Al Sharpton Is Responsible For Zimmerman’s Acquittal

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Over the past months, the United States has been rocked by the murder trial of George Zimmerman. By now we all know the basic facts, Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin because he was unfamiliar in the gated community where Zimmerman lived following a string of recent burglaries. A fight broke out between the two men, and in the end Martin was shot once in the heart and killed.

We all know that already, this is the story of how Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, NAACP, and every other protester unwittingly caused George Zimmerman to be acquitted of murder. It goes like this:

Following the police investigation, Zimmerman was released from custody without being charged. The lead detective simply couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that Zimmerman’s account of what lead him to shoot Martin was inaccurate. He’s acknowledged that after receiving all the evidence, he believed Zimmerman’s account — that Trayvon attacked him for following him, pinned him to the ground, expressed that he was going to kill Zimmerman, and pounded his head into the pavement when Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. If Zimmerman’s account of events is true, he acted in self-defense.

Because physical evidence and eyewitness affidavits corroborated Zimmerman’s story, the police determined they should not charge him at that time.

This is where Sharpton et al. get involved. They have no facts, they have not seen the evidence, they have not read the affidavits. All they know, and all they understand, is that a black 17 year old was killed by a “white” guy (who wasn’t), and didn’t get charged with murder. They felt that this would make a perfect opportunity to turn the event into a civil rights issue, and would force the state’s hand into charging Zimmerman.

They organized protests, they bombarded the media with false reports, and the media rolled with it. Before any facts were publicly known, the media already convicted Zimmerman of murder. They convinced celebrities to make speeches and join the propaganda to spill racism into the event. Even president Obama, of whom those who know me know that I adore, said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, before anything about Trayvon was known.

They got the media to post childhood pictures of Trayvon along with mugshot-esque photos of Zimmerman to make it look like a thug killed an innocent child. Zimmerman was stupid, but no thug, and Trayvon wasn’t the innocent child that America initially believed him to be.

So what happened? Protests. Mass protests calling for the arrest and trial of Zimmerman. Political pressure was too great, and the state had to cave in. They knew the public wouldn’t be satisfied with a voluntary manslaughter charge (which they may have been able to get at a later date), so they charged him with murder in the second degree — a charge they knew couldn’t stick to appease the general public.

As the facts of the trial came out, it was obvious that Zimmerman couldn’t be found guilty of murder two. Our legal system doesn’t work that way. Our legal system is designed on the Blackstone formulation: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” This is how we come up with beyond a reasonable doubt. Basically it means that if there is doubt that a charged person doesn’t meet the requirements of the crime for which he is charged, he has to be found not guilty of the crime. It doesn’t mean they are innocent. It doesn’t mean they are more likely innocent than guilty. The jury believed that Zimmerman’s story of self-defense matches the physical evidence and the witness testimony, so they had to accept that it was reasonable doubt to the murder charge. It may or may not be true, but it casts reasonable doubt. Once the jury determined tha thtey believed self-defense, the lesser charge (added last minute) of manslaughter wasn’t an option. If they bought self-defense for the larger charge, they had to accept self-defense for the lesser one. They had to acquit him.

This could have been avoided. The police may have in the future decided to charge Zimmerman on their own. Without the media attention and public outrage, the state would have had the option to give Zimmerman a plea bargain. The public outrage prevented that — it wouldn’t satiate the public’s bloodlust if Zimmerman got a deal, and they knew that. Murder 2 wasn’t an option, but without a trial to determine self-defense, voluntary manslaughter would have been an option. It would have been the smarter move, and likely would have been the move that would have convinced Zimmerman to plead guilty instead of force a murder trial.

There was also the possibility that if Zimmerman intended to kill Martin that night that down the road he would have confided that to someone. Then the state would have had him on murder — but that time never came because the media-fueled public outrage didn’t give him the opportunity.

Zimmerman may be in jail right now if it weren’t for the attention that Sharpton et al. put on the case. Their desire to turn it into a civil rights issue and give the nation a bloodlust let a man who was likely guilty go free.

I hope that made sense.

Now a few details about the case that I keep seeing on facebook, twitter, and news blogs reported incorrectly.

  1. The jury wasn’t a jury of his peers — the law doesn’t require it. That’s a phrase from the movies. It was an impartial jury, which is what the 6th Amendment to the Constitution requires.
  2. The prosecution and defense selected the jurors out of a huge pool of potential jurors and together and BOTH sides agreed to it. The fact that it was 6 women (with a man and woman on reserve in case others proved to not be impartial later) is coincidence. The judge also approved of each member of the jury.
  3. Police did NOT order Zimmerman not to follow Martin. A dispatcher said that they didn’t need him to continue to follow Martin. That’s not an order not to, and even so, a dispatcher’s opinions (or orders) do not hold the legal weight of those from a sworn officer. The dispatcher is not a sworn officer and does not have the training that police officers have.
  4. The facts leading up to the fight do not negate Zimmerman’s Constitutional rights to defend his life once the fight escalated to a life or death situation.
  5. Stand Your Ground was not an issue in this case. Zimmerman’s attorney refused this defense, and it was not brought up in trial. You can stop attacking this law based on Zimmerman’s acquittal. It played no role whatsoever in the case. Stand Your Ground (see Supreme Court Cases Beard vs US 1895 and Brown vs US 1921) says that when your life is in clear, immediate danger, but you have the opportunity to flee that you have NO obligation to flee before using force. That isn’t what happened in the case, and that isn’t what Zimmerman used as his defense. What it does have in common to his defense is that both are affirmative defenses (they would acknowledge that he killed him, but that it was justifiable).
  6. Zimmerman’s claim was simply self-defense. He claimed that his life was in immediate danger and that he did not have the possibility fleeing. His claim was that when Martin expressed his intentions to kill Zimmerman and that when Martin had Zimmerman pinned to the ground and was pounding his head into the pavement that he was incapable of fleeing and that if he didn’t take immediate action he would be killed.
  7. Justice was served. Just because no one was sent to jail doesn’t mean justice wasn’t served. He was tried in court, an impartial jury found that his affirmative defense was more likely true than not (in an affirmative defense the defendant has to prove a “preponderance of the evidence”, not the same “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the prosecution has to prove, that the defense is true). Again, our legal system believes it’s better for the guilty to go unpunished than for the innocent to go punished for a crime they didn’t commit. That’s what happened here. Justice was served.
  8. Mob justice isn’t the answer. Violent protests such as those in L.A. following the verdict or the Black Panther $10,000 reward for the capture of Zimmerman prior to his arrest does nothing but hurt our justice system and collapse a free nation.

I can totally agree that some laws may need to change. That’s why it’s important for you to vote at every election. You can change the laws by voting directly on the ones up for vote and indirectly by replacing politicians you disagree with for ones with whom you do agree.

I can totally agree that Zimmerman is more likely guilty than he is innocent. That doesn’t mean our justice system is flawed. If I ever get falsely accused of a crime, I will be ecstatic that we’ve decided that our justice system requires beyond a reasonable doubt before punishing me rather than just punishing me because it might be true. I suspect in the same situation, any of my readers would feel the same way.

Please people, watch the trial if you want accurate facts about what happened — do not look to the media. Remember, media outlets look for headlines and stories that will give them the most viewers/readers and the highest ratings, they do not care about making sure the information is factually accurate. They don’t have the legal obligation that courts do to review facts and wait for evidence before pronouncing a person guilty. This case exemplifies that.

Finally, do not let the likes of Al Sharpton, the NAACP, or their cohorts trick you into thinking every situation where two people of opposing races is a civil rights issue. There is a reason that it has been said of Al Sharpton that he would show up to a car accident if one of the vehicles was black. His bias goes to an extreme and he stands to make significant financial gains and personal attention every time he convinces people that non-racially motivated circumstances are civil rights issues.

A Life Without Hope

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Let me start by saying that this isn’t a post about gun control, but it is about a school shooting. So, while  there may be little bits of my opinion in there, please don’t think it’s the take home message I am trying to leave you with.

Today, T.J. Lane, 18, was sentenced to 3 life sentences plus 25 years with no possibility of parole for the murders of 3 students at their high school (Lane did not attend the high school) as well as 2 counts of attempted murder, and felonious assault. He was 17 at the time of the shooting, and the fact spared him from the death sentence.

I think his life is an extreme example of what happens to a person who has no hope. From what I’ve read about his life, there’s never been the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” for this kid. As he grew up, he saw his dad go to jail for attempted murder, he had been arrested for violent acts himself multiple times. He attended a behavioral disorder school alternative (for good reason). He had serious mental problems. He had severe depression and hallucinations. I don’t present these facts to justify his actions; just to evidence my thoughts that his entire life, he’s never experienced hope.

His actions the day of the shooting and since further evidence the fact that this kid’s life was hopeless. Typically, school shooters have expressed reasons why the did it; they planned it extensively; shooting people has often been a way to retake control. This wasn’t the case for T.J. He has said multiple times that there was no reason, and that seems to fit the story. He wasn’t bullied, wasn’t well acquainted with the victims, in fact, it seems that he just decided on the fly to open fire while waiting for the bus. The one detail I question, that hasn’t had a real explanation put forward, is why he was carrying a handgun and a knife that day to begin with.

T.J. made sure he was convicted. Ohio law, where he was convicted, says that a child cannot be be charged as an adult if they don’t understand the charges, court procedures, participate in his defense, punishment if convicted, is mentally ill, or has an intellectual or developmental disability. He didn’t allow his lawyer to file the motion for a mental evaluation. In fact, he didn’t allow his lawyers to present any real defense. He plead guilty to all charges without attempting a plea deal.

The last bits of evidence that he lives with no hope occurred today at his sentencing hearing. After entering the court room he took off his outer shirt to reveal that his undershirt read “KILLER” in permanent marker. He was smiling as the judge announced his sentence. In the middle of the court appearance, he swung his chair around to face the victims’ parents, flipped them off, and said, “This hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory. Fuck all of you.” It seems obvious to me that he wanted to be sure he was in prison until he died. All of his actions, from the shooting until today, suggest that was his goal.

This story has intrigued me since the story first broke last February. School shootings in general have always held an interest to me. Perhaps it has to do with the hit list/safe list that my name was written on in 8th grade. Perhaps it has to do with the kid that I sat next to in Speech class in 10th grade that was removed from class by police because he had a gun in his backpack. Perhaps it’s because I grew up during the “heyday” of school shootings. Perhaps it’s just because I became friends with several people in middle/high school of whose stories he reminds me. Perhaps it’s because there are people I know today of whom he reminds me. Whatever the reason, this case stood out to me.

As I read the news stories this afternoon about his final actions in court, and perhaps joy, that he would be in prison until the day he dies, I couldn’t help but wonder why! Why would anyone want to be jail? Why would anyone work so hard to ensure that they would be? He clearly didn’t want to die, or he would have killed himself… he would be on suicide watch. He wants to live, but he wants to live in prison. Why?

Then it hit me. He has no hope. The world isn’t predictable. Sometimes, it flat out sucks. But jail is different. It’s the same every day… occasionally people change, but that’s it. You don’t have to worry about making decisions. You don’t have to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There doesn’t have to be one. Everything is decided, everything stays the same. It’s a shame that someone can feel that the best, safest place for them is jail — but it seems to be the most reasonable explanation.

I am beyond grateful that I have something more to hope for. I don’t know how anyone can function without hope for more. Hope for something past this world. Hope that good will win. Hope that there is more to life than this; more than the here and now. I take pity this kid. Not because he was treated too harshly, not because he’s just a kid. I take pity on him because he’s got not hope. Except for an act from God,  he will go his entire life without experiencing true hope. Perhaps one day his eyes will be opened and he won’t have to experience hopelessness for eternity.

Anyone else who’s familiar with the case care to give me your input?

Dial 911 For Murder

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Ok, so my sister went nuts as I kept telling her the details released about Christopher Dorner. She jokingly said I should write a blog about it, so I’m writing a blog about it — a blog to ask the questions that I’m sure will never be answered.

We all know the basic story — Chris Dorner, a former LAPD officer was fired in 2008 and last week went on a killing spree of all the people who he believed wronged him. All of this information was released through a manifesto that was posted to Dorner’s facebook account. It led to a massive manhunt that ended with a man being killed in a California cabin last night. However, the LAPD, who is well known for corruption, seems to have some serious flaws in the story. Here are a couple of them:

  • They were never able to confirm the man in the cabin was Chris dorner
    • Authorities also never knew if anyone else was in the cabin
  • The fish and wildlife officers who spotted Dorner somehow managed to identify driving in the opposite direction of him — which let’s be honest, isn’t likely even you know the person you’re identifying at reasonable driving speeds.
    • Let’s also not forget the LAPD believed 2 old ladies and a white guy were Chris Dorner when seen in vehicles
  • US Marshal on scene told a CBS reporter on scene that a man tried to leave out the back door of the cabin, but was pushed back inside (not tackled, not retreated under fire, pushed inside) — sounds like whoever that person was being held captive in a cabin with no telephone or electricity according to the cabin owner
    • Of course, LAPD, who said they were not on scene later said that never happened.
  • The Sheriff told all media to keep their helicopters zoomed out so the cabin was barely visible and eventually told to get rid of them entirely; conveniently  no one but police on scene were ever able to see the man inside the cabin.
    • later police told the media on scene to turn their microphones off and stop tweeting live updates. Minutes later, “a fire broke out” — read police lit the cabin on fire — without video and audio evidence of what caused the fire
      • of course, many people listening to the police scanners overheard that police through 7 burners into the cabin; followed by burn that mother@%$#er down.
    • The fire burned the cabin down; pretty conveniently, burning all evidence and refusing to let firefighters go in until you are sure nothing could survive the blaze.
    • Something did survive the blaze though; Dorner’s driver’s license survived miraculously
      • Does anyone else remember that the LAPD found Dorner’s wallet a couple days ago near Mexico? I do. How many times are they going to find that guy’s wallet? 2 sounds too many to me, but maybe I’m just weird.
    • What evidence was there that Chris Dorner killed anyone? A manifesto? …and??? Nothing. A confession that could have been typed and posted by anyone with the ability to access his Facebook page. It’s a good thing no police department has ever tried to hack into someone’s account…
      • ….wait, the LAPD has! I’m sure they’d never have tried it again though.

Ok, so does anyone else see a movie here? Pretty simple. He knows something that some high ranking people wanted to be sure never got out. How do you do that? You kill a few people; conceal any evidence, force a public admission of guilt that can’t be traced back to the real sender, kill the person in secret, and end with a massive finale… a finale so splendidly planned that everyone can see, but no one will be able to view any evidence after the fact — AKA burn that mother$&#$er down!

LAPD killed 6 people; the girl and her fiance, 2 cops, dorner, and the final act scapegoat — along with spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money to cover up a big secret. America deserves to know what that secret is…

On Abortion…

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Last year, a buddy of mine posted a link to this article from the Gospel Coalition about 10 questions that pro-choice politicians never seem to have to answer. He asked that a pro-choice person answer them because he was honestly curious about how they would be answered. I don’t know that I fully agree with the answers I’ve provided, but I believe they are pretty accurate for what a standard pro-choice person would say

I find myself at a difficult impasse on the issue of abortion. I wouldn’t say that I think it should be legal 100% of the time. I also wouldn’t say I think it should be illegal 100% of the time. As a Christian, I know there are many of my own religion who would condemn me for being more on the pro-choice side of the argument, but I don’t necessarily believe that my own religious views need to be law for others. Most simply, I know that I will never have an abortion (male), and I will never pressure a girl to have one.

Anyway, here are the responses I came up with to his questions (and the questions themselves). I have edited a couple of them from the original response because our further conversation showed that I wasn’t clear or didn’t phrase some spots quite how I wanted.

  1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?
    1. Yes. And there are very few serious candidates who would say otherwise. Namely, late term abortion is almost universally not welcome (except for health of the mother). Typically pro-choice people agree with the supreme court ruling that if the fetus can survive (is over a 50% chance threshold with modern science) outside the womb than the abortion shouldn’t be allowed. — Notice that means it is becoming earlier and earlier that the abortion would be illegal.
  2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?
    1. That is due primarily to legal or sex-trade issues in other parts of the world. The question isn’t actually an issue in the United State that I know of. Further, you could ban gender-based abortions, but that wouldn’t change a woman’s decision to get one. She would just pose a different reason, whether real or fake, if she wanted the abortion.
  3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?
    1. Yes. I don’t think a teenage girl should have to have parental consent for contraception – whether medical, physical, or emergency because of the low risk to her health. However, typically you have to sign waivers (in a sense a contract) when you have surgery due to the risks to your health or life as a result of them. Since minors cannot enter a contract without parental consent, teenage girls should be required to have parental consent to have an abortion.
  4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?
    1. I’ll go with Joe Biden’s response when he was asked this question at the VP debate. He does believe that life begins at conception, as per his religion. But it cannot be proven that the deeper sense of life – I’ll go with cognition since not everyone is religious and believes in the soul – so, it is not his place to force that religious belief on others who do not share it. As for when a human develops its own constitutional rights – that occurs when the fetus reaches the threshold of life outside the womb; as the supreme court ruled. Again, the exact timing of that is becoming earlier and earlier with scientific advancements.
  5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?
    1. (Edited response) I’m going to broaden this to two different subjects; children that are unwanted and children who’s parents aren’t capable of taking care of them. Study after study has shown that unwanted and unloved children develop severe problems, both mental and physical. Any baby being watched over NEEDS to receive love and attention constantly in order to grow up healthy. Orphanages and the foster care system have gotten such a bad reputation due to a long history of scandals so many women are not willing to put their child up for adoption if they can’t take care of it or do not want it. Raising a child with severe mental illnesses are beyond difficult; they require a level of dedication and constant attention that almost nobody is willing and able to give. It is an absolute travesty that women and families can feel like abortion is a better solution than our own adoption system and a travesty that our government does not offer the proper prenatal, infant, and childcare services that are necessary to make women feel like they are able to keep and raise a child. That is why I propose now and have always been in favor of increasing those social services to women and families. It’s not that I am in favor of aborting those babies, I am favor of sparing them from miserable lives caused by a government that won’t care for them and parents that are incapable. If we can convince the government to support these women and give them monetary, emotional, and physical support; so they believe they can raise a child with special needs (or that they otherwise weren’t ready for) we can prevent abortion and raise a generation of loved, healthy, happy children.
  6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?
    1.  Absolutely. They aren’t buying the drugs and they don’t even know about them. There is no reason for an unclean conscience on the issue. They pay for all sorts of things they probably don’t want to pay for; FICA etc., but all they are doing is providing a health insurance package. Already they pay for STD treatments, sexual enhancement medication, and a host of risque medications that they probably don’t agree with — but have never had any issue with. The greater sin is denying your employees health insurance benefits for fear that they MIGHT spend it in a way you don’t approve of. Again, like from Biden’s answer, you shouldn’t govern your religious beliefs onto others. BTW, chemical birth control is prescribed for more than just contraception.
  7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?
    1. That charge is completely correct. That has to do with inadequacy in the government’s handling of welfare resources and racism in private sector employment. Affluence is strongly negatively correlated with abortion rates. The best way to correct this is to create government programs that specifically focus on providing financial, emotional, and parenting support to poor and minority families. If they don’t feel like it is the most fiscal responsible thing and that they would just provide a bad life for their children, they are less likely to feel like abortion is the best option for them. Again, this ties to the prevention through assistance theory.
  8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?
    1.  At the most basic level, look at the hormonal changes for the woman. Innately, due to these changes, the mother feels bonding and emotional connection to the child. On a more sophisticated level, nearly every woman who gets an abortion thinks about it hard and as a last resort option. As hard as it seems to believe to a pro-lifer, girls who get abortions don’t decide to do it on a whim. They consider all their options to their full extent. Politicians describe it as a tragedy because these girls believe that all other options are worse than abortion – it’s a tragedy that they don’t get the support that they need to keep the child. I will comment after question 10 why they aren’t getting this support from the government.
  9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?
    1. I think I’ve pretty well answered this. At the threshold of viability outside the womb, abortion shouldn’t be legal.
  10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?
    1. Yes. I see that the point of the question is that if I think they should receive a harsher punishment, it’s because the baby has rights. That isn’t my rationale though. The baby becomes an aggravating circumstance to a “standard murder.” The idea is that there is a standard murder (or standard any crime), and every change from that standard – such as pregnant – is either an aggravating circumstance or a mitigating circumstance – such as if you walked in on your spouse in adultery. Using a standard scale of determining how aggravating or how mitigating each change to the standard is; you can fairly determine how much to adjust the sentence. Pregnancy would be an aggravating circumstance, therefore murdering a pregnant woman would have an increased sentence.

As stated above. The reason specific groups are more likely to have abortions than other groups is due to affluence and financial, emotional, and parenting support. The thing that bugs me most about the abortion debate is that the group of people fighting so hard to prevent women from getting abortions also prevents funding to agencies that offer those services and fight hard to take away funding from the few agencies that do that already. You cannot take away a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have a child AND not give her access to the support she needs to properly raise the children. You ask for neglect, abuse, and crime — because the woman who need that support see no other options than that.

Obviously, even though thats a lot to read, the answers are simplified and watered down a lot, because these issues are so complicated. So forgive lack of citations and specific numbers, and things of that nature

Now, I just edited one question that was based on his critique, because I answered it so poorly and confusingly the first time. His other critique was based on the idea Biden had (this was immediately following the VP debate when Biden made the remarks) of separating yourself from religion when making political decisions. Specifically, he argued, that if I take away the religious moral aspect of it, how can I decide that anything is murder —

My response: Yeah, it’s really difficult to take religion out of it. But, as far as murder goes — our legal system has set up a basis. You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our law says that if you unlawfully take life away from someone, that is murder. Within just Iowa State law, homicide (legal and illegal) gets split into murder 1, murder 2, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, civil liability, feticide, non-consensual termination of a pregnancy, partial-birth abortion, murder of fetus aborted alive, duty to preserve life of a fetus, and attempt to commit murder. It lays out what requirements taking the right to life from someone has to meet to fall into any one of those circumstances.

It is definitely difficult to determine when the deeper sense of life–soul–breath of Life — arrives, because it is immeasurable. I think that is why pro-choicers choose to give humans civil rights at the point where they have a greater chance to survive outside the womb than to not survive.

The real issue — more than the right to choose abortion — is that there isn’t enough funding going into promoting the alternatives. There just isn’t the money going to help the people who would choose to get an abortion for any reason other than the health of the mother. The foster care system doesn’t have the reputation that promotes girls choosing to give up children that they can’t care for offering the child for adoption. It looks like a bad option because of all the scandals. What pro-choicers really want, more than anything else, is for there to be those social services or for them to be improved. It will make it so girls feel like they either can raise the child well or their child will be well taken care of if they give the child up for adoption. 

What I think [3rd person in the conversation] meant by that was that no one really “supports abortion” … both sides want girls to choose other options. Pro-choicers just believe it should be a girls right to have abortion as an option, with restrictions (as I outlined above). Both sides want girls to choose other options, but the method of having girls choose another option is different: Pro-lifers want to make it so girls cannot legally choose the abortion option, Pro-choicers want girls to choose other options by giving support and encouragement to make the other options a clearly better one than abortion.

Alright, so that’s everything I got on the topic. I know this is a real sensitive topic; I’m sure many members of my own family don’t approve of my opinions on the matter, but I would like to see what other people have to say. Any pro-choicers please leave comments or links to posts with your own responses (or how you feel different about my responses) and any pro-lifers leave your rebuttles or links to them in the comments section!

The New Gun Debate

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Lately guns have been on everyone’s minds. Approximately 7 weeks ago Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and 6 adults after first killing his own mother and ending with him killing himself. The nation froze at the tragedy — I remember being on a lunch break at work and reading a news article of the piece and really couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was just too shocking to be true.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, 1,280 people have been either murdered or accidentally killed by guns in the United States. Slate’s count was 1,475 including suicide and police shootings. It’s crazy how a centerpiece of American freedom, an item that without which we would still be British subjugates, can suddenly be on the low side of American opinion.

With all the media attention on the damage that guns are doing to innocent people, state and federal legislatures have been debating what needs to be done to reduce the number of killings with firearms.

If you are part of the camp that says, “You can’t eliminate firearm deaths by regulating firearms, so we shouldn’t make any regulations at all,” you might as well leave now,  because nothing more I have to say on the topic will appeal to you; mainly because you’re wrong.

There’s a large group that says, “We don’t need to regulate guns, we need to improve mental health.” I agree completely that mental health needs improvement. If the legislatures that were making that claim actually believed it, they would be putting mental health bills up for debate — however, to improve mental health they’d have to undo all the stuff they’ve worked so hard to get rid of for the last 20 years. They don’t want gun regulation, but they don’t want to seem callus — but they don’t actually believe what they say.

Ok, so I’ve trashed the other side: What do I think?

I believe we should have the ability to enforce the regulations already on the books. The NRA has been able to use their congressional members to push limitations on the ability to enforce gun related regulations that have already been passed — an example of which is the damage the patriot bill did the ATF — look it up, you’ll be amazed. And the clauses in there to limit them were written by the NRA directly.

I don’t believe that guns should be regulated extra hard because different pieces of plastic make them look scarier. Pistol grips on a rifle don’t matter to me. What I care about is the things that allow would be murderers to do as much damage as quickly as possible. I can’t understand why anyone would need 15 rounds or more to protect their house or to hunt. If your aim is that bad that you need to rapid fire to hit the target, you shouldn’t have a gun in the first place — a firing range for target practice is the only place you should be holding a gun.

I also think that background checks and registration of firearms are reasonable. The background checks don’t need to include every detail of the buyer’s life — just whether or not it is legal for them to own firearms. I also believe the government should have a reasonable idea of what firearms are located where and registration is the way to do that. It can protect legal gun owners from being in trouble if their former weapons are used in a crime (see my next point), if they publicly acknowledge that they no longer own that weapon. We have to register our cars annually and that has already been deemed non-intrusive, so I don’t see why a 1-time registration of a firearm is so much more intrusive.

The argument I hear from the conservative side is that all the regulations only affect law abiding, responsible gun owners. That’s why, to protect responsible gun owner’s, I suggest that if your weapon is used to commit a crime, you are in part responsible for that crime and should be criminally charged with something to the affect “failing to maintain responsible possession of a firearm” with increments depending on the affects the firearm had directly on any victims. The fact is, the legally owned guns belonging to responsible gun owners do not get used in shootings; but too often someone else’s gun is getting used to kill innocent people.

For example Christmas Day last year, 2-year old Sincere Smith killed himself while playing with his dad’s new .38 pistol. It is true, that the dad was charged with involuntary manslaughter in this instance, but surprisingly enough, it doesn’t always happen that way. For example 4 of the guns used by the shooters in the 1999 Columbine shooting were obtained from friends — did the friends or friends’ parents ever get charged? No.

The question comes about stolen weapons. Responsible gun owners know and report when their firearms are stolen. They keep them locked up and away from children. They don’t allow mentally incompetent or unstable use their guns. A gun reported stolen would obviously not result in the owner being charged, because they showed responsibility. If the evidence suggests that whatever crime a gun was used in was stolen before the gun owner could have noticed, they wouldn’t be charged either — the goal is not to be unfair, but to encourage gun owners to know where their guns are and make good choices about who has access to them; not to punish for being an owner.

NRA VP, Wayne Lapierre stated after the Sandy Hook shooting that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This argument has been proven wrong twice already. January 10th, a school shooter at Taft Union High School was talked down by a teacher and security guard to handing over his weapon. January 31st, a school shooter at Price Middle School had his weapon taken away by a liaison officer after shooting 1 student before he could continue. Some have pointed out that the officer was a good guy with a gun; however, the officer never un-holstered his gun — the gun didn’t stop the shooting. Even though it keeps getting reported that it was an armed guard that stopped it.

So where does that leave me? I am totally in favor of responsible gun ownership. I enjoy the rare occasion that I get to go to a shooting range, and would really like to own a gun — the only reason I don’t now is that I can’t afford one. I support the measures that Obama has put through executive order and generally support many of the measures being debated in Congress. Obama doesn’t want to take our guns away or make it illegal to buy or own a gun as some media experts choose to report; he wants to have the power to enforce the ones already in place.

What’s your opinions? Post it in the comments or a link to your own blog post about the topic!

#OpRollRedRoll

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About 2 weeks ago I realized something about myself. I like vigilantism. For a guy that spent nearly 20% of his life (nearly my entire work career), this is a crazy thought — a few months ago I probably would have said I don’t like vigilantes because they go against law enforcement. Then I got to thinking…

Who are my 2 favorite “super” heroes? Batman and V. Neither of them is overly extraordinary — neither can fly or control elements with ESP. Yeah, both heroes have superhuman powers, but both of their superhuman abilities were developed through a lot of pain and hard work. The police are given orders to arrest both super heroes, despite that both are doing the work that the government is failing to do.

Neither Batman, nor V are perfect — in fact, they are both horridly flawed. Batman is a bit of a “horn dog,” he’s arrogant, and frequently ignores wise counsel. V is filled with hate; anger; blood-lust. He kills and allows innocents to be killed in pursuit of methodically destroying people who have wronged him. He cares more about revenge than he does about Evey Hammond (just like how she pointed out to him that Edmond Dantes cared more about revenge than Mercedes).

However, when it comes down to it, the vigilante heroes repair broken societies. They sacrifice their life, happiness, and comfort to make society better. Gotham City and London are terrible places, but because of a single vigilante in both cities, there is hope. Because of them people aren’t afraid anymore. I like that.

As I’ve been writing, it occurred to me that they are kind of like Robin Hood (another vigilante that I have always admired). When the government fails to protect its people, it’s up to people to protect each other.

So that’s where #OpRollRedRoll comes in to play. I have loosely watched a hacktivist group called Anonymous (hacker activist) for a few years. Lately, I have been really paying attention to them. They are this loosley-organized group that looks to do vigilante justice where governments have failed worldwide. When they meet for a real protest, it is easy to pick Anonymous out from the rest of the protesters because they are they guys wearing Guy Fawkes masks and suits.

On the 23rd of this month, they announced they were going to war with Steubenville, OH. This town loves nothing more than their high school football team — apparently, not even their children. Earlier this year a 16 year old girl was invited to hang out with the football team at a party at one of the coaches’ house. She was given so much alcohol that she passed out. From there, multiple boys on the football team, who call themselves the “rape crew” took turns in a several hour long gang rape — all the while taking nude pictures and videotapes of her passed out.

There was a big push by the school, police, booster club, and local media to hide the fact. Police refused to investigate the crime for over a week, teachers were instructed (and as reports from students evidence) and carried out instructions to say that the girl was a slut and it was her fault. That she wanted what she got and the football players involved were victims to false allegations of rape. She, and her best friend, are still receiving harassment by numerous students and townsfolk because their priority is the star football team.

Eventually, 2 of the players were charged, but the numerous other boys of the rape crew who were present and videotaped, photgraphed, and did nothing to stop it were not charged with any crime. That night and the following day, they started tweeting and video messaging many other people in the school the evidence of their involvement.

Again, the town has done nothing to stop it. It isn’t the first allegation THIS YEAR of rape that was covered up by the local authorities. Another girl reported being raped by another boy from that school, but after some quick media spin and efforts to suppress, the town quickly forgot about it. Who was the boy accused? The son of one of the News station’s execs. I find it hard to believe that’s a coincidence.

Despite clear evidence of an exploited child by numerous people, alcohol at a party of a school official with students present, rape of a child, and a group of boys who openly refer to themselves as the rape crew, the federal authorities were never asked to become involved. The town has too much to lose (a high school football championship) to protect their own children.

#OpRollRedRoll was started on December 23rd when Anonymous and #KnightSec hacked the fan page of the football team (self-admittedly a private website, not affiliated with the school). They offered a Vendetta. They reviewed the photographs and videos taken at that party as the 16 year old girl was being raped, and they identified multiple boys who were involved and not charged or stood by while it happened and either filmed it or did nothing. In the message (delivered by a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask) he announced that he had hacked the private information for each of those boy (name, address, phone number, email, twitter, facebook, social security) and would publicly release it on the internet if they did not record themselves admitting to their actions (or inactions as the case may be) and ask for forgiveness and post it to the internet by Midnight on January 1st. He also stated in the video that owner of the fan site rollredroll.com (Jim Parks) had numerous interesting things in his email including pornography of young girls (he didn’t say child pornography), pictures of the 16 year old victim, and email correspondence with some of the boys that suggested that he was paying at least some of them for pictures and videos of their “exploits”.

Of course, Jim Parks filed a criminal police report for hacking with the county sheriff — a longtime supporter of the football team and booster club. The sheriff, Fred Abdalla (who in 1996 was convicted of 6 counts of extortion and 1 count of obstruction of justice) immediately called the FBI to investigate the hacking.

Ignoring the fact that the FBI doesn’t investigate the hacking of private.com fansites, why does hacking a small fansite constitute an immediate federal authority action request, but the rape of a child doesn’t get investigated for over a week and the FBI isn’t requested ever, even after a student’s phone obtained by the police shows pornography of that child.

I’ve viewed the responses to Anonymous’ decision to get involved on Twitter — Every response from a towns-person has fit into one of three categories. 1) It’s about time someone is coming to save us from our corrupt town. 2) Don’t you dare attack our football team. 3) That girl is a slut.

I urge all my readers to support Anonymous on this cause. I find it scary that in a society as advanced as ours, people convicted of corruption charges can be elected to power and suppress crimes against the very people they swear an oath to protect. I know releasing things like social security numbers of minors is not good business, but why is it that the only people really taking a stand and demanding action and justice for the 16 year old girl are either hackers or Roseanne Barr (Yes, from TV).

In spirit or in person if you are near Steubenville, OH, join Anonymous at noon on the steps of Steubenville City Hall and demand justice. Rapists cannot go free to protect a football team and high school tradition.