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Posts Tagged ‘GUNS’

THE GOOD GUN MAKES US WHAT WE ARE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 9, 2018 at 2:07 pm

On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz slaughtered two faculty members and 15 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His weapon of choice: An AR-15 assault rifle, often favored by gun massacre killers.

Eight days later, on February 22, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, attacked those he held responsible for the series of massacres plaguing American schools.

Image result for Images of Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

And it wasn’t crazed gunmen armed with automatic weapons designed for military use. 

With funerals still being planned for some of the victims, LaPierre blamed “the elites,” “saboteurs” and “new European-style socialists” for this and other gun massacres.

He did so at the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

“They hate the NRA, they hate the Second Amendment,” said LaPierre, like an Old Testament prophet addressing his fanatical congregation.

“They hate individual freedom. In the rush of calls for more government, they have also revealed…their true selves.

“The elites do not care about America’s schoolchildren. If they truly cared, they would protect them. For them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue. 

“Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

His C-PAC congregation gave him a wild ovation. 

He then outlined his solution for protecting America’s schoolchildren: Turning schools into virtual concentration camps patrolled by heavily-armed security guards. 

And he accused the Democratic party of being “infested with saboteurs who do not believe in capitalism, do not believe in the Constitution, do not believe in our freedom, and do not believe in America as we know it.”

These “saboteurs” were “new European-style socialists.”

Which was ironic: In 2016, the NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump—who fiercely defends Russian Communist dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, NSA and CIA.

But perhaps the highlight of LaPierre’s speech came at its close: “And there is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive.

“It is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.”

Anyone who’s seen the 1970 sci-fi movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, remembers the final scene: Where seemingly normal underground dwellers strip off their human face masks and reveal themselves to be radiation-scarred mutants.

They wear white robes, and stand silently during a sermon or shout “Amen!” in what is clearly a dark parody of a religious service. It’s immediately clear what they are worshiping: An atomic bomb standing upright.

Image result for Images of bomb worshipers in Beneath the Planet of the Apes

And they pay tribute to the engine of obliteration that has destroyed human civilization and brought about a world ruled by apes.

Their leader, Mendez, chants:

“Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen. 

“His sound has gone out to all lands, and his light unto the end of the world.

“Almighty and everlasting Bomb, who came down among us to make Heaven under Earth. Lighten our darkness. O instrument of God—grant us thy peace!”

Reading Wayne LaPierre’s eulogy to the Gun and his passionate invoking of God, it’s easy to re-imagine his giving a slightly altered version of the sermon offered in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It’s also easy to imagine this taking place during an NRA convention.

WAYNE LAPIERRE: The heavens declare the glory of the Gun. And the body-count showeth His handiwork.

NRA CONGREGATION: His sound is gone out to all lands; and his Light unto the end of the world.

WAYNE LAPIEREE: He descendeth from the outermost part of Heaven; and there is nothing hid from the lead thereof. There is neither speech nor language after His voice is heard among them.

NRA CONGREGATION: Praise Him! Praise Him! My Strength and my Redeemer!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Glory be to the Gun, and to the Holy Bodycount! As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be, massacres without end. Amen!

NRA CHORUS: Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Almighty and everlasting Gun, who came down among us to make Heaven unto Earth. Lighten our darkness with your muzzle flashes. O instrument of God, grant us They peace.

NRA CHOIR: Almighty Gun, who destroyed all men—to create corpses! Behold His glory!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Behold that Truth that abides in us. To reveal that Truth unto that Maker.

WAYNE LAPIERRE AND NRA CONGREGATION:  I reveal my inmost self unto my God.

NRA CHORUS (singing): Unto my God!

NRA CONGREGATION (singing):

All guns bright and beautiful. All creatures dead with lead.

The good Gun makes us what we are!

He takes out eyes to see with, and lips that might yet speak. How great the Gun Almighty, who has made all things dead. Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: May the Blessing of the Gun Almighty and the fellowship of the Holy Bodycount descend on us all, this night and forevermore! 

* * * * * *  

In 2012, a psychotic gunman slaughtered 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, at least 1,862 mass shootings have erupted nationwide,with at least 2,071 killed and 7,852 wounded.

GIVE ME THAT GUN-TIME RELIGION

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on February 27, 2018 at 12:12 am

On February 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz slaughtered two faculty members and 15 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His weapon of choice: An AR-15 assault rifle, often favored by gun massacre killers.

Eight days later, on February 22, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, attacked those he held responsible for the series of massacres plaguing American schools.

Image result for Images of Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

And it wasn’t crazed gunmen armed with automatic weapons designed for military use. 

With funerals still being planned for some of the victims, LaPierre blamed “the elites,” “saboteurs” and “new European-style socialists” for this and other gun massacres.

He did so at the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

“They hate the NRA, they hate the Second Amendment,” said LaPierre, like an Old Testament prophet addressing his fanatical congregation.

“They hate individual freedom. In the rush of calls for more government, they have also revealed…their true selves.

“The elites do not care about America’s schoolchildren. If they truly cared, they would protect them. For them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue. 

“Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

His C-PAC congregation gave him a wild ovation. 

He then outlined his solution for protecting America’s schoolchildren: Turning schools into virtual concentration camps patrolled by heavily-armed security guards. 

And he accused the Democratic party of being “infested with saboteurs who do not believe in capitalism, do not believe in the Constitution, do not believe in our freedom, and do not believe in America as we know it.”

These “saboteurs” were “new European-style socialists.”

Which was ironic: In 2016, the NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump—who fiercely defends Russian Communist dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, NSA and CIA.

But perhaps the highlight of LaPierre’s speech came at its close: “And there is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive.

“It is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.”

Anyone who’s seen the 1970 sci-fi movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, remembers the final scene: Where seemingly normal underground dwellers strip off their human face masks and reveal themselves to be radiation-scarred mutants.

They wear white robes, and stand silently during a sermon or shout “Amen!” in what is clearly a dark parody of a religious service. It’s immediately clear what they are worshiping: An atomic bomb standing upright.

Image result for Images of bomb worshipers in Beneath the Planet of the Apes

And they pay tribute to the engine of obliteration that has destroyed human civilization and brought about a world ruled by apes.

Their leader, Mendez, chants:

“Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen. 

“His sound has gone out to all lands, and his light unto the end of the world.

“Almighty and everlasting Bomb, who came down among us to make Heaven under Earth. Lighten our darkness. O instrument of God—grant us thy peace!”

Reading Wayne LaPierre’s eulogy to the Gun and his passionate invoking of God, it’s easy to re-imagine his giving a slightly altered version of the sermon offered in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It’s also easy to imagine this taking place during an NRA convention.

WAYNE LAPIERRE: The heavens declare the glory of the Gun. And the body-count showeth His handiwork.

NRA CONGREGATION: His sound is gone out to all lands; and his Light unto the end of the world.

WAYNE LAPIEREE: He descendeth from the outermost part of Heaven; and there is nothing hid from the lead thereof. There is neither speech nor language after His voice is heard among them.

NRA CONGREGATION: Praise Him! Praise Him! My Strength and my Reddemer!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Glory be to the Gun, and to the Holy Bodycount! As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be, massacres without end. Amen!

NRA CHORUS: Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Almighty and everlasting Gun, who came down among us to make Heaven unto Earth. Lighten our darkness with your muzzle flashes. O instrument of God, grant us They peace.

NRA CHOIR: Almighty Gun, who destroyed all men—to create corpses! Behold His glory!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Behold that Truth that abides in us. To reveal that Truth unto that Maker.

WAYNE LAPIERRE AND NRA CONGREGATION: I reveal my inmost self unto my God.

NRA CHORUS (singing): Unto my God!

NRA CONGREGATION (singing):

All guns bright and beautiful. All creatures dead with lead.

The good Gun makes us what we are!

He takes out eyes to see with, and lips that might yet speak. How great the Gun Almighty, who has made all things dead. Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: May the Blessing of the Gun Almighty and the fellowship of the Holy Bodycount descend on us all, this night and forevermore! 

* * * * * *  

In 2012, a psychotic gunman slaughtered 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, at least 239 school shootings have erupted nationwide, killing 138 people and wounding 438.

NRA: MOCKED BY ITS OWN CONSTITUENCY

In Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on February 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Gaius Cassius–who has just murdered Caesar–tries to console Mark Antony over the death of his longtime friend.

“Why,” says Cassius, “he that cuts off 20 years of life cuts off so many years of fearing death.”

Cassius’ words might well serve as the motto of the National Rifle Association.

On January 21, Barack Obama delivered his Second Augural Address after once again taking the oath as President of the United States.

The next day, Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, offered his own commentary on that address.

Wayne LaPierre

“President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about ‘unalienable rights.’ I would argue that his words make a mockery of both,” LaPierre said at the annual black-tie Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada.

It could be argued that, shortly before La Pierre’s speech, members of his own constituency made a mockery of the NRA’s efforts to arm every American with a gun–and install armed guards at every school.

On January 20, the  15-year-old son of a New Mexico pastor used an assault rifle to murder his mother, father, two younger sisters and a brother.  He then intended to shoot up a Walmart and cause “mass destruction.”

All that saved those Walmart shoppers from death was his impulsive decision to spend the rest of the day with his 12-year-old girlfriend.

The shooting spree began shortly around 1 a.m. on the day before Obama’s inauguration.  Nehemiah Griego sneaked into his parents’ bedroom while his mother, Sara, was asleep. There he raided the closet where the family kept their guns, and immediately used a .22 rifle to kill her.

His nine-year-old brother was sleeping next to his mother at the time.  When Nehemiah told the boy his mother was dead, the sibling refused to believe it.

So Nehemiah picked up his mother’s head to show the boy the woman’s blood-covered face.  When his brother started crying, Nehemiah shot him, too.

Moving on to the bedroom of his two sisters–ages 2 and 5–Nehemiah found them crying.  So he shot each of them in the head.

Nehemiah waited for his father, Greg, to return home from his overnight shift working at a nearby rescue mission. When this happened around 5 a.m., Nehemiah shot him multiple times with the AR-15 rifle.

Greg Griego was a former church pastor at Calvary Church in Albuquerque, and worked as a chaplain at a local jail where he counseled convicts.

Nehemiah Griego then packed up the .22 and AR-15 rifles and two shotguns, as well as ammunition, and planned to drive to a Walmart to shoot additional people.

But then he called his 12-year-old girlfriend and spent the entire day with her rather than going to the Walmart.

Around 8 p.m. they drove to Calvary Church, and Griego said his family had died in a car crash. Someone on the church’s staff then called 911.

The truth came out soon after during the police interrogation.

During his inaugural address, President Obama said: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Taking issue with this, La Pierre said: “When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti.”

La Pierre’s speech came on the same day that yet another school shooting captured national headlines.

Four people were wounded and hospitalized when a shooting erupted at the North Harris campus of Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.

At first, faculty and students feared that the campus was the target of another armed intruder.  Instead, the rampage was triggered by an argument between two men–at least one of whom was armed.

One of the students, a 23-year-old woman, collapsed in a classroom.  A teacher and a student gave the woman CPR inside the classroom and called 911.

When she regained consciousness, the woman said that fear had overwhelmed her: “I went through this already at Virginia Tech, and I just don’t like this feeling.”

The NRA is a fervent champion of assault weapons–and concealed handgun permits–for everyone who wants them.

During the previous week, President Obama had proposed a series of measures to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre on December 14.  These included:

  • Close background check loopholes for all gun buyers–including those at gun shows.
  • Ban the ownership of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
  • Arm law enforcement with additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crimes–such as imposing tough penalties on gun-traffickers.
  • End the Congressional freeze on gun violence research.
  • Extend mental health services to everyone who needs them.

The Sandy Hook massacre was one of seven mass shootings in the United States in 2012.

Gun violence in the U.S. claimed about 10,987 homicides victims per year from 2007 to 2009, according to the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime.

In 2010, according to the NRA, Americans owned about 270 million firearms.  For a population of about 314 million, that’s more than 85 guns per 100 residents–by far the highest rate of any country in the world.

The only “solution” the NRA offers to reduce gun violence in the United States is to turn the country into a nation of gunslingers.

CURBING EMPLOYER ARROGANCE

In Bureaucracy, Law, Self-Help on August 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

In May, John Chevilott, a public works groundskeeper in Wayne County, Michigan, found a loaded, snub-nosed revolver while mowing grass in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood.

He turned it in to police–and was promptly fired.

Chevilott waited for Detroit police to pick up the gun, but they never showed.  So after he finished mowing the grass, he turned the gun over to officers that same evening.

Police told Chevilott he did the right thing: It had been stolen from a nearby suburb in 2005.

But his superiors at the Wayne County Department of Public Services disagreed.

A Wayne County spokeswoman said that, according to department rules, employees aren’t allowed to possess a weapon on work property.

It didn’t matter that the gun wasn’t his, and that he hadn’t brought it to work.  It also didn’t matter that he had promptly turned it over to police.

After 25 years–just two days short of retirement–Cheviolott was fired for violating department policies.  His foreman, who knew about the incident, was suspended for 30 days.

Chevilott was also charged with insubordination and unauthorized access to the department’s road yard.

The union representing Chevilott, Local 101, has filed a grievance and intends to fight all three charges.

This is clearly a case where “zero tolerance” in practice stems from “zero tolerance” in thinking.  Or from “zero tolerance” in the willingness to distinguish one situation from another.

Consider:

There are rules–keenly enforced by judges at all levels–demanding that civil conduct be maintained at all times in courtrooms.  But there is a huge difference between

  • a crazed, aggressive man who barges into a courtroom and yells at the judge: “Get out!” and
  • a police officer who rushes in and warns: “There’s a gas leak in the building!  Everybody needs to leave–now!”

In the first case, the judge would instantly order the bailiff to arrest the intruder.  In the second case, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything but leaving–and as quickly as possible.

Similarly, we, as a society, make allowances for differences in conduct according to the difference in circumstances.

There is a difference between a psychotic gunman who mows down dozens of helpless people in a movie theater–and a woman who, in her home and guarding her children, shoots a burglar intent on raping her.

But apparently the importance of such differences is lost on the civic officials of Wayne County.

There is also the matter that Chevilott was planning to retire two days before his firing.  In these days when right-wing politicians slander all public workers as needless drains on the taxpayer, the timing of this definitely raises suspicions.

Chevilott had put in 25 years as a groundskeeper.  So it’s easy to imagine how much pension money he would begin receiving upon retirement.

And it’s equally easy to imagine that his superiors thought: “We can save the county thousands of dollars in pension costs–and look good for doing it.”

This is a textbook case for why unions–despite their own occasional excesses in corruption, arrogance and stupidity–remain a necessary protection for employees.

To date–at least, by checking articles on the Internet–Chevilott remains fired.  And as a fired employee, he can’t collect the retirement benefits he clearly had earned.

Clearly there must be a reckoning here.  Not just in this case but in future such cases where it’s obvious that a public employee was simply doing his duty.

Yes, Chevilott and his union should press on with his grievance for wrongful termination.  But he should also file a civil suit for the same offense against the city officials responsible for his firing.

When organizations behave arrogantly and irresponsibly, there is only one way to persuade them to change their behavior.  And that is to hold them accountable–legally and financially.

More than 2,000 years ago, a Roman general named Lucius Cornelius Sulla picked his own epitaph: “No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full.”

There is simply no better philosophy for ensuring that you will be cherished by your supporters and feared by your enemies.

Especially when those enemies lack all sense of decency, fairness and common sense.

MILEY’S SIN

In History, Politics, Social commentary on June 4, 2012 at 12:00 am

Miley Cyrus has outraged the Christian Right by committing the ultimate sin: She believes in physics.

On March 1, the singer/actress posted what hate-filled fundamentalists believe was an anti-Christian tweet.

“Beautiful,” wrote Cyrus, and posted an accompanying photo of physicist Lawrence Krauss.

It wasn’t what 19-year-old Cyrus wrote that enraged the “kill-for-Christ” types.  It was the words–from Krauss–emblazoned against the photo:

EVERY ATOM IN YOUR BODY CAME FROM A STAR THAT EXPLODED.  AND, THE ATOMS IN YOUR LEFT HAND PROBABLY CAME FROM A DIFFERENT STAR THAN THE ATOMS IN YOUR RIGHT HAND.  IT REALLY IS THE MOST POETIC THING I KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE.     

Lawrence Krauss Pic

YOU ARE ALL STARDUST.

YOU COULDN’T BE HERE IF STARS HADN’T EXPLODED, BECAUSE THE ELEMENTS [THE CARBON, HYDROGEN, OXYGEN, ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER FOR EVOLUTION] WEREN’T CREATED AT THE BEGINNING OF TIME, THEY WERE CREATED IN STARS.

SO FORGET JESUS.  STARS DIED SO YOU COULD LIVE.

And, of these words, it was those three–“SO FORGET JESUS”–that roused right-wing Christians to deluge Cyrus’ twitter account with insults and death threats.  Among these:

“So are you no longer a Christian? Forget Jesus??? Seriously? What has happened to you out there in the famous world? What????”

“You seriously believe that crap? It’s so ridiculously stupid. Go to hell.”

Cyrus quickly made it clear she didn’t intend to meekly accept such aggression.  She tweeted:

“U have nothing better 2 do than hate? That saddens me. Im surrounded by love Im sorry 4 whatever happened 2 make u so bitter.

“How can people take the love out of science and bring hate into religion so easily?” she asked and then quoted Albert Einstein: “It makes me sad to think the world is this way. Like Einstein says ‘Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.'”

She has demanded that Twitter police itself against the cyber-bullies who often use its service.

Twitter says that uesrs should just block their harassers.

That ignores the question: If you start getting scores–or hundreds–of insulting and threatening tweets, are you supposed to take the time to block each one?

Twitter says that it will investigate violent threats, but then slops the problem back onto the victim.  According to the Twitter Help Center:

Contact local Law Enforcement or Trusted Individuals: We will investigate reports of violent threats but please remember we are not the police and we cannot actively work with the police to report incidents that you report to us.

“If something has gone beyond the point of a personal conflict and has turned into actual violent threats that you feel are credible, call the police.”

In short, you’re on your own.

All of which raises the question: Why do so many people who claim to be filled with Christian love instantly resort to insults, threats or violence simply because someone has dared to express a different religious opinion?

Could it be that then-Senator Barack Obama was more insightful than many fundamentalist Christians wanted to admit?  It was at an April 6, 2008 San Francisco fundraising event that the Presidential candidate said:

“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them….

So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Of course, if Obama had said this about conditions in the Arab world, millions of these same fundamentalist Christians would have wildly applauded.

Obama took a lot of heat from Christian fundamentalists for his comment.  But it remains true that the anger so many of these people have aimed at Cyrus is out of all proportion to the “damage” inflicted by her single word: “Beautiful.”

She was not

  • preventing anyone from worshipping as s/he pleased;
  • urging the Federal Government to ban religious worship;
  • promoting some other faith–such as Islam–over that of Christianity.

She was merely agreeing with an observation–and an opinion–of an internationally-renowned physicist.

You can agree with her.  Or disagree with her.  Or ignore her completely.

But Cyrus has every right to believe as she wishes.

As do fundamentalists–who believe that a man who died 2,000 years ago is going to magically return from the grave to make everything wonderful.

Clearly, many religious people–of all faiths–desperately need to remember the words of the French philosopher Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

And he warned: “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.”

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