America’s 1st Freedom | Is Europe Grasping For Gun Rights?

Is Europe Grasping For Gun Rights?

Terror threats, rising violent crime and the European Union’s suffocating strictures on guns have many Europeans craving their own version of America’s Second Amendment.

Source: America’s 1st Freedom | Is Europe Grasping For Gun Rights?

For decades, European have been quick to disparage the United States for our robust Constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms, as enshrined in the Second Amendment.

Shielded, whether they knew it or not, by geographical features which (until recently) have served as de facto barriers to easy migration, and even more by despotic but mostly stable governments in places like Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and secure in almost completely homogeneous and law-abiding societies, they mocked us for our “love affair” with guns, and derided our supposed “frontier mentality” on the subject.

But now, in light of the deluge of Third-World immigrants that was unleashed upon Europe in 2015 and continues to this day, some, at least, are mocking no longer. Rather, they are wishing (and I have heard this same thing from European friends on Facebook) that they had more Constitutional guarantees of freedom, and especially a 2nd Amendment!

The linked article is on the longer side, but worth reading in full; here are a few excerpts:

“In 12 days I visited Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Monaco, Italy, the Vatican, San Marino, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria. Everywhere I went, I interviewed people about the state of things in Europe, and I was truly shocked by one thing in particular — the number of people who told me they envy America for its Second Amendment.

“I’m not making that up. Ask yourself this question: How much do you know about the details of the founding documents of any country in Europe? If you are like me, it’s not much. So that makes it even more remarkable that many people in Europe are familiar with one very important detail about the U.S. Constitution—our Second Amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

“Even more surprising was the number of people who expressed a wish that they, too, could be given the right to defend themselves and their families. And in several European countries, gun-rights measures are being actively addressed…”
Continue reading “America’s 1st Freedom | Is Europe Grasping For Gun Rights?”

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America doesn’t actually lead the world in mass shootings | New York Post

America doesn’t actually lead the world in mass shootings

The claim that the US has by far the most mass public shootings in the world drives much of the gun-control debate. Many argue that America’s high rate of gun possession explains the high rate of mass shootings.

Source: America doesn’t actually lead the world in mass shootings | New York Post

Indeed, many do so argue, and do so vociferously and publicly. But as this article points out, that assumption is incorrect, and grounded on inaccurate data:

“[Criminologist Adam Lankford’s]’s data [purporting to support the claim that the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings] grossly under-count foreign attacks. We found 1,423 attacks outside the United States. Looking at just a third of the time Lankford studied, we still found 15 times as many shooters.

“Even when we use coding choices that are most charitable to Lankford, such as excluding any cases of insurgencies or battles over territory, his estimate of the US share of shooters falls from 31 percent to 1.43 percent. It also accounts for 2.1 percent of murders, and 2.88 percent of their attacks. All these are much less than the United States’ 4.6 percent share of the population.

“Of the 86 countries where we have identified mass public shootings, the US ranks 56th per capita in its rate of attacks and 61st in mass public shooting murder rate. Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Russia all have at least 45 percent higher rates of murder from mass public shootings than the United States.

“When Lankford’s data is revised, the relationship between gun ownership rates and mass public shooters disappears.”

In other words, far from being the country leading the world in per-capita mass shootings, the U.S. is actually far down the list. Like the purported problem of police shootings of young black males, which pales to insignificance compared to the very real problem of black-on-black violence, the primary claim behind the gun-control mania of the Left is shown to be based in deeply erroneous data.

How much longer are we going to allow our national debates to be driven by false and misleading claims, advanced to support radical Left-wing ideologies and agendas?

Rowan Atkinson on freedom of speech and “the New Intolerance”

Boris Johnson and Rowan Atkinson

“‘I am not intolerant,’ say many people; say many softly spoken, highly-educated, liberal-minded people: ‘I am only intolerant of intolerance.’ And people tend to nod sagely and say ‘Oh, wise words, wise words,’ and yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds, you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another.”

Source: Rowan Atkinson At Reform Section 5 Parliamentary Reception | LYBIO.NET Discover New Reading Content.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has come under fire for saying, among other things, that burkha-wearing Muslim women look like “letterboxes.” English actor Rowan Atkinson, CBE – perhaps best known here in the U.S. for his role as “Mr. Bean” – is among those defending him.

In this context, it is worth noting Mr. Atkinson’s earlier comments on freedom of speech, one of the best defenses of that right I have seen. The full transcript is at the link above, but here are what I consider key excerpts:

“[A] culture… has taken hold of the programmes of successive governments that, with the reasonable and well-intended ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. That is what you might call The New Intolerance, a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent.

“‘I am not intolerant’, say many people; say many softly spoken, highly-educated, liberal-minded people: ‘I am only intolerant of intolerance’. And people tend to nod sagely and say ‘Oh, Wise words, wise words’ and yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds, you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another. Which to me doesn’t represent any kind of progress at all.

“Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people: they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with, preferably outside the legal process. For me, the best way to increase society’s resistance to insulting or offensive speech is to allow a lot more of it. As with childhood diseases, you can better resist those germs to which you have been exposed.

“We need to build our immunity to taking offence, so that we can deal with the issues that perfectly justified criticism can raise. Our priority should be to deal with the message, not the messenger. As President Obama said in an address to the United Nations a month or so ago: ‘…laudable efforts to restrict [hateful] speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech’ – and that is the essence of my thesis; more speech.

“If we want a robust society, we need more robust dialogue and that must include the right to insult or to offend. As Lord Dear says, the freedom to be inoffensive is no freedom at all.”

Precisely so. Liberals – authentic, classical Liberals, not the illiberal Leftists one sees on display so prominently today – used to “get” that. “If only inoffensive speech is free, no speech is free,” they often said, and rightly so. “The right to freedom of speech must extend to unpopular speech.” Or in the words often attributed (possibly incorrectly) to Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Unfortunately, it seems that – while there may have been, and may continue to be – those who actually believed that, for too many on the Left, that now seems, in retrospect, to have been a tactic to open a space for their ideologies in the national dialogue, and now that they have achieved a certain dominance, they want to repress all speech with which they themselves do not agree.

Either we have freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the (U.S.) Constitution, or we do not; if we do, then it must certainly include the freedom to oppose the ideological orthodoxies of the Left! But like so many others, supposed “liberals” only actually like freedom when it suits them. Shutting down opinions they find uncongenial is not only permissible, in their worldview, but laudable.

That viewpoint may be described in may ways, but “liberal,” or tending toward freedom, are not among those way!

Unmoored Freedom is No Freedom – A Reflection on the 4th of July | Community in Mission

https://i0.wp.com/blog.adw.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/bible-american-flag1.jpg

To most modern minds, freedom is a very detached concept; it is an abstraction of sorts, a free-floating power unmoored from any limits or defining standards.

“Freedom today is often viewed as personal and self-referential, with little consideration as to how one’s ‘freedom’ might affect that of someone else. A healthy sense of the common good suffers mightily in a world of deeply conflicting personal freedoms.”

Source: Unmoored Freedom is No Freedom – A Reflection on the 4th of July | Community in Mission

Cogent thoughts on freedom, limitation, and the folly of trying to create (or maintain) culture without cultus.

“Obviously, the word cultus is at the heart of the word culture. In Latin, a cultus is something for which we care or about which we are concerned; it is something of worth, something considered valuable. It describes the most central, fundamental values of a group. In later Latin, cultus came to describe the worth or value we attribute to God, who is our truest goal.

“Remove the cultus from culture and you get the breakdown we are seeing today. While pluralism and diversity have value, they must exist within a framework that is shared and agreed upon. Otherwise pluralism and diversity are unmoored and become like ships crashing about in a stormy bay.

“In order for a culture to exist, there must be a shared cultus, a shared focus on what is good, true, beautiful, and sacred. Our modern experiment shows the failure of trying to have a culture without this.”

There are just a few excerpts; the entire article is well worth reading. Here is a bit more, a quote from (Roman Catholic) Bishop Robert Barron:

“The setting aside of God can take place both explicitly (as in the musings of the atheists) or implicitly (as in so much of the secular world where “practical” atheism holds sway). In either case the result is a shutting down of the natural human drive toward the transcendent and, even more dangerously, the elevation of self-determining freedom to a position of unchallenged primacy…

“On the typically modern reading, truth is construed as an enemy to freedom—which explains precisely why we find such a hostility to truth in the contemporary culture. Indeed, anyone who claims to have the truth—especially in regard to moral matters—is automatically accused of arrogance and intolerance.

“Society will be restored to balance and sanity, (Pope) Benedict (XVI) argued, only when the natural link between freedom and truth — especially the Truth which is God — is reestablished. … Behind all our arguments about particular moral and political issues is a fundamental argument about the centrality of God” [Vibrant Paradoxes, pp. 217-218].

Indeed. At root, much of the trouble we are facing today, as a society, can be traced to the Enlightenment project of topping God as the center and pinnacle of our musings, striving, and contemplation, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful – the pursuit of which lead us to God, as their Source and culmination – as the desirable goals of a human life well-lived – and replacing both Him and them with the deification of unaided human reason (*), and later, emotion and self-gratification.

Lacking that solid anchor and reference point, is it any wonder that we have become “like ships crashing about in a stormy bay”?

 


 

* Human reason is indeed one of the most precious gifts of our benevolent Creator, an extremely valuable human faculty. But because we are finite, limited, mortal human beings, our human reason is also finite, limited, and mortal. It is not intended, nor is it possible, to function alone, unaided by what the Anglican tradition names as Scripture and Tradition.

That is to say, the revelation of God as revealed in Scripture, Nature, and Antiquity: the latter referring to the theological and philosophical insights of those who have come before, especially those which are clearly part of the Great Tradition of Christianity, into which certain of the great Classical philosophers – such as Plato and Aristotle – have been incorporated, because they have foreshadowed it, because their thought illuminates, explicates, or complements parts of it, or all of the above).

To function and flourish properly, human reason also requires the water and fertilizer of not only Divine revelation (as shown through the Scriptures), but prayer – both personal and extemporaneous, and liturgical, through what the Anglican tradition calls “Common Prayer” – and the sacraments. As this essay points out,

“Freedom can only exist in a healthy and productive way when it is in reference to the truth — and truth is rooted in God and what He has revealed in creation, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. This is the cultus necessary for every culture. True and healthy freedom is the capacity to obey God. Anything that departs from this necessary framework is a deformed freedom, on its way to chaos and slavery.”

To be effective, therefore, and to be whole persons, in a right relationship to God and to one another – to be truly free, in other words, both personally and in the context of our social organization – we need not just reason, but sanctified reason. Even at that, we sometimes (often) fall short! Without it, we are indeed “ships crashing about in a stormy bay,” with little or no hope of reaching a safe harbor.

 


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Oh, Tommy Robinson #FreeTommy | Official Music Video – YouTube

“Oh, Tommy Tommy! Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy Robinson!”

There can be no question that the arrest and sudden incarceration – all taking place within about five hours – of activist and online journalist Tommy Robinson has struck a nerve with the British people. Whether this will prove the spark that sets the fires of open revolt against the present government remains to be seen, but Robinson has clearly become the icon around which a lot of British anger and resentment has coalesced.

And unlike the so-called “Resistance” against President Trump, here in the U.S., the Brits have a good deal of genuine authoritarianism, even downright tyranny, to revolt against. The sources of resentment are multiple:

  • BREXIT – in which a clear (albeit narrow) majority of the largest percentage of the British electorate to turn out for an election or referendum in decades voted to Leave the European Union, only to see the government stall, waffle, and second-guess until it’s now questionable whether a BREXIT will actually happen, or whether if it does, it will be hedged with so many conditions as to be in practice little better than Remaining.
  • Continued mass immigration, with pressure to submit to still more – most of it from places such as the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southwest Asia (primarily Pakistan) which are both majority Muslim and culturally and ethnically alien to Britons, and which have led to a vastly increased crime rate in the UK as well as considerable cultural dislocation, leading to fears – entirely justifiable, in my view – that Britain is in danger of having its history, heritage, and present culture swept away and replaced by something foreign.
  • On the subject of crime, the dismaying unwillingness of the British police and judiciary to constructively address the problem of “grooming gangs” (or as British journalist Katie Hopkins accurately labels them, “rape squads”) made up of so-called “Asians” (Southwest Asians; again, Muslim Pakistanis) who seduce, enslave, rape, and abuse ethnic British girls with, to date, almost complete impunity, due to the fear by the authorities of being labeled “racist.” It is this that Tommy Robinson was protesting, when he was arrested.
  • And increasingly, thought-policing: Brits have been warned by the police to “be careful” what they post online and in social media, and that they could be arrested for posting anything that might be deemed a “hate crime” or incitement thereto. Given what happened to Tommy Robinson, who was live-streaming outside a court sentencing (a rarity!) members of one grooming gang, this has understandably had a chilling effect on public discourse regarding the above issues!

Draconian anti-gun laws have already stripped Britons of their ability to defend themselves, and now (as described above) their right to express themselves is coming under increasing attack, as well. As I have commented before, in more than one forum, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was not incorrect, it was just a few decades premature!

Nonetheless, as I say, the arrest and imprisonment of Tommy Robinson has galvanized a significant segment of the British public. It has certainly and understandably enraged those who have been frustrated and angry for some time over the issues listed above, but I have a strong sense that it has also awakened many others who, up to this point, had been reluctant to either admit to the problem, or to take a stand.

People are coming – however belatedly – to the realization that they, too, could be arrested and imprisoned simply for speaking their minds, expressing their opinions, in the public square: either literally, as Tommy Robinson did, or online. So it is no surprise to me that this has become a flashpoint in the UK. And maybe, God willing, a turning-point as well. I hope so! Time will tell.

Students’ attitudes really… *ahem!* …take the cake.

Many or most of my readers may know that a recent Supreme Court decision held that a Christian baker was within his rights to refuse to bake a special cake for a gay wedding. For that he was roundly criticized, some would say harassed, by the party in question. They brought suit, and the case eventually made it to the SCOTUS – which, to the surprise of most observers, found in favor of the defendant.

While their ruling has been criticized by some conservatives for being too narrow, it at least went some way toward upholding the principle that merely because one offers a service to the public, one is not thereby obliged to completely chuck one’s moral standards and religious beliefs into the gutter. (To put a slightly finer point on it, service does not equate to slavery.)

The baker made it clear that he would happily have sold the couple a pre-existing cake; he is, after all, in the business of selling cakes, and has no desire to actively discriminate. However, by demanding that he make one specifically for their occasion, they were forcing him to actively participate in it, demonstrating de facto approval of their actions, and that is what he objected to. The Supreme Court, to their credit, agreed.

Now, I am a bit more extreme in my views, in that I believe a private business owner has the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, or no reason – with the understanding, of course, that this is likely to have an impact on his or her business, and if that impact is negative (people “vote with their wallet”), he or she has no right to complain. So from that perspective, yes, I agree that it was too narrow a ruling.

But, it is head-and-shoulders above the situation we have had up to this point, which is that basically anyone can be forced to do anything for anyone, if it is in line with their business, and the business owner has no choice in the matter, regardless of their moral qualms. So it is at least a significant step in the right direction!

What causes me to shake my head (in dismay though not, alas, in surprise) is the reactions of the college students interviewed, which demonstrate with all-too-crystalline clarity the extent of the socio-political indoctrination inflicted on our young people by the academic establishment – public school and higher education alike – as well as the lack of critical-thinking skills inculcated by these institutions.

They are emphatic and unanimous that the SCOTUS decision was wrong, that people’s “right” to “be who they are” trumps a business owner’s right to follow his or her own moral and religious standards – even to the point of being forced to do something that is directly against them. But they start to waffle when the parameters are shifted!

Well, what if it’s a black baker, being forced to bake a cake for a KKK rally? They backed off of that one in a hurry, although struggling (and failing) to find some sort of coherent justification for the switch: even admitting, in a couple of instances, that they had contradicted themselves.

What if it’s a Jewish baker, being asked to bake a cake for a Palestinian event (presumably of a “free Palestine” – and thus, anti-Israel – nature)? More waffling. A lot more, in this case, as they are presumably conflicted over which side is “in the right,” here!

But the point is that the argument that someone’s right / freedom to “be who they are” trumps a business owner’s right to be who he or she is, in following their religious and moral standards – even to the point of forcing that person to transgress their religious and moral beliefs – collapses completely, when it’s not some nasty reactionary Christian oppressing some poor, oppressed, “freedom”-loving progressive type.

As my mother used to say, “it all depends on whose ox is getting gored.” And as I have said more than once in various fora, irony and double-standards are endemic among today’s Leftists, and logic, coherence, and rationality appear to be in short supply!

Magna Carta: an introduction | The British Library

Image result for magna carta

King John granted the Charter of Liberties, subsequently known as Magna Carta, at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

Source: Magna Carta an introduction – The British Library

On this date in 1215, 803 years ago today, King John “Lackland” granted – admittedly under duress! – the “Charter of Liberties,” which was to become known as the “Magna Carta” or “Great Charter,” to the rebel barons and leading churchmen of the Realm of England.

This is of Anglican interest because it protected, among other things, the rights and privileges of the English Church (Ecclesia Anglicana); and is is of general interest for those concerned with the defense of the West because “Magna Carta has… acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties…. [The Great Charter] retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

The article points out that it is not certain how many copies of the 1215 Magna Carta were originally issued, but four copies still survive: one in Lincoln Cathedral; one in Salisbury Cathedral; and two at the British Library. It is actually the edition of 1225, issued (voluntarily) by King Henry III, which became definitive, and of which three critical clauses are still part of English law:

“Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. Although nearly a third of the text was deleted or substantially rewritten within ten years, and almost all the clauses have been repealed in modern times, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution.

“Most of the 63 clauses granted by King John dealt with specific grievances relating to his rule. However, buried within them were a number of fundamental values that both challenged the autocracy of the king and proved highly adaptable in future centuries. Most famously, the 39th clause gave all ‘free men’ the right to justice and a fair trial. Some of Magna Carta’s core principles are echoed in the United States Bill of Rights (1791) and in many other constitutional documents around the world, as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).”

Of the three of those clauses which remain part of English law, one defends the liberties and rights of the English Church, another confirms the liberties and customs of London and other towns, but here is the third and most famous:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”

“This clause gave all free men the right to justice and a fair trial [although] ‘free men’ comprised only a small proportion of the population in medieval England…

“Magna Carta has consequently acquired a special status as the cornerstone of English liberties. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of its clauses have now been repealed, or in some cases superseded by other legislation such as the Human Rights Act (1998). Magna Carta nonetheless retains enormous symbolic power as an ancient defence against arbitrary and tyrannical rulers, and as a guarantor of individual liberties.”

Perhaps, given the political and social situation there, England is in need of a new “Great Charter”!