Stuff Still Happens, week 24: A familiar script to this horror movie

Have you ever watched a really great horror movie that shocked and scared you out of your wits? If you were to watched it again, it would still be scary, but a little less so. And if you watched it a third or fourth or fifth time, the shock would have pretty much worn off.

That’s almost the situation with the latest American mass killing, the slaughter of 49 people in an Orlando, Florida gay bar. This atrocity ramped up the horror due to its sheer number of dead, and the fact that its victims were part of a minority. But it’s a horror movie we’ve seen too many times before. We know how it’s going to end.

As always, there was an immediate call for tougher gun control laws. As always, there was an immediate response from the NRA, which called in its Republican Party army to defend gun ‘rights’ (which, apparently, supersede the right to life). As always, there was talk of how to defend against terrorism. And as an extra added bonus, there was concern about the safety of the gay community.

And, as always, absolutely nothing will happen.

When Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook elementary school, killing six adults and 20 children — children! — and absolutely nothing happened to control guns in the U.S., that told me that nothing would ever be done. If you can mow down innocent children, and there are no repercussions, there is no event so awful that will bring about change. The Orlando massacre is a watershed moment, only in that all future mass gun killings will be judged against it. When the next one occurs — and there will be a next one — the reaction will be “Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as Orlando.”

As long as it isn’t.

Trump strikes again

Donald Trump, displaying the deft touch he is known for, issued a tweet after the killing, essentially praising himself. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” Only Trump could turn this horrific tragedy into a moment of praise for himself. He then went on to repeat this vow to ban Muslim immigrants (ignoring the fact the shooter was a born-and-raised American), then went on to say: “If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse.” Of course, being the candidate of the NRA, he ignored the calls for a ban on the purchase of weapons like the AK-47, the semi-automatic weapon of choice for mass killers, which in some states like Florida are almost as easy to buy as a Slurpee at a 7-Eleven.

NDP swings the axe

Here at home, the NDP government fired the entire board of an Alberta Crown corporation called the Agriculture Finance Services Corp. for lavish spending on themselves, things like limo rides and costly out-of-town trips. What does the Agriculture Finance Services Corp. do? I dunno. The Edmonton Journal story about the firing neglected to mention that little point. But whatever it is that they do, it must be very, very important. The corporation’s president and managing director, Brad Klak, took home $670,000 in pay and benefits last year. The premier of Alberta doesn’t come close to that kind of salary, but the president of a Crown corporation that does god-knows-what takes in $670,000.

The Senate backs down

I can’t remember the last time the Canadian Senate seemed like a legitimate, deliberative body. Maybe it’s never happened before. But the new, less partisan Senate (where there are no Liberals under the thumb of the government) is proving to be a thorn in the side of Justin Trudeau. The Senate threatened not to pass the government’s assisted dying bill, but on Friday it voted to pass the legislation. Many Senators wanted to change the legislation to allow people who were suffering intolerably to be allowed to end their lives (which I agree with wholeheartedly), and some wanted to allow advance directives for people with dementia to make the decision while they still could (which I also agree with). Ultimately, however, the Senate lost its nerve and passed the legislation. It’s now the law of the land.

Hockey Night in … Vegas?

In the wild, a battle between a shark and a penguin would be no contest. Not so in the National Hockey League season. The Penguins of Pittsburgh defeated the Sharks of San Jose last Sunday to bring to an end the least memorable, least watched, least talked about Stanley Cup playoffs in recent memory. Now the NHL is getting down to business, and the word is that the league will grant an expansion franchise to the land of artificial snow and ice, Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, Las Vegas, home to exactly zero major pro sports teams and zero hockey culture. But what choice did the league have, with the only other city in the running for a team being some place called Quebec City, where rabid sell-out crowds would have been a 100 per cent guarantee?

Man, I hate the NHL.


Jo Cox, 41, a Britsh Labour MP, shot and stabbed to death by an attacker who yelled “Britain forever!” during the attack. Britain is in the midst of a heated debate about leaving the European Union, and it appears the killer was a far right extremist …Anne Morgan Gilbert, 87, who played Millie Helper on 61 episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show … Chips Moman, 79, record producer and songwriter. He wrote the Grammy winning song “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” in 1975, as well as “Luckenbach, Texas” for Waylon Jennings, and produced albums by Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, and the Highwaymen … Janet Waldo, 96, who voiced Judy Jetson on The Jetsons.


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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