Monday, June 30, 2008

Killing You So You Won’t Die

Hypothetical question: say I’ve got a loaded gun, safety off, finger on the trigger, and aimed at your head or chest. (Reminder to those of you who’ve forgotten high school biology: the head and chest regions are where humans store their “can’t survive without them” internal organs, which is why gunshot wounds to the head or torso are more likely to cause fatalities than similar wounds to arm or leg.)

Then, while I’ve got you in this ominous context, I say “Don’t move or I’ll kill you, because it’s my job to protect you from bodily harm.”

Here’s my question: which of the following two responses most closely mirrors your own?

a) “Thanks, Jennifer! I’m both respectful of and grateful for your selfless willingness to do whatever it takes to keep me safe, up to and including shooting me in the head. It’s like you’re John Wilkes Booth to my Lincoln, only in a good way;” or,

b) “Jennifer, that self-contradiction is enough to qualify as ‘psychopathic lunacy,’ a trait which I don’t like to see in anyone even carrying a gun, let alone aiming it at my vital organs.”

If you answered “B” then you lack sufficient respect for modern American law enforcement.

Check out this SFW disaster-pr0n photo essay from the flood-devastated Midwest. Most of the entries show fury-of-Nature, wrath-of-God type images of overflowing rivers and a chode-of-God tornado, but there’s also a wrath-of-cop scene if you scroll down to the second shot from the bottom: two police officers, obviously pissed off, one aiming a gun through the windshield of a pickup truck while his partner prepares to smash the passenger-side window. (You can’t see the driver behind the glare off the glass.)

The caption reads: “An angry resident that tried to drive around a security checkpoint is stopped by one police officer, right, while another tries to break his window to extract him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, June 16, 2008.”

There’s more details to be found in this story, which gives the pick-up driver’s name as Rick Blazek. He wasn’t some felonious out-of-towner looking to loot a deserted neighborhood, but a man merely wishing to return to his home. The guns and the checkpoints were there to prevent this, for Blazek’s own good:

Police twice caught a man in his flood-damaged home before the property had been cleared by city inspectors. But Rick Blazek vowed to return — even if he had to sneak behind bushes.

"Once I'm in there, I'm not coming out unless they have handcuffs and leg shackles," he pledged Sunday at a checkpoint where authorities were limiting access.

That's what happened Monday when officers pulled Blazek out of his pickup after he tried to run a checkpoint. When he allegedly bumped an Iowa state trooper with the truck, police drew their guns, broke a window on his vehicle and wrestled Blazek out. He was charged with assaulting an officer.

Blazek was among thousands of flood victims frustrated by authorities' decision Monday to cut off access to flood-damaged homes because of safety concerns.

A loaded gun pointed in the right direction is all it takes to transform a sincere concern for public safety into a menace to same. And it makes me suspect, as I sit here in my apartment on the second floor of a high-ceilinged building, that if imminent floods ever inspired a local evacuation, I’d probably be one of those stubborn holdouts who hunker down and refuse to leave.

It’s not that I’d mind leaving my home and all worldly goods for a couple of days (I do that whenever I take vacations). But I don’t want government agents later telling me “For your own safety, you can’t go back until we grant permission,” because then I’d say “If you wanted to keep me safe you wouldn’t point that gun at me,” and whatever happens next is bound to be depressing. But done to keep me safe, the cops will assure all who ask.

I support gun rights, except for this: if you point a loaded gun at somebody, you forfeit the right to say “I’m acting in that somebody's best interest.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dammit, GOP, Stop Embarrassing Yourself

If you like racist “humor” but lack the patience to apply blackface makeup, you could’ve gone to the Texas state Republican convention last week and bought a pin asking: “If Obama is President … will we still call it the White House?”

I’m currently in such a state of Victorian-grandma-style shock I can’t even think of anything snarky to say. So I’ll settle for a serious observation instead: I used to think “I hope Obama wins because he’d be a hell of a lot less odious than McCain.” I’ve now switched to, “I hope Obama wins because his opponents are so utterly vile, anything which annoys them is by default a good thing.”

Now where the hell are my smelling salts?

NEXT-DAY ADDITION: The Texas Republican Party is shocked, shocked to hear of racism in its ranks. As the AP reports:

The state GOP party said Wednesday that it will donate the $1,500 rent it collected from the vendor,, to Midwestern flood victims. State GOP spokesman Hans Klingler said the party does not vet the merchandise being sold, but officials plan to discuss doing so in the future.

-- snip --

In 1998, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organization of gay Republicans, was denied a booth at the GOP state convention in Fort Worth and likened to the Ku Klux Klan by a Texas Republican Party spokesman.

"We don't allow pedophiles, transvestites or cross-dressers, either," then-GOP spokesman Robert Black said at the time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crazed Gun-Toting Vigilante Mom Threatens Ardent Suitor

Here’s a story you’ll never read on those screechy websites demanding guns be outlawed to protect The Children: Mother Carrying Gun Scares Away Alleged Stalker

The mother, who did not wish to be identified, said the man approached her 16-year-old daughter on Alhambra Circle near their home.

“She was walking her dog in the median right out in front of our house here, and a man approached her in a truck and tried to get her to come to the truck,” the woman said.

The teenager ran to nearby Coral Gables Elementary School, calling her mother and 911.

The mother confronted the man and showed him her 9-mm gun.

“It’s not until I showed him that I was armed and that I meant business to protect my daughter that he backed off,” she said.

Coral Gables police arrested Ramon del Risco in connection with the incident … The woman said she recommends a day at the shooting range for every parent.

Verily, the woman kicks ass. Note how she didn’t even have to fire the gun; its mere presence was enough to scare the guy off. Still, this won’t deter those who favor gun bans because “Guns are only good for putting holes in people.”

I hear that a lot living in the Northeast, where we like to consider ourselves more enlightened than folks down in Florida (which has its own Fark tag, and deservedly so.) However, had this incident happened in my area, the story you just read would’ve included a statement from the chief of police about how it’s fortunate nobody got hurt, but the mother still should’ve waited for the cops rather than use her gun to escalate the situation.

Then the editorials: Statistics show this 16-year-old is safer out walking her dog than being at home in a gun-owning household. Hopefully, the mother will rid her domicile of these dangerous weapons, and gets the counseling she needs to overcome the fearful paranoia that compels her to keep them around in the first place.

Shame on me. I’m making all this up, of course. Such things would never be written here, because we have so many strict laws making it difficult-if-not-impossible to legally carry a gun around that the story would instead talk about a woman arrested for third-degree threatening with a firearm.

And if her 16-year-old daughter can’t handle a guy like Ramon del Risco by herself, sans weapons … well, maybe she ought to work out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Delayed Response

It’s been a rough couple of weeks; I lost one of my favorite barrettes and then found God, thus discarding atheism to embrace the theory of Belligerent Design, which says there does exist a Deity who created the universe just to piss me off.

Remember 18 months ago when I mounted a campaign to have the phrase “appoint Bob Barr” become a nationally recognized euphemism for going to the bathroom? It failed so spectacularly that he’s the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential candidate.

This is bad, O fellow libertarians of mine. You know how justifiably annoyed we get when folks accuse us of being mere “Republicans who like to smoke pot?” Well, “Republicans who like to imprison people who like to smoke pot” is worse.

Yes, I know Barr claims to have changed his mind, but with no explanation for this abrupt turnabout I view it with a gimlet eye. I’m not even asking for a mea culpa; I just want to hear why he switched from ‘We must imprison people who use non-alcoholic intoxicants’ to ‘No, we shouldn’t.’

Once again, my sincere desire to vote libertarian in the upcoming election is thwarted. So for this November I’m torn between two options: writing in a vote for Christopher Walken (since I’ve already endorsed him anyway) or staying home on election day and next morning tell people I voted for the major-party loser. That way, while America continues its inexorable swirl down history’s toilet, I can look all self-righteous and say “Don’t blame me; I voted for [Kodos].”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Dodging Bullets In Slow Motion: I’m In The Matrix

Lordy, lordy, it’s just terrible how the younger generation always goes around dating people who are absolutely all-wrong for them. Get this: one night many years ago, my 20-year-old self was feeling glum because her Sort-Of Boyfriend at the time called to tell her he’d just got engaged, an effective but undeniably crass way to break off a relationship.

Poor thing. That’s why, if time travel’s ever invented, I plan to visit my younger self and cheer her up by telling her what I learned during a Googlebomb nostalgia trip the other night.

You know the ones I’m talking about, where you let your memory wander and then do a search for whatever names it brings back? In my case, such searches are often fruitless because so many of my old friends had rather common names of the “John Smith” variety.

But my former Sort-Of Boyfriend’s name is unusual enough to make it very easy to find online. And find it I did. It’s undeniably the SOB, as the biography on his business website made clear.

My, oh my.

Hee hee hee hee hee.

Here’s the thing about my younger self: even when I get the whole time-travel thing figured out, I’ll have to be careful regarding how to share my recent Googlebomb discovery with Young Me. She’s pretty resilient, but even she might have difficulty absorbing the one-two whammy of a crass breakup followed by the sight of her older self emerging from the glowing electric-blue time vortex that just materialized in the middle of her old college studio apartment.

But I’ll introduce myself to myself, somehow, and tell Young Me all about what’s wrong with America in 2008: torture, TSA, war, civil liberties, peak oil, economy, blah sadness and blah.

“Oh, that makes me feel a hell of a lot better,” Young Me will say. “That’s what you came back to tell me? There’s got to be more to it than that. Lemme guess: we’re also giving birth to the Antichrist, right? Fine. Christ, what a night I’m having. Tell me what bar I’m supposed to go to to pick up Satan, then. Tell me we at least get good jewelry out of this.”

(Tangential observation: Young Me was far more sarcastic than Current Me, but had much to learn concerning subtlety and the benefits thereof.)

I’ll be patient with my younger self. “No Antichrist. Nothing like that,” I’ll say. “Remember what I told you about the Internet? And blogs, and comments, and what they can reveal about someone’s personality and political outlook?”

“Yes. And I should start my own blog a lot earlier than 2006, and when I get Google ads don’t write anything making fun of them because doing that is how you got us banned from Google for life.”

“Well – yes. But that’s not what I came to the late 20th century to tell you. Listen: remember what I said about Fox News?”

“Although I like both shows and think their detractors are too uptight, Married With Children and The Simpsons really are going to destroy America, because their success will eventually lead to a wealthy news network that cheerleads the development of that scary Orwell stuff you were talking about.”

“Exactly. And remember those Fox News anchors I mentioned? Listen to this: in 2008, [SOB] will be a divorcee who posts on the network’s blogs to write things like ‘What shocking behavior. My children know better than to behave like that. Excellent show as usual, Greta.’”

Yes indeed.

“Excellent show.”
“As usual.”

And before I step back into the time vortex to return to the present day, Young Me and Current Me will do what Two Nights Ago Me did upon making this discovery: laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

EDIT: And after a night's sleep I see that nobody but nobody gets why I thought this was so funny: my younger self was depressed because she couldn't pursue a romantic relationship with the type of guy who went on to post "Get off my lawn" - style comments on the blog of Greta Van Susteren.

Apparently my modern taste in humor is about as good as my former taste in men. Sigh.
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from