What it means to be ‘surprised’ by the massacre in Highland Park

Why do I know that Highland Park, Ill., was the backdrop for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a 1986 John Hughes movie starring a young Matthew Broderick as a cheeky teenage suburbanite who misbehaves? It’s because so many articles recounting the horrific Fourth of July shooting at the town’s annual holiday parade mentioned it.

The reference was used as an emblematic totem, shorthand that tracked the comments sprinkled through the articles and tweets launched that day: “probably the last place we would expect this” or “just inconceivable in a community like Highland Park.”

I mourned along with the country at the heartbreaking details, the child left without parents, the grandfather in an extended family, now left without its patriarch, the mother hit as she ran with the daughter who saw her go down but who kept running to save her own life.

Will this country ever be rid of the senseless gun violence that stains a quintessential Independence Day celebration, with marching bands, floats and children toted in strollers and wagons? Will there ever be a consensus that pushes politicians to change laws that allowed a 21-year-old suspect to obtain authorization to purchase weapons at an even younger age, with a co-sign by dad, even after incidents that drew law enforcement to the home?

Apparently not until America decides enough is enough and makes elected leaders pay a political price, which has not yet happened.

But while I mourned, I also realized, and not for the first time, that Americans mark tragedies in different ways, with wide-ranging levels of empathy, that deeply felt emotion that allows you to look into the faces of those whose lives are forever changed by violence and feel the same pain, maybe because those people remind you of you.

 

‘What Next’ podcast: What Texas Can’t Forget

One tragedy replaces another in the headlines—that’s just how things go.

The Texas state Legislature isn’t scheduled to convene until January 2023, when the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde will no longer be fresh in people’s minds, and the momentum for changing Texas’ gun laws will be long gone. One state senator, however, won’t accept that.

Guest: Roland Gutierrez, Democratic Texas state Senator for District 19, which includes Uvalde.

Local News Roundup: COVID vaccines for the very young; Bruton Smith remembered; NC’s first case of monkeypox

COVID-19 vaccines are now available in Charlotte for children 6 months to 5 years old for the first time. We’ll talk about where you can get them.

This week marks two years since a shooting on Beatties Ford Road, with still very few answers.

NASCAR Hall of Famer and founder of Charlotte Motor Speedway Bruton Smith died this week at the age of 95. We’ll talk about his long and sometimes controversial life in motorsports.

At this week’s City Council meeting, south Charlotte residents spoke out about a plan for developveloping apartments in their neighborhood.

The NBA draft starts Thursday. What are the Hornets’ prospects? We’ll get a rundown on that and what the organization plans to do after their anticipated new head coach backed out of the job.

And North Carolina sees its first documented case of monkeypox.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top local and regional news on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Claire Donnelly, WFAE health reporter

Seema Iyer, chief legal correspondent WJZY Queen City News

Careless adults take note: ‘Children will listen … children will see’

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And learn.”

At his death late last month at the age of 91, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was praised for writing for character rather than the hit parade. Playwright Arthur Laurents, who worked with him on several productions, once said that Sondheim “writes a lyric that could only be sung by the character for which it was designed.”

However, the audience for his work is everyone.

At this moment, the words of “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods” sadly resonate in a country where children are learning the wrong lessons from adults who should know better.

In Michigan, family, friends and classmates are mourning Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, killed in an attack in a place that should be safe — high school. A 15-year-old was charged in the murders at Oxford High School, and in a rarity, his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter for what prosecutors said was behavior that made them complicit.

Guide them along the way

Children will glisten

Children will look to you

For which way to turn.”

Local News Roundup: redistricting continues, another high school lockdown, new nondiscrimination ordinance for Mecklenburg

On the Local News Roundup, the redistricting process continues for state and local elections. Legislators get into the nitty-gritty of drawing state Senate and House districts while Mecklenburg County Commission reviews three possible maps for local districts.

A local Charlotte high school goes on lockdown after a gun is found on campus. One student is arrested and charged following a shooting near the school.

Volleyball players at Olympic High are benched for participating in a protest over sexual assault.

And, Mecklenburg County passes its own LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter

Local News Roundup: COVID-19 Cases Rise In Schools, 3-Year-Old Killed By Gun Violence, Redistricting Begins In Charlotte

On the Local News Roundup: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the community and area schools. Where this is happening and what are officials doing about it?

In Union County, not much. Their school board votes to keep mask-wearing optional for students and teachers — one of only three systems in the state to reach that decision.

Mecklenburg County releases data on its employees’ vaccination rates as organizations representing police and fire prepare to push back on possible vaccine mandates.

And a Charlotte City Council committee starts drawing new election maps based on 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Ann Doss Helms, WFAE Education Reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Hunter Saenz, WCNC Reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s Executive Producer for Investigations & Chief Investigative Reporter

Reporters’ Roundtable

We’re at the Reporters’ Roundtable with a look at the top stories of the week.  As always… there’s a lot to talk about.  Hurricane Ida, back to school in the DMV, recapping the March On Washington, and gun violence in our communities.  We start with the end of the war in Afghanistan.

‘The flag would still be flying today’

Six years ago, Malcolm Graham lost his big sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, in the Charleston shooting that took nine Black churchgoers’ lives. Now a city councilman in Charlotte, N.C., Graham reflects on the work he did to remove the Confederate flag from its prominent place on the South Carolina statehouse grounds, the future of racial matters in our country and his sister’s legacy.

Pandemics and gun violence are real life, not ‘theater’

Perhaps Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky needs a refresher course on the meaning of the word “theater.” His GOP colleague Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas could listen in.

The former recently initiated a verbal brawl with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease specialist who has been providing information and advice to guide Americans dealing, along with the rest of the world, with a deadly pandemic. The latter accused anyone proposing the consideration of gun restrictions, in light of two horrific mass shootings in the space of a week, of “ridiculous theater.”

Now, I realize the term “theatrical” can be used as an insult hurled at someone accused of exaggeration, but what is happening in America is a fact. So let me offer my own definition: “Theater” is the thrill of escaping from it all in a darkened hall with a group of strangers, to see and hear professionals act or sing or dance, and to be uplifted by the experience, if only for an hour or two.

And it’s something we’ve been deprived of during this past, very long year amid the pain of COVID-19, with deadly gun violence that has not abated as a backdrop, and so much more.

 

Biden and Beto are like night and day — except when they’re potato-potahto

OPINION — It was a difference in styles and generations. In a Carolinas swing, first there was Beto O’Rourke with a town hall at a brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina — more like an informal gathering among many new friends. The next day there was Joe Biden with a large crowd at a historically black college in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

It was a day and a world apart last week, though in both cases, supporters uniformly praised a certain quality in their chosen candidate — authenticity.

Hopes for 2020 run high in these two states, and the stakes are real for both parties.