Both barrels loaded...
And here we go...
Education in the state of Utah sucks. There's no way around it. We're fifty first in the nation -- behind all of the other states AND the District of Columbia -- in per pupil spending. That's beyond pathetic. But here's the other side of the issue. We're not getting our money's worth for what we are spending. Education gets every penny of the state income tax. Every cent. They don't have an income problem so much as they have a spending problem. I want an accounting of the money, and I want teachers held to account for their jobs. I had some amazing teachers. My kids have had some amazing teachers. They've had some real duds too -- and trust me, I am not the guy to look at blaming the teachers for the problems first, but honestly! This rant is spurred by the time I spent helping my son study for a history test tonight. He has no history book. They keep a couple of books in class, but they can't bring it home. When, in the course of all time, have kids not had textbooks to bring home? You can't tell me that there was more money in education when I was a kid, than there is now.
Well, you can tell me that, but I won't believe it.
Maybe if the brand new school in the district hadn't decided to try and buy iPads for all of the kids to use, then perhaps my son would have a text book to study from. Or maybe if the executive salaries were based on their actual worth, there might be a little more money available for the students.
Maybe. I know it's radical.
Gay marriage. It's going to happen, and legally that's the way it should be. I don't want the government defining marriage, and you shouldn't either. The constitutional principle here is that we should always err on the side of more liberty. That's self government 101. It's not always palatable, and morally I find gay marriage to be wrong. I consider it a sin. But that's between me and my God. I'm allowed to feel that way, and you can try to persuade me to feel otherwise, but you can't legislate my beliefs. If you don't feel the same way as I do, that is also your right. The Constitution and, more specifically, the Bill of Rights, does not exist to protect all the things you love and agree with -- specifically it exists to protect the things you don't like -- for the greater protection of all of us. Maybe you've noticed, we don't always see eye to eye. The first amendment doesn't protect popular speech, it protects speech you find offensive. This same principal applies in judicial situations -- like it or not the accused criminal's rights are of greater judicial concern than a victim's rights. You may not like it, but that is a protection for all of us -- because a wrongly convicted person is a greater travesty than the victim of a crime not getting their pound of flesh from the law. That's hard medicine, but it's good for you. The same thing goes for the idea of gay marriage. If the government can tell someone else who to love, or who to marry, then it can can tell you who to love and who to marry. Or not marry, as the case may be.
There's is one more principal at work here that maybe we God fearing folk should perhaps take notice of: the greatest blessing God has given us is our agency -- the chance to choose between right and wrong, and the chance (the blessing, even?) to learn and grow from our mistakes. But, if you are prevented from choosing between right and wrong (whatever that may be, in a given situation) are you really free? As I recall that was the other plan...
Err on the side of more liberty. Always.
Gun Control. I'm so tired of hearing about guns. I'm tired of hearing about gun violence. I'm tired of hearing about gun rights. I'm tired of hearing about gun control. I'm sick of every side of this argument, so here's the gospel according to Chris (and this will probably be the last time you ever hear -- or read -- this kind of thing on this blog):
More guns equal more homicides. All the numbers back that up, and here's why -- it's easier to kill someone with a gun. Not just quicker, but easier. There is a psychological threshold that you have to cross in order to take another life. You have to get to the point where you believe it's ok -- or where you at least believe that you are justified. If you're protecting your family, that threshold is very low. Protecting your home or your country? Maybe it's a little higher, but still relatively easy to cross that threshold. But, when it comes to murder, that threshold is much higher -- but it's not as high with a gun, as it would be with another weapon. A knife, or a baseball bat is much more personal, and physically difficult and messy. You have to get to a higher threshold in order to use those weapons, than you would with a gun. So, frankly, that old reliable answer "If they didn't have a gun, they would have just used whatever was at hand" doesn't really wash. They might just decide it's not worth it. Most homicides are committed with a firearm.
And while we're at it -- the "More people are killed by cars than guns, so why don't we just ban cars" sarcastic argument is stupid too. It's an apples and oranges argument. Rarely, though I won't say never, does someone -- even a drunk -- get into a car with the intention of taking a life. Even if they know that the possibility is high, they hope that they will be the exception and not the statistic. If you point a gun at someone, and pull the trigger, you are intending to harm, if not kill that person. Every time. Let's argue about the same thing.
And, just because it's your right to carry a gun openly in public, doesn't mean that you should. Stop it. It scares people. Don't be a jerk. How can I differentiate between you and the guy who's going to shoot up the store, until one of you opens fire? You're not Rambo.
Love your guns. I don't care. But don't LOOOOOOVE your guns. Seriously. And don't tell me that the last person I need to worry about is the concealed carry permit holder. Anyone who is so paranoid that they think they need to be armed at all times scares me. I realize that there are a lot of good, law abiding concealed carry permit holders, but I've spent time with my fair share of the other type as well -- I think they want the government to come after their guns. I think they fantasize about it.
They're not coming for your guns. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Oh, and by the way, stop throwing Chicago, New York and DC under the bus, as the worst places for gun violence in the U.S. I realize that you don't like their gun laws -- that's fine -- but I have news for you: those three cities are not even in the top ten cities for violence (gun related and otherwise) in the United States. Try St. Louis. The most violent city in America. Add to that Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, Orlando(!)
As for the second amendment -- the founders were actually very careful about the language that they used. When they talk about a militia in the second amendment, that's what they mean. That's one of the reasons they wanted you to have guns -- to protect the country from invasion. It actually wasn't exactly referring to your personal right to self protection, and would you like to know why? Because they considered that to be self evident. It's a natural right, not a constitutional one. You have the God given right to protect yourself. The founders lived in a frontier society. They understood danger. They understood the need for self protection. They thought that we would too.
And, while I'm getting stuff off my chest: the second amendment does not exist to preserve your right to overthrow the government. Seriously, you watch too many movies. The right to revolution is also a natural right -- which is why it is set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and not the Constitution. The Constitution does not contain the method of it's own destruction. How stupid would that be? Oh, and the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed...that means you have a right to keep and use your guns (or other arms), it does not mean that you have the right to any kind of firearm (or other weapon) you would like. It doesn't mean that you should be able to have equivalent firepower to the government. Maybe you should have that right, maybe you shouldn't, but it's not constitutional. If you ask me, gun owners shouldn't appeal to the constitution for their rights. They should appeal to a higher law -- natural law. You have the self evident, unalienable right to self protection, regardless of what someone said in 1791.
And, just to be fair, if you are so gullible as to believe that eliminating guns from society eliminates all violence and evil, you've been out in the sun too long. It's time to grow up. We have a violence problem in this country, that is enabled and inflamed by the pervasiveness of guns, but it's not caused by them. As tired as I am of hearing the cliche "guns don't kill people, people kill people", cliches are cliches because they're true.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root"
The root of the problem is that we glorify all types of violence, and as a result we have people who want to kill other people. Fix that problem.
And last of all, to the cheerleaders at Highland High School, who will not be allowed to try out for cheerleader this year because they had more than 18 unexcused absences: welcome to real life. You've worked hard, I have no doubt, to be good at what you do. But you also signed a contract in which you agreed to abide by the 18 plus unexcused absences disqualification rule. And then you went and skipped class (at least) eighteen times. You always have to pay the piper. Always. Frankly, one unexcused absence should have disqualified you from cheerleaders try outs. Eighteen?! Did you ever go to class? And taking the story to the media, to try and force the school's hand, and shame them into changing their policy backfired. You look petty. But I blame your parents for that one.
Whew. I could have gone on all night. Who knew I had so much rant building up inside of me?
I'm not even sure what I wrote -- it's all a bit of a blur.
Do I feel better? Not really. It turns out griping about things just makes you think more about things you don't like. It doesn't really solve anything.
Nice Chris will be back tomorrow night.