What Are Rights?

I’m talking about the broader sense of “rights”, not rights that are specifically listed by some document written by a bunch of 18th century lawyers.  I’m talking about the concept of rights.  How do you define that concept?

Do rights encompass all of the things you’d simply like to have?  Are they the things that are necessary to sustain life?  Are they the things necessary to live comfortably?  Maybe everyone has a different answer.  For me, the easiest way to answer the question is to consider the things to which I’m entitled.  And for me, the things I have a right to end where the rights of others begin.  I’m able to determine which rights I have by defining the rights, or entitlements, I don’t have.

I’m not entitled to anything that requires a sacrifice on the part of anyone else.

I may covet these things.  I may try to trade for these things.  I may wait for others to decide to give me these things.  I may even try to convince someone to give me these things now.  But I can’t take these things, at least not morally.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  We can agree is true?  If so, then we must also (by logic) agree that the contra positive is true.  More specifically, I am entitled to anything that does not require a sacrifice on the part of someone else.

If that made sense, keep reading.  If your brain is already scrambled by the terms “entitled”, “contra positive”, and “logic”, that’s cool.  Just come back in a few hours…I’ll be posting another edition of “The Roost” later tonight.  I pride myself on providing a little something for everybody.

Continue reading “What Are Rights?”

Hold On…Let Me Get My Gun!

The Missus and I an ongoing disagreement. Disagreement is probably too strong of a world. It’s more like a difference of opinion–when is the right time for a child to have a gun, shoot a gun, be around guns, etc?

We both have a healthy respect for what they can do, but hers is more like a fear. She sees them as weapons, but I see them as tools. I think this difference of perspective comes mostly from the fact that she’s never been around guns, but I’ve been around them my whole life. In my mind, this experience gives me a much more educated opinion.

It came up again when we were watching Superbad and saw the scene where the kid is fascinated with holding and shooting a gun. To me, a 16 year old who’s full of adrenaline over the prospect of holding a gun is a much scarier proposition than an 8 year old who thinks it’s no big deal.

She asked once when I first shot a gun. I honestly don’t even remember when that was. To me that’s like asking when you first used a screwdriver. But I do remember being drilled constantly by my dad on the rules of gun safety. Those rules went for any gun at our house. When I hear people now talk about having BB gun wars as kids, I can’t help but imagine what would have happened to us if we’d done that. Honestly, punishment would have been the least of our worries–we could both actually shoot. There’s no way I’d want my brother drawing a bead on me.

That’s Not A Steroid Problem…THIS is a Steroid Problem.

Reason brings up some excellent points about athletics, police, and steroid abuse.

Given that police officers carry guns, night sticks, and tasers, and that they have the power to use lethal force when necessary, one would think our politicians would be more concerned about illegal use of a drug known to contribute to fits of rage and violence among law enforcement than use by a bunch of baseball players.

One would think.  As far as I’m concerned, you can throw in football players, weight lifters, cage fighters, and especially professional wrestlers into the “who cares?” category.

This stems from a story in the New York Daily News was written after

…27 NYPD officers cropped up on the client lists of a Brooklyn pharmacy and three doctors linked to a pro sports steroid ring.

I’d never really thought about cops on steroids, but it seems like the type of job that would foster steroid use to me.  Of course, I haven’t been beaten down by a juicer with a badge recently either.  I just assume that there is a certain percentage of people in all lines of work who use steroids (and heroin, and meth, and marijuana, etc.).  Could it expain some instances of excessive use of force or brutality?  Possibly.  But I wouldn’t go jumping to those conclusions any more than I would for people in any other line of work.

It’s probably fair to say that I’ve known at least one person who was on the juice since I was 16 years old, but I’ve never seen what I’d call ‘roid rage.  The violent assholes I’ve known who were juicing had always been violent assholes and probably always will be.

Red Light Cameras — The Real Enemy

From the KNS

Knoxville police arrested a man Sunday morning for allegedly shooting a traffic light camera several times at the intersection of Broadway and Interstate 640.

Surely I’m not the only one snickering at this.  How can the police find the guy who allegedly shot a traffic light camera three times at 2 a.m. in Knoxville Tennessee, but still don’t know who shot Tupac on the Las Vegas strip in front of countless witnesses?  There really is no justice in the world.

Before any of the anti-gun nuts start asking for bans on .30-06 rifles, let’s remember…

Guns don’t take photos of your car and send you expensive traffic tickets in the mail…RED LIGHT CAMERAS DO.

Violence Isn’t Cost Effective Anymore

This TED talk by Steven Pinker is pretty interesting. I’ll let all of his side comments, such as crediting Bill Clinton with the decline of violent crime in the 1990s, go. The most interesting aspect of this talk is not that violence is decreasing over time, but why violence is decreasing.

It seems pretty simple to me–violence has a very low return on investment.

Because of mass media, no act of violence seems isolated anymore. Therefore, committing an act of violence is a PR nightmare. Maybe not for individuals, but for states most definitely (Iraq). And states themselves have decreased the profitability of violence by individuals. It is virtually impossible for an individual to successfully take any significant amount of property from someone else by force (without penalty).

That’s why people rob banks without weapons. The rewards of successfully robbing the bank without a gun are equal to those of robbing a bank with a gun, but the risk of being unsuccessful is much less because the penalty for using a weapon in such a crime is greater.

It is sort of interesting to consider cultures that believe violence will be rewarded in the afterlife. There seems to be a definite perceived benefit to violence there.

This Week on The Dukes of Newport

Revenuers come to Hazzard, err, Newport to investige a mini-casino, cock fighting, and moonshine production that is all being orchestrated by Boss Hogg under the protection of the ultimate dirty cop–Roscoe P. Coaltrain.

Of course, Boss Hogg and Roscoe try to pin it all on Bo and Luke. Enos, a pawn in their game, is forced to arrest the Duke boys. Luckily, Uncle Jesse and Cooter are able to give Daisy a ride to the jail, where she is able to distract Enos. This gives Bo and Luke just enough time to get Flash to bring them the keys to the jail, climb into the General Lee, jump a creek where the bridge is out, beat up Boss’s cronies and turn them over to the revenuers and the state police from Capital City.

Of course, Boss Hogg denies all knowledge of the vice operations, and gives all of the money confiscated to the Cocke County orphanage. Then everyone gathers down at the Boar’s Nest, where Loretta Lynn sings one song in exchange for having a bogus speeding ticket ripped up.

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder why everyone thinks we are all stupid rednecks.

***UPDATE***
They also shot some arrows with dynamite taped to them. The Duke boys aren’t allowed to have guns because of previous convictions for running shine, so they are forced to use dyanamite instead.

Giuliani and the 9-11 Commission Report

I just received this press release.  I don’t want to confuse anyone with facts and reason, so I’ll let it speak for itself

ARLINGTON, VA – During the “First in the South” GOP debate in South Carolina last night, one thing was made clear: Rudy Giuliani does not understand how to keep America safe.

When Congressman Ron Paul, who has long served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, explained how 50 years of American interventionism in the Middle East has helped compromise our national security, Giuliani interrupted saying he had “never heard anything so absurd.” This statement is particularly troubling coming from the former mayor who tries to cast himself as a security expert, since Dr. Paul’s point comes directly from the bi-partisan 9-11 Commission Report.

“Rudy Giuliani has tip-toed around the issues of abortion, guns and marriage. The only issue he has left is security, and he doesn’t even get that right,” said campaign chairman Kent Snyder. “It is clear from his interruption that former Mayor Giuliani has not read the 9-11 Commission Report and has no clue on how to keep America safe.”