Monday, June 18, 2018

Handshakes are like Flag Salutes

  Ivan sat down the morning paper, a stern feeling crossing through him as the latest news on the separation of immigrant children from their parents settled in is mind. He looked out window, spotting his American flag waving in the wind.
  He turned on his computer, called up YouTube, and searched for the National Anthem. Turning it up as loud as he could, he marched outside in front of his flag.
  And, took a knee.
  When his neighbors, the Heidleheisters, came walking by, spotting what was happening, he yelled out, jestfully, "I couldn't find an NFL game. Not many going on this time of day in our neighborhood, are there?"
  Todd Manwaring gave him a quizzled look.
  "I'm glad you came by," Ivan said. "Can I explain what I'm thinking?"
   "Ivan, I've never known you to be anything but patriotic," Todd said. "Do tell us what is going on."
   Ivan stood up. The National Anthem was ending. He walked down the sidewalk and reached his hand out to shake it with the Heidleheisters' hands.
   Todd started to put his hand out, to take the handshake, but then quickly pulled it back. "Sorry, Ivan, but I don't think I want to shake your hand right now -- not right after what I've seen. It would be kind of like condoning what you've just done."
   Ivan smiled. He moved his hand over toward Melanie Heidleheister. She shook her head as if to say, No. "Ivan, I'm not going to shake your hand, either," she said. "No, I'd feel like I was congratulating you for what you've just done, if I were to shake your hand. I know it's kind of disrespectful not to shake your hand, but . . ."
  Ivan's soft smile hadn't faded from his face. "I feel the same way," he said. "I just listened to the news. I heard more about the children being taken from their parents down there on the border."
  He paused, his smile disappearing to a frown. "I guess I feel that with what's happening with these children, no, I don't want to be supportive."
  He paused again, sighing. "Todd and Mel," he said, addressing them, "I don't salute that flag for any other reason than for what it stands for. It stands for goodness, it represents goodness, so I salute it. But, then comes a day like today, and I open my newspaper and read how we aren't being such a wonderful nation. Tearing kids from their parents is about as terrible a thing as we have ever done. I won't support it. I don't want to salute a nation when it is being about this."
   He looked down at the ground. "I guess I understand now how those NFL players feel. They are ashamed of the way we the police are treating the blacks. They're a lot like the two of you. You look at me, and disapprove of my behavior, and say you aren't going to shake my hand. They look at what America has done, and are the same -- they don't want to congratulate such behavior, and they don't don't want to condone it."
   "I no longer object to their taking a knee. I feel the same way about children being separated as they do about blacks being killed. I understand them, now."
   Todd and Melanie looked back at him across the fence gate. Todd smiled. Melanie smiled. "We understand you, now," one of them said. "We respect you even more than we did before." Todd and Melanie extended their hands, offering handshakes that moments before they had refused to give.

  Ivan put away his iPhone,

In the Eyes of Society, He is a Patriot

   A burglar slips into a home 3 a.m. in the morning. The homeowner hears a noise, grabs a gun, and goes to investigate. He spots the burglar in the living room, where he is leaning over to pick up a television. The homeowner fires a round of bullets into his back and head, and the invader drops dead to the floor.
   Justified homicide?
   The next day, the story in the newspaper gives no details, only saying the home was invaded and the home invader was shot and killed. The comments at the bottom of the online news story all say that if you break into a home in the middle of the night, you need to understand there are consequences.
    With some of the commenters, I don't think it would make a difference if the news accounts did say the burglar had his back to the homeowner. You don't enter someones home in the middle of the night, period. If you do, you've got to understand that getting shot and killed could be the penalty.
   In the eyes of the world, the homeowner is a hero. He was protecting his wife and his children. In the eyes of society, he is a patriot, just exercising his Second Amendment rights.
   How have we come to this point, that we view this as justice? How have we become so carried away with gun rights that things that are clearly terribly wrong are accepted as right and just? -- Even by wonderful and good and church-going people?
   Wrong is wrong, regardless what the world might say. The Ten Commandments still have value, and should carry more weight than do gun rights.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Murder has no Better Friend than the Castle Law

   The law being what it is, the investigation into the shooting of Makayla Yeaman should be over. Well, if you want to determine if the killing was morally justified, continue to investigate. But, if you just want to know if it was legally justified, the law says it was.
  Morally, you should not kill another person unless it is necessary to do so. If you go by the law, however, death can be administered to anyone who breaks into your home unlawfully and while trying to keep you from knowing they are entering.
  Utah's Castle Law defines when it will be said that someones life is in jeopardy. Rather than requiring that a life actually be in jeopardy, the law says it will be presumed the shooter has reason to fear for their life or fear they will suffer serious bodily injury,"if the entry or attempted entry is unlawful and is made . . . surreptitiously or by stealth."
   Surreptitiously? Look it up. It means, in a way that avoids attracting attention. Stealth? That's an action taken cautiously, secretively, and in hopes of not being noticed. Those are not good ways to go about entering someones home, but do we kill all who enter in such a manner?
  So, the Castle Law is a wide-open window for murder. You can kill anyone who enters unlawfully and while trying to keep it a secret they are coming in. Anyone! Death to all who enter here! Or, at least, death to all who sneak in without a welcome.
   Laws against trespassing are a good idea, but should we kill everyone who violates them? If we're talking trespass of a home, and the homeowner doesn't know you are coming, clearly -- going by the law and by what we teach each other -- we should kill them dead. At least, the law gives us permission to do so.
   It seems obvious that when Makayla Yeaman entered the home in West Jordan, she snuck in. So, lacking legal right to be there, that's the end of it. Case closed. Her death was justified in the eyes of the law.
   It is right that we allow a person to protect themselves and their families, even if it means taking the life of another person. It is wonderful to live in a country that allows us to defend ourselves in such a way. But, we were allowed to protect ourselves this way well before the Castle Law came about.
   Designing men? Did they craft our Castle Law? I certainly wonder at what they were aiming to achieve.
   I called the other day to ask for a police report on what happened in the Makayla Yeaman case. I was told the investigation was still being conducted and, therefore, no information was available. So, it appears there is, indeed, an investigation still going on. Now, while I think that if our laws were written honorably, they would call for an investigation into every such killing, the way they are written leaves no reason to investigate these killings that happen in home invasions.
   Why investigate? By law, the homeowner is always right and justified and the invader is always worthy of death. Murder has no better friend than the Castle Law.

(Note: Blog tweaked 6/17/18)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Down came the Wall, and the Man with the Crown

  Trumpty Dumpty built a great wall
Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall
  All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Trumpty together again

  The wall that he built, he sat on like a throne
He told all the people to stay on land of their own
  But so many there were, they knocked the wall down
Down came the wall and the man with the crown

   I wrote this poem about a year and a half ago, wondering if the immigration issue would bring Trump down. Now, with so much criticism of his separating families, I think of this poem again. 
   I wonder if the plight of the immigrant hasn't become more popular since Trump took office, if his policies haven't brought more sympathy to the immigrant.

(Note: The comments beneath the poem were added 6/16/18)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kings are also Given the Right to Kill

   If a man's home is his castle, it is the gun that makes it so -- at least, to some degree. Well, let's just say that if a man's home is his castle, the gun is the enforcer. We even have a law we refer to as a castle law, which makes it lawful to use deadly force in defense of a habitation.
   How appropriate of a name, Castle Law. Kings live in castles and kings also have the right (well, they take the right) to kill anyone who enters their domain, no questions asked. How interesting, then, that the Castle Law gives homeowners the right to kill those who enter their domain, and face limited questioning for what they have done.
   The Castle Law it is, then, but we could call it the King's Law, just as well. If a king kills someone, he isn't subject to second-guessing from the people. No one questions his right to kill. He's the king. There will be no arrest and there will be no trial.
   Even so, it is with the home owner, thanks to the Castle Law. If he works it right, when killing someone, there will be no arrest and there will be no trial. There might not even be much of an investigation.
  If the invader is killed, and there is no evidence of foul play and no one left alive to witness against him, then the homeowner's word is accepted as the rule of law and as the judgment on what happened.  The homeowner is king of the home, and of the castle, and judgment is settled by the decree of the king. I would go so far as to wonder, when we set these laws up, whether we were thinking we should, indeed, give the homeowner such power, and that is why we named them castle laws?
  As long as the homeowner is in position to say the use of lethal force was necessary, who can question him? Murder becomes a right. Yes, most of the killings might be truly justified and in self defense, and done in an upright and honorable way, but the process we have created makes it possible for some not to be so. It makes it possible for legalized murders to slip in. As our law spells it out, anyone who enters the home secretly or by stealth can legally be shot and killed as long as the homeowner can say he had reason to believe killing them was necessary to stop them.
   Murder by decree, or justified by the king's decree, then. Or can we even call it murder? I don't know that in all the stories I've heard of kings saying, "Off with your head," if I've ever heard it suggested it was a murder. Rather, it was his right. Have we created the possibility of the same scenario with our castle laws?
  The other person might have been backing up with his hands up, but if the homeowner kills him and insists it was his own life that was being threatened, no one will ever know. The homeowner will get away with it. He will get away with murder.
   For those who care to read it, here's what the law (Utah Code 76-2-405) says:

(1)A person is justified in using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other's unlawful entry into or attack upon his habitation; however, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if:
(a)the entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner, surreptitiously, or by stealth, and he reasonably believes that the entry is attempted or made for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person, dwelling, or being in the habitation and he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent the assault or offer of personal violence; or

(b)he reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony in the habitation and that the force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony.

(2)The person using force or deadly force in defense of habitation is presumed for the purpose of both civil and criminal cases to have acted reasonably and had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury if the entry or attempted entry is unlawful and is made or attempted by use of force, or in a violent and tumultuous manner, or surreptitiously or by stealth, or for the purpose of committing a felony.

(Note: Parts of the blog were rewritten 6/15/18 in hopes of giving it a little more focus.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Whether its 1925 or 2018, Lives are more Important than Property

   If you are going to consider the roll of guns in today's society, you might want to reflect on how Warren Smith Potter handled his in -- oh, I don't know -- 1925 or so.
   Warren Smith Potter -- I heard this story from his great-grandson. Potter laid out salt licks for the deer. Now, when hunters learned he had a lot of deer on his land, of course they wanted to do their hunting there. Potter wasn't much of a gunman, but he did have a shotgun. So, he pulled it out, suggesting to the deer hunters that they best not cross onto his property.
   Here's the thing. What if Potter had shot them? Of course, they -- having their hunting rifles with them -- might have won in a shootout.
   But, what if Potter had shot them?
   Does keeping someone off your land justify putting a hole in them? Thou shalt not kill is one of the Ten Commandments. It's a pretty big deal. The idea is, you never kill unless you have to. So, does keeping others off your land justify your taking their lives?
   Even if you are so kind-hearted, that you're just trying to save a few deer? 
   Saving the deer makes a little better of an argument. Shooting someone just to keep them off your property holds little value with me. What have you won and lost? Someone loses their life and you become a killer in exchange for the pride of keeping them off space that belongs to you.
    So, what if Potter had shot the hunters?
   I think of my own father. He, like Potter, wasn't much of a gunman, but he had a gun. We lived on some of the best pheasant hunting land in all the country, I would guess. But, Dad never reached for his rifle to go confront the hunters.
   Someones crossing onto your property isn't a good thing. But, is it such a harm that we should shoot anyone who does venture onto our property uninvited?
    Whether it is 1925 or 2018, I say, No.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why aren't Police Releasing more Information?

   My mind shoots back years, to when I was discussing a home invasion shooting with a gun advocate, and he suggested the homeowner shouldn't even be questioned by police, as he had been traumatized enough.
   I think he was serious. And, judging from some of the things said by online commentors to a Deseret News story on the shooting death of Makayla Yeaman, I wonder if some them might feel the same way.
   "Why is there even a follow-up story? Second-guessing gun use," says a commentor identified as Say No to BO.
   "She tried to burglarize the wrong home. Case closed," says someone calling himself (or herself) Mainly Me.
  My thoughts go the other way. Why is it that we are days past the event and police still haven't released some of the basics -- some of which  they surely knew as quickly as they interviewed the homeowner? What did the invader do to threaten the homeowner? Did she pull the knife, or make threatening motions with it? Did she make any verbal threats? How close to the shooter was she? Did the homeowner even know she had a knife? How many rounds were fired? Where did the bullets hit? How long after the shooting was it before paramedics were called?  Did she die on the spot or was she transported to the hospital?
   Hey, police didn't even release this basic information -- that a knife was found -- until days after the shooting. It would seem you surveyed the scene of the crime and found the knife immediately after the shooting.
   Why is so little information being released? These are basics belonging in any news story about a shooting. Why are they being withheld by police?