Posts Tagged ‘the Constitution’

The Young Turks: Free Speech in Decline on College Campuses Because of New Pro-Gun Laws

February 25, 2016

Another piece from The Young Turks, this time about the dumbing down and assault on free speech in academia due to the judgement that guns can be carried on College campuses. This has already had a chilling effect on educators. Officials from the state and College administration have been giving professors guidance on how to avoid getting shot by angry students. They advise academics to avoid talking about controversial subjects, drop certain subjects from the curriculum, don’t say ‘Go there’ and encourage the discussion of controversial opinions, and to limit time with students.

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian make the point that Conservatives are very critical about liberal demands to have safe spaces in Colleges. They state that universities are places where you should have your opinions challenged. Ana Kasparian said that when she took political science at College, she regularly used to have heated discussions with a Conservative, and she loved it. She also teaches at university, and wants to tackle controversial issues to stimulate and challenge her students. But the new regulations mean that certain emotive academic subjects may be extremely dangerous, like political science and journalism. Cenk Uygur also points out that the new gun laws are also dangerous for Conservatives. While they might have approved the laws in order to intimidate liberals into silence, the laws also state that liberals and Blacks also have the right to carry arms. Uygur notes that in the 1960s, the Black Panthers began carrying guns because they read the Constitution, and found that the Second Amendment didn’t just apply only to Whites. And when he was a Conservative College student, one of the liberal women on the course complained about him because he was large, loud and vocal, and she felt threatened by him. What, he asks, would have happened if she’d had a gun? They state that this disproves the old line that the Second Amendment protects the First. It doesn’t, as in this case the right to free speech is being closed down by the threat of armed violence from an offended party. Ana Kasparian also makes the point that she’s not against guns, and doesn’t want them taken away. She just wants sensible gun control laws to cut down on the amount of violence with firearms.

Secular Talk on the Frightening Racism of Donald Trump’s Supporters

February 22, 2016

In this clip from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski discusses the poisonous racist views held by Trump’s supporters. Public Policy Polling did a survey of his supporters in South Carolina, which found that:

* 44% thought that Islam should be banned in the US.
* 40% wanted mosques closed.
* 60% wanted a national database of Muslims.
* 16% believed Whites were racially superior.
* 70% believed that the Confederate flag should have remained up on the state capitol building in Columbia.
* 38% wished the South had won the Civil War.

Kulinski points out how unconstitutional Trump’s supporters’ ideas about banning and registering Muslims are. He shows how ironic it is, coming from a party that wraps itself in the Constitution, especially when it comes to the Second Amendment and gun rights. Though, he says, they really don’t understand that. They don’t know about its historical context, and nor what the Second Amendment actually says. They’re for the Constitution, except when it suits them. Then they all love Fascist authoritarianism.

Secular Talk is an atheist show, and Kulinski makes it plain that he’s against all religions, including Christianity and Islam, but as ideologies. He is not against their supporters, provided they don’t infringe the rights of others. But he feels that Trump’s supporters are trying to shove Christianity down everyone else’s throat through the government, while depriving Muslims of their right to practice their religion.

He is properly frightened by the statistic showing that about 2 in 10 Trump supporters believe in White racial superiority. Trump has retweeted material from White supremacist sites twice, yet the mainstream media has not called him out on it.

As for their belief that the South should have won the American Civil War, he states plainly that this contradicts their claim to be patriotic Americans. Clearly they aren’t, as the Confederacy was a separatist movement, and if they had won it would have broken up America. And support for the Confederacy shows that some people still wish slavery had survived in the South.

He also discusses the way Trump’s supporters have been gulled by his aggressive, confident, arrogant personality. They think he will actually do something for them. He won’t. Trump has actually said that wages in America should remain low, a policy that would directly hurt his supporters, who are mainly middle class and lower income. He isn’t going to do anything for his supporters, except share their bitter racism. And in fact he’s going to hurt them more.

Now, I don’t share Kulinski’s atheism or his disdain for religion. But he’s right about the poisonous bigotry of Trump’s supporters. This is dangerous Fascism, which needs to be fought. Now.

Secular Talk on Ben Carson Advocating Free Gun Classes

February 21, 2016

In this fascinating clip from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski critiques a speech by Ben Carson, one of the Republican presidential candidates, in which the great surgeon lays out why he opposes gun control.

Carson’s a neurosurgeon, and his skill as a physician is certainly not in doubt. On everything else, however, he talks rubbish. For example, he’s been telling everyone that he used to be a real teenage tearaway. He claims he was violent, once trying to stab one of his friend in the stomach. The belt, apparently, stopped the knife. Everyone who knew him says the opposite. His friend can’t remember the incident, there’s no account of him being at all violent, and the people who knew him at College say he was extremely hard-working. You’d have thought hard-work, perseverance and a normal family background would be more than enough for a politician. But apparently it’s not what Republicans expect of a Black man. And so he has to invent all this complete bullshit about being a violent thug, who was eventually turned from crime by the grace of Jesus. I don’t decry or disbelieve people, who have genuinely turned away from lives of crime because of the Lord’s grace. I just don’t have much time for the tale when it’s simply being cynically used as a marketing tool by someone desperate to ingratiate himself with the electorate.

Carson says he’s not in favour of gun control, because of the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing gun right and ‘a regulated militia’ and so on. He says that instead of gun regulation, he’s in favour of free classes to instruct people on proper gun use and safety. His argument for not depriving Americans of their guns is the usual argument about the public needing to have weapons to protect themselves against government tyranny.

Kulinski points out that this interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is simply erroneous. The Founding Fathers inserted that clause into the Constitution because they did not want a permanent standing army, as such military forces were a threat to the government. They had been used throughout history to overthrow governments in coups. As a compromise, they allowed Americans to keep their guns and form militias to protect themselves and their nation. So, he remarks, it’s actually the opposite of what Carson is talking about. The people are allowed to keep their weapons, but it’s to prevent the existence of a standing army, which could overthrow the government.

Kulinski is exactly right. The Founding Fathers in their opposition to standing armies were part of a tradition of political thought going back to 16th and 17th century Britain. The collection of 17th century political texts from the British Civil War, Divine Right and Democracy, contains a number discussing the issue of militias and standing armies. Standing armies were resented as a threat to traditional English liberties. They were the mark of foreign despotisms like France and the Turkish Empire. As for militias, I got the impression that they were like the Home Guard and Territorial Army in modern Britain. They were semi-professional soldiers, who could be mobilised by the authorities against the threat of invasion, such as the Spanish Armada, rather than unregulated bands of citizens.

Kulinski states that there is another aspect to the 2nd Amendment. It was put in to placate Virginia and encourage it to enter the new United States by allowing it to set up slave patrols. Virginia was a state where slaves were in the majority. Its rulers feared that if it joined the US, the slaves would escape north to their freedom in those states, where slavery was in the minority. So in order to reassure Virginia that slavery would be protected, the 2nd Amendment was inserted to allow them to set up slave patrols in the north of the state to capture runaways. Kulinski therefore says that there is considerable irony in a Black American defending gun rights and the 2nd Amendment.

He also makes the point that the Republicans are just plain wrong when they say that the Democrats are against gun rights. What the Democrats are for is some moderate legislation restricting the ownership and purchase of certain types of weapons. They aren’t going to confiscate everyone’s guns, as that would be illegal and unconstitutional. They are in favour of buy-back programmes, where the state purchases them from individuals, and takes them out of use that way.

And finally, he also makes the point that there is no way an ordinary individual with his firearm can possibly take down the government, with its armoury of highly sophisticated firearms, tanks, planes and missiles.