George Graham

Too Sad for Words



There’s nothing I can add to the outpouring of sorrow following that senseless shooting in Virginia. I know I should say something – if only to acknowledge the horror of it. But what?

What do you say when two young lives are snuffed out like that? When two innocents going about their daily chores are gunned down because a former colleague is having a bad day?

Is there any point in wondering out loud how such an unstable character could get hold of a deadly weapon?

Should I rage against a Congress that refuses to stem the blood bath? Should I point out – as so many have done – that this Congress is in the deep pockets of the National Rifle Association? If you don’t believe this already, you probably won’t believe it now, so why should I be one more voice crying in the wilderness?

Here in Florida, where I have lived for nearly 40 years, everybody, it seems, is armed. Local politicians even said they would favor arming teachers. In Lakekand, Bartow, Mulberry – all over remote, rustic Polk County, where respectful youngsters address me as “Mister George.”

Imagine that! Our local politicians want teachers to carry guns to school to protect our kids. Does that sound sane to you?

Their response to the danger presented by too many guns? More guns of course. And here in Florida your life means so little that if you inadevertently “put somone in fear,” they can shoot you dead and not go to prison or even pay a fine.

If you happen to be a young black man walking on the street at night, you’d better hope you don’t run into someone who has an instinctive dread of “your kind.” If that someone happens to be armed – if he or she is a cop for example – you are fair game.

No black lives do not matter. Not here in Florida or in any of the many states with “stand your ground” laws.

And white lives do not matter either. Not to the folks we elect to run our society. Oh, they will be outraged when their consituents experience some horrible tragedy. They will give emotional speeches and eloquent eulogies, but they will do nothing to prevent the next tragedy. There will still be crazies out there with blood lust in their eyes. And there will still be merchants ready and legally able to sell them guns. Even automatic weapons.

Despite the rhetoric you may be hearing in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy , I don’t think the lives of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward will have mattered when all is said and done.

America no longer remembers Gabby Giffords. America will soon forget Alison and Adam.

This is a nation where gun rights and money matter, not where the lives of citizens – black, brown or white –  matter. And I guess that’s just the way it is.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for