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Equal Rights Does Not Mean Special Treatment

What I’m about to write here is probably going to piss some people off. I may even lose some Twitter followers or Facebook friends over it. I’m going to write it anyway.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I lean more to the right of center on most political issues. One exception, however, is gay rights. I’m an ally. I think two consenting adults should be able to get married no matter if they are same sex or heterosexual. There is no reason that same sex couples and heterosexual couples shouldn’t be afforded the same rights.

Here is where I’m about to lose some people. Equal rights does not mean special treatment. You want equal rights? I think you should have them. There seems to be a trend, however, of demands not for simply equal rights, but for special treatment.

Let’s look at the debacle of a law that Arizona tried to pass. It would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays. When this story hit the news wires, it went viral in an instant. How dare businesses refuse service to someone simply because of their sexual orientation? I’ll agree it’s not a great business decision, but private businesses are free to make their own decisions about who they’ll accept as customers and who they won’t. Likewise, consumers are free to choose what businesses they give their money to. That’s the way free enterprise works.

Unlike the race, religion and handicapped individuals, sexual orientation is not a federally protected class. Also, why would a gay couple even want a bakery who doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding WANT them to? I know, it’s the principal we’re concerned about. Thankfully, Governor Jan Brewer had the good sense to veto this bill.

A few weeks later, the owner of a hair salon in New Mexico decided he will no longer cut the Governor’s hairbecause she has publicly opposed gay marriage. Why didn’t this go viral? Why was no one all up in arms about this? Where was the outrage? Why is this business owner allowed to refuse service to a group of people he disagrees with, but business owners who disagree with him and his lifestyle are not? Why the double standard?

My view is that privately owned businesses should be able to do business with whomever they want. It is not the government’s job to legislate who I can and cannot do business with as a small business owner. I’d do desserts for every gay couple that came my way, and that’s my decision to make. If the bakery down the road chooses not to, it should be their decision to make too. If the gay owner of a business doesn’t want to serve someone because that person doesn’t share their beliefs, they should have that option.

If you want the equality you purport to want, then you have to take the good with the bad. Otherwise, you’re not asking for equality. You’re asking for special treatment.

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The Zimmerman Trial. Lets Deal In Facts, Not Emotion

The legal system in the United States is known as an adversary system. In this system, the parties to a controversy develop and present their arguments, gather and submit evidence, call and question witnesses, and, within the confines of certain rules, control the process. The fact finder, usually a judge or jury, is supposed to remain neutral and passive throughout the proceeding.

There is no doubt that this system is imperfect, but it’s the only one we have and it’s arguably the best one in the world.

There is no doubt that the George Zimmerman verdict is a polarizing one.  One only has to look at my Facebook Timeline or Twitter feed to see that.  I realize that the majority of the blogging world is fairly liberal.  As such, it was no surprise to me that my timeline and twitter feed were filled with people upset at George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict.  I understand the outrage.  A young man is dead.  A mother and father’s hearts are broken.  Nothing will bring back Treyvon Martin to his family.  That is a tragedy.

Having said that, here are my thoughts on the entire situation.  If it matters or not, I live in Central Florida.  I know this case has gotten national attention, but that is nothing compared to what it’s like to live in the area in which such a huge trial is taking place.  It wasn’t that long ago we were dealing with the Casey Anthony trial.  To say we’ve had our fair share of national media attention over murder trials would be an understatement.

I watched this trial in its entirety.  There were times during the State’s case that I had to double check to make sure the defense hadn’t started presenting their case yet.  It seemed a good number of the State’s witnesses did more to help the defense than they did the state.

First, let’s review the law. Florida Justifiable Use of Force Laws

FL Statute 776.012(1) states the following:

Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony;

FL Statute 776.13 (3) states the following:

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place [other than a residence or dwelling] where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
George Zimmerman was not engaged in any unlawful activity.  Up until he attacked George Zimmerman, Treyvon was not involved in any unlawful activity either.  Yes, the 911 operator told George Zimmerman not to follow Treyvon.  However, a 911 dispatcher is not a law enforcement officer, and George Zimmerman did not break the law when he exited his vehicle and decided to follow Treyvon.
When Treyvon noticed George following him, he was on the phone with his friend.  If he was afraid or felt threatened by George Zimmerman, he could have hung up an dialed 911 and waited for police to get there.  By all evidence and testimony presented, George did not attempt to confront Treyvon.  He was simply following him while on the phone with 911.  Florida does have stalking laws, but George was not charged with stalking in this case.  One has to assume that there was not sufficient evidence in this case to charge him with stalking.  Therefore, the mere act of George exiting his car and following Treyvon while he was on the phone with 911 was not considered a crime.
The turning point was when Treyvon chose fight over flight and attacked George.  The fact is Treyvon assaulted George causing injuries.  At some point during this assault, George felt that he was in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm, and he used his legally registered gun to defend himself.  Could he have defended himself without the gun?  Maybe.  We’ll never know that.
The State of Florida had the burden to prove George’s guilt beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt.  Obviously the jury didn’t think they did that.  The jury decided that George Zimmerman did indeed feel he was in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm when he fired his weapon and killed Treyvon.  The State failed.  Period.
Now to my personal opinion.  I realize this may cause some to unfriend, and that’s a choice they can make for themselves.  I think the jury got it right.  After watching the trial and seeing and hearing everything (and more during the Frye hearings that the jury was not present for) the jury saw and heard, I believe there was an abundance of reasonable doubt.  The state couldn’t prove beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt who was on top during the beating of George.  The state couldn’t prove beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt whose voice it was calling for help on that 911 tape.
What really gets me about this whole thing is the reaction on the Interwebz.  I understand being upset at the verdict.  What I don’t understand is calling for the death of the jurors or George Zimmerman.  Here are some quotes from my twitter feed.  I have purposely left out the names.  The bullet points after the quote are my commentary.
“I’m sure there’s someone out there who will give up their freedom to right this wrong once Zimmerman’s released.  And, I like that #trayvon”
  • Yes, two wrongs make a right.  I’m sure I read that somewhere.
“All I can hope is that Zimmerman’s fate will be even worse than prison.”
  • See above.
“Every stalker in America with a gun knows they can follow me & if I confront them & we fight they can KILL ME and walk #Justice For Trayvon”
  • First, he was never charged with stalking.  Second, if you confront someone for whatever reason, and start a fight with them, you need to be prepared for any outcome.
Regardless of what the law says, one thing is true: If George Zimmerman had just stayed in his car, Trayvon Martin would be alive.
  • If Trayvon had not started punching George, he might also still be alive.

I fully understand why we mad about the GZ verdict but I wish we had this kind of outrage towards black on black crime.

  • I completely agree.

George Zimmerman gets his gun back. Let that sink in.

  • He has not been convicted of any crime.  He is legally allowed to own a firearm.

And there were many tweets about what parents should tell their kids about this verdict.  You tell them that even though you may not agree with the verdict, our justice system did what it was supposed to do.  Both sides argued their cases, and an impartial jury weighed the evidence and delivered a verdict.  You tell them that if they don’t like the laws, work to change them.  You tell them that violence doesn’t solve violence.  You hug them tighter and you pray (if that’s your thing).  You don’t advocate violence in retaliation to a verdict you don’t agree with.

There has been much ado about race in this trial.  I”m not so naive as to believe there isn’t still racism in this country.  Sadly, there probably always will be.

What really chaps my ass about all this is how many people who identify themselves as liberals and claim to want tolerance are some of the most intolerant people I’ve ever seen.  It’s okay for people to disagree with my point of view.  It’s okay for people to disagree with your point of view.  If you truly want tolerance, you need to practice what you preach.

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It’s A Mad, Mad World

The world has gone bat-shit crazy.  Obama administration scandals galore, Paula Deen, George Zimmerman trial, gay marriage.  That’s a whole lot of blog fodder right there.  I’ll try to be brief, but my poor, addled brain is having a hard time processing, comprehending and putting words to virtual paper about all of this stuff.

I’ll start with the White House scandals.   They’re coming so fast, there’s not time to process one before the next one hits the airwaves.  It could be some grand master plan by the Obama administration to keep people from focusing on any one scandal for too long, or it could be that the administration is self-destructing.  There are many, but I’m only going to touch on a few:

  • Nixon bugged an office building and resigned. Obama has effectively bugged an entire nation and it’s business as usual.
  • The IRS targets conservative groups and the higher ups claim ignorance.  Lois Lerner makes a broad, sweeping statement about how she did nothing wrong, and then pleads the 5th to avoid testifying before congress.  If you did nothing wrong, why would you need to exercise your 5th amendment rights?
  • Benghazi.  This is the big one.  People died.  Americans died.  They asked for help and Hillary refused.  Then the giant cover-up began.  They lied on the Sunday talk news programs by changing the talking points, and when questioned by Congress about it, Hillary asks what difference it makes.  I’d venture to bet that it makes a huge difference to the families of the victims.

One other issue that surfaced in the last day isn’t so much a scandal as it is a damn shame.  Citing sequestration, several military bases have cancelled their 4th of July celebrations.  Let me get this straight.  It’s okay for the Obama’s to spend $100 million in taxpayer money to go on an African Safari, but we can’t afford fireworks for the very men and women who put their lives on the line every fucking day to protect this country?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Out of all the scandals, this chaps my ass the most.  These brave men and women risk their lives daily for the very freedoms we enjoy.  Is it too much to ask to give them a fireworks display on the anniversary of the birth of the country they defend?  Every person who made the decision to cancel those 4th of July celebrations should be ashamed of themselves.

I could go on and on about all of this, but I fear my head would explode so we’ll just leave it at that for now.

Lets move on to gay marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on DOMA.  I don’t think it’s any secret the the 5 regular readers of this blog that, politically speaking, I lean more to the right than the left.  Having said that, I am happy with the high court’s decision.  If two consenting adults want to marry each other, so be it.  Two people of the same sex getting married doesn’t affect my life one iota.

And now on to Paula Deen.  Love her or hate her, I think she’s getting royally screwed.  Did she say an offensive word?  Yes.  She said it 27 years ago.  Now, the fact that she said it so long ago doesn’t make it right.  The fact that she grew up in a turbulent time for race relations in the south also doesn’t make it right.  I do believe there should be consequences for actions.  However, I believe there should be appropriate consequences.  Getting fired from the Food Network and losing almost all of your endorsement deals over a word you said decades ago seems a bit extreme to me.  I can guarantee you that the president of the Food Network and the CEOs of Walmart, Target, Sears, Smithfield, Walgreens, QVC and her publisher have all said something offensive in their past that they’ve had to later apologize for.  Should they all lose their jobs?  Did they say the N word?  Maybe, maybe not.  My point is, there is not one honest human being on earth that can say they’ve never said anything offensive.  Lets face it, people are so easily offended these days, it’s hard to NOT say something that someone will find offensive.  She said it.  She owned up to it.  She apologized for it.

It seems you can’t do or say anything these days and not have race brought into it.  David Chapelle did an entire skit on a fictitious white family with the surname if Niggar.  No one rushed to fire him from any job.  Hip Hop and rap artists use the N word all the time and sell millions of songs.  Walmart and Target sell those artists’ music.  Is it okay for them to say it because they’re African-American?  The double standard in this country is astounding.  I don’t like Obama.  It has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with his policies.  Yet, to many, they don’t care about my reasons for not liking him.  I just must be a racist.

And finally, George Zimmerman.  Now, understand that I live about 15 minutes from Sanford, Florida.  I have the live stream of the trial playing all day at work.  I just have to say, that if I ever get in trouble, I want this prosecutor prosecuting me.  At this point, it is the defense’s case to lose.  The State keeps putting on witnesses that do more for Zimmerman’s defense than they do for their own case.  Case in point: the State introduced into evidence the recorded interview between police and Zimmerman on the night of the incident.  Then they played portions of the interview that Zimmerman did with Sean Hannity on Fox news.  So the jury gets to hear George Zimmerman’s account of that night without George actually testifying, therefore, they don’t get the chance to cross-examine him.  They just gave the defense a HUGE gift. It will be interesting to see what the defense puts on when it’s their turn.  I’m sure more posts about the trial will be forthcoming in the future.  This is a hot topic and I have more to say, but my brain is shutting down for the night.

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The War On Soda

In case you haven’t heard, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) wants to ban the sale of sodas over 16 ounces in New York. I’m really glad there are no larger, pressing issues facing New York City so that Doubcheberg Bloomberg can focus on this most crucial of issues.

Yeah, I know, there is an obesity epidemic in this country. I know that high sugar content drinks contribute to it. What I don’t get is why the government feels the need to get involved by banning large sodas. What’s to stop someone from buying two or more smaller sodas to equal more than 16 ounces? We’re going to ban those sodas, but feel free to buy that Bic Mac and super-sized fries. Apparently, they don’t cause obesity. Oh, and you can still drink all the fruit juice you want. No sugar in that. /sarcasm.

And let’s talk about enforcement, shall we? Just how is this going to be enforced? Are they going to create a new government agency to oversee every restaurant in NYC to see if they’re selling contraband sodas? Or will they simply hire more people to work for the Health Department to enforce this nonsense? I can see it now, back alley soda deals going down. This whole thing is ludicrous!

But really, this isn’t about sodas. It’s about control. It’s about the government trying to control what you can and cannot buy or do or eat. Banning restaurants from selling sodas over an arbitrary size won’t put a dent in the obesity epidemic. If people want mass quantities of soda, people are going to drink mass quantities of soda. They will just get it somewhere other than a restaurant, or order more than one. This is just another example of government intruding where government has no business intruding.

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My Thoughts on the Aurora, CO Tragedy

Like most of you, I was deeply saddened upon hearing the news of the massacre at the movie theater in Aurora Colorado. The cousin of one of my co-worker’s husband was in that theater and shot. Details are sketchy at the moment, and I don’t know his condition. Even if you don’t have a personal connection to anyone directly involved, it hits us all hard. You go to a movie expecting to sit and enjoy the show and then all of a sudden your life is irrevocably changed.

My thoughts immediately jumped to another tragedy in Colorado — Columbine. I will not give this deranged individual any further publicity by using his name.

I’ve seen a lot of articles and posts about how we need tougher gun control laws. I ask you why? We have gun laws on the books now, and the people that follow those laws will follow any new laws that might be placed on the books. On the flip side, the criminals who ignore the current gun laws will continue to ignore any future gun laws. It only serves to make it more difficult for those law-abiding citizens to protect themselves with a firearm should they choose to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. I have no doubt that if there had been tougher gun control laws on the books prior to midnight this morning, this man still would have entered that theater and carried out his murderous rampage.

This isn’t about gun control. This is simply about one severely deranged man who, for whatever reason, decided to arm himself and commit mass murder.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Stacey Kolozs
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