Mrs. Brooks, my amazing 3rd grade teacher, could match a madman’s rush with an AR-15, with any sort of firearm she might carry, makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

It’s such a stupid idea that when I asked my eight year old what the thought, he literally said, “That’s stupid,” when I asked him if he thought it would make the school safer for him if Mrs. B. Had a gun in the classroom.

Don’t ask me what the answer is, because law enforcement spoke fifteen years ago when we didn’t want the assault rifle ban lifted. We said that we would be outgunned, and we are. We are outgunned everyday, and we have SWAT officers to help back us up.

Arming teachers with anything less than hours and hours of training each year, along with firearms equal to or more powerful than what the bad guys are all using is a waste.

At the end of the day, who will benefit from more guns and ammo and training for teachers?

The gun people will.

The NRA.

Let’s make this decision on our own, people, without money or profits or whatever clouding our judgement. I mean, if we can’t come together to protect our own kids, then fuck us all. We’re awful and useless.

I think these Parkland kids and kids all around the country see that we adults can’t be trusted, and they’re right.

Godspeed, kids. May your lack of apathy make a difference.


As a reminder that gun violence against kids isn’t just a “school shooting” problem, here’s a photo of a six year old’s blood all over the shirt of a good friend of mine. The boy was shot with a smaller caliber bullet, and still died after bleeding all over the shirt of this officer who tried to save him. Imagine this blood times 17, and if you can’t be moved to help do something to fix this, then we’re all screwed.

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41 Responses to Apathetic is pathetic…

  1. Maggie O'C says:

    Thanks as always Don for your words of wisdom. If you think it, I’m on board. I trust you and admire you and your work and the lovely family you have. xo

  2. Maggie O'C says:

    Reblogged this on Misc. Maggie Moves On and commented:
    From my most favorite police officer. I do think these kids are finally the ones who will make a difference. And I will support them. I believe the children are our future and look at them go!

  3. LindaGHill says:

    Thank you as always, Don. For everything. ❤

  4. Jon Franko says:

    Incredibly well said. Love your writing. Thanks for being a voice of reason.

    Jon Franko • Gorilla 76 office 314 332 1020 cell 618 978 0721 @gorilla76


  5. As always, well said. The children shall lead us, and I will follow them. This has got to stop!

  6. barbtaub says:

    Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    “The idea that Mrs. Brooks, my amazing 3rd grade teacher, could match a madman’s rush with an AR-15, with any sort of firearm she might carry, makes me laugh and cry at the same time.”—An honest and gut wrenching post from an American police officer.

  7. Great observations and well said. Thank you for all you do.

  8. calijones says:

    We can help by finding out which politicians accepted campaign money from the NRA and refuse to vote for them, OR contact them to let them know it will be a deciding factor in your vote. They are the ones who will push back against any kind of real solution. It’s an easy google search. 🙂

  9. Ellen Frisch says:

    Well said…hope people hear the message! Our children should not be the fodder for the second amendment fools.

  10. markbialczak says:

    Thank you, Don, for your reminder from the front of our world. Listen hard, all.

  11. Elyse says:

    Reblogged this on FiftyFourandAHalf and commented:
    Don understands guns and the issues leading to their use and the consequences of using them. He is a cop, and an amazing writer. Stay safe, Don.

  12. Elyse says:

    Don, as always your perspectives lead to a better understanding. And your writing is so very powerful. Thank you for your words, for doing your job. Stay safe.

  13. tric says:

    Wow you must have needed an industrial cleaner to dust off your blog. Lovely to read your words again despite their difficult topic. Hope you and all the clan are well?
    For many years I have spoken either online or in real time with US citizens about guns. My point was always if you have guns you will always have more guns. The argument was always that they needed them to fight back. Now that same argument is being used to arm teachers. Thankfully many can see that it is not the answer, but anyone needing a gun has never been the answer.
    I have no idea if you can ever undo the mess that allowing guns has created but until the US does you cannot guarantee any child safety at school.

    • Yeah, I suck at coming back here to blog! Lol. We’re doing pretty well, thank you for asking. I don’t think that people outside of the US fully understand the gun culture here, and people here in the US don’t fully understand why other countries think our gun culture is bananas. It can’t be undone quickly for sure.

  14. Twindaddy says:

    I always enjoy your point of view. It’s good to know the opinions of the people these things actually affect. I agree. Arming teachers is an asinine idea. And the NRA is a joke.

  15. So powerful. Thank you. I shared on FB.
    Here’s a different perspective on the AR-15. Can you comment? http://bayardandholmes.com/2018/02/26/kool-aid-101-what-is-an-ar-15/

    • The facts stated in this article all appear to be correct. The AR-15 is an incredibly fun gun to shoot and it’s very accurate, especially with a fine scope attached to it. While there are other hunting rifles with more power out there, yes, these guns are popular because they are very powerful and they are fairly cheap and they look cool to the young guys. I’m not suggesting that the answer is to ban these sorts of guns, but the idea that they can be carried openly in urban cities isn’t cool to me. Like I said, it’s harder to survive a shot from one of these rifles than it was from popular guns of the past. How do we keep them out of the hands of dangerous people? I think that’s the million dollar question.

      • I absolutely agree with you that the real issue is how to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people. I was just interested in their debunking of several myths regarding the AR-15 … I’m hearing it held up as a big bad boogey among my more liberal (and less gun-savvy) friends. We have a REAL battle on our hands, and we don’t help our cause by spreading nonsense that makes well-meaning but ill-informed people look stupid. But since you spoke in some detail about the gun, I wanted your insight into whether or not they Bayard & Holmes were getting it right, so thank you… 🙂

  16. Wow and wow. This really is the best and most informative article that I’ve read in quite some time. Everything that you have written is all true. I am elderly now and I worked for 35 years as a psych RN in a federal hospital. I have seen and heard just about it all. And yes, people are apathetic because a good many of them are focused on themselves and feel a sense of self entitlement. I could say that society should have seen the gun thing coming when laws did not change after Columbine. And then it was Sandy Hooks and God knows how many other mass shootings, all with the AR rifle. Will it change to something better soon? Well, I think not because I know this should not be about politics but both political parties have dirt on their hands. We as citizens are owned by the NRA and by by the grace of God maybe one day that will no longer be the case. My reply should not be about what I think but, I do think and I do care very much. I am not asking for no guns but we don’t need guns of mass destruction. And for what its worth, parents need to pay attention to their children and be their parent and not their friend. I won’t comment about the drug problem – it is complicated and many social issues are involved. But more jail time has not reduced the problem and now drugs are even in prisons.. So there we are, guns and drugs are lethal and yes, apathy seems to be rampant.

  17. How can you not be angry at the NRA? How am I supposed to tamp down my emotions and engage in meaningful, open dialogue? I’m not hardwired that way. All I see is red. I called my two Senators and House rep. They already support a ban on AKs but I wanted them to know where I stood. But this recent incident will pass and nothing will change. Sound cynical? Just watch. You heard it here first.

    Our country is a laughing stock.

  18. Goddamnit I love you and your writing and ability to communicate in a way to make others think.

  19. The Cutter says:

    I think its sad that the same people who talked about “law and order” and respecting the police have turned on the police so fast when the only alternative was to admit that we might have a gun problem.

    Yes, the next generation might save us if we give them a chance to.

  20. julie says:

    Huh. You know Don, I have a bevy of emotions on this topic. Since I have lived first had the terror of gunfire exploding into my home, I relive it a little bit every time I hear of another senseless shooting and the stupid result of innocent people… children losing their lives as a result. I honestly don’t know if I could have ever recovered had there been an injury to the people who were in my home that horrific night, and thank the Good Lord that I didn’t have to!

    Secondly, my daughter is a third grade teacher. Now add my feelings for her learning to cope with those concerns for herself and her “children “.

    I don’t think the answer is to arm teachers, but might that be a deterrent? What happens if a student takes a teachers gun? I can’t wrap my brain around an individual who would open fire in a school, or a theatre, or a music venue, so how can I even pretend to know if they can be deterred? In my mind, it won’t ever end well for the attacker. Either they are shot, killed,or apprehended . Sometimes killed at their own hand. Seems quite likely there will be shooting aimed at the perpetrator at some point.

    It just makes me feel sick.

    Thank you Don, I really think your posts should be seen by everyone.

    • It’s such a hard topic. I just don’t think arming teachers is the way to go. Maybe some teachers would be a good fit, but a teacher who could or would have to shoot a former student makes me sad.

  21. Mina Tan says:

    Wow, I was really touched by this.

  22. grammatteus says:

    Reblogged this on The Alternative Ulsterman and commented:
    Excellent blog from a culture that I do not understand but a human plea that I know I CAN empathise with. How could I not?

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