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Democratic Party’s Bad End

 

I have not blogged on this page in almost a year, but in today’s Opinion Page Paul Krugman, an early and often supporter of Hillary Clinton, writes:

Sanders claiming that there will be a contested convention, and suggesting that the nomination fight was rigged. Can someone tell Bernie that he’s in the process of blowing his own chance for a positive legacy?

Here’s how the narrative could have run: although he fell short of actually getting the nomination, Sanders did far better than expected, giving him and his movement a good claim to have a big say in the Democratic agenda for 2016 and perhaps setting the movement up as the party’s future. But to take that position — to turn defeat in the primary into a moral victory — he would have had to accept the will of the voters with grace.

Krugman ignores considers incidents like the Arizona primary to be mere sour grapes. He believes that, for some reason, a “moral victory” is something anyone should desire.

And why is that? Because moral victories are what the Democratic Party has dealt in since Al Gore’s “moral victory” in 2000. So much in fact, when the Democrat’s obtained real victory in 2008, they reached for the moral victory in compromised healthcare reform. They can claim that for this reason, or that reason, they could not pass single payer, universal healthcare, but it is because of this feckless leadership and willingness to cater to anyone but the electorate that they lost in 2010, 2012, and 2014. What is there to gain in a moral victory?

Apparently, if that guilt trip doesn’t work then the Democrats will play the tried and true “bogeyman card.” Tom Cahill at USUncut wrote on Saturday:

After losing four out of five primaries on Tuesday, the overwhelming question from Hillary Clinton supporters is whether or not the legions of voters backing Bernie Sanders will fall in line, accept Clinton’s inevitable coronation, and vote for her to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. This is an unfair and illegitimate question, and completely ignores why Sanders was able to activate so many people across the country and persuade nearly 9 million people thus far to vote for him.

This threat arrives every four years during Presidential campaigns only to be replaced with these moral victories that fail on all levels during the midterms. The type of grassroots movement that the Sanders campaign generates is the same type that the Democratic Party needs to win midterm, state, and local elections, but the party’s desire for power at any cost and their unwillingness to do anything pro-active once they have it have been exposed and the liberal, progressive base it once relied on is ready to find another party. For now the party will trudge on with the loyal few that vote based on fear and pyrrhicy. But someone really needs to tell them, and Krugman, that Bernie and his supporters are not whining. We’re leaving. And your bogeyman doesn’t scare us anymore.

 

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GOP Betrays Women with One Trick Pony

It has become painfully obvious that the presidential campaign season is in full effect now because the GOP has dusted off their precious anti-choice agenda to charge up their base. It’s an issue that GOP likes to pretend they care about every 4 or 8 years, with intermittent attacks on Planned Parenthood in between, but when they’re in an actual position to work toward the overturn of Roe v Wade, like they were when they had control of all three branches of the federal government from 2000 to 2006, they do nothing but perpetuate their mouth breathing rhetoric. This is in large part why I went from voting for Pat Buchanon in 2000 (there were no hanging chads in Indiana, so it was a purposeful act) to voting for Barak Obama in 2008 (with a stopover in Bushland after the swift boat sank); the single issue that drives most reasonable voters to lunatic fringe.

For example, I host a monthly event in town called Drinking Liberally. The purpose of the event, sponsored by the Bartholomew County Democratic Party, is to facilitate social interaction among those who do not identify as Republican or Conservative in our community, or as I like to put it, for “those who lean to the left.” At last July’s event I sat down with two of my long time friends, both self-admitted registered Republicans, and we discussed politics. For a little background, both of these gentlemen, brothers, came to know me when I was a regular, active member of a local evangelical, dispensationalist bible church. That church has split in two and no longer exists.  But of what remains , these brothers could be said to belong to the more conservative wing of the ideology. That is what made our conversation that much more amusing. You see, one is a teacher and the other is a factory worker, so when it came to issues of public education, labor unions, and wealth inequality, we were in complete agreement.

Let me clarify.

I believe that public education should be entirely funded by the public. There should be no book rental fees, no transportation fees, no after school program fees, extra curricular fees, none of that. The money provided by the public needs to stop being wasted on bloated administrative salaries and offices and sent directly to the schools to enrich the teachers and their classrooms. Not one public cent should be used on private school vouchers to transfer students in suburban districts, students who have never stepped foot in a public school, to private parochial schools. These private schools are not held to the same accountable standards as our public schools and do not receive the same amount of public oversight and therefore should not receive any of our tax dollars. On that, we agreed.

I believe that labor unions are a vital necessary foundation of democracy in our nation. They are the only means by which labor has any negotiating power with management/business in both the public and private sector. A contract, according to introductory business law, must be negotiated in good faith from a stance of equality. A contract can be considered null and void if one party forces the other to concede to every demand. Management and business control the capital, the money, and that is often the only thing we think about when it comes to contract negotiations: wages. Of course, we also consider benefits like healthcare (which, by the way, my friends and I mostly agree on the need to expand Medicare into a single-payer universal healthcare program) and 401k’s, but we forget about mandatory paid vacations, mandatory paid family time, or the fact that the 40 hour work week, overtime, and child labor laws are all apart of contract negotiations. Columbus, IN. is a rather affluent town and it is that way because of the Diesel Workers Union at Cummins and their members who were willing to go on strike when it was necessary. If teachers want to regain control of their classrooms and regain the respect they’ve earned then they need to consider their history as a labor union. On that, we agreed as well.

I believe that anyone who works full time should not require government assistance for anything. We’re all responsible for how we budget our resources, but expecting anyone to work 60-80 hours at 2 to 3 minimum wage jobs in order to support themselves – let alone a spouse, a child, a parent, or all of the above – is ludicrous. I do not advocate a nanny state, nor do I want anyone to taken care of for life without working; we have enough trust fund babies. What we need is a living wage. In Bartholomew County a single adult would need to make at least $10.72 an hour to survive without any assistance and $16 an hour in order to support a child. The current minimum wage is not going to cut it. And on that, we agreed.

But no one on the GOP ticket, in any race – local or national – is campaigning on these issues. In fact, when talk turned to Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, we found another thing we agreed on: “He’d be good.” Why then do these friends of mine, and many other self-professed, registered Republicans continue to vote against their own interest? Why do they believe that Republicans have the moral high ground on the issue of abortion, the one thing they all turn to when it comes to voting for the GOP, when it’s obvious that these so-called fellow conservatives have no interest in providing any sort of support or care for the unborn child once it is born?

Because my fellow Democrats have conceded the debate. Even Democratic Socialist, like myself, have a hard time justifying the termination of a pregnancy in the face of morality. I am a newborn father and I would sooner commit suicide than allow, let alone decide, for any harm to come to my wife or children. But the simple fact is that legalized abortion saves lives. Let me repeat that: LEGALIZE ABORTION SAVES LIVES. There are two lives who face mortal danger during pregnancy: the mother and the child. Before abortion was decriminalized women who had already been ostracized by their family and their community for their pre-marriage pregnancies were forced to seek somewhat medically trained individuals willing to perform hotel room, back alley procedures in order to terminate the pregnancy. Whether it was an actual child, based on whatever side of the debate we fall on as to when life begins, or not, the woman’s life was in the hands of a stranger who she had no way of knowing whether or not he was the professional he claimed to be. However, once abortion become legal in all 50 states the lives of those women were saved. They could have safe, legal, and accountable procedures. Half of the problem was solved.

But in order to tackle the second half of the problem, and save the lives of unborn children, my friends and their fellow single issues voters, need to give up on the idea that criminalizing abortion will do anything other than bring back the unnecessary deaths of women. Once they focus on REDUCING the amount of abortions performed by doing everything possible to make abortion the least viable, practical, or sensical solution, then we can reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that we’re now able to track. But every time they vote for an elected official who promises to cut SNAP, defund Planned Parenthood (who actually does do more for healthcare than the extremists are willing to admit), depress wages, cut funding for public schools and healthcare, they are insuring an increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

I think my friends are waking up to the fact that federal elections are all about party rhetoric. They’re intrigued by a candidate like Bernie Sanders because they hear what he’s saying, see what he’s done, and know that it’s not “same shit different day” type of politics. As a result, that starts to trickle down (unlike Reagonomics) to the state, county, and city level. They realize that ideologues spouting the same tired national party rhetoric have no real interest in representing them; they just need their vote. And once they fully realize that one trick pony – abortion – is just a dead horse, they’ll stop watching the GOP beat it and start looking for viable, practical, and sensical solutions to address the problems they face every day.

NOTE: NO LINKS OR IMAGES THIS TIME AROUND BECAUSE I WANT MY WORDS TO SINK IN. THANK YOU AND PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING.

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#guncontrol

“You’re crazy. You’re just crazy,” he said as he left the building in frustration. Moments earlier he was browsing my table at the Artisan Food Market where I had made rice krispie treats with artisan marshmallows to sell for $2 apiece. But it became quite evident that he wasn’t interested in the snacks themselves, you see, I was selling them to promote my monthly event “Drinking Liberally.” Drinking Liberally is a social event I host where people living in Columbus, IN. and Bartholomew County can meet other people who do not consider themselves “conservatives” or Republicans. It’s for “those who lean to the left” as I like to say. The event is co-sponsored by the Bartholomew County Democratic Party and I happened to be sharing the table with some of the ladies from the Democratic Women’s League (they were selling packaged nuts). So when I introduced myself and he said, “I know who you are, I’m [name withheld].” I knew he was not a costumer. He was a Libertarian, also operating a booth at the market, who wanted to debate politics.

“You couldn’t field a single candidate for Mayor? Really?” he asked. And to my embarrassment, I had to admit the sorry state of the local Democratic Party here in Indiana. I pointed out that I was trying to help rebuild the party in our county and he could help out by buying some of our wares. He declined and the topic somehow turned to the Iran Deal and how “my” President was giving money to a nation that backed terrorism and would renege on the nuclear deal as soon as our backs were turned. I pointed out that I was not as concerned about who Iran sponsored as I was, like the Department of Homeland Security, concerned about homegrown right-wing terrorist.

“Why did you say that? Why did you have to go there? What do you mean by right wing terrorists?” I casually mentioned Dylan Roof to which he replied, “Well, what about the left wing terrorists? The once looting and rioting.” “You mean protesters?” “Yeah, them. They’re terrorists. So is that Al Sharpton…” I interrupted to point out that if Al Sharpton was a terrorist, according to his logic, then so was every evangelist who encouraged a David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress. Then I pointed out that Roof and the people who were burning black churches in the South were actual terrorists and that was the point he had had enough.

The reason that conversation is fresh on my mind isn’t because it happened last weekend, but since that conversation John Houser, another right-wing terrorist, killed 2 people and wounded 9 others in a Louisiana theater. Then I come across a report that indicates that there has been 204 mass shootings in the first 204 days of 2015. And now I’m left wondering if there will ever be an opportunity to have a rational discussion with people like [name withheld] who see parallels between Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof.

Bundy Bunnies

Recently, President Obama told BBC News “If you look at the number Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands.” As right-wing terrorist groups like Oath Keepers stand guard outside military recruitment offices in the wake of another mass shooting, this time involving a Muslim, and despite the fact that they’re considered a “security risk”, it becomes evident that prayer alone is not going to cut it this time. We cannot continue doing the same thing over and over, like a PC stuck in a loop, and expect different results. Those of us who lean a bit to the left cannot sit silent because silence has been taken as consent. Whether we demand gun laws as strict as Australia, the UK, Canada or Japan; or simply strengthen current regulations to increase background checks, what we cannot do is be silent on the matter. Like #BlackLivesMatter, #LivingWage, #SandraBland, #RFRA, #equality, #publiceducation, #studentloanrelief, and many other issues facing the 2016 campaign, it might seem crazy, but we have to talk about #guncontrol.

NOTE: Apologies for not posting for sometime, I just had a new baby.

Sandy disses Trump

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Know Your Labels

Despite what Antonin Scalia might believe, words have meaning. While many of them are open for interpretation, and this seems to be where Scalia takes issue, their meaning is evident when taken in to context. For example, the words “racist” and “bigot” have been thrown around quite a bit in recent weeks.  Whether it was in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on gay-marriage, or the symbolism of the confederate flag, or what to call the white supremacists who have begun burning churches as a counter response to those who oppose the confederate flag (hint: terrorists), the labels themselves seem to be offensive. No one wants to be labeled as a bigot, or a racist, or a terrorist, but when actions and behaviors match the definition of a word then what else are we to call an individual?

Racist - DefintionBigot - definition

Should Bernie Sanders be offended that Claire McCaskill labeled him a socialist? The U.S. Senator recognized that his colleague was using the word as a derogatory label, but he didn’t deny that it fit. The Presidential Candidate has been out and proud about his status as a Democratic Socialist, and why shouldn’t he be?  Well, according to Curtis F at ReverbPress: “Americans who hear Bernie Sanders proclaim himself a Democratic Socialist will hear one word: socialist” and that’s nothing to be proud of, right? If we are shallow thinkers, if we get all squirmy-wormy at certain words, we would ignore the actions and behaviors that match the definition. We’d stop at whatever connotations we might have of the word and ignore its context and application to our lives. If that is the type of people we are then Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist, has every reason to be concerned about the label, because Curtis F believes, “It would literally take a 94 percent turnout of socialist-supporting Democrats in America to the polls for him to even top Mitt Romney’s votes. With only a 63 percent turnout rate in 2008, arguably the most important election in our lifetime thus far, the chances of this are nil.” Literally. As a fellow self-described progressive (dare I say, Democratic Socialist) living Blue in a Red State, I have to disagree.

“Sixty percent of Americans agree with him that the “economic system unfairly favors the rich,” which may be one reason politicians in both parties are uncomfortably trying to fit into populist garb. Two-thirds of the American public think the rich pay too little in taxes. Two-thirds think CEO pay is too high.Three of four think climate change is a serious or very serious matter. In the 24 hours after he declared, he raised $1.5 million. Roughly 35,000 donors gave, on average, less than $50. A larger group of 145,000 signed up online to volunteer,” writes Robert L. Borosage. Democratic socialism may be hard to define, but when we see it in action many Americans support it. We agree that college debt has gotten out of control and we support a plan for making college tuition free. We think the rich pay too little in taxes and Bernie Sanders thinks that a 90% tax rate isn’t too high. 63% of us agree with Socialist Bernie Sanders that the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour by 2020 (though Bernie would like it done sooner). Single payer universal health care? Regulating Wall-Street? Income taxes, offshore tax havens, campaign finance reform, climate change, social services? Check them all off. The majority of Americans agree with Bernie Sanders. The majority of Americans, it seems, are Democratic Socialists. So what’s the rub?

“Marxism-Leninism…is only one strand of a progressive socialist tradition that also includes social democracy in its various forms, which is still a vital political force in most European countries — most prominently in Scandinavia,” writes Darrell Delamaide. “Comfortable in the conviction that the U.S. is the biggest, strongest economy in the world with the highest standard of living, Americans have for decades tended to sneer at these European countries as inferior, bogged down economically by anti-business policies.” We’re still stuck with visions of Russians in bread lines whenever we hear the word socialism (note the date of that link). Delamaide argues that we’ve been stuck listening to the same Republican/Conservative message since the end of World War Two. The one that relies on an “Us. v Them” dichotomy where everyone who doesn’t believe in the power of pure capitalism to set them free is a dirty, pinko commie. “But it is slowly dawning on wide portions of the American public — crushed by stagnant wages, robbed of middle-class jobs by competition with low-wage countries, deprived of health care, burdened by student debt and the astronomical costs of a college education — that this supposed superiority of ours is no longer true, if it ever was.” For example, in the last six years we’ve only heard the free-market alternative that Republicans and Libertarians have offered to Obamacare, and while many of us may not be satisfied with what the  ACA offers, we know that the lack of competition in the insurance market isn’t what is driving up the cost of healthcare. Capitalism has its place in the American economy, but so does socialism. When it comes to education, healthcare, criminal justice, infrastructure, emergency services, and utilities, we’ve already accepted socialism as a viable alternative to laissez-faire economics. A rose by any other name, as Shakespeare said, is still a rose. There’s no point in being afraid of a label. It’s what we answer to that matters. And if you label Bernie Sanders a socialist, he will answer to it. And so will I.

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Don’t Worry, Your Church Can Still Deny Same-Sex Marriages.

The White House celebrates historical SCOTUS decision

The White House celebrates historical SCOTUS decision

Since yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, there has been a lot of concern from people of faith about whether or not they’ll be forced to marry a homosexual. No, that is not a grammatical error. If we look at the reactions all over social media it would seem that we’re heading for a disaster of biblical proportions and one is left to assume that that not only includes dogs and cats living together, but that we will now be forced to find a same-sex partner and consummate our marriage.  But that’s not the case. Not even close. So let’s all take a deep breath and look at the facts.

First up, now that same-sex marriage (after today I will only refer to it as marriage) is legal in all 50 states the only political issues that are still up for debate are: “gay adoption, the tax-exempt status of religious organizations that wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; and the obligation of private churches and individuals to recognize and perform same-sex marriages” according to Emma Green of the Atlantic.

A couple of weeks ago, Michigan legislature passed a trio of bills that would allow publicly funded adoption agencies to refuse placing children with same-sex parents based on religious grounds. There is concern now that these agencies may lose their public funding if they continue to uphold such policies, as well they should. Many proponents of individual freedom have argued that the states use of taxes to punish and reinforce cultural norms is a form of tyrannical coercion. If that is the case then these agencies that wish to express their religious freedom should willfully unburden themselves of the state’s influence; otherwise, if they wish to continue receiving public fund in the form of tax revenues they should serve the entire public equally. The price for individual freedom means more than saluting our nation’s flag and sending our children to war. That goes for any religious organization receiving tax dollars.

Ebony Series Features Gay Bishop and His Family

Ebony Series Features Gay Bishop and His Family

The question of tax-exempt status for religious organizations that wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation came up during oral arguments in the Supreme Court case of Obergefll v Hodges. Emma Green again writes: “Alito raised a 1983 case involving the evangelical Christian Bob Jones University, which had refused to allow interracial dating on its campus. The Court ruled that the school could not be tax exempt if it maintained its ban; the university accepted the consequences, not changing its policy until 2000.” Let’s be clear, Bob Jones University chose to discriminate against interracial couples rather than be tax exempt. They did that shit for 17 years! They chose to exercise their religious freedom until it was no longer financially advantageous. Therefore, it seems rather obvious what the impact of Friday’s decision will mean for other churches: “You can be bigots as long as it’s affordable.” And as we have seen in the past, bigotry can be profitable… for a limited time.

Makin' out at Bob Jones U.

Makin’ out at Bob Jones U.

Which brings us to our final, and seemingly most vital issue: Will churches have to perform same-sex marriages against their will? No.

Really, it is that simple.

According to USAToday, “[F]or clergy in most faiths, the Supreme Court’s decision throwing out civil bans on gay marriage doesn’t change anything. They either already were allowed to officiate at wedding of gays and lesbians – or still are prohibited from doing so.” The church had nothing to do with my different-sex, heterosexual marriage. In fact, it was ordained by my Lesbian sister. This ruling will not allow Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexuals and Transgenders to kick in the church doors and force the clergy to perform a wedding ceremony. It will, however, allow all of us to go to the city courthouse and get a marriage license so that we all enjoy the same rights of a contractual union between two willing parties. And should polygamy every make the mainstream, then we can debate if those relationships have the same rights as corporations – being people and all.

Gay Valentine's Day wedding a first for historic church

Gay Valentine’s Day wedding a first for historic church

So relax, bigots. The people that are unwanted in your lives have gotten the message. No need to beat it over their heads like a Truth campaign. They won’t have their weddings in your churches and they won’t be offended if you don’t send them a gift. Apocalypse averted.

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Racism and Gun Control

race and guns

Owning a gun does not make you a racist, but if you are a racist there is a strong likelihood that you own a gun. And if you’re a racist, not only do you own a gun, but you most likely oppose gun control. According to a 2013 study led by Kerry O’Brien of Monash University in Australia, “For each one point increase in symbolic racism, there was a 50 percent greater odds of having a gun in the home,” they write, “and there was a 28 percent increase in the odds of supporting permits to carry concealed handguns.” (salon.com). In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina mass shooting the topics of racism and gun violence have become intermingled. Many on social media have debated the meaning of the Confederate flag, who is to blame for the racial divide in the United States, and whether or not there is anything that can be done to prevent another mass shooting.

confederate flag

“What we’re calling the Confederate flag, the rectangular one, really wasn’t flown during the Civil War except on a few naval vessels,” says John M. Hartvigsen. “It was picked up by some veterans’ groups after the war, and then used by the Ku Klux Klan.” Hartvigsen is president of the North American Vexillological Association – vexillology being the scholarly study of flags. In a recent article written for Rolling Stone, Simon Vozick-Levinson adds, ” In 1961, the South Carolina legislature gave that ersatz rectangular flag – the one the Klan favored – a place on the state capitol’s dome, in an open act of disrespect masked as a gesture to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War.” The flag was changed in 2000 to the one that most recently flew over the South Carolina state house. That flag never flew on a stationary pole and was only carried into battle by soldiers. While many on social media have made comparisons between the Confederate flag and the Swastika as symbols of racism, others have argued that the Confederate flag is a symbol of individual liberty and rebellion. Individual liberty can be expressed in any way one chooses to express their own will, but combined with the idea of rebellion and the history of the flag it is impossible to ignore the message of willful defiance in the name of continued racism. Supporters of the flag are bluntly stating that they will hate who they want to hate and nothing is going to change their mind about it. And that’s fine. Everyone has the right to be an uneducated idiot if they choose. And everyone else has the right to refer to them as bigots and shun them. It won’t bring anyone together, but it will deepen the divide.

“Asked whether race relations had improved or soured during President Obama’s time in office, 35 percent of respondents said they had gotten worse, while 52 percent said they had stayed the same,” writes Liz Peek for Fox News Opinion. “Only 10 percent thought the president had had a positive impact on relations – 8 percent of whites and 17 percent of blacks. That is an impressive underachievement from our first African-American president.” Liz and those like her seem to believe that every time our President or his administration acknowledge the facts of systemic racism within our nation that he is directly to blame for it and the divide it creates. In a video just over six minutes long, Laci Green does an excellent job explaining the history of systemic racism and if you pay close attention you’ll realize that it existed long before Obama was even a college graduate, let alone a community organizer, Senator, or President. When you look at how the federal government back whites only home loans (“red lining”) from 1934 to 1962 then it’s easy to understand the creation of black majority ghettos and the depressive impact on wealth in the black community today. Those low income houses have a direct impact on property taxes and the quality of public education in those neighborhoods. This lack of education perpetuates the economic cycle of poverty by decreasing the likelihood of getting higher wage, skilled jobs. Combine all of that with mass incarceration and as Laci points out, “black men are now imprisoned at six times the rate of white men.” But defining the problem is only the first step and that is why many take offense to the President’s insistence that systemic racism exists, because if we acknowledge it then we have to do something about it our admit apathy and opposition. We can start by addressing the issues within our criminal justice system that punishes the poor. We can invest in local entrepreneurs, state funded public schools, and increase the minimum wage to a living wage. We can do all of this without targeting one segment of a population, but helping that segment none the less by targeting the system. Individuals will continue to believe what they choose to believe, but it will become increasingly difficult to treat others as inferior when they have the same opportunities for the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness as everyone. Then they will truly be judged based on the content of their character. And why would anyone wish to oppose that? What is standing in the way? It would seem that all that prevents us from moving forward on these matters is fear.

“You all rape women and you’re taking over our country,” Dylan Roof said according to the lone survivor when addressing her son. “I have to do what I have to do.” While it has become clear that the Charleston, SC. mass shooting was motivated by fear and racism, not all mass shootings are motivated by fear or racism. ” In truth, there are many different types of motive for mass murder, ranging from revenge to despair to free-floating rage at the world,” Katherine Ramsland writes for Psychology Today. She explains how our desire to know why someone commits these heinous acts encourages the media to rush to judgment and create distortion. She compares the mass shooting in Aurora, CO. to the one at Columbine, CO.  and focuses on explaining malignant aggression, but what caught my attention were two things. First she writes, ” Harris’s journals detail an intense hatred of his “inferiors,” which included just about everyone.” and later she adds, ” A motive for planned violence of this magnitude generally simmers for a while, absorbing support from multiple sources until it reaches the boiling point.” Ramsland warns against finding a simple reason and this is not an attempt to do so. This is an attempt to understand one common thread between racism and opposition to gun control. It is the idea that others are inferior, they are a threat, and the threat needs to be dealt with. This idea finds support from multiple sources such as the National Rifle Association, who, on their website, states they are “closely aligned with the most extreme elements in the Republican Party and [have] brought a number of the GOP’s most influential operatives into positions of power within the organization.” And conservative media writes, ” Most gun rights proponents don’t oppose modest reforms because they’re worried that if they can’t have 50 rounds in a magazine, they’ll be adversely affected. Instead, they fear the slow erosion of their rights… At the heart of this disconnect is individual freedom.” And finally, the Libertarian, or Tea Party, movement. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primacy of individual judgment. This prevalent thread of individualism, often at the expense of the community, paints those in disagreement as inferior. The fact that most Americans do not agree with the NRA, conservative media, or Libertarians, creates a rebellion based on fear. In fact, the combination has created an alarming rise in right-wing terrorism. What I fear is the consequences of continuing to ignore the links between racism and gun control.

It is virtually impossible to have an intelligent conversation about gun control with someone who is driven by fear. We are often told after the most recent mass shooting that “now is not the time.” It is considered race-baiting to point out the disproportionate amount of unarmed black men and women being shot to death by police officers. And it considered a “dog whistle” for banning guns when one mentions the success of Australia or the United Kingdom in reducing mass shooting through gun control. But we cannot be driven by fear. Fear is the corrosive coercion that divides us, not the President. We must confront our fears and refuse to accept willful ignorance and apathy. We cannot speak in absolutes and we cannot treat those with opposing views as inferior beings.

But we can refuse to treat inferior views as equal. We can refuse the primacy of the individual over the community in favor of balanced equality. We start by removing symbols. Then we address the systems.

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Pride vs. Willful Ignorance

Does this one belong under the church bubble?

Willful ignorance is nothing of which to be proud. For example, when Justin Hohn begins his June 18th letter to the editor he attempts to address his fellow Christians regarding the source of LGBT pride and focuses primarily on his interpretation of the Bible. Perhaps the former City Council candidate merely forgot that there are more than one-hundred (100) Christian churches in Columbus (yes, that’s the city and not the county). If everyone of them reads their Bible’s the same way Justin Hohn does then perhaps he can explain to them, and us, why there seems to be a need for so many different churches?

But that alone does not prove willful ignorance, merely sinful pride and arrogance in the belief that one person’s limited understanding of the infinite is enough to determine how another person should live their lives for the infinite. No the willful ignorance comes from the complete lack of understanding the source of LGBT Pride.

A quick Google search might lead the uninformed to the PBS website “American Experience” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/blog/2011/06/09/pride-parade/) . On the website they would find this:

In June of 1970, the nation’s first parade commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots — the nearly week-long uprising between New York City youth and police officers following a raid of Stonewall Inn. Stonewall was a popular gay bar located on Greenwich Village’s Christopher Street, and the uprising helped bring the LGBT civil rights movement into the national spotlight. A year later, activists celebrated the uprising with the “Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day” march.

Those who participated in that first parade had to overcome the fear of continued violence against them. They were targeted for who they were because LGBT is an identity. Mr. Hohn argues that he can define what it means to be an African-American (please do), and yet Bill Nye the Science Guy argues that race is a human construct and states “There really is, for humankind there’s really no such thing as race. There’s different tribes but not different races. We’re all one species.” But again,  Mr. Hohn suggests that race and gender can be empirically verified. Perhaps, but then what does Mr. Hohn have to say about hermaphrodites? I assume nothing, since the Bible doesn’t say anything about hermaphrodites. We could await his findings, but ignorance can be bliss for some I suppose.

However, his argument that LGBT identification is solely based on feelings would mean that Mr. Hohn missed the May meeting for the Human Rights Commission (HRC) where it was publicly stated that members of the LGBT community had already sought mediation for discrimination. Apparently someone had no problem identifying them. Maybe they’re just more intuitive than Mr. Hohn, but that’s not the real problem here. The real problem is twofold. The first is that under the current HRC ordinance someone seeking mediation for grievance with the HRC based on their sexual identity (or age!) does so strictly on a voluntary basis. That means that if their employer fired them because they are LGBT then their employer has no compelling reason to take part in mediation. The best they can hope for is if it falls under some other category, like sexual harassment.  Whereas, with other protected classes, such as gender and race, the HRC can initiate an investigation and, if probable cause is determined, move forward with conciliation. If conciliation fails then the case is heard at a public hearing.  At the hearing a Final Order by the Commission is legally binding and may include a Cease and Desist Order or further remedies to eliminate discrimination. But  Mr. Hohn is not concerned about possible complaints that may lead to cease and desist orders, he’s concerned about tendencies, behavior, and “our response to temptation.” What is tempting Mr. Hohn?

Our former city-council candidate is a strong supporter of SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was passed into law and amended. Mr. Hohn does not believe that RFRA, as originally written, would lead to the discrimination that a city ordinance giving the LGBT community protected status would prevent, but Mr. Hohn, like many who support RFRA, cannot answer one simple question: What is it that those who support RFRA would like to be able to do that current law does not protect them if they choose to do it?

We can pretend that with over 100 Christian churches in Columbus that this one or that one has the definitive take on how to understand the Bible. We can even pretend that this one that gets to determine how the rest of us lives. We could go even further and pretend that we don’t know how to use the internet to look up the history of LGBT Pride, or that hermaphrodites don’t exist, or sexual identity is based solely on a “feeling.” We could, to the extreme, believe that proponents of RFRA do not wish to discriminate against the LGBT community and only hope to avoid eternal hell fire by refusing to bake a cake for a Gay wedding. We could, but as the South Park parody of Michael Jackson might put it, “That’s ignorant,” or that’s willfully ignorant.