Markadelphia: Stalker

I was somewhat aware that, even after being voted off the island, Markadelphia just couldn’t stay away.  I’ve been told that he writes posts at his blog about stuff I post here, and – to be honest – I visit his site every month or three just to see what he and his peeps are writing about.  And to be even more honest, I find it amusing as hell that his comments seem to be pretty much exclusively occupied by a couple of MY readers.

Well, I know for a fact now that Markadelphia is, indeed stalking me.  He showed up at to give moral support to my latest adversary.  To wit:

Andy, I’m going to give you some advice from someone who has spent some time debating Kevin Baker on his site (and was voted off). Kevin is part of a group of people in this country who have very serious issues with control and authority. They are tremendously insecure and paranoid people who likely had very poor relationships with one or both of their parents and were probably bullied in school, hence the need to be constantly adolescent and contrary.

And, of course, their need for guns:)

They take their personal feelings of anger, hate and fear (again, from childhood and probably an enlarged amygdala) and place them all on the federal government. This is the base of the conservative movement today. They live inside of a bubble that acts as a giant echo chamber that acts as an enabling device. As you have noted, their entire ideology is based on logical fallacies (ad hom, misleading vividness, appeal to fear, appeal to probability, straw man) and they employ a serious of tactics to make you look and feel as weak as their position actually is. Here is a handy list of those tactics.

Dr. Cynthia Boaz: 14 propaganda techniques Fox “News” uses to brainwash Americans

Look familiar?:)

To give you an idea of just how insecure Kevin is, go to his site and take note of how he has cut and pasted his discussion with you on there to get high fives from his band of mindless sycophants. Would a man confident in his assertion do such a thing? Nope.

You are correct in pointing out that they don’t really think and far too rude and emotional to be taken too seriously. They ignore facts and basically lie. An example of this would be the “violence is down” meme. The reason why it seems this way is due to how these statistics are reported. Deaths are indeed down but it’s because medical technology has improved so more lives are being saved. That doesn’t mean that any less people are being shot. For more on this, read here…

In Medical Triumph, Homicides Fall Despite Soaring Gun Violence

The main thing to remember is how deathly afraid they are of the truth and the changes that our country is going through. They don’t really care about the 2nd amendment. Their chief concern is their own hubris and ego, which might seem massive on the outside but is really that of a frightened child on the inside.

Take comfort in the fact that they would never survive a debate outside of their bubble in any sort of peer reviewed forum of critical thinkers. They can’t argue on the facts alone. They must resort to their usual tactics, fallacies and personal attacks because they feel just that inferior about themselves.

My response (You know I had to leave a response…):

Mark!  I knew you were still stalking the blog, but really! I’m touched that you still care so much!

I also note that you’re still up to your old style.  Let us fisk:

“To give you an idea of just how insecure Kevin is, go to his site and  take note of how he has cut and pasted his discussion with you on there to get high fives from his band of mindless sycophants.”

Wow.  I’m insecure.  You don’t see me stalking your blog. Wow. EDIT: I originally replied: And yes, I cut-and-paste from my blog because I’ve spent ELEVEN YEARS acquiring the knowledge and writing the words there. Seems a waste not to take advantage of all that work. Sorry, I read that wrong. My bad. Yes, I cut and paste discussions from Quora to the blog because I’m spending time here and not there. When you’re a blogger, you need content. This is content. It also is not against Quora’s rules. END EDIT.

“They ignore facts and basically lie.


For example: “An example of this would be the ‘violence is down’ meme.”

Gee, let me cut-n-paste from my blog.  How about this one from 2010:  Clueless. It has graphs from the Bureau of Justice Statistics showing that not only has the homicide rate declined but the rate of NON-fatal firearm related crime and non-fatal firearm VICTIMIZATION is down.  That means fewer people are getting shot and shot at. Rape rates are also declining, as are robbery rates. Improved medical technology isn’t magic, Mark.  It has no effect on these statistics.  The decline in violent crime isn’t a “meme,” it’s a FACT.

As always, your assertion fails the smell test.  Nice to know that hasn’t changed.

“The main thing to remember is how deathly afraid they are of the truth and the changes that our country is going through.”

Projection much?

“Take comfort in the fact that they would never survive a debate outside  of their bubble in any sort of peer reviewed forum of critical thinkers.”

He says on a forum where anyone can post.

“They can’t argue on the facts alone.”

Coming from you that is so freaking rich.  You wouldn’t know a fact if it bit you on the ass, developed lockjaw and was dragged to death.  (See “Violence is down meme” above.)

I’ve missed you, Mark. I mean that, honestly.  The crap you spewed in my comments over the years inspired so many incredible comment threads, and so many really excellent posts.  I mean, seriously, there’s an entire section of my “best of” selections dedicated to YOU.  The place just hasn’t been the same.

And remember – when you were voted off the island by my “band of mindless sycophants” it was a VERY close vote.  If they were mindless sycophants, shouldn’t it have been a landslide? And shouldn’t that comment thread (that ran 176 comments long) have been one long tirade against you?  Well, OK, it was, but still.

I’m honored that you find me so irritating that you just can’t leave me alone!

More Idiot-Bashing at

Since I’m not posting here much, I guess I can recycle my stuff from other sites.

In today’s episode, I take one Nick Lilavois to task for his response to the question “Why are fully automatic guns banned for civilians without special permits in the US?

Here’s the thread to date, his responses in blue background, mine in green:

Why are only people with special permits allowed to fly a plane?

Because those who do not have those permits would be putting people’s lives at risk.

Requiring some training, and some reason, why certain people are allowed to do certain dangerous things is a way to minimize death and injury for all of us.

And as a side thought- I get why someone would want to fly a plane. While it may be dangerous, when used properly it is not.

It is just not the same with a gun. When used properly, as intended by the manufacturer, someone ends up dead.

Really? I might agree with you concerning my M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, No. 5 Enfield, 1917 Enfield or P14, but my Thompson/Center Encore? My Ruger Mk II? My Remington XP-100? These are all designed to kill people?

My what an odd world you occupy.

Oh, the “tax stamp” you get from the government that allows you to possess a fully-automatic weapon, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, suppressor, “destructive device” or “any other weapon” covered under the 1934 National Firearms Act is NOT a “license to operate” in the way a pilot license is. It’s just a tax form. It requires no training nor “reason” – just approval from the government.

“These are all designed to kill people?”

Pick any one of the items in your collection, load it, point it at your spouse or child and pull the trigger.

Notice what happens.

The odd thing about the world I occupy is that people like you would even WANT to own such things.

The odd thing about the world I occupy is that people like you don’t seem to understand who is responsible for their safety. As a friend of mine once put it,

In a truly civil society peopled primarily by enlightened, sober individuals, the carriage of arms might be deemed gratuitous, but it is nonetheless harmless. In a society that measures up to anything less than that, the option to carry arms is a necessity.

We know what the world was like when nobody had firearms. It was run primarily by large men with swords, and was not just, fair, or democratic.

Now, which of us belongs to the “reality-based” community?

Still me, I’m in the reality-based community, because I realize the people responsible for my safety are the police and the military, and to an extent judges, lawyers, wardens, etc.

Not regular citizens with guns.

I never said I had a problem with cops having guns, and soldiers without guns would be silly.

As the constitution says rather clearly in the 2nd amendment, it is perfectly OK for men in a well-regulated militia to bear arms.

Not regular citizens NOT in a militia.

Heck, you still don’t get that guns were designed to kill people, so you certainly can’t claim you are dealing with reality.

BTW- you do know that democracy was invented in ancient Greece, LONG before the invention of guns, don’t you?

You do realize that the presence or absence of guns has nothing whatsoever to do with curtailing the power of the government, because your vast arsenal will do nothing to save you from a drone strike, a tank, a grandee launcher, or anything else that took down the cult in Wacco, Texas? You do understand that, right?

So the whole concept that people having guns protects us from an imaginary government out of control is just a bunch of mental masturbation because, let’s face it- you have guns because you WANT them. You LIKE them. You do not NEED them.

You collecting guns is no different from an old lady collecting little porcelain figurines from the Hallmark store, except that very few people get killed by porcelain figurines.

See? THAT was reality.

“Still me, I’m in the reality-based community, because I realize the  people responsible for my safety are the police and the military, and to  an extent judges, lawyers, wardens, etc.”

So, have you ever read the Supreme Court’s Warren v. District of Columbia decision from 1981?  Or the more recent Castle Rock v. Gozales decision from 2005?  I suggest you might find them enlightening.  From Warren:

“A publicly maintained police force constitutes a basic governmental service provided to benefit the community at large by promoting public peace, safety and good order. The extent and quality of police protection afforded to the community necessarily depends upon the availability of public resources and upon legislative or administrative determinations concerning allocation of those resources. Riss v. City of New York, supra. The public, through its representative officials, recruits, trains, maintains and disciplines its police force and determines the manner in which personnel are deployed. At any given time, publicly furnished police protection may accrue to the personal benefit of individual citizens, but at all times the needs and interests of the community at large predominate. Private resources and needs have little direct effect upon the nature of police services provided to the public. Accordingly, courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community.” (Bold my emphasis.)

“Individual members of the community” being, well, YOU.  And me.  Something bad happens, they don’t show up, they’re not at fault.  They do show up and don’t do anything, they’re not at fault.

THAT’S the “real world.”

“As the constitution says rather clearly in the 2nd amendment, it is  perfectly OK for men in a well-regulated militia to bear arms.

“Not regular citizens NOT in a militia.”

Oh really?  Are you familiar with 10 U.S. Code § 311 – Militia: composition and classes?

“(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32,  under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of  intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female  citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard  or the Naval Militia.”

In other words, if you’re between the ages of 17 and 45, male and are or intend to become a U.S. citizen, or a female citizen member of the National Guard, you, my friend, are a member of the militia – by Federal law.

Have you read the 1857 Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court decision?  This one is reviled because it denied citizenship to blacks, free or slave, but it did so under the reasoning that citizenship:

“…would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens  in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State  whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport,  and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to  go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without  molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a  white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of  speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own  citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

It seems the Supreme Court of 1857 understood the Second Amendment somewhat differently than you do, seeing as THEY did not consider milita service to be a requirement.  So after a war in which hundreds of thousands died to determine just who WERE going to be citizens, we passed the 13th Amendment making blacks citizens, and the 14th Amendment ensuring that they would get the same rights as everyone else.  Of course, that didn’t pan out too well with all those Jim Crow laws.  But in 1875’s U.S. v. Cruikshank the court once again declared what it was the Second Amendment protected, while denying that protection to blacks:

“The right there specified is that of ‘bearing arms for a lawful purpose.’ This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes….”

In other words, “It’s not the job of the .gov to protect your (pre-existing, individual) right to arms (also not mentioning militia service). See your friendly neighborhood Klansman about that.”

So we finally got another Supreme Court decision on the topic of the meaning of the Second Amendment in District of Colubia v. Heller, in which the Court said:

“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes….”

And slightly later the McDonald v. Chicago decision “incorporated” the Heller decision under the 14th Amendment’s “privileges or immunities” clause (which wording dates back to the Dred Scott decision) “Due Process” clause against STATE infringement of the fundamental, individual right, just as the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendments have been. (Third, too, but not by SCOTUS.)  [Ed. note:  I originally stated that McDonald was decided under the “Privileges or Immunities” clause of the 14th.  That was an error.  In the 5-4 decision, four Justices found in favor of McDonald based on the “Due Process” clause.  Clarence Thomas found in favor based on the “Privileges or Immunities” clause.  I happen to think he was correct, but that’s not the basis of the majority decision.  My error.]

THAT’S the “real world.”

Democracy did originate in Greece, but it was a strictly limited franchise – you are aware of who the Helots were, right?  They didn’t get to vote.

Or own swords.

“You do realize that the presence or absence of guns has nothing  whatsoever to do with curtailing the power of the government, because your vast arsenal will do nothing to save you from a drone strike, a tank, a grandee(sic) launcher, or anything else that took down the cult in Wacco(sic), Texas? You do understand that, right?”

I admit that I’m really curious as to what a “grandee launcher” would look like, and why would I want to launch a Spanish nobleman anyway? As to whether guns might “curtail the power of government,” you might want to check in on what just went down in Nevada over the weekend.  Not the best example, but who blinked first?

Personally, I’m more concerned about what happened in places like Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, or New Orleans post Katrina, when law-enforcement (you remember, those guys who are not responsible for your safety?) broke down in the face of riots and natural disasters. I recommend you read Jew Without a Gun on the topic of the LA riots.  Very enlightening.

True, I like guns, I want them, and I hope – fervently – never to NEED them, but as others have said it’s better to have and not need than need and not have.

Finally, I’ll quote Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the topic of the Second Amendment from his 2003 dissent to Silveira v. Lockyer:

“The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees.  However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Should those contingencies come to pass, I intend to still have a vote.

So: the government ISN’T responsible for your protection; depending on the courts is hit-and-miss; if you believe in non-discrimination, pretty much EVERYBODY is the militia; the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms OUTSIDE militia service; Grecian democracy wasn’t really all that democratic; the government DOES pay attention to armed citizens; and being armed is not useless in the face of adversity, disaster and runaway government.

And THAT’S the world I live in.  I submit that it reflects reality a great deal more closely than does the one you apparently occupy

No response as of yet.

I Got Called RACIST!™ Again

A while back over at I responded to the question,  “How do you solve the gun problem in the United States in a realistic way?” thus:

America does not have a “gun problem.”  It has an inner-city violent crime problem.  Yes, I understand that the majority of deaths attributable to firearms are suicides, but suicide rates seem to be unaffected by firearm availability.  If firearms are not available, other methods are substituted and are equally effective.  The U.S., for all of its guns, ranks rather low for suicide internationally.

Criminal homicide is heavily concentrated in large urban centers, in specific areas of those large urban centers, and among a very small, self-identifying group in those specific areas.  Yet no one raises a hue-and-cry when one more inner-city youth is gunned down by another inner-city youth, especially when both of them have long criminal records of escalating violence. 

It’s been two years since Trayvon Martin died.  During that period, more than 10,000 young black men 34 years of age or younger have died of criminal homicide by firearm. 

Name three without using Google or another search engine.

Yet every time the media gets a victim they can run with, it’s the rural gun owner in Ohio or Wyoming they want to slap new restrictions on.  We’ve watched it happen for literally decades, a slow-motion hate crime against gun owners, because “the problem” is defined as (and only as) “too many guns.”

Young black men are killed – overwhelmingly by other young black men – at a rate six times higher than the rest of the population.  A demographic that consists of less than 7% of the population makes up over 40% of the victims, but no one wants to talk about it, or try to find a solution for it other than “midnight basketball” or greater welfare subsidies.

No, it’s much easier (and politically safer) to blame “gun availability” and the “gun culture.”  Here’s a newsflash:  There are three distinct “gun cultures” – one recreational, one defensive, and one criminal.  Guess which one “gun control” doesn’t have any effect on?

So tonight I get an email that someone has responded to my answer. Here’s the comment in its entirety by one “Jesse James Richard”:

Interesting answer, but yes the US does have a gun problem by the standards of highly developed nations based on gun related deaths. From your answer I get you’re saying gun related death don’t matter because they are committed by black people.

Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by extension I read that it gun related deaths don’t matter because they happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect white (important) people.

I am a gun owner.

Here’s my reply:

“From your answer I get you’re saying gun related death don’t matter because they are committed by black people.”

Then you need to improve your logic skills.

“Violence in the developed world is invariably related to poverty, so by  extension I read that it gun related deaths don’t matter because they  happen to the poor and should be dismissed because they rarely effect  white (important) people.”

So I’m not only a racist, I hate poor people too.  Check.

“I am a gun owner.”

You forgot the “But….”  My logic skills are quite good, though, so I know it’s implied:  “I am a gun owner, but not a racist, classist, homophobic, anti-immigrant climate-denier like you.”  Did I miss anything?

Now that we’ve gotten your obvious social sensitivity and implied moral superiority out of the way, let’s discuss FACTS.

Here’s the deal, Jesse James:  facts are not racist.  They’re not classist, they’re not homophobic, they’re not anti-environment, anti-immigrant, anti-handicapped or anything else – they’re just facts.

The inability to look at FACTS because of the fear of saying something politically incorrect is the reason nothing ever gets done.

Gun control – what politicians do instead of something.

I’m saying deaths – all deaths – matter, not just “gun deaths.”  And that if you want to affect THAT problem, then you have to look at who is dying and where they are dying and why they are dying.  Making rural and suburban gun owners license and register their firearms does not address the deaths of inner-city youths, regardless of the color of their skin.  It so happens that inner city youths are overwhelmingly black, but that is not the fault of guns.  But addressing the epidemic problem of inner-city youth homicide can’t be done because to do so would be considered “racist” by our political victim class.

The FACT of the matter is that homicide in the U.S. is heavily concentrated in a very small, easily identifiable demographic to the point that it severely skews the overall numbers.  If it were possible to reduce homicide within that group to the same level as the average of the rest of the population, then the overall homicide rate in the U.S. – despite all of our guns – would be more in line with the rest of the “developed world.”

Look up the Centers for Disease Control’s WISQARS tool.  Here are some relevant FACTS.

Leading causes of death, all races, both sexes from 1999 – 2010, from 15 years of age to age 34

1. Unintentional injury
2. Homicide (15-24 years of age) and Suicide (25-34)
3. Suicide (15-24) and Homicide (25-34)
4. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
5. Heart disease
6. Congenital anomalies (15-24), HIV (25-34)
7. Flu and pneumonia (15-24), Diabetes (25-34)

Now, if we look specifically at black men in those groups:

1. Homicide – both age subgroups, by almost TWICE the runner-up, “unintentional injury.”  Over that twelve year period, the CDC recorded 57,349 young black men between the ages of 15 and 34 died as a result of homicide – 46.2% of the total victims of homicide in those age groups (though they are only 7.2% of that population), 58% of the male victims of homicide in those age groups (14.2% of that population – I guess I’m anti-male, too), and 27% of all homicide victims, though they make up only 2% of the total population.

But I’m racist for pointing this out and saying “LOOK!  THIS IS A BAD THING WE DON’T TALK ABOUT!”

Yet you want us to believe this is a “GUN problem”?

The homicide rate in 2010 according to the CDC was 5.27/100,000, all races, both sexes, all ages.  For young black men ages 15-34 it was 73.21/100,000 almost fourteen times higher. 

When performing triage on a patient, don’t you want to stop the arterial bleeding first?  Or am I a racist for saying that?

If we could somehow reduce the homicide rate in this group to the 5.27/100,000 average of the nation, that alone would have saved the lives of 4,343 people in 2010.  Is that not a goal to strive for?  Then why are we talking about “assault weapon” bans and magazine size restrictions?

Oh, and by reducing the homicide rate in that demographic to 5.27/100,000, the total U.S. homicide rate would then decline to 3.86/100,000.  I leave extrapolation of THAT data to you. 

Yeah, we kill each other a lot.  I get it.  But when arterial blood is spurting from a limb, putting a Band-Aid™ on the victim’s finger doesn’t help.  (OMG!  A brand name!  I must be in the pay of evil CORPORATIONS!!)

I wonder if he picked up on the subtle “FUCK YOU!” in my response?

UPDATE:  He replied!

First let me state that your retort is great and your band aid tm made me laugh. You can chose to value or devalue this as disingenuous if you so see fit. It’s not.

By no means do I think you’re a racist or hate the poor, but it sure reads that way and this why:

If this question was about anything that killed people en-mass race, or really any social subclass, say gender, height, weight, educational background, surely would not have been brought up, right? It’s only because it’s guns and violence that we talk bout thugs before we talk about the guns.

1) do we have a problem with obesity in this county
2) do we have a problem with car accident-related deaths in this country
3) do we have a problem infant mortality in this count

You could never answer “we don’t have a problem with shitty drivers, we have a problem with women who are four to one more likely to crash a car.” That might be true, but you still have a problem with cars killing people.

You didn’t really answer the question, that’s my point. You skirted the issue and said we don’t have a problem with guns we have an inner city violent crime problem. Both might be true, but the fact that the US has between 5 – 10 x the gun related homicide deaths compared to other developed counties. This does suggest you have a problem with guns…. Or not, I guess. That’s up to you as an American.

Stats aren’t racist, on that we can agree.

He’s a Canuck, BTW.  Haven’t decided if I want to beat on him some more.

Need Some Aloe Vera for that Burn?

Mike Rowe, star of Dirty Jobs, narrator of Deadliest Catch and other TV shows, spokesman for Ford and supporter and promoter of the skilled trades, does a Pulitzer-prize quality fisking of a piece by one Steve Kloosterman on, Question of the Day: Are bad jobs good for the economy and people who work them?

It’s all good, but I loved his opening:

Steve Kloosterman, MUSKEGON, MI – Most of us can tell a story about a job from hell somewhere in our past. There’s the first job, the one we took because our parents said, “You can’t hang around the house all summer long.” Maybe it was at a fast food place or in a retail outlet.

Mike Rowe
– First of all, Steve, the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct contains a Damnation Clause that clearly and unequivocally states that my photo “can not be used in conjunction with any satanic reference, including but not limited to Lucifer, Hades, Old Scratch, Hell, Perdition, Beelzebub or Honey Boo Boo.”

Secondly, jobs don’t come from hell. They come from people with money who are willing to pay other people to work for them.

Thirdly, I have worked in both fast food and retail and neither one reminded me of the Netherworld. (Although the Taco Bell drive-through at 2 a.m. does smell vaguely of brimstone and sulphur.)

And it just gets better from there.

Holy Crap!

Reader Phil B., expatriate Brit now living in New Zedland, sent me a link to a op-ed with the note:

This is why trying to reason with left wing, right on, politically correct groupthinkers is a bit like trying to wallpaper fog.  And, incidentally, why I firmly believe we are deep within an era of anti-Renaissance where such idiocy is published and taken seriously.

Billy Beck calls it “The Endarkenment.”  And I am fully in agreement with Phil on his “wallpapering fog” assessment.

This thing is so full of WTF? that I can’t even fisk it.  My brain boggles.

If you’ve got a few brain cells you’re not too happy with and are willing, nay eager to sacrifice, go read Why the Right Hates Detroit, written by the biggest case of white-guilt I think I’ve ever seen.

I’m amazed this man hasn’t offed himself due to his own self-loathing.  I guess he’s found a way to project it onto anyone to the political right of Mao.

At least the commenters appear sane, though I didn’t read many of those.  I  have to wonder about Salon’s editors.

American Constitutional Law Specialist, Eh?

Dr. James J. Magee is the Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor of Political Science and International Relations for the University of Delaware:

James Magee, PhD (University of Virginia, 1975) joined the Department in 1976 and specializes in American constitutional law and the United States Supreme Court. Professor Magee has received three times the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award and twice the University’s Excellence in Advising and Mentoring Award. He teaches courses in US constitutional law, judicial process, American politics and directs a UD study abroad program in Italy.

He teaches:

Introduction to Political Science (Honors and Regular Sections)
American Political System (Honors and Regular Sections)
Political Culture: Italy (Study Abroad)
Introduction to Law
Constitutional Law of the United States (Honors and Regular Sections)
Civil Liberties (Criminal Procedure)
Civil Liberties (Individual Rights and Freedom) (Honors and Regular Sections)
The Judicial Process (Honors and Regular Sections)

among other courses, according to his CV. He’s written several books and numerous book reviews, but interestingly, none seem to touch on the Second Amendment.

So I found it interesting to read up on the good professor after reading his January 27 op-ed No constitutional right to military weapons, published at DelawareOnline. I left a comment to the piece, but I was pressed for time. This one, I think, deserves a full-fledged Fisking, given the credentials of its author.

So let us Fisk:

The News Journal reported that National Rifle Association President David Keene had “lashed out” last Sunday in Dover to a packed audience of some 1,500 people against proposed state and federal bans on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The NRA has long insisted that the Second Amendment guarantees private individuals a right to own and bear arms. The very conservative former Chief Justice Warren Burger after retiring from the Supreme Court publicly derided this interpretation as a “fraud.” However, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court adopted a portion of the NRA’s account in declaring a municipal ordinance prohibiting individual ownership and use of handguns for self-defense a violation of the Second Amendment.

This was the first thing I took exception to in my comment – the “appeal to authority,” said authority being Chief Justice Warren Burger. The good Professor does note that Justice Burger’s opinion was rendered after he retired, not as part of a Supreme Court decision or (heaven forbid) a dissent.  No, the Burger court never heard a Second Amendment case.

What the good Professor does not tell you is what else Chief Justice Burger had to say on the topic. After retiring, the Justice apparently traveled the speaking circuit and also did a little op-ed writing of his own. In January of 1990 he wrote a piece for the Sunday Parade magazine newspaper insert entitled The Right to Bear Arms. In it, he makes much the same argument as Professor Magee, but states:

Americans also have a right to defend their homes, and we need not challenge that. Nor does anyone seriously question that the Constitution protects the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting game any more than anyone would challenge the right to own and keep fishing rods and other equipment for fishing — or to own automobiles.

Excuse me? The Second Amendment – which the Chief Justice quotes – reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And then he follows it with this:

We see that the need for a state militia was the predicate of the “right” guaranteed; in short, it was declared “necessary” in order to have a state military force to protect the security of the state. That Second Amendment clause must be read as though the word “because” was the opening word of the guarantee. Today, of course, the “state militia” serves a very different purpose. A huge national defense establishment has taken over the role of the militia of 200 years ago.

Some have exploited these ancient concerns, blurring sporting guns — rifles, shotguns and even machine pistols — with all firearms, including what are now called “Saturday night specials.” There is, of course, a great difference between sporting guns and handguns.

(My emphasis.)

Burger’s focus wasn’t on “military weapons,” it was on handguns – particularly “Saturday Night Specials.” Warren Burger didn’t (apparently) have a problem with private possession of machine pistols, as they were in his eyes “sporting guns”!

But the Second Amendment mentions “sport” or “hunting” nowhere. It speaks of the need for a milita, and prohibits the infringement of the pre-existing right to keep and bear arms.

As an authority to appeal to, I think Chief Justice Burger is lacking, but he’s the best the Other Side™ has.

Continuing, the Professor now attempts to, as his type always does, read overweening import into the Second Amendment’s opening clause:

That amendment’s prologue once seemed to restrict possession of arms to state-organized militias summoned to defend individual states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

With professional police forces and a national military, these militias became obsolete along with the amendment. (My emphasis.) However, in the Heller case, Justice Antonin Scalia (an avowed textualist), wrote for a 5-4 majority and oddly dismissed the prologue that provided a limited context for understanding the meaning of the amendment and that supported Burger’s rejection of the NRA’s position. Scalia reconstructed a moribund amendment newly to read: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and this translated into a substantive, individual right to self defense. Two years later, the same majority in a case from Chicago ruled that the right announced in Heller (extracted from constitutional language that once had seemed only to promote “the security of a free state”) paradoxically binds the states as well.

Detached from the prologue or any other context, the right “to keep and bear arms” could literally include any arms.

Now Professor Magee is supposed to be an expert on Constitutional Law, is he not? Apparently, however he has no grasp of the Rule of Law and the power of precedent. Let’s examine his assertion that Scalia’s decision “oddly dismissed the prologue that provided a limited context for understanding the meaning of the amendment.” In the antebellum Scott v. Sanford or “Dredd Scott” decision, the 7-2 majority of the Court decided that the plaintiff, a slave, and by extension all black residents of the United States was not and could not be a citizen of the United States because:

For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

(My emphasis.) The Court understood precisely what rights they were denying to blacks by denying them citizenship, and you’ll note that – in a Supreme Court decision no less – the right to “keep and carry arms” is in no way associated with enrollment in a militia, “well-regulated” or otherwise.

But this was a horrible, unjust decision, you exclaim! Indeed it was. And after a long and bloody war, in large part fought to determine just who were and weren’t citizens, the Constitution (you remember, that document that Professor Magee is supposed to be an expert on?) was amended. The Thirteenth Amendment said yes, blacks were citizens, and the Fourteenth Amendment said “they get all the same rights as everyone else.” In fact, the language was interestingly evocative of the wording in Dred Scott:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Again, my emphasis.

What was one of those “privileges and immunities” defined by the Dred Scott court? The right to “keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

But not so fast! After the war there was much resistance to allowing blacks to enjoy the privileges and immunities that tens of thousands had been killed wounded to win them. In 1875, after an incident in which several hundred blacks were disarmed and then subsequently slaughtered, charges were brought against some of the killers in U.S. v. Cruikshank. Among the charges was one having to do with the disarmament of the victims, specifically:

The second (count) avers an intent to hinder and prevent the exercise by the same persons of the ‘right to keep and bear arms for a lawful purpose.’

What did the Supreme Court determine? (This one is a favorite among the gun-control crowd – as long as it is suitably edited):

The second and tenth counts are equally defective. The right there specified is that of ‘bearing arms for a lawful purpose.’ This is not a right granted by the Constitution.

“See! SEE?!?” they shout. But they always leave out the next part:

Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes, to what is called, in The City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 139, the ‘powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was, perhaps, more properly called internal police,’ ‘not surrendered or restrained’ by the Constituton of the United States.

(My emphasis.)  So, between the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, and the Cruikshank decision in 1875 the pre-existing right to “keep and carry arms wherever” we go, the right of “bearing arms for a lawful purpose” went from the inherent right of every citizen to something which Congress couldn’t infringe on, but your state and local governments could.

Which is why we have developed a myriad patchwork of gun laws from state to state, county to county, and city to city.  That’s why it may be perfectly legal for you to do something in one location, but by driving to the next county or city you could be guilty of a felony for doing the exact same thing.  Hardly an ability to keep and carry arms wherever you go, no?

And that is why Heller and McDonald were so important – because Heller said the right was individual, like all the rights protected under the First Amendment, and McDonald said Cruikshank was WRONG, and that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to that right, and NO jurisdiction can infringe on it, not just Congress.

However, in the landmark 1939 case of U.S. v. Miller the Supreme Court did not ignore the “the prologue that provided a limited context for understanding the meaning of the amendment”. Miller, a known moonshiner, was arrested in possession of a sawed-off shotgun that the government could easily prove he’d taken across state lines. In Federal district court the judge declared that the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which made it illegal to move such a weapon across state lines without possession of a $200 tax stamp (on a $10 shotgun) and that also required registration of the weapon and its owner, was unconstitutional as it violated the Second Amendment. That decision was appealed and went immediately before the Supreme Court without any delaying moves through the Appeals court. In the short interim between the District Court decision and the Supreme Court hearing, Miller vanished and no one appeared before the Court to speak on his behalf.

Mr. Gordon Dean for the Solicitor General’s office argued (among other things) that Miller had no standing in relation to the Second Amendment because he obviously wasn’t a member of a “well-regulated militia,” but the Court did not take that argument into account.  It studied and discussed just who were the militia, but rejected the argument that Miller had no standing. Instead, the Court decided the case on the merits of the weapon:

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a “shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length” at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

(My emphasis.)  Remember, no one was there to argue Miller’s side. Had there been, abundant evidence was available that “short-barreled shotguns” have been of military usefulness since their invention, but this raises another question that I also mentioned in my comments.

The 1934 NFA regulates automatic weapons – like Justice Burger’s “machine pistols” – exactly the same as short-barreled shotguns. The same requirement for registration and the same $200 tax stamp.

What if Miller had possessed, say, a Browning Automatic Rifle? That weapon was part of the Table of Equipment for any infantry platoon in the U.S. Army at the time. (And a favorite of Clyde Barrow.)  Could the Court have claimed ignorance of that? Prior to 1934 you could order one directly from the manufacturer and have it shipped to your door. But could the Court say that such a weapon was not “part of the ordinary military equipment”? That was the basis on which they reversed and remanded the Miller decision to the lower court for finding, a finding which never happened.

So Justice Scalia’s odd dismissal of “the prologue that provided a limited context for understanding the meaning of the amendment”? Two prior Supreme Court cases, Scott and Cruikshank dismissed it before him, and Miller was based on whether the weapon was of military usefulness, not whether Miller was a member of a militia or whether the weapon was suitable for “sporting purposes.”  I’d say he followed precedent properly.

And Professor Magee’s a Constitutional expert?


Larry Ward, promoter of “Gun Appreciation Day,” asserted on national television last week that the amendment was meant to arm “the people” to oppose a “tyrannical” government. This would constitutionally entitle “the people” to whatever arms they need to wage war against the United States should it be declared “tyrannical,” presumably by Larry Ward or other attentive citizens.

Simply to state his position is enough to refute it.

Not so fast there, Guido. I could write another entire essay on this topic, but that’s for another time. That statement is a lazy way to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and if the Professor would like, I’m up for a discussion on it, too, but getting back to this piece:

Responding to President Obama’s inaugural remark that absolutes are not necessarily principles, the NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre in Reno on Jan. 22 quoted Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black who in the first James Madison lecture in 1960 at New York University law school had said: “There are ‘absolutes’ in our Bill of Rights, and they were put there on purpose by men who knew what words meant, and meant their prohibitions to be ‘absolutes.'” LaPierre ignored Black’s definition in the same lecture of the Second Amendment “to include only arms necessary to a well-regulated militia.”

Black, in fact, had joined the unanimous opinion in 1939 that the Court in Heller effectively overruled.

Really? Go back and read Miller again, Professor. I think you missed the big flashing sign.

Whatever one thinks of the unprecedented ruling in Heller, opponents of regulations or bans (of) military-style automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines should read what Justice Scalia in Heller actually said: “Of course the right was not unlimited … [W]e do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation.” “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [T]he sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.'”

The AR-15 rifle is currently the most popular long gun in America, manufactured by literally dozens of companies and owned by literally millions of people. It is also carried by the majority of police departments around the country. Does that not qualify as “common use”? As the semi-automatic version of the select-fire M16 and M4 military-issue rifle and carbine, does it not meet the Miller “ordinary equipment” test?  As the joke goes, “Is gun.  Is not safe.”  And it’s hardly unusual.

Neither Gov. Markell nor President Obama is proposing anything forbidden by the only decision the Court has ever made that comes anywhere close to the NRA’s account of the Second Amendment. There is no constitutional right to possess the type of “dangerous and unusual” firepower that killed kindergartners in Newtown. Accustomed to weapons “in common use at the time,” the founding generation, even the most gifted and farsighted among them, could hardly have imagined such weapons.

The founding generation could “hardly have imagined” radio, telephones, television, communication satellites, the internet, cell phones, fax and copying machines, scanners or any of the other myriad advancements in information technology, but those are all protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of expression.

The current Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote a rather famous dissent in the 2003 Silveira v. Lockyer case that rejected an en banc rehearing. In it he said:

Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet, and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths. When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases — or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

Silveira was decided using the Ninth Circuit’s 1996 Hickman v. Block decision that erroneously interpreted the Supreme Court’s Miller decision as declaring the right to arms a collective and not individual right.

And Professor Magee’s op-ed is but another example of someone wishing to constitutionalize his own personal preference.


Despite the overflow crowd in Dover to hear David Keene, most Americans are willing to prohibit certain military-style weapons and ammunition. More people are killed in the United States by gun violence on average each year than all the Americans who have died in both long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Banning high-powered automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines might not end daily killings largely ignored by the media or massacres making national headlines only to disappear with time.

Long guns are used in a tiny fraction of all firearm-involved crimes, and “military-style weapons” are only a small percentage of that tiny fraction.  Given the FACT that the overwhelming majority of people killed and injured in the United States by “gun violence” are killed and injured with HANDGUNS – a fact that hasn’t changed since retired Chief Justice Warren Burger went on the lecture circuit to try to get them banned, then a ban on “certain military-style weapons and ammunition,” “high-powered automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines” is merely theater, albeit theater with an ultimate goal.

No, an “assault weapon” ban is precisely what Charles Krauthammer said it was for in 1996:

In an election year you expect Washington to be full of phony arguments. But even a cynic must marvel at the all-round phoniness of the debate over repeal of the assault weapons ban. Both sides are blowing smoke.

The claim of the advocates that banning these 19 types of “assault weapons” will reduce the crime rate is laughable. There are dozens of other weapons, the functional equivalent of these “assault weapons,” that were left off the list and are perfect substitutes for anyone bent on mayhem.

Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility of the kind enjoyed in sister democracies like Canada and Britain.

Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a purely symbolic move in that direction.

(My emphasis.)  Concluding Professor Magee’s piece:

The NRA is quite right in pushing mental illness as a major contributor to the epidemic of gun violence gripping this country. However, it undermines its own credibility and disserves the public to exaggerate what the Supreme Court or any of its justices have said just to ignite support for make-believe constitutional rights.

I think, Professor Magee, that you have undermined your own credibility and performed a disservice to the public in writing your op-ed. You have attempted to mislead the public on the law through deliberate mendacity.

Shame on you.

And what is it you teach your students?

UPDATE, 2/1/13:

It’s been almost three days since this went up. There have been some fun comments to the DelawareOnline piece, but Professor Magee has not replied to my emails. Probably spam-filtered due to the Gmail origin. As an interesting aside, I received this message from a Facebook member:

Kevin, Professor Magee from the University of Delaware was the head of the Poli Sci department and, as a Poli Sci major with a concentration in public law, the man who taught all but one of the Constitutional Law classes I took in college.

Not once did we ever discuss the 2nd Amendment, even in a class dedicated to Constitutional Law and Individual Liberties.

Well, until 1999 even Laurence Tribe gave the Second Amendment short-shrift in his textbook American Constitutional Law. But I can’t say I’m surprised.

A Fisking

I haven’t done this in a while, but I ran across a piece in The Economist from last month that I thought I ought to respond to.  It drew (as of this reading) 1979 comments, so others apparently felt the same way.  The piece is Gun control:  Too late, and it’s a blog post by “M.S.”

Let us Fisk:

PEOPLE’S ideas often don’t make any sense when you try to hold them together in your head simultaneously, as Richard Rorty, Daniel Kahneman or Desiderius Erasmus will be happy to tell you. One of the areas in which people tend to have ideas that don’t make sense, when you hold them together in your head simultaneously, is that of rights. For example, many Americans believe that our rights derive from God or from the very nature of being human. As Paul Ryan put it in a discussion of Obamacare this month, folks of his political persuasion don’t believe that the people have the power to make up new rights; rights come from God and nature. These same Americans also generally believe that our rights are those delineated in the Declaration of Independence and the constitution, including a non-infringeable individual right to bear arms. And yet, clearly, people in most law-governed democracies other than the United States, countries like Britain, Canada, France, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan, do not have an individual right to bear arms. How, then, can the right to bear arms as enshrined in the constitution derive from God, or from the very nature of being human? Is this a special sort of right, one that can be created by the people via government if they so choose? If so, then what stops the people, through their government, from creating other sorts of new rights, like a right to education, or a right to health insurance?

Now, I find this essay interesting because I’ve spent many hours and billions of pixels discussing “What is a Right?” on this blog – several essays linked over there on the left sidebar attest to this. For me, the question is no longer “What is a Right?” but “Why don’t we teach this stuff in school?” because it’s obvious we don’t. The author of this essay asks the very question I did, but doesn’t actually bother to try answering it.


Take this essay by Cliff Stearns, the Republican congressman and (to be reductionist) gun-rights advocate. “Not only is the right to be armed a Constitutional right, it is also a fundamental natural right,” Mr Stearns writes. And then, in the very next paragraph: “Once again we can trace the right to be armed to legal and political events in 17th century English history, this time pertaining to hunting and gaming laws.” How does a fundamental natural right lie sleeping throughout the first 6,000 years of recorded history, only to wake to full flower due to conflicts over gaming laws in Regency Restoration England? And what of the benighted 95% of humanity who still do not enjoy the fruits of this natural right, including, rather confusingly, the actual English who supposedly roused it from its primeval slumber?

Yes, what of that?

It isn’t just rights we don’t teach in schools, it’s political philosophies. What “M.S.” is asking here is “Why does America recognize an individual right to arms when no other political entity does?” This is a question I believe no American ought to have to ask – it should be explained to them from childhood. But let’s continue with the piece before I start waxing philosophic:

Perhaps American supporters of gun rights would say that in fact people in every country do have a natural right to bear arms, but their enjoyment of that natural right is denied them by oppressive governments in countries like Britain, France, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan. Meanwhile, the so-called “right” to health insurance enjoyed by citizens of those countries is presumably only a fake right which they do not in fact possess. This just doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory explanation. Is the problem that we use the word “right” in two ways, meaning in one sense an inalienable moral consideration which we believe all humans possess regardless of the context of government in which they live, and in another sense an enforceable claim within a country’s legal system which commands government and other persons to guarantee certain kinds of treatment to every citizen? Which kind of right would the right to health insurance be? Which kind is the right to bear arms?

As I have discussed at length, one of those – the right to arms – is a right. The other – the “right” to “health insurance” – is not. Calling it a right does not make it one. Yes, “we use the word ‘right” in two ways” – correctly and incorrectly. If that’s not a satisfactory explanation, I submit that the problem lies not in me, but in the person unsatisfied.

Any “right” that demands that someone else provide a service, a material good, or any other thing of value is not a RIGHT. And “health insurance” or “health care” or whatever term they’re using today IS NOT A RIGHT. You can call a tail a leg, but it remains a tail.

The right to bear arms isn’t the only right that faces this paradox. They all do, really. In the mid-1980s, the idea that people have a right to have consensual sex with partners of any gender, in whatever position they like, was pronounced “facetious” by the Supreme Court; 25 years later it feels like an obvious, natural outgrowth of the Bill of Rights. If rights evolve this way through the dialectics of culture and history, just how “natural” can they be?

This is a valid point. The first question that must be answered is “Does this purported ‘Right’ demand something of another?” In the case of consensual sex between two or more adults, no it doesn’t. (It’s that “consensual” thing.) In my libertarian viewpoint, it’s none of the government’s goddamned business who inserts Tab-A into Slot-B. That “obvious, natural outgrowth” was something our Founders considered and the author of the Bill of Rights at least attempted to account for. It’s the Ninth Amendment that Robert Bork characterized as an “ink blot”:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And the fact that there are many more rights than just those enumerated in the Bill of Rights was discussed by the Founders at length.

But the right to arms was one of the enumerated rights, and the United States of America is unique in putting that right into its foundational legal document.

Such are the idle thoughts that occur in the aftermath of America’s latest episode of horrifying, meaningless mass slaughter. At least, such are the idle thoughts that occur to me. A large segment of the American public these days apparently finds it offensive, not just misguided but actually offensive, to talk about gun control after these sorts of atrocities occur. As economist Justin Wolfers tweeted this morning: “Let’s not talk about gun control. It’s too early, right? It’s always too early. Except when it’s too late.”

Mr Wolfers is right: the “too early” construction is ridiculous. He’s also right that it’s too late. It is too late for gun control in America. It’s never going to happen. There are too many guns out there, and an individual right to bear arms is now entrenched in constitutional law.

He says that like it’s a bad thing.

Gun control in America is as quaint a proposition, at this point, as marijuana prohibition, with two important differences: first, that the government is still for some reason pursuing the absurd project of marijuana prohibition; and second, that guns are actually a significant threat to public health.

Now this I find fascinating. “M.S.” acknowledges that marijuana prohibition is “absurd,” but does not acknowledge that “gun control” is similarly absurd – unless you take “there are too many guns out there” as such acknowledgement. I don’t think it is, because the entire gist of his essay is in favor of “gun control.”  Guns are not a “significant threat to public health, the misuse of them is.  But strangely no one seems interested in looking at the people who are misusing them.  It’s always easier to blame the gun.

In this sense, gun control is on a long list of things that could have saved many people’s lives and made the world a better place, but for which it is now probably too late: a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, EU action to avert economic catastrophe, stopping global warming.

EXCELLENT comparisons!  And a magnificent illustration of the mindset of the author.  A “two-state solution” is a freaking pipe-dream. The “Palestinians” are apparently never going to love their children more than they hate Israel. The EU is constitutionally (no pun intended) incapable of behaving with fiscal rationality, and apparently neither are we because somewhere along the line a great number of people became convinced that things like “health insurance” were RIGHTS, and not commodities that had to be paid for. And “global warming” hasn’t happened for about 12 years – with no change in any government policy anywhere – but because that doesn’t fit the models, reality must be in error.  That excerpt from the “long list of things that could have saved many people’s lives” is four things that won’t WORK.

“Gun control” fails everywhere it’s tried, but the philosophy cannot be wrong! Do it again only HARDER!

So this is just what one of America’s many faces is going to be: a bitterly divided, hatefully cynical country where insane people have easy access to semi-automatic weapons, and occasionally use them to commit senseless atrocities. We will continue to see more and more of this sort of thing, and there’s nothing we can realistically do about it.

I will close this post with the words of the father of Christina Taylor-Green, the nine year-old killed in the January shooting here in Tucson that claimed her and five other people, leaving another thirteen wounded:

This shouldn’t happen in this country, or anywhere else, but in a free society we’re going to be subject to people like this. I prefer this to the alternative.

So do I.

“M.S.” is right, we’re bitterly divided, but gun control is only one of the points on which the various sides differ, and we know what the gun control side wants.

What We’re Up Against

I haven’t been posting much here because I’ve been busy at this other forum I frequent.  I won’t link to it, but I want to show you an exchange I’ve been having there with “annaelizabeth,” a female “lover of nature” who lives in the U.S., and according to her profile is a Myers-Briggs personality type INFJ (introversion, intuition, feeling, judging).  For your edification, I’m an INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judging) type.

The discussion in question was raised by the initial post by a third party, to wit:

I am curious about the nature of opposition to any form of national health insurance.

There was, of course, more, but that was the root of the question. I was reading through the responses when I came across annaelizabeth’s first post on the topic:

It really makes me sad that people don’t see healthcare as a basic human right. I know that the way things have been going, with rising premiums and deductibles, there are hard working people who are not having necessary tests done because they can’t afford them. Thus, leading to possibly more problems later. Why have a routine mammogram and pay for it when she can put it off until later? It’s a mess. I was for the public option. It just seems to me to be all about profit. I have to pay $50/month for a prescription because I had a bad reaction to the generic. They refuse to lower it for me, saying I should take the generic. No shit. I can’t. Fortunately I can afford the $50 but what if I couldn’t? How many people would say screw it and not take the necessary meds? It’s a joke. I honestly can’t even understand how it could get any worse. I know when we were without employer sponsored insurance and had to pay for it on our own basically all of my income went to the insurance premium, as I was a young mother working part time. All of it. And they refused to offer prescription coverage because it wasn’t an employer backed plan. So I paid more out of pocket and got less coverage.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to respond:

Originally Posted by annaelizabeth:

It really makes me sad that people don’t see healthcare as a basic human right.

It makes me sad that so many people DO.

If “healthcare” is a basic human right, what about housing? You can’t be healthy if you don’t have shelter, right? So why shouldn’t housing be a “basic human right”? Or food? You can’t be healthy if you’re starving, so shouldn’t food be a “basic human right”?

It’s your logic.

“Healthcare” is not a “basic human right” because it demands that someone else provide it. And when you demand that person A give something to person B, what happened to Person A’s rights? Further, how do you enforce that demand? Why through the benefit of GOVERNMENT, no? And what is government?

Legitimized force. Do it, or we’ll point our guns at you until you do. Or put you in prison if you continue to resist. Or take by force what you have and give it to those others who have a “right” to it – by your logic.

“Healthcare” is not a right. Until we stop talking about it as if it was, the conversation can’t go further.

She was, of course, aghast:

Healthcare is a basic human right.
Food is a basic human right
Shelter is a basic human right.

I couldn’t disagree more with your argument. I guess that the concept of providing for the poor is not in your realm of thinking.

I don’t think the right to healthcare is something that the government has made up to expand itself. That’s the main problem I keep hearing. It’s a reason to expand the power of the government, etc….paranoia speaking. The government isn’t out to take over anything. The government should work for the people, not just for insurance companies and lobbyists. And you can’t “make” something a human right. It either is or it isn’t. In my mind health care and the above mentioned items are human rights. You can choose to disagree with that. Whether or not it’s in the Constitution has no relevance on a topic which affects all of humanity. It’s not a political decision whether or not something is a basic human right. And I have to disagree zen that helping others is something which society can agree to. I don’t see that really happening, although I wish that were true. I see people acting out of fear, ignorance, and hatred. I see self preservation at it’s finest with little regard for anyone else.

My turn:

Let’s look at your assertions. Housing, food and health care are all rights, in your view, and it’s the job of government to provide these things – for the poor.

It’s the government’s job to do this because “people (act) out of fear, ignorance and hatred” (you forgot “greed”) and government “should work for the people, not just for insurance companies and lobbyists.” OK, I’m glad we have that out in the open.

You’re right on one case, though – it’s not a political decision whether or not something is a basic human right. It’s a philosophical one. Oh, and one other – people are fearful, ignorant and hateful; many of them, anyway.

So, in your view it should be the job of government to provide to the poor shelter, food and health care, because people can’t be trusted to do it. People are fearful, ignorant and hateful.

Tell me, please, to whom are you willing to hand this power? To quote a fictional character, “A government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned.” To quote Milton Friedman, “Where in the world are you going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us?”

Because that’s what you’re asking for. That is what your philosophy requires.

Your philosophy says that “the poor” have more rights than the rest of us, that “government” should be empowered to A) determine who is “poor” and who is not, then B) have the power to confiscate from the not poor fearful,ignorant and hateful to redistribute to “the poor.” Again, I ask, to whom would you give such power? How do you select these angels, and separate them from the fearful, ignorant and hateful? Is not “the government” made up of “people”? Is not one of your arguments that government presently represents not “the people” but “insurance companies and lobbyists”? And this will change . . . why, exactly? If you give this power to regular people, will it not be abused?

I submit that your philosophy is internally inconsistent.

And housing, food, and health care are NOT rights if they demand something from others and infringe their rights. One more quote for you:

Reality is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of ugly facts.

Theory and reality are only theoretically related.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.

In practice there is.

Annaelizabeth wasn’t through!  Not by half!

What exactly is the point of government if they don’t represent us and look out for our welfare? What do you think we have a democracy for? We elect the people whom we believe to be the most competent, people who are supposed to have our best interests in mind (ideally), and we elect them so that they may govern the masses. It’s an organized way to make sure there isn’t anarchy, and to make sure the people in charge aren’t corrupt (ideally) or only looking out for themselves. Do a lousy job and you aren’t re-elected. That is the basis of what America is founded upon. Are you saying no one in the world is competent enough for such a task to even be in government?

My philosophy requires the government to look out for everyone and respect the citizens of the country.

“Your philosophy says that “the poor” have more rights than the rest of us”

Not true – I’m saying that we all have equal rights. No one is saying the poor have more rights than the rich. Where did you come up with that? Because the rich may have to give some of their $$$$$ to help someone else less fortunate than themselves, for the benefit of the society in which they themselves live. God forbid someone gives over something to help someone else, even if in the end they also benefit from it. I think we all understand the it’s mine don’t touch philosophy since it plays out loud and clear too often. It’s that philosophy which leads me to the assumption of people acting out of fear (afraid someone will touch their money), hatred (hating anyone who touches their money), and ignorance (thinking everyone wants to touch their money). Greed.

I really don’t understand exactly how life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be considered basic human rights but food, shelter and medicine are not. Good luck being happy or even staying alive without any place to live, starving, and ravaged with infection from lack of a simple antibiotic.

And here, I fisk:

What exactly is the point of government if they don’t represent us and look out for our welfare?

Ah! An astute question! (Though I doubt that you intended it that way, no offense.) What is the point of government? Well, for centuries if not millennia, it was to keep those who had the power in power. Period. The welfare of the people was a distant concern, and directly proportional to how much trouble those people could cause those in power if they weren’t kept happy. Surely you’ve heard the term “bread and circuses” (panem et circenses in the original Latin)?

The Declaration of Independence, the founding philosophical document of the United States stated that the purpose of government was to secure the rights of men. The preamble to the Constitution, the founding legal document of the United States declared that the purpose of that Constitution was to “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” As a friend of mine recently put it, though, “You know, for the last hundred years there has been entirely too much Promoting of the General Welfare and Creating a More Perfect Union and way too damned little Securing of the Blessings of Liberty.” (Thanks, Tam!)

What do you think we have a democracy for?

Not to be pedantic, but strictly speaking, we don’t live in a democracy, or at least, we’re not supposed to be. Go back and read the writings of the Founders. A democracy is the last thing they wanted, because they knew that democracies self-destruct – always. We’re supposed to be living in a representative Republic, but over two centuries of entropy (and to be honest, some deliberate sledge-hammering) we’ve left that ideal long behind.

We elect the people whom we believe to be the most competent, people who are supposed to have our best interests in mind (ideally), and we elect them so that they may govern the masses.

My, you ARE an idealist, aren’t you? We elect the people who RUN. In the main, competent people avoid government service and earn good livings doing so. As the anarchists often remark, if voting actually accomplished anything, it would be illegal. That’s a bit too extreme for my outlook, but it’s more generally accurate than I like to admit.

It’s an organized way to make sure there isn’t anarchy, and to make sure the people in charge aren’t corrupt (ideally) or only looking out for themselves. Do a lousy job and you aren’t re-elected. That is the basis of what America is founded upon.

How has that worked out, honestly? How many men (and women) have entered Congress (where the pay is $174,000 per year) with middling wealth, and left as millionaires? The job of the politician isn’t to “represent us and look out for our welfare,” it’s to keep getting re-elected. And how do they do that? By bribing the voters. Henry Louis Mencken, a columnist from the 1930’s observed – quite accurately:

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.

The Founders understood this. The purpose of the Constitution was to limit the damage that such people could wreak when they were in power.

Are you saying no one in the world is competent enough for such a task to even be in government?

No, I’m saying that people who end up in government are often (not always) the least likely to bother to even try. Government is power. Power corrupts, and attracts the corrupt. The purpose of the Constitution was to provide sufficient power to allow government to perform its legitimate functions, while at the same time limiting the amount of damage that could be done when the corrupt got their hands on the levers of power. Federalist Paper #45 put it plainly: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.” Have you seen a copy of the Code of Federal Regulations lately? It runs to 50 (fifty!) volumes and over 13,000 pages. The federal tax code, volume 26 of the CFR, is by itself over 3,000 pages. Does this sound to you to be “few and defined” powers?

My philosophy requires the government to look out for everyone and respect the citizens of the country.

Mine requires the government to protect the rights of those citizens against their infringement by other citizens, and against their infringement by that same government.

“Your philosophy says that “the poor” have more rights than the rest of us”

Not true – I’m saying that we all have equal rights. No one is saying the poor have more rights than the rich. Where did you come up with that?

Because you believe that the poor have a right to the property of people better off than themselves, and that it is the government’s job to A) identify the two groups, and B) carry out the redistribution.

Because the rich may have to give some of their $$$$$ to help someone else less fortunate than themselves, for the benefit of the society in which they themselves live.

If it’s taken from them at the threat of imprisonment, it isn’t “giving,” is it?

God forbid someone gives over something to help someone else, even if in the end they also benefit from it.

I’ve had this conversation before with someone who referred to what you call “giving” as “obligatory charity.” How Orwellian. If it’s “obligatory” it sure as hell isn’t “charity.”

I think we all understand the it’s mine don’t touch philosophy since it plays out loud and clear too often. It’s that philosophy which leads me to the assumption of people acting out of fear (afraid someone will touch their money), hatred (hating anyone who touches their money), and ignorance (thinking everyone wants to touch their money). Greed.

Ah, there. I knew you’d get around to the “G”-word eventually. So you want to take their money, but it’s ignorant of them to think you want to take their money, it’s wrong of them to fear you taking their money, and it’s wrong of them to hate you for taking their money, because somehow it’s better for them if you have this power, and you know better than they do what should be done with their money.

If you know better, why don’t you use your own money?

I really don’t understand exactly how life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can be considered basic human rights but food, shelter and medicine are not.

That’s obvious. I’ve tried to explain it to you, but please, look up the difference between negative and positive rights. Your philosophy is one of positive rights. Mine rejects them as illogical and philosophically inconsistent.

Good luck being happy or even staying alive without any place to live, starving, and ravaged with infection from lack of a simple antibiotic.

And again, you illustrate your misunderstanding. You insist that government must provide these things. I insist that government must not prohibit my acquisition of these things, so long as I do not infringe on other’s rights while doing so. Government must not take these things from me after I acquire them, and must act to prevent others from doing the same.

THAT is the function of government. And THAT is why I oppose “national health insurance.” It is not the business of government, at least no what ours is supposed to be.

She hasn’t responded since Saturday. I’m really curious to see if she will, and what she’ll have to say.  But this is what we’re up against, and there are a lot more of them than there are of us – and they vote.

Critical Unthinking

So yesterday Robb Allen of Sharp as a Marble sends me a link to a story at about a high school valedictorian and her graduation speech. Robb said he thought I might find it interesting because young Ms. Goldson mentioned John Taylor Gatto in her speech. She also quotes Mencken. Unfortunately, I don’t think she found quite what she’s concluded she found.

Let us fisk:

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.” The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

And a severe case of strabismus.

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

She has a valid point here, but . . . well, I’ll come back to this.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination.

She is, at least, aware that she’s been indoctrinated – something her peers probably don’t realize.

I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work.

That’s what a high school diploma used to mean. Now it requires a BA?

But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker.

Here we begin to see her problem.

A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.

No young lady, you were not a “slave.” No one beat you if you didn’t study. (Ask the slackers.) No one threatened to sell you if you didn’t perform. You were a conformist, and particularly adept and successful at conforming. There’s a great difference between a conformist and a slave. Ask real slaves.

I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker.

“Great artists,” eh? How many can make a living off their art? This kid is a “great artist.” Most of your doodling classmates will be lucky if they can get a job at McDonalds. And then they will be unable to make change without the aid of the electronic cash register. If even one makes it as a commercial or fine artist, they will be the exception rather than the rule. And even artists have to work to earn their livings.

While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment.

Those people may succeed, as long as their extracurricular reading interest wasn’t Lady Gaga or who Paris Hilton is banging these days.

While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it.

So all of the people who didn’t do their schoolwork are great artistes?

So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

Scared is good! Scared is better than cud-chewing obliviousness. Fear, when properly channeled, can tend to focus the mind. From my youthful reading:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. – Bene Gesserit litany against fear, Dune by Frank Herbert


John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.”

And here’s a beautiful example I received in my email box at work this morning. (It’s a joke:)

Our teacher asked us what our favorite animal was, and I said, “Fried chicken.” She said I wasn’t funny, but she couldn’t have been right, everyone else in the class laughed.

My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef.

Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal’s office. I told him what happened, and he laughed too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, just like she’d asked the other children. So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken. She sent me back to the principal’s office again. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don’t understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn’t like it when I am. Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.

I told her, “Colonel Sanders”.

Guess where I am now…

So yes, the school system encourages conformity. Encourages hell, demands it. But that’s the nature of the system, as Gatto is well aware. It’s also one of the reasons I strongly recommend taking off and nuking the entire site from orbit as the only way to be sure that the failure that is the American education system is “reformed.”

Continuing with Ms. Goldson’s speech:

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking?” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And here, I’m afraid, I have to whip out the Reynold’s-Wrap yarmulke and suggest – just suggest! – that the “avant-garde” Donna Bryan is an acolyte of Paolo Freire‘s “Critical Pedagogy.” Ms. Bryan exposed young Ms. Goldson to some information she has never seen before, and suddenly it all became so very clear!

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

How many Leftist buzzwords and phrases can you pick out of those two paragraphs? Who wants to bet that a Ché poster or T-shirt is in her immediate future (assuming she doesn’t have one already), capitalism be damned?

Do I think the teacher, Ms. Bryan, is a member of the Tuesday Night Socialists Club? No, but I have no doubt that she’s a true believer who has found her calling in the educational system where she sees it as her duty to “save” as many kids as she can reach. From the site 21st Century Schools:

“The fundamental commitment of critical educators is to empower the powerless and transform those conditions which perpetuate human injustice and inequity (McLaren, 1988). This purpose is inextricably linked to the fulfillment of what Paulo Freire (1970) defines as our “vocation” – to be truly humanized social agents in the world. Hence, a major function of critical pedagogy is to critique, expose, and challenge the manner in which schools impact upon the political and cultural life of students. Teachers must recognize how schools unite knowledge and power and how through this function they can work to influence or thwart the formation of critically thinking and socially active individuals.

“Unlike traditional perspectives of education that claim to be neutral and apolitical, critical pedagogy views all education theory as intimately linked to ideologies shaped by power, politics, history and culture. Given this view, schooling functions as a terrain of ongoing struggle over what will be accepted as legitimate knowledge and culture. In accordance with this notion, a critical pedagogy must seriously address the concept of cultural politics y(sic) both legitimizing and challenging cultural experiences that comprise the histories and social realities that in turn comprise the forms and boundaries that give meaning to student lives. (Darder 1991, p. 77)” Antonia Darder, 1995

Sounds about right.

As I told Robb, I find it constantly surprising, though I don’t know why, that such intelligent people as Ms. Goldson can be so easily led around by the nose. First it was conforming to succeed within the educational system, now it’s conforming to her new-found philosophy. She believes that she is now thinking for herself when instead she is absorbing – again without question – the revolutionary mindset of the Left. But youth is where this capacity is best exploited, because the young have no experience.

Ms. Goldson has been exposed to the Received Wisdom of the Left, and her first impulse is that of every convert to a new religion – proselytizing:

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition.

Like, say, Cuba’s? 100% literacy!

This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

I seem to recall that this nation – a nation of thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, and engineers – managed to get to the moon and back several times with a school system that had very little influence by the pedants of Critical Pedagogy. In fact, John Taylor Gatto himself marks the date of the change in the educational system to 1965, long after the people responsible for the moon missions were out of primary school. Of course, it started long before 1965, but that’s when critical mass in the Schools of Education and Boards of Education were reached. Now, 45 years later, we have the nationwide disaster that public schooling has become, in large part (I argue) because schools aren’t teaching basic skills and knowledge. Too many are too busy “critiqu(ing), expos(ing), and challeng(ing) the manner in which schools impact upon the political and cultural life of students.” Again, an education joke I’ve used before:

Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set “L” of lumber for a set “M” of money.
The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar.
Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.”
The set “C”, the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set “M.”
Represent the set “C” as a subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.
His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment:
Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990:
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees?
(There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math in 2000:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120.
How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?
How many documents were shredded to achieve this number?

Teaching Math in 2010:
Un hachero vende una carretada de madera por $100.
El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Teaching Math in 2040:
ومسجل تبيع حمولة شاحنة من الخشب من أجل 100 دولا

تكلفة الإنتاج هو صاحب 5/4 من الثمن. ما هو الربح له ؟

Ms. Goldson is just another victim of that system. She does have some advice for her fellow victims:

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it.

This setting is known as “detention.”

Demand that you be interested in class.

LOL, whut? “Demand” that of whom?

Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

Education isn’t a “tool,” it’s a path. Schools are tools. Education is what you can pursue there if it is in good working order and you do your part of the job right.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

They can’t? Your potential might be at stake, but their jobs are. Your “avant-garde” Ms. Bryan is in no danger of losing her teaching certificate, but woe unto anyone who attempts to violate the edicts of the Administration by, you know, actually requiring students to work in order to pass. Woe unto the teachers that deviate from the Accepted Plan. Woe unto teachers who try to get disruptive students removed from their classrooms, etc. etc. etc.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

In other words, destroy the system, but it’ll be OK because now the RIGHT PEOPLE will be in charge!! It’ll be UTOPIA! There’ll be rainbows and unicorns!

It’s the same siren song the Left has always preached.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

No, they’re the ones you were measured against. You are now one of the Intellectual Elite, and you will be assured and reassured by your new peers that you – and only you – are capable of understanding how things really are and deciding how things ought to be. That you and your new-found friends ought to be in charge, but aren’t only because of the greedy rich.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!


If you’ve read this far, you might find this Thomas Sowell piece interesting as well: Cheering Immaturity