[guest post by Dana]
I’ve been out of town, so here’s a fresh albeit brief open thread. Just a few tidbits, but I’m sure you’ll find plenty to talk about!
First news item
Second news item
Go to the Rand Corporation’s state firearms law navigator, and you can track the extraordinary expansion of gun rights in the United States year-by-year. Combine state laws with Supreme Court precedent, and it’s hard to think of a time when Americans enjoyed a greater degree of personal liberty to own or carry firearms.
No, the threat to America’s gun culture comes from the gun rights movement itself. The threat is gun idolatry, a form of gun fetish that’s fundamentally aggressive, grotesquely irresponsible, and potentially destabilizing to American democracy…
What is a gun fetish? It’s a concept that’s tough to define, but easy to observe. When a leading candidate for Senate runs on a platform that’s “pro-God, pro-Gun, and pro-Trump,” then guns (and Trump) are elevated far above their proper place in American life. The same goes for popular t-shirts and signs that declare a person “pro-life, pro-God, and pro-gun.”
We see the gun fetish when a member of Congress appears on television with crossed AR-15s behind her head. Or when another member of Congress raffles off a .50 caliber sniper rifle…
The gun fetish rears its head when politicians pose with AR-15s in their campaign posters, or when a powerful senator makes “machine-gun bacon” to demonstrate just how much he loves the Second Amendment.
It’s certainly not the case every time a politician publicly shoots a gun that they’re exhibiting a gun fetish, but the sheer prevalence of the open display of firearms (and not just any firearm, but the AR-15 specifically) illustrates that something has changed.
Third news item
How about teachers just don’t discuss penises with five-year-olds in any context and let parents fulfill their responsibility to teach their children about such matters, and then teachers would have more time to fulfill their responsibility to teach kindergarteners about shapes, letters, spelling, numbers, counting, and basic social skills:
In his kindergarten classroom, one teacher in western Massachusetts using “Rights, Respect, Responsibility” introduces the idea of gender as part of an exploration of identity. He explains that people use all sorts of pronouns: he, she, they, ze. He introduces the terms transgender and gender queer but doesn’t fully define them because that is too much for kindergartners, said the teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his district did not authorize him to speak publicly.
He talks to students about anatomy but declines to classify various body parts as male or female. “We don’t say a penis belongs to a man,” he said. It belongs to a human, he explains.
And he makes clear that even if a doctor proclaims at birth, “It’s a boy!” that baby may not be a boy. “Someone who was born a boy may not feel they are a boy.”
Fourth news item
In an interview published Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron said allowing Russia to save face could help bring a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine. “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” he said.
Facing a barrage of criticism for the comment, Macron was slammed by Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Zelensky as well:
“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it. Because it is Russia that humiliates itself,” Kuleba tweeted Saturday.
“We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also appeared to reference Macron’s comment in an address Saturday night, saying: “The Russian army can stop burning churches. The Russian army can stop destroying cities. The Russian army can stop killing children. If the same person in Moscow just gives such an order. And the fact that there is still no such order is an obvious humiliation for the whole world.”
Fifth news item
Angeli Gomez, the Uvalde mom who ran into Robb Elementary School during a shooting to rescue her two sons, told CBS she was handcuffed and threatened by police officers for talking to the media.
“Right away as I parked, US Marshals started coming toward my car saying that I wasn’t allowed to be parked there. And he said, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to arrest you because you’re being very uncooperative,'” Gomez, whose two sons were not in the classroom where the shooting occurred, told CBS.
“I said, ‘Well, you’re gonna have to arrest me because I’m going in there.’ And I’m telling you right now, I don’t see none of y’all in there. Y’all are standing with snipers and y’all are far away. If y’all don’t go in there, I’m going in there.”
Gomez was handcuffed and eventually released by officers while the shooting happened. She made her way into the school by jumping a fence and pulled both of her sons from the school, saying she saw no officers inside as she walked through the halls.
The mother of two was also threatened with a probation violation, she told CBS, by a police official who told her that if she spoke to media about her experience she may be obstructing justice.
A judge later told Gomez she was brave during the incident and her probation would be shortened, despite the threats.
“If anything, they were being more aggressive on us parents that were willing to go in there and, like I told one of the officers: I don’t need you to protect me, get away from me. I don’t need your protection. If anything, I need you to go in there with me to go protect my kids,” Gomez told CBS.
If that’s true, she should get a lawyer and sue the cops under Section 1983 for violation of clearly established First Amendment rights. That’s a winnable case. I’d take it. Wouldn’t be easy, because the law is so unconscionably biased in favor of the fuckin’ cops, but plausible remedies for cop misconduct are so rare you should take them when they arise. Damages aren’t great but I think a jury would give punitives.
Sixth news item
South Carolina’s Tom Rice was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Now, as Rice fights an uphill battle for his political life in the heart of Trump country, he is standing by that choice — calling it “the conservative vote” in an interview with ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl that aired Sunday on “This Week.”
“I did it then. And I would do it again tomorrow,” Rice said.