Terry Jones, the War on Terror and the First Amendment

Have we surrendered to Muslim terrorists we vowed to fight after they murdered 3,000 people on September 11, 2001? Would we rather capitulate than kill the Muslim terrorists who declared war on us again by attacking our consulate in Benghazi and murdered our ambassador – the same kind of attack and insult that led King David to go to war with the Ammonites in chapter 10 of II Samuel?

We need to understand what the September 11 attacks were, both in 2001 and 2012. They were not simply terrorist attacks, or even acts of war. They were war crimes. Intentionally targeting civilians for murder – as was done in both 2001 and 2012 – is universally recognized a violation of the laws of war. The 9/11 terrorists need to be prosecuted and executed not simply as terrorists or “unlawful enemy combatants,” but as war criminals.

Whether or not you agree with Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who planned to burn 3,000 Korans to protest the Muslim terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon (and who knows what they were planning to do with the fourth plane) he has the natural right, protected by the First Amendment, to make a political and religious point by burning the Korans. It is chilling to see government so aggressively try to prevent him from exercising his free speech rights, especially out of fear for what our enemies might think about it.

Jones made a tactical error in transporting the kerosene and the Korans in the way he did. He knew that the authorities were looking for an excuse to arrest him and prevent him from engaging in a protest clearly protected by the First Amendment. It is a chilling act of censorship against the content of speech, and every American should be worried by this. What speech will be criminalized next?

It is true that Muslim terrorists rioted after Jones burned Korans in the past. It is also true that Penn State “University” fans rioted when Joe Paterno was fired after it became clear that the “university” covered up the brutal and systematic rape of little boys by an assistant football coach. Should sexual predators be allowed to get away with their crimes because fans might react violently to holding criminals accountable?

We should never allow ourselves to be intimidated into giving up our freedoms by thugs, terrorists and war criminals, any more than we should refuse to punish sexual predators because of deranged football fans. The campaign against Jones and the effort to restrict his free speech rights makes one thing very clear – the terrorists are winning.

Previous editorials:

   ♣ “International burn a Koran day”


   ♣ Why does Pat Buchanan hate America?


   ♣ Silly Florida pastor provides valuable public service

Random thoughts of the day

Some random thoughts over at Hoosier Access:

We have seen a number of stories about how difficult it is to live on food stamps, but the very name of the program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) indicates that food stamps are meant to be a supplement, not the only source of food. This is underscored by the work requirements that are tied to benefits but have unfortunately been weakened in the last few years.

Read the rest at Hoosier Access.

A few thoughts on recent comments by Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow opened her show on September 16 by saying this:

Today’s mass shooting at the Navy yard facility in southeast Washington D.C. makes today the deadliest day in our nation’s capital in more than 30 years.

I am pretty sure that there was a higher death toll on September 11. Did she forget that one?

Maddow also complained about gun laws that are (in her opinion) not restrictive enough, because sex offenders and felons can carry guns. It’s important to note that there have been cases where being cited for public urination has put someone on the sex offender registry. Obviously, government has an interest in not allowing violent sex offenders to carry guns, but a blanket ban is not the answer.

Of course, there is also the question of why violent sex offenders are not in prison.

As far as allowing convicted felons to carry guns, not all felonies are from violent crimes. Non-violent felonies like fraud, check deception and identity theft do not necessarily make someone too dangerous to carry a firearm. Equating all felons to murderers and rapists is either ignorant or willfully dishonest – and it is almost certainly the latter. Maddow is smart enough to know what she’s saying is simply not in line with reality.

Maddow is better than such simplistic thinking.

Affirmative action for homosexuals?

Note: I submitted this to the San Francisco Chronicle as a letter to the editor.

As I read Bruce Jenkins’s ridiculous screed from September 17, I kept thinking “you cannot be serious.” Jenkins accuses NBA front offices of discriminating against Jason Collins because he is homosexual.

Let’s be real here. Collins is simply not very good by NBA standards, and has never been all that good. In the last three NBA seasons, he has averaged the following:

  • Points per game: 2.0, 1.3 and 1.1
  • Rebounds per game: 2.1, 1.6 and 1.6
  • Blocks per game: 0.2, 0.1 and 0.3
  • Fouls per game: 2.0, 1.1 and 2.0

Collins is also 34 years old, an age where many NBA players are winding down.

Jenkins asserts that Collins should be hired simply because he is homosexual. This is absurd. Are we going to have affirmative action for homosexuals now? Are we going to give special treatment based on someone’s sex life, regardless of actual qualifications? What sexual preferences are we going to prefer? Should men who commit adultery with multiple women also be granted a contract based on their sexual orientation?

Jenkins is not advocating equal rights, he is advocating special rights, further illustrating that the militant homosexual rights movement is about forcing acceptance of homosexuality, not promoting tolerance.

Shameful hyper-partisanship by Greene County Republicans

Last Friday’s Herald-Times carried a frustrating reminder of the way the “good ole boy network” still works in local government. Tim Carpenter, a maintenance supervisor Greene County government, was fired from his job and replaced with a Republican after he had supported a Democrat in the 2012 election.

The smoking gun is an email commissioner Ed Michael sent to commissioner Nathan Abrams on February 11:

The email refers to Chuck Crouch, a Republican who applied for Carpenter’s job but who in the end was not hired.

“I do like Chuck and would like to see him with a job but I’m afraid in the long run we’ll wish we had left well enough alone,” Michael wrote. “On the other hand, if we don’t we’ll take heat from the party as well as from Chuck. I’m not particularly a fan of Tim’s but I do hate to replace someone who is doing a decent job because of politics.”

Carpenter was fired in May, but reinstated because of an Open Door Law violation. He was fired a second time at the county commissioners’ public meeting in June.

This is shameful and despicable, and represents a need for serious reform at the state level. First, termination of merit employees for political reasons should be illegal. As long as the political views of an employee of local government does not interfere with his ability to do his job, his employment should not be terminated.

There are practical, legal and philosophical reasons for this.

On the practical side, it is a disservice to the taxpayers to lose qualified employees for reasons of partisan politics. Even if the terminated employee is replaced by someone who is qualified, the taxpayers lose the institutional knowledge and experience of the terminated employee. When the new employee is not qualified (as is often the case) government’s ability to serve the taxpayers diminishes. Depending on the office, this can be harmful in a number of ways. Partisan terminations also lower the morale of government employees and increase their anxiety, reducing productivity.

On the philosophical and legal side, it is simply wrong for government to discriminate in this manner. The First Amendment makes it very clear that government may not punish political speech, and blatantly political terminations of merit employees are both illegal and a violation of basic American values. Government clearly has less rights than the private sector in this regard, especially in an at-will state like Indiana.

Even so, this nonsense continues all across Indiana and it is time for it to stop. The Indiana legislature should move to make this kind of employment discrimination illegal, complete with financial penalties for local government when they are caught doing this (perhaps a reduction in the property tax levy or a reduction in grants from state government) and mandatory restitution for wrongfully terminated employees.

Let’s also be clear that while this was done by Republicans in Greene County, Democrats are not innocent either. Both political parties are guilty of wrongful termination of local government employees for political reasons, and both Republicans and Democrats have done this for years. That said, I hope the Republican Commissioners in Greene County are all fired from their jobs by the voters in the next election, whether in the general or primary election.

Movie Review: "The Call" (with spoilers)

The primary problem with “The Call” is that the people writing the script did not know what kind of movie they wanted to make. Did they want to make an innovative thriller with the protagonist redeeming herself from a tragic mistake, or did they want to make a stock action movie? They tried to do both, and the film suffered for it.

We start off with 911 operator Jordan (Halle Berry) taking a call from a teenage girl reporting a home invasion. When the call is disconnected, Jordan calls her back, alerting the criminal, who is a serial killer. The killer finds her and the girl later turns up murdered – leading to a major personal crisis for Jordan.

This sets up the rest of the movie very well. Later, another teenage girl is kidnapped and Jordan takes over for an inexperienced operator. We watch as Jordan advises the girl on how to get attention and help the police find her. The hunt is on, and when the perpetrator is identified things really start to heat up.

Had the movie continued this tone, it would have been fine. Through her quick thinking and problem-solving, Jordan helps the girl stay alive and the police find her. Jordan redeems herself and the girl (Casey) is rescued safely by the police. The killer is either arrested or killed.

The problem is that is not how the movie ended. Instead, it went off the rails when Jordan goes off on her own to rescue Casey. She finds a trap door and enters the killer’s den of horrors. They escape, subdue the killer and prepare to call 911… before deciding to murder him instead.

Really?

Suspension of disbelief is not too difficult before the absurd ending scene. But the writers expect us to believe an untrained 911 operator is able to easily find a trap door a trained SWAT team missed, and that she decided to rescue the girl herself and attack the killer without calling for police backup. It is as if the ending for a completely different movie was pasted onto the end of this one. They swapped out a 911 operator for a female version of Paul Kersey.

By engaging in vigilante justice, Jordan and Casey deny the other victims’ families’ closure by seeing the murderer brought to justice. Jordan and Casey waste a great deal of taxpayer money as the police search for someone who they will never find. Jordan and Casey deny the killer’s wife and son the right to know what happened to him, and his innocent family did not know anything about his double life.

Having Jordan act as a lone wolf “hero” is absurd, and the ending is a dramatic shift in the tone of the movie. Had the ending been more logical and more in line with the real world, this would have been a much better movie.

Final Grade: D+

Refuting the hysteria over the AR-15

Here are a couple spectacular quotes regarding the hysteria over the AR-15.

For all the hype, an AR-15 is really just a glorified .223 rifle. It is not a “machine gun;” it is not “automatic”; it does not “spray bullets”; it is not a “weapon of war.” Indeed, it is not functionally any different from a host of other, similar, guns that are not black. It is much, much less powerful than are almost all hunting rifles.

And:

“A savvy criminal wishing to do maximum damage in an enclosed space will not turn to an AR-15, but to a much more lethal (and intimidating) shotgun.”

Read the rest at National Review.

How’s that hope & change workin’ out for ya?

From my latest editorial at Hoosier Access:

ObamaCare is the cornerstone of Obama’s domestic policy agenda. Obama has said repeatedly he will not allow the Republicans in Congress to cut funding for ObamaCare and would veto legislation to keep the government running if it does not fund his health care “reform.” In other words, Obama is willing to shut down the government in 2013 in order to defend the signature “accomplishment” of his first term.

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Read more at Hoosier Access.