Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oh No He Didn't: Arkansas State Senator Calls Bostonians "Librul Cowards"

On Friday, April 19th, as Americans held anxious vigil during the police pursuit of and  violent confrontations with the Boston Marathon bombers, one state senator from Arkansas, Nate Bell, saw fit to post this on Twitter:

I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine? #2A
On the senator's campaign Facebook page, 8000 reaction posts (many by outraged Arkansans) called for Bell's head while a grand total of three posters-- surely sock puppets for Bell, his mom and his grandpa -- posted in his defense.  To them, I offer the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

As a New Yorker, I ordinarily regard Bostonians as my arch rivals: the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins fans I love to hate come game time.  But like my fellow fans who paid tribute to Boston with a rousing rendition of "Sweet Caroline" at Yankee Stadium, I, too, feel an urgent need as an American to show solidarity with my cousins in Beantown.

Senator Bell, your state should beg the Waltons to funnel a small fraction of their multi-billion dollar fortune into some remedial education just for you because your ignorance about your fellow Americans on the East Coast is appalling. The truth is, we eastern liberals believe in protecting our families, and we most certainly have the means to do so. Still, like all too many of your craven GOP partisans, you remain stubbornly impervious to facts and empirically-verifiable reality, let alone the best interests of the American people.

Compared to you and your constituents in Arkansas, we northeasterners pay out a whole lot more in Federal taxes than we ever get back in benefits and services.  As a result, much of the means you have to pay to protect your family CAME FROM US. That's the first reason why you should either say “Thank you,” or kindly shut the hell up. We will gladly settle for the latter.

Many of us eastern liberals actually do choose to own and keep guns in our homes. Some of us even hunt!  We have woods and deer and everything out here!  We just think it's overkill to keep semi-automatic weapons and high-volume magazines in densely-populated, urban areas, especially when a nice, loud shotgun blast can scare off an intruder even better.

Others (indeed, most) among us would rather take our resources and pool them into a common fund (you know, tax revenues -- shhhhhh!).  You see, the large amount of money we raise when we pitch in together enables us to employ a well-regulated professional police force outfitted with semi-automatic handguns, assault rifles, armored trucks, k-9 units, cameras and even robots to protect us.  It works very well.  For more than 15 years now crime rates in New York City and Boston have been at lows last seen in the 1960s. 

We northeastern  liberals also have this crazy habit of taking note of things like facts and statistics. They show us that guns kept the in the house expose women and children three times the risk of being shot and killed by another family member, as compared to the negligible danger of being shot by a stranger in a home invasion. 

I’ll spare you any further discussion of statistics, as I wouldn’t want to make your  head explode from all the, you know, *knowledge.*  We'll leave that for the folks at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Boston University, Boston College, U Mass, NYU, Columbia, Barnard, Baruch, Queens College, Brooklyn College….  Eh, never mind.

One of your three supporters made the colossally ridiculous claim that it's "bullying" when American citizens criticize outrageous remarks made by an elected government official.

A bully kicks someone when he or she is down.  Do I really need to remind you that terrorists attacked Boston, leaving 180 of its citizens and visitors injured, many with life-altering amputations, and 4 residents dead, including two beloved daughters, a sweet little boy and a respected police officer? Those are the wounds you so arrogantly doused with salt.

Perhap, State Senator Nate Bell, you can explain to us “cowardly liberals” how packing heat can stop opportunistic terrorists with concealed bombs and homemade grenades.  Perhaps you can explain how professional law enforcement officers are supposed to tell the difference between armed terrorists and idiot yahoos running through the street with AR-15s.  

And when you answer the door with a semi-automatic firearm in your hand, you go right ahead and explain to SWAT teams, conducting house-to-house searches for armed and dangerous fugitives, that you’re just protecting your family.  That should go well.

Perhaps you can explain to the family of MIT Campus Police Officer Sean Collier, who was ambushed and shot repeatedly while sitting in his police cruiser, how you could have done a better job than he did, despite the fact that he was armed with a semiautomatic weapon.  Same goes for the cop wounded in the gun fight between the terrorists and a team of twenty trained law enforcement officers.

Of course if you weren't so busy flexing your Internet muscles behind the safety of a computer screen, you'd be out there catching bullets with your teeth and jumping on grenades to save your colleagues.  Please proceed, Senator.  Please proceed.

The Boston Marathon is the most perfect embodiment of participatory democracy in sports.  Everyone is free to take part by running, walking, rolling in a wheelchair or by offering cups of water and cheering on the racers from the sidelines.  Begun in 1897, only eleven years after the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, the Boston Marathon is the occasion when all the denizens of Beantown throw their arms open to the rest of the world and put the best of America on display.

In light of all this, it could not be more obvious that the attack on the Boston Marathon -- on Patriots Day, no less -- was an attack on America itself.  And while Boston police and residents were braving a hail of bullets, bombs and grenades, while the families of the injured held vigil at Boston hospitals, and while 4 Boston residents lied dead, all you could do was launch a self-serving, partisan barrage of insults against your fellow Americans.

You'd have to be a colossal horse's posterior to insult the Bostonians under any circumstances, let alone ones such as these.  They are, after all, the sons and daughters of the Minute Men.  You know, the folks who kicked the tails of the British in the Revolutionary War.  Compared to them, your Tea Party is nothing but a cheap replica. 

You might also recall that, together with my forebears from New York, Bostonians kicked Arkansas’ Confederate hiney in the Civil War.  As to the former, you can just say, “Thank you,” and in light of the latter, you can shut the hell up.  We’ll gladly settle for the latter, or we'd be happy to refresh your memory any time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reserving Judgment Before Having the Facts Is NOT a Defense of the Guilty

I discovered tonight that two tweets of mine, made in the course of a more-than-2-hour discussion, were posted out of context in an article advancing the proposition that "Progressives are defending a convicted pedophile, because he's a progressive."
The notion that I have done anything of the sort -- support a convicted pedophile -- is patently false. That my tweets have now been used to make me the poster child for "Progressives in Denial about Child Predators In Our Midst" is a gross and outrageous misrepresentation of my opinion on the matter and of me. That the original misrepresentation is being linked to in other articles elaborating on the same false characterization only amplifies the offensiveness of this misrepresentation.

 The use of my tweets in the original article are out of context and entirely misleading. I specifically stated in that discussion that I was NOT defending William Glenn Talley, but that I did not know enough about the case in order to RESPONSIBLY form an opinion as to the facts of the case.

When I wrote those tweets, I had just learned of the existence of the case.  I had barely skimmed one of the appeal decisions on a 4th Amendment issue and was seeking additional information. At that point I was listing hypothetical possibilities that I wanted to either confirm or eliminate by consulting reliable materials -- such as published court decisions and news accounts -- about the case.

Other than the one case I had skimmed, all I knew about the case at that point was what I been told by strangers through tweets.

I had read nothing, other than such tweets, stating that Bill had been convicted.  The appeal case I had skimmed said nothing about any conviction because it was "interlocutory" in nature.  That is, the appeal had been heard and decided years *before* any conviction had happened.

Also in that thread, I was told that Bill had been found guilty by a jury of his peers, a claim that, despite the self righteousness with which it had been advanced, turned out to be FALSE.  As my review of the actual court materials demonstrated, there never was a trial on the merits of the case.  There was never any jury.  There was never any jury verdict.

This should underscore the fact that assertions made in tweets -- especially regarding the background facts on a case as serious as this one -- are unreliable and potentially inaccurate.  To rely on them alone is irresponsible.

I thought that we as progressives are supposed to be better than "Right Wing Nut Jobs" because we value basing our opinions upon sound, reliable information, not on hearsay -- what we heard from someone with only second hand or third hand knowledge of the facts -- especially when what we hear are tweets from someone we do not know.

To print my tweets out of context, and to characterize them in a manner that I had specifically stated in that tweet thread was incorrect and that did not reflect my opinion of the case or of Bill, is disingenuous and outrageous. To identify me as someone who defends or has defended Bill is false. To attempt to ridicule or shame me, based upon a position I have never taken is equally incorrect and outrageous.

The ONLY position that I took in that thread was that I was not prepared to form any opinion of the case or of Bill AT THAT TIME, and that I wanted to research the background on the charges and read any available cases and news accounts, so that I could find out what had happened, appraise the facts and decide for myself.

I have written to request that the author of the first article linked above print the entire thread, reflecting all of my tweets in that conversation, not just the two that, taken out of context, utterly misrepresent the position I was taking at the time and my position on the case as a whole.

Now that I have read all the court documents and materials on the case, that are available online, I will be happy to share my opinions on it once the record has been corrected, as requested. For now, I need to close and go to sleep. I will follow up, accordingly.