Saturday, August 16, 2014

"But it's OK! He was a thug!"

You've probably heard that there's a little bit of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. It's right outside of St Louis, and there seem to be some unhappy people there.

See, according to eyewitnesses, a cop confronted the teen, then shot him. The details are a little sketchy, but according to eyewitnesses, the cop told the teens to "get the fuck off the street," started to drive off, and then came back, shouting something to the effect of "What'd you say?!?" And then Michael Brown was shot.

Like I said, the details are sketchy, because, obviously, the cop had a different story than the three eyewitnesses. A lot of the people watching this story from a distance were thrilled when the police released video showing somebody who looked kind of like Michael Brown stealing a box of cheap cigars (Swisher Sweets, if you're curious), because, obviously, Brown was a "thug," and the cop was a hero.

(That's something else: why is it that black teens are now "thugs," if they might be linked to any type of crime, even a misdemeanor? I don't see that word applied to a lot of white kids. Is this like people calling Obama "arrogant" for doing his job as president? Since they aren't saying "uppity," that makes it OK, right?)

There's just one problem with that narrative: the cop in question, Darren Wilson, didn't know that Brown was allegedly involved with any crime other than jaywalking. The police chief has admitted it.

So, the question remains: is it OK for the police to shoot unarmed teens, as long as they can tie them to a crime later?

I can't see any way that might be abused.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Number One With a Bullet

The slavering ammosexuals have been making some headlines lately, with their "open carry" protests and mindless claims that "Obama's going to take our guns!" (Despite, you know, the lack of a single gun-control measure to emerge from this administration since he came into office.)

Here's the thing: the NRA-fellators get sweaty and start spewing spittle if you point out that the Holy Second Amendment has an opening clause that's just getting ignored.
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.
A simple grammatical test will tell you that the first half of that sentence defines why the second half exists. You have the right to own guns because the country needs a well-regulated militia.

(If you want context, the Founding Fathers didn't believe in a standing army - they knew that the fledgling country couldn't afford one, and they also believed that having an army around was how tyrants stayed in power. That's why Article 1 of the Constitution limits the army to a 2-year lifespan.
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years
(Weirdly, no such restriction on funding the Navy - our Founding Fathers loved their boats: rum, sodomy and the lash - you know how it is.)

The NRA used to understand this, but that day is gone. The modern NRA is a lobbying group supporting, not the people, but the weapons manufacturers. The only right they support now is the unrestricted sale of firearms, but it wasn't always thus.

The first president of the NRA, back in 1871, was former Gen. Ambrose Burnside (he of the famous facial hair), and he acted as a symbol of the "civilian militia" concept. One of the first actions of the NRA was convincing New York State to build them a firing range to promote marksmanship. Through the decades, the NRA helped various state and federal legislatures write gun control legislation.

In 1938, NRA President Karl T. Frederick (lawyer and Olympic gold-medalist for marksmanship) spoke in support of gun control laws before Congress. "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses."

Now, in the Sixties, there was this thing they called "the Civil Rights movement." Blacks were tired of getting lynched, attacked, and occasionally beaten by the police. They started patrolling the streets on the "black side of town," carrying rifles, as a means of "policing the police." As Malcolm X put it:
I must say this concerning the great controversy over rifles and shotguns. The only thing that I've ever said is that in areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and the property of Negroes, it’s time for Negroes to defend themselves.

Article number two of the constitutional amendments provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun. It is constitutionally legal to own a shotgun or a rifle. This doesn't mean you’re going to get a rifle and form battalions and go out looking for white folks, although you’d be within your rights — I mean, you’d be justified; but that would be illegal and we don’t do anything illegal.
Then, in 1967, in California, the NRA assisted California Assemblyman Don Mulford in writing the "Mulford Act," which would prohibit carrying of loaded firearms in public. While it was being debated, the Black Panthers staged a protest, where they walked into the California State House, openly carrying guns.

That strategy backfired on them just a little, as it ended debate quickly, and the bill (soon to be part of the California penal code) was signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan.

In fact, Reagan, having been reminded that black people were allowed to carry guns too, explained to reporters "There's no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons."

So, apparently, that's what we need. In order to get some sort of reasonable gun control passed, we have to organize and arm brown people. Let's have black people wearing berets, walking the streets with semi-automatic weapons. Let's have armed Muslims outside of mosques, and keeping their neighborhoods safe.

Hell, let's have armed Sikh patrols, too! The beards and turbans already freak some people out.

We'd have the Second Amendment repealed within a month.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

A plague on both your houses

Among the Right Wing Nut Job folks, you have a long-running meme: they take their unquestioning support of the Israeli peoples, invert it, and claim that all liberals hate Israel.

Less clear, of course, is why the Right Wing supports Israel, right or wrong. The evangelical movement has always supported Israel for a number of reasons, but for the rank-and-file conservative, the reasons are less clear.

Personally, and I say this as an open, unabashed lefty, I usually don't have a problem with Israel. They're a small country, literally surrounded by people who want them dead, and they're doing their best in the face of that. They have an army that is second to none, with a long history of coming out on top of any conflict.

But in their current conflict with Hamas, they are dead wrong.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that Hamas is any better. They keep attacking Israeli targets, forcing the Israeli's to respond. And in their position, Israel can't afford to appear weak, so their response may appear unreasonable at times.

Then again, the Israelis have attacked, starved and imprisoned Palestinians, and consistently treated them as less than human. They have taken everything the Palestinians had, and given nothing in exchange. But both sides are wrong. And now Israel is attacking civilian targets and UN facilities. They're killing children.

Both sides have equally-questionable claims to the area: the borders to the area called Palestine was set by the Franco-British boundary agreement of 1920, and the Transjordan memorandum of 1922; the Palestinians indigenous to that region were then displaced after World War II, to make room for the new state of Israel.

Both sides have killed thousands, even millions of people on the other side. The anger on both sides is tenacious and unending, and both sides have made promises that they have later broken. The only chance they have of ever ending the conflict is for the leaders of both sides to come together, and for both sides to give up part of what they want.

It isn't going to happen. And America needs to just stay out of it and let them work it out for themselves. The only outcome I can see from American involvement is a waste of money and American lives.

I say fuck 'em. Let them fend for themselves.