I Can’t Trace Time

aerie one

Fall has arrived and the breezes this weekend cleared away most of what was left of summer. Last week at home I walked along the river like I always do and this time of year when the water laps at my feet, it is warmer than the air, inviting, deceiving, teasing me into thinking summer will push back on autumn and maybe even win out. I don’t mind the change so much; I’m not bothered by the passing of time as much as how I spend the passing of time.

Tonight I’m in West Virginia, and winter’s on its way. The leaves are just beyond peak here, and my drive to the coast tomorrow will bring me through every stage of autumn. Sometimes you can see all the changes happen in one day. Crazy.

The truth is, some things need to change. Even with resistence, sometimes it is the only way to make room for new growth.

For me even the seasonal change from summer to fall is often troublesome. Again, I don’t mind fall—my days in western New York and Massachusetts are most memorable for this time of year. And obviously I know it is going to happen. I watch the weather, I mark the calendar, I see the leaves letting go. But still it always takes me by surprise. I wake up one day and I need to wear more clothes, or I no longer feel the sun so strong on my shoulders, and I am saddened.

So when a change is even more unexpected, like anyone else I wonder how I am going to handle it. And the surest way—for me anyway—to gauge my reaction to life being different or accepting some sort of radical, unexpected shift in existence is to look back to when these things have happened before.

I’ve never lived a conventional life.

In kindergarten I liked a little red-haired girl, Kathleen. Just like Charlie Brown I was afraid to approach her. We were in the same class until third grade when at the end of the school year my family moved much further out on the Island. Instead of saying goodbye to her I made a card that said, “I love you” and threw it at her in the hallway. I think she got it. Now I wish I had just handed it to her politely and said I was sorry I was moving. I never saw her again. I probably didn’t handle that relationship well.

A line from a favorite song of mine says, “Can you picture a time when a man had to find his own way through an unbroken land?” Imagine that for a second. No satellite photos, no GPS, no maps and indicators, no sextant, nothing but perhaps some paths beaten by cattle or floods. Wild.

In some ways that’s all of us in our youth. Personally, I often ignored advice of my older siblings, examples set down on television or in school. I simply preferred to assess a situation and have at it on my own terms, even if it meant complete and utter disaster. Once I walked three blocks from home just to play with a friend’s plastic bowling pin set. I was eight. Another time I decided to hike into the San Jacinto Mountains outside Palm Springs without telling my parents, or anyone for that matter. I missed the small sign that said “Danger: Rattle Snake Area. Keep Out.” What a beautiful hike that was until I fell into a Saguaro cactus and spent an extra hour on a rock pulling thorns out of my leg. What a great day.

My point is simple. I should be dead. Or abducted. Or in juvi for harrassing an eight year old girl. Instead, I gained that small bit of confidence we used to earn out on our own, trying and failing, fantasizing and acting and pretending. You simply never know when those youthful lessons will return to come in handy, see us through an unexpected left-turn, help us through the changes.

I thought about those years, my early youth in Massapequa Park on Long Island, and how innocent it all was; how we flipped baseball cards and played stickball. We had block parties where the block would be closed to traffic and we all put picnic tables and grills out and walked up and down the street talking to everyone else and sharing food, and riding bikes, and the adults had drinks and the kids had fun. Television went off the air at night, just a fuzzy white noise until the early morning when a black and white flag waved across the screen and some dude said, “We now begin our broadcast day” after the National Anthem.

This was the age of my youth. It was innocent and tech-free and filled with hippies and protests and flag-burning and marches and sit-ins and rumbles. The laughable Mets became the champs and we walked on the moon. On the moon, for God’s sake. How can you possibly not understand why at the core of my generation is some semblance of hope, still simmering. We were not a generation of followers staring at our hands; not by any stretch of the imagination. So when the times were a ‘changing, we changed—or we were the ones causing the change to begin with. And as we grew older, those organic traits became part of our DNA.

Change. Part of who we are is absolutely dependent upon how we were when we were young. And when I was young I was restless, always ready for something new. I didn’t mind our move away from the Little Red-Haired girl. I didn’t mind the move to Virginia.

I welcome what’s next.

“To change is to be new. To be new is to be young again.”


“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are going.”

–Lao Tzu

We now begin our broadcast day.




Learning to Walk



This is a special edition of A View from this Wilderness. About a month from now my book “Out of the Way: Walking with Francis in Spain” is being released, and this excerpt–which I reworked into a variant form here–is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy this and thanks for reading: 

Learning To Walk

When my son and I decided to climb the Pyrenees on our pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain —a five hundred mile trek from France to the Spanish coast—I passed on carrying walking sticks. Now, I’m not always a stubborn or proud man; when someone told me to buy my hiking shoes one size larger than normal, I did and I’m glad; walking hundreds of miles really does make the feet bigger. And when I was told to drink a lot of water I made sure to stop at every well on the way. Not buying a walking stick wasn’t a matter of wanting to look strong; I simply didn’t want something else to carry.

Curiously, we were the only two pilgrims without walking sticks in all of St Jean Pied du Port, France, where we began our trek. They only cost about five euros for a good solid piece of oak about five feet tall, varnished, “Camino de Santiago” burned into it and a metal casing at the tip to hit the ground, with a tough cord through the handle. Some people carried fold away steel ski poles and others wood ones. Some pilgrims bought two and walked like cross country skiers; most found one would suffice, leaving the other hand free to point at the Pyrenees or hold a water bottle. And as I told my son: “I’ve been walking upright without assistance for a long time, uphill included.”

It turns out the Pyrenees are profoundly uphill. Those first three unassisted days crossing the mountains made for some interesting balancing acts. With both arms free it was too easy to move too fast and tire out or lean too far and stretch out a muscle. Instead, we took a lot of breaks and watched where we were going so not to step on endless small rocks and countless eight inch black slugs, bountiful in Basque country. Another reason I went without was my concern that on the Camino I’m come to carry the cane like a crutch and expect it to help me more than I should, especially once we moved past the Pyrenees. We were a rarity on this journey: a father and son together in peace for five weeks, talking, laughing, and sharing intimate moments in chapels and cafes.

We didn’t need the sticks; we would lean on each other.

          In Pamplona we bought two walking sticks.

We gave in when we realized we tired more quickly than our fellow pilgrims, and it felt awkward to let our arms dangle all day. Michael found one about five feet tall stained dark and rugged looking. Mine was a bit taller and tan. Both had thick cords through the handle for our wrists. It took some getting used to but somewhere on the way to Logrono, Spain, we found the rhythm and our walking sticks became an extension of our anatomy. I learned just the right timing to pick it up and how far in front of me to place it back down. I figured out when to not let the tip hit the ground, when to carry it on my shoulders, and when to lean heavy on it to relieve pressure on the knees or toes. I learned I needed it more down hill than up, on dry riverbeds more than the pavement, and not at all in larger towns and cities.

          And after another week or two that cane worked its way into my character, as did everyone’s. We would leave them on our bunks in the late afternoon after we checked into a place to stay and then went out to eat or drink. It marked our space, and a quick glance indicated whose bunk was whose faster than looking at the backpacks. Two mahogany walking canes told us the two men from Frankfort, Germany, were also staying; the silver ski poles with a Belgium flag sticker belonged to Sylvie. And others knew ours leaning against a wall, in a corner, or as they lay on the ground against the wall at night. At some point my walking stick was simply part of the pilgrimage as much as my water bottles, my backpack and my journals. Eventually I knew if I had to make a choice I’d have given up the backpack before the stick.

          It became a part of my walking style and I decided I’d continue to use it when we returned to the States. Since he had been old enough to walk Michael and I have explored woods and walkways together. At home he always grabbed a hand crafted walking stick from the pile he made from fallen branches, and off we would go. I adapted quickly to mine in Spain and when I wasn’t holding it, my hand felt empty.

          A few weeks later near the city of Sarria, it occurred to me I’d be using that stick the rest of my life. When I am in my eighties no one will need to convince me I’d be safer with a cane; by then this piece of wood with “Camino de Santiago” burned into the side will simply be understood. For my family it will be part of who I had become, the one who walks, who at one time when he was so much younger crossed Spain with his son, and the only items they brought back were their walking sticks.

          That was agreed on in Pamplona. With about five hundred miles before us, we knew we couldn’t carry much. In fact, shortly after arriving and evaluating my belongings, I ditched some clothes and equipment to lighten the load. We had been accustomed to acquiring souvenirs to remind us where we had been. When I was young my father always brought back glass mugs with the name of the city or state printed on the side. When I traveled during Michael’s youth I likewise found evidence to give him and make him feel part of my journeys. But this was different; this was a pilgrimage walked by saints and queens. This wasn’t a vacation; it was a brand new way of life. So as we walked Michael took pictures and I wrote in my journal and we decided those would be our mementos. We both knew no token could possibly represent the experience of sharing these five weeks, twenty-four hours a day, together.

          But as it turned out, soon after buying the walking sticks and getting used to them we realized doing so allowed us, quite ironically, the double pleasure of having an easier time of it on the pilgrimage as well as a very practical souvenir of our time together that summer. We would bring them home. Enough said.

          It was difficult not to think of my father when we first bought them. At almost ninety at the time of our pilgrimage, he sometimes needed to struggle out of his chair, but once he was up he kept going without assistance from a “third leg” as Sophocles suggested in the Sphinx’s oracle. Now here were his son and grandson deciding to carry a few canes for five weeks. That kind of time together, talking, walking, mostly remaining quiet and pointing out the beauty around us is simply not often shared between a parent and child. In fact, on our entire Camino we only met a few other similar relationships, a father and son from Holland and a mother and daughter from Sweden. The innkeepers and café owners would comment on how lucky we were to travel together. We knew this, though, and as time went on we both wanted the trip to continue. Together we met people from around the world, drank in cafes as varied as Hemingway’s favorite pub and a garage some woman turned into a bar. We prayed together in churches built before the time of Charlemange and chapels where St Francis of Assisi sought refuge. We shared every moment of every day surrounded by the finest scenery in Europe, and five weeks later we walked together into the sacred city of Santiago de Compostella aided by our walking sticks, which literally guided us across the country.

          In Santiago one afternoon we toured a museum which had on display relics of those who walked the Camino. One cane in particular was featured—that of St. Francis of Assisi, who walked the same pilgrimage exactly eight hundred years earlier. Encased under two glass boxes was a short, peasant’s staff used by Francis when he journeyed from Assisi to Santiago and back. He was thirty-three and traveled well over a thousand miles with this walking stick of his still in tact and on display nearly a millenium later. I was in awe. The significance of our canes became clearer. They would do more than simply link us to the Camino long after we were home; they linked us to every pilgrim who ever followed The Way.

          At the end of the journey one night in Fisterra, the ancient “end of the world,” I stared at our sticks as we sipped a local red wine and watched the small fishing boats in the harbor. We had done it; we completed the Camino, together, and we sat together, father and son, and gazed at the Atlantic.

          It gave me complete peace of mind to know that someday, hopefully a long time from now, it will be Michael’s. I wondered if long after his grandfather and I are both gone, when he is an old man himself, will he sit in a chair and stare with aging eyes at our two walking sticks leaning against a wall, probably long worn away at the tips. Will he someday pick one up in his fragile, elderly hands and remember his youth, coming of age on the Camino, walking more than twenty-miles a day with his father? I wondered if he would tell stories to his grandchildren about the great pilgrimage, and recall the time we wandered into Pamplona together and picked out those very walking sticks. I hoped he would remember the details while his grandchildren ask if they can hold them as he tells them the same stories again about how much we laughed so long ago in Spain. Yes, these were the perfect items to bring home, if there could be one.

          They will collect dust, I thought, much like memories collect dust and cover up some of the details, making them hard to recall. But they will stand as proof. Perhaps there will be small indents near the handle where over time my fingers rubbed away at the varnish. There was a time though, he might say to someone, when my father held this stick, and I held that one, and together we climbed mountains.

Then perhaps some unthinkable time from now he will leave them to his son or grandson. Those descendents won’t have memories from these two simple wooden staffs, but they might have stories of a father and grandfather who more than half a century earlier followed in the footsteps of saints.


          At the end of our trip we boarded a train for Pamplona and spent a few days celebrating. We went to the airport to fly home—we would visit my father and tell him about our journey: three generations sitting together sharing stories and memories. Then we got to security. Then we handed the security guard our backpacks and belongings, including the canes.

           “You can’t bring the walking sticks with you,” casually said the guard.


          “Because they are considered dangerous.”

          “Yes, I understand, that is why I’m shipping them in cargo.”

          “They can’t go through cargo.”

          “Why?” My chest hurt.

          “They are too large and considered dangerous and also they are not in boxes.”

          “No one sells boxes to hold them and they’re not so big. Skiers ship skis and poles longer than these walking sticks!”     

“Skiers have them in specially made carriers and besides you are not skiers and these are not poles.”

          “Yes, they are! In fact they are a sort of religious object very similar to the holy relic cane of St. Francis of Assisi!” My anxiety showed as my voice got louder.

          “But still they are not wrapped correctly to be shipped through our mechanical equipment without a box and they will damage something.”

          “Would you say the same thing to an old man with a cane? Would you tell him he couldn’t bring his cane on the plane because it isn’t wrapped correctly?” Time had passed and the security guard was losing patience and a line had formed behind us with people carrying backpacks and boxes but no walking sticks.

          “No, the old man with the cane would be allowed to bring the walking stick on board with him. You’re not an old man and this isn’t a cane!”

          My heart sank. Michael’s heart sank. The argument continued but I had lost. I asked Michael to carry the canes to a corner and lean them against the wall for someone else to take; perhaps some father and son pilgrims would find them. Michael said if we hand known this would happen we could have left them at a place for others; now they’ll probably just be thrown in the trash.

          We were quiet a long time. It was as if they cut off my arm. I said, “Well, we promised each other last month up in France that we weren’t going to have any souvenirs so this just holds us to our original commitment.” Michael sighed and agreed but we were feeding each other’s disappointment by going on about it. So he brought them over to the wall and left them and I am sure he felt as guilty as if he had abandoned two family pets. He got back in line but before we made it through security I looked at the sticks and got out of line.

          I went over and took the thick cords from the handles and gave Michael his. Once through security we tied our journals with the cords and I felt somehow as if it was supposed to be like this. We left it all in Spain. There might come a time when I will forget the particulars, and even later when Michael will not recall the details. But for now when I go for walks I don’t use a walking stick at all. I doubt I ever will. I’m a lot like my father that way. Instead, I walk alone along the river and remember when we sat in St Jean Pied du Port, France, restless and anxious and ready to begin.




I’ve been teaching college for twenty-eight years now and my classes usually fill pretty quickly. But in all of that time I’ve known some truly amazing professors. I work with a woman named Robin who has been teaching college since I was in third grade, and she is excellent at it; patient, experienced, knowledgeable in every aspect of her discipline. She’s the real thing. Like my brother-in-law, Greg, whose expertise in history has earned him respect around the world.

In my own fields, writing and English and arts and humanities, I’ve listened to lectures by colleagues and was amazed at their focus and thoroughness in presenting examples. These people are good, really good. They enjoy meetings and long discussions about accreditation and textbook selection. They can sit for hours and swap ideas about incorporating technology or revamping placement tests.

I can’t. I haven’t the patience. Sometimes in the middle of a lecture I want to stop and say, “Do you all realize that you can die at any moment; that a fighter jet might crash into this room right now, and you’re spending those last moments discussing the relevance of Kafka? What the hell is wrong with you?!” I can be a joy sometimes. It reminds me of a scene from Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” in which parents bring their young son to a psychiatrist because the child won’t do his homework. The doctor asks, “Why won’t you do your homework, kid?” and the kid responds, “The sun’s going to dry up in four billion years. What’s the point?” For awhile I thought this was a fatalist position, but I’ve reconsidered. I once asked a class what their topics were for the first paper due that week. No one answered. I said I was not grading them at all on topic choice, so they could tell me the topic was creamed corn and I would not have cared, I just wanted to know. No answer. I asked twice more and they stared at me. Then I said, “What the hell are you doing here?” They were quiet so I repeated it: “What in God’s name are you doing here?”

The dean of the department called me in and asked what happened in class because someone complained. I told her I asked them two questions and they couldn’t answer either one. She said I should have perhaps phrased them differently. I asked her what the hell is she doing there. I said, “Are you seriously going to sit here and suggest how I could have rephrased a question instead of telling the student to consider doing the work?” I walked out. I tend to walk out a lot.

For years—decades—I thought my colleagues at work shouldn’t be there if they’re going to insist on treating students like children. But I have been wrong. It’s me. Maybe I shouldn’t be there.

I can keep their attention; that I’m good at. I’ve been in front of crowds since I’m nineteen-years-old, and over the years I’ve stolen some excellent late night Comedy Channel material, and I can keep them laughing, and I can make the work relevant. But that’s not teaching; that’s entertainment. While I may argue that they need to be paying attention to begin with before I can start to hope they hear the lesson, I also well know that stimulating them like that doesn’t help with retention, both in their minds and on my enrollment sheet. No, a successful professor shows how the material is relevant, essential, and hopefully interesting.

So last week I went for a walk across campus. I passed the geese in the lake, the rows of crepe myrtles which run from my office to the parking lot and the grove of trees separating campus from the highway. I walked along a path near a farmer’s market and asked myself, very seriously, “What am I doing here?”

Why are we ever where we are? It is because we like it? Or is it because we simply lost momentum? There’s a great line in You’ve Got Mail. In a scene with Meg Ryan’s voice over for an email she is writing, she contemplates how she has a good life—simple but good. And then she says, “But sometimes I wonder: Do I do what I do because I like it or because I haven’t been brave.” Every once in a while I’ll watch a scene in a movie that makes me loose concentration in the film and start thinking about my life. That’s one of those moments. Every time.

For me the real answer is somewhat Kafkaesque: I’m here because my car broke down in the parking lot in 1989 when I was passing by the college headed from another city back to the oceanfront. I went in a building to use a phone and one thing lead to another and now I have twenty-eight years under my belt. I’ve been awarded many, many grants, taught full classes in subjects as various as African-American Literature, college composition, and creative writing. I even spent some time teaching a course about the art and culture of September 11th, 2001. I’ve written articles about education for newspapers, magazines, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. I’ve been to conferences to present and to learn, and I’ve taught as a guest in colleges in Russia, Prague, Amsterdam, and Norway. What an amazing twenty-eight years. I’m grateful.

But as a kid growing up listening to Fogelberg, reading Peter Jenkin’s A Walk Across America, and hanging out with adventurous people who traveled the world, “I want to teach college comp at a local community college” doesn’t roll off my lips.

I know that the reasons I stayed make sense, are justifiable, even absolute because some degree of responsibility is expected of a young father trying to find “roots” and a place for my son to come from. It is the great American dream, created centuries ago, made personally possible for me by the efforts of my beautiful mother and father. I was “on the right track.” I had “grabbed a corporation job by the tail before I die,” as an old friend of mine once sang. This is the Great American Dream. Yes. But equally true is the reality we aren’t all built the same.

My grip isn’t nearly as tight as it used to be. It sank in staring at the Gulf of Mexico the other day that in twenty years I’ll be in the final countdown to eighty. The list of things I’ll never get to do or do again is extensive, but this week convinced me that the list of things I still plan to do is too long for such an amount of time. I cannot believe—I mean, I cannot believe I let anyone—ANYONE—distract me from what is truly essential.

I do not plan on quitting my excellent job—don’t worry Mom. But I will not be defined by it anymore.

I’m fifty-seven years old and have never lived a conventional life, and it doesn’t seem like it is going to smooth out anytime soon. I prefer sunsets to Wheel of Fortune and sunrises to Good Morning America. I have theories, of course, about why I could never settle for the 9-5 gig so many I know settled into very comfortably. Maybe we have different stresses. But if I think I won’t get to see some place I’ve dreamed of I can’t sit still. Ayers Rock, Patagonia, Arles, Singapore, Banff. I have to see these places. I have to. I can’t explain this. It is as if to not see these places, to not go meet people who live lives there, to not write about it, to not be part of it all even ever so briefly is punishment, prison, some sort of cruel joke, and the stress can be unbearable.

The brain is freaking amazing. At four-thirty in the morning I can wake with regrets that make my stomach feel ill. Regrets about things I’ve written, said, did and didn’t do, the fate of the world, the trajectory of my life, or the smallest decisions. Fast forward to mid-afternoon, add some caffeine, some Cat Stevens or just the right James Taylor song and the same material I so decided was going to be my downfall before dawn can be exactly what drives me. Same work, same brain, different times of day.

It’s our call.

How often do we worry about disappointing someone else, or an entire group of someone else’s? How long does it take the average person to understand that the only way to pass our eventual aged years is by pursuing our own reality instead of someone else’s illusions?

I can’t help think of Denis Finch Hatton’s words made famous in Out of Nowhere by Robert Redford: “I don’t want to wake up one day at the end of someone else’s life.”

Ironically, it might be just that awareness that makes me an excellent college professor; the ability to make students question their place, contemplate their path, and evaluate their own truths.

It’s just that sometimes I’d rather be the example than the preacher.

magazine me



An Amendment or Two


I’m likely to piss off some friends with this one. But enough is enough. 

Many (not all) gun advocates do not understand the need to restrict certain weapons. They see it as an infringement on their second amendment rights; that to prohibit American citizens from buying and responsibly owning any weapon they choose—whether assault rifle, grenade launcher, or something, you know, dangerous—is to deny them the rights set down in the constitution, even if some lost souls abuse that right and commit atrocities such as in Las Vegas.

And Orlando.

And Columbine.

And Sandy Hook.

And Tucson

And Aurora

And Oak Leaf, Wisconsin

And the Washington Navy Yard

And Fort Hood

And Charleston

And Chattanooga


Do I describe that correctly, gun advocates? Does that sweeping little generalization pretty much sum up the primary defense of gun ownership?

I don’t mind the belief system as much as I do the repulsive hypocrisy.

To simplify: Americans are free to practice their rights as guided by the constitution, even if an over-abuse of those rights deeply and tragically infringe upon the rights of others, including their right to life?

Okay, my turn.

You see, the amendment just before your borderline violence-inducing one is the First Amendment; the free speech one. The one that allows you to shout down gun-control advocates, the one that allows you to display clever little bumper stickers that say, “Insured by Smith and Weston” or “Stop honking; I’m reloading.” That simple amendment that the founders found to be so essential to the progress of democracy they made it number one. Yeah, that one. The one that says if we are not happy with the way the country is going we can protest, so long as it is peaceful, organized, and does not infringe upon anyone else’s rights.

I heard way too many gun advocates shooting off their mouths about NFL players taking their knee during the National Anthem to protest how the government is treating them. Too many second-amendmentizers seemed more concerned that people were not standing during the National Anthem than they were why those people were not standing. It seems these people would be pissed at their children for getting blood all over their new shirt before they found out what caused the bleeding.  Did it even cross anyone’s mind to stop and ask what the problem is? To find out if something can be done for those men to rise again and have a reason to be grateful to be born in this country.

Why didn’t it cross the minds of those naysayers to pay attention to these men on their knees in protest of the government’s inability to create a society in which all men and women are treated as equal? When you see football players on their knees during the National Anthem, instead of instantly deciding they are being disrespectful to the country and flag, or are not patriots because they didn’t fight for the country, remember that they have a different fight; their battlefield is the prejudice in the workplace, the hatred on the city streets, the racial profiling on the highways, the assumption of guilt. Their battlefield is just about everywhere they go, and they must fight daily. These people do not whine, they do not turn tail and run away, they do not attempt to stir violence or shoot up a concert or a school or a platform with a congresswoman. They take a knee so that exactly what happened happens—that people talk about it, complain about it, draw attention to it, because they are saying, despite the uphill climb since before this country began, that things can be better and they want to be a part of making it so. They insist on standing in front of the line of fire from self-declared protectors of the flag so that the rest of their race and oppressed people have a fighting chance. Many of them fought in various wars only to come home to a country that wanted nothing to do with them; many were abandoned by the V.A. And many simply are tired of being ridiculed for speaking their mind while the same ones who ridicule them are defending the rights of others to own the guns which shoot up the streets.

How dare anyone question the patriotism of anyone else simply because they don’t wear a uniform or don’t stand and cheer to Lee Greenwood. Patriotism has included from the earliest days of this nation the right to protest, to sit down at counters, to refuse to relinquish a seat, to march down Fifth Avenue in silence, to march on Washington in song, to write small little pamphlets inciting people not to violence but to action, not to rebellion but to conversation.

Nowhere nowhere, not one place in the constitution does any line indicate that anyone should sit down and shut up. And that includes taking a knee to stand for something that those with blind faith refuse to accept. Democracy was designed to change with the times by allowing protest and conversation. Yes, it also allows the possession of firearms. But in both amendments, restrictions have always applied. You can’t yell fire in a theater. You can’t commit acts of libel or slander.

And you cannot you cannot you cannot advocate the ownership of arms which are designed for the sole purpose of mass destruction.