bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’

LIES TOLD BY BULLIES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on November 15, 2018 at 12:03 am

Ernest Hemingway was right: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.” 

Thus:

  • “The Holocaust never happened.” 
  • “The Sandy Hook massacre never happened.” 
  • “The MAGAbomber is a Democrat who’s mailing letter-bombs to make Republicans look bad.” 

These are among the lies regularly hurled by “lunatic fringe” Right-wingers—and, more importantly, “mainstream” Republicans.

Many liberals—such as those who regularly take to Facebook—believe Right-wingers simply lack correct information.

According to this viewpoint: If only Right-wingers knew the truth about such matters as:

  • The millions slaughtered during the Holocaust;
  • The horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School; and
  • The pro-Trump motives of the MAGAbomber

they would be telling the truth.

There are two motives behind such blatant lying—and mere ignorance is not one of them. 

Motive #1: Right-wingers don’t want to admit the truth about events most people instinctively believe are evil.

Right-wingers intuitively know that shoving huge numbers of naked men, women and children into gas chambers is the arch-example of evil. And so is spraying scores of bullets into scores of helpless men, women and children in churches, nightclubs and schools.

They know they can’t convince decent people that such atrocities are really acts of humanity. So it’s easier (for them) to simply deny that they actually happened.

The tobacco industry paved the way for such arguments. 

The Tobacco Institute—a trade association created in 1958 to pose as a “smoking research” center—cast doubt on scientific studies linking smoking with lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease.

Tobacco Institute ad

Its premise: “We really don’t know if smoking causes cancer. We need more studies to make certain.”

And, for the Tobacco Institute, there could never be enough studies to prove that smoking was a thoroughly deadly habit—that reaped billions of dollars every year for the tobacco industry.

Motive #2: Right-wingers claim Right-wing atrocities didn’t happen to put the victims of such atrocities on the defensive.

This, too, was a major aim of the tobacco industry. By constantly demanding “Prove to us that smoking is deadly” and then arrogantly dismissing all evidence put forward, tobacco executives put the onus on their opponents.

Thus, after the MAGAbomber was arrested and his van was found plastered with pro-Trump stickers, Right-wingers reflexively seized on a series of lies to “cleanse” themselves.

Lies such as: 

  • “He’s a liberal put up to it by other liberals.”
  • “The bombs were fake, to stir up sympathy for liberals before the November elections.”  

Consider:

  • Right-wing talk-show host Rush Limbaugh: “Would it make a lot of sense for a Democrat operative or Democrat-inculcated lunatic to do it? Because things are not working out the way they thought.”
  • Right-wing propagandist Dinesh D’Souza: “I hear the FBI squeezed lemon juice on the suspicious packages and a very faint lettering revealed a single word: DEMOCRATS.”

Totally ignored was the truth that Cesar Sayoc had mailed pipe-bombs to 10 prominent Democrats—including two former Presidents and a former First Lady. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray—a Trump appointee after the firing of James Comey in May, 2017—publicly stated that the bombs were real: “Though we’re still analyzing these devices in our laboratory, these were not hoax devices.”

Chris Wray official photo.jpg

Christopher Wray

So how did Right-wingers react to Wray’s no-nonsense rebuttal of Right-wing conspiracy lies?

With more lies.

They attacked the FBI as part of the “deep state” determined to thwart and, if possible, impeach Donald Trump.

According to one Rightist theory: The FBI made the bombs and sent them out to implicate some poor Trump supporter—if not the President himself.

Fortunately, there is at least a partial solution to such lies: Lawsuits based on the truth.

On August 1, 2018, families of four students and two educators who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre filed a defamation lawsuit against Right-wing broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones,

Jones hosts The Alex Jones Show from Austin, Texas. He had claimed the mass shooting was fake.  

Twenty children and six adults were killed in the December 14, 2012, attack by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. 

On his program in January, 2015, he said: “Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.”

Alex Jones Portrait (cropped).jpg

Alex Jones

Michael Zimmermann [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Jones has also accused the U.S. government of faking the 1969 moon landing footage and planning the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11 attacks.

According to the complaint: 

“The Jones defendants concoct elaborate and false paranoia-tinged conspiracy theories because it moves product and they make money. Not because they truly believe what they are saying, but rather because it increases profits.” 

Thus, a reasonable person would understand that Jones meant the massacre was staged and the deaths were fabricated.

So how did Jones respond to the lawsuit?  

With more lies.

“This is all out of context….And it’s not even what I said or my intent,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the real defects of this, I’m going to wait until it’s thrown out with prejudice.”

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.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S SAVIOR: THE NRA

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on December 7, 2015 at 12:26 am

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

As it usually does after a mass shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) remained silent for a few days.

Then on December 18, its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence. In doing so, he offered his suggestion for preventing further tragedies perpetrated by heavily armed criminals.

Speaking at an NRA press conference, LaPierre said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

“Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or a minute away?”

Wayne LaPierre by Gage Skidmore 2 (cropped).jpg

Wayne LaPierre

And LaPierre demanded that armed guards be placed in every school in the United States:

“Politicians pass laws for gun-free school zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them, and in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

“We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers.

“Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family–our children–we as a society leave them everyday utterly defenseless.

“And the monsters and the predators of the world know it and exploit it.”

Without knowing it, Wayne LaPierre came up with a solution to the history of attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics.

Between 1973, when the Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout the United States, and 2003, abortion providers were targeted for more than 300 acts of extreme violence, including arson, bombings, murders and butyric acid attacks.

The National Abortion Federation documents more than 176,000 instances of picketing at clinics (and nearly 34,000 arrests) since 1977. More than 16,000 hate mail or harassing phone calls, over 1,500 acts of vandalism and 400 death threats have been aimed at clinics.

The latest of these attacks came on November 27, at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. An anti-abortionist shot and killed a police officer and two civilians.  An additional five police officers and four civilians were injured.

The arrested suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, mentioned “baby parts” as his reason for the attack. During questioning by police, Dear expressed anti-abortion and anti-government views, a police source told CNN.

Image result for Images of Robert Lewis Dear

Robert Lewis Dear, Jr.

Those on the Left were outraged at this latest attack on the reproductive rights of women.  But those on the Right offered no sympathy for the victims–or women who sought out medical care at Planned Parenthood clinics.

Colorado state Rep. JoAnn Windholz issued a statement blaming Planned Parenthood for the attack:

“The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves.

Joann Windholz.jpg

Rep. JoAnn Windholz 

“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. [Italics added.]

“Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”

Planned Parenthood offers reproductive health care, sex education to women and men and, at some clinics, abortions.

Since Planned Parenthood can’t expect help from Republican lawmakers, perhaps it’s time for its officials to consider the advice of Niccolo Machiavelli.

“For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible,” he writes in Chapter 14 of The Prince, his primer on gaining political power.

“Because there is no comparison whatever between an armed and a disarmed man. It is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed….”

In short: Planned Parenthood should begin training its personnel in the use of automatic firearms.  And widely advertising the fate that awaits future terrorist attackers.

This would send an unmistakable message to future would-be terrorists: We will no longer be passive victims to your violent fanaticism.  Attack us–and die.

By doing so, Planned Parenthood would be following the example set by New York City after 9/11.

In 1993, Islamic terrorists unsuccessfully bombed the World Trade Center.  Six people were killed and 1,042 others were injured during escape attempts.

Eight years later, on September 11, 2001, they launched their second–and this time successful–attack on the Center, killing 2,977 New Yorkers.

On both occasions, New Yorkers had expected the Federal Government to protect them. After 9/11, the NYPD decided it could no longer rely on the FBI and CIA for protection.

The NYPD greatly expanded the ranks of its Counterterrorism Division. More than 600 officers and operatives both stateside and worldwide now stood guard over New York City.

Since 9/11, New York has not faced a similar terrorist attack.

Finally, an Aesop’s fable serves up a lesson known long ago–but repeatedly ignored by the idealistic but ineffectual Left:

A snake was stepped on by so many people that, one day, he prayed to Zeus for help. And Zeus replied: “If you had bitten the first person who stepped on you, the second would have thought twice about it.”  

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.

THREE VIEWS OF AN OUTRAGE: GOOD, BAD AND UGLY – PART TWO (END)

In History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on December 27, 2012 at 1:09 am

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee had a ready explanation for the slaughter of 20 six- and -seven-year-old schoolchildren and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Speaking on Fox News, Huckabee said: “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools.  Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

This was not the first time Huckabee blamed the victims of violence rather than the National Rifle Association–which has struggled mightily to arm even hardened criminals and the mentally ill with high-powered weaponry.

Last July, immediately following the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, Huckabee offered the same explanation for a rampage that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

Appearing on the right-wing TV show, “Fox and Friends,” he said:

“We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem.

“And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised…when all hell breaks loose.”

This totally overlooked such truths as:

  • The United States is an overwhelmingly Christian nation, with 91% of Americans saying they believe in God.
  • Long before the Supreme Court outlawed compulsory prayer in public schools in 1962, American society was filled with mindless violence.
  • Merely claiming affinity with Christianity doesn’t guarantee pacifism: The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition were carried out by order of the highest officials of the Catholic Church.
  • Being a non-Christian doesn’t guarantee peace with one’s neighbors: The Middle East is peopled by warring Muslims and Jews who both claim a divine right to “the Holy Land.”

Stung by criticism for the insensitivity of his blame-the-victim mentality in the Sandy Hook slaughter, Huckabee tried to “clarify” his remarks.

Once again appearing on Fox News–the preferred network of American fascists–Huckabee said:

“I’m not suggesting by any stretch that if we had prayer in schools regularly as we once did that this wouldn’t have happened, because you can’t have that kind of cause and effect.  

“But we’ve created an atmosphere in this country where the only time you want to invoke God’s name is after the tragedy.”

In short: If we just prayed more, these sorts of outrages wouldn’t happen.

Addressing an enthusiastic audience at the NRA’s annual convention in 2011, Huckabee said:  “I stand here tonight as a gun-clinger and a God-clinger … unapologetically!”

For a self-proclaimed “pro-lifer” who bitterly opposes abortion, Huckabee didn’t fault the NRA for championing

  • “cop-killer” bullets which pierce bulletproof vests;
  • “concealed weapons” clothing for anyone–criminals included–who wants to buy them; or
  • “stand-your-ground” laws which give every citizen a 007 license to kill.

President Barack Obama’s reaction to the Sandy Hook slaughter was that of a father empathizing with the loss of other parents.

Huckabee’s reaction was that of a gun lobbyist seeking a way to avoid criticizing those who make high-capacity weaponry available to even the mentally ill.

The reaction of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) can best be described as the pornography of hate and bullying.

On December 15–one day after the slaughter–its spokeswoman, Shirley Phelps-Roper, tweeted that the group would protest the vigil in Newtown, Conn., to “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

The “church’ claims that “God hates fags” and “same-sex marriage is the doom of this evil nation.”

Its website states:

“WBC has suffered unrelieved reproach for warning you.

“Now, we will happily assist in the administration of the universal outpouring of God’s wrath, which shall imminently commence with the brightness of His coming.”

The “church” has picketed the funerals of Armed Services members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It celebrates each death as proof of God’s wrath on a nation that tolerates homosexuality.

To combat these outrages, Congress passed a bill on August 2, 2012 that restricted demonstrations at military funerals. Demonstrators are not allowed to picket from two hours before the funeral service until two hours after, and must stay at least 300 feet away from grieving family members.

After WBC tweeted that it would protest the funerals in Newtown, it got a new enemy: The hacktivist group, Anonymous.

“We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred,” the group warned in a video posted to the Internet. “We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social factions which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”

So take your choice:

  • The mature, sympathetic parent approach of President Obama.
  • The blame-the-victim approach of Mike Huckabee.
  • The America-deserves-to-grieve-because-it-tolerates-fags approach of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Just remember this truth: “Tell me whom you admire, and I will tell you who you are.”

THREE VIEWS OF AN OUTRAGE: GOOD, BAD AND UGLY – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on December 26, 2012 at 12:06 am

“Tell me who you admire,” goes the saying, “and I will tell you who you are.”

And the views of those we admire have a big impact on our own attitudes.

On December 14, Adam Lanza, a mentally deranged 20-year-old, murdered his own mother, Nancy, with her own .22 Marlin rifle, as she slept in bed.

Then, using his mother’s car, he drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Wearing black military-style gear, including a bulletproof vest and mask, he began a rampage of killing with his mother’s seni-automatic Bushmaster MX-15.

Firing between 50 and 100 rounds, he slaughtered 20 schoolchildren–eight boys and 12 girls, between six and seven years old.  His victims included six adults–all women who worked at the school.

Among these were the principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach.

Then, as police rushed to the school, Lanza shot  himself in the head.

The next day, December 15, President Barack Obama gave his weekly radio address.  The United States stood on the edge of “the fiscal cliff,” with Republicans and Democrats locked in combat over raising taxes on the rich.

But there could be only one subject for the President’s address that day.

He delivered his remarks in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named for the former press secretary to President Ronald Reagan who was shot and critically wounded during an attempt on the then-president’s life in 1981:

“On Friday, we learned that more than two dozen people were killed when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Most of those who died were just young children with their whole lives ahead of them.  And every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.

“Among the fallen were also teachers – men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

“So our hearts are broken today.  We grieve for the families of those we lost.  And we keep in our prayers the parents of those who survived. 

“Because as blessed as they are to have their children home, they know that their child’s innocence has been torn away far too early.

“As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years.  An elementary school in Newtown.  A shopping mall in Oregon. 

“A house of worship in Wisconsin.  A movie theater in Colorado.  Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

“Any of these neighborhoods could be our own.  So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.

“This weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing – holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.

“There are families in Connecticut who can’t do that today.  And they need all of us now.

“Because while nothing can take the place of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need – to remind them that we are there for them; that we are praying for them; and that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their own memories, but also in their community, and their country.”

Although famous for keeping his cool, on this occasion, Obama teared up several times and had to pause, so clearly affected was he by the carnage of this latest national tragedy.

Without false histrionics or trying to guess at the motives of the killer, Obama spoke simply and directly to the hearts of the families and friends of the murdered victims.

But Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and failed Presidential candidate, had a far different view of the massacre–and what lay behind it.

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

“We’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability — that we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment.  

“If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”

He said those suffering from a crisis from faith should look to God in the community’s response to the violence.

But he added that “Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.”

In short, a score of six- and seven-year-olds had somehow brought this carnage onto themselves.  And so had those six unarmed adults who had tried to shield them from death.

HOW TO CURB FUTURE GUN OUTRAGES

In History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on December 25, 2012 at 12:16 am

The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

–Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968

Senator Robert F. Kennedy announcing the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can the friends and relatives of those 20 children and six adults massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School seek justice for those they loved?

First, don’t count on politicians to support a ban on assault weapons.

Politicians–with rare exceptions–have only two goals:

  1. Get elected to office, and
  2. Stay in office.

And too many of them fear the economic and voting clout of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to risk its wrath.

On July 22–only two days after the Century 16 Theater slaughter in Aurora, Colorado–U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said: “The fact of the matter is there are 30-round magazines that are just common all over the place.

“You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm.  And when you try and do it, you restrict our freedom.”

That presumably includes the freedom of would-be mass murderers to carry out their fantasies.

Second, those who survived the massacre–and the relatives and friends of those who didn’t–should file wrongful death, class-action lawsuits against the NRA.

There is sound, legal precedent for this.

  • For decades, the American tobacco industry peddled death and disability to millions and reaped billions of dollars in profits.
  • The industry vigorously claimed there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer, heart disease, emphysema or any other ailment.

  • Tobacco companies spent billions on slick advertising campaigns to win new smokers and attack medical warnings about the dangers of smoking.
  • Tobacco companies spent millions to elect compliant politicians and block anti-smoking legislation.
  • From 1954 to 1994, over 800 private lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies in state courts. But only two plaintiffs prevailed, and both of those decisions were reversed on appeal.
  • In 1994, amidst great pessimism, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore filed a lawsuit against the tobacco industry.  But other states soon followed, ultimately growing to 46.
  • Their goal: To seek monetary, equitable and injunctive relief under various consumer-protection and anti-trust laws.
  • The theory underlying these lawsuits was: Cigarettes produced by the tobacco industry created health problems among the population, which badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.
  • In 1998, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related, health-care costs.  In return, they exempted the companies from private lawsuits for tobacco-related injuries.
  • The companies agreed to curtail or cease certain marketing practices.  They also agreed to pay, forever, annual payments to the states to compensate some of the medical costs for patients with smoking-related illnesses.

The parallels with the NRA are obvious:

  • For decades, the NRA has peddled deadly weapons to millions, reaped billions of dollars in profits and refused to admit the carnage those weapons have produced: “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”  With guns.

  • The NRA has bitterly fought background checks on gun-buyers, in effect granting even criminals and the mentally ill the right to own arsenals of death-dealing weaponry.
  • The NRA has spent millions on slick advertising campaigns to win new members and frighten them into buying guns.

  • The NRA has spent millions on political contributions to block gun-control legislation.
  • The NRA has spent millions attacking political candidates and elected officials who warned about the dangers of unrestricted access to assault and/or concealed weapons.

  • The NRA has spent millions pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws in more than half the states, which potentially give every citizen a “license to kill.”
  • The NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through its point-of-sale Round-Up Program–thus directly profiting by selling a product that kills about 30,288 people a year.

  • Firearms made indiscriminately available through NRA lobbying have filled hospitals–such as those in Newtown–with casualties, and have thus badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.

It will take a series of highly expensive and well-publicized lawsuits to significantly weaken the NRA, financially and politically.

The first ones will have to be brought by the surviving victims of gun violence–and by the friends and families of those who did not survive it.  Only they will have the courage and motivation to take such a risk.

As with the cases first brought against tobacco companies, there will be losses.  And the NRA will rejoice with each one.

But, in time, state Attorneys General will see the clear parallels between lawsuits filed against those who peddle death by cigarette and those who peddle death by armor-piercing bullet.

And then the NRA–like the tobacco industry–will face an adversary wealthy enough to stand up for the rights of the gun industry’s own victims.

Only then will those politicians supporting reasonable gun controls dare to stand up for the victims of such needless tragedies as the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

%d bloggers like this: