America’s Epidemic: Not One More

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By Susan Bankston

I’m the humor columnist. I try to be funny. My deadline is the 15th of each month for the following month, meaning my deadline for this month was three days after the Orlando massacre.

I can’t be funny.

My heart is not simply broken, it is shattered. I, better than most, understand what those left behind are feeling. I lost my damn-near-perfect 26-year-old adult child to cancer. My son died in my arms 15 years ago, and I cry a little every day because I miss him more than I ever thought possible. I never got over having him, and I will never get over losing him.

After my son died, many people had trouble making eye contact with me. I have come to understand that they feared what they would see in my eyes: a wound that never heals. The depths of a joyless soul. Hell. They feared they would see hell in my eyes.

Yet even with my personal experience, I cannot in my worst nightmares come close to imagining living with the horror that your child died alone, afraid, and in pain while texting you for help.

Forgive me, my beloveds, but I do not want to pray one more time that this never happens again, or try to celebrate love and light a candle. I want to scream, and scream, and scream, and…

This must stop. It is an epidemic.

There is one constant in the slaughter of elementary-school children in Newtown, the movie theater showing Batman in Aurora, the college campus in Oregon, and the county health workers in San Bernardino. That constant is a military weapon named the AR-15. The murderers did not share the same religion or the same motive.

The AR-15 has one use: war. The one thing those murderers had in common was that they were able to legally buy a weapon of war and declare war on the rest of us.

A gun is at war with us.

The NRA calls the AR-15 “America’s Rifle.”
I need to take a minute to scream.

I believe—even without conclusive evidence at press time—that the people at Pulse were targeted because they are gay.

When Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick tweeted the morning after the slaughter at Pulse, he obviously thought gays had been targeted, too. I know he did, because he tweeted a verse from the Bible—“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Patrick later claimed he had sent out a pre-scheduled regular Sunday-morning tweet. That is difficult for me to believe, because all of his other regular Sunday-morning tweets have a large comment saying, “Have a blessed Sunday!” This one did not.

And why should we expect a tiger to change his stripes just because it would be horrifically cruel to act like a tiger? Dan Patrick has made a career railing against LGBT Texans. He is the crowned prince of the transgender bathroom crusade.

I am a woman of faith. I am not perfect, like the Super-Deluxe Brand-New-and-Improved Christians. I sin and fall short of the glory of God daily, sometimes hourly. I will freely admit that I have backsliding blisters on my butt. Dan Patrick shames my faith.

There were gay people during Jesus’ time. Gay isn’t some new fad we created just to piss off teevee evangelists. Yet, Jesus had nothing to say about gays. He did, however, have a whole lot to say about judgmental parasites.

You tell me: who is the bad guy? The shooter or the man who stands and applauds the shooter?

I have a Bible verse of my own for Dan Patrick: Proverbs 17:5. “…he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

I know I can go back to writing funny again, but not today. By the way, his name is Chip. My son’s name is Chip. He died 15 years ago, and I still say his name out loud every day.

Two final things:

1. Do not let the National Rifle Association buy your congressman or woman with 30 pieces of silver covered in the blood of the Orlando victims. Do not stand for it.

2. Listen up: after what happened in Orlando, I never want to hear another word about transgender people being the big danger in bathrooms. Not another damn word.

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at


Susan Bankston

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at
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