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“Gun Nuts: Arm The Mentally Ill!”: Is This The Week The NRA Finally Jumped The Shark?

What a week it’s been for the Second Amendment. For starters, noted political philosopher Vince Vaughn said firearms should be available like they’re in candy machines at our nation’s schools. Probably because you never know when you’ll have to engage in pitched battle with Dean Pritchard to keep your frat house on campus.

OK, that’s not the actual reason, but his regurgitation of pretty much every inane—and wrong!—talking point he seems to have snorted off the National Rifle Association looking glass is no less fictitious.

But I guess there must be a full moon out for the wolves of Winchester this week, because along with the wit and wisdom of Mr. Vaughn, the NRA’s decided to pop off about the rights of domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill to have access to any ol’ gun they please.

This latest freakout was in response to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) looking to bring back a rule proposed in 1998 that would block misdemeanor domestic abusers from owning or purchasing guns.

Tyranny, really.

Because, you see, in their tiny, malfunctioning cerebral cortexes, it’s a defensive maneuver. It’s an effort to prevent President Obama from engaging in the unprecedented confiscation of all guns, a move they’ve predicted since the day they heard the name Obama and just knew something had gone awry.

Much like the guy screaming about the end of the world on the street corner, when it doesn’t happen, the NRA just pushes back the timeline a bit, rinses and repeats. Considering their target audience is comprised of the same old white men who buy penis pills via group email, pulling this off is not as difficult as one would imagine.

There has been much already said about the NRA’s putting guns in the hands of the mentally disturbed by blocking universal background checks, which is really the most reasonable legislation imaginable. You can read more about that here and here. But not nearly enough time has been spent on the tragic role guns play in domestic violence.

The stats, of course, don’t lie, as much as discredited, sham researchers like the infamous John Lott try to tell you your nose is not in front of your face. This is why, on the same day as the first national Wear Orange Day, in which celebrities, policymakers, and regular Joes and Janes all across the country are sporting orange to honor victims of gun violence and say enough already, the U.S. House of Representatives is holding hearings on “Domestic Violence and Guns: An Epidemic for Women and Families.”

For an epidemic it is. Over half of all women killed by partners between 2003 and 2012 were murdered with guns. A gun’s presence makes a woman seven times more likely to be murdered by her abuser.

And, of course, the simple stat that belies what the NRA and all those Twitter trolls posing with their AK-girlfriends spew out. You know, the ones suffering from Gunorrhea, who like to hock out one canard after another—more guns means less crime, good guys with guns are like Iron Man, and other assorted delirium and detritus—women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other high-income countries.

This all just gets a collective yawn from the almost entirely male leadership of the NRA. When they’re not watering down legislation meant to protect women in Louisiana, blocking federal legislation to stop abusers from accessing guns, or actually committing these very transgressions themselves.

Because, who honestly thinks stalkers should have their guns taken away? Show of hands, NRA brass?

Gun nuts love to talk about “freedom.” Although, when hearing them utter it, it becomes meaningless to American women, who enjoy the “freedom” to be stalked and killed like animals because of gun fondlers, profiteers, and their squeezes in our legislative bodies. It leads me to think the word only applies to the male of our species in their vision, where, as Janis Joplin once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

 

By: Cliff Schecter, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2015

June 4, 2015 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Gun Violence, Mental Illness, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bill O’Reilly Will Never Pay”: Why Domestic Abuse Allegations Won’t Faze Fox News

It should come as no surprise that Fox News didn’t mention the latest awful allegations about Bill O’Reilly’s behavior toward women on Monday night. But given the ugliness of the reports – Gawker says that his ex-wife accused him, in sealed divorce documents, of choking her and dragging her by the neck down the stairs of their Manhasset mansion – it’s hard not to wonder what, if anything, would get O’Reilly in trouble with Roger Ailes.

We already know he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit by Fox producer Andrea Mackris, whose details became the stuff of journalistic legend – we will never think of falafel, or loofah, the same way. Now, while we don’t know the entire truth about his divorce, or why he lost custody of his children, we know enough to say he probably shouldn’t be lecturing anyone on family values. (For the record, O’Reilly today denied the charges.)

Yet he will almost certainly continue to tell African American men how to behave with women, and how to parent, because Roger Ailes doesn’t care about hypocrisy.

Now, we do have one example of Ailes tiring of a tempestuous host: Glenn Beck, in 2011. But Beck’s insane shtick was tarnishing the brand. O’Reilly’s angry white man shtick is the Fox brand. Without some explosive new evidence – his ex-wife refuses to comment on the charges, and she apparently did not call police when it happened – O’Reilly is likely to survive.

That doesn’t mean he isn’t wholly reprehensible. The cluster of reports about O’Reilly’s divorce from Maureen McPhilmy are appalling. He used his clout as a donor to police charities to make trouble for McPhilmy’s new boyfriend (now husband), a Nassau County police detective. As a powerful (and hypocritical) Catholic, he’s tried to have their marriage annulled, which would negate the “sin” of divorce and allow the parties to marry again in the church.

That privilege used to be reserved for short term, childless (at one time, “unconsummated”), disastrous marriages that both parties quickly recognized as a mistake; now powerful Catholics, usually men, receive annulments for long-term marriages that produced children, and they often force them on unwilling spouses. (Yes, you’ll recall that Rudy Giuliani did that to his first wife.) And in the meantime, the Fox bully tried to get McPhilmy ex-communicated from the church for the “sin” of divorce, and succeeded in getting her local parish to reprimand her for taking communion.

This latest allegation is particularly awful because it comes from his 16-year-old daughter, who told a custody investigator, according to Gawker, that she witnessed the abuse before her parents separated five years ago. McPhilmy got sole custody at least partly because O’Reilly violated the terms of their joint custody agreement, hiring the children’s therapist, who was supposed to supervise the custody situation, as a member of his staff.

But at least he didn’t yell at his wife, “Hey M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”

Of course, even if you give O’Reilly the benefit of some doubt, it’s clear his family life is a mess. Yet he regularly rails at African American families from his lofty perch at Fox. “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family…The lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised,” he said last August.

In December, he continued to fulminate: “The astronomical crime rate among young black men—violent crime—drives suspicion and hostility. … No supervision, kids with no fathers—the black neighborhoods are devastated by the drug gangs who prey upon their own. That’s the problem!”

Now O’Reilly’s kids are growing up with no father in the home – but apparently a judge thinks they will be better off that way.

O’Reilly has even called domestic violence “a terrible plague,” telling 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson last year:  “I’m telling you, battery against women in this country and around the world is just out of control.”

But why would Ailes care about any of that? His audience probably doesn’t care. Fox’s over-65, predominantly male viewers probably see both sexual harassment and domestic violence as issues hyped by feminazis and the liberal news media.

Ailes’s entire news operation is built on a central fiction – and the fiction is that it’s a news organization at all. So why would it be a problem if it’s fronted by a family values hypocrite who’s actually a serial abuser of women?

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, May 19, 2015

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Bill O'Reilly, Domestic Violence, Fox News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Georgia Bill Helps Wife Beaters”: “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” Is Among The Worst In The Nation

Georgia is poised to pass the nation’s harshest “religious freedom” law, allowing discrimination, judicial obstruction, and even domestic violence. Yet while the bill is far worse than Arizona’s notorious “Turn the Gays Away” bill, it’s attracted far less attention from national advocacy groups and businesses.

The bill, the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” is one of a raft of similar bills (RFRAs, for short) wending their way through state legislatures across the country. The bills are part of the backlash against same-sex marriage, but they go much farther than that. Like the Hobby Lobby decision, which allows closely-held corporations to opt out of part of Obamacare, these laws carve out exemptions to all kinds of laws if a person (or corporation) offers a religious reason for not obeying them.

For example? Restaurants could refuse to serve gay or interracial couples, city clerks could refuse to marry interfaith couples, hotels could keep out Jews, housing developments could keep out black people (Genesis 9:18-27), pharmacies could refuse to dispense birth control, banquet halls could turn away gay weddings, schools could specifically allow anti-gay bullying, and employers could fire anyone for any “religious” reason.

The national movement to pass these laws is well-funded and well-coordinated; most of the laws are written by the same handful of conservative legal hacks in Washington, working for organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, both of which have had a hand in the Georgia bill.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said in an interview with The Daily Beast that “in the last two years, there have been 35 bills introduced around the country to establish or expand a RFRA. And there have been over 80 bills filed that specifically allow for discrimination against gay and trans communities.”

As worrisome as these laws are, however, Georgia’s is worse than most.

First, the language is the strictest possible. As with other RFRAs, Georgia’s act says that the government cannot “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without a “compelling governmental interest” and the “least restrictive means of furthering” that interest. This is the classic three-prong test that was at issue in Hobby Lobby, and is considered extremely difficult to meet.

Georgia’s RFRA also specifies that “exercise of religion” can be just about any “practice or observance of religion, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.”

In other words, if I say it’s my religious exercise, it is.

Second, the Senate version of the bill was passed by its sponsor, State Senator Josh McKoon, with all kinds of shenanigans. He rammed it through the judiciary committee, which he chairs, while opposition members were in the bathroom.

Then, on dubious procedural grounds, he refused an amendment by a fellow Republican that would have specified that the “religious freedom” could not be used to discriminate against others.

Ironically, says Graham, Georgia doesn’t have that many protections for LGBT people in the first place.

“This is a preemptive strike against the LGBT community,” he says. “If this bill is not intended to allow discrimination, why were its sponsors so adamant about refusing to say so?”

McKoon’s bill passed the Republican-dominated State Senate on March 5, and now heads to the State House, where Republicans have a 2:1 advantage over Democrats, and where representatives have shelved their own version of the bill to try to pass McKoon’s version.

The combination of these factors has led to a curious result: a law so strict that it will lead to a host of unintended consequences—and has even led some Republicans to oppose it.

Some legal commentators have said that the law would give a pass to spousal and child abusers, as long as the husband (or father) has a religious pretext. Which is easy to provide; the Christian Domestic Discipline Network, for example, offers a host of rationales for “wife spanking.” And let’s not forget Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares his rod hates his son. But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

Georgia has numerous laws protecting child welfare, which is arguably a compelling state interest. But are such laws really the “least restrictive means” of protecting it? Not necessarily. At the very least, the laws offer a novel defense against assault and battery.

Or maybe not so novel. Graham says, “We have found cases where people used their religious views as an excuse to impede an investigation into child-endangerment and child-abuse charges. They were not ultimately successful, but they did slow down the investigations.”

With the new law, they would be far better armed. In fact, says Graham, conservative district attorneys in Macon and Marietta have said that the bill would impede investigations and prosecutions of child abuse.

Indeed, Georgia’s RFRA recently gained an unlikely opponent: Mike Bowers, the former attorney general of Bowers v. Hardwick fame. As some may recall, that was the Supreme Court case that upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law—and Bowers was the named plaintiff.

In an open letter to Graham (PDF), Bowers said that the law is “unequivocally an excuse to discriminate….[P]ermitting citizens to opt-out of laws because of a so-called burden on the exercise of religion in effect ‘would permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.’”

This perhaps is one reason why conservatives like Bowers and the D.A.s in Macon and Marietta stand opposed to it. As Bowers wrote, “this legislation is not about gay marriage, or contraception, or even so-called ‘religious freedom.’ It is more important than all of these, because it ultimately involves the rule of law.”

What is the future of Georgia’s RFRA?

The Georgia State House ends its session on April 2, and Graham predicts a tight vote. “This will probably go all the way to the final hours” of the session, he said.

Oddly, the most effective forces in killing Arizona’s “Turn The Gays Away” bill—corporations and the Chamber of Commerce—seem to be sitting this battle out. Maybe it’s because Arizona was bidding on a Super Bowl and Georgia isn’t. Or maybe it’s because no one is paying attention. But for whatever reason, the corporate silence is deafening.

This is especially the case for Coca-Cola, which has spent millions to brand itself as pro-gay (remember that Super Bowl ad?) but has been mum on the Georgia bill.

“For now, it appears that Coca-Cola has a relationship of convenience with the gay community,” said Bryan Long, executive director of the progressive organization Better Georgia, in an email to The Daily Beast. “The company promotes equality when it serves the brand but won’t stand up for us when we need it most.”

If big business, national media, and national LGBT organizations continue to sit on the sidelines, the bill’s fate may be a matter of vote-counting. The House bill had 59 cosponsors, out of 180 total members. But Graham pointed out that a pending non-discrimination bill has 78, including 19 Republicans. So it is up for grabs.

On the other hand, maybe those who claim to speak for “equality” will decide to actually do something about it.

 

By: Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast, March 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, Domestic Violence, Georgia, Religious Freedom | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“No More Immunity From Punishment”: At Last, Violence Against Women Act Lets Tribes Prosecute Non-Native Domestic Abusers

Two years after Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, Native American tribes can finally take advantage of one of the law’s most significant updates: a provision that allows tribal courts to investigate and prosecute non-Native men who abuse Native women on reservations.

Starting Saturday, tribes can claim jurisdiction over non-Native men who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence or who violate a protection order against a victim who lives on tribal land. Until now, that jurisdiction has fallen to federal or state law enforcement, who are often hours away from reservations and lack the resources to respond. The result has effectively allowed non-Native abusers immunity from punishment.

For the first time, tribal law enforcement will now have the ability to intervene.

“I want to encourage all tribal governments to get this law on their books,” said Juana Majel of the National Congress of American Indians. “On most reservations, there are a handful of bad actors who have figured out how to slip between jurisdictional boundaries. They need to get the message. If they continue to assault our women, we will prosecute and put them in jail.”

There are epidemic levels of domestic violence on tribal lands. Three out of five Native women have been assaulted in their lifetimes, and 34 percent will be raped, according to the National Congress of American Indians. Getting to the heart of the VAWA provision, 59 percent of assaults against Native women take place at or near a private residence, and, as of 2010, 59 percent of Native women were married to non-Native men.

On some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average.

House Republicans nearly torpedoed the entire VAWA bill in 2013 because they opposed the new protections for Native victims of abuse. Vice President Joe Biden, an original Senate sponsor of the 1994 law, stepped in and negotiated directly with then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Congress ultimately reauthorized VAWA, but with Democrats providing the bulk of votes for it.

Three tribes have already been granted the new jurisdiction as part of a 2014 pilot project authorized by VAWA. Those tribes — the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and the Tulalip Tribes — had to submit applications laying out their proposed codes and procedures, and were approved by the U.S. attorney general. To date, they have charged a total of 26 offenders.

As of Saturday, tribal courts may take advantage of the new authority with only the approval of their tribal council. The courts must provide people with the same rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

“This is a major step forward to protect the safety of Native people, and we thank all members of Congress for passing the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 and recognizing tribal authority,” said Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

In related news, Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery on Friday gave the green light to two tribes to move forward immediately with the new jurisdiction. The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, are both large tribes in rural areas with larger populations, which means they can be a model for other large rural tribes interested in rolling out the new authority.

 

By: Jennifer Bendery, The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 6, 2015

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Native Americans, Violence Against Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Washington, Carver, And… Zimmerman”: We Can’t Let Our Heroes Be Vilified By The Mainstream Liberal Media

As George Zimmerman finds himself in the news again for yet another charge of domestic violence, I am reminded of the thing that baffled me most in this bizarre series of events. It wasn’t just that Zimmerman was acquitted; it was his elevation to hero status amongst many of the citizens of this country. And he didn’t even have to cross the Delaware River to surprise the Hessian forces at Trenton, or even discover 300 uses for peanuts. To become a hero, all Zimmerman had to do was shoot an unarmed black teenager.

That’s all it took for one group of people in this country to back him, the diehard supporters of the Second Amendment. You know; the group that ignores the first line of the Second Amendment and thinks our forefathers were specifically referring to their personal right to own assault rifles. The group that was angry at 20 six-year-old kids for having the nerve to get killed, which might affect the number of rounds their magazines can carry.

After all, the Second Amendment says nothing of being responsible, so apparently you can’t support the amendment without supporting every bizarre case of someone using a firearm to kill someone else, especially if it’s an unarmed black teen, because we all know that person will eventually become an unarmed black man.

Zimmerman has been given the royal treatment ever since, beginning with the police not pressing charges or even opting to do an investigation. It was this no-harm-no-foul attitude that prompted national outrage. Hence a theatrical trial was put on to appease the masses.

Immediately people in this country began sending money to their hero, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000. After all, we can’t let our heroes be vilified by the mainstream liberal media.

And everyone in this country is entitled to representation, usually in the form of a court-appointed attorney. But not for Zimmerman. He received representation from a million-dollar lawyer, Mark O’Mara, who has stated that he still hasn’t received one penny for his services. But that doesn’t matter; he’s representing a hero who shot an unarmed black teen. Heck, why is that even against the law?

On to the theater as the trial commenced. I wondered how the prosecutors could win this case without it making them look incompetent or of showing favoritism for not pressing charges to begin with. Maybe that explains their effort, or lack thereof, during the play… uh, I mean trial.

For example, Zimmerman’s wife did not even testify to the fact that she had left George the day before and he was very upset about that. But really, what does a person’s state-of-mind have to do with their actions? Heck, he was even referred to as a Neighborhood Watch captain by everyone, including the media, even though he was not actually part of any chapter, and Neighborhood Watch volunteers are not allowed to carry weapons. Hence the word “watch.”

And when the defense presented an “expert” witness to testify that a 29-year-old, five-feet-nine, 220 pound man toting a loaded Kel Tec 9 millimeter pistol was no physical match for a 17-year-old, six-feet-one, 140 pound boy carrying a pack of Skittles, his testimony was not even questioned. And we all know of disclosure, so the prosecution had to know what this person would testify to.

I can find no studies that show that a four-inch height difference gives a person any advantage at all in a physical confrontation. In professional boxing, four inches means nothing. It is strictly the weight that matches opponents. So why was this “expert” testimony not questioned?

After the trial, Zimmerman’s status as a hero continued with his tour of the facility that manufactured the gun that he used. What a proud moment that must have been for the company to not only have someone purchase their product, but use it to kill an unarmed black teen.

Then, in perhaps the most bizarre of all events associated with this craziness, Zimmerman listed a painting on eBay, a painting that looked like a PhotoShop rendering of a clipart image with patriotic words added, and it sold for over $100.000. That means someone out there dished out that kind of dough just to own something from their hero, because the actual value of the painting from an artistic perspective would probably be under a buck.

I guess I’m from the proverbial old school. I remember when heroes were scrutinized just a little more. I remember when that term was reserved for people who did extraordinary things like firemen who rush into burning buildings to save lives, or soldiers who give their all to save a fallen friend or to protect our country, or any number of events where ordinary people put their own safety at risk to help others

But here we have George Zimmerman, and when all the dust is settled, we have a man who has done nothing out of the ordinary other than face several charges of violence and walked away as if made of Teflon. The only other thing George Zimmerman ever did in his life that was of note that makes him different than almost every other citizen of this country, was to shoot an unarmed black teenager.

And that, to millions, makes him a hero.

 

By: Neal Wooten, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, George Zimmerman | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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