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Susanna Burney

Speaking of guns, I'm thinking of Chekhov, who remarked to someone upon the completion of The Cherry Orchard, something like, I'm happy to say, it doesn't have a gun in it. Because, if you look at his other three great plays, they all have guns in them, and they're always wielded by desperate, or dangerous, men. The gun in a Chekhov play is never a good solution, but always shocking, humiliating and ultimately, tragic.

Paul Mullin

Thanks, Susanna. I'm with Checkhov and his thinking on this. And I would say alo that we story-tellers have an obligation to break our own habit of making the easy reach for a gun the all-too-frequent solution to our fictional problems.

More on THAT in a future post!

William Salyers

How does an "invitation to join an on-stage conversation" = (not) "respecting what I have to say or even wanting to hear it"?
Color me confused.

Paul Mullin

Troll logic, Billy. There's no fathoming it. Particularly egregious is the gun troll's:

"I have a gun so I don't need to defend my point-of-view."

And indeed they don't. But we'll hear 'em whine when the rest of American society leaves them far, far behind.

Kymberlee della Luce

Paul, do you genuinely respect and want to hear other points of view regarding gun ownership? Do you feel receptive?

Paul Mullin

Kymberlee, I feel like that's a leading question. I have and will continue to offer a venue to ANYONE's point of view. But do I "feel receptive" to points of view that I know are responsible for more dead kids than there need to be? Why should I? And what does it matter? Does everyone need my particular blessing to speak up even after I give them a place and opportunity? Aren't these big brave men with guns we're talking about?

This isn't a dinner party. It's a democracy. And this isn't people's opinions on the healing powers of crystals we're debating, but whether or not someone has the RIGHT to own more firepower than most police officers.

If people feel like I'm going to be "mean" to them if they join the conversation, they should remember that my words are like cartoon bullets. They'll be able to get up an walk away from my fire. A consideration never extended to an innocent victim of gun violence.

William Salyers

I believe one of the problems inherent in this debate - indeed, it seems to me, in ALL public discourse in our country these days - is that some people confuse the right to be heard with the privilege of being unquestioned. As an atheist American, I've encountered this frequently: the idea that I must not question a belief, no matter how unfounded, or I am somehow infringing on a person's freedom.
Unfettered public discourse is a right, and can lead to the discovery of new ideas; ideas which should then be placed in the crucible of debate and tried on their merits. The right to be heard is a key principle of democracy; the privilege of being unquestioned, on the other hand, belongs to the realm of authoritarian dictatorship.

Kymberlee della Luce

I didn't mean for it to be a leading question, just a direct one. I approach most things with inquiry rather than assumptions. I'm sorry that didn't come through.

I don't know your relationship to the person you quoted nor did I read the discourse you had. I asked the question because civic dialogue through the arts is of great importance to me and I'm trying to understand. This kind of dialogue is something I have studied, engaged in and want to do more of.

I endeavor to find ways to create conversations that allow all points of view to come forward. In "Civic Dialogue Arts and Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy" which is a fabulous text put out by Americans for the Arts, there is a quote from W.E.B. DuBois that I appreciate:

"Begin with art, because art tries to take us outside ourselves. It is a matter of trying to create and atmosphere and context so conversations can flow back and forth and we can be influenced by each other."

You're right, Paul, it is a democracy which means all voices can hopefully be heard. I guess my question came from wondering whether that is something that would happen at the event you are planning. I'm trying to understand why this person might feel like they were going to end up under a safe.

I don't think anyone needs anyone's blessing to speak up. It does help us to feel safe knowing that our point of view is welcome. People hide behind all kinds of things when they don't feel safe, including guns.

In my experience hearts and minds open much easier when they are heard. There are unmet needs behind every action. When we seek to understand, there is space for compassion and we find where we connect which tends to create more tolerance all around.

Paul Mullin

Thanks, Kymberlee, I appreciate your point of view on this. I too think there should be safe places for discussion and compassionate discourse. I just don't think that's what a theater is. Theaters are crucibles of story and argument and pretend sex and violence. When I stage my gun play stories, they're gonna go for the throat. I expect my adversaries to do the same if they can. And if they can't, I'm gonna demand to know why. I already believe I know, but I'm still gonna demand it.

You don't get Moliere's bite by making sure everyone's feelings are safe. That's not our job as artists. Therapists, sure. But remember, you gotta want to see a therapist for that to work. I get to perpetrate my art whether my adversaries like it or not. And it works whether or not they approve or sign on. I just happen to know that it makes good show business to invite them into the room. They should realize that too. It's their last best hope. But am I surprised when they don't avail themselves of it? Nope. I know they don't put much stock in hope. More's the pity.

Kymberlee della Luce

I hear you, Paul. Thank you for the dialogue here. I appreciate hearing where you're coming from.

I talked to my brother tonight. He told me that his son's childhood friend had killed himself recently.

He was 14.

I said, "Do they know what was happening in his life?"

"No, besides the fact that this is Wenatchee and everyone has to have a fucking gun in their house," was his response.

We grew up with guns. My dad had a loaded gun in his underwear drawer and many rifles in locked cabinets.

That NRA member attitude is a tough one to deal with. I really understand your frustration.

Tonight I am left wondering how this boy's family is dealing with his death. I imagine it is hard enough to live with the fact that your child killed himself. I can't imagine the level of guilt in a circumstance like this one. It must be crushing.

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