Wednesday, October 14, 2015

So Long, Bonnie Bucqueroux

People who think Facebook friends aren’t real friends are full of crap.

Bonnie Bucqueroux was a real friend.

She was generous and thoughtful and witty and talented and wise and interesting and one-of-a-kind. I’ve met a lot of people in my five decades on Planet Earth, and I can say with confidence that Bonnie was one of the most wonderful, intelligent, encouraging, dedicated and compelling women I’ve ever known.

The thick-skinned Michigan State University journalism professor and progressive activist died this morning at the age of 70. Although she had been experiencing health issues in recent weeks, her death was unexpected and took everyone by surprise.

Judging from her Facebook page, Bonnie touched a great number of people in a variety of ways while she was with us. It’s just been a few hours since she passed away and there are hundreds of messages, some short and sweet and some long and rambling. All of them pay tribute to a unique and giving woman who was loud when fighting for what was right and quiet when encouraging students and friends to feel good about ourselves, reach for our goals and make the most of the time we’ve been given.

Just like she did.

The “What’s the Diehl?” masthead at the top of this blog was designed by Bonnie. I didn’t ask her to do this; she just did it one day and forwarded it to me. In my early days of blogging, she provided input on the design and was one of the first to link her website, Lansing Online News, to this blog. She periodically sent unsolicited job announcements to me by private Facebook message and repeatedly invited me to appear on the radio show she hosted with a partner on Lansing Community College Radio WLNZ (89.7) although, like a fool, I never accepted her invitation.

Bonnie's YouTube channel has been viewed more than two million times.

Bonnie knew about photography and grant writing, computers and web design, community gardening and of course blogging. (A former congressional candidate on the Green Party ticket, she was a true trailblazer.) She told me once that she usually prefers animals to people – although judging by the roster of diverse guests who appeared on her radio show, she connected with people as easily as a duck takes to water. She cared about climate change, sustainable agriculture, politics and, of course, journalism, mentoring countless students and professionals and leaving a wider mark on her community, state and world than most do. She was a rabble-rouser, a radical, a hippie of sorts, from what I understand. I could and should have gotten to know her better. I really wish I had.

Rest in peace and thank you, Bonnie. Hopefully you know how lucky people feel to have known someone as good as you.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Living Doll

Titties 'N Beer - Frank Zappa

So Shoot Me

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

~ Pope Francis, in remarks to the U.S. Congress on September 24, 2015

A beautiful little girl in east Tennesee was shot in the chest by her 11-year-old neighbor nine days ago because she wouldn’t let him play with her puppy.

Maykayla Dyer
The boy, who had a history of bullying eight-year-old Maykayla Dyer, used his daddy’s 12-gauge shotgun to shoot the second-grader from inside his house. The 11-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in juvenile court; his father hasn’t been charged at all.

This is so damn frustrating and distressing and unnerving and disconcerting and infuriating and just plain wrong. It’s wrong that every time an innocent human being is gunned down, the National Rifle Association digs in its heels, launching preemptive strikes, insisting that “guns don’t kill people” and winding up its knuckle-dragging members with nonsensical warnings about rights being taken away by Kenyan-born communists in the Oval Office.

It’s wrong that politicians listen more carefully to the NRA puppeteers who pull their strings than the voters who put them in office. It’s wrong that candidates pander to the mouth-breathing open carry dweebs who bolster their manhood by intimidating women and children in coffee shops and grocery stores. It’s wrong that the NRA’s minions bleat about how “now is not the time to discuss gun violence” and “this issue shouldn’t be politicized” and “emotions shouldn’t drive this discussion” every time a maniac slaughters someone’s loved one.

If not now, when? When can we take action to stop the murder of innocents, of mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and co-workers and friends who have the same dreams and wants and goals and likes and dislikes and habits and preferences as the rest of us? When will we stop tolerating our broken system and our broken culture, our skewed and tired practice of bemoaning the latest killing spree, wringing our hands, sending thoughts and prayers, shrugging our shoulders and then looking away, picking up our books again, getting back in our cars, switching our TV channels and moving on with our lives because we still have ours?

And why should we try to squelch our emotions? Why can’t we turn our anger and rage and disgust and fear into things that work, that benefit us, that help to stop the needless carnage – is carnage ever needed? – and actually make life better for ourselves and our families? We have the facts and figures, the reports and studies. The gun lobby discounts those. We have the case studies and the anecdotes. The gun industry discounts those. We have the expert’s opinions and the examples from other countries. The Second Amendment lovers discount those. So now we can’t appeal to people’s emotions either? We can’t use the power of our feelings to motivate people to action, to get them to vote out the NRA’s whores, to demand an end to this dreadful scourge once and for all? Then what the f*ck can we do?

I posted this Facebook status update on October 8:

I apologize to 8-year-old Maykayla Dyer on behalf of all American grownups. Because our politicians are spineless and our gun nuts are stupid pricks, you've been added to the long list of children lost to gun violence. Say hi to Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt and all the other precious kids who've been sacrificed at the altar of the National Rifle Association.

I had posted this one earlier, on August 26, after television news personality Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot dead by a “disgruntled co-worker” during a live broadcast in Virginia:

You know what really ticks me off? When a TV news reporter and cameraman are shot to death during a live broadcast in Virginia and people take to Facebook with the same old "guns don't kill people/Second Amendment/could have been a knife" claptrap. I'm so sick of the carnage, the dead children, the justifications, the denials, the NRA and its brain-dead sheeple...

And then, 13 days ago on October 1, a 26-year-old miscreant who shall remain nameless opened fire at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Oregon, killing 10, wounding seven and becoming one more of many sick SOBs who’ve turned this country into the kind of place that tourists avoid and foreigners fear. Like so many of these twisted cowards, he took the easy way out, killing himself before he could be captured and made to face justice.

This spurred me to take to Twitter and tweet a few anti-gun messages:

I didn’t expect to agitate so many gun nuts but apparently I did because I must have received 30 responses and been mentioned in 30 more, all calling me names (what exactly is a “libtard” anyway?), trashing me for my emotion-driven remarks and sharing stupid memes as if their bombastic words carry more heft when typed over pictures.

And while Second Amendment lovers were still taking me to task for my tweets, a student was killed and three were injured in a shooting last Friday at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Before I decided to take a much-needed break from Twitter, I tweeted the following:

If gun lovers spent as much time on important stuff as they do attacking and insulting people in Twitter, this would be a much better world.‪ #‎TheGunNutsAreAfterMe‬

It should go without saying that the Second Amendment was never meant to enable people to visit their local Starbucks and Krogers with AK-47s and Tech-9s slung over their shoulders. Most people know that cannons and single-shot muskets were the weapons of the day back in 1791 when the amendment was crafted and that it actually includes the term “well-regulated.”

I understand why people don’t want to relinquish their personal weapons and then have to pray that their government won’t take advantage of their inability to defend themselves and their loved ones. I understand the fascination with firearms, the odd power one feels when one holds a gun in one’s hand, aims it at a target and squeezes the trigger. And I understand people not wanting others – not politicians or bloggers or anybody – to tell them what they can and can’t do or have or think. What I don’t understand is this: when faced with the knowledge that a number of little boys and girls were torn to shreds by multiple bullets fired from a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle at 9:30 in the morning in December of 2012 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, because it's so easy for disturbed pricks to get their hands on deadly weapons, how can anyone shrug their shoulders and insist that there’s nothing we can do?

Someone sent me a private message in Facebook a little while ago telling me that I “harp too much” on gun violence. Before I unfriended him, I sent him a reply saying, “So shoot me.”

How Do We Fix This?
  • Reinstate the assault weapons ban which was signed into law by President Clinton in September of 1994 and allowed to expire 10 years later (some say its effects were negligible but others insist that the ban had an impact on gun crime);
  • Ban high-capacity magazines such as those used by Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Arizona, in January of 2011 (Loughner killed six people and injured 15 others, including then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords). These substantially enhance the deadliness of gun attacks;
  • Reform mental health laws to help keep firearms out of the hands of people with mental illness (a 2013 survey of National Rifle Association members found that almost 91 percent favor this);
  • Require background checks for all gun sales, including gun show gun sales;
  • Stem the tide of open carry and concealed carry proposals cropping up in municipalities across the country (my state, Michigan, is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry and open carry is generally permitted);
  • Ban semi-automatic firearms (firearms that shoot one bullet per trigger pull); and
  • Vote against any politician who cares more about getting or keeping his/her job than about standing up to the gun lobby and saying, “My constituents are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Want to Read More?

Click here to read, “Oregon Shooting at Umpqua College Kills 10, Sheriff Says,” October 1, 2015.

Click here to read, “What If Congress Treated Gun Violence Like It Treated The Benghazi Attack?,” October 9, 2015.

Click here to read, “Shoot! So Far Nothing's Changed!," December 22, 2012.

Click here to read, “Oregon Killings Amplify Crusade of Virginia Tech Victim’s Father,” October 10, 2015.

Click here to read, “POTUS on Umpqua,” October 2, 2015.

Click here to read, “Grieving for Grace,” March 30, 2013.

Click here to read, “5 Indefensible Tweets From The NRA Since The Oregon Gun Massacre,” October 7, 2015.

Click here to read, “Gun Control Push Coming in Senate,” October 6, 2015.

Click here to read, “Final Report on Sandy Hook Killings Sheds New Light on Gunman’s Isolation,” December 27, 2013.

Click here to read, “When Deciding to Live Means Avoiding Guns,” September 24, 2015.

Click here to read, “We’ve lost the gun debate: Our relationship with guns is dysfunctional, and we won’t do a thing about it,” July 24, 2105.

Click here to read, “Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll,” September 28, 2013.

The Huffington Post has a collection of stories about gun violence in Chicago, where there were 2,500 shootings in 2014, a 13 percent increase from 2013 numbers. Click here.

Sources:, New York Times,,,,,,

Friday, October 2, 2015

There Is a Difference

Paper Planes - M.I.A.


President Barack Obama spoke from the podium of the James Brady Press Briefing room on Thursday, October 1, 2015, in the wake of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, where at least 10 people were killed and seven others injured:

There’s been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon.

That means there are more American families — moms, dads, children — whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon. There are really good people there. I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved some lives today. Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs, for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims — young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love.
But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did. And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.” And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

And each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as President, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say. And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

Thank you.


  Transcript courtesy TIME.