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Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 1995

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Twenty years ago today, evil terrorist Tim McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. Never forget the lives lost on that horrible day.

0 Comments

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Two random thoughts

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The Indiana legislature passed a ban on decapitation. Way to waste everyone's time by criminalizing something that is ALREADY ILLEGAL. Rock on.

If you say objective truth does not exist, you contradict yourself. Saying objective truth does not exist is a statement of objective truth.

0 Comments

Friday, April 17, 2015

Following up: The danger of flash-bang grenades

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:30 PM

Since the space for letters to the editor is limited by the nature of the format, no issue can be covered exhaustively in a LTTE. Of course, no issue can ever truly be fully covered, no matter how much space is given to the topic. That is why some issues will be debated forever. But the LTTE format is inherently more limited than a blog post or an opinion column. With that said, here are some follow-up thoughts on my letter to the editor last week concerning the danger of flash-bang grenades.

It is true that police jurisdictions in these United States (local, state and federal) cover a massive swath of land with over three hundred million people. It is estimated that there are over 900,000 law enforcement officers currently serving at various levels of government. With numbers that big, there are bound to be mistakes, bad choices and bad actors. The job of a police officer can be extraordinarily difficult.

That, however, is not the issue. The issue is policy. The policies governing the use of dangerous flash-bang grenades are too lax, and have resulted in people being maimed and killed. Those policies need to be examined, and government at all levels needs to be fully transparent in the use of these explosives. That is the issue.

The use of a flash-bang grenade to subdue and apprehend a violent suspect is one thing. Active shooters, barricaded and heavily armed suspects and other such scenarios cannot be solved by a knock and a search warrant, so the use of these grenades may be justified in some scenarios.

The issue is the over deployment of the weapons, especially in simply serving a search warrant on drug offenders. In many cases, the policy of deploying flash-bangs (or deploying SWAT at all) is questionable at best and overkill at worst. For example, the drug dealer in the Bounkham Phonesavanh case was later apprehended at a separate location, without incident and without the use of a SWAT raid.

It is good that police have a variety of tools to use on a continuum of force. American law enforcement is not (and must not be) like a dystopian movie where lethal force is the first option, especially on an unarmed person running away at a below-average pace. That person should be tackled and subdued, not shot to death.

For example, a Taser is technically a "less lethal" weapon that can (and has) caused fatalities, but is certainly a big step down from bullets. But even the less lethal tools and techniques must be closely examined and good policy must be in place governing their use. Police are not soldiers and criminals are not enemy combatants in a war zone. We need to stop treating law enforcement as a military engagement.

This, of course, brings me back to the primary point of my letter: It is simply factually incorrect to call flash-bang grenades "non-lethal" weapons. A non-lethal weapon does not kill and maim people when used as designed. It is not an example of media bias to use the correct terminology. It is good reporting.

0 Comments

Thursday, April 16, 2015

False accusations of "rape" are real

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

In the middle of the sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980's, Bernard Baran was accused of rape. The accusations were false; he committed no such crime. Baran was convicted anyway and sent to prison for decades, where he was violently raped more than 30 times. When Zerlina Maxwell says "the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist," does she mean that the emotional trauma from disbelieving someone who was actually raped is worse than sending an innocent man to prison for 25 years? Is it worse than condemning that innocent man to be violently raped 30 times?

By now, it is obvious to almost everyone that the "rape" recounted last fall in Rolling Stone was a complete fabrication. The account was so dramatic - that "Jackie" was thrown onto a glass table that shattered, then gang raped on the broken glass - it sounded like something out of a movie where a vigilante played by Charles Bronson goes on a murderous rampage against criminals.

The Rolling Stone scandal not the only false accusation given national headlines. Tawana Brawley started a national firestorm when she fabricated a story of "rape" out of whole cloth in the 1980's. Convicted murderer Crystal Gail Mangum also fabricated a story of "rape" out of thin air, leading Duke "University" to take action against the lacrosse team members who had committed no crime. We should never forget the Scottsboro Boys, a group of nine black teenagers who were falsely accused of "rape" and nearly murdered by a lynch mob.

But we do not have to look to national headlines to see false accusations of "rape."

  • The Herald-Times reported in September 2006 that "an 18-year-old IU freshman who reported she was the victim of a sexual assault on Sept. 3, and the victim of a battery on Aug. 29, admitted Friday that she fabricated both reports."

I have no doubt that the vast majority of accusations of rape are true. It is also true that a large number of rapes are not reported to law enforcement for various reasons. But the fact that false allegations do exist makes it critical that we meticulously follow due process to ensure that the accused gets a fair trial. No one should ever suffer as Bernard Baran suffered. No one should ever be sent to prison for decades for a horrific crime committed by someone else, as was the case with the Central Park Five. We must never compromise on due process and civil liberties, and we must never forget the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."

2 Comments

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The reality of campus rape

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The national controversy over rape on college campuses has provided an example of overreach by feminists, but conservatives need to be careful not to overreach themselves. Ann Coulter overreached badly in her editorial on the subject last week, in which she wrote:

From the Duke lacrosse team, the Columbia mattress girl and the University of Virginia, the left has not been able to produce one actual rape on a college campus.

Not one actual rape? Really? Come on, now. Not one?

The often-cited statistic that "one in five" women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted has been widely debunked, based on a combination of FBI crime statistics, the poor methodology of the study, and common sense. Women are now a majority of students on most campuses. If female students had a 20% chance of being sexually assaulted, why would anyone send their daughters to such a dangerous place?

But conservatives do ourselves no favors when we engage in the sort of ridiculous hyperbole that Coulter uses. Perhaps she was being sarcastic, or perhaps she is being intentionally inflammatory in order to get attention. (It is most likely the latter.) But the fact that some women have been assaulted at college has been well-researched and well documented, including by FBI crime statistics. The number is not one in five, but it is not zero.

Yes, false accusations do exist. But it is simply illogical to conclude that the existence of false accusations means there are no true accusations - especially given the presence of FBI crime statistics documenting a specific number of reported crimes. By making such an outrageous claim, Coulter damages no only herself, but damages other conservative commentators by proxy because we are associated with her. She would be well served to needs to town down the hyperbole and be more serious.

But that would not sell as many books, would it?

2 Comments

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A completely random thought

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Facebook is, to some degree, a fantasy world. People present their best faces (no pun intended) there and leave out the warts in their lives. It's like a campaign commercial for non-politicians.

0 Comments

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dialing back our military aggression

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Matt Walsh made a really good point on Facebook regarding foreign policy:

Sadly, it appears that many Republicans have a near insatiable appetite for war. Paul, however, has shown a more restrained and reasonable attitude toward foreign policy, similar to the approach our Founding Fathers took.

One day, Republican politicians and voters will wake up and realize that you can't prowl around the world starting armed conflicts with every dictator and militant cell you find.

Certainly, we have engaged in some just wars. But those just wars cannot be used to justify our overly hawkish attitude toward foreign policy. Just because some wars are just does not make all wars just. We have, overall, become far too willing to engage in war - especially without the needed authorization from Congress. As much as Republicans love to complain about President Obama in this regard, the problem of expanding executive authority in matters of armed conflict has been a bipartisan problem going back to the nation's founding.

While it is sometimes necessary and unavoidable, armed conflict should always be the last resort to dealing with foreign policy conflicts and should only be used to protect a vital national security interest. How many of our armed conflicts since World War II meet that criteria? When you consider all of the little wars we have engaged in - a drone strike here, a short-term invasion and occupation there - that percentage is not very big at all. And let's be honest here: You cannot be a little bit at war. You are either at war or you are not. If Canada or Mexico fired some missiles across our border, we would rightly consider it an act of war.

Plus, we cannot and should not be the world's police force. We only create resentment and hatred by sticking our nose in where we do not belong and projecting military power everywhere around the world. Not all of the hatred for us is because of our imperialist or pseudo-imperialist actions, of course. Foreign relations, like all human interactions, are very complicated with many layers and both contributing and competing factors to consider. But there is no doubt that someone who has seen a wedding party blown to smithereens by an errant American missile is more likely to hate us than someone who has been left alone.

This is why Rand Paul's candidacy is good news for the Republican Party, whether he wins the nomination or not. Paul is going to force a conversation about American foreign policy that has long been needed in the GOP, and I think he is going to find a surprising number of people who are weary of never-ending military conflict and are skeptical of hawkish politicians who keep pushing us to get involved militarily in more and more places.

The Democrats have had and will continue to have that debate in their presidential primaries, and it's long past time for the Republicans to have it too - especially since the War on Terror has rapidly expanded the surveillance state and restricted civil liberties.

0 Comments

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Random thought

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The achievements in Words With Friends are... interesting.

Not every game needs achievements.

0 Comments

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Flash-bang grenades can (and do) kill and maim

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Bloomington Herald-Times, April 10, 2015 (Comments)

To the Editor:

There was a factual error in the March 11, 2015 Herald-Times article (http://bit.ly/1HEAtjP) regarding a standoff with Bloomington police. The flash-bang grenade used by police, an explosive designed to produce a blinding flash of light and a deafening sound to disorient and confuse suspects, is NOT a "non-lethal" weapon. It should have been identified as a "less lethal" weapon, because flash-bang grenades can (and have) caused fatalities and serious injuries.

The most well-known case is the horrific burns suffered by 18-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, who was maimed last summer when a flash-bang grenade was tossed into his crib during a SWAT raid in Georgia. Tragically, a SWAT officer was killed by a "less lethal" flash-bang grenade in 2011. A woman in Minneapolis "suffered third- and fourth-degree burns" in 2010 when a flash-bang grenade exploded next to her legs.

For more resources on flash-bangs, see here: http://bit.ly/1bDENGg

Because of the dangerous nature of these explosives, it is imperative that we have a full accounting of the use of flash-bang grenades by local law enforcement. I call on both the Bloomington Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department to detail all use of flash-bang grenades and the justification for their deployment.

1 Comments

Friday, April 10, 2015

"The costs of calling someone a rapist"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

A columnist for National Review reports on the feminist "believe the victim" mentality:

The answer, sadly, is the latter. In the Washington Post, Zerlina Maxwell argued that "we should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser [of rape] says," for "the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist."

Apparently this woman has never heard of Bernard Baran, who was falsely accused of rape, sent to prison and violently raped more than thirty times.

1 Comments

With government money comes government strings

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

When Alliance Defending Freedom recently complained about the Obama Administration's abortion-related regulations on aid organizations, they missed something important: With government money comes government strings. Once you accept the government's money, the government can tell you how to run your operation as a condition of continuing to get that money.

This is why I am opposed to vouchers for private schools and why I opposed President Bush's plan to give federal aid to faith-based charities when he announced it in 2001. There is too much potential for a conflict of interest, and too much potential for Christians to be forced to choose between getting their money and compromising their principles. We are seeing that play out here.

If the aid organizations were not dependent on federal grants to do their work, they could take the administration's request they provide abortion services (or refer refugees to abortion providers) and say, "thanks, but no thanks." But because they are publicly funded, they now must make a decision that will have no good outcome. Getting entangled with government is almost never a good idea.

Christian schools that take vouchers, even in Republican states like Indiana, need to look at this controversy and consider how much they are willing to risk government telling them what to do as a condition of getting money from the government. Are they willing and able to immediately stop taking vouchers if forced to choose between vouchers and their faith? If the answer to either question is "no" they need to wean themselves from of this program before they forced to make that choice.

2 Comments

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A scary question

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Here is what is scary about the case of Ray Hinton, the man who spent 30 years on death row only to be released after the government admitted they did not have enough evidence to hold him.

Who is the real killer and how many people has he killed because the criminal justice system kept an innocent man behind bars for 30 years?

0 Comments

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Horrible

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

This is horrible. An unarmed man was shot to death by a police officer while running away.

Thankfully, someone took a video of this crime. The police officer has been charged with murder.

1 Comments

Discrimination is neither good or bad

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Discrimination is not a bad thing, but it is not a good thing either. Discrimination, like any tool, is morally neutral. What matters is how that tool is used, and against whom. Only in that context can we truly determine if discrimination is good and justifiable or bad and indefensible. Saying that discrimination is inherently bad is a willfully myopic, absolutist statement. Even the people who say that do not really believe it when push comes to shove. First, let's review Merriam-Webster's definitions of the word:

  • The practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.
  • The ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not.
  • The ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing.

Clearly, discrimination is not universally wrong. Let me use an example. Someone owns a donut shop. A customer shows up a few times, and in his visits he is belligerent to the staff, rude to the other customers and litters his speech with obscenities. He wears clothing with obscene messages and is prone to flying off the handle and screaming at other customers or staff for the slightest provocation, real or imagined. Is the donut shop justified in "discriminating" against him and banning him from the store?

Do I even need to ask that question?

We as a society discriminate against sex offenders all the time. (I am not addressing the wisdom of those restrictions here. That is an entirely different subject.) They cannot live or work within a certain distance of schools or parks, their employment options are limited, and they are monitored by the government. And yet this is done for the sake of public safety and preventing these folks from being a danger to others - especially children. Is this discrimination a good or bad thing? In some cases, the answer is clearly that discrimination can be a good and helpful thing.

There are more examples. Employers discriminate in the hiring process, in order to find the applicant who most closely meets the needs they have for the position. Employers will discriminate against unqualified applicants, and in many cases they will even discriminate against the most qualified applicants for fear they are "overqualified" and will leave for a higher paying job after a short time. We all discriminate in our shopping, for which products or services best meet what we want for the price we are willing to pay.

Obviously, discrimination can be a bad thing, and can even be evil. But what we need to do is get beyond our simple-minded mentality on the subject, and apply a little bit of discernment in our arguments. Shouting slogans that have little thought behind them does no one any good and does not advance our arguments.

1 Comments

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

More thoughts on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I posted the amended language for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the Facebook page. Just like the original RFRA, the new language changes nothing. This is because sexual orientation is not a protected class under Indiana law, was not a protected class before RFRA was passed, and was not a protected class between the signing of RFRA and the new language. It is all symbolism over substance.

On HeraldTimesOnline comments, someone claimed RFRA "does allow discrimination against gay Hoosiers and it has already happened in Walkerton."

The hysteria over Memories Pizza is absurd. No one can show me even one homosexual couple that has not been able to have their wedding catered by this pizza joint. What happened is that the owners said they would not cater a same-sex wedding, which means literally nothing because no one is going to have a small-time pizza joint cater their wedding. In fact, the owners told Breitbart.com that they have never catered any wedding.

All we have to back up the fraudulent "discrimination" claim against Memories Pizza are words said to a so-called "reporter" who was trolling for something inflammatory to write about. Then the "news" website smeared the business with an inflammatory trolling headline saying they would not serve homosexuals at all. It was a shameful and despicable lie that nearly destroyed (and may yet destroy) a family business.

Finally, Indiana's RFRA does not even take effect until July 1, 2015. So even if RFRA critics were right that RFRA would explicitly allow businesses to not serve homosexuals, they could not use that law before it takes effect a little less than three months from now.

1 Comments