Tag Archives: guns

NY-27 Candidate O’Donnell: S.C.O.P.E. is a Conservative Party Front

27 Oct

Budd Shroeder is the head of “Shooters Committee on Political Education“. SCOPE is chartered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit issues advocacy organization. It states in its own “about” statement

While SCOPE role is focused primarily on the political process, it is an issues oriented organization.  It does not align itself with any political party nor does it endorse any candidates for elective office.  Our function is to counter assaults on the right of firearms ownership.  This entails providing legislators and executives with timely and accurate information to support sound decisions.

The notion that SCOPE is not aligned with any political party is utter and unadulterated nonsense. Here is what Congressional candidate for NY-27 JimO’Donnell – a pro-gun, anti-SAFE Act – Democrat found out, and has to say about SCOPE (emphases added): 

The Truth About S.C.O.P.E.’s Chairman:

Today a neighbor brought me SCOPE’s ratings and asked why it listed me as a B and my opponent was given an A+. After all, my opponent was “accidently” a founding member of one of the groups that helped write the SAFE Act, and I, unlike him, am one of the citizens who actually owns one of the guns made illegal. You would think on those facts alone, I would get an A and he would get an F. So why the discrepancy?

A few weeks ago Budd Schroeder, chairman of SCOPE came up to me and introduced himself. He came up to me on his own, and introduced himself and asked me not to be too hard on my opponent. “He may have made some mistakes, but you don’t want to dwell on them. Just be civil.” I had always planned on being civil, but I thought it was odd that the head of SCOPE would be asking this of me. A few days later, Budd introduced me to a SCOPE gathering as “a candidate for NY State Senate.” This was after he introduced my opponent as a close friend, whose son Budd taught to shoot his first gun.

Never mind Collins being “snookered” into being a founding member of a group that supported the SAFE Act, he has done absolutely nothing legislatively to promote 2nd Amendment rights. I, on the other hand, have written and shared with SCOPE legislation that would help their cause. So why give him a better grade than me? Because Budd is more interested in helping his friends than repealing the SAFE Act.

That’s not where it ends. I have been saying all along that the only way to repeal the SAFE Act in NY is to show all of the democrats who are opposed to it, which from going around this district, is a huge number. I brought this up to Budd and said he should try to reach out to those Democrats, this was his response:

“I have friends who are Democrats. Some close friends. I am a registered Conservative and like having friends on both sides of the aisle. I am also on the Executive Board of the Erie County Conservative Party. Been a Second Amendment activist for almost a half century. Some habits are hard to break and I don’t want to break this one. Thanks for checking in.
Budd”

By this comment, it is clear that Budd does not want to repeal the SAFE Act. It is the single greatest fundraiser for the Conservative Party ever. Budd doesn’t want that to end. I have sat through a few SCOPE meetings, unlike my opponent who received a higher grade than me, and during it I witnessed Budd and others offer flat screen TV’s to the groups who registered the most new people as Conservatives. That is the only goal Budd has, growing the Conservative Party and thereby growing his influence.

People opposed to the SAFE Act: Stop supporting this man – he is wasting your money.

Thanks for checking in.
Jim

I don’t even get what Schroeder’s response to O’Donnell is supposed to mean. Which “habit” is hard to break? Being a Conservative Fusion Party Shill?

The issue isn’t whether Schroeder showed undue and improper favoritism to Chris Collins. That’s pretty typical for a conservative front group, to prefer the Republican candidate over the Demonrat. Even nominal Democrats who are really Paladino Republicans like Johnny Destino have been the victims of SCOPE anti-Democrat animus.  SCOPE decided to “downgrade” Destino’s score because people supporting him are in favor of gun control. That’s simply pathological

In the meantime, SCOPE seems to have listened to O’Donnell and upgraded him from a B to an A, but Collins gets an A+. I mean, based on what, except party affiliation or Conservative Fusion Party endorsement? It’s all nonsense. For instance, in 2012, Brian Higgins received an A+ rating from SCOPE.  This year, he gets an F and Weppner Clownshoes gets an A+.  Ballotpedia says that Higgins supports an “absolute right to gun ownership”. That gets an F? 

What I want to hear more about is the TV giveaways for Conservative Fusion recruitment at SCOPE meetings. If true, it would likely be a clear and absolute violation of the group’s 501(c)(4) mandate to be a non-partisan issues advocacy group. As for the SAFE Act being a great fundraising tool for the Conservatives, well, of course it is. 

I sent a message to Mr. Schroeder asking him for his reaction, and received no reply. 

What Do We Do?

11 Jun

Some lunatic shot up a school in Oregon Tuesday. It was only the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook

Two right-wing eliminationist Infowars listeners shot two cops in Nevada.  The cops were oppressing everyone by eating lunch, and the Alex Jones acolytes covered their bodies with Gadsen flags, screaming about the revolution. 

Some rancher out in Nevada won’t pay his bill to the government for the privilege of having his cattle graze on land held in the public trust. A bunch of Alex Jones types weren’t going to let the federal government essentially stop this man from being a deadbeat. 

A company is going to sell bullet proof blankets for kids to use during school shootings. Because ours is totally not a third world country and this is totally not a banana republic in which we live.  

All the freaks who scream about how the “other” (fill in your own blank for that one) are dragging real America down don’t realize that they have it backwards. It’s not illegal immigrants or Obamacare or black welfare queens or gays or N0bummer himself who are turning this country into a third world backwater.

Instead, I’d argue that our creeping third world status is brought about by the people who believe lawless wild west gunslingin’ justice should act as a template for contemporary society. It’s the notion that a “good guy with a gun” – and they sure as shit don’t mean a cop – is the only thing that stands between you and a “bad guy with a gun”. The cops in Nevada – they were armed. A shooter in Washington State – he was subdued with pepper spray. While he was reloading (remember how the NY SAFE Act limits magazine capacity?) 

But the best we can do is to throw a kevlar blanket to a kid and say, “play dead?” 

Let’s just cut through the bullshit. An armed society isn’t a polite society; an armed society is a dysfunctional, failed state.

Oh, but SWITZERLAND!!1 Right? 

Right. Switzerland

Let’s pretend for a moment that a comparison with Switzerland is apples to apples. Let’s make-believe that the libertarians don’t really mean Somalia when they’re describing their dream governmental structure. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in Switzerland. I have family who lives there. Switzerland is an officially quadrilingual confederation with better schools, better social services, better foreign policy ideas, better medical care, better access to medical care, and excels at just about anything it touches. Switzerland is a wealthy and law-abiding first world functional state. Less than 8% of Swiss live below the poverty line – in the US it’s 15%. Unemployment in this country with a private health insurance mandate is 2.9% – in the US it’s 6%. The Swiss have this whole “functioning society” thing down pat. They do share our mistrust of foreigners and immigrants, however. 

The Swiss are armed, because they have what we call a well-regulated militia. And the Swiss know from regulation. 

And they own their extremely well-regulated guns to protect their country – not to overthrow their Cantonal or federal governments because some asshole on the radio decided there’s tyranny afoot. 

If Sandy Hook didn’t convince you that we have a serious problem, or if the almost weekly spate of mass shootings didn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.  Instead, we have a bunch of guys carrying semiautomatic rifles into Target and Starbucks, because arglebargle. 

Maybe the $100 billion annual cost to taxpayers from gun violence will convince you, if nothing else. 

Will stricter gun laws make a difference? I don’t know. 50-state uniformity would be nice. Expanded background checks would be swell. 

What about expansion of mental health services – that’s the one the gun people like to highlight.  Ok, folks. I’ll go for that. But you realize you have to pay for it. You have to set it up right, run it properly, and fund it adequately. Given the ease with which Obamacare was passed and implemented, please don’t insult my intelligence by pointing to “mental health treatment” as the answer because you know and I know that you don’t want to pay for it. 

How about legislation that allows, say, the families of the slain Las Vegas cops to sue Alex Jones and his corporate empire into bankruptcy? Oh, I’d love to see guys who yell “fire!” in the most crowded of lunatic theaters every single day have to pay for the natural results of their incitement. 

What do we do? 

I don’t know. 

But what I do know is – whatever we’re doing isn’t working. 

Kathy Weppner’s Clownshoes : Now With Guns and Corn!

30 May

As we learned yesterday, Kathy Weppner’s online campaigning is as haphazard as it is opaque. Not content with scrubbing all evidence of her radio show and pre-2014 online existence from the internet, Weppner posted – and removed – her rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ 2nd Amendment video from her husband’s YouTube account – all within the span of about 16 hours. (Her YouTube accounts are here, here, and here.) 

She also now boasts two separate Twitter accounts – @kweppner and @weppner4ny26. She recently added the latter, in a likely move to try to counteract the blistering parody account of @kathyweppnerny26. Both of Weppner’s Twitter accounts have blocked me because “Str8 Talk”. 

It’s just getting to that tipping point where funny turns into crazy. This campaign is unlike any other I’ve seen since moving to western New York 13 years ago, and that includes Paul Fallon announcing his congressional run in the nude.

Weppner isn’t joking. She’s serious, and that’s what makes it so bizarre. 

To underscore the completely unprofessional embarrassment that the Weppner campaign has become, consider that the Tweets reproduced below remained online at least 6 hours after she scrubbed the video itself, and as of Friday morning, the @weppner4ny26 Tweets were still touting a non-existent YouTube link. 

This is “Common Core Kathy“, so concerned about how the evil gubmint and how the N0bummer goons are ruining not only America, but childhood itself. “Amendmet“. 

 

I don’t think the 2nd Amendment covers the country’s right to bear arms, but the people’s” right to bear arms – and that’s precisely the sort of distinction people like Kathy would make if a dirty librul made that same error. People like Kathy also now conveniently pretend that the “well-regulated militia” piece is just a throwaway, and make-believe that the 2nd Amendment was set up to let people overthrow the duly constituted representative democratic republic, rather than to protect it. 

She Tweets it again: 

Wait for it…

The video itself, posted to YouTube within hours of a madman taking his guns out for a spree, was absolute artistry. As with all of Weppner’s YouTube offerings, the lighting was horrible, the sound echoed, and the read was wooden – as if someone had told her to take it slowly because she usually comes across as unhinged. The emotionless stuffing of the pistol in her pants then led to painfully awkward camera angle changes. Many of you likened it to an SNL skit. 

Weppner only appears in front of friendly audiences. She can’t take the heat on Twitter, she can’t take the heat on Facebook, and so far she hasn’t been seen anywhere except on YouTube (when not immediately scrubbed), and in front of Republican audiences – Republican audiences that, if serious, should be completely embarrassed by her. 

They tolerate it, though, because she is the right’s unfiltered id. The Republicans know they have no shot against Higgins whatsoever, so they let Weppner run a self-funded hobby campaign on her own. What she does is placate the Palinist tea party wing of the party and gives them something to do this summer. 

At least they’re taking an interest in the environment, since Kathy has made the Lake Erie algae blooms a campaign issue. Never mind that the blooms are due to phosphorous fertilizer runoff, septic tank leaks, dog feces, and storm drains. The phosphorus comes into Lake Erie almost exclusively from Ohio’s Maumee River. The solution is for Ohio to urge its farmers to switch to a different fertilizer, or to more carefully apply existing ones. But somehow, Weppner blames Brian Higgins because corn is used to make ethanol, which is added to most gasoline blends. What Weppner ignores is the fact that just about every report also blames weather patterns and overall climate change for the algal blooms

Researchers are now closing in on what caused the spike in dissolved phosphorous. “What we found is that it is a combination of agricultural practices that have been put in place since the late 1980s and into the 2000s, combined with increased storms, particularly higher intensity spring rain events,” Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, told Circle of Blue. Scavia is the principal investigator of the EcoFore Lake Erie project.

According to models used in the EcoFore project, climate changes alone would not be enough to create the observed rise in dissolved reactive phosphorous. Instead, the models showed that current weather patterns, when coupled with agricultural conditions in the 1970s, did not create a problem.

“We reversed the order of the years in the model and we did not get a big influx of DRP,” Scavia said. “So it’s not the storms alone, but rather a combination of storms and new agricultural practices. At least, that’s what the model shows.”

Changes in agricultural practices include:
• A shift toward more fall fertilizer applications instead of spring applications.
• The use of broadcast fertilizer applications that do not incorporate fertilizer into the soil.
• An increase in no-till field management that leads to a build-up of phosphorus in the top layers of soil.

I think someone told Weppner that the waterfront is Higgins’ strongest issue, and that she should try to attack that first. But the “report” she posts can only be described as an unreadable piece of nonsense that seems more at home in an online bulletin board than a campaign website. For his part, Congressman Higgins has been working to protect Lake Erie as far back as the time when Weppner’s radio show archive was still online. More here and here and here and here

I’m somewhat at a loss to explain how a Congressman from New York is responsible for corn growing in Ohio for ethanol, but I’m sure Kathy will post a video about it and then promptly scrub it!

2nd Amendment and Kathy Weppner

29 May

According to the silly lady, the founders of our country supposedly included the 2nd Amendment so that our servicemen and women could keep their arms and use them to commit treason and insurrection. 

I’m pretty sure the intended purpose of the 2nd Amendment was the exact opposite of that. But here’s a chillingly awful video that Tea Party Kathy released on her husband’s YouTube account. My favorite is when she stuffs the pistol in her pants. 

UPDATE: As you can see, Weppner removed this video. I looked at her other accounts – Friends of Kathy Weppner and Weppner for Congress, and it doesn’t appear there, either. Most of her videos appear on an account labeled “Dr. Weppner”

Weppner has already made herself famous by scrubbing just about any trace of her pre-2014 existence from the internet. Now, the scrubbing takes place in real time. 

Guns and Fun Unter dem Totenkopf

6 May

Waffen und Spaß!

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Shown above are three images from Assemblyman David DiPietro’s (R-Gunhug) recent gunapalooza fundraiser. A supporter posted them to Twitter, and they seem to have been taken during the “free gun” portion of the event.

Note the skull & crossbones – the Totenkopf – behind DiPietro.  Reading “2nd Amendment 1789 America’s Original Homeland Security”, that flag is as ugly and ominous, and makes believe we still live in a postrevolutionary frontier. Our original homeland security was made up of state militias, well-regulated.

It must be so horrible to live a life so perpetually in fear of imminent danger and violence that you feel the need to arm yourself to the teeth, and then tell people it’s all about “sportsmen”.  Then, when Cuomo says a sportsman doesn’t need 10 bullets to kill a deer, you mock that. Because it’s isn’t about sportsmen or target shooting or hunting, it’s about protecting yourself from Obummer and Hitlery Klintoon and il Duce Cuomo.

I don’t have a problem with legitimate sportsmen or people who want to keep a gun in their home for protection. I do have a problem with the paranoid freaks who demand the right to own an arsenal so they can kill all the people. I have a problem with nuts like the guy in Minnesota who, sick of break-ins, sat in the dark, with tarps at the ready, to shoot and kill the next people to do so. Now, he only used one gun that he purportedly kept in his house for “protection”. If you listen to the nauseating audio of the actual double murder, towards the end he gives a speech.  In it, he regurgitates all the NRA propaganda he can muster. You get a window into what it’s like when the gun lobby takes a legitimate self-defense right and turns it into a license to murder.

Thankfully, the prosecutors and the jurors saw through this and convicted this ignorant monster of murder. As a society, we’re trying to make it more difficult for unhinged lunatics to commit mass-murder. We’re trying to make it more difficult for the criminals and the insane to obtain, own, and possess firearms and ammunition. I frankly don’t understand why the DiPietroite gun nuts and the gun lobby are standing in the way of those goals.

 

Mincing Upper East Siders for DiPietro

1 May

Western New York’s most hilarious Assemblyman, the dry cleaner-turned Fredo-turned Obamaphobe tea party Assemblyman David DiPietro, is going to be holding a fundraiser in the wilds of East Aurora, and there’ll be a gun raffle, to boot.

Donald Trump and wife Melania Trump

Upper East Side man with Consort, Mincing in Tuxedo

Because nothing says “re-elect my homophobic Assemblyman” more than the ability to fondle a long, hard shaft.  To touch it; caress it and wonder what sort of explosive wonders it might be capable of.  There will also be chicken and booze. Possibly a 50/50, and an exponentially increased risk of catastrophic injury.

When the Buffalo News asked DiPietro to comment, he mouth-shat:

I know this fundraiser raises a few Upper East Side eyebrows, but I represent rural Western New York. Here, we don’t mince around in tuxedos. We hunt and fish so why not? We didn’t know when we came up with the idea but this turns out to be a really fun event

So, playbook. It’s rural “real America” versus the pointy-headed tuxedoed wealthy on the Upper East Side. Urban liberals. Jews. Blacks. You know – other. No word yet on whether there will be any Freudian therapists on hand to assist what will likely be predominately white male attendees with their palpable subconscious castration anxiety.

Let’s backtrack for just a second and recall that DiPietro spent about a month massaging Trump’s prostate recruiting Donald Trump to run for Governor. Donald Trump – a rich blowhard who wears tuxedoes and lives on New York’s Upper East Side.  Trump is a notorious tack merchant who has yet to prove that he is not the offspring of an Orangutan.

But this whole sportsman meme that DiPietro has concocted for himself is somewhat enchanting.  Go to his campaign webpage and the only issue to which he’s devoted more than just a picture caption is guns. Gun rights, gun raffle, gun this, gun that. Everything else is given less than a complete sentence.

The reason, of course, is that as a Republican member of the Assembly, DiPietro is paid about $80,000 in state money, plus a pension if he makes it 10 years in the system, sweet benefits,  a $9,000 stipend as “ranking member of the small business committee”, a staff, and a travel per diem, to do nothing except pontificate about guns. Because of Albany’s antidemocratic structural dysfunction, DiPietro’s presence in Albany is reduced to that of loudmouthed seatcover.

(But you’ll never, ever see all those Republicans who rail against public sector employees and their unions bitch and moan about worthless GOP Assembly members making 100 large per year to drive to Albany and park their cars. Now ask your Republican Assemblysitter whether they’ve done anything to, e.g., promote the reforms set forth a decade ago by NYU’s Brennan Center. Then tell me what the crickets sound like.)

David DiPietro is an Italian-American dry cleaner from the tony Buffalo suburb of East Aurora – home to the Roycrofters and Fisher-Price. He’s not some outdoorsman hero who gets to pretend like he’s any more or less a real American than anyone else.

Even tuxedo-mincing Upper East Side alleged-billionaire elitist Donald Trump.

Guns, Mental Health, and Fascism

11 Apr

1. If you went on the Facebook to try and politicize the stabbing of kids in Pennsylvania, using it as a springboard for a “debate” about gun control,  implicitly mocking and defaming the 20 1st grader victims of Sandy Hook – you’re doing everything wrong. 

One of the goals of gun control advocates is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill; like kids who go on stabbing sprees or shooting sprees.  There’s a big difference between the two – in Pennsylvania, no one died. 

2. Many people are calling for better mental health services in this country in the wake of the Pennsylvania stabbing, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Fort Hood shooting. That would be fantastic – oftentimes the first thing that state and municipal governments cut and shrink to balance their budgets are the very costly mental health services offered to people who desperately need – yet can’t afford – them. When services are cut and facilities closed, where do you think they go? How do you think they function in society? The mentally ill are, furthermore, often uniquely unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves, their medical needs, and their rights. 

I think it’s a great goal for society to better serve our most vulnerable. It’s sort of the point of programs like SNAP and WIC, and mental health services need to be taken more seriously.  Of course, this costs money. So, let’s agree to expand mental health services while simultaneously not complaining about the cost of doing so, or denigrating the mentally ill recipients of these services because we resent them receiving them. 

Furthermore, mental health services should be available to anyone who needs them, on demand and for life. The best way to accomplish this is to expand mental health coverage throughout the health insurance spectrum. 

3. At Fort Hood, a troubled soldier shot three people and injured 16 others. The right wing – locally led by the increasingly shrill and dangerous operations director at WBEN (see below) – has recommended that soldiers at the facility be allowed to carry sidearms at all times to protect themselves against a deranged shooter. Is that a good way to run a society – by encouraging shootouts? Have we not progressed at all since the post-civil war frontier times? These men and women have signed up to serve our country. We can’t trust our servicemen and women to not shoot at each other? Nowhere is 100% safe all of the time, and it’s ridiculous to live your life waiting to fend off an attack. Everybody’s Chuck Norris, all of a sudden. Just relax. You don’t need a gun all the time. 

4. Kathy Weppner changed her campaign website yesterday and touted it on Facebook and Twitter. It looks like a 12 year old was let loose on a Livejournal account. Weppner is going to run against Obamacare, which is interesting since it’s expanded health insurance so that the number of uninsured is at its lowest point in years. It’s also interesting since more people with health insurance means more patients for her husband to treat. 

The next report will be on the economy, jobs and Obamacare job loss. This landmark legislation has been changed 40 times. The chaos, uncertainty and cost of this massive piece of legislation and last minute changes has resulted in thousands of job cuts, reduction in fulltime employment, and employer fear of hiring.  The cumulative impact of Obamacare, on top of the highest corporate taxes in the world, and constant Washington interference is devastating to our small business job creators.  Obamacare, as it impacts the medical care you receive, will appear as a separate report.  

And you thought she was just a benign kook. She has no idea what she’s talking about, and is simply vomiting up Fox News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. 

5. Back to that Operations Manager at WBEN. Regard: 

That protester didn’t do a damn thing to those Marines. He didn’t attack them or disrespect them (an upside-down flag is a distress signal, (36 USC §176(a)), not a sign of disrespect to the flag or to those who fight under her). Furthermore, whatever that protester was doing is protected political speech. What that Marine did to the protester is simple assault & battery; also, larceny. Robbery, possibly. That sort of intimidation and assault of someone with whom you disagree is straight up fascism. 

I haven’t received a reply to this yet: 

Shane Kinney’s NRA Shirt and Your Rights

15 Mar

A public school cannot stop a kid from wearing this

The Bill of Rights in our Constitution – it’s easy to cherry-pick the parts of it you want to defend. It’s also easy to see who cherry-picks what. 

Western New Yorkers have tested the First Amendment on two occasions in the past few weeks. I highlighted one of them already – the efforts of a handful of people in the Clarence community to censor books, censor parts of the curriculum, and demagogue the disease prevention unit of the sex education curriculum. The other is Shane Kinney’s NRA t-shirt on Grand Island

Kinney was asked to remove a “Protected by Smith & Wesson” sweatshirt, and then to turn a pro-NRA t-shirt inside-out. The school apparently gave Kinney a suspension when he refused to do so. 

I don’t like the gun lobby, and I don’t like guns. I detest the gun culture in all of its incarnations. I don’t like Freudian allusions whereby one extols the virtue of self-protection with killing machines and their long, cold, hard shafts. As point of fact, I hate guns. 

That doesn’t mean Shane Kinney’s rights to free speech should be infringed. 

Eugene Volokh explains that at least one federal circuit has declared school prohibitions on shirts that display guns. The issue is a tricky one for schools. A school is a government entity, but it deals almost exclusively with minors. A school is well within its rights, for instance, to censor a child’s clothing if it, for instance, glorifies or promotes violence, drugs, alcohol, or some other inappropriate or harmful behavior. When it comes to guns, the Constitution is invoked, and it’s a matter of degrees. 

An NRA t-shirt that quotes an excerpt from the 2nd Amendment is completely acceptable in all aspects. There is nothing objectively controversial about it, regardless of whether or not you like guns. The issue in cases such as Kinney’s revolves around the depiction of actual firearms. Here, you run into an analysis that requires you to parse the definitions of terms like “disruption” and “violence”.  A picture of two crossed rifles is not a big deal. On the other hand, a t-shirt depicting, say, a trenchcoated figure using an assault rifle to shoot a schoolkid in the head would be patently objectionable. 

But if you look at the Grand Island school district’s own dress code, it doesn’t really say much about guns. It prohibits “vulgar” or “obscene” t-shirts, and clothing cannot “promote and/or endorse the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs and/or encourage other illegal or violent activities”.  Courts use a case from the mid-60s to handle these sorts of issues. From the case Volokh cites,

Because most public school students are minors and school administrators have the duty to provide and facilitate education and to maintain order and discipline, the Supreme Court “has repeatedly emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools.” Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 507, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d 731 (1969). Consequently, while a public school student does not “shed [his] constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school-house gate,” id. at 506, those rights may be limited as long as the limitation is consistent with constitutional safeguards…

…”conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason — whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior — materially disrupts class work or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.”Id. at 513, 89 S.Ct. 733. Accordingly, Tinker “requires a specific and significant fear of disruption, not just some remote apprehension of disturbance.” Saxe v. State Coll. Area Sch. Dist., 240 F.3d 200, 211 (3d Cir.2001). In sum, “if a school can point to a well-founded expectation of disruption — especially one based on past incidents arising out of similar speech — the restriction may pass constitutional muster.” Id. at 212.

Courts have upheld, for instance, students’ rights to wear black armbands to protest war, and also upheld a school’s ability to restrict or punish lewd and inappropriate language.

Arguably anything involving firearms is by definition “violent”, but in Kinney’s case, the firearms were merely depicted – in the image, they were not being fired at anyone or anything. The “protected by Smith & Wesson” sweatshirt was likely closer to the line, as it specifically invoked a threat of deadly force in response to a provocation. Even deadly force in self-defense is, by definition, violent, and under the “substantial disruption” standard in the Tinker case, that invocation of violence might be legally restricted, depending on whether the school could establish that the restriction was based on ” something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint,” and instead on whether the shirt would “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”

I remember I was once handling a criminal matter in Massachusetts and a man with an Irish surname was being arraigned on an assault & battery charge. He had been arrested while wearing a Notre Dame jacket, which depicts an angry leprechaun with his fists up, waiting for a fight, and I thought to myself that it was an especially funny thing to be wearing under those circumstances. Does that belligerent Irish stereotype violate high school dress codes because it glorifies violence? I doubt any principal would punish a kid for that. 

But while local right-wing media have been milking this NRA shirt thing for a week now, even causing it to go national, they’ve been completely silent (as far as I can tell) as far as efforts to violate the 1st Amendment when it comes to banning award-winning literature in Clarence schools. They’ve not said anything about protecting the sex education unit recommending that kids who have sex use condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. (Abstinence is part of the curriculum, incidentally, but not the entire curriculum because that would be insane). 

So, Shane Kinney should be free to wear his NRA t-shirt and probably even his Smith & Wesson t-shirt.  It’s not my favorite thing in the world, nor something I would send my kid to school in, but my sensibilities and opinions can’t be the arbiter of what is and is not appropriate or legal. The school district likely owes Kinney an apology. 

Extremism in Too Many Forms

24 Feb

Obama is unser Unglück, sagte der Idiot.

Some guy was on WBEN’s Hardline with Debo show on Sunday talking lovingly about his metallic penis extenders guns. I have no idea who this person was, but he was discussing how the Heller Supreme Court decision guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms, and that state licensing schemes are illegal prior restraints of one’s 2nd Amendment rights.  

I’ve seen a lot of gun-huggers equate the first and second Amendments and prior restraint, despite the fact that, e.g.,  an anti-government polemic in a newsweekly never put a hole in another person. These people might be interested to learn that the 1st Amendment is not interpreted as being without limitations. Likewise, Heller held that your right to bear arms is absolutely subject to limitation. States have the right to regulate the time, place, and manner of one’s gun ownership and possession. The absolutist on WBEN made no exception for ex-felons or the mentally ill, nor did he make any exception for the type of weapon. Maybe the radical gun-huggers want ex-cons to have the legal right to own grenade launchers, but thankfully the Constitution has not been so mangled by even the most activist right-wing court to allow that. 

By this time, extremist cretin and has-been one-hit wonder Ted Nugent has reneged on his promise to die or go to prison following President Obama’s re-election. Nugent has made himself the de facto spokesman for the extremist gun-hugging movement, and the reactionary tea-party right has embraced him.  Mostly, it’s because he says wildly hateful and ignorant things, and suffers no palpable consequences therefrom. Because of this, he escalates his rhetoric from time to time, and has most recently, surprisingly found some pushback after having called the President of the United States a “subhuman mongrel“. Some prominent Republicans located their courage in the lost & found, and gently criticized the driver of the gun-hugging clown car. 

Why was this beyond the pale? Because subhuman, or “untermensch” and mongrel, or “mischling” were specific terms used by Nazis to dehumanize Jews and other racial undesirables. So, the gun huggers who support Nugent’s plain-speaking hatred should be fully cognizant of the fact that they are expressly condoning and supporting Nazi propaganda. Nugent and his ilk are too unintelligent and ignorant cogently to express genuine disagreements with President Obama’s policies, so they opt instead for racism, and then cry foul when they’re quite appropriately identified as racist. Simply put, not all Obama opponents are racists, but it’s safe to say that all racists are Obama opponents, and it’s not inappropriate to point out when they overlap. 

Let’s be clear on another thing: lefties sometimes say stupid things, too. When they do, they are criticized and in some cases ostracized. In at least once case, Nugent was doing the criticism. A lefty saying something stupid does not excuse Ted Nugent.  Each stupidity stands on its own demerits. Rage Against the Machine are not Democratic spokespeople, but Ted Nugent is a Republican mascot. 

It’s odd that Nugent should be the cause débile in any serious debate over policy. Ted Nugent is an admitted pedophile, (he convinced one girl’s parents to let him be her legal guardian so he could bang her that way, because ‘Murka), and avoided service in the Vietnam war by feigning insanity and shitting his pants. He loves huntin’ and shootin’ stuff that can’t fight back, but when it came time to serve his country, Nugent, “just wasn’t into it”. 

Meanwhile, we have a slide back into Apartheid as the Kansas and Arizona legislatures voted to legalize the separate but unequal treatment of the LGBT community in those states. The bill in Kansas never made it out of committee, but the Arizona bill is on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk.  Both laws purport to legalize discrimination against gay people in public accommodations to protect bigots’ religious freedoms. Getting a tattoo and eating shellfish are just as prohibited in the Bible as being homosexual, but no state legislatures have yet addressed these matters.  Cowering behind a phony cloak of religion in order to justify your own bigotry, hatred, and fear is nothing new.  People used religion to justify slavery and racial discrimination. Hitler effectively created a new religion – with himself as deity – to justify the subjugation of a continent. Your religious beliefs may instruct you to hate or fear gay people, or to treat them as subhuman mongrels, but gay people are equal under the law. This is why church and state are separate. Nugent’s Nazi rhetoric and these pseudo-religious anti-gay bills are cut from the same cloth of ignorant hatred, and they serve to demean what America is and should be. 

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, it’s fun for fraternity pranksters to hang a noose and a flag of treason around a statue of James Meredith, the first black man to attend “Ole Miss”. Meredith, incidentally, is still alive and at 80 years old has more bravery and integrity in his toenail than these frat boy racists-in-training will ever have in their lives. 

University Chancellor Dan Jones said the ideas expressed by the vandals had no place at the university. But others have disagreed, saying the university should not necessarily punish free expression.

Expressing a desire to lynch a black man is protected political speech? That’s quite a stretch. Slavery and Jim Crow were based on a belief that black people were subhuman. Also

Mr. Meredith, whose iconoclastic life included a stint as an aide to the arch-conservative Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, says the lessons of the incident have more to do with religion than race or higher education. “What has happened in America, particularly in Mississippi, is a breakdown of moral character,” Mr. Meredith, 80, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a lack of teaching of right and wrong and good and bad, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. That’s what the problem is.”

Mr. Meredith said the “nonsense” episode would intensify his effort to have his likeness removed from the university’s campus.

“It’s a false idol, and it’s an insult not only to God, it’s an insult to me,” Mr. Meredith said.

Free speech, like the right to bear arms, isn’t absolute or limitless and the government has to tread lightly when punishing or restraining speech, but it isn’t completely without authority to do so. Just try saying “f_ck” on prime time network television. What I’d like to see is the media report the names of the people who committed this hateful act. It should perpetually haunt them on Google. They’re not charged with a crime, but they did rightfully get expelled from their fraternity and the school. 

It’s not Barack Obama or a private health insurance marketplace that is un-American; sharting Naziistic propaganda to de-humanize a sitting President is un-American. It’s not Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid who are extremists, it’s the 2nd Amendment absolutists who argue for the insane to own M1 tanks. It’s not gay people who are an abomination, but those who would relegate the LGBT community to second-class non-citizen status. It’s not integration and multiculturalism that destroyed r weakened America, it’s racism. 

Obama came to office promising to change America.  He did, in many ways.  Not the least of which? Inadvertently emboldening neofascist extremists and racists.

All Hail Our Armed Corporate Overlords

16 Jan

1. F your gun

A 12 year-old New Mexico boy brought a .20 gauge shotgun to school.  He shot three times, hit two classmates. One is ok, the other was shot in the face and neck, and is in critical condition. 

…the suspected shooter’s family issued a statement Wednesday saying they were heartbroken and that their remorse could not be put into words. They said the two children who were injured have been in their thoughts and prayers.

“We are horribly sad over this tragedy on so many levels,” the family stated. “We are praying that God will be with everyone who has been affected.”

The family added it will cooperate with law enforcement to “piece together how this awful tragedy occurred.”

The gun came from home. Maybe the family could take its prayers and condolences, double-check their homeowner’s insurance, prepare for the lawsuit they so richly deserve, and properly secure their weapons.

As of December 14, 2013, there had been 26 school shootings since the tragedy in Newtown, CT. But we’re told we don’t have a gun problem. Not at all.  Yet for some reason, school shootings are an overwhelmingly American problem

What would you expect their logo to look like?

2. The Freedom to Pollute Shall not be Infringed

Freedom Industries recklessly poisoned the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians last week. Poor oversight, crappy facilities, a laughably inadequate response, environmental carelessness – ignorance, all contributed to a catastrophe that people still don’t quite get. 

Here’s what I get. When you elevate “job creators” above “people”; when you lionize big corporate interests over clean water and people’s health; when you abandon or reject regulation and oversight of industries that pose a continuing imminent threat of mass poisoning, you have ceased to maintain a proper representative democracy. From the Charleston Gazette

While DEP has said it hasn’t inspected the site since 1991, when it was owned by Pennzoil, Kolb and Bauerle said Monday that the agency had looked into a previous odor complaint at the site and another odor complaint in St. Albans related to a company called Diversified Services, which handles shipping of materials for Freedom Industries.

Kolb and Bauerle arrived at the operation shortly after 11 a.m. In the parking lot, they met Kanawha County fire coordinator C.W. Sigman, whose office was also looking into residents’ odor complaints.

The DEP officials went to the office, where Dennis P. Farrell, who identified himself as president of the company, greeted them. They told Farrell about the odors and asked if the facility was having any problems.

“He said as far as he knew this was a busy time of year. They were just handling a lot of trailers,” Kolb said. “As far as he knew, there weren’t any problems.”

The DEP officials asked Kolb to show them around the facility. When they went outside, an employee asked to speak to Farrell. After that conversation, Farrell told the DEP officials there was a problem, and led them to tank 396.

There, the DEP officials said, they found a 400-square-foot pool of chemical that had leaked from the tank into a block containment area. Pressure from the material leaking out of the tank created what DEP officials called an “up-swelling,” or an artesian well, like a fountain of chemical coming up from the pool.

They saw a 4-foot-wide stream of chemicals heading for the containment area’s wall, and disappearing into the joint between the dike’s wall and floor.

Initially, no one saw the chemical pouring into the Elk River. 

This disaster is a direct result of bad right-wing/glibertarian laissez faire environmental and regulatory policies. You know – the notion that “job-killing regulations” are worse than people-poisoning absence of regulations. 

Instead of rounding people up into death camps, FEMA provided water to the nine affected counties pursuant to a declared federal state of emergency. The area where this happened is known as “chemical alley”. When the pointy-headed nerds from the federal Chemical Safety Board and local environmental groups encouraged West Virginia to improve its oversight and regulations in the area, but no one wanted to do it because jobs and freedom

This is the libertarian/conservative dream scenario. Lack of oversight to prevent catastrophe, and inadequate or non-existent health insurance to treat injuries resulting from it. Add “tort reform” to the mix, to prevent or dramatically restrict liability for wrongdoing, and we might as well elect Freedom Industries and its ilk as dictator-for-life.