Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Second Amendment Expansion; First Amendment Contraction

The number of guns in the United States is in direct relationship to The National Lunacy.
Predictably, the United States invented perpetual warfare.
Despite disclaimers, we like war.
Just manufacture weapons - and as night follows day - they will be used.

As Republican president Dwight Eisenhower pointed out, The Military Industrial Complex is the core culprit.


Why is the First Amendment under assault, but the Second Amendment a growth industry? 

Immeasurably more terror has been propagated, perpetrated and disguised by supporters of the Second Amendment than supporters of the First. 

"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."

The First Concern of The Founding Fathers was Regulation.

And not just a modicum of regulation, but enough to insure that militias -- the a priori sine qua non of "the right to bear arms" -- were well regulated. 

Well regulated.

If the Second Amendment is read literally - and if the Second Amendment's first clause is actually put first - I not only support the Second Amendment, I am a Second Amendment enthusiast. 

However, by reading the second clause first - and then dropping the first clause altogether in order to spotlight the second - we deliberately foster the decontextualized insanity that afflicts our ever more irrational society.

Show me an American gun owner who can even mouthe the words, "well regulated?"
The most recent perpetrator of unregulated Second Amendment havoc is J.T. Ready. 

The most notable instance of unregulated Second Amendment havoc is Timothy McVeigh -- cradle Catholic and Gulf War vet.  

Despite the sound and fury, the Second Amendment is not threatened. 

During Obama's second year in office, the Supreme Court ruled to expand citizens' rights to bear arms. 

Quick!  Name one person who committed an act of terror by exercising First Amendment rights.

Okay... I shouldn't hurry you.

Take as much time as you'd like -- days, weeks, years -- and name one person who wreaked terror by exercising First Amendment rights. 

How insane are we? 

Not only can citizens conceal weapons in church -- prima facie evidence of American barbarians' "clinging to guns and religion" -- ponder the following: "Tampa officials have released a list of items considered a security threat during the Republican National Convention in August, including water pistols, masks, and even pieces of string. Fire arms are not on the list. State gun laws prohibit any local restriction on the carrying of guns. “If we’d tried to to regulate guns, it wouldn’t have worked,” says a city official."  

If ever a polity deserved demise -- both for the lunacy it has visited on itself and the world -- it is ours.

I do not hope for demise.  

To the contrary, I hope for a miracle.

Since Antiquity however, Euripides' dictum has sounded in our ears: "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad." 

Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius

America is mad.

George F. Will

A snapshot of our times


January 18, 2012

Shawn Nee, 35, works in television but hopes to publish a book of photographs. Shane Quentin, 31, repairs bicycles but enjoys photographing industrial scenes at night. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department probably wishes that both would find other hobbies. Herewith a story of today’s inevitable friction between people exercising, and others protecting, freedom.
When the Los Angeles Police Department developed a Suspicious Activity Report program, the federal government encouraged local law enforcement agencies to adopt its guidelines for gathering information “that could indicate activity or intentions related to” terrorism. From the fact that terrorists might take pictures of potential infrastructure targets (“pre-operational surveillance”), it is a short slide down a slippery slope to the judgment that photography is a potential indicator of terrorism and hence photographers are suspect when taking pictures “with no apparent aesthetic value” (words from the suspicious-activity guidelines).
One reason law enforcement is such a demanding, and admirable, profession is that it requires constant exercises of good judgment in the application of general rules to ambiguous situations. Such judgment is not evenly distributed among America’s 800,000 law enforcement officials and was lacking among the sheriff’s deputies who saw Nee photographing controversial new subway turnstiles. (Subway officials, sadder but wiser about our fallen world, installed turnstiles after operating largely on an honor system regarding ticket purchases.) Deputies detained and searched Nee, asking if he was planning to sell the photos to al-Qaeda. Nee was wearing, in plain view, a device police sometimes use to make video and audio records of interactions with people, and when he told a deputy he was going to exercise his right to remain silent, the deputy said:
“You know, I’ll just submit your name to TLO (the Terrorism Liaison Officer program). Every time your driver’s license gets scanned, every time you take a plane, any time you go on any type of public transit system where they look at your identification, you’re going to be stopped. You will be detained. You’ll be searched. You will be on the FBI’s hit list.”
Nee is not easily discouraged — the first day he took photographs of street life, one of his subjects punched him — and has a bantam rooster’s combativeness when it comes to exercising his rights. He exercised them again, successfully, when police told him to stop photographing during an incident while he was standing next to Shania Twain’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Quentin, who finds aesthetic — and occasional monetary — value in photographs of industrial scenery at night, was equally persistent when deputies ordered him to stop taking pictures, lest they put his name on a troublesome FBI list. He was on a public sidewalk, using a large camera on a tripod, photographing an oil refinery at 1 a.m. He has a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of California at Irvine, so there.
Quentin — who in another incident was detained for 45 minutes in the back of a squad car — and Nee are not the only photographers who have collided with law enforcement. In conjunction with a Long Beach Post story on distracted drivers, a photographer went to a busy intersection to take pictures of people texting and talking on hand-held phones while driving. A courthouse was in the background; deputies called it a “critical facility,” so his picture-taking was “suspicious activity.” He was given a pat-down search, and deputies demanded to see the pictures he had taken.
On behalf of such photographers, Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has filed a complaint alleging violations of the First Amendment (photography as an expressive activity; freedom of the press is constitutionally guaranteed) and Fourth Amendment (unreasonable searches of persons and their cameras).
Bibring, not a stereotypical ACLU fire-breather, is sympathetic about the difficult decisions law enforcement officers must make concerning the shadowy threat of terrorism. “Points of friction,” he says equably, “are inevitable.”
As are instances of government overreaching in the name of security. Most seasoned law enforcement professionals, however, have sufficient judgment to accommodate the fact that online opportunities for the dissemination of photographs mean lots of people can plausibly claim to be photojournalists.
Furthermore, digital cameras — your cellphone probably has one — are so inexpensive and ubiquitous that photography has become a form of fidgeting: Facebook users upload 7.5 billion photos every month.
This raises reasonable suspicions not of terrorism but of narcissism, which is a national problem but not for law enforcement.

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