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Feb 19 2013

A Welcome Clarification on the Second Amendment and That Militia Business

If, as the gun grabbers would have it, the Second Amendment does in fact only bestow upon military forces they perceive to define the “militia” the exclusive right to bear arms, and denies this basic and vital guarantee of freedom to individual citizen, then our Constitution is even more unique than previously understood. Our Bill of Rights must be remarkable among the autographs defining nations by numbering among those ten rights therein contained, that are given directly to the people as shields against the power of the state, a grant to the nation’s military of the right to own weapons.

One might have naively thought, absent this welcome clarification, that the right of a nation’s armies to possess arms was assumed. Who would have thought that a Bill of Rights was needed to permit an army to have guns? Imagine the foresight of our ancestors, who sought a Bill of Rights to guarantee “the people” of the United States protection against the power of the government they created, to have so memorialized the mandate of their intent that the government in power at any given time be forever assured the right to ownership of weapons that would, by the same words, be forever denied to the very people who had demanded that a Bill of Rights be placed in writing for their protection before agreeing to form a nation.

Edwin Kagin ©2009. from “Baubles of Blasphemy,” American Atheists Press, 2009.

Feb 15 2013

Guns are Innocent of their Use in Human Hands.

The slaughter of the innocents in schools has revived once again the argument that guns are responsible for these pathetic deaths.

If, it is argued, the firearms so basely used has magazines holding less ammunition, then the killings would have produced a lower body count. Such reasoning is obscene and demeans the memory of those so tragically slain.

For the pedantic, such an argument is known as the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. We can see its use by others but not by ourselves, It is a fallacy of causation, like “Because firearms with large ammunition magazine capacity were used to kill the children, the guns, and their magazines, were the cause of the deaths of the children.”

This fallacy of reasoning promises to once again infect the American debate on the issue of guns and on the ownership thereof. If, it is argued, guns of certain types (or all guns), and magazines of certain types (or all magazines), and certain types of ammunition (or all ammunition) were to be banned, then there would be no more school murders by maniacs. If, it is falsely reasoned, such weapons had been banned before the horror, the children would not have been murdered.

The argument is hydra-headed and should be rejected by rational people. The availability of the firearm, the magazines, and the ammunition used have absolutely nothing to do with the perceived notions of some that such availability caused, or permitted, the insane actions of the killer. And the corollary belief that, without such availability, so many would not now mourn the irreparable loss caused, they believe, by the gun, the magazine, and the ammunition, is dangerous defective.

Some of this fallacious argument is grounded in lack of knowledge and some in just plain lies.

One such assertion is that no one “needs” a weapon of the sort used. The need for such is irrelevant. It is lawful to own one, or several, such. And this right is firmly grounded in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. One could perhaps argue incorrectly that this guarantee is a bad idea. But it is a guarantee nevertheless. The way to abolish it is not to argue that the 2nd Amendment is something that it is not, but rather to repeal the amendment. And, in so doing, to lay down a welcome mat for tyrants.

The weapon involved in the recent school carnage has been incorrectly called an “assault rifle.” Decisions of the magnitude urged should not stand on the incorrect use of this emotionally weighted term.

An assault rifle has, by its most basic definition, the ability to fire, and to keep firing, bullets so long as the trigger is depressed. The trigger can be pulled once, and held back until three, or whatever, shots have been fired. When the trigger is released, the gun quits firing. This is not the weapon under attack, for such assault rifles have been unlawful for most private ownership for many years—ever since it was concluded by the ancestors of today’s gun-banners that banning such firearms would prevent mass killings.

The firearm used was not an assault rifle, but was rather a “semi-automatic rifle.” This also has a precise meaning. A semi-automatic rifle, or handgun, is one that can fire once each time the trigger is depressed and can continue to fire a shot with each trigger pull until the “magazine” holding the cartridges is empty. To fire three shots the trigger would have to be pulled three times.

Some semi-automatic rifles have been made to look like true assault rifles. But they are not assault rifles because they are not capable of full automatic fire. They are no more assault rifles than a cap gun is a Colt .45.

The debate to come will also feature various statistics designed to show that the post hoc logical fallacy of the gun-banners’ argument is not a logical fallacy. All such attempts will fail, because the gun has nothing to do with the way in which it is used. If one wants to play with statistics, it can be shown that crime in America has actually gone down since the repeal of the last gun ban. It can also be shown that violent crime has gone down wherever it has been made lawful for citizens to carry concealed deadly weapons.

And blaming and banning guns is simply not the solution. Such actions obscure the real, and largely unknown, reason or reasons why such killers do as they do. President Lincoln was killed by a single shot from a single shot Derringer. No one blamed, or tried to ban, Derringers. Many people, including children, were killed in Oklahoma City by a truck bomb filled with fertilizer. No one blamed, or tried to ban, fertilizer. We do not blame water for murders by drowning.

The act is the problem, not the means of its accomplishment. We do not blame matches for arson. We do not blame alcoholism on alcohol. And we should not blame insane murders on guns.

To do so avoids looking for the true reasons—perhaps reasons we would rather not hear—and puts an ineffective bandage on an open wound that will erupt again with knives, clubs, and rocks.

Edwin Kagin, © 2013.

Dec 26 2012

End of the Year Letter to Family and Friends.

Among the things that often happen around this time of year, we are met with the phenomenon of the end of the year letter, often called a “Christmas Letter.” This is a means whereby some people insist on telling their relatives and friends just how good things have been for them in the year soon ending, with the implication of how much more favored of the gods, or whatever, they are than you. In this spirit, here once again reproduced, is:

Christmas Letter.

Dearest Beloved of Our Family in Christ,

There have been many changes this year for our family. Our beloved 17 year old daughter suffered blindness and paralysis after being struck by a drunk driver on her way home from Wednesday night church services.
Aunt Polly died of liver cancer, following a long and painful illness. The family cat was smashed by a UPS truck. Mabel’s M.S. is getting worse and she can hardly do anything much anymore. Father had to have a triple bypass operation, and now uses a breathing tube. The house was burned down by sparks from the burning of Harry Potter books in our yard. Little Marvin got a chicken bone stuck in his throat at a church picnic and was rushed to the hospital where doctors had to remove his voice box, so he can never talk again, but God miraculously saved him.

Miranda is now being home schooled after she left eighth grade to become a single mother. An abortion was out of the question, and we know God has given us a hydro-cephalic grandchild for his own good and perfect reasons. Our oldest son had his left foot blown off in an ambush in Iraq while helping to bring Christ and Democracy to those poor heathens.

We rejoice in the wisdom of our God, in His gifts, and in His plan for our lives. We bear grateful witness to all that our great and merciful God has done for us in the past year, and we praise the works of His hand.

Oh, almost forgot. The dog died.

In His Holy Name,

The Fundangelical Family

Dec 08 2012

On Christmas, or No, Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus

 

Religious Christmas is a festival of humans who tearfully celebrate unfulfilled expectations. This blog will usually contain new material. However, the following classic (hopefully) Edwinian writing has been in demand every Christmas since its first publication as a “Kagin’s Column.” In response to numerous (maybe three) requests that it be repeated now at this holiday season, here it is so you don’t have to go digging for it in the archives of earlier blogs:

 

 

ON CHRISTMAS, or
NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS

 

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”
Uncle Ebenezer Scrooge (not to be confused with Uncle Scrooge McDuck).

 

I can’t prove that no ungulate unit of reindeer persuasion can fly, any more than you can prove I don’t have two invisible unicorns that frolic in benign innocence at Camp Quest. I can’t prove there are no living dinosaurs (as the arkonuts challenge the skeptical to do) anymore than the arkonuts can prove the English text of Genesis they rely on is identical to the original version they hold was dictated, or inspired, by god. But if one says that all crows are black, there is no need to check every crow to falsify that assertion. All that is needed is to find one white crow, or any crow of a different color. Similarly, Santa skepticism can be soundly silenced by the production of one flying reindeer. Yet Christmasterians insist doubters disprove Santa, sleigh, and such, or keep silent, lest they destroy a child’s simple (mindless) faith. This method of proof proves useful later, as children, programmed to believe fantasy is truth, grow to adultery and unquestioningly follow the fantastic follies of faith of their fathers (and mothers–political correctness must not be permitted to fall down a personhole).

To be sure, Plato (not to be confused with Mickey Mouse’s dog) argued that, to conceive of something that is real, one must somehow get the perfect idea of that something from the place it really exits, to wit, the world of forms–a place somewhere that no one has ever seen. Reality alone wouldn’t do. Thus, everyone but philosophers know what a horse looks like, and kids know all about Santa without having to survive Philosophy 101.

Can we imagine, or even believe in, something that doesn’t exist? Sure we can. Just talk with those who have been abducted by aliens. If some unseen thing is believed by many, e.g., angels, it is called faith. If a thing is believed by only one, and is wildly outside the gates of common sense and experience, then the belief, e.g., suddenly realizing that one’s guardian angel is made of grape jelly and having him (there are no female angels–check your bible, you can win bets on this) on toast, it is called psychosis. The problem is that the invisible and the non-existence look much the same. Christmas beliefs fall somewhere between the province of priest and psychiatrist.

Christmas combines two contradictory images of godlike characters: Jesus, the Christ, who taught that to be saved one should sell all of their property and give it to the poor (the church later declared belief in this teaching a heresy), and Claus, the Santa, to whom children are taught to write letters requesting property–believed to be given by Santa, in one night, to those children of the world found worthy–in direct challenge to the counsel of the Christ. One should note, before teaching the latter belief system, that an anagram of “Santa” is “Satan.”

The day itself, meaning “Christ’s Mass,” is the same day the Romans used to honor their sun god with gift giving and feasting. Christmas is quite pagan. Its secular celebration involves rituals specifically forbidden by holy writ, like hewing down a tree, bringing it inside the house, decorating it, and praising it. This is as clear a violation of divine decree as public prayer (Matthew: 6.6), or celebrating the Sabbath on the first day of the week instead of on the seventh day as ordered (Commandment IV). No wonder we are in such trouble these days with crime, inflation, and teenage pregnancies.

Unfortunate cultural consequences flow from the forced frivolity and jejune joy Christmas creates and requires. People get depressed when they don’t feel happy as they should, when they do not have their artificial expectations fulfilled, and when they cannot meet the unreasonable artificial seasonal needs of others–like their mercenary relatives, and their materialistic, greedy, spoiled children–and get even deeper in debt by trying to behave as expected.

Thanks to Tom Flynn, and his wonderful heresy “The Trouble With Christmas,” I chucked the whole thing a few years ago, and lived. Try it. You will feel better for it.

Should I be granted a Christmas wish, it would be that the holiday be canceled, and that the whole show appertaining to this business of Christmas not be done at all.

Please understand that I do not care if others celebrate Christmas if they wish, nor would I suggest that they be prevented from doing so. I just don’t want the holiday to be compulsory for me or anyone else–any more than I want other people’s prayers, that they have an absolute right to pray, to be forced upon me by public officials or upon children by public schools.

One who would rather decline gets somewhat tired of listening to those who absolutely and uncritically assume all good people celebrate Christmas, and that something is horribly wrong with anyone who ignores the invitation to attend their compulsory party.

Failing the unlikely event of Christmas being made optional, I would alternatively wish, in seasonal answer to Virginia’s famous question, that we might see something in the public press, for innocent children, like:

 

Dear Virginia,

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. It is a myth that has been cruelly used to deceive children for the pleasure of adults who unwittingly destroy children’s sense of basic trust by teaching them that the world is something other than it really is.

I know this news must be a shock to you, and I am truly sorry for your discomfort. But it is not my fault. The person who tells you the truth should never be blamed for the hurt that comes from learning that others have lied.

You should not believe in Santa Claus any more than you should believe in fairies, or in demons waiting around to pull you under the earth, or in angels lurking about to transport you above it. People do not need to believe foolish things to have love and compassion and caring, any more than they need a special season or holiday to be nice to one another.

If things believed prove false, does that mean peace, and sharing, and kindness must dissolve like mist along with the untrue things? Of course not! We don’t need magic to have happiness, and wonder, and joy. Our beautiful world is full of these things, and they are very real, and our real world holds more interesting and wonderful people and things than any fairyland anyone could ever even imagine.

Some adults are afraid of things they don’t understand, and they teach children to believe in magic. But the truth is really far more exciting. Wouldn’t you rather learn what is on real planets, that are millions of miles away, than believe reindeer can fly? Have you ever seen the northern lights? I have, and I can tell you they are more beautiful, more mysterious, and more wonderful than any pretend story anyone could ever invent about elves that have workshops at the North Pole.

Is it okay to pretend and to believe things we know are not true? Of course it is! And it can be a lot of fun. Intelligent people love to play. Any time you watch a movie or a play or go to a costume party you are playing and pretending something is so that is not.

We know those aren’t real people in the TV–only images of them–but we know we are pretending, and this is fun and much different from believing a falsehood. Would it be wrong to tell a friend of yours, who firmly believed there were really small people inside the television set, that his or her belief was not true? Would it be right for you to be condemned for destroying that friend’s childlike faith? What if several of your best friends thought they could fly, and set off for a bridge over a 600 foot deep gorge to prove it? Would it be wrong for you to politely try to convince them that they just might be mistaken, no matter how firmly they believe they are right? Would you be destroying their childhood or saving their future?

Follow the truth, no matter where it may take you. And don’t pay any attention to those who think comforting falsehoods are better than understanding the world as it is.

If you ever have children, teach them trust by telling them the truth.

By the way, just in case you didn’t know, the stork didn’t bring you. You are here because your parents had sex.

Keep questioning, Virginia, and don’t feel it is the least bit wrong to demand correct answers.

Asking questions is what makes us human.

Your friend,

Uncle Edwin

Dec 03 2012

Atheist Victory in California Reported in the Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/01/santa-monica-nativity-scene-atheist

Be sure and check out the comments. Happy reading. There is still hope.

Edwin

Nov 24 2012

American Atheists ask U.S. Supreme Court to Reverse Kentucky Law Requiring Belief in “Almighty God.”

American Atheists Press Release:

Acknowledge ‘Almighty God’ or Go Directly to Jail

Cranford, NJ—Everyday in Kentucky, due to a 2008 homeland security law, atheists and agnostics are potentially forced to assert that the public safety of their state is dependent on “Almighty God” or face criminal charges, including up to 12 months in jail.

On November 13, 2012, American Atheists’ National Legal Director Edwin Kagin submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). American Atheists is asking SCOTUS to review the Kentucky Homeland Security law. American Atheists won at the Circuit Court level a ruling that the law violated the First Amendment, but the decision was reversed by the Kentucky state Court of Appeals. The Kentucky state Supreme Court declined to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. Filing the petition does not guarantee SCOTUS will hear the case; only one in 1,000 cases are heard. Four of the nine justices must vote to hear the case.

On August 17, 2012, the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge, brought by American Atheists and local plaintiffs, to a state law that makes it mandatory that the Commonwealth and its citizens give credit to Almighty God for its safety and security. The law states, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”

This case was first introduced December 2, 2008, when ten Kentucky residents joined with American Atheists to launch a lawsuit against the state. Mr. Kagin said, “This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen.” The case went to trial in Franklin County, Kentucky, in August 2009. Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that the law violated the First Amendment’s protection again the establishment of a state religion.

Judge Wingate’s ruling stated: “Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God by choice for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now. This is the very reason the Establishment Clause was created: to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority. The commonwealth’s history does not exclude God from the statutes, but it had never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God.”

American Atheists and the local plaintiffs won the case in the Franklin County Circuit Court; however, the Kentucky Court of Appeals quickly reversed this ruling.

In a dissenting opinion supporting the lower court’s ruling, Special Judge Ann
O‘Malley Shake said Kentucky’s law crossed a constitutional line. Among other things, she said the law has criminal penalties, including up to 12 months in jail, for anyone who fails to comply.

“Unlike the Ohio state motto, which is passive,” Judge Shake wrote, “Kentucky’s law is a legislative finding, avowed as factual, that the Commonwealth is not safe absent reliance on Almighty God. Further, (the law) places a duty upon the executive director to publicize the assertion while stressing to the publicthat dependence upon Almighty God is vital, or necessary, in assuring the safety of the commonwealth.”

——————-

For additional information, including the Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, see:

http://kysecurity.wordpress.com/

 

Nov 06 2012

Proof That Some Churches Are Trying To Influence Today’s Election.

For anyone who thinks that churches are not trying to influence American politics, please see www.MissouriFamilyNetwork.net. One of our spies in Missouri, who thinks that church and state should be separate, as the First Amendment mandates, emailed to advise that this Family Network voter’s guide was passed out in at least some of the churches in Missouri.

This, of course, is in violation of the law. In exchange for their tax free status, non-profit outfits like churches are permitted to not pay taxes on their real estate if they agree not to take a part in partisan politics. The voter’s guide referenced takes part in partisan politics by clearly telling American voters who and what to vote for or against.

Readers are invited to share other proofs of this lawlessness of the godly.

If churches paid property taxes, literally billions of dollars in revenue would be generated. We could wipe out the national debt, and maybe fix some roads and bridges and once again teach music and have gym, and do and teach other most worthwhile things in our schools, that have all been cut so wealthy folks can have the money formerly used for the public good.

So, we should let them politic all they want, so long as they pay their taxes. Sounds fair to

Edwin.

Nov 03 2012

Go To A Catholic Church Tomorrow and Help Hold Back the Darkness.

Learning moment. In Kentucky, and in many other states, it is perfectly legal to record a conversation, or a meeting, where the one doing the recording is, without the knowledge of other parties to the conversation or meeting, a participant in the conversation or present at the meeting. This is not necessarily the law in all states. Further, while a lawyer is not permitted to advise someone to record a conversation or meeting without letting all involved know they are being recorded, it is okay for a lawyer to tell you that such a recording is usually perfectly admissible as evidence in court. In that there has, of late, been a great increase in the number of tiny little recorders available all over the place, and in that many cell phones have a feature called “voice memo,” or something like that, and can even make videos with sound, it seemed a good idea to tell this to readers.

Everyone who thinks the Enlightenment was a good idea, and who values separation of church and state, should go to church tomorrow—two days before we elect a President of the United States. The reason for this is to get people to serve as witnesses to the fact that many Catholic churches, and many right wing fundangelical churches, are telling those attending that church who to vote for. Yes, they really are. This practice is completely unlawful and a blatant violation of the requirement that churches not get into the business of politics unless they want to lose their tax exempt status and pay taxes on their property and thus wipe out our national debt.

Remember to set your clocks back an hour tonight. And remember, for your own safety’s sake, to help preventing the clocks from being set back some ten centuries or so.

Edwin
© 2012 by Edwin Kagin

Nov 03 2012

Go To A Catholic Church Tomorrow and Help Hold Back the Darkness.

Learning moment. In Kentucky, and in many other states, it is perfectly legal to record a conversation, or a meeting, where the one doing the recording is, without the knowledge of other parties to the conversation or meeting, a participant in the conversation or present at the meeting. This is not necessarily the law in all states. Further, while a lawyer is not permitted to advise someone to record a conversation or meeting without letting all involved know they are being recorded, it is okay for a lawyer to tell you that such a recording is usually perfectly admissible as evidence in court. In that there has, of late, been a great increase in the number of tiny little recorders available all over the place, and in that many cell phones have a feature called “voice memo,” or something like that, and can even make videos with sound, it seemed a good idea to tell this to readers.

Everyone who thinks the Enlightenment was a good idea, and who values separation of church and state, should go to church tomorrow—two days before we elect a President of the United States. The reason for this is to get people to serve as witnesses to the fact that many Catholic churches, and many right wing fundangelical churches, are telling those attending that church who to vote for. Yes, they really are. This practice is completely unlawful and a blatant violation of the requirement that churches not get into the business of politics unless they want to lose their tax exempt status and pay taxes on their property and thus wipe out our national debt.

Remember to set your clocks back an hour tonight. And remember to help, for your own safety’s sake, to help preventing the clocks from being set back ten centuries or so.

Edwin
© 2012 by Edwin Kagin

Nov 03 2012

You Are To Blame If You Do Not Vote.

Our nation’s Presidential Election happens this coming Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Get out and vote! Some say they will not vote because they don’t like either candidate. This sounds like the old farmer who said, “You can’t blame the mess this country is in because of me, cause I ain’t voted in 50 years.”

Vote for the least unqualified candidate who can win. Please do not try to make statements about one thing or another by voting for a candidate who has no chance of winning. This way of thinking gets the worst of the two evils in office. Yes, the best qualified candidate might also be an evil, but we usually build and correct things in little steps. It is because so many people voted for Ralph Nader, who might well have made a better President, but had no chance of winning, that we got the Bushes.

We could have elected candidates who, while weak and evil, would have made far better Presidents than what we got because so many voted for Nader. And this worst option gets to appoint Supreme Court Justices who serve for life. And the Justices who are appointed by them are busy tearing down the wall of separation between church and state.

After the last election, there was great hope. Here is a poem I wrote then. I hope it still holds true on November 7, 2012.

 

Inauguration

We had seen sights, but this mocked our imaginations
We had used words, but this defied our metaphors
We had once been, our heritage proclaimed,
“One Nation Indivisible,” and “Out of Many, One”
Until smallness of soul began to smother dreams.
Then, suddenly, sorely profaned, and wounded, soon to die
Our nation did an unimagined thing
We rolled away the stone
We shook the heels of history upon retreating wrongs
We watched as hope, long dormant, bloomed
And, through eyes blurred with tears,
We went outside and raised the flag.

Edwin Kagin
January 20, 2009

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