Democrats & Liberals Archives

A Response to "Armed and Dangerous"

I made three comments on the issue that Rhinehold raised in the Green Column (one, two, and three), before I decided that I thought that the issue he brought up should have a deeper examination. I will save most of my explanation of what I said for after the jump, but to put my point plainly, I believe that it shows that both government and citizens must show restraint if we are to have a society at peace with itself. Our rights are meant to create a balance, not to encourage wanton disregard of the safety and property of others.

More or less, my point was that this man, without actually being threatened first, only disturbed by those who seemed to be following him (seemed is an important word here), pulled a knife on two complete strangers. He did not and could not know at this moment that they were cops. They quickly corrected his misapprehension.

Then he was charged with and convicted of a crime: Criminal Threatening. As I quoted it, the crime is pretty plain.

A person is guilty of criminal threatening if he intentionally or knowingly places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.

Pulling a knife on somebody qualifies. Notice, though, what language isn't there.

There's no mention of this being related to whether the subject is a law enforcement officer. Like I said in one of my other comments,

It’s got nothing to do, legally speaking, with the fact that these men were police officers. That just made the arrest quicker.

According to the account, he didn't turn around, ask the question, and then pull the knife when they started making threatening movements, or when they pulled knives or guns themselves, or when they started provoking him, or anything else like that.

No, he pulled it when he asked the question, "are you following me?"

Picture this: you're walking behind somebody for a couple blocks, and suddenly they stop, turn around, and ask whether you were following him. As the person who was walking behind him or her, how would that experience run for you? Does the right to defend yourself allow you to brandish a knife at people who have not threatened you in word or deed, merely put you on edge by behavior that could be entirely innocuous, despite your fears?

I've got no problem with self-defense, but there's a point where other folks have a right to ask the law for a defense from you. And the law itself has the right to put a stop to your efforts to defend yourself.

Alright, I've said as much in my other comments. Where do I want to take this from here?

Ego.

I've been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome since age 13. It's a disorder full of wonderful little teaching moments. No, don't take that statement entirely seriously. I'm being sarcastic.

It didn't help that up until that point I felt the sting of continued, pervasive abuse from my peers. Imagine having somebody hit you on the head again and again in a pep-rally, then being told when you complained that you too would be punished because somehow it was assumed that you had provoked this.

Yes, the Vice Principal who did this even applied that when somebody walked up to me and punched me in the nose without preface or provocation.

I learned to hit back, sure enough. So I guess that's point one: I'm not antagonistic to the idea of the need for self-defense.

But did I mention Aspergers Syndrome is full of wonderful teaching moments? How many times, driven to a certain level of paranoia by being constantly picked on, did I just rush to the assumption that somebody had stolen something from me? When it turned up not too far away? As a person who could be blind to something right under his nose, I learned quickly that to be too quick on the trigger regarding such things, to fail to have some tentativity in one's judgment, some patience, is to commit the opposite error.

If you are too eager to defend yourself, you may just end up becoming just what you hoped to confront: a tyrant, a person who imposes themselves on others.

Having my disorder has a tendency to separate my perspective from others. I just don't see things, as a matter of course, from other people's perspectives.

Yeah, you probably noticed.

But, I try, and its a question I often insert into my political dialogue: symmetry. What does it look like from the other side? We can be so egotistical in politics, and it doesn't help when everything, and I mean EVERYTHING gets turned into a partisan battleground. We're having a debate about putting terrorists on trial, for crying out loud. I mean, I thought putting these people in prison under our laws, and showing those laws rule supreme in this country would be a statement of our nation's strength.

But I guess some do not trust in the strength of our laws. Ironically, as some complain about the excessive nature of the laws applied, the same reasoning is used to justify even tougher laws. I guess the difference may be whether you think the authorities or the individuals should be less restrained. Who do you unleash?

I don't know, but neither authoritarian application of the law and the nor the encouragement of people taking the laws into their own hands appeal to me. The Rule of law means that everybody follows the law, and that means, everybody. Now the law is not just restriction and prohibition, it is rights and it is the privileges we enjoy as well. Those are given to us in law as much as our right to steal, murder and otherwise break the peace are taken from us.

What I believe in particular is that restraints upon the state and restraint upon citizens must be balanced. I don't think people should be encouraged to maintain a constantly defensive attitude for their self-defense. As I recounted, I learned that being constantly defensive does little to actually protect you. No, what is best is to encourage people to be calmly watchful, to think. Don't let yourself get boxed in, don't needlessly escalate situations.

Yeah, if it sounds like you can generalize that elsewhere, you can. Watchful awareness, mindful attention to things is good for any situation where you might come into conflict with somebody else. I like the Zen attitude in particular, for it's concept of No-Mind. Now that's not a short-hand for willful stupidity, but rather not clogging up your perspective with so many assumptions of what's important, of what's going on. Another name for this state of mind, The Beginners Mind, offers additional insight. A beginner looks at things fresh, for the first time.

Maintaining a fresh perspective on issues is important, but what's even more important is to maintain an overall fresh perspective, not to be so dependent on the artificial boundaries of ideology that often get wrapped up in these situations.

The idea is, more or less, if you look at the Zen Koans and everything, is that human perception has its limits, and that its bad enough that we have to deal with the world out there with those natural limitation without imposing further ones on ourselves in the process of seeking truth.

Many people are going to comment on this incident without doing basic research into what the law is, or slowing down and freeing up their reading of the incident long enough to consider it from more than just a pro-gun, pro-self-defense standpoint. That's more and more common these days, as folks look for and find articles and news stories with an explicit aim of discrediting policies or politics. Seeing only this use for the information they got, they will miss critical details, or let a self-centered perception of the incident overshadow a more thorough and relaxed appraisal of the facts.

I get that people want freedom from the tyranny of excessive government. I do too, but I think that if we seek freedom, the first freedom we should look to is the freedom of our minds. Too many people learn to practice sharp rhetoric in the place of sharp thinking. The latter can serve people moderately well in the absence of the former, but without brains, the brawn of words is merely a force for misleading and misinforming people.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 16, 2009 9:08 PM
Comments
Comment #290912

Stephen, I really enjoyed reading this article; this is certainly one of the best ones I’ve read since I started visiting Watchblog five years ago. It sums up one of the reasons why I am not a follower of the libertarian party. The libertarian philosophy leads to the conclusion that one individual’s liberty trumps all, even if this means another person’s rights are violated. Libertarians like to premise their ideas with the concept that one has the right to do anything they want without violating the rights of anyone else. When I walk down the street, I hope I have a right not to be threatened by a knife without provocation, but according to the logic seen in the third party thread, apparently I do not.

I really liked how you tied your experience with Asperger’s into this discussion. In 2007 when I was in high school, a student with Asperger’s Syndrome stabbed another in the school bathroom. What you wrote has helped me understand what may have happened, and the experience of my school shows what the consequences of misplaced paranoia are.

The last thing I want to say is that I noticed you replicated an error from one of your comments in the other thread regarding the law in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. I think the article cited in Rhinehold’s original article stated the crime occurred in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, not Maine. The law you should cite is this:

631:4 Criminal Threatening. –
I. A person is guilty of criminal threatening when:
(a) By physical conduct, the person purposely places or attempts to place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or physical contact;

The resulting conclusion is the same as it is with Maine’s Law.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 17, 2009 2:36 AM
Comment #290918

Well, I was doing my best to guess where it was from by the publication, which had a Maine Section. Oh well.

On the subject of Asperger’s Syndrome, I think I should explain a little further. It’s not a naturally paranoid disorder, actually. In fact, we’re incredibly, naively trusting by nature.

What can happen, though, is that people take advantage of that, and inflict all kinds of humiliation and suffering on you. Worse, they’ll try to use such experiences to push you to conform. With a person who by nature make unreliable guesses about what other people think or intend, that becomes a dangerously alienating experience. You have to fight not to end up screwed up.

What strikes me, it seems, is that the right in this country seems to be intentionally inflicting this kind of alienation on itself, becoming, in its own way, autistic to the rest of the country, but with all the anger and paranoia that can make that closed-off, awkward sensibility a vale of tears.

I tell them to open up because I see in them where I once was, in some part still am, and I’m telling them that they will suffer or cause others to suffer if they do not find someway of reconnecting with everybody else.

If you have a strong impulse to reach out to other people, be friends with them, you cannot allow yourself to descend into such a hell of self-indulgence. There is a wide, wonderful world out there, and to hide from it in fear and pain, as it seems America tried to do after 9/11 is to try and crush all the greatness of our country into a smallness of perspective and experience that cannot contain it and remain healthy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 7:22 AM
Comment #290921

Two persons deliberately following another person at midnight in an urban area is by itself provocative. Failing to acknowledge the person’s concern and assuaging his fear when he turned twice to look at them is further provocative. Claiming that they [police]were in fear of imminent bodily harm when he eventually turned and confronted them at 20 feet with an open knife at his side is simply ludicrous. The person convicted is the victim in this case. He was the one provoked to fear of harm. He never made any threatening gesture with the knife and when they called out “police” he put the knife away and was entirely cooperative.

The pro-gun, pro-self defense faction may make some hay out of this incident, but lets not help them by defending the indefensible.

Posted by: Rich at November 17, 2009 8:28 AM
Comment #290927

Rich-
To take out that knife is to establish a threat of Deadly Force. Even if we claim self-defense, we must acknowledge that. Otherwise, what is there to defend.

We can minimize things with the size of the knife, but even a box-cutter to the throat can be deadly.

He took out the knife as his first resort, his first option, when confronting those who seemed to be following him. Did they chase him before this? Corner him? Brandish their weapons? Utter threats?

The guy may have thought he was justified in self-defense, but by pulling the knife first, he denied himself that avenue legally. Simply following somebody or seeming to follow them is not a crime. It can be provocative, but would you, in a case, want somebody pulling a knife on you justified on the basis of their belief that you were after them?

People are making this into an issue about intrusive government, when what it’s really about is a guy who got twitchy at people who seemed to follow him, and pulled a knife in front of people who had made no overt threat towards him.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 10:15 AM
Comment #290929
The libertarian philosophy leads to the conclusion that one individual’s liberty trumps all, even if this means another person’s rights are violated.

Actually, Warped, that is the exacxt opposite of the Libertarian philosophy, which is:

“An individual should be free to do what they choose as long as that does not violate the rights of another to the same.”

Apparently it seems that you don’t really understand Libertarians. You also make the mistake of thinking that Stephen has figured out what happened here, because he keeps making the same argument, which is false, that the person threatened anyone with a knife. I am detailing his mistake in the other article, but Stephen isn’t the only one who has had issues like he has described in his life. So the authority he is trying to establish is another fallacy he displays.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 17, 2009 11:12 AM
Comment #290935

Stephen D. wrote: “A person is guilty of criminal threatening if he intentionally or knowingly places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.”

The fact set however, seems to indicate there was no crime here, at all. Neither the police were intentionally threatening, nor was the defendant in brandishing a warning to strangers to stay back. Upon learning the followers were police, the knife was put away, clearly defining the defendant’s intent to NOT threaten others if they were NOT threatening him.

This case was poorly decided if the fact set as reported by Rhinehold is accurate and complete. I hope this person wins on appeal if that is the case. Nothing wrong with that law. The courts however, must distinguish between defensive gestures (this case), and unprovoked hostile gestures (not this case).

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 17, 2009 12:15 PM
Comment #290938

Rhinehold-
The crucial action is that he took out the knife immediately when he confronted those walking behind him.

He pulled out a knife. A knife is a weapon. You claim he did so in self defense, but then turn around and claim that he didn’t threaten anybody.

That’s inconsistent. Why display the knife? Was it an offer to cut them a slice of apple pie? Trim their fingernails?

Or was the message, “Keep following me and I’ll use violence against you?”

The threat of violence is the issue at hand. We cannot say he did not threaten the cops. The knife in the hand is an implicit threat. All we could say is that maybe the cops provoked the threat of lethal force by their own conduct. But the worse they seem to have done is seem to have been following the defendant. We’re not even sure whether they were actually following him at all.

And even if they were, he did not have to begin the confrontation by taking out the knife and clearly displaying it to those who were following him. He had other options available to him before the threat of violence became justifiable.

I don’t think it does much good for society when we lionize folks for having itchy trigger fingers. A person should think twice before deciding to use the threat of lethal force, much less lethal force itself.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 12:33 PM
Comment #290943

David R. Remer-
If you take out a knife on a person who doesn’t have a weapon out, it is you who have escalated the situation into deadly force. That’s the way the law works as I typically understand it. You don’t even half to open the blade.

I did some research after I read your comment. Self-defense is narrowly defined in today’s culture. You have to be in imminent danger of injury or death for that defense to be justified.

Since he had knife out, a deadly weapon in the eyes of the law, he was lucky to get away with a potential for no jail time, especially when it was cops he displayed the knife to.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 1:54 PM
Comment #290949

To me it boils down to this…he was lucky he was carrying a knife. I think gun carrying is permitted in many states, so if he turned on a couple of cops with a pistol in his hand…whew…what policeman, anywhere in the world would not respond immediately and violently?

Posted by: Marysdude at November 17, 2009 3:17 PM
Comment #290951

Marysdude,

Most police would (and all should) not have done anything other than pull their own weapons and pointed them at the man had the man had a gun and held it pointed to the ground. They are trained, and it is the law, that they cannot shoot at a man who is just holding a gun, that gun has to be being raised to them in a threatening manner.

Which brings up the issue of the knife, which itself was not raised in a threatening manner and was not near the policemen to be seen as an imminent threat.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 17, 2009 3:39 PM
Comment #290955

Stephen D., when one individual fears being accosted by more than one others, there already exists an imbalance in the equal force doctrine. The knife equalizes the force, somewhat.

You must not have been raised in an inner city, or this obvious experience would not likely have escaped your recollections, intellectual equal force doctrines, or not.

Second, your research is flawed. The doctrines of defense vary greatly across the country, and most especially do they vary between urban environments and rural.

Lastly, the fact set I have read so far indicates he did not know these were police when he pulled the knife out, and when he became aware they were police, he put the knife away. If that is the fact set, he acted prudently and appropriately to the situation IMO. No crime, and no hostility. Only a defensive gesture until it was revealed defense was not necessary.

In most of today’s urban environments, defensive behavior is nearly always warranted on the streets, when one is alone.

You can try to argue the philosophy of law here all you want, but, common sense and common experience will prevail, and that common sense dictates that we are foolish to not act in our own defense when confronted by strangers on the streets of America before their intentions are known. The horror stories of serial killers, rapes, beatings, and kidnappings are non-stop in America’s news media, especially in urban areas. That common experience dictates defensive behaviors in similar circumstances as this defendant found himself in.

There’s a reason America is a gun toting nation, and it is not because Americans love the smell of gun oil in the morning. To move away from this history and reality toward a more trusting and law abiding nation of people, we must begin with top quality education for all accompanied by opportunities and support toward succeeding in this society regardless of one’s family history. Till then, it is wise to be defensive and prepared for hostility and criminal intent when alone on America’s streets.

I say this as a pacifist. Being a pacifist does not equate with being a fool where one’s own safety is in question. The defendant did, for a short initial period, question his own safety, and acted appropriately to being confronted by superior numbers, given the fact set I have read. When the defendant became aware there was no threat, his defensive behavior abated.

It is the height of folly and damaging to a society to pass laws which are unenforceable, first of all, and second, it is unethical to pass laws which force the choice of being victimized or jailed. Equal force doctrine is generally a good doctrine, and a knife against superior numbers of potentially threatening persons, is an equalizing of force.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 17, 2009 4:16 PM
Comment #290966


I agree with much of what David Remer has to say on this subject. Law enforcement is most often after the fact. They cannot and do not protect. Sometimes they try to find the guilty party, sometimes they don’t. This is often true even in wealthy neighborhoods with more than their share of law enforcement.

“But I guess some do not believe in the strength of our laws.” Yea, President Obama and immigration law.

Posted by: jlw at November 17, 2009 6:12 PM
Comment #290967

Rhinehold-
I don’t get it. If it doesn’t signify the threat of lethal force, what the hell did he bring it out for, so they could admire it’s superior craftsmanship?

Self-defense is not the absences of threat, or the absence of an assault or a homicide. It is a justification allowed under limited circumstances for an act that is otherwise unlawful.

If you are arguing self-defense here, you’re not arguing that he didn’t threaten anybody. You’re arguing that he threatened somebody, but was justified in doing so.

He was threatening somebody with a knife. People don’t casually carry unfolded knifes out under normal circumstances. Either they’re doing something with it, in which case you can argue you were using as a tool, or you’re confronting somebody with it, which, raised or at your side is an implicit or explicit threat of violence.

The purpose of his threat was pre-emptive defense. But that’s not a doctrine that courts recognize under most circumstances. You can’t shoot somebody who has no weapon out, who isn’t trying to otherwise kill you, even if you suspect they might try to kill you later.

Heck, you can’t even finish somebody off who you wounded in legitimate self defense, if they’re no longer an imminent threat to you.

Point is, taking out the knife was a dumb idea. It was a threat that wasn’t justified under the law.

David R. Remer-
I am not arguing philosophy here, I am arguing what I know and understand to be the law. Doctrines of defense vary, true enough, but I don’t think they vary so much that a knife displayed is every seen as a neutral act.

There is not a special category of people to which the law does not apply. The criminal has every right not to be threatened with physical harm that you do. His rights only go out the window if he tries to attack you.

As for the news media, my professor in journalism told me that those reports are exaggerated by a factor of ten. It’s just anxiety, unfounded in fact for the average person, and teaching this doctrine that the first resort is violence inherently bends people’s choices towards violence as a choice.

We cannot let fear and emotion be our guides on behavior in these situations. The price of that will be blood and ruined lives.

The man threatened people who hadn’t really threatened him first. If the folks were not cops, just ordinary folks, would the threat have been justified? Who’s looking out for them? Don’t you think criminals take advantage of laws meant to benefit victims? Don’t you think they could take advantage of a repeal of a law that makes the threat of lethal force a crime?

For laws to come to our aid, they must come to the aid of all, in equal fashion. We cannot hold ourselves up as a separate people, simply because we know ourselves to be law abiding. We must observe the constraints of the law, or else those we’re trying to constrain need not observe it either.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 6:29 PM
Comment #290970

Stephen unimaginatively said: “Doctrines of defense vary, true enough, but I don’t think they vary so much that a knife displayed is every seen as a neutral act.”

The butcher steps out into the alley to smoke with his knife with the intention of sharpening it. A person on the street sees another pull out a taser, and responds by pulling out a knife. There are many scenarios in which the public display of a knife IS a neutral act, and not aggressive act at all, or, a defensive act, not an aggressive act. The woman who pulls out a knife to deter verbally taunting men, for example, where running away would likely invite a chase and thwarting of her escape. A defensive act, Stephen, not an assault or even threat of assault except in defense.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 17, 2009 7:08 PM
Comment #290971


Great philosophy but, not applicable in reality.

Casual observation assures us that the law is not applied nor does it come to the aid of all in equal fashion.

“We must observe the constraints of law,” Last November, you voted for a man who was elected President of the United States. This man feels that he is above the law and does not have to observe the constraints of law.

Posted by: jlw at November 17, 2009 7:43 PM
Comment #290973

David R. Remer-
You’re getting yourself confused here. The public display of a knife can be neutral, but only in certain contexts.

A butcher with a knife is carrying a professional implement. A chef could say the same thing. They have a reason for carrying that tool as something else than a weapon.

A person pulls out a knife when somebody pulls out a taser (not the most favorable person to match up with when armed with a knife, but I’ll go with it.) That’s not neutral, but it may be justified, since the taser is a weapon, and unless they had good reason to tase you, they may be asking for it. The knife remains an instrument of deadly force, but the threat it implies can be reconciled with the law.

You keep trying to say it’s not a threat. But what was that guy going to do with that knife if they kept on coming towards him, if they tried to manhandle him…

…or what was he trying to make them think would happen? I mean, he was trying to tell them something more than the abstract bit of information that he had a knife. That display of the knife was purposeful, and the only conceiveable purpose is the use of the threat of force to affect the outcome of the situation, to get them to back off.

That is a threat, and unless the two men he was threatening with the possibility of deadly force were brandishing weapons first, he can’t justify it under the law as self defense, because that is a narrow legal concept built on the threat against the person of imminent harm. Not merely possible, but actually present.

jlw-
Yes, we should all trust casual observation. Anecdotal evidence is such a wonderful tool for settling controversies, so unambiguous, so lacking in potential double meanings and subjective points of view.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 9:15 PM
Comment #290981

In the largely rural county I lived in in CA., Sonoma, a local police department shot and killed a young man for brandishing a broom. He was mentally ill. He was of Asian decent and the officers involved admitted that they were afraid he was some sort of Kung Fu guy. He was not. In another incident in the small town I lived in,Sebastopol, the county sheriffs shot and killed a teenage Black kid. The kid was agitated and likely high, but was not armed. The sheriffs did get into some trouble as the kid was the adopted son of some wealthy white people,but they did not even get fired,let alone prosecuted..
If Mr. Almon had been Black or Latino he likely would be dead now.

Posted by: bills at November 17, 2009 10:53 PM
Comment #290983

bills-
That’s what folks should protest against. That’s an overreach of force. By contrast, Almon was treated pretty well.

PaulS-
The guy will have to pay 250 dollars and will not spend a day in prison if he keeps his nose clean. This after pulling a knife on cops. If you’re going to argue excessive punishment, or rigidity of law, pick somebody who didn’t get a suspended sentence in the first place, and that on a thirty day jail term.

The problem with speculating about what people should know about the thoughts of the different people involved is that you ultimately have to ask and answer that question while dealing with people who are mostly strangers. What can you be expected to know about their motives, their mental health, or anything else?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2009 11:11 PM
Comment #290985

Stephen,

You said,
You keep trying to say it’s not a threat. But what was that guy going to do with that knife if they kept on coming towards him, if they tried to manhandle him…

…or what was he trying to make them think would happen? I mean, he was trying to tell them something more than the abstract bit of information that he had a knife. That display of the knife was purposeful, and the only conceiveable purpose is the use of the threat of force to affect the outcome of the situation, to get them to back off.

This is exactly the point that David was trying to make. Under the letter of the law quoted as applicable:

631:4 Criminal Threatening. – I. A person is guilty of criminal threatening when: (a) By physical conduct, the person purposely places or attempts to place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or physical contact;

and when compared against the fact set and testimony. If the police were actually following the man, then both sides were equally guilty.

It appears from the tesimony, that is certainly what the man’s perception of the circumstances were. He feared that he was in danger of “imminent bodily injury or physical contact”. He responded with similar reaction. Was it more than necessary for the circumstances, I don’t know, but if he was more than 20 feet away and did indeed put the knife away, then an armed police office should not have been in fear of his safety.

A sane reaction from the police would have been to allay the man’s fears and then counsel him against repeating the act and then send him on his way.

To transition back the main thrust of the article, this is the primary problem that I have with your thesis. You said, “What I believe in particular is that restraints upon the state and restraint upon citizens must be balanced.” This gives far greater latitude to the government than I believe the framers or most Americans seriously desire. We do not want a government that is severely restrained from encroaching upon our civil liberties.

The circumstances presented here are actually a good exercise in discussing them. We had all three branches of government involved in this man’s life. The legislature wrote the law that defined menancing. The police (executive branch) arrested the man and charged him. The judicial branch settled the facts.

The point that you seem to be making is that the legislative view should prevail. The law was the defined and by the letter, the man violated it. However, we have by design checks and balances and division of labor defined in our system of government. The arguments coming from the other side on this equation are faulting not the legislative branch but the executive and the judicial branches.

The executive branch has the latitude and the responsibility to interpret within the establish guidelines and enforce them. In this case, the police arrested and charged the man. You made a great point about the fresh mind in your main article. I believe that the police could have benefitted from this perspective in this case. I think that it is reasonable to ask, would the arrest have been made if the police had been an uninvolved third party watching the interaction from the street corner instead of being directly involved. Because they were directly involved, the knew whether or not they were following the man. Had they been outside the situation and not known the intentions of two strangers trailing the man, would they have reasonably concluded that they were not putting the man in fear of bodily harm? A second failing was made at the executive branch when the prosecuter decided to bring the charges to bear. This will likely be a twofold mistake, the first in terms of justice and the latter more likely political.

Impossible to say, but this is where the judicial branch had the opportunity to review the facts of the case and make the determination of what the most prudent interpretation of the facts were.

However in local situations, there is a bias toward institutional authority. The local judges in many cases are more likely to belive the facts presented by the police officers than those presented by the public. This imbalance and imperfection was recognized by our founders as a failing of most governments that came before it which is why they insisted on explicitly interjecting the rights of the citizens into the Constitution as opposed to allowing the government to define them for us later. It is only reasonable that we expect them still today.

Justice was miscarried if the facts as stated are correct. I hold out hope that because the judicial system is not done, that this miscarriage of justice can be corrected. Because it is worth remembering and repeating that even though the lawyers may think otherwise, the goal of the system (including the letter of the laws) is to produce justice not an analytical rendering of guilty/ not guilty based on the letter of the law as the ultimate outcome.

Posted by: Rob at November 17, 2009 11:29 PM
Comment #290989

There seems to be a lot of speculation here about the circumstances.

Being followed at midnight by two people is not necessarily ominous, but it could be.

How close were they following?

How isolated were they?

Were there attempts to change course?

Was the knife unsheathed in a threatening manner or simply held at the side after peeling an apple?

This lack of information turns this into a Rorschach test, which tells us more about the person opining than what actually happened.

Without this information I have to trust the court did delve into these issues, but it wasn’t reported on.

Posted by: gergle at November 18, 2009 8:24 AM
Comment #290990

Rob-
I think many people make the mistake of insisting that whether a person committed a crime depends on their intentions and whether they’ve got some privileged position of moral authority in the matter. They make it into a good guy/bad guy question, instead of a question of whose behavior crossed what line.

I blame it on our culture. How many times can you show people movies in which both cops and civilians take the law into their own hands and walk away scott free, before they get the impression that this is how the law works?

And how many times can you show them a cavalcade of murders and crimes, all out of proportion to their actual occurence in the real world, and not have them think that they are under constant threat, that people must take the law into their own hands to survive a ruthless, dangerous world?

And of course, on that rare occasion that you actually are victimized, all that fear and loathing is there waiting.

What my self defense teacher told my class was this: often enough, if you’re in that situation, you did a lot to put yourself there in the first place. If people would operate with common sense and calm, many of the situations wouldn’t escalate to the point where you need the skills taught in a self-defense class.

I believe in trying to de-escalate the situation first. I believe in being aware of my surroundings, and letting people know that I’m aware of them. Usually, if a criminal wants to attack you, and they’re good at what they do, they will not give you due warning. It’s not a duel, it’s not sparring.

And in the eyes of the law, pulling a knife on two people who do not have weapons out themselves makes you the aggressor. It may not be fair on a social level, but the law must work that way to protect people against miscreants brandish weapons against average citizens. The general rule in self defense is that nobody may threaten, much less use lethal force against another, unless their life or the life of another person they are looking to defend is in imminent danger.

That means both the criminal and you. That’s how it works.

The question is, what facts matter. The fact he turned around with the weapon in his hand, even at his side, I think, is what makes this charge stick. Since nobody else had a weapon out, it’s hard, in the eyes of the law, to indicate what exactly he was threatening lethal force against, so as to claim Self-Defense.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 18, 2009 8:53 AM
Comment #290992

Stephen D. said: “You’re getting yourself confused here. The public display of a knife can be neutral, but only in certain contexts.”

No, you are confused, because I said the same thing. Context matters and defines. You contradict yourself now, in the quote above, compared to your previous statement:

“Doctrines of defense vary, true enough, but I don’t think they vary so much that a knife displayed is every seen as a neutral act.”

I am neither confused, nor inconsistent in what I have argued. Your comments quoted here are inconsistent, and that makes the confusion yours, not mine.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 18, 2009 9:47 AM
Comment #290993

There is a lot of nit-picking here…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 18, 2009 10:38 AM
Comment #290996

David Remer-
I said so in analysis of defense. You know, you can try to nitpick my point so as to make it appear logically inconsistent, but I think I make it plain enough: The law generally sees the threat of deadly force as illegal, with specific exceptions or immunities for self-defense.

And self defense itself relies on the fact that somebody is trying to use deadly force on you, before you begin to use it on them.

The display of a knife in this situation is not seen as a neutral act, and can never be, because it is a weapon, and a deadly weapon at that. if somebody swings for your head with their fist, it’s rare that they’ll kill or seriously injure you. If they swing for your head with a knife, it’s a different story. it’s going to tend to cause damage, serious damage when it hits, maybe even a death.

That’s where you are confused. A knife in hand during a confrontation, even at your side, is clearly a deadly weapon. Even if its presence is intended only to ensure a person’s self-defense against a potential attacker, it’s presence entails the threat of lethal force, when so plainly displayed.

The Defense of Self-Defense is meant to neutralize the offense, but it can only do so if you were in imminent danger when you made the threat or used the weapon on the other person.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 18, 2009 11:28 AM
Comment #290999

Marysdude,

I deny that I have any nits! :-)

Posted by: gergle at November 18, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #291000

Stephen, if you want to call pointing out contradictions in statements made on a debate web site, nitpicking, so be it. Ditto gergle.

You said: “And self defense itself relies on the fact that somebody is trying to use deadly force on you”

Wrong, again, Stephen. In a large number of cases on record, often, but not always involving police force, self-defense rested on a “perceived” threat, and not of only deadly force, but a perceived threat of personal harm, not necessarily lethal in nature. Many a police officer have killed innocent persons without legal consequence based on the Court’s acceptance of the fact of perceived threat, even when after the fact, it was proven no threat was ever presented to the police officer, at all.

The man of color shot and killed in his doorway last year as a result of the police believing he was pulling a weapon from his jacket, when in fact, he had no weapon at all, is a case in point. Which negates your statement: “And self defense itself relies on the fact that somebody is trying to use deadly force on you, before you begin to use it on them.”

You can argue points in contradiction to historical reality, but that historical reality remains to subvert your argument.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 18, 2009 12:37 PM
Comment #291004

The old addage “hope for the best prepare for the worst” comes to mind here. This man was followed by two men. It can be argued that it was the officers who escalated the situation first both by following him, instilling in him a fear for his well being, and outnumbering him, instilling in him a fear for his life. One unarmed man does not stand much chance against two. Being purposefully followed by two sizeable men is enough to push a situation into the realm of deadly force. Furthermore, if he assumed these two had weapons, by turning and confronting them in the open he not only made the possibility of the altercation being witnessed increase, but also would discourage any attempt to attack him with anything other than a firearm. If they had a firearm, he would not have been able to stop them either way. And before anybody trumpets the “run away” clause, it’s entirely possible this man was out of shape and a slow runner, especially compared to the two police officers. This man was a victim, who acted appropriately.

Posted by: Doug at November 18, 2009 3:26 PM
Comment #291005

This one went over Stephen’s head

Posted by: KAP at November 18, 2009 5:33 PM
Comment #291006

Actually KAP what you are seeing is the type of society that Stephen is advocating that we live in.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 18, 2009 5:48 PM
Comment #291007

And, a lot of sniping…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 18, 2009 6:19 PM
Comment #291010

This is a very good discussion; there’s more than just ideology here, but definitions. Is holding a tiny knife at your side actually threatening lethal force? Does it constitute “pulling a knife ON” someone? I think not.You mean we don’t have the right to hold a small knife by our sides in America? WTF???!!
This man did not threaten anyone. He did not “pull a knife” on cops. He had no idea they were cops; only that they were following him on a dark street. He did not “pull a knife” on unarmed people; they had guns! I think the likelihood of his undergoing arrest and prosecution if the incident had involved civilians is miniscule, if not non-existent. Have you ever come upon a cop blocking traffic at an intersection while talking to another cop or pedestrian? Would you ask him to get out of the way, to stop blocking traffic? Didn’t think so. Would you ask a civilian to move out of the way? Ah, I suspected as much. This argument is not a red herring; it illustrates nicely the power that the police have over people in many petty contexts. I am positive there would not have been any arrest, let alone prosecution, had the folks that had had the knife “held at the side” on them were civilians.
Sorry Stephen, you are a great thinker and debater, but you are dead wrong on this one.

Posted by: steve miller at November 18, 2009 6:56 PM
Comment #291014

The issue in this case is whether the person “purposely” intended to put the police officers in “imminent” fear of physical danger. On the facts of this case, as reported, I vote no. He did not verbally threaten them, nor did he make any physical gesture indicating that he intended to attack them. In the circumstances of this case, the person was understandibly concerned about why two people were following him in the dead of night. His confrontation says to me “why are your following me and if you are up to no good, I am prepared to defend myself.”

This case says nothing about liberal vs. conservative policies. It is just about common sense and the correct interpretation of the law.

Posted by: Rich at November 18, 2009 8:42 PM
Comment #291015

Stephen,

You said, “It may not be fair on a social level, but the law must work that way to protect people against miscreants brandish weapons against average citizens.”

And you missed my larger point. You are agruing whether the interpretation of the law is correct. I am arguing whether the application of the law was just.

I don’t deny your close reading of the law. However, the system that we have built was built to be run by humans who make decisions. There is broad lattitude given to those who hold offices of power whether or not to arrest, charge, and convict people of crimes. Those individuals so charged can and should be guided by more than a litteral reading of the law. They should be guided by an obligation to produce a just result as well.

In many cases, the individuals are left with no choice to pick the lesser of two evils. In this case (assuming facts in evidence are roughly equivilant to the facts presented), mulitple people ignored that obligation.

Posted by: Rob at November 18, 2009 9:09 PM
Comment #291020

Rich-
And he indicated he was willing to defend himself with a knife. A weapon, and often considered a deadly weapon. Even if not raised, or not intended to be used to kill somebody, it’s a weapon that can cut open veins and arteries, sever tendons, disfigure face, etc.

It’s presence in a confrontation like that is never neutral, and this is the paradox of deciding that because a person’s intentions are pure, their use of a weapon to threaten somebody isn’t a criminal offense.

I keep on explaining this, because people need to realize, especially if they have occasion to get into one of these situations, that the legal definitions aren’s as flexible as the rhetoric taking advantag of it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2009 12:22 AM
Comment #291024

Good article Stephen.

There does need to be a balance certainly. I’m not sure what all the facts are in this particular case, but Rhinehold and David make compelling arguments as well.

Personally, I agree with your assessment on the use of deadly force and the outline of using deadly force only when you’re life is threatened. (In CA I believe that you must fear for your life. And this is based on your belief and obviously must comport with facts indicating such.)

Legally you have an obligation to get away from danger if you can. This is pretty consistent in American law. If he could have gotten away from these two without brandishing a knife he should have.

I would bring up a couple of points though. A punch can kill as well. You can be beaten to death. Two guys trailing you in a bad neighborhood at night seems to be pretty menacing to me as I think it would any rational person in the same situation.

Another thing I wonder about is why these cops were following this man. Looking for random criminals or were they there for a specific purpose? Was that purpose related to this man or were they just walking the streets following whoever was walking alone?

The fact that the law is titled ‘criminal threat’ makes one think that the threat is tied to some other underlying crime with which the threat is a part of. Apparently not. But should there be a legal distinction between making a threat of violence for a criminal purpose as opposed to a defensive purpose?

I do think that this particular case (from what I’ve read here) indicates that this was a defensive act in that sense. It was a threat, but not a threat for the purpose of crime.


My grandma once told me that one time she woke up in the middle of the night when someone was trying to break in. She said that she yelled out that she had a gun and she was calling the police and whoever it was ran away.

Would this not put her in jeopardy of this law? If the man breaking in feared for his life? (Don’t laugh with our legal system this may have already happened. Criminals have sued homeowners and won.)

Or if this guy with the knife had merely turned around and said he had a knife and was willing to use it, would he still be charged?

Posted by: Eric Simonson at November 19, 2009 2:24 AM
Comment #291028

Is that really YOU Eric? Come on…what did you do with the REAL Eric?

Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 7:09 AM
Comment #291029

Stephen,

The statute at issue requires that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged acted with the purposeful intent to induce fear of imminent physical danger in the victim(s). The simple presence of a knife, without more, does not meet that requirement. In this case, he did not verbally threaten to use the knife nor did he gesture or move in an aggressive manner. Circumstances do matter. Otherwise, the statute would simply read that the presence of a weapon establishes, per se, the violation of criminal threatening. It does not. It escalates the classification of the charge if a weapon is used in the act of purposely inducing fear of imminent harm. The presence of the knife may be an important factor in determining purposeful intent but it is not determinative.

Posted by: Rich at November 19, 2009 7:10 AM
Comment #291031

Eric Simonson-
Good to see you around.

A punch can kill, but it takes an extreme amount of skill or luck (good, bad, or otherwise) to kill somebody with your bare hands, whereas, with a gun or a knife, it takes an extraordinary amount of skill or luck to attack somebody with it, and not cause serious injury. Like one source I read concerning fights with knives said, a knife really only has to touch somebody to cause a serious wound. The same goes for a whole category of what are called deadly weapons. I think people should realize that these terms of art exist for a reason, and that whatever the laws are in their jurisdiction, they ought to know how the law defines them.

I think, in a physical confrontation, the law has a category called “necessary force” that figures into a self-defense claim. If somebody’s trying to beat on you, unarmed, you are permitted to use your fists to beat back.

But the same caveats apply, as I understand it from my readings, that apply with self-defense of all other kinds. You have to make your best effort to avoid further conflict with the person. If you walk away, make it clear that’s what you’re intending to do, and they follow you, you’re the one in the right.

The law treats you a little differently (or at least prosecutors or juries do) if it’s known that you’re trained to use deadly force with your fists. But overall, it’s best not to escalate the threat level yourself.

Menacing is not a crime, because people can scare themselves silly about folks who are truly innocuous in reality, and of course, we wouldn’t want somebody beaten up or worse because they looked mean or brutal, or because they had an odd coincidence of direction of travel on one dark night. People are asked to restrain themselves until the other person makes the first move.

Think consequences, not tactics, in terms of the law. Sure, it’s to your advantage to get the drop on your enemy. But if we let that be a justification for an action, a lot of people would be pre-emptively injure and kill folks who did nothing, and did not deserve that attack. That is why the law puts an emphasis of somebody else crossing the line, on proportionality of your response to that, and on the cessation of the use of force of any kind, necessary or deadly, when the person signals the end of their wish to hurt you or obviously shows the signs of being unable to pose a further threat.

These are laws intended to keep the peace, not just deal with altercations of this kind.

The law the man broke was called Criminal Threatening, the same way the law concerning Criminal Trespass is so named. In other words, its a descriptive word. The threat was criminal, the trespass was criminal. He need not have done anything else to merit the charge, it was illegal in and of itself.

The threat of deadly force is such regardless of whether it’s idle. If you display that knife with no intention of using it, and only as self defense, it’s still a threat. The law tends to not want to muck around too much in motives and internal thoughts that nobody can prove or disprove, so actions must speak louder than intentions. Hence the parts of the laws concerning self-defense that in many jurisdictions that require you to seek the aid of police officers or try and escape first. We can talk of a language of action here.

“He shot first!”
“I tried to get away, but he kept chasing me.”
“I tried to get away, but he cornered me.”
“I told him the argument was over, that I was going home, when he came after me with the weapon.”
“The other guy broke into my house. I shot him to defend myself.”

The last one is important. Your grandmother was likely in the clear. There’s what’s called the castle exception- every man’s home is his castle, and you are not expect to withdraw from your home to defend yourself with deadly force. Now the key here, again, though, is that you’re only supposed to use that deadly force, or force at all, until the threat is over. You also cannot pursue a suspect and shoot or otherwise attack them as they flee.

See how it works, Eric? That’s why I emphasize to people the importance of knowing the language being used, because that’s how things are determined in such a situation.

As for what would happen if he turned around and said, “I have a knife and am willing to use it…” Well, that would have made the threat more explicit, and there wouldn’t even have been the acknowledgment of any offense. If he didn’t indicate that he knew or believed he was being followed, then he’d have no defense. In fact, one could suppose he might have been a mugger, trying to rob them! That would have made things interesting.

I think the point to make is that the law in this country, in this day and age, leans heavily towards keeping the peace, and punishing those, regardless of intentions, who breach it without good cause, good cause the law can measure in a reliable way.

The man should have stuck with the verbal challenge, and then walked away. If the officers were to continue following him, I think that would have constituted a provocation, should he have then drawn the weapon, and made the implicit threat.

Rob-
I do believe in interpretations of the law that are both right and just, but I’m of the belief that you have to start from right and proper interpretations of the law, if you want consistently just enforcement. If a law is not just, then there’s no better way to find out, after the fact, than letting its consequences play out as they should. It is always easier to oppose a wrong in fact, than a wrong in future, which is part of the Republican’s problem at this point. If you can point to something, and say, that’s wrong, and these are the consequences, the substance of the argument drives the logic with greater force.

David R. Remer-
Forgive my errors in consistency, but let me make what I’m saying clear.

A weapon is a weapon, and you can’t neutrally display one, especially when a person of reasonable intellectual power could tell you’re showing them that knife or gun, even at your side as a promise that things could get worse if you pushed them. Hell, if your display was neutral, there would be no point to it. If your claim is that self-defensive intentions nullfy the criminality of the threat, which is a tough row to hoe, you still have to acknowledge that such a weapon display is a threat.

I may not be conveying the law with complete clarity, but my general statements are true. You must have a reasonable belief that you, or a third party are in imminent danger of harm, and then you have to index your response to that level of harm. You can’t pull a knife to stop a fistfight, much less confront people who have at best just raised your suspicion.

As I said elsewhere, the law is geared towards discouraging breaches of the peace in general. It doesn’t automatically take the side of the law-abiding citizen, because everybody’s going to claim that they are the innocent party, who just acted in self-defense.

If, for example, you get into a fistfight with somebody, that’s illegal on both sides. You can’t claim self-defense unless you were either attacked without provocation, and had no other choice but to stand your ground, or if you did your best to withdraw from the situation before that person attacked you.

Everybody’s treated equally in the eyes of the law. Unreadable intentions are usually ignored. If, however, a felony was being committed against you, that generally is seen as a provocative act that a person is entitled to use force to fight back against. But there is an emphasis on seeking out the help of the police, when you can. Self defense only comes into play when you’re dealing with a situation where you cannot count on their help in time to avoid an unacceptable outcome.

Doug-
The question is how far did the officers escalate it. It might have disturbe the man to be followed, but being disturbed doesn’t mean you have the right to threaten deadly force.

The question of whether he was out of shape, or older would have likely been considered in his defense, since many self-defense laws speak of a person being justified to use force when they are unable to flee or withdraw. The defendant, if the photo I saw was right, had no such impediment visible, though, and none was claimed as far as I can tell.

As for assumption of weapons, I could assume that you have a bazooka down the back of your shorts, but that doesn’t mean I can claim that as a defense. If they made a sudden grab for their pockets, or into their coats, the defendant might have had a better defense, because then he could say, “Well I thought they were reaching for a weapon, your honor.”

Leave the if’s aside. Many times, when you introduce additional force into the situation, you simply escalate the passions, escalate the potential for violence. Hence the way the laws are constructed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2009 8:22 AM
Comment #291033

Rich-
Again, let me ask: how did that man think taking out a knife would protect him? Are criminals averse to getting fingernails trimmed?

You cannot avoid the question of the message that knife sends, intentionally or otherwise, nor avoid the fact that a knife is a weapon that by its nature causes serious injury or death.

Simply being followed is not enough of a threat to justify somebody turning around and taking out a weapon, espcially if nobody knows whether you’re a good guy either.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2009 9:05 AM
Comment #291034

Stephen,

Throughout this thread, you have consistently made the assumption that the knife, held pointed down at his side, was sufficient to prove the charge of criminal threat. That is not true under the New Hampshire statute. The state must prove that he had the mental state of purposely intending to induce fear of imminent physical harm. That is a question of fact for a jury or judge to decide under the circumstances of the case. The undisputed fact that he said when turning with the knife for the third time “Why are you follwing me?” calls into question the very essence of the required mental state (purposely intended to induce fear of imminent harm). His words and actions indicate a mental state of apprehension as to the intentions of the followers not one of intent to threaten them with imminent bodily harm.

Posted by: Rich at November 19, 2009 9:23 AM
Comment #291037

Stephen D. said: “A weapon is a weapon”

No. It is not. A knife in America is used 99.9% of the time as a utilitarian tool for separating things into pieces. We all use knives, every day. I carry two knives on my person at all times. One a very small 1 inch blade in combination with a screwdriver tip, and bottle opener. The other is a jack knife with a 2.5 inch blade. I use them both every week around my property for everything from cleaning my finger nails to cutting spaghetti squash or other veggies from the vine. It is a knife.

Whether it is a tool or a weapon depends entirely on context and intent, and whether it is a defensive weapon as opposed to an offensive weapon ALSO depends on context and intent. Even an AK47 found by a teen and picked up to use as a door or gate stop, is not a weapon, in those circumstances.

Your statement errs enormously in failing to understand the difference between manufacturing intended design use and the actual possessor’s intended use of the very same object.

As Eric points out, hands can be a weapon or a constructive tool. People are strangled or beaten to death by bare hands routinely in America. That fact Doesn’t define human hands as weapons regardless of context and usage intent.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 19, 2009 9:47 AM
Comment #291046

DRR,

The knife you carry around your place, and use as a utility tool, is not the same knife you carry onto an airplane or down a street at night. A weapon is designed to hurt some one else. The knife you take out of your pocket to either defend yourself or to pick a fight, is a weapon, and cannot be construed as a utility tool. By turning on those men, with his ‘weapon’ in his hand constituted a threat to them. It was a threat, whether they intended him harm or not. Had they intended him harm, his weapon was defensive, but if they intended him no harm, it became an offensive weapon.

How the court sees it will depend on too many factors that we are not aware of.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 11:53 AM
Comment #291048
Had they intended him harm, his weapon was defensive, but if they intended him no harm, it became an offensive weapon.

No, had he felt that they intended him harm, as he did (or believed was possible) then the weapon was defensive. In no way was the weapon an offensive weapon according to the testimony of those involved.

This would be no different than had he been legally carrying a sidearm and put his hand on the sidearm while turning around and asking that question. The weapon was not pointed at them, there was 20 feet of distance between them and while the act was a distinct warning, it was not offensive at any time. Had he raised the knife and took a step towards the police, that would have been offensive.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 12:04 PM
Comment #291050

Marysdude said: “A weapon is designed to hurt some one else.”

True. But, any object on this earth can be used as a weapon, from a finger nail file to a stone on the road side. And weapons designed to hurt others can have OTHER uses, and often do. Think of collectors and traders, for whom weapons are a form of currency and barter, used to acquire profits, not by the collector or trader, to harm others. One cannot determine an object to be an offensive weapon absent the person who utilizes that object for a specified purpose. Hell, nuclear bombs are weapons but, have been used as deterrents to violence for decades.

My first gardening knife was a switchblade for ease of use with one hand. It proved too expensive to replace however, as I too often use, incorrectly I might add, my knife as a pry bar or flat screw driver. A knife is designed to cut. What one intends to cut determines whether a knife is a potential weapon or not, and just because it is a knife, says NOTHING at all as to whether the knife is a defensive or offensive weapon. Only the wielder’s motive can determine that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 19, 2009 12:33 PM
Comment #291052

Rhinehold,

While this theory may hold in one’s home, on the street, it appears he had opportunity to escape, but chose confrontation, with only suspicion in his mind.

I once sold someone a truck who failed to change the registration, buy insurance and was driving around loaded on Crack (It was a woman’s boyfriend that I knew) . I confronted him and told him I was going to remove the plates. He threatened me(this was over the phone). I drove to his house, but called 911. It was explained to me in Texas the plates remain with the vehicle. I still wanted to retrieve a car door in the bed that I hadn’t sold, but agreed not to enter his property until the police arrived. They did, I got my door and a police report showing I had sold the car, and he had not registered the vehicle.

Had I entered his property, I would have been the aggressor.

Posted by: gergle at November 19, 2009 12:48 PM
Comment #291053

Rich-
He turned with a knife in his hand. Okay, how is that supposed to stop anybody? By creating fear of bodily harm.

The question is, as much as he may have feared bodily harm from two men following him, were they putting him in actual danger of such harm, or making provocative actions that might lead him to believe he might be in that danger? That is, did they indicate that they were drawing out weapons themselves, escalating the situation to that level?

He can’t escalate first, then claim self-defense.

David R. Remer-
The knife can qualify as a deadly weapon, but so can a baseball bat, a tire iron, a car, and even (as I read on one site) somebody’s male member, if they have AIDS.

We classify something as a deadly weapon based on what it can do, when used in a manner that constitutes a threat to others. But nearly every item on that list has legitimate, non-weapon use elsewhere.

Question is, by bringing that knife out like he did, in the context of a confrontation, was he presenting it as a weapon? It’s irrelevant whether it was a weapon for defense, or for offense, it would still be a deadly weapon, given what it can do when used.

I have a box-cutter at my desk at work. Normally, the only thing it cuts is boxes, bags and tie-wraps. However, the 9/11 terrorists used them to take over planes. If I walked out on the street with that blade extended, I could get into trouble. If I confronted somebody on the street with it, if I felt they were following me, they would say, with good reason, that I was using a weapon.

Merriam Webster Online uses the following definition for weapon:

1 : something (as a club, knife, or gun) used to injure, defeat, or destroy
2 : a means of contending against another

It is the use that matters, the use that makes it a weapon. As such, table lamps, which are not designed with the intent to kill people, can become weapons when swung, or perhaps broken for shards. A rock, not designed by anybody period, can be used for a weapon, as can a tree-limb.

The man intended a threat. He did so in his own defense, yes, that can be argued, but in a legal sense, I don’t think he can argue that he has the defense of self-defense under the law.

As Eric points out, hands can be a weapon or a constructive tool. People are strangled or beaten to death by bare hands routinely in America. That fact Doesn’t define human hands as weapons regardless of context and usage intent.

No, but neither does the reverse hold true, that if it is not customarily used as a weapon, that it cannot be a weapon in this particular context, that is, confrontation and conflict between two citizens.

Rhinehold-
A defensive weapon is still a deadly weapon. The person is just as dead if you stab him to keep him from killing you, than if you stab them because they are sleeping with your wife.

The law provides that, though, that if he comes after you with a knife, and you find yourself unable to escape, or call the police to intervene for you in time, that you can use deadly force against them until they are either subdued or out of commission for other reasons, including death or injury.

The police themselves cannot use lethal force against you, even if you are dumb enough to do what that guy did, until you become an imminent threat. Here opens up one of those differences the kind of weapon can make. If the guy brought out a gun, the officers would likely have ignored the twenty feat distance. Bringing out the knife meant that they probably couldn’t shoot him unless he started running at them. Only Anime characters could wound somebody from twenty feet with a pocket knife.

But as far as I know, there is no distinction made in the law between a defensive weapon and an offensive one. You might have distinctions sometimes between lethal and nonlethal, but I don’t think most people would buy that the weapon’s status as a deadly weapon changes if you’re using it in defense. Your defense, as it were, is first the threat it carries of deadly force, and second the deadly force it carries the capability of inflicting on others.

That doesn’t change whether you’re the home team or the visiting.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2009 1:09 PM
Comment #291058

The haggle here is probably the reason our founders restricted ownership of arms to a ‘well regulated militia’. :) They probably knew we could not individually be trusted to walk down the street with a weapon in our possession…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 2:09 PM
Comment #291059

i do not think there could be an end to this discussion. i have a bat by the door. i am not looking for a pick-up game, it would be used for protection. someone had told me that it was illegal for a homeowner to inflict harm to an intruder using such a weapon. i asked a cop, and he said “if an intruder comes into my home, and i hit him w/a bat, only the first strike is considered self-defense”. even though he had broken into my home.

my question: would the cops follow a woman in the same manner? they would not. they fully know and understand that following her would cause distress.

did they knowingly cause this man distress? did they announce they were cops, and were they wearing uniforms? they may have set this man up. america is becoming a pretty sick place, sure the vast majority of americans cause no harm or pain, but in these days, why would the cops give the appearance of following a person.

and, i guarantee that the man would have been shot by the cops here in indiana.

my other question goes out to those from texas - the license plate YOU purchase from the state STAYS with the car? then all of your cars should come w/a plate welded on, and never charged a yearly fee. maybe a wheel tax, but never a plate fee. texas once again is wrong. you should not be held responsible for a car no longer in your possession.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 19, 2009 2:24 PM
Comment #291061

Except they didn’t. And of course you knew that which is why you used the ‘smiley face’. More trollish behavior, unfortunately. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 2:42 PM
Comment #291062

FYI,

291061 was in response to the unfactual assertion made by marysdude in 291058.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 2:44 PM
Comment #291069

To: Anyone But Rhinehold,

It is only trolling if it is outlandish, and if I don’t believe it. I believe the second restricts arms to militia for community defense. That can hardly be held as outlandish, as hundreds of thousands over the years have believed the same thing. The smiley face was because I knew it would elicit a Glen Beckian response from someone…oh, well, maybe THAT was a little trollish…if so, mea culpa.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 3:57 PM
Comment #291070

bluebuss,

The majority of us posting this thread are basically uninformed about this altercation, and are using our gut, knee jerk reaction to explain it our way. For instance, are you sure the cops were not women?

It would have been easier if we’d become familiar with the known information before we spouted off, but what fun would there have been in that? If we’d done that, one of us would not have been able to call another of us a troll…see what I mean?

Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 4:06 PM
Comment #291073
I believe the second restricts arms to militia for community defense. That can hardly be held as outlandish, as hundreds of thousands over the years have believed the same thing.

You can believe in a god as well, but there is no proof to back up that belief even though millions have held the same view. Not only do the writings of the individuals who wrote the constitution counter your belief, not only does the Supreme Court in every decision on the 2nd amendment counter your belief, but even an understanding of basic english when applied to the amendment counters your belief.

So feel free to not consider your ‘belief’ as outlandish, but don’t expect it to hold water or for other people to respect your belief. Hundreds of thousands over the years have expressed a belief that the Illuminati & Freemasons are running our country, that the Bush administration planned and executed 9/11 and that Obama wasn’t born in the US. But just your belief that the 2nd amendment is limited to militia use was outlandish, so are those other beliefs as well and should be relegated to the same dirision that anyone expousing them should be expected to receive when they assert them as factual.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 4:45 PM
Comment #291074

marysdude - you make me laugh. :)~

yeah, i know nothing about this case, the cops could have been women, but my gut instinct tells me they were men. nothing against men, but i know many who would be thrilled to be followed by 2 women (even if they were cops).

Posted by: bluebuss at November 19, 2009 4:53 PM
Comment #291075
The majority of us posting this thread are basically uninformed about this altercation, and are using our gut, knee jerk reaction to explain it our way. For instance, are you sure the cops were not women?

Actually, we are sure the cops are not women as the news report that I provided about the event details by giving their names and their testimony as well as the words of the judge and defendant and his lawyer…

As usual, it is better to investigate the things that are commented upon than to react emotionally to what someone thinks could or might be the case. It would explain the ‘beliefs’ that I’ve seen that can’t be backed up by anything…

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 4:54 PM
Comment #291086
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the free State, the right to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Okay…read it again as if you had good sense. It makes little difference what someone said in a paper or in a letter to someone they wanted to influence politically, the words are plainly enigmatic on the subject. It seems that the Militia, being well regulated, will allow its members to possess Arms, so they can protect the free State. Yes, the Supremes have held it to mean individuals several times, but those same supremes made corporations citizens, held slavery to be legal for decades, etc. The same Supremes you find fault with every time they screw up one of the rights you hold so dear. The second is as clear as mud, and you know it, but won’t admit it ‘cause it would be contrary to anarchy. Posted by: Marysdude at November 19, 2009 7:38 PM
Comment #291089

Stephen,

You said,

I do believe in interpretations of the law that are both right and just, but I’m of the belief that you have to start from right and proper interpretations of the law, if you want consistently just enforcement. If a law is not just, then there’s no better way to find out, after the fact, than letting its consequences play out as they should. It is always easier to oppose a wrong in fact, than a wrong in future, which is part of the Republican’s problem at this point. If you can point to something, and say, that’s wrong, and these are the consequences, the substance of the argument drives the logic with greater force.

I have read this three times and have absolutely no idea what you mean. Are you suggesting that the state should enforce all laws that are on the books with no discretion? Or are you saying that they should enforce ever law that can be applicable to a situation regardless of reason? Please elaborate.

We can all attempt to play lawyer all day and parse through words, but I still believe that misses a larger more important point about our governments (local, state, and federal). They were designed to be operated by humans with the capability for rational thought. There is obviously great danger in this since humans are also falliable. To protect against this danger, we have defined a set of divided powers to make the decrease liklihood of mistakes.

Also, just to clarify, I’m not saying that the law cited is unjust. It was the application of that law by a cadre of humans that was unjust. We can argue all day whether they were technically correct, but I and I think many other here are saying is that they were not morally correct. Based on the facts of the case, they did not appear to seek justice.

Posted by: Rob at November 19, 2009 8:23 PM
Comment #291096

Marysdude-
Well, another potential interpretation, though, is that there is a general right to bear arms, but it’s aim is not to provide for individual defense, but the defense of the community, the state, and the nation as a whole. You are given this right not so you can seclude yourself in a bunker because somebody you don’t like got elected, but so that if the time comes when you have to defend the country abroad or from an invasion, you can do so.

For the America of that age, there wasn’t such a wide gap between the power of military weapons and that of a soldier’s. America hadn’t completely evicted it’s competition for control of the continent, both native or otherwise colonial, so there was always the chance of invasion. That actually came true in the war of 1812.

Even now, it’s not such a bad idea, and the reason should be plain if you consider things for a second in terms of concentration of military power. In Europe, the military was often an arm of government authority. Here, at least in part, there was a sort of federalization of military power, with local militias (the real, organized kind, not these survivalist nutball associations) forming a significant amount of the military force for the country.

The Civil War naturally changed that, moving things towards a more centralized country and a more unified country in terms of identity. The United States, as opposed to these United States.

The volunteer army is great, but I think considering conscriptions bad is problematic, because it makes war more of a thing that our armed forces do for a country of clients, rather than a matter that citizens are intimately involved in. Ultimately, we need to bear common responsibility for the blood our nation spills, and bear common vulnerability to it being our blood and the blood of our family and friends that our decisions spill on the battlefield.

That abstraction is part of what has lead our country, I think to fail to count the costs of the last two wars. Would people have sprung for more armor, if loved ones were in harm’s way? Would people have considered the exit strategy more thoroughly, when more than just the vindication of some neocon’s political theory was at stake?

And we sure as hell wouldn’t be taking so long, or thinking of hanging around forever, if we considered things in light of having Americans on foreign soil forever, fighting a war we can’t extract ourselves from.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 19, 2009 10:05 PM
Comment #291099
Okay…read it again as if you had good sense.

Studying the constitution for as long as I assure you that have I have read it many times.

First, your fallacy #1 is thinking that the right is a right protected of anyone but an individual. No other entry in the Bill of Rights is a right of anyone but an individual. Right to free speech, etc. It is against logic to think that in this one instance Madison and Mason, who wrote the Bill of Rights, would suddenly add in an entry that was not directed at the rights of the individual.

#2 is not understanding what the Bill of Rights was… They were added by the Federalists to assure the Anti-Federalists that while the federal government had no power to violate the strict bounds of the government, there were certain areas where if they DID (and they have since) that there were areas they most definitely could not enter by the fact that they were written down as ‘thou shall nots’. Therefore, the ‘well regulated militia’ was not directed at a GOVERNMENT regulated group of men but an INDIVIDUALLY regulated group of men to prevent a tyrannical standing army from oppressing the people again, as had just happened and why a war was fought to begin with.

Your #3 mistake is in thinking that the ‘A well regulated militia being necessary…’ qualifier is a qualifier on the right and not an explanation of why the right exists. It is clear that the 2nd amendment dictates that ‘the rights of the individual to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’. Not that the right shall not be infringed as long as they are a military unit.

#4 is in thinking that the founders were interested in standing armies. They were definitely NOT. The militia, in their mind, was everyone in the community who would, in times of need, band together and defend the country. Meaning everyone. So if you want to go with that interpretation, we should be doing what Sweeden does and requiring everyone own a gun. I get the idea that you aren’t arguing that. Alexander Hamilton spoke of in The Federalist, No. 29, regarding the people’s militias ability to be a match for a standing army:

” … but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights … .”

And Madison when he wrote:

“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.”

#5 in your mistakes is thinking that this is the only place where the right to own a gun is defined in the constitution. Amendment 9 is very clear that the federal government cannot regulate what I own because they do not have the right detailed in the constitution to do so.

#6, and this will be the last one for now because the reply is starting to get a little long, is your assertion that what ‘it makes little difference what someone said in a paper to someone…’ Except that it DOES make a big difference when the person in question is one of the persons who WROTE the amendment explaining what the amendment means. In that case I am pretty confident that knowing what the writer meant when he wrote the amendment will have a lot more meaning as to what the amendment means than someone 200 years later with an agenda wants to pervert it to mean. So, what DID Madison and Mason say about it?

George Mason remarked to his Virginia delegates regarding the colonies’ recent experience with Britain, in which the Monarch’s goal had been “to disarm the people; that [that] … was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” — James Madison
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” — James Madison

So, I hope that helps clear it up. If you need more help in breaking out of this ‘religion’, let me know and I’ll do what I can, there is a LOT of information about this when one actually does the research.

It seems that the Militia, being well regulated, will allow its members to possess Arms, so they can protect the free State.

By thinking this you have to throw out everything that happened in history up to the point that the Constitution was written and try to apply today’s language to a document with no context of history, and even then you would be lacking due to the rules of the english language.

By doing that, you can come up with your ‘belief’. It will be as invalid as the other beliefs that I have detailed here, but everyone has a right to their own religion (or does that mean that the states can regulate their own religions?)

The second is as clear as mud, and you know it, but won’t admit it ‘cause it would be contrary to anarchy.

I agree, it is clear as mud and it has nothing to do with anarchy, the claim I often hear as an insult by those who are losing an argument and have no facts to back up their beliefs with. Your arguments sound much like the christian who is presented the evidence that Jesus was just a man, or better yet a young child who has just been told that there is no Santa Claus… the lashing out with emotional venom is not cute then either, but we understand and tolerate it as they have yet had a chance to develop critical thought. And we lie to them, which is mostly the parent’s fault, I guess. But still, they haven’t developed the tools to examine the situation critically. I would suggest that you are old enough to not have to rely upon that.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 19, 2009 11:58 PM
Comment #291100
Well, another potential interpretation, though, is that there is a general right to bear arms, but it’s aim is not to provide for individual defense, but the defense of the community, the state, and the nation as a whole. You are given this right not so you can seclude yourself in a bunker because somebody you don’t like got elected, but so that if the time comes when you have to defend the country abroad or from an invasion, you can do so.

Stephen, you should know as well as I that the concern was not just about foreign invasion but a tyrannical government gaining control of a standing army. And for self-defense. This is clearly spelled out by Sayoko Blodgett-Ford in calling for the ratification of the Constitution stated:

“The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed…”

Or Alexander Hamilton who said ” … but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights … .” and no, I doubt that how he died would have changed his mind on this in any way…

In fact, I can find no evidence, anywhere, that anyone while discussing the amendment or ratifying the constitution suggested anything BUT that it was an individual right to keep and bear arms for their own protection either from a foreign entity or their own government that was being put into place from overstepping its bounds… Perhaps you have something you can share with us to suggest that that reason is in question?

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 12:06 AM
Comment #291104

Militia:

A group of citizens, called together periodically for drill and arms training, for the purpose of local defense.

Those citizens, belonging to the Militia, of necessity must be able to ‘keep and bear Arms’. Centralized Arms caches would be contrary to the purpose of the Militia in the first place, which is ‘first response’, i.e., cannon fodder ‘till the standing army can assemble for proper defense.

Militia of the day has no resemblance to today’s Militia. Modern Militia use your precious second as an excuse to run around in the woods, shooting the bark off of trees and spouting hateful words toward the central gov’ment, and generally spewing hate and discontent in the name of God.

The closest thing we have to a real Militia is our National Guard, which because of a dearth of volunteers, in our all volunteer service, has been turned into a standing army. But, even they could not ‘keep’ their Arms. The second has worn out its usefulness. Time passage has expired its need. Freedom of individuals to legally bear Arms has brought us to the point wherein we freely kill each other, even more so than tribal savages in pre-agrarian history.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 2:06 AM
Comment #291109

Rhinehold-
Note: I was saying that the individual right to bear arms was valid, contrary to Marysdude’s assertion that it’s only a collective right, and an outdated one at that.

But I was also saying that this wasn’t a right created so that people could selfishly horde all these weapons as a curb against their own government. This was meant to be a concession to those who would band together in the defense of their communities and their state in a time of war, much as Marysdude describes.

The right to bear arms has become instead a button that the right pushes to get people afraid of the government, to stir up and encourage paranoia, and thereby further sever people from looking at that government as theirs, and not the province of an elite.

No President, Democrat or otherwise has even come close to truly threatening to take away everybody’s guns. But despite what our consitution says, the NRA and the gun nuts out there insist that this right was given to us so that we could, if all else fails, mount a rebellion against our own government.

Gee, doesn’t that seem to appeal to a certain group of people that might be fairly nostalgic for the losing side of a certain conflict? Doesn’t that appeal to a certain set of folks who are wary of government intervention?

The Republicans seem to relish getting people afraid of government, but not so much people getting involved with it, standing up to it when it tells them no. It gives us no clearer a picture of the ironies of modern day Republican politics that we have people actually standing up and telling their politicians to leave the government’s mitts off of Medicare- a government program.

I don’t think people follow what their government is doing closely enough to really have, for themselves, a decent idea of what they want it to be doing, and not doing. And I don’t think the rhetoric coming from your side, or the Republican’s side is well informed enough to do them anything more than a disservice.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2009 9:00 AM
Comment #291110

Bluebuss,

In Texas you get a new sticker every year for your windshield (plus you have to buy another safety inspection/pollution sticker, separately) when you pay the registration fee. They only replace plates every 5 years or so. In Texas, the fee is much lower than Ohio (another state where I’ve registered vehicles).

Posted by: gergle at November 20, 2009 9:14 AM
Comment #291116
But I was also saying that this wasn’t a right created so that people could selfishly horde all these weapons as a curb against their own government. This was meant to be a concession to those who would band together in the defense of their communities and their state in a time of war, much as Marysdude describes.

Except, as I pointed out, that isn’t true. It was meant to give the individual the decision on if they wanted to own/carry a gun and why. As long as they weren’t harming anyone else with them it was no one else’s business. It was for more than just the defense of the nation from outside forces, but also from inside forces, personal protection, hunting, etc. All of this is clearly detailed in the history of the creation of this document and the country itself.

In fact, the PRIMARY reason that right was included as one of the ‘thou shall nots’, if you want to try to make that case, was to defend against a tyrannical government forcing its will on the citizens since that was what had just happened, the English attempted to confiscate the guns of the colonists to prevent an uprising. The founding fathers did not want that to ever happen again.

Further, what Marysdude and you are not addressing is that even without the 2nd amendment, there is no legal right for the government to tell an individual that they cannot own a gun. Since that power was not granted to the federal government, they did not have it. Just like the right to privacy was found in the 9th and 10th amendments, so to does the right to bear arms. The inclusion of the right into the Bill of rights was done as a way to spell out very clearly that this one was never to be touched.

I think that the founding fathers were right to try so hard to protect those rights after seeing the comments about the topic in this section. Imagine someone trying to qualify the right to free speech only being in non election months or the right to worship your own religon were qualified to suggest that that religion had to be approved by the state… That was the level of the rights specified in the Bill of Rights as untouchable, it certainly didn’t include all the rights that individuals retained and it was even argued against having the Bill of Rights included because it was already ‘unconstitutional’ for these things to be done by the federal government and if such a list were included, someone later on might say that that list was all we had…

Again, I am reminded to just how conscious the founding fathers were to good intentions turning into tyranny…

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 10:30 AM
Comment #291119
And I don’t think the rhetoric coming from your side, or the Republican’s side is well informed enough to do them anything more than a disservice.

Oh, dear, I forgot Stephen. I don’t know why I keep forgetting that the Democrats are so much better and more enlightened than the rest of us ‘little people’ who are too limited in reasoning capacity to understand what is good for us and everyone else.

Though I am reminded why I was going to keep ignoring you, I had forgotten that as well for a second. Thanks for the reminders!

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 10:38 AM
Comment #291126

>Oh, dear, I forgot Stephen. I don’t know why I keep forgetting that the Democrats are so much better and more enlightened than the rest of us ‘little people’ who are too limited in reasoning capacity to understand what is good for us and everyone else.

Though I am reminded why I was going to keep ignoring you, I had forgotten that as well for a second. Thanks for the reminders!

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 10:38 AM

Don’t get so flustered that you forget who is who here…it is Stephen whom you think is looking down on you as ‘little people’, although, for the life of me, I don’t get where you come up with that…it must be one of those modern conservative thingees wherein you do the do-baddy, then blame the same do-baddy on someone else.

It was me whom you were going to ignore, mostly because I give you a wedgie now and again…:), but if you take the twist out of your panties long enough to look at this thing dispassionately, you’ll see that there are actually two or more views on the cop following thing, and the second thing too. Neither one of them is so one sided that both of these particular views should not be considered.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #291136

Marysdude,

Actually, you are both on that list, I have that attached to my profile here if you want to see the list and why.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 2:32 PM
Comment #291140

Rhinehold-
I’m not a “little people” sort of person. In fact, I’m very egalitarian in my outlook. However, I don’t mince when I think stuff doesn’t work, or doesn’t have much sense behind it.

I listen to the stuff coming out of those town halls, and it just seems like anti-government paranoia. And if people don’t seem to have thought things through, well, then, as their equals, I feel entitled to tell them just how I feel.

Undoubtedly, they have every right to do the same in return. The trenchant nature of my opinion is not implicitly meant to say that they have no right to express theirs. I just have a rather firm way of telling people when I disagree.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2009 2:38 PM
Comment #291143

Stephen,

You have a rather firm way of expression? So does Rhinehold and Marysdude…in fact, I’d like to know which of those who post here are NOT firm in their expression (DRR? KAP?). It is not the firmness Mr. Rhinehold has a problem with…he merely hates the thought that others may have a position he does not agree with.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 3:46 PM
Comment #291145

Ooops! I find that it is not my positions on politics that has Rhinehold upset…it is that I find his racism racist, and he’s called me on it…my bad!

Rhinehold…quack like a duck, waddle like a duck and want people to believe you’re an elephant? I’m kinda glad you’ve put me on your no-call list. I read the list of your no-calls, and find that I’m in good company…gergle, DRR, Stephen, me…wow! Who’s left? And, why is Rocky Marks still not on it? I bet he’s looking forward to making the grade. bluebuss, you’ve been a good girl. Warped, do you feel left out?

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 4:12 PM
Comment #291149
It is not the firmness Mr. Rhinehold has a problem with…he merely hates the thought that others may have a position he does not agree with.

Mr Pot, have you met Mrs Kettle? The difference is that I back up my views with facts, you use emotion.

As for me being a racist? Prove it. Please, go ahead. Since you can’t (because I know enough facts about biology to know there is no such thing as race) then yes, you have shown yourself to be a small minded individual bent on using the race card when their views are proven to be faulty.

Rocky, bluebuss, Warped, etc are not on the list because they haven’t stooped to such despicable tactics as using the Race Card or lumping anyone who disagrees with you into the same group and then applying the fringe views of that group onto you personally. They have the ability to rise above such nonsense when attempting to discuss heated political views.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 20, 2009 5:20 PM
Comment #291150

Now I’m sorry I’m not on the Rocky, bluebuss, Warped list…dang me, dang me, they oughta take a noose and hang me…one of these days I’ll learn how to be smart…maybe…nah! I’ll leave intelligence up to you. Being stupid and ignorant ain’t so bad.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 5:36 PM
Comment #291151

PS:

Aren’t the pot and the kettle both black? Is that why you use that comparison?

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 5:38 PM
Comment #291167

Marysdude,

“ignore” in this usage means incapable of making rational counter arguments against.

I understand his frustration, I’m just sad to see him give up so easy. I’ve always wanted to be on someone’s “list”. It feels so Nixonian.

Posted by: gergle at November 20, 2009 9:28 PM
Comment #291174

gergle,

And Cheneyish…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 20, 2009 10:58 PM
Comment #291181

Marysdude + gergle,
I personally enjoy reading Rhinehold’s writing the most here at Watchblog, his views provide the strongest challenge to mine the most and force me to really think hard about my political philosophy the most. Right now I’m reading the Jefferson writings he posted recently. I have no desire to throw unsubstantiated charges of racism at him or confuse his ideology with conservatism. I haven’t heard any quacking from him, but I have heard him trumpet his nose, so he sounds like an elephant to me. There is a clear difference between Nixon’s enemy list and Rhinehold’s ignore list, Nixon proactively harassed his political opponents in an unethical manner (tax audits and the like). All Rhinehold has done is state that he does not consider the opinions of certain authors worth responding to. I disagree with his assessment that none of your future comments should be considered valid, but he is under no obligation to respond to what comments he may believe are inflammatory. Rhinehold’s decision to ignore certain posters is more akin to the White House’s decision to provide less support to Fox News than it does to what it believes to be actual objective news organizations.

Even if you may be justified in stating something doesn’t mean that saying will be best for a discussion/debate/argument like those found on Watchblog. Earlier today I made a related point in a comment in the Right/Conservative/Republican side of Watchblog in response to propitation’s comment to Christine+John’s recent article about Rep. Joe Wilson. If you haven’t noticed, propitation has used “Obozo” recently as his sole name for describing our President. Regardless of whether President Obama is a bozo or not, if a conservative wants his/her opinions to be respected, then it would be best if he/she would refrain from such name calling. Likewise, liberals like us need to recognize that we need to refrain from similar name calling if we want people with different political philosophies to be receptive to what we post.

I don’t know about why you visit here, but I don’t visit Watchblog to read liberals feed their opinions into an echo chamber; if I wanted that I’d visit Daily Kos. Likewise, I don’t want a website that is hostile to liberal opinion; I read some conservative and libertarian blogs, but I rarely comment. Watchblog is different in that respect, and I don’t want such a valuable source of opinion and thought to devolve into a bunch of name-calling and ignorance. When I comment on Watchblog, my goal is usually to learn; to learn more about the founding documents of our countruy, to learn about what it means to live in a free society, to learn what are the most prudent economic policies to implement, to learn how we can best prevent a tyrannical government from forming in America, and to learn other things that are too numerous to list here.

My purpose here is not to score political points by denigrating the other people who visit the site, but to merely show them what I think and how I come to those conclusions. Hopefully, they will learn from what I write and the will amend their views with a few of my own, and I sincerely hope that conservatives discover how dangerous their ideology is to the preservation of liberty in this country. That’s the thing that makes me more receptive to libertarians than conservatives. Conservatives want to push government into our lives through restrictions on abortion, gay marriage and they want to limit our rights to privacy, due process etc… This level of government interference in personal decisions is an anathema to the principles this country was founded upon. At least with libertarians, I can have constructive discussions regarding what the founders meant when they inserted the phrase “the general welfare”, “necessary and proper” and “commerce among the several states” into the Constitution.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 21, 2009 3:49 AM
Comment #291182

Warped Reality,

Which is why I don’t put people on an “ignore” list.

I may strongly disagree, and even find it futile to argue with some, but I don’t ignore reasoned responses. All of us, at one time or another may not make the best responses. I, too, find Rhinehold’s arguments at times cogent and interesting. Sometimes I just think they are nonsense.

Posted by: gergle at November 21, 2009 6:40 AM
Comment #291183

Warped,

What you say is true, and is a valid point. My only excuse is that it piques my ire when another poster here tells me I’m ignorant or my arguments are stupid, just because he disagrees with me.

My posting on this site runs in cycles. I read for a while, then post for a while, then remove myself for a while. And have just about given up on posting in the right column, because it was disheartening. Rhinehold is correct in his assessment that my posts are more from emotion than empirical data. I’m not a bean counter, and I see nothing wrong with using life’s experiences as the foundation for imparting observations and opinion. however I have read and still read copious amounts of materials, much of it devoted to politics and how we got to where we are.

Rhinehold has, for a couple of years denigrated my entries here, it is as if my postings are beneath his superior views, and when I read his little list, it was the last straw.

You are right however, and it is probably time for me to take another break. It is obvious that a hole has been punched, and I need to go off to a quiet corner put a bandage over the hemorrhage. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 21, 2009 6:44 AM
Comment #291185

Marysdude,

We all have value to contribute here, whether from empirical data or personal experiences.

Hopefully, we all learn something, but politics is a full contact sport, as they say.

I don’t take things from this site personally, especially since no one here knows me personally. Someone saying my argument is stupid is meaningless. If they can demonstrate a fault in it, then I’ve learned something.

I’ve learned things from all here and probably offended quite a few. Personal attacks are not permitted here, which helps this site immensely.

All posters have a right to ignore whomever they wish. I just found it a bit odd, even laughable, to keep a “list”.

I don’t tolerate racist blather here, as opposed to my real life where sometimes politeness or professionalism requires me to ignore it. If that irks someone, so be it. I think it says as much about that person as it does me.

Superiority complexes are usually a sign of overcompensation for feelings of inferiority, if that helps you deal with damaged feelings.

For me, it’s about understanding a full tilt argument and the pitfalls people make in developing their opinions. I often, in real life, wonder where people get some ideas. This site has an array of various views. My own ideas may shift based on arguments I find valid here. My respect for David Remer has grown over time. I still find this site fascinating. I have yet to find such broad discourse on one site, even if the Republican thread has been lagging of late.

Posted by: gergle at November 21, 2009 7:22 AM
Comment #291192

Rhinehold-
There’s a reason that nobody’s on my ignore list, even trolls (which you are not) and crackpots (which you are not): it defeats my purpose.

Logically speaking, the people we most need to convince are those who are not convinced. If we preach only to the choir, only to the converted, we’re wasting our breath, and adapting ourselves to habits that aren’t well-suited to talking with people outside our special group.

If I wanted to just convince liberals of things, I would just post at Daily Kos (which can be an echo chamber, but only sometimes).

I do things the way I do them, because I believe that others should believe as I do, but I cannot force them, and should not force them. The struggle must be fair, and must be won on substance, or otherwise, my cause suffers, as the Republicans’ cause has suffered.

So an ignore list for me would be a silly thing. I’m trying to challenge people’s perceptions, confront people with facts that the other side’s news sources and opinion leaders often don’t bring to the table. Maybe you’re trying to do the same. But neither of us will win that argument only talking to the reasonable and those we think are correct. If I’m not easy on you, it’s because I think your ideas are worth responding to.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2009 9:56 AM
Comment #291195

Well spoken, Stephen.

I agree 100% with what you said, including Rhinehold’s worthwhile posts.

Posted by: gergle at November 21, 2009 10:09 AM
Comment #291208

Since everyone is clearing the air in a civil and respectful manner, which is what I had been hoping for, allow me to respond to a few things.

I’ve been writing here for five years and I agree with the old saying that “Nothing is so dangerous that it can’t be talked about”. I’m sure just about everyone has seen some pretty ‘intense’ debates that I have been involved in and understand that I am not squeamish about mixing it up verbally, as it were. Heck, read some of the debates between David and myself over the years concerning Libertarians as an example.

The reason for the ‘ignore’ list was not to avoid discussing views with people I disagree with, I don’t think I would have been here for 5 years, and writing in other forums like this before the internet was even popular in RIME and Usenet groups as well, if I were trying to do that.

The issue I have is when someone will try to win a debate by accusing me of being a racist (or sexist, ageist, selfish, etc though those are not as common). I consider that a personal attack, especially since it is founded in nothing real. It is just a lashing out and it doesn’t seem that the person doing the lashing is in any way concerned with the feelings of the person that they are attacking.

I’ve been doing this for a very long time and this tactic has been used for decades against me, not because there is any validity in it, but to be hurtful. And the funny thing is, it hurts. It hurts for a lot of reasons. The fact that it isn’t founding in reality since I don’t believe in ‘races’ as it were, the fact that I have some ‘black’ heritage myself, the fact that my wife is part black (and indian, european, russian, etc), the fact that my step father-in-law (a well respected local music and social hero, unfortunately recently deceased) was black, the fact that I work hard in my ‘real life’ to help people of all walks of life to achieve more than they have been able to and to reach for dreams beyond what they have been limiting themselves to because of those who claim to help them while telling them that they can’t make it on their own because of their skin and need the ‘white government’s help’… But most importantly it hurts because it basically tells me that I am nothing but a member of a group that has been ‘tagged’ and what I say and do means nothing to the person making the accusation.

I’ve worked for social changes for decades, hours and hours and hours of my life given to help others. I’ve never turned away helping anyone who I feel is really wanting to change their lives for the better, including letting strangers live in my home. I have given up the notion of being ‘wealthy’ which I assure you, despite coming from abject poverty as a child, I most certainly could be if I didn’t spend the hours I do helping other people. I made that choice a long time ago because *I* wanted to make it, not have it made for me.

And to have it all tossed aside by a hurtful comment by someone who I am trying to debate politics with by calling me selfish or, worse IMO, racist, incenses me after a while. Which is what I was trying to get at when I wrote Playing Cards a few weeks ago. I’m not accepting it as a valid ‘debate tactic’ anymore. Not so much because I know it just turns the debate away from any real rationality (much like Godwin’s Law) but because it enrages me. Maybe irrationally, I am human, but the only time I was really close to losing my ability to participate here was after my reaction to two posts in a row about ‘those who reject Obama are racist’ on the same day as I was attending the funeral of a young man who had been trying to get his shattered life together overdosed on drugs. I was a raw nerve and because of how I reacted to that I lost my ability to help moderate the site and nearly my ability to participate here.

So I have discovered I have one major tender spot. It is safer for me, as much as I hate to do it, just not respond to people have shown no regard for my feelings by repeatedly, after being asked, continue to ‘push my buttons’ in this area. It is not because I don’t think those who I disagree with have nothing valid to gain from, I pride myself on developing my views after decades of debate on these topics (I started the journey as a Democrat, not a Libertarian) and to be honest I haven’t been doing a good job of it anyway, as we can all tell by the fact that I haven’t been ignoring anyone.

It’s just that I know the only way I can avoid putting myself in danger of being removed from the site is to walk away from the people who see no problem in making such a hurftul accusation knowing how much it hurts. I would rather not, but let’s be honest. I asked each and every one on ‘the list’ to stop because the accusations were unfounded and hurtful, but instead of stepping back, realising how hurtful they were being and stopping it, it did not end. So I really don’t see how I have any real alternative. I added the list to the profile to let those people know why I wasn’t responding, not to be an ass. And secretly I had hoped that it would eventually spark some kind of rational and calm debate about the issue so I could get some of this off of my chest without sounding like a whining schoolgirl…

So, that’s my story, that’s the reason for the ‘ignore list’ that I hate to have and am going to be hard pressed to stick with. But for my own sanity I must do so if I want to continue participating here at all.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 21, 2009 1:17 PM
Comment #291222

rhinehold - why does it have to be a whiney schoolgirl? i am joking. a poor attempt, but joking. and, where is this list? how do i pull it up, i am technically challenged. and, a little disappointed all the others made it, and i didn’t.

about the racism, you can be a person of color, and still racist. i think of lou dobbs who’s wife is hispanic. doesn’t stop him from hitting the hispanic population hard. hell, it seems like he hates his wife’s heritage. i have heard oh i don’t hate blacks, some of my best friends are black - and then utter terrible descriptive words. what i hate right now is how hard americans are trying to prove they are not racist, and that our country is not racist. our country’s past is nothing if not racist. i just feel that repubs are straddling the racist line, and then yell “always playing the race card” if we call them on it. it’s like the stance on the deficit. “obama has made a 1 trillion dollar deficit”. and we point out the reagan, bush 41, 43 and their deficit spending of 18 trillion, then the repubs say “oh that was congress”. you can’t have it both ways.

look we all try to keep it clean most of the time, and that is great. but politics is messy, and eventually it gets a little heated. i have hit the post button, and thought “gee, i should apologize to rhinehold”. but then you come back twice as hard, and i am always glad i didn’t send an apology post. when we are talking about our country, and the future of our country it is ok to feel passion. it’s difficult to keep it nice, but i feel overall, we fight pretty clean.

marysdude - don’t quit. you have support. and, you can’t put stephen on the list, of all the ppl on this site he is the nicest. now, i will contintue to be a good little girl…not. :)~ even my smiley face is smoking.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 21, 2009 4:21 PM
Comment #291223

marysdude - yeah, i never read the “green” or the “red” column. i don’t have the stomach for it. might want to stick to just blue for a while.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 21, 2009 4:26 PM
Comment #291227

bluebuss.

The ‘list’ is in my profile, click on ‘about’ for the middle column and then select my name. That give some basic information about me, at the bottom I have put the list.

about the racism, you can be a person of color, and still racist.

I don’t believe I ever suggested that someone couldn’t. Some black leaders have suggested such a thing, but the are mistaken.

i think of lou dobbs who’s wife is hispanic. doesn’t stop him from hitting the hispanic population hard.

Really, the entire hispanic population? I have to admit, I’m not a follower of Lou Dobbs, but as I understand it he is very concerned about illegal immigration. I don’t see how that makes someone racist, perhaps this is a good example of what I am talking about? What evidence do you have that Lou Dobbs is racist and hates wife’s heritage? Don’t you think it is wrong in any way to make hurtful accusations about people without having the proof to back it up?

what i hate right now is how hard americans are trying to prove they are not racist

The problem is that people should not have to ‘prove they aren’t’ something. MAYBE we should be waiting to accuse people until we can prove it instead making wild hurtful accusations that people feel that they have to defend?

our country’s past is nothing if not racist.

And how many of our country’s past racists are still alive? Should we be making a default assumption about people based on what their parents, grandparents and greatgrandparents believed?

it’s difficult to keep it nice, but i feel overall, we fight pretty clean.

I agree, except when people cross the line and start making accusations of racism where there isn’t any. Code Words, ‘racist phrases’, etc. It’s ridiculous and I will no longer accept it. Debate me on what I saw and what I believe, not what other people say and believe. You see, that was the real message of Martin Luther King Jr, to treat people as individuals and not judge them by the color of their skin. Now that we know that the color of a person’s skin is IRRELEVANT to what kind of person that is, why people would still do that makes no sense to me.

Simple idea, just don’t accuse anyone of racism unless you can show how they are racist. Until then, let’s maybe not make assumptions about them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 21, 2009 5:24 PM
Comment #291239

Stephen,

“I do things the way I do them, because I believe that others should believe as I do, but I cannot force them, and should not force them.”

I personally don’t feel that people should necessarily believe as I do. Whether or people agree with me is their business.
What I do try though is to point out the obvious (at least to me) flaws in other people’s logic. Does that make me a pompous ass?
Perhaps sometimes.

Having everybody believe as I do would, for me, make the world a very dull place.

One thing I have noticed is that all of us here hold very strong opinions, and it is rare indeed when we admit our opinion is wrong.
Another thing I have noticed here is an alarming trend toward absolutism. It is as if what some of us say in these threads is the facts, even when it is merely our own strongly held opinion, and even though it can be easily disproved.

The was a time here at watchblog that we all backed our opinions up with actual facts supplied through links to a reputable source. This seems to be something we all do less, and less, and I think we al suffer for the lack of it.

Finally, I don’t feel the need for my opinion to be right all of the time. I am fine with being proven wrong with actual facts. There are certainly people that post here that are more educated and surely more knowledgeable than I am on some subjects. Like Marysdude and others I mostly speak from the experiences I have had through my travels during my 57 years on this planet.

On the subject of this thread. I do disagree with Rhinehold’s opinion on the subject, and I stated my disagreement in his thread.
The problem with the circumstances of a case like this is that our review of the case is entirely subjective.
The facts are the facts, and it is only our opinion that the police were in error or not.

I do think that all involved in this case over reacted, including the judge.

Rhinehold,

The second cop was a female.

From the link you provided;

“Cattabriga’s trainee, whose name was not entered into the trial record, corroborated her partner’s testimony and said the entire event lasted two to three minutes.”

The emphasis is mine.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 21, 2009 8:02 PM
Comment #291245

Rhinehold,

If you can’t deal with some commentary, perhaps you should not engage in baiting the race issue.

I, for one, have never called you a racist, which would be disallowed on this site anyway. When you have averred for what I consider to be either a racist or racially tone deaf position are the only times I have ever engaged you in race debate, not for the gamesmanship of it. That contention is nonsense. Pretending that racism is dead and gone is tantamount to a knowing nod in favor of those that are racist, in my opinion.

I disagree with you a lot, on many issues. I do think you allow emotions to overwhelm your sense of rational argument at times. However, I respect your debating skills and intelligence, as I have many times stated. I also respect your sense of Constitutional law, and have learned a great deal from you on that issue.

I am offended by what I consider to be racial stereotypes and issues that slant toward those ends. I will not cede that position to anyone. I find sometimes even intelligent people to be the victim of such stupidity.

I respect Thomas Jefferson for his intellect, but even for his time, he was rather stupid about race. He had children with Sally Hemmings, but until recent years he and his family denied this, but they had to finally concede in the face of DNA evidence. He passed his blindness on to generations beyond himself. My own father, an intelligent man, while he taught me to treat people for who they are, still held what I consider to be racist views. He grew up in eastern Kentucky in the thirties, in that racist cauldron. I don’t think he could separate himself from that, entirely.

It is a pernicious evil, in my opinion.

Finally, I respect your personal issues, but they do not enter into my debating of an issue. Nothing I ever say here is meant as a personal attack. It is meant as an attack against ideas that I think are poisonous.

Posted by: gergle at November 21, 2009 10:49 PM
Comment #291261

Rocky,

You are correct, the trainee was female, I missed that in my earlier readings of the story. Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 22, 2009 1:43 AM
Comment #291273

Rhinehold-
Well, I’ve never observed prejudice to be a rational thing that follows our philosophical bents unerringly. None of us is proof against it, if only in the form of free form preconceptions that don’t fit neatly into the next convenient “-ism”

So let’s all consider what we say, as we say it.

Where I think you get into trouble with some Democrats is your support of certain assertions that an old-time Democrat could tell you, and not without reason, come from political appeals the Republicans and conservatives made to Southern Democrats disenchanted with the party for its civil rights stance. The word Reverse Discrimination, in fact, has its roots in white-supremacist writings.

Which is not to say you use it in that spirit. But what we communicate, and what we mean to communicate can be two different things, and sometimes we are passed down talking points from others oblivious to their original meaning and implications.

We need to practice better disciplines of inference, and use logic as more than just our means of constructing compelling arguments, but also as a means to put those arguments to the test before we add our voice to their chorus.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2009 9:41 AM
Comment #291274

Rhinehold,

Respectfully, I do not think that is a leap of logic.

Yes, you do not “pretend” racism is dead. You are not stupid. However, your stance that race does not exist, and that it is OK to poke fun at those that do point out real examples of racism to you and minimalize their reality, does, in fact, makes a pretense of tolerance that is, in fact, derision. Ignorance is not the same as stupidity. A man ignorant of gravity is not stupid, just unaware of a physical law. I believe you say things that, in some respects, are insensitive to the plight of victims of racist behavior and you seem inured to valid criticisms.

telling me my views are racist is the same to me as telling me I am, especially when my views are not racist because I don’t believe in race to begin with.

Except it isn’t. It is making you aware of an apparent “blind spot” you seem to have. I cannot see into your heart. I can only see what you say.

Posted by: gergle at November 22, 2009 9:55 AM
Comment #291298

rhinehold - thanks i was able to find the ignore list. i only agree w/the remer snubb. poor marysdude and stephen. i mean you have been sparring pretty good w/marysdude recently, but to ignore stephen?

and, i am glad you do not see color. but that is not the reality in this world. do i wish it were different? yes. have we come a long way? yes. but to ignore our past, big mistake.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 22, 2009 1:03 PM
Comment #291303

Oy Gevalt, what a mess! I don’t need to publish a list of people whose comments I don’t read or respond to, I just don’t read or respond to them. Once I read the article and first comments, when I come back to the thread, I read from the bottom up, and skip over those who seem to be trolling, or whose writing style is exactly like previous posters who have been banned but have reappeared with different names.

Accusations of racism are completely ignorant in a forum like this, since you know almost nothing about the person writing, in fact, the less you know about the person, the better, since their words should be speaking for them. The quality of Mr. Daugherty’s writing especially and Mr. Remer’s writing to a lesser extent, has, in my opinion, declined considerably since the advent of BHO, which has apparently dulled their critical faculties. Rhinehold’s and the middle column authors have stayed the same, and the red column went into the toilet from partisanship of the opposite side, hopefully now cured with the advent of C & J.

Posted by: ohrealy at November 22, 2009 2:15 PM
Comment #291325

ohrealy-
I don’t skip over the trolls, or those who make it personal. I’m very much the scrappy sort.

I don’t think you’ve ever rated my critical faculties high when it comes to Obama. But, on the balance, I’ve always thought that you were very unfair about him for reasons that I cannot figure out.

Look, I read about the standard sort of Republican talking points, find out just how full of it they are, factually speaking, then come back here, and listen to you making those same assertions. Considering my personality, what do you think would be my reaction?

Or, more simply, what HAS been my reaction?

I wish Obama would listen less to the Wall Street types in treasury, and more to the people who are saying that Gramm Leach Bliley needs to be repealed, and the protections of some new form of Glass Steagall reinstated.

I wish he were a tad bit more ruthless on healthcare.

I wish that he would shake off some of the fog that doubtlessly this endless shower of vitriol and refuse being thrown from the right has probably put him in, and become a certain kind of avenging angel.

But you know what? He’s gotten further along on Healthcare than Clinton ever got us. He got a stimulus package past a near unanimous Republican blockade of it. He remains in much better shape politically than the Republicans would like to think, while they wallow in their lowest numbers for as long as people have been keeping them. He’s not making his decisions on Afghanistan in hurried way, and the reports are that he’s thinking of things in terms of an exit strategy, a direction I applaud.

I can be a perfectionist sometimes, but I’ve learned that there are time when having faith in somebody or something, at least guarded faith, is better than letting doubts corrode one’s ability to hope for better. Critical faculties are good, and I’m watching the things he’s doing, but I’m not watching with an eye to sensing an oncoming betrayal. Too much pessimism is poison to change of the status quo, because pessimism most often serves inaction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 22, 2009 7:32 PM
Comment #291349

“I’ve always thought that you were very unfair about him for reasons that I cannot figure out.”

Thanks for telling me that you either never read or understood anything that I wrote. The “Rplcns” got their talking points from a record of things that happened. I got mine from reading BHO’s works, other books by his supporters, and the local news outlets. I won’t bore you with repetition of things that don’t fit into your view of the POTUS.

Around the corner from BHO’s house in Chicago is the Ellis Avenue Church, which finally set up a website, a little different from Trinity UCC, which was more useful until it wasn’t useful anymore. On election day 2008, there was a longer line at a funeral parlor, one and a half miles south and half a mile east of Ellis, than at any polling place. I know what I’m talking about, and you’re in Houston.

Partisanship does strange things. Directly above, a person sides with someone whose record of views they know nothing about, instead of someone who explains their views clearly, because they are perceived to be “on the same side.” I think that this site should be reorganized on non-partisan lines according to topics rather than the way it is now.

Posted by: ohrealy at November 23, 2009 12:09 AM
Comment #291356

>I think that this site should be reorganized on non-partisan lines according to topics rather than the way it is now.
Posted by: ohrealy at November 23, 2009 12:09 AM

I think Watchblog goes on the auction block now and then…buy it the next time it does, and see how long posters stay around with that format.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 23, 2009 8:33 AM
Comment #291370

ohrealy-
I’m afraid that many of your accusations against Obama did show up in the Republican talking points, and quite often at that.

It may be the sources, or the source of your sources. You got to be careful to check the facts on accusations like this, not simply accept such talk on face value.

I sided with Obama because his expressed views, his center-left politics, his books, and other matters, all showed me views that I agreed with.

I just don’t find good reason within all that gossip and mess to take your Native Chicagoan word over what I see and sense of the man myself. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t like to be turned against people unless I feel there’s a proper reason for me to abandon my loyalty.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 23, 2009 2:45 PM
Comment #291372

I don’t think Chigago is any more politically corrupt than any other city. The old Daley machine was better known, but that was because there were a concentration of articles written about him/it.
In the forties the Pendergast machine if Kansas City almost derailed Harry Truman’s bid. The press and his political enemies conspired to link him with that corrupt bunch…aren’t you glad it was a failed effort? Harry was about the most straight forward President we’ve ever had.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 23, 2009 2:56 PM
Comment #291375
I don’t think Chigago is any more politically corrupt than any other city.

I would have to strongly disagree with this statement… Maybe NY rivals it. Maybe. But that would be about it.

I think having three Governors since 1970 in jail is a good example of that. Even with an attempt to crack down on the organized crime in Chicago, it is flourishing spectacularly with bought and paid for (or blackmailed) politicians.

The best part is that these criminals convince the poor to keep electing them because they wouldn’t survive without them. Never realizing that it is that purchasing of their vote that helps keep them poor and dependant, otherwise their support that keeps them in office would dry up and go away. And anyone trying to help those people realize that they can make it on their own and shouldn’t be satisfied with relying upon their criminal masters is, at best, labelled a selfish racist. Threats and legal reprisals come next. :( Yes, I know first hand.

Driving through southside Chicago one day and notice the number of billboards advertising to give ‘payday’ loans on assistance checks. Made me throw up in my mouth a little and definately understand where Jesus was coming from when he threw the moneychangers out of the temple.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 23, 2009 3:58 PM
Comment #291376

BTW, on the issue of race, it is clear that people want to be able to throw the accusation around without proof. That is their discresion. I choose to ignore such people willing to accuse others of something like with no proof at all. It is despicible and shows a lack of character, IMO.

Code words, ‘you folks’ an other tactics to attempt to win a debate are useless. If you have proof, bring it on and be willing to admit you were wrong when it is effectively defended. Otherwise, how can you be upset about anything that your political rivals do when you are willing to do worse just to win a political debate?

Stephen, for example, if I use the phrase ‘States Rights’ in context of a constitutional discussion… Unless you can prove that my usage of the phrase was because of a racist thought or view, it is IRRELEVANT to the discussion. So is the phrase ‘reverse discrimination’ no matter where you think it came from or what some people who use it mean by it. Unless *I* mean that, and you can prove it, then it isn’t. And I don’t think I’ve personally ever used that term anyway, discrimination is discrimination whether it is used to hurt or help someone.

And that is why I have chosen to ignore some poeple, because they are unwiling to give up that warm blanket of being able to call someone the most despicible of names or charge their views in the that most despicible way without a concern about what their charges will do or whether it is even true or not. And especially unwilling to back off when they are shown how they are wrong. That’s telling enough for me.

And the responses from the people I have chosen to ignore, defending themselves instead of accepting that they MAY have overstepped, just makes me realize that my decision was well founded.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 23, 2009 4:12 PM
Comment #291377

stephen, you are not naive, you are just not standing around criticizing every move, hand shake or bow our president makes. watering of the mouth waiting to pounce on every word, movement, and perceived snubb.

every american knows we are much better off as a nation since that idiot warmonger has left dc. hell, the whole world knows. and, pretty safe to say most that post here.

the republicans have taken their vicious attacks on the world and their bullying techniques and now turned to one person. president obama. they no longer have the power to bully countries, so they are now terrorizing americans with fear. speaking of our new leader with no praise, or american pride, but of name calling callus. socialist. an american president. shame.

happy thanksgiving. thank an indian on thanksgiving.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 23, 2009 4:44 PM
Comment #291379
happy thanksgiving. thank an indian on thanksgiving.

um… why? You know you are dying to say…

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 23, 2009 4:53 PM
Comment #291393

“sources, or the source of your sources.” For a long time, I was considering giving you a new nickname with the acronym WAYOFP, referring to the many times that you have been oblivious to how you were complaining about things that you actually do more consistently than others, you Wikipedia quoter.

Your use of “folks” is too southern colloquial, and you’re no Paula Dean. Up north, where many have German or Norwegian ancestry, the word has different connotations. I won’t go into the etymology, the former Rasputin doesn’t like it.

You’re categorizing a whole lot of people as Rpblcns who would never claim to be such. Why is that? Heroes and Villains? Read too much Joseph Campbell?

Chicago is the largest small town in the world. A grown person, who has been active and busy their whole life, ends up meeting many others who have done the same.

Penny Pritzker($20 Billion) is supposed to be at the state dinner tonight, along with Marty Nesbitt, who introduced BO to PP. Tony Rezko won’t be there. He’s been detained, but he was somewhere else when something else happened that you don’t want to believe. He’s your Susan McDougall, except they want him to tell the truth instead of wanting her to agree to lies.

Posted by: ohrealy at November 23, 2009 7:21 PM
Comment #291395


Bluebuss,

…Native American….Columbus was lost. In my experience, neither Native Americans nor Indians like the term misapplied.

Posted by: gergle at November 23, 2009 7:51 PM
Comment #291396

I’m beginning to feel some bloviation around here.

Posted by: gergle at November 23, 2009 7:58 PM
Comment #291405

gergle,

You do realize that ‘native american’s weren’t actually the firest humans here, right? And that when they got here and found people living here they systematically slaughtered them and pushed them to far South America where they can be found living off of islands off of souther Chile?

But, beyond that, I’m not sure why we should be ‘thanking’ them exactly?

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 23, 2009 8:35 PM
Comment #291409

Rhinehold,

I agree, thanking someone your ancestors slaughter and steal land from seems a bit insincere and somewhat useless.

Restitution would be a bit more honest.

Posted by: gergle at November 23, 2009 8:55 PM
Comment #291413

So, are they paying restitution to the people THEY slaughtered and stole land from? Or is this just something that we have to pay for the actions of our great great grandfathers did.

Oh wait, my family wasn’t in the US when it happened, do I get attached with the requirement to pay someone today for what happened hundreds of years ago? Can I ask for restitution for things that happened a couple thousands of years ago? Do the Jews get to get paid by the Egyptians for being held slaves?

Tell me gergle, what are these rules so I can know where to direct my lawyer to…

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 23, 2009 9:12 PM
Comment #291448

Rhinehold-
You may have the freedom to use what words you like, but that does not correspond to any freedom from the pre-freighted connotations or denotations of the words you use.

If you use the words “state’s rights” without prefacing what you really mean by that, those words will carry, for the people who are knowledgeable enough, the meanings already loaded onto that term.

People do not have to give you the benefit of the doubt on what you mean by those words. Most people will expect that when you use such words, you know what they mean, and you know what you’re saying.

They don’t assume things they don’t know about you, or which fades from memory having not been refreshed. You ever wonder why I’m so thorough in my posts? You need to know what exactly you’re communicating to people, and if you become aware of the meaning, you need to adjust your words accordingly. You can’t force people to take the meaning you want them to from something. You must always persuade.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2009 10:16 AM
Comment #291457

Gee Stephen, you used the phrase “persuade” which, as everyone knows, is a code word for fascism. Why are you a fascist, Stephen?

In fact, when did you stop beating your wife?

Ignorant accusations about what people say because someone else used words a certain way is the way we continue to hold ourselves back. “State’s Rights” means exactly that. If there were no other use of the phrase other than one of some racist view, perhaps you would have a point but the fact is that “State’s Rights” still holds the meaning of the rights of the states and THAT IS IT. The accusers have added a connotation to it because they want to use it to prove racism and then defend its use as being racst due to their own definition.

It would be like me being upset about your use of ‘You Folks’ as racist because of how it tracks with ‘You People’. That is not what upsets me about it, your use of it is a way to combine people into a grouping that allows you to make stereotypical assumptions about individuals based on that invalid grouping. But there are people out there that would take offense at it for those other reasons. Should we start playing that game back?

Don’t you think that giving people the benefit of the doubt is the better way to live other than assuming that everyone is racist and waiting until they can ‘prove’ (by supporting your policies en masse without question) that they aren’t before acknowledging it?

If not, I’ll make sure to return the favor… I have a feeling that you aren’t going to like it though.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 24, 2009 10:51 AM
Comment #291489

Rhinehold,

I said restitution would be more honest, not practical or expected.

Perhaps, handing them some sort of advantage….like Affirmative Action…might be in order….no…that would be racist, right? As opposed to slaughter and theft.

Posted by: gergle at November 24, 2009 1:40 PM
Comment #291492

isn’t the whole premise for thanksgiving that pilgrams would not have survived w/o the indians help. strike that native americans. i think “native” americans are fine w/anything that doesn’t end in a group of white ppl pointing and shooting at them. did i take the bait rhinehold? not so much.

drinking game of the week: palin saying “fundamental financial principles”.

gobble, gobble.

Posted by: bluebuss at November 24, 2009 1:48 PM
Comment #291499

Ohrealy-

I was considering giving you a new nickname with the acronym WAYOFP, referring to the many times that you have been oblivious to how you were complaining about things that you actually do more consistently than others, you Wikipedia quoter.

Oh noes, I’m a wikipedia quoter!

Seriously, I cite sources when I make a claim, and support extraordinary allegations (like the “blockade” of the senate that I talk about) with evidence like statistics and actual answer. Like anybody, I use egregious incidents to my political benefit. But unlike some, I believe that a problem’s got to be real if is to be both good and right to use it along such lines. Such is how we keep people honest. We have to figure out whether there is actually something worth disagreeing with.

I don’t spend a lot of time on thinking up interesting things to call my opponents, because I think that’s a waste of time. The only people who’ll really get a kick out of it are fellow members of our groups; people who fall into the opposition will have little problem dismissing it as partisan nonsense, and those who fall inbetween won’t necessarily be impressed by it.

As for the Southern Colloquial, if you’ve been paying attention, I’m a Texan. So, “you folks”, and “y’all” are not quite the affectations you’re arguing they are. Given that the Texan predilection for is better known than the Midwestern predilection against, Why expect me to know better?

Rhinehold-
Don’t pull that kind of lazy argument with me.

“States Rights”, if nothing else, is a phrase with a rich history. You don’t have to twist it to bring up unpleasant associations, because it comes already loaded with connections to the advocates of slavery, the claims made about what drove the South to secede in the Civil War, and later with Jim Crow.

Why do you expect people to just forget all that, and, without any kind of preface, interpret it your way?

Your argument doesn’t work, concerning what is given certain connotations. People assume you know what dogwhistle you’re blowing, when you use terms that are so specifically associated in the public’s mind and experience with a certain group.

If I started talking about the proletariat, the bourgieousie, class struggle, and workers seizing the means of production, then I would be foolish to think that folks weren’t going to start thinking of me as a Marxist or Socialist.

You expect people to come to your word choices with no preconceptions. that’s unrealistic. The real world is full of history, and the english language and American vernacular are full of phrases and ideas that time and tide have given certain implications which come to mind immediately.

We’re not going to do your work for you. You’re going to have to choose your words carefully if you wish to be understood properly, just like everybody else.

Who knows, in figuring out how to say something in a way that avoids old connotations, you might find a better way to sell your opinion. It’s good for people to understand the nuts and bolts of their arguments.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 24, 2009 3:15 PM
Comment #291529

“people will expect that when you use such words, you know what they mean,”
WAYOFP? Recall “well-poisoning” or “poisoning the well”? Memory lapses much?

“I don’t spend a lot of time on thinking up interesting things to call my opponents,”
So, I’m your opponent? How did that happen? I believe that we share many views, but I don’t worship at the same altar as either you, or a former classmate of mine who was met with stunned silence, at a debate at Pepperdine when he said that Roe V Wade was settled law now after 35 years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uq63dr2IkQ On “interesting things”, I always try to create search terms, useful to people who use real search engines rather than shortcuts like Wiki and Goo.

“fellow members of our groups”
To what group am I supposed to belong? The Left Libertarian Conspiracy?

“Why expect me to know better?”
Your education, if not your memory?

Posted by: ohrealy at November 24, 2009 7:39 PM
Comment #380609

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