Friday, March 27, 2015

Gun Extremists Hurting Second Amendment Cause

One perspective on the often shrill
arguing over gun control laws.  
People outside of liberal Vermont, where I live, don't understand we've got quite a gun culture over here.

Lots of Vermonters hunt, and a fair number of people from around here like to go to gun ranges, target practice and have a grand old time.

Like most gun owners nationwide, gun enthusiasts in Vermont tend to be nice, normal sane people. Which of course is a good thing when you're talking about firearms.

And good for the state, seeing how hunting brings visitors and revenue to Vermont.

These gun owners naturally want to maintain and preserve the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

It's too bad the radical fringe of gun rights activism is screwing that up. The most ardent gun control advocate couldn't do a more effective job of encouraging gun control laws than the idiots on the extreme end of the pro-gun movement who think the mildest restrictions on gun use in sales is tantamount to treason.

Or something like that.

Case in point is this yahoo from Michigan who decided to exercise his right to openly carry a gun by walking around outside a high school with a long gun and holstered pistol, says the Detroit News. 

OK, technically this guy indeed had the right to carry his guns, and when police investigated, they didn't arrest, cite or warn him, because he committed no crime.

But is scaring the bejeesus out of a high school full of teachers and students and forcing a lockdown really the right way to promote the Second Amendment?

People are understandably nervous about school shootings, after all. No offense, but sometimes it's hard to distinguish between a nut who really, really likes the Second Amendment and a nut who wants to shoot up a school.

The Detroit News quoted Officer Carey Spangler saying police got "about a million 911 calls" about this guy.

Yeah, no kidding.

Even the pro-gun, pro-open carry web site bearingarms.com is fed up with the gun idiot at the school.

"Law enforcement officers were diverted, and school was disrupted, because this 'gentleman' insisted on open carrying past a high school, seemingly with the express intent of getting a rise out of authorities and making a public spectacle out of himself.

Most gun owners support the theory of open carry, and most have the basic sense to understand that it should not be used in such a manner that it can be taken as a threat against the public, or against private individuals.

Unfortunately, individuals have abused open carry in various states to the point that restrictions have been placed upon open carry. Sometimes, this sort of trolling has led to open carry being outlawed entirely, with California being the prime example."

That's just it. The seriously overcompensating yahoos out there who get belligerent with their open carry showboating are probably more responsible for gun control laws than any outfit like States United to Prevent Gun Violence. 

The wackos like the guy in Michigan feel powerless because they are. They have nothing going for them.

So, parading around a school with a gun gives them the illusion of power. "See, I can shut down a school and the cops can't arrest me. Aren't I a big man?"

Um, no.

Like it or not, you've got to both employ good PR, and demonstrate at least a little common sense to persuade people to agree with your cause.

I have to say gun control activists are pretty good at this.

To wit:  That group I mentioned,  States United to Prevent Gun Violence, might be outgunned, to use the pun, by the Second Amendment wackos. But States United really know how to make their case Unlike the NRA whose leadership can get pretty extremist, States United is good at getting their message across

Like this PSA,  in which they opened a gun store in New York City.  The guy behind the counter then explains the sordid history behind the type of gun he's showing the would-be buyers.



The National Rifle Association responded, not by countering with information that it wants to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, or the dangerously mentally ill, went off on what a fraud the store was, how it probably violated the law (it didn't) and how the anti-gun New York City and State government probably had a hand in creating the PSA.

 Of course, the Second Amendment and guns has become one of those political dog whistles that make it impossible to have a sane conversation about the subject.

The general public would welcome such a conversation on the right way to manage gun violence without gutting the Second Amendment.

There are certain restrictions on First Amendment rights to free speech, such as the proverbial not yelling fire in a crowded theater or threatening to kill public officials.

So, there are probably ways to tamp down gun violence without interfering with all those law abiding hunters and shooting range enthusiasts in Vermont and everywhere else in the nation.

Here in Vermont, it looks like the legislature is headed toward passage of a law that would prohibit people convicted of some violent crimes from possessing a gun.

There's already a federal law to that effect, but the feds don't have the resources to fully enforce it so the logic is let the state help.

Seems reasonable to me, but gun rights advocates were apopletic at this idea. Especially since it also tighten restrictions on gun possession by people who are deemed "in need of treatment," code for dangerously mentally ill.

Gun Owners of Vermont, of course, are among those vehemently opposed to the proposal.

But their organization's motto is telling: "Dedicated to a no-compromise position against gun control."

However, there are compromises in everything out there. If you don't give just a little tiny bit, chances are you won't get anything you want.

You'll end up getting as much respect as that yahoo with the gun outside the Detroit school. People just roll their eyes and move on.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Judge Tells Prosecutor That Writing Rap Lyrics About Gangs Is Not A Crime, Duh!

San Diego rapper Tiny Doo faced up to life in prison
because prosecutors said he profited from gang
activity by writing lyrics about gangs.
A California court tossed the charges recently.  
Last November, I told you about the rapper named Tiny Doo, who was jailed and charged with, as prosecutors put it, fitting the legal definition of a gang member who 'willfully promotes, furthers, assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.'

Prosecutors were applying a law that says if somebody personally profits from gang activity they can be charged with a felony.

So yeah, if Tiny Doo was gunrunning to make a profit and supply the gangs, that would be a problem. It would also be a problem if the gangs paid him to tell them the location of somebody they wanted to kill.

As I noted a few months ago, Tiny Doo did none of these things.

He released a rap album called "No Safety" which had cover art showing a gun and bullets. Plus some of the lyrics dealt with the things gang members do.

Because he made money rapping about the things gangs do, he profited from gang activity, said prosecutors.

Thankfully, a judge just said, Uh, No. The First Amendment wins after all. Just because gang members like your music, doesn't mean you should be charged with the crime of profiting from gangs.

Says 7NBC in San Diego:

"(Prosecutors) claimed his homegrown music helped inspire the violence, even though there is no evidence connecting him to the actual shootings."

The prosecutors' logic, it seems, is akin to somebody listening to the old song "I Don't Like Mondays," which is about a school shooting, and then claiming a real school shooting arose because the assailant happened to hear that song.

Or as Tiny Doo's defense attorney, Brian Watkins said, "I think the whole world was watching because when they put our First Amendment here in America on trial, to say that Brandon Duncan's rap music encouraged these shootings."

That's why I'm making such a big deal out of this one case. Slippery slopes don't always happen, of course, but what's to stop some prosecutor from making a crime out of producing any kind of art the prosecutor thinks is distasteful.

I happen to like the song, "I Don't Like Mondays" so should I be arrested as a potential school shooter even though the last thing I ever want to do is bring a gun near a school. (I don't even have a gun, for crissakes. )  

 7NBC in San Diego says San Diego County District Attorney spokeswoman Tanya Sierra released a statement saying the office would respect the court's decision but added this:

"While a debate over the law can be constructive and educational, combatting the scourge of deadly gang violence remains our focus. Instead of waiting for ore shootings and murders to victimize the community we used this law to cripple the organization."

I'm all for stopping violence and putting gangs out of business, but maybe prosecutors should have went after gangs without getting creative with the First Amendment. I'm sure they can pin a lot of evidence on gang members who shot or threatened people.

The District Attorney's office said all the people they charged in connection with the Tiny Doo case are gang members. So, prove it. Is Tiny Doo a gang member or not?  If he is, you'd think there'd be evidence beyond the fact he made rap music.

The statement from Sierra's office said court records show that everybody's a gang member in this case and the media is being manipulated.

I would think that somebody in the media would find the supposed evidence that Tiny is a gang member and report it.

If so, charge him. With real evidence. Until then, I'm totally writing this off as prosecutorial overreach. And I'm offended the prosecutor has such little regard for the First Amendment.

DIY Pro Tip: Don't Be Darwin Award Contender When Demolishing Wall

Man demonstrates wrong way to
do a DIY demolition project.  
A viral video is circulating this week, which you will see at the bottom of this post, of a guy demolishing a cinder block wall.

I know that sounds incredibly pedestrian and boring, but watch the video.

As Digg notes, it's the same kind of approach as those people who sit on the tree branch that they are cutting off a tree.

When you watch the video, you know the instant it starts what's going to happen. Still, the suspense oddly builds as you watch and wait for the big moment.

I tell ya, people are just so creative in ways to be stupid.  They people in the video are speaking a foreign language, but I'm sure the guy wrecking the wall told his friends, "Hold my beer. Watch this."

There's no word on the wall demolish guy's fate, but (spoiler alert!) judging from the video, it seems he survived to give us another eye rolling video in the future.

You can use this video as an instructional film on how not to create an open concept in your home interior design.

Watch:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Duck Dynasty's Phil "Rape Fantasy" Robertson Now Officially Creepiest Person Alive

Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, has some
unusual thoughts on atheists and what they deserve. 
Phil Robertson, the bearded patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, has always been known to say weird things in his ultra conservative, fundamentalist Christian way.

But what he had to say this week is beyond creepy.

While speaking at the Vero Beach (Florida, of course) Prayer Breakfast, Robertson was trying to make the point, I think, that he thinks atheists don't believe in right or wrong and that alleged mindset will come back to bite them.

To illustrate this, he gave a detailed fantasy of his in which two men break into an atheist's home, rape his two young daughters then kill them. Then he rapes the atheist's wife and then beheads her in front of him.

Then the intruders say "Isn't it great that I don't have to be judged. Isn't it great that there's nothing worng with this. There's no right or wrong now, is there dude?"

Then the intruders cut off the atheist's private parts and Robertson narrarates:

 "(They) take his manhood and hold it in front of hm and say, Wouldn't it be something if (there) was something wrong with this.... "You're the one who says there is no God, there's no right, there's no wrong, so we're just having fun. We're sick in the head have a nice day.

If it happened to them, they probably would say, 'Something about this just ain't right.'"

Something about this is INDEED not right and that is Robertson. `

Look, I'm totally OK with people having dark fantasies. That's where some of the best horror movies and books come from. That's where some of the most interesting music originates.

But I'm sorry, this is just too weird.  What gets me is the details Robertson intertwined in his little story. (I left some of it out.) He spent a lot of time thinking about this, coming up with this story.

I wonder if he's so angry with atheists and people who don't go along with his brand of so-called Christianity that he wants to kill them.

As the Washington Post notes, Robertson really has a history of offering up some pretty dark imagery. I wonder where that darkness comes from.

At that Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, he also reportedly said that American liberals follow Satan and are worse than Stalin or the Nazis.

Yeah, like Nancy Pelosi goes around murdering thousands of people just because.

Geez, if I was at that Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, I would have been praying alright. Praying that Robertson Would. Just. Go. Away.

Getting back to Robertson's atheist family rape fantasy, I suppose we could distract ourselves and sidestep his grossness by looking at Robertson's "logic."

Robertson seems to think that only Christian, and his brand of Christianity has a sense of right or wrong. If that's true, why is he fantasizing about creeps raping families?

I can't imagine anyone, atheist or not, who doesn't have some sense of right or wrong.

Contrary to Robertson's assertion, if you rounded up all the atheists in the world and asked them if whether they thought rape, torture and murder were right or wrong, 99.99999999 percent of them would say "wrong."

I know I'm being Captain Obvious by saying that, but people like Robertson are impervious to Captain Obvious, so what are you gonna do?

Phil Robertson's opinions aren't important, I know. But still, one of the few things I can think of that are scarier than Robertson's rape fantasies are that some people totally agree with his weird screeds.

House For Sale: Explosive Features Included (Scary!)

Somebody rigged this house to explode
when a light switch was flipped, police said.
Luckily, an electrician found the problem
before the switch was flipped.  
Some tenants moved out of a house last Sunday in the Boston suburb of Milton.

The owner of the place wanted to sell the building and hired an electrician to see whether everything was up to snuff before putting the place on the market.  

It was not up to snuff.

It turns out somebody rigged the house so that, if somebody flipped a certain light switch, the house would explode.

The Boston Globe picks up the story:

"When officers arrived, an electrician and the homeowner's attorney were at the house, said Milton Police Chief Richard Wells. 

The electrician was there, following a failed home inspection the week before, when he discovered what he told the police was 'an IED' - an improvised explosive device - i the form of a plastic jug full of accelerant and wired to explode when a light switch was flipped, Wells said."

Boy, I bet that electrician was glad he didn't flip that light switch when he was poking around, looking for wiring issues.

Especially since the explosive stuff was well hidden. It was behind a recently replastered wall inside a closet.

Lindel Williams, who owns the property said the most recent tenants, a husband, wife and daughter moved out last weekend after living there since June.

Police are now looking for that family, as they are the proverbial persons of interest.  Neighbors basically said the people who lived there were quiet and kept to themselves. (All the potentially scary people in the world are quiet and keep to themselves, aren't they?)

Also, before this, somebody clogged all the house's drains with cement.

Of course, we don't yet know if the former tenants were behind all this handiwork.

But if the tenants were behind this, I hope they make their names public. I wouldn't want to so much as rent a video to these clowns, much less a house.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Alleged Weirdo Has Bizarre, Illegal Way Of Cheering Himself Up At Work

EVERYBODY wishes this guy had found
another way to have fun at work. Now he probably
does, too, now that he's been arrested.  
We all have those moments. The day at work seems to drag, the task you're assigned to do is kind of boring and blah, and you really need a pick-me-up.

Even somebody making a funny wisecrack would do.

Of course, there are lines you shouldn't cross when you're trying to have a little fun at work.

One guy named David Keith Slovinski in Michigan crossed that line, ran it over, and kept going and going and going.  Everybody really wishes he'd stopped, says the MLive media group web site. 

His idea of an at-work boost was to take photos of his junk, then show them to his co-workers at a Meijor grocery store in Michigan, according to police, as reported in MLive.

"Yeah, it cheers me up when I'm feeling down," Slovinski is quoted as saying in an affidavit in Granville District Court in Michigan.

Of course, Slovinski might have been cheered up, but for fellow employees, Slovinski's actions pretty much took the fun out of the day at work.

Actually, the cheeriness quotient has since got up for Slovinski's co-workers and down for Slovinski himself.

That's because he's been arrested, and of course that means the co-workers are free to use their break times to, I don't know, look at cat videos on line rather than see pics of Slovinski's junk.

MLive say Slovinski has gotten himself in trouble lots of times before for this sort of thing, so it's way past time for find another way to make himself happy at work.

And I don't mean that, either!

What's wrong with doing what people do on their breaks where I work, and what I imagine happens where you work.  They eat snacks, read the paper, catch up on email, chat with each other.

Shouldn't be that hard, er, difficult.

Some Idiot In California Wants Ballot Measure To Execute All Gay People

California Attorney General Kamala Harris
totally doesn't want a petition for a terrible
anti-gay ballot intiative but it looks
like she will be compelled by existing
laws to do just that.  
UPDATE: As of Wednesday, a day after I wrote this, it turns out California Attorney General Kamala Harris IS going to try preventing this idiotic "kill the gays" proposal  from going forward.

The Guardian newspaper reports late this afternoon that she is going to ask a judge to step in and prevent the petitions for this weird, odious proposal from being circulated.

Said Harris:

"It is my sworn duty to uphold the California and United States constitutions and to protect the rights of all Californians. 

This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in civil society."

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:

Demonstrating yet again how just one idiot can provoke incredible embarassment, not to mention expense, a doofus in California wants the state residents to pass a law imposing the death penalty on all gay people living in the state.

Quote, unquote "Christian" activist Matt McLaughlin is behind this harebrained scheme.

This moron's proposed legislation demands "any person who touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or any other convenient measure."

Well, this guy's touched all right.

McLaughlin has done the easy part in getting this proposal on the ballot. McLaughlin has paid his $200 filing fee.

That means California Attorney General Kamala Harris must put the "Sodomite Suppression Act" proposal on the state's web site, and allow petitions to circulate.

The petitions are the hard part for McLaughlin. He needs at least 365,000 Californians to sign a petition that would force state election officials to put the question to all of the state's voters.

If he finds 365,000 legitimate voters to sign his petition, we're all in trouble.

Of course, Harris isn't exactly happy about putting this out for petition.  But her hands might be tied on this one. According to SF Gate:

"Does she have the power to refuese if the measure is patently unconstitutional? Harris isn't saying; her office did not return repeated phone calls. But some veteran practitioners of election law said they don't think so.

'The statute is clear: That the office has to prepare a summary provided the proponents have paid $200 and followed the right procedures,' said attorney Robert Stern, author of the state's 1974 Political Reform Act. He said he's never heard of a case in which the attorney general refused to issue a tital and summary."

Which of course leaves us with McLaughlin, who's proposed law declares it is "better that offenders should die rathern all of us should be killed by God's just wrath."

I suppose somebody is going to feel God's just wrath. If I were McLaughlin, I'd hide deep in the basement when there's lightning, just in case.

McLaughlin is sure as hell hiding from the public's wrath. He's pretty shadowy, no media has been able to contact him for comment, and he's tough to track down.

Of course, hiding like this will make it hard for McLaughlin and any of his minions to get the 365,000 signatures he needs for the ballot item. After all, you have to go out and public and get people to sign the stupid thing.

I'm guessing, just guessing, that a lot of people would be offended if asked to sign the petition, and that could lead to difficulties as well.

McLaughlin's um, proposal has begotten some other farcical ballot ideas going, at least from one activist.

Late last week, the publication Slate reported this tidbit:

"Frustrated by the attorney general's inability to combat McLaughlin's proposal, Charlotte Laws has decided to fight back with some free speech of her own. On Monday morning, Lewis plans to file the Intolerant Jackass Act, accompanied by the requisite $200, with the California attorney general.

Laws' proposal cleverly mirrors and skewers the Sodomite Suppression Act, explaining that the 'abominable crime known as prejudice against sexual orientation' is 'a destructive view that society commands to suppress.'

Laws' um, law, would force anyone bringing forth a ballot measure suggesting that gay people be killed be forced to attend sensitivity traning for at least three hours per month for 12 consecutive months, and the offender or "Intolerant Jackass" must donate $5,000 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization."

OK, Laws' idea is probably unconstitutional, too, but as you can tell, she's just trolling McLaughlin.

Now if we can only pass a law to make McLaughlin just shut up already and stop wasting everybody's time, and taxpayers' money.