The last few weeks have seen an upsetting surge of seemingly random shootings — of teenagers knocking on doors, of cheerleaders trying to open the wrong car, and more. This week in OtherWords, Svante Myrick argues it’s not so random after all.

The former Ithaca, New York mayor explains how pervasive propaganda about high crime and danger has led to a nation that’s heavily armed, trigger-happy, and unable to make even common sense reforms to gun laws or policing. But reflecting on his own experience in office, he says it’s still possible “to turn away from the fearmongers and toward solutions that work.”

Meanwhile, former teacher Randy Fair — who faced threats of firing as gay teacher in Georgia in the 1990s — reflects on the human cost of today’s right-wing hysteria about teachers, schools, and LGBTQ people. “How many lives and careers will be sacrificed before the madness comes to an end?” he asks.

Also this week, Sonali Kolhatkar says the scandals surrounding Clarence Thomas show why the Supreme Court needs term limits, while cartoonist Khalil Bendib suggests Thomas is in it for the money. And Sam Pizzigati reports on a surprising — and dangerous — downside to Major League Baseball’s new rules.

Finally, if you missed them before — please read librarian Christopher Harris’s plea against book banning for National Library Week this week and my colleague Karen Dolan’s takedown of “parents bills of rights” that actually shred the rights of students and parents alike.

New This Week…

Armed and Afraid: The High Price of Fear | Svante Myrick
As more senseless shootings claim lives, it’s time to turn away from apocalyptic rhetoric and focus on what actually makes us safer.

Stop the War on LGBTQ Teachers | Randy Fair
It’s hard enough being a teacher at all, but cruel new laws are putting dedicated LGBTQ teachers in particular danger. When will the madness end?

It’s Time for Supreme Court Term Limits | Sonali Kolhatkar
The mounting scandals surrounding Clarence Thomas show the danger of lifetime appointments without ethical standards.

Baseball’s Deadly Rule Change | Sam Pizzigati
Welcome rule changes have shortened MLB games — but owners are pushing beer sales later into shorter games. That could have deadly consequences.

Cartoon: Where the Money Is | Khalil Bendib
Clarence Thomas’s motives do not appear to be complicated.

In Case You Missed It…

Support Your Local Librarians by Rejecting Book Bans | Christopher Harris
90 percent of Americans trust their local librarians, but outside groups are invading communities with demands to ban books and shut down services.

Breaking Down Your Tax Bill | Lindsay Koshgarian
Our tax dollars should make life better, not go to waste. But the average taxpayer had to shell out over $1,000 for military contractors alone last year.

Don’t Shred the Safety Net — Expand It | Kali Daugherty
Conservative lawmakers are threatening to slash the programs that helped my family escape poverty. We should be doing the opposite.

A Parents Bill of Rights for the Rest of Us | Karen Dolan
The book bans, censorship, and attacks on LGBTQ kids that the GOP calls “parents rights” are way out of step with American families.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the Communications Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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