Kopel weblog 2002 Archive
Nov. 25, 2002
READING LIST [Dave Kopel]
Maureen Dowd's columns are too pointless and snarky to merit running in both
Denver daily newspapers, I argue in
my new media column. In contrast, former SDS President Todd Gitlin's book
Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives
ought to be on every media-watcher's reading list, I suggest.
Oct. 3, 2002
JERSEY TALK[Dave Kopel]
The Wall Street Journal's on-line "Discussions"
website is hosting a discussion of the Torricelli controversy. Along with
Jonathan Adler, I'm one of the experts selected by the Journal to participate in
the discussion. Please join in, and share your views.
Sept. 25, 2002
Intense media coverage of the Toogood case has led many people wonder who "Irish
Travelers" are. Well, there about
of them in the United States, and eighty-six thousand worldwide. Also known as
Tinkers or Menceir, they speak a
known as Irish Traveler Cant, also called Shelta, Sheldru, or Gaemon. Linguists
explain that Shelta is derivative of Gaelic, and is not associated with Gypsy
languages, even though Travelers and Gypsies follow somewhat similar lifestyles.
Shelta is classified as a cryptolect, a private language which helps group
members maintain solidarity and secrecy. Irish Travelers
the United States in the middle and late 19th century; they originally
specialized in the horse and mule trade, but the decline in this part of the
economy led to their current specialization in the sale of goods and service. A
website about the
Travelers in Ireland details the conflicts between Travelers and the rest of the
Irish population, explains Traveler culture, supplies a Shelta/English lexicon,
and offers links to other websites about Travelers. Chicago Sun-Times columnist
a half-dozen serious crimes committed by Travelers in the U.S. between 1992 and
2001. But for just about any community of tens of thousands people (e.g.,
Catholic Priests and other Religious; or residents of semi-populous cities or
counties; or employees of large corporations), one could compile lists of
several serious crimes perpetrated by a few dozen members of the community, over
the course of a decade. Mr. Roeper notwithstanding, we should be hesitant about
using a few crimes committed by handful of people as a basis for condemning an
entire group -- especially when we have little personal knowledge of the group.
Sept. 4, 2002
ZIMBABWE CENTRAL[Dave Kopel]
My newest media analysis column for the Rocky Mountain News reports on the
failure of most American newspapers to cover the incipient genocide in Zimbabwe.
If you want to stay informed on daily events in Zimbabwe, check out
Zimbabwe News, which offers a daily e-mail
news summary. For background on the genocide, my
from last year details how the disarmament of the people of Zimbabwe has paved
the way for mass murder by Mugabe's government.
August 28, 2002
THE ASIMOV-AL QAEDA CONNECTION[Dave
Was bin Laden influenced by Isaac Asimov's science-fiction trilogy Foundation?
The Guardian plausibly
suggests he may have been.
August 8, 2002
England's extremely repressive gun laws--the most severe in the Western
world--are hailed as models by American anti-gun groups. Joyce Malcolm's new
Guns and Violence: The English Experience shows that England had little crime
at the dawn of the 20th century, when the nation had essentially no gun-control
laws, but over the course of the century, the English government repeatedly lied
to the English people in order to prohibit handguns, severely restrict
possession of rifles and shotguns, and punish people for using force to defend
themselves against violent crime. The unsurprising result, as Glenn Reynolds
notes in his review
for FoxNews.com, has been soaring violent crime, giving England a violent
crime rate notably worse than the rate in America and other Western nations.
July 26, 2002
A FEW EXCEPTIONS TO THE G-MAN'S RULE[Dave Kopel]
According to Jonah Goldberg's General Rule on Patriotism, "The more
negative your view of America, the more positive your view of the United
Nations." But there are some extremely important exceptions to that rule:
Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and most other
post-WWII Northern Democrats. They were all deeply patriotic Americans, even as
they entertained doomed hopes for the U.N.'s role in building a peaceful world.
July 25, 2002
RAVE NONSENSE[Dave Kopel]
One of the reasons the federal government failed to prevent the September 11
attacks was because federal law enforcement was so overburdened with enforcing
federal laws that are properly the concerns of state and local governments. Such
laws include child support, drug possession, and gun possession. Now Senator
Joseph Biden is leading the charge to make things even worse, with his so-called
"RAVE Act" which would, essentially, create a federal law against producing
music concerts attended by young people. If you produce a concert and someone
uses drugs at the concert, you go to federal prison. Glenn Reynolds's
TechCentral Station suggests this is a very bad idea.
July 22, 2002
Using the military for domestic law enforcement, as Tom Ridge and Joseph Biden
are now proposing, is a terrible idea. Biden was part of the Congresses
which have used the drug was as a pretext to repeatedly gut the Posse Comitatus
Act (which forbids use of the military in domestic law enforcement). As I detail
in a chapter of
a Cato Institute book, the immense drug-war loopholes in the Posse Comitatus
Act have led directly to the deaths of many innocents who had nothing to do with
drugs. This is because soldiers are warriors, not peace officers. Soldiers are
trained to destroy an enemy quickly and ruthlessly; this training is precisely
the opposite of training for peace officers, who are supposed to minimize the
use of force and to scrupulously respect constitutional safeguards. Biden is now
claiming that the Posse Comitatus Act currently bars soldiers from shooting at
terrorists who are about to use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. This
claim is extremely dubious, because the Act simply forbids the military from
being used for law enforcement; the Act does not forbid the military from being
used for military purposes -- such as killing enemy invaders. When Japanese
planes started bombing Pearl Harbor, nobody asserted that the Posse Comitatus
Act prevented the Army and Navy from shooting at the Japanese planes; nor could
anyone credibly claim that the Posse Comitatus Act would have barred the Army
and Navy from shooting down Japanese planes while they were flying over Oahu on
the way to Pearl Harbor. Notably, no one today is claiming that the Posse
Comitatus Act forbids the use of an F-16 to shoot down a hijacked commercial
airliner. Quite plainly, nothing in the Posse Comitatus Act today forbids the
American military to kill enemy guerillas and irregulars who have entered
American territory. The best anti-terrorism changes in the Posse Comitatus Act
would be to repeal all of the drug-war loopholes which were created in the
1980s. By relieving the military from the non-military job of marijuana
interdiction, Congress would instantly make more resources available for a
genuinely military job: terrorist destruction.
July 20, 2002
NRO CITED[Dave Kopel]
Eighteen state Attorneys General have
a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft commending his recognition
of the Second Amendment as an individual right. The letter also recognizes that
the right to bear arms protects public safety, and cites one of my NRO articles
on the failure of gun control in Great Britain.
July 19, 2002
ON THE HORIZON[Dave Kopel]
The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz brings very good
news: the United States will move against Iraq in mid-August. No longer
dependent on a coalition with the Left, the French government quietly supports
toppling Saddam and removing Yasser Arafat.
July 18, 2002
Transportation Security Administration head John Magaw has just
resigned, due in part to MSNBC's exposure of failures and coverups at the
TSA. The resignation offers President Bush an opportunity to demand of the TSA
the same kind of accountability he is demanding of private corporations, and to
appoint a leader who will improve security rather than build a bureaucracy. In
holding confirmation hearings on Magaw's replacement, Congress should insist
that Magaw's replacement specifically repudiate Magaw's failed policies --
including misdirected screening of airport passengers and an anti-gun policy so
ridiculous that even Barbara Boxer opposes it.
WRONG-WAY MARCH[Dave Kopel]
for Reparations March" is scheduled for August 17 in Washington. But in
seeking reparations from the federal government, the marchers are foolishly
demanding payments for the very government which destroyed American slavery. A
much more logical target for reparations would be the governments which actually
participated in the slave trade -- namely, the West African governments which
captured blacks in Africa and then delivered them to African ports for
transportation to the western hemisphere. These governments are the primary
illegal profiteers from slavery. Without these slave-capturing governments, the
slave trade would have been impossible, since the ship crews hardly had the
resources to capture large numbers of slaves personally. Rather than merely
protecting slavery as a legal institution (as almost every government in world
history did at some point), these African governments were actual slave traders.
The successors of these wicked slave-trading governments are the wicked
dictatorships which control almost all of West Africa today, and which continue
(in more subtle ways) to plunder the people of Africa. Accordingly, if the
reparations movement wants to be considered as just cause -- rather than just
another shakedown scheme of American taxpayers -- the reparations movement ought
to demand reparations from African governments for their indispensable and
enormous role in the slave trade.
July 12, 2002
Rod makes the excellent point that it is time to stop ceding the
"environmentalist" title to groups who believe that greater government
restrictions on personal freedom are the only way to protect the environment. I
refer to Watermelons (green outside, red inside) -- who espouse the kind of statist solutions which have so often failed -- as "paleo-environmentalists."
Groups like the Political Economy Research Center
(PERC) -- which are working on innovative, effective ways to protect the
environment while also protecting human rights -- I refer to as
July 9, 2002
VOUCHING FOR VOUCHERS[Dave Kopel]
Rod's fear that vouchers will lead to government interference with private K-12
schools is quite legitimate, in light of how federal funding (via student loans
and research grants) has created extensive federal controls over college and
university education. He's also worried about vouchers going to "Louis
Farrakhan Academy, Wahhabi Central High, or Wicca Elementary," and on this,
I think he's half-right. America has always been religiously pluralist and
tolerant, and our country has nothing to fear from neo-pagan families sending
their children to eco-worship schools. Wiccans may be strange by contemporary
standards, but they're no more dangerous than the Amish or lots of other small
sects. As for Wahhabi schools, one possible effect of vouchers might be to make
Muslim schools less dependent on Saudi funding, and hence less likely to promote
the Saudi pro-terrorism line.
June 8, 2002
Jerry Seinfeld is planning
a special solidarity visit and performance in Israel this July, according to
israelinsider. What a great way to show support for people on the front line of
the war against Islamonazi terror. This of course brings to mind "The
Letter" episode, in which an elderly couple disagrees about the meaning of
a portrait of Kramer. Except that it sounds like they're the U.S. and Europe
arguing about Yassir Arafat:
Europe: "I sense great vulnerability, a man-child crying out for love, an
innocent orphan in the post modern world."
U.S.: "I see a parasite, a sexually depraved miscreant who is seeking only
to gratify his basest and most immediate urges."
Europe: "His struggle is man's struggle. He lifts my spirit."
U.S.: "He is a loathsome, offensive brute - yet I can't look away."
Europe: "He transcends time and space."
U.S.: "He sickens me."
June 5, 2002
Mary Carpenter is the
grandmother of two children who were murdered by an insane man with a pitchfork
in Merced, California. In a letter to a state legislature considering a
trigger-lock mandate, Mrs. Carpenter blames California's trigger-lock law for
her grandchildren's death. The killer attacked while the eldest child in the
family, a 14-year-old girl, was babysitting the younger three. Because the
family's guns were locked in a safe, in accordance with California law, the
teenager, who was trained with firearms and a very good shot, was unable to
retrieve a gun to protect her siblings. As new research by John
Lott details, so-called "safe storage" laws do in fact increase
feelings of safety -- for violent criminals; such laws lead to more murder,
rape, robbery, and assault.
June 4, 2002
Following the example of the New York Regents, I have revised Dr. Martin Luther
King's "I have a Dream" speech to make it suitable for use on the Regents Exam.
Words in brackets have been removed from the original text, and replaced by the
words in all caps. These revisions are necessary to follow the Regents policy of
doing everything possible to avoid giving offense to persons who are offended by
any mention of race, religion sex, geography, nationality, or controversial
"Five score years ago, a great [American]
PERSON, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of [Negro
slaves] AGRICULTURAL AND HOUSEHOLD WORKERS who had been seared in the flames of
withering injustice. . . . . The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the
[Negro] community must not lead us to distrust of all [white] people, for many
of our [white brothers] RELATIVES, as evidenced by their presence here today,
have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny . . . We can
never be satisfied as long as a [Negro in Mississippi] VOTER cannot vote and [a
Negro in New York] ANOTHER VOTER believes he OR SHE has nothing for which to
vote. . . .I have a dream that one day the [state of Alabama] PLACE, whose
governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and
nullification, will be transformed into a situation where [little black boys and
black girls] SMALL CHILDREN will be able to join hands with [little white boys
and white girls] SMALL CHILDREN and walk together as sisters and brothers.. . .
.we will be able to speed up that day when all [of God's] children, [black men
and white men] ADULTS OF BOTH SEXES, [Jews and Gentiles] PEOPLE, [Protestants
and Catholics] PERSONS, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the
old [Negro spiritual] SONG, "Free at last! free at last! thank [God Almighty]
YOU, we are free at last!"
KOPEL ON MEDIA[Dave Kopel]
If your neighbor smokes cigarettes on his porch late at night, you should call
the police because he may be running a meth lab--that's literally the message in
a government-made propaganda video, currently running on government television
stations in Colorado. My
latest media analysis column discusses the video, as well as inflated
obesity statistics, Mexican police, and army incursions in the the U.S.,
high-school dropouts, and the number of American Muslims.[Dave Kopel]
op-ed in the Jerusalem Post insists that the time has come for the
West Bank and and Gaza to be liberated from Occupation. It is wrong that the
Arab and Jewish people in those Occupied Territories continue to be victimized
by "a cruel and heartless regime" which shows "little concern is shown for the
lives of the innocent, as ruthless measures are employed with the aim of driving
the residents from their homes, making them so miserable that they will have no
choice but to leave." Accordingly, it is time for human-rights advocates around
the world to demand the immediate end of the Palestinian Authority's criminal
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
June 3, 2002
Some officials in the U.S. State Department, working with Senators Barbara Boxer
and Joseph Biden, are pushing for immediate Senate ratification of the U.N.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
As usual for U.N. conventions, CEDAW carries an attractive name, but in fact is
a program for restricting freedom and eliminating choice for women and families.
Fagan's excellent backgrounder for the Heritage Foundation details how CEDAW
enforcers, in nations which have submitted to the CEDAW treaty, are working to
restrict religious freedom, eliminate parental choice about sex education
classes, discourage the celebration of Mothers Day, deconstruct the two-parent
family, and most of all to make it legally, culturally, and economically
burdensome for women to choose to stay home with their children. With
truth-in-labeling, the Convention would be called "The Convention for the
Gradual Replacement of Mothers by Government." Although CEDAW is pro-abortion,
CEDAW and the bureaucrats who implement it are profoundly anti-choice on family
issues, especially the choice of mothers to take care of their children
personally. The Bush administration is reported to be deciding right now whether
to endorse or oppose CEDAW ratification. The White House opinion line
(202-456-1111) and Secretary of State Powell's e-mail service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
are counting input for or against CEDAW.
May 31, 2002
Early this morning a Palestinian terrorist began throwing grenades and firing an
automatic Kalashnikov rifle at a Jewish kindergarten and Jewish homes in a West
Bank settlement. A grocery-store owner named David Elbaz used his own rifle to
wound the terrorist twice, and eventually kill him, according to
Ha'aretz. The village where the attack took place, Shavei-Shomron was
the scene of a November 2001
shooting on a taxi, in which three people, including the village's rabbi,
were injured. In a June 18,
2001 drive-by shooting, one man was killed and another wounded. On June 12,
Israeli soldiers near Shavei Shomron were shot at, and one wounded. On
June 11, someone planted
a bomb on a road leading to Shavei Shomron. On June 2, 2001, Yassir Arafat had
pretended to announce a cease-fire against Israel. In
April 2001, a Palestinian terrorist set off explosives in booby-trapped car
next to a school bus carrying for Shavei-Shomron children, but the bomb failed
to kill anyone.
A Utah petition drive for a ballot initiative to prohibit licensed concealed
handguns from grade schools, universities, and churches has
Forty-five thousands Utah citizens have concealed handgun permits. The proposal
to mandate that institutions of worship and education become safe zones for
terrorists, rapists, and other criminals gathered only about half of the legally
required signatures. Last year, a petition drive to overturn Michigan's licensed
handgun carry law was abandoned.[Dave Kopel]
The New Yorker provides a detailed
expose of the evil Mugabe regime which is destroying Zimbabwe and
perpetrating state terrorism on a massive scale. Now wouldn't it be better if
the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, whites included, owned plenty of firearms, with
which to save their lives from the Mugabe murderers?
May 30, 2002
Jonah's latest column points out that bin Laden's fondest dream--an all-out war
between the West and Islam--would be about as one-sided as an all-out brawl
featuring the Justice League of America, the Avengers, and the X-Men teamed up
against Wile E. Coyote, Cathy, and the Trix Rabbit. Yet Jonah in fact
underestimates the size of the freedom army that will rally to our side. He
notes the Ladenite fantasy of "a bunch of Dervishes pouring into downtown
Cleveland whirling their scimitars." Sorry Mr. Laden, but the Whirling
Dervishes are going to fight alongside the good old U.S. of A.[Dave Kopel]
You see, the Dervishes are a type of Sufi Muslims--a mystical branch of Islam
that got started in the Middle Ages, back before the Wahabbis started using
petrodollors to stamp out Islamic diversity. When the Wahhabi-inspired Taliban
took over Afghanistan, they quickly began oppressing the Sufi as viciously as
they oppressed women. So when Uncle Sam showed up in Afghanistan and showed he
was serious, many Sufi quickly rallied to our cause, and when the Taliban fell,
the Sufi celebrated joyously. The Whirling Dervishes seek mystical understanding
of God through all-night ecstatic
So if our side wins the war, the Dervishes can whirl to their hearts' delight,
and eventually become fabulously wealthy by selling video instruction tapes at
Phish concerts. If bin Laden wins, the Dervishes become as illegal as women
driving cars. What our Daisy Cutters don't kill, Dervish scimitars will.
May 29, 2002
An Israeli teacher and a school security guard
teamed up Tuesday night to shoot a pair of Al Aqsa terrorists who were
attacking a high school, and who had already killed three students. In America,
however, such an event would be much less likely to happen, since the
"Million" Mom March and other gun-prohibition groups work hard for "gun-free
school zones," thus ensuring that terrorists attacking high schools will enjoy
the same protection from "gun violence" as do their colleagues on airplanes.
Posted 4:11 PM |
May 24, 2002
WE'LL WIN THIS[Dave Kopel]
Brink Lindsey republishes the full text of Patrick Henry's greatest speech,
warning against temporizing in the vain hope that if we retreat, our enemies
will demur: "There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are
forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!" Two-and-a-quarter
centuries after Henry spoke, the tyrants who occupied our planes of Boston are
infinitely more evil than were the Redcoats, and they would impose on us the
tyranny and slaughter they have always imposed wherever they can. We will cower
and die from nuclear, chemical, biological, and explosive attacks, or we will
live and fight "armed in the holy cause of liberty," knowing that America will
prevail because "There is a just God who presides over the destinies of
May 22, 2002
Israeli Defense Forces
have blocked the main north-south road in the Gaza Strip, as a tactic
against terrorist attacks, such as mortar shelling of recent weeks. The blockade
is at Gush Junction (where the Gush Katif Road meets the Medrashah Junction)--a
site of numerous attacks on Israelis, including in
February 2002, October 2001,
1998, and February 1998.
The area was previously blockaded in February of this year, after a
terrorist attack, as well as in May 2001. Passage will be allowed in
humanitarian cases, and for persons possessing special permits.
May 21, 2002
EDUCATORS ABUSING LAW[Dave Kopel]
At a press conference last September, the president of the Michigan Education
Association announced a new MEA research program, to compete with the
education-reform research sponsored by the Mackinac Institute. The MEA president
praised Mackinac's success in public communication: "And so, quite frankly,
I admire what they have done over the last couple of years entering into the
field as they have and being pretty much the sole provider of research to the
community, to the public, to our members, to legislators, and so on."
Mackinac quoted the MEA's words of praise in a fund-raising letter, while noting
that the MEA usually disagrees with Mackinac's policy positions. Now, the MEA
has filed a lawsuit against Mackinac, claiming that Mackinac
"misappropriated" the MEA President's "likeness" for
"commercial benefit." Interestingly, while the Mackinac
website explains the lawsuit in detail, the MEA
website is entirely silent on the subject--perhaps in recognition that even
fervent supporters of MEA's policies would be disgusted with MEA's blatant abuse
of the legal system.
DELIVER TO ISRAEL[Dave Kopel]
Ever wanted to send a pizza and some soda to an Israeli soldier, to thank him
for fighting on the front lines of the war against terrorism.
You can order anything from a single
pizza to enough pizza to feed a platoon. And you can also send along words of
Underperformin' Norman Minetta's recent announcement that airline cockpits
should remain safe zones for hijackers isn't likely to improve public opinion
about his miserable job performance. A Wilson Research Associates poll of 1,000
American adults asked, "Do you think the changes in airport security since
September 11th have made a significant improvement in airport security, or do
you think the most of the changes are primarily window dressing more intended to
make people feel like security is tighter versus actually making airports more
secure?" Only 37% of adults believe that airports are more secure since
September 11, while 54% believe that Minetta's program (confiscating knitting
needles and wand-raping grandmothers) was mere "window dressing."
Asked if pilots should be allowed to carry guns, 68% said yes, while 26% said
May 15, 2002
THE RESULTS ARE IN
The leftist "Purple Coalition"
has been decisively swept from power by the Dutch people. The center-right
Christian Democrats have finished first, winning 40 of 150 seats in the Second
Chamber of the States General. The List Pim Fortuyn came in a very strong
second, with 26 seats. Commentators expect that the Christian Democrats will
govern in a coalition with L-P-F and the smaller, conservative Liberal Party.
Radio Nederland is supplying updates in
English in Real
Audio. Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende is expected to become the next
Today the full Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a
titled , "Under the Influence: The Binge Drinking Epidemic on College Campuses."
Not that Congress has any legitimate constitutional power over the subject -- as
the Twenty-first Amendment (repealing the grant of Congressional power over
alcohol) makes clear. The witnesses consist exclusively of supporters and
instigators of the current moral panic about college drinking. The hearing is
obviously a platform for expanding federal pork to pay for more "counselors" and
other neo-prohibitionist busybodies on college campuses. The alleged statistics
about "college binge drinking" are, as I detailed, in a
Rocky Mountain News column, utterly bogus. Among other flaws, these
statistics define "binge drinking" in such an absurdly broad way as to encompass
people who aren't legally intoxicated or impaired. By the neo-prohibitionist
definition, a woman who attends a three-hour Passover Seder and drinks the
ritual Four Cups of wine is a "binge drinker." The real binging problem involves
power-intoxicated bureaucrats and politicians who can't resist the temptation to
intrude themselves into matters which, for federal officials, are none of their
May 14, 2002
The Wahhabi government currently running "Saudi" Arabia has created a
government-controlled English language daily, Arab News. Today's issue features
a long transcript of a
radio speech by David Duke suggesting Israeli complicity in the September 11
attacks, announcing that Americans who support the Israeli government's war on
terror are "traitors," and asserting that Ariel Sharon is worse than Osama bin
Laden. Does the Bush administration really believe that a government which
promotes David Duke as an astute Mideast analyst is a government which will
sincerely promote peaceful relations with Israel?
May 13, 2002
Congress is fast-tracking a "Victims Rights Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution.
A joint letter which I
co-signed to the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution argues that
the amendment is a gross interference with states' proper authority to control
their own criminal justice systems. Further, the amendment is contrary to the
Bill of Rights and the presumption of innocence, since in many criminal cases,
we are not sure who is the real victim and who is the aggressor until after the
jury has made its findings of fact.
The failed "DARE"
anti-drug program was invented in Los Angeles by disgraced LAPD chief Daryl
Gates. Now, the
Police are eliminating the DARE program from Junior and Senior high schools,
in order to put more police into anti-gang work.
Times reports on a new zero tolerance atrocity: fourth grade boys suspended
"for pointing their fingers like guns during a game of army-and-aliens on the
playground." When the boys were brought into the principal's office, he
interrogated them about whether their families own firearms at own. The Cherry
Creek school district and the head of Colorado's major anti-gun group endorsed
this interrogation. My own view, as quoted in the article, was that the
interrogation was "like asking what political party your parents belong to, or
how they voted, or whether they've ever had an abortion. It's none of the
schools' business how parents exercise their constitutional rights."
France's new Minister of Youth, Education, and Research is philosophy professor
Luc Ferry of the
Sorbonne. He also happens to France's most celebrated debunker to postmodernism,
poststructuralism, and similar philosophical excuses for totalitarian
primitivism. Vive la France!
Eight high schools in San Fernando Valley, California, are refusing to allow
seniors to participate in graduation ceremonies unless they file proof with the
school that they are going on to college, entering the military, getting a job,
or entering vocational training. Of course none of these future plans have a
legitimate connection to whether the students have completed the high-school
course of study. Forbidding a graduation ceremony for students who plan to
travel, get married, take time off and think about the future -- or engage in
any other lawful activity -- is typical of the growing and inappropriate
personal intrusiveness of American government high schools. Someone tell the
control freaks in the administration to Celebrate Diversity.
May 11, 2002
Gun Week reports
that the Montclair, New Jersey, school board appears to be clinging to the
legally ridiculous position that its schools can distribute political rally
flyers from anti-rights groups such as the "Million" Mom March while refusing to
allow the distribution of flyers from pro-rights groups such as
Moms for Gun Safety. The
New Jersey ACLU says, "This is
a typical situation where a school has created a forum for speech, and then
discriminated based on the content of the speech." The very first word on the
website of the Montclair Board of
Education is "diversity," but apparently the celebration of diversity does
not go so far as to allow intellectual diversity.
May 8, 2002
SECOND MISREAD[Dave Kopel]
Media coverage of the Department of Justice's position on the Second Amendment
has been grossly misleading about Second Amendment precedent. First of all, the
theory that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right
only became a formal DOJ position under the Nixon administration. Many
other Attorneys General (including President Reagan's) have recognized the
Second Amendment as an individual right. Second, despite what Lyle Deniston and
other mis-reporters claim, the 1939 Miller case does not
hold that Second Amendment rights belong exclusively to militia members.
Unmentioned in the Old Media articles is the fact that in the last 20 years, all
six Supreme Court opinions (including concurrences and dissents) which
mention the Second Amendment treat the Amendment as guaranteeing an individual
right. (Spencer v. Kemna; Muscarello v. U.S.; Printz v. U.S.; Albright v.
Oliver; Planned Parenthood v. Casey; U. S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez.)
May 7, 2002
Indiana and Ohio congressional primary elections yielded a bipartisan pair of
pro-rights victories. In the third district, incumbent Republican Mark Souder,
who has been a pro-Second Amendment leader in Congress, easily turned back a
challenge from former Fort Wayne mayor Paul Helmke. Souder won by approximately
a margin of 5-3. In the 1998 Senate race, Helmke lost 64-35 to generally pro-gun
Democrat Evan Bayh. As governor, Bayh had signed legislation restricting abusive
antigun lawsuits. In Ohio, felony-challenged Democratic incumbent Jim Trafficant
was put in district with incumbent Democrat Tom Sawyer. Trafficant elected to
run as an independent. Antigun incumbent Sawyer won only 28% in the primary,
losing to pro-rights state Senator Tim Ryan, who won 41%. In both races, the NRA
contacted is members and other gun rights supporters, such as licensed hunters
and concealed handgun permit holders in Indiana.
TAKE COMFORT[Dave Kopel]
According to a report from NewsMax.com,
Dick Morris predicts that "Hillary Will Be America's Next President,"
winning the 2008 election. Don't worry though. In 1998, Morris predicted that
Hillary would never really run for Senate from New York, and was just feigning
interest in order to run for Senate from Illinois later. During the 1998
campaign, Morris repeatedly predicted that Mrs. Clinton would lose the New York
race. Morris also claimed that John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and Al
Gore would "run, and they'll lose." Morris added, "And it's very
hard once you lose a presidential race to run again and be successful."
Really? George Bush 41, Ronald Reagan (twice), Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson,
Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson all ran for President,
lost, and later won.[Dave Kopel]
"I say today Israel will not surrender to blackmail ... he who rises up to
kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first," announced
Prime Minister Sharon in Washington, before returning to Israel. His words were
a direct echo of the Talmud (Rabbinic commentary on the Torah), which says,
"If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first."
(Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a.) Sharon concluded: "Israel will fight,
Israel will triumph and when victory prevails, Israel will make peace."
May 6, 2002
Secret Passages, currently showing on the History Channel, includes an
important portion on Switzerland during World War II. The overall theme of the
series is underground tunnels and hiding places, which in the case of
Switzerland emphasizes the military bunkers in the Alps. This one-hour segment
of the series includes fascinating portions on several European countries, with
about ten minutes on Switzerland. Interspersed with commentary by
Stephen Halbrook and a Swiss military historian, the documentary shows
numerous still photographs of Swiss troops in training and being reviewed by
General Guisan as well as excellent original film footage of Swiss Alpine
soldiers on maneuvers. Some of the pictures in the documentary come from
Target Switzerland, which details how the Swiss system of militia and
defensive preparedness deterred a Nazi invasion during World War II. Nothing
like this has ever before been televised in the United States. It also includes
footage of Hitler meeting with his general staff and emphasizes the dissuasive
effect of Swiss military strategy. This theme includes the rifle in every home
and a sniper behind every rock. Check historychannel.com for this week's
scheduled showing. A copy of the videotape is available from historychannel.com.
Specify "Secret Passages: Episode 5."
The Israeli economy is reeling from the terrorist campaign. So consider buying
and flying an Israeli flag made in Israel--or other products made by the nation
in the vanguard of the war on terrorism.
DAMN MEDIA[Dave Kopel]
My latest Rocky
Mountain News/Denver Post column looks at skewed and hysterical media
coverage of Dutch conservative/libertarian political leader Pim Fortuyn and of
immigration control advocate Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado).
DAMN EUROPEANS[Dave Kopel]
Mark Steyn, writing
for The Spectator, argues that Europe is much more violent and
mean-spirited than America. Among his many excellent observations:
It's gradually beginning to dawn on US
Europhiles that the Continent has done everything the American Left has wanted
for years and it doesn't seem to be working out. Thanks to Erfurt and
Nanterre, you're currently outpacing the Yanks at high-scoring gun
massacres. At the last attempted US massacre, at the Appalachian School of Law
in West Virginia, there was a gun-totin' student [two, in fact] on hand to
pin down the would-be mass murderer until the cops arrived. But in
Europe--"a gun-control utopia," as the Los Angeles Times sees
it--there's no one to stop the corpses piling up.
MORE JENIN LIES[Dave Kopel]
Journal of Greater Los Angeles reports on a visit to Jenin by CNN and
Los Angeles Times journalists, both apparently determined to create a
"stench of death" against Israel.
April 24, 2002
FIRST SADDAM...[Dave Kopel]
The Strategy Page details the wonderful domino effect that an American
overthrow of Saddam will have on other terrorist-sponsoring states, including
Iran and the portion of Arabia currently ruled by the House of Saud.
April 21, 2002
GUN-SHOW TERRORISM?[Dave Kopel]
Americans for Gun Safety is running television ads in Oregon warning about
"terrorists buying weapons at gun shows." As usual, AGS's claims are somewhat
overwrought, as detailed in my recent
Independence Institute monograph on gun shows.
April 19, 2002
SLIM CHANCE[Dave Kopel]
TechCentralStation looks at the (im)plausibility of the $70 million lawsuit
filed by the mother of the teenage fan of bin Laden who flew a small plane into
a Tampa office building, asserting that the teenager anti-acne Accutane
treatment was to blame.
The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow explains why "Befriending
Saudi Princes" is "A High Price for a Dubious Alliance." He details why the
corrupt totalitarian Saud monarchy has little to offer the United States, and
why there is little to fear should the dictatorship fall. Meanwhile,
InstaPundit suggests a language
improvement to distinguish the terrorist-funding rulers from the nation they
currently misrule: "Talk about 'Arabia' rather than 'Saudi Arabia' whenever
you're talking about the country. Talk about 'the House of Saud' or 'the Sauds'
when you're talking about the government." After all, we've always called
England "England", rather than "Plantagenet England" or "Stuart England," or
whatever monarchy happened to be temporarily on the throne.
Jonah asks "What if the Israelis were gay?" Another interesting question is,
"Why don't all the people who are supposedly so concerned about the oppression
of Arabs demand that the people of every Arab nation be given the same property
rights, right to vote, and freedom of speech that Arabs who live in Israel
April 17, 2002
Regarding what to call Palestinian terrorist bombers who target civilians, Rod
writes, "Why not resurrect the tried-and-true 'kamikaze'?" I'll tell you why
not: Because it's an insult to the kamikazes. The kamikazes were adult members
of the armed forces who attacked only military targets, namely U.S. Navy ships.
They violated none of the rules of civilized warfare. Today's suicide/homicide
bombers are vicious criminals who murder civilians, and these criminals do not
deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as soldiers who fought according to
the laws of warfare.
Persons who want to help front-line fighters against terrorism may want to
contribute to the Libi Fund, which
provides humanitarian assistance for members of the Israeli Defense Forces. You
can contribute online by credit card, or send $100 or more by check to a special
fund which qualifies for a U.S. tax deduction. The website prominently features
this timely quote from Shimon Peres: "Our soldiers prevail not by the strength
of their weapons but by their sense of mission; by their consciousness of the
justness of their cause, by a deep love for their country, and by their
understanding of the heavy task laid upon them: to ensure the existence of our
people in their homeland and to affirm, even at the cost of their lives, the
right of the Jewish people to live their lives in their own state, free,
independent and in peace." [Dave Kopel]
Most accurate observation by a political commentator in the last 24 hours:
"There's more evidence that Arafat's a terrorist than that bin Laden is." Bill
Maher, Politically Incorrect, April 16. He's right; there's plenty of
evidence that al Qaeda is a terrorist organization, but the
linking Arafat to terrorism is overwhelming, very public, and quite explicit.
April 16, 2002
The City of Boston has
dissolved the consent decree which the city had previously signed with
handgun manufacturer Smith & Wesson. The decision was a conciliatory move by the
city, following the city's decision to drop its lawsuit against other firearms
manufacturers, due to the high cost of litigation and the slim chances of
eventual legal success. Because the dissolution of the consent decree, Smith &
Wesson no longer has any agreements with any of the plaintiffs or other entities
which initiated in the abusive lawsuits against handgun manufacturers. In the
summer of 2000, Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Department of Housing and Urban
publicized announcement of plans to enter into a consent decree, but the
plans never materialized, because the parties did not agree about the meaning of
particular terms in the proposed decree. Signing the agreements was never the
idea of Smith & Wesson's employees, but was imposed on Smith & Wesson at the
insistence of Tompkins PLC, the British conglomerate which owned Smith & Wesson,
and with the acquiescence of Smith & Wesson's president. That president is no
longer employed by Smith & Wesson, and Smith & Wesson has been sold to new
A CBS News poll, taken April first and second, suggests that the American people
are not as inclined as the U.S. State Department to see Yasser Arafat as a
partner for peace. Only 2 percent of the American public has a "favorable" view
of Arafat, while 53 percent are "not favorable." Asked if they thought "Yasser
Arafat wants peace in the Middle East enough to make real concessions to the
Israeli government in order to get it or not?"14 percent said yes and 70 percent
SEEING IT THROUGH[Dave Kopel]
Rich Lowry's posting last night notes Cornel West's assertion that Harvard
President Larry Summers is "the Ariel Sharon of American higher education."
Logically then, Cornel West would be the Yasser Arafat of American higher
April 12, 2002
A third article in
today's Arab News castigates Arab nations (meaning Egypt and Jordan) which
manifest "reluctance to break agreements with the Zionists" and which
do not supply arms to the Palestinians. Although the document shows the
mendacity of recent claims from the Saudi embassy in Washington that the Saudis
do not promote terrorism, perhaps one shouldn't be too hard on the Saudis; after
all, the European Union supplies the P.A. with about ten million Euros (about
8.7 million dollars) every month; like the Saudi money, some but not all of the
E.U. money is used for terrorism.[Dave Kopel]
Criticizing President Bush's statement "I mean what I say when I call upon
the Arab world to strongly condemn and act against terrorist activity,"
another Arab News article
explains the Saudi defiance of President Bush: "When the Americans see a
Palestinian document signed by Yasser Arafat making financial allocations to his
men, they cite it as another example of the Palestinian leader's involvement in
terrorism--because, Israel has called them terrorists. We see it differently. We
see it as the duty of a leader toward his men who are struggling along with him
to liberate their land." (Recently captured
documents showing Arafat's approval of the payment of P.A. funds for
terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a girl's bat mitzvah in Israel on
Jan. 17.)[Dave Kopel]
As Rod mentioned earlier and the Arab News is
reporting, (an English language web paper controlled by the Saudi
government), an eleven-hour Saudi telethon has raised 210 million Saudi Riyals (that's
56 million dollars) to support the Palestinian "martyrs" and other
Intifada expenses. Substantial personal donations were made by King Fahd, Crown
Prince Abdullah, and Prince Sultan. A previous Saudi telethon for terror had
raised 40 million Riyals.
New Republic Online Seth Gitel compares the defeat of Hamas at the Battle of
Jenin to the defeat of the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad -- a vicious
house-to-house battle which was the decisive turning point in the war. Like the
soldiers of the Third Reich, the Hamas soldiers worked for a terrorist fascist
leadership which hoped to exterminate the Jews. TNR's
Yehudah Mirsky (formerly of the Clinton State Department, and currently at
insightful nevertheless) elaborates the parallels between Islamofascists and
Hitler fascists -- and the support of both types of terrorism by "flaccid,
underemployed, bourgeois intellectuals" as well as by "'useful idiots'
in the West."
April 11, 2002
TALKING SECOND[Dave Kopel]
Glenn Reynolds, writing for Legal
Affairs (no, it's not a magazine about the Clinton defense attorneys)
observes that legal scholars and courts are once again recognizing the
importance of the Second Amendment, thereby helping lower the emotional
temperature of the gun-control debate.[Dave Kopel]
Eugene Volokh's new
weblog explains the importance of taking your friends target-shooting: 1.
everyone should know how to use a firearm safely. 2. it helps overcome prejudice
against gun owners. Celebrate diversity.
April 10, 2002
ONE FOR THE SECOND[Dave Kopel]
The Ohio Court of Appeals has
declared that Ohio's near-total ban on the carrying of firearms for
protection is unconstitutional. The unanimous three-judge opinion upholds the
Ohio constitution's right to arms, and rejects claims that near-prohibition of a
constitutional right can be a "reasonable" regulation.
News Network website, based at George Mason University, features some
astonishing new developments in the Michael Bellesiles Arming America
case. In "Are Michael Bellesiles's Critics Afraid to Say What They Really
Think?" Professor Jerome Sternstein (Brooklyn College) begins with the
question, "Has the time come to ask if Michael Bellesiles's Arming America
is an example of scholarly deceit?" Sternstein summarizes the William
& Mary Quarterly's "scathing appraisals of his book's misuse of
sources and evidence which some might regard as consistent with academic fraud,
such as repeatedly misquoting, distorting, falsifying, or perhaps even
deliberately inventing evidence to support one's thesis." Part of
Sternstein's critique of Bellesiles consists of quoting some e-mails that
Bellesiles sent to James Lindgren (a professor at Northwestern) about
Bellesiles's research methods and sources. In a response article, Bellesiles
denies (!) having sent the e-mails. Sternstein's rebuttal article dissects
Bellesiles's fraud further, and includes this quote from Professor Lindgren:
"One of the nice defects in my old email program (Netscape 4.05 for the
MAC) is that forwarding is done by attachment. I am not allowed to edit the
email being forwarded. Here I am forwarding the email that was automatically
forwarded to my home MAC, when it was sent by Bellesiles to me at work. I had no
chance to edit it."
WATCHING THE MEDIA[Dave Kopel]
My latest "Talk Back to the Media" column
for the Rocky Mountain News examines biased anti-Israel coverage in the NY
Times, Associated Press, and Knight-Ridder. By the way, "Talk Back to
the Media" (for which I am one of two alternating columnists) was named
"Best New Feature in a Denver Daily" in the new "Best of
Denver" issue of Westword magazine.
April 9, 2002
OF INDEPENDENCE FROM INDEPENDENT I.[Dave Kopel]
Regarding Anti-War Libertarians, Ramesh Ponnuru writes that he wants "to
ask David Kopel what he thinks about the fact that his organization, the
Independent Institute, is having a forum to let Lewis Lapham and Gore Vidal
share their geopolitical wisdom?" Actually, I work for the INDEPENDENCE
Institute, in Colorado. The forum is at the INDEPENDENT Institute, in
California. There's no affiliation between the two organizations; since we're
the older organization, any name confusion is the fault of the Californians.
Regarding geo-political wisdom, I don't think that Mr. Lapham has any. Mr.
Vidal, however, gave my book "No More Wacos" a very positive write-up
in Vanity Fair, thus allowing me, for the first and only time, to be prominently
featured in a magazine that had Brad Pitt on the cover. So he's wise at least
once in a while. :)
April 7, 2002
In a new column for the Jerusalem
Post, Caroline Glick asks "How is it possible that after the
Crescent ambulances have been used to transfer suicide bombers and explosive
belts, Phillip Reeker, the State Department's spokesman demanded this week that
Israel provide 'unfettered access for ambulances and emergency medical personnel
at Israeli checkpoints?'" The first Bush administration had a successful
war against a terrorist regime, and then foundered as its Secretary of State led
the administration in pressuring Israeli to accommodate Palestinian terrorists.
The second Bush administration appears to be following the same failed policy of
forcing Israeli to attempt to survive without a right of self-defense.[Dave Kopel]
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Once again, the Jews are fighting a vicious
anti-Semitic dictatorship, which teaches its young people that nothing is more
glorious than killing Jews. Disgracefully, the American president is ignoring
the lessons of the Holocaust, and ordering Israelis to stop defending
is repeating P.A. claims that "five Palestinians were killed" in
fighting Nablas Friday night. Actually, the
deaths occurred in Tubas, near Nablus. CNN doesn't mention that the dead
include Qais Adwan, the planner of the Seder bombing, and of numerous other
atrocities. All of the rest of the
dead are Hamas terrorists, too.[Dave Kopel]
Boston Globe reports that gun sales in Israel are skyrocketing,
"particularly since an Israeli shoe salesman used his own weapon to fatally
shoot a 46-year-old Palestinian who had opened fire in a Tel Aviv restaurant
March 5 and killed three Israelis. The Interior Ministry says applications for
licenses have tripled during the past month, overwhelming its staff and forcing
it to shift employees from other departments to handle the deluge. The Israeli
government, meanwhile, has moved to ease once-tight restrictions on owning a
gun..." More Guns, Less Terrorism.
April 6, 2002
The past several days have seen notably fewer Israeli civilians killed by
terrorists compared to the days before the invasion of the terrorist sanctuaries
began. Indeed, the recent days have been more peaceful for civilians than
many other similar periods in 2002. It turns out that the best way to "end
the cycle of violence" isn't conducting negotiations with terrorists who
never keep their word. Killing and capturing terrorists turns out to be the
best way to stop terrorism.
April 5, 2002
poll from the Jerusalem Post finds 72% of the Israeli public in favor of the
nation's defensive war in the West Bank. Fifteen percent of the public favor
more negotiations with Arafat, while 36% want him expelled and 23% want him
eliminated. Arafat's strategy of holding out in the expectation that the Sharon
government will fall does not appear to be working; if the election were held
today, Labor Party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer would garner only 4% of the vote.
Sharon would get 36%, and Benjamin Netanyahu, former (and future?) Likud
President who is more hawkish than Sharon would get 26%. Among people who voted
for Ehud Barak last time, Sharon is strongly preferred to Ben-Eliezer; among
Sharon voters, Netanyahu has a slim lead over Sharon.
April 4, 2002
Writing from Jerusalem for The New Republic,
Yossi Klein Halevi explains how the terrorists are making life intolerable
within Israel: "And the fear has not only forced us into our homes; it has
locked us out of our national, communal space. In our dread of public places,
notes Israeli journalist Ari Shavit, lies a threat to our collective identity.
Striking at a seder--which celebrates the founding of the Jewish people--is an
unbearable symbol of the war against the Jewish collective. We are in the grip
of an experiment testing how long a society can endure under relentless
terrorism before it begins to disintegrate. If the experiment continues
unchecked, we will become a completely atomized society--or no longer a society
at all." [Dave Kopel]
Thus, even if President Bush and Secretary Powell foolishly succeed in cutting
short the Israeli counterattacks on Palestinian terrorist centers, the
counterattacks are an essential step for the survival of the Jewish people as a
people. As Halevi writes: "The world asks anxiously: What will be the
consequences of Israel's invasion? For Israelis, that isn't even a question. For
us, the only question that matters, at least for now, is whether the fragile
collective identity of 'Israeli'--stretched thin over a bewildering ethnic and
ideological cacophony--will continue to exist. That question will be answered
not by the results of the battle, but simply by our willingness to fight it."
The Letter from Gotham wonders if the reason why the United States hasn't
seen anti-Semitic riots like Europe is that in the United States, potential riot
victims are noted to be potentially armed. This makes a sense; as Aaron Zelman
and Richard W. Stevens detail in their new book
Death by "Gun Control": The Human
Cost of Victim Disarmament genocide is invariably preceded by victim
disarmament. Find a society where Jews are allowed to own guns for protection,
and you'll tend to find a society with a high degree of religious and
intellectual tolerance, and a low rate of violence against minorities. But I
think there is another reason is well. The U.S., with its strong culture at
individual rights and intellectual diversity, is simply a more civilized place
than Europe. The millions of people who had the good sense to leave Europe and
come to the U.S. understood that when government is too powerful, it tends to
promote--either directly or by creating a hate-filled intellectual climate--mob
violence against minorities.
NEVER CORRECT[Dave Kopel]
latest column for Fox News examines the numerous Old Media book reviews
which have failed to print corrections to their glowing reviews of Michael
Bellesiles's book Arming America now that it has been exposed as a fraud.
April 3, 2002
Terrorism has taken out an advertisement asking why the Minneapolis
Star-Tribune calls groups which kill American civilians
"terrorists" but refuses to apply the same word to groups which kill
Israelis. The Star-Tribune's article
on the controversy concludes by quoting a Palestinian American who says that it
is "despicable" to call the killers "terrorists" because
they are really just "desperate." A media-ethics professor asserts
that "one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter." If
the latter is true, then why does the Star-Tribune call al Qaeda
"terrorists" rather than "Islamofascist activists"?
Adelman suggests that we all drop the term "suicide bomber"--which
would be accurate for people who killed only themselves with explosives.
"Homicide bombers" is the more accurate phrase.
April 2, 2002
"Dynamic entries" is a euphemism for violent home break-ins by the
police, usually for the purpose of "serving" a search warrant in a
drug case. Violent police home invasions have now become so common that
non-government (criminal) home robbers are pretending
to be police, yelling "police, police, get down" as they break in and
point guns at the victims. Since so many actual police home invaders don't wear
police uniforms, it's pretty hard to tell the cops from the criminals.
"The Mini Page" is a four-page newspaper feature for children;
distributed by the Universal Press Syndicate, the Mini Page is found in many
daily U.S. newspapers, usually midweek. This week's Mini Page looks at the
African Rain Forest, and informs children that "The Congo rain forest
spreads into several countries. The governments of these countries are not
strong. . .The animals in the rain forest cannot be protected when the
governments are not strong enough to do so." Actually, most of the African
rain forest is contained within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly
known as Zaire), and to claim that the main conservation problem there is weak
government is ludicrous. According
to Amnesty International, the dictatorial government perpetrates a
disgusting variety of human-rights abuses, including the mass murder of
civilians. It is absurd to imagine that a government which is so blithe about
killing humans would care about protecting animals if the government were even
stronger. Around the world, the countries which best protect the environment are
not the ones with the strongest governments (e.g., North Korea), but the ones
which have a republican form of government, a free press, and a free economy.
Too bad the Mini Page is so PC that it can't criticize a rapacious, murderous
dictatorship which is a accomplice in the destruction of the environment.
March 30, 2002
FOR THE ROOM[Dave Kopel]
As The Panic Room movie illustrates, pure defense isn't
as safe as defense combined with counterforce capabilities. So consider keeping
a firearm in your safe room.
BEFORE YOU HEAD TO HOME DEPOT[Dave Kopel]
Just in case you've been to the movies recently, and are considering spending a
lot of money on a panic room...You don't have to be a millionaire to create a
special safe room in your house. Skip the special oxygen supply, and focus on a
sturdy door, strong locks, and a portable phone. Massad Ayoob's book
The Truth About Self-Protection explains how to integrate a safe room
into an overall home security plan.
BAD APPETITE[Dave Kopel]
A businessman plans to open a Chinese restaurant in Denver named "Mao."
It's too bad that naming a restaurant after a genocidal tyrant is considered
chic. What's next, a German restaurant named "Adolf"?
WHO'S ON FIRST[Dave Kopel]
latest article for TechCentralStation, "Democrats vs. New Media," details
Terry McAuliffe's concerns that new media, such as weblogs and talk radio, have
turned into fora for opponents of big government to bypass the old media.
McAulliffe is scaring old media moguls into making huge donations to the
Democratic party. Leading Senate Democrats are sponsoring legislation aimed at
weakening the new media. Personally, I like the old Democrats such as Walter
Mondale better; they considered the First Amendment a first principle, not an
obstacle to suppressing the opposition.
March 22, 2002
DECONSTRUCTING STUDY[Dave Kopel]
deconstructs a new study--reported by the AP and prominently featured by the
New York Times--regarding black suicides and guns.
March 20, 2002
It's not often that an article in a scholarly journal can change the world for
the better in a just a few days. But according to the New York Times,
an article by
Representative Tom Lantos (D., Calif.) in the The Fletcher Forum of World
Affairs helped convince U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary
Robinson to quit. The article describes Mrs. Robinson's role in allowing the
Durban conference against racism to turn into a pro-racist, anti-Semitic
atrocity which ignored human rights violations such as the continuing slave
trade in Africa. Lantos explains that the conference went off-track when a
pre-conference in Tehran turned into anti-Israel hatefest, and Mrs. Robinson
applauded the conference's results. At the Durban conference neared, Mrs.
Robinson sided with the Arab dictatorships in equating Israel with Nazi Germany.
Lantos reports several other important facts: A few months before the
conference, a delegate from a sub-Saharan African state asked why the United
States was letting Egypt, which receives two billion dollars a year in U.S. aid,
take the leading, hardline role in demanding the anti-racism conference be
turned into an anti-Israel conference. At Durban and before, many of the
so-called "civil rights" groups from the United States supported the
anti-Semitic positions pushed by the Arabs, and encouraged black African states
to hold firm in their demands for slavery "reparations" from U.S. taxpayers.
International "human rights" groups such as Amnesty International did almost
nothing to oppose anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. To put it bluntly, many of
the so-called human rights groups don't care about the rights of Jewish humans,
and many of America's so-called Middle East allies--especially Egypt, Pakistan,
and Saudi Arabia--work diligently and unyieldingly against U.S. interests.
March 19, 2002
The human-rights group Genocide Watch has identified six stages which precede
genocide. According to the group,
entered the final stage, Preparation, which immediately precedes genocide.
The Heritage Foundation offers
plan for what to do to stop the murderous Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe: Recall
our ambassador; continue to withhold direct foreign aid; support pro-freedom
organizations in Zimbabwe; and expand Voice of American broadcasts to Zimbabwe.
That's a good start, but here's an even more important step: begin distributing
arms to the people of Zimbabwe, so that they can resist genocide. Mugabe has
confiscating guns from his potential victims. The history of the 20thcentury
shows that genocide is always preceded by gun prohibition. A lot of people have
wrung their hands over the world's failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda a
few years ago; if we're serious about preventing genocide in Zimbabwe, it's time
March 16, 2002
Mark Pertshcuk, legislative director of one of America's largest gun-ban
lobbies, spent ten years working for America's leading anti-tobacco lobby.
explains the difference between the anti-tobacco fight and the antigun
fight, and show how antigun activists can learn from anti-tobacco activists.
March 15, 2002
Writing for the History News Network, Professor Jerome L. Sternstein details a
1966 case of historical fraud similar to the contemporary fraud of Michael
Bellesiles. In "Historical
Fraud and the Seduction of Ideas: The Poulshock Case" Professor Sternstein
discusses a book about the tariff debates in the late 19th century, in which the
author's extensive "research" into the correspondence of politicians was almost
entirely fabricated. The article also looks at Bellesiles, and the role of NR's
Melissa Seckora in exposing Bellesiles. In 1966, Syracuse University Press
immediately recalled all copies of the fraudulent book, once the fraud was
exposed. But today, Knopf continues to promote "Arming America," and has even
published a paperback edition. In 1966 and today, the professional historical
societies have refused to warn their members about a book demonstrated to be a
The world's recent discovery that Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is a
mass-murdering, lying, thieving tyrant is akin to the "discovery" that Dean
Martin likes to drink.
The Spectator points out that Mugabe's evil has been well-known
for decades, yet Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair continued to shower him
with foreign aid. The people of Africa are victimized by a racist double
standard, by which dictators who murder blacks or Arabs by the tens of
thousands are allowed to get away with it, as long as they act polite
towards the leaders of nations on other continents.
What makes Zimbabwe different from most African nations is not that the
dictator stole the most recent election, but that an election took place at
all. Almost all the "governments" of Africa are kleptocracies which suppress
all human rights. While colonial rule in Africa was hardly a model of good
government, the majority of African nations, both Arab and black, would be
better ruled today by England or France or Belgium or Germany or Portugal or
Italy than by the thugs which currently rule those nations. By every
possible standard, the few remaining colonies of Europe (e.g., the Falkland
Islands) are far better governed than almost all African nations. These
days, European colonial rulers do not perpetrate genocide, do allow a free
press and religious freedom, do allow independent unions and farm groups,
and operate colonial regimes that appropriate a much smaller fraction of the
nation's wealth than do African governments.
March 13, 2002
The Jewish holiday of
on February 25 this year. The holiday celebrates the story told in the Bible's
Book of Esther,
in which Queen Esther saves the Jews in Babylon from a genocide plot. According
to the Saudi government
newspaper, Jews celebrate Purim by making pastries filled with blood
extracted from Muslim or Christian teenagers, who are confined in a special
barrel containing sharp needles. "There is another way to spill the blood: The
victim can be slaughtered as a sheep is slaughtered, and his blood collected in
a container. Or, the victim's veins can be slit in several places, letting his
blood drain from his body." When the Saudi people are fed such blood-filled lies
by their government, is it any wonder that some of them become terrorists?
CABLE-TV SURPRISE[Dave Kopel]
Amazingly, a new made-for-television movie makes the case for less government.
Wednesday night, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 4 p.m. Hawaii Time, and 9:30
p.m. in Newfoundland), Court TV premieres the movie Guilt by Association,
which takes a critical look at mandatory drug sentences, and how they impose
punishment grotesquely disproportionate to the crime. The movie stars Mercedes
Ruehl. Although the plot is fictional, as Court TV's
special report on
mandatory minimums explains, the inflexible laws sometimes result in minor
accessories being given punishments more severe than the main perpetrators; the
ring-leader turns in some small-time characters who, not knowing anyone else to
turn in, get the full mandatory sentence.
March 11, 2002
John Lott explains why Norman Mineta's opposition to handguns for pilots is
so dangerous: 30% of stun gun uses fail because the target is wearing thick
clothing or shoes with rubber soles. Meanwhile, fewer than 1% of U.S. commercial
flights have sky marshals. As Barron's reported last week, if you're not
flying to or from Washington, D.C., or the Olympics the odds of a sky marshal on
your flight are virtually nil. Endangering passenger safety for the sake of
political correctness, Secretary Mineta is even worse than his Clinton
Jerusalem Post reports that a would-be suicide bomber fled the
Israeli town of Karkur on Thursday, March 7, after he was confronted by an
Israeli citizen carrying a pistol.
Political correctness has taken aim at "Maryland!
My Maryland!" the state's official song. Legally adopted in 1939, the nine
stanzas were penned in 1861 by a Marylander outraged by the violent suppression
of civil liberty and of the functioning of the state government in Maryland. The
song begins, "The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy
temple door, Maryland! Avenge the patriotic gore That flecked the streets of
Baltimore, And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!" (The tune is
Horatius," better known as "O Tennenbaum.") As the 1939 legislature
recognized, there is no modern risk that the song would spur Marylanders to join
the Confederate State of America. The song does, however, extol violent
resistance to tyranny, even domestic tyranny. And the song reminds us of
Maryland's divided nature during the Civil War. This makes a lot of folks
uncomfortable. In 1894, a schoolteacher wrote some alternate lyrics which, after
an opening genuflection to "light and liberty," extol Maryland's geography and
present a collection of platitudes about how nice it is to live in Maryland.
Appropriately, the milquetoast version removes the exclamation points from the
title. A few weeks ago, Democratic Senator Jennie Forehand (who represents
Montgomery County, a major bedroom community for federal employees), offered
Senate Bill 19
to replace the martial "Maryland! My Maryland!" with the sappy geography
tribute. Her bill was defeated 6-3 in a State Senate Committee in late February.
The previous year, a House Committee had rejected a bill by Delegate Peter
Franchot (also a Montgomery Democrat) to simply abolish the state song. So sing
again: "Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland! Thy beaming sword shall never
rust, Maryland!...Come to thine own heroic throng, Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song, Maryland! My Maryland!"
MISSING PEARL LINK[Dave Kopel]
My latest "Eye
on the Media" column for the Rocky Mountain News looks at some overlooked
aspects of the Daniel Pearl murder, and criticizes media use of the phrase "Big
March 10, 2002
The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, has rejected another
abusive lawsuit against a handgun manufacturer, in the case of
Halliday vs. Sturm, Ruger [This link requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.] In 1999,
a Maryland man bought a Ruger pistol from a gun store in Maryland. The pistol
came with a free lock box, with an instruction manual containing numerous
warnings and instructions about firearms safety, with safety warnings written
right on the gun itself, with a safety pamphlet from the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms, and with an offer for a free safety training course,
which the buyer declined. The gun itself had a safety lever which must be
disengaged in order to fire. Ignoring these safety materials, the buyer put the
handgun in his bedroom, where his three-year-old son found it, and fatally shot
himself in the head. The boy's mother sued the gun store and Ruger, for
allegedly failing to provide sufficient warnings, and for not incorporating
various design features which would make the gun impossible for small children
to fire (and which would also reduce a gun's utility for emergency self-defense
by an adult, or which would make the gun difficult to use by a person with weak
hand strength, such as an elderly woman). The Court of Appeals ruled 6-1 that
the suit was improper as a matter of law. The court explained that the Maryland
legislature, which has enacted an extensive set of gun controls while rejecting
other proposed controls, has already conclusively determined what kinds of guns
with what kinds of features are legitimate to sell in Maryland.
The Chief Deputy Director of the Philippines' Anti-Kidnapping Task Force
has announced that he favors arming citizens to resist kidnappers. The
Philippines has been victimized by dozens of kidnappings orchestrated Abu
Sayyaf, a terrorist group which is allied with al Qaeda and which is
attempting to overthrow the nation's democracy and replace it with an
Asia Times writer Aidan Foster-Carter produces an excellent
on North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-Il, pointing out that his obstinate embrace
of Stalinism will lead to his downfall. Foster-Carter suggests that the
"Dear Leader" has avoided change because the old guard of the Communist
Party doesn't want it, but Kim Jong-Il's chances are greater if he angers
the party elders and appeases George Bush, rather than vice versa.
March 9, 2002
The Colorado house of representatives unexpectedly voted not to form a
special commission to investigate the Columbine High School murders. The
Friday vote came after heavy and secret lobbying by the Jefferson County
government against any inquiry. At the least, preventing the inquiry
prevents further examination of Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone's
decision to prohibit officers from entering the school during the
murders, even though open 911 lines showed that students were being killed
in the library--where the 911 operator had ordered them to stay and awaiting
police rescue. Likewise shielded from inquiry is Sheriff's Stone's attempts
cover up that decision, the cover-up of why a 1998 search warrant for
Eric Harris's house was never executed, and conflicting statements about
whether Columbine student Daniel Rohrbaugh was accidentally killed by a
Been following the government-controlled media of our Arab "allies"? Rabbi
Abraham Cooper of the Simon Weisenthal Center has. He
reports on the primetime series that ran on Abu Dhabi TV during Ramadan:
Plots of Terror featured a famous comedian playing Ariel Sharon as a
vampire who sells "Dracu-cola" made from Arab blood. The Sharon character
loves to drink the blood of Arab children. While the series is presented as
fiction, an Egyptian film-maker is busy with the move he promises will be
"the Arab world's answer to Schinder's List." The movie is based on a 1983
book by Syrian Defense Minster Mustafa Talas, The Matzo of Zion.
According to the book, in 1840 the Jews of Damascus murdered two Christian
children, and used their blood to make Passover matzoh. During the second
half of Ramadan, a variety of Arab TV stations aired the 30-part series of
Horseman without a Horse,
a dramatic adaptation of
The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion--a well-known forgery by the czarist secret
police which alleged a secret Jewish plot to take over the world.
March 7, 2002
One of the very best sources for military news and analysis is
the StrategyPage. Wednesday's
issue featured a very detailed description of the battle of Gardez, as well
as a look at the weapon that is transforming land warfare as profoundly as
did tanks and machine-guns. It's the one-ton high-explosive smart bomb, used
with great effect by our Air Force on entrenched Taliban. The Air Force
bombs take over the ground-bombardment function once performed by
battleships firing 16-inch artillery. It turns out that the bombs, when
dropped from a plane rather than fired through an artillery barrel, need a
lot less metal to hold them together. They are also vastly more accurate
than battleship guns ever were. Never in the history of warfare has a weapon
as powerful as the one-ton bomb been usable with the precision necessary for
close air support of friendly ground troops. Our advanced, free, and
innovative civilization happens to be the only one on this with such a
weapon. Things aren't looking good for the dark ages terrorists.
Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin are almost certainly telling the
truth when they say that their plagiarism was unintentional. But, explains
Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos, this fact is the key to
the phoniness of books bearing those authors' names. Campos writes: "Any
halfway serious writer is no more likely to mistake somebody else's prose
for his own than he is to confuse somebody else's children for those he has
raised himself. Thus, unintentional plagiarism is likely to arise in one
particular situation: When the supposed 'author' of the text in question is
to a significant extent the author in name only." In other words, it appears
that Ambrose and Goodwin, like the late James Minchner, are not really
complete authors, but rather consolidators of work performed by research
assistants, which is then published under the name of the so-called
"author." Back in 5th grade, one of my classmates refused to believe the
English teacher who claimed that some of the "Mickey Spillane" detective
books were not actually written by Mr. Spillane. Have serious historians
descended to the level of becoming brand names for the work of others?
March 5, 2002
You might think that things are looking kind of grim for Michael Bellesiles,
author of the hoax book Arming America. Even
Radio has caught onto him. .Despite the record of Bellesiles's
mendacity--well-covered by Melissa Seckora on NRO,
he has been awarded a
new $30,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, to write
another book about guns. The NEH gave money to the Newberry Library in
Chicago, which gave the money to Bellesiles, and which refuses to disclose how
such a notable faker was awarded your money. Should the Newberry Library be
renamed the Office of Strategic Deception?
March 4, 2002
Today's postal mail includes a solicitation from Doctors Without Borders. DWB
was the group that denounced U.S. food airdrops as propaganda, and demanded that
U.S. military action in Afghanistan be halted so that aid convoys could get
through. It turns out that aid convoys get through a lot better now that the
Taliban have been driven from power. If George Bush and Tony Blair had listened
to DWB, many thousands of Afghans would have starved to death, or died from lack
of medical care, during the last several months. Yes despite being so massively
wrong about Afghanistan, DWB claims "Every day, from Afghanistan to Sudan, we
are able to save lives because of the generosity of our donors." If you want to
save the lives of refugees and other victims of totalitarian regimes, forget DWB;
instead, take up a collection to help our Armed Forces buy some more Daisy
Cutters. DC's stop dictators; DWB cooperates with dictators.
Britain's gun-crime rate has hit an all-time high, the
reports. One MP bemoans the "lawless gun culture" gun culture that has grown
up in London, where illegal guns are available for £200. Well, duh. As I detail
in my law-review article "All
the Way Down the Slippery Slope," the British government spent the last
century exterminating the law-abiding gun culture. Now, the government is
shocked that a lawless gun culture has replaced it.
Archive of Kopel's Corner
2006, Oct. 3- Dec. 31.
2006, Jan. 1- Oct. 2.
The rest of Kopel's website
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