Was it a fake news or fake news that it was fake news?

February 22, 2018

Is the real news sometimes fake as the fake news?

Had to ask myself that in the middle of the night when I could not sleep and checked my computer to see what’s new.

There was a story circulating on the alt right sites (or at least the ones who like to take jabs at mainstream media) that CNN attempted to hand a scripted question to a Florida high school student in place of one he wanted to ask at what was billed by that network as a town hall meeting on the Florida school shooting. Supposedly the kid wanted to suggest that veterans could be hired as armed guards at the schools. But instead, purportedly, CNN handed him a script, I suppose calling for gun control.

Later this morning when I tried to check one of the sites covering that story in order to read further into it, it appeared to be gone (although I am sure you can find it — nothing, truth or lie, ever really disappears on the internet I am told).

Concurrently there is this story floating around that actors have appeared as students promoting gun control.

Even if even minute parts of all this were true — I mean anything goes on this modern form of communication (or miscommunication) — there is enough footage out there and enough reporting from enough different sources that we know the obvious and understandable truth: folks and their children or visa versa are upset at being the targets of rapid-fire weapons.

(And by the way I did try to check some of this out via the Snopes site, but nothing on the scripted question, or at least when I checked, and I got too bogged down on the other — to convoluted; I gave up.)

Regardless of the facts I am sure that there is a fake news effort out there by forces of or friendly to the NRA or alt right and maybe even the Russians employing fake news to taint or smear the real news as fake news.

In the pre-internet days one had to judge the source to get to the truth. These days you have to judge the source of the source, and that can be difficult to perhaps impossible at times.

All that aside, I am always uncomfortable when journalism becomes an integral part of the news rather than an unbiased observer. And public forums should be an honest, unscripted discussion of issues. And I am in no way charging or believing that there was any scripting (but having never attended one of these CNN-type town halls I would not know). And if something is to be broadcast in a time frame there has to be some order.

I’m not even sure a news organization should stage forums. Doing that by definition makes them part of the story. Of course in broadcast news, in particular, the presenters by being presenters become a part of the story somehow. No way around it really.

I could go on and on about this but I will try not to. But let me add that I wish that for the so-called presidential debates, for example, that we’d go back to a really dull format run by the League of Women Voters in times way past now with the contestants sitting on folding chairs to wait their turn to speak with no fancy stage decorations and where the contestants did the talking not the moderators (and actually political nerd or junkie that I have been I did not think that they were dull) .

And back to the school shooting issue: regardless if there might be some people on both sides of the issue trying to muddy the waters, I think that the gun control movement might catch fire with the populace as a whole if the students and parents can sustain the pressure. It might well spread nationwide.

Little Marco Rubio, the Florida U.S. senator and former presidential candidate who gets millions of dollars from the NRA, looked as if he were shaking in those boots he sometimes wears to heighten himself when he faced the wrath of a visibly angry man whose daughter was killed in the recent massacre.

Angry citizens are the one thing that can beat the NRA.

p.s.

If you have not read my blogs previously you might jump to the conclusion, understandably, that I am super liberal and maybe against the Second Amendment. Not necessarily so. I consider myself middle of the road in politics and tolerant of that uniquely American provision in the Constitution that is the Second Amendment, even if I think that it is never fully understood nor described by most (including me). I mean it’s only one sentence long and does state that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But I think to fully understand it you have to read some history and court decisions and be aware of its use of language — its grammar and syntax and the fact there is even more than one version of it.

But if I am correct the official version (my source Wikipedia) is:

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.

Note the confusing use of upper case and I would say at least the last comma. English grammar had not been fully standardized, especially in the United States, I believe, at the time of our founding fathers, but without going into it all I think I am correct in writing that the current interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court allows some room for some amount of gun control.

 

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A generational change may lead to some sense on guns…

February 21, 2018

I turned off the car radio when a caller into a conservative talk show said the students from the Florida high school where the latest mass shooting took place should “shut up and go back to school and sit down and learn something”.

It seemed apparent to me that the caller felt threatened by some of the surprisingly articulate students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who as survivors of one of the worst mass shootings in the nation, are urging lawmakers to take action on gun control (to no avail currently).

And wouldn’t you know it? Part of the reaction by the reactionary right is to say that the students are being put up to it by subversive gun control forces — a staffer of a Florida legislator even erroneously described a couple of the students as phonies, as actors.

If I had thought someone might come on to counter the caller I might not have switched the radio off, and, actually, I did turn it back on moments later — I was bored. But usually on these shows you don’t get much give and take. It’s usually one-sided. Debate is not what these shows are for. You get listeners and listeners beget sponsors. And for some reason apparently a lot of people just want to have their own beliefs validated and are not interested in sorting anything out.

And left-wing radio talk shows can be just as bad, and ultra left-wing worse. It’s just that there does not seem to be the market for left wing to the extent there is for right wing.

I prefer to think that I am a middle of the roader. And I think that there is such a thing as a middle-of-the-road talk show or one that avoids partisanship, but that’s probably confined to public radio which the right wingers are fond of calling “communist radio”. But with the near eradication of communism or the red menace of the Cold War, the term communist has been supplanted by “liberal”. And I guess liberal is considered bad by some folks because the term means you challenge the status quo. And if you are comfortable with the status quo well then you would feel threatened.

But what if you would just like to change some things but leave other things alone? Like don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. That is where we middle of the roaders fit in or don’t fit in. No in today’s political discussions you gotta be one way or the other.

It’s hard to stir people up with moderation. And politics depends upon stirring people up.

But on this scourge of mass shootings, primarily carried out with semi-automatic assault rifles (sometimes converted into automatic), there are a  lot of things that could be done I am sure and a lot of things that do not need to be done. We don’t have to ban all guns from all citizens (and I don’t really hear anyone calling for that). We don’t have to abolish the Second Amendment. We don’t have to form a police state.

But it would seem prudent to me that we outlaw private ownership or the carrying of assault rifles. And then every time I write that I feel compelled to answer the retort that if you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have them. But in most of these mass shootings the outlaws got the guns legally. You make something hard to do and it will be less likely — not impossible of course — for it to happen.

And for those who just love to spray bullets out of semi-automatic rifles for fun — not to hurt anyone — geesh! I don’t know, maybe keep it legal to use them at rifle ranges where you could rent the weapons.

Improved background checks for gun ownership might help. Improved procedures for identification and treatment of those who suffer from mental health problems could help too, but to me those are side issues.

Identifying people with mental health problems is like identifying suspected terrorists. We can’t just round them up on suspicion. We are stuck taking them into custody after the fact, after the damage has been done, that is if they themselves survive. And the real frustrating part is that in so many cases, including the most recent, the authorities were aware of the threat but could not (or at least did not) do anything.

As to arming teachers with guns: seriously? I should not make a joke out of this, but have you ever dealt with a classroom of high school students? The temptation would be too much. Okay, that was wrong of me to make light of it — but seriously, I think the goal should be to cut down on firearm danger, not add another element that could lead to accidental shootings and create an atmosphere where the gun becomes the problem solver.

The main problem is that it is way to easy and legal to get ahold of assault rifles, which have no legitimate use outside of the military (save non-human target practice) in a civilized society.

Inertia and the National Rifle Association or NRA seems to prevent lawmakers from acting. Through political pressure and outright bribery the NRA has thus far successfully fought off most sensible gun control measures, including a former ban on assault rifles.

It may take a generational change to get anything done. The students in Florida are speaking out and trying to spread the word to others across the nation.

Meanwhile, back to that caller on the right-wing talk show:

He prefaced his remarks by saying that he was so frustrated (with the talk of gun control by the students) “that my head is about to pop off “. I almost thought he was going to say that “I want to go out and shoot someone”.

And that is the danger. We have some folks out there who are really frustrated and then they get their hands on an easy-to-obtain assault rifle and do some shooting.

p.s.

All this said, there is always a danger to our democracy in an over-reaction to a security threat. The right wing usually overreacts in favor of choking down on civil liberties, such as freedom of speech (not so on gun rights, though). The left wing might overreact by trying to repeal the Second Amendment or at least interpreting its somewhat ambiguous wording to where it is useless (I realize some say it is not ambiguous). I have to say the Second Amendment does make our democracy unique in that it guarantees citizens the right to own guns and in turn be able to rebel against their own government (whether or not that was the real intent of it). I would not particularly like to see that amendment repealed — it’s so American. Maybe a rewording in today’s language and understandable syntax would help.

Also, there is something to be said for individual citizens having the right to defend themselves. The police usually are not able to respond until after the fact of a tragedy. But do we want shootouts with assault rifles?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In regards to the latest mass shooting: ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do’ does not make me feel safer

January 6, 2017

And yet another mass shooting. It appears a lone gunman killed at least five people and injured at least eight more (as I write this) at an airport at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. No motive known at this time, and the gunman is said to be in custody. There has been a report that he was carrying a military I.D.

But of course this will not convince enough people that something needs to done to stop the free flow of guns and the ease of which mentally unbalanced people get their hands on weapons.

“Guns don’t kill people, people do”. Somehow that smug little phrase of the gun culture does not reassure me.

And then at the same time I know there are times when people might feel more secure if they had their own weapons for protection. We don’t live in a police state and would not want to and the police cannot be everywhere and cannot read minds.

By chance I was watching something yesterday about the movie “Tower” about a 1960s incident when a lone gunman shot people from a tower on a Texas college campus. It was said at the time that the police actually sought civilian help — they did not have the fire power to go after him.

Even though this is supposed to be a Second Amendment issue, I think that confuses things. The Second Amendment provides for individual gun ownership in the context of national defense.

The problem we are facing is the continuing repeat scenario of terrorists or lone, mentally disturbed gunmen opening fire anywhere and everywhere — airports, movie theaters, college campuses, first-grade classrooms and so on.

While it is no doubt true that all the gun control laws that could be enacted would not necessarily prevent all this, nonetheless it does seem that we must work towards some control, and that for our own safety we must stem what is still the unhindered free flow of weapons in this nation and that we should not be held hostage by an ambiguous Second Amendment. That amendment can stand, but we can also do what is necessary to protect ourselves. The idea that we all simply have to hitch a gun belt to our waists old-West style is nonsense and not at all practical and then at the same time might seem the only alternative for lack of any other plan.


The Second Amendment should not stand in the way of public safety…

October 2, 2015

The Second Amendment should not stand in the way of taking measures to protect society from nut cases who seem wont to shoot up school campuses (as well as other places).

The latest mass shooting, at a community college in Oregon, a least 10 dead and several wounded, begs the question, just what does it take? Why as a society are we so afraid to act? Is it we don’t know how to balance individual liberty with public safety — especially safety for our young?

——————–

The actual number of dead and wounded count has changed with conflicting first-hours/day reports

———————-

I saw President Obama give some angry remarks about it, how every time someone calls for sensible gun controls, and pardon me for the metaphor I use, not Obama, they get shot down for it, and in fact people say there ought to be more guns more easily available.

The whole thing is absurd. Why does this nation have so many of these types of mass killings?

And I’ll bet some nutsos are calling right now for guns on campus so the kids can shoot back.

We don’t need free fire-zones on campus. We already have them.

But like I have written before, when those little kids were mowed down at that school in Connecticut — I mean a nut case shot a whole class — nothing was done.

I’m almost too tired right now to write more, but what does it take to make people realize something needs to be done? Of course we can never protect ourselves 100 percent, but we need to do something more than is being done now.

Oh but this is the election season. Candidates wanting all the money they can don’t want to upset the commercial gun interests or voters who care more for their unfettered rights to pack iron than the safety of young people at school or society as a whole.

And I  personally do not oppose the Second Amendment, although I think it is a bit ambiguous in its wording and does not speak in 21st Century language or to modern understanding. But the Second Amendment right of citizens to keep and bear arms does hold sway. However, reasonable  people can come up with a reasonable accommodation for public safety. The all-to-easy access to firearms by the mentally unstable threatens the fabric of our society. Let’s see some leadership in this election season, rather than pandering for votes.

P.s.

I couldn’t keep off this thing for long. I still may have to anyway because I am temporarily sin computer. I’m using my sister’s. I thought being off the screen would be a rest for me and I had something else more pressing. And as I watched all those people staring at their smart phones (I don’t have one/still have the old flip phone and feel like I should ask Sarah the operator for the number) I thought, ha, they are so addicted.

But I found out I am addicted to my laptop. And if I had one of those newfangled phones I’d be glued to it no doubt.


Angry young men and we just can’t give up our right to pack military assault rifles…

July 17, 2015

Yesterday a mixed up young man was convicted of mass murder in a Colorado movie theatre and on that same day an angry young man shot to death four Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a few weeks ago another angry white racist young man murdered several people in a black church in South Carolina, and not long ago another misfit of a young man murdered a class full of little school children — and the list of atrocities goes on and on in this modern age.

There are some commonalities in all of these incidents. All the atrocities were committed by young impressionable men. Also in some of them twisted views of religion (or maybe twisted religion) plays a part.

And then in some of the mass murders, 9-11 being the big one, fanatical Islam plays the major role. It seems to have in this most recent one.

But the biggest commonality is that in most of these murders easy access to high-powered automatic weapons plays a major role. I guess that is not the case in the 9-11 attack since as I recall the weapons used were box cutters — so yes for you die-hard fans of everyone packing weapons, if you outlaw guns then either the criminals will not follow the law or they will just use another kind of weapon.

But seriously, because of our inability to shake or deal with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, we are hamstrung when it comes to sensible gun control. I thought that when that class full of school children was gunned downed that the public would be so horrified that for sure stricter controls on high-powered automatic weapons would be enacted.

But the right of everyone to possess deadly weapons seems ingrained into the American psyche, even though admittedly not everyone supports the notion that there is such a right. I myself have an ambivalent attitude toward the perceived right of every man woman and child having the right to pack a weapon, to include a military assault rifle. I have always felt that I support the Second Amendment because there is something unique about being a United States citizen in that our own government must contend with the fact that it faces an armed public — that might give some would-be dictators or plotters of a military coup some pause. In addition, it says that the individual is responsible to himself (or herself) and does not totally depend upon the government for protection.

But I know that in my visit to Spain last year some of the people I met there could not comprehend our fascination with guns or the right of every citizen to have them.

I know that if you can outlaw one kind of fire arm then the door is open to a ban on all, but I still cannot comprehend why we must guarantee the right or at least tolerate citizens carrying around military assault weapons that are meant for only one thing: to kill a whole bunch of people at once.

P.s.

And go ahead and read the actual Second Amendment and try to decipher what the connection or meaning is concerning a well-regulated militia. From what I have read on the subject it may have been a bit ambiguous when it was enacted and it certainly is now.

 

 

 

 


I don’t think the authors of the Second Amendment had this in mind…

June 11, 2014

When our founders wrote the Second Amendment I doubt they meant that all mentally deranged people should have a sacred right to carry guns and murder people. If what is going on today in our schools, and elsewhere, was happening then I would think they would have at least made a proviso that their concern for the need of an armed citizenry to protect itself did not mean that any loony tune or person sick of mind should have easy access to guns.

I have the same feeling as does President Obama on this one. He said he was “stunned” after  the gunning down of a class full of first graders  somewhat over a year ago that Washington was powerless to do anything. And now there have been a rash of school shootings, one just yesterday in Oregon where one student was shot dead by another student, who then killed himself.

I’ve been reading a book about the whole history of the Second Amendment and so far it seems to me that its authors were talking more of the value of state militias as something to counter a national army run by the central government, although they may well have been addressing an individual right inherent in that idea as well.

Whatever, it does seem incredible to me that we seem to be held hostage to the Second Amendment and the gun lobby, being prevented from making common sense rules on safety. And I don’t mean disarming the public. And I realize that all the laws in the world would not stop every deranged person. But one would think some prudent steps need to be taken.

(Many say that there are already enough laws on the books, they just need to be enforced. Somehow I think something must be missing.)

Again, as I often write, we need citizen legislators who are not professional politicians at the mercy of lobbyists to fund their campaigns or to not put out propaganda against them, in this case the gun lobby.

The right to keep and bear arms can be preserved with reasonable regulation aimed at public safety I would think.

The mental sickness that seems to have pervaded our society will not be solved by gun laws of course. But that fact should not be used as ammunition against any reasonable gun safety precautions.

I think it would be interesting to see a study documenting in these cases through the years how people obtained their guns and the timing. I mean do these people go crazy and then go out and buy guns or find them somehow or what?

Gun rights supporters worry that any move to curb access to guns will eventually lead to the confiscation and prohibition of guns.  If things keep going the way they have been, violence wise, who knows?


The conundrum of gun control and gun violence…

May 26, 2014

Now we have to worry on the guy who can’t get a date. He might go out and kill a bunch of people. That’s what that poor little rich but apparently unloved kid did in Southern California the other day.

You see the problem with the right of everyone to have guns is that some people just see them as the go-to thing when things don’t go their way or they get mad about something.

Of course if some of his victims were packing iron they might have been able to defend themselves, although they were caught by surprise — and how absurd is that? A raging gun battle.

(In the haste of writing my original post I erroneously said that most of the victims or fatalities were young women, but it seems as if the count was four men and two woman dead and several others injured.)

But apparently restrictive gun laws don’t prevent such tragedy — California is said to have some of the most restrictive in the nation, and yet this young jerk just went down to the local gun store and bought several — always looking for higher power and insurance in case one of them jammed in his pre-meditated plan to get back at those who rejected him, even though many or most of the shootings appeared to be at random — targets of opportunity.

And we can’t punish law-abiding citizens who want guns for self defense against bad guys and government or to serve in their local militia, a well-regulated militia being necessary to a free state. Or they might just want to collect guns — it’s part of our freedom guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.

And seriously, bans on guns don’t work. At the Mexican border it says guns and ammo are illegal in Mexico. Yeah, how’s that working out down there? (We’re doing our best to keep them supplied down there south of the border.)

Going on a shooting rampage has become quite fashionable.

I guess as long as there are guns people will use them, and more often than not for bad things. I mean hardly anyone actually depends upon them to put food on the table.

It does seem, however, that the easy access to them could be lessened somewhat.

You think?

 

p.s.

And it should be noted that he also stabbed people (and ran into people with his car and may have injured some in another fashion) — so guns are not the only culprit or problem. And we can hardly ban all instruments that stab or otherwise injure.

Oh, and thankfully, the perpetrator killed himself, saving us the expense and waste of court and prison time.

And now I feel guilty. I mean the guy must have had deep mental problems but was apparently able to hide them or people — his parents — failed to realize the extent of the problem. He had given off some clues and finally told the whole world what he was going to do in a post on social media — but it came too late, too near the time he actually went into his final action.

Assuming this is accurate, I provide a Wikipedia summary of the incident: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Isla_Vista_killings