Meanwhile, the President of the United States just threatened to “totally destroy” an entire nation and in literally the next breath called the ruler of that nation a playground nickname. Welcome to Presidency by a five-year-old.. or a madman.
Even if comments of this sort can be discounted as unprofessional and insensitive but not aimed at incitement, the silence of many other Republicans shows a disturbing unwillingness to condemn political violence from persons associated with the party’s electoral base. After the Trump administration’s difficultly in denouncing Nazism and white supremacy, one must wonder whether Mr. Trump and his supporters simply do not understand the consequences advocating or failing to condemn violence, or if they simply do not care because it would work in their favor [Frank O. Bowman, “A Comment on Roger Stone’s Predictions (or Are They Threats?) of Violence,” Impeachable Offenses, 2017.09.20].
Bubbling under the surface of many Trumpist backers’ words seems to be a hair-trigger desire to start throwing punches. We must watch closely any political speakers who fan that simmering desire for violence and promote all the more vigorously the right of citizens to speak, to protest, and to pursue remedies to injustice through due process of law.
Rep. Lynne DiSanto was supposed to speak next Wednesday at the second annual “Power of Purple,” an event hosted by Working Against Violence, Inc., at the Dahl Fine Art Center to “bring community support, awareness, and education on the topic of domestic violence.”
We are aware of the posting by Representative Lynne DiSanto and are meeting as a staff tomorrow to discuss the situation and seek another speaker. WAVI doesn’t condone violence of any kind. Thank you for your comments and concerns [Working Against Violence, Inc., Facebook post, 2017.09.19].
A Republican legislator is being held accountable for her inappropriate statements. How remarkable!
A racist kook kills and injures fellow citizens with his car, and Rep. Lynne DiSanto jokes that “we can all support” that movement. One may reasonably contend that DiSanto’s statement was inappropriate. DiSanto seems to think so: she has removed the post instead of standing by it. Her majority leader Rep. Lee Qualm (R-21/Platte) also thinks the post was inappropriate:
“Obviously I think she wishes she had not put it out there, but she was quick to pull it down and it seems like one of those things you do without putting much though into it.”
Perhaps Qualm represents on fading thread of conscience and responsible use of words in the party of DiSanto, Tapio, and Trump.
Faintly, Faintly Related: Back during Session, Rep. DiSanto held out against Senate Bill 176, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s watered-down effort to quash public protest. Rep. DiSanto ultimately rolled over for the Governor on the final vote on the conference committee version of the bill.
Update 21:25 CDT: Lynne DiSanto (listed there under her hyphenated Hix-DiSanto nom de sales) had a profile page on the Keller Williams website as one of their realtors… or at least Google Cache says she did on September 10:
Google Cache also shares DiSanto’s realtor Facebook page, which is also inaccessible tonight.
The removal DiSanto’s realtor web pages sparks me to revisit another comment Majority leader Qualm made to Ferguson:
DiSanto is set to again serve as majority whip during the 2018 legislative session unless she opts to step down from the elected position, said Republican House Majority Leader Lee Qualm [Ferguson, reprinted now in USA Today, 2017.09.19 20:17 EDT].
That the Majority Leader even mentions the possibility that his whip might opt to step down suggests Qualm may already be thinking of joining Keller Williams in distancing his organization from DiSanto’s thoughtless online comment.
Update 21:28 CDT: DiSanto gives Seth Tupper the classic “I’m sorry if you were offended” non-apology:
“I am sorry if people took offense to it and perceived my message in any way insinuating support or condoning people being hit by cars,” DiSanto said. “I perceived it differently. I perceived it as encouraging people to stay out of the street” [Seth Tupper, “Rep. DiSanto Slammed for Facebook Post About Protesters,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.09.19].
Yet even Rep. DiSanto acknowledges the context that makes her statement inappropriate:
DiSanto said she failed to consider examples of violence against protesters when she shared her Facebook post.
“That was a lack of judgment on my part to not take that into consideration, the highly charged political environment that we’re in,” she said [Tupper, 2017.09.19].
Think before you post—that shouldn’t be a hard rule to follow… especially for an individual elected to vote on the laws that govern our fair state.
When do we take up arms against an oppressor? Such is the troubling question our Founding Fathers answered with muskets in April 1775 and in the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. Such is the troubling question David Newquist takes up in his latest blog post, which discusses ignorant and anti-intellectual Trumpism in the historical context of the Holocaust and Black Lives Matter.
It’s not hard to figure out what the narrative is here. A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The “only way” to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA — an organization that exists solely to help people buy guns [Zack Beauchamp, “This Chilling NRA Ad Calls on Its Members to Save America by Fighting Liberals,” Vox, 2017.06.29].
Newquist says such absolutist rhetoric leaves him wondering we should respond by leaving America, boycotting certain businesses, or resorting to violence:
People in America of differing politics, creeds, and ethnic groups don’t like each other very much. Their dislike is sparked by defamations in the social media and confirmed by reports of behavior of fellow humans in the traditional press. Violence by mass shooters, shootings of unarmed people by the police, shootings of the police by ambush, and menacing insults spewed out by the president all contribute to a sense that people have to make a decision. And that decision is whether it is time to walk away from America, make economic decisions on the basis of politics, or stand their ground and resist with violence. Or choose all three, so that history will not need to ask why they didn’t resist [David Newquist, “Voting with Feet, Billfolds, and Guns,” Northern Valley Beacon, 2017.07.05].
Is any private business activity worth attacking opponents of one’s work with trucks, dogs, and mace? Dakota Access thinks its pipeline is worth doing physical harm to human beings:
Construction workers jumped into their trucks, and Frejo says they started to use the vehicles like weapons, going through the crowd erratically and coming very close to hitting some.
“Within minutes, a lot more trucks showed up,” Yellow Bird said. “And then the dogs came.”
Approximately eight dog handlers, hired by Dakota Access, led the barking and snarling dogs right up to the front line.
“The women joined arms, and we started saying ‘Water is life!’ A dog came up and bit my leg, and right after that a man came up to us and maced the whole front line,” Young Bear said.
Young Bear and at least five others suffered injuries from dog bites, and approximately 30 others suffered temporary blindness after receiving a chemical spray to the face and eyes. A horse owned by a Native American water defender also suffered bite wounds from the dogs.
“They let one dog off his leash and ran loose into the crowd,” Frejo said. “That’s when people started protecting themselves against the dog. The guy that let his dog go came into the crowd to retrieve him and started swinging on everybody. He hit some young boys, and they defended themselves” [Sarah Sunshine Manning, “‘And Then the Dogs Came’: Dakota Access Gets Violent, Destroys Graves, Sacred Sites,” Indian County Today, 2016.09.04].
Yes, protestors crossed the fence. Call it trespassing. Is violence by a corporation a proportional and proper response? Is shipping oil worth drawing blood?
Update 09:51 CDT: Tim Mentz explains that Dakota Access carried out this violence against protestors on land owned by one David Meyer. Dakota Access holds an easement, but does not own the land itself. Mentz, a cultural resource expert, explains that the site Dakota Access bulldozed is a rare tribal archaeological treasure with stone rings, some now disrupted by Saturday’s dig.
Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick… (crowd booing) If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know [Donald Trump, speech as transcribed by Time, Wilmington, NC, 2016.08.09].
To deflect charges that Trump was implying that Second Amendment supporters could save the country from liberal judges by shooting Hillary Clinton, supporters scrambled for Trump’s Hannity-enabled assertion that “there can be no other interpretation” besides his post-speech assertion that he was talking about NRA voting power rather than firepower.
In this case, the Clinton interpretation is actually simpler and more faithful to the text than the Trump/NRA interpretation. Review the six words Trump used to describe the action he had in mind:
Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know….
He didn’t actually say the action. If he’s thinking of getting out the vote, not saying that action is silly. Why would he not call voters to the action of voting? Why would he hold back and only hint as faintly as possible at the noble action he had in mind, the most important and moral action that everyone in the room can take to prevent the bad outcome he just described? A mere moment’s review of the speech before taking the stage would have suggested a far less shruggy call to action: “…nothing you can do—but you Second Amendment people can do something this year by getting out to vote and making sure Hillary Clinton never picks a judge!”
Instead of making that clear call to action, Trump refers obliquely to the action he has in mind. Why else would he not mention that action explicitly other than that he was thinking of a shameful, violent action? An unsaid recommendation is more likely a suggestion to do a bad thing for which the speaker doesn’t want to be held responsible than a good action that the speaker could easily use to rouse his crowd and sound like a leader.
Moving beyond this brief passage and reading Trump’s words in context reveals (a) a terrible, disjointed, stream-of-consciousness jumble of undigested conservative talking points punctuated with Trump’s characteristic “Believe Me” belches and (b) nothing that supports his post-speech blank-filling. Trump’s only mentions of the National Rifle Association in his Wilmington speech were to mention the NRA’s endorsement of his candidacy, his and his son’s membership in the NRA, and this nonsense passage:
If you – we can add I think the National Rifle Association, we can add the Second Amendment to the Justices – they almost go – in a certain way, hand in hand. Now the Justices are going to do things that are so important and we have such great Justices, you saw my list of 11 that have been vetted and respected [Trump, 2016.08.09].
When Trump spoke of the Second Amendment and guns elsewhere in his speech, he said more use of firearms could stop atrocities being plotted and committed by some unnamed “them”:
Our military cannot be beaten. But you know what could happen? When we don’t know where they are, where they’re coming, you’ve them all over the place.
And folks, it’s some. You don’t need many; you don’t need many. One person in Orlando. Two people — look at in France, 130. Now, they have the strictest gun laws anywhere in the world, France, Paris. One hundred and thirty people killed, 130.
And I’ve said 100 times, if this man or if this woman, or if that woman or man had a gun in Paris or in San Bernardino and the bullets were flying in the other direction, would have been a whole different story, folks.
Would have been a whole different.
For those — for those foolish people that say Second Amendment, would have been a whole different — and I’d go a step further. If these people, bad people, bad, sick, sick, sick people.
If these people knew there were guns in the good guys hands, right, they probably wouldn’t have gone in in the first place, all right? All right? Gun free — what do you think of these gun- free zones?
Do you know what a gun-free zone is? That’s like — they study where the gun-free zones — if they would have known you had guns, if they would have known that they were going to be shot at from the other side, it would have been a whole different story. Maybe it wouldn’t have even happened in the first place.
That passage urging violent action with guns preceded the ominous “Second Amendment people” comment. A minute later, Trump made a comment about “bad guys burst[ing] into your house,” adding to the violent imagery of the speech. Trump’s references to the Second Amendment had no discernible relation to getting out the vote and everything to do with shooting guns. Viewed in context of the speech in its entirety, Trump’s comment looks even more like a call to violence.
While boycott talk bubbles (that’s been a popular post today), I have a practical question about House Bill 1107, Rep. Rev. Scott Craig’s “religious freedom” bill: just what sort of “religious freedom” is it protecting?
Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the state may not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that:
Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage; or
The terms male or man and female or woman refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determined by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth [emphasis mine; House Bill 1107, Section 2, as passed by South Dakota House, 2016.02.08].
South Dakotans’ freedom to believe and speak what we wish about sexual matters (and notice that HB 1107 deals exclusively with sex and not with any other important issues on which one might express one’s religious or moral convictions, like a commitment to social justice or nonviolence) is already fully protected by the First Amendment. HB 1107 adds neither jot nor tittle to our effective freedom of conscience and speech.
But acts in accordance with… what does that phrase do? What “acts” is HB 1107 talking about?
Suppose one of Rep. Rev. Craig’s parishioners has a moral conviction that homosexuality is a sin. Add Section 2(1) and Section 2(2), and HB 1107 protects acts in accordance with that conviction. Does HB 1107 allow the faithful anti-Sodomite to punch a homosexual in the mouth to punish him for his sin?
Section 3 says the state can’t apply a fine or penalty against a person acting in accordance with a moral conviction about sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Section 5 says “A person may assert a violation of this Act as an action or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding…” and “any judicial proceeding” would seem to include the arraignment hearing a person would face when the police haul her or him to court for assault against a homosexual.
Rep. Rev. Craig and a majority of the House can’t intend to exempt literal gay-bashers from prosecution for violent crimes against homosexuals. Rep. Rev. Craig just wants to keep his godly baker friends from having to whip up wedding cakes for Adam and Steve.
But whatever Rep. Rev. Craig’s intentions, the text of his bill appears to say that if you beat the crap out of a homosexual, and you deliver that beating not because you’re mad or drunk or stupid but because you believe that homosexuality is a sin and that you have been called by God to beat the gay out of that poor sinner, the state cannot fine or penalize you.
Does freedom of religion include the right to beat up gays and lesbians? Nobody would write a law like that… would he?
Those sound like questions for Chairman and former law enforcement officer Craig Tieszen, Vice-Chair David Novstrup, former judge Arthur Rusch, and the other members of Senate Judiciary, who are the next body to get their hands on House Bill 1107.
Legislator-turned-University of Aberdeen (Scotland!) student Pastor Steve Hickey responded to those shootings with two vexing blog posts. After Paris, Pastor Hickey said bombing the Islamic State is a bad idea:
The President of France immediately announced France will respond mercilessly. Haven’t we learned since 9/11 this (a merciless response) isn’t working? We’ve mortgaged our future spending trillions on the sword. Selectively fiscal conservatives still think additional trillions in defence spending and ongoing war will make us safer and depopulate the world of bad guys. It has done the opposite. Maybe it’s time we push the leaders espousing those failed solutions aside. Where is the radical leadership of those who hold to the values of Jesus? Is it really nutso to say if they bomb our children we will only work harder to feed their refugees until they can be screened and relocated? There is a demonic spirit in radical Islam. You don’t disarm a demonic spirit with more bloodshed. That feeds it. You dislodge a demonic spirit by moving in the opposite spirit. My pushback here is fuelled by my concern that in Christian circles in America the same spirit of violence in radical Islam is also operating increasingly in us [Steve Hickey, “Holy Leaders Needed for This Holy War,” Gate Post, 2015.11.14].
We should be hospitable to the stranger, but it’s not that simple. We need to pray for those responsible in government to identify and neutralise threats and not just write them off as lousy Christians. When the Christian left scolds us for being full of fear and xenophobic I only wish it were that simple. It sounds a bit like the echoes of the days when the religious leaders cried Peace, Peace when there really was no peace. Curious that passage (Ezekiel 13:10) mentions building a flimsy wall.
We should love Muslims. We should respond to refugees right now. Foreign aid is sorely needed. Resettlement issues for them are complex. European nations are being destabilised.
Even before Trump went full Hitler and advocated closing our borders to all Muslims, Hickey brilliantly turned the Nazi historical lesson to say that the real facilitators of fascism are the church leaders who fail to speak up against profitter-Left-refugee-lovers and gun control:
To invoke Godwin’s Law, no doubt in the 1930s the average churchgoer in Germany had very little sense of what was growing up in their midst. Pastors who did see a threat and said something about it were marginalised and later rounded up and silenced. Others feared reprisal on themselves and said nothing. Is it fear to have fresh discussions about how the Nazi’s used gun control? [Hickey, 2015.12.07]
Perhaps Pastor Hickey has absorbed a University of Aberdeen theology too subtle for this city of Aberdeen secularist to grasp. But I can’t make sense of these two posts.
We define demons differently, but I’m with Hickey when he says bloodshed only feeds the beasts who would destroy East and West to satisfy their lust for apocalypse. We must appeal to the Muslim terrorists’ recruiting pool with something other than the violence, fear, and bigotry that the Islamic State sows.
Yet I also recognize that when we are faced with the Muslims who have already turned terrorist, who are already imprisoning Raqqa and Mosul, killing journalists and Yazidis, and exhorting others to mayhem, virtuous discourse is not possible. Civilized nations are going to need a bullet or two to solve the immediate problem of putting certain thugs out of business. Sure, the bullets the President and I say we need to use will feed the radicals who survive and spawn new ones, but we lose less by wiping out terrorist strongholds and bracing for the backlash than by letting those strongholds get stronger.
That said, we can’t extrapolate the judicious use of military force against well-defined targets into a complete arming and lockdown of America. Consider that whitewashed wall Ezekiel decries. Read the full chapter: Ezekiel isn’t saying build better walls. He’s saying watch out for false prophets who tell you, put up a wall and everything will be fine. We can build a wall, hand everyone on this side a gun, and paint a sign on the other side saying No Muslims, and Ezekiel’s God says, “In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord.” The false prophets build walls, and they don’t fare too well.
There is such a thing as prudent lawmaking to prevent theocrats from undermining liberty. We have that (though maybe not in Mitchell) when we respect the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.
But we can’t slap the word prudence onto our media- and candidate-hyped fears and sacrifice the basic principles that make us different from the Muslim terrorists. We want to build a free and prospering nation, not just a stopover training camp for those who would hasten Armageddon. We believe that believers in all gods and believers in no gods can be part of this nation and can all more surely and effectively live their beliefs under our constitutional political regime than they can under any other system. We will admit that sometimes we have to kill some bad guys, but unlike ISIS, we will not declare everyone outside our borders and our temples bad guys who deserve to die.
I don’t like any religion that can be read to justify violence or exclusion. Inimical as the Islamic State terrorists are to the pluralistic democracy on which my liberty depends, I cannot join Pastor Hickey in declaring Muslims invaders. I cannot advocate going any further than we already do in blocking refugees from the safety of our shores. I will not advocate higher walls.
To our shame as a fallen, fallible species, we must occasionally resort to violence to put down the rabid killers among us. But here in America, it is less prudent to cling to our guns and more prudent to cling to our principles. Guns kill the recruiters; principles dry up the recruiting.
The threat, rumored to be something about someone killing somebody this week, elicited this contradiction in terms from Aberdeen Central principal Dr. Jason Uttermark in a call to parents before school Tuesday:
“CHS administration and the Aberdeen Police Department are aware of and have been investigating an unsubstantiated threat,” the message from Uttermark began. “The threat itself was a jotting in the girls’ bathroom and was very vague in nature.
The Aberdeen Police Department used the same language in a Facebook post: “…we were aware of a threat, that although lacking in credibility, was being taken seriously.”
Let’s use words with meaning: Taking a threat seriously deems it credible. We cannot logically use the two phrases the principal and the police are using in the same sentence. Splicing them together with although is like Donald Trump saying, Although I have nothing against Hispanics, they should keep their anchor babies in Guatemala. (Dana Ferguson heard Trump talk “anchor babies” in Sioux City last night.)
No, Brandon, sometimes we do know. Rumors are by definition not true statements. They are idle talk, upon which we shouldn’t base blog posts or any other significant action. You’re more likely to bend your fender on Melgaard or get cancer from chicken nuggets than suffer whatever it is some rumor tells you might happen. Pack a turkey sandwich and get to class.
If this foolishness keeps up, we might as well go to Internet classes and homeschool for everyone: no more snow days, no more lockdown drills, and your homework is due tomorrow no matter what. And kids who scrawl mean messages about their little brothers on the bathroom mirror will have to deal with their parents, not a town-wide rumor-fest.