Thursday, February 13, 2014

You Can't Have It Both Ways - Oh, Wait, Yes You Can!

Josh Horwitz makes a good point that the "good guys" with guns want to keep the "bad guys" from having guns.  Which are you?  A good guy or a bad guy?  

And I wonder what would happen if one of these guys who thinks it's OK to hit your wife was suddenly face-to-face with the gun held by said wife who was saying, "I'm Standing My Ground, you hypocritical bastard!"

Josh Horwitz in The Huffington Post

The Double Standard of the Pro-Gun Movement

They hit you? Grin and bear it. You hit them? Prepare to die.

It was National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre who famously intoned that "the guys with the guns make the rules" during the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. I don't think I had ever fully understood the sheer arrogance and hypocrisy behind this belief, however, until pro-gun activists brought it into sharp relief for me recently.

Late last month, the president of the radical pro-gun group Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), Philip Van Cleave, made headlines when he told a WVTF reporter on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that slapping around your wife was no big deal. Van Cleave was commenting on a bill, SB 510, that would prohibit individuals convicted of stalking, sexual battery, or assault/battery of a family member from possessing firearms for a period of five years following their convictions. "A slap?" Van Cleave asked reporter Sandy Hausman. "That's not a violent thing!" Van Cleave later reiterated this opinion during testimony before the Virginia Senate's Courts of Justice Committee. When asked by Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, "So you think that if you go out and you slap your wife around and all it is is a misdemeanor [conviction], you shouldn't lose your weapon after that. Is that what you're telling me?" "Correct,"responded Van Cleave.

A couple days later, pro-gun activists on Twitter reminded us that George Zimmerman did the right thing by killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin because he was (theoretically) being punched at the time. So we decided to put a question to them:

"Do you think the punishment for punching someone should be death?"

"If you attack someone, you deal with what they choose to make you deal with," answered pro-gun activist Jordan of Atlanta, Georgia. "Yes."

"Yes I do!" replied pro-gun activist Dale Shroud of Boise, Idaho. "A punch hard enough in the head CAN KILL YOU ! I will STAND MY GROUND."

Hold on a second, I thought. Let me get this straight... It's OK for pro-gun activists to slap their wives around without losing their rights to own and purchase firearms, but if someone punches them, they have a right to execute that person on the spot -- no judge, no jury, no due process under the law?
What a sickening double-standard that is.

And lest you think it's merely a matter of a few isolated pro-gun activists engaging in such hypocrisy, let me assure you that that's not the case. The NRA practices what it preaches when it comes to its "the guys with the guns make the rules" philosophy. It was NRA Board Member and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) who took the lead in attempting to repeal the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment, which prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from owning and purchasing firearms. And who can forget these two classic quotes from NRA Board Member Wayne Anthony Ross: "If a guy can't rape his wife...who's he gonna rape?" and "There wouldn't be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouth shut." Finally, the NRA described the protections codified under "Stand Your Ground" laws as a "fundamental human right" after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges.

The opinion of the pro-gun movement seems to be that the guy with the gun is always right, no matter what the facts of the case are; that gun possession makes you a super-citizen with enhanced rights to take life, avoid prosecution, and use lethal force in response to non-lethal force. Somehow, gun ownership increases your judgment and makes you smarter than other citizens.

But here's the reality. There are some really smart gun owners with excellent judgment who don't display their weapons in a prideful and dangerous manner, and there are also some slow-witted gun owners with terrible judgment who want to show off that they have the power to put you six feet under (think Michael David Dunn). The reason we need meaningful firearms regulation is not to stop truly law-abiding people with excellent judgment from getting guns, but rather to stop the reckless, dangerous individuals that exist in every society. The mere fact that you own a gun does not make you a "Good Guy." A good guy is someone who by measure of skill and temperament has been weeded out from the bad guys. That title is earned, not given.

I am not pointing out the pro-gun movement's double standard regarding the use of force merely to play a game of "gotcha." I am highlighting their hypocrisy because it has lethal consequences. The pro-gun movement is teaching young Americans that it is morally virtuous to shoot and kill someone who punches you. Is that really a message we want to be sending in an era of school shootings? One landmark study of school shootings found, "Almost three-quarters of [school shooters] felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident. In several cases, individual attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was long-standing and severe." There are legitimate avenues to address this problem, but telling bullied kids that they are justified in opening fire? That's a recipe for disaster.

I am haunted by a quote from Sandy Hook Elementary shooter Adam Lanza that was recently unearthed by author Matthew Lysiak. Posting at the website Shocked Beyond Belief just a year before the shooting, Lanza wrote:

It goes without saying that an AK-47 and enough ammunition could do more good than a thousand "teachers," if one is truly interested in reforming the system. In short time the children will be brainwashed, pumped full of Xanax and told to conform, until they have been turned into the oppressors.

A clearer declaration of "the guys with the guns make the rules" has never been heard. It should be a wake-up call to all of us -- including gun owners -- to champion non-violent solutions to conflicts, rather than the use of deadly force. The preservation of human life should always be our highest priority in settling disputes, both personal and political.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Do You Really Need a Mammogram?

There are a number of news articles today that merit your time.  The first is an opinion piece from the NY Times by Charles Blow, who says, "the dreadful monotony and morbidity of the gun control discussion in this country has left me dispirited."  That's how I feel.  Read the entire article here:  

The second is an article by the editorial board of the NY Times, discussing the out-of-date practice of not allowing anyone who has commited a felony to vote ever again in their whole life.  Attorney General Eric Holder says this is a ridiculous plot devised years ago to keep newly freed blacks from voting.  Arizona was not a slave state during the Civil War, yet the laws here prevent any young person who makes a bad decision (and a lot of them do!) but serves his time, pays his fines, and does what is required of him, doesn't get reinstated to his pre-conviction status.  The Attorney General is urging legislatures to change these outdated laws and allow every citizen who has paid his debt to society to again be allowed to participate in this most basic privilege.  Here is the entire article. 

The longer I live the more studies show that a lot of previous studies turn out to be wrong.  I remember when doctors encouraged every menopausal woman to use "hormone replacement therapy."  I, too, tried it for a little while, but then I thought it through and came to the conclusion that Mother Nature probably knew what she was doing.  Females are meant to stop having babies when their bodies are growing old and not as capable of recovering from a pregnancy, or when biologically speaking they are approaching the end of life.  So, believing that millions of years on this planet counted for more than a few years of studies by people who were making millions of dollars on selling this idea, I stopped.  And guess what?  Soon thereafter, the longitudinal studies began to show the harmful side of HRT.  More cancer, more heart problems.  Now a recent study is claiming that all these millions of mammograms aren't having any effect on the mortality rate of women with cancer.  So if you skipped your last mammo, don't worry about it.  Do a self-exam.
Are Mammograms a Waste of Money?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Word of the Day: CONSEQUENCES

Word of the day:


This hasn't been my best week.  Maybe it's the phase of the moon, or something, but I have been feeling "marginalized," if that's the correct word. It sounds sort of ridiculous to say that different people in my life have made it clear that they believe they matter more than I do.  Should I say they want the upper hand, they want the power in the relationship?   That sounds so academic, but I don't know how else to describe how it makes me feel.  

The first instance was a repeat performance of a conversation that has taken place at least four times in the past two years between me and someone I have known for more than fifteen years.  We met in New Jersey when I owned a small consignment shop around the corner from her house.  She made a habit of coming by the store several times a week to pour her heart out about her abusive husband.  Eventually she divorced the abusive husband and began a relationship with another man.

Fourteen years ago, we moved from New Jersey to Arizona where our son and his family lived.  Our elder daughter and her young son moved with us.  Later on, the younger daughter with her husband and two babies joined the rest of us.  I am sure that my friend is right when she says I encouraged her to move to Arizona.  I was very happy with our brand-new house, my little grandchildren, and my job at the community college.  My enthusiasm must have been contagious.

After a failed attempt to relocate to Florida, she and her partner visited Arizona, liked it, bought a house 40 minutes from us, and went home to pack.  I had no idea what she was expecting when she made these decisions.

Now it is 14 years later, and I have gone from being 58 to being 72. My husband and I have both retired and are living on a greatly-reduced income, and we now baby-sit 4 days a week.

I called my one-time friend the other day to check in and see how she was doing.  The partner she was with dumped her in a suburb miles away from anything, moved her two sons out to live with her, went back to Jersey and has been lying to her for the past 8 years.  She made some really bad decisions because she believed his lies, and is now facing, guess what? - the CONSEQUENCES.

So, I called to say Hi.  After a few minutes, she announced in a flat voice, "I don't want to talk to you on the telephone."  This was after announcing a few weeks ago that she "doesn't do email and doesn't know how to text," so don't do that either.  She wants only face-to-face encounters.  She made it clear that she doesn't need another “acquaintance.”  She wants a "more intimate" relationship, like the one we had in New Jersey.  She remembers these heart-to-heart talks, visiting over tea and cookies, and the one time she was invited to my grandson’s birthday party.  She tells me that she thought she was moving to Arizona to be “near her best friend.”  That things have not turned out the way she imagined is just life, isn’t it?  

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Why should I get upset by someone basically saying she wants to see me more often?  Do people understand that if you want someone to like spending time with you, you have to have something to offer?  Both people should feel better after being together, not drained and glad to be leaving, which is how I always feel after being with her.  She is so negative, and has nothing to talk about except her latest catastrophe, her ungrateful kids, the man who betrayed her, and her failing business.  She is jealous of the time I spend with my family, because her two sons have no social life and never spend time with her.  Hummm? Wonder why?  She claims she is alone.  She's not.  She has her two children (30 and 23) living with her.  And even if she were alone, how is that my responsibility?

I finally ended up hanging up on her because the attack just wouldn't stop.  I find it difficult to tell her the truth - that she is a lot of work!  She drains every ounce of energy from me.  I told her that I thought she has Asperger’s Syndrome (which would explain why it’s so frustrating for everyone to deal with her) which she wouldn’t even consider.  Just went back to the old refrain - basically, I am not a “good enough” friend.

All I expect from people is the recognition that there are consequences from our behavior.  If she wants to be mean to me, attack me, and tell me how disappointed she is in me, there are consequences.  She expects the world to operate on her terms, or else what?   She will just see her world shrink smaller and smaller because she won't adapt.  Consequences.