Tuesday, March 26, 2013
So once again, our country is wrapped up in another nationwide debate all stemming from the religious right. As the proposal for gay marriage (no pun intended) hits the Supreme Court today, cities across America have taken to the streets. Voices on both sides are finding microphones to express their thoughts to an eager crowd. They all wait for the decision from the court, and in my opinion, they all know the answer to this obvious civil rights case.
In my mind, there is no stopping it. It is basic civil equality. I’ve heard the argument against it where politicians or religious organizations repeat the statement that they believe that “Traditional marriage should be between a man and a woman”. There are several things that strike me about that statement.
First, it is an obvious cover statement to hide the fact that those people simply do not like or approve of homosexuals. It is the same mentality that children use on the playground. They change the rules for people they don’t like. I’m not sure why no one has publicly called them out for that once those words are uttered, but it seems that we are in a political culture where we give more rights and understanding to those who do not live in reality. I am breaking subject matter a little bit by referring to those same organizations and politicians who push for “Creationism”, but the principle is the same. We as a society are starting to adopt the mentality that people have the right to believe unjustly. Unfortunately, that right has started to drag the lives of everyone else in that society to their incorrect and outdated dogma.
If you’ve read previous articles, you know that I think anyone should believe what they want to believe, as long as it doesn't cause harm to anyone else. The founding fathers established a country supposedly free of religion and here in our modern day, the issues getting the most time and attention are the ones that right wing religious conservatives find to be important. Our country is being highjacked by those who disregard the First Amendment.
The factions against gay marriage are strictly religious. It has nothing to do with civics or biology. Let’s face it; marriage has really no establishment in love or personal feelings. Weddings from the beginning have always been a legal contract between families and the state. They were set up by the head of the house hold and the "bride and groom" had no say at all. It was America that led the charge to add emotion and love into that ceremony. And we did that by change. And the whole point of the US Constitution from the founding fathers point of view, was to make room for things they had not thought of. They were to allow to society to evolve into a place that they could not conceive. It is that spirit that makes marriage more than just a signature at the county clerk’s office. It seems strange that we would want to limit what love and emotion private citizens can bring to their own marriage, and who each can choose. And if we are all equal in the eyes of the law then, it is a simple to me: those who hide behind the words "marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman", reveals a lack of understanding of the principles of the Constitution and a lack of respect for the equality of people.
Moreover, the word “traditional” strikes me odd in this context. “Traditional” is a funny word when it comes to politics and government, things that traditionally follow what the people demand and grow with how each generation evolves. We as a species were not born into democracy, it developed over time. And traditionally, those things that people prioritize, understand, and ultimately care about have constantly changed. I mean, traditionally in this country we drank tea. But we drink coffee now because we broke from tea when we broke from the British back in those revolutionary days. Traditionally, the only property owners were White men, and we know what civil struggles it took to grow out of that. Now our traditional breakfast drink is coffee. At some point we can say “traditionally, all kinds of people can vote” (we’re still working on that one, apparently). And I hope very soon we will say, “Traditional marriage is between any two people in love”. Or even better, we wont have to qualify it to acknowledge that people are different than us.
Monday, February 11, 2013
If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of hearing about the second amendment and what the founding fathers must have meant by putting it in the Constitution. When it was written, the power of the gun was the most powerful force one man could posses to conquer or defend. They envisioned a world where the peaceful public could protect themselves and their free state from oppressive forces.
Many people believe that our government now is that oppressive force. They are shouting so loud and with such tunnel vision that they have become an oppressive force themselves. There is talk of all kinds, discussing the reasons why we should take a second look at our Second Amendment. There are violent voices speaking out against our government using the Second Amendment as fodder for their rhetoric. But the founding fathers left a whole constitution in which we should design this free state. The Second Amendment is there for the average citizens to have the right to militia and protect it. I ask: What good is the Second Amendment when we scrap all the rest.
After the many gun related deaths and tragedies that have befallen our nation in the recent months, many things have been blamed. There was research done about violent movies and video games. We talk of drug wars and race wars in the middle of this recessed economy, which members of congress are doing nothing to fix. I have heard all sorts of moderate to extreme proposals for gun control solutions, for which the opposing side always says, “That will do no good”. So we do nothing.
Another thing I’ve heard over and over is that “we need to get back to God” or some rhetoric of that nature. People are pushing for prayer in schools and to establish this as a Christian nation. Now, this goes against exactly why the First Amendment was written. The founding fathers, though religious in their own right, were completely unwavering when it came to their thoughts on religion and a free state. It was clear that the church and the state should be separate and not influence each other. But in response to this Second Amendment argument, many have been overlooking that separation. They claim that it is our state’s break with religion that has caused this social downturn.
Well, I have a different argument. Again, we had no problem jumping in head first with the violent movies and video game angle of which the research proves that that is not the answer. Conservatives looked for nations that subscribe to the same social norms as we do and draw a line signifying how they also kill each other. But that wasn’t the case. America stood out as the violent one, and all the pundits and politicians scratched their heads while pandering to their bases. After making excuses to keep funding from education and well-needed social programs, no one can figure out what makes our nation so violent. Many looked at everything they disagreed with and tried to write a narrative that fits, in hopes of abolishing that aspect of our culture. However, there is one aspect that does tie us to all the extremely violent nations on this Earth. That aspect is Religious Fanaticism. No matter what religion you are talking about, it is the fanatics that make it spoil.
I have no problem with a person’s faith. Whatever someone needs to pull meaning out of life or make their day more positive and rewarding is their business. I don’t care what book it comes from. But it is that fanaticism that creates the problem. Once it interferes with the affairs of the free state, it becomes a cancer that never goes away. People stand behind our constitution when the things they like are being threatened, but they have no sense of irony when they want to trample the constitution to fulfill their individual beliefs. That way of acting is selfish and just plain wrong. It also demonstrates a profane understanding of faith and morality. In our nation, “God” has been the go to argument as if it held a history of peace and understanding in the hands of man. The products of religious fanaticism throughout history have always been fear, segregation, and violence. But never once was Religious Fanaticism on trial here in the US. Many stand by it and want to strengthen it. Many want to push further and establish this country as a Christian nation. According to the constitution we have already gone too far. Our government has handicapped itself making laws respecting the establishment of religion. The public is suffering and at war with themselves. Our Nation is going through an identity crisis on many issues balancing faith versus ethics. Some of the biggest topics that we fight about, such as Abortion and Gay rights are simple church and state issues in which religious fanatics use the government to the point of being unconstitutional. Day by day, we are identifying ourselves more with the fanatics we are at war with and less with the pure drive that started this great nation. It is destroying us from the inside. So, instead of sacrificing our country to protect the Second Amendment, we should save our country by protecting the First.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
There’s been much to do about Gayle Trotter’s testimony to the senate about women and AR-15 rifles. She asserted that women need AR-15 rifles because that was one of the only way’s women could feel safe, protecting their families. That breeds all sorts of complicated discussions that I would not assume any direction. As a man in this modern day, I have heard women argue the most ridiculous cases to get what they want and I have always been in the wrong, somehow. So, I will do my best not to comment on how women should think, act, or feel.
In this case, it seems clear that the NRA is using anything they can to gain an angle on the gun discussion going on in Washington. So here they are using women. As this woman, Gayle Trotter speaks ‘for all women everywhere’, it seems that her stance is that women are different from men. They do not posses the upper body strength that men genetically have, and that hand-to-hand confrontation would favor the man. She then tells a lengthy story about a real woman defending her family in her home while two assailants broke in. She concludes with the assertion that an AR-15 is the safest thing for a woman to protect her family. The senator’s response was pointing out that the woman in the story, Sarah McKinley used a shotgun to defend her home, a weapon that would not be affected by the proposed legislation. Gayle Trotter did not recall this detail of the case, which remains the only detail of pertinence in the entire story. However, her conclusion remained the same.
This argument all comes out along with the decision to allow women to serve in combat units in our military. I am not sure if the NRA has voiced an opinion on that topic, but in war-time combat, when men and women who each posses AR-15 rifles or other military weapons, are we to assume that the NRA’s perspective would believe women to be at a disadvantage?
That aside, Gayle Trotter’s testimony leads me to believe that the NRA is using women in any way to get their agenda passed. The politics of politics these days is so disgusting. There is little respect shone to any and all demographics of people one way or another. We denounce any viewpoint and therefore the person with that viewpoint if it is not our own. As for the congressmen who conduct these hearings, America is showing less and less respect for these divisive tactics, but that doesn’t stop them from continually voting those very players into powerful positions that make our laws and influence our companies and people and pay them a salary until death. It is quite a phenomenon. And so it continues with these people holding this hearing with groups who clearly have an agenda and will say anything to make it happen. And, like always, it’s done all in the pursuit of making money.
Again, after hearing Ms. Trotter’s testimony, I only had one reaction. This is also my suggestion to the NRA for their next argument. March another woman down to the capitol and go further. Why not state that women are such terrible shots and that their aim requires the thirty bullets found in the contested magazines. (I mean, women know their magazines.) State that a woman who only has ten bullets needs those extra shots to prove affective. Worry not against the inevitable argument asking the destinations of all those strays that were the necessary byproduct of a woman defending her home. Surely there's a fix to the 29 stray bullets all for the sake of killing a man with that final one. Maybe we should all have bulletproof walls and windows, too? I mean, that’s the only reasonable solution, right? Somebody has to sell that stuff! Guns may kill people, but they create jobs.
Friday, December 21, 2012
I just watched the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, make his address to the nation. After a week of heart wrenching coverage of a most heinous act, there was much speculation of what the NRA statement would be. He was very careful in his choice of words. Now, I don’t agree with everything he said, nor I did not find everything he said to be outlandish or insulting to the families or victims of this tragedy. What I was more concerned with was the coverage afterwards. Let me start by saying, I am pretty liberal. I have some conservative notions, but on the whole, I live a very liberal life and I don’t like to assign arbitrary rules to ever changing and evolving situations. There may always be new solutions to the same problem. With that said, it will be tough to appear objective, but (excuse the wordplay) that is the objective. I think it is fairly understood that FOX “news” is biased and often lives in a world of fantasy. Many people accuse MSNBC of the same infractions, just for the other side. Now, I do think there is some truth to that, but on the whole, I believe they are trying to discuss issues and not attempt to enforce a personal paradigm. That is, until the coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. It feels like much of the rhetoric and talking points are on the arbitrary rules and definitions that, I believe, will not make much of a difference at all. Instead of solutions, it is a level of semantics that assumes what the audience wants to hear, and the bounds of the argument are made on those assumptions. The only one that has merit, and has not been given its rightful shot, is the care we give to the mentally ill, but we’ll come back to that one.
Most of the back and forth is about the varying definitions of what is an “Assault Weapon”. There’s talk of military style, high capacity clips, flash suppressors, and a whole range of rifle accessories in an attempt to do something. Now, many people have been fighting this battle for years and decades even, and I don’t want to get caught up in a personal preference argument. I just want to deal with logistics for the moment. I personally don’t believe that any future regulations will vastly differentiate consumers’ guns with those of the military or law enforcement. Ultimately, that is the heart of the second amendment. It does not exist so anyone can own whatever crazy weapon they choose to own. It exists to make sure there is no huge separation between a potentially oppressive government and the militias that people in the community must be forced to build. So, I don’t see a gun ban getting to that point. The next elective on the table is the High Capacity Magazines. Right now, there are standard magazines that hold up to 30 rounds and others that can hold 100. In California, for instance, the state max is 10. But when we are talking about a civilian community where there is no equal opposition, like the case in Newtown, the time a person would need to change 10 round magazines would be negligible. We’re talking a 2 second delay. However, in a warzone or a shoot out with police (like the ones that happen in California) that 2 seconds may make a difference in the apprehension or suppression of said madman. But in the case that is being discussed at great length, it would have made no difference. It is talking points like this one that confuse and muddle the argument. There is so much time spent talking about these minute details and not enough weight given to actual solutions.
Going back, one of those solutions is how we as a society deal with our fellow human beings, more specifically the mentally ill. There are children growing up in communities all over America with no access to proper care. These children have the potential to grow up and become one of these deranged adults that we all look at after a tragedy like this and say, “if we had only…” But here we are living in a country that cannot make decisions. For the past two years, we have watched our government argue over spending money on our people or giving tax cuts to the rich. My entire life has been filled with the observation that schools, local governments, public institutions, medical facilities, police and fire departments have all had shrinking budgets every year. Each organization has to do more with less. This is something we are all watching happen. We are not funding any of the institutions adequately enough to do their jobs. And when each of these does their job well, America can grow stronger and better and more efficient. But that is not what is happening. Each of them is struggling just to get by. Much of the work is swept under the cracks despite all the hard work and dedication by the people involved. Since the Republicans at the moment do not want to spend any money on the people of America (how ever it may be defined), where do we as a country think it’s going to come from?
So the CEO of the NRA gives his speech and the people at MSNBC react like FOX “news” does when creating their narrative. There were several things that Wayne LaPierre stated in his address. One was the fact that we do protect our money, our investments, and other things we deem to have value, with armed guards. I am not suggesting we arm the teachers or even fill schools with firearms. But that is an interesting point. He was talking about trained professionals. My only question would be, do we fund those professionals from the underfunded police departments or the underfunded schools? Because, after watching this congress for so long, it is clear we are not going to fund either of those institutions any more than they have. In all likelihood, we will probably cut funding in future years. Another was a suggestion about violent video games, a subject that I have done a lot of work on and will have to address that at a later date. In short, the entertainment that kids are exposed to is a product of their household. If the mind in question is not stable enough for such exposure, I believe it is the parents’ responsibility to monitor such activities. If it becomes a serious concern for that individual and/or beyond the capacity of his parents, I again fall back on the lack concern for social workers and mental facilities and education in our society. Sometimes people need help and it’s just that simple. Unfortunately, MSNBC heard him say we should “arm the teachers”. I have heard that argument on the 24-hour news cycles for days now, but Mr. LaPierre did not mention that at all. The News coverage from the left seemed to work in their talking point just as easily and as falsely as FOX does with it’s regular programming. This was concerning, due to the fact that we all do want a solution to this menacing problem and rhetoric like that is more aimed at a high horse rather than a solution.
After all that, I began to wonder why the NRA is affiliated so much with the right wing. It seems the NRA should be a huge Democratic sponsor. It seems that they are invested in the same interests. For the last two years, the Republican Party has been fighting in every way possible to cut social programs to preserve the tax rate for the super rich. History has shown that the right wing is willing and consistently chooses to cut the budget for the Department of Education to supplement any other program, many of which do not need that extra money. So why isn’t the NRA supporting Democratic initiatives to raise the taxes and preserve our spending on institutions? They should be doing one better and proposing even more spending for the future well being of our country. They have been billed as the most powerful lobby organization in the country. There is no actual threat of the second amendment disappearing, yet rhetoric from Wayne LaPierre, himself accuses high ranking members of this administration as “trying to destroy the Second Amendment”. Much of that debate just boils down to fear, ego, and assumptions. More to the point it has to do with protecting people’s interests, i.e. Money. Guns and the gun lobby business are quite lucrative, and to paraphrase LaPierre’s speech, shouldn’t we protect our children like we protect our money? The first step to protecting our children, unfortunately, is a long road. I know we all want answers now and to fix things now, but much like the rest of our country, it is an investment. It is an investment that we never have to cash in. It grows and matures and manifests its return as a better, more productive society. It is a prescription that we must fill regularly in anticipation of the future. We have to decide as a country if we are going to continue to spend ridiculous sums on war and never devote a fraction of that to our children’s futures. We have to decide if we are going to teach fact or what’s popular. The children of the future are an investment, one that must come from somewhere. And if we aren’t willing to sacrifice the profits from our businesses, we must be willing to sacrifice our children.
“…And that’s the Word”