Tag Archives: rights

For Whom There Are Never Enough Bullets

Mourners lay flowers at the site of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Mourners lay flowers at the site of the Sandy Hook shooting.

If there has been one saving grace in terms of the normally toxic political discourse emanating from Washington, it is that during this latest mass shooting tragedy the loud and obnoxious debate was not taken directly to the Sunday morning talk show circuit. Not the one this past weekend, anyhow – there are plenty of Sundays in the future to resume plowing through the mud.

There is reasoning for a lack of obnoxious debate at the has-a-job-as-a-for-real-politician level. Sadly it does not rest on as high of a moral ground as wanting to be above the fray, or preventing a fray from occurring in the first place. It was because – surprisingly enough – no one from the lets-have-more-guns side really wanted to talk about it.

Don’t worry though, the unprofessional are here to save the day.

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Calling All Adults to the Room

Pictured, a Bushmaster M4A3 rifle. The XM-15 variant was used to carry out the Newtown school shooting. The weapon is typically used by police & military in some 60 countries.

Pictured, a Bushmaster M4A3 rifle. The XM-15 variant was used to carry out the Newtown school shooting. The weapon is typically used by police & military in some 60 countries.

“Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

In the abstract, sure. Guns are not living things. They are unable to sprout legs, stand up, walk toward someone, discharge their clip, and kill. It does require a human being to pull the trigger somewhere in there, so clearly the lifeless object in the human’s hand is free from any and all blame. It is from this point of view that our society completely free from security and laws has been birthed – since nothing causes harm to other people other than another human, we have seen our civilization flourish under a centuries-long policy of never regulating anything, ever.

It simply must be that way, because the only alternative would be to admit that firearms stand in a league of their own in how they are discussed and approached compared to most other dangerous aspects of society.

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A Familiar Wound

On Friday 26 were killed, 20 of which were children, in the latest mass shooting in the United States.

On Friday 26 were killed, 20 of which were children, in the latest mass shooting in the United States.

Back here, once again.

Words fail to fully encapsulate the depth of the emotions felt by those directly impacted by the latest mass shooting in the United States, and don’t do much of a better job at describing emotions from those indirectly effected – extending from anyone who is a parent outward to anyone who has a functioning conscience. It is disgusting, yet worth noting, that this was the seventh mass shooting in the United States in the year 2012. That’s an average of one mass shooting per every 1.7 months.

The most asked question is also the shortest and the one least fully answered: Why? Answers of any length will never go far enough to put at ease the hurt of inconsolable family members of the deceased, and hardly ever put a stunned national discourse at ease. Time and time again the headlines, sadness, and sorrow are merely swept to the side within days as the next Big Story enters the 24-hour media cycle.

Ignored with the lack of concrete answers to simple questions also lay questions surrounding remediation and prevention: how do you make the odds of such an occurrence decrease? What is the lowest frequency society can move mass shootings to? Is one-per-1.7 months really the best we can do? Is it one per year? One every few years? How much of heaven and Earth should be moved to save dozens in a country with a population over three-hundred million? Answer that last question to determine the true current health of society.

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Colorado Voters Decide to Tackle the Modern Prohibition

Colorado voters approved an aggressive marijuana decriminalization bill on election day. (Photo: flickr.com / Ian Sane)

Colorado voters approved an aggressive marijuana decriminalization bill on election day. (Photo: flickr.com / Ian Sane)

On election night, the voters of Colorado made a choice to pursue the most aggressive marijuana legalization policy in the history of the modern United States. By a vote of 54.92 – 45.08, Colorado could wind up with a more lenient marijuana policy than The Netherlands, “coffee shops” and all. The new standard pushed for is quite succinctly summed up by one of the leading groups behind the pro-legalization movement: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Considering movements toward medical marijuana have been crushed by the federal government in recent years, most notably in California, the question because exactly what – if anything – can possibly change, and will this really make a difference in the months and years to come.

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Bold Political Statement Made by Consumption of Fried Chicken Product

The latest battle in the culture wars is being led by conservative all-stars such as Sarah Palin, seen here as she... wait... she's buying Chick-fil-A? We're really talking about Chick-fil-A? My god what are we doing here? Help us. Somebody help us.

The latest battle in the culture wars is being led by conservative all-stars such as Sarah Palin, seen here as she… wait… she’s buying Chick-fil-A? We’re really talking about Chick-fil-A? My god what are we doing here? Help us. Somebody help us.

Long we have strained, stretched, looked, and scoured for this day. This time. This moment. High and low – very, very low – have we searched for the zeitgeist of our day and age. We’ve stretched our minds in anonymous commenting sections on every media web site in existence. We’ve pushed our boundaries with choosing the type of facts we want our news to give us. Now dawns that great and glorious day where the plain folks of the land have reached their heart’s desire: politics dumbed down as far as it can possibly go.

Yesterday tens of thousands of people across the country showed their support for marriage inequality by… ordering take-out from a fast food restaurant.

Chicken sandwich lovers who oppose gay marriage have turned out in force to support Chick-fil-A, the restaurant chain whose chief executive has made headlines for his antipathy toward same-sex marriage. Photographs show long lines at outlets around the country.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came up with the idea for today’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, moved by the calls of gay marriage supporters for a boycott after the company’s president, Dan Cathy, told a Christian publication recently that his company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Thank god the rest of the world is watching the Olympics right now.
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For Some Reason The Voting Rights Act Is Being Challenged In Court

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For some reason 47 years later there's still some who don't think this matter is quite settled.

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For some reason 47 years later there’s still some who don’t think this matter is quite settled.

With a blatant disregard for the year we are all currently living in, the 1965 Voting Rights Act seems destined on a path toward the Supreme Court. The state of Texas is bringing the challenge to the 47 year old law that had to spell out voting rights for minorities very clearly and in terms everyone could understand, since the message was apparently missed by the slightly older 15th Amendment (1870). Texas will be challenging the law in 25 hours of arguments set to transpire over the course of this week at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Their rationale for fighting this case was the March striking down of a passed law from 2011 in that state which required all persons intending to vote in an election to present photographic identification before being allowed to vote.

The Obama Administration challenged the Texas law on the grounds that it was unfair to minority voters – which it is. It’s not unfair to just the minority voters of course, but anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements of having a drivers license, state ID, or passport on hand – so one can also add in elderly people and students to the broad based groups of individuals potentially effected by this law. While the elderly would tend to lean more conservative, nearly every other group of people effected by this law would tend to vote and lean left – which highlights the political perversion of voters rights and, by extension, the originally very bipartisan Voting Rights Act.

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SCOTUS Rules 5 – 4 In Favor of Strip Searches For Any Reason

Albert Florence & his attorney Susan Chana Lask. Mr. Florence lost an appeal to the supreme court arguing his 4th Amendment rights were being violated over two forced strip searches relating to a traffic stop for an unpaid ticket.

Albert Florence & his attorney Susan Chana Lask. Mr. Florence lost an appeal to the supreme court arguing his 4th Amendment rights were being violated over two forced strip searches relating to a traffic stop for an unpaid ticket.

In another controversial 5 – 4 ruling by perhaps one of the most conservative Supreme Courts in modern history, it was decided that anyone picked up by the police and taken to jail for a booking could undergo an invasive strip search for any reason deemed necessary by the local authorities – regardless if the original offence was of a violent nature or not.

The case was brought forth by New Jersey resident Albert Florence, who is the unfortunate victim of some bad paperwork. At the beginning of the last decade, Mr. Florence was charged a fine for fleeing a traffic stop. He paid the fine in full, but that was never quite documented correctly by the state of New Jersey. Having his plates ran and being subjected to multiple traffic stops since, Mr. Florence carried documentation on his person indicating that the fine was paid in full. This did not help him in a March 2005 traffic stop. Mr. Florence was pulled over again and whisked away to jail, leaving his pregnant wife and four-year-old daughter behind with the vehicle. The official documentation meant nothing to the state trooper.

Mr. Florence was taken to the county jail in Burlington County, where he was strip searched. He was held without charge for the next six days before being transferred to another jail in the city of Newark, where he was strip searched again. After another day without charge, a judge released him.

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In the name of national security, we must touch you there

If anyone else got to touch you like this when unwanted, it would count as molestation.  This?  This is for your safety.

If anyone else got to touch you like this when unwanted, it would count as molestation. This? This is for your safety.

Starting in the beginning of November of this year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began carrying out a new policy for screening travelers at airports nationwide.  These have included two potentially privacy-breaching screening methods: backskatter x-ray machines that can see through your clothing and provide some rather interesting, if blurred, naked pictures of you and your family, and – should you choose to skip the mostly-nude photography – “enhanced patdowns”.

The colors of the government don’t really matter much, their twisting of language is what really is awe-inspiring over time.  There was never any torture, it was enhanced interrogations.  There is no assault, sexual abuse, or other infringements on citizens’ privacy, there are enhanced patdowns.  While the former took place in dark rooms well out of the view of the American people, the latter is happening right now, very publicly, out in the open for everyone to see.  Security theater is on display.  It’s an interactive experience, and it’s going to touch you.

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Leaders of the world check in, freedom to protest checks out

A protesting calling card left in a shattered window in downtown Toronto

A protesting calling card left in a shattered window in downtown Toronto

Saturday was a less than shining moment for the country of Canada and, specifically, the city of Toronto.  Toronto is the site of the current G20 meeting of nations, where leaders of the 20 largest economic engines around the world gather to talk about the economy and how to maintain the comfortable sort of life that capitalism has earned us.  Well that was before the 2008 economic crisis, now the meetings probably more closely resemble real-time disaster planning that may or may not be working.  In any event, Toronto “won” the honor of hosting the summit – a reward I put in quotations because inevitably in seemingly every one of these summits, protesters show up and damage is done to local businesses – not to mention the increased costs of security.  Canada is footing a nearly $1bn (USD) bill for this exercise in economic kumbaya.

Old fashioned dollars-and-cents issues aside with the cost, another cost to seriously consider is – as it is seemingly everywhere that real important people show up to – two things are destined to happen: small groups of very angry protesters will break things, and for the vast majority of peaceful protesters will inevitably suffer an infringement on their freedom of speech – in order to prevent the violence that is going to happen either way.

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Bad: Your PR efforts are more successful than your actual disaster response

We all will.

We all will.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to rage under the Gulf of Mexico’s waters, with every effort that BP has made to stem the flow of the leak seemingly either failing miserably or falling far short of self-set expectations.  The media coverage of this disaster has been relentless and ongoing – as it should be.  Typically when “gulf” and “disaster” are mentioned in the same sentence, a hurricane has just struck somewhere.  In some extraordinarily twisted sense, a hurricane would probably be better than what is happening to the Gulf right now.  At least when a hurricane strikes there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The coverage dies out over time because the initial disaster is over, the phases of work being done transfer to recovery and rebuild, and time marches on.

While the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will too have a beginning, a middle, and an end, the sad truth that we may not even be half way through the initial disaster – the spilling of the oil – warrants the coverage given, and the coverage that will continue to be given to it – even if it brings down a political party in elections to come this fall.

An interesting trend is also being exposed by the increased coverage, though: media blackouts.  Apparently BP has the ability to usurp the laws of a country it isn’t even based in, and can do so with an all too small amount of backlash.  It’s all a part of the only successful campaign they seem to be waging as of late – a PR war.

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