Using the Poor as a Scapegoat for Gun Violence

Like a lot of kids raised in liberal New York City, I was taught that anyone who wants a gun is probably the last person who should be allowed to own one.  I learned to consider the Second Amendment a quaint throwback to less civilized times and had it drilled into my head that only psychos, criminals, and men with small penises carry guns. Most gun violence could be blamed on economic inequalities created by Reaganomics, according to the elementary school teacher who made sure a Mondale/Ferraro sticker was affixed to each student’s binder.

Then I grew up, read the Bill of Rights, and married a gun nut.

Across the country in Phoenix, Meghan McCain was brought up with a more informed view on the right to bear arms.  Her brothers were avid hunters and she developed a deep respect for the Second Amendment.  Today she’s an NRA member with a lifetime of positive gun experiences under her belt.

I confess I have a soft spot for Meghan McCain.  I don’t agree with all of what she writes and I wish she’d add something new to the national political conversation instead of recycling a mishmash of talking points.  But I admire her practical decision to milk her campaign fame for all it’s worth, and I think she’s wise to go the contrarian Republican route.  Controversy sells, as evidenced by her six figure book deal.

McCain and I agree on the Second Amendment issue.  But while her devotion to gun rights confirms her bitter clinger bona fides, she appears to have absorbed a different kind of liberal humbuggery on the issue of gun violence.

The real solution to preventing gun violence is not taking away the tools, but tackling its causes: poverty, inadequate health care, mental illness, joblessness, inadequate housing, and poor education. Desperate people will make anything a weapon. We need to eliminate desperation, not guns.

Translation: guns don’t kill people, people with less money and education than Meghan McCain kill people.  (And sometimes the mentally ill do it too.)

Way to scapegoat the impoverished!

I was under the impression that identifying poverty as the root cause of violent crime was no longer in vogue – after all, that would let guns off the hook – but apparently President Obama feels otherwise.  Eight days after the 9/11 attacks, Barack Obama attributed the tragedy to the terrorists’ lack of empathy stemming from a “climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”  And in a 2007 speech, Obama called poverty “a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence.”  Obama’s first pick for Commerce Secretary, Bill Richardson, shared similar thoughts during the 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum when he said, “the key in eliminating gun violence is eliminating poverty, eliminating hate.”

Perhaps Meghan McCain is simply repeating liberal talking points, but it seems to me that even among the political left, violent crime is usually approached as a complex phenomenon caused by a multitude of sociological and psychological factors.  Many recognize that it reeks of classism to suggest that poverty creates desperation-fueled violence.  It’s also unsupported by evidence.  While a correlation exists between certain crimes and poverty, research has not proven a cause and effect relationship.  There are simply too many variables.

Even Marxist criminologists don’t attribute crime to poverty, but rather to relative deprivation like income inequality.  But both are silly assumptions: if all of the poverty-stricken or people who find life unfair engaged in violent criminal activities, the world would be in chaos.  But clearly most of the world’s have-nots eke out their years without erupting into violence.

Instead, couldn’t it be that violent crime perpetuates poverty?  We see this on an individual level among both victims and convicted criminals.  It is also evident on the community level.  Neighborhoods decimated by gun violence fail to attract entrepreneurs who might help the areas prosper.  Crime also keeps property values low and drives up insurance premiums.

It may well be that poverty has little to do with being deprived, and everything to do with being depraved.  And it isn’t economic poverty, but moral poverty that is to blame for gun violence.

Conservatives, Meet Google

The Liberty Counsel released the following statement last week regarding federal hate crimes legislation under consideration by Congress:

H.R. 1913 (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009) is not about stopping crime but is designed to give “actual or perceived” sexual preference or “gender identity” (which is still classified as a mental disorder) the same legal status as race. The DSM IVR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose mental disorders) lists more than 30 “sexual orientations” and “Gender Identity Disorders,” including pedophilia. The hate crimes bill does not limit “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” and, thus, includes all these disorders and fetishes.

The American Family Association and the Traditional Values Coalition also expressed concern that people with sexual orientations such as pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality will receive special legal protections if the hate crimes bill becomes law.

Scary stuff, right?

Or it would be if any of their contentions were true.

But pedophilia is NOT a sexual orientation.

The information disseminated by the Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association, and the Traditional Values Coalition is verifiably false.  There are not 30 sexual orientations listed in the DSM-IV-TR. In fact, the DSM-IV-TR explicitly states that sexual orientation refers to “erotic attraction to males, females, or both.”

The supposed “orientations” enumerated by these organizations are listed in the DSM-IV-TR as paraphilias.  The paraphilias, which include pedophilia, voyeurism, and sexual sadism, are described in the DSM-IV-TR as sexual disorders, but they are not, by any stretch of the imagination, orientations.  These are facts, easily verified by following the inline links to the Google Books copy of the DSM-IV-TR.

But if you believed the propaganda generated by Liberty Counsel and their fellowship of the intellectually dishonest, you’ve got plenty of company.  Both Human Events and World Net Daily covered the pedophilia angle on the hate crimes bill story, and major conservative blogs like Gateway Pundit and American Thinker repeated the falsehood that pedophilia is one of many sexual orientations protected by the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

During debate on the House floor, the notion that sexual orientation includes pedophilia was parroted by  Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).   Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who sponsored an amendment to explicitly exclude pedophilia from the definition of “sexual orientation,” recited a list of “sexual orientation proclivities” clearly cribbed from unverified press releases.  His litany included asphyxophlia, autogynephilia, bisexuality, exhibitionism, incest partialism, masochism. sadism, scatalogia, toucherism, voyeurism, and bestiality.  And yes, his speech included definitions.  The House Republican Conference Web site links to yet another list of sexual disorders in a misguided attempt to define sexual orientation.

Rep. King’s argument for the amendment was that “sexual orientation” is not specifically defined in H.R. 1913 and is therefore open to wild interpretation.  But the term sexual orientation is already defined by federal law, in The Hate Crime Statistics Act, as “consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.”  Since there is nothing consensual about pedophilic behavior, the amendment, however well intentioned, was superfluous.  Pedophiles don’t need to be explicitly excluded because they were never included to begin with.

By accepting outrageous propaganda as truth and not performing the bare minimum of due diligence with some quick Google-powered fact checking, these conservatives are undermining their credibility and helping to bolster the false and dangerous belief that pedophilia is an orientation.  All pedophiles have a sexual orientation; it just isn’t pedophilia.

Pedophiles can be gay, straight, or anywhere in between: that is their orientation because orientation relates to gender, not age and certainly not criminal propensity. They are not toddlersexuals or infantsexuals. They are sadistic criminals who prey upon the most vulnerable among us.

For the record, I agree with House Republicans that hate crime legislation is a bad idea whether it includes race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other class of citizens.  Hate crime statutes arose as a form of political pandering: they allow liberal politicians to posture against prejudice and bigotry while twiddling their thumbs over institutionalized discrimination like DADT. These laws perpetuate our unhealthy focus on identity politics while conveying that some victims deserve a greater measure of justice than others. Murder should be prosecuted as murder, no matter the identity of the victim, no matter the motive of the killer.  And criminals should be tried on the basis of their hateful actions, not their hateful thoughts.

The Hate Crimes Act of 2009 is also in gross violation of the principle of federalism and the spirit of the Tenth Amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Hate Crimes Act federalizes crimes that should be under state jurisdiction.

But despite my strong disagreement with this legislation, it is clearly faulty logic and poor political strategy for House Republicans to bundle pedophilia and homosexuality together in an effort to appeal to the emotions of their colleagues and constituents on the issue of hate crimes.  Let’s hope Senate Republicans don’t get suckered into the same strategy as they debate the companion bill, S. 909.  Perhaps their aides will prove to be better Googlers than their House counterparts.

The only people who benefit from defining pedophilia as an orientation are the members of pedophile activist groups who seek to legitimize their degenerate behavior.  Let’s not be party to that mission.

Things That Fail to Surprise Me

How often do you hear someone start a sentence with the words, “I can’t believe ….”  I can’t believe it’s raining.  I can’t believe Obama got elected.  I can’t believe another Chicago politician is corrupt.

But really, all these things are well within the realm of believability.  I prefer to think of them as remarkable – not shocking, not even really surprising, but definitely worth a remark or two.  In that spirit, here are some remarkable items I wish I could find surprising:

Arizona ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to emergency preparedness.  Since Arizona governor Janet Napolitano has done such a stand up job addressing her state’s disaster response capabilities, it’s only natural that she will oversee Homeland Security for the Obama administration. (via The Weekly Standard)

The increasing number of Orthodox Jews in the Riverdale section of the Bronx doesn’t sit well with at least one resident.  Michael O’Brien is calling for a boycott of local shops that have adapted their business practices to respond to shifting neighborhood demographics.  He is offended by the lack of Christmas decorations at the Jewish deli and outraged that the Dunkin Donuts across the street from an orthodox yeshiva doesn’t serve sausage and egg sandwiches.

Some liberal feminists consider the Twilight YA series to be dangerously misogynistic Mormon apologia.  I prefer not to link to them, but here’s a Google search to point you in the right direction if you’re so inclined.

Mounting evidence suggests that teenage girls seeking spiritual mentoring and camaraderie on pagan social networking sites are being lured into inappropriate relationships with adult men.

South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson played the black friend card this week in a revoltingly calculated (and easily anticipated) attempt to assure the public that his 12 year membership in a segregated country club is irrelevant to his candidacy for national RNC chairman.

And finally, the Detroit bailout bill passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 237-170 on Wednesday.  32 “Republicans” were among those who voted in favor of the “rescue package.”

Like I said, no surprises.

ATF Disrupts Vile Neo-Nazis in Plot to Massacre Black School Kids and Assassinate Obama

Breaking news: neo-Nazi skinheads are vile, cretinous scum who dream of genocide.

OK, OK, there’s more to this particular breaking story. The ATF caught a pair of white supremacist morons plotting the massacre of dozens of kids at a predominantly African-American school. The attack on black school children was to be followed up by an assassination attempt on Barack Obama.

Bloomberg reports:

Federal agents in Tennessee broke up what they called a plot by two men identifying themselves as white supremacists to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as part of a “killing spree” of black people.

The two suspects, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Arkansas, were accused of discussing a plan to rob a gun dealer of weapons and ammunition and commit murders at a predominantly black school, Lawrence J. Laurenzi, the U.S. attorney for western Tennessee, said in a statement.

The suspects’ “final act of violence” would be an attempt to kill Obama during which they both expressed a willingness to die, the statement said. The two men told authorities they planned to wear white tuxedos and top hats while carrying out the assassination, according to court papers.

This report turns my stomach. Luckily the Feds disrupted these imbeciles before they could carry out their plot. The Smoking Gun has a copy of the federal complaint (via Hot Air, where Allahpundit has more).

Is it too much to hope that everyone can avoid politicizing the deplorable behavior of these two scumbags during the final days of the election?

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