Bearing Arms

StarnutsDo you know the original meaning of the term “bear arms”? Today, many people believe that it is simply carrying a gun. However, the term meant something else to the Founding Fathers. It was applied strictly to the carrying of guns for military use. Eventually, the courts were challenged to expand the meaning of “bear arms” to include non-military use of weapons. A good example of this is Aymette v. State, a Tennessee Supreme Court case (1840), which rejected the broader definition. The ruling includes the following:

To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, “bear arms,” is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, “that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law.” Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive.

Those who carry assault rifles into a Chipotle are not exercising their right to bear arms. Unless they have a military reason to do so, they have no right to carry their weapons around in public — and especially on private property. What is the military threat at Starbuck’s? Where is the invading force?

Not everyone is prejudiced

Mark Cuban“We’re all prejudiced in one way or another.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

It is funny how only prejudiced people agree with Mark Cuban’s statement. Many of us were raised to be critical thinkers. We don’t have such a simplistic view of the world. When I see a kid walking down the street, I don’t judge him by the color of his skin or by his clothing. To me, a hoodie is just a popular article of clothing. I don’t judge people for having tattoos. If they are white supremacist tattoos or street gang tattoos, that tells me something about the person wearing them. But tattoos in general are just tattoos.

Cuban makes the same mistake that a lot of non-critical thinkers make. He assumes that there is no other way of thinking, because he has never taken the time to learn and expand his thinking to include reason and logic.

“My name would become legend…”

PussbootsI’ve had an interesting morning. That story about the cat that inadvertently rescued a small child from a dog attack is all over Facebook today.

Pointing out that the cat only appeared to have deliberately saved the child and that the event was merely fortuitous happenstance is like telling people that there’s no Santa Claus. People are desperate to believe that a cat has the cognitive ability and inclination to protect a human child.

Rather than presenting facts about feline behavior, the news media prefers to play along with the anthropomorphism. The “Hero Cat” is born. It makes people feel good to think that cats are loyal, protective, and highly intelligent — everything that cats are NOT.

Cats are wonderful animals. They can exhibit a limited amount of affection. They are both useful and entertaining. However, they are what they are. Cat lovers know the limitations of their pets. They don’t expect their cats to bring in the newspaper and roll over on command.

The follow up to this story involves photos of the cat and the child with the caption “Hero cat still protecting boy it rescued from dog attack”. However, the video shows that the cat had to be placed next to the boy several times. It kept jumping down from the chair — as cats will do.

It is great that this cat pounced on the dog that was attacking this child. It is clear that having an aggressively territorial cat in your yard can have some advantages. It doesn’t mean that cats are loyal and consciously protect people. Otherwise, we would have guard cats instead of guard dogs.

Nintendo is over a decade behind the times

Nintendo's Tomodachi Life

Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life

Almost 15 years ago, I was living with my brother and helping take care of my nieces and nephew after they got home school. One afternoon, the kids were playing a popular PC video game called The Sims. I remember hearing a bit of a commotion from the kids and poked my head in the room to see what was up.

“Uncle Fritz! Uncle Fritz! We made LESBIANS!” my niece Taryn exclaimed.

I took a look at the computer screen and sure enough, they had created a lesbian couple. They demonstrated what they had accomplished by having the two female characters in their game kiss. The kids were delighted. I asked what else their lesbian couple could do and learned that was the extent of it. It was fairly g-rated.

As a result, I began playing the game myself. I have been an avid Simmer through three releases of the game. The Sims 4 is scheduled to be released this Fall. Over the years, the gay and lesbian characters have gained the abilities to get married, adopt children, and live in harmony with the straight characters in the game. The game is published by EA Games, which has been a vocal supporter of LGBT equality.

gaycouple

Gay couple with baby kissing in The Sims

This week, video game giant Nintendo responded to a social media campaign urging the company to allow same-sex relationships between characters in their game life-simulation game Tomodachi Life by rejecting the request.

According to BBC News, Nintendo of America Inc. responded to the campaign with the following statement:

The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation. We hope that all of our fans will see that Tomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.

It seems to me (and probably many LGBT gamers) that Nintendo has provided social commentary. They have made it clear that they don’t want to cater to the needs of their LGBT customers. They prefer to pretend that they do not exist.

Why can’t gay relationships be part of the “whimsical and quirky” world they have created? One of the most popular simulation games of all time has already proven that including same-sex couples in the game is successful strategy.

Why I’m against the death penalty

The recent botched state killing in Oklahoma has renewed the debate about the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment in the United States. On Friday, President Obama said he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review the various death penalty procedures used across the country.

The death chamber in Huntsville, Texas

This morning, I was watching Meet the Press and Texas governor Rick Perry was asked if he believes the botched state killing in Oklahoma was inhumane. He replied, “I don’t know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched.”

I’m not quite sure how a botched procedure that resulted in a slow and painful death wasn’t inhumane. Regardless, the inhumanity related to state killings that concerns me is not related to the pain inflicted on the person being killed. Whether the person experiences pain or not, the result is the same. This is especially true for the family members and friends of the person who has been killed by the state.

I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine, or being fed to the lions.
— State Rep. Mike Christian (R) Oklahoma

What the ironically named Rep. Mike Christian doesn’t seem to realize is that there are people who care about their family members and friends being fed to lions or suffering similar grizzly deaths. When most people debate the death penalty, they usually ignore the fact that most convicted killers have family and friends who care about them. They just didn’t fall from the sky. Like everyone else, they have parents, siblings, children, spouses, and other family members. They often have friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Every time the state kills someone, a network of people is harmed by it. There may be rare cases in which the convicted person has no family and friends. Even then, they are part of the larger community of humanity.

Many of those arguing for the death penalty ask, “What about the victim and the victim’s family?” I would like to know why the victim and the family of the victim deserve more consideration than the family of the person convicted of the crime. They didn’t do anything. Why should a mother have to witness her child being painfully and inhumanely killed by the state? Why should she have to live with that horror for the rest of her life?

Murder by the state is murder. If your loved one is killed by the state as a punishment, you are just as much a victim as the victim of a crime. Your loss is just as real. Your grief just as genuine.

GOP Candidate and Former Drag Queen Reveals New Campaign Slogan

Republican North Carolina State Senate candidate Steve Wiles, who was recently revealed to be a former drag show performer named Mona Sinclair, has revealed a new campaign slogan at a press conference held outside the Stuckey’s at The Border Station Sunoco in Moyock, NC.

wiles

Wiles former life as a drag queen shocked many of his supporters because the candidate is in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

Wiles seemed to confuse the two local reporters and five truckers who gathered to hear him speak. He began, “Lock the doors, lower the blinds, fire up the smoke machine and put on your heels, North Carolina!  ‘Cause I know exactly what we need, Steve Wiles in the State Senate!”

As the group became disinterested and began to disperse, he continued, “I’m gonna serve, and work and turn!”

“Oh, what a wonderful kiki! This kiki is marvelous, my fellow Americans! A kiki is a party, the REPUBLICAN PARTY!”

Sultan of Brunei: Stoning gay people to death is a “great achievement”

Beverly-Hills-Hotel-21In case you haven’t heard, the Nation of Brunei has adopted a new penal code based on Sharia Law that will result in gay people being stoned to death. The laws will also target women with harsh punishments for adultery and even for being raped. According to Emma Margolin at MSNBC.com, the laws will be phased in over the span of the next few months.

The first phase, enacted Thursday, carries fines and jail time for offenses such as missing Friday prayers, having a baby outside of wedlock, propagating religions other than Islam, and engaging in indecent behavior. But more draconian measures are on the way – including flogging and amputation of limbs for heavier crimes. The final phase, which allows stoning as a possible punishment for sodomy, will begin in 2015.

In response to these barbaric human rights violations, many people are suggesting a boycott of the many hotels owned by Brunei’s sultan and prime minister Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Protests are being planned for many of the hotels in both the U.S. and Europe.

Here is a list of the Sultan’s hotels via Outraveler.com:

  • Beverly Hills Hotel (Beverly Hills)
  • Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles)
  • The Dorcester (London
  • 45 Park Lane (London)
  • Coworth Park (Berkshire, U.K.)
  • Le Meurice (Paris)
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee (Paris)
  • Le Richemond (Geneva)
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan)
  • Hotel Eden (Rome)

Personally, I don’t understand why the sultan  can’t be tried for crimes against humanity and have his assets seized. I would love to see the international community make an example out of him. Make him have to stay out of countries like the U.K., France and the U.S. or risk being arrested and imprisoned.

A New Beginning, Again

1560402_10204006528271843_7565238453734300017_nToday, my gorgeous niece Skylar (right) posted on Facebook that she is going to start blogging regularly. Coincidentally, I was thinking about doing the same thing just yesterday. I’ve been posting quite a few long essays on Facebook lately and that’s really not the best forum for them. Linking to a blog is really the best approach.

Years ago, I was in the habit of writing at least one blog post a day. It was a great way to organize my thoughts and give people the option of either reading what’s on my mind or ignoring it. Social media is a bit too in-the-now and doesn’t allow people the opportunity to reflect and digest they way they probably should when reading things like my political views.

From now on, I will be writing anything longer than a sentence or two here on my blog. I will post links on Facebook. The topics will be the same: politics, pop culture, personal essays, and observations of the world in which we live.