Oh, Indiana.

There is a lot of talk going on lately about the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and with good reason. Some support it, some don’t…and many seem to be confused as to what it is and why it’s a big deal. The confusion needs to go. My problems with the Indiana law are two-fold. First, my religious freedom is already protected by the first amendment to the US constitution and by my state’s (and Indiana’s) constitution as well. I fail to see why we need a special law saying we have the right to religious freedom when that issue was solved with the Bill of Rights. Along with this issue, goes another one (a big one for me), and that is the inherent hypocrisy of those who support the law. Now, those that know me should know that nothing gets my goat more than hypocrisy. To quote Denzel (Remember the Titans- great flick, but I digress): I may be a mean old cuss but I am the same mean old cuss to everyone. I like consistency if you don’t support something for someone else then you can’t claim to have a right to it or a need for it.

So, where is the hypocrisy, you ask? I am glad that you did (even if you didn’t we are going to pretend that you did, so go with it). See, my biggest issue is that many of the laws proponents argue that the LGBT community is not asking for equality, but for ‘special rights.’ They hold the idea that people already have the right to marry who they wish, but LGBTers want ‘special rights’ just for them. I don’t hold to this opinion (I find it highly flawed, offensive, and discriminatory) but if you do, so be it. But if you do, yet you support the Indiana law, you are by definition, a hypocrite. As I already mentioned, religious freedom is already protected, the proponents of the Indiana law do not want religious freedom (which they have all had since birth) but they want ‘special rights’ they claim are within the mandates of their religion. Rights that may possibly violate other state and federal statutes.

We have anti-discrimination laws for a reason. We shouldn’t have to have them, but we do because people generally suck. These laws do not harm anyone nor do they violate the first amendment. See, like with all rights, there is a limit to what you can do with that. We have freedom of speech, but we can still be prosecuted for telling lies (libel), mis-truths (slander), or any speech that causes or threatens active harm (threats of violence, or screaming fire in a crowded theater.) These limits are not stifling our freedoms, but, rather protecting them…for everybody. The same holds true for religious freedom. Your religious freedom ends at the point where someone is exposed to undue harm. Hence, why stoning or human sacrifice (or sacrifice of any kind, generally speaking) are still illegal. This is the reason that, despite many religions supporting and/or promoting it, polygamy is still illegal in many states, because it has shown to come with a lack of consent and harm to individuals (sometimes underage)…see: Colorado City.
In fact, the argument over religious freedom is hardly anything new. SCOTUS has decided this issue many times over, and reached the same (ish) conclusion every time. The exception being the Hobby Lobby case…well, sort of. The big religious freedom case was US v. Lee. An Amish man made the argument that as we was spiritually opposed to social security, he shouldn’t have the pay the employer required contribution on behalf of his non-Amish employees. SCOTUS basically said, uh-unh, doesn’t work that way. Well, actually they said: When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. In other words, when you open a business you make a ‘choice.’ No one says you are required to do so, and no one is forcing you to open a business against your will…you choose to do that. As such, in making that choice, you agree to follow any and all laws and regulations that apply to that business. There are laws on the books that state you are not allowed to discriminate against someone in your business, these laws are unfortunately necessary and are around for a reason. They protect those to whom others wish to place an, undue burden. That’s the language used in the Hobby Lobby case, too, but wrongfully applied.

See, if the government can show that a law fulfills a fundamental need, is in the public good, (or shows compelling interest) and doesn’t place an undue burden upon others then that law is not in violation of anyone’s religious rights. For example, the state can require vaccinations (oh, if only they would) because they can prove that it is a compelling interest (i.e. Vaccinations save lives, improve community health and cost far less than the treatment of said diseases.) The government can prove that required vaccinations to keep a public healthy, is the least restrictive method of doing so. In the Hobby Lobby case, the court again used this compelling interest/undue burden requirement. Where it dropped the ball was here. See, the decision stated that the government did prove that requiring employers to give health coverage (and that, that coverage cover contraception) was in a compelling interest (side note: in stating this the court has already decided for the ACA). Where the government failed, according to the court, was to prove that such a requirement was the least restrictive method of obtaining their goals…and thus, violated the owner’s ‘strongly held religious beliefs.’ But where the courts failed is that they forgot that Hobby Lobby would then place that ‘burden’ on a third party…the employees. (Yes, this is all the fault of the Hobby Lobby case…way to go for unintended consequences).
The Indiana law would allow businesses to refuse service to individuals based on their ‘strongly held religious beliefs.’ (Since, you know, corporations are people now and have religious freedom). This, however, places an undue burden on consumers (discrimination). The law essentially forces others to comply with another’s ‘strongly held religious beliefs,’ which is, in all actuality, unconstitutional. How can this go wrong? Say some one has a ‘strongly held religious belief’ that black people are unclean and thus refuses to serve them in their establishment. Many would agree (I hope) that this is a false belief and that allowing a business to carry out this plan is wrong. But that is exactly what the law allows to be done to the LGBT community. How much longer before they refuse to hire certain group of people? The Indiana law, and the Hobby Lobby decision, places the ‘rights’ of a business above the rights of the individual. This is why I have a problem with both the new law, and the decision. Your religion does not give you the right to discriminate against people. (If you want a more professional opinion, one of lawyers and such, with all the legal mumbo jumbo click here)

Seeing Things

I fully admit that I am a conspiracy theorist.  I often see things that don’t exist…or at least don’t appear to exist to the general population.  Looking at world news I am beginning to see a theory form…and I wonder if I am going crazy, or if I am just that awesome.  (I concede that it is most likely that I am crazy).

Oil prices are plunging.  There are a few reasons for this.  One, the increase in US shale production has flooded the market with more supply.  Two, a global recession means less demand for oil.  But the biggest reason for the drop…OPEC refusing to cut production.  See, if OPEC cuts production than the oil surplus diminishes and prices go up again.  It is flat-out bad business for OPEC to continue its production levels.  So why are the doing it?

Here is where my crazy conspiracy riddled brain comes in.  First, lets start with Russia.  Putin has spent the last year doing nothing but pissing people off.  I don’t think it much of a stretch to say that the majority of the world wants that asshole to disappear.  (I hear there is this nice place the CIA runs in Poland).  Every time oil drops so does the ruble (currently one ruble is worth about 2 cents)…and Russia’s economy.  Economic collapse killed the USSR and will likely destroy Putin’s reign as well.  Putin’s corporate backers are losing money, big time. Between oil prices and sanctions…it won’t be much longer before they turn on him.

Still, that doesn’t really explain why OPEC would continue production.  Sure, OPEC countries have a reason to dislike Putin…but I am not sure they have enough of a vested interest to be persuaded to lose profit in order to oust him.  No doubt, the US has a very vested interest in seeing Putin disappear from the world stage.  The last thing we want is to see the rise of another Soviet Union and repeat the cold war.  Which is, ultimately, Putin’s goal.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  Despite what some claim, the US still has high bargaining power around the world.  If anyone could convince OPEC to help destroy Putin economically, it would be the US.  But I still have a hard time seeing OPEC do so without receiving something in return.  So what does the US have to give that won’t piss people off…or at the very least, can be done covertly.

This is where the fun comes in.  First, Obama is smarter than many give him credit for.  Since this thing began with Putin I have seen him play the long game.  His goal has never been to simply get Russia out of Ukraine.  The goal was always to remove Putin from power entirely.  Now, there are a few ways this can be done.  Classically, we would either use an assassin or sponsor a coup.  However, that hasn’t worked out so well in the long run.  In fact, it has come to bite us in the ass more often than not (see: Cuba, Nicaragua, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan…I could go on).  Then, there is collapsing the economy and letting nature take its course.  I believe this is what we are using and that is why in the beginning Obama was perceived as doing nothing.  It takes longer, but is generally more effective (see: USSR).

But it is a lot more than just destroying Putin.  Two of the biggest environmental (thus political) issues are fracking and the Keystone Pipeline.  Going up against big oil, when big oil holds most of Congress, is nigh impossible.  When the new Congress takes over next month, you can bet one of the first things they do is approve Keystone.  This is a bad thing, for a number of reasons that I won’t get into here.  Obama has made it clear that he opposes the pipeline.  But there is little he can do if Congress gives the OK.  Thus, the pipeline will be built.  Unless, of course, oil prices plummet and TransCanada can no longer afford to build it.  But that’s ridiculous because oil would have to fall to well below $80 a barrel for that to happen…oh, wait.

Also on the line with low oil prices is US shale production.  Sure, we want to see the US produce more and maybe ease our trade deficit…but is it worth the risk.  Shale oil is retrieved through a process called fracking.  This process is highly controversial and is quite possibly linked to an increase in earthquakes in high fracking areas.  There are quite literally, dozens of environmental concerns that surround this process…and enough scientific evidence to seriously question its safety and efficacy.  But you try getting big oil to listen to reason.  Of course, if prices dropped low enough and shale production was no longer cost-effective…

And this is what OPEC gets out of the deal.  It is really a win, win, win situation (except for a few oil companies…and Putin, but f&%* Putin).  OPEC gets to hedge out a few annoying new competitors increasing their profit margin when prices do go back up (and they will).  In return, the Obama administration can get a few political wins without actually getting political wins.  In other words, it gets what it wants (elimination of Keystone and fracking) without having to go through (oil owned) Congress and making it a big political fight.  Obama can then either claim the victory or (the more likely scenario) use plausible deniability.  Obama also gets a win by taking out Putin (which will happen when the Russian economy implodes).  Even though it may appear to the world that Obama did little to stop Putin, he will still get the political credit for Putin’s fall occurring during his tenure (see: Reagan/Gorbachev).

So, where does my third win come in?  Well, that’s us.  See, we all benefit from lower gas prices.  And when we spend less on gas, we spend more on crap.  When we spend more on crap, the economy gets a boost.  If the prices stay low long enough they will actually help the economy rebound, thus increasing demand for oil…and raising prices (another boon for OPEC).  But higher oil prices in a burgeoning and stable economy won’t hurt as bad as they have recently.  A strong and growing economy benefits everyone.  Also, Putin goes bye-bye and we get to watch his epic decline.  Bonus

So, long story short (too late), in my crazy-ass brain, the reason oil prices are so low are because the Obama administration made a clandestine deal with OPEC that will destroy Putin’s Russia, eliminate Keystone, and end (or at least greatly decrease) fracking in the US.  Plausible, yes. Probable, well..  In all honesty, this is something that is not beyond the realm of modern politics.  So, while it could be what is really going on, I fully admit that I could be crazy.  Maybe it’s true…or maybe I am just seeing things.

Slow Burn

Rachel Jacobs:

Perfect for anyone going through a major physical change.

Originally posted on I'm Not Blind Yet.:

Lately I’ve been seeing many of those ‘feel-good’ articles in relation to vision loss. So-and-so has [insert genetically inherited eye disease] and despite this is [insert super powered feat of magnificence.] Like these lovely people, Blind woman climbs mountain in Maine, Blind man to tackle seven marathons in seven states over seven days for Aussie kids, Visually impaired Alexandria resident set to take on the Ironman world championship. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy these stories from time-to-time.  Reminding me that there is life after blindness, one can overcome so many things and dreams can come true.

However, there are times when their stories make me angry. These people are not like me. They do not choose to do things like me. The very idea of running for more than the time it takes to run from the bathroom to the bedroom without a towel or…

View original 1,010 more words

A Little Compassion

“The mentally ill do not “commit” suicide. It makes it sound like they did it on purpose or that they had a say in the matter. But they don’t, really. Their illnesses were in control.

The entire concept of “committing” suicide, as it relates to mental illness, is nothing short of tragedy. Your son died by suicide. More specifically, he died from his mental illness, which caused him so much torment and suffering that he ultimately succumbed to it. It was not his fault, nor was it his desire. Most importantly, it wasn’t his choice.

Your son didn’t kill himself; the illness killed him.” – Gabe Howard

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about suicide and mental illness. While the death of Robin Williams is nothing less than tragic, the discussion is one that we, as a society, need to have. One we have needed to have for a long time. Sadly, we always seem to wait for a tragedy before we talk about the taboo.

It is apparent that few people truly understand what depression is and how it affects someone’s life. I have seen a lot of commentary along the lines of, “He should have gotten help.” After all, Mr. Williams was privileged, had access to the best healthcare system in the world…so why didn’t it work? Coming from our society I find this ironic. We shame those in death for not getting help just as we shame those in life for daring to seek it.

Truth is, mental illness is something that we do NOT speak of. A dark and dirty secret that needs to be stomped out and forgotten. We sit upon our high thrones and pass judgement upon those who take their lives just as we do for those who try to prevent it.

Those who loose the battle are characterized as weak, selfish, cowardly. And yet, how many times we all had this conversation:

    “Did you hear? Lala is going to therapy.”

    “Figures, I always knew she was crazy.”

Mental illness is not seen as a disease, and it is not treated as a disease by far too many in the medical community.

It is a weakness, a choice, an exaggeration, done only for attention, an excuse. We treat mental illness with such stigma and dirision, then we act surprised when someone succumbs to it. Imagine if we treated cancer with the same lack of depression and disbelief.

Truth is, mental illness is real, and it is just as deadly as cancer. Suicide is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. A problem that is highly underestimated. After all, Mr. Williams had everything, what did he have to be depressed about? Or like this moronic comment: “most of us have suffered from severe depression in our lives. We need to stop making this a mental illness conversation and make it a “everyone has the capability of getting really, really, really sad for an extended period of time. I mean, there are only about 10,000 books written about how to get out of an emotional slump. But no, apparently everyone individually thinks they are part of some suicidal expert club because their depression was somehow deeper and more meaningful than everyone else who disagrees with them. Ridiculous.”

 

Statements like this are a giant neon sign flashing that the speaker has no idea what he is talking about. I blame this on the fact that there are two types of depression…and the human ego. So, let’s talk about depression. First, there is depression with a specific cause. The death of a loved one, loss of a job, stress, exhaustion. These can all cause a person to feel depressed. An emotion, really. This type of depression is felt by nearly everyone. It is temporary and usually resolves itself with time or the elimination of the trigger. And, naturally, because everyone experiences this from time to time, many assume that this is what we are talking about when it comes to depression. That if a,b,c was true for them then it must be true for everyone. Ah, the glories of human self-importance.

 

However, there is a deeper, darker version. One with no external cause. One that doesn’t simply pass with time. It is not something that you can just ‘get over.’ It is not an ’emotional slump.’ Not something that you can talk your way out of. Nor can you just ‘decide to be happy’ any more than you can decide NOT to have cancer. It permeates everything, diminishes everything. It is something that those who have not experienced it can ever, truly, understand.

 

The real bitch is, those of us with clinical depression are still prone, like all human beings, to situational depression. In this case, it serves to make a bad situation worse and can be the tipping point that leads to suicide. I find it oddly humorous that we praise those with terminal illness for stopping treatment, leaving the hospital, and choosing to die at home. We praise them for their strength, for fighting so hard, for so long. We cast no blame or shame upon theme for choosing to stop fighting. The same does not hold true for those battling severe, chronic depression. If they stop fighting; if they can no longer stand the pain. They are weak, selfish, and cowardly. Not worthy of our empathy and sorrow.

 

Is suicide a selfish act? Perhaps, on some level, and it certainly appears that way to those on the outside. But what many seem to overlook is that depression twists a person’s thoughts so much they often think those they love are better off without them. To a severely depressed person, suicide may actually seem like the most selfless thing they can do. If you think that sounds completely irrational, you’re absolutely right. But the fallacy at work here is the assumption that the person is capable of rational thought. Think about this for a moment, we blame those who commit/attempt/contemplate suicide for making ‘poor choices.’ But one of the first thing that is done when an attempted suicide arrives at the ER is begin the process of having them declared legally incapable of making their own decisions. On the one hand we criticize their decision making process, while at the same time, working to have them declared mentally incompetent. Care to explain to me that little bit of cognitive dissonance?

 

Is suicide a ‘permanent solution to a temporary problem?’ Not really. Another logical fallacy, for suicide is neither a solution, nor is the problem temporary. Is suicide a tragedy? Always. The problem, is the thought that the person you knew and loved chose to die. This is an assumption based on the premise that the rational mind was in control. It’s not. It never is in the face of suicide. (I will pause here, briefly, to state that we are talking about suicide as part of a severe depressive disorder. Like many things, not all suicides are created equal. For example, murder-suicide or mass suicides, are entirely different monsters.)

 

All humans have two voices inside their heads. The one that holds your true self, the rational self. The one that is positive (generally) and tells you that you can achieve anything. Then there is that other one. The little voice at the back of your head. The one filled with doubt. The one that tells you, ‘you can’t.’ For persons with a depressive disorder, that ‘little voice’ is actually a roaring, raging, controlling demon. (I am being metaphorical people, I am not saying that persons with depressive disorders (or any mental illness) are possessed by demons. Though, sadly, I have the feeling that I would have a greater chance of convincing the majority of Americans of that idea then I do of convincing them that depression is actually a disease.)

 

The demon is always there. Raking, clawing, rending. Constantly pulling you toward the jagged abyss. The rational self, clings to the walls, fighting. The rational self knows the demon lies. The rational self knows that death is not the answer. The rational self knows that you, the REAL you, doesn’t think that way, feel that way. But as the disease of depression worsens, the demon becomes stronger. Battering, cloaking, masking the rational self, sometimes manifesting in very real, physical pain sometimes eliminating all feeling at all. The demon continues to tear you away from your rational self. The rational voice becomes quieter and quieter…until it disappears all together.

 

I know. I have stared into the abyss. A terrifying, swirling blackness of pain and anguish. If you haven’t, you are so truly blessed because you cannot possibly understand that level of pain. Physical, mental, emotional. I wish that kind of pain upon no man. The kind of pain that eliminates hope and covers the world in a thick blanket of darkness. I have felt myself fall, only to be pulled back at the last second. This doesn’t make me somehow stronger, braver, better than those who do fall any more than the cancer survivor is somehow superior to the cancer victim. It just makes me lucky.

 

I haven’t won my battle, because my battle is never-ending. And I am keenly aware that the next fall could be my last. As for now, I am lucky that we have been having success with medication. Because after 16 years, I can finally admit that I need to continuously be on medication to control my condition. And that does not make me weak. I have a condition that requires medication to treat. The same as those with diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or any other chronic condition. And like any other condition, a failure in treatment can prove fatal. The only difference is the way my condition is perceived.

 

Many people with a major depressive disorder often become addicts. The reason is simple, we self-medicate (in part because a bottle of whiskey is more socially acceptable than an SSRI). We turn to drugs and alcohol because, for a brief moment they give us an enormous high or make us feel nothing (depending upon the manifestations of our depression and the drug of choice to combat them). Mr. Williams also suffered from addiction and was recently in rehab. Unfortunately, society has the same problem with addiction as it does with depression. It doesn’t understand it. The typical rehab facility treats all addiction as equal. It treats addiction as a disease, in and of itself (and sometimes it is). Or worse yet, a product of poor decision making. But not as the symptom of something more serious. Very rarely does rehab ever treat the actual ’cause’ of addiction. That’s the reason that rehab fails so very often.

 

Some medicate to feel. Something, anything. Sometimes the cloak of depression is so heavy that the body is constantly in a state of horrifying numbness. As though the entire world is cloaked in a fog. Sometimes this sensation is so great and persists for so long that the person will begin to cut themselves. The intent is not to harm themselves but simply to feel something. The fog is so pervasive that even pain is preferable to nothing. It is not that the person, necessarily, likes pain. But, more often than not, pain is the only thing that can break through the fog. It should be pretty easy to surmise that this type of behavior could very easily be taken too far. A cut too deep because it took that long to feel something. This is not a choice, this is the disease.

 

Sometimes, ironically, the pain is so great that feeling nothing is preferable, despite the inherent risks. Sometimes we cave the nothingness. We yearn for oblivion, even for only a short time, because the pain is just too great. You need that relief or the pain itself will kill you…or so you think. I have been there. I have been racked with pain so great that I prayed for it to end, not caring how that ending came.

 

The pain blinds you. Nothing else exists but the pain…and the pain is never-ending. You hear, but you don’t hear. You see, but you don’t see. You may be vaguely aware that other people are present, but feel entirely alone. Even if people are trying to help you, your perception is that they are there only to watch you suffer. To allow you to suffer. Had I been able to move (google: dystonic storm) I would have done ANYTHING to make it stop. I can easily see myself having taken the entire bottle of Valium had I, rather than my husband, been in control of my medication in that moment. But my goal would have been to stop the pain, not death. Death is rarely the goal of suicide, but more of a side effect of ending the pain.

 

I believe in God, believe in heaven (hold on, this is important). I believe that this life is temporary and the next life will be far, far better than anything I can imagine. Therefore, in my rational state I do not fear death. However, neither do I welcome it. In the words of Tyrion Lannister, “I like living.” A better world may await me but I truly love this one. I am nowhere near ready for it to end. (Note: Faith is great, it can be a light in the darkness of depression. But, it is also not a cure. It’s not a magic bullet. Faith can also be the enemy. The demon, (remember metaphorical) can use that against you just as it uses anything against you. Nothing and no one is immune to the disease.) I am happy and yet I am severely not happy. If that is confusing to you, then imagine living with it.

 

It’s like those old cartoons, with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. The angel tells the truth, is the moral compass, then the devil comes along and beats up the angel. So the only voice is the devil’s…and it lies. Yeah, it’s kind of like that. It is confusing, because sometimes reality fades so much that you are not sure which voice is which. It is annoying. It is frustrating. And in its worst moments can make you feel as though you are going ‘mad.’

 

And you are NOT supposed to talk about it, ever. After all, “It’s all in your head.” Not a single line, in all human language, infuriates me more. Most of the things I have to say about that are not suitable for print. This is ‘victim blaming’ in its highest form. No one ever tells the diabetic, “It’s all in your pancreas.” I don’t want this, no one wants this. It is not a choice we made. Depression is a cruel bitch that can either make you feel nothing or it can twist you up in so much pain you can’t think straight.

 

Like all disease we have good days and bad days. Sometimes we can even find something akin to remission. But the possibility of the next fall is always, always at the back of our minds. The demon waiting in the shadows. Make no mistake, Mr. Williams has not become some ‘hero’ to the depressed community. But rather, just another tragic victim. His death, perhaps, affects us so deeply because, for many of us, his comedy helped us through some of our depressive states. Laughter really is an awesome medication, a fantastic high. Perhaps it is the best medication because unlike the others it has no side effects. Comedy can be the thing that shakes awake the rational self. Allowing it to rise up, kick the demon in the ass, and say, “Screw you, that’s funny. I’m going to laugh.” Comedy can become a tether to reality. But, sadly, like all medications and treatments it doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes, even the laughter isn’t enough to beat back the darkness. Sometimes nothing is.

 

If you think that you are stronger than that, would be stronger than that, then you understand nothing. The human body can only withstand so much pain before it begins to shut down (we call this shock). Likewise, so too, does the human mind have its breaking point. No one, anywhere is immune to that. You can break, and if put under the right pressures for long enough, you will break. Depression doesn’t see race, culture, gender, religion, socio-economic background. It exists across every culture. So too, does cancer. Every year billions are spent on cancer research, looking for a cure, a cause, a better treatment. We have awareness ribbons, months, campaigns, runs, walks, fundraisers. Yet, we have none of these things for depression. Even though it is just as pervasive, just as deadly. But, to this day, mental illness, for some illogical reason, is something that we still can’t talk about. Well, we are talking now.

 

I do not presume to know what Mr. Williams was thinking at the time of his death. But I do know that within him raged a battle of epic literary proportions. Coming back from a fall is like climbing out of a deep dark hole. It’s exhausting. It hurts. You desperately cling to the walls, dodging the things that would knock you back down. Pushing yourself ever higher, begging your body to hold out. Then, your arms give way. You don’t want to let go, but you just can’t hang on anymore. You fall. Sometimes, something catches you. And sometimes you slip through its grasp. Sometimes, the demon wins. And it is always, always tragic. But it is never a choice. It is a deadly symptom of a very fierce battle raging quietly within.

 

 

“There is nothing selfish about suicide. What is selfish is those of us who are left behind thinking that our loved one, who experienced such debilitating pain, somehow owed it to US to live.”—comment on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey, SCOTUS, Thanks For Nothing

The Hobby Lobby ruling is a slap in the face to all human beings, especially those who proclaim to be a part of a religion. The reason why is this: SCOUTS just gave a non-living entity the same rights and privileges afforded to me and all other human beings BY GOD. God did not give these rights to tigers, rocks, treesor businesses but solely to HUMANS. By giving these non-living legal entities the same rights and privileges afforded to humans SCOUTS has effectively demeaned the entire human race. We, especially those of us of faith, should be appalled and offended by this ruling. Faith, and thus the exercise of religion, is a gift given to us by God… it is not something that can be granted by a court of man. For those who would argue towards the owners religious freedomthis is not about that, they are free to exercise their religion as they see fit. This is about the corporation of Hobby Lobby. The owners made the CHOICE to incorporate their business making it a SEPARATE entity from themselves. This was never about the owners paying for anything, but for the separate legal non-living entity of the corporation complying with legislation. What SCOTUS has done is given rights to a non-living entity above the rights of actual human beings. SCOTUS has taken the gifts, given solely to the human race, by God, to a non-living entity created solely by man. Congratulations, I hope you are happy.

Wild West

So, a story has been floating around the internet for a few days now. I have seen a few posts on my wall from some of my conservative friends. I have pretty much ignored said posts because they didn’t peak my interest. Until today. A friend posted a link from the LA Times and a phrase caught my attention. “Range War.” Now, that’s something you don’t see every day. At least, not in the 21st Century. Naturally, my interest was piqued and I followed the link to discover this little nugget.
Here’s the lowdown. A Nevada cattle rancher named, Cliven Bundy, disagreed with a 1993 provision from the Bureau of Land Management and promptly stopped paying his grazing fees. I guess in ’93 someone, somewhere became concerned about some desert tortoise and thus the number of cattle Mr. Bundy was allowed to let graze on ‘Federal Land’ was reduced. For the past 20 years Mr. Bundy and the BLM have been battling it out in court. Well, last year, a federal court ordered Mr. Bundy to remove the cattle from the land and gave him 45 days to comply. Nearly a year later, Mr. Bundy had not complied with the court order and so the BLM came to confiscate the cattle (nearly 900 head) that were illegally grazing on federal land.
So, those are the facts. The information that is the same regardless of whether or not you get your info from the LA Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and The Blaze. The facts without bias. When looked at it that way it shouldn’t be a big dealexcept Mr. Bundy is crazy. His argument is that since his ancestors worked the land before Nevada was a state and before the BLM existed, he has ‘pre-emptive rights’ to said land use. “My ancestors created the rights to that land one hundred and some odd years ago,” Bailey Logue (Bundy’s daughter) said. “And we’re not giving them up.” (LA Times) I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the Paiute may have something to say about that. Not to mention, I have never heard of an individual ‘creating’ rights. Never in my life have I seen such a blatant example of ‘white privilege’ being displayed. My family has worked (key word, worked not owned) the land for 140 years, but screw the people we took the land from in the first place. Not to mention, Mr. Bundy’s blatant confusion over how federal law works.
In his own words, “”I’ve got to protect my property,” he told The Times last year. ”If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws.” (LA Times) I am not sure Mr. Bundy realizes how the law works. In his view, it is a states’ rights issue. He said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he insists belongs to Nevada. (Fox News) Mr. Bundy’s ignorance and delusions are apparent in his own words.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he said, explaining that among them is the right to forage.
“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy, who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?” (The Blaze)
And then this one:
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” he said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”
“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added. (The Blaze)
Except there is no such thing as pre-emptive rights. Except it is federal land, not state land, regardless of how Mr. Bundy views it. “I know without doubt that our Constitution didn’t provide for anything like the federal government owning this land… (Fox59). The federal government does have a constitutional right to land (Article Four: Clause Two) that has been repeatedly held up in court. According to Mr. Bundy because his family has been here since before the BLM existed, he does not have to abide by the BLM’s regulations.
It doesn’t work that way. Having had my family here since the 1600’s does not give me any pre-emptive rights against the federal government. I cannot just decide which rules I will or will not follow simply because my family has been here a long time. If that were the case, my sleepy little Iowa town should belong to the Sioux. I have been here longer. My rights are before the BLM even existed. (Fox59) Mr. Bundy is clearly delusional. And oh, how I wish, it ended there.

For years, Bundy has insisted that his cattle aren’t going anywhere. He acknowledges that he keeps firearms at his ranch, 90 minutes north of Las Vegas, and has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to defend his animals from seizure. (LA Times)

Mr. Bundy threatened to use force against any BLM agents that were removing his property (from federal land). Mr. Bundy’s own words indicate that he would not follow the ’98 court order that prevents him from interfering with the removal of the cattle. So, the BLM came prepared with armed forces. They overreacted a bit and brought way too much manpower to remove a few hundred head of cattle.
Now, there is a huge uproar amongst some conservative and militia groups. Hundreds of people flocked to this area to protest the BLM’s actions. The spin, overreach of federal power. Now, I am not a paranoid conservative, therefore I cannot see how this is federal over reach. If anything, I can’t believe it has taken 20 years for them to take action.
In short, a guy refused to abide by federal regulations and refused to pay for his cattle grazing upon federal land. He fought for his right to not pay and not abide by these regulations for 20 years and lost. Now, he is paying the consequence. It should be a non-issue, barely a blip on the news radar. Except that’s not how it’s being played out.
Somehow, this has been twisted into an individual’s rights issue. A states’ rights over federal rights issue. And for whatever reason I cannot understand, a gun rights issue. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the usual blowhard rhetoric. But it has become much, much larger than that. And much more dangerous. At this moment, militia groups from Nevada, Arizona, Utah and other states across the nation, have decided to congregate near this area just north of Vegas. Armed groups protesting the right of the BLM to enforce its regulations.
Already, there has been an incident between protesters and the BLM, in which Tasers have been used. Now, with hundreds of armed militiamen flooding the area I can only see this going one way. And it is not good.