France: The Real Tragedy or, No Free Lunch

It’s been a long time coming now.  For more than a decade, France has pushed an immigration policy that left, first, massive rifts in its social structure, and now – with much of the Levant destabilized after another decade of war and another massive refugee push outward toward Europe – the largest of what may be a series of structured, targeted attacks across not only the nation, but the continent.

And so today, while I flip across Facebook and the wave of French flags “waving” in support of the people, I’m pressed – the optimist I am – to not be merely indifferent.  I’ve been forced to delineate between the nation that has allowed themselves this – indeed, invited it to the table – and not only the innocent people who lost their lives, but the families that lost theirs too.  Between a government and a culture at-large that has weakened their domestic policy to the point of being an open international policy.

Still, I choose hope and love, knowing all the while that it is no mask for poor strategy.

Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde.


Which Is To Be (Jobless) Master?

Good news this week from the U.S. Dept. of Labor: unemployment is down to 5.6%!

Good news, that is, unless you’re actually unemployed.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’


Veneficium! or, Who Gets The House?

The Code of Hammurabi (18th c. BC) prescribes for sorcery that the person on whom the spell was cast should be made to walk into the river.  Should the river consume him and thus find him guilty, the man who cast the spell should acquire the guilty man’s house.  Should he live and be found not guilty, then the accused shall get the house, and the man who cast the spell put to death.

But that’s not to say the Babylonians had anything unique going on; in the twenty centuries succeeding the laws put forth by the king, tens of thousands more would be put to death for sorcery – or even the mere allegation of it.  Ancient Egypt followed close on the Babylonian style, and pagan Rome perhaps leads them all in executions on suspicion of sorcery, especially if the crops were bad.  The Middle Ages define for many of us the image of the witch hunt, if not the Salem Witch Trials of early America.

But for much of the civilized world, witch hunts largely ceased after the mid-18th century.  In England, the last executions for witchcraft occurred at Exeter in 1682 when three woman were put to death.  Nearly thirty years later, in 1711, Joseph Addison would publish an article in the highly respected The Spectator journal (No. 117) criticizing the irrationality and social injustice in treating elderly and feeble women as witches.

Still, not everybody gets The Spectator. (*NSFW Warning: May Be Graphic To Some Viewers)

Witch hunts still happen today, particularly in places where the belief in magic is prevalent – largely Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Papua New Guinea (though it should be noted that Saudi Arabia is the sole remaining country where witchcraft is legally punishable by death).  A 2010 estimate places the number of “witches” put to death annually in India at around 200; and the Simbu province of Papua New Guinea alone! accounts for nearly 150 deaths annually for acts and accusations of witchcraft.

Just the same, it’s hard from where I sit to imagine such a thing.  We read about it in old books and forget about it as quick as it came upon us.  Hell, the idea of witches and witch hunting is more foreign to most of us than walking on the moon.  Think about that.

Still, don’t think I have looked beyond the evil that swells upon our own shores; everyday callous people rape and torture and murder other human beings for nothing more than sport; they target strangers in a now-popularized “game”; they shoot up schools and malls and public places because they are unhappy.  Or perhaps because they’ll become famous.

Considering that, perhaps it isn’t the action that still shocks me so much as the inaction.  That people would walk themselves to their death, never giving back the fight.  It’s sad, really, that a person can be made to be that way.

Lord help the men who come to take me to the pyre.

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

– General Sir Charles Napier


Calum Hayes Wants To Talk About Gun Control

(Note: This post is a carry over from December, 2012)

But resorts to begging, instead.

He first fails to show any positive correlation between a concealed carry applications boom and rising violence, for Colorado in particular and nationwide in general (I suspect with the intent to create a bit of undue alarm, given his failure to link concealed carry to this specific act at all). In fact, Colorado’s 2011 crime rates show marked improvements through preceding decades, with the Aggravated Assault rate at it’s lowest since 1971 and Murder Rate at its lowest since prior to 1960, when the FBI began gathering statistics. The state also improved in Vehicle Theft from the 8th highest rate to 24th between 2005-2008, 19th to 29th and 11th to 31st in Burglary and Larceny-Theft, respectively, during the same period. Colorado became a Shall-Issue permit state in 2003.

But all that is neither here nor there. As much as anything, he fails to understand criminal behavior. He fails to understand (perhaps willfully) that criminals are labeled as such for a reason, often because they refuse to follow the laws as they are. The answer is not more legislation. In fact, I invite him to present statistics showing mass killings by concealed carry permit holders (again with no indication that a carry permit is at all even pertinent to this story). Certainly it has happened, but it is not endemic.

And most importantly, he blatantly disregards the reason for the Second Amendment, rather making it an asylum for crazed gun-toters. It is not merely a convenience provided the citizenry to defend against the mean man on the corner, to be removed when elected officials feel it no longer politically beneficial or fitting with their idea of reasonable or useful. It is a natural right afforded all free men (and women, if we are to follow the courtesies of the day, which we certainly are) to guarantee freedom from tyranny of government (I’ll refer you to John Locke, “An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government”, 1690). It is cliché by this point, yes. But it happens the world over, time and again. (Here I’ll refer you to the 800,000 Tutsi people of Rwanda in 1994; the 2 million dead at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 1975-1979; the 1.5 million Armenians of Ottoman Turkey; the roughly 40 million Chinese killed between 1927-1976; 20 million at the hands of Nazi Germany; tens of millions more in the Soviet Union.)

There are perhaps a dozen more examples, each of which nearly impossible to wrap a sane mind around. Hayes’ OpEd, while emotionally effective, misses the greater reasoning behind firearms access in America. This nation, as a matter of foundation, is built on the principle not of security but of freedom. I believe freedom is more important than security, and if the only way to make things more secure is to reduce freedom, I’m not interested. Human nature being what it is, security will have to be enforced, while freedom will have to be defended. I’d rather be a defender than an enforcer.

All that said, I believe that people of good will may disagree. I also believe that rational analysis will always hold advantage in an argument with passionate beliefs. The murder of even one child is senseless and begs for eternity in hell. But the unfortunate truth is that senseless cannot be legislated away. Nonetheless, I would invite Mr. Hayes to move beyond the passionate, sensational plugs, and to provide instead a course of reason.

Losing 20 children is enough senselessness for one day.