Am I really?
Well, I'm not sure.
Here's the back story:
A blogger from Massachusetts wrote an article titled "1 down, 534 to go" referring to last weekend's assassination attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
It was ... egrigious. A clearly objectionable commentary on the ... would the word be "advisability"? ... of shooting politicians. One phrase stands out:
"It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot 'indiscriminately'. Target only politicians and their staff, and leave regular citizens alone."Let's come back to this later.
As a consequence, the local cops have seized his "arsenal" (11 guns .. that's not an arsenal, that's a dilettante), and have also "suspended his gun license". Well, it's Massachusetts, so you got to understand they think they can do this. If they require a "citizen" to apply for a license before owning a firearm, then they can suspend it ... with the added consequence that they confiscate all firearms. 'Well, the guy isn't licensed, so what can we do?' [Note: not a quote from any source referenced; I'm only imagining the rationale.]
Gee, this is bad stuff. How many laws has that doofus broken, anyway?
At last count: none.
Now, I don't claim that the guy has both oars in the water. What he said was stupid, and I don't agree with ANYTHING he said, assuming that all of the cited information is correct. Trouble is, the 'cited information' is second-hand at best, and probably 3rd or 4th hand. But let's assume that everything I've read is entirely factual, and also that it presents ALL of the 'facts' of the situation.
The guy said some stuff in a belligerent and bellicous manner, and it was WAY over the top.
Give that five exclamation points, just to emphasize that this is what I really, really really really REALLY think!!!!!
Let's go back to the number of laws he just broke.
The thing is, there's this Constitutional issue.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
See, the First Amendment wasn't written, and included among the FIRST RIGHTS of our country to protect speech that we all accept and agree with. It was included to protect speech that we don't like, that we don't agree with, and which we would rather not hear.
mmm .. I think that pretty much covers my own personal evaluation of the things this guy said, if I can believe the 2nd-hand information I have found.
Personally, I think these quotes are odious and egregious. Also, I think the man had every right to say them, and I am obliged by my belief in the righteousness of the Constitution of the United States to support his right to say them.
Wow! I can't believe I just said that. I would not invite this man into my home. I would not consider anyone who advocated the assassination of political officials a good choice as a 'friend'.
Let's briefly discuss the concept of "hate speech".
That's just stupid, trying to pass laws against words you use. Also, unconstitutional. This IS America, this IS a free country.
Okay, glad we got that out of the way.
How about this other thing? How about the "Arlington Police" confiscate his firearms?
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
That's a two-fer. One sentence, and these guys not only deny his First Amendment rights, but also his Second Amendment rights.
I know, it's Massachusetts ... they get to make the rules.
Actually, they don't.
I understand their concerns, the cops. There's already been one very high-profile attack on a Congressperson, and this guy is saying "Hey, that's okay!" I don't blame the police for being reluctant to NOT act on such an obvious threat.
mmm ... maybe it's not that obviously a threat. Maybe it is. Maybe the guy is another nutter, maybe he's just a jerk.
Probably the guy isn't going to go shoot anybody, no matter what he says. But I've seen the movie "Minority Report", and I know what's what.
Which is to say, that was a movie. A made-up story. We can't know what is the inevitable conclusion of "words".
Do I think the guy is a danger to some un-named politician? Is he going to turn into a sniper?
No, I don't think that. But I don't know for sure; and if I was a cop I would probably be inclined to err on the side of caution. But I'm not a cop, and it's not my job to evaluate the circumstances and maybe decide that it's a lot safer to take the guys guns away until we can sort this thing out.
Would I be wrong?
Maybe I would.
What do you think?
This is a very grey area, and I have not taken the job of policeman (or judge) because I don't think I can sort these things out and make the right decision .. .because right now I don't know what the right decision is.
What I DO know is the first two amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, and that says:
- I can't shut him up
- I can't take his guns