Bowie State University honored a man who should have graduated today, Richard Collins III.
Another reminder that senseless violence threatens us all, and that we must oppose all violence, regardless its origin.
If you follow my Tweets, or if you watch what I post on Facebook, you may have noticed I frequently credit editorial cartoonists with telling the truth. Cartoonists fill a critical need. I admire their work.
That’s not strong enough. I find that political cartoons offer truths, in quickly grokable form, that would remain hidden in news and commentary otherwise.
Perhaps more importantly, cartoons lampoon those who desperately, bitterly need lampooning.
Why is that important? Lampooning exposes crazy behaviors in our leaders, behaviors that if unchecked might lead a group to disaster. Or a community. Or a nation. Or a planet.
Ancient sayings, properly and improperly attributed to various sources, over a period of 500 to 1,000 years point to the importance of lampooning in correcting actions of leaders and governments. This version comes from a Sophocles play, Antigone (620-3):
For cunningly of old
was the celebrated saying revealed:
evil sometimes seems good
to a man whose mind
a god leads to destruction.
Lampooning helps, illustrating perhaps with laughter where the problem lies, though it also suggests that the chief perpetrators and promulgators of the craziness may be immune from such insights, whether through laughter or any other method.
If those lampooned genuinely cannot see the humor, a greater problem is exposed. That’s the point. Expose the madness, lay it bare for all to see. Sane people will work to help the insane, and avoid leading others into that madness. Lampooning provides us a great tool to avoid disasters, if we would only look. Laughter is optional, if the message gets through.
No god and no religion can survive ridicule. No church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field and live.*
We got a sharp and painful reminder of these facts yesterday, when a group of gunmen, stung by ridicule from a French satire magazine, stormed that magazine’s offices and brutally gunned down a score of people, a dozen of whom died. Their form of religious struggle appears insane to sane people, and when that is pointed out to them, they behave with more intense insanity.
To these gunman, whose existence alone is a blasphemous assault on the idea of peaceful religion, ridicule in publication was too much to take. Rather than answer with other cartoons or parody, or serious thought in print, they attempted to change the playing field’s fairness.
In doing they exposed their critics as accurate and true. Those already crazed by the gods probably have no sense of irony left, either.
This morning comes the word that Charlie Hebdo will publish next week as scheduled. Instead of the usual run of 113,000 copies, the first run will be more than a million, to meet greater demand. Stricken down by gunmen, Charlie Hebdo rises phoenix-like, with strength multiplied by more than ten.
We mourn the cartoonists and editors lost. They are martyrs in the cause of freedom and peace, and especially in the “jihad” they engage in for freedom of expression, something that we know now is not a uniquely American virtue or necessity.
Throughout history memorable phrases heralded periods of great change, when people took a stand against tyranny and violence, and stood for freedom and peace.
“Here I stand. I can do no other.”
“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
” . . . Freedom of speech and expression . . . Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way . . . Freedom from Want . . . Freedom from Fear. . .”
“I Am A Man.”
And now, “Je suis Charlie!”
Beyond Charlie Hebdo, the world’s cartoonists and editorialists storm traditional and electronic media with support for the cartoonists. Here below are some examples, in no particular order. What other cartoons or commentary have you seen that we all should see?
Andy Marlette, cartoonist for the Pensacola News-Journal borrowed the saying from the sticker that Woody Guthrie used on his guitar, “This Machine Kills Fascists”:
Pete Seeger borrowed Woody’s line, and painted on the drum head of his banjo, “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender.” Marlette also penned a piece for USA Today.
Cuban Angel Boligan (@AngelBoligan):
Nate Beeler in the Columbus Dispatch:
Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune:
Ricardo Sanabria in Venezuela:
Manjool, an Indian cartoonist:
Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga, Tennessee newspapers:
NOT by Banksy, but by Lucille Clerc:
John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune:
Charlie Hebdo dead? I don’t think so.
* Twain also warned against taking ridicule too far, and spoke on the difficulty of knowing, if you’re the butt of the ridicule:
I like Morgan Freeberg — he’s entertaining.
Politically, he’s rarely right, and he’s definitely afflicted with that virus that strikes conservatives and makes them feel that if they can cover a topic with enough words, and if there is enough snark in those words, they must be right, and everyone else is a fool for not seeing that and making them king. Or at least a local lord. You can see this on display at his blog, The House of Eratosthenes.
Morgan waded into the discussion on some of our less thoughtful U.S. Senators, who think a good reason to filibuster a bill is they can’t find
their own ass with both hands a copy of the bill they just know they will oppose, before they know what’s in the bill (no bias here).
Specifically, Morgan’s defending Sen. Marc Rubio’s right not to know what’s in the compromise reached by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, because Morgan just knows that those two libruls from those two gun-hating states have put in language on ammunition magazines that
will deprive crazy shooters of their sport in shooting babies somehow might “infringe” on the actual ownership of the gun.
I answered in a previous thread — but this really should get more discussion, and perhaps if I make a post out of it, someone will discuss.
This is the post — I won’t put all of it in quotes, to make it a bit easier to read (and I may add a link here and there):
Alright. First, if you’re trying to make this look like “reasonable” or “common sense” gun “safety” legislation as they call it, it’s a good idea to stay away from this capacity-limitation stuff. To swap out a magazine — not clip — I don’t need eleven seconds, I don’t need half that. I’m not anywhere close to James Bond, or Barney in The Expendables…I merely maintain familiarity and confidence/competence with my sidearm. If I can do it in two seconds, a lot of other people can as well. So you’re counting on a payoff there that you’re not getting. The whole magazine-capacity thing is not only a distraction, it actually highlights for the benefit of the knowledgeable public which loudmouth legislators ought not to have anything to do with gun legislation, or guns either.
Helluva distraction. There’s no such proposal, but you’re so bugged about it you can’t argue straight.
Maybe we’re being sneaky. Maybe we’re getting you all worked up over something not in the bill so you’ll have a heart attack and be unable to lobby your senators to go easy on baby killers.
Or maybe you guys can’t read. Can’t, won’t, doesn’t make much difference — you’re so sure of your position you not only damn the facts, you damn the existence of the facts and the non-existence of the hoodoos you fear.
Here, tell this guy he got it wrong; you’re barking up a tree on the wrong side of the ocean here: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/powerful-argument-for-limiting-bullets-in-a-clip-colorado-sen-mike-johnston-pleads-to-give-victims-a-chance-to-escape/
[Here’s the video at that post:]
It comes down to this: A gun has a certain number of bullets with which it can be loaded, before it becomes an instrument of death — that number is one. Whoever isn’t familiar with that, should be escorted off the range.
Think of all the gun ranges put out of business if we did that!
Of course, that is a comment on the mechanics; as far as process goes, the number is zero, since one of the basic rules of guns safety is “the gun is always loaded.”
I don’t think a crazy guy should be allowed to pump out 150 soldier-killer bullets in 5 minutes, with most of them going into the heads and faces of more than a score of 6-year-old kids. You seem to think that is such a sacred right that we . . . well, I don’t know what you propose.
You seem to think that forcing crazy men to reload is unfair. I think you’re not being fair to those six-year-old kids.
The evidence in Newtown is that the one reload he did took 11 seconds, and a teacher got 11 kids out of the school, to safety, in that time.
It took him five shots to blast through the safety lock on the door — had he been limited to five-round clips, he’d have been out of ammo in one gun just getting through the door.
I cannot imagine why you think we can’t be fair to six year old kids, but we must give crazy men more than a sporting chance to murder 20 unarmed people. I think my rights would be safer if I didn’t go with your defense of the crazy man’s rights.
Now, is it technically impossible to limit the rounds and reduce the carnage? Not according to the record.
Facts are stubborn things. That old John Adams sure got that right.
If I were Sen. Rubio, considering for the moment supporting this gun “safety” bill, and decided to read it all the way through, I’d change my mind and oppose it the first time I saw something about magazine capacity limits, because that would tell me someone wrote it without knowing anything about how guns are supposed to be treated around a public that we don’t want to be hurt by them. Which is the subject of the bill.
We know you’re not going to read the bill, just like Rubio hasn’t. He has a sort of duty to read it — but you’re so cock sure that you’re smarter than every other guy in the country and that you can see the future before God, you can’t be bothered to read even the quick summary of the bill.
It pains me when you reinforce all the stereotypes of the right-wing, can’t-tell-me-nuthin’ nuts, Morgan. If you’re going to pretend to be thoughtful, at least read the stuff, will you?
You’re so cock-sure that there would be a crazy proposal of the type you fear that you can’t be bothered to read the bill and see that there’s nothing at all like it. Worse than Don Quixote tilting at windmills, you’re shooting at windmills that are not dragons, but behind which children were playing a few minutes ago. See, Quixote was harmless with his lance. Facts again: Guns are not lances.
Sometimes it’s not the things we don’t know that gets us into trouble, but the things we know, that are wrong. It’s not the target practice of the safe and sane occasional hunter that gets gun ownership questioned, it’s the crazy shooting at dragons that don’t exist, in schools and theaters and workplaces, where real people do exist.
Second. The Constitution guarantees me certain God-given rights, which supposedly nobody can take away from me, and I wouldn’t be able to discard even if I wanted to. Conservatives and liberals would agree — with different examples in mind — that We The People have lately encountered considerable difficulty electing representatives who will truly protect these rights.
Quite to the contrary, we’ve succeeded in electing nuts who are so dedicated to protecting those rights, they’ll go overboard to be sure that anything even close to resembling a right of a white male with a gun cannot be regulated rationally. Rex Tillerson‘s right to pour oil in every backyard in Arkansas is defended, Rep. Joe Barton apologizes to the white guys who run BP for all those Cajuns’ having put their Gulf of Mexico where BP could pollute the hell out of it. A white guy wants sex, well, some women “rape easy,” “they’re just good-time-lovin’ football players and football is an American game,” and if he’s an Army or Air Force officer, his superior will dismiss the rape charges. Jeremy Dimon gets to keep his freedom, and all the money banks stole from black families put out of their homes in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles because his bank and his cronies’ banks screwed up the mortgages.
And if you want to shoot up a theater, or a school, and kill a bunch of unarmed people — well, you know, that’s a right, right?
I cannot imagine what rights you think are not defended, for white males.
Right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Right to quiet enjoyment? Right to be free from assault and battery? Right not get life-saving and cheap medical care for your kid? Right not to have to bury your kid as child? Not all rights are enumerated rights. You seem to miss some of the more important ones, when we get right down to it.
Now, if one worries about rights for anyone of color, or rights of children to health care or education, or rights of women to fair pay — well, none of those people are mentioned in the Constitution, are they? They all look like Dred Scott, to a Congress of white males.
In view of that, I like the idea of a Senator who made up his mind to oppose a gun bill before reading all of it (your headline would imply that he hasn’t read any of it, which is not substantiated by your story).
I see no evidence Rubio wasn’t telling the truth — and Cruz is probably too stupid to understand it, so I believe him when he says he can’t even find the bill that was placed in the middle of his desk on March 22. I swear that guy puts an icepick over his left eyeball every night he can.
This would be in keeping with his oath to uphold the Constitution: If the bill has something that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, out it goes.
There is nothing in the Constitution which says anyone has to be an inadequate anal orifice. You’re reading it wrong.
Or have you even read it? You haven’t read the gun control bill. Why should you read the Constitution?
In reality, there is nothing in the Constitution that says any Member of Congress must be a roadblock, or should be a roadblock, nor that there should be any roadblocks at all. Filibustering is not a Constitutional right — not mentioned in any way.
After all, there is a period-end-of-sentence after the word “infringed.” It doesn’t say “shall not be infringed, unless something really spiffy is written that makes the infringing seem like a swell idea.”
Funny how you can completely miss the first 13 words of the Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” There are only 27 words in the amendment; you worry about punctuation while completely missing 48% of the text. That rounds to 50%.
But, you don’t read. I forgot. As with most conservatives, you think you know what is in a text without reading it, predudging it from . . . well, prejudging it, anyway.
“Prejudge” isn’t related to “prejudice” in the conservative dictionary, anyway.
This is the way I want ALL guarantees to me, or to anybody else, to be enforced. I want my renter’s insurance to be enforced this way. I want my employment contracts to be enforced this way. It’s only fair.
Can you do what no other gun rights advocate has done, Morgan?
Tell us what infringement there would be if you had to limit your automatics, semi-automatics, or single shots, to a five-bullet magazine. How would that, in any way, infringe on your right to keep arms, or bear them?
After you stumble over that one, tell us how it affects your right at all to fill out a form that lets a gun seller figure out whether you’re being straight about not being a felon, and not being a crazy shooter, and not fronting for a crazy shooter or felon.
How does filling out a form to make sure you’re legal, infringe on your right to keep and bear arms? There’s nothing in that amendment that says you can keep your gun ownership or bearing secret — in fact, in many states, keeping a gun concealed is a crime (without a permit).
Tell us how anyone’s rights are infringed by those common sense proposals, one of which isn’t even being proposed.
If I submit a form to the Social Security Administration, or to the IRS, or to some state agency like the DMV, and the form has 88 blocks in it and I botched something somewhere around the 8th or 9th block, it would be patently absurd for me to stand there and berate the DMV clerk who rejected it with “Why didn’t you read blocks ten through eighty-eight?? What am I paying you to do with your time??”
So you won’t do that anymore? That’s good news. I hope it’s a movement, and it catches on.
Aggravating as the situation would be, such a reaction would be very silly…because once the 8th or 9th block is screwed up, it’s an invalid form, and even though blocks 10 through 88 may be loaded with wonderfully accurate information, in context it’s still a bunch of nonsense until they’re copied on to another form that has been filled out PROPERLY. So reading them would actually be an inappropriate use of that time that I bought through my tax money by paying the clerk’s salary. Well, if that’s true of clerks, it’s certainly true of Senators, who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.
I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Your paying your taxes is not similar in any way your elected representatives’ lying to you about whether they read bills or not, and using the pretense that they’ve not seen what they know is in the bill, to block the majority from even debating what is the best thing for the nation.
In their constitutional duty to represent you, they don’t have the right to boldly lie about what they’re doing for demagogue points.
It’s not illegal, but it’s dishonest, disgusting, and unpatriotic. It doesn’t represent you well — at least, I don’t think that you’re so corrupt that you can only get by by lying through your teeth and making phony excuses.
Sorta like enforcement of a lease — lying through your teeth about the rent isn’t a good idea, regardless you’re the tenant or the landlord.
Why am I having to explain the above?
Because you’re trying to defend ugly skullduggery on a bill you don’t know much about?
Because you sank all of your retirement funds into a gun manufacturer, and you just realized that rational gun laws might take that gold mine away? Because you’re a conservative, and these days that means “so congenitally unable to tell the truth that, when a conservative shoots a hole-in-one on the golf course, he writes ‘0’ on the score card?”
I don’t know.
You’re doing a great job of supporting one of my pet theories, that liberals are people who haven’t actually had to deal with the bureaucracies their ideas create.
And you’re providing ample support for a couple of hypotheses I’ve wished didn’t need to be tested: One, that conservatives really DON’T know what a theory is, especially contrasted to hypotheses; two, that conservatives can’t be bothered to read the book, or the law, or the proposal, or anything else that might inform their arguments, probably out of fear they’ll realize their prejudices are wrong; three, that conservatives really like rules, out of their defense of “traditional” life and “order” — but they think the rules never apply to themselves or their supporters; and four, that the fact that the conservative position is correct should be so self-evident, no matter how half-wit or knuckleheaded the idea, that conservatives will never stoop to actually arguing the issues — keep John Walsh and Candy Lightner far away from conservatives, because they have no real defense for why we treat automobiles as more valuable than children or why we never stick to our guns about criminalizing drunk drivers who kill, especially repeatedly — and so, keep the parents of the Newtown victims far away from Washington, and demonize them as soft-on-crime, anti-patriotic, anti-Constitution liberal fuzzy heads, so we don’t have to look them in the eye and explain why we’re voting to defend the right of the idiot to shoot their children without cause, justification, warning, remorse or chance for retribution.
What’s more important, overarming people (the better to reduce the population), or keeping kids alive? (“We secretly hate children, which is why everyone of our policies is designed to make childhood difficult, cripple children educationally, mentally or physically, or kill them.”)
I do have to say though, I can see an upside to having it work the way you want…it would give me great pleasure, when I fill out a form wrong, to throw a hissy fit about “why didn’t you read the rest of my form?” But realistically, of course there’s no way it can work like that.
I thought you just had a mental burp — but now I see you’re on some tear about filling in forms incorrectly.
What difference could that possibly make?
Apparently there’s another trait of conservatives: The tendency to dissolve into irrelevant rants, instead of facing up to real problems, and making hard decisions about real solutions.
They weren’t your kids anyway, right?
From Samantha Stendal, a film student at the University of Oregon, a brilliant film reaction to the Steubenville, Ohio rape and trials.
Here’s one of my nominees for the next editions of Great Speeches of the 21st Century, and Great Speeches in American History. Sen. Mike Johnston, on March 11, in the Colorado State Senate, spoke against coward, “hollow men,” who commit mass shootings, and how to protect from them:
Notes from YouTube posting:
Published on Mar 12, 2013
March 11, 2013: Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) describes how gun safety legislation, particularly HB 13-1224, can make a difference.
What do you think?
‘Eleven kids saved in eleven seconds’ seems like a powerful argument, to me.
And this: “And so the bad news is that at that moment will be outgunned. The good news is that in America that never means we will be outfought.”
And this: “The task of taking lives, and the task of saving lives, are fundamentally different endeavors, and they require different tools.”
At about 6:04 into this, listen to Sen. Johnston talk about the “cost of living and loving is that it takes up so much space in our lives.”
Yeah, I know: Someone has sent you a post on Facebook claiming there are more murders from hammers than guns, and they quote Fox.
If they’re not complete nuts, they were careful and noted it was rifles being compared, and not all guns.
Here’s the Fox headline:
January 03, 2013
Then, just to rub it in, that person who sent you the link said something like, ‘so you propose hammer control, too?’
The best debaters in college learn to listen to what their opponents say, and not what they think their opponents should have said. Good lawyers listen like that, too, in court, and in depositions.
See that last word in the headline? “Rifles.”
Yeah, it’s a limited part of the total population of guns.
Total gun deaths in 2011 were 8,583 — continuing a five-year trend downward, thanks for small blessings. Homicides only, not counting suicides — according to figures compiled by the FBI.
Did more than 8,500 people die from hammer assaults in 2011?
No, the same tally shows 496 people were murdered by use of “Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.).”
496 is 8,087 fewer than the 8,583 gun deaths. But rifles? Oh, yeah.
323 people died from rifle fire. 356 died from shotgun wounds. 6,220 died from handguns, 97 from “other guns,” and 1,587 died from gunshots where the type of gun was not recorded on the report to the FBI. Add them up, you get 8,583 dead, murdered by gunfire.
Now, the gun
advocates nuts say that it’s fair to compare rifle deaths only, since only the AR-15 is being questioned, and is the target for “taking guns away.”
That’s inaccurate. President Obama laid out a plan of more than a score of actions, but only two refer to assault rifles, and only one refers to assault rifles directly:
Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons: The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.
Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds: The case for prohibiting high-capacity magazines has been proven over and over; the shooters at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown all used magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which would have been prohibited under the 1994 law. These magazines enable any semiautomatic weapon to be used as an instrument of mass violence, yet they are once again legal and now come standard with many handguns and rifles. Congress needs to reinstate the prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
President Obama laid out a plan that will make it substantially more difficult for people who shouldn’t have guns suitable for mass killings, to have them. More important, however, the President’s plan steps up the non-gun means available to stop mass shootings before a shooter gets to a campus armed and ready to kill.
The “discussion” will get more ugly, I predict, before it gets better.
Sometimes it doesn’t take a gun at all.
Impressive story about the mystery of Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962, at The Wall Street Journal — a story by Peter Wonacott, on December 22, 2012, page C3. After all these years, how the South African government was tipped off that Mr. Mandela would be where he was, posing as who he posed as, remains a mystery. Mandela was arrested, tried and convicted of several crimes, ultimately spending 27 years in jail, refusing to give up his cause to gain his freedom. When the system bent to his wishes, he was released from jail and elected president of his nation.
The key paragraph in the story, the point where the long arc of history was forcefully bent to justice and peace:
Mr. Mandela has described how he had hidden a loaded revolver in the car that day in 1962 but decided not to use it. Choosing not to fight his way out began a journey that would take him through prison to the presidency on a platform of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation among the nation’s races.
Increasing the number of people with an increasing number of guns, however, does not offer more opportunities to change history like that.