December 23, 2012

I've Got Rocks In My Head

Or on my brain, rather. I'm not surprised that this graphic came from The Rachel Maddow Fan Page.
This one is pretty easily dispensed with, I think.

Why wouldn't it be a solution? Think about it for a second. If all those other responsible, law-abiding children on the playground had rocks to begin with, would the child in question still throw the rock? I think not. It's actually a pretty good solution. Sure we could threaten the naughty child with detention if he/she goes through with it, but then that poor other student still gets a rock upside the head. If we ban all rocks on the playground, then only children who don't obey the rules will have rocks...and not be afraid to use them. This seems much more preventative.

The Graphic That Broke The Camel's Back

Assuming I'm the camel, that is. I've been seeing a lot of friends and colleagues posting graphics on facebook lately that try to make some political point. I'm always disappointed because they are always posted by people I respect, and who are--most of the time--fairly intelligent people...and the posts are always horrible. They're often illogical, biased, and usually fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.

I've decided to cover some of them here. I don't usually respond to them on facebook, primarily because I work in a place where most people are on one side of the political aisle, and I'm usually on the other. Therefore, I don't advertise my politics most of the time. That said, while most of the ones I choose to cover will likely be from the left, because most of my graphic-posting facebook friends seem to be from that side, if I see an egregious one from the right, I have no problem covering it here.

I thought I'd start with this one, for no other reason than it was the one that finally made me say "enough!" It's in response to the NRA's suggestion that schools employ armed security in the wake of the incident at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut.

My initial thought was "wait...didn't President Clinton provide funding for placing police officers in schools in the wake of Columbine?" (Hint: he did.) I only bring that up because the two friends who posted it were both Clinton supporters. But apart from noting the hypocrisy, I thought I'd examine it closer, to see if maybe there was a valid argument there.

Clearly, the insinuation is that an armed presence in a school would not prevent a mass killing there, since it was unable to prevent these. And that's pretty much the only point it's making.

All three of these statements are true. There is no arguing that. The problem arises when you look further into the circumstances behind each statement.

Columbine had an armed guard:
Deputy Neil Gardner was the deputy in question here, and most days he would eat his lunch in the cafeteria with the children, but on that day, in a stroke of bad luck, he was eating his lunch in his patrol car when the custodian radioed him to go to the back lot, where a female student had been shot. By the time he got there, the shooting was well underway, but even so, he engaged one of the killers for a few minutes, which may have given a few more students time to escape. Regardless, though, he was not inside the school, which really negates the implication made in the posting.

Virginia Tech had their own police dept.:
Again, true, but hardly comparable given the size of the campus (over 30,000 students on 2,600 acres) in relation to the size of a typical elementary, middle, or high school. Of course they'd have their own police dept. It's only slightly less populous than Virginia's most populous town, Blackburn. That's not the only context that makes the statement deceptive, though. The VA Tech shooting was odd in that two students were killed initially in one building, and then the shooter cleaned up, and two and a half hours later, chained himself inside another dorm across campus, where he killed 30 other people. The police were having a meeting about the first shootings, which they thought were a "domestic dispute," when the second set happened. "By the time officers arrived, the shooting had stopped and the gunman had killed himself, the chief said." This situation is really more akin to the problem of police response time in cities and towns, which would seem to me to be more supportive of the push to allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns to protect themselves. Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone, as were all three places referenced here, as well as the Aurora Theater in Colorado.

Ft. Hood was a military base:
One might forgive this one, because any normal person might assume that "hey, it's a military base! There are guns everywhere!" I won't bother making the tired joke about what happens when you "assume" something. As it turns out, Ft. Hood was--as I mentioned--a gun-free zone. Yes, they have weapons on the base, but "soldiers at Fort Hood don't carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises." Even the shooter's own weapons were not military issue. So for the third time, it turns out an armed presence was not in the actual building(s) where these horrific events took place, which completely belies the one and only point being made in the graphic.

I'm not above having a debate about how to make our schools safer, and whether or not we should have an armed presence in our schools*, but if we're going to have that debate, let's make sure it's not one based on intellectually dishonest information.

*I'm not quite sure where I stand on this issue. I find it a little sad that we would even have to consider placing armed guards in our schools, but on the other hand, there are two pieces of information that I keep thinking about. The first is that almost without exception, these kinds of killing take place in gun-free zones, where the killers are certain they won't be confronted with any opposing firepower until the police eventually show up, which can--literally--be a matter of life or death for some. The second is that anytime we have something of value, or something that we want to protect, what do we do? How do we protect banks? Armored cars (besides the armor, of course)? Even our government buildings, including the White House? We protect them with an armed presence. How can we not even consider protecting one of our most valuable resources--our children--that way? 

December 11, 2012

An Honest Question

In Lansing, Michigan, union members gathered to protest that state's adoption of "right-to-work" laws, which essentially means workers do not have to join a union and pay union dues to work. Unsurprisingly, violence erupted. Steven Crowder, a conservative blogger/comedian/etc. was questioning some of the workers about their views, as you can see in the video below. Some time later, union members began tearing down a tent belong to the group Americans for Prosperity. Crowder confronted them and asked them to stop, and at some point (the video is a little unclear) was attacked.

You see the union member in the video asked why he's against "right-to-work." He responds:

"'s the freedom to freeload. They can suck all of the parasitical(?) benefits and our wages that unions have negotiated and they get it for free!"

So here's my question, to my left-leaning, union-supporting friends like that fellow:

How on earth is it that you can condemn those who don't want to join a union as "freeloaders," and support a president who reinforces freeloading by nearly half of the country when it comes to, say, Obamacare or any number of other entitlement programs?

Try this: "They can suck all of the health insurance benefits that our taxes have paid for and they get it for free!" Is the reasoning any different here?

Even liberal Mother Jones points out the dangers of "free riders":
 "Right-to-work allows those nonmembers to receive union representation without paying for it—unions deride those folks 'free-riders.' The result of right-to-work laws is that unions see their treasuries diminish and membership take a hit."

But "free riders" in national entitlement programs, who get representation without paying taxes?  Apparently that won't diminish our national treasury or lower the membership in the working class. Or so the left keeps saying.
I also noted that several liberal commentators used the word "fair," as in "if workers don't join a union, they should still have to pay equivalent fees, so that it's fair for all workers." It's funny how that word "fair" takes on a completely different meaning when those same commentators talk about taxation

I wish they would make up their minds.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I myself belong to a union. I think they've done some good for the workers, but in the main I resent them because I think they spent far too much time (and far too many resources) as an arm of the Democratic Party. Honestly, the workers have taken a back seat in terms of importance.