Where to begin? I really think that I need to stop watching or reading any news. It just leaves me all discombobulated as if I went to sleep and woke up in the twilight zone.
On Tuesday, William Kostric strapped his loaded gun to his leg and went to stand outside the Portsmouth high school where President Obama was scheduled to hold a town meeting on the health care plan. Police officials asked him to move because there are federal and state laws against having a gun within a certain distance of a school. An obliging official at a nearby church gave Kostric permission to stand on church property with his loaded weapon. The local sheriff had no problem with Kostric exercising his 2nd amendment right to bear arms; if the weapon had been concealed there would have been a violation but as Kostric was carrying his weapon in plain sight, he was not in violation of New Hampshire law.
The loaded gun was a bit disturbing but it was the sign that Kostric displayed that really made me go WTF. It presented a line that referenced a quotation from Thomas Jefferson, "It is time to water the tree of liberty." The full quotation reads, The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It was a favorite quotation of Timothy McVeigh, America's home grown terrorist who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma. When he was arrested, he was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Lincoln on the front and a tree dripping with blood on the back.
According to MSNBC, who broke this story, the Secret Service was informed of Kostric's presence and that he was packing heat. I assume that they kept their eyes on him.
Given this countries history of assassinating leaders, is it really unreasonable to tell a citizen that he can't be near the location where the President of the United States is scheduled to appear unless he wants to leave his loaded gun at home? None of the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are absolute. There's freedom of speech, but there are restrictions and limits on it. If you don't believe me, run around libeling your neighbor and then wait for the lawsuit. The fourth amendment prohibits unlawful search and seizure, but if there is probable cause, a search can be made. As for probable cause, it's a somewhat nebulous concept that has been defined and redefined again and yet again, in case law in state and federal courts, as the law attempts to get a handle on exactly what constitutes probable cause.
Let's accept that the 2nd amendment guarantees a right to bear arms, does that mean that you can just carry a loaded gun any where? Of course it doesn't. When I go to the courthouse, I have to pass through a metal detector and there is a big sign telling me that I cannot bring in a gun, even if I have a permit to carry it. The only folks that may carry guns in North Carolina courts are law enforcement officers, although there was legislation proposed this session to allow judges and magistrates to carry weapons. (I'm not real fond of this idea; it would add new meaning to holding a loud mouthed lawyer in contempt.) So why is it that New Hampshire law enforcement felt that the right to bear arms was so tantamount that Kostric had to be allowed to indulge in some role-play fantasy that he was in an episode of Gunsmoke?
Chris Matthews interviewed Kostric and hearing the man speak didn't give me any comfort. Like so many people he twists the Constitution into some multi-headed hound from hell that is unrecognizable as the foundation of a government that was formed to protect the rights of all, the weak as well as the strong: We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. The MSNBC video follows the text of this post. I apologize for not providing a transcript for my hearing impaired readers, but I really can't tolerate watching it more than once and I can't find the transcript online.
In another news story, a 20-year old named Antavio Johnson just received a two-year sentence in Florida for a video that he made when he was a teenager. He posted it on MySpace a couple of years ago. In it, Antavio performs an original rap song entitled, "Kill Me a Cop," in which he proposes to kill a cop. His mistake is that he gets real specific and names two cops that he would like to kill with a "glock" to the "dome." The two year old video was discovered by police officers who were surfing MySpace looking for signs of gang related activity. Johnson was charged with "corruption by threat of a public servant," a third degree felony under Florida statutes in which the perpetrator intends to harm or threatens to harm public servants, their families, or the people that they care about. The threats must have been made with the intent or purpose to influence public servants in the performance of their official duties. This law falls under the dangerous and profane speech exception to the first amendment.
They say that Justice is blind; I don't think so. I think that Justice is a borderline fool. How else do you explain a two-year sentence for writing a song that no one has heard? The officers mentioned in the song couldn't have been intimidated or influenced by it because they didn't know that it existed until a few days ago! In the meantime, a gun-toting, ignorant, hate-filled wingnut gets to stand around wearing his loaded gun waiting for the President. Makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands!
By the way, I can't help but wonder if Kostric would be so in favor of everyone carrying guns if a crowd of young Blacks and Hispanics showed up with guns strapped to their legs. Maybe I need to round up a posse and head for New Hampshire to exercise my right to bear arms.