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Tommy_Carcetti

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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 03:49 PM
Number of posts: 20,520

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There actually *are* real neo-Nazi putschists in charge in Ukraine. (But it's not who you think.)

For months now, the narrative pushed heavily by Russian state media--and then parroted ad naseum by western conspiracy theory minded individuals--was that the events leading up to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country (oil painting and antique collection in hand) constituted a "coup" and/or a "putsch." Specifically, that various figures from the U.S. State Department and other western interests allegedly colluded with Ukrainian ultranationalists to forcibly remove Yanukovych from power and replace them with patsies of their own to serve their own corporate interests.

Never mind the presence of enormous protests of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians who had legitimate concerns about Yanukovych's corruption and willingness to cozy up with a country that subtly denies Ukraine's very existence. Never mind that no one--and I mean no one--has been able to describe exactly how this supposed "coup" took place, and that video evidence of Yanukovych casually having his mansion packed up over the course of three days before flying away in his personal fleet of helicopters belies the idea that an actual coup occurred. To these people, there was a "coup" and apparently there's no dissuading them against it.

Also central to the narrative is that subsequent to the change in power, the Ukrainian government has fallen into the clutches of violent fascist neo-Nazis who have engaged in a reign of terror over the country who are now "massacring" peaceful pro-Russian "protesters" and "activists." They have pointed to events such as deadly mob riots between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators in the city of Odessa back in May, transforming that unfortunate event where both sides were arguably to blame for the violence into a unilateral slaughter of "anti-fascists" by "neo-Nazis" with references aplenty to pogroms of years ago. For the narrative pushers, there has been an entire cottage industry of World War II era references and continuous name-dropping of the long-dead and highly controversial and extremely polarizing Ukrainian nationalist figure Stephen Bandera from that time period.

Key to the "neo-Nazi" and "fascist" narrative is the Ukrainian political party Svoboda, super all-powerful non-holders of 17 of 20 seats in Ukrainian's cabinet and 414 of 449 seats in its parliament and whose candidate, together with that of fellow ultranationalist party Right Sector--gathered a whopping 2% of the popular vote in the May 25th presidential elections.

Interestingly enough, there is at least one neo-Nazi putschist in a position of high power inside the borders of Ukraine. But it isn't who you think.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pavel Gubarev, the self-proclaimed "People's Governor of Donetsk" who is one of the top figures leading armed separatists in their fight for that region to leave Ukraine and unite with Russia:







(And yes, the new flag of "Novorossiya" is directly patterned after the US Confederate Battle Flag. Because heritage, not hate. )

Before Gubarev's rise to "People's Governor", Gubarev was a visible member of the Russian National Unity party, a Russian based neo-Nazi movement which supports a policy of expelling ethnic minorities from Russia and the fostering of ethnic Russian "compatriots" living outside of Russian borders. A quick read up on Russian National Unity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_National_Unity

In early March 2014, following Yanukovych's departure, Gubarev lead a group of separatists to the Donetsk Regional State Administration building, where the group lay siege to the building and ultimately took it over. There, the separatists declared Gubarev the "People's Governor". Gubarev was briefly detained by Ukrainian authorities who temporarily retook the building (before it fell back into the hands of armed separatists), but was subsequently exchanged for captured Ukrainian military officers and currently remains one of the top officials in the pro-Russian insurgency movement in Ukraine's east.

An interesting read on the Gubarev dilemma:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/04/east-ukraine-crisis-fascist-ma-2014416145823826439.html

So let's see:

Fascist neo-Nazi? Check.
Unelected "leader"? Check.
Seized power by use of force? Check.

It looks like the pro-Russians' guy here is everything they accuse the Ukrainian government of being. So if they claim that they are fighting a "neo-Nazi junta" from Kiev and yet they are the ones being led in part by an actual neo-Nazi who actually did seize power illegitimately by force, it makes you wonder: Why are they actually fighting?

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Jun 10, 2014, 10:31 AM (7 replies)

This, my friends, is an *actual* coup.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27517591

Thailand coup d'etat as military seizes power

Thailand's military has announced it is taking control of the government and has suspended the constitution.

****

On Tuesday the army imposed martial law. Talks were then held between the main political factions, but the army announced the coup on Thursday.

Political party leaders, including opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban, were taken away from the talks venue after troops sealed off the area.

Troops have reportedly fired into the air to disperse groups of rival supporters.

The broadcast media have been told to suspend all normal programming.

____________________________________________________________________________________

No vague non sequiturs of cookies or phone calls. No President taking three days to pack up his valuable oil painting collection and then flying away in his own fleet of helicopters. No votes by the legislative body to remove the abdicating president. No immediate scheduling of new elections to replace said abdicating president.

Nope, just a real, live, actual coup d'état. Army comes in, forcibly removes the people in power against their will, suspends the constitution and declares themselves in charge.

Words matter.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu May 22, 2014, 09:54 AM (56 replies)

Wanted: Proof that what happened in Ukraine actually constituted a "western sponsored coup."

(Or even just a coup in general.)

Over the past couple of weeks, a fair handful of people here have insisted that the recent regime change in Ukraine was in fact a "coup." Most of those people have gone further and have claimed western--and even US--interests were the ones who were behind the coup. When I have pressed them for evidence, I have repeatedly heard about State Department official Victoria Nuland handing out cookies to Maidan protesters, about $5 billion in US aid to Ukraine (neglecting to mention that the figure covers a 20 year period), about Nuland discussing who she preferred to be in charge in Ukraine, about a website belonging to current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk's organization listing several western partnerships, and a few other tidbits here and there.

While these indeed provide sufficient fodder for the conspiracy minded crowd, none of them--and I mean none of them--thus far actually show that what happened in February 2014 when Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych fled the country and was replaced by an interim government until elections could be held later this month was actually a "coup" under the proper definition of the word.

So the question I posed to these people--and to which any have yet to answer me--is proof that what actually happened in Ukraine was a "coup", and specifically one that was sponsored by the West. If one considers the situation in February 2014, the flash point of the change in power appears to be the moment Yanukovych choose to flee Kyiv on February 21st. So we have to consider under what circumstances did Yanukovych leave that evening? Was he forced out at gun point? Was he kidnapped against his will?

Because if you look at Webster's definition of "Coup d'état", it clearly reads:

: a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially : the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coup%20d'%C3%A9tat

First of all, no one can claim the Maidan protests were "a small group".



There were hundreds of thousands of them on the square. So whatever motivation those protests may have given Yanukovych to say, "Screw you guys, I'm going home," right then and there the definition of "coup" is inapplicable.

Secondly, one has to consider violence in the change of power. So was Yanukovych kidnapped, thrown in a sack, and taken away that night? Did someone stick a gun to his head and pull him away? The fact of the matter is, video from the Yanukovych residence doesn't seem to support that. In it, you can see members of Yanukovych's entourage casually packing up his valuable possessions and two helicopters flying away without any sort of opposition or sense of immediate urgency.






(The first video is rather long, but Yanukovych himself is seen at 13:45 in the video)

So if a characteristic of "coup" is that they are typically characterized by force, then no, again the situation does not fall into the proper usage of that word.

Who knows, maybe there are facts that I'm missing or that I'm not aware of that are a game changer. Maybe there is something one can point to that show definitively that Yanukovych did not voluntarily leave on his accord and willpower but was kidnapped and removed against his will. And maybe there's some evidence that shows that western agents were the ones doing the kidnapping.

And if someone can actually point me to this evidence, I will be the man and admit that that person is right and I was wrong.

But so far there's been nothing. Nada. Nilch.

(And the mere repetition of the word "coup" as it relates to what happened in Ukraine is not proof that a coup actually took place, contrary to what some might thing.)

So if I'm wrong, show me I'm wrong with real evidence from a reputable source (please, no Alex Jones type stuff). I'm waiting.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed May 14, 2014, 10:08 AM (138 replies)

Cognitive Dissonance is Cognitivey: Ukraine Edition (Stalin, Bandera, Maidan and Russian separatism)



Ever since the height of the Euromaidan protests, skeptics and opponents of that movement and the interim Ukrainian government that resulted from that movement have feverishly attempted to paint supporters as "ultranationalists", "fascists" and even "neo-Nazi", with the argument for the latter category dating back to historical events from World War II.

The main basis for such claims lies in the fact that a couple of ultranationalist parties--Svoboda and Right Sector--were participants in the Euromaidan protests, and Svoboda is a minority party within the governing coalition and has three of its members currently sitting in the 21-seat Ukrainian cabinet. Despite the clear minority status of these organizations, opponents of the interim government have clearly attempted to paint Svoboda and Right Sector the face of the events in Ukraine this year, from the Euromaidan protests that ultimately resulted in former President Victor Yanukovych leaving the country and a new interim government taking control until scheduled elections at the end of this month, to the annexation of the Crimean territory by Russia after a questionable plebiscite, to the Ukrainian military's crackdown on armed pro-Russian militants in the Eastern portion of the country, to deadly riots in cities such as Odessa.

One of the most repeated talking points of those taking the "fascist"/"neo-Nazi" position is the fact that there has been the use of the image of controversial World War II-era political figure Stepan Bandera, mainly by those in the far-right parties like Svoboda and Right Sector. And there is no doubt that Bandera is a highly polarizing figure. Proponents paint him as someone who was first and foremost a Ukrainian nationalist who antagonized and irritated both the Soviets and Nazi Germans alike. On the other hand, opponents believe Bandara was in part complicit for Nazi atrocities committed on Ukrainian soil. Whether or not Bandera was personally responsible for brutal ethnic violence between Ukrainians and Poles during World War II is still a highly charged topic of debate by those in the region. Despite the unsettled view on Bandera's ultimate legacy, there is no doubt he is a lightning rod and extremely divisive figure.

That all being said, for all those critics of Maidan and the interim government who have expressed such righteous indignation over the use of Bandera's visage and other items perceived to be "fascist" or "neo-Nazi", there is a complete silence towards opponents of the interim government who have chosen to glorify symbols of the defunct Soviet Union and Soviet figures such as Lenin and even Stalin. It is high time that such cognitive dissonance be addressed.

Let us be blunt: the Soviet Union was a horrifically brutal, authoritarian, oppressive and imperialistic bastard of a nation pretty much from its inception. There was nothing ever good about it. I understand that for some western adherents to Marxist economic theory, there is a hesitancy to criticize the Soviet Union because it claimed to be a socialist, communist and Marxist society.(I myself have nothing against Marxist economic theory in general; while I'm not a subscriber myself, I do value its ability to identify very real problems of economic disparities and exploitation of the working class.)

But let's not kid ourselves: in the end, the Soviet Union was never really about Marxism, Communism or Socialism. It was really nothing more than an attempt to reboot the rapidly dying Russian Empire and desperately hold onto land seized by Moscow over the centuries. The divine right of the Tsar was no longer cutting it; those in power in Moscow needed a new populist vehicle to use as wrapping paper over the same old package of shit that was Russian Imperialism, and communism fit the bill perfectly. And the new Soviet bosses were just as brutal as the old Tsarist ones: severely restricting basic civil liberties and persecuting, deporting and murdering millions of its own people.

That is why people should be shocked and highly disturbed when they see pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine flying the Hammer and Sickle and parading around pictures of Josef Stalin, one of the most brutal despots ever to hold power in any nation. The gut reaction that many Ukrainians have to the Hammer and Sickle is very similar to how African-Americans view the Confederate Battle Flag. It is a symbol of oppression. Soviet police wearing Hammer and Sickle pins routinely harassed both my grandmother and grandfather until it caused them to flee their homeland in fear of their lives. My aunts and uncles were herded onto trains under the Soviet flag and shipped off to Siberia. And Stalin himself is held responsible for enacting pure terror on the Ukrainian people, including manufacturing a famine that killed millions.

And yet those who express outrage at the ultranationalists who parade around with pictures of Bandera are woefully silent when people to which they lend moral support fly the Hammer and Sickle, march with large pictures of Stalin, and decry the removal of statutes and monuments of Soviet and Russian historical figures. This cognitive dissonance is glaring, the hypocrisy ever so apparent.

There is no doubt that Ukraine during the 1930s and 1940s was a brutal, barbaric place where atrocities from all sides abounded. In a very sad way, this was not unexpected. When you have both Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin--the two most brutal and horrific men of modern times--fighting over the same patch of land, bloodshed and pure madness were pretty much an inevitable result. The bigger question today, however, is why people from all sides insist on glorifying such a horrible era of human history.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon May 12, 2014, 11:05 AM (3 replies)

You have to understand the President has an extremely fine line to walk regarding Russia.

On the one hand, knowing the nuclear armament of his adversary, he cannot use language that is too militaristic or hawkish unless he actually wants to back up his words with actions. Which could very well be catastrophic.

On the other hand, he knows he cannot appear to be too weak in the face of clear aggression and blatant violation of neighboring countries' sovereignty, actions which knowingly violate prior treaties to which both the US and Russia are a party.

Of course in the latter argument, it ultimately begs the whole "But....Iraq!" argument. Which appears to be a logical question on its face but puts the President in one hell of a conundrum given the fine line he has to walk. And you do have to understand while we here stateside are able to differentiate between the United States under Bush and the United States under Obama, that nuance loses a bit of its luster beyond our borders. So we will forever be stuck with the albatross of the prior administration's misdeeds around our neck, no matter how much we wish to shake it loose.

And so, yes, like that embarrassing family member for which we feel obligated to make excuses strictly out of a shared last name, our President is forced into the unenviable position of picking out the ever-so-slight silver linings of US debacles past just so he can remain balanced on the dental floss thin tightrope he needs to walk when it comes to Russia's actions towards Ukraine.

As many of you might be aware, over the past couple of weeks I have been very vocal and outspoken as it relates to what has been going on in Ukraine and Russia's actions towards that country (admittedly in part due to my own Ukrainian heritage). I also understand fully that in terms of a US response, military intervention simply is not an option but a forceful non-military approach is essential.

The President has had to walk that tightrope between aggression and complacency and my personal opinion is that he has done so remarkably well. I am not going to rake him over the coals making minor distinctions between our own prior misdeeds (to which he had no control over) and Russia's current misdeeds.

Nor am I going to claim he lacks the moral authority to hold Moscow to task. To the contrary, it is most imperative that the entire world hold Russia to task, no matter our sordid pasts.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Mar 27, 2014, 12:22 PM (55 replies)

It was all a coup!

So Yanukovych gets democratically elected in 2010, and in the next four years he does nothing that would warrant mass protests from the Ukrainian people. Because corruption happens everywhere, so just deal with it, okay?

Then a bunch of neo-nazi ultra-nationalists go into Kiev and throw rocks and sticks and bottles and shit, probably because the US or EU or somebody paid them to do so. Because if you want to enact regime change to get your guy into power, paying lots and lots of people money to protest is the most efficient and effective way to do so.

Then the all-powerful failed US Presidential candidate and chronic mumbler John McCain comes in on McCain Force One and stands on a stage, looking slightly constipated. And Victoria Nuland passes out sandwiches, or maybe donuts (pampushky as they are known locally).

Then the neo-Nazi ultra-nationalists go back to throwing rocks and sticks and bottles and shit.

Then some of the neo-Nazi ultranationalists get shot by snipers, but really, they were probably just shooting themselves, so whateves.

Then someone waves a magic wand, God comes out of the machine, and Yanukoyvch is no longer the Ukrainian president and Svoboda is now in charge. Pretty much permanently, because it's not like they've scheduled elections in the upcoming months.

And clearly it's Svoboda who the US/UK/EU/CIA/IMF/NATO wants in charge, because when you think people who outside foreign powers think are the easiest to have their bidding done on their behalf, it's domestic ultranationalists.

Oh, and did I mention that it's the ultranationalist neo-nazis who are now in charge of Ukraine, and not an interim government lead by moderate centrists? Because that's what it is.

Oh, and Russia invades Crimea with its very special force of Not Russian Russian Troops, but that's okay. Not that we like Putin or anything, but back in the day Russia controlled Crimea for its very special Russification/Expelling the Tatars project, so really it's not like it's foreign soil for them. Plus, Ukraine outlawed the speaking of Russian in Ukraine, so there's that, too.

Plus we as Americans are morally prohibited from criticizing Russia's actions because our last idiot of a President also invaded a foreign country on pretextual purposes. And once that is done, there is no way for us to reflect on our past errors and take a different approach from that point forward.

Obviously. Duh.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Mar 7, 2014, 09:36 AM (31 replies)

They're actually *depressed* that the government is re-opening. I shit you not.

I had some time in the car, and given yesterday's events, I figured I'd get my schadenfreude on, and I sampled some right wing radio nuts.

And at least one of them actually expressly stated he was "too depressed" about the prospect of the government re-opening.

Now, just think about that for a minute. What are they really depressed about?

They're depressed about the government worker who will be able to collect a paycheck again and can put his or her money back in the economy.

They're depressed that national parks are open, and not only do the parks themselves go back to business, but the nearby hotels, restaurants, gas stations, shops and other businesses surrounding the park that are so dependent on tourism also get to go back to business.

They're depressed that our food will be properly inspected again.

They're depressed that the federal government that our taxes go to fund is actually up and running again like it is supposed to be, instead of acting as a $24 billion pit.

I'm just left speechless at this. Are people that politically blinded that they don't actually understand that our government re-opening should be applauded as a good thing?
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Oct 17, 2013, 12:46 PM (57 replies)

As a white guy, I'm perfectly fine with the fact I can't say N______. Even if black people can.

I'm perfectly fine that there's no White Entertainment Television. I'm perfectly fine that there's no White History Month. I'm perfectly fine that colleges don't have White Student Organizations and that there's no National Association for the Advancement of White People.

All this ridiculous whining and consternation from some white people that they don't "get" the same cultural markers as black people or they don't get to say certain terms about African Americans even though blacks use that same term. It's ridiculous. It's insane. You're forcing the issue and you ought to give up, because you look like fools.

Let me tell you something. If for the first century of this country's history white people were considered property and not full human beings, and for the second century of this country's history white people were subjected to institutionalized segregation laws, and for the third century white people had to deal with the lingering after-effects of the first and second centuries, then all of those things would be perfectly okay for white people.

Most African Americans in this country have had a shared cultural experience, one marked with both great trauma and overcoming such trauma, that allows them to identify with each other as a race.

White people in this country have never had that. Not as a race. Many of us have a cultural identity with the country in which your family has its origins (Italian, Irish, Polish, etc.) and that's terrific. Because when the Italians and Irish and Polish crossed the ocean to this country, they too had a shared cultural experience in that aspect, and that's something you can pass on to future generations.

But there is no White American culture to speak of in this country. It's a myth. And that's perfectly fine with me.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Jul 18, 2013, 11:18 AM (135 replies)

What people here who demand Catholics leave their church don't understand.

Please forgive me for bringing up the Catholic topic, but with the selection of the new Pope a little less than a week ago, I wanted to put in my two cents while there was still some newsworthiness about the story and before my thread gets locked and I am forced to post it in a forum that--face it--barely any of you would ever read.

But in many threads, I noticed a good amount of either non-Catholics or longtime former Catholics very angry at the church (for reasons usually justifable, I would add) demanding currently active Catholics on this board (which as we all know is comprised of Democrats, liberals and progressives) leave the church, or at least cease participating in the church or donating money towards church related causes. Usually, this is on the grounds of either the Church's atriocious (and sometimes criminal) handling of the well-publicized sex abuse scandal, or based on the generally conservative (at least socially conservative) outlook by a majority in the ranks of the Church's heirarchy.

Again, for the most part, the criticisms voiced are typically valid and well founded. But I do believe those persons demanding that us active Catholics who also call ourselves liberals or Democrats leave their Church in protest don't fully understand the context from where most Catholics are coming from. Especially in light of the reforms enacted after the Vatican II council, where lay persons were encouraged to take a more active in participating in the religion. (Contrary to what some might think, Vatican II was more than just about having masses said in the native tongue as opposed to in Latin; it was intended to change the entire outlook lay Catholics took towards their faith.)

Very few Catholics consider themselves Catholic because of the heirarchy. Very few of them have a close enough relationship with their bishop to voice their concerns to him. I suspect a good many of them might not even know the name of their bishop. And while the excessive majesty of the Vatican may be cool to look at (and I'll freely admit, watching live the announcement of the new Pope was really, really fucking cool to watch with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it), it's not the selling point for the faith. And it may in fact be rather counterproductive due to its ridiculous excess.

But in the end, that glaring disconnect that the ordinary Catholic may have with the heirarchy is not that big a deal. Because most Catholics identify with their church on a very local level. They know their local pastor who they can approach on a regular basis. They get to see and converse with people that they know they will get to see on at least a weekly basis. And the local church will provide services to the community, valuable ones. My home parish in Maryland, for example: it ran a homeless shelter. It had a pre-school. It had a youth group. It had a community center, with a gym and a theater. You had CCD. With the litugy itself, you could be a lector. You could be a Eucharistic Minister. Just about any social event or group or activity imaginable, it provided. Yes, the masses on Sunday are what brought people together ultimately, but people found meaning in their faith beyond that one weekly hour with all these activities and groups.

The heirarchy? Most ordinary Catholics view it as necessary structure to keep the faith doctrine focused and organized, but that's about it.

So I'm telling you now, asking Catholics to leave their church is a non-starter. People generally have very positive feelings towards their local parishes and they are not going to want to leave them behind and scatter. My mother was very involved in our hometown parish, and when she moved out of state, she would tell you that leaving her parish was hands down the most difficult part of moving. Probably even more difficult than leaving our house where me and my sisters were raised. Whatever qualms a given Catholic might have with the actions of a member of the heirarchy, or a direction the heirarchy might take, is far overshadowed by their emotional tie to their local church. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is.

So why not then individual local parishes "secede" from the Church? That way, some might say, the social structure of the parish is kept intact but it is free from the control of the dysfunction of the heirarchy. Well, I hate to tell you, but that's not going to work, either. Besides the fact it would be incredibly burdensome to do logistically, having countless little splinter churches out there that run the risk of diluting the Catholic identity, especially when it comes to faith doctrine and matters of liturgy. People would quickly lose interest. Despite all its misgivings, the heirarchy does serve some useful function in creating a sense of cohesion, nothwithstanding all its other problems.

So what can be done? Well, members of individual churches need to capitalize on their sense of community. Not all churches have parish councils, but they ought to, to give a better voice to the layity. Individual Catholics need to come together and discuss some of the issues they know are important but for whatever reason the heirarchy is not keen on discussing, at least publically. And some sense of consensus should be brought forward from parish to parish and grievances should erred publically. So if enough parishoners want a better means to ensure abusive priests are not sheltered, that gets put forward. If parishoners want the bishops to consider ordination of married persons and women, that gets put forward. If parishoners wish the bishops to quit wasting their time on silly lawsuits over contraception coverage, that gets put forward. And so forth and so on. But really the only thing we are missing right now is a better voice from individual lay Catholics. If we find a way to better publicize the direction we want our Church to take, mark my words, the heiarchy will have no choice but to listen.

And it should also be noted that the individual parish priests--who deal with lay parishioners and ordinary matters on a daily basis--may actually be more receptive to new ideas than one might think. I could see as mere matter of practicality that a good number of priests would actually be fine with expanding the priesthood to women and married persons, for the simple reason that the current shortage of priests willing to take a vow of celibacy has created an overwhelming burden on the priests who are there to perform more and more services for their respective parishes. I would suspect they would think the more help, the merrier.

Pope Francis, the new pope, is a Jesuit. One thing you may not know about the Jesuits is that they are bound by a sense of duty where if they disagree with the position of the superior, they must speak up and say so. So let us active Catholics seize the opportunity of our new Jesuit Pope and do what the Jesuits do.




Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:11 PM (173 replies)

Of Children and of Guns.

Let me first preface this by saying I've long prided myself with not making arguments out of base emotion. I'm a long, outspoken opponent of the death penalty, and whenever I've been asked, "Well, how would you feel if a loved one of yours was murdered?", I've always responded by stating I'd probably be very angry and upset, but that wouldn't change the basic facts that the death penalty is neither a deterrent nor a true sense of justice to the victim's loved ones, and is hypocritical to its very core.

But that aside, I will say that the entire Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy has shook me to the very core. And in the past week, I've heard the brave, haunting testimony of Neil Heslin and David Wheeler. I've read the opinion piece authored by Mark and Jackie Barden. And I will freely admit as a man who usually is a master at holding his emotions in check, I've found myself just welling up with tears on multiple occasions at the mere thought of what they've had to say. I know that none of them ever wanted that type of attention. None of them wanted their 15 minutes of fame to be having to relive the death of their child before a government panel or in the pages of a well-circulated newspaper. But out of a sense of duty and a basic sense of what is right and what is wrong, they knew they could not remain silent.

You see, I'm the proud father of two young and beautiful daughters. One of my daughters is not much younger than those first graders who perished that December morning. Every evening, they greet me with smiles and shouts of "Daddy!" when I get home from work. Every evening I get to play games with them. Every evening I get to read books to them and tuck them into bed. Yet there is the creeping thought in the back of my mind that in some extremely fucked-up alternate universe, I am Neil Heslin. I am David Wheeler. I am Mark or Jackie Barden. What I get to experience every night has suddenly been brutally robbed from 20 sets of parents. And beyond the city limits of Newtown, Connecticut, it has been robbed from countless other parents and children and husbands and wives and friends, and continues to be robbed on a daily basis.

There's been considerable talk about the Second Amendment, what it says, what it doesn't say, what it means and what it doesn't mean. And that's all fine and a worthy conversation to be had. I also know that many of the proponents of a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment are parents themselves, and they may indeed take that position because they believe their ownership of guns (including those with maximum firepower and capacity) is somehow meant to protect their own children from whatever forces that be.

But we cannot lose sight of our priorities here. As has been said over and over and over, there is no legitimate effort in this country to ban all private ownership of all guns. Many people will continue to have bolt action shotguns if they like to hunt. Many people will continue to have a pistol in their home for self-protection, hopefully secured in a proper and safe manner. And the issue staring us square in the face--gun violence--is truly a multi-faceted dilemma. It's not just about semi-automatic rifles or high-capacity clips. It's not just about background checks or mental health screening and treatment. It's not just about a violent society. It's not just about what constitutes self-defense. It's not just about securing one's weapons. It's about all those things, and more.

But for those who have honed in on ownership of high powered semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, and what they view as an affront to the Second Amendment if there is any legislative action taken to restrict ownership of those items, I just implore them to stop and take a step back.

If one is suddenly by law prohibited from buying an AR-15 or buying a 30 round clip for their own personal use, in the end, it means nothing. Nothing You can still freely buy a less powered weapon or a smaller sized package of ammunition, and you can still achieve whatever basic sense of satisfaction that you sought from those items.

But if someone loses a child (or any sort of loved one) as a result of a shooting such as Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Tuscon or Columbine or countless others, it means everything. Every single little thing in the world.

Assuming you have a good relationship with them and they have not predeceased you, your children will show up at your funeral when you pass away. Your guns will not. Your children will carry on your family name and legacy. Your guns will not. Your children are capable of giving you grandchildren. Your guns will not. Your children will accompany you on family vacations and bless you with holiday memories. Your guns will not. Your guns will never hug you back or tell you that they love you; your children will. Even those who don't have children of their own (whether it be by fate or by choice) are someone else's children, and know all too well the power of having that sense of wonder and astonishment of the world that comes with childhood.

A gun will never, ever give the sense of satisfaction or meaning that a loved one can give you. Their interests will always be subjected to the interests of human life and human dignity.

And one more thing. Guns did not write the U.S. Constitution. People did. Keep that forever in mind when you speak of the Constitution.
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The testimony of Neil Heslin:

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The testimony of David Wheeler:



Op-Ed Piece by Mark and Jackie Barden:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-response-to-newtown-shootings-think-of-daniel/2013/01/29/b658933a-6a48-11e2-95b3-272d604a10a3_story.html

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Feb 1, 2013, 10:42 AM (28 replies)
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