Freedom Updates: July 16, 2001

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Freedom Updates: July 16, 2001

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Hate Crimes

On June 21, Fred Martinez, Jr. was found beaten to death. Martinez was a male teenager who dressed and acted as a female. On July 3, a man used a handgun to murder four Mexican immigrants and wound three others. On July 6 another Hispanic male was stabbed to death in Grand Junction.

All three cases were reported as possible "hate crimes." Of course all murders and violent crimes are hateful, so here the phrase refers to crimes motivated by bigotry. To date, I have seen some evidence that the beating and stabbing were motivated by bigotry, but I have seen no evidence that the shootings were.

The July 11 News reported, "Just after the assailant stabbed [the victim Eric] Valdez, he stood over him and yelled a racial and sexual epithet, witnesses told police." However, the crime might have been motivated by other factors. Only July 12, the News reported, "Suspect in slaying of Navajo boy [Martinez] boasted he had 'beat up a fag,' tipsters tell police." If that's true, the slaying was pretty obviously motivated by bigotry.

In the case of the Rifle murders, reporters seemed to have jumped to the conclusion that because the killer targeted a trailer park where mostly Mexican immigrants live, the murders were motivated by bigotry. That theory is possible. However, here's another possible theory. Perhaps the killer selected a place where he knew people were likely to be unarmed and congregated. Because Mexican immigrants are more likely to be harassed by the police and less likely to have a high income, they are also less likely to own defensive guns. (Plus gun ownership is largely illegal in Mexico.) Simply because a trailer park is more crowded, targets are closer together. If a nut case wants to kill a lot of people, a disarmed crowd is the target of choice.

We can learn several lessons from the recent murders. First, be careful out there. Not paranoid, but careful. Second, bigotry is a continuing problem in our society, a problem which demands our attention.

Third, consider the following quote from the July 7 News: "[The killer in Rifle] was asked to leave one bar after he became agitated, and he told a bartender in another bar that he was going to 'shoot up some people.'" Why in the hell didn't the bartender call the police? If you hear somebody threaten to commit murder, it's your responsibility to intervene.

Fourth, while the term "gunman" was used numerous times in newspapers to describe the murderer in Rifle, the terms "fistman" and "knifeman" were not used to describe the killers in the other cases. Similarly, the term "tubwoman" was never used to describe the woman who murdered her four children by drowning them in a bathtub. The term "gunwoman" is never used. Nor is the term "gunman" ever applied to a police officer who kills an innocent civilian. News reporters should strive to use neutral language throughout.


UK Gun Crime Soars

A July 16 story by David Bamber published in England's Telegraph is titled, "Gun crimes soaring despite ban brought in following Dunblane" (http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/07/15/ngun15.xml).

The article begins, "The controversial ban on the ownership of handguns which was introduced after the Dunblane massacre has failed to halt an increasing number of crimes involving firearms. An independent report, Illegal Firearms in the UK, to be published by the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College in London tomorrow, says that handguns were used in 3,685 offences last year compared with 2,648 in 1997, an increase of 40 per cent. The figures will renew the debate about the effectiveness of the gun ban, introduced by the last Conservative government and then extended to cover all pistols by Labour after winning the 1997 general election."

The article continues, "The new report, commissioned by the Countryside Alliance's Campaign for Shooting, was compiled by John Bryan, the former head of the firearms intelligence unit at New Scotland Yard. Mr Bryan said that his report cast doubt on the wisdom of the ban.... The number of crimes involving handguns has increased, mostly due to a flood of illegally imported weapons and the use of those already in circulation before 1997."

So English politicians have rushed to repeal their worthless, arguably counter-productive gun bans, right? Of course not.


Mauser Gets Arrested

Tom Mauser wrote a letter to the National Rifle Association and failed to get a reply. So in early June he went to NRA headquarters and protested. He finally blocked a driveway, refused to move when ordered to do so by police, and got arrested.

I respect Mauser for his steadfastness. The NRA should have responded to his letter. The facts are completely against Mauser -- the types of disarmament laws he advocates result in the death and endangerment of innocent people. Why didn't the NRA explain that to him?

As I suggested in a letter to the Rocky Mountain News, I thought the press attention his protest garnered was excessive. The paper devoted two lengthy and glowing columns to the incident on two different days. Coverage was totally skewed in favor of Mauser. Civil arms groups have been ignored by the press sometimes even when they've attracted hundreds of people to a rally. Can you imagine either of the leading Denver dailies covering a one-person protest against Handgun Control, Inc. or the Brady Center?

Still, it took courage for Mauser to take a stand. By failing to respond to his letter, the NRA gave him the free media ride.


Freedom is Delicate

Libertarians tend to idealize the Founding era. However, as a Washington Times column by Nat Hentoff reminds us, the Alien and Sedition Acts threatened the First Amendment almost immediately:

Only seven years after the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was ratified, Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made the president -- any president -- and members of Congress immune from criticism... The legislation punished, by imprisonment and fine, anyone who spoke, wrote or published anything that brought the president or Congress "into contempt or disrepute," or might excite against them "the hatred of the good people of the United States," thereby stirring up "sedition within the United States." (http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20010716-71418062.htm)

When Rep. Matthew Lyon of Vermont was arrested for criticizing President Adams' administration for its "unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation and selfish avarice," Thomas Jefferson lamented, "I know not which mortifies me most, that I should fear to write what I think or that my country bear such a state of things." The article mentions the Alien and Sedition Acts were not struck down by the Supreme Court until 1964.

Freedom is not something to be taken for granted. The Times article reminds us of that.


McCain Faces Recall

The good news is that John McCain, who has made a political career out of trampling on the Bill of Rights, is facing a recall effort in Arizona. The bad news is political insiders don't think the recall will succeed. See http://www.dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/418508_mccain_15tex.A.html.


Oregon Farmers No Suckers

Arnalie Young of the AP published an article July 15 entitled, "Oregon Farmers Defy Federal Order, Begin Draining Canal for Water for Crops." It states, "In April the government shut down an irrigation canal serving land in the Klamath Project to protect endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake and threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River. Farmers with no other source of water have been forced to sell off cattle, let pastures and hay fields go brown and forgo annual plantings of potatoes, grain and other crops" (http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGAIF7AJ7PC.html).

A fellow named Jeff Head sent out a personalized report about the same incident. Head plans to show up in support of the farmers. He has started a petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/klamath.


Paddling Upstream

Ralph Shnelvar writes, "I am often reminded of a lifeboat taking on water. The million Mommies would vote to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat in order to let the water out."

Mandatory Minimum Ruled "Cruel and Unusual"

A July 10 AP article is titled, "Life sentence for cocaine possession overturned." It reads, "LITTLE ROCK - A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a life sentence for possession of $20 of cocaine was "grossly disproportionate to the crime" (http://www.dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/415053_cocaine10e.html). It's about time judges stood up to unjust sentencing laws.


The Smoldering Bill of Rights

The following was brought to my attention by Ralph Shnelvar. I don't know who the original author is. It's a great piece, though.

Supreme Court upholds Constitutionality of Facial Markers Cameras
By Thomas B. Edsalling
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 25, 2006; Page A05

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of the use of facial marker cameras in public places as a means of implementing Congress' and the States' unlimited authority under the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

This follows a stunning set of civil libertarian setbacks in the Supreme Court. In September the High Court found that the police, under the Hyde-sponsored Civil Search Law, (CSL) now have the authority to enter homes to search for desecrated flags and related materials without warrant.

Asked for comment on both these issues, the Honorable Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois said, "We know who these people are. The ordinary God-fearing and law-abiding citizen has nothing to fear. We need this law because we have seen an alarming increase in Flag Desecration sympathizers arming themselves."


Post Defends Stossel

I love John Stossel. Unfortunately, I haven't yet seen his piece on environmentalism. I was amazed -- astounded -- to read an editorial in the Denver Post defending Stossel. See http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,417%257E57574,00.html.

The Post argues environmentalists are off the mark when they attack Stossel's character. It continues:

Stossel may not need the support of this newspaper, but he has it nonetheless. In various interviews, notably with Reason magazine in 1997, Stossel has carefully outlined how he came to be interested in environmental issues and especially the effect on public opinion of what is called "junk science." His point in the schoolchildren segment, apparently lost on his critics, was that children are learning a lot of things from schools, the mass media and their parents that may be more frightening than true.... Stossel... has tried to... produce some balance in the coverage of a variety of environmental and other topics, a balance we believe is much needed.

The Post seems to be finding a little balance itself. Let's hope that continues.


Immigrants and the Meaning of America

I got an e-mail in my box originally from Julianne Wiley of Johnson City, TN. As Bush is considering leniency toward "illegal" immigrants, and as Congressman Tancredo continues to display xenophobic tendencies, I thought it's a message we should all contemplate.

How long has it been since you've read the stirring words that are inscribed on a plaque at the feet of the Statue of Liberty? Here you go. Happy Fourth of July!

"The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus (written 1883)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name,
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Some interesting notes about the life (1849-1887) of Emma Lazarus. Her family was Sephardic Jews (Jews from Spain) who dated their arrival on these shores to 1654. They were well to do New Yorkers.

When Russian Jews came to these shores fleeing the pogroms of the 1880's, many of the assimilated, materially-comfortable American Jews were concerned that these poor, very devout, illiterates would increase anti-Semitism. They often looked upon the refugees as crude and uneducated, people with whom you would not want to associate yourself. Emma was influenced by a prominent rabbi at the time to help those Russian Jews, kept on Ward's Island (near Ellis Island-it housed thousands of sick and destitute immigrants who had not passed inspection) and there she saw first hand their plight.

With great insight, Emma Lazarus insisted that these rejected immigrants who were regarded as "garbage" would eventually --- if they were allowed to stay---- make an immeasurably positive --- even brilliant--- contribution to their adopted country. The experience of the last century has proven her to be right many times over.

She never saw the Statue of Liberty (she had written the poem for a fundraiser for the Liberty Enlightening the World-the full name of the statue) or lived to know the fame of the poem placed at its base in 1903. She died 4 years after composing "The New Colossus", at age 38, from Hodgkin's Disease.

NRA Loses Brady Challenge

Big surprise here: "The Supreme Court... rejected a challenge by the National Rifle Association to the government's practice of keeping records for up to six months on who is denied or allowed a handgun under the Brady Act - something the NRA believed was too close to a national firearms registry" (NewsMax.com, June 25).

But let's get something straight. The NRA's Brady law IS gun owner registration, regardless of whether and for how long the FBI keeps records. Every transaction must be kept by the FFL, and these records are available upon demand to the BATF. As we know too well, the ATF and FBI sometimes collaborate in their operations. The Brady law is about registering gun owners, it is not about crime. It has not reduced crime, though it has increased the number of rapes by wrongly preventing lawful citizens from buying a gun for self-defense. Even if Bush shortens the length of time the FBI keeps gun records, that will have no impact on the fact that Brady registers every gun owner who goes through the check.

Mark Call notes,

The NRA is finding that when you turn your back on principles, like the clear language "shall not be infringed," and try to argue 'well, OK, you CAN, but just don't keep RECORDS of it for so long,' that the court will justifiably laugh in your face.

There's an old joke that tells it succinctly. Man, to a woman: "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?" Woman: "For that kinda money, are you kidding? Yeah, sure." Man: "Well, how about for $20?" Woman: "What do you think I am anyway?" Man: "We've already established that, now we're dickering price."

The NRA has been dickering price for far too long, and WE are paying the price for all those who are willing to compromise on God-given rights.

Here in Colorado, Pamela White of the News published a story July 10 about how the CBI checks are "twice as likely to be turned down" for a gun purchase. White notes, "Last year, 2,094 people appealed their case and 1,785 resulted in a reversal." Unfortunately, White doesn't delve into the issue of how many people who are denied bother to appeal. While I know of no precise statistic, it's clear the majority, if not the vast majority, of denials are wrongful denials, based on incomplete or inaccurate records. Such denials most directly impact women who are being stalked or threatened and need a gun for protection.

In other Brady news, D. Harder wrote an insightful letter to the Denver Post May 20. Harder cites an April 22 article which says Sarah Brady has lung cancer and "she is still smoking." He ads, "Brady is dedicating her life to eliminating guns while participating in an activity that is far more dangerous to herself and others than firearms.... Smoking and tobacco use kill more than 13 times as many people each year as firearms."


Socialized Insecurity

Some of you may have noticed that I published an article in the August Liberty Magazine blasting Cato's plan to "privatize" Social Security. After I wrote my article, but before it was published, Reason Magazine put out an article by Jacob Sullum (June 19, 2001) that supports my position (http://www.reason.com/sullum/061901.html). It reads:

"The critical point," write Boston University economist Jeffrey A. Miron and University of Chicago economist Kevin M. Murphy in a recent paper from the libertarian Bastiat Institute, "is that privatization does not affect the stream of benefits the government has promised to pay.... Properly understood, privatization has no effect on Trust Fund solvency and thus nothing to do with 'saving' Social Security."

In fact, unless privatization is accompanied by benefit cuts, it will actually worsen the system's solvency, since the money diverted to personal investment accounts will no longer be available to current retirees. With or without privatization, lower benefits or higher taxes are inevitable.

I've been aware of this problem with Social Security "privatization" since 1995, when I interned in Washington, D.C. and researched the issue. I'm glad to see the issue get serious attention by libertarian scholars.


Kyoto Treaty Could Kill Millions

Fox News reported one environmentalist's take on the Kyoto Treaty. The quote is extraordinary. See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,27062,00.html.

The cost of limiting carbon dioxide emissions far outweighs the damage that global warming will eventually do to the world and merely postpones the problem for six years, Bjorn Lomborg, an environmental statistician, has calculated. As a result, he argues, trillions of pounds that might otherwise be spent on fighting poverty and malnutrition and improving infrastructure in developing countries will be wasted. In The Sceptical Environmentalist, to be published in August, he says that millions of lives will be lost that could otherwise be saved and the eventual impact of climate change on the Third World will be much worse as countries will be less equipped to adapt.

Lomborg teaches at the University of Aarhus in Denmark and he's a former member of Greenpeace. He says, "What happens with the Kyoto protocol, according to the most-accepted model, is that by 2100, global temperatures will rise by 1.9C rather than by 2.1C if nothing is done." Of course, even this comment assumes we'll keep burning traditional fuels at steady rates, when in fact economic freedom (which may or may not exist in 2100) will likely lead to new, cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.


Newberry's Art

I know, sometimes I can be a bit cynical. (Was the Declaration of Independence cynical, too?) But the Colorado Freedom Report tends to express only one side of my personality. Sometimes I'm worshipful. A painter named Michael Newberry sent me a link to some of his works. I hope you click the link below, and I hope you enjoy Newberry's art as much as I do. (I've had the honor of seeing some of these paintings on the canvas, but the internet images will give you the general feel.)

http://www.michaelnewberry.com/manifesto/index.html

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