An ethics professor explains his concealed weapon on campus.

Just don’t check your gun and fire your phone

Timothy Hsiao starts out “I am an ethics professor, and I carry a concealed handgun in the classroom. In the event of a mass shooting, I am the first line of defense between my students and an attacker. I refuse to let myself and my students be victims. Campus carry is simply an extension of our natural right of self-defense. Our right to life follows us wherever we go, so the right to defend our lives must also accompany us. Whether I am at home, in my car, at work, or in the classroom, I possess the absolute and unrelenting right to defend myself against unjust aggression. Because firearms enhance that right, there exists a strong presumption in favor of being allowed to own and carry a firearm as I go about my daily business.

As he advances his argument, it becomes clear how irrelevant virtually all the noise about “gun control”, “mass shooting” numbers, Trump’s rhetoric, the Second Amendment, 8Chan, “white supremacy” and yada yada yada is. The only issues worth discussing are YOUR right of self-defense, and whether carrying a gun increases or lessens your own anxiety. Murders, shootings, assault, etc. WILL happen, no matter what. Will you defend yourself and others, or will you be a victim?

He continues: “That presumption may sometimes be overcome (such as in courthouses, prisons, or airports), but only if the government assumes the special responsibility of protecting those citizens whom it disarms through the coercive power of the law. In other words, if the government is going to tell us we can’t carry guns in a specific area, thus impairing our ability to defend ourselves, it must assume a special responsibility to protect us. It must serve the function our guns would provide had we been allowed to carry them. If the government requires us to disarm ourselves before entering a specific area, it knowingly puts us in a position of increased vulnerability. It must therefore assume the special responsibility of making up for the gap it has created by increasing protective measures.”

How quickly and effectively can we be protected from an armed assailant when we are unarmed? How long will we have to wait, how many shots will be fired, before the police show up? “Police responses almost always come after someone has already committed a crime. According to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, only 47.3 percent of all personal crimes in 2008 were even reported to police. Of these crimes, only 28 percent of police responses came within five minutes of reporting, 30.3 percent within six to 10 minutes, and 33.5 percent within 11 minutes to one hour of reporting.

It is absurd to think one forfeits the right to defend his life simply by entering a classroom. The right of self-defense is essential to our very dignity as human beings. Although we may sometimes partially delegate this responsibility to others, we can never delegate it completely. Even in the most secure college campus, the police response to an active shooter is measured in minutes. But when seconds matter, it is up to students and faculty to defend their own lives. And they cannot do this without a reasonable and effective means of self-defense.

Many opponents of campus carry argue college-aged students are prone to excessive alcohol consumption and other reckless behavior that would make carrying more dangerous. While this may be true when considering college students in general, this does not take into account the fact that concealed carry permit holders tend to be more law-abiding than non-permit holders across all age groups. The common stereotype of college students as reckless party animals does not apply to the subset of students who are licensed to carry weapons.

Another objection is that civilians don’t have enough training to defend themselves and others while under pressure. This objection is simply false. First, one does not need to be an expert with firearms to use them successfully. As I’ve pointed out, studies consistently show that individuals do just fine when defending themselves with firearms, despite their relative lack of training compared to police officers. Even for the untrained, guns are still their best bet. Just as some defense is better than no defense, having a weapon is better than having no weapon at all.”

The final objection I wish to consider is that guns don’t belong in classrooms because they have a “chilling effect” on the free exchange of ideas. As a professor who lectures on controversial topics all the time, I regard this as pure nonsense. Self-protection is the guardian of free expression, not its enemy. A world in which we are the most free to express our ideas is one in which we are entitled to protect ourselves from persecution for holding the ideas we have. This isn’t to say we all must carry guns on us at all times, but that self-protection complements free speech.

While his arguments are logical, he left out the most important reason NOT to carry a gun around with you. Read this little meditation by Wyatt Edward Gates: “However, it is possible to escape fear and anxiety by understanding the fundamental impossibility of security. Fear evaporates when we realize there is no safety possible, and that striving for it only makes us suffer more. There is no safety or security. We are fundamentally impermanent. We will end. There is nothing to defend.” The best reason NOT TO carry a gun around: Striving for safety (from unpredictable events) can heighten your anxiety by reminding you of what you are anxious about. The best reason TO carry a gun: Believing you are safer can lessen anxiety, even if you really aren’t safer.

Am I “speaking out of both sides of my mouth?” Yes I am, because both principles–opposites of each other–are true. Given that the “probability” of being killed by a “mass shooter” is significantly less than the probability of dying in or from a vehicle, but no one is suggesting making access to vehicles more difficult, what are the real issues? Personal anxiety is the most obvious, and the subjective nature of anxiety makes both carrying a gun and not carrying a gun equally irrelevant for policy decisions. Policy decisions must be based on more enduring principles, if we want our freedom-loving culture to survive, and even thrive.

It is a universal normative truth that individuals are responsible for their own actions. Only a culture that rejects this truth—as the current academically-fueled culture does—could claim that access to weapons is the cause of people choosing to use weapons to kill other people. More than that, such a culture encourages people to think along its lines and to act willfully and violently but without responsibility; after all, responsibility is a cultural belief that is only “true” to the extent that one agrees with the culture. Do you believe in personal responsibility? If you’re a “policy maker” and you tout “solutions” which restrict access to the inanimate object that can be misused, rather than allowing responsible individuals–most of us–to discharge their duty of self-defense, you don’t believe in personal responsibility. Which countries produce politicians and policies who scream the loudest for GUN CONTROL? Those countries which operate the most pervasive welfare states, abdicating personal responsibility for an illusion of security. They’ve already lost the battle for freedom.

The “black hole” threatening to swamp life as we know it.

No, the black hole is not President Trump’s Twitter account, nor the witless ideas of “the Squad”. Unlike the public, political, economic and other issues which the media keep stoking, stroking, invoking, this black hole will eventually hit almost every family, regardless of race, gender or religion, if it hasn’t already.

I have witnessed the effects of this black hole called Alzheimer’s disease in my mother-in-law, other families whose loved ones spent their final days in the nether world of mind-loss and memory care facilities. It gives another, wholly unwanted meaning to selfless. Why do I say this black hole threatens life as we know it? Two reasons: 1- While the bodies of those afflicted remain on earth, their “life”–personality, memory, abilities–are somewhere else. 2- Given the rate of growth of both Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s, and the aging of the largest population cohort of the USA–baby boomers–and the lack of practical ways of paying for care, this black hole will soon dwarf other political, environmental and economic concerns.

What can you do personally, and for your family, to be proactive in reducing the gravitational pull of this black hole? No one knows what actually causes Alzheimer’s, including me, yet I have seen enough of it, and read enough accounts, that I will venture that a contributor is your own thoughts. Many of the victims of Alzheimer’s I have known were “blamers” and unforgivers.” They had trouble getting over slights and disappointments. They tend not to be resilient. Negative thoughts have a corrosive effect on personal peace. Scientists estimate that we have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day. Whenever you think about something, it is a form of self-talk so you can see how important it is to control your thoughts. Resilient people do not whine, complain, or blame others; instead, they have the mental toughness to take responsibility for their actions. Since you are not perfect, there will be mistakes and failures; instead of responding with negative self-talk, what if you accept responsibility and turn your attention, and energy, toward learning from your mistakes and failures?

I’m sure there’s plenty of exceptions, but I believe this: “Energy follows attention—wherever your attention is focused, your energy will follow. If your inner critic is beating you up about a failure, your failing will be the one thing you focus on.” (former FBI agent LaRae Quy). Even if I am wrong, learning to control your self talk is beneficial and worth the effort. I use my blog to monitor my self talk and work irritations out of my system. But that’s the same as journaling, except more public. I can think of no more useful tools for fighting Alzheimer’s and dementia than these exercises for your mind:

1. Read books, spend more time reading than watching videos, developing the habit of active learning rather than passive. Search out new sources of intelligent writing even beyond books. I am retired, living alone, and I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video, and cable TV through my building, but I observe a firm rule to assure that I will remain an active learner: No Tv or video before 5pm, after having spent the rest of the day reading, writing, blogging, being out in public.

2. Write, take notes on the books you read, write your thoughts on what the author says, beyond writing what the author says. Journaling is great for interspersing your own thoughts with those of others. Blogging is even better, because it forces you to be more disciplined in your writing, knowing that others are reading you.

3. Play brain games, especially those which allow you to measure and track your performance, and compare yourself to others of both your age group and other age groups. I have used Lumosity, Elevate and Brain Yoga. The comparison part is important. I was scoring in the high 90th percentiles of my age group on memory tests, and thought I was pretty slick, until I compared my scores to those who were 40 years younger. My results were in the 40+ percentile range. Aging badly affects memory. I would have been more worried if I scored low in my own age group; that would suggest I needed to get professionally tested for Alzheimer’s.

4. Read, read, read. Did I already mention that? It’s that important. Do I have any studies to back up what I am advising? No, but it can only help.

5. Watch a few quality movies about Alzheimer’s to get a better understanding of how it develops and the effects on families and caregivers. Movies? Some are worthwhile. I recommend Still Alice, and Away From Her and Still Mine to start. Don’t bother with searching on Netflix, their suggestions are terrible. Amazon video has them all and a much better algorithm for finding others. Two documentaries on Amazon are Alzheimer’s, Every Minute Counts and The Sum Total of our Memory.

6. Plan, both financially and logistically. Do your elderly loved ones have durable power of attorney for healthcare, and advance directives for end of life, such as a healthcare directive, filed with their medical providers and hospitals? Your state medical association will have ready made documents on their website, you just fill in the blanks. Then make sure copies are filed with your providers and children, because the documents are worthless sitting on your printer.

Planning financially is far more difficult. The alternatives for paying for long term care, which is essentially assistance with activities of daily living, also known as custodial care, are: personal savings, private long term care insurance (LTCI), or, if you have neither of the foregoing, Medicaid. Don’t count on Medicare for that expense. My advice: 1- Visit They are not only the largest provider by far of LTCI, but their website is a treasure trove of information about long term care. 2- Visit Alzheimer’, the website of the Alzheimer’s Association for accurate, non-biased information about the disease.

What are you waiting for?

The “diversity” monster.

More pride……

When I was looking on Bing for images of “stoplight walk signs” for a blog post, I added the word “diversity” to “walk signs.” What I was hoping for was images of non-white stick figures. What I got was same sex couples and transsexual symbols. It made me wonder, “is diversity being hijacked by the LGBTQ+ stormtroopers community?” Are they really a community?

Pastor David Robertson recently received a letter from Elizabeth Guest, a scientist who is also autistic. I am including most of the letter here, because she is explaining a new spin on “diversity”.

I am writing to tell you about the neurodiversity movement. A common problem with autism is sensory sensitivities where the senses are too sensitive. Noise is a very common hypersensitivity, which really nothing can be done about. Having it can be very difficult. It is perfectly possible that he was struggling to focus because of people talking. (She is referring to an outburst by someone at the recent Democratic Socialism2019 conference who insisted that people in the audience “stop chatting.”).

I am autistic and I too find conference situations difficult because people do like to chat. When this happens, I struggle to focus on the conversation I am supposed to be having. It can be so bad that I get bits of sentences from different conversations, which (of course) does not make sense. The solution is to go and find somewhere quieter. What was going on in the video clip was from the ‘neurodiversity’ movement.

“‘Neurodiversity essentially means autism although other conditions are included to make it more inclusive. This movement promotes the ideas that autism is an identity and if you are disabled by society, society should accommodate you completely (this is actually impossible because autism is a very heterogeneous condition) Personally, I think that this is a load of dangerous nonsense.

But many autistic people have been taken in by it. It gives them a community which kind of understands. However, in order to be part of this you have to agree with everything, including a strong stance in favour of LGBTQ+. For many people, it is the first time they have felt accepted as they are. It is comforting to blame society for your problems. (LGBT activism does this too) However a side effect is that they want everyone else to fully accommodate them, even if this makes other people uncomfortable.

I do workplace assessments for autistic employees and we are increasingly coming across those who provide me with a long list of unreasonable ‘reasonable adjustments’ they think their employer should make. Under these circumstances, my recommendations generally include a list of ‘reasonable adjustments’ the employee should make for their colleagues. The autistic employee is not happy because they think an autistic assessor should agree with them. The employers are very happy because I am impartial and listen to both sides.

“I suspect by now, that certain aspects are starting to sound familiar. And yes, they are trying to use LGBT techniques to encourage/force society to change in their favour. As someone who disagrees with them, I am accused of ‘internalized ableism’. However, I struggle to get my head around the idea of ‘ableism’. Just as in LGBTQ+, they are very abusive to those who disagree. There are many autistic people, generally those with more severe autism and a scientific bent, who do not agree with them. They also abuse parents of autistic children who are struggling with their children. I think this is appalling

And guess what: they have also infiltrated research and the medical profession. The guy in the video has probably subscribed to the neurodiversity movement. His request was aimed at helping him to function. Personally I think it unreasonable to expect everyone around me not to chat to each other. People like to chat. Social chit chat is about building relationships, and that should not be denied to people. The solution is to find a quieter place–where you will find others who prefer quieter places. Autism does not have a monopoly on sensory issues. It is just not possible to accommodate everyone all of the time!”

Elizabeth also provides this helpful table contrasting aspects of the different ideologies.

Screenshot 2019-08-16 at 08.29.08

“Special interests” used to mean corporate lobbyists. Now, those seeking a sense of community through shared “exceptionalities” (behaviors or disabilities that fall outside of mainstream) have become “special interests”, in the sense of expecting the mainstream to accommodate them. If their demands stopped at “reasonable accommodation” I would not argue. But as we clearly see with the LGBTQ+ militants, accommodation morphs eventually into approbation, the demands for which punish the mainstream who aren’t convinced that the vast majority should totally accommodate the demands of a tiny minority.

A sense of community is essential to emotional wellbeing. Churches and other worship communities, civic and service clubs, professional associations and the like are positive communities, both in their effects and what ties the community together. It’s no coincidence that most of our high profile ideological murders are committed by rootless young men with no positive community ties. If any group of people whose situation leaves them feeling like they are outside of the mainstream, and decide they want to call themselves a “community”, that’s their right. When they use that right to club the rest of the country into submission, then what is it?

Hijacking your mind, with your permission.

Tristan Harris is an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities, and spent the last three years as a Design Ethicist at Google caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked. He asks this question: Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses? He gives 10 answers. His comments dominate. My few are underlined.

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices. When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets. If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine. The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices?

To maximize addictiveness, tech designers link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable. Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. Relative to other kinds of gambling, people get ‘problematically involved’ with slot machines 3-4 times faster according to NYU professor Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction by Design.

But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:

  • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI). Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.” I don’t necessarily agree with him on this one. Is it the website, or the user–us–who is inducing FOMSI? Who decides what’s important? A similar phenomenon is people-usually men-who walk around with bluetooth earbuds, like an important phone call is imminent. Maybe it is, but when they are dressed like a bum, I assume the earbud is there to make them look important.

Hijack #4: Social Approval. How many “friend requests” do you get on Facebook? How many do you accept? Do you have criteria for accepting or rejecting? I decided that I would accept NO friend requests unless it was from a person I truly want to spend time or deepen a relationship with.

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

  • You do me a favor — I owe you one next time.
  • You say, “thank you”— I have to say “you’re welcome.”
  • You send me an email— it’s rude not to get back to you.
  • You follow me — it’s rude not to follow you back. (especially for teenagers)

We are vulnerable to needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it. In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. 

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay. Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore. How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flow that keeps going.

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories. I’m surprised the calorie underestimation isn’t much greater.

Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave. It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing. I turn off autoplay on every app that features it.

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery. Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox). Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system to interrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.

In other words, interruption is good for business. It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it (“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”)

By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off. The problem is, maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day. 

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons. Another way apps hijack you is by taking your reasons for visiting the app (to perform a task) and make them inseparable from the app’s business reasons (maximizing how much we consume once we’re there). For example, in the physical world of grocery stores, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front. Tech companies design their websites the same way. For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices. Instead of viewing the world in terms of availability of choices, we should view the world in terms of friction required to enact choices. Imagine a world where choices were labeled with how difficult they were to fulfill (like coefficients of friction) and there was an independent entity — an industry consortium or non-profit — that labeled these difficulties and set standards for how easy navigation should be.

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies. Lastly, apps can exploit people’s inability to forecast the consequences of a click. People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click to see which tweet got retweeted”) and escalate from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!

But I Want It! campaign

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Ecclesiastes 10:16-17. No, that passage from wise King Solomon is not a reference to our current president. Rather, it describes two of the plagues that God sends on rebellious nations….like ours. If I were to translate it into modern terms, woe to a nation ruled by immature fools, whose rulers are in it for themselves rather than service. George Washington university is a great example of both plagues.

In Campus Reform’s latest video, Ethan Cai asks students at George Washington University if they’d be willing to sign a petition calling for banning the iconic white stick figure in “walk” signals because they are “oppressive.” Part of the reason Campus Reform chose GW for its “offensive” and “oppressive” white walk signal guy petition is because of the students’ recent vote to “remove and replace” the university’s mascot, George (Washington) the Colonial, which “is received as extremely offensive not only by students of the University, but the nation and world at large” because it “glorifies the act of systemic oppression,” a petition calling for its removal claimed. The measure was passed in March by 54% of the students who voted. Keep in mind, George Washington was the kind of President who surpassed all future presidents, and could have been crowned king, but wanted nothing more than to be of service to his nation. He was also the only president who didn’t want the job.

In an attempt to test how deep concerns about “offense” and “oppression” go at GW, Campus Reform went undercover to the university to see if students would sign a new petition, this time calling for the banning of white stick figures in walk signals.

As we students cross the street, we are told by the symbol of a white man when it is okay to cross,” Campus Reform’s faux petition reads.Many students from diverse backgrounds, including individuals of color, gender fluid individuals, and LGBTQA+ individuals, feel oppressed by this.Students who sign the petition are supposedly letting the university know that theyvehemently urge the University to consider changing the crosswalk signs.”

The result: many of the students, and even one university faculty member, are willing to put their signature on the phony petition. Most in the video made a point of saying they can “absolutely” see how someone would be offended by the “white man” telling them what to do and felt that changing the sign helped promote “diversity.”

Facts: As of 2015, George Washington had over 1,100 active alumni in the U.S. Foreign Service, one of the largest feeder schools for the diplomatic corps. GWU is consistently ranked by The Princeton Review in the top “Most Politically Active” Schools. Notable alumni include former and current presidents/prime ministers of Iraq, Georgia, Croatia, Pakistan, South Korea, Mongolia, Togo and Venezuela. GWU’s website home page says in very large letters, “Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of giants or forge a new path, this is the place to start.” Satirizing their statement in the light of the petition is too easy. I am not a cheap shot artist. GWU is the low hanging fruit of satire. Woe to a nation whose diplomatic corps hates her history and ideals!

White triggering” marches on: In a segment on Sunday’s “A.M. Joy,” Elie Mystal of said white people who voted for Donald Trump should be destroyed. This came after a segment in which he argued there is no moral difference between avowed white supremacists and any white person who votes for Trump. I must then ask, what do you have to say about a black person who votes for Trump? Does it rhyme with Oreo? In the clip, host Joy Reid asked how those who are “drugged” by the president’s rhetoric should be communicated to and convinced they are wrong. That’s when Mystal got even more heated, saying:

You don’t communicate to them, you beat them. You beat them. They are not a majority of this country — the majority of white people in this country are not a majority of the country. All the people who are not fooled by this need to come together, go to the polls, go to the protests, do whatever you have to do. You do not negotiate with these people, you destroy them.” Ironically, this comment came on the same day the New York Times ran a piece arguing that Fox News is inciting white supremacist violence by using words such as “invasion” to describe the situation at the border. When is fiery language and hyperbole an “incitement” to violence and when is it “justified outrage”? The answer is obvious: If it comes from the mouth of a Trump supporter, it’s the former; if it comes from a Trump hater, it’s the latter. SIMPLE!

I will give the Babylon Bee the last word: U.S.—“A new candidate has come out of nowhere to surge in the polls in the Democratic primary, and she’s only six years old. Susie Peters of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was on a local news segment where children gave their opinions on world problems, and she asked, “Why can’t we just give everyone everything they want for free?” The message quickly went viral and really resonated with Democratic voters, propelling Susie from unknown to third in most polls, ahead of Bernie Sanders and just behind Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Susie has unveiled her new popular campaign slogan, “But I want it!” and has already qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate, though she may not be able to attend since it will be on past her bedtime.

“Crisis” du jour, a vessel for your theories.

Chaos Theory

Whenever a series of seemingly “non-random” acts of violence are perpetrated, everyone’s obsessed with finding “the cause”, as if somehow that will make us safer. “Mass shootings”—where one perpetrator, typically armed with multiple firearms, kills four or more (the baseline death toll for meeting the definition of mass shooting)—have so many bogus patterns theorized that they really have none. Every agenda seems to spawn it’s own set of explanations and theories plumbing the dark recesses of the perpetrators’ minds.

So, mass shootings. We have easy access to guns. We have a “frontier mentality.” We have a media that only censors when it self-censors (if our press wants to tell a story, it can). We’re a huge country with a huge population, and a far less obedient, “pacified” attitude than our neutered Canadian and Western European pals. Even our poorest denizens have access to mood-altering meds for mental illness, but at the same time, we have a system that places freedom for the mentally unstable above forced institutionalization, so mental cases who choose to go unmedicated can wander freely among us. To make matters murkier, publicity-seeking gurus try to tag every act with a greater agenda, like terrorism or white nationalism. Back in 2002, ancient history, sniper-style attacks all but paralyzed the nation’s capital, as people were shot at random while going about their everyday life — pumping gas, buying groceries, and for one young boy, as he went to school. The shooters—John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo, used a high-powered rifle, firing from the trunk of a modified Chevy Caprice until they were tracked down at a Maryland rest stop. Muhammad was executed in Virginia in 2009. Even CNN simply reported the circumstances of his execution without pontificating or blaming racism or some other ism. Ancient history indeed.

The Virginia legislature had passed an anti terrorism law after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, envisioning al Qaeda-style terrorism. The law defines terrorism as a crime committed with “the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence the policy, conduct or activities of the government … through intimidation or coercion.” Prosecutors said the circumstances of the October 2002 sniper spree fit that definition of terrorism like a glove. Muhammad and Malvo demanded a $10 million payment from the government to stop the shootings and left notes at shooting scenes promising “more body bags” if their demands weren’t met. That’s before white nationalism or supremacy became a thing. Both Muhammad and Malvo were black, but so were some of their victims. There were various theories, including Gulf War Syndrome, Islamic terrorism (Muhammad had joined the Nation of Islam previously), but the $10 million “ransom” demanded loomed larger than the theories.

Most mass shooters are nonideological, and among those who do possess some type of political agenda, you’ll find far-leftists (Colin Ferguson, James Hodgkinson, Micah Johnson), far-rightists (Dylann Roof, Buford Furrow, Robert Bowers), jihadis (Omar Mateen, Nidal Hasan, Hesham Hadayet), and even a bicyclists’ rights activist (failed congressional candidate Alan Winterbourne, who killed three government bureaucrats and a cop after years of railing against traffic tickets for cyclists who run stop signs). Sometimes people do terrible things because they’re rebelling against their instruction (the whole “most Satanists were raised Christian” thing). The Columbine kids embraced Hitler because they knew society disapproved. Regarding religion, Sutherland church shooter Devin Kelley and Amish schoolhouse shooter Charles Roberts had both been deeply religious at one time. Roberts, in fact, framed his massacre as an act of rebellion against a God he absolutely believed in. They had not lacked moral instruction. They’d had plenty of it, and they chose to rebel.

Consider the following questions: 1- From the perspective of a resident of Washington DC, what’s scarier, a person out in the open, killing 10 people in the course of two minutes, or a hidden sniper, using a bolt action hunting rifle to kill 10 people seemingly at random over a period of a month? I think the latter is much more frightening. 2- If you were in a restaurant or schoolroom, and a shooter entered, brandishing an automatic rifle, what would be preferable, an armed citizen who was immediately able to dispatch the killer with a headshot, or waiting 10 for S.W.A.T. to show up with overwhelming firepower? 3- Whether fearing a sniper or the shooter in question 2, what is uppermost in your mind, “what is his motivation” or “how do I save lives, including my own?” 4- What are the families of shooting victims more outraged about, the sniper who demands $10 million or the ideological idiot who penned a manifesto? Are these purely theoretical questions? If you say yes, then you either don’t think you’re in any danger from “mass shooters”, or you think those acts are rare enough that they aren’t something to give much thought to. If you say no, and are really taking those questions seriously, then how useful are the “more gun control” arguments or the half-baked theories of motivation?

In 2019, it seems that just about any “non-random act of violence” becomes the “crisis” du jour, a vessel to fill with useless theories that promote someone’s agenda. As I write this, an email came in discussing stabbings in Sydney, Australia, in which a man absconded from a mental hospital killed a 21 year old woman and injured a 41 year old man. Of course as soon as something like this happens the news goes worldwide and is added to on social media. People have already speculated that this was an Islamist attack because the attacker was shouting Allahu Akbar and had material about the New Zealand mosque massacre and the recent mass shootings in the US. It turns out the woman was a prostitute he was “visiting.” Neither logic nor facts will deter the publicity-seeking theorists. 

There’s something that CAN give comfort. I SUGGEST YOU WATCH THE MOVIE, The 15:17 to Paris, in which three American friends-Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone-and another traveler subdue a lone wolf terrorist armed with automatic weapons, before he can get many shots off. It may not be a great movie, especially because the actual three friends play themselves, but their bravery saved a lot of lives. They were ready to sacrifice themselves to save lives. Would that the rest of us contemplate heroism rather than speculation!

Leaving hate, but not stupidity, behind.

Genocide comes in many flavors

From World Magazine

“Many former extremists who are now active in condemning hate also warn against hating members of ‘hate groups’. TM Garret, a former Klan leader and now an activist against racist violence in Mississippi, makes it his mission to humanize former white supremacists, whom he says deserve compassion: ‘It’s OK to dislike their ideology, but never, ever hate the human being.’ The Bible teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God. Garret began wondering: What if nothing made sense because his beliefs were wrong? What most people don’t realize is that ‘everyone in hate groups have doubts,’ Garret said. But whenever he expressed doubts, other Klansmen shushed him: The Jew-controlled media’s tricking you. Satan’s deceiving you. ‘It’s like standing on quicksand,’ Garret recalled. ‘The more you try to get out, the deeper you sink in.’

Does that last sentence sound familiar? “If you ask me to define racism, then you’re a racist.” “If you deny your white privilege, you’re a racist.” “If you say ‘I have lots of black friends, you’re a racist.” “If you deny being a racist, you’re a racist.”

Exhibit A+ in how “anti-racism” makes otherwise smart people stupid is “Harvard Legal Scholar” Lawrence Tribe. Sunday morning, for reasons unknowable to anyone rational, Tribe took to Twitter to bless the world with this gem, “White Supremacists oppose abortion because they fear it’ll reduce the number of white infants and thus contribute to what they fear as non-white ‘replacement.’ Never underestimate the way these issues and agendas are linked. This turns “intersectionality” on its head.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent figures (2015), black women accounted for 40% of all abortions in the U.S., despite black Americans making up only about 13% of the population. For white women, the numbers were 49% and 72%, respectively. So on a long enough timeline — say, one dating back to Roe v. Wade — the end result of readily available legal abortion has been to keep the black population growing more slowly than the white population. So you’d have to be pretty stupid, even for a white supremacist, to support both white supremacy and outlawing abortion. In Tribe’s case, it’s the worst kind of stupid: Credentialed stupid!

Some ideologies are more persistent than others. As bad as racial animosity and racial vainglory are, they have been overcome in far more cases than Perfectionist Progressive (i.e. utopian) ideology. Every murder that has issued from racial animosity does not even comprise a measurable fraction (unless you want to get into quantum numerology) of the murders due directly to utopian ideology. Whether the label is Fascist, Nazi, Communist, Socialist, Leftist or Progressive, the unifying theme is “we will remake the imperfect world of the “people store” into a ___________(fill in the blank) paradise led by perfected humans”. We might have to break a few million eggs to make this omelet, but that’s the price of progress. 14 million dead in the “Great Leap Forward” (thank you Mao); 23 million dead in Stalin’s various purges; 1.2-3 million dead in Pol Pot’s regime (21-24% of Cambodia’s population); 9-10 million killed by Nazis (Jews and Soviet prisoners/civilians) not counting those who died fighting in WWII. ALL IN THE NAME OF AN IDEOLOGY. P.S. “Reproductive Freedom” is an ideology too.