Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Bill of Rights”

The Arrogance of Immaturity

A young man was shot and killed as he broke into a store after hours when the owner was there because he feared looting during a night of protesting/rioting.  The next day, 600 students at a high school walked out.  You are probably assuming that the dead burglar was a student at the school.  He was not. None of those who walked out told me that they knew him, yet walking out seemed to them to be somehow a noble tribute to a sad end, ignoring the criminal endeavor.

Sounds like the situation in Ferguson last year but it was decades ago (I won’t say how many) at my school.  It was before the Make My Day laws.  It was purported to be about race too.  Even then, I did not see the connection with race because the more obvious reason for the burglar’s death, however sad, was his attempted burglary.  I am pretty sure the store owner would have shot anyone who broke into his store that night regardless of color.

A few years later, when I was in college, student organizers promoted a Student Bill of Rights.  I only remember one “right” that was part of a package of rights needed by us oppressed students.  That was the right to have girls visit the boys dorm without the rule at the time which required the dorm room door remain open.  It was a rule that was difficult to enforce because if a door was closed, how would a passerby know it contained a female visitor?  Oh, I seem to recall the girls had to sign in.  It was very oppressive to our right to privacy while entertaining in the location of our beds.  I was 18.  Before attending college, when I lived at home with my parents, as you might imagine, I could bring girls to my room in the attic whenever I wanted without checking in any of the long line of girls who desired to visit me behind closed doors.  If you buy that, I have ocean front property in Arizona.  Not.

Nevertheless, I was persuaded by the campus leaders to be outraged that the college would try to play the role of my repressive parents. “In loco parentis” it was called.  That was something up with which we could not put.   We demonstrated as an orderly mob at the home of the college president.  He did not resign.  He did not even come out to greet us.  Our demands were discussed later but never granted.  I did not complain to my parents, who were 300 miles away, about the unreasonable dorm rules.  I did not expect them to understand.  They would not understand why I and the other college protesters were offended by rules that implied we were not yet adults.

Several years later, the guy who was student body president and led the demonstrations for the Student Bill of Rights, was shot and killed at an armed standoff outside some textile factory fighting for the rights of workers.  I do not know enough about the cause to judge its righteousness, but I do not believe armed conflict was the solution for the textile workers.  Knowing the fellow who died leading the “movement,”  I realize that he was following his long-felt need to rouse the oppressed.  On one hand it is admirable.  On the other, it was tragic because he died unnecessarily due to his choice.

The students at the University of Missouri were successful in recently forcing the resignation of the university president.  I do not understand why that was necessary.  I am not smart enough to grasp why the university president is responsible for all offensive language on and off campus, nor was he obligated to endorse the Ferguson riots.  I certainly am not smart enough to follow the logic of the Yale students in their concerns about Halloween costumes at fraternity parties.  I have, I suppose, become less sensitive over the years.

When my father was 18-22, he was in the Army, in England, France and Belgium during WWII.  He had better things to do than stand up for a Student Bill of Rights concerning dorm rules.  He was defending the actual Bill of Rights, the ones written by our American forefathers.  The contrast between him and the college students fighting for (ironically) rules about Halloween costumes (seems anti-free speech), is immense.  IMMENSE!!!

I have heard or read that college extends adolescence.  I was certainly less mature during college than was my father at the same age.  Now I view this crop of college student protesters as ultra-demanding about things their college need not provide.  My own cause, those many years ago, was vastly more important — the right to bring girls to one’s dorm room!

Miley Cyrus and Duck Dynasty

I am using this post to exercise my constitutional right to free speech.

Recently, Miley Cyrus performed in a manner known as twerking, which appears to be simulated sexual acts, and swung nude on a wrecking ball.  Although she got some flak for it from people whose morals were offended, her performances were certainly not censored and she continues to perform.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty has been indefinitely suspended from that reality TV show for, get this, something that he did not say on the TV show but what he said in an interview by GQ magazine.  We have been told by the administrators of political correctness that practicing various sexual acts in privacy, yet talking about it (which is not so private), should not jeopardize a person’s job.  Imagine the hubbub that would occur if a gay actor was fired for saying he is gay.  Now try saying you are not gay  — that is where we draw the line!

Phil talked about sex acts that he does not practice or condone, and he is in big trouble.  For what?  For saying what he believes.

By the way, he was not self-righteous.  If you read the entire quote, it includes him talking about his own past with remorse for what he considers sins.  He even calls himself white trash.

He also talked about working with blacks.  He said that he did not himself witness discrimination against them.  He did not say there was no discrimination.  But even if he said racist and homophobic things, does he not have the right to say what he thinks or experienced as white trash?

It seems inconsistent and hypocritical for the political correctness police to defend the free speech rights of everyone except those who do not agree with them and are therefore not politically correct.

Our Founders were wise in adding the Bill of Rights to our Constitution.   The right to free speech is not conditioned on whether it offends anyone, and especially not on whom is offended.   You can speak in favor of or against Christianity and you can speak in favor of or against Islam.  You can speak against abortion and you can speak advocating abortion, or the death penalty, or gay marriage, or ANYTHING.  You don’t have to be in the majority.  The right is more important if you are not in the majority.

If I was the lawyer advising A & E, the network that makes lots of money from Duck Dynasty, I would tell them they needed only to say that the show producers did not air the GQ interview remarks yet stand by Phil’s right to free speech even if the network executives “do not necessarily agree with the views expressed” in the GQ article.

As A&E’s lawyer, I would tell the LGBT folks and NAACP folks to read the Constitution.  Even Christians have civil rights.  Phil may express an opinion on what he considers sinful behavior.  It is not just in the Bible, it is in the Constitution.  Pouting by opponents is allowed.  Disagreeing with Phil is allowed.  However, suspending Phil for his remarks is not a good legal decision.

If tolerance is the highest value for the politically correct, then should there not be tolerance for Phil as much as for Miley?

Go figure!

P.S.  I know what you are thinking, but it is not nice (or politically correct) to call Miley white trash.  Billy Ray?  That is another story.  Go ahead.  Make my day!

Perspectives on a Problem

Is it the best time or the worst time to debate gun control in the immediate aftermath of a gunman killing innocent schoolchildren?

A mentally ill young man used guns to kill little children, an unthinkable tragedy.  There is no debate about whether the killer’s murderous actions were evil.  What he did was certainly criminal.  We have laws against murder.  We have a commandment against it as well.  Still, murders occur too often, in spite of the laws and commandment.

Mental illness of some as yet undefined sort is the cause of the crime.  As a nation, we can, I suppose, do more for the mentally ill.  We could do more, perhaps, to identify potentially violent people in order to stop them from harming others if not help them with their illnesses.  We do not have a law or commandment that “Thou shalt not be mentally ill.”  Even if we did, it would not stop mental illness.  Rather than a law against being mentally ill, which is futile, we can have legislation about improving how we deal with those who might be a danger to themselves or others.

It is easier to focus on objects rather than persons.  It would be easier to control who gets guns than who gets to be mentally ill.  Certainly it is easier to pass laws than to stop crime or mental illness.

We have in the Bill of Rights to our Constitution a guaranty of  “the right to bear arms.”   See  the Second Amendment.  It cannot be ignored, but it is not an absolute right.  It is not intended to promote crime.  It is intended for protection of our citizens.

I have some things to say that will alternately please and offend each side of the gun control debate.

First, I will remind the gun control advocates that even banning guns altogether will not prevent evil acts of killing.  My wife taught a middle school student who used a hammer to bash in the heads of his mother and grandmother.  Timothy McVeigh used a van rented from U Haul to kill dozens with a bomb.  We have daily killings with knives.  Recently, in China there were horrible multiple murders at a school — by a person using a knife to slay his young victims.  We do not talk about outlawing hammers or vans or knives.  It is clear that it is the person using those items who is the criminal, not the items themselves.  It is more like drunk driving.  Cars are not illegal.  They are useful.  The crime is  operating a motor vehicle when drunk because that is dangerous to others.  Also, we do not have anything in our Constitution about the right to transportation via motor vehicle.  Therefore, it is even more perilous to curtail a constitutional right than a mere convenience.

The debate about gun control would take a different turn if a citizen bearing arms had protected victims of violence.  What if the Aurora theater shooter had been shot by a movie goer shortly after he started shooting innocent unarmed people?  What if the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School had shot the killer rather than bravely lunging at him unarmed? Then one person would be using a gun to protect people from a person using a gun for evil purposes.  The Second Amendment is for that purpose of protection.

Having said all that, I acknowledge that guns are more efficient weapons than hammers and knives.  The shooter  in Connecticut would not have killed so many if his weapon was a hammer because it would be easier to overpower and stop him.  On the other hand, a car bomb driven into the school or a plane crashing into the school would have been even more destructive.

I also note that automatic or semi-automatic guns are more dangerously efficient than weapons which require pulling the trigger for each shot and reloading individual bullets rather than using ammunition clips holding many bullets that can be fired in seconds.   The military-type assault rifles are not meant for hunting, but can be used either for mass killing or protecting from mass killing in order for it to be a fair fight.  Executing unarmed first graders is obviously not a fight at all. However, the Founding Fathers contemplated a citizen militia when including the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.  The idea is that citizens should be armed in order to protect themselves and also protect our nation from enemies.  I add that protecting ourselves and others from well-armed murderers might justify citizens being armed with military type weapons.  Decent citizens are wary of how criminals might use such weapons for evil.

Similarly, our country is wary of other nations who want to develop nuclear weapons and other “weapons of mass destruction.”   Why?  Because we don’t trust how they will be used by others.  The more destructive the weapon, the scarier it is.  We all get that, even without being scholars of the history of military weapon development.  The U.S.A. tries to prevent other nations from possessing nuclear bombs because the more who have such weapons the more dangers exist that they will be misused.  We argue against proliferation of such weapons.

I understand and probably agree with the arguments against proliferation of dangerous weapons.  I am an NRA member and a SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) member and gun owner.  As the U.S.A. trusts itself to possess nuclear weapons as a deterrent against our nation being attacked, I trust myself to use guns for recreation or, if necessary, protection.  I sure don’t want mentally ill people to have access to guns like I do.  I sure don’t want criminals to have guns, nor do I want terrorists to fly airplanes into buildings or use car bombs.

The problem is that we don’t know who is a criminal until the crime has been committed.

We live in a world with many law-abiding people and some evildoers.  We are literally engaged in a war between good and evil.

The children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School were victims of evil.  When President Lincoln dedicated the cemetery after the Battle of Gettysburg, he urged his listeners to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”  Let us, the living, highly resolve that the little children who were murdered in Connecticut shall not have died in vain.  Let us do what we can to make our country a safer place.   May God give us wisdom to make changes that are sensible and effective.  They won’t be easy or simple.

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