Friday, December 21, 2012

Sandy Hook, threats, put book signings on hold

Sometimes you can do more by doing less. 

In my case, I've decided to cancel the remainder of my scheduled book signings for 2012 and the beginning of 2013. 

The reason? Sandy Hook and the sudden closures this week of schools across the Thumb and Great Lakes Bay Region of Michigan because of threats of violence.

As many of you know, the central story line in my new novel, A Formula for Murder, involves a plot by a parent who decides to get revenge against three prominent school officials by targeting them for execution with altered medical prescriptions.

Though my book is fiction, the central theme of the novel hits too close to home these days.
I don't want to hustle my book at public presentations and run the risk that it would encourage anyone - students, parents, teachers, administrators or members of a school district - to think that I believe violence is a solution to any kind of school problem.

It is not.

We've all watched the images and reports from Sandy Hook over the past week. What's happening in Connecticut is absolutely heart-wrenching. Families burying children. Schoolmates mourning the loss of loved ones. Teachers who paid the ultimate price while defending their students. A community broken and overwhelmed by grief.

Since the Sandy Hook tragedy began, we've seen a troubling trend in Michigan. School districts across our part of the state - and many others - have shut down this week because threats of violence. It is not clear how serious any of these threats are, but school officials, I think wisely, have decided to error on the side of caution.

It's time for us all to take a deep breath and reflect on what's happening in our schools and communities. We need to carefully think about guns and ammo - especially military assault weapons - in our society. We need to carefully evaluate how we live with the mentally disturbed, particularly those who have displayed a tendency toward violence. And I believe we should carefully evaluate how violence is portrayed in our society. Is it really a good idea to allow everyone full access to virtual video games that require participants to hunt down and kill others in murderous rampages?

These are all very difficult questions. People want their children to be safe, but few Americans want to limit our basic freedoms.

While we begin to look at these questions, I've decided to put my book on the shelf and hold off on promotions and signings. It's clearly time to do less.

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