Kevin C Shinn

Kevin C Shinn

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Family Kind of Thing

Four Generations of Shinn's on the Huntsville Fire Department

My earliest memories of the Huntsville Fire Department were of going with my father, Harry Shinn, down to the old fire station for their regular meetings.

To be honest, I remember little about what kind of training they did but I vividly remember crawling all over the fire trucks and dreaming about the days I could drag a hoseline into a fire.

I remember my mother getting me out of bed and taking me to the parking lot of the Jan Ran Motel across from the IGA as it burned ferociously through the night as our firefighters battled the flames without turnouts. Without airpacks. In freezing temperatures. My mother and the other wives were busy making the firefighters bologna sandwiches and coffee to keep them going.

I remember my uncle Gene Shinn coming to the table to get coffee with ice caked in his ears. I remember my father and Steve Spurlock dangerously dragging large acetylene bottles out of the garment factory in order to protect the other firefighters who didn't know they were in the structure.

I remember many things watching my dad and my uncles Gene and Earl and my cousin Randy risking themselves in order to serve others.

I remember how proud I was the first fire I worked on a nozzle battling the first fire at the Ridgeway Apartments as they were being constructed.

I remember years later, when I was a single father, raising my daughter Kristyn in and around the fire station.

Fast forward a hundred years later and I will always treasure the first time Kristyn joined me on the department.

As this report from KNWA points out, the Huntsville Fire Department is a family kind of thing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trumping America

Donald Trump has succeeded in turning the 2016 Presidential election into must see television. Trump plays a character devoid of any need to play by the normal moral, ethical, economic, political and social standards most of society chooses to live by. Instead, we are subjected to an increasing array of absurd Trumpisms designed to stir the conscience of the uninformed and unenlightened while shocking every adult encumbered by reason and intellect.

Trump attracts every member of our society who ever hated Civics classes in high school and subconsciously would prefer an enlightened monarch who would impose order on our diverse land. The noise and confusion associated with democracy is simply too annoying for the common Trump supporter.

Intelligent Americans of any political persuasion remain baffled by the volume of lies and distortions Trump spews weekly and the lack of any measurable effect they have on the enthusiasm of his zealots. To be honest, Trump is s phenomenon that is difficult for most people to decipher. We are accustomed to our leaders to mostly respect the boundaries of honesty with an occasional stretch of the truth for political purposes. Trump has changed the rules by integrating lies, propaganda and distortions into the fabric of his personality. As a reality TV star, he knows his audience and targets the most base biases and prejudices they possess. The reason he is able to thrive among his supporters is because every time he thow's out an offensive slur against women, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Gays, union members, POW's, the media or anyone else, is because his voters already hold those viewpoints and he is simply preaching to the disturbed choir. These are the people you would meet walking away from a Klan rally or NAZI meeting or any mob threatening someone of a different demographic group. Undoubtedly,  they are the ones racing to their televisions to watch Duck Dynasty and Dukes of Hazzards reruns. They will be proud of being a redneck and more likely to see science and education in general as tools of the devil.

Next to World War II and the Cold War, Trump's movement is the single greatest threat to our form of freedom and reasoned Americans must stand up before it is too late and stop Trump from ruining the future for our children. The stakes are too great to remain on the sidelines.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Oklahoma Flunks History

The dumbing of America by Right-wing morons cloaking themselves in the American flag has become a significant threat to our freedom; more so than any terrorist group in the world. The reason our Founding Fathers favored a separation between church and state is because they recognized that our government has to rule everyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof. They understood that as soon as you throw religion into the political mix, you automatically infuse unnecessary emotional conflict into the realm of governing our citizens. Many of those first English colonists who came to this country did so as a direct result of the English King trying to impose his brand of religion on them. With this in the minds of the Founding Fathers, they knew that religion had no role in a secular government and they had no desire to establish a theocracy.

If people want their children raised as a specific religion by all means find a church that meets those needs. In the meantime, the Right-wing evangelicals and their cronies need to quit trying to turn our government into a backwards theocracy which condemns science and promotes faith healers and charlatans willing to take advantage of the ignorant and uneducated. Oklahoma's recent move to ban AP US History because Republicans deemed it unpatriotic while attempting to impose theological elements into our school system is a perfect example of what is going wrong in this nation. I don't expect much from Oklahoma and they rarely disappoint me. American history is filled with negative examples of both our government and our people, yet we are the greatest nation in the history of the planet. Not because of conservatives, who have been on the wrong side of history on every major social issue, but because of progressives who have recognized our short-comings as a society and have been moved to make the world a better place. As a Christian, I don't need schools to do the jobs of churches nor do I need politicians replacing educators. The rising tide of dumb rolling in from the right-wing of this country is drowning the future for far too many of our children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Time For Reasoned Discussion

Since 1994 there have been 70 school shootings. 70. Let that number sink in for a minute. I own weapons and enjoy shooting. I am not naive enough to believe that simply passing laws will prevent madmen armed with ill intent from harming our children. Although people constantly ignore the "well-regulated" aspect of the Second Amendment, I do agree that we as Americans should have the right to own firearms. But the time has come for this nation to have a legitimate conversation about how do we reduce gun violence in our country. That conversation must include a discussion about the need for average citizens to own large capacity magazines, about the ability to buy firearms without some kind of registration, about the need for some type of firearm safety training, about improved mental healthcare for our citizens, about the effect of video games and movies on impressionable young minds, and about anything else that even remotely might be a contributing factor in the levels of gun violence plaguing our cities and schools and people in general. Silly rhetoric about prying guns from your cold, dead hands or about the need for banning violent video games or anything else muttered as a defense of the status quo needs to end and be replaced with legitimate, reasoned debate on what steps we should take to end this travesty. The blood of our children cries out for adults to step up and make the hard choices necessary to protect our kids and others from vicious people hell-bent to inflict carnage on innocents. 70 school shootings demand our attention. 20 precious angels and their 6 protectors who died in the halls and classrooms of an elementary school shout for change that will show their sacrifice to have not been in vain. Soon the television cameras will pack up and move on to the next big story and the focus of our people will have shifted to events far from Sandy Hook. Time is ticking toward 71 and the question remains, "What will we do to stop it?" What is your answer?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mike Huckabee and Fox Zealots

For the record, Mike Huckabee is representative of everything that is wrong with Fox and their conservative, anti-public school zealots. First, the idea that any mortal could stop God from going anywhere He wishes or is wanted is ludicrous. Second, the lie that keeps getting spun around Facebook and Right-wing media sites that someone has kicked God out of school is so easily disproven it requires either the gullible or simple-minded to believe it. We have Christian student clubs in our schools that have every right that any other club has in school. Students, teachers, and community the members routinely stage See You the at the Pole events. Teachers and students routinely pray before meals and other events and have Bibles with them in their class. What has been stopped is having the school force one brand of religion or another on a captive audience. I don't want some school administrator telling me and my children how to pray. For Huckabee, or anyone else, to say that the reason these poor children and their teachers were murdered in cold blood is because public schools have turned their backs on God is completely absurd and insulting to the families who lost love ones today and Huckabee and those like them should be holding their heads in shame.

Huckabee Proves He is Out of Touch

Thursday, September 6, 2012

American Patriotism

For many, patriotism means reciting the pledge of allegiance, taking your hat off your head and placing your right hand over your heart during the national anthem. I see and hear passionate views on the 2nd Amendment and on the separation of church and state and over our taxes being too high. I listen to zealous explanations as to why it is more important to regulate a womb than to feed a child. But our Founding Fathers did not suffer and risk all to produce a form of government in which our citizens could sit on their ever expanding butts enjoying the fruits of our liberty while stuffing their faces as they mindlessly flipped through the soul-sucking cable universe. This year's election, more than any in my memory, offers two distinctly different visions of the future.

The form of government under which we exist was created to be administered by an educated electorate and yet we are increasingly being bombarded by the visions of political extremes because they are the ones who are most passionate about articulating their points of view. My favorite Founder, Ben Franklin, once said, "In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech... Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man..." It is the most precious of rights and yet in the nation which has been the political ideal of freedom, it is a right which is so infrequently used that our future liberty is in peril of atrophying and disappearing without so much as a final battle to defend it recorded for the sake of our posterity.

What separates us from the rest of the world isn't our standard of living or our love of the free market. It isn't our endless array of mind-numbing entertainment options or our obscene, obesity producing food bars. What distinguishes us from the rest of the planet is the system of government that our Founding Fathers produced for us and generations have fine-tuned to allow even those individuals of the most humble origins to have a voice in the way they are governed and to enable those from the most modest beginnings to become President of the United States. Mitt Romney and the Republicans tell us everyday how bad that government is and the President reminds us every day how important it is to a free people. The differences between the two parties couldn't be wider. The Republicans have vowed to dismantle the federal government while the Democrats promise to protect it so that it continues to serve the needs of the Common Man. I obviously am a Democrat and believe passionately in our vision of government but I respect those on the other side who so ardently disagree with us. Unfortunately, too many of our people sit uninformed in the middle hoping the election will soon be over so they won't have to be bothered by the distraction of the campaign anymore. Representative democracy is such a burden to them that they proudly boast of their ignorance and wear their stupidity as a badge of honor. So don't tell us you're a Patriot and love our country if you don't take the time to get off your pompous ass, examine the issues facing our future, and go cast an informed vote.

Whose Dream Will Win

Ryan is obviously a fan of the Hunger Games, not the movie but the way of life. What Ryan did with his speech before the GOP Convention delegates was to frame the legitimate debate for this election. The question is this, “While rebounding our economy from the second worst financial crisis in our nation’s history, should this nation provide social programs to help those in need or not?” As Ryan repeatedly pointed out, the Republicans say no and the Democrats say yes. That is true and everything else should be about determining that answer. Romney/Ryan believe that we can improve the economy by continuing to grow the size of our military, cut taxes further for the rich, and eliminating all social programs at the federal level.

Obviously, I disagree. Growing up in a very poor part of the country, I recognize how destructive it would be for the people in Madison County and other areas if we were to eliminate the social safety net. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and I believe there is no excuse for the levels of poverty in this nation. Without child nutrition programs are we really willing to tolerate millions of hungry children in our nation? Without low-income housing are we really ready to live with millions of homeless families living in abandoned cars and under bridges? Without Medicaid are we willing to allow millions of our handicapped and poor neighbor’s to live in misery for the lack of money to buy antibiotics or to visit a doctor? Without the minimum wage laws are we willing to watch millions of our most vulnerable neighbor’s work long, tough days and nights for a $1 an hour still unable to afford the American Dream? At a time when the job market is demanding the most educated workforce in our history are we really willing as a people to stand by as the doors to a better life are slammed in the faces of millions of our children because we won’t provide them with financial aid to go to college?

This election places the very question of what is the American Dream on the ballot. We either hold the course as we rebuild our economy and continue to protect those most vulnerable in our society through the use of humane social programs or we take a hard Right turn and eliminate those programs as the Republicans have vowed to do and force the next generation of Americans to live through a life of broken dreams and economic despair while the distant lights on yachts and in penthouses daily taunt the daydreams of our children and grandchildren. Somewhere in China and India will be families huddled around their TV sets as Buddhist and Hindu missionaries walk through the streets of America surrounded by throngs of dirty, hungry, forlorn children as an announcer tells their audience that for just the price of a cup of coffee a day, they could save the life of some poor American child. I’m curious whose dream will win come November.