Kopel weblog 2003 Archive/h1>
Dec. 8, 2003
ROCKY AND ME[Dave Kopel]
My latest media column looks at implausible claims made by supporters of
redundant legislation on identity theft. Plus, the disgraceful Associated Press
story whitewashing Paul Robeson's love of Stalin and hatred of America
NRA ON YOUR BACK[Dave Kopel]
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari in
Silveira v. Lockyer, which I wrote about in a
last September. This afternoon, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the
right of a middle school student to wear a t-shirt from a NRA shooting sports
camp, in the case of Newsom v. Albermarle. The student and his family had sued
the Albermarle, Virginia, school board after the student was threatened with
discipline for wearing the shirt. The district court denied the student's
request for a preliminary injunction to protect his First Amendment rights. The
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court, and held that the
student was entitled to a preliminary injunction. So as of today, it is legal to
wear NRA t-shirts in Albermarle County schools. The Independence Institute filed
an amicus brief on behalf of the student's Fourth Circuit appeal. The
student was represented for free by NRA attorney Daniel Zavadil.
INTO THE SUNSET[Dave Kopel]
On December 10, the 1988 federal ban on so-called "plastic guns" will sunset.
Efforts are currently underway to extend the law for another ten years. As I
detailed in a
the law is nonsense. There is not, and never has been such a gun. Allowing this
law to sunset would set a good precedent for sunset of the ban on cosmetically
incorrect guns (so-called "assault weapons") in September 2004.
Strategy Page (Nov. 19) reports that, "President Mugabe and his cronies must
be scared, since the police have been ordered to embark on a nationwide firearms
audit starting on the 21st. They want the public to take their firearms and
firearm certificates to their nearest police station, so the number of guns and
types can be verified." As is typical in such situations, "The authorities are
using the excuse of rising crime for this exercise." In fact, crime is rising in
Zimbabwe, because the criminal "government" of Robert Mugabe is intensifying its
genocidal persecution of the people of Zimbabwe. As Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen
have detailed, "gun control" is the sine qua non of Mugabe's vicious regime.
Mugabe is unquestionably a tyrant. Every theory of government which permits
forcible resistance to tyranny would identify overthrowing Mugabe as plainly
just. Every theory of just war which recognizes the suffering of people in a
foreign country would authorize the use of force by any nation to remove Mugabe.
For same reasons that the world should have acted in Germany in the 1930s and in
Rwanda in the early 1990s, every nation has a moral obligation to do what it can
to liberate Zimbabwe. Because diplomatic efforts to remove Mugabe have failed,
the United States ought to begin supplying weapons and other aid to the people
of Zimbabwe, so that they can save themselves from genocide, and so that they
can install a government chosen by themselves. The failure of the United Nations
to act is one more instance of the UN's pathetic favoritism of tyrants, and one
more reason why all freedom-loving people should resist the UN's gun prohibition
Over-riding a governor's veto, the Missouri Senate
has voted to make Missouri a "shall issue" state for licenses for permits to
carry handguns for lawful protection. The Senate vote was 23-10, meaning that
there were no votes to spare on the over-ride. Yesterday, the Missouri House
voted to over-ride the veto, by a six-vote margin. Thus, the concealed handgun
licensing law will go into effect in 30 days. Two states--Vermont and Alaska--do
not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun in most cases. Thirty-six
states, now including Missouri, issue licenses according to objective criteria,
and licenses are not denied merely because a police chief or sheriff does not
want people to have guns. Of the 36 "shall issue" states, Missouri's law is
among the very most restrictive, and substantially more restrictive than a
"shall issue" referendum which voters narrowly rejected in 1999. (Technically,
Alabama, Connecticut, and Iowa are "may issue" states, but in practice, licenses
are usually issued fairly and without unreasonable denials.)
Of the remaining states, about half--such as New York and California--are "may
issue" states, in which sheriffs and police chiefs have nearly unlimited
discretion in issuing permits. The other half, including Kansas and Ohio, have
no procedure for issue concealed handgun permits.
Missouri joins Colorado, Minnesota, and New Mexico in enacting "shall issue"
legislation this year. Such legislation is thought to have a reasonable chance
of passing soon in Ohio and Wisconsin.
The Missouri Senate also voted to over-ride Governor Holden's veto of a bill
outlawing the St. Louis government's junk lawsuit against firearms
manufacturers. [The House voted to over-ride the next day.] As with the "shall
issue" law, the Missouri legislature's action brings Missouri law in line with a
large majority of other states.
While debate continues about whether concealed handgun legislation reduces crime
by a statistically significant degree, the overwhelming evidence from states
with "shall issue" laws is that permit-holders tend to be extremely law-abiding
with their guns, and that gun prohibitionists' fears of constant "wild west"
shoot-outs do not materialize.
Aug. 27, 2003
Today is the anniversary of the 1928 signing of the
Pact, which outlawed war. The Pact, produced by American Secretary of State
Frank B. Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand was eventually
ratified by sixty-two nations, almost every sovereign in the world at the time.
It passed the U.S. Senate with only a single negative vote. The Pact had,
arguably, one success, in defusing a 1929 Soviet-Chinese dispute over a railroad
in Manchuria. The other effect of the Pact was to encourage countries engaged in
international aggression not to issue a formal declaration of war. Thus, there
was no declaration of war for Japan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria, Italy's 1935
invasion of Ethiopia, and Germany's 1938 threatened invasion of Austria (which
eventually took place peacefully, thanks to the cowardice of the Austrian
government and the democracies). Kellogg was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (Briand
had already won one), putting him and Briand in the ranks of Prize winners such
as Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Rigoberta Menchu, Le Duc Tho (North
Vietnamese foreign minister), and others whose public careers ended up helping
to cause war and violence.
The Pact helped produce World War II, by making it appear that it was immoral or
illegal to take decisive military action against Hitler when he was still weak,
in the mid-1930s. All 15 of the original signatory nations ended up fighting in
World War II. Notably, the Pact was produced under the administration of Calvin
Coolidge, which shows that even conservatives can delude themselves with
Wilsonian illusions about the power of international agreements. Technically,
the Pact is still in force, a permanent reminder of folly of all who believe
that pieces of paper, rather than powerful armies, will deter the aggression of
On this date in 1944, the great
Charles DeGaulle led a march through the recently-liberated city of Paris,
cheered by a million Parisians. After traveling the Champs-Elysees, DeGaulle--along
with leaders of the French Resistance--concluded the march at the
cathedral of Notre Dame de
Paris. There, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), was sung, louder even than the
din of the joyous fusillade that filled Paris:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...
for he who is mighty has done great things for me...
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree...
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.
in his memoirs: "The Magnificat rose. Was it ever sung more ardently?" From the
degradation of appeasement and surrender, France on August 26, 1944, began to
rise again to her historic role a leader and defender of Western civilization.
This anniversary can give us hope that one day France will stop appeasing
Islamo-nazism, and will once more march in the front ranks of western
Aug. 24, 2003
The Marijuana Policy Project has been
reporting on how Democratic presidential candidates stand on the issue of
federal interference with state medical marijuana laws. States Rights advocates
and other supporters of constitutional limits on federal powers would take the
position (which Glenn Reynolds and I argued in a
review article) that the federal government has no constitutional authority
to over-ride state laws on possession of marijuana (and lots of other things)
that takes place solely within a single state. The Bush administration, however,
compares state medical marijuana laws to state segregation laws, as something
which must be wiped out by federal power. (Never mind that the 14th Amendment
guarantees Equal Protection of the law, and thus gives Congress some legitimate
interest in suppressing state laws which require racial segregation, but no part
of the Constitution gives Congress power over mere use of medication within a
single state.) John Edwards supports the Bush position. Richard Gephardt, who
supported the federal crackdown in 1988, has changed his mind, and now favors
the States Rights view. Dennis Kucinich also supports States Rights on this
issue. Howard Dean and John Kerry are waffling, and refusing to explain what
they think. Kerry claims to want to see the results of a scientific study
currently underway, although there is no such study, and when pressed for
details about the alleged study, Kerry replied, "I am trying to find out. I
Aug. 13, 2003.
CONTRASTS & HISTORY[Dave Kopel]
Today is the anniversary of the 1927 birthday of Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro. It
is also the anniversary of the 1961 beginning of the construction of the Berlin
Wall. The Berlin Wall now lies in history's ash heap of discarded lies, and the
people of the defunct "Democratic Republic" of Germany are free. One day, Castro
and his thieving, murderous regime will also lie in ashes, and the "Republic of
Cuba" will become a real republic. In the meantime, shame on every American who
has paid obeisance to the Havana despot; such Americans are enemies of freedom,
as were their wicked predecessors who worshipped Stalin, Mao, and Ho.
Blackman and I have detailed, former Montgomery County, Maryland Police
Chief Charles Moose bungled the sniper investigation last fall, partly through
his obsessive belief, not supported by evidence, that the sniper must be white.
Since then, Moose has resigned from the Montgomery police, so that he could sign
a book deal that violates county ethics rules (making outside income based on
his police job); there is great concern that the book's publication this fall
may substantially interfere with the trial of the alleged snipers. Yesterday,
the Washington Post
reported another misadventure of the ethically-challenged former chief,
elaborating a story
originally reported by WorldNet Daily (which has far outpaced the rest of
the national media in uncovering Moose's abuses of his position). Moose and his
wife were vacationing in Hawaii at a Marriott Hotel. They wandered into a
portion of the hotel used only by staff, not by guests. A hotel security officer
noticed them, and when they claimed to be guests, security asked the couple to
show their room key. Moose was indignant that the security officer did not
recognize him. He filed a discrimination lawsuit, and Marriott, while
considering the suit outrageous, settled for $200,000, for fear of the publicity
from a lawsuit involving the then-popular chief who had supposedly solved the
sniper case. Moose failed to properly report the settlement to Montgomery
County, which is withholding his final paycheck as a result. Moose's wife, who
is white, had previously received a $10,000 sexual harassment settlement from
the city of Portland, Oregon, where she worked. In 1991, the couple
unsuccessfully tried to interest the Southern Poverty Law Center in suing
Jackson, Mississippi, because when Moose and his wife went to party for himself
and two other finalists for the police chief job, people at the party did not
engage the couple in conversation.
KOPEL ON MEDIA[Dave Kopel]
new media column explains how the media see religious issues through a p.c.
lens. The column examines the media's fawning treatment of three nuns in the
Plowshares movement who were recently sentenced to federal prison for
vandalizing a defense facility. The column also looks at coverage of the
Catholic sex abuse scandals, and at coverage of St. Juan Diego, the Mexican
Indian who saw the Virgin of Guadeloupe in 1531.
NR writers and Andrew Sullivan have recently been engaged in a lively discussion
over the Vatican's recent statement condemning gay marriage. But in Ireland,
according to the Irish Times, the misnamed Irish Council for Civil Liberties
is issuing warning letters to the nation's Bishops, claiming that discussion of
the Vatican statement may be a criminal violation of the Incitement to Hatred
Act. The director of the "civil liberties" organization warned that "The
document itself may not violate the Act, but if you were to use the document to
say that gays are evil, it is likely to give rise to hatred, which is against
the Act." In Canada, "hate crime" cases have been brought against conservative
religious spokespersons who have quoted what the Bible actually says about
homosexuality. Criticism of gays has also been censored in Sweden. Gay marriage
is an important public policy issue which should be broadly and vigorously
debated, and every side in that debate should receive full protection of their
freedom of speech. As I've argued
crime" laws amount to improper discrimination. Rather than expanding the
American "hate crime" laws to include gays, all such laws should be repealed,
and everyone should be guaranteed the equal protection of the law, without
regard to sexual orientation, race, or religion. Never have Pat Robertson, Jerry
Falwell, or the other leaders of the "religious right" supported criminalizing
the mere advocacy of gay marriage. Yet in many Western nations, the freedom of
speech for persons who do not support the gay agenda is being eliminated. There
have been far too many historical tragedies in which persecuted groups, the
moment they gained power, began persecuting others: Christians in the Roman
Empire; Puritans in Massachusetts; and Islamists in Iran are only a few
examples. It is deplorable that so much of the gay leadership appears eager to
pursue a similar course. In the United States, the
Independent Gay Forum offers a
sensible alternative for people who want to expand gay rights without
A new Gallup Poll
finds that a majority of Americans oppose smoking bans in restaurants,
workplaces, hotels, and bars. For the first three of those places, majorities
favor designated smoking areas. For bars, 44% prefer set-asides, while 31% want
no restrictions at all. Complete smoking prohibition (treating tobacco
cigarettes like marijuana cigarettes) is favored by 16% of Americans. The power
of junk science has declined slightly, with 51% of Americans now believing that
secondhand smoke is "very harmful," a drop of 5% from 2000. Readers who want the
full details on the junk science about secondhand smoke, which is being used as
a smokescreen by the tobacco prohibition lobby, should
pick up the book Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy, by
Gio B. Gori and John Luik.
12:36 PM[Dave Kopel]
On August 4, 1950, the Eighth Army of United States of America
establishing a defensive line on the Naktong River in the Korean War. North
Korean tyrant Kim Il-Sung had attacked the South in June, and by early August
his forces had conquered most of South Korea, except for a small area in
southeast Korea, near the port of Pusan. The defensive line, only fifty miles
from the southern coast, was known as the Pusan Perimeter.
the next six weeks, the U.S. Army and Marines halted intense North Korean
offensives, saving the South from conquest. The defenders of Pusan set the stage
for the next phase of the Korean War, General MacArthur's brilliant amphibious
landing at Inchon on September 15, which began the liberation of South Korea.
Today, a Stalinist monarchy continues to oppress North Korea and to threaten war
against the South. As Kim Jong-Il makes nuclear threats against the United
States, and develops ICBMs, the necessity of removing his family's kleptocratic
tyranny is even clearer. Full-speed development of missile defense, and regime
change in North Korea must be the foundations of American policy.
BREAKING NEWS[Dave Kopel]
Brooklyn federal judge Jack Weinstein has dismissed the NAACP's lawsuit against
the firearms industry. The 175 page opinion found that NAACP had not proven that
it had a right to sue for public nuisance, because the NAACP failed "to show
that its harm was different in kind from that suffered by other persons in New
York." Judge Weinstein did find that the firearms companies had created a public
nuisance by, in his view, failing to take sufficient steps to prevent guns from
being used by criminals.
GUN-CONTROL & AMIN[Dave Kopel]
As the world prepares for Idi Amin's imminent death, let us remember that his
genocide was made
possible by gun-control laws which Amin's government inherited from the
British colonial government. Historically, genocide almost never occurs without
the prior imposition of gun laws which disarm the victim population.
American Prospect weblog points out a serious error I made in my latest
NRO article, which
criticizes New York Times coverage of the gun issue. In that article, I wrote
that the Francis X. Clines' Jan. 17, 2002, coverage of a shooting at the
Appalachian School of Law failed to mention the fact that the law students who
stopped the killer used their own handguns to do so. In fact, the article
clearly explained that one of the students, a former police officer, " ran to
his car for his bulletproof vest and service pistol before tackling the
suspect." Accordingly, the Times on this story produce a more complete report
than did many other publications, which omitted the fact of the gun. My error
was sloppy and indefensible, a result of reading the Clines story too hurriedly.
I apologize to Mr. Clines and the Times, and thank TAP for providing the correct
TIMES CHANGE[Dave Kopel]
My new media analysis
column examines the resignations at the New York Times and how the Times
needs to change. Plus Maureen Dowd's non-correction correction, coverage of
Microsoft, and trans fats.
Glenn Reynolds and I have
made the same point as Prof. Adler, at greater length. Outlawing a
particular type of abortion procedure simply isn't within a reasonable
understanding of Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.
Partial-birth abortion is horrible, and if I were a state legislator, I would
support a state-level ban. But abortion performed within a single state is not
"interstate commerce." Nor is divorce, gun possession, drug possession, most
violent crimes, and many other human activities.
Among the best comedies of the 1980s:
Fast Times at
WORKING FOR THE ENEMY[Dave Kopel]
Al Jazeera's director general has been fired,
reports, following the discovery that he was working with Saddam Hussein's
02:38 AM[Dave Kopel]
Columnist Diana West
"The Matrix" to various homicides in which the perpetrators claimed to be acting
against the omnipresent matrix of control. The most notorious of these appears
to be accused sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Well, Charles Guiteau, who assassinated
President James Garfield 1881, was an ardent Bible reader and advocate of "Bible
Communism." Although the Bible is rife with violence, and with killings ordered
God, that doesn't mean that the people who wrote the Bible bear the slightest
responsibility for Guiteau's deranged attempt to use the Bible to justify
murder. Timothy McVeigh quoted John Locke, and the Unabomber is reported to have
owned heavily-annotated copy of Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance." But artists
and authors can't be blamed for wicked acts which there was never any intention
Well, I would argue that even though you can say it ("crappy"), it would be
better not to. You're not cussin', so it's not a per se immoral word. But given
NRO's extremely powerful leadership role for today's college students, I'd argue
that NRO ought to set a high-class tone of dialogue. If we don't set an example
of high standards of discourse, nobody will. I suspect that if WFB were asked,
he would agree. He'd probably try to convince you to say "feculent" instead,
although I'd argue that copro-metaphors are so greatly overused today that NRO
should employ them only in the rarest of circumstances.
I would, on the other hand, encourage extensive discussion of Star Trek.
Gun crime in England is "growing like a cancer",
according to a
BBC report on the annual meeting of the Association of Chief Police
Officers. England is discovering that when you destroy the culture of
law-abiding gun ownership, the result may not be pacifist utopia, but rather a
burgeoning criminal gun culture.
DOWD AND MORE[Dave Kopel]
"Dowd's Elision Elicits Derision" is the title of
my new media column, looking at Maureen Dowd's phony quote about President
Bush and al Qaeda. I also bemoan the absence of intellectual diversity at the NY
Times, look at coverage of second-hand smoke, and debunk an A.P. article about
"lynching" in South Carolina.
Yesterday on the excellent Media Minded weblog, I posted
a comment suggesting that even though Chris Hedges has very mean-spirited
and far left world view, it's possible that he could still produce good quality,
fair journalism. After all, I argued, the writers for NR and TNR have strong
views, and they usually do good journalistic work. Well, I might have been right
about Hedges in theory, but I was wrong in fact. Hedges' reporting from Israel
was heavily slanted, inaccurate, and misleading, as detailed in
BAKING FOR LOBBYISTS[Dave Kopel ]
Greene's article on bake sales and bombers is right on. Since October 2001,
the slogan at the top of my
website page on terrorism policy has said: It will be a great day when our
Navy has all the smart bombs it needs, and the NEA has to hold a bake sale to
pay its lobbyists.
SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT[Dave Kopel]
Jonah quotes with approval a reader who claims that racist college admissions
policy (a/k/a "affirmative action") is bad because the policy "punishes
meretricious applicants who happen to be neither minorities nor legacies." Well,
I think that's debatable. "Meretricious" means "having the character of a
prostitute", and it's certainly true that more meretricious students would make
it easier for some other students to get a little satisfaction. On the other
hand, a secondary meaning of "meretricious" is "showily but falsely attractive,"
and it's hard to see what benefit most colleges would get more from students
like that. Such students could just skip college, and go directly into college
administration. Personally, I think it would be better for colleges to focus on
attracting meritorious students--perhaps including some former meretricians who
want to learn a new profession.
today's Philadelphia Inquirer, I write in favor for a ban on junk
lawsuits against law-abiding firearms companies.
A reader of my article
about British government hostility toward the right of self-defense offers some
details about how bad things have gotten:
"I'm an alumna of Pepperdine University, a school which proudly owns a
house/campus on Exhibition Road, literally across the street from the Imperial
University, in the middle of South Kensington, right near Harrods, Hyde Park,
the Albert Hall. Within two days of arriving for our first semester in London,
our relatively small [American] class (37 students, 10 men, 27 women) was
visited by a local police officer to instruct us on living in London. Her
first question was to the women, 'How many of you brought mace?' Three girls
raised their hands. She told us we couldn't use it, shouldn't even carry it,
it was illegal.
"Had any of us brought any other type of weapon, such as a knife? Several of
the men in our group indicated that they carried pocket knives. She told us to
leave them at home too.
"Then she instructed us on how to properly be a victim. If we were attacked,
we were to assume a defensive posture, such as raising our hands to block an
attack. The reason was (and she spelled it out in no uncertain terms) that if
a witness saw the incident and we were to attempt to defend ourselves by
fighting back, the witness would be unable to tell who the aggressor was.
However, if we rolled up in a ball, it would be quite clear who the victim
"The feeling I got was, in London, it is not permissible to defend oneself. I
also understood that this police officer thought Americans were more likely to
be aggressive and/or cause more damage to a potential attacker. She was warning
us for our own good. I have to admit, she did not make me feel particularly
& NAACP RULING[Dave Kopel]
The jury has reached a verdict in the NAACP
suit against the firearms industry. The plaintiffs have failed on every count.
Thirty-eight of the industry defendants were unanimously found not liable by the
12-person jury. Seven other defendants were found not liable by 10 or 11 members
of the jury. For 23 other defendants, the jury could not reach a verdict. The
jury is an "advisory jury," and Brooklyn federal judge Jack Weinstein is free to
accept or reject any of the jury's findings within the next 30 days. In the
Seton Hall Legislative Journal, I argued that the Second Amendment should be
protected from abusive lawsuits just as the First Amendment is protected from
libel lawsuits which might interfere with a free press.
Last Friday, a man who was an advocate of severe gun control and
was also an opponent of the war in Iraq perpetrated a mass shooting at Case
Western University, in Ohio. Below are some thoughts about this crime from Keith
J. Barton, who is director of information and technology at Case Western Reserve
University School of Law. His words are excerpted from a private discussion
group on firearms law and policy. Mr. Barton gave me permission to post these on
I hope you will indulge me in a little discussion of an emotional issue.
You see, I was just affected by a mass public shooting. Although I was not in
the building with the shooter, I was in the Law School, which is the closest
building and literally just a few feet away from the Peter B. Lewis building
where a shooting took place Friday. Consequently, I was at first restricted to
certain areas of the building, and then later evacuated (certainly not as
affected as those in the Peter B. Lewis building).
The first things I thought of (being completely open and honest here - in
temporal order) as I learned of the events unfolding next door was 1) to be
angry that Ohioans are not allowed to carry concealed firearms, 2) I was
grateful the shooter did not choose the Law School, and 3) I was saddened that
someone was emotionally disturbed enough to do this. I am not suggesting a
non-law enforcement person with a concealed firearm should have searched the
building to stop the shooter in this situation. I cannot accurately say what I
would have done had I been in the building next door instead of where I was.
But I can say I believe the shooter would not have been at large for 7 hours
had one or more persons been carrying a concealed firearm and had known how to
use it. Many will say, and have said already, in response to this incident
that this is the best argument for more restrictive firearm regulations. I
realize not everyone is comfortable around firearms. I also realize my
experience may be a little different than the average person: I was a primary
marksmanship instructor in the Marine Corps. I personally believe this is an
argument for allowing concealed carry. I would feel much safer knowing I have
the tools with which to protect myself and those immediately around me should
I ever have the need to do so.
May 12, 2003
Wine Spectator magazine (May 31 issue) conducted a poll of its readers, and
discovered that 31% of readers were boycotting French wine, and 25% were
boycotting German wine. Five percent were boycotting American wine. Wine
Spectator readers are, by definition, serious oenophiles, so the fact that
nearly a third of American's most-committed wine drinkers have decided to "just
say non" helps explains the significant drop in French wine imports in recent
weeks. That's good news for Coalition wine countries (such as Australia) and for
winemakers in countries such as Chile, Argentina, and Hungary which were not
active allies of the Saddam regime.
BRITISH ROUNDUP[Dave Kopel]
media analysis column examines the British newspapers. Conclusion: The
Guardian and The Telegraph are the best of the bunch.
FROM BRITAIN[Dave Kopel]
Last night's preliminary election returns for local council races in England
significantly understated Tory gains. It now appears that the Tories have picked
up 550 seats, out of the approximately 11,000 seats which were elected. On
election day, Tory Shadow Trade Minister Crispin Blunt ostentatiously resigned
his leadership post, in what he hoped would be the start of a party revolt
leading to a no-confidence vote against Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith. While the
Independent is claiming that Blunt's resignation overshadows the Tory gains, the
more realistic newspapers, including the Guardian, are acknowledging that "IDS"
has significantly improved his position as leader, thanks to strong election
results. The unstated cause of Blunt's hostility to IDS appears to have been
disagreement with Tory leadership's support for the liberation of Iraq, as well
as Tory support for Israel.
BRITISH ELECTION RETURNS[Dave Kopel]
May 1 was the day for local council elections in Britain. With about 11,000
local seats contested, the Tories appear to be gaining about 300 seats--a
respectable gain, but mainly a regression to the mean, following a Tory wipeout
two elections ago. The Tories remain mired in a debate over what they really
stand for, and are having difficulty fully exploiting Labor's failure to deliver
on its long-standing promises to improve the quality of education, health care,
and police protection.
SW Radio Africa provides extensive
news about the struggle for liberation in Zimbabwe.
The (Harare) Daily News is under
intense pressure from the "government," but still speaks truth to power. A new
editorial examines the daunting choices facing Zimbabwe's people.
Me too, me too! I'm against sodomy laws. The
that Glenn Reynolds and I wrote in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
explains why such laws are not within the legitimate range of government powers.
Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds posted an update about an
wrote in August 2001, raising concerns about possible bias in a National Academy
of Science panel which was beginning a study of firearms law. Perhaps our
warnings had some effect; the panel's "charge," which we linked to from our
article, focused only on examining the negative effects of firearms in society.
That link is no longer operative, and a more detailed charge has replaced it;
the new charge requires the panel to also consider beneficial aspects to
firearms ownership. Expressing concerns of the make-up of the panel, we pointed
to the appointment of Benjamin Civiletti (President Carter's Attorney General),
who is not a scholar, and who has well-established anti-gun credentials.
Regarding Steve Levitt, a young scholar at the University of Chicago, we wrote
that he "has been described as 'rabidly antigun.'" Shortly after this article
was published, Steve Levitt wrote to Glenn: "I don't understand your National
Review article in which I am described as 'rabidly anti-gun.' "No one who knows
me would describe me that way. I love to shoot guns and would own them if my
wife would let me. I recently published an op-ed piece in Chicago Sun-Times
entitled 'Pools more dangerous than guns' (July 28, 2001) that could only be
construed as pro-guns. I have never written anything even remotely anti-gun. I
think your sources must have me confused with someone else." As Glenn notes in
post today, Glenn promptly posted an Instapundit item noting Levitt's
statement about his view on guns. Levitt's Sun-Times article argues that the
risks of gun accidents are grossly exaggerated by the media compared to other
accident risks. I wrote back to Levitt something which I should have asked then
to be posted on this article, so I'm belated posting it now:
Instapundit site details, we have
checked with our original source. Nevertheless, since I try (not always
successfully) to shed light rather than heat on the gun issue, I think that in
retrospect the adverb 'rabidly' shouldn't have been used. So I promise to
avoid it in the future. I'm glad to know about your swimming pools piece, and
I enjoyed reading it. I did check your publications page on the web before I
submitted the article, but the pool piece wasn't there -- understandably,
since your page just cites journal articles.
And, as the article said, whatever your views
on guns, there's no dispute about your scholarly abilities. My forthcoming
Guns, and Burglars: Why Mass Tort Litigation Fails to Account for Positive
Externalities and the Network Effects of Controversial Products'" 43
Arizona Law Review (no 2, 2001) cites and discusses your excellent LoJack
I think that Levitt is mistaken in his belief
that he has "never written anything even remotely anti-gun." In “The
Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime,” 116 Quarterly Journal of Economics
(No. 2, May 2001): 379-420 (co-authored with John Donohue), Levitt wrote:
"Elevated youth homicide rates in this period appear to be clearly linked to the
rise of crack and the easy availability of guns." p. 395, note 21 ("this period"
refers to the late 1980s and early 1990s).
In “Guns, Violence, and the Efficiency of Illegal Markets,” 1998 AEA Papers and
Proceedings 88 (May): 463-67 (also co-authored with John Donohue), Levitt
concluded that the presence of firearms lead to greater levels of violence. He
argued that this effect stems not from the lethality of guns per se, but from
how they make the outcomes of fights less predictable. A small person who knows
he would very likely lose a fistfight to a larger person, will usually choose
not to the fight. But if the smaller person has a gun, he may choose to fight:
"Guns are an equalizing force that makes the outcome of any particular conflict
difficult to predict. All else held constant, this increases the willingness to
fight among weaker combatants, leading to greater levels of violence." p. 467.
I'm not arguing (at least not in this post), that Levitt's statements are
incorrect, and they are certainly not "rabid." But if a person selecting
panelists for the NAS study were looking for panelists who might be expected to
see benefits from reducing "easy availability of guns," it would have been
reasonable to pick Levitt. There is nothing logically inconsistent with a
scholar favoring gun control to address the very large problem of criminal
homicide with guns, while also recognizing that the magnitude of the problem of
fatal gun accidents involving children is not nearly as large as the media
The Charleston Post and Courier has graciously
that it made a mistake its coverage of the recent protest at the Augusta Golf
tournament. A man who held up a sign at Martha Burk which said "Make me dinner"
did not supply his real name, but instead spelled out his name as "Heywood
Jablome." The protester is really an Atlanta radio host with a different name.
But the South Carolina reporter isn't the only journalist to fall for this
trick. A May 1, 2001 business story in the New York Post looked into the new
trend of putting cafes in investment firm offices; the story reported the
skepticism of "Heywood Jablome, 41, a Manhattan real estate agent." This brings
back memories of the day in high school when the attendance administrator
puzzled over an attendance slip reporting the absence of student whose name she
did not recognize: "Jack Mehoff? Jack Mehoff? Who is Jack Mehoff?" People who
enjoy reading book reviews by Paige Turner and military commentary by Warren
Peace will find a good list of silly names at
Although British troops in Basra have been urging residents to voluntarily turn
in their guns, American forces in the middle-class Baghdad suburb of Hay al-Qudhat
are doing no such thing. Instead, they are simply ordering people not to carry
guns in public. Neighborhood residents have been defending their homes from
looters. Said one resident, "We all have guns, but we don't want them. We just
want peace and stability." The neighborhood is home to many doctors, lawyers,
and other professionals.
Charles Clover, "Baghdad's middle classes ask: how long will they stay?"
Financial Times, 16 April 2003. [Dave Kopel]
The Financial Times reports on the connection between firearms and equal rights
Women who carry guns and fight for
their country do not voluntarily head back to the kitchen, says a leading
member of Uganda's administration. This is one explanation for the change in
female fortunes since the National Resistance Army seized power in 1986 with
the help of women fighting and collaborating in other vital ways to military
victory. Since then, women have achieved a status in Uganda unrivalled in much
William Wallis, "Freedom Fighters Win
Political Clout, Financial Times, 15 April 2003.
April 14, 2003
PROWLER vs. GORTON[Dave Kopel]
The American Prowler
chastises retired Washington Sen. Slade Gorton for giving the wrong advice
to Rep. Jennifer Dunn, who was being pressured by the White House to run against
the vulnerable Patty Murray. Gorton said, "Go with your heart." So Dunn won't
run, and George Nethercutt probably will. Gorton was right to give the advice,
and Dunn to follow it. Our nation would be a lot better if American elected
officials more often followed their hearts rather than the dictates of party
12:21 PM[Dave Kopel]
Egyptian folk singer Shabaan Abdul Rahim is looking to follow up on his major
international success, last
year's hit "I hate Israel." Rahim sang: "I hate the Jews, I hate them.
I hate them because they are annoying. All people hate them." Working on a movie
of the same name as the song, Rahim has been rejected
by four actresses who were offered the role of leading lady. Despite the
cinematic stall, Rahim has a new radio hit, "The Attack on Iraq." He offers a
litany of American/Zionist oppression: "Chechnya! Afghanistan! Palestine!
Southern Lebanon! The Golan Heights! And now Iraq, too? And now Iraq, too? It's
too much for people. Shame on you! Enough, enough, enough"
12:06 PM[Dave Kopel]
In "solidarity" with (the defeated tyranny in) Iraq, Egyptian film artists are
urging a boycott of American films, according to Al Bawaba. Cynics might
imagine motives besides pan-Arabism: "the film 'Gangs of New York' brought in
big profits in Egypt overshadowing local films, making it impossible for fair
competition. The film made over five million Egyptian pounds in profit, a matter
which forced owners of cinema houses to cancel a number of scheduled screening,
since it caused a negative impact on Egyptian films."
12:05 PM[Dave Kopel]
Another important obstacle to peace between Israel and its neighbors is the
United Nations, as Romen Mukamel
shows in the Harvard Israel Review. The UN opposed the Camp David Peace
Accords between Egypt and Israel. The UN aids resettlement for all refugees
around the world, but refuses to assist the resettlement of Palestinian
refugees. The UN would not convene a special session to address on-going
genocide in Rwanda or former Yugoslavia; instead six of the ten special sessions
have involved Israel, on issues as trivial (compared to genocide) as illegal
Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.
that the United States is recognizing Syria's plan to turn Iraq into the next
Lebanon. A better outcome would be to turn Syria into the next Iraq. This would
also end the illegal dictatorship in the occupied territories formerly known as
Lebanon. The removal of the terrorist regime in Syria would also remove the last
pro-terror regime able to ship supplies directly to Palestinian terrorists. With
the Palestinian terrorists isolated, the prospect for a genuine peace between
Israel and the Palestinians would become a possibility. Just as the best way to
"give inspections time to work" was to remove the Saddam regime which was
obstructing WMD inspections, the best way to genuine self-government for the
Palestinians is to remove the regimes fomenting war in the West Bank and Gaza.
April 12, 2003
THEY'RE NOT PEACE ACTIVISTS[Dave Kopel]
My new media analysis column suggests that many people labeled "peace
activists" would be properly labeled "war activists." The column also examines
Pearl Jam's implausible campaign against the reporter who covered the fan
walk-out at a concert last week. And I look at the Denver Post's assertion that
real minorities only go to government schools and don't play tennis.
THE MUSIC OF THE DAY[Dave Kopel]
Want to celebrate the liberation of Iraq? Like patriotic music? Interested in
new independent artists? Then check out the superb
new album by
Eric Free. You can listen to the entire song on the MP3.com website, where all
lyrics are available. The first four songs mock tyrants around the world. Free
sings, "There's no God in old Bin Laden, Just the Devil grinnin' there...Bin
Laden, America is comin' after you! You got no place to run or hide, Your killin'
days are through!...Them crazy Taliban hate women, Treat 'em all like slaves.
They bag 'em up from head to toe, Can't even show their face." Kim Il-Jong gets
a bluegrass treatment: "In old Pyongyang lives a little madman. He's the only
son of the old madman...He makes his people call 'im dear, But it ain't from
love it's out o' fear. He kills 'em if they gripe or jeer. If his name comes up
they gotta cheer." The title track "Saddam Insane" proclaims, "Saddam Insane,
twisted brain, Gotta say g'bye to his evil reign! Sad Iraqis' house of pain,
Saddam, Saddam, Saddam Insane!" Inspiring songs such as "United We Stand,"
"Flight 93," "American Heroes (At Ground Zero)," and "America Will Win"
celebrate American freedom, valor, and determination. The music, mostly country,
is fun and the lyrics are witty, poignant, and erudite. Eric Free's "Saddam
Hussein" is a stunningly brilliant debut, and wonderful listening for everyone
who rejoices in the victory of liberty.
April 11, 2003
A fine new web slide show
displays images of the liberation of Iraq, the sacrifice of our soldiers, the
hubris of Saddam's allies to the tune of "Hallelujah" by Rufus Wainwright.
09:11 PM[Dave Kopel]
All gave some. Some gave all. A
beautiful new tribute
site to our armed forces, with a roll of honor for every soldier who gave
his life to protect our nation and topple the tyrant. It's hard to view without
getting choked up.
April 10, 2003
April 9 is Victory in Baghdad Day, and it is also the day when the Nazi attack
on Norway commenced, with the assistance of
Vidkun Quisling and other Fifth
Columnists. The "policy of the broken gun" ("det brukne geværs politikk") was
supposed to make Norway safe, according to the promises of the foolish pacifists
in the 1930s, who imagined that as long as Norway was weak, Norway would never
be attacked. After Hitler's War brought Nazi tyranny, the Norwegian people
"never again 9th of April." The Norwegians kept that promise after the war.
Norway joined NATO. After serving as Foreign Minister of Norway,
Trygve Lie became the
first Secretary General of the United Nations. During his tenure, the U.N.
played a responsible role in international affairs: recognizing the democratic
state of Israel, and authorizing the use of force to defend South Korea against
the Il-Jung monarchy's attack from the North. Today, the Norwegian government
has fallen far away from Norway's historic role as a friend of liberty; before
the Second Iraq War, the Norwegian government announced that even in the case of
a United Nations mandate, Norway would not necessarily assist in the liberation
of Iraq. Today, the Norwegian Friends of America
seeks to improve
relationships between Norwegians and Americans by supporting their common
tradition of freedom. Whatever the formal relationships between the United
States government and other governments, may the people of every free nation
always cultivate friendship with freedom-seeking people throughout the world.
April 9, 2003
PRESCIENT [Dave Kopel]
One prognosticator that was exactly right: Senator McCain predicted that the war
against Saddam "will be a slam dunk . . . they [the Iraqi people] will dance on
his grave." (Newark) Star-Ledger 2/23/03.
ABUSIVE SUITS[Dave Kopel]
The House of Representatives is currently debating, and likely to pass, a bill
to preempt abusive lawsuits against the firearms industry.
My website has
lots of background on the issues involved in the lawsuits--including a link to a
National Public Radio program today, in which I was one of the people
interviewed for a segment on the NAACP's lawsuit currently being tried in
federal district court in Brooklyn.
April 7, 2003
The recent meeting of the Organization of American Historians, according to a
report on the History News Network,
was characterized by a "near-unanimity of opinion" on issues such opposition to
the war in Iraq and to President Bush. As university presidents fight before the
Supreme Court to maintain campus "diversity" by discriminating against people of
Asian ancestry, history departments and other humanities departments at many
universities hire according to an intolerant code which leaves little room for
Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) has been pushing a civil liberties disaster called
the "RAVE Act," as I
several weeks ago. Very strong grassroots opposition has stalled the Biden bill
in Congress. It has not passed a single committee. So now, Biden is attempting
to put the RAVE Act onto the conference committee version of the Amber Alert
bill (S. 151), regarding abducted children. According to the Drug Policy
Alliance, Biden is incorrectly claiming that the ACLU no longer opposes his
bill. The popular Amber Alert bill is in very serious danger of being taken over
as a vehicle for oppressive laws which can't make it through the legislative
process on their own merits when exposed to public scrutiny. The House version
of the Amber bill includes a particularly repressive measure having nothing to
do with missing children: the Feeney
Amendment destroys most discretion of federal judges to impose downward
departures under the federal sentencing guidelines. The discretion would be
transferred to prosecutors--a serious violation of the principle of separation
of powers, based on a draconian and unjust insistence that the failed federal
drug war must never waver from imposing major sentences on minor actors.
April 2, 2003
National Journal's reputation as an authoritative source of information is
sometimes overrated. Consider an article in the current (3/29) issue comparing
the presidencies of the two Bushes: "Both former President George H.W. Bush and
current President George W. Bush were initially elected in close contests that
left them with uncertain political mandates." Actually, the first Bush in 1988
carried 40 states, beat Dukakis by 426 electoral votes to 111, and won 53.4% of
the popular vote compared to 45.6% for Dukakis.
April 1, 2003
Yesterday was opening day for the NAACP's lawsuit against the firearms industry,
in the Brooklyn court of federal Judge Jack Weinstein. The NAACP attempted to
portray the lawsuit as not hostile to gun ownership. The NAACP attorney told the
jury, according to the transcript:
Certainly the NAACP of all organizations in
this country understands and respects the constitutional right to bear arms.
Upon the NAACP's founding on 1909 in New York City, soon thereafter it took up
its first criminal law case In Ossien, Michigan, where a black male, Mr. Sweet,
was charged with killing a white supremacist along with several accomplices. The
court, to rule out Mr. Sweet and his family to be pushed out of their home in
Michigan, it was in that case that the presiding judge, to uphold Mr. Sweet's
right to be with his family, coined the popular phrase "a man's home is his
One might take the attorney's claim about
upholding the constitutional right to arms a little more seriously if he were
more scrupulous about the facts. In Detroit (Not "Ossien") Michigan in 1926, the
NAACP and Clarence Darrow came to the defense of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black man
who had fatally shot a person in a white mob which was attacking his home
because Dr. Sweet had moved into an all-white neighborhood.
The phrase "a man's home is his castle," while certainly relevant to the Sweet
case, first appears in a 1499 case which arose during the reign of Henry VII.
Notwithstanding the nice, half-way accurate beginning, the NAACP lawyer then
turned to such a harsh and emotional attack on the gun industry that Judge
Weinstein repeatedly interrupted him to announce that the attorney was wrong in
what he was telling the jury that the case was about. At the end of the NAACP
opening statement, Judge Weinstein addressed the jury and told them: " Ladies
and gentlemen, thank you. I want to emphasize the case is not a case about
segregation or discrimination; is that clear? It's not a case about lobbying,
getting particular legislation or not getting it. Is that clear?"
The attorney's comparison of the firearms industry to people who drown babies in
rivers was not corrected by the judge.
American military spokesmen in Kuwait have said that their facilities are
currently overwhelmed by cards and gift packages for our heroes in current war.
Accordingly, one of the best ways to send a gift to our fighting men and women
is to make an
electronic donation through the Gifts from the Homeland program to buy a PX
card for members of the Armed Forces. If you don't have a particular recipient
for the gift, the program will send your gift to someone in the Air Force. Or
you could make a donation to the USO.
Alternatively, the PizzaIDF program allows
you to buy a pizza and soda for an American serviceman operating the Patriot
Missile batteries in Israel.
WAR POETRY[Dave Kopel]
A fine new poem
by Rob S. Rice graces the "Poets
for the War" website. It concludes:
Our carriers loom off his coast.
Our bombers fill his skies.
And brave, skilled men with stealthy tread
Prepare his grim surprise.
Grant, and Sherman, Patton, Greene
Have taught us to make war.
We now pick up their legacy
And free the world once more.
02:49 AM[Dave Kopel]
One of NRO's very erudite readers recently explained that my post on the Battle
of Lepanto (a 1571 naval battle in the eastern Mediterranean in which a Western
coalition demolished the Ottoman navy) overstated the battle's long-term
significance. To wit: the Ottomans swiftly rebuilt their fleet, and used it to
retake Tunis in 1573, and then to conquer Morocco. In 1645, they launched a
successful invasion of Crete. Lepanto was an important Western victory, but not
of the enduring magnitude of Marathon or Tours.
Mar. 31, 2003
VOTING IN ZIMBABWE[Dave Kopel]
by-elections are taking place in Zimbabwe, and the Movement for Democratic
Change is threatening mass action if Mugabe rigs the vote again.
TAXING IN CALIF.[Dave Kopel]
California advocates of more expensive government are
hard at work on
plans to weaken Proposition 13, the 1978 tax limitation initiative.
03:36 AM[Dave Kopel]
The Palestinian Authority has
renamed a main
neighborhood square in Jenin in honor of the terrorist who killed four Americans
with a bomb in a taxi.
IRAQ, AFTER[Dave Kopel]
A great article by Eric Davis for
the Foreign Policy Research Institute explains Iraq's post-colonial political
history, and argues that prospects for civil society and democracy in liberated
Iraq are very good.
Mar. 30, 2003
My new media analysis
column looks at how today's new media, such as weblogs, are supplanting last
decade's new media (cable news and the Drudge Report) in coverage of Gulf War
II. The column also examines the death of Rachel Corrie, gay rights in the
Supreme Court, hockey playoffs, and the censorship of David Wells.
TRUMAN & GEPHARDT[Dave Kopel]
Harry Truman would have liked Dick Gephardt. They both sprang from Missouri's
machine politics, both fervently supported organized labor, and both believed in
activist federal government in service of the American people. They were also
both patriots. Truman won his battle for the soul of the Democratic party in
1948, when he held the party together against challenges from Communist
sympathizers (Henry Wallace) and die-hard segregationists (Strom Thurmond).
explains that Gephardt and other patriotic Democrats face a similar
challenge in today, against a large faction of the party that is fundamentally
hostile to the war on terrorism and which does not wish for American success in
the war in Iraq.
IN CHINA NEWS[Dave Kopel]
Another success for the president's patient diplomacy: China has started
putting on oil squeeze on North Korea, in order to signal that country's regime
that confrontational policies will lead to disaster--with Kim Il Jong risking
the same fate as Saddam Hussein.
09:02 AM[Dave Kopel]
Steven Den Beste
deconstructs Amnesty International's urgent condemnations of the United
States coupled with its almost complete silence on the human-rights atrocities
being perpetrated by the Iraqi regime. His conclusion: AI's member base
considers anti-Americanism a higher priority than human rights. AI's record on
human rights has been uneven for many years. As a congressional intern in 1981,
I attended a party in which an AI official made the preposterous claim that
South Korea (at the time, a pro-American dictatorship) had the worst
human-rights record on the planet--as if Rumania, Albania, or North Korea were
not far worse. Currently, AI is actively supporting the campaign at the U.N. to
disarm all civilians, thus preventing civilians from resisting tyranny and
genocide. In contrast to AI, Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff is a principled
leftist supporter of human rights for all humans, and his
latest column argues that overthrowing the Saddam regime is a human-rights
09:01 AM[Dave Kopel]
A recent post by Rod reports on a Catholic priest organizing prayers "imploring
the intercession of our Lady of Lepanto for the safety of our armed forces." For
those of you unsure about how Mary acquired the title "Our Lady of Lepanto," the
story goes back to October 7, 1571, when Western Christian navies, under Admiral
Don John of Austria, wiped out a huge Ottoman naval invasion force in the
Battle of Lepanto,
near Greece. The Christian forces were carrying a replica of the Guadeloupe
painting, and praying the Rosary. Thousands of Christian galley slaves were
freed from the Turks. The battle was one of the
important in the West's struggle to resist Islamic imperialism, and was the
first major Turkish naval defeat. Volunteers from all over the West had joined
to together to repel a catastrophic threat of invasion; the victory at Lepanto
ended Turkish naval expansionism in the Mediterranean, although Turkish land
forces remained quite vigorous in the Balkans and central Europe for much
longer. Lepanto ranks with Marathon, Thermopylae, and Tours as among the
greatest and most heroic Western battles against Eastern imperialism and
despotism. Twelve thousand galley slaves were freed as a result.
09:00 AM[Dave Kopel]
On Friday, Hugh Hewitt's national radio program played a song suggested by the
James Lileks: "Arms for the Love of America." If you missed it, this great 1941
Irving Berlin song can be heard
on the web. The web
version isn't quite as rousing as the version that Hewitt played, but it's still
Mar. 17, 2003
The Palestinian Authority's official newspaper has a new
article extolling Dalal
Mughrabi, a female terrorist who murdered 37 people on March 11, 1978, including
the niece of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.). Several schools in PA
territory are named for the terrorist.
SEE FOR YOURSELF[Dave Kopel]
website presents satellite photos of an Iraqi facility said to have been
used for training hijackers
Mar. 16, 2003
The Jewish holiday of Purim begins on March 17. It celebrates the story in the
Book of Esther, in
which the Babylonians Jews were saved from a plot to murder them all. The
heroine of the story is Queen Esther, who risked her life to reveal her identity
as a Jew. When the attempt to slaughter the Jews began, the Jews "gathered
themselves together, and stood for their lives" and destroyed those who would
destroy them. In honor of Purim, you can send
special Purim candies (or pizza, or hot soup) to an Israeli Defense Forces
soldier--or to a patrol or even a whole platoon. They've been fighting on the
front lines of war against terror for years, and if they had failed, the front
lines would now be much closer to the United States.
Mar. 2, 2003
IN THE NEWS[Dave Kopel]
My new media analysis column looks at coverage of fencing the Mexican
border, the Iraqi stock market, Jihad demonstrators, a NPR station that can't
handle diversity, and "affordable housing."
Today's Sunday New York Times includes a cartoon about Michael Bellesiles
and John Lott, accusing them of moral equivalence. It's a hard claim to make
since Bellesiles's book was a fabrication through and through,
as Clayton Cramer
has proven. In contrast, the Lott controversy involves only a single
sentence in his book, and the rest of the book is supported by a detailed data
which Lott has made available to many dozens of researchers. But I think the
worst thing about the cartoon is that it shows the continuing decline of quality
editing at the Times. The on-line version of the cartoon refers to
"knit-picking" scholars who questioned Lott. People who pay attention to small
details are not like people who pick at knitted fabric; the proper word is
"nit-picking"--a metaphor for picking tiny lice eggs (nits) out of hair.
Nit-picking, both literally and figuratively is a very important activity.
During my father's 22-year career in the Colorado legislature, he was known as
the body's chief nit-picker, which meant that he paid careful attention to how
proposed statutes were worded, so that sloppy language did not cause unintended
problems. (He also worked on scores of bigger projects, authoring many major
bills, and serving for a while as House Judiciary Chairman, and as Assistant
Minority Leader). Nit-pickers get rid of problems which are tiny now but which
will cause serious trouble later if they are not removed. Let's not confuse
much-needed nit-pickers which the pointlessly destructive people who distress
Feb. 25, 2003
A NEW EU[Dave Kopel]
British humor site The Brains Trust
France is preparing to form a New European Union: "The French are only including
themselves in the initial membership of the NEU and are expected to maintain
control of all of the decision making bodies and writing all of the treaties."
NOT JUST GUNS[Dave Kopel]
Gun companies such as Smith & Wesson have long enjoyed a profitable sideline
selling logo items. Now, Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47,
into the business. He's just signed a deal with a German company to sell
"manly" items such as snowboards, umbrellas, shaving foam, watches, penknives,
and a vodka cocktail. "The articles are very similar to my rifle: reliable, easy
to use and indestructible," he says.
GETTING BEYOND THE PROTESTS[Dave Kopel]
Sound and Fury reminds us that naive and misguided "peace" protesters don't
pose much of a political threat to Republican Presidents who stay the course. A
million people showed up at Central Park to demonstrate for a nuclear freeze;
Reagan ignored them, and went on to win the largest electoral landslide in
CHRONICLE OF A FRAUD[Dave Kopel]
In Reason, Joyce Lee Malcolm
Michael Bellesiles almost got away with audacious academic fraud.
Feb. 21, 2003
Malaysian immigrant Anuska Anastasia Solomon
criticizes the narrow-minded Hollywood anti-war protesters who refuse to
confront the world's realities of good and evil:
The anti-war demonstrations - reminiscent of the 1960s and heady, I am
sure, for Americans enamored with democratic process - do not address the
vitriolic anti-Americanism that caused Sept. 11. Nor do they take careful
account of the peculiar dilemma of the Iraqi people and of Muslims all over
It is disheartening to observe among Americans a form of anti-Americanism, of
self-hate, that transforms into a nebulous, rude and uninformed rebellion
against a president and an administration that has been called into power for
such a time as this....
The Iraqi people are victims of Islamic government. There is no room for God,
freedom of speech, thought, or worse, conscience in the Islamic political,
social and cultural environment....
Freedom needs to be coupled with truth. Waving slogans and stripping naked
does not set us free. The reality is that there is no Islamic constitution.
Freedom as we understand it does not exist on Islamic soil....
The "white male majority," the Founding Fathers of America, not perfect men by
any means, were inspired to write the unique American Constitution, according
freedoms that must be defended at any cost. The civic institutions and
character by which America became great militarily, commercially and
culturally can be emulated. I'm no poet of Allen Ginsberg's stature to howl -
but there is a time to speak.
The enemy is not American.
Ms. Solomon is one of the Denver Post's "Compass" columnists who
provide perspectives from under-represented communities.
Feb. 18, 2003
Harry Truman was an undistinguished political hack of the Prendergast machine
from Kansas City. As a senator, he was known mainly for blind loyalty to his
party, and accomplished little except successfully heading a commission on
corruption in military procurement. As president, he advocated a variety of
failed big government measures, such as wage and price controls and socialized
medicine. Yet on the most important issue of his time, he was courageously and
stubbornly far-sighted. He recognized Soviet expansionism as a mortal threat to
civilization, and he rallied his nation and Western Europe to defend themselves.
Tony Blair, while born in much more elevated circumstances than Harry Truman,
has devoted too much of his own tenure to repressive domestic nannyism. Yet,
like Truman, he is defiantly and proudly right on the most important issue of
his day: the awful mortal danger to civilization posed by Islamic terrorism. He
may, like Harry Truman in 1948, win an unexpected vindication in the next
election, but there is little doubt that he will join Harry Truman and John F.
Kennedy among the greatest of liberals who embraced the privilege to defend
freedom in its hour of maximum peril.
Feb. 16, 2003
OLD MEDIA MISS THE STORY, AGAIN[Dave
My latest media analysis
column for the Rocky Mountain News examines how newspapers overlooked
two stories which have been well-reported by Internet media: the Franco-German
cover-up of their role in helping Saddam acquire illegal WMDs, and the
celebrations of some Arabs about the Columbia tragedy. I also examine polling
about gay rights, and whether it's "McCarthyism" to call a Communist a
"Communist." Finally, I retract my earlier statement that ANSWER/WWP are
"Stalinist." Hardline revolutionary Communist, yes; Stalinist, no.
Feb. 15, 2003
Zimbabwe News reprints an
the Guardian detailing how France is unilaterally undermining the
European Union's attempt to put pressure on Robert Mugabe. The French policy
can't be explained as stemming from anti-Americanism, since the U.S. is
uninvolved. France is not merely an old country, it is senile.
Feb. 14, 2003
CAN'T SAY "FRENCH" ANYMORE?[Dave Kopel]
If the plan to replace "French fries" with "victory fries" works, does that mean
that when people osculate with their tongues, we have call it "victory kissing"?
That the Valentine's Day activity known as "Frenching" will henceforth be called
The great poet of liberty, in "Feelings of a Republican on the Fall of
Bonaparte", still has contemporary relevance -- for Saddam, and perhaps for
I hated thee, fallen Tyrant! I did groan,
To think that a most unambitious slave,
Like thou, should dance and revel on the grave
Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne
Where it had stood even now: thou didst prefer
A frail and bloody pomp, which Time has swept
In fragments towards oblivion. Massacre,
For this, I prayed, would on thy sleep have crept,
Treason and Slavery, Rapine, Fear, and Lust,
And stifled thee their minister. I know
Too late, since thou and France are in the dust,
That Virtue owns a more eternal foe
Than Force or Fraud: old Custom, legal Crime,
And bloody Faith, and foulest birth of Time.
Feb. 13, 2003
GUN OWNERSHIP AND HUMAN RIGHTS[Dave
In support of the United Nations disarmament program, many academics campaign
against gun possession by "non-state actors." In the latest issue of the Brown Journal of World Affairs, the Kopel-Gallant-Eisen team
that gun ownership by citizens is a foundation of human rights. We detail the
horrible consequences of disarmament campaigns around the world.
SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON GUN OWNER PRIVACY[Dave Kopel]
On March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Treasury v. Chicago. In that case, Chicago argues that the Freedom of
Information Act compels the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(BATFE) to release the names of gun owners in various federal databases. I
the case in the forthcoming issue of the American Bar Association's Preview of Supreme Court Cases. (PDF version.)
Feb. 12, 2003
DEATH TAX[Dave Kopel]
Cato's David Boaz
explains that the Social Security system is an even more pernicious form of
"death tax" than is the estate tax.
OHIO BAN ON GUN CARRYING IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL[Dave Kopel]
A trial court in Seneca County, Ohio, has
state's ban on the carrying of concealed weapons for lawful protection to
violate the Ohio Constitution's right to keep and bear arms. A case raising the
same issue, based on a ruling in Hamilton County, is pending before the Ohio
Feb. 11, 2003
A mother and father have
convinced the Upper Canada District School Board to remove the word "gun"
from all first grade spelling tests throughout the district.
"Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely,
must be the truth," observed Sherlock Holmes.
Chicago Boyz has now changed its mind, and agreed with Den Beste that the
most plausible remaining explanation of Franco-German behavior is an attempt to
cover up complicity in Saddam's WMD programs
02:56 AM[Dave Kopel]
Asia Times offers a pair of excellent new columns, explaining that the
post-WW II order of the Arab world is
France's destructive "sacred heart of darkness" in the 17th century as
emblematic of the nation's inclination to vicious diplomacy and self-delusion.
Feb. 8, 2003
On this day in in 1949, the Communist government of Hungary sentenced
Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty
to life in prison. Today, a foundation
named in his honor carries on his work of educating the world about the evils of
Communism. Earlier generations of National Review readers remember him as
one of the foremost of Europe's courageous anti-communists.
Feb. 5, 2003
PI = 3.2[Dave Kopel]
On February 8, 1897, the Indiana House of Representatives, by a vote of 67-0,
passed a bill
declaring the value of pi to be 3.2. The bill
did not pass the
Indiana Senate. The Senators did not understand that the bill was incorrect, but
they did understand that the subject was not appropriate for legislation. May
modern legislatures display the wisdom of the Indiana Senate.
Feb. 3, 2003
MEDIA BIAS ON WAR PROTESTS AND SUVs[Dave Kopel]
My new media analysis
column for the Rocky Mountain News examines the media's egregious
failure to inform readers about the Communists organizing the major anti-war
protests. I also debunk New York Times claims that Bush is pushing a
special tax break for SUVs.
Feb. 1, 2003
Judge William Young:
Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon
you....This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair
and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you. We
are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are
Americans. We have been through the fire before.....
You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in
any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier
gives you far too much stature.....And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We
do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt
them down one by one and bring them to justice. ....You're no warrior. I know
warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple
attempted murders. ....
And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable
hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing. And I
have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire
record it comes as close to understanding as I know.
It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our
freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to
come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.
Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere
from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that
you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see
that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely....We care
about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the
measure of our own liberties.
Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any
price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The
world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow
it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this
courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to
see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in
fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers
will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters
can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence
democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.
See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That
flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for
freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.
The Libyan dictatorship, now ensconced as chair of the UN Commission on Human
Rights, is a supporter of the Sudanese slave trade, and allows the sale of
Sudanese slaves in Libya. The anti-slavery group iAbolish is promoting a
about this travesty. Don't expect Mr. Mandela to send any letters.
WANT PEACE? DEPOSE TYRANTS[Dave Kopel]
"Manus haec inimica tyrannis
Einse petit placidam cum liberate quietem."
(This hand, enemy to tyrants,
By the sword seeks calm peacefulness with liberty.)
Algernon Sidney, Discourses on Government. This great statement is the Official Motto of
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Nelson Mandela outperformed almost every modern head of state on the African
continent by not attempting to anoint himself President for life. Nevertheless,
his vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no
surprise, given his
long-standing dedication to Communism and praise for terrorists. The world
finally saw that his wife Winnie, rather than being a saintly freedom-fighter,
was a murderous thug. The events of 2003 are helping many Americans lose their
illusions about the Old Europe; perhaps it is also time to discard the Old
Media's fantasy version of Nelson Mandela, proud
winner of the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize.
12:36 AM[Dave Kopel]
post overlooked some important French military accomplishments. In 732,
Charles Martel won one of the
most important battles in world history, defeating Saracen invaders at
Tours. Martel's grandson
Charlemagne was one of the greatest military leaders of all time, unifying
much of Western Europe under wise and (for its time) very free government.
"France" derives from the word "Frank" which means "free" and there was a time
when the Franks were the vanguard of freedom. The French tradition of being
cheese-eating surrender monkeys is really a tradition of only a little less than
two centuries. If the French would pay more attention to
St. Joan and less to
Jean-Paul Sartre, they might find the courage to regain their ancient gloire.
Jan. 31, 2003
The Gauls put up a pretty good fight before getting beat by Julius Caesar, but
them then on it's been pretty much downhill for the French militarily, as
Silflay Hraka's weblog
details quite humorously. Hraka makes a very unfair comment about Joan of
Arc, but other than that, he's right on. He notes the absurdity of the French
national anthem "To arms, to arms, ye brave! Th'avenging sword unsheathe!" being
sung by a nation which never wins wars on its own, and whose most recent major
war, the Algerian Rebellion, marked the first time since the Crusades that an
Arab (non-Turkic) military beat a western army.
Jan. 30, 2003
RAVE ACT IN ANOTHER DISGUISE[Dave
In our column
today, Glenn Reynolds and I pointed out how last year's failed "RAVE Act" has
been snuck into Tom Daschle's omnibus crime bill, under the misleading title of
"Crackhouse Amendments." Proponents of this oppressive law are also pushing it
under the new "Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act," S. 226, sponsored by Joe
Biden, Charles Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, and Joe Lieberman.
11:25 PM[Dave Kopel]
Federal prosecutors in California are
Rosenthal for cultivating marijuana. Amazingly, they are successfully preventing
the jury from finding out that Rosenthal's activities were entirely legal under
California's medical marijuana statute. This is an outrageous abuse of power,
and contrary to due process and utterly inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment.
Jan. 28, 2003
MORE ON BOSNIA[Dave Kopel]
A reader serving with our armed forces in Afghanistan writes with a correction
for my Bosnia
column yesterday, in which my co-authors and I called "Milosevic, the first
head of state to face war-crimes charges." The reader points out that "Admiral
Karl Doenitz was the head of the German government" between the announcement of
Hitler's death (May 1) and the German surrender (May 7, 1945). Doenitz was tried
at Nuremburg and served a decade in prison. The acts for which Doenitz was
convicted (waging a war of aggression, and violating the law of war at sea) did
not involve his short tenure as a head of state.
GUN LIABILITY VERDICT OVERTURNED[Dave
Last November, I
wrote about a case in West Palm Beach in West Palm Beach in which a firearms
wholesaler had been found civilly liable because a gun was used in a murder.
Yesterday, the trial judge in the Grunow threw out the verdict. He ruled
that because the jury had found that the gun was not defective, the wholesaler
could not be liable for having sold it.
Jan. 24, 2003
RICHARD LAMM: ROE V. WADE MAY BE WRONG[Dave Kopel]
As a freshman Colorado legislator in 1967, Richard Lamm sponsored what was then
the most liberal abortion law in the nation: allowing abortion in cases of rape,
incest, fetal deformity, and physical and mental health (narrowly defined, in
practice). Lamm, who was elected Governor three times, continues to strongly
support broad abortion rights. Yet on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he
writes: ""I think it might have been better to let states develop" abortion
policy. "There's a question of whether to have nine people change such a
dramatic thing is the wisest course of action."
As Glenn Reynolds and I have argued, federalization of the abortion issue is a
terrible constitutional mistake. Our law review
article argues that neither the federal law protecting abortion clinic
entrances, nor the proposed federal law banning partial birth abortion are
legitimate exercises of federal power to regulate "interstate commerce." More
generally, we suggest that national unity is better served when the national
government does not impose winner-take-all national policies on divisive social
issues such as abortion, drugs, and guns.
Jan. 16, 2003
As MSNBC reports,
North Korea's gulag rivals the monstrous creations of Stalin and Mao. Two
hundred thousand people held as slave laborers in the gulag; they usually end up
dead, sometimes as the victims of biological warfare experiments. Human Rights
activists need to start encouraging the administration to take energetic steps
to depose the tyrant sooner rather than later. The USSR was a nuclear power, but
it couldn't survive the sustained determination of Ronald Reagan to destroy its
communist regime. The people of North Korea suffer from a regime far worse than
the 1980s Soviets, and the North Korean tyranny is orders of magnitude less
powerful than the Soviets. It's long past time for Kim Jong Il to hang from a
lamp post, and it's time for the White House to begin helping the people of
North Korea depose him.
02:58 AM[Dave Kopel]
If you'd like to deliver a morale-boosting, nutritious meal to the
freedom-fighters on the front line of the war against terrorism, then
PizzaIDF lets you send a pizza and soda to
Israeli soldiers. Or you can send a package of dried fruit, hot soup, or
hamburgers. Your gift also helps Israel's
pizza parlors and other food stores, which are suffering from the lack of
tourism resulting from the Palestinian terror campaign
02:39 AM[Dave Kopel]
Last year, an expert report by the California Department of Justice concluded
that ballistic "fingerprinting" can't work -- in the sense that a large database
of ballistic images from gun owned by law-abiding citizens would not help solve
crime. California Attorney General Lockyer attempted to suppress the report, and
ordered a new study to be conducted by European experts. That
has concluded that Lockyer's scheme won't work. Again, Lockyer is attempting to
hide the report from the public.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY[Dave Kopel]
January 15 is the birthday of Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the American
hydrogen bomb, and the great intellectual force behind missile defense. Other
than Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman, few people deserve more credit for the fact
that today the U.S.S.R. lies on the ash heap of history, and Eastern Europe is
Jan. 13, 2003
HATE CRIME LAWS[Dave Kopel]
Ever since 1991, the Colorado legislature has rejected repeated efforts to amend
Colorado's "Ethnic Intimidation" law so that it becomes a "Hate Crimes" law
covering homosexuals. In a new
monograph, I argue
that laws granting special victim status on the basis of race, sexual
orientation, or other Identity Politics classes are dangerous and divisive. They
harm effective law enforcement, promote hoaxes, and undermine the equal
protection of the law.
Jan. 10, 2003
Kentucky State Representative Susan Westrom has introduced
abolish the legal confidentiality of statements made in confession to a priest
(or by people of other faiths speaking to a minister, rabbi, etc.) According to
Westrom's bill, "The privilege shall not extend to any communication relating to
the neglect or abuse of a minor child." Should the bill become law, it will
deter parents or other caregivers from seeking the help of priests and other
religious counselors -- especially since aggressive social workers tend to
define "neglect" very broadly.
The Catholic League for Religious
and Civil Rights explains: "This bill does not touch tangentially on
church-state relations—it cuts to the core. The sanctity of the confessional is
one of the most important elements of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Indeed,
it is impossible to fathom how the sacrament could operate if the government is
permitted to penetrate the privacy of the priest-penitent relationship. At stake
is both the religious liberty clause of the First Amendment and the
establishment clause....the cases of child sexual abuse that have come to light
have had nothing to do with information learned in the confessional."
The Kentucky bill -- and similar bills sure to be introduced in other states
-- should be understood not simply as expressions of hostility towards religious
freedom, but as important steps toward the total information state, in which all
legal claims to privacy from state surveillance, such as the
accountant-client privilege, are under attack.
Archive of Kopel's Corner
2006, Oct. 3- Dec. 31.
2006, Jan. 1- Oct. 2.
The rest of Kopel's website
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