Politics and Prejudices

Shot to hell

We love our goddamn guns. Many of us love them more than our children, some of whom we are constantly allowing to be killed by guns. Want to see hysterical, bleating maniacs?

Just talk about putting some slight restrictions on our ability to take weapons into daycare centers, etc.

Instantly, the gun nuts begin foaming at the mouth, screaming about the Second Amendment and spouting made-up statistics about all the lives saved by pistol-toting heroes.

Never mind that all this is nonsense. Those who worship their weapons always have an answer. Yes, some of them actually think Thomas Jefferson and George Washington meant for them to have an AK-47 by their bedside.

No wonder guns and ammunition are the best thing their gunpowder-addled brains can imagine. Howell resident Martin Edward Zale seems to have taken his gun everywhere.

He also seems to have had a nasty temper. According to various witnesses, the 69-year-old Zale was driving his pickup erratically on Sept. 2 near Howell, where he lived.

For whatever reason, his driving evidently aggressively menaced 43-year-old Derek Flemming, who was on his way with his wife, Amy, in their Ford Escape to pick up their two children from their first day of school.

Witnesses said Zale tailgated them, nearly hit them, and finally passed them on the right.

Finally, both cars had to stop for a light. According to an attorney for the Flemming family, Derek got out of his car, walked up to Zale's truck, and asked, perhaps in honest and angry bewilderment, what the guy's problem was.

Martin Edward Zale then shot him in the face, killing him instantly. Within a flash, two lives were essentially destroyed and at least three scarred forever. Flemming, who had his own landscaping business, was dead. Zale, who has now been charged with open murder, may well, if convicted, rot in prison for years. Quite possibly, the rest of his life.

Amy Flemming is devastated, and friends say their 5-year-old and 7-year-old keep asking for their daddy.

All because the specimen who shot him had his personal murder cannon in the truck with him.

That's the bad news. The good news is that our Second Amendment rights were validated once again!

That is, the amendment as interpreted by the current U.S. Supreme Court. In two recent cases (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008; and McDonald v. Chicago, 2010) the court ruled — by a single vote — that the Second Amendment means Americans have the right to keep a handgun in their homes for self-defense.

Ironically, most legal scholarship before this didn't think that's what the amendment meant. There was a time when the National Rifle Association desperately tried to avoid getting their beloved Second Amendment before the highest court.

Why? Simple. Many, if not most legal scholars believed the Second Amendment had nothing to do with any mythical right to arm ourselves to the teeth.

"The Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self-defense," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a powerful dissent to the McDonald ruling. The weight of the historical evidence, indeed, indicates it was designed to allow states to form militias as needed, the forerunners of both the army and the national guard.

Don't believe that? Just read it: "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."

However, this no longer matters; if there's one thing that's certain, it's that the Constitution is our fundamental law, and it means what the U.S. Supreme Court says it means.

And for the time being, it means we have a right to a gun. But there's a little something many of us are overlooking. While the highest court did indeed say there's a right to keep and bear arms, it did not say we couldn't limit those rights.

On the contrary, the majority in McDonald went out of their way to say that we could still legally forbid convicted felons and the mentally ill to carry arms, and more.

"Laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and public buildings," or laws imposing conditions on how they are sold are perfectly legal.

In other words, we could do a lot more. It's by no means clear, at least as I write these words, that Michigan had to give the hothead Martin Zale a concealed carry license. What is clear is that the world, including the wretched Zale himself, would all be better off if he hadn't been allowed to have a gun in his truck.

Yet thanks to the power and money possessed by the gun nut lobby, nobody tries to do anything anymore.

After all, the president and public outrage failed to get any sensible legislation passed, even after all those tiny children were blown away in Connecticut at Christmas time in 2012.

Yes, we love our guns more than our children. So now Derek Flemming's lovely wife is a widow, and his two children are fatherless, thanks to a hothead's moment of rage.

We'll all get to pay for this financially, by the way. Assume for a moment that Zale (who is, of course, legally innocent until proven guilty) gets convicted.

Let's assume he spends seven years in the slam, which is how much time Jack Kevorkian did for killing a dying man who wanted to die. Know how much that will cost taxpayers?

At least $252,000.

Let's see ... four ruined lives — five, if you count Zale's wife, reportedly a breast cancer survivor. A dead young father and a quarter of a million lost to the state.

Do we think our mythical worship of guns and our dubious interpretation of the Second Amendment is worth it?

Evidently so.

By the way, wouldn't you hate to live in one of those poor wretched other Western industrial countries that don't have our Second Amendment guarantee of personal weapons uber alles?

Take Japan, say, which has a little less than half our population. According the United Nations statistics, in 2007, there were 9,146 gun homicides in the United States of America.

Not suicides, not accidental deaths — homicides.

Japan makes guns hard to get and harder to keep in your home. Nevertheless, they had homicides by gun too.

Know how many in that whole year?


Lordy, do we ever love our weapons!

Naked pictures on the Internet

Don't you feel terrifically sorry for Justin Verlander and Kate Upton and all those celebrities whose pictures of themselves naked showed up "in the cloud" and available for public consumption?

Well, I don't. Because they were stupid if they thought for a moment when they sent those pictures that this couldn't happen. How many times have we seen some company's supposedly secure firewall breached, giving hackers access to gazillions of credit cards and social security numbers?

Yes, this was a crime and the hackers deserve severe punishment, but the "victims" should've seen it coming.

And don't sanctimoniously chide me for "blaming the victims." The day this broke I was having lunch with an extremely accomplished woman when a pop TV psychologist called what was done to the celebrities "virtual sexual assault."

I've never seen her angrier. "I know the difference," she said between clenched teeth, spitting out the words.

She certainly does. She was brutally raped when she was barely out of kindergarten.

News flash: Common sense is a very uncommon thing. — mt

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