Outside Reading — Recoil edition

el paso

“All Three Spoke Spanish. All Three Were Americans”: A Pediatrician Describes Treating El Paso’s Shooting Victims by Charles Bethea

In the course of the past few years, I spent some time editing a trade publication that served the health care community, particularly those who work in the operating room. In part because of that, I think, I’ve paid especially close attention to the commentary offered by medical professionals as the gun violence epidemic has surged. The constant comparisons to war zone medicine after each mass shooting — in both the quantity of victims and, importantly, the severity of the wounds and the complications to the emergency treatment  — helps put in perspective for me what is truly happening in these tragedies. Charles Bethea is the credited author on this piece, published by The New Yorker, but the words mostly belong to Jorge Sainz, MD. I understand the reluctance to share actual images of physical brutality caused by these guns. Even so, a vital public understanding of the consequences is getting lost. Having physicians report their experiences might be the best substitute we have.


Opinion: Our Mass Shooting Culture Makes Me Constantly Worry When I’m In A Public Space by Geraldine DeRuiter


Writing for Buzzfeed News, Geraldine DeRuiter explores the ways in which the unchecked pervasiveness of guns have impacted the simple experience of venturing out into the world. I’ve had the exact welling anxiety she describes. Especially in the immediate aftermath of another tallying of casualties, I also find myself gauging escape routes in public places and sizing up the likelihood that one of the strangers around me is a NRA-empowered monster waiting to pounce. I am heartbroken — and furious — that children are now growing up in a version of this country in which active shooter training is a necessary part of their schooling. It didn’t used to be like this. It doesn’t have to be now. To appease a deranged few — and mostly an industry that decided forty years ago to shore up dwindling peacetime sales by mounting a warped legal offensive to alter the two-century understanding of the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment — a state of perpetual fear has been invited on an entire society. It’s sick.


A Relentless Jailhouse Lawyer Propels a Case to the Supreme Court by Adam Litpak


Even the one somewhat inspiring story I share today comes with a heaping helping of good old American injustice. Calvin Duncan was incarcerated for over two decades in Louisiana, using his time behind bars to school himself in the legal system. His learning was not only leveraged in his own behalf. He helped countless others, even serving as an information resource for actual attorneys who marveled at Duncan’s command of the law. At the core of Duncan’s work is a fight against the Southern state’s abominable practice of allowing criminal convictions with non-unanimous jury decisions, a practice that was adopted to oppress black people. The motivation is not an interpretation. As reporter Adam Litpak notes, the chair of the judiciary committee that cemented the practice into Louisiana’s state Constitution in the late eighteen-hundreds declared the motivating purpose was “to establish the supremacy of the white race in this state to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done.” That the methodology is still on the books in appalling and exposes the lie of the racism apologists who are given spotlight placement in too much of the current public discourse, including the entirety of the Fox News primetime lineup. Duncan’s story should be made into an inspiration movie, sooner rather than later. The article was published by The New York Times.


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