Kopel Blog Archive 2002

Nov. 25, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Maureen Dowd's columns are too pointless and snarky to merit running in both Denver daily newspapers, I argue in my new media column. In contrast, former SDS President Todd Gitlin's book Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives ought to be on every media-watcher's reading list, I suggest.
Posted at 11:52 AM

Oct. 3, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Wall Street Journal's on-line "Discussions" website is hosting a discussion of the Torricelli controversy. Along with Jonathan Adler, I'm one of the experts selected by the Journal to participate in the discussion. Please join in, and share your views.

Sept. 25, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Intense media coverage of the Toogood case has led many people wonder who "Irish Travelers" are. Well, there about fifty thousand of them in the United States, and eighty-six thousand worldwide. Also known as Tinkers or Menceir, they speak a language known as Irish Traveler Cant, also called Shelta, Sheldru, or Gaemon. Linguists explain that Shelta is derivative of Gaelic, and is not associated with Gypsy languages, even though Travelers and Gypsies follow somewhat similar lifestyles. Shelta is classified as a cryptolect, a private language which helps group members maintain solidarity and secrecy. Irish Travelers immigrated to the United States in the middle and late 19th century; they originally specialized in the horse and mule trade, but the decline in this part of the economy led to their current specialization in the sale of goods and service. A website about the Travelers in Ireland details the conflicts between Travelers and the rest of the Irish population, explains Traveler culture, supplies a Shelta/English lexicon, and offers links to other websites about Travelers. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper lists a half-dozen serious crimes committed by Travelers in the U.S. between 1992 and 2001. But for just about any community of tens of thousands people (e.g., Catholic Priests and other Religious; or residents of semi-populous cities or counties; or employees of large corporations), one could compile lists of several serious crimes perpetrated by a few dozen members of the community, over the course of a decade. Mr. Roeper notwithstanding, we should be hesitant about using a few crimes committed by handful of people as a basis for condemning an entire group -- especially when we have little personal knowledge of the group.

Sept. 4, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
My newest media analysis column for the Rocky Mountain News reports on the failure of most American newspapers to cover the incipient genocide in Zimbabwe. If you want to stay informed on daily events in Zimbabwe, check out Zimbabwe News, which offers a daily e-mail news summary. For background on the genocide, my NRO article from last year details how the disarmament of the people of Zimbabwe has paved the way for mass murder by Mugabe's government.

August 28, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Was bin Laden influenced by Isaac Asimov's science-fiction trilogy Foundation? The Guardian plausibly suggests he may have been.

August 8, 2002


England's extremely repressive gun laws--the most severe in the Western world--are hailed as models by American anti-gun groups. Joyce Malcolm's new book Guns and Violence: The English Experience shows that England had little crime at the dawn of the 20th century, when the nation had essentially no gun-control laws, but over the course of the century, the English government repeatedly lied to the English people in order to prohibit handguns, severely restrict possession of rifles and shotguns, and punish people for using force to defend themselves against violent crime. The unsurprising result, as Glenn Reynolds notes in his review for FoxNews.com, has been soaring violent crime, giving England a violent crime rate notably worse than the rate in America and other Western nations.

July 26, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
According to Jonah Goldberg's General Rule on Patriotism, "The more negative your view of America, the more positive your view of the United Nations." But there are some extremely important exceptions to that rule: Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and most other post-WWII Northern Democrats. They were all deeply patriotic Americans, even as they entertained doomed hopes for the U.N.'s role in building a peaceful world.

July 25, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
One of the reasons the federal government failed to prevent the September 11 attacks was because federal law enforcement was so overburdened with enforcing federal laws that are properly the concerns of state and local governments. Such laws include child support, drug possession, and gun possession. Now Senator Joseph Biden is leading the charge to make things even worse, with his so-called "RAVE Act" which would, essentially, create a federal law against producing music concerts attended by young people. If you produce a concert and someone uses drugs at the concert, you go to federal prison. Glenn Reynolds's column for TechCentral Station suggests this is a very bad idea.

July 22, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Using the military for domestic law enforcement, as Tom Ridge and Joseph Biden are now proposing, is a terrible idea. Biden was part of the Congresses which have used the drug was as a pretext to repeatedly gut the Posse Comitatus Act (which forbids use of the military in domestic law enforcement). As I detail in a chapter of a Cato Institute book, the immense drug-war loopholes in the Posse Comitatus Act have led directly to the deaths of many innocents who had nothing to do with drugs. This is because soldiers are warriors, not peace officers. Soldiers are trained to destroy an enemy quickly and ruthlessly; this training is precisely the opposite of training for peace officers, who are supposed to minimize the use of force and to scrupulously respect constitutional safeguards. Biden is now claiming that the Posse Comitatus Act currently bars soldiers from shooting at terrorists who are about to use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. This claim is extremely dubious, because the Act simply forbids the military from being used for law enforcement; the Act does not forbid the military from being used for military purposes -- such as killing enemy invaders. When Japanese planes started bombing Pearl Harbor, nobody asserted that the Posse Comitatus Act prevented the Army and Navy from shooting at the Japanese planes; nor could anyone credibly claim that the Posse Comitatus Act would have barred the Army and Navy from shooting down Japanese planes while they were flying over Oahu on the way to Pearl Harbor. Notably, no one today is claiming that the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of an F-16 to shoot down a hijacked commercial airliner. Quite plainly, nothing in the Posse Comitatus Act today forbids the American military to kill enemy guerillas and irregulars who have entered American territory. The best anti-terrorism changes in the Posse Comitatus Act would be to repeal all of the drug-war loopholes which were created in the 1980s. By relieving the military from the non-military job of marijuana interdiction, Congress would instantly make more resources available for a genuinely military job: terrorist destruction.

July 20, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Eighteen state Attorneys General have written a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft commending his recognition of the Second Amendment as an individual right. The letter also recognizes that the right to bear arms protects public safety, and cites one of my NRO articles on the failure of gun control in Great Britain.

July 19, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz brings very good news: the United States will move against Iraq in mid-August. No longer dependent on a coalition with the Left, the French government quietly supports toppling Saddam and removing Yasser Arafat.

July 18, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Transportation Security Administration head John Magaw has just resigned, due in part to MSNBC's exposure of failures and coverups at the TSA. The resignation offers President Bush an opportunity to demand of the TSA the same kind of accountability he is demanding of private corporations, and to appoint a leader who will improve security rather than build a bureaucracy. In holding confirmation hearings on Magaw's replacement, Congress should insist that Magaw's replacement specifically repudiate Magaw's failed policies -- including misdirected screening of airport passengers and an anti-gun policy so ridiculous that even Barbara Boxer opposes it.


[Dave Kopel]
The "Millions for Reparations March" is scheduled for August 17 in Washington. But in seeking reparations from the federal government, the marchers are foolishly demanding payments for the very government which destroyed American slavery. A much more logical target for reparations would be the governments which actually participated in the slave trade -- namely, the West African governments which captured blacks in Africa and then delivered them to African ports for transportation to the western hemisphere. These governments are the primary illegal profiteers from slavery. Without these slave-capturing governments, the slave trade would have been impossible, since the ship crews hardly had the resources to capture large numbers of slaves personally. Rather than merely protecting slavery as a legal institution (as almost every government in world history did at some point), these African governments were actual slave traders. The successors of these wicked slave-trading governments are the wicked dictatorships which control almost all of West Africa today, and which continue (in more subtle ways) to plunder the people of Africa. Accordingly, if the reparations movement wants to be considered as just cause -- rather than just another shakedown scheme of American taxpayers -- the reparations movement ought to demand reparations from African governments for their indispensable and enormous role in the slave trade.

July 12, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Rod makes the excellent point that it is time to stop ceding the "environmentalist" title to groups who believe that greater government restrictions on personal freedom are the only way to protect the environment. I refer to Watermelons (green outside, red inside) -- who espouse the kind of statist solutions which have so often failed -- as "paleo-environmentalists." Groups like the Political Economy Research Center (PERC) -- which are working on innovative, effective ways to protect the environment while also protecting human rights -- I refer to as "progressive environmentalists."

July 9, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Rod's fear that vouchers will lead to government interference with private K-12 schools is quite legitimate, in light of how federal funding (via student loans and research grants) has created extensive federal controls over college and university education. He's also worried about vouchers going to "Louis Farrakhan Academy, Wahhabi Central High, or Wicca Elementary," and on this, I think he's half-right. America has always been religiously pluralist and tolerant, and our country has nothing to fear from neo-pagan families sending their children to eco-worship schools. Wiccans may be strange by contemporary standards, but they're no more dangerous than the Amish or lots of other small sects. As for Wahhabi schools, one possible effect of vouchers might be to make Muslim schools less dependent on Saudi funding, and hence less likely to promote the Saudi pro-terrorism line.

June 8, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Jerry Seinfeld is planning a special solidarity visit and performance in Israel this July, according to israelinsider. What a great way to show support for people on the front line of the war against Islamonazi terror. This of course brings to mind "The Letter" episode, in which an elderly couple disagrees about the meaning of a portrait of Kramer. Except that it sounds like they're the U.S. and Europe arguing about Yassir Arafat:

Europe: "I sense great vulnerability, a man-child crying out for love, an innocent orphan in the post modern world."
U.S.: "I see a parasite, a sexually depraved miscreant who is seeking only to gratify his basest and most immediate urges."
Europe: "His struggle is man's struggle. He lifts my spirit."
U.S.: "He is a loathsome, offensive brute - yet I can't look away."
Europe: "He transcends time and space."
U.S.: "He sickens me."

June 5, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Mary Carpenter is the grandmother of two children who were murdered by an insane man with a pitchfork in Merced, California. In a letter to a state legislature considering a trigger-lock mandate, Mrs. Carpenter blames California's trigger-lock law for her grandchildren's death. The killer attacked while the eldest child in the family, a 14-year-old girl, was babysitting the younger three. Because the family's guns were locked in a safe, in accordance with California law, the teenager, who was trained with firearms and a very good shot, was unable to retrieve a gun to protect her siblings. As new research by John Lott details, so-called "safe storage" laws do in fact increase feelings of safety -- for violent criminals; such laws lead to more murder, rape, robbery, and assault.

June 4, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Following the example of the New York Regents, I have revised Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech to make it suitable for use on the Regents Exam. Words in brackets have been removed from the original text, and replaced by the words in all caps. These revisions are necessary to follow the Regents policy of doing everything possible to avoid giving offense to persons who are offended by any mention of race, religion sex, geography, nationality, or controversial issues:

"Five score years ago, a great [American] PERSON, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of [Negro slaves] AGRICULTURAL AND HOUSEHOLD WORKERS who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. . . . . The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the [Negro] community must not lead us to distrust of all [white] people, for many of our [white brothers] RELATIVES, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny . . . We can never be satisfied as long as a [Negro in Mississippi] VOTER cannot vote and [a Negro in New York] ANOTHER VOTER believes he OR SHE has nothing for which to vote. . . .I have a dream that one day the [state of Alabama] PLACE, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where [little black boys and black girls] SMALL CHILDREN will be able to join hands with [little white boys and white girls] SMALL CHILDREN and walk together as sisters and brothers.. . . .we will be able to speed up that day when all [of God's] children, [black men and white men] ADULTS OF BOTH SEXES, [Jews and Gentiles] PEOPLE, [Protestants and Catholics] PERSONS, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old [Negro spiritual] SONG, "Free at last! free at last! thank [God Almighty] YOU, we are free at last!"


[Dave Kopel]
If your neighbor smokes cigarettes on his porch late at night, you should call the police because he may be running a meth lab--that's literally the message in a government-made propaganda video, currently running on government television stations in Colorado. My latest media analysis column discusses the video, as well as inflated obesity statistics, Mexican police, and army incursions in the the U.S., high-school dropouts, and the number of American Muslims.


[Dave Kopel]
An op-ed in the Jerusalem Post insists that the time has come for the West Bank and and Gaza to be liberated from Occupation. It is wrong that the Arab and Jewish people in those Occupied Territories continue to be victimized by "a cruel and heartless regime" which shows "little concern is shown for the lives of the innocent, as ruthless measures are employed with the aim of driving the residents from their homes, making them so miserable that they will have no choice but to leave." Accordingly, it is time for human-rights advocates around the world to demand the immediate end of the Palestinian Authority's criminal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

June 3, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Some officials in the U.S. State Department, working with Senators Barbara Boxer and Joseph Biden, are pushing for immediate Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). As usual for U.N. conventions, CEDAW carries an attractive name, but in fact is a program for restricting freedom and eliminating choice for women and families. Patrick Fagan's excellent backgrounder for the Heritage Foundation details how CEDAW enforcers, in nations which have submitted to the CEDAW treaty, are working to restrict religious freedom, eliminate parental choice about sex education classes, discourage the celebration of Mothers Day, deconstruct the two-parent family, and most of all to make it legally, culturally, and economically burdensome for women to choose to stay home with their children. With truth-in-labeling, the Convention would be called "The Convention for the Gradual Replacement of Mothers by Government." Although CEDAW is pro-abortion, CEDAW and the bureaucrats who implement it are profoundly anti-choice on family issues, especially the choice of mothers to take care of their children personally. The Bush administration is reported to be deciding right now whether to endorse or oppose CEDAW ratification. The White House opinion line (202-456-1111) and Secretary of State Powell's e-mail service (secretary@state.gov) are counting input for or against CEDAW.

May 31, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Early this morning a Palestinian terrorist began throwing grenades and firing an automatic Kalashnikov rifle at a Jewish kindergarten and Jewish homes in a West Bank settlement. A grocery-store owner named David Elbaz used his own rifle to wound the terrorist twice, and eventually kill him, according to Ha'aretz. The village where the attack took place, Shavei-Shomron was the scene of a November 2001 drive-by shooting on a taxi, in which three people, including the village's rabbi, were injured. In a June 18, 2001 drive-by shooting, one man was killed and another wounded. On June 12, Israeli soldiers near Shavei Shomron were shot at, and one wounded. On June 11, someone planted a bomb on a road leading to Shavei Shomron. On June 2, 2001, Yassir Arafat had pretended to announce a cease-fire against Israel. In April 2001, a Palestinian terrorist set off explosives in booby-trapped car next to a school bus carrying for Shavei-Shomron children, but the bomb failed to kill anyone.


[Dave Kopel]
A Utah petition drive for a ballot initiative to prohibit licensed concealed handguns from grade schools, universities, and churches has failed. Forty-five thousands Utah citizens have concealed handgun permits. The proposal to mandate that institutions of worship and education become safe zones for terrorists, rapists, and other criminals gathered only about half of the legally required signatures. Last year, a petition drive to overturn Michigan's licensed handgun carry law was abandoned.


[Dave Kopel]
The New Yorker provides a detailed expose of the evil Mugabe regime which is destroying Zimbabwe and perpetrating state terrorism on a massive scale. Now wouldn't it be better if the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, whites included, owned plenty of firearms, with which to save their lives from the Mugabe murderers?

May 30, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Jonah's latest column points out that bin Laden's fondest dream--an all-out war between the West and Islam--would be about as one-sided as an all-out brawl featuring the Justice League of America, the Avengers, and the X-Men teamed up against Wile E. Coyote, Cathy, and the Trix Rabbit. Yet Jonah in fact underestimates the size of the freedom army that will rally to our side. He notes the Ladenite fantasy of "a bunch of Dervishes pouring into downtown Cleveland whirling their scimitars." Sorry Mr. Laden, but the Whirling Dervishes are going to fight alongside the good old U.S. of A.


[Dave Kopel]
You see, the Dervishes are a type of Sufi Muslims--a mystical branch of Islam that got started in the Middle Ages, back before the Wahabbis started using petrodollors to stamp out Islamic diversity. When the Wahhabi-inspired Taliban took over Afghanistan, they quickly began oppressing the Sufi as viciously as they oppressed women. So when Uncle Sam showed up in Afghanistan and showed he was serious, many Sufi quickly rallied to our cause, and when the Taliban fell, the Sufi celebrated joyously. The Whirling Dervishes seek mystical understanding of God through all-night ecstatic spinning dances.

So if our side wins the war, the Dervishes can whirl to their hearts' delight, and eventually become fabulously wealthy by selling video instruction tapes at Phish concerts. If bin Laden wins, the Dervishes become as illegal as women driving cars. What our Daisy Cutters don't kill, Dervish scimitars will.

May 29, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
An Israeli teacher and a school security guard teamed up Tuesday night to shoot a pair of Al Aqsa terrorists who were attacking a high school, and who had already killed three students. In America, however, such an event would be much less likely to happen, since the "Million" Mom March and other gun-prohibition groups work hard for "gun-free school zones," thus ensuring that terrorists attacking high schools will enjoy the same protection from "gun violence" as do their colleagues on airplanes.
Posted 4:11 PM | [Link]

May 24, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Brink Lindsey republishes the full text of Patrick Henry's greatest speech, warning against temporizing in the vain hope that if we retreat, our enemies will demur: "There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!" Two-and-a-quarter centuries after Henry spoke, the tyrants who occupied our planes of Boston are infinitely more evil than were the Redcoats, and they would impose on us the tyranny and slaughter they have always imposed wherever they can. We will cower and die from nuclear, chemical, biological, and explosive attacks, or we will live and fight "armed in the holy cause of liberty," knowing that America will prevail because "There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations."

May 22, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Israeli Defense Forces have blocked the main north-south road in the Gaza Strip, as a tactic against terrorist attacks, such as mortar shelling of recent weeks. The blockade is at Gush Junction (where the Gush Katif Road meets the Medrashah Junction)--a site of numerous attacks on Israelis, including in March 2002, February 2002, October 2001, May 2001, December 2000, November 2000, October 2000, September 2000, October 1998, and February 1998. The area was previously blockaded in February of this year, after a terrorist attack, as well as in May 2001. Passage will be allowed in humanitarian cases, and for persons possessing special permits.

May 21, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
At a press conference last September, the president of the Michigan Education Association announced a new MEA research program, to compete with the education-reform research sponsored by the Mackinac Institute. The MEA president praised Mackinac's success in public communication: "And so, quite frankly, I admire what they have done over the last couple of years entering into the field as they have and being pretty much the sole provider of research to the community, to the public, to our members, to legislators, and so on." Mackinac quoted the MEA's words of praise in a fund-raising letter, while noting that the MEA usually disagrees with Mackinac's policy positions. Now, the MEA has filed a lawsuit against Mackinac, claiming that Mackinac "misappropriated" the MEA President's "likeness" for "commercial benefit." Interestingly, while the Mackinac website explains the lawsuit in detail, the MEA website is entirely silent on the subject--perhaps in recognition that even fervent supporters of MEA's policies would be disgusted with MEA's blatant abuse of the legal system.


[Dave Kopel]
Ever wanted to send a pizza and some soda to an Israeli soldier, to thank him for fighting on the front lines of the war against terrorism. You can order anything from a single pizza to enough pizza to feed a platoon. And you can also send along words of encouragement.


[Dave Kopel]
Underperformin' Norman Minetta's recent announcement that airline cockpits should remain safe zones for hijackers isn't likely to improve public opinion about his miserable job performance. A Wilson Research Associates poll of 1,000 American adults asked, "Do you think the changes in airport security since September 11th have made a significant improvement in airport security, or do you think the most of the changes are primarily window dressing more intended to make people feel like security is tighter versus actually making airports more secure?" Only 37% of adults believe that airports are more secure since September 11, while 54% believe that Minetta's program (confiscating knitting needles and wand-raping grandmothers) was mere "window dressing." Asked if pilots should be allowed to carry guns, 68% said yes, while 26% said no.

May 15, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The leftist "Purple Coalition" has been decisively swept from power by the Dutch people. The center-right Christian Democrats have finished first, winning 40 of 150 seats in the Second Chamber of the States General. The List Pim Fortuyn came in a very strong second, with 26 seats. Commentators expect that the Christian Democrats will govern in a coalition with L-P-F and the smaller, conservative Liberal Party. Radio Nederland is supplying updates in English in Real Audio. Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende is expected to become the next prime minister.  


[Dave Kopel]
Today the full Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing titled , "Under the Influence: The Binge Drinking Epidemic on College Campuses." Not that Congress has any legitimate constitutional power over the subject -- as the Twenty-first Amendment (repealing the grant of Congressional power over alcohol) makes clear. The witnesses consist exclusively of supporters and instigators of the current moral panic about college drinking. The hearing is obviously a platform for expanding federal pork to pay for more "counselors" and other neo-prohibitionist busybodies on college campuses. The alleged statistics about "college binge drinking" are, as I detailed, in a Rocky Mountain News column, utterly bogus. Among other flaws, these statistics define "binge drinking" in such an absurdly broad way as to encompass people who aren't legally intoxicated or impaired. By the neo-prohibitionist definition, a woman who attends a three-hour Passover Seder and drinks the ritual Four Cups of wine is a "binge drinker." The real binging problem involves power-intoxicated bureaucrats and politicians who can't resist the temptation to intrude themselves into matters which, for federal officials, are none of their business.

May 14, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Wahhabi government currently running "Saudi" Arabia has created a government-controlled English language daily, Arab News. Today's issue features a long transcript of a radio speech by David Duke suggesting Israeli complicity in the September 11 attacks, announcing that Americans who support the Israeli government's war on terror are "traitors," and asserting that Ariel Sharon is worse than Osama bin Laden. Does the Bush administration really believe that a government which promotes David Duke as an astute Mideast analyst is a government which will sincerely promote peaceful relations with Israel?

May 13, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Congress is fast-tracking a "Victims Rights Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. A joint letter which I co-signed to the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution argues that the amendment is a gross interference with states' proper authority to control their own criminal justice systems. Further, the amendment is contrary to the Bill of Rights and the presumption of innocence, since in many criminal cases, we are not sure who is the real victim and who is the aggressor until after the jury has made its findings of fact.


[Dave Kopel]

The failed "DARE" anti-drug program was invented in Los Angeles by disgraced LAPD chief Daryl Gates. Now, the Los Angeles Police are eliminating the DARE program from Junior and Senior high schools, in order to put more police into anti-gang work.


[Dave Kopel]
The Washington Times reports on a new zero tolerance atrocity: fourth grade boys suspended "for pointing their fingers like guns during a game of army-and-aliens on the playground." When the boys were brought into the principal's office, he interrogated them about whether their families own firearms at own. The Cherry Creek school district and the head of Colorado's major anti-gun group endorsed this interrogation. My own view, as quoted in the article, was that the interrogation was "like asking what political party your parents belong to, or how they voted, or whether they've ever had an abortion. It's none of the schools' business how parents exercise their constitutional rights."


[Dave Kopel]
France's new Minister of Youth, Education, and Research is philosophy professor Luc Ferry of the Sorbonne. He also happens to France's most celebrated debunker to postmodernism, poststructuralism, and similar philosophical excuses for totalitarian primitivism. Vive la France!


[Dave Kopel]
Eight high schools in San Fernando Valley, California, are refusing to allow seniors to participate in graduation ceremonies unless they file proof with the school that they are going on to college, entering the military, getting a job, or entering vocational training. Of course none of these future plans have a legitimate connection to whether the students have completed the high-school course of study. Forbidding a graduation ceremony for students who plan to travel, get married, take time off and think about the future -- or engage in any other lawful activity -- is typical of the growing and inappropriate personal intrusiveness of American government high schools. Someone tell the control freaks in the administration to Celebrate Diversity.

May 11, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Gun Week reports that the Montclair, New Jersey, school board appears to be clinging to the legally ridiculous position that its schools can distribute political rally flyers from anti-rights groups such as the "Million" Mom March while refusing to allow the distribution of flyers from pro-rights groups such as Moms for Gun Safety. The New Jersey ACLU says, "This is a typical situation where a school has created a forum for speech, and then discriminated based on the content of the speech." The very first word on the website of the Montclair Board of Education is "diversity," but apparently the celebration of diversity does not go so far as to allow intellectual diversity.

May 8, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Media coverage of the Department of Justice's position on the Second Amendment has been grossly misleading about Second Amendment precedent. First of all, the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right only became a formal DOJ position under the Nixon administration. Many other Attorneys General (including President Reagan's) have recognized the Second Amendment as an individual right. Second, despite what Lyle Deniston and other mis-reporters claim, the 1939 Miller case does not hold that Second Amendment rights belong exclusively to militia members. Unmentioned in the Old Media articles is the fact that in the last 20 years, all six Supreme Court opinions (including concurrences and dissents) which mention the Second Amendment treat the Amendment as guaranteeing an individual right. (Spencer v. Kemna; Muscarello v. U.S.; Printz v. U.S.; Albright v. Oliver; Planned Parenthood v. Casey; U. S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez.)

May 7, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Indiana and Ohio congressional primary elections yielded a bipartisan pair of pro-rights victories. In the third district, incumbent Republican Mark Souder, who has been a pro-Second Amendment leader in Congress, easily turned back a challenge from former Fort Wayne mayor Paul Helmke. Souder won by approximately a margin of 5-3. In the 1998 Senate race, Helmke lost 64-35 to generally pro-gun Democrat Evan Bayh. As governor, Bayh had signed legislation restricting abusive antigun lawsuits. In Ohio, felony-challenged Democratic incumbent Jim Trafficant was put in district with incumbent Democrat Tom Sawyer. Trafficant elected to run as an independent. Antigun incumbent Sawyer won only 28% in the primary, losing to pro-rights state Senator Tim Ryan, who won 41%. In both races, the NRA contacted is members and other gun rights supporters, such as licensed hunters and concealed handgun permit holders in Indiana.


[Dave Kopel]
According to a report from NewsMax.com, Dick Morris predicts that "Hillary Will Be America's Next President," winning the 2008 election. Don't worry though. In 1998, Morris predicted that Hillary would never really run for Senate from New York, and was just feigning interest in order to run for Senate from Illinois later. During the 1998 campaign, Morris repeatedly predicted that Mrs. Clinton would lose the New York race. Morris also claimed that John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and Al Gore would "run, and they'll lose." Morris added, "And it's very hard once you lose a presidential race to run again and be successful." Really? George Bush 41, Ronald Reagan (twice), Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson all ran for President, lost, and later won.


[Dave Kopel]
"I say today Israel will not surrender to blackmail ... he who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first," announced Prime Minister Sharon in Washington, before returning to Israel. His words were a direct echo of the Talmud (Rabbinic commentary on the Torah), which says, "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a.) Sharon concluded: "Israel will fight, Israel will triumph and when victory prevails, Israel will make peace."

May 6, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Secret Passages, currently showing on the History Channel, includes an important portion on Switzerland during World War II. The overall theme of the series is underground tunnels and hiding places, which in the case of Switzerland emphasizes the military bunkers in the Alps. This one-hour segment of the series includes fascinating portions on several European countries, with about ten minutes on Switzerland. Interspersed with commentary by Stephen Halbrook and a Swiss military historian, the documentary shows numerous still photographs of Swiss troops in training and being reviewed by General Guisan as well as excellent original film footage of Swiss Alpine soldiers on maneuvers. Some of the pictures in the documentary come from Halbrook's book Target Switzerland, which details how the Swiss system of militia and defensive preparedness deterred a Nazi invasion during World War II. Nothing like this has ever before been televised in the United States. It also includes footage of Hitler meeting with his general staff and emphasizes the dissuasive effect of Swiss military strategy. This theme includes the rifle in every home and a sniper behind every rock. Check historychannel.com for this week's scheduled showing. A copy of the videotape is available from historychannel.com. Specify "Secret Passages: Episode 5."


[Dave Kopel]
The Israeli economy is reeling from the terrorist campaign. So consider buying and flying an Israeli flag made in Israel--or other products made by the nation in the vanguard of the war on terrorism.


[Dave Kopel]
My latest Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post column looks at skewed and hysterical media coverage of Dutch conservative/libertarian political leader Pim Fortuyn and of immigration control advocate Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado).


[Dave Kopel]
Mark Steyn, writing for The Spectator, argues that Europe is much more violent and mean-spirited than America. Among his many excellent observations:

It's gradually beginning to dawn on US Europhiles that the Continent has done everything the American Left has wanted for years and it doesn't seem to be working out. Thanks to Erfurt and Nanterre, you're currently outpacing the Yanks at high-scoring gun massacres. At the last attempted US massacre, at the Appalachian School of Law in West Virginia, there was a gun-totin' student [two, in fact] on hand to pin down the would-be mass murderer until the cops arrived. But in Europe--"a gun-control utopia," as the Los Angeles Times sees it--there's no one to stop the corpses piling up.


[Dave Kopel]
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reports on a visit to Jenin by CNN and Los Angeles Times journalists, both apparently determined to create a "stench of death" against Israel.

April 24, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Strategy Page details the wonderful domino effect that an American overthrow of Saddam will have on other terrorist-sponsoring states, including Iran and the portion of Arabia currently ruled by the House of Saud.

April 21, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Americans for Gun Safety is running television ads in Oregon warning about "terrorists buying weapons at gun shows." As usual, AGS's claims are somewhat overwrought, as detailed in my recent Independence Institute monograph on gun shows.

April 19, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
TechCentralStation looks at the (im)plausibility of the $70 million lawsuit filed by the mother of the teenage fan of bin Laden who flew a small plane into a Tampa office building, asserting that the teenager anti-acne Accutane treatment was to blame.


[Dave Kopel]
The Cato Institute's Doug Bandow explains why "Befriending Saudi Princes" is "A High Price for a Dubious Alliance." He details why the corrupt totalitarian Saud monarchy has little to offer the United States, and why there is little to fear should the dictatorship fall. Meanwhile, InstaPundit suggests a language improvement to distinguish the terrorist-funding rulers from the nation they currently misrule: "Talk about 'Arabia' rather than 'Saudi Arabia' whenever you're talking about the country. Talk about 'the House of Saud' or 'the Sauds' when you're talking about the government." After all, we've always called England "England", rather than "Plantagenet England" or "Stuart England," or whatever monarchy happened to be temporarily on the throne.


[Dave Kopel]
Jonah asks "What if the Israelis were gay?" Another interesting question is, "Why don't all the people who are supposedly so concerned about the oppression of Arabs demand that the people of every Arab nation be given the same property rights, right to vote, and freedom of speech that Arabs who live in Israel have?"

April 17, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Regarding what to call Palestinian terrorist bombers who target civilians, Rod writes, "Why not resurrect the tried-and-true 'kamikaze'?" I'll tell you why not: Because it's an insult to the kamikazes. The kamikazes were adult members of the armed forces who attacked only military targets, namely U.S. Navy ships. They violated none of the rules of civilized warfare. Today's suicide/homicide bombers are vicious criminals who murder civilians, and these criminals do not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as soldiers who fought according to the laws of warfare.


[Dave Kopel]
Persons who want to help front-line fighters against terrorism may want to contribute to the Libi Fund, which provides humanitarian assistance for members of the Israeli Defense Forces. You can contribute online by credit card, or send $100 or more by check to a special fund which qualifies for a U.S. tax deduction. The website prominently features this timely quote from Shimon Peres: "Our soldiers prevail not by the strength of their weapons but by their sense of mission; by their consciousness of the justness of their cause, by a deep love for their country, and by their understanding of the heavy task laid upon them: to ensure the existence of our people in their homeland and to affirm, even at the cost of their lives, the right of the Jewish people to live their lives in their own state, free, independent and in peace."


[Dave Kopel]
Most accurate observation by a political commentator in the last 24 hours: "There's more evidence that Arafat's a terrorist than that bin Laden is." Bill Maher, Politically Incorrect, April 16. He's right; there's plenty of evidence that al Qaeda is a terrorist organization, but the evidence personally linking Arafat to terrorism is overwhelming, very public, and quite explicit. 

April 16, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The City of Boston has dissolved the consent decree which the city had previously signed with handgun manufacturer Smith & Wesson. The decision was a conciliatory move by the city, following the city's decision to drop its lawsuit against other firearms manufacturers, due to the high cost of litigation and the slim chances of eventual legal success. Because the dissolution of the consent decree, Smith & Wesson no longer has any agreements with any of the plaintiffs or other entities which initiated in the abusive lawsuits against handgun manufacturers. In the summer of 2000, Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Department of Housing and Urban Development made a highly publicized announcement of plans to enter into a consent decree, but the plans never materialized, because the parties did not agree about the meaning of particular terms in the proposed decree. Signing the agreements was never the idea of Smith & Wesson's employees, but was imposed on Smith & Wesson at the insistence of Tompkins PLC, the British conglomerate which owned Smith & Wesson, and with the acquiescence of Smith & Wesson's president. That president is no longer employed by Smith & Wesson, and Smith & Wesson has been sold to new American owners.


[Dave Kopel]
A CBS News poll, taken April first and second, suggests that the American people are not as inclined as the U.S. State Department to see Yasser Arafat as a partner for peace. Only 2 percent of the American public has a "favorable" view of Arafat, while 53 percent are "not favorable." Asked if they thought "Yasser Arafat wants peace in the Middle East enough to make real concessions to the Israeli government in order to get it or not?"14 percent said yes and 70 percent said no.


[Dave Kopel]
Rich Lowry's posting last night notes Cornel West's assertion that Harvard President Larry Summers is "the Ariel Sharon of American higher education." Logically then, Cornel West would be the Yasser Arafat of American higher education.

April 12, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
A third article in today's Arab News castigates Arab nations (meaning Egypt and Jordan) which manifest "reluctance to break agreements with the Zionists" and which do not supply arms to the Palestinians. Although the document shows the mendacity of recent claims from the Saudi embassy in Washington that the Saudis do not promote terrorism, perhaps one shouldn't be too hard on the Saudis; after all, the European Union supplies the P.A. with about ten million Euros (about 8.7 million dollars) every month; like the Saudi money, some but not all of the E.U. money is used for terrorism.


[Dave Kopel]
Criticizing President Bush's statement "I mean what I say when I call upon the Arab world to strongly condemn and act against terrorist activity," another Arab News article explains the Saudi defiance of President Bush: "When the Americans see a Palestinian document signed by Yasser Arafat making financial allocations to his men, they cite it as another example of the Palestinian leader's involvement in terrorism--because, Israel has called them terrorists. We see it differently. We see it as the duty of a leader toward his men who are struggling along with him to liberate their land." (Recently captured documents showing Arafat's approval of the payment of P.A. funds for terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a girl's bat mitzvah in Israel on Jan. 17.)


[Dave Kopel]
As Rod mentioned earlier and the Arab News is reporting, (an English language web paper controlled by the Saudi government), an eleven-hour Saudi telethon has raised 210 million Saudi Riyals (that's 56 million dollars) to support the Palestinian "martyrs" and other Intifada expenses. Substantial personal donations were made by King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdullah, and Prince Sultan. A previous Saudi telethon for terror had raised 40 million Riyals.


[Dave Kopel]
In The New Republic Online Seth Gitel compares the defeat of Hamas at the Battle of Jenin to the defeat of the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad -- a vicious house-to-house battle which was the decisive turning point in the war. Like the soldiers of the Third Reich, the Hamas soldiers worked for a terrorist fascist leadership which hoped to exterminate the Jews. TNR's Yehudah Mirsky (formerly of the Clinton State Department, and currently at Harvard, but insightful nevertheless) elaborates the parallels between Islamofascists and Hitler fascists -- and the support of both types of terrorism by "flaccid, underemployed, bourgeois intellectuals" as well as by "'useful idiots' in the West."

April 11, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Glenn Reynolds, writing for Legal Affairs (no, it's not a magazine about the Clinton defense attorneys) observes that legal scholars and courts are once again recognizing the importance of the Second Amendment, thereby helping lower the emotional temperature of the gun-control debate.


[Dave Kopel]
Eugene Volokh's new weblog explains the importance of taking your friends target-shooting: 1. everyone should know how to use a firearm safely. 2. it helps overcome prejudice against gun owners. Celebrate diversity.

April 10, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Ohio Court of Appeals has declared that Ohio's near-total ban on the carrying of firearms for protection is unconstitutional. The unanimous three-judge opinion upholds the Ohio constitution's right to arms, and rejects claims that near-prohibition of a constitutional right can be a "reasonable" regulation.


[Dave Kopel]
The History News Network website, based at George Mason University, features some astonishing new developments in the Michael Bellesiles Arming America case. In "Are Michael Bellesiles's Critics Afraid to Say What They Really Think?" Professor Jerome Sternstein (Brooklyn College) begins with the question, "Has the time come to ask if Michael Bellesiles's Arming America is an example of scholarly deceit?" Sternstein summarizes the William & Mary Quarterly's "scathing appraisals of his book's misuse of sources and evidence which some might regard as consistent with academic fraud, such as repeatedly misquoting, distorting, falsifying, or perhaps even deliberately inventing evidence to support one's thesis." Part of Sternstein's critique of Bellesiles consists of quoting some e-mails that Bellesiles sent to James Lindgren (a professor at Northwestern) about Bellesiles's research methods and sources. In a response article, Bellesiles denies (!) having sent the e-mails. Sternstein's rebuttal article dissects Bellesiles's fraud further, and includes this quote from Professor Lindgren: "One of the nice defects in my old email program (Netscape 4.05 for the MAC) is that forwarding is done by attachment. I am not allowed to edit the email being forwarded. Here I am forwarding the email that was automatically forwarded to my home MAC, when it was sent by Bellesiles to me at work. I had no chance to edit it."


[Dave Kopel]
My latest "Talk Back to the Media" column for the Rocky Mountain News examines biased anti-Israel coverage in the NY Times, Associated Press, and Knight-Ridder. By the way, "Talk Back to the Media" (for which I am one of two alternating columnists) was named "Best New Feature in a Denver Daily" in the new "Best of Denver" issue of Westword magazine.

April 9, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Regarding Anti-War Libertarians, Ramesh Ponnuru writes that he wants "to ask David Kopel what he thinks about the fact that his organization, the Independent Institute, is having a forum to let Lewis Lapham and Gore Vidal share their geopolitical wisdom?" Actually, I work for the INDEPENDENCE Institute, in Colorado. The forum is at the INDEPENDENT Institute, in California. There's no affiliation between the two organizations; since we're the older organization, any name confusion is the fault of the Californians. Regarding geo-political wisdom, I don't think that Mr. Lapham has any. Mr. Vidal, however, gave my book "No More Wacos" a very positive write-up in Vanity Fair, thus allowing me, for the first and only time, to be prominently featured in a magazine that had Brad Pitt on the cover. So he's wise at least once in a while. :)

April 7, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
In a new column for the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick asks "How is it possible that after the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances have been used to transfer suicide bombers and explosive belts, Phillip Reeker, the State Department's spokesman demanded this week that Israel provide 'unfettered access for ambulances and emergency medical personnel at Israeli checkpoints?'" The first Bush administration had a successful war against a terrorist regime, and then foundered as its Secretary of State led the administration in pressuring Israeli to accommodate Palestinian terrorists. The second Bush administration appears to be following the same failed policy of forcing Israeli to attempt to survive without a right of self-defense.


[Dave Kopel]
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Once again, the Jews are fighting a vicious anti-Semitic dictatorship, which teaches its young people that nothing is more glorious than killing Jews. Disgracefully, the American president is ignoring the lessons of the Holocaust, and ordering Israelis to stop defending themselves.


[Dave Kopel]
CNN is repeating P.A. claims that "five Palestinians were killed" in fighting Nablas Friday night. Actually, the deaths occurred in Tubas, near Nablus. CNN doesn't mention that the dead include Qais Adwan, the planner of the Seder bombing, and of numerous other atrocities. All of the rest of the dead are Hamas terrorists, too.


[Dave Kopel]
The Boston Globe reports that gun sales in Israel are skyrocketing, "particularly since an Israeli shoe salesman used his own weapon to fatally shoot a 46-year-old Palestinian who had opened fire in a Tel Aviv restaurant March 5 and killed three Israelis. The Interior Ministry says applications for licenses have tripled during the past month, overwhelming its staff and forcing it to shift employees from other departments to handle the deluge. The Israeli government, meanwhile, has moved to ease once-tight restrictions on owning a gun..." More Guns, Less Terrorism.

April 6, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The past several days have seen notably fewer Israeli civilians killed by terrorists compared to the days before the invasion of the terrorist sanctuaries began. Indeed, the recent days have been more peaceful for civilians than many other similar periods in 2002. It turns out that the best way to "end the cycle of violence" isn't conducting negotiations with terrorists who never keep their word. Killing and capturing terrorists turns out to be the best way to stop terrorism. 

April 5, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
A new poll from the Jerusalem Post finds 72% of the Israeli public in favor of the nation's defensive war in the West Bank. Fifteen percent of the public favor more negotiations with Arafat, while 36% want him expelled and 23% want him eliminated. Arafat's strategy of holding out in the expectation that the Sharon government will fall does not appear to be working; if the election were held today, Labor Party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer would garner only 4% of the vote. Sharon would get 36%, and Benjamin Netanyahu, former (and future?) Likud President who is more hawkish than Sharon would get 26%. Among people who voted for Ehud Barak last time, Sharon is strongly preferred to Ben-Eliezer; among Sharon voters, Netanyahu has a slim lead over Sharon. 

April 4, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Writing from Jerusalem for The New Republic, Yossi Klein Halevi explains how the terrorists are making life intolerable within Israel: "And the fear has not only forced us into our homes; it has locked us out of our national, communal space. In our dread of public places, notes Israeli journalist Ari Shavit, lies a threat to our collective identity. Striking at a seder--which celebrates the founding of the Jewish people--is an unbearable symbol of the war against the Jewish collective. We are in the grip of an experiment testing how long a society can endure under relentless terrorism before it begins to disintegrate. If the experiment continues unchecked, we will become a completely atomized society--or no longer a society at all."


[Dave Kopel]
Thus, even if President Bush and Secretary Powell foolishly succeed in cutting short the Israeli counterattacks on Palestinian terrorist centers, the counterattacks are an essential step for the survival of the Jewish people as a people. As Halevi writes: "The world asks anxiously: What will be the consequences of Israel's invasion? For Israelis, that isn't even a question. For us, the only question that matters, at least for now, is whether the fragile collective identity of 'Israeli'--stretched thin over a bewildering ethnic and ideological cacophony--will continue to exist. That question will be answered not by the results of the battle, but simply by our willingness to fight it."


[Dave Kopel]
The Letter from Gotham wonders if the reason why the United States hasn't seen anti-Semitic riots like Europe is that in the United States, potential riot victims are noted to be potentially armed. This makes a sense; as Aaron Zelman and Richard W. Stevens detail in their new book Death by "Gun Control": The Human Cost of Victim Disarmament genocide is invariably preceded by victim disarmament. Find a society where Jews are allowed to own guns for protection, and you'll tend to find a society with a high degree of religious and intellectual tolerance, and a low rate of violence against minorities. But I think there is another reason is well. The U.S., with its strong culture at individual rights and intellectual diversity, is simply a more civilized place than Europe. The millions of people who had the good sense to leave Europe and come to the U.S. understood that when government is too powerful, it tends to promote--either directly or by creating a hate-filled intellectual climate--mob violence against minorities. 


[Dave Kopel]
Glenn Reynolds's latest column for Fox News examines the numerous Old Media book reviews which have failed to print corrections to their glowing reviews of Michael Bellesiles's book Arming America now that it has been exposed as a fraud.

April 3, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Minnesotans Against Terrorism has taken out an advertisement asking why the Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls groups which kill American civilians "terrorists" but refuses to apply the same word to groups which kill Israelis. The Star-Tribune's article on the controversy concludes by quoting a Palestinian American who says that it is "despicable" to call the killers "terrorists" because they are really just "desperate." A media-ethics professor asserts that "one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter." If the latter is true, then why does the Star-Tribune call al Qaeda "terrorists" rather than "Islamofascist activists"? Meanwhile, Kenneth Adelman suggests that we all drop the term "suicide bomber"--which would be accurate for people who killed only themselves with explosives. "Homicide bombers" is the more accurate phrase.

April 2, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
"Dynamic entries" is a euphemism for violent home break-ins by the police, usually for the purpose of "serving" a search warrant in a drug case. Violent police home invasions have now become so common that non-government (criminal) home robbers are pretending to be police, yelling "police, police, get down" as they break in and point guns at the victims. Since so many actual police home invaders don't wear police uniforms, it's pretty hard to tell the cops from the criminals.


[Dave Kopel]
"The Mini Page" is a four-page newspaper feature for children; distributed by the Universal Press Syndicate, the Mini Page is found in many daily U.S. newspapers, usually midweek. This week's Mini Page looks at the African Rain Forest, and informs children that "The Congo rain forest spreads into several countries. The governments of these countries are not strong. . .The animals in the rain forest cannot be protected when the governments are not strong enough to do so." Actually, most of the African rain forest is contained within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire), and to claim that the main conservation problem there is weak government is ludicrous. According to Amnesty International, the dictatorial government perpetrates a disgusting variety of human-rights abuses, including the mass murder of civilians. It is absurd to imagine that a government which is so blithe about killing humans would care about protecting animals if the government were even stronger. Around the world, the countries which best protect the environment are not the ones with the strongest governments (e.g., North Korea), but the ones which have a republican form of government, a free press, and a free economy. Too bad the Mini Page is so PC that it can't criticize a rapacious, murderous dictatorship which is a accomplice in the destruction of the environment.

March 30, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
As The Panic Room movie illustrates, pure defense isn't as safe as defense combined with counterforce capabilities. So consider keeping a firearm in your safe room.


[Dave Kopel]
Just in case you've been to the movies recently, and are considering spending a lot of money on a panic room...You don't have to be a millionaire to create a special safe room in your house. Skip the special oxygen supply, and focus on a sturdy door, strong locks, and a portable phone. Massad Ayoob's book The Truth About Self-Protection explains how to integrate a safe room into an overall home security plan.


[Dave Kopel]
A businessman plans to open a Chinese restaurant in Denver named "Mao." It's too bad that naming a restaurant after a genocidal tyrant is considered chic. What's next, a German restaurant named "Adolf"?


[Dave Kopel]
Glenn Reynolds's latest article for TechCentralStation, "Democrats vs. New Media," details Terry McAuliffe's concerns that new media, such as weblogs and talk radio, have turned into fora for opponents of big government to bypass the old media. McAulliffe is scaring old media moguls into making huge donations to the Democratic party. Leading Senate Democrats are sponsoring legislation aimed at weakening the new media. Personally, I like the old Democrats such as Walter Mondale better; they considered the First Amendment a first principle, not an obstacle to suppressing the opposition.

March 22, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Bias Blog deconstructs a new study--reported by the AP and prominently featured by the New York Times--regarding black suicides and guns.

March 20, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
It's not often that an article in a scholarly journal can change the world for the better in a just a few days. But according to the New York Times, an article by Representative Tom Lantos (D., Calif.) in the The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs helped convince U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to quit. The article describes Mrs. Robinson's role in allowing the Durban conference against racism to turn into a pro-racist, anti-Semitic atrocity which ignored human rights violations such as the continuing slave trade in Africa. Lantos explains that the conference went off-track when a pre-conference in Tehran turned into anti-Israel hatefest, and Mrs. Robinson applauded the conference's results. At the Durban conference neared, Mrs. Robinson sided with the Arab dictatorships in equating Israel with Nazi Germany. Lantos reports several other important facts: A few months before the conference, a delegate from a sub-Saharan African state asked why the United States was letting Egypt, which receives two billion dollars a year in U.S. aid, take the leading, hardline role in demanding the anti-racism conference be turned into an anti-Israel conference. At Durban and before, many of the so-called "civil rights" groups from the United States supported the anti-Semitic positions pushed by the Arabs, and encouraged black African states to hold firm in their demands for slavery "reparations" from U.S. taxpayers. International "human rights" groups such as Amnesty International did almost nothing to oppose anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. To put it bluntly, many of the so-called human rights groups don't care about the rights of Jewish humans, and many of America's so-called Middle East allies--especially Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia--work diligently and unyieldingly against U.S. interests.

March 19, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The human-rights group Genocide Watch has identified six stages which precede genocide. According to the group, Zimbabwe has entered the final stage, Preparation, which immediately precedes genocide. The Heritage Foundation offers a detailed plan for what to do to stop the murderous Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe: Recall our ambassador; continue to withhold direct foreign aid; support pro-freedom organizations in Zimbabwe; and expand Voice of American broadcasts to Zimbabwe. That's a good start, but here's an even more important step: begin distributing arms to the people of Zimbabwe, so that they can resist genocide. Mugabe has been confiscating guns from his potential victims. The history of the 20thcentury shows that genocide is always preceded by gun prohibition. A lot of people have wrung their hands over the world's failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda a few years ago; if we're serious about preventing genocide in Zimbabwe, it's time to act.

March 16, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Mark Pertshcuk, legislative director of one of America's largest gun-ban lobbies, spent ten years working for America's leading anti-tobacco lobby. He explains the difference between the anti-tobacco fight and the antigun fight, and show how antigun activists can learn from anti-tobacco activists.

March 15, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Writing for the History News Network, Professor Jerome L. Sternstein details a 1966 case of historical fraud similar to the contemporary fraud of Michael Bellesiles. In "Historical Fraud and the Seduction of Ideas: The Poulshock Case" Professor Sternstein discusses a book about the tariff debates in the late 19th century, in which the author's extensive "research" into the correspondence of politicians was almost entirely fabricated. The article also looks at Bellesiles, and the role of NR's Melissa Seckora in exposing Bellesiles. In 1966, Syracuse University Press immediately recalled all copies of the fraudulent book, once the fraud was exposed. But today, Knopf continues to promote "Arming America," and has even published a paperback edition. In 1966 and today, the professional historical societies have refused to warn their members about a book demonstrated to be a hoax.


[Dave Kopel]
The world's recent discovery that Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is a mass-murdering, lying, thieving tyrant is akin to the "discovery" that Dean Martin likes to drink. The Spectator points out that Mugabe's evil has been well-known for decades, yet Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair continued to shower him with foreign aid. The people of Africa are victimized by a racist double standard, by which dictators who murder blacks or Arabs by the tens of thousands are allowed to get away with it, as long as they act polite towards the leaders of nations on other continents.


[Dave Kopel]
What makes Zimbabwe different from most African nations is not that the dictator stole the most recent election, but that an election took place at all. Almost all the "governments" of Africa are kleptocracies which suppress all human rights. While colonial rule in Africa was hardly a model of good government, the majority of African nations, both Arab and black, would be better ruled today by England or France or Belgium or Germany or Portugal or Italy than by the thugs which currently rule those nations. By every possible standard, the few remaining colonies of Europe (e.g., the Falkland Islands) are far better governed than almost all African nations. These days, European colonial rulers do not perpetrate genocide, do allow a free press and religious freedom, do allow independent unions and farm groups, and operate colonial regimes that appropriate a much smaller fraction of the nation's wealth than do African governments.

March 13, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Jewish holiday of Purim fell on February 25 this year. The holiday celebrates the story told in the Bible's Book of Esther, in which Queen Esther saves the Jews in Babylon from a genocide plot. According to the Saudi government newspaper, Jews celebrate Purim by making pastries filled with blood extracted from Muslim or Christian teenagers, who are confined in a special barrel containing sharp needles. "There is another way to spill the blood: The victim can be slaughtered as a sheep is slaughtered, and his blood collected in a container. Or, the victim's veins can be slit in several places, letting his blood drain from his body." When the Saudi people are fed such blood-filled lies by their government, is it any wonder that some of them become terrorists?


[Dave Kopel]
Amazingly, a new made-for-television movie makes the case for less government. Wednesday night, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time (that's 4 p.m. Hawaii Time, and 9:30 p.m. in Newfoundland), Court TV premieres the movie Guilt by Association, which takes a critical look at mandatory drug sentences, and how they impose punishment grotesquely disproportionate to the crime. The movie stars Mercedes Ruehl. Although the plot is fictional, as Court TV's special report on mandatory minimums explains, the inflexible laws sometimes result in minor accessories being given punishments more severe than the main perpetrators; the ring-leader turns in some small-time characters who, not knowing anyone else to turn in, get the full mandatory sentence.

March 11, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
John Lott explains why Norman Mineta's opposition to handguns for pilots is so dangerous: 30% of stun gun uses fail because the target is wearing thick clothing or shoes with rubber soles. Meanwhile, fewer than 1% of U.S. commercial flights have sky marshals. As Barron's reported last week, if you're not flying to or from Washington, D.C., or the Olympics the odds of a sky marshal on your flight are virtually nil. Endangering passenger safety for the sake of political correctness, Secretary Mineta is even worse than his Clinton predecessors.


[Dave Kopel]
The Jerusalem Post reports that a would-be suicide bomber fled the Israeli town of Karkur on Thursday, March 7, after he was confronted by an Israeli citizen carrying a pistol.


[Dave Kopel]
Political correctness has taken aim at "Maryland! My Maryland!" the state's official song. Legally adopted in 1939, the nine stanzas were penned in 1861 by a Marylander outraged by the violent suppression of civil liberty and of the functioning of the state government in Maryland. The song begins, "The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland! Avenge the patriotic gore That flecked the streets of Baltimore, And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!" (The tune is "Lauriger Horatius," better known as "O Tennenbaum.") As the 1939 legislature recognized, there is no modern risk that the song would spur Marylanders to join the Confederate State of America. The song does, however, extol violent resistance to tyranny, even domestic tyranny. And the song reminds us of Maryland's divided nature during the Civil War. This makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. In 1894, a schoolteacher wrote some alternate lyrics which, after an opening genuflection to "light and liberty," extol Maryland's geography and present a collection of platitudes about how nice it is to live in Maryland. Appropriately, the milquetoast version removes the exclamation points from the title. A few weeks ago, Democratic Senator Jennie Forehand (who represents Montgomery County, a major bedroom community for federal employees), offered Senate Bill 19 to replace the martial "Maryland! My Maryland!" with the sappy geography tribute. Her bill was defeated 6-3 in a State Senate Committee in late February. The previous year, a House Committee had rejected a bill by Delegate Peter Franchot (also a Montgomery Democrat) to simply abolish the state song. So sing again: "Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland! Thy beaming sword shall never rust, Maryland!...Come to thine own heroic throng, Stalking with Liberty along, And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song, Maryland! My Maryland!"


[Dave Kopel]
My latest "Eye on the Media" column for the Rocky Mountain News looks at some overlooked aspects of the Daniel Pearl murder, and criticizes media use of the phrase "Big Tobacco."

March 10, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, has rejected another abusive lawsuit against a handgun manufacturer, in the case of Halliday vs. Sturm, Ruger [This link requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.] In 1999, a Maryland man bought a Ruger pistol from a gun store in Maryland. The pistol came with a free lock box, with an instruction manual containing numerous warnings and instructions about firearms safety, with safety warnings written right on the gun itself, with a safety pamphlet from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and with an offer for a free safety training course, which the buyer declined. The gun itself had a safety lever which must be disengaged in order to fire. Ignoring these safety materials, the buyer put the handgun in his bedroom, where his three-year-old son found it, and fatally shot himself in the head. The boy's mother sued the gun store and Ruger, for allegedly failing to provide sufficient warnings, and for not incorporating various design features which would make the gun impossible for small children to fire (and which would also reduce a gun's utility for emergency self-defense by an adult, or which would make the gun difficult to use by a person with weak hand strength, such as an elderly woman). The Court of Appeals ruled 6-1 that the suit was improper as a matter of law. The court explained that the Maryland legislature, which has enacted an extensive set of gun controls while rejecting other proposed controls, has already conclusively determined what kinds of guns with what kinds of features are legitimate to sell in Maryland.


[Dave Kopel]
The Chief Deputy Director of the Philippines' Anti-Kidnapping Task Force has announced that he favors arming citizens to resist kidnappers. The Philippines has been victimized by dozens of kidnappings orchestrated Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group which is allied with al Qaeda and which is attempting to overthrow the nation's democracy and replace it with an Islamic dictatorship.


[Dave Kopel]
Asia Times writer Aidan Foster-Carter produces an excellent three-part series on North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-Il, pointing out that his obstinate embrace of Stalinism will lead to his downfall. Foster-Carter suggests that the "Dear Leader" has avoided change because the old guard of the Communist Party doesn't want it, but Kim Jong-Il's chances are greater if he angers the party elders and appeases George Bush, rather than vice versa.

March 9, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
The Colorado house of representatives unexpectedly voted not to form a special commission to investigate the Columbine High School murders. The Friday vote came after heavy and secret lobbying by the Jefferson County government against any inquiry. At the least, preventing the inquiry prevents further examination of Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone's decision to prohibit officers from entering the school during the murders, even though open 911 lines showed that students were being killed in the library--where the 911 operator had ordered them to stay and awaiting police rescue. Likewise shielded from inquiry is Sheriff's Stone's attempts to cover up that decision, the cover-up of why a 1998 search warrant for Eric Harris's house was never executed, and conflicting statements about whether Columbine student Daniel Rohrbaugh was accidentally killed by a police bullet.


[Dave Kopel]
Been following the government-controlled media of our Arab "allies"? Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Weisenthal Center has. He reports on the primetime series that ran on Abu Dhabi TV during Ramadan: Plots of Terror featured a famous comedian playing Ariel Sharon as a vampire who sells "Dracu-cola" made from Arab blood. The Sharon character loves to drink the blood of Arab children. While the series is presented as fiction, an Egyptian film-maker is busy with the move he promises will be "the Arab world's answer to Schinder's List." The movie is based on a 1983 book by Syrian Defense Minster Mustafa Talas, The Matzo of Zion. According to the book, in 1840 the Jews of Damascus murdered two Christian children, and used their blood to make Passover matzoh. During the second half of Ramadan, a variety of Arab TV stations aired the 30-part series of Horseman without a Horse, a dramatic adaptation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion--a well-known forgery by the czarist secret police which alleged a secret Jewish plot to take over the world.

March 7, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
One of the very best sources for military news and analysis is the StrategyPage. Wednesday's issue featured a very detailed description of the battle of Gardez, as well as a look at the weapon that is transforming land warfare as profoundly as did tanks and machine-guns. It's the one-ton high-explosive smart bomb, used with great effect by our Air Force on entrenched Taliban. The Air Force bombs take over the ground-bombardment function once performed by battleships firing 16-inch artillery. It turns out that the bombs, when dropped from a plane rather than fired through an artillery barrel, need a lot less metal to hold them together. They are also vastly more accurate than battleship guns ever were. Never in the history of warfare has a weapon as powerful as the one-ton bomb been usable with the precision necessary for close air support of friendly ground troops. Our advanced, free, and innovative civilization happens to be the only one on this with such a weapon. Things aren't looking good for the dark ages terrorists.


[Dave Kopel]
Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin are almost certainly telling the truth when they say that their plagiarism was unintentional. But, explains Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos, this fact is the key to the phoniness of books bearing those authors' names. Campos writes: "Any halfway serious writer is no more likely to mistake somebody else's prose for his own than he is to confuse somebody else's children for those he has raised himself. Thus, unintentional plagiarism is likely to arise in one particular situation: When the supposed 'author' of the text in question is to a significant extent the author in name only." In other words, it appears that Ambrose and Goodwin, like the late James Minchner, are not really complete authors, but rather consolidators of work performed by research assistants, which is then published under the name of the so-called "author." Back in 5th grade, one of my classmates refused to believe the English teacher who claimed that some of the "Mickey Spillane" detective books were not actually written by Mr. Spillane. Have serious historians descended to the level of becoming brand names for the work of others?

March 5, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
You might think that things are looking kind of grim for Michael Bellesiles, author of the hoax book Arming America. Even National Public Radio has caught onto him. .Despite the record of Bellesiles's mendacity--well-covered by Melissa Seckora on NRO, he has been awarded a new $30,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, to write another book about guns. The NEH gave money to the Newberry Library in Chicago, which gave the money to Bellesiles, and which refuses to disclose how such a notable faker was awarded your money. Should the Newberry Library be renamed the Office of Strategic Deception?

March 4, 2002


[Dave Kopel]
Today's postal mail includes a solicitation from Doctors Without Borders. DWB was the group that denounced U.S. food airdrops as propaganda, and demanded that U.S. military action in Afghanistan be halted so that aid convoys could get through. It turns out that aid convoys get through a lot better now that the Taliban have been driven from power. If George Bush and Tony Blair had listened to DWB, many thousands of Afghans would have starved to death, or died from lack of medical care, during the last several months. Yes despite being so massively wrong about Afghanistan, DWB claims "Every day, from Afghanistan to Sudan, we are able to save lives because of the generosity of our donors." If you want to save the lives of refugees and other victims of totalitarian regimes, forget DWB; instead, take up a collection to help our Armed Forces buy some more Daisy Cutters. DC's stop dictators; DWB cooperates with dictators.


[Dave Kopel]
Britain's gun-crime rate has hit an all-time high, the BBC reports. One MP bemoans the "lawless gun culture" gun culture that has grown up in London, where illegal guns are available for £200. Well, duh. As I detail in my law-review article "All the Way Down the Slippery Slope," the British government spent the last century exterminating the law-abiding gun culture. Now, the government is shocked that a lawless gun culture has replaced it. 

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