The media’s all in a hubbub today about Rep. Louis Gohmert of (of course) Texas. And it’s all about the following comment (all quotes sourced from CBS News, just so nobody accuses me of piracy!):
“Well, once you make it 10, then why would you draw the line at 10? What’s wrong with nine? Or 11?” he asked, referring to the possibility of banning high-capacity ammunition clips for non-military citizens. “And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal?”
“There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you, you draw, you remove, the – or you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal,” he added.
I mean, really, I don’t see what everybody’s so confused about. It’s very simple and straightforward. I refer, of course, to Rep. Gohmert, rather than his tortured logic. But, lest you assume that he was trying to bash homosexuals while making a poorly thought out argument against gun control, his spokesperson Kimberly Willingham reassures us:
“He was clearly making the slippery-slope argument that if the factual definition of marriage, that pre-exists governments instituted by men, is changed to suit the desires of the few, then there is no limit to where the lines are drawn,” she said.
Because, you know, there’s one universal definition of marriage out there, all across the vast history and cultures of mankind, and even beyond! Marriage is factually defined, and predates governments, which were instituted by men.
And you know, she’s right! Marriage does pre-exist governments, and other things instituted by men! Just look at how common monogamous, heterosexual relationships are among God’s other creations! Why, just the other day, I had to turn down an invitation to the wedding of two charming squirrels down the road. You see, one of them was a grey squirrel, and the other one was a black squirrel. Now, I’m not against the mixing of the blood, but it’s very clear in the Bible that marriage is supposed to be within your own tribe, not with outsiders.
That, and I was a little worried that I might run into Rep. Gohmert on the buffet table.
Now, after reading all of that, you might be joining some of my friends in being ashamed that you share the same species as good ol’ Louis. Well, I’ve got a theory about that.
You see, I’ve got this idea that’s forming in my head. Gohmert and his ilk are actually trying to become a separate species, homo phobiens! Note, if you will, the common shared species traits that aren’t held in common with the more common, and typically more evolutionarily successful, homo sapiens!
- Tend to gather in insular communities of their own kind
- Interbreed almost exclusively within their own kind
- This is a clear precursor to speciation, when they will lose the ability to interbreed with homo sapiens altogether.
- Note, if you will, the photograph of Rep. Gohmert in the linked article; I’d say he’s pretty good evidence that this point may not be that far off now.
- Successfully occupy a very specific, very narrow ecological niche in which homo sapiens cannot or will not compete (every ecology needs its bottom feeders)
- Random mutations become more pronounced in the biological community
- Consider, if you will, the impressive ability to truly believe in an omnipotent creator who can be stopped cold by an 1/8th of an inch of latex, clear evidence that the portion of the cranium devoted to the brain has begun to shrink to accommodate the larger mouth typical of the ecological niche they are attempting to fill!
- Another branch of this species is clearly developing a very peculiar evolutionary trait, born with a natural body configuration that puts their head in closer proximity to the source of that which they consume. I dub this sub-species homo phobiens ouroborous.
I could go further, but really, the evidence speaks for itself. Unfortunately, I doubt that this new species is long for this world. Their natural environment is constantly being eroded away in the name of progress and, eventually, there simply won’t be enough left for them to eat without being forced beneath a sustainable population. Like the dodo bird, homo phobiens will be wiped out by another species that fills their ecological niche, perhaps a resurgence in the population of hobo sapiens. I like to think that, when it happens, they will have no more understanding of their fate than that last dodo, standing there vapidly staring at the onrushing destruction of its species, wondering if this new creature with the long stick that made booming noises was friendly.
But honestly, I think they know it. Consider, if you will, the sheer amount of effort expended to avoid being taught about evolution. Clearly, they simply cannot accept the inevitability of their own extinction.
From the pages of Blatant Parody News:
In a 16-page document leaked to NBC, the Obama Administration has laid out new guidelines for self-defense.
These new standards, referred to as the BSTS Doctrine, are based off of standards established during the Bush Administration, and state that self-defense is justifiable under the following conditions:
- You have reason to believe the person is constantly planning to cause harm to you or people you are protecting.
- You don’t have any proof that they’re not trying to harm you or people you are protecting anymore.
- Non-violent means of preventing such harm isn’t feasible.
- You’re not mean about it, and you don’t try to catch anybody else in the crossfire. But, hey, if it just so happens to happen… their fault for being near somebody who wanted to cause harm to you, right?
The Department of Justice would also like to make clear that, no, you don’t have to share your reasons for believing the target intends to harm you with anybody else, and nobody else has to agree with you. And ‘isn’t feasible’ is legal speak for ‘I don’t like the odds.’ These new guidelines are expected to work in conjunction with new rules on publicly-available armaments to prevent future tragedies.
The administration also repeated its request that Congress ban assault-style semiautomatic weapons, on the grounds that such weapons have no legitimate lawful use. However, in order to ease gun owner’s concerns that their ability to defend themselves is at stake, controls for unmanned drone bombers will be made available to law-abiding consumers, without the need for background checks or waiting periods. After all, in cases like these, there’s simply no time or place for that sort of oversight. The control kits will be available at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods section, right where you used to be able to purchase a ridiculously overpowered firearm like the Bushmaster.
On the off-chance that you haven’t figured it out by now… please get help if you believed that. They make some really good drugs these days, though I’m not honestly sure if they have a cure for stupid yet. If they do… could we start pumping that into the water supply along with the fluoride? Y’know, just a thought?
The government would never let that sort of ridiculous laxity about self defense fly, and the firepower is way beyond what would be appropriate to protect yourself from an unarmed individual, especially on the grounds of “because we can’t prove they’re not trying to hurt us.”
I’ve read the memo, all 16 pages of it, and… God almighty, people.
Y’know what really pisses me off about this? This, and all the other bullshit that has been going on in the name of the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War to Protect Americans from Scary Things They Can’t Point At On a Map, is basically being treated as business as usual. The ACLU is bitching about it, but we’re too focused on the War on Gun Violence to really worry about this for more than one or two days, I’m sure. Because, you know, guns are Scary Things that We Can’t Point To on a Map. Besides, the government is doing this to protect us, it’s horrible, but how else are we going to stay safe?
How about a little history lesson, hmm? Oh, and before you scream “CONSPIRACY NUT,” go look up the things I’m talking about here. These are all matters of public record, undeniable fact that has been established for decades.
Here’s a secret that’s been kept from the U.S. public for a very, very long time. The Cuban Missile Crisis was actually not caused by a rogue mutant mind-controlling individuals on both sides of the Iron Curtain, nor was it stopped by a group of other, spandex-clad mutants going in and doing so with reluctant government aid! No, it was caused by folks at the CIA deciding that the appropriate way to fight the Scary Thing They Couldn’t Point To on a Map called Communism was to try ousting Castro by sending in Cuban expatriates with U.S. air and sea support.
The problem was, Kennedy didn’t particularly want to offer that sort of support, believing that doing so would be a blatant act of war. Due to his shortsighted interpretations of national and international law, no doubt completely unsupported by DOJ memos, the coup (called the “Bay of Pigs,” in case you missed the day in history class they mentioned this) failed spectacularly. Castro realized that the U.S. apparently wasn’t fond of him, and called the U.S.S.R. to ask if they could do anything. The Soviets, with a resounding “da, comrade!” shipped over some nukes and parked them off the coast of Cuba, where the world proceeded to go nuts over whether or not we were going to find out how radiation-proof cockroaches really were.
In case you missed the news in the last decade or five, we didn’t. The Mythbusters would have to come along later to test that theory. Now, I’m no fan of Castro, but when you’ve just had the guns of one of the world’s top superpowers pointed at you, I can’t really blame you for asking the other top superpower to come in and point their guns at the one that’s aiming your way.
Of course, this wasn’t the CIA’s first time at the rodeo. It’s understandable that they thought they could do this, really. I mean… their predecessors had done it back before WWI, when the US Army pacified nations for the benefit of the United Fruit Company or Brown Brothers Banking firm, and the CIA had gotten into the act in Guatemala and Honduras.
They were so good at this that, in the 50′s, UK intelligence forces came over and asked our intelligence services for help with some problems they were having in this little country called Iran. Y’see, they’d had one of those pesky ‘democratic elections’ that were all the rage back then, and elected somebody who didn’t much like British oil companies using Iranian oil reserves for their own purposes. Instead, he nationalized the oil industry, and kicked the British petroleum companies (wonder what it was called?) to the curb. The CIA helped the UK arrange Operation: Boot, which ousted the populist rulers of Iran and installed this fella called the Shah. He made sure that Iranian oil companies were favorable to his backers in exchange for our ignoring the odd human rights violation. Later on, for some reason, Iran had a revolution, took some hostages, and CIA operatives were forced to help embassy workers masquerade as a Canadian film crew in order to escape. This served to create a Scary Thing That… Well, That We Actually Can Point to on a Map. Relations between the US and Iran have basically been a few steps short of open warfare ever since, with minor points of dispute like the US selling weapons to some guy named Saddam Hussein helping to rattle the cage once in a while.
But frankly, it was only fair that we sold weapons to Saddam Hussein, right? After all, we’d sold weapons to Iran during that whole ‘hostage crisis’ thing (where we negotiated for the safety of the embassy workers and students who weren’t lucky enough to escape the Revolution on their own). This would eventually come to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal. And, while the Iran part of it is pretty clear, the Contra part is a little trickier.
You see, it basically refers to when the the CIA created the modern drug war by going into business dealing cocaine on epic levels in order to fund a war against their favorite Scary Thing We Can’t Point To on a Map, Communism. Though, again, they could point to it on a map in this case – it was in Nicaragua, where The CIA didn’t sell the cocaine, of course, but they did train the Contras and help them to sell cocaine, which the CIA then turned into weapons for the Contras, and a few extra to be smuggled to Iran.
As for the Contras, they were just the latest in a long string of gross abusers of human rights who the US supported because they weren’t pinko Commie scum. But, despite their best efforts, the Sandinista government’s horrific crimes of promoting mass literacy, social spending, and encouraging gender equality weren’t stopped until the 90′s or so, when democratic elections led to a (brief) loss of the Presidency, though the FLSN remains one of the leading powers in the Nicaraguan legislature.
Of course, the number of lives ruined and lost because of the War on Drugs is astronomical, the bill runs up into the trillions, but at least we’ve managed to create a massive black market of vice crime that we’ll be fighting for eternity, guaranteeing a continuous stream of tax dollars to law enforcement, along with an almost limitless number of designer cars, yachts, high-power firearms, mansions, and other properties confiscated from drug dealers to be sold at auction. Hasn’t done a damned thing to stop drug abuse, but hey, at least we’re doing something about it!
As for the War on Gun Violence, the jury’s still out on whether or not we’re going to have the FBI taking the tanks out again. For the younguns in the audience, the end of this month marks the 20th anniversary of the raid in Waco, Texas, where the ATF decided to stage a raid on a facility where they believed automatic weapons were being illegally manufactured, rather than arresting the ringleader during his trip into town earlier in the week. April 19th will be the 20th anniversary of the day the tanks rolled in, and 76 people (including women and children) were killed in a fire that was, officially, started by the people inside the compound, and totally not by the tanks firing toxic levels of flammable CS gas into a building where they knew open flames were being used for lighting.
The end result of that little incident involving our government was that, a couple of years later, a young man named Timothy McVeigh decided to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City as an act of vengeance.
What’s the point of all this, and what does it have to do with drone strikes?
No matter what you think of the people we’re opposing – whether you think they’re Commie scum, lunatic fringe menaces, or the Messiahs themselves, you can’t deny that the U.S. Government has a very bad track record of doing Bad Things for (hypothetically, if you agree with them) Good Reasons. And when they do these things… mysteriously, they almost always blow up in our faces!
Not that the U.S. is alone in this. I’d kind of say that 9/11 is a really, really good example of somebody who isn’t the U.S. government doing this, and having it blow up in their faces spectacularly… and literally, in many cases.
But yet, the U.S. Government still does Bad Things for (hypothetically, if you agree with them) Good Reasons, expecting the best of results to come out of it.
Tell me… just what was that whole “definition of insanity” thing again? Doing the same thing the same way multiple times and expecting… what now?
Whatever you think about the people who are being attacked, whatever you think about the DOJ explanation of the legal justification for unmanned drone strikes, here are the problems.
- There is no limitation on this power, except for the people who order the strikes themselves. No trials, no warrants, no nothing.
- The conservative estimate is something like 25% collateral damage – that means that for every four people we kill with an unmanned drone strike, on average one of them will be a civilian who wasn’t a terrorist at all. Which, when you think about it, might be one of the few recruiting tools that Al Qa’ida has left at this point in time!
- Even if those people don’t turn into motives to join Al Qa’ida… not even the “senior administration officials” who authorize these strikes believe that we have any justification to kill 25% of the people they’re killing beyond “whoops!”
- The last time I checked, “whoops” is considered a very poor justification to kill somebody. Just sayin’.
And our government is justifying this by saying… what? Read the memo again.
The “BSTS” doctrine that I mentioned in my introduction isn’t an actual acronym. It stands for “Better Safe Than Sorry,” because that is the exact justification being used. The qualifications to get droned require that:
- A “senior official” have reason to believe that you are a member of Al Qa’ida or a related group known to be constantly plotting attacks against the US.
- They have to not have proof that you aren’t doing so.
- They have to feel that it is not feasible to capture you, which could mean that you’re holed up in a Dr. Evil-style supervillain lair bristling with anti-personnel weaponry and wearing armor made of orphans and kittens… or it could mean that the odds of somebody trying to capture you getting hurt or killed are too high for that senior official’s liking.
- It has to be consistent with the rules of war, which the DOJ believes to mean, in this case, that we’re not capturing and then killing them, we’re just killing them. Preferably quickly, and with some thought about whether or not civilians are caught in the crossfire.
All of this to kill people we haven’t even put to trial. To kill U.S. citizens we haven’t even put to trial. They justify this by saying, basically, that Congress did say “any and all necessary force” to take down Al Qa’ida and their associates, and since we’re at war with something you can’t point to on a map, we can effectively define the “combat zone” where civilians are acceptable collateral damage as “anywhere we believe we can find terrorists.” Without any oversight, and actually specifically stating that judicial oversight is a patently ridiculous idea, because “due process” is an unnecessary burden on the process of blowing the ever-loving shit out of people we “have reason to believe” need to have the shit blown out of them before they blow the shit out of us. The memo specifically states that it has no advice to offer whatsoever on what constitutes a minimum threshhold for “imminent threat,” except that it doesn’t require that we actually know where, when, how, or even necessarily if an attack is going to take place, just that we can’t prove one isn’t going to. It actually goes into some detail to justify that argument!
And people seriously wonder why some folks in the US are scared shitless of our own government.
My last post on here was a bit of home-brew analysis of readily available stats related to gun ownership and death rates.
Turns out, I could have just pointed everybody to this handy paper by the folks at Harvard Law.
In particular, I would like to draw attention to the following statement, which emphasizes the point of the article:
Although the reason is thus obscured, the undeniable result is that violent crime, and homicide in particular, has plummeted in the United States over the past 15 years.
The fall in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world. In 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office, violent crime increased during the 1990s.
This contrast should induce thoughtful people to wonder what happened in those nations, and to question policies based on the notion that introducing increasingly more restrictive firearm ownership laws reduces violent crime.
The point is this; gun control advocates believe that reducing or eliminating the presence of guns (or certain types of guns) will reduce violent crimes. On the contrary, the evidence would seem to suggest that there is, at best, no correlation whatsoever between gun ownership and the homicide rate, once you stop limiting your data set to firearm-related deaths. Reducing the number of firearms-related homicides and suicides doesn’t really matter if the people who are looking to kill just find another method to do so, and the data indicates that’s exactly what happens.
Before I go into anything else, let me make this clear:
What happened today in Newton, CT was a tragedy. What I am about to say is not in any way intended to diminish that fact, but instead to ask a simple question; what are we supposed to do about it?
In my Twitter feed following the news, there were a lot of people calling for something to be done, preferably in the form of getting rid of guns. As one person I follow said, “in Finland in 2009, there were approximately 4 deaths per 100,000 people. In the US, it was an order of magnitude larger. When will something be done?”
As another said, “this is exactly the time to be having this discussion – nobody wants to have it unless a tragedy has happened, and then we’re told to STFU! When else are we going to have it?”
Well, here I am, having it. I expect some people will think I’m callous for coming to the defense of gun ownership the very day of the nation’s second-worst school shooting, but as my friend said… when else are we going to have it?
First off, I’d like to address an order of accuracy. In 2009, according to my quick Wikipedia research, the WHO said that Finland had 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people due to gun-related injuries. This classification includes people killed in officer-involved shootings, accidents, suicides, any gun-related injury.
The same article cites 9.0 over the period 2008-2010, while the Kaiser State Health Institute cites 10.1 in 2009 specifically. Neither of these numbers represents “an order of magnitude,” which would imply 36 deaths per 100,000, over 3 times the actual statistic. I’m just asking for a bit less hyperbole when discussing these issues – “almost three times as high” is bad enough, don’t go saying it’s 10x worse.
Let’s take a closer look at some of those stats though. Interestingly, looking at the Wikipedia article, there are no figures given for how Finland’s numbers break down in terms of suicide, homicide (“Any killing of one human being by another”) or accidents. But if you look at the US numbers, over half of the deaths are suicides, so excluding those brings the gun death rate down to comparable to Finland’s. So if the lack of breakdown indicates that the deaths due to suicides or accidents were statistically negligible, that actually raises some serious questions regarding the effect of the availability of firearms on homicide rates. However, I think it’s more likely that the WHO simply didn’t break down the numbers for Finland, while the OAS did in the US.
A more interesting statistic, and looking at things from an apples-to-apples perspective in terms of source data, is what we find at the Kaiser State Health Institute.
10.1/100,000 firearms-related deaths in 2009. Roughly a .0101% chance, one in 10,000, of dying because of any gun-related injury.
The fatality rate due to motor vehicle accidents? 11.7/100,000 for the same time period. Roughly the same, but a bit higher.
In my state, Wisconsin? An avid hunting state, with a lot of firearms? Firearms-related fatalities are 7.9/100,000, while motor vehicle accidents killed 10.1/100,000. Which means that, while you’re less likely to die of either in Wisconsin, you’re more than 25% more likely to die because of a car crash than because you’ve been shot.
Sticking with the car comparison, a radio host I heard on the way home was talking about how 18,000,000 guns were sold last year alone, and this number is staggering evidence of how out-of-control and gun-crazy our society is. Well, in the interests of statistical accuracy, I’m going to sliiiiiide our numbers back to 2009 again.
In 2009, in the throes of a recession, Ammoland says that we sold approximately 14,000,000 guns here in the US! Isn’t that an awful, awful lot?
With approximately 305,000,000 people in the US in 2009, we come out to approximately… 3,050 sets of 100,000 people, so… 30,805 gun-related deaths in the country (BTW – go ahead, check my math! I make mistakes sometimes. I am, however, an accountant, so….)
That means that each of those 14 million guns was responsible for .0022 deaths. So for every 450-ish guns sold, a person died. That’s pretty horrible, I’ll admit.
Now, in 2009, the BBC says that “just over 10 million” new cars were sold in the US. New, mind you, not all cars, so we’re excluding the used car market. But let’s say that “just over 10 million” means that it was within a rounding error’s margin – within 50,000, or about .05% of the number. So that’s about 10,050,000 cars sold.
With 11.7 car deaths per 100,000 people, we have 35,685 deaths in 2009 from motor vehicle accidents, or approximately .00355 people killed by every new car, or one person killed for every 280-ish cars sold.
Which means that a new car is approximately 1.6 times more likely – that’s over 160% more likely – to kill somebody than a gun is.
And yet, when there’s a pileup, I rarely hear people talk about outlawing cars.
All of this is a nice little intellectual exercise, but doesn’t answer the core question of “how do we stop these sort of tragedies from happening?” And we don’t know enough about the Newton shooting to say anything yet. Were those guns bought legally in the first place? Did the shooter have a history of mental illness? It seems likely that he murdered his mother in addition to the others he shot at the school (where she worked), so how does that play in?
But that’s looking at this specific incident and dissecting it. Let’s take a look at the broader picture, and what do we see? We see that a lot of these shooters are people who have serious mental illness – no surprise there, I would submit that you are probably pretty typically insane if your idea of a reasonable course of action is to go out and murder as many people as you can. So maybe we should focus on that end of things, more than on the gun end. Yes, to some extent, on making sure that people with certain mental diagnoses don’t get guns – schizophrenics and paranoiacs, for example. But moreover, how about on focusing on changing our society’s view of mental illness?
These days, a lot of people who desperately need mental help don’t want it. Not because they can’t afford it, but because our society treats mental illness like a character defect or a weakness, something shameful that needs to be hidden. Maybe if we can fix that, if we can start treating the mentally ill like… well… people who are ill, and need to receive proper treatment, we can keep them from becoming dangers to themselves, or others.
If Holmes had been diagnosed as the schizotypal/bipolar individual he seems to have been, and had received proper treatment, maybe it would have stopped the Aurora shooting. Maybe it would have at least kept him from buying an assault rifle. Maybe it wouldn’t have.
But it might have stopped a lot of other tragedies. Not all of them, I’ll admit, but the same with outlawing firearms. It won’t stop every shooting.
But here’s something that we have to grow up and recognize, as a society. Freedom means that bad things can happen as well as good things. Security is not intrinsically at odds with liberty, but total security requires no liberty. And we need to decide, consciously, which one matters more to us. Before you ask the government to fix our gun problem, consider what happened when we asked it to fix our terrorist problem.
The TSA still hasn’t caught a single terrorist, but a few days ago they interrogated a 12 year old in a wheelchair because she had “explosives residue” on her hands (read: anything from fingernail polish to fertilizer).
Our President is working on establishing a set of rules for drone strikes against suspected terrorists. Which means that people he’s chosen and who are accountable pretty much only to him will decide whether or not he gets to tell somebody to go blow up a US citizen who hasn’t been convicted of a crime, and then to go blow up one of his kids three weeks later.
And, the last time we asked the government to fix our gun problem, over 76 people died at Waco, Texas, and on TV no less as government tanks rolled into the buildings, firing enough flammable tear gas into the building in the course of two hours to keep it filled for two days, and possibly mixing an incendiary grenade or two in there as well by mistake; there is literally no way to know because of lax munitions management. Of course, why they even were given incendiary grenades to fire is another issue, but that’s a matter for another post.
Me… I think it’s about time that we sit back, take a deep breath… and try to fix our bad things happening by solving a root cause, rather than the end result.
Care to debate me? There’s a comments section on here for a reason, people! Have at it.
From Bloomberg to the homeless of a storm-devastated New York….
New York City is no longer taking private donations to food pantries and homeless shelters. Why? Because they can’t properly monitor the salt, fat, sugar, and other elements of nutritional content in them.
So, did you bake some extra pies this Thanksgiving, hoping to bring a smile to the face of somebody who has damned little to be thankful for? Tough luck.
Delis that have been donating fresh kosher bagels? Gor!
That nice Polish family down the street who makes the kitchen pierogies every week? Nie ma szans!
The food that you’ve been preparing for generations, from recipes passed down from one nation to the next, that you’ve spent the time and the trouble to prepare for charity, out of the goodness of your own heart, isn’t good enough for starving, desperate people out in the cold to eat.
So it’s Campbell’s for everybody, I guess! Sure, the cans are coated with enough BPA to make even the manufacturers of those trendy metal bottles throw up their hands and shout “whaddaya want from us,” but at least you know that you’re getting a product primarily flavored with salt and chicken byproduct.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the reasons why I’m just a teensy, tiny bit leery of letting the government run my health care. You see, part of the justification for this bullshit is always going to be “well, it makes people less healthy, which drives up health care costs!” Or, alternately, “people can’t be trusted to make healthy decisions, so we need to make the decisions for them!”
That’s what they said in New York when they limited the size of sodas that people were allowed to buy. That’s what they said when they limited the amount of salt that restaurants were allowed to use, or when they ban smoking, or trans-fats.
That’s what they say when they argue for spending a trillion dollars and thousands of lives on a War on Drugs that isn’t working. It’s the basic argument behind virtually every attempt to create a new manner of “victimless crime.”
“You want us to pay for X. Your bad decisions make X more expensive. Therefore, in order to keep our costs down, we have to ban bad decisions.
“Oh, and please ignore the fact that after I retire from this job, I’m going to be getting a high-paying ‘job’ with one of the lobbying groups that put a lot of pressure behind passing these bills. Also ignore that these groups are frequiently financed by industries that are forced to compete with whatever it is that we’re banning. Because I’m doing this for the people, and you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking otherwise!”
If we really want to go taking a trip down Slippery Slope, this same sort of logic was used to justify all sorts of other nasty behavior by the government. Note the critical phrase in that paper: ”people supported in institutions or ‘maintained wholly or in part by public expense.’” (Emphasis mine.) When the government is paying for everybody’s health care… or, for that matter, everybody’s anything, then everybody is maintained wholly or in part by public expense, which has been argued for years to give the government the ability to override whatever Constitutional concerns might be raised.
Now, yes, neo-eugenics is well down Slippery Slope Road. But a federal-level ban on trans-fats? Good bye, vegetable oil. A federal level “vested interest” in fighting obesity on an all new level? Hello, fat tax!
Ultimately, it all boils down to this. How much are you willing to give up your liberty, in exchange for being able to say that it’s not your problem, because the government’s going to take care of it?
Just remember Sandy-ravaged New York City, and how it’s done so much to make Big Food thankful this November.
I know I’m not the first to talk about this. Hardly the first. I hope that I might be the last, because I’d like to pretend that after posting this that Pastor Charles Worley will realize what a hideous, bigoted waste of human flesh he appears to be, and recant what he said. And actually mean it. But I’m pretty damned sure that he won’t.
For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet, here you go. I’ll warn you in advance; this video almost made me physically ill when I watched it, and without a single offensive image.
Here’s the problem. As if I have to say it.
“Build a great big large fence… put all the lesbians in there… Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…”
“…And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out… Do you know why? They can’t reproduce.”
Now, before I go into my usual, vitriolic, rage-filled ranting mode that people like this put me into, let me politely and cogently point out the following. If you want to skip through the part where I’m trying to be reasonable, just search for the word “vitriol.”
Pastor Charles Worley… your plan won’t work. It really just… won’t. You want to know why?
History says it won’t work. This has been attempted multiple times in the past; the Church tried to kill off homosexuals with the Inquisition (and several other methods). Hitler tried your method. Dictators throughout history have tried your method. When Hitler tried it, it actually resulted in an *increase* in the number of gays and lesbians born in the following decade or so – fun fact! But this plan never works. And here’s the simple, undeniable, logical reason why.
All those gays and lesbians? Their parents weren’t homosexuals themselves, honest. At least not in the vast majority of situations. I mean… that’s kind of how it works out logically, right? Their parents had to have sex with each other, and your whole approach is basically built around the idea that homosexuals can’t do that.
Now, logically, this kind of raises the point that just rounding up the world’s gay and lesbian population won’t work. But, of course, I’m sure you would pose that all subsequent homosexual individuals born should be packed away too. And I’m just going to assume that you’d like to pack off all bisexual and straight transsexual individuals as well, on the basis of biological gender segregation since we pesky bis and those transsexuals still attracted to the biologically opposite gender would fuck up (words used *most* intentionally, I assure you) the whole “they can’t reproduce” argument.
But here is where the heart of your argument reveals itself as morally and theologically hollow. Your argument seems to work on the idea that children born to homosexual parents would themselves be homosexual, and that by preventing homosexuals from reproducing we can “breed out” the undesired trait. And yet, this poses the idea that homosexuality is genetic in nature.
In other words… God *made* homosexuals. So you’re entire argument is based around the idea that we need to gather together God’s children and wait for them to die off… because you think that God fucked up.
Now, I’m sure that you’re going to trot out the argument that God didn’t make homosexuals, and that it’s a choice. Or that, even if he did, Leviticus 18:22 says that he wants them wiped out anyway (by the way, how’s that shrimp dinner tasting? When *did* you last burn an oxen as an offering? And have you been sure to have that all the women who’ve been raped in your parish have been properly stoned to death if the rapist wasn’t caught in the act?)
All of this while claiming to worship and love a being who said to treat others as you would be treated. Who preached that a lowly Samaritan was a greater man than a fleet of wealthy churchgoers and priests, because he stopped to love his fellow man as he would be loved himself. Who preached that one must love thy neighbor *as* thyself, without saying “unless, of course, your neighbor sucks dick and doesn’t have tits.”
Oh, I’m sorry folks. The vitriol is coming out again, in case you didn’t notice.
All of this is, of course, invalid, because we live in a country where religion doesn’t dictate our legal structure, unlike such forward-thinking nations as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Because of this, you and your morally bankrupt brethen are theological scholars, not legal experts… though, frankly, I suspect that you at least have a better grasp on law than you do on theology, since you did at least recognize that you’d never get your plan past the legislature. The Republican-dominated (in the House, at least) legislature, so you might want to rethink casting this as a party-based issue.
So, your only options are to either pack every possible political post you can manage with people as far to the right as yourself, which won’t happen because, as I think you realize, you’re in the VAST minority in your opinion… or try a legal option.
Since the problem with homosexuals is that they can’t reproduce, I recommend the following.
You take yourself, and all of your devoted followers, and everybody else who agrees with your bullshit idea, and you build a great big large fence. Hell, if you want, I’ll even suggest that we pay for the materials! You electrify that fence, just to keep us dirty homosexuals and liberals from getting in, and we’ll airlift food and supplies in to you. After all, you offered to do it for us Godless heathens, clearly it’s only fair we do it for you.
We’ll even let you expand the fence when the population demands it. Just so, y’know, we’ve got the moral high ground over you.
But you see… I don’t think we’re going to need to expand that fence. Because I’ve got a feeling that, before very long, you bunch of hateful, bigoted fucks will slaughter each other with your bare FUCKING hands, because you said that God wanted everybody to butter their toast on the top, and one of the other pathetic, attention whoring sacks of shit that walks around preaching the word of the One True God who nobody else understands but him will say that God wants everybody to butter it on the bottom, because it’s Godless heathen butter airlifted in from the outside.
I predict that if you lot were forced to actually live with each other, to live with those sad, shattered reflections of your own innate evil walking around you, you’d murder each other within a year, and that’s being damned generous with you. Those who lived? I figure you’d be drinking the almond-flavored sugary beverage of your choice within another six goddamn days, so that on the seventh day you might rest as the Lord did.
And then when you get to the pearly gates to meet whoever it is who handles admissions to Heaven? Hell, I’d give anything to be there just to see your jaws hit the fucking deck when you realize that you’re the ones being damned, because you committed the single, solitary sin that the all-forgiving, all-loving God you pretend to love so much cannot overlook.
You twisted His words, His message, into one of hatred and intolerance, completely rejecting your supposedly beloved Christ in the process.
I would give anything to be there when you realize what you’ve done, and that no amount of backpedaling is going to get you out of it, because you are dealing with a being who knows your innermost heart. And I know that that’s a vindictive, petty thought, from a somewhat vindictive and occasionally petty soul. But you know what?
I’ll still have the fucking moral high ground over you.
Credit to whatever genius thought this one up.
Since I’m crossposting this to my blog, I’m deleting prior messages, changing the subject line, and removing names, to protect the innocent. Short version, to catch folks up: There was a discussion of the ideas of social and economic justice, including the value of money, and whether or not it would be better to have the government supply everybody with what they need. I raised the ugly specter of scarcity, which brought about the following claim: Given scarcity, wouldn’t logic dictate that people should receive things they really NEED, like medical care, before people receive things they WANT, like a second mansion or a yacht?
I am now raising the issue that the comparison brought up is not an apples-to-apples comparison, and proposing that we start with one.
You have two people, both of whom have terminal cancer. Treatment is available, but you can only treat one of them due to available supplies (time, expertise, drugs, etc.). As an administrator, with no involvement with either person, which one gets treatment?
And, before you start claiming that the injustices of the system don’t lie in these situations, humor me and follow through the logic of all this before doing so. Which one do you treat? Do you make a value judgment that one of the patients is worth more than the other? If so, what gives you the right to make that choice?
If you offer the treatment yourself, you have the right to say who you’re going to treat, granted. But that’s making yourself into the one who decides what happens to others, on a purely subjective basis.
If you try to treat both of them, then you’re saying that it’s more fair to give out subpar treatment to both (increasing the likelihood that neither survives) than to give proper treatment to one.
An exchange system permits an external deciding factor – Person A can offer more than Person B for the treatment, therefore, Person A gets it.
Now, granted, this assumes they’re offering something you want, but that’s the entire basis behind an exchange economy, and a monetary system (which creates a universal commodity of exchange).
So, we’ve got a system of exchange. Some people have more of what’s of value than other people do. Now… what happens if they have enough to supply all of their needs, while others don’t?
This is where the question of “social and economic justice” comes into play. One school of thought says they’re free to do whatever they want with it – it’s their resources, they’ve gotten them one way or another (even if they inherited them, at some point somebody earned them and started passing them down), and if they want to give some of the resources away to other people, that’s great, but it’s not mandatory. This is typically the “right wing” school of thought – the school of thought, incidentally, that gives the most money to charity, even above and beyond what can be claimed for tax write-offs.
There’s another school of thought that says it’s more fair and just to take the resources of those who have more, and give them back to the people who have less – typically under the logic that either they deserve to have them taken away from them (having been a leech on the system in order to acquire an abundance of resources) or that the people who don’t have the resources deserve to have more (having been unlucky or otherwise, through no fault of their own, come out on the short end of the stick.) This is typically the “left wing” school of thought – the school of thought, incidentally, that gives less money to charity, but supports the government giving other people’s money out as charity.
Those two little incidentals, of course, sound like value judgments – the fact is, that’s what they actually do seem to support in the real world.
The problem with the “left wing” school of thought is this – you’re giving *somebody* the authority to arbitrarily take property away from one group of people, and give it to another. I can come up with several other problems, but ultimately, it boils down to that – what gives Person X the right to say “Person Y doesn’t deserve what they’ve got, Person Z does?”
Because the people who qualify as Person Z outnumber the people who qualify as Person Y?
Because Person Y has too much, while Person Z doesn’t have enough? Again – what gives Person X the right to say that?
If I were to break into Bill Gates’ house, rifle the couch cushions for a few million bucks, and give it all to charity, what have I done? I’ve just committed a burglary. But when the government does it, it’s social and economic justice.
If I were to break into Bernie Madoff’s house, swipe a few objetsd’artes worth a few million, fence them, and give it all to charity, what have I done? I’ve just committed a burglary, even though the person who was robbed was morally reprehensible and himself a lawbreaker.
And yet, when the government does it, it’s social and economic justice.
Why? Because the government knows better than I do, as an individual? I think pretty much everybody here has agreed that the government is vastly corrupt, and corruptible. I don’t see how that’s going to change because the government has begun playing Robin Hood (and what happened under the Soviet system kinda supports this theory.)
I have yet to see anybody justify giving the government the right to take from the rich and give to the poor without falling back on one of two arguments:
1: The ends justify the means. This includes all those little gems like “the good of the many outweighs the good of the few,” and even the very terminology of “social and economic justice” – which basically exists to claim that you’re actually achieving justice, not highway robbery.
2: The rich are Bad People. This includes all those little gems like “the more you take out of society, the more you ought to put back into it” and such.
Now, before the Usual Suspects come in and accuse me of being in favor of a corporate oligarchy for favoring a “right wing” approach to ‘social and economic justice’ – guess what? Both systems support a corporate oligarchy. Again, look at the Soviet system. Look at socialist nations around the world, and the names who are typically in charge of them – you still get corporate masters, they’re just disguised as governments.
Binary thought disorder affects all of this greatly, of course – all right wing folks support X, all left wing folks support Y. This is why I’ve long thought that we need more than one axis – even more than two.
Right now, folks will say we’ve got two axes to choose from – social and fiscal. Hence the view of Libertarians as “social liberals, fiscal conservatives.” Others simply lump them all into one – right vs left. At this point, I’m inclined to say that we’ve got at least 4 axes – social, fiscal, equality, and policy.
The social axis moves from liberal – do as you please – to conservative – you should do X, Y, and Z, but not do A, B, or C – EVER!
The fiscal axis moves from liberal – the government should spend freely, typically using taxes to fund it, in order to accomplish its goals – to conservative – the government should spend a bare minimum of what’s necessary to accomplish its goals properly.
The equality axis starts getting more interesting. It defines how the individual views the people around them. It moves from liberal – all people are inherently equal no matter what, and should not be judged any differently except by their actions, if even those – to conservative – people are not created equal, and should not be considered such.
And the policy axis is where we start seeing real trouble. It defines how much influence the individual believes the government should have. It moves from liberal – the government should make whatever rules or controls are necessary to enforce the rest of the axes – to conservative, which would advocate that the government that governs best governs least.
Personally, I identify myself on these axes as follows: Social liberal, fiscal conservative, equality centrist, and policy conservative (*very* conservative).
I would identify the Republican party as follows – Social conservative, fiscal liberal, equality conservative, policy liberal. The Republican party as it currently exists seems to have been taken over by the folks who would be ID’d as “socially conservative, fiscally liberal” – some of the worst of both worlds, from my line of thought. They firmly believe that there’s one proper way to live, that people should live that way, and that the government should do whatever’s necessary to establish that.
Here’s the interesting problem – so do the Democrats, who I would consider social conservatives, fiscal liberals, equality liberals, and policy liberals. Here’s the thing – the Democratic party doesn’t subscribe to a “live your life, just don’t hurt anybody” school of thought. Rather, they subscribe to a “live your life, as long as you don’t disagree with us” school of thought – the mark of a social conservative. Consider the numerous policies they seek to establish that govern how people live their lives – more stringent environmental standards, limits on what you can use to travel, limits on the rights of people to engage in potentially harmful consensual behavior (smoking, eating the ‘wrong’ foods), the Political Correctness patrol… think about it, folks. If they said “God says you should do all this” instead of “We say you should do all this because It’s the Right Thing to Do,” we’d be calling them a bunch of religious nuts. Just like the extreme right wing.
So we’ve got a government that’s run by a bunch of social conservatives who are fiscally liberal, who believe that the government should do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. The only real difference between them is what those goals are. Of course, most of the people *there* actually have the goal of “being in power as much and as long as possible,” rather than ideological goals, but the ideological goals underlying them are equally scary.
Of course, you could split that whole “equality” axis down a Hell of a lot more – religious, racial, gender, ideological, behavior, just as a short example. But I’m looking at a broad stroke with that one, which is why I put the Dem’s down on the Liberal side of the line (they tend to support equal rights lines – as long as you agree with their social goals).
Now, given all this, perhaps you can see why I can’t really stand either major party. I’m still hoping for the day when folks realize that we’re dealing with dueling fascists – assuming we’re not just dealing with a corrupt ruling class that doesn’t give a shit about how things are run as long as they’re running it – and throw both the batch of bums out.
But that’s all for another day, and roaming rather far from where I was starting things, so I’ll just wrap up here, and be off to enjoy a little time away from the mines.
You’ve gotta love clean and honest politics.
The sad thing is, that’s probably as close as we’ll come for a long, long time.
I work in Madison, WI. Today, on my way home from work, I noticed six dump trucks, empty, parked along the side of the major artery that leads out of the city. As this was causing a little bit of extra congestion, I was wondering what the heck was going on.
Okay, I wasn’t using language that polite, but allow for a *little* poetic license, please? This is a family-friendly post, after all.
Then I remembered the six (six!) police cars parked off the road at the end of the block near my workplace, which is the major route leading from that traffic artery to the capitol.
And the three parked at the entrance/exit ramps to that route. And the indicators of even more parked closer and closer to the capitol.
And then I remembered the folks are work talking about the President coming to give a speech at that capitol building. And it all became perfectly clear!
They figured they’d need the six dump trucks to haul off the bullshit when he was done! It all makes sense!
I keed, I keed… sort of.
Before anybody accuses me of being a Republican stooge, allow me to say that I plan on voting for at least one Democrat in the coming election, assuming he doesn’t say something that royally screws up my respect for him before then. And that’d take a lot, since we’re talking about the respect earned by being the only person who stood up to the PATRIOT Act, something I’ve covered before.
I’ll also probably end up voting for a Republican or two, though I tend to vote Libertarian when I have the chance….
No, not librarian, Libertarian. You know, the people who profess to believe that the Founding Fathers did a pretty good job when they wrote that 10th Amendment thing, and that the government should stay the Hell out of peoples’ lives unless they give the government a reason to get involved, like actively hurting somebody else.
At least that’s my interpretation of the ideology.
Now, back to the topic… Obama’s visit to Wisconsin!
Yeah… I guess he did!
The liberals? They’re not demotivated because they voted for Hope and Change, only to find out that apparently change meant “more state secrets privileges, more wiretaps, the CIA can assassinate US citizens, and expanded Special Rendition privileges,” and that hope meant “hope you don’t notice all of that.”
They’re not demotivated because they gave the Democrats a majority that could pass whatever they wanted with the mere requirement of having to listen to the Republicans bitch until their lungs got sore (and hey, most of them are old – how long could it take?!?) only to see them not stand up for a single significant issue.
They’re not demotivated because they somehow thought that electing a superstar Chicago politician would mean an end to business as usual politics – only to find that Chicago politicians practically taught Washington what business as usual was.
They’re not demotivated because they’ve seen the administration waste its time trying to affect massive changes, only to settle for relatively tiny ones after wasting large amounts of political capital, while ignoring the smaller changes that could lead up to the bigger ones later on.
They’re not demotivated because they’ve seen the world swooning over a man who hasn’t done a danged thing, giving away one of the most prestigious awards out there to that same man for the mere accomplishment of saying he wants to do great things.
They’re not demotivated by being told that the economy’s going to get better – but only if we stop digging our national fiscal grave with a shovel, and start digging it with expensive mining equipment.
They’re demotivated because they wanted too much.
And the Independent voters who made that massive “mandate” possible? They don’t really count, now do they?
Guess what, Dem’s – and Obama in particular – they do count. And they, along with the liberals you count on to make sure you get to keep filling the pork barrels, aren’t deserting you because they expected miracles, and they’re not getting them.
They’re deserting you because they expected things would be different – and they’re seeing that just because you turn the board around, you haven’t changed the game.
Take heart though. There’s at least some chance (one I’m praying for) that this won’t actually benefit the Republicans too much either – because I’m hoping that enough people out there will realize that putting the Repub’s back in power would only be turning the board back around yet again.
Of course, I also realize that that’s the absolute last thing you want to see happen. You’d rather see the House and Senate both go under Republican control than see the rise of the third parties.
Because as long as the same people are always the only ones playing the game, you know that nobody’s going to try and change the goal – lining your pockets and running the nation the way you see fit, Constitutional limits be damned.
As soon as a third, or even a fourth or fifth player starts to be involved, then you start having to worry that maybe somebody’s going to start calling shenanigans when you try to run roughshod over the nation. And they might start getting more popular than you are when the next elections come around.
And then you might have to actually come to terms with the one choice that makes you lay in bed awake at night.
Govern in the nation’s best interests, under the limitations presented in the Constitution, and let people run their own lives?
Or actually have to get a real job?