Survey given to Soldiers

Originally posted on The Piratearian:

BREAKING NEWS Obama is now asking US Military Leaders if they will fire on U.S. Citizens – if not they are out 
 

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“Consider the following statement: I would fire on U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the U.S. government?”

 

 

U.S. Armed Forces Survey: This is the questionnaire that was given in 1994 to select groups of U.S. armed forces personnel. Notice the references to the U.N., the firing on American civilians and the correlations of the two aforementioned. Note questions 8‑17 deal with the use of U.S. federal armed forces intervening in the civilian affairs of the U.S. public under the pretense of policemen. According to the U.S. Constitution (posse comitatus law) No federal forces are to be used in the civil control of the populace. Also note question 46 for a stunning question concerning the use of federal…

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On Penises and Pistols

(I was going to go for “On Dicks and Derringers,” but nah.  Kids might be watching.)

The anti-gun crowd never ceases to amaze disgust me. I ran across yet again another festering pile of excrement on WordPress masquerading as intelligent discussion and in that cyberspace cowpie was another manifestation of the anti-gunners’ toilet wit. They once again began equating guns with penises.

In all the compiled blogs and works I’ve read, none of the gun owners seem to be fixated on genitalia. They, like I, focus more on legal issues like rights or legislation. However, without fail, the first mentions of manly members comes from the left. Why is that?

They almost constantly bring up the Freudian equation of guns as a phallic substitute and without fail, no matter how they try to disguise their faux intellectualism, they’ll fall into the “guns-are-penises” cliché before the midpoint of their rant. The most recent would-be scholar, Blogdramedy, whips it out in her fifth paragraph and carries on with it for quite some time after that. A helpful tip: sophistry is counterproductive. Another helpful tip: if you want to be taken seriously as a debater, quit blocking posters who use your own arguments against you, as Blogdramedy did. But since you’re preaching to the choir of gun-control proponents, rationality and fairness are not only not required, but anathema to your agenda.

Freud was a psychoanalyst, not a psychologist. His theories weren’t based on facts. They had no scientific basis at all, but were rather individual opinions—and projections of his own twisted psyche. How can I prove that his “work” was not scientific? Easy enough: his scam consisted of “diagnosing” people using their dreams, associations, and infantile sexuality (pedophile alert!) based entirely on his own perceptions and interpretations. There was no outside reference. He set himself up as the sole arbiter of what someone was suffering from. His work can neither be proved or disproved using scientific fact or finding and is itself unscientific. Research his methods of operation. Person X is “diagnosed” as having complex A, and the person agrees; Freud’s model of diagnosis is proven. Person X denies having complex A, and he is diagnosed as repressing it, thus “proving” Freud’s model. Do you honestly believe anyone basing their arguments on this debunked pseudoscience is able to form their own rational arguments?

Guns are not a substitute for penises, at least not in the minds of the rational. (I exclude the anti-gun crowd from that definition.) Do you gun-control proponents know the difference between a penis and a gun? I doubt it, but hey, as long as you’re only occupying the dark, dismal world between your own ears, go right ahead.

Did anybody notice anything else odd about the “gun=penis” crowd?

Yes, so did I. They’re all gung-ho to use Freud’s “science” to denigrate gun owners, but refuse to acknowledge the implications of their own sad logic. Their fear of guns equates to a fear of penises, doesn’t it? Isn’t it telling that the men of the gun-control movement have serious problems with their own genitals? Or perhaps that’s why the women of the anti-gun crowd hate guns: it reminds them of some illusory power they lack, or perhaps it’s a manifestation of the unconscious hatred they have for men.

Wow. The gun-control contingent consists of emasculated men and closeted, penis-hating lesbians. Who knew?

But we’re not using Freud’s nonsense to cast aspersions or justify our viewpoints, are we? At least, I’m not. I’m perfectly capable of proving the wrongness of any anti-gun argument posited, and all of them to date have been, and better yet, I can do it and have done it using plain facts. What we see with the hoplophobic demographic is simply an inability to grasp obvious truths without lapsing into incessant ad hominem tirades. All they have is name-calling, and insults do not make an argument unless you’re in kindergarten. To date, I’ve seen nothing posted by any anti-gunner to explain why, how, or if banning guns will be effective; why or how gun registration could possibly reduce crime; or how they could believe the utter, inane fallacy that by passing just one more law, all gun crime will magically disappear.

We’re not in kindergarten any more, hoplophobes. Quit living like it and try to quit arguing like it.

And I believe I’ve had enough mention of the word “penis” for about the next eight years.

Snowden vs. Manning. Round 1. FIGHT!

Yeah, I’m opening this can of worms. Here we go.

 

Let’s compare the two before we contrast them. PFC Bradley Manning—or whatever he calls himself nowadays—was a soldier whose MOS involved intelligence analysis. He’s also the one who “blew the whistle” on the US Army for a few things, most notorious among them a video recording of an Apache helicopter killing some reporters by mistake, an incident that was then covered up. He also released a buttload of other tidbits to WikiLeaks, too, but that’s the one everybody fixates on most. He was court-martialed and found guilty of enough charges to warrant a 35 year stint in prison followed by a dishonorable discharge.

 

Edward Snowden is a computer specialist (“geek” to us laymen) who did some work for the CIA and NSA and likewise suffered from a fit of informational incontinence, although the intel he released concerned primarily non-military assets. He let the world know that the NSA had been directing some of its efforts toward US citizens rather than, as had been widely presumed, against foreign entities and operatives. He’s currently hiding in Russia and Uncle Sam would very much like to get hold of him.

 

The thing about Manning is that he swore an oath when he enlisted and likely had to submit to further orders regarding secrecy when he got his security clearance and got to work. By releasing his information to the public without authorization, he violated his oath of office and his orders in a big way. For the civilians in the world, that’s a Very Bad Thing. Now let me be clear* in this much, at least. The deaths of the reporters by an American helicopter should not have been covered up and the release of the video, while embarrassing, at least had the effect of getting the Army to own up to it. War is an ugly business and while mistakes happen, man up and accept your role in whatever happens. It was wrong to have happened but worse to have been buried. If you don’t want bad things to happen, don’t be engaged in the business of warfare, but you accept the burden of waging war, you get everything that goes with it. End of sermon.

 

Had Manning simply stopped at that, likely he’d have just gotten a butt-chewing and demotion, possibly with a dishonorable DX in the worst case, but that wasn’t good enough. He had to release more information on the grounds that he found it “disturbing” and that’s what got him nailed. Now a bit of clarification for my civilian readers who may be limited in their experience with military matters (not that I’m an expert, but if I were, I’d likely have to drone you if I said anything else!) The release of intelligence like this is a twofold danger. Firstly, you’ve told your enemy what you know about them. Now they can change their plans, figure out what you might have in store for them and counter you, or scatter like roaches when you’d intended to have them grouped together for a nice, tidy bunker-busting session. Secondly, now they know how you know this. You’ve just shown them what methods you’re using to spy on them. Now they can get new cell phones, kill any human resources you went to such lengths to have infiltrate them, or learn where their operational weaknesses are and cover them to take away whatever advantage you had.

 

This is what pissed the Army off so badly, and justly so. That’s a lot of damage done to the military’s intelligence network that may take years to rebuild. Then there’s the whole breaking the oath and disobeying orders thing. Turncoats and people who pull the rug from under their comrades are not popular in the military.

 

Snowden’s case, outwardly similar, is just a bit different. While he did have his orders and may have sworn an oath, the information he released indicated that the agencies he was working for might have been working outside their authority, if not in a blatantly extralegal (okay, I’ll say it…”illegal”) manner.

 

The information Snowden’s employers collected may very well have been obtained in violation of US laws as well as the Constitution itself, and that’s the big difference between Manning’s and Snowden’s cases. Most of Manning’s information was gathered as part of the Army’s usual duties and while some of it was objectionable and embarrassing, it was legally obtained as part of the mission. (I’m still not certain whether he had any business accessing or releasing diplomatic cables; I doubt he had been authorized to handle them in the first place, but it’s beside the point anyway.) Snowden’s information revealed what appears to be improper and illegal activities of the NSA and/or CIA, and that makes all the difference in the world.

 

Manning betrayed the trust placed in him by the Army and by proxy, by us, the citizens that the Army and Manning were supposed to protect. Snowden shone a light on the illicit activities of an organization that purports to defend us but in reality was spying on us, among others. While Snowden may have broken an oath, he did so to point out wrongdoing. Manning did it because he was sad. There were things released that had no bearing on what bothered him so, but he did it anyway because he was “conflicted.” (Obviously so, since he can’t even come to terms with his gender.)

 

I wish I could be more wordy and prosaic and fill this post with all kinds of witticisms and such, but I’ve already said what I intended to. Manning is a traitor to his country and his fellow soldiers. Snowden, while also an oath-breaker, is a whistleblower. There’s a big difference between leaking information because you’re “disturbed” or “upset” versus pointing out violations of the Constitution.

 

*copyright Barack H. Obama, 2001-2013

Speak the damned language, people!

I had always assumed that stupidity was an individual thing, that it cropped up in singular cases. Evidently, I was wrong. It’s an epidemic.

You’ve noticed, no doubt, the overwhelming number of people who, when posting their erudite, well-considered, highly educated, and inarguable thoughts on the interwebs who simply cannot spell! I admit, I am only 45 and have just three years of college to my name and am therefore highly ignorant of anything and everything that may come my way, but I believe I am at least intelligent enough to know some of the most basic rules of grammar.

You know the idiots I’m talking about. There is no differentiation between “their,” “there,” or “they’re.” “Loose” and “lose” evidently mean the same thing. Who knew a single female could be “a women?” “You” and “your” have apparently become far too complex to spell, reaching levels of difficulty far beyond words such as sesquipedalian, circumlocution, or pencil. “Its” and “it’s” have taken on a nearly indecipherable relationship that now requires Stephen Hawking to untangle their hidden meanings.

And when the f*ck did “conversate” become a word?

I have no idea exactly when this downward slide in intellectual capacity began, but I’m fairly certain it started some time in the mid- to late-seventies, back when I was in elementary school. Back in the day, shortly after the earth cooled but prior to the invention of this thing called “fire,” I attended public elementary schools in Colorado, Arizona, and California with a brief stop in (West) Germany in the 80s, thanks to an Air Force dad. I spent most of my school years in what were termed “gifted” programs for kids who were apparently ahead of their peers. All it really meant was that we used pointy scissors and generally didn’t eat the paste. I didn’t realize how badly my schools were failing me until I ended up in a DoDDs school outside of Ramstein AFB and got stuck with a teacher from the old school. (Boston and Fulton Elementary in Aurora, Erickson Elementary in Tucson, I’m looking straight at you.)

Now why did I get stuck in those classes and how does it relate to my rant? Simple: I blame this entirely on my dad. One of my earliest memories was of him reading to me from The Fellowship of the Ring—the “Old Man Willow” segment where Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin run afoul of the barrow-wight—and that was at about four or five. Later, at about six or seven, every time I’d complain about nothing being on TV or having nothing to do, Dad would aim me at the bookshelf or hand me a book at random. I would end up with Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and more. As a result, my exposure to the English language, in addition to being several years more advanced than most of my peers, came from people who were much more skillful in its use than even my teachers.

As a result, my locution seems a bit off, particularly in a formal setting, and I’ve even had less-educated people ask me if I’m really Canadian because I “don’t talk like an American.”

Really. (No, I’m not Canadian. I know the proper spellings of “favor,” “flavor,” “color,” and the like. Damned Commonwealth types, anyway…)

I understand that English can be difficult; I recall someone somewhere mentioning that while most languages, like German or Japanese, have rules with a few exceptions, English was more a collection of exceptions with a few rules thrown in. While that may be true, it’s not an excuse. The vast majority of residents of the US grow up speaking English and are exposed to it on a daily basis. To my layman’s eyes, that would make them native speakers, but perhaps I’m wrong again. I’m also operating under the impression that education is both free and compulsory—which means “you have to do it”—in the States, and that schools everywhere teach English skills as part and parcel of the curriculum, all the way to high school. When I was in high school, the requirements were only for three years of English, but your mileage may vary depending on your locale. With all that going for you, what is the excuse for not knowing the rules?

Bottom line: the educational resources are there. Use them. You’re exposed to proper grammar and syntax every day. There is no excuse for constant failure to speak or write correctly.

Let me point out a few refreshers:

  • There.” That’s a prepositional phrase. It indicates a direction or location. The clue is in the word: pre-position-al. It’s right there.

  • “They’re.” A contraction of “they” and “are.” A collective third person pronoun and a verb combined for your ease of use, yet totally unrelated to the other two except by sound. They’re entirely different words. (See how that works?)

  • “Their.” A third person possessive. It means that persons separate from you and the person listening to you own something, and you are discussing that item. In other words, you’re talking about “their car.”

Just because a word sounds close enough doesn’t mean it’s right. You can get away with saying “there” in spoken conversations and the listener will be able to discern whether you said “there” or “their” by context, but in written words, it doesn’t fly.

  • “Lose.” This is a verb. It means you aren’t winning or that something is being misplaced. You lose a race or you lose a key.

  • “Loose” can be a verb, but then it means “to release” or “to unleash.” As an adjective, a descriptive word, it is the opposite of “tight.”

For my money, how anyone can fudge that up on paper is beyond me, unless you napped through that part of your English class.

The root of conversation is the verb to converse. “Converse” is not exclusive to a brand of shoes. I’m certain this is where some of the confusion is generated. You converse with someone when you have a dialog with them. “Conversate” is not a word, regardless of what the pseudo-intellectuals on evening news programs want you to think. I recall Al Sharpton using this word once, and it bears mentioning that if you cannot grasp the most fundamental rules of a language, how can you be expected to formulate a cogent, rational, and coherent argument in that language? You certainly can’t be taken seriously by using your own made-up words.

Woman: a singular mature human female. Women: several of them. If you are really “a women,” thanks for referring to all your personalities in one tidy bundle, but actually you’re just one “woman.” I end up laughing at people who post and refer to themselves as “an educated women.” (Hint: you’re not.)

Another gem: “of.” Oh, dear God, the use and abuse of “of.” This one trips people up all the time, both in written and spoken forms. You’ll see people posting “should of,” “could of,” and so on. I know where this one was spawned. In real life, you might hear me say something like, “He should’ve seen that coming.”

What happened there is probably improper, a colloquial quirk that crept into the vocabulary through laziness. Either it’s slipping a contraction in where it probably shouldn’t be or it’s a habit of not aspirating words that start with “h.” Maybe it’s both.

When heard, it sounds like “should of,” but it’s obviously not. With the prevalence of contractions in daily speech, you’d think someone would recognize what was being said. Certainly the listener’s brain interprets it as “should have,” else the whole sentence would be misunderstood. (I’ve actually had to explain that to someone when I was speaking. I was corrected by someone who wanted to sound educated and intelligent and insisted loudly that it was not “could of” but “could have.” I ended up having to explain that I knew that already, followed by correcting him with a few quick tips on locution, diction, and their perception to untrained ears versus written text.)

While I’m ranting, quit shortening your damn words. “Convo?” “Illo?” “Resto?” Is it too difficult now to say “conversation?” (Wait…that’s twice that word has come up. It must be nigh-impossible to use in daily speech!) Can you not wrap your lips around “illustration” or “restoration?” I know you’re trying to make yourself sound hip and trendy and worthy of your Facebook avatar or something, but shortening words in an attempt to make yourself sound intelligent doesn’t work. It just makes you seem like a “reto.”

You should be able to figure that one out.

Yes, I know this sounds petty and I’ve got two words for anyone who wants to accuse me of being a grammar Nazi. You should be able to figure those out, too. There actually is a reason for this, and here ’tis. I’m well aware that English has more than its share of pitfalls and contradictions, but it also has rules to follow. The beauty of being able to follow those rules is not to be one of those that falls in line blindly or one of those who say, “It is because I say it is!” By learning to follow the rules and to master the intricacies of language—of anything—is to empower and elevate yourself.

You may hear people lamenting that they’re not “empowered” or they’re at the mercy of this or that. Well, I just gave you a tip in the preceding paragraph. Learning is empowerment. Using language effectively and efficiently is a key. You don’t have to be Shakespeare. That might actually be counterproductive in this day and age, but you should have a vocabulary suitable for not only everyday use but one appropriate for your field of work and you should be well-versed in its use. Your speech defines your image.

One of my English “teachers” in college took me to task on this matter when I stated this position to her earlier. In her words, text-speak and these related failings are the “evolution” of a language. I repeat here what I said then: it is not “evolution.” The mistakes and ignorance today are not the product of a language evolving and taking a new shape more suited to its environment. It’s generations of users who refuse to learn the language and make their own shortcuts because it’s too much effort to become educated. It is, more accurately, de-evolution. Raise yourself to the standard. Don’t dumb things down to your level.

Use your language correctly and well. It doesn’t matter if your language is English, Cantonese, Urdu, or Finnish. It is an invaluable tool that can help elevate you or help bury you in scorn. Your call.

Attention, master race baiters (or racist masturbators, as you prefer)!

Whether you like it or not, the Zimmerman verdict was correct. I’m going to explain why—although this is for the benefit of clear-headed, thinking people, not you—and if you don’t like it, that’s your own fucking problem. You can check my analysis with any lawyer or legal source you like.

To arrive at the conclusion that a crime was committed, there must be at least three elements present and these three must always be present else there is no crime. First, you must have the mens rea, or the “guilty mind.” This is the intent to commit the crime, which may arise spontaneously or be preplanned. Secondly, there must be the actus reus, or “guilty act,” which is obviously the deed itself. Thirdly, you must have proof of the concurrence of the two, meaning that you must show that one caused the other.

Here’s an example. Person X wants to steal a watch. He sees one, sticks it in his pocket, and leaves the store. The mens rea is his intent to steal a watch. The actus reus is the actual theft. The concurrence of the two is obvious.

Time out: by use of the word “guilty” here to describe the act and the intent, I’m not using the word to indicate criminal or civil culpability. It’s an assignment of responsibility, not a legal finding. Back to the game.

Now here comes the kicker. For a finding of murder, there must be a fourth element present: malice. This is not an indicator of hate, but it means that the perpetrator must have previously considered killing a specific person. Although it’s a little different from the mens rea, they can overlap and we’ll see why and how soon enough. This also why the prosecutor failed to make her case in the Zimmerman trial.

Let’s revisit the events that were presented in the trial. Zimmerman tailed Martin despite being advised that it was unnecessary. Words were exchanged, and apparently after that dialog, Martin jumped Zimmerman and began beating on him. Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot Martin.

You will not be able to find all four necessary elements to prove a finding of murder here. The mens rea that Zimmerman intended to kill Martin is absent. Had he intended to shoot Martin, Zimmerman would have done so from the get-go rather than waiting until he was getting beaten.

The actus reus, the pulling of the trigger that resulted in Martin’s death, is present, but absent the “guilty mind”–the intent to kill Martin–there can be no concurrence of the two. Therefore, two of the original three criteria for murder are missing and because of that, there can be neither a commission nor finding of murder. In this case, the guilty mind was simply to shoot to preserve his own life.  There was no prior planning or consideration of killing anyone.   Zimmerman just wanted to wave his authority in Martin’s face and ended up having his butt cash a check his ego wrote. (And said check bounced quite like his head off the concrete.)

Let me briefly touch on the role that the “guilty mind” played here. The mens rea of Zimmerman deciding to pull his gun and shoot came on him suddenly, likely as suddenly as Martin’s attack on him did. The actus reus followed as soon as practicable afterward. Again, this is not a decree of criminal or civil wrongdoing; it is assigning responsibility for an action and nothing more. You can see here that the intent to commit an act, be it criminal or not, can arise spontaneously or with prior intent, as with our watch theft above. In this case, however, the “guilty mind” consisted only of, “I have to draw my gun and shoot this guy or I’m going to die,” and it appeared as quickly as the beating Martin was giving him.

The “guilty act” was obviously pulling his gun and shooting Martin and there is obviously a concurrence of the two, however even with these three elements present, this does not constitute a crime. You can have the three present in any activity: you are hungry, you eat dinner. Mens rea: wanting food. Actus reus: eating. And the concurrence of the two: one caused the other.

Now let’s talk malice. Used legally, it does not mean hatred, but specific intent to cause harm. Murder requires not only the three criteria we’ve been over, but malice in addition. Similar to the mens rea requirement, the perpetrator had to specifically intend to kill someone, not just hurt him, scare him, or anything of that sort, and it has to have been considered beforehand and not be a “heat of passion” instance. The way malice plays out in determining if a murder has been committed is like so:

X is angry at J and wants to kill him. Rather than being a spur of the moment act, X spends some time thinking about it, whether ten minutes or ten days or more. X decides that the only way to solve this problem is to kill J. X gets his weapon of choice, seeks out J, and kills him. This is murder. The “guilty mind” is his intent to kill J; the “guilty act” is the actual deed; the concurrence of the two—the intent led to the deed; and overlapping with the guilty mind is the malice, wherein X decided in advance he was going to kill J.

Here’s another twist. Absent malice, you can’t have murder, but you can have manslaughter, a lesser criminal homicide. In this example, X and J are arguing and X gets angry, pulls a knife, and stabs J. J is now dead. You have the three elements—mind, act, and concurrence—but not malice, since X didn’t plan to kill J. J is dead because of X’s act, but it was in the heat of the moment rather than planned, and because of that one critical difference, X dodges a murder charge.

Twist number two goes like this: X goes to kill J (who just can’t seem to catch a break) and finds J at home. X goes to shoot J and misses but kills Q instead. While Captain Picard is doubtless relieved, X is now looking at a manslaughter charge for killing Q as well as attempted murder against J. While we have the mens rea/malice requirements, the actus reus resulted in the death of someone other than the intended victim, which changes the entire equation.

While Zimmerman did confront Martin, he didn’t do so with the intent to cause harm or death. Like I said, he wanted to wave his power and position in Martin’s face. I also posted another entry on this topic elsewhere if you’re of a mind to find out my feelings on Zimmerman, which are not all that favorable. On the other hand, Martin assaulted Zimmerman with the intent of causing him bodily harm. Actus reus, mens rea, and concurrence, and had charges been brought against him, he’d have been guilty of assault or assault and battery, however Florida’s statutes would have read.

Now, perhaps, you begin to see why the Zimmerman verdict was not only correct, but was essentially the only one the jury could reach with the restrictions placed on them. The DA in the Zimmerman case lost because she set the bar far too high and the evidence couldn’t be stacked high enough to reach it. I don’t often call her the DA; she’s more of a prostituting attorney rather than a prosecuting one. She sold out justice to the screaming mobs to curry favor with them and gain political points and now, because of her ineptitude and incompetence, Zimmerman’s free.

You’re going to hear plenty of whining from all sorts of ignorant people about how Martin was going to use the Skittles and iced tea to make some kind of street drug by mixing them with cough syrup, or that he’d been suspended for this or that, or that he smoked weed. Guess what? That doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. The question of the trial was this: did Zimmerman commit murder when he shot Trayvon Martin? The jury never was or could have been asked to deliver a verdict on confection possession.

So Martin had Skittles in his pockets. He had an Arizona iced tea, too. Possession of candy and tea is not a capital offense, much less criminal, nor is it an indicator of criminal behavior or intent. I’ve bought Skittles, and I’ve seen estimates that 150 million individual Skittles are sold yearly. Skittle consumption would seem to indicate a nation of criminals, wouldn’t it? Or perhaps they merely lead to an increased recidivism rate. Bottom line: what Martin did before or intended to do later and what he had bought at the convenience store—and even what he wanted to do with those items—is absolutely irrelevant.

Let us also take a stab at the “stand your ground” laws. They are irrelevant here, too. Zimmerman, once assaulted, had no chance to retreat. Further, nobody at any time has any “duty” or “obligation” to retreat from an attack. Rather, the other guy has a duty and obligation to behave himself and not attack someone. SYG had no bearing here, which was one of the reasons the attorneys didn’t bring it out. Another would be they may be saving that defense for any potential civil trials, but in the end, “stand your ground” gave way to Zimmerman’s right to defend himself, which is a human right as inviolable as any.

I’m going to point out that as far as the confrontation and its outcome, Martin is far from blameless despite Zimmerman bearing the lion’s share of culpability. Martin should have called 911 on his own or gotten his dad involved, but being a thuggish little punk and a 17-year-old boy, he thought he’d thump Zimmerman a few times and teach him a lesson. That placed Zimmerman in fear of his life and Martin paid for the mistake with his own. However, none of that would have happened had Zimmerman kept his fat ass in the driver’s seat and kept to himself, so the ultimate responsibility for that night falls on his feeble shoulders.

The responsibility for the “not guilty” verdict, however, is entirely on Florida Governor Rick Scott and his “special prosecutor,” Florida State Attorney Angela Corey. The system worked. The players did not.

This Ought to Piss Someone Off Pretty Badly.

It’s been five minutes so I feel the need to make somebody angry again.  Here I go.

It’s been a year and change since George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin had their fateful confrontation, and it’s been a hell of a ride since then.  The New Black Panther Party (not to be mistaken for a BET take on “Cougar Town”) offered a bounty on Zimmerman’s head, Obama claiming if he had a son he’d look like Trayvon, bonds posted and revoked for fraudulent statements…well, if New Orleans, a “chocolate city,” ever needs some nuts to go with that, Florida might be willing to spare a few!

 The legal battle’s still ongoing, with the most recent developments being Zimmerman not using the “stand your ground” defense, hissing and pissing by attorneys on both sides, and the occasional sound bite on TV.  I’m going to eschew any in-depth legal analysis and I’m not going to comment on the court proceedings.  I’m going to place what little faith I have left in the judicial system on the judge and jury and hope they find the correct solution to all this and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that, if Zimmerman’s found not guilty, the world can behave itself and abstain from any rioting.

 No, what I’m going to do here is take a look at the night in question and offer my two cents at the end.  We all know the basics: neighborhood watch security guy sees unfamiliar kid, calls 911, follows and confronts kid, fight ensues, kid dies.  There’s a lot of blame being cast about and some of it’s even justified.  Some fault Zimmerman, some fault Martin.  My take is about 70% Zimmerman’s fault, 30% Martin’s.  You could probably make the argument for a 60/40 split, but I still contend the majority of the blame is on Zimmerman.  Here’s why.

 First, he was a “neighborhood watch captain.”  That’s not a real law enforcement position.  He was a security guard, a private citizen who walked around a housing community.  While he was a security guard and authorized to speak in a limited manner on behalf of the community that had retained him, he was still a civilian.  No badge, no oath of office, nothing.

 Second, he apparently had a “cozy” working relationship with the local police, or so says Huffington Post.  There were even accusations that he wanted to be a cop some day and was styling himself as a pseudo-police officer with his position.

 Third, he called 911 to deal with Martin without having contacted him first or observing Martin doing anything other than walking back and forth.

 Finally, when he was told he didn’t need to continue to pursue or interact with Martin, he chose to do so anyway.  And there’s the kicker.

 For Martin, up until he was confronted, he wasn’t doing anything more harmful than apparently talking on his cell phone.  He was apparently in his dad’s neighborhood and wanted to talk to his girlfriend.  When Zimmerman confronted him—and I use “confronted” purposefully, rather than “spoke to” or “questioned”—something happened to anger Martin sufficiently that he laid hands on Zimmerman.  There’s no question that Zimmerman was attacked; mugshots and released photos show he’d been knocked around.  Calm down, though, because I’ll tie this up in a moment or three.  Now after having attacked Zimmerman, Martin was shot, apparently because Zimmerman felt threatened and feared for his life, or so Zimmerman claims.

 What went wrong?  A couple of things, and I’ll go with a sequential list as much as I can.  The first thing that went wrong was Zimmerman lost sight of who he was and what his function as a “neighborhood watchman” entailed.  A security guard, or any civilian acting in a similar capacity, has very, very limited powers and authority.  If a security guard arrests you, it’s only a citizen’s arrest.  It’s legal and binding, but he can only execute it under very narrow circumstances.  As a representative of his employer, he can ask you who you are and what your business is.  You don’t have to answer, though.  He can even ask you to leave the premises, but if you resist, generally he can’t lay hands on you to physically remove you.  (I used to be one many moons ago and even trained a few over the years, so I do know a bit about what I’m saying.)  A bouncer could physically remove you from a bar, possibly, but it’s doubtful a neighborhood watchman could run you out of an entire neighborhood without cause.

 The second thing was that Zimmerman called 911 to have cops come deal with Martin.  Right there he should have just sat back and kept tabs on Martin.  Real cops were on the way to handle it; they’d just be delayed.  Following that, Zimmerman chose to leave his vehicle and confront Martin.  Now this is a “two-for-one” failure.  When you call 911, you’ve admitted the situation is beyond your control and that you need the cops to help you.  This does not give you carte blanche to dual-wield your .50AE Desert Eagles, holler “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers!” and charge into battle so that you can stand tall amid the carnage when the police arrive.  What you do is back off and wait for the cops.  Withdraw from the situation if you can and defend yourself if you must.  That’s it.

 The second part of his failure was after the 911 dispatcher flatly tells him the police do not need him to continue to pursue Martin, but he did more than just pursue.  He got out of his vehicle and approached Martin, instigating the ultimately fatal confrontation.  I have no idea why he did this.  Maybe he was emboldened by the knowledge that the cops would arrive and wanted to play hero.  Maybe he was just tired of sitting in his car.  All I do know is that he did it.

 The third problem I can only assume had occurred based on what followed.  In this, something was said or was said in such a way as to indicate Martin was being pursued, profiled, singled out, or otherwise messed with.  There’s only one person alive who knows for certain and while he may tell the truth in court, you can almost certainly assume some kind of bias.

 Fourth, after the confrontation, Martin was evidently angered by whatever Zimmerman had said and what he had done or was doing.  Rather than taking the smart way out and calling the cops from his father’s home, Martin took matters into his own hands and got physical with Zimmerman.  Maybe Zimmerman laid hands on Martin first, but I doubt it.  Call it a hunch, but he doesn’t strike me as a physical bully.  More on that later.  In the middle of the dustup, Martin gets shot.

 You may be asking yourself now why I’ve listed so many things wrong on Zimmerman’s account than on Martin’s.  It’s simple: he did more wrong than Martin.  While it’s not illegal to call 911 then play cop yourself, it’s highly inadvisable and unwise.  Like I said, you called for the cops to handle it, so there’s obviously something going on you can’t handle.  You should step back and let them handle it.  Further, when the cops tell you that you don’t need to do something, listen to them.  He was still on the phone with them giving them useless updates, and since he had implicitly yielded control to the cops by calling them in, they were calling the shots.  But no.  Rentacop has to play Robocop, either to bust a suspicious character on his own and snuggle up to the cops or to look good to the community that hired him on.  Third, remember your place.  If you’re a security guard, you’re just a security guard.  You’re not a one-man incarnation of the 75th Ranger Regiment, SEAL Team 6, and the Boy Scouts.  Know your job.  Know your rights, responsibilities, and limitations and stick to them.  Finally, shooting someone in self-defense, at least in my book, isn’t justifiable if you started the fight.  If your mouth writes a check your ass can’t cash, that’s your problem.  You can’t “stand your ground” by getting in someone’s face and provoking them, but maybe Florida law disagrees with me.

 The final part I listed, where I fault Martin for following Zimmerman and escalating the confrontation, isn’t necessarily a criminal offense, although battery certainly is.  Remember, Martin was 17.  In most teenagers’ eyes, “seventeen” is synonymous with “bulletproof” and “immortal.”  Yes, a lot of his posts on Facebook have him showing off his little gangsta grill and are full of boasts about how tough he is and so on and so forth.  So what?  Maybe he was a punk.  Maybe he wasn’t.  Grills, trash talk, and punkishness aren’t crimes and are certainly not capital offenses.  What Martin’s big failing here was being a teenager and full of his own sense of self, maybe with a too-hefty dose of hot-headedness.  Most clear-headed individuals in his place would have gone to Dad’s house and called the cops themselves, or complained to Dad to let him handle it.  But teenagers are rarely clear-headed, especially if they’re pushed.

 No, Martin does not get a free pass for assaulting Zimmerman.  What he did was wrong, but when you were 17, did you always let logic rule the day?  Were you always rational and analytical.  Hell, no.  Neither was I.  It comes with the territory.  Still, Martin was old enough to know better.  Besides, if he was as much a thug as everyone claims, wouldn’t you think he’d know enough to think twice about jumping some crazy little mother who just jumps up and gets in his face in the middle of the night?  Common sense would tell you the crazy one’s armed or flat-out legitimately nuts.  But now we’re back to square one.  Teenagers with common sense?  Hm.  That’s kind of an oxy-something, I think…

 This is why I make the 70/30 split in assigning Zimmerman the lion’s share of the blame.  He did not pay attention to his situation, he was not aware of or was willfully ignoring the strictures of his position and duties, he disregarded the police, and he initiated the conflict.  Martin responded very foolishly and unknowingly contributed to his own shooting.

 Earlier I said I’d speak more about why I don’t think Zimmerman was a physical bully and likely didn’t swing first.  I’ve met people with similar mindsets (Rentacops wanting to be Robocops) where the line between good guy and asshole is the addition of a badge.  Power corrupts, and false power is no exception.  With his actions, he strikes me as the type who would hide either behind a real cop’s badge or use the limited authority of his own coupled with the public’s seeming ignorance of security guards’ duties and powers to intimidate or bluff people who trespassed on his turf.  Witness the chain of events: he doesn’t confront Martin right off.  He calls 911, an emergency number for a non-emergency situation.  A black kid walking around talking on his cell phone is hardly life-threatening.  There was no need for that, but he wants the cops there ASAP.  After playing recon ranger and giving his little tactical updates to the dispatcher—a time in which Martin does nothing but continue to walk around—he decides to saddle up and confront Martin.  By then, he knows the cops are closer to arriving, so maybe that boosted the testosterone levels a bit.

 How would I have handled it?  The same way I’ve handled similar situations before.  Introduce yourself, making yourself plainly visible well in advance.  “Hi, I’m so-and-so.  I’m the security guard around here.  I don’t recall having seen you here before.  Are you new here?  Oh, okay.  Just checking.”  Exchange minimal pleasantries and go on your way.  That way you establish your presence and the new guy in town knows he’s being watched (if he’s a bad guy) or he knows he won’t have any more harassment from you if he’s a good guy.  I’ve only called the cops if the situation warranted it and if the other guy wanted to push it.  If they wouldn’t listen to me, I’d find someone they would listen to.  Nothing is worth escalating a situation over.

 That’s just my two cents’ worth.  For all we know, the case may come out in any one of different ways.  Zimmerman could be acquitted, he could be convicted on second degree murder, or he could be convicted on any one of a number of lesser included charges.  I might be proven wrong on everything I said here or I may be proven right.  Still, I’m convinced that had Zimmerman acted appropriately from the start, this whole affair wouldn’t have snowballed from some wanna-be strutting up and down the street to some kid being killed for nothing.

This May be One of the Root Causes of Anti-Gun Hysteria.

Sometimes I don’t know why I try, but the urge to educate people still rears its ugly head.  Nearly every time I try, I run into obstacles.

Scratch that.  I run into the same obstacle, just a different facet each time.  It’s immaturity.  Without fail, there is an underlying current of immaturity, an inability to accept responsibility on a personal level or assign blame on the same basis, or even better (or worse–your mileage may vary) a bizarre tendency to personify guns as having their own personalities or agendas or as being some kind of all-powerful corrupter.

Look around on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, or any other anti-gun, ultra-leftist site and you’ll see other examples of a similar mindset, some more extreme than others.  The omnipresent theme of “getting rid of guns will reduce crime” permeates their blogs and editorials more perniciously and more offensively than a fart in the Vatican.  I’m going to take a poke at a couple of them and you tell me if they’re familiar.

“Guns kill people!”  I love this one.  I just got done arguing with someone on Disqus who believes that because the cause of death on a coroner’s certificate might read “gunshot wound,” the gun is responsible, and also that guns being inanimate objects does not “absolve” them of any “blame.”  He even said it was a stupid statement to say that “guns don’t kill people, people do.”  He went so far as to say, “Nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people do!  Doesn’t sound any nicer, does it?”  (And yes, I know I seem stupid for arguing on Disqus, but I’ll have to take second place: this guy takes first.)  We’re going to dissect this but first we have to have an understanding of what a gun is.

They were originally designed as weapons of war, but also found use as implements of sport and survival.  They are dangerous even if used correctly, but this is a gun in a nutshell: a gun is a machine designed to hold, launch, and direct a projectile at a target. That’s it.  They are not designed to choose a target.  They are incapable of choosing a target.  That’s what you’re there for.  With the trigger pulled and the hammer dropped, the gun will send its bullet, slug, or shot wherever the user is pointing it.  End of argument.  If you happened to be pointing it the wrong way, it’s all on you.

But back to the original topic.  “Guns kill people.”  No.  They can.  They certainly were intended to do so and can definitely be used that way whether they’re a competition-designed gun, a fowling gun, or a service revolver.  However, in an irrefutable twist of reality, no gun has spontaneously committed an act of violence against anyone without someone intentionally or accidentally activating it.  Guns certainly are used in homicides, both justifiable and illegal, against men, women, and children, and always far too often.  However, I do notice that nobody brings out the “knives kill people” argument, or “blunt objects kill people.”  It seems that the purveyors of this argument seem intent on pinning the blame solely on (cue dramatic pause)…THE GUN.

I like that…it’s all scary and stuff when you say it like that.  Maybe I’ll see if WordPress can let me add thunder and lightning to my posts next time.

And if people don’t kill people but guns do, how the hell do you account for so many deaths prior to the invention of guns?  Maybe the Roman Empire expanded just by making people feel bad about themselves or something.

Closely related to this is the argument against concealed carry permits.  Remember the cries of a resurgence of “the Wild West” and there would be shootouts in the streets?  This is similar to the “guns kill people” mantra but is more closely related to the concept of THE GUN as a corrupting influence.  Apparently, Smith & Wesson are the Emperor & Vader and are very strong in the Force!  The theory here is that the average citizen will, after going through his background check, taking the courses, selecting his gun and submitting his fingerprints, will begin arbitrarily shooting up the town at the slightest hint of an insult.  Hasn’t happened, has it?  No, it hasn’t.  In fact, Texas–that oh-so-scary bastion of redneck conservative Christian gunslingers–had a study carried out in 2011.  Guess what?  CCW permit holders were convicted of crimes in just under .19% of all the prosecutions statewide, and about half of those were for crimes not involving guns at all!  Kansas?  Similar story. Minnesota?  Hello.  Anyone from North Carolina reading this?  Here you go.  Florida?  Scroll down after hitting the link, but here’s something for you. Something like .3% of CCW permits have been canceled or revoked.

Hm.  So guns aren’t the corrupting influence we’re led to believe, if statistics and real life are any indicators.  Nor do guns arbitrarily jump up and commit crimes of their own volition.  Well, there’s always, “You don’t need X or Y!”

Now X or Y is either an “assault rifle” or a “high-capacity magazine.”  As has been dealt with more eloquently elsewhere, nobody can own an “assault rifle” without paying prohibitive prices for it then undergoing the BATFE’s background checks, so the term “assault rifle” and its attendant arguments against it are moot.  Also, “high-capacity” is a misnomer.  A 30-round magazine is standard capacity for an AR-15.  Even the word “standard” appears in the nomenclature as a STANAG magazine (“STANAG” meaning “STANdardization AGreement”) so yeah, kids, it’s not out of the ordinary.  Thirty rounds is run of the mill.

The kicker here is that “need” hasn’t got a damn thing to do with anything.  You don’t “need” a lot of things.  You don’t “need” fancy clothes or watches, fast cars, big houses, or the latest and sexiest electronics in your house, do you?

It would seem to me, then, that there must be something else causing paranoia and rampant terror among the gun-grabbers.  A clue can be found in any number of headlines.  An assault carried out with any weapon but a gun leads to comments of how someone is “sick” or “needs help.”  An assault carried out with a gun?  Good God, we have to get rid of those guns!  Here is another manifestation of what we’ve already covered but with the addition of the inability to assign blame or take responsibility.  (Remember that from way up at the top of this rant?)  But this time we’re not going to go over THE GUN.  Rather, we’ll take a peek at the mindset of the anti-gunners.  Their remarks that an assailant is sick or in need of help may be warranted (sometimes) but they often hedge any finger-pointing with “but if only…” and follow up with how someone “slipped through the cracks” of the health care or legal systems, else they’d have been properly taken care of.  But add a gun to the mix, and suddenly the shooter is absolved of wrongdoing (but still needs “help”) and we need to immediately focus on THE GUN.  Even today, in the aftermath of the Aurora and Newtown shootings, there’s just the barest lip service paid to mental illness.  We can’t have a real problems stealing spotlights from guns, can we?

What this is all leading up to is this simple observation: the anti-gun crowd operates solely out of fear, not rationality, a fear stemming from some unnamed trauma or from an overdose of TV and movies coupled with bad parenting techniques.  There is the tendency to anthropomorphize THE GUN, to imbue it with a soul or will of its own to make all things that happen somehow attributable to THE GUN first and foremost with the triggerman’s mental illness a distant second (third if you factor in violent movies.)  This particular fetish of theirs is an outgrowth of a phenomenon all parents have seen in their kids, and have likely gone through themselves.  You’ll notice that if a younger child hurts themselves, they lash out at the object involved: pinch a finger in a door, they kick the door.  Drop something on their foot, they kick the object.  Smack a thumb with a hammer, and it’s “Stupid hammer!” and it gets thrown across the room.  You can see any number of outbursts on YouTube, and it’s in full effect in the gun-grabber mentality.  THE GUN is bad and scary.  It intimidates them and needs to be punished for doing so.  The shooter isn’t the problem, he’s the victim of problems.  Even in the recent deaths of young children who were playing with their parents’ unsecured guns, we must vilify THE GUN and not place blame on people, where it always and invariably must fall.  In the case of Aurora and Sandy Hook, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the shooters who knew they were doing wrong but went ahead anyway.  In the cases of the children, the parents must bear the burden of guilt for not supervising their children or locking up their guns.

No, it’s rarely the human who must ever bear any responsibility.  Blame instead THE GUN in all its evil.

Until the anti-gun crowd manages to grow out of their childish, irrational fear of objects and learns to accept responsibility for their own actions or recognize the culpability of wrongdoers, there won’t be any level-headed discussion about guns.  In very few of the shootings involved has anyone really been mentally ill; most of the shootings are done by people who are well aware that they are doing wrong and they, not their tool of choice, are the problem.

Some will tout background checks at every juncture as a cure-all.  I have no problem admitting that our background systems check needs some tweaks, but at the same time I wouldn’t want our government to oversee it when they’re so competent they put toddlers on no-fly lists.  If a properly functioning instant check system helps keep guns away from crazies and doesn’t interfere with my right to buy a gun or ammunition, bring it on.  But that tacit admission (despite being a lead-in to registration and possible confiscation) leads us back to the gist of my post: it’s always the people, never THE GUN, that require our attention.

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(And I’m including a pic of my daughter firing my dad’s M1 carbine with a 15-round “high-capacity magazine!  Hope it makes someone wet their pants in fear.)