Commentary: The right to bear arms is not absolute | Opinion |

Source: Commentary: The right to bear arms is not absolute | Opinion |

The author here is trying to make an analogy of firearms to speech. He points out that you may not use words to incite violence and suggests that the same principle applies to firearms. That, of course, is true. However, his analogy makes no sense. It makes no sense because the firearms is not analogous to the act of misusing words; firearms are analogous to the words themselves. Words are the tools of the First Amendment, while firearms are the tools of the Second Amendment. There are laws against the misuse of words and the misuse of firearms as there should be. There are no laws against words, and there should not be; nor should there be laws against firearms.

Bumper Stickers

I have always been fascinated by bumper stickers. They are sort of a pre-electronic Twitter – which I also find fascinating. Bumper stickers are more provocative because you don’t choose to “follow” them. They are in your face.

My wife often chides me when I squint through the windshield to read a sticker, or pause i the parking lot of a restaurant to study one of those cars with stickers plastered all over the back of it – a sort of self-inflicted graffiti.

While I am fascinated by them, bumper stickers offend my sense of propriety. My parents believed it undignified to “advertise” stuff with your car or clothing. My grandfather on my mother’s side would chisel-off the name plates of appliances he bought. “It’s not Frigidaire’s refrigerator, I paid for it, and I’m not going to advertise for them!”, he would say. My parents never had a bumper sticker on a car, nor did they have own any garments with more than a discreet logo. This aversion was passed on to me.

It was in the 1990’s when I put a bumper sticker on my old Honda sedan. I forget what the sticker said, but the capital “C” in “Clinton” was a hammer and sickle. I continue to go back and forth, putting them on, then taking them off. Right now I am sticker free – mostly because I don’t want my late-model vehicle to get key striped.

In the early days, bumper stickers were used to advertised some sort business from the low end of the tourism industry. Older residents will recall the green on yellow, “The THING? Mystery of the desert” sticker that seemed to be everywhere in southern Arizona. Decades ago, when the City of Tucson wanted to straighten River Road and make it an east-west highway, the residents along River Road campaigned strongly against the plan and sported bumper stickers that said, “Keep it Kinky.” This was the local bellwether to the shift from business to politics.

Politics now seem to dominate bumper sticker messages. Stands on every imaginable issue, from abortion to medicine to taxes, are thrust upon the unsuspecting driver. There is always an uptick in an election year, but the last cycle blossomed with a plethora of Obama promotional images and slogans – including the “O” logo which was the best, most adaptable logo since the Sumerians started poking clay with sticks.


There are far more Democrats than Republicans in Pima County, so Obama stickers were everywhere. After the election, the stickers remained, even seemed to grow in number, or maybe I just find them more irritating. I have a friend who came to town for the Gem and Mineral Show last February, and was shocked to see Obama bumper stickers on Arizona cars. He, being from New Jersey, assumed all of Arizona was McCain country. I explained that Pima County was “Commie Central” in Arizona, and was actually carried by Obama.

Here it is, the dead of summer, and the virulent plague of “O” stickers still persist. I even saw a new mutation, “Yes We Did!”

Speaking of McCain, people on Obama’s presidential campaign admitted that McCain was their candidate of choice for the Republican nomination. They also admitted that they were scared witless by Romney. They were afraid that Romney would make Obama look clueless in the area of business and economics. Actually, you do not need a Mitt Romney to make president Obama look clueless regarding economics, but that is for another time. This insight does explain why McCain, held in generally low esteem by the Republican base, won the nomination. He was selected by Democrats and “Independents”. That’s why states have “open primaries”. Open primaries allow, in this case, Democrats to affect the outcome of Republican primaries.

I should probably save this for the next “Get Out of Town” issue, but I am really tired of Obama bumper stickers being worn like some kind of badge. It has always been considered poor taste for the winner to strut around rubbing everyone’s nose in his victory. Most parents teach their children this at an early age. My parents were no different. Remember, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.”

On second thought, keep it up. The way things are going, those stickers may become a source of embarrassment. In fact, the Republicans may recycle the theme of an old 70’s Democrat sticker – “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for McCain.”

Post Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

My family and I had a delightful Thanksgiving Day. People from grandparents to small children were in attendance. All expressed gratitude for living in the same town, where we can all come together. I am certainly grateful for that, and our Tucson community, and for our nation.

Thanksgiving Day by itself, however, is incomplete. It is an annual event during which we come together to give thanks collectively. The compliment to that, is our daily prayers and meditations with which we give thanks individually. It is a dynamic, a synergy, that strengthens our spirit.

We certainly would not want to attend weekly worship services, just to forget God in our daily lives; nor would we want to pray and meditate in isolation, without experiencing Him through our fellows. Oliver Wendel Holmes said, “My religion can be summed up in the first two words of the Lords Prayer.” It is a beautiful and concise summation of the relation of God and man.

I endeavor to pray and meditate every day. I fall short of that goal, but I never forget it. I always include a prayer of thanks.

I was given a wonderful suggestion once. If I wanted to think of more things for which I was grateful, all I had to do was think of things for which I was proud, then substitute the word “grateful” for the word “proud”. It worked well for me, and helped develop a little humility as well.

An Open Letter to Dennis Prager

Dear Mr. Prager,

I have a philosophical question that I would like you to consider. You are a deep thinker, and a Godly man, so you may have thoughts that will help resolve it. The question became clear to me after the election.

I think it is fair to say that the victory of President Elect Obama was achieved primarily through a two efforts. One was an ongoing effort of ginning up hatred for President Bush. Much of this effort involved rather despicable behavior on the part of Democrats, and most the people reveled in it. The other effort was to portray candidate Obama as a unifying moderate. He was, and is, just the opposite, and most people embraced the deception.

You, I, and others value civility, honesty, and honor. I believe, based on my observations, that generally the electorate does not share these values.

So the question is: Are we being arrogant when we insist on expressing, through word and deed, these values in political campaigns?

Here is an analogy. If the electorate were a customer, and a campaign were a product, would it not be arrogant to suggest that the customer should buy what we want, and not what he wants?

Here’s another one. Most adults see war as a horror, yet they understand that there are worse things, and are willing to engage in it when necessary. Many juveniles see war as a horror, but their understanding stops there. They conclude that all war is bad without further inquiry. This idea is reflected in slogans like “War is the enemy”, and “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” They refuse to live life on life’s terms. So, are we not being juvenile when we insist on maintaining a high level of decorum in political campaigns?

Spiritually speaking, have we lost our humility when we reject the values of those whom we endeavor to serve? I understand that our values come from a source higher than our egos, but in the role of public servants (emphasis on “servants”), should we not show respect for the electorate by embracing them as they are – on their terms?

It is my hope that even if you reject some of my premises, that you will address the question anyway, since it is an interesting philosophical/ethical problem.

Thank you.

Carnegie’s Paternalistic Vision

There has been ongoing controversy over filtering online pornography at the Pima County Public Library. It has become a campaign issue.

Ray Carroll has led the fight in favor of filtering pornographic material. Most of the other county supervisors demur, noting first amendment concerns, and the imperfection of filtering technology.

The concern, of course, is the inevitability of small children walking by the computer bank while young adult males are viewing, well, you can imagine…then again, maybe you can’t imagine.

This porn problem is really a symptom of the public library concept, a concept originally put forth by the great industrialist, Andrew Carnegie.

In the early 1900’s Carnegie turned his focus from steel and other concerns to philanthropy. He envisioned community facilities that were a combination of free libraries and community meeting places. He provided startup money while the local government committed to providing the real estate and ongoing expenses. This was the original “public/private partnership.” He started over three thousand of these facilities across the English-speaking world.

We all find Carnegie’s vision cool, and these public libraries have enriched countless communities. The problem is, that as government entities, they try to be all things to all the people in the community. There is a touch of arrogant paternalism in the original vision that continues today.

Were libraries private businesses that had to respond to the discipline of the markets, they would identify specific information markets, and succeed or fail by how well they served them. If you are funded directly by those you serve, you keep them happy. This is called the discipline of the market.

If your funding does not come directly from those you serve, then you do not see a problem with little kids watching an erotomaniac get all jacked up over an online video. You are all things to all people.

Imagine little Susie coming home and her mom asking, “What did you learn at the Library today?”

Susie says, I learned about trains and highways, and I learned how to spell “transportation”.

“That’s wonderful honey!” says mom.

Susie adds, “Mommy?”

“Yes dear,” replies mom.

“What’s an Asian MILF creampie?”

Interestingly, to my knowledge, no one is pushing for an adult section of the library. It might solve the problem, but then the library would admittedly become purveyors of porn, not simply the homogenized source of all information.

In the end, technology and the private sector will make public libraries irrelevant. Online libraries, computers, and electronic readers will bring the information to the citizen – the citizen will no longer have to go to the information.

Jeff Bezos, founder of, Has his own vision. He’s sees the decline of the “dead tree world” of books. Last year he introduced the Kindle electronic reading device.

Among other things, the Kindle allows the reader to download books and periodicals directly to the device via the cell phone network. It is about the size of a trade paperback, and the screen does not glow. It uses “electronic ink” technology that looks like a printed page.

With this move, Bezos is making a down payment on the future of his book business, and keeping it on the cutting edge – good for him! More importantly, he is staying in the private sector, subjecting himself to market discipline – good for us!

It is hard to imagine Jeff Bezos being blasé about mixing together Dick and Jane stories with hardcore pornography. He is accountable to his customers in a very direct, dollars and cents way.

Hopefully, Jeff Bezos will stay a businessman and not become a philanthropist. We will all be better served in the long run.

The Bizarre Case of San Tan Flat

Let me start by saying that San Tan Flat is in no way connected with Tortilla Flat. There are no tee shirts that say, “Where the Hell is San Tan Flat?” Although new to Arizona, San Tan Flat has enjoyed a level of publicity unknown to Tortilla Flat.

Our story begins with a father and son, Dale and Spencer Bell. Dale has operated successful restaurants in both South Dakota and Wyoming. He and his son, Spencer, opened their new venture in Pinal County, Arizona, on the flats next to the San Tan Mountains – hence the name.

After three years of jumping through hoops, they finally opened on 2005 with Pinal County’s blessing. Shortly thereafter, Pinal County began to harass them mercilessly. They made them remove one of their two signs, reduced their road access from four entrances to one, and they made them build a bigger parking lot. They also sent deputies out at night to measure decibel levels.

This sort of behavior usually indicates that some well-connected turgid member of the community wants him out of Dodge. In the older frontier times, they usually just sent the Sheriff around to tell him, “Be out of town by sundown.” These are less direct, less honest, weenie times.

Dale complied with all the harassing demands, until they turned their sights on his customers. They claimed it was illegal for them to dance to the music in the courtyard. They cited an ordinance from 1962 that required “dance halls, penny arcades, and bowling alleys” to be in fully enclosed structures. San Tan Flat is a restaurant bar. As Dale said to me, “I’ve never seen a penny arcade in my lifetime, I’ve never been able to put a penny in a machine and have it do anything, I don’t know how old you are, but I’m an old guy…this thing is pretty obsolete even in its language.” With the help of the Arizona chapter of the Institute for Justice, Dale went to court.

The Pinal County attorneys stated, at four separate times during the initial hearing, that the supervisors thought the outdoor stage at the Country Western Saloon and Steakhouse would be used for “mimes, puppet shows, poetry readings, and art displays.” Why, of course! Any cowboy worth his salt needs a little miming, and poetry read to him every now and again. Those dang Bell Boys deceived us!

Dale has determined that upstanding member of the community Pinal County Supervisor Sandy Smith is directing the attacks against him. It is her appointee, the Pinal County Sheriff, who sends his deputies out three times a night to test the decibel levels. So far, they have had no luck.

I asked Dale why Sandy Smith was trying to make his life miserable. He answered, “Why is she doing it? Possibly petty jealousy over the success of the business, possibly because we did not grovel, or kiss her butt, which is apparently what she was expecting us to do after we were open and permitted.” He had some other ideas that involved millionaire developers, but it’s all just speculation.

The silver lining to this dark cloud is that the longer it drags on, the more support the Bells get – from George Will, who wrote of their plight in his Washington Post column, to Dale and Spencer’s customers. Dale said of his customers, “They don’t say they like it, they say they love it!”

The significance of this case lies not so much in the fact that the petty commissars of Pinal County are being exposed; rather it verifies what we in the freedom movement have come to realize over the past few years.

Traditionally, it was government at the federal level that sent edicts from far away for the great unwashed, doing away with federalism, and exceeding its limited jurisdiction in a rather tyrannical way. It seemed to make sense that when people are reduced to numbers and formulas, they would be treated like them. Now we see those close to us, here at home, behaving in similar fashion. Whether they use eminent domain, civil forfeiture, or “Smart Growth” central planning, our locals have a lust to control people, and property that they do not own.

As the bizarre case of San Tan Flat exemplifies, it is not the remoteness of the power that is corrupting. It is the power itself.

Rejoice the fact that Tucson is still part of the American frontier

This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly

Nothing makes a Tucsonan appreciate home like going away. It is true that Tucson has so much to offer that one could spend a career vacationing here, never leaving at all, and yet, it does not have everything. It really needs, for example, an ocean.We all need an ocean from time to time; it is in our genes. I subscribe to the marine theory regarding the gap in human evolution. The theory explains the “missing link” as a period of return to the sea. It explains why, compared to other primates, we evolved certain differences, including having much less hair, nostrils that point down (better for swimming), more subcutaneous fat and the ability to control our breath (no other primate can do that).In my case, add to that an astrological chart that has no earth–only water and air. The urge to make a pilgrimage is compelling.

Anyway, off to the People’s Republic of California my lovely wife and I were, specifically, San Diego. By the way, if you don’t like Tucson because you “like to see the change of seasons,” try San Diego. As far as I can tell, the only difference between summer and winter is the length of the day.

While in San Diego, we visited our friends Cathy and Jason, who had moved there from Tucson a year or two ago. We met for dinner at the Bluewater Seafood Market and Grill, where we feasted on fresh fish.

I talked a little shop with Cathy, who reported that her job was going quite well; she loved the company for which she worked, but she really wanted to move back to Tucson. In fact, she revealed that she may eventually put that goal before her career, if it came to that.

My jaw dropped, and the teriyaki-grilled wahoo almost fell from my mouth. Our friends were living in the Ocean Beach section of San Diego–a few blocks from the beach itself. They enjoyed surfing, going to the mountains, dining out in the big city–you name it! It seemed like the hot setup for a young couple.

She explained: While there is great cultural diversity in San Diego, the different ethnicities are balkanized, and people tend to limit their associations to their respective groups. Tucson also has great cultural diversity, but the different ethnicities have more of a shared experience–there is little exclusivity. She missed that.

Cathy learned what many of the rest of us learned by moving the other way–to Tucson from elsewhere. It is the reason we stay, and the reason that many native Tucsonans return: Tucson does have an almost magical openness, a lack of pretense which allows one to blossom as an individual. It is not unique to Tucson–but it is unique to frontiers.

In the latter part of the 18th century, there were two significant revolutions in the Western world: the American and the French. The Americans threw off the monarchy for individual liberty and sovereignty, which led to the most open, free and prosperous society in history. The French threw off the monarchy for the new master–bureaucracy, which was fleshed out by Marx, and led to the oppression and murder of tens of millions of people.

So, which one was on the frontier? Coincidence? I think not.

The Eastern part of the country has lost its frontier spirit. We should turn the border with Canada 90 degrees, and the Western states and provinces could be America, and the eastern ones could join the European Union. We really have more in common, culturally, with Alberta and Saskatchewan than we do with New York and New Jersey.

Until then, let us rejoice that we live in Tucson–still part of the American frontier.

People should embrace the cultures of their adopted homes

Originally published by the Tucson Weekly
I am not originally from these parts, though I have lived in Tucson longer than many natives. Therefore, I ought to be comfortable around cows, but I am not. I consider this a shortcoming.Recently, my lovely wife and I were camping in the wilds of northern New Mexico. One night, we camped in a large grassy area occupied by numerous cows, bulls, steers and calves. Well after dark, and after we retired to our tent, I heard a deep, dark, bellow that was full of menace. I felt a chill. A few minutes later, I heard it again … closer. A few minutes after that, it was closer still.I sat up and peered into the inky blackness to try to surmise how much time we had left. My wife asked what I was doing. I replied, “There is a cow out there, and it is heading right for us. … I’m getting in the truck cab.”My eternally patient wife replied, “If you go yell at it, it will probably just go away.”My wife grew up in North Dakota, owned a pony and, for all I know, was probably a 4-H Club member. She was definitely “down” with the cow thing. I, on the other hand, grew up in one of those “parentheses states,” as Tom Wolfe describes them–these are the states that bracket America, but are not really a part of it–and never stood next to any animal larger than a dog until I moved to Tucson. Animals that weigh as much as a Toyota Prius give me the willies.I never did enter the cab of the truck–the beast halted its advance–but the damage to my honor as a Tucsonan was done. I was not worthy of the name.

Morning came, and the cattle numbers had swollen. A bull strode along a tangent to our camp, then turned and walked toward us. I felt it was time to face my fear. I walked toward him. He stopped. I held up my right hand and shouted, “My name is Jonathan, and I fear no cow!” (Note the insult contained in the use of the term “cow.”) He stared at me briefly, and then continued his advance. “Just kidding!” I added quickly, and hastened back to camp. Satisfied with my retreat, the bull walked away.

After almost 30 years in Tucson, I am still subject to bovine intimidation.

At this point, one might ask, “What’s with the cow fixation?” Well, it is a last link to my origins as Eastern Seaboard Blue State Spawn. I believe that when one moves to a different city, state or country, one should embrace its laws, culture, etc. If one does not wish to do so, then one should reconsider the move–does it make sense to bring with one that which one is leaving?

By the way, other factors, such as the reason for the move, or one’s origin, are not substantive. The principle applies to all immigrants, whether from Raleigh or Riyadh, Denver or Damascus, Wabash or Oaxaca.

So if you catch me overdressed or giving a cow an unusually wide berth (looking like those pasty-white fat guys from Chicago with the polo shirts, Bermuda shorts and overpriced athletic shoes), understand that I’m not an invader or would-be conquistador. I am just one of many immigrants from blue-state hell who is trying to do the right thing by my adopted home. I embrace our frontier culture of rugged individualism, freedom from pretense, acceptance of others–and cows.

The Week in Review – 5/5/07

Dutch Rub-Out
Wolfowitz and the World Bank’s Euro-cabal.
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz faces an “ad hoc committee” investigating his alleged ethics violations today, but it seems the committee has reached its conclusions even before he has a chance to defend himself. This fits the pattern of what is ever more clearly a Euro-railroad job.
On Saturday, the Washington Post cited “three senior bank officials” as saying that the committee has “nearly completed a report” concluding that Mr. Wolfowitz “breached ethics rules when he engineered a pay raise for his girlfriend.” The Post also reported that, “According to bank officials, the timing of the committee’s report and its conclusions have been choreographed for maximum impact in what has become a full-blown campaign to persuade Wolfowitz to go.” So there it is from the plotters themselves: Verdict first, trial later.

Comment: Petty and corrupt, now you know why they are called “Euroweenies.” It is sad that a continent with such a rich history would come to this. This is another anecdote that reveals the cultural superiority of the frontier as evidenced by the superiority of America to Europe, and the western states to the eastern seaboard.

When Talk Isn’t Cheap
Campaign finance regulators say speech isn’t free–it’s a form of “contribution.”
Campaign finance laws are increasingly becoming a tool to suppress political speech, and the courts are finally waking up to the danger. Last week a unanimous Washington state Supreme Court struck down an outrageous interpretation of a law that had been used to classify the antitax comments of two Seattle talk-radio hosts as “campaign contributions” subject to regulation–that is, suppression–by local prosecutors and officials who disagreed.
Washington’s highest court struck down a decision by Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham, who in 2005 ordered KVI radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur had to place a monetary value on “campaign contributions” they made when they argued in favor of Initiative 912, a ballot measure to repeal a 9.5-cent-a-gallon increase in the state’s gasoline tax. The antitax measure ultimately lost by 6% of the vote, in part because its opponents outspent its supporters by 20 to 1.

Comment: It’s stuff like this that make people understand that government, more and more, is the problem, not the solution. Most laws we see passed nowadays are immoral, if not illegal. Here we see an immoral law stretched to illegal extremes.

By Robert Spencer
Has it ever happened before, in the history of the world, that almost six years into a major conflict, half of the intelligentsia of a nation fighting the war was not convinced that there was even a war on? Such was the implication of a moment during Thursday’s Democratic presidential candidates’ debate. When asked, “Do you believe there is such a thing as a Global War On Terror,” candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Christopher Dodd raised their hands. John Edwards, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel kept their hands down.

Comment: Spencer goes on to point out that words mean things, and that it is quite dangerous to give the war cute names like “The War on Terror”, when it is, in fact, “The War on Jihad”. John Edwards (aka “The Breck Girl”) appears to be slipping from the group of those who pose as serious people, to the group of moonbats.

After Imus
No more witch burnings for PC offenses.
Don Imus, Bernard McGuirk, Trent Lott, Larry Summers, the Duke lacrosse team, Jimmy the Greek, the kid who yelled “water buffalo” at Penn, Howard Cosell, Jon Stewart, Chief Illiniwek, Jackie Mason and “South Park” all have in common only one thing: They have not been Politically Correct.

Comment: At last, someone has finally stepped back and looked at what has happened to our culture. The Stalinist enforcers of Political Correctness have achieved outside the government what tradition totalitarians used to do within the government.

Tucson Region
Havasupai suit over research tossed
A suit against the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and researchers claiming they misused blood samples from Havasupai tribal members was dismissed by a Maricopa Superior Court judge, but tribal officials say they intend to refile the suit.
Carletta Tilousi, a plaintiff and Havasupai tribal councilwoman, said the tiny tribe’s leaders maintain ASU researchers used blood samples authorized only for the study of diabetes instead for research into schizophrenia, inbreeding and migratory patterns.

Comment: O.K., we can all agree that there should be clarity, and certainly no fraud when sampling for scientific research – but I do not think that that is what is going on here. This is political. American tribes have acquired a great store of political capital that is contingent on imagined glorious cultures that existed, unaltered, from the beginning of time to 1492. That is why scientific research is a threat, and will be fought at every opportunity. I suspect that this is the primary motivation here.

Tucson Region
National prayer day in Tucson
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.04.2007

Comment: Uh…um…. Other than a photograph caption, there is no text to go along with this “story”? Does that seem odd to you? Do you suppose the reporter was less than enthusiastic about it? Perhaps there was not an enthusiastic reporter working for the Red Star. Just speculating. Oddly enough, there were seven comments on this story with no words.

The Skinny
One of The Skinny’s favorite haunts, the Book Stop, is leaving Campbell Avenue after four decades.
Why? Because the center’s leasing agent/part owner, Richard “Dick” Shenkarow, is a total tool.
Book Stop owners Claire Fellows and Tina Bailey are gonna walk before he makes them run, escaping to Fourth Avenue before Shenkarow raises the rent.
The unassuming bookstore, just north of the intersection with Grant Road, was full of an ever-changing collection of treasures–shelf after shelf of classics, pulp fiction, best-sellers, obscure lit mags, hideous cookbooks, old yearbooks and so much more.

Comment: Our friend Jim Nintzel reflects on one of the local bibliophiles favorite “haunts.” He also brings us up to date on the presidential race, including where Arizonans stand.