As it has become well-known in the past 20 or better years, there are certain groups who take it upon themselves to “protect” our rights. It sounds like a noble cause – a brave group of lawyers, preventing things like civil rights violations and ensuring alleged criminals receive counsel. However, that is the assumption of those groups, but not necessarily their actions.
In Jackson, Ohio, a portrait that had hung in a school since 1947 was recently removed, after the (Freedom From Religion Foundation) FFRF and (American Civil Liberties Union) ACLU filed lawsuits. The groups would have us believe that the portrait was heinous, and portrayed the sort of thing that should never be seen in schools. The expected backlash was so bad, the people who were supposed to have reported the portrait are still referred to as John Doe-plaintiffs by the groups. Nothing like invoking your rights while you cower, eh?
Just what was this awful, heinous, picture? What could cause so much outrage and belly aching? What could possibly be so inflammatory? Why this bust of Jesus Christ, which hung so long in the school:
Created in 1941 by a Chicago painter named Warner Sallman, the painting grew in popularity to become one of the most popular depictions of Christ of all time. The calming gaze was apparently too much for some though.
The painting was removed, even though the school was not ordered to take the work down, because the school’s insurance company refused to cover legal costs to argue the case in the courts. The superintendent then said the school could not afford the costs on their own, and ordered the picture to be taken down.
The painting actually was not owned by the school district itself. The painting belonged to a group who attended the high school, and was a Christian service group, the Hi-Y Club. The ACLU and FFRF claim the club gave the picture to the school district, but the district denied any such arrangement was ever made, and said that the painting still belonged to the group.
The main issue seems to be another attack on religion in general (Christ was a Jew, he was the basis for Catholicism and Christianity, and he is considered a prophet in Islam). There is no one religion being targeted. So, under the guise of protecting civil rights, and ensuring the continued separation of church and state (which is always a specious claim at best), the ACLU and FFRF have forced, through legal intimidation, the painting’s removal. To preserve free speech, they must quash…free speech.
Read more on the case via the Montreal Gazette.
The most recent gun-related tragedy in Aurora, Colorado has led to new calls for gun control laws and measures. The likes of Diane Feinstein, Sally Kohn, and Michael Bloomberg, have all claimed that extending prohibitions on firearms would necessarily curb the violence associated with them. It seems like a simple claim, with a self-evident conclusion: artificially the lower supply of something, and there is a lower supply available, right? It sounds like such a black and white issue. Cut off the supply of something, and the available supply begins to dwindle, and it eventually runs out. Then the product is gone, and so is the problem.
But there is a problem with that logic – firearms are not consumable items. Firearms are not used and thrown away, or expended. They are, like other tools, used over and over. While an artificial control would dry up the expansion of supplies, it still would not eliminate the supplies that the left would claim are causing all the problems. Despite the protestations that the sheer number of guns are the problems, some statistics have been pointing toward falling violent crime rates over the past few years.
The main issue I take with the progressive thought processes on gun control, is their insistence that guns would only be safe in the hands of trained, certified, fully capable professionals. Again, on its face, this seems like a decent notion – practice makes perfect, right? It seems to follow, that hours of safely handling and operating a firearm should make a nearly accident-proof firearm user, right? Then, these ultra-safe, and responsible firearms carrying professionals, would somehow protect the citizens, who would have had their own firearms seized.
The only problem with this thought, is that despite all the training in the world, and acclamation with firearms, police and soldiers still are not completely safe with them. There are miles long lists of firearms accidents and friendly fire mishaps among professionals. There have never been more methods of tracking and making weapons safe, and yet – even amidst these professionals, accidents still occur.
Among the best trained civilian police forces and SWAT teams, there are numerous stories of trigger-happy members killing civilians who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- In Lima, Ohio, in a drug bust turned bad, police shot and killed a new mother, Tarika Wilson, after an officer opened fired on her – her one year old child, who she was holding suffered injuries as well (he was shot in the shoulder, and the baby also lost a finger). It was later discovered that police had even expected the presence of children, but went forward with a raid anyway.
- In Fairfield, Virginia, a 17-year police force veteran, investigating an illegal sports gambling operation, accidentally discharged his .45 caliber pistol, and killed an optometrist with no prior record. A firearm trainer later offered two reasons Salvatore Culosi Jr. was shot by the officer – “ignorance and carelessness”. He added, the Heckler & Koch gun was “very reliable” and did not have “a hair-trigger”.
- In one of the most egregious accidents of highly trained professionals’ neglecting safety and training protocols, in Pima County, Arizona, a SWAT team broke into a home, where they proceeded to shoot a Marine who served and survived two tours in Iraq. Pima County SWAT officers killed Jose Guerena while Guerena attempted to defend his family with his AR15, because he thought intruders were kicking his door down (as he lived in a high crime area). The police department has offered numerous stories and revised events several times, in trying to explain how they killed a man who never fired a shot at them, while they hit him over 60 times.
(The Cato Institute has compiled a long list (and map) of bungled SWAT actions by police. The map makes it plain to see that the deaths of both officers and innocent civilians are not limited to any particular geographic region. )
These three examples are by no means an indictment of any police force or SWAT teams either – I have the utmost respect for the people who risk their own lives daily, in an attempt to make the country a safer place. The examples illustrate the faulty reasoning in progressive logic that by only allowing “professionals” to carry firearms, will not eliminate firearms accidents. All things being equal, we must realize that police and soldiers are human beings too, and are therefore subject to the same accidents and irrationality as anyone else. There are far more examples of law enforcement officers being provoked or attacked by angry mobs, only to hold their fire, arrest the leaders of the violence, and defuse the situation.
Can practice and familiarity make people safer with their firearms? Of course it can. But then, if people are proficient in their use, and respect firearms as they should – then we would not have any reasons to take them away, would we?
(Picture credits: Tarika Wilson – Reason.com, Salvatore Culosi Jr. - washingtoncitypaper.com, and Jose Guerena - expertwitnessradio.org)
In a total surprise of yet more media slant, early this week, a Politico blogger by the name Maggie Haberman (@maggiepolitico on Twitter), decided to run background checks on a gentleman featured in a Mitt Romney campaign ad! That is correct – the man was not a money donor or bundler, he merely appeared in an ad. That is the only tie he seems to have to Romney. While some people may think, so what, the guy agreed to appear in the ad, so he gets the fame with the fallout, right? The issue I have is that now instead of trying to show the candidates’ ethics and morality guided by their long-term associations with unrepentant domestic terrorists, that they actually cultivated into close friendships (think Bill Ayers and Barack Obama), the left now the left sees a new tactic to use against candidates.
The left has never seemed to have any ethical hangups about jumping into the business of personal destruction, and the past few years have shown us a couple of good examples. With the aforementioned case with Politico, the “journalist” seemed to relish in the fact the man had a criminal history. The man paid his debt to society and had been a good, law-abiding citizen since the events, but the left saw him tied to Mitt Romney, and so, the man was a fair target for the snarling left’s destruction machine.
This all comes after revelation that the White House’s “Truth Team” shared information on eight donators to the Romney campaign. The men all seemed to have little else in common than donating to the campaign. But, as mentioned before, they showed themselves allied with Romney, and rather than tackle Romney’s message or even dispute their own shortcomings, the left tries to intimidate those who would participate in the democratic process. Is this just another sign that the Obama campaign is in an un-savable nose-dive? The left cannot see the revulsion people feel, seeing under-handed acts like this?
This type of targeting is not the first time the left combed through a private citizen’s past, either. In 2008, Joe Wurzelbacher asked then candidate, Barack Obama, if he believed people were entitled to the fruits of their labor. One embarrassing reply from the candidate later, and the Head of Ohio’s Department of Jobs and Family Services authorized an improper search of Wurzelbacher’s history of unemployment records and child support records. Helen E. Jones-Kelley earned a suspension as a result of the inappropriate inquiries. She was also later reprimanded for using her state email address to solicit donations for the Obama presidential campaign. A Toledo Police Department computer account had also been used to complete a search of Wurzelbacher’s driving history – an action which triggered another investigation.
The governor of the state of Ohio at the time was a Democrat – Ted Strickland, and Toledo is a liberal bastion, presently in Democrat Marcy Kaptur’s Congressional district. I am not saying that the left is the sole monopolizer of this type of destructive dredging up of past misdeeds, presently paid for, but – if the right had done this – the likes of MSNBC and Politico would be going apoplectic trying to “report’ on it. Perhaps instead of running background checks on political opponents and their supporters, Democrats could put those skills to better use vetting their own candidates – then perhaps the nation would not be able to laugh at their choices, like Kwame Kilpatrick, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer.
As Occupy Wall Street camps into its second month as a movement, various special interests still seek to pre-empt and quiet the movement. As I mentioned in a previous post, for this movement to have any real shot at creating a change, it should develop and stick to a singular, easily relayed, and cogent message. Another measure necessary to ensure that once a message was adopted, that outside influences would not attach their own concerns to the movement. For anyone who has been watching and kept up with the movement, you should realize by now that both of these fatal actions have taken place.
While conservative and other GOP-members seem to be either disgusted or confused by the protests, I cannot recall any of them whole-heartedly embracing the protests. It is interesting to see them identify with some of the concerns of the protesters though: bailouts were a terrible idea (and that the market should have healed itself), that the politician-bosses of some of these Fortune 500 financial companies do not need a “Golden Parachute” for running their companies into the ground, and to a far lesser extent for the protesters, that the politicians themselves need voted out of office.
Democrats, for their parts, seem to have completely embraced the protests, and started to do so from early in its development. This has led to an embarrassing tendency for the democrats’ support be marred by violence, flagrant drug use, and ties to less than savory agencies and personalities. Even with such dangerous and damaging behaviors, I cannot recall any democrats withdrawing their support, and so, they continue tacitly to approve of the dangerous conduct. This week, it was revealed that a dis-honorably discharged, neo-Nazi, illegally (because of felony convictions) carrying an AR-15 rifle was providing security for the Occupy Phoenix movement. In the case of Tea Party members, who were observed legally openly carrying sidearms, the left and media could not decry it quickly enough.
The left in this country seems to feel as though the movement is a sort of completely grassroots, organic, entity, being driven by concerns of worried young people. This, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Large media companies (Adbusters) and SEIU and ACORN-leftovers have been identified as lending support, both legal and monetary. The pre-emption may not be complete yet, but it appears as though it is too late to save it from special interests, intent on horning in. The same things that drove the Tea Party to become such a success (a firm commitment to message, observing policies of places that they protested, and respectful protest) are the same things that now fatally doom the Occupy Movement.
Despite so much media coverage given to try and gin more support for the Occupy Movement, the fewer, but far more powerful images and stories of illegalities occurring are destructive. Democrats intent on quickly offering uncritical support for selfish reasons are going to be tied to the worst events. It seems almost karmic – using a disenfranchised group of people to gain oneself credibility or support is disgusting. Instead of trying to fix problems, like tackling rampant unemployment, the left embraces tactics like re-writing laws and rules to gather support, and actually demonizing the stalling and blocking of worthless, damaging legislation. The left’s tactics are like giving breadcrumbs to Americans, and expecting them to unquestioningly follow you for your efforts — never mind that the re-written rules will be far more damaging to more Americans than they help. Hey, it sets up the next opportunity for the left to swoop in, and “save the day” again. They really are “Our Worst of Society”.
“…and I’m here to help”. These words by Ronald Reagan were claimed to be the “nine most terrifying words in the English language”. Simple in its approach, deep in its implication, he very well could be right. I am hard pressed to come up with a situation which government has made better when they have finally decided to get involved. Wonderful uses of the rights and privileges granted to the federal government pale when compared to the abuses and wastes of the same federal government. Using federal troops to break racist policies in places like Little Rock in the Civil Rights era? That was a wonderful use of the federal government by President Eisenhower. I guess you could contrast that with the role of federal government in the Waco tragedy.
It is when the government seeks to use its enforcement powers and ability to compel people to act differently, that I take offense – and I think many other Americans should too. I don’t know about you, but I have not felt as ordered about by someone since I was in grade school. It seems as though the leaders of the last few years have felt it was in their own executive or legislative rights to tell (not ask) the American people what they may or may not do. Few to no judicial challenges for the most part, seem to only have encouraged them to continually push their boundaries onto the people, without critically thinking how future leaders may warp the current rules to suit their own “mandates” to rule their constituents. It seems as though even local governments are getting in on the act, passing and carrying out rules and regulations that have shaky bases for their existence.
Locally, I have seen bath salts recently banned – because the good legislators realize what a threat they pose to moist, supple skin? No, because people with nothing better to do were mashing the salts and then snorting them to get high. Brilliant. So, ostensibly, to lower healthcare costs and prevent otherwise idiotic people from snorting their beauty products – no bath salts for anyone! It is a good thing that the active ingredients that cause the highs are not found in anything else, or the government will have to start banning things like blush or Chapstick. Also, I am pretty sure that the strung out people, so desperate for their fix will not turn to either something far stronger or more damaging, to get that fix.
In cities across the nation, local governments have taken it upon themselves to ban the use of trans-fats in foods. Whether or not anyone has weighed the healthcare money saved by cleaning up greasy spoons, and weighed it against the costs of the real junk food junkies who might drive out of the locality to get their junk food fix, or simply eat something as bad from a bag, is unknown to me. New York has passed a slew of laws, trying to force people to act one way or another. Already seeing $5+ packs of cigarettes still being bought and smoked, they thought it would be a good idea to try to ban the actual act of smoking them nearly everywhere that they could. Sounds great, right – I mean who wants to suck some hacking, coughing, phlegm-y, smoker’s breath, right? So in the name of those put out by attending places that they know will have smokers, they have decided that their own rights are more important than the smokers’.
All these rules seem to be simply designed to affect behaviors. The biggest gripe I have, besides the obvious treading upon rights, is the enforcement mechanisms for the usually asinine government plans. Either an existing entity, local or state police, or a newly invented body, must enforce these rules from on high. If it is the existing entity – is this really a good way to change the way they spend their time? If it’s a newly invented entity, is it really a good thing to waste money on? The thing is, far too often, to me, there is no entity more subject to the laws of unintended consequence, than government. Pass something, then maybe the people will not whine too loudly about it, and then pass some more. No problem — heck, a caveman could do it (and haven’t the Weiner and Lee scandals proven that?)