Freedom Of Speech?

The ignorance of some people is mind blowing.

I guess that’s what happens when you’ve never had to actually fight to have the same rights or to be treated equally as other people. Being treated as a second rate citizen makes you view our country differently.

For example:

1. Women still face inequality (you can even rape them with minimal to no jail time!).

2. Black people have faced oppression/discrimination for hundreds of years and still do so today.

3. Gay people JUST got the right to get married last year. We can still be legally fired for our sexual orientation in many states.

Don’t think the irony of “the land of the free” was lost on any minority group of people standing for the national anthem.

You’ll have to forgive some of us for being upset by inequality. We had just wanted liberty and freedom, like others who already had it. Women just want to be treated equally, receive equal pay, and stop having their bodies dictated by men. Black people want America to stop being racist and forcing them into a caste system, and also for the police to stop killing them. Gay people just always wanted to marry the person they love and stop having America target them and creating “religious freedom” laws that promote hate.

When that national anthem plays, it can cause rather conflicting feelings. On one hand, you feel patriotic. It’s that other hand..when you start to think about that patriotism, but then remember this nation treats you as less equal than some of your counterparts. That part stings. Sure, we could pretend to be patriotic. What does that really accomplish? It is fake patriotism. It is sweeping the current issues listed above under the rug. We do live in a country where we are actually and legally allowed to express our dissatisfaction at the country and government.

It’s also amazing to me that exercising your First Amendment right to express yourself is ridiculed and judged. That’s not how this works. If you don’t understand how freedom works, then you are part of the problem. Yes, you can absolutely disagree with someone who has a different viewpoint than you. Lately, I have seen some disturbing posts from people where they more than disagree, they find this type of expression offensive and think that anyone like Colin Kaepernick should be punished. Why is it better to play along than speak out? Why should someone be punished for speaking out? Because harsh truths are being brought to light? That is exactly what we need!

Telling people to be grateful for what little they’ve been “allowed” to have (by people who never had the right to “give” those scraps) or comparing us to other countries that discriminate even worse is wrong. If a gay Muslim man is murdered by other Muslims for being gay (which happens and is completely fucking vile), do not compare us to that and say “well at least you aren’t being killed.” That is even MORE infuriating because we are supposed to be PAST shit like that! Black, white, gay, straight, Muslim, whatever.. we should all be considered equal and have liberty in the United States. But we don’t, and that is why people choose to kneel down instead of stand for the anthem. We have not done anything to warrant everyone WANTING to stand for the flag.

Lastly, not standing for the flag is not a diss against the veterans who have served this nation. They fought, and gave their lives, for our freedoms. Speaking out against social injustice and protesting peacefully is not an attack on those people. It is living up to the freedoms that those amazing men and women have protected by sacrifice. I think using this as an argument against protesting the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance is just a tactic used to guilt people speaking out and to make them look like anti-American monsters.

It is more America to speak out and express yourself than it is to silence those who are trying to change the country for better.

Respect and celebrate other people’s expression of themselves. This is a right.

Bernie Sanders (Vote TOGETHER)

Bernie Sanders. He is unlike any other Presidential nominee I have ever seen. He is as real as it gets when it comes to politicians. Growing up on the New York, I am used to Bernie’s Brooklyn accent. It is a straight shooting, no fucking around, honest accent. That’s how we are in New York. When Bernie speaks, I hear his words AND the truth, unlike our other politician friends who just spew out words with sincerity.

People rip on Bernie Sanders because they think he is a doddering old fool who shouldn’t be running for office at 74. Let me remind everyone that Ronald Reagan became President at 70. He also gets slammed for his socialist way of thinking because America has demonized socialism. I ask you this: Why shouldn’t our government take care of us? Don’t they work for us? This has worked well for other countries. Yes, I know that means higher taxes. But if higher taxes means we are taken care of, then it pays for itself in the long run. As a taxpayer, I support this! The things that would raise our taxes would be things that we have to pay for anyway, so think of it as an auto-draft payment toward your education or health.

Bernie Sanders has consistently done the right thing his entire political career and fought for the middle class. As for his age, time is not promised to anyone of us. Bernie could die a year into his Presidency, or he could serve two terms. Either way, he’s bringing positive change to the country. He is a catalyst for change in a country where the 1% rules on high.

Change is scary and no one likes it. But change is not bad. We need change right now. You have the right to back whatever candidate you like, but it might be time to think outside the box of traditional Republicans or Democrats. Bernie Sanders is a breath of fresh air in the suffocating political arena we are currently dealing with.

Let’s vote for change. Let’s vote for progress. Let’s vote TOGETHER for Bernie Sanders.

Mass Shootings In America

There was yet another mass shooting recently. The 264th mass shooting of the year to be exact. This time it was at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Some lunatic with mommy issues gunned down 19 people, killing ten and injuring nine.

How is a supposedly civilized nation like the U.S. allowing this to happen? It is disgusting just how mainstream mass shootings have become for us. I’m afraid that we are just becoming desensitized to it. Look at GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush. When asked about about mass shootings, he said “stuff happens.”

One of the things that Jeb Bush said was that we try to react quickly when something happens. Why is that a bad thing? Are we not supposed to do something when something bad happens? Doing NOTHING leads to NOTHING.

Look at terrorism. There was a great meme that totally nailed our reaction to terrorism versus our lack of reaction to gun violence (John Oliver is the man!):

Between the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and failed terrorist attacks that have occurred (like the shoe bomb attempt mentioned above) the nation went into Code Orange. Security got tight and we had to start doing things like taking off our shoes during security checks. Yet, the same Americans that are being protected by these security measures are left helpless to gun violence.

The craziest part is that when these mass shootings do happen, and politicians talk about stronger gun control laws to protect citizens, the pro-gun party lose their minds! “How dare they politicize this?”
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!” That last argument kills me.

I have three words for you: Port Arthur massacre. Not familiar with it? In 1996 this lunatic, whose name is not worth mentioning, went on a shooting rampage in Port Arthur Australia killing 35 people and injuring over 20 more people. After that tragedy the Australian government quickly moved to ban guns. They have never had another situation like that again. So tell me again how guns don’t kill people? Apparently politicizing and acting on change to prevent tragedy is quite productive.

Here is a fun fact for the pro-gun camp: We can stop politicizing mass shootings in the U.S. when we actually put an end to them!

Jim Jeffries, Australian comedian, totally nails that concept:

I am aware that our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment so that we could legally protect ourselves with firearms. That means no one will be able to fully amend that to take away guns now. However, I highly doubt they were able to imagine what the evolution of guns would be like or how they would be used. They most certainly did not write that Amendment so that people could legally gun down other people in public places. The Second Amendment does not prevent us from having much stricter gun laws.

It’s time for us to stand up and do something. We need to completely overhaul and regulate the gun laws in this country and the actual guns floating around. We need more in depth and tougher background checks for everyone. I read in several places that we now have more guns than people in the country (also proof that more guns doesn’t equal safety). We need a massive sweep across the nation of all unregistered guns. How we are going to do that? I am not too sure. There are a lot of moving pieces to this that would require career lawmakers (not some blogger) to look at and figure out.

What we also need to do is stop giving attention to the shooters.The more notoriety they get, the more that influences other deranged people to act out and become famous. When the next shooting happens (because it will), we need to focus on victims and their families since they are who are really important. Let these would-be shooters know that they won’t get famous for committing such horrible acts.

Speaking of deranged, I do believe that mental health reform is also greatly needed here. We need to have a system in place where people who need help get help instead of letting them fester in their own madness. At least if we regulate guns and someone has a neurotic episode, they will be less likely to get their hands on a gun.

Look, I totally support your right to have a registered gun for protection since it is your Second Amendment right. As a single man living alone, I get the need for protection. Do I think you need to have an assault rifle or any high caliber gun? Not really. But if you do and you are into guns just be safe about it. Keep them locked up so kids or mentally disturbed people can’t get access to it. And for fuck’s sake, if you have to have a gun, teach your children about gun safety!

Check out President Obama’s amazing speech on the mass shootings in the U.S. and the stats on how many people have been killed by guns versus terrorism. It’s staggering to say the least!

In the end, this shit needs to stop! We are losing way too many innocent lives over this. If we all make our main goal to keep America safe from mass shootings, we can come up with the change we need.

If we don’t make changes to end these tragedies, we will definitely be the land of the free…free to die at school, the movies or at church.

Bill Nye Checking The Pro-Life GOP

Bill Nye the Science Guy was so awesome when I was a kid. But Bill Nye speaking on adult things and current events…I am in love him! This time he takes on the Pro-Life people and their skewed sense of life conception. He completely nails it.

I can’t fathom how we as a society are working toward taking away women’s rights. I thought the Biblical dark ages where women were treated as property were over? Why is it that men are deciding these things for women? Shouldn’t women have the only and final say in their health?

Considering this argument comes from the GOP and their deeply held (when it suits them) beliefs, it blows my mind when I hear that a woman is a Republican. It’s like punching yourself in the face!

Why You’re Using Social Media All Wrong

Boom. 9 black people are killed in a church by some crazy nut job. The motive is possibly race based.

Instantly, you go on to Facebook to share your outrage and the evil atrocity that has happened to these innocent people who were targeted! You bombard Twitter with #hashtags letting everyone know how you feel and that everyone is in your thoughts!

Then your friends also start to post their outrage and thoughts! Soon articles from everywhere on the internet on in your timeline and your friends’ timelines.

And then what? What happens when that topic becomes old news? What impact did you really have on that situation?

Lately, I have been seeing way too many people bombarding social media with posts/tweets like I mentioned above. The issue that I have with shit like this is, if you are going off on to your friends/followers about how disgusting racism is, is that really effective? In theory, when we build friendships, we tend to find people most like us. So, if you are not a racist, and your friends aren’t racist, why are you blowing them up when they already agree with you? If you do have a friend that is racist, that is a whole other issue.

I used to be one of those people. The example is a little different, but the end is the same. I used to go onto my social networks and just lambaste religion and religious people. All the time. Some of my friends on those social network sites are religious. How awful for them that someone they like/love keeps attacking them when they didn’t even do anything. That is what is happening on social media right now. We are wasting our words and actions on the wrong audience.

Because of my experience, I have grown so tired of these social media warriors. No one gives a shit about post or tweets. The sad truth is, many times, most people are posting incorrect information and just spreading propaganda. The manipulated information after a tragic event is almost chilling. Fucked up people take an awful situation and warp it to fit their message or viewpoint, and the social media sheep just eat it up and share/retweet away.

If you are truly outraged at something, then actually do something about it! I don’t care if it is racism in the U.S., marriage equality, or equal pay for women. Organize a protest! Start a petition! Organize a sit in! We have the legal right to protest!

I am not saying you can’t post your concerns about a situation. I am just saying know your audience. Address those who need help. Bring visibility and perspective to those who need it, not the ones who already share it with you. It’s not going to be easy, but it could be worth it. One changed mind is worth a lot.

Things change when things change. Be the catalyst for the change! Hiding behind Twitter and Facebook won’t do it.

free2beinamerica (unless it’s his way)

Imagine my surprise this morning to discover that a blogger had decided to write a blog about..me and my blog! You can read it here.

It is very interesting to me that this blogger, free2beinamerica, quickly (and perhaps poorly) runs to defend the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, but on that run he tramples his way over the 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech. One can almost imagine he is some type of Christian who picks and chooses what part of the Bible best suit him and his views. I don’t want to assume though since we all know what assuming does.

Speaking of making assumptions, that blogger certainly made some about me:

First he said:

“Based on his picture linked on his WordPress site I would guess he is probably a lot more competent with a cell phone than any sort of firearm.”

It is safe to say I am not texing on my cell phone or playing Angry Birds. I actually enjoy going to the gun range from time to time.

He then went on to say:

“He writes:

Bombs are illegal and guns are legal… but both kill people. Guns are readily accessible and easily attainable. Bombs aren’t.

It would seem that the facts we know so far about the Boston Marathon Bombing tell a different story. The bomb was made from readily available components: a pressure cooker, nails, ball bearings, bits of metal, etc. It is true that you can’t easily go into a hardware or sporting goods store and purchase a ready made bomb with a money back guarantee, but since the publication of the Anarchist Cookbook in 1971 information about making homemade bombs or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) is readily available. This particular type of “pressure cooker” bomb has been used extensively in the mideast by Muslim terrorists.”

Notice the section that I put in bold. That was exactly my point. Thank you for making it for me when I already did. I am very well aware of the all the information out there in making a bomb. I am also aware that a motivated person could go out there and make a bomb if he or she chose to. But bombing is not the leading cause in violent deaths in this country. Guns are. When people have psychotic breaks, they don’t stop and build a bomb. They find a ready made gun and shoot down people.

He continues on with this:

“He continues:

We do have the 2nd Amendment right allowing us to bear arms. I do not believe that anyone has the right to take away that away from us. 

Based on a cartoon here it would appear that Valdet’s idea of the arms that one is guaranteed to be able to “bear” in the 2nd Amendment are single shot muzzle loaders which were current technology in 1776?”

At any point during my blog post did I state we could only bear arms with a musket? I never stated any specific gun. The Constitution and it’s Amendments were broadly stated and left open for interpretation so it could account for the changing times. Do I have my thoughts on what we should be allowed to carry? Sure I do. Just like you have your thoughts on what we should be allowed to carry.

free2beinamerica (lwk4231) went on to make this statement: “The point is that the 2nd Amendment was specifically designed to protect a right to own weapons with functional military utility.”

Really? Show me where the 2nd Amendment says that. If it’s there I will believe it. Until then, I don’t believe our Founding Fathers had your type of guns in mind. At all. Since they didn’t exist.

I have to laugh because this blogger continues to “shoot down” my 1st Amendment right to free speech. He wrote this about me:

“Again, based on Valdet’s picture cuddling his smart phone, I suspect his actual knowledge of weapons, “military style,” or otherwise is limited to video games and movies. But the idea that some weapons, based on their looks, are more “military” than others is largely an illusion of those who know little or nothing about guns.”

I don’t have to be a gun expert to know that when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School, he fired off over a 100 bullets in an incredibly small amount of time. Had his mother not collected guns out of her grade, these kids and their heroes wouldn’t be dead.

And when it comes to self defense he took my rhetorical question and “answered” it:

“Valdet again:

Or is someone going to tell me that in order to defend their home/self from an intruder/attacker that they need an assault rifle to do it?

Yes, an AR-15 carbine with a 30 round clip is a nearly ideal weapon for home defense. I defend that proposition in my first post on this blog, Who Needs An Assault Rifle.”

You are telling me that a 30 round clip is a nearly idea weapon for home defense? Says who? You? Your opinion? I read your post mentioned above and you didn’t offer anything convincing. I don’t believe that you should own a gun nearly identical to the Bushmaster used in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings any more than the killer’s mother did. You even said yourself:

“I fully understand the horror of the tragedy that happened in Newtown. I have had young kids too. I know the horror of thinking something may have happened to them (but the relief of finding out that it had not).  I fully understand what these guns are capable of. They are capable in the hands of some people, like that murderer, of inflicting unspeakable horror.

I understand that.

If you don't want this in your neighborhood, then ask your politicians to let responsible people have guns in schools to protect children. Connecticut has a lot of gun control laws. What it did not have was an armed principal or teacher to stop the killing before it started.

That fact that you get that, but still champion for those guns is concerning. Owning that type of gun doesn’t tell me you are just looking to defend your home. You want to kill someone. That is seriously jacked up.

Then he ends his post, or rant about me, with this:

“I would like to further propose that a Generation-X (or Y, or whatever) metrosexual is probably not qualified to tell someone what they need, or do not need to defend their home, their families, and in circumstances of disaster, their neighborhood from looters and vandals.”

Do not presume that you know anything about me. If you even had an inkling of who I was you would’ve been right at least once when writing about me.

Just to be clear, I am a bordeline Generation X/Y. I am not a metrosexual. I am a homosexual.

From what I have gathered, you haven’t offered anything that shows you are qualified to tell people how they should defend their homes or telling people what they need.

If you have a problem with all of the Amendments and rights granted to us as America citizens then you need to re-evaluate yourself. I have the right to voice my opinions and thoughts just as much as you do. It is a legally protected right, as is your right to bear arms.

Thank you,

Valdet