Monthly Archives: May 2015

Standing Your Ground Against People Standing Up (we have a new George Zimmerman!)

Well, at least it wasn’t Texas or Florida this time…

In case you missed it, Wayne Burgarello of Sparks, Nevada shot two people who were trespassing on an abandoned property owned by Burgarello. The couple were sleeping when Burgarello entered the abandoned duplex (Wilson was attempting to establish squatter’s rights to the property). As Devine moved to stand up, Burgarello fired. Burgarello shot eight times, killing Cody Devine and wounding Janai Wilson.

Burgarello claimed he fired in self-defense as he mistook Devine’s arm for a gun. Interestingly, the fact that Burgarello owned the property does not appear to have been part of the defense, but instead, Burgarello’s defense cited Nevada’s “stand your ground” statues which allow people to use deadly force when threatened (so long as they don’t initiate the conflict).

Let’s step back a moment and consider just how amazingly broad these “stand your ground” laws are: If you can show that you had reason to be afraid, you can, in many of the United States, kill someone. You can do this within the law. What the other person was actually doing, whether or not they were even aware they were “threatening” you, is irrelevant. Given that we’re talking about deadly force here, the deceased is extremely unlikely to be in a position to contradict their killer’s story. These laws are, in my not-remotely-humble opinion, absolutely batshit insane.

These laws also encourage people who are prone to thinking that killing other people is a good idea to arm themselves to the teeth. People like, oh, I don’t know….Burgarello?

(regarding Burgarello’s bail hearing)…He also cited the seven long-barreled guns, five hand guns and nearly a dozen knives police said they found in a safe at Burgarello’s home, along with a pair of brass knuckles, which are illegal to possess in Nevada.

And to make plans to kill people:

Two neighbors testified Wednesday that Burgarello told them years earlier that he might arm himself and wait for people responsible for repeatedly vandalizing and burglarizing the vacant duplex.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to be waiting inside with a gun,'” Kevin Morgan said.

Ok, are we clear on the scenario here? We have a man, Burgarello, who has armed himself beyond any reasonable need (including illegal weapons), a man who has told people that he planned to arm himself and wait for vandals. He bursts in on a couple asleep on the floor of his abandoned property, one of them moves to get up, and he unloads his weapon, killing him and wounding the woman sleeping next to him. His defense was that he mistook the man’s arm for a gun, so he feared for his own life and had to kill the man.

You know how this ends, right? This being the U.S of A, there’s really only one way it could possibly end:

Not guilty on all counts.

I seriously hope that Burgarello goes off to some island where he’s the only person so he doesn’t have to be afraid of his shadow. Someplace very remote and lonely, because he doesn’t belong anywhere near other human beings.

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In case you don’t get “privilege”…

…this short cartoon should clear it up for ya:

“On a Plate” from The Pencilsword by Toby Morris

Go ahead and read that and let me know if you have any questions.

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Ok The Onion, it’s your move now

There’s a spectacular bit on 30 Rock where Jenna gets upset that Weird Al parodies one of her songs. In an effort to prevent him from doing it again, she writes and performs a song so ridiculous, it can’t possibly be parodied:

Weird Al being Weird Al, he one-ups her and releases this gem:

Which is a long way of getting to the point: Can you believe this “Jade Helm 15” nonsense? Jade Helm 15 is a military training operation in the southwestern part of the U.S. Some of the more…reality-challenged…folks have decided that this exercise is a precursor to a federal (or, somehow, Chinese) invasion of Texas.

No, really.

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has state militiamen keeping a watchful eye on the exercises because…well, damned if I know, but he seems really concerned about it. Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who thinks he’s the next Reagan*, has had his people asking questions at the Pentagon. Even Chuck Norris is warning people not to believe the military about these exercises. The rumors have gotten so out there that Walmart, that bastion of socialist anti-Americanism, has released a statement that there is no truth to the rumors that five recently closed stores have a network of tunnels under them and after that…who knows?

I’m a huge fan of “making fun of idiots”, but how can one adequately mock something like this? At this point, we’ve gone so far beyond parody that I wonder if even The Onion, in all of its satirical splendor, is up to the task of mocking these folks. Isn’t their best play to “Normal Al” these folks and release a credible, sensible story with no weird twists or jokes whatsoever?

* I suppose this means that he plans to raise taxes, give amnesty to illegal aliens, negotiate with terrorists, and actively arm Iran. You know, like Reagan did.

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What’s the conservative version of “mansplaining?”

In the battle to explain the riots over the indiscriminate killing of black people in terms which will appeal to conservatives, we have a new winner! Paul Ryan, step right up and show us what you got!

Because what you do when you stack up all these poverty programs on top of each other, we have this thing called the poverty trap, where we’re actually disincentivizing a person from getting on with their life and going to work. It pays not to take a risk to take a job to go out an prove your life because of the benefits your lose.

Yep, welfare is just. that. awesome. Or, I suppose you could put it another way: “Until employers pay a real living wage, people are actually better off on government assistance than working for said employers.” Gee, if you put it that way, it makes those God-like “job creators” look like assholes, doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t put it that other way, though, because “poverty” isn’t the problem: It’s police killing black people and getting away with it which suggests that non-black society is ok with this state of affairs. Talking about “poverty” may score points with Ryan’s owners, but it doesn’t come close to addressing the issue.

Ryan goes on to wax false-nostalgic about The American Dream:

“The American idea is that the condition of your birth doesn’t determine the outcome of your life. Anybody in this country can overcome their current circumstances and make a better life for themselves and their kids. We were taught believing that, [Republicans] believe that. There are a lot of people who don’t believe that.”

It’s not technically a lie, I suppose, but it’s misleading as all get-out. The condition of your birth doesn’t determine your outcome, but it can and usually does have a great deal to do with it. Anybody in the U.S. can overcome current circumstances, but it usually takes a great deal of good fortune; hard work alone ain’t nearly enough. Republicans are taught this because it makes the privileged people feel good about themselves. It makes them feel as though their privilege was something they earned, and, conversely, it lets them take a dump on people who weren’t fortunate enough to be born into privilege or didn’t hit the lottery by combining hard work and good fortune to better themselves.

The TL;DR? If you really believe that welfare is just too lucrative, then you probably ought to take a few moments to reconsider pretty much everything in your life.

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3 May is World Freedom of the Press Day

Thanks to there being a free press in the United States, no one can spin the events in Baltimore as being due to “the lack of fathers” or “the lack of a moral code.”  Well, some folks try, but the images and eyewitness accounts make them look foolish and racist.

My last post was a poorly-written mess, but the key point was that when someone tells you not to talk about something, they’re trying to control you and you should speak up. A free press is an expression of that same idea at a societal level. There are people and institutions who want people to believe that Baltimore is about something, anything other than a society that has, for decades, has tacitly accepted that law enforcement can kill black people with impunity. The fact that there’s a free press that won’t demure and shut up, that won’t politely say and do what they’re told, is vital to the truth getting out.

So, happy World Free Press Day everyone. Be grateful if you have a free press where you live, and if you don’t, fight for it.

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