Tag Archives: balancing

Now That The ACLU No Longer Wants To Be The ACLU, The United States Needs An ACLU

In a confidential memo obtained by former board member Wendy Kaminer, the American Civil Liberties Union has defined a policy that retreats from and undermines—perhaps the best word is betrays— its traditional mission of protecting the Bill of Rights, and especially the First Amendment rights of all Americans.  The memo says in part,

Work to protect speech rights may raise tensions with racial justice, reproductive freedom, or a myriad of other rights, where the content of the speech we seek to protect conflicts with our policies on those matters, and/or otherwise is directed at menacing vulnerable groups or individuals….We are also firmly committed to fighting bigotry and oppression against other marginalized groups, including women, immigrants, religious groups, LGBT individuals, Native Americans, and people with disabilities. Accordingly, we work to extend the protections embodied in the Bill of Rights to people who have traditionally been denied those rights. And the ACLU understands that speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality.

…There is no presumption that the First Amendment trumps all other amendments, or vice versa. We recognize that taking a position on one issue can affect our advocacy in other areas and create particular challenges for staff members engaged in that advocacy. For example, a decision by the ACLU to represent a white supremacist group may well undermine relationships with allies or coalition partners, create distrust with particular communities, necessitate the expenditure of resources to mitigate the impact of those harms, make it more difficult to recruit and retain a diverse staff and board across multiple dimensions, and in some circumstances, directly further an agenda that is antithetical to our mission and values and that may inflict harm on listeners…Our defense of speech may have a greater or lesser harmful impact on the equality and justice work to which we are also committed, depending on factors such as the (present and historical) context of the proposed speech; the potential effect on marginalized communities; the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values; and the structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur….

Where the ACLU defends the right to speak of those with whom it disagrees, it should generally engage in counter-measures both to reinforce the
values the speaker attacks and to make clear that we do not endorse the substance of the views. Some options might include:

1. Denouncing the views in press statements, op-eds, social media, and other available fora.

2. Participating in counter-protests. When we assist people in securing the right to march or demonstrate for views we condemn, we can and generally should support and participate in counter-protests, with consideration given to participation by senior staff or board members to highlight the ACLU’s commitment and ensure that such participation does not disproportionately burden other staff.

3. Supporting other counter-speech by supporting, organizing or helping to organize events, facilitating access to media, or taking other actions that will amplify and
strengthen the voices of those espousing our values.

4. Expanding our work on behalf of the values the speaker attacks.

5. Earmarking any fees recovered from the case to projects within the ACLU that further the values that we support and the speaker attacked, or donating them to another organization that works to advance those values, preferably in the geographical area where the speech occurred….

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point

I’m moving this essay up in the queue, because while walking my dog in the rain—such rote activities like dog-walking, showering and driving often trigger “right brain” activities and inspirations—it all became clear to me for the first time.

One aspect of the argument being offered by anti-gun zealots following this school shooting that is new compared to Sandy Hook is the sudden popularity of the term “weapons of war.”  it was used multiple times at the very start of the CNN “town hall,” for example. Rep. Deutch:

But, beyond that, the best way for us to show that is to take action in Washington, in Tallahassee, to get these weapons of war off of our streets.

and…

…and the answer to the question is, do I support weapons that fire-off 150 rounds in seven or eight minutes, weapons that are weapons of war that serve no purpose other than killing the maximum number of people they can, you bet I am.

…and

And that is making sure that we take action to keep our kids and our schools safe and to get dangerous weapons of war off of our streets. That has to be our priority and we’ve got to do it now.

My interest is not whether it is a wise or good thing to ban semi-automatic weapons. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled last year that Maryland’s ban was constitutional, and the Supreme Court, so far, at least, has not chosen to review it. A national ban, however, would certainly require SCOTUS assent, and my guess is that such a law would fail, and as I will continue to explain, should fail.

“Weapons of war” is nowa pejorative phrase designed to make the most popular rifle in America sound as if owning one is perverse. “Weapons of war” suggests not just self-defense, but active combat, and it certainly doesn’t mean hunting deer and rabbits. Following Sandy Hook, a lot of the anti-gun rhetoric, as from New York Governor Cuomo, involved the deceitful (or ignorant) argument that you don’t need a semi-automatic rifle to shoot a deer. This vigorous false narrative is as old as the Left’s anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment movement itself.

Thus  “weapons of war” is now the phrase of choice to persuade moderate, uncommitted citizens considering the gun controversy that it makes no sense to allow citizens to own such weapons. Hunting weapons, sure (at least until there’s a mass shooting in a school using those). A registered handgun to shoot a burglar, a rapist or a home invader?  Fine. But “common sense gun controls” can’t possibly allow citizens to have “weapons of war.”

The problem is that allowing private ownership of weapons of war is exactly what the Founders intended. The Second Amendment was devised to ensure that citizens would  not be disarmed by a government that needed to be overthrown, or, in the alternative, that some citizens wanted to overthrow, but wrongly.

The Founders were, it should not be necessary to say, revolutionaries. They believed that citizens had the right and even the obligation to bring down abusive  governments. Jefferson stated it directly in the Declaration of Independence:

“Prudence … will dictate that Governments long-established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Jefferson was a brilliant man, and no dreamy-eyed idealist. He could not have assumed, feeling the way he did about governments, government power, and the men who come to possess such power, that governments could always be dissolved peacefully. As a prudent and practical man, he was also saying that it is unwise to seek to change a government every time it fails or disappoints, and that long-standing systems deserve the public’s tolerance, patience and forbearance. Government should be a contract of trust, and that when that trust is irreparably broken by abuses of power, the people must have the right, and must have the ability to activate that right, to demand a new form of government.

This is, of course, exactly what the 13 Colonies did. The Constitution they adopted when they began their experiment in democracy naturally and necessarily included a crucial right without which future generations of Americans would not be able to “throw off” a government whose abuse of power had become odious. That was the right to bear arms, embodied in the Second Amendment. The arms one had the right to bear had to be weapons of war, because fighting—civil war, revolution, wars of resistance—was their explicit purpose. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, U.S. Society

This Explains A Lot, I Guess…

Here’s another planned post from those lost notes on a Sunday Times I just found from two weeks ago:

In  the New York Times Magazine,  the Times announced the results of an online poll of 2, 903 subscribers by its research-and-analytics  department. 72% Times loyalists would prefer to have done something horrible that only they knew about than to have everyone think they did a horrible thing that they really didn’t do.

Wait…what?

See, if you did a secret horrible thing, there really was someone hurt by your conduct. If people just think you did a horrible thing, you in fact hurt nobody, and did nothing wrong. This was a sneaky way of asking, “Are you a selfish and unethical human being, or not?”  Well, sneaky assuming that Times subscribers are incapable of thought, or that they let their 12-year-old kids answer Times research questions. About 3/4 answered, “Oh, I’m completely unethical!”

For the sake of clarity, let’s assume that both sides of the question involve the same horrible act, agreed? After all, if the real act is setting an orphanage on fire, and the wrongly believed act is farting loudly during a funeral service, or vice versa, the question is ridiculously easy.

So…72% of Times subscribers would rather have murdered a child than have everyone wrongly think they murdered a child? Molested a child? Broiled and eaten a child? Committed adultery? Spousal abuse? Spousal torture? Buried a spouse alive? Keeping a spouse locked in a dungeon? Locking a spouse in a dungeon with rabid wolverines?

What does this poll result tell the Times? What were they trying to learns? What does it tell us?

I guess it might explain the continued presence of the likes of Charles Blow, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman on the Times op-ed pages.

Or maybe their presence explains why Times subscribers reason as they do.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Megyn Kelly, William Saroyan, Ethics, Me, And Us: A Rueful Essay” (#2)

The second of the Comments of the Day sparked by my musings on Megyn Kelly’s descision to move from a job where she excelled to a completely different assignment at which, at least so far, she is crashing and burning like the Hindenburg. The first, by  Extradimensional Cephalopod, was very different, an abstract analysis of the phenomenon that bedevils Kelly, and many of us. The second, a personal account of the dilemma in action, is no less enlightening, but very different.

The comment also reminded me that I have never posted about the Japanese concept of Ikigai, and I should have. There is no English equivalent for the word: ikigai  combines the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for.” Together the words encompass the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life. Ikigai also invokes a mental and spiritual state where individuals feel that their lives have value—to them, to loved ones, to society.

Ikigai odes not spring from actions we are forced to take, but from natural, voluntary and spontaneous actions. In his article titled  “Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei” (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Japanese wrter Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”

Sounds simple.

It isn’t.

Here is Alex’s Comment of the Day on the post, Megyn Kelly, William Saroyan, Ethics, Me, And Us: A Rueful Essay:

This topic is close to my heart, so time for some confessions and public reflections.

As I’ve previously mentioned I’m a software engineer, over a decade of experience, and modesty aside, a darned good one at what I do. The main areas of work I’ve been involved in are speech recognition, accessibility and development runtimes (think along the lines of the Java runtime). It was not necessarily world transforming work, but it had an impact and passionate following by our users. Pay was good if slightly low for the experience I had, and as of late I was getting tired of the work and wanted to try something new – also, a reasonable salary increase was not going to hurt.

So I start my job hunt, both internally and externally. At the end it comes down to two very good offers: One working for a social media giant with at a still-to-be-determined role with extremely good pay and no clear route for advancement. The other working closer to hardware (I’m an EE but never worked on it professionally) with lower pay (still an improvement over my previous job) at a clearly defined role with an advancement development plan and with the goal of putting people in space.

Putting it like this it sounds like a home run, but with a family in the line – I’m a single earner with three kids – the financial sides are a big consideration. There were so many things to balance: money, prospects for advancement, happiness, commute time, personal fulfillment, and yes, societal value of my work. It was not an easy decision, there were difficult conversations with my wife and even more than a year later some days I wonder if this was the right call (I went with the space company…Yay!) Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Religion and Philosophy, Workplace

Putting Gun Control In Perspective: The Second Amendment’s Purpose, And How To Protect It

A guest post by texagg04

 

[The following is a rare guest post. The author is a previous winner of an Ethics Alarms commenter of the year award, which comes with the privilege of a guest post, though no winners have ever cashed their prize in. I decided this effort warranted special status beyond a Comment of the Day, in part because of its length, in part because of its immediacy, and in part because I think it should be read. Only Paul Peterson, the child performer advocate and a personal hero and friend, has been a guest commenter in the past.]

This topic fatigues me every time it arises. Watching the videos of the concert-goers simultaneously brought out two emotions, one of compassion and sympathy for the victims of the crime, and one of sheer “pre-exhaustion” knowing I’d be called upon to rehash all the same, solid arguments to counteract the emotion-driven “do-something-ism.” I’ve resisted wading into the debates because it is all so tiresome, though I have chimed in on occasion. But that doesn’t mean my mind hasn’t been wrestling with this crime, the 2nd Amendment, and the deeper philosophy behind it.

There are a handful of questions this debate inevitably boil down to. I will dispense with any notions that the 2nd Amendment exists for hunting or for fun, though those topics will arise shortly. No, we’ll start off on the honest premise that the 2nd Amendment exists as a democratization of force, where the Constitution, in a sideways manner, supplements the three branched checks-and-balances division of power, with a three tiered “balance of force”, where the National level retained control over the standing army, the States retained control over the Militias (when called out), and the People, armed, represented the lowest rung. And I am of the firm belief that the 2nd Amendment is STILL ultimately essential to liberty.

But that is really the first set of questions that the debate boils down to:

  • Can good modern governments still go bad or can we trust modern republics to not go bad?
  • How does one fix a bad government or a government on the way to becoming bad?
  • Can the citizenry oppose and correct those governments without force or threat of force?

I think that a perusal of the modern history of Western Civilization would tend to show us that yes, governments can most certainly go bad. The blood-letting of Europe from 1917-1945 and the follow-on competition that ended in the early 90s is proof that democracies and republics can flip rapidly into tyrannies. I think a simple survey of contemporary nations will show us that a large number of people are subjugated beneath the yokes of dictatorships. But what of the “good” nations that have disarmed their citizens? They don’t seem to be tyrannical, they seem quite free without a mass of armed citizens forever poised to check them.

I can easily concede that they are relying on the benevolence of their current leadership. It is working fine. For them. Right now.

Still, the essential check on malevolent people with force is the actions benevolent people with force. European nations currently have generally benevolent people with authority over them. We already know, however,  that this condition can change and can change rapidly. The peoples of other nations that descended into t oppression, as their culture and governments changed, thought they also lived in modern enlightened times, where tyrannies couldn’t happen to them. I’m moving to this segue because I think checks on these malign forces aren’t merely internal, but external as well. When the European central powers slipped into malevolent rulership, it was EXTERNAL forces of good that came and broke the dictatorships apart and restored the bad actors to republicanism.

I think a certain amount of “momentum” is maintaining that check on the rise of tyrannies in these disarmed nations with “benevolent” governments. That is, I think there’s still an aura of protection provided by the United States that deters any truly awful government from rising in Europe. Then again, that depends upon the presence of a benevolent people willing to use force to check the rise of a bad government. What then if the United States or other good actors stopped being good? I would submit that, disarmed, the people of Europe would have not one bit of ability to stop the rise of tyranny in their own nations.

So why does the United States seem to keep a government that is mostly good? (and it does, you naysayers) The answer is that it has a perpetual check against its getting out of hand: the armed populace. Does this political check absolutely require violent force or the threat of violent force? What about merely electing good actors to replace bad? What about protesting tyrants when they arise? What about petitioning the government for redress of grievances? What about speaking out freely against the dictators when they rise?

Those are all good measures to take when a citizenry must ensure it is in the right before a society slides past a point from which it cannot return from. All of them, however,  rely upon a generally benevolent government that will pause and consider the grievances listed by its people. History shows that a rising dictatorship  will not care, requiring the people to be more forceful in their demands than mere words can accomplish

Yes: governments, regardless of the advancement of the culture they preside over can still go bad. Yes, there are steps before a government goes bad to rectify the government without violence. No, if the government goes too far, the citizenry cannot fix the problem without violence or threat of violence. And if that the fix cannot come from benevolent outsiders, such as France aiding the colonists in 1776 or the United States and other Allies in World War II, then the citizenry is on its own.  Sans firearms, the citizenry will have little recourse, for tyrants don’t care about protests.

This leads to other questions. Are some cultures content with domineering governments that we would consider overbearing at the cost of our security against tyranny? If so, would it be a solution to our “gun problems” to become more like those cultures? Are some cultures more vibrant and energetic and assertive, in such away that all the positives that derive from that vibrancy and assertiveness are inherently accompanied by a set of negatives such as violence and discontent? If it is necessary to solve the violence and discontent by also throwing out the vibrancy and assertiveness worth the trade off?

I don’t want to dive into this too deeply here. It just seems obvious that our culture promotes assertiveness and vibrancy, which generally inculcates an attitude in its people that the government needs to primarily keep out of our business. That attitude, taken to the extreme, is ultimately manifested in a people that must be armed to check the government, as per the opening paragraphs of this essay. Is the violence we see more often in this nation than in others a negative by-product of assertiveness, ambition or individualism? Now, before our resident Europhiles complain, yes, many Europeans are similar, but in general, (and I’ve been to Europe), I’m not impressed. Make no mistake, they enjoy their culture, I’m not expecting them to change it, I just don’t think it’s a culture we want to adopt here, and it’s certainly not one that is any position to oppose a government that decided to overstep its bounds.

That being said, the violence in our nation, though on average now decreasing, still produces extremely violent acts.

(To be clear, I’m speaking of American culture as those values it has traditionally held to, not the “objective” culture that vast swathes of progressives would love us to morph into, a culture which is essentially European in flavor).

Where these two lines of questions collide—that is, the necessity of the 2nd Amendment, and the mass killings that occur at disturbing frequency—it probably is worth revisiting the concept of “Arms” and the right to bear them. I am certain that the ability of the citizenry to check the government is worth the gun violence in America. But can any real steps be taken to alleviate the scope of the violence when it occurs? Because make no mistake, that’s really all we’re discussing when we discuss disarmament: “Fewer people are killed by a mass murderer with a knife than with a machine gun”. Got it. The dude’s still a mass murderer, and you are only trying to keep the kill count down.

There is something to that logic. Yet even though preservation of life is BUT ONE value among many that our Republic perpetually balances, it really doesn’t possess trump-card power over other values. So, if we are to seek “minimization” of casualties as a goal, it can ONLY be found within a solution that preserves the 2nd Amendment’s goals.

Before proceeding, I’m going to take a moment to rehash an essay that I wrote a while back, which discusses the 2nd Amendment (bolded line was not bolded in original):

““A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

We know the final clause “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is, on its face, fairly plain-spoken. That these words are hotly debated is baffling, they seem clear and obvious to me. Certainly, an amount of ambiguity exists about “What did the Founders mean by ‘Arms’”? Other arguments can be made about the meaning of “people”…did the founders mean to speak to a collection of individuals with individual rights or to directly to collection itself. But those ambiguities aside, the clause is concise and clear — the people have a right to bear arms; by extension of the philosophy enshrouded in the Declaration of Independence, it would be a natural right.

A review of contemporary documents would show that the term “keep and bear arms” does apply to individuals separately, that bear arms means to carry and use (for a variety of purposes). If this meaning does apply to individuals, then we have the meaning of the term “people”. As for the Founder’s meaning of “Arms”, that debate can rage on. A reading of the Federalist papers and scant few other documents and understanding them would indicate that the Founders intent in the balance of force is that the common man certainly at a minimum has the right to bear an equal firearm to the standard infantryman. It would seem the heavier weapons were relegated to the control of the separate states and to the national army (although the vagueness of Arms at the time does allow a wider definition – but even I don’t think their vision meant for the private citizen to own a tank or a nuke).

The prior phrase “….A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..” is where I think the Founders are truly eloquent and packed a ton of meaning into 13 words.

Some would tell us that the strong full time army is enough to secure our country from invaders, therefore a ‘militia’ is no longer necessary, therefore the people no longer need the right to bear arms. But the Founders didn’t say “a military necessary to repel invaders”, they said “security of a free State.”They knew all too well that an unchecked central army can easily secure a State… but they wanted a free State. They knew from firsthand experience that centralized force is the primary tool of tyranny, and that only a heavily armed populace was a check against that.

Alexander Hamilton states in Federalist #29: “but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.”

Some would tell us the militias existed because the nation couldn’t fund a large full time military. The Founders didn’t say “…Militia, being necessary to alleviate the financial burden of a large Army, and at which point it becomes financially viable, we will say ‘the Army, being necessary for the security of a free State.”

In the same Federalist Paper, Hamilton does assert that the militia does alleviate the financial and social burden of a large standing army, while immediately following with assertions that even should a large standing army exist, the militia would continue as a check against it.

Some would tell us the Militia was meant to be just a supplement. And, yes, all though that is one role of the Militia, that is not what the clause “being necessary” implies. They knew that a free State CANNOT exist WITHOUT a Militia at all! The phrase doesn’t say “A well regulated Militia, sometimes helps for the security of a free State…”. The Founders distinctly say the Militia is NECESSARY to the security of a free State. Because free States are not just attacked from without, but also from within.

What do we glean simply from “…Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State….”

A) the Founders, based on their experience, knew that security means secure from the outside AND the inside
B) the Founders specified precisely what is being secured…a *free* State
C) the Founders specified a non-military entity known as the “Militia”
D) the Founders didn’t just say the Militia was useful, but NECESSARY
E) the Founders considered that no *free* State can exist without the Militia.

Why all the emphasis on the militia and the citizen soldier versus a standing professional army? What is this “Militia”, what did the Founders mean by “A well regulated Militia…”?

The founders were certainly speaking about an organization of the separate people as a collected entity. But they understood that entity to be composed of everyone (yes, I know women and slaves etc didn’t count, but the spirit of the militia was that it was every individual). This, the collected, yet dispersed, force of *every* individual citizen, was the final force that was meant to be a check against the centralizing forces. A constant reminder to those wishing to impose non-republican and non-democratic will on the people, the militia and the right to bear arms (as individuals part of the whole) was viewed as indispensable to Liberty as the 1st Amendment, and all the others.

Since the earliest definitions of the militia clearly point to the notion that it is the entire body of the people derived from an INNATE duty of all individual citizens to safeguard the liberty of nation, I certainly do not think the National Guard or the Reserves or any of the armed federal agencies are the Militia. The various Acts and Laws forming those entities merely established professional standing armies, while co-opting the term “militia”. The militia – in terms of the necessary civic spirit of a vigorously liberty oriented people in opposition to the slightest pretext of centralizing and freedom-usurping forces – still and must exist.”

Okay, back on track:

I’m loathe to mention any compromises as the Left has demonstrated, for reason that a compromise today will merely be the next point to begin compromising tomorrow.  I think that we can seek some fair solutions to minimizing the casualties wrought by bad actors while still preserving the 2nd Amendment. I won’t call these “common sense” regulations, as I think the term is employed as a dirty trick of the Left to avoid having to make an argument. And fellow Libertarians, follow with me here and don’t get angry, as I’m stifling a certain amount of anger merely pondering this.

Let’s assume a premise, that yes, as Americans we shouldn’t have to be told what we can do with our possessions nor should we have to be told we can’t have something we want. I get it. I get that firearms have traditionally fallen into that category, but I also think that modern generations look at firearms much more differently than the Founders did.

[I feel it: you’re already bristling that I’m about to suggest that indeed, within the category of firearms, there may be more than just machine guns that the government can tell us we don’t need to have.]

Our modern culture has increased the “recreational” aspect of firearms to probably a level that the Founders would have found somewhat…troubling…? I personally don’t think it’s troubling, because MOST people can be trusted to shoot recreationally. But then again, Firearms at their essence are TOOLS of VIOLENCE, originally for sustenance and defense (against Criminals of all types). We have, as a consequence of our material and territorial success, been able to increasingly spend more time shooting for fun, such as targetry or hunting, than we have needed to spend shooting for defense, or for essential sustenance. Nevertheless,  you can’t divorce the modern luxury of shooting from its essential purpose.  Any sport and recreation derived from that purpose still arises from practicing the skills necessary to utilize firearms as a TOOL of VIOLENCE. Though the guns are “fun”, this does mean they are in a different class of “possession” than, say, your car, or your house, or your laptop. It does mean that maybe they need to be thought about as different sort of property, and a kind that  doesn’t get the automatic fruits of liberty pass of “I don’t need the government telling me what I can and cannot have”.

Though the firearms are private possessions and are…kind of fun…we can’t deny that there have to be some limits to firepower and potential destructive force  individual can possess, at without expensive permits and registration: Crew served machine guns…rockets…missiles…grenades… etc. Perhaps even these kinds of “potential casualty” considerations can apply to our small arms as well.

Now that I’ve lost most of my libertarian friends, the few hangers-on can possibly let out a sigh of relief, because the compromises I’m going to suggest are going to be seen partly as grossly stupid by the Left and partly as something that may be workable. Conceded: here must be a balance between the 2nd Amendment and the casualties that can come from misuse of firearms.

First, magazines.

You don’t need a 100 round drum…you don’t need a belt fed bullet backpack. Yes, they are fun. Yes, they support recreationally blazing away a lot of bullets without a reload. And I get it, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need, but, no, you don’t need them as part of the armed citizenry checking the power of an increasingly tyrannical government, which is the goal of the 2nd Amendment. In fact, I’d submit, you only need what an average infantryman carries: which is 7-10 x 30 round magazines. This will probably cause vapors among the Left who wouldn’t be content with anything more than a 3 or 5 round magazine, while simultaneously causing vapors among  libertarians who don’t want any limitations in this regard.

Tough. Your objections mean neither of you are considering the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. How does one actually enforce a limitation, not merely on magazine capacity, but on total magazines owned? I’m not sure yet, but maybe it’s possible. I’m more certain that magazine capacity CAN be easily limited to 30 round.  I don’t think total magazines owned could ever be limited due to the ubiquity of them across the community, but that may be made moot by a later suggestion.

Rate of fire modifications.

Much has been discussed of “bump firing” or “bump stocks” after the Las Vegas massacre. Yes, they are fun. Yes, they support recreationally blazing away a lot of bullets. And it’s crazy fun. Yes, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need. But, no, you don’t need modifications that replicate fully automatic firing as part of the armed citizenry checking the power of an increasingly tyrannical government. The primary infantry weapon carried has 2 firing modes: single shot and three round burst (and I only ever heard leaders telling their men to use single shot mode and to make every shot count). If the day ever came that armed insurrection is necessary, it will not consist of Johnny Rambo and his machine gun blazing down uniformed lines of cops; it will consist of many citizens likely with the backing of local or state governments. Those groups of rebels will operate effectively enough with weapons firing at a rate typical of semi-automatic weapons. This will probably piss off the Left, who would rather us be limited to bolt action weapons, this will probably annoy libertarians. But I submit that you aren’t considering the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and  balancing that purpose against bad people killing a lot of innocent people. I think this would be noticeably easier to enforce than the first  suggestion, certainly there will be ingenious people who will make their own modifications, but it isn’t that simple.

Now it’s time to really piss off some people:

Ammunition possession.

Could there be a way to limit the total amount of ammunition possessed at any one time, without the burdensome “barcoded” ammunition that has been proposed? I don’t know. I do know that you don’t need 10,000 rounds of ammunition stockpiled. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it supports the recreational ability to burn off rounds all day long without pause. Yes, I know you don’t need someone telling you what you don’t need. But, no, you don’t need enough ammunition to replenish a battalion through several firefights at any one time. I think, during the Founder’s era, anyone, as a member of the militia, would have been expected to have an ample amount of ammunition—for themselves—to last through a sustained firefight. I don’t know the numbers, but my guess is that would range anywhere from 30-60 rounds of ammunition. But those were different weapons and different standards of “firefight”. I could see a modern argument being made that the average soldier would need about 2-3 “battle loads” available…with a battle load being about 210 rounds of ammunition. Could there be a way to limit citizens to possessing at any one time 500-600 rounds of ammunition, without imposing onerous and invasive regulations? If so, then I could support that limitation. So far, I haven’t envisioned such a scheme. If that makes you angry, I don’t think you understand the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.

I do know this much, whatever schemes are in place, I would NEVER support them if they didn’t support anonymity of individual gun owners. With the rabidity of the Left’s hostility to guns, I would never trust a list of gun-owners to be collected anywhere. But, for example, if a limitation were placed on ammunition possession such that individual’s purchases were tracked and summed up, I would expect some sort of system would be in place to protect the identity of the purchaser unless the limit was reached. Maybe every gun owner has a type of license, with a unique identification number, such that, when an ammunition purchase is made, the unique identification number along with quantity of ammunition is passed on to the regulators, but no names are passed on. Unless at some point the unique ID number has associated with it, MORE ammunition that permitted, then that may trigger going down to the ammo supplier and getting the name of the individual (which would be on any receipts) and determining if there is reason to pursue legal measures. Of course, I have no way of figuring out how the ammo purchaser would reduce the number of rounds on their account based on firing them off so that they stay below or at the permitted amount when they purchase new. It might be completely unworkable.

Those are a handful of random brain-stormed ideas regarding the hardware of the 2nd Amendment that might work to protect the purpose of the 2nd Amendment while minimizing the potential casualties wrought by bad actors. Even then, I think the compromises still fall on the side of us just having to accept a certain level of killing as being the price of our freedom. All of the suggestions really unworkable, in which case, I’ll always default closer to the absolutist 2nd Amendment side of the debate every time, because checking the government that is also the world’s last great hope is WORTH IT.

What about the behavioral side of the 2nd Amendment?

As much as “mental health checks” prior to gun ownership sounds good, I don’t think I could get on board. I can foresee a future in which all manner of questions could be asked specifically to deny the maximum amount of people the ability to own firearms. It’s too easy to abuse and too easy to make the questions politically (or even religiously) flavored.

“Do you think the 2nd Amendment’s purpose is for the possible overthrow of the government?”

“Yes”

“You’re a nutjob, license denied”

or

“No”

“Ok, then you don’t need a firearm. Next!”

I think responsible exposure to and education about firearms from an early age IS a key component of people respecting the role of guns in society, and avoiding that dangerous fantasy that they are some sexy way to go out in a blaze of glory. Would mandatory firearms classes in middle school and high school be so bad? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t think you can be a responsible and complete citizen if you aren’t at least familiar with the function and employment of firearms.

Should gun owners periodically demonstrate safe handling, possession, and use of firearms? Yes. But I can only back such a requirement if anonymity is maintained at the lowest level possible. That is to say, the only people who know you are due for a “firearms test” are the locals. I cannot support this if aggregated lists of gun owners were made state wide, or national.

Beyond these possible measures I have suggested— I’m not even satisfied by them, as they may be oo difficult to enforce or too easy to become tomorrow’s benchmark for the next round of “common sense” compromises leading us ever closer to total confiscation— I doubt there are many others that are enforceable without the country becoming a police state. That we cannot allow. We may have to live with periodic casualties of liberty.

 

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Ethical Quote Of The Month: Harvard Law Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen

“We chose to set up our system to be stacked in favor of the defendant in all cases.So, in areas where most of the defendants are male, and most of the accusers are female, it’s a structural bias in favor of males. Even if we were to get rid of sexism, it would still be very hard to win these cases. I think this is what we have to live with on the criminal side, because we’ve made the calculation that this is the right balance of values.”

—-Jeannie Suk Gersen, Harvard Law School professor, explaining why the failure of a jury to convict Bill Cosby has little to do with sexism and everything to do with our standard of guilt in criminal cases.

The Professor could also have said, just as accurately,

‘We chose to set up our system to be stacked in favor of the defendant in all cases. So, in areas where the defendants are police officers, and most of the victims are black, it’s a structural bias in favor of cops. Even if we were to get rid of racism, it would still be very hard to win these cases. I think this is what we have to live with on the criminal side, because we’ve made the calculation that this is the right balance of values.’

It’s the exact same problem. The confusion comes when the public or a portion of it is  certain that particular defendant is guilty, and thus regards the failure of the system to find him so as proof of a malfunctioning justice system. It isn’t. It is proof that the system functions as it is supposed to, was designed to do and must do.  We do not take citizens’ freedom away unless guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt under the evidence rules of the law. This is what Colin Kaepernick doesn’t understand. This is what Black Lives Matters refuses to understand. This is what feminists and the Obama Education Department, which commanded that universities give the benefit of the doubt to accusers in allegations of sexual assault rather than the accused, either refuse to understand or do understand but argue against anyway to pander to the ignorant.

Americans, however, must understand this principle, and not just understand but fight for it, because it is the foundation of the Rule of Law as well as our individual rights.

Before I am done I will probably have posted this scene from “A Man For All Seasons” more than a hundred times. Maybe I should post it every day. Those who casually advocate forging short-cuts and detours through our laws and rights as the remedy for what they perceive as intolerable wrongs need to see it, read the words, memorize them, and maybe be quizzed on the scene’s lesson as a condition predicate to being respected in any policy debate:

 

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Quotes, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Case Study In How When Ethics Fail And The Law Steps In, The Law Will Screw Things Up Beyond Repair

Like Title IX, like Obamacare, like so many well-intentioned laws and regulations designed to assist and protect vulnerable citizens or traditionally oppressed groups, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened the door for abuse, absurd taxpayer costs, and unanticipated consequences. The ADA was rammed into law by activists compassion bullies who proclaimed that any attention to proportion and cost-benefit analysis was mean and heartless. Here is an example of what else came in that open door:

From the LA Times::

ADA lawsuits are now as common as sex-discrimination lawsuits, with more than 26,000 new claims filed against employers each year. The latest litigants have their sights on the most innovative segment of our domestic economy: e-commerce.In this trend, people sue businesses because their websites aren’t sufficiently accessible to the disabled — because the websites lack assistive technologies for the blind or hearing-impaired, say. It began in 2000, when Bank of America became the first entity to settle a web-accessibility lawsuit. Safeway and Charles Schwab soon followed suit. In 2008, Target paid $6 million to settle a class-action suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind, and nearly $4 million more to cover the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and other costs. More than 240 businesses across the country have been sued in federal court over website accessibility since the beginning of 2015. Similar litigation has been brought against universities on the grounds that the free online courses they offer aren’t captioned for deaf users, and against ride-sharing services because their smartphone apps lack text-to-speech capability for blind users.

…According to the demands of disabled users, in order for a website to be accessible, it must use fewer pictures, present text in a format that is compatible with text-reading software and employ design that allows for easy navigation. But the features that make a website more accessible for one disabled group are bound to be objectionable to another.

They may also conflict with other needs. Consider bank websites, which often employ timers that will shut down an online session for security reasons after a particular time period is exceeded. Such “timeouts” could present problems for some disabled users, but eliminating them in the interest of accessibility could impair security for all.

In the process of making a website accessible, questions invariably proliferate. Do certain color combinations violate the ADA because they confound the colorblind? Are certain layouts inaccessible if they’re confusing to users with a limited field of vision? Do the accessibility requirements apply only to the websites themselves, or do they also apply to Web content, such as advertising on a third party’s website? Will website hosts be responsible for the compliance of third-party sites? Must archived Web content be revised to comply? What about mobile apps? Do temporary technical bugs in an otherwise compliant website constitute a violation? What physical and mental conditions will require accommodation? So far, Web accessibility lawsuits have concerned the vision- and hearing-impaired, but future cases could be brought on behalf of plaintiffs diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, cognitive impairments, paralysis and many other conditions.

The game is to sue deep pockets website owners and extort settlement pay-offs. That’s fine for the Bank of America, but not for, say, Ethics Alarms. This blog could be put out of business by such a lawsuit, and so could hundreds of thousands of others. Continue reading

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