Missouri: The Shoot Me State

I was greeted today with an article by the New York Times Editorial Board with that title, and this illustration.


If illustration wasn’t enough to tip you off to what was to follow, the first paragraph, a loaded, twisted piece of left dogma, was. It began:

In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.”

Hmmm…. “alarming victory…”, “…Republican-controlled…”, “…wholesale retreat…”, “…gun safety…”. Already I know this is not going to be anything close to a balanced piece of journalism. It’s another in an endless stream of paranoid anti-gun ideology rhetoric that is more representative of a religious cult than a rational argument.

Let’s unpack the Editorial Board’s assertions.

The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training.

No, anyone, anywhere can carry concealed weapons without permits, background checks (which are more than just criminal checks) or firearms training. Nearly all criminals, psychopaths, crazies and terrorists do not, in fact, seek or care about permits. Permits, background checks and training are for normal, law abiding citizens. They don’t stop the other people at all. 

“It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals.”

Law enforcement has no authority to deny firearms to anyone. It may arrest those whom the legal system has adjudicated and prohibited from owning a firearm; it may confiscate firearms in those instances where those individuals are discovered to be violating those prohibitions, but it can’t deny anyone from carrying. Unless, of course we all submit to constant body scanners wherever we go.

And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.”
“Stand your ground” isn’t dangerous except for the person who suffers the consequences of threatening another person with death or dangerous bodily injury. And, there are stringent legal standards that define when one is so threatened and permitted legally and ethically to respond with deadly force to stop that threat.

Basically, the Editorial Board objects to the citizens of Missouri, and I’m sure of anywhere else for that matter, being able to carry guns for self defense and the defense of their families and loved ones. Let’s suppose that all of the law abiding citizens in Missouri were forced to go through a long process in order to obtain a permit for concealed carry. Let’s further presume that criminals are under no such obligation. You know that your ex-boyfriend is a dangerous alcoholic who has a history of violence and has sworn to kill you for breaking up with him. You decide you need to carry a gun to protect yourself from this psycho who has no regard for the law and is about twice your size. You go to law enforcment to apply for a permit. Go take a class, you are told. It will only cost you $200, and then there will be the application and fingerprint fee once you’ve passed the class, and there will be a waiting period before the process is complete. Like three months.

Yes, we are sorry about your boyfriend and we can get a restraining order but it’s unlikely that a piece of paper will do much to keep him from kicking in your door, raping you and shooting you and your two kids. After all, dead people tell no tales, eh?

Really, this is some sick shit. The Editorial Board of the New York Times, none of whom live in dangerous places nor are in fear of their lives, wants you to remain unarmed while those who could care less about legal niceties are free to carry whatever firearm they can afford to buy or can steal.

The Editorial Board people also drag out the tired and false flags they always use to promote their cause: Michael Brown and Ferguson. Michael Brown was a petty thief and full time bully who, it was subsequently proven, tried to take a cop’s gun and got shot, for it, is hauled out to play the racist card. So is Trayvon Martin who was making videos of smoking dope and playing with guns and who eventually tried to beat Zimmerman to death before getting shot.

Of course as anyone knows who has actually bought a gun, there are already background checks in place. Even though the Times is forced to admit that background checks are done, there is, of course, a “but” involved: “Federal gun controls still require background checks on buyers, but only at federally licensed dealers. Unfortunately, there is a separate and busy uncontrolled market where buyers at gun shows and on the internet do not have to undergo background checks.”

No, this is not true. It is a lie. There is no “uncontrolled market” at gun shows or on the Internet in which background checks are not required. You can’t buy a gun from a FFL dealer without having a background check. Period. Sure, it’s possible to buy a gun without those checks, criminals do it all of the time. Just like it is possible to buy drugs without a permit, or practically anything else for that matter.

And, finally what may the most pathetic claim of all, the notion that firearms manufacturers should be legally responsible for how purchasers use their products. Sure. Just like the auto makers are legally responsible for the drunk drivers that kill and maim thousands every year. This is so illogical and unreasonable that it must come from people with the intellectual abilities of a six year old.

Digging a little deeper into this kind of ideology one can see that its supporters are so incensed that Missouri, and by extension, anyone else who happens to disagree with their anti-gun dogma, are so morally deficient that they want the Federal Government to step in and stop these misguided gun people from exercising their Constitutional freedoms. Because their opinions and dogma trump basic American freedom. This is victimhood in action. This is appeal to “higher authority” when you don’t get your way.

As I have said before, this is nothing new and is a direct outcome of the American Civil War. Although it is fashionable these days to attribute the Civil War to a war against slavery, it was at its root, a war to uphold, or suppress, depending on your point of view, the right of the people to decide how they chose to be governed, and whether the federal authorities can force legally constituted bodies, the states, to submit to the dictates of people who are not members of those bodies. To quote Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson, “The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries.”

Pay special attention to that last sentence. I submit that today, democracy, if not discredited, is certainly endangered, and that the fragmentation long delayed by the Union military victory is beginning to show.

Let us say that you live in a dangerous place. Baltimore. Chicago. St. Louis. Houston. Los Angeles. Miami. New York City. Some certainly more dangerous than others, but still, statistically, much worse than the norm and certainly distressingly more dangerous than, say, Liberal, Kansas or Bozeman, Montana. Let’s say the Federal Government and the cities so named have decided that you no longer have the right to defend yourself effectively, that you can’t own a firearm in any of those places. Even worse, let’s say you need to travel to one of those places to be with your dangerously sick child, a city not known for it’s peaceful and loving nature. You can’t take or carry a firearm there. Why is this right? Why does this even make sense?

After the next President is elected and the regressive left crashes up against the alt-right, do you think it’s going to be safe to turn over your firearms to the government for “your own protection”?

This is a fractured, confusing and dangerous time and ninnies, like the New York Times Editorial Board, whomever they actually are, are only making things worse with their outright lies, twisting of fact, and appeals to paranoia and ideology.

Stop it.

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Bring An Umbrella to a Knife Fight

Palestinian Self Defense Pose

The theory is that by reducing the number of weapons (usually meaning guns) in the world, by keeping weapons out of the hands of ordinary, law-abiding citizens, the number of violent (read: gun violence) incidents will thereby decline. Objective and factual arguments to the contrary fail to convince the anti-weapon school that this is a fool’s errand. I won’t reiterate these arguments since more knowledgeable people than I have done so already. However, from recent news accounts, I would like to pose another scenario. This one based on actual events now unfolding in Israel, and soon to be appearing in a neighborhood near you.
“Israelis were in little mood for browsing after more than two dozen attacks, most by young Palestinians armed with knives, that have killed seven Israelis this month, five of them in Jerusalem. At least 12 suspects in the attacks have been fatally shot by Israeli security forces and citizens at the scenes. (New York Times, October 14, 2015, Isabel Kershner and Jodi Rudoren)

In light of these continuing attacks, and based upon the decades-long campaign by Palestinian and Moslem activists groups to murder and maim Israelis, the Israeli government is moving quickly to confiscate all civilian weapons, including rifles, handguns, stun guns, tasers, pepper spray, clubs and knives of all types in order to quickly prevent further attacks on its citizens.”

In the event of an attack by a gun or knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist, public security minister, Gilad Erdan, advises Israeli civilians to quickly call the emergency number on their cell phones, and fend off their attacker or attackers with briefcases, umbrellas, chairs and anything else handy. “Taking a long series of unarmed self-defense classes well in advance of any possible attack is an excellent means of self defense,” he said.

Before anyone posts this on Twitter or Facebook, be advised that I made the last two paragraphs up. It’s not true. Although the quote from the New York Times of October 14th is true, the following two paragraphs are not. I made it up to illustrate the inanity of the theory that taking away a person’s ability and right to a weapon for self defense is stupid, wrong, and basically a bit crazy.

Here is the real quote from that New York Times story. It bears retelling and comment:

The public security minister, Gilad Erdan, approved steps on Wednesday that would make it easier for civilians to obtain gun permits. Several Israelis, he said, had helped the police in stopping assailants.

Israelis were in little mood for browsing after more than two dozen attacks, most by young Palestinians armed with knives, that have killed seven Israelis this month, five of them in Jerusalem. At least 12 suspects in the attacks have been fatally shot by Israeli security forces and citizens at the scenes.

The clampdown did not completely stop the violence. A young Palestinian wearing military-style fatigues rushed at officers with a knife at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday afternoon, according to the police account, and the officers fatally shot him. Two hours later an attacker stabbed and wounded a woman around age 70 as she was about to board a bus in West Jerusalem, and an officer in the vicinity shot him, the police said. The assailant’s condition was not immediately clear.

East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official, said on Voice of Palestine radio. “If they think that they can reach security with these measures, they are wrong. The Palestinian people will continue to defend themselves.”

So much for theory. This isn’t a debate topic, nor another “gun violence” op-ed in Huffington Post. This is happening now, will continue to happen, and has been in play ever since Israel was established in the 1940s. While I do not support any religiously-endowed state, much less a government that is controlled by religion of any sort, ethically I do support Israel’s right to exist and to exist with the means to ensure that everyone else on the planet won’t be able to march in and kill every Jew in the country. Or, every Jew in the world, as has been happening for over two thousand years. If you think this is hyperbole, you haven’t been keeping up on basic world and religious history. All you need to do is read or watch videos about what the Islamist and Palestinians say they would do if they were able. They would kill every Jew, everywhere, starting with Israel.

This is not an exaggeration. You can find YouTube videos and thousands of speeches, essays and books that explicitly declare their intentions to murder people who do not share their beliefs about the creator of the universe. And, they don’t mean just the Jews. Anyone else is fair game and even more worrying, many of these fanatics believe that they are under divine mandate to convert or kill non-believers.
This is what they are doing in Jerusalem right now. Think about it. Saeb Erekat, senior PLO official publicly broadcast the idiotic notion that stabbing 70 year old women boarding a bus, or boarding a bus and attacking innocent men, women and children with a gun and knives, or ramming a car into a pedestrian then attacking him with a meat cleaver are justified acts of Palestinian self defense. In the west we call that notion basic bullshit. You can say it is “self defense”, but that doesn’t make it true.

The heartening thing is that the Israeli public security minister (note that we don’t need such an office in the USA. Yet.) approved steps to make it easier for civilians to obtain gun permits. “Several Israelis”, he said, “had helped the police in stopping assailants.” God forbid that we should adopt that attitude here in the USA. Note that he is not referring to civilian cops, or vigilantes but to legally armed citizens who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, lending a hand to stop further carnage. One has to wonder what happens to civilians who aren’t able to assist the police when the police are not available to offer assistance in the first place. In Jerusalem, the likelihood that your average civilian may be legally armed is now much greater than here in the peaceful US of A.

Even so, there are, and I suppose always will be, those “concerned” individuals who want to find something wrong with responding to violence with violence, something to support their anti-weapons position. Believe it or not, some are complaining that “the resort to live fire” may cause unnecessary injury or death. They wonder why the police, and the armed civilians, are shooting to kill. Well, let me enlighten them a bit: when one is under attack and in fear of death or grave bodily harm, one is a fool to think about only shooting ones attacker only to disable or injure, to “wing” in the old Hollywood parlance. Anyone who thinks this is even possible are totally inexperienced and ignorant of actual, sudden violence and should mumble their remarks into their movie popcorn.

Tellingly, the people who are complaining about this are human rights groups (who never seem to agitate for the human right of self defense, life and liberty), Palestinian activists (non-knife wielding or gun toting Palestinians I guess) and Arab members of the Israeli Parliament. No big surprise there.

So, you can bat your theories of gun control, gun violence, assailants’ rights and the rest of the utopian world views as much as you want, but remember, when you do, you are living in the world of theory. If you’d like a taste of reality, where the hidden knife may suddenly flash in the hand of a young Palestinian bent on killing as many Jews as possible on his way to the Promised Land, take a trip over to Jerusalem. You might find a bit of comfort in the idea that those ordinary civilians sitting by you on the bus or walking with you down the street might be carrying guns.
You might also consider this when you are going about your peaceful business here at home. It isn’t only criminals, alcoholics, the drug-addled and psychopaths that we need to be concerned about. Now we can add religious fanatics to the list. They are increasingly active in other parts of our world and there is no reason why they won’t be appearing in increasing numbers in a neighborhood near you.

This isn’t theory. This is real.

Tank: “What do you need?”

Neo: “Guns. Lots of guns.”

Future Shock is Now

Alvin-Toffler-Quotes-New-Years-Resolutions-2015-Small-Business-Tips-Internet-MarketingAlvin Toffler died last week. Who was Alvin Toffler you may ask? He wrote a book in 1970 called Future Shock. It was one of those books that seemed pretty far-fetched at the time but has largely come true. 1970 was the year after we landed Americans on the moon, when IBM introduced the first silicon chip in one of their computers and banking came out with the ATM machine. No one carried a powerful computational device in their pockets, purses or on their wrists. But, Toffler predicted that the rate of change in technology, especially computer technology (what we today call IT) would begin to take an increasingly upsetting toll on the way humans live, interact and come to understand our world. The changes that technology introduced would themselves serve to enable and accelerate further changes, advancements some would say, and soon the pace would be too great for humans to keep up with, creating shock waves through our societies, politics, economies and cultures.

Someone posed the observation that since we have portable, pocket-sized devices that can instantly connect us with one another and with the ever growing vast repository of the world’s information and literature, we mainly use it to argue with strangers and watch videos of cats. This is not far from the mark. But, even more disturbing, we are using these information processing devices to so rapidly fragment and reassemble world culture that the unintended consequences have become devastating. The prime, but not sole example, is the world of Twitter. The Twitterverse. Think about it.

Anyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer, can instantly engage in highly limited (in terms of characters) conversations with anyone else on any topic. (This is not actually true. It appears that Twitter has algorithms and employs people who constantly monitor these tweetversations for any hint that they might contravene Twitter’s unwritten social rules and values. Free “speech”, tweets, are not really free but are censored at the command of unseen forces for unrevealed reasons.) But, within those shadowy parameters, tweet-wars rage endlessly across hyperspace. Twitter has become a time-sink, a space where one can spend significant time gossiping, reflecting back similar opinions within a close echo chamber of the like-minded, and lambast and insult those with whom you and your TwitPals disagree. Alliances form quickly, in a matter of minutes or hours, based on rumor, innuendo, lies and distortions. Few people will wait for evidence or facts but quickly pile on some unfortunate soul or event, mounting ever increasing rage, or commendation, depending on the state of your emotional being at the time, regardless of the incomplete knowledge that usually fuels these TwitWars.

These devices when used in a “social media” context bring people across the world directly back to junior high school (middle school for you too old to remember schools when they were real institutions of learning).  Raging hormones. Undefined societal and intellectual roles. Malleable emotions. Dearth of intellectual reasoning tools. Weak association with or understanding of history, logic and basic scientific principles. Rumor. Lies. Cliques and clubs. It’s all there. And, by it’s nature: speed of information exchange, global reach, and limited opportunity to engage in extended rational discussion, it serves mainly as a gossip and innuendo mill, sucking your time away from actual work or fruitful discussion.

I’m working my way through Steven Pinker’s book, How the Mind Works. This takes time, thought and attention. I’ve discovered that I’ve been wasting from four to eight hours each week in the Twitterverse and the payoff has been thin. I have discovered a few gems that have led me to valuable reservoirs of thought and discussion: Dave Rubin, Gad Saad, Sam Harris, Ben Shapiro, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Crowder, Jon Haidt, Christina Hoff Summers. Even Milo. All of these people (and I apologize for those I’ve not mentioned) have worth while things to say, even though I don’t agree with all of them, are willing to engage in discussion and debate, and even, get ready for it, change their opinions when they discover reason and evidence that moves them in that direction.

As the future does shock us ever more increasingly, some things must go by the wayside. Twitter, for me, is one of them. I’ve pared my following list to a few essential thinkers and there I will stay.

 

The Hot Gates and Fighting Back


Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passes by, That here obedient to their laws we lie. – Simonides of Ceos

In 480 B.C. the huge Persian army was stopped in their march to conquer the free Greek states at a narrow pass between cliffs and the sea called Thermophylae, or the Hot Gates. The Spartan King Leonidas led about ten thousand Greek allied troops while Xerxes, the Persian King had more than ten times that number. Xerxes sent word to the Spartans. Lay down your arms. The Spartans replied, molon labe, come and take them. Drawing the Persians into the narrow confines of the pass, the Greeks defeated attack after attack. Finally a Greek traitor, Ephialtes, led a large Persian force toward the rear of the Greeks over a little known mountain pass. Leonidas, learning of this, stayed behind with his 300 Spartans to guard the pass while the remainder of his army made an orderly retreat. 

The Persian hordes defeated the Spartans at the Hot Gates, but it took them three days.

The Spartan sacrifice, for that is what the stand of the Spartans at Thermophylae was, bought enough time for their Greek allies to prepare for and defeat the Persians later at the battles of Salamis and Plataea. The legend of the Spartans at the Hot Gates lives on today. The Greeks remained unconquered by the Persians and gave us western civilization, science and democracy. Many of the modern day descendants of the Persians are consumed by medieval religious ideology and are busy boring holes in apostates’ heads with electric drills. Their victims, former Moslems, cannot defend themselves or their brethren like the Spartans did because they don’t have arms to lay down. They long ago surrendered them to their masters.

In the mid-eighteenth century, the British colonists in the new world were told to do as they were instructed by King George and to stop causing trouble. To enforce the king’s demands, the British marched troops to Lexington and Concord to confiscate the colonists’ stores of arms and ammunition there. They failed. Armed colonists opposed that transgression of their rights. The result, they gave us the United States of America. If the British had succeeded, we’d be celebrating the Queen’s birthday instead of fireworks on the 4th.

And, why shoot off fireworks to celebrate our independence? Arms, that’s why. If the British had confiscated our arms, we would still be speaking the King’s English and driving on the wrong side of the road.

After emerging successfully from that terrible struggle for independence, the framers of the Constitution well knew that to preserve liberty and freedom for all Americans, the right of a citizen to keep and bear arms could never be questioned. That’s why the Second Amendment follows immediately upon the First, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Why follow the first amendment with another specifically guaranteeing the people’s right to keep and bear arms? Because if Congress were to do any of those things prohibited by the First Amendment and the people then were to object, demonstrate, demand, meet, discuss, plead and request that those Congressional actions were illegal and unconstitutional and the Congress still would not rescind those actions and bend to the Constitution, then the People have only one redress, which is guaranteed them in the Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

“Necessary to the security of a free state,” is a key phrase which points directly to the freedom of the people who live in that state. I interpret “state” to be both any of the individual States, as well as the country as a whole.

Armed American revolution number two. This is usually referred to as The Civil War, or more accurately, the War Between the States which also misses its essential cause. It was a war between the power of the states against the power of the federal government. The fundamental cause of the war was not the question of slavery, nor equality among races, rather it was about the right of the state to make its own decisions and to not be forced to comply with demands made by a federal government, demands the state had reason to believe were not legitimate nor in its interest. The slavery question was the proximate or immediate cause that finally motivated secession, which was caused by the more fundamental issue.

Did the federals oppose the secession because the states were pro slave, or because they wouldn’t recognize the equality of races? No. The federals refused to recognize that they had just been served with divorce papers by their former partners who had now changed their collective name to Confederate instead of United States of America.

Yes, slavery was evil and morally wrong, even though the Bible does condone it. Most white people in the United and the Confederate States of America considered any race other than Caucasians to be morally and intellectually inferior. Even Lincoln briefly toyed with the idea of transporting negroes to another country. But, the secession of the states and the subsequent years of bloody warfare did not begin because of slavery. It began over states rights versus federal control. 

Today we are facing a similar situation in this country. The basic and underlying issue is once again states rights. Does the federal government have the right to demand compliance of people who do not agree that the federals have the constitutional right to so demand? The proximate cause in states rights today is pinned to the Second Amendment of our Constitution. Arms. That is the issue. 

America is home to millions of people who passionately believe that the Constitution is clear: the people have the right to keep and bear arms. There are also millions of Americans who do not want any citizen to be armed, even though the right is guaranteed by the Constitution. Today it is plain that a dedicated group of religious fanatics are determined to kill as we are also one of their many enemies, and doing so guarantees they get their ticket to paradise punched. This can happen anywhere, any time. Criminals, robbers, drug users looking for money for that next high, rapists and just evil assholes are also working that side of the street yet they have their own more prosaic but still twisted rationales. This is a time for all citizens to be prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones. Calling the cops seldom works out well. After they arrive the violence is usually over, or getting worse. But, the left and the regressives and the cowards want to strip everyone of guns, which are the only viable means of personal protection from these evil people. It is not enough that the gun haters will not arm themselves, they want you to join them as yet another sacrificial lamb to their notions of political correctness and human rights. They don’t consider freedom and self defense among those rights.

Given the fact that our country, Constitution and freedom are now under siege the Second Amendment is exactly appropriate and applicable. “…necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Our security is endangered possibly more now than ever before.  

Two more brief points. The militia is the people. It’s not the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. It is the people. And, note well that the Second Amendment does not create the right to keep and bear arms. That is a human right that has existed since humans became human. The Constitution merely acknowledges that right and prohibits the American government from interfering with it.

 I won’t discuss the many hedges, caveats, interpretations and arguments these people make against the Second Amendment now but I will focus on the seriousness and similarities between this issue and the second American Revolution.  I think most people do not understand how fundamental this issue is and how deep it lives in American history and psyche. Hark back to the legacies of the Civil War. Slavery is now long dead. Racism remains ubiquitous across the country, stronger in certain places, weaker in others. It existed long before the Civil War, during it and remains alive to this day. Anthropologists see it as a feature of ethnocentrism, the favoring, sometimes to the point of absolute exclusion, of ones own ethnic group over all others.

It is relatively easy to mark on a map those states where guns are considered to be tools for hunting, sport, protection and a constitutional bulwark against potential governmental oppression, and, conversely, those states in which guns are believed to be unnecessary, evil and a sign of dementia and countrified, rather dim witted people. It is no coincidence that the pro-gun states fall mostly into the category of those states that seceded during the Civil War and other states, mainly western and rural, that are sympathetic to the South’s cause. Why? They understand the value and necessity of remaining a people who exercise their human right to be armed and that being so guarantees their right to live in a free and secure state.

One huge difference between the pro-gun (PG) states and the anti-gun (AG) states is that the PG states aren’t involved in an ongoing campaign to force the PG states to give up all gun ownership. The AGs are constantly working for this. 

Consider a state in which gun ownership is perfectly legal, where one must pass a reasonable background check before buying a firearm. A state in which the citizens have decided that carrying a firearm openly or concealed is a right accorded to all of its residents. Few people in that state have any issues with this at all. But, mostly out of state anti-gun forces are hard at work to remove those rights, impose unreasonable restrictions on firearms and ultimately seek to get all civilian ownership of firearms prohibited. One has to ask, what business is it for anyone else to attempt to coerce the citizens of that state to comply with their wishes and demands.? Answer: none.

Broaden the definition beyond the  states to include political affiliations, the entertainment industry and the media – print, visual and social – and the picture becomes more dismal for the PGs, whether the PGs are territories, cultures or social groups. Crime happens. Shootings occur and when they involve unarmed and innocent civilians, the immediate reaction among AGs is invariably, “ban guns” and all of the variations on this tiresome theme. When a criminal or assailant is shot by a citizen in defense of life or property, this legal and ethical shooting is seldom given the same or even similar exposure and attention.

When it is pointed out that the person, or people wielding the guns had the intent to shoot others based upon factors like religious ideology, mental instability, greed or perhaps personal grievances, it makes little difference. Ban guns is the retort, then people won’t be committing “gun” violence. When the rational response is that guns are themselves benign, that the effect of their use depends solely on the intent of the operator, the AG response is something like, “they [guns] are dangerous”, or “they are designed to kill people”. This is true, but still misses the point. Cars are dangerous. Bombs, knives, clubs, swords, Claymores are dangerous and also designed to kill people. But, none of them, including guns, can do that by themselves.

When it is pointed out that guns, like drugs and other prohibited items can be acquired by criminals, crazies and religiously motivated murderers outside of legal channels the response from the AG people is never an actual engagement with this fact. When statistics show that crimes, including shootings, murder, assault, rape, and so forth are quite often prevented by a citizen with a firearm, these facts are ignored or wished away. When it is pointed out that the places in America with the most restrictive and draconian gun laws have the worst assault, rape and murder rates, the AGs refuse to discuss why this may be. People believe what they want to believe regardless of evidence.

The issue of guns and states rights is today nearing a critical point. If the federal government should find means to circumvent or nullify the Second Amendment and move to ban or confiscate firearms there will be many PG states – both States, and people of a Constitutional free state of mind, who will not comply. There are many millions of Americans who take their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms seriously, especially in these times of civil unrest and threats of violence from religious ideologues who are quite willing to shoot us, blow us up or fly airplanes full of us into buildings. We are a nation under siege by medieval religious zealots who are dead set on imposing their beliefs and laws on the rest of the world. This is not a time to render our people defenseless.

Many Americans believe the Second Amendment exists to protect the people against tyranny by governments or forces, foreign or domestic, who would attempt to deprive Americans of any of our Constitutional rights. The spirit of those who also believed this, and who fought for the rights of free states in the Second American revolution is still alive today. 

If the Persians once again appear at the Hot Gates and demand that the Spartans lay down their arms, there are many who will say, molon labe.

Yes, It Is Islam

“And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Quran 6: 115].

Muslims will never be apologetic about their religion because they didn’t invent one single word of it. The religion of Islam is all divine, and the Koran is word by word the final Message of Allah to His seal of the prophets Muhammad. Allah’s word to Muhammad is universal. Muhammad was sent to the whole world and not just to a sect or certain people as was the case with all other prophets before him

– Dr. Mohsen El-Guindy

This is Islam. This is what true Moslems (believers) must hold true. Allah, the creator and ruler of the universe, has said so. Many of these words direct Moslems to take action against non-believers and especially those who formerly believed, but have stopped believing. Also, Allah’s words are directed to specific groups of people, like gays and atheists. What does Allah want Moslems to do? In most instances to kill them. Sometimes it seems that Allah lets them live so that they will fall ever deeper into sin and thereby suffer even more horrendous punishment. Mostly having to do with fire.

These days there is a regressive storm of Facebook postings, tweets, news stories, opinion pieces, statements by various government officials that basically blame the Orlando massacre on everything but Islam. It’s American toxic machismo. It’s the NRA. It’s a type of rifle. It’s oppressive colonialism. It’s ‘terrorism’ (whatever the hell that means). On and on. But, surely, they say, it has really nothing to do with Islam.

Wrong. Read the above quotes. Look at passages from Islamic books. Listen to Imams exhorting their followers to kill non-believers, especially the Jews, gays, atheists, apostates, and… I’m certain I’ve missed a few target groups, but you can always peruse Allah’s words for details.

Yes, it is Isalm. Without Islam these things would not be happening and the Moslems would not favor imposing their theocratic requirements and laws upon everyone else on the planet. Which is Allah’s goal.


These charts should not come as a surprise. If you believe the regressive apologists and many politicians, they probably will. You owe it to yourselves to get the facts. Facts don’t lie. Moslems and their apologists do.

The really dangerous thing about this is the so-called moderate Moslems, the ones who tactily support violent jihad and the campaign to turn the rest of the world into Moslems too. If they were truly moderate and refom minded, wanting to live by 21st century morals and values, they would be busy denouncing these evil Islamists bent on killing the rest of us and do something to make fundamental changes to Islam.

But, they are faced with two problems. If they believe in Allah, they can’t change a thing because Allah has said, “…none can alter his words.” Second problem, if they don’t believe in Allah, they can alter anything they want, but then, the real Moslems will have to kill them too.

So, logically, it appears that the root problem is Islam. It must be dealt with. 

Now, watch as the ostrich brigade buries their collective heads ever deeper in the sand. Keep that up and someday a faithful Moslem will come along and whack them off.

Reason Rally: Reasonable?

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A free exchange of ideas

Gad Saad tweeted today that the Reason Rally has a code of conduct that prohibits “speaking against religion”. This, I thought, seems unreasonable, so I did a quick Google search and found the text of their Code of Conduct. Read it for yourself. To me it smacks of a great deal of the opposition to free speech and social justice we see on campuses and in the social media today. Here is why.

The Reason Rally Coalition is committed to presenting spaces that are fun, friendly, and informative for all participants. This is the first sentence and summation of the conduct expected of participants. Unpacking this are the ideas that everything that occurs in a Reason Rally happens in some ill-defined “safe space”. Where have I heard this before? Oh, yes, places, usually an especially prepared room, in which those who are uncomfortable, challenged or angry with differing opinions can retreat to play with puppies, eat wholesome snacks, listen to soothing music and bitch about the evil opinions still loose in the world. Perhaps the Reason Rally people don’t actually mean this kind of “safe space”. We will see what they say.

The space must be fun. What is fun? Something that is continually enjoyable, happy and puts a smile on that face. But, is reason always fun? Many times it is not, since it may run counter to fun stuff that people take on faith or rumor, and that’s certainly not fun for them. Fun is what you go to Disneyland have.

The space must be friendly. Nothing much wrong with friendly. However, like with fun, friendly may run afoul of differences highlighted by, and defended with reason. It’s not exactly fun to have your religious beliefs, or other favorite ideology run smack into smart people who come armed with reason and look more deeply, more reasonably, into those memetic collections of bad ideas.

Next: This includes creating an atmosphere that is and [sic] harassment-free. On the face of it, this appears to be a reasonable demand. No one likes (well, with the possible exception of people like Trump and his ilk) to be harassed. It is neither fun nor friendly. But, I’m not sure what the Reason Rally folks define as harassment. They attempt to define it by:

Prohibited conduct may include—but is not limited to—harassment related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces (not related to convention sessions or materials), deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Harassment appears to be defined as harassment. Not helpful. So, if we, for example substitute fun for harassment, we get this:

  1. Prohibited conduct may include—but is not limited to—fun related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces (not related to convention sessions or materials), …
  2. I’ve excised the definitions of what reasonably can be defined as harassment: … stalking (legally defined activity) , , sustained disruption of talks or other events (violation of freedom of speech, disturbing the peace and downright doltish behavior),…
  3. Of dubious merit, because of the modifiers deliberate, inappropriate and unwelcome are: deliberate (defined how and by whom?) intimidation (also undefined), …inappropriate (again, what constitutes inappropriate and who gets to decide?) physical contact, and unwelcome (yes, same…) sexual attention.

As we can see, the basic problem is, who gets to define these terms. Who establishes what is deliberate and what is accidental? Is accidentally bumping into someone in a crowded space inappropriate or innocent? Who gets to establish intent? We have cases on college campuses in which consensual sex was later declared to have been forced, or even rape, because one of the participants had a change of mind hours or days after the event. Are people supposed to ignore obvious characteristics of other individuals such as age, sex, race, disability? Why? I may not like it when a twenty-something socially inept trans-Muslim-atheist calls me old, but I am old and can deal with dissonance and hurt feelings.

Take the prohibition against religious harassment. Say you’ve got your Moslem on. You mention that I’m going to hell because I’m not a believer. I say don’t talk to me about your primitive superstitious beliefs. You call harassment. I say you are making me unsafe in this safe space, which is prohibited harassment. We have had a difference of opinion regarding the usefulness and history of religious belief. Should we both be kicked out for voicing opinions?

From harassment, we move on to sex.

Please listen to trans* people’s needs and stories when they are volunteered; but please respect people’s privacy and boundaries and do not ask questions that you wouldn’t ask of anyone else. Do not make assumptions about other people’s gender identity or expression. Please ask which pronouns a person prefers.  Do respect and call people what they ask you to call them.

 First, I’m not sure what trans* means. So, leaning on my friend Google, I find this from transequality.org:

Transgender: A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use. “Trans” is shorthand for “transgender.” (Note: Transgender is correctly used as an adjective, not a noun, thus “transgender people” is appropriate but “transgenders” is often viewed as disrespectful.)

Gender Identity: An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

 So, unpacking these rather dense and recursive claims, it seems that:
1. One’s gender and gender behaviour is relative to one’s sex, and one’s sex is somehow assigned at birth. Who does this assigning? What about before birth? Is one sexless before birth? How can a baby’s sex be known before birth, as it frequently is, if sex is assigned somehow at birth?
2. Gender identity is a social construct and has no reality in the history and taxonomy of families and species other than hominidae, and it is a small and very late behavioral trait at that. Gender is an invention defined as encompassing ways of describing and perceiving male and female humans that guide societal and cultural roles and behaviours. So, it does make sense as the Code of Conduct says that one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others. This is evidently why the Code requires everyone to ask everyone else what gender they happend to be at the moment. Maybe it should be like an AA meeting. “Hi. My name is Xenon. I’m a neutral gendered being. Please refer to me as AetherChild.”
I guess what I don’t understand is why it is up to me to find out all of this personal information about another person whom I am not intending to establish a friendly and intimate relationship with. How often should one check? Once a day? An hour? With each interaction or verbal exchange? Really. Courteous and sane social interaction does not require that I know or care about who or what you believe you are at any moment. If your actions toward me arise from these factors, I may in fact care and respond, but otherwise, go about your business and stop demaning that I recognize all that you think you are at that moment.
I support your right to define yourself however you like, as long as you do not attempt to prevent me from exercising my freedoms of speech, religion, association and rights as another human being and don’t presume to expect me to conform to your ideas.
I must digress for a moment. This has nothing to do with the Reason Rally Code of Conduct, but I found another definition of gender on transequality.org that is particularly interesting. Holding a degree in cultural anthropology this one illustrates the conflation of history, culture, new-age crystal-gazing goodness vibrations like none other:
Two-Spirit: A contemporary term that refers to the historical and current First Nations people whose individuals spirits were a blend of male and female spirits. This term has been reclaimed by some in Native American LGBT communities in order to honor their heritage and provide an alternative to the Western labels of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
1. A contemporaty term. Obviously. No one who is, or knows anything honest about native people could come up with this stuff.
2. “… the historical and current First Nations people…” First, the historical people whom this seems to assume were the first native people, were not the first. We have no history for humans that crossed the land bridge from Asia into North America. None. Artifacts. Scarce and fragile remnants of camps and butchering sites perhaps, but nothing more than educated inferences. The “historical” first people were far distant relatives of those actual first migrants and in many ways extremely different in behaviors, beliefs and cultures. “Nations” is a western white term. The Cheyenne, also far distant from the “first people” referred to themselves as, and this is a white man’s translation into english, ‘the human beings’. Note that others, not part of their group, were not humans. Think about this.
3. “…people whose individuals spirits were a blend of male and female spirits.” The big error here is in thinking that all “First Nations people”, are and think the same way. Do we include the Inuit, the Paiute, the Mohawk, the Seminole, Comanche, Aztec, Olmec, Inca and subsistence groups living in the disease infested Amazon basin in this group? Evidently the people who wrote this definition do. How do we know what all of these diverse human cultures and societies thought about the human spirit? We know much of that due to ethnographic studies by anthropologists and they are wildy different. If any did think that humans are a blend of male and female spirits they were few and far between.
That’s enough. Willful ignorance and loose connection to rational evidence is evident to all but committed believers. Minds will not change unless open to reason, evidence and rational discussion.
In conclusion, I support the underlying philosophy behind the Reason Rally, and I respect many of the speakers and attendees, but I don’t like the way the organizers structured it so that actual reasonable, factual discussions are prohibited or severely inhibited by their code of conduct.  Instead of conduct, these rules seem more  directed at feelings than facts. As Ben Shapiro often says, “facts don’t care about your feelings”.
Facts don’t need safe spaces in which to hide. Facts attempt to describe reality, and when that description is proven to be in error, facts change, they don’t flee to the puppy room.
That is called reason and science. They actually work.

In the Orphan

IMG_1743That Rocky Mountain high feeling begins to run thin as you travel south of Denver and Colorado Springs on Interstate 25. Passing through the small city of Pueblo and its silent steel mills one rolls through terrain more like New Mexico or maybe the Texas panhandle, the plains stretching out to the east, broken by broad, ancient river valleys flanked in the distance by low mesas and rimrock canyons. Trees cluster along these infrequent river valleys and scattered water holes worn down by thousands of cattle hooves. The highway runs just west of the Wet Mountains which are clustered around Greenhorn Peak, named for the only Comanche war leader to have been defeated by the Spaniards. That happened in 1799. The Spaniards went back to New Spain. The Comanches stayed until the late nineteenth century. Climbing out of the last long rise from a deep but usually dry river bottom the highway climbs to slightly over a mile higher than sea level before unfolding a view that extends almost to New Mexico, about fifty miles further south. Dominating that view are the two massive Spanish Peaks standing apart from the more distant mountain range the Spanish explorers called the blood of Christ, the Sangre de Christos.

Dark must have the imaginings of those early explorers, stumbling around the Comancheria, concerned, no doubt, about returning safely to Santa Fe with their skins intact than in delving deeply into the nature of the country. Between the Spanish Peaks and New Mexico, flowing out of the mountains and through the arid badlands to the east is the last major river in Colorado. The Spaniards called it the river of the souls lost in purgatory. El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatoiro. Later, the mountain men and Santa Fe traders, butchering the language along with the buffalo, dubbed it the Picketwire.

Souls lost in purgatory. Perhaps the Spaniards were referring to themselves, lost and wandering the Comanche lands. Although the Comanches are finally gone, fighting now with alcohol and drugs, struggling to pay the rent or the loan on the new F-250 four wheel drive, the land here still harbors many lost souls. The name is still fitting.

From that high point looking south, two smaller features catch the eye. About six miles distant, four massive, white wind generators crowd close to the highway. Their builders sited them almost due east of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve which lies just beyond the Sangre de Christo range, perhaps thirty miles distant. The Park is centered around a massive 19,000 acre field of sand dunes, some reaching 750 feet high. The dunes are formed by the winds flowing across the San Luis valley, picking up sand from the Rio Grande river then dropping it as they slam into the mountains’ eastern walls. Building up speed in the big, open valley, they often tear over the Sangres, rip down their eastern side, blowing for days or weeks across the plains. This is not always a good thing since the winds can gust up to 80 or 90 mph at times. When this happens, the giant blades are locked down, thousands of tumbleweeds rocket across the landscape piling up in long dense rows along the fence lines and the big trucks hide in the rest areas or truck stops along the route.

Two miles south of the generators stands an ugly, fractured pile of blocky volcanic rocks crowding the south bank of the Huerfano River, a river that is really a creek, but here on the northern fringe of the vast, dry southwest country, any natural watercourse that can support grass and trees is often called a river. The pile of rocks stands 6158’ above sea level but rises only 181’ from it’s base. Still, it is immediately obvious that it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the scenery. The towering, usually snow topped Spanish Peaks and the Sangres, as they are often called here, dominate the scenery in the distance, but the little rock pile can’t be ignored. It has served as a landmark for generations of travelers long before the white man ventured out onto these plains. I have no idea what the old Indian tribes called it, but the Spaniards, seeing its isolation and stark contrast with the rest of the land immediately named it the Huerfano. The Orphan.

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Long after the Spaniards were gone and the white men came from the east, the ones who stayed and surveyed the land, and created townships and counties naturally named the land around it, Huerfano. Huerfano County. Today, people who live here just call the area “the Huerfano”. The orphan.

The Orphan county is the second poorest county in the state. It occupies 1,600 square miles but supports only 6,500 people. The median income per household is $27,775 and the per capita income is $15,242. 18% of the county population is below the poverty line. In places, basic services are hard to come by or nonexistent. Most of the roads are unpaved. Getting enough clean water to drink can at times be a serious issue. Entertainment and recreation is mainly focused on the outdoors when the weather is decent, and runs mainly to hunting and fishing. Lately, with the legalization of recreational marijuana, extreme volume country metal bands assault the summer air and their stunned fans with music that more resembles a continuous car crash. Summer tourists bring in a substantial part of the county’s annual income. There are no major industries or commercial enterprises that employ more than a token number of people. Want to see a current hit movie on the big screen, then get set for a two hour round trip to Pueblo, that is if the weather is reasonable and the roads are open.

There are few jobs in the Orphan and fewer still that pay a decent wage. There are hardly any career opportunities for young people graduating from, or just dropping out of school. The biggest employer caters to the sick, elderly and veterans who need continual care. The pace picks up between June and October when the tourists and travelers come through, hit the shops, art shows, music festivals and cute local events built and run especially for them. The rest of the year, the cold, the wind and the snow moves in filling the vacant holes left by the tourists. Shops close or curtail their hours. Want a hot coffee at one of the two coffee shops in the area? Best check the day and the time to see if one might be open. When it snows in my little town, walking is really not a problem. We just use the street. The town doesn’t have the manpower or budget to keep the sidewalks clear but the state plows Main Street, which is Colorado Highway 12 so it is usually passable.

The county seat of the Orphan is in Walsenburg, Colorado, once a thriving coal and railroad town, but after WWII ended and the demand for coal fell, so did Walsenburg’s fortunes. The train still runs through the middle of town in such a way that traffic on US 160, the main highway, is blocked in two places multiple times each day while the long freights and coal trains creep through on aging tracks. On the occasional bad day, something breaks, the trains halt and traffic doesn’t move for hours. Living is hard. Real estate is cheap and the local liquor stores carry 40 oz. cans of cheap beer selling for $1.40. They can’t keep it in stock in the summer.

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A newer business in the county is based on the opiate, heroin and marijuana trade. DrugRehab.com reported, “Huerfano County has consistently ranked among the counties with the highest drug overdose death rates for the past 12 years.” Few people. No money. Big drug problem. This is not good news for the people in the Orphan. When unemployed dope fiends need money to buy drugs they often take it from others, and this leads to more crime and more violence. Some of the area law enforcement people I have talked with say that with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, a kind of drug migration is occurring in which increasing numbers of street people looking for cheap and legal dope and people with financial backing who are looking for places to grow pot and the water to sustain it are moving into the Orphan. Interstate 25 which connects Mexico, New Mexico, Colorado and branches off to points east and west has long been a major drug highway into the US and it runs right on the eastern skirts of Walsenburg, which is no stranger to drugs of all kinds.

But, travel fifteen miles west from Walsenburg on US 160 and jog a little south off Colorado 12 and you will soon arrive at a village of 800 year round souls spread around the tiny Cucharas River flowing through lush river bottom pasture land. The little town is called La Veta, which means the vein in Spanish. No one is really certain why. Theories abound but the origin remains a mystery, as does the reason why the locals pronounce it la veeda, not in the Spanish way, la vey tah. This anglo emphasis is so pronounced that one is sure to be corrected by one or another of the locals, even if their last name happens to be Garcia. In character and attitude, La Veta is almost the opposite of it’s neighbor Walsenburg.

la-veta-colorado

The town has six churches, lists nine real estate offices, five art galleries (this number tends to fluctuate with the season), one bakery restaurant, one micro-sized deli (soon to go out of business after one year), two diners, one bar restaurant and one up-scale restaurant, a coffee shop, a market, two gas stations, one hardware store, three general tourist gift shops, an award-winning library, a sporadically active live theatre, a wine bistro and a US Post Office that doesn’t deliver mail to town residents. Residents also include a local mule deer population that hovers around 150 animals, foxes, skunks, the occasional mountain lion attracted into town by the deer and a fluctuating number of black bears, depending on the weather. Dry years means more bears in town, and by more, I mean the first year we lived here I personally saw twelve bears in town. Questioning the local wildlife officer I learned that the Orphan has more black bears than any county in the lower 48 states. When we walk at night, and the town is so small that it doesn’t make sense to drive everywhere, we always carry flashlights and stay out of the alleys. Dumpsters and bears have a mutual attraction and dumpsters tend to live in alleys. Many residents also carry a firearm at night.

La Veta and its immediate environs are home to a diverse people. Except for race. La Veta is predominantly white anglo saxon, and, given the five churches, protestant. The Catholic church uses a rotation of traveling priests and opens on Saturday nights. There are a few hispanic folks around, but unless our son is in town, there are only three black people here, and one or two asians. We have no immigrants from Syria or the middle east as far as I know. If someone moved here who wore a hijab, or was an openly practicing Moslem, the ripples would spread far and wide. Would they be hostile ripples? Waves? Or, as many westerners do, would they be treated the same as any other individual and judgements withheld pending behavior? We may find out some day.

La Veta is home to many older and retired people, people from all backgrounds and experiences. I believe the median age is slightly over 55. Lawyers, artists, ranch hands, old refugees from the original 60s hippie communes, young people searching for a way to live off the grid, lost souls holding down minimum wage service jobs waiting for the dream that never comes, locals who were born and raised here, commercial pilots, retired military, software developers working online for companies on the west coast, corporate executives out to pasture, former physicians, active medical professionals, farmers, widows on social security. The low profilers, those who live on the edges, scuffling here and there, buying for a dollar, selling for two, maybe cooking that killer meth out in the county, or tending large marijuana grows in the national forrest.

The thing we don’t have here, so far, is a solid awareness of the changes taking place in the outside world, the world outside of the Orphan. The battles on the college campuses for and against free speech. The fluid and confusing sexual identity conflicts. The impacts of the new atheists, the radical Moslems, the resistance to science, fact and reason. These powerful social forces don’t yet lap up to our borders. They are present primarily through the TV screens on the evening news, at least for those who still have TV, and through newspapers and gossip sessions at the market or post office. A few La Vetians do not have television but choose to be connected informationally and intellectually through the internet. In fact, the twenty-first century information culture here is so far removed that for many, especially the older and elderly, using a “smart phone” is a major challenge. I have met more than a few people here who think that these “new” smart phones are beyond their capabilities, and who needs one anyway? Even more unfortunate are those who are given Windows based computers and hand-held devices by well meaning relatives. They are mystified and confused which isolates them even further than they were before.

The Orphan is probably representative of many other small American communities, places off the main track, tied closer to the land, culture and practices of a receding era, loosely hooked into the global information network, the social media firestorms and anytime access to different ideas, morals, discussion, hatreds and ideological communities that are part of daily life in the mainstream. The Orphan is one of those legacy interfaces to the madly accelerating world, a place of comfort and isolation where it has been possible to dismiss and forget the tides of culture and political change and the warfare of ideas. But this can’t last. When elderly widows and long retired ranchers seek help in using their newfangled devices in order to access their grandchildren’s email, get on this Facebook thing and explore the wonders of Google, the Orphan’s semi-isolation is coming to an end. My intent here is to explore this vanishing world and note some of the people and their stories as this happens.