I used to think I could do anything

I used to think I could do anything

Join the circus or fly to the moon

I used to think I could be anything

From a writer to a international star

I used to think I was special

that I was something, I was unique

I used to think I was worth something

A person worth protecting, worth saving

I guess that wasn’t meant to be

I am just a person, one of the many and the not the few

that used to think we were special, that was before we knew

That only a few people are special

They are bright and they go far

The rest are left in the darkness, blinded in fear and awe

I used to think I was special

One of the bright ones like a star

Now I know I was just blinded, I was lost

I am no-one

How medication saved my life

Starting this conversation is so important. Lets get more positive stories about mental health out there so it’s a discussion not just the elephant in the room!

The Rambley Writer

Nobody likes to admit their problems or faults, but it’s gotta happen sometimes. And here’s one of mine: I have pretty crippling anxiety.

Not just the nervousness that comes with a new situation, or that mild social anxiety where you feel uneasy around a particular person. The kind of anxiety that causes you to sit in your bedroom for days on end without leaving, crying into your pillow because you can’t seem to function, holding back a panic attack on the bus because the only thing worse would be letting all these strangers see you like that. Hiding away for weeks because you can’t seem to bring yourself to be in the open, not eating for days because even though your flatmates are lovely, going into the kitchen is too scary and it’s safer to stay in bed.

I’m not looking for sympathy – it’s not my fault that I…

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The Florida Shooting

I want to use this post to discuss the school shooting in Florida. I hope to present the most unbiased view possible (it is impossible for any author to be completely unbiased) by instead of instilling my views, providing as many different sources of information as possible for you to develop an informed decision about the events and the subsequent debates about gun control. It has been said time and again that it is not the right time to talk about gun control but, if we don’t talk about it now, then everyone will forget and their lives will have been lost for nothing.

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Cycle of mass shootings in America from Business Insider UK

What happened in Florida?

The above video is a timeline of events compiled by the Washington Post. The shooting was also reported on many other news websites including: BBC, CNN, Fox News etc.

  • BBC focuses on the timeline of the events. They finish their article by comparing this school shooting to others in America such as Sandy Hook.
  • CNN takes a personal approach focusing on the staff and students caught in the incident. There is mentions to this shooting in comparison to others and the reopening of gun control debates
  • Fox News focuses on the mental health aspects of the case in their article about the events.

Who are the victims?

It is important before going any further forward to remember the very real affect this shooting had on people’s lives.  Remembering the victims gives a face to what can otherwise just become another statistic on a bar chart.

An article detailing more details about the victims can be found on numerous websites including HERE on the BBC News website.

There are numerous eyewitness accounts of the shooting. Some of those can be found below:

The Second Amendment

Most debates on gun control revolve around the wording and meaning of the Second Amendment which is in the US Constitution. The exact phrasing of the amendment can be found here:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A detailed look of the language and history of the Second Amendment can be found below:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) have been surprisingly quiet since the mass shooting. However, the general stance of the NRA is that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right under the Constitution’s Second Amendment. I could not, to present both sides of the argument, give the NRA’s direct response to the mass shooting.

Reactions from politicians

Trump’s speech started with the traditional ‘thoughts and prayers’ section before stating that he and the government “…are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain”. Trump finishes by saying that this is another example of a growing mental health crisis. Guns and gun control are never mentioned.

 

Barack Obama (former US President) focuses on trying to move on the debate of “common-sense gun safety laws” in his tweet after the shooting.

President Trump, by comparison, also reacted as the news of the Florida shooting broke:

But has since made a number of controversial posts including the one below that has been interpreted by some as blaming the victims for the shooting (which President Trump appears to have linked to a previous tweet about DACA):

Before focusing away from the gun control aspects of the shooting and instead highlighting the potential communication errors which occurred in the FBI:

President Trump claims here that the shooting could have been prevented if the FBI was not conducting the Russian collusion investigation. Personally, I worry this tweet from President Trump shows how he is changing the focus from the shooting and loss of life in Florida and instead distracting people with the Russian collusion investigation (a process with which he is arguably more personally affected).

The most powerful speech, and possibly the most damning speech, was delivered in the US Senate by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy:

 

Conclusion

Regardless on your stance on guns and gun control in general, there is one common consensus: something needs to change this time. What that is, is anyone’s guess. Lets keep the debate in the media and not let this shooting just become another everyday occurrence in America. Instead of becoming desensitised to the problem, lets face it head on. How many times does the cycle have to repeat before change happens? Lets be the change and support those willing to stand up and debate it!

Please explain this to me

Gun control and legislation really, really confuses me in the US. Why, after so many tragedies, do they not do anything? This is something I want to discuss as this genuinely perplexes me. So, I have some questions for you all:

Why do people need semi-automatic/automatic weapons?

I can kind of go along with the concept of having hand guns and shotguns etc. But why would you ever be in a situation where you would need a semi-automatic weapon as a civilian?

To be fair to both sides, I have read an article on the Armed Citizens Legal Defence Network inc. which you can find here. The gist of the article explains that the reason why ordinary people need semi-automatic guns is because of the second amendment. People need to be able to take down the government if they become tyrants… he argues that if other countries had armed citizens then events like the Holocaust would not have happened. Take from that what you will. There are many more facets to his article but I’ll let you peruse that yourself.

Personally, I’m going to take more convincing than that. When have you ever heard of a civilian using a semi-automatic weapon for good? Sure, there must be some cases that support that statement but do they outweigh the amount of incidents where there have been mass shootings as a result of access to semi-automatic weapons?

Why do Americans not react/try to change after a mass shooting?

I know it’s because, as a whole, this is too big an issue to tackle all in one go. But what will it take for them to change? I just want you all to watch this for a second.

It seems it is never the time to talk about gun control. After a mass shooting it’s not respectful to talk about gun control measures and between mass shootings the topic can be swept under the rug. But for how long? How long until there’s civil war? The US has been lucky so far that these attacks are largely carried out by a lone gunman (typically white, male) and not an organised group. It wouldn’t take much though. All the guns can be obtained legally after all. Why not target several places in the same town? They probably deserve it right? That young family just casually shopping in a supermarket or that young lady praying in Church, they all had it coming. Why? Oh, because they exist. No! This should not be the case. But with every mass shooting and every innocent person that dies just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time raises the question: when does this end?

Trump’s reactions

Now, this is where I will rant because I have never witnessed a more uncaring president. I resent every time he says he will ‘pray’ for the victims. I’m not saying he shouldn’t, prayer is a powerful thing, but that shouldn’t be all he does. It seems at this point like a throw-away line. If he’s praying for the victims then it’s OK. Why doesn’t he pray for the victims but also pray for guidance about how to tackle this issue? Instead of brushing it under the rug, consult with those on both sides of the argument and see if there is any middle ground at all. Do something, try something.

Far from helping with this issue Trump repealed the law put in place by Obama that stopped an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from owning a gun. Trump then, after the horrific shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and hundreds more injured said this:

If this is a question of mental health then why repeal a piece of legislation that made it harder for people with mental disorders from owning a gun? Does this mean, if he’s not going to tackle gun control, that he will look into providing better mental health facilities and treatments? Because I don’t think he will. Also, this approach saying it’s mental health that is the biggest killer, although might be true for now in one sense, does not mean that everyone with a mental health disorder is going to go on a killing spree. I don’t feel this difference is ever fairly noted. Trump likes to speak in broad strokes (probably because he doesn’t understand intricacies).

I also want to talk about this quote from Trump where he says: gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.” There are many countries where guns are highly restricted. Take the UK for example here. We generally don’t have guns. Indeed, for every 100 people only 6.6 of them own a gun. We’ve had shootings sure, but not nearly as much. The terrible events at Dunblane thankfully, at the time of writing, is still the deadliest mass shooting the UK has ever experienced. The UK is far from a shooting gallery for the mentally ill. But the situation in the UK is vastly different to that in America. In the UK the majority of people wanted a tighter gun control measure to be put in place after the massacre in Dunblane. In the US, although there are those that want tougher measures, there is not a majority there yet. Also, there is the question of size. The UK is barely the size of one US state so it’s easier, not always, but generally easier for us to agree on the main points (lets not bring up Brexit). The states are all so different and vast, will there ever be a consensus on such an contentious issue?

I have one last question for you all. How many innocent people are going to have to die before gun control is fairly debated and tackled in the United States of America?

As always, happy to hear your views on this. Either side. Are you for or against gun control in the United States? Let me know in the comments below. Just please be respectful of others views and opinions.

Gunpowder (TV Series) historical rant

This refers to the new Gunpowder drama series being broadcast on the BBC in the UK (I don’t know if it’s being broadcast elsewhere). It follows the story of Robert Catesby, the mastermind behind the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Ask most people and you will only remember Guy Fawkes. Yep, he was the guy (see what I did there…) who tried to light the fuse and was ultimately rumbled but he basically wound up there by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyways, if you don’t want any spoilers then don’t read any further…

***EPISODE ONE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***

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Baddesley Clinton on the left compared to the house used in the drama on the right

Can I start with my biggest pet peeve with this newest drama…the house isn’t right. Anyone who lives near Baddesley Clinton will know that the house definitely wasn’t right. The picture on the left above is the real Baddesley Clinton. Note the very evident moat missing from the drama. Now, the house had the moat put in in the 13th Century…. It’s not like it wasn’t there during the period. Indeed, most of what you can see today was built in 1526 so again you can’t argue that it was mostly later additions.  Although understandable that they couldn’t use the actual manor house for the interior shots, it is surprising that it was not used for the exterior. Especially as it’s such a stark difference in places.

Ok, on further research it turns out the house on the right is actually Chastleton House. The house that Robert Catesby did live in and own until he was forced to sell it in 1601 in order to pay the fines that he accumulated by not attending the protestant church. Now, why would you use the right house but give it the wrong name? The mystery thickens.

Another nail in the historical accuracy coffin… Anne Vaux. According to research done by The Telegraph newspaper:

 Liv Tyler is playing Anne Vaux, a real-life woman of the time and committed Catholic who was related to one of the plotters, and who is believed by historians to have had knowledge of the gunpowder plan, without being directly involved in it. The plotter she was related to, however, wasn’t Catesby, as shown in the series, but a different man (Francis Tresham).

The ‘priest holes’ used in the first episode were, frankly, pathetic. Although it is true that priest holes exist and were widely used during the period, they were often very complicated and were designed using the natural voids in the house to avoid the very problems encountered in the first episode (the outside measurements not matching the inside measurements). Now, the priest holes at Baddesley Clinton were designed and installed by Nicholas Owen, a man who became a Saint because of his extraordinary work building these priest holes and protecting those of the Catholic faith. Therefore, the priest holes they used were frankly an insult to his talent. Below is a diagram showing one of the three priest holes that exists at Baddesley Clinton:

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One of the three Priest Holes that can be found at Baddesley Clinton designed by Nicholas Owen

This shows prides itself on its ‘historical accuracy’ with including the multiple torture scenes within the episode. Indeed, these scenes are horribly accurate. The death of the aunt mimics that of Margaret Clitherow in York who also endured that horrific fate. The death of the priest was also horrifically accurate. It is a shame, however, that  Lady Dorothy Dibdale does not actually exist rather she was invented to allow for the show to highlight that particular form of torture. Indeed, Kit Harrington said that the torture scenes were needed to show why Robert Catesby did what he did, to give context. But how is that true if he theoretically never witnessed it?

I’m not going to argue necessarily that these scenes should be removed, though I do question the reasons for making them quite so graphic, but I do question that when the show aims for complete historical accuracy why the torture scenes are the only ones that are accurate? Surely the same level of care should be taken throughout the show and not just to show the horrific scenes?

Needless to say, I will not be watching the rest of the season but it would be interesting to see what you all think. The reviews have been mixed but few critiques focus on the historical accuracy of the piece rather the question of the level of gore. But surely if the show is neither entertaining (which, to me sounds so wrong considering the topic it is covering) or historically accurate, then what is the point of the piece overall?