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No. 693: Remembering Covenant
Photo by Yoksel 🌿 Zok / Unsplash

No. 693: Remembering Covenant

📅 Today, Davis reflects on Covenant and Megan looks at five bills already signed into law this year.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Today marks a year since the Covenant tragedy. After the news broke, I drove over to my parents’ house, which is just around the corner from the school, and watched the news broadcast on TV. Growing up, my family was—and still is—very involved in the church. So, as rumors began to swirl and the day drew long, it felt particularly close to home.

The Pamphleteer took most of that week off, save for one Thursday piece I published to try and clear the air. I took great issue with the media coverage and people's reactions across social media, from the leftists who used it as an opportunity to stump for gun legislation to the right-wing conspiracy theory crowd whose rhetoric differed only in its content.

I never would have guessed I'd be in the position to write what I wrote to an audience of readers that week. I don't mean this in a self-aggrandizing way, but it felt pre-ordained, as if I was meant to be there. For that reason, I think it's probably the best piece I'll ever write, even if it's rough and could use some more edits.

Whatever the case, there's just one thing I want to make clear this morning. In today's Tennessean, David Plazas penned an op-ed titled 'After Covenant, Tennesseans wanted to protect kids from gun violence. That didn't happen.' I don't mean to pick on David in particular, but his argument characterizes the sort of rote response I wrote about in the days after the tragedy. To me, the argument that we need more gun control resembles a religious mantra. 

Before Parkland, Columbine, and the genesis of mass violence as a means to express your anger, school shootings did not occur pathologically as they do now. Gun laws were also considerably looser. Ask any of your parents or grandparents about their relationship with guns, and you'll hear stories about rifles resting on gun racks at the back of pickup trucks in high school parking lots.

In the intervening years, something changed. I understand the demand to churn out content and that Plazas and other journalists can only speak to what they know (political solutions), but when confronted with an act of all-consuming evil, legislation and political-speak is a paper tiger.

This country is spiritually sick. It has not become this way because of any "right-wing fanaticism" that many are eager to pin it on. It has become this way because of the all-consuming secular liberalism that dominates our politics and lives, which has produced a vast spiritual wasteland void of meaning, difference, or even aspiration. This expresses itself in everything from architecture to art to the language we use, depriving the least of us from living dignified lives, and feeding our egos without deference to a higher power.

Hale is very much a product of the secular liberal worldview. As I have said before, I can think of no greater condemnation of it than one of its strictest adherents, upset with the state of the world, walking into a school to kill children. An event that should've invited deep, metaphysical questions was instead transmuted into a cheap political slogan. The victims and their families deserve better.

When I read reflections on Covenant or on other, unspeakable tragedies that don't attempt to grapple with the spiritual component or question the society that produces such people, I'm left with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. We no longer live in a world capable of this sort of public dialogue, reducing every human tragedy to a slogan or law, unable to discuss the fundamental questions of how our world is organized, or what could lead to the making of such a sick individual.

We are naturally religious creatures. We seek God, even if not consciously. In a world where religion—real religion—is considered an "antiquated social hazard," it is not surprising that people seek it in other more arcane, degrading ways.

So, a year on from Covenant, I urge you, however you feel, to spend at least part of the day praying on the deaths of Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, William Kinney, Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, and Mike Hill, and grappling with how our political system and the culture it promotes came to create a person like Hale.


From the Archive


How did we get here?

From Davis Hunt

It’s been difficult trying to navigate how to approach the murders at Covenant Presbyterian because I am close to the situation and the institution. Many of you are as well. For the privacy of everyone involved, I’ll just have to leave it there for now. The murder of Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, William Kinney, Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, and Mike Hill was not just some abstract event delivered to me by the news.

Metro Nashville Police officers acted heroically in a time of great need and the school’s preparedness for such an incident prevented the deaths of many others. That Covenant had run, in advance, drills to prepare the students and teachers for this kind of thing says more than words can convey.

For most people, the massacre will remain a distant story, unconnected as they are to what is a small, intimate community. Learning of it through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it will remain a distant event that happened in a distant place that slowly gets absorbed back into the never-ending news cycle which demands content and seems to thrive and depend on tragedies like this.

Continue reading...


Last Thursday, Governor Lee signed the Elvis Act into law, updating Tennessee’s Protection of Personal Rights Act and safeguarding “songwriters, performers, and music industry professionals’ voices from the misuse of artificial intelligence.” While the current protections under state law preserves artists’ image and likeness, they’re toothless against voice cloning or other “services that enable human impersonation.”

The state is also cracking down on emotional support animals: on March 6th, the legislature passed a bill prohibiting service animals that are “not trained, or being trained, to perform tasks or work for a person with a disability” from entering restaurants, grocery stores, or any indoor food service establishment. The governor signed the bill into law on March 15th. 

Also in effect is a bill passed in February allowing a person to turn down a request to solemnize a marriage on personal or religious grounds.

Following their $1.4 billion settlement, Kroger has been added to the attorney general’s list of companies who have resolved their claims related to opioids. Last week the governor signed a bill that allows Tennessee to receive “better than $42 million over an 11-year period of time” from the grocery chain according to Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin).

A bill was signed into law that would allow the state board to revoke the teaching license of an educator who has committed certain crimes, even if committed in another state.


It has been a year since the Covenant shooting. Privately those closest to the tragedy are asking to observe the day in peace. While the anniversary dredges up the sorrow of the event, it is also worth remembering the bravery of those who answered the call of duty in the face of danger.

Meanwhile, we’re also keeping our eyes on a bill that would increase the penalty for threatening to commit an act of mass violence on school grounds or at a school-related event. Legislation making such threats a Class E felony has already passed in the House and has been transmitted to the Senate.

From Megan Podsiedlik


Bill averting medical monopolies dies in House subcommittee (Lookout) Despite escalating emergency room times at Ballad Health hospitals, legislation to stop further medical monopolies suffered a quick death in the House Health Subcommittee Tuesday.

Lee's updated TN budget includes more money for tax change but not House voucher bill (Tennessean) Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s updated budget proposal includes more than $350 million higher than originally pitched for retroactive franchise tax refunds but does not fund any benefits for public schools included in the House version of a controversial statewide school choice program.

House seeks transparency for $1.56B Tennessee business tax refund program (TNJ) Businesses that participate in Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s massive $1.56 billion franchise tax refund program would have their names and dollar payouts publicly disclosed under the House version of the legislation.


  • Leon's Famous Deli to open in Mt. Juliet (NBJ)
  • MetroCenter property re-listed for sale (Post)
  • Local satellite phone company to be sold (Post)
  • Belmont-Hillsboro commercial building sells for $1.4M (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🎸 Bob Dylan @ Brooklyn Bowl, 8p, $94.50+, Info

🎸 Between the Buried and Me @ The Basement East, 8p, $35.45, Info
+ progressive metalcore

🎸 Ben Chapman & Co Present: Peach Jam feat. Corey Smith, Dee White, Elvie Shane, Ashland Craft @ The Basement, 8p, $12.85, Info

🪕 Bluegrass & 2-4-1's Featuring Sheriff Scott & The Deputies @ Tennessee Brew Works, 6p, Free, Info
+ bluegrass 6-8pm and 2-for-1 craft beer specials all day

🪕 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 692: Don’t Look at the Cumberland
📅 Today, Davis talks about the city turning its back on the Cumberland River, and Megan looks at MNPD’s latest effort to clamp down on street racing.
No. 691: Straight Talk
📅 Today, Davis talks about Antioch, Miles celebrates Pat Summitt’s career, and Megan takes a look at the latest regarding the East Bank Authority.
No. 690: Banning Right on Red?
📅 Today, Davis talks about traffic lights, Megan wraps up some news from around the city, and Jerod furnishes our weekly film rundown.
No. 689: Southern Oasis
📅 Today, Davis talks about something happening in Knoxville this weekend and Megan lets you know what the AG has been up to.
No. 688: Last Night at Metro Council
🗓️ Megan recaps last night’s Metro Council meeting. Bagel places popping up. Californians buying property.


  • 🧠 The response to Poor Things exposes our inability to talk about art that defies ideology. (Read)
  • 🎞️ The Pamphleteer’s ten most anticipated films of 2024 (Read)
  • ⛪️ Rob Reiner's documentary on Christian Nationalism completely misses the mark (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.