The Agent on The Florida Shooting and Gun Control (AGAIN)

I’m getting really sick of having to look at this same image every few months in this country.
Source: New York Times

Well, here we go again.

I know I already made my statement on where I stand on gun control some time ago… multiple times, as a matter of fact. But given how the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida is one of the most lethal in recent history, I feel we need to bring it up again.

Yes, I understand that this is still a very recent tragedy and that the emotional wounds are still raw. However, I honestly believe that we owe it to the 17 innocent kids from Florida and the hundreds of others in our country that have been brutally cut down in a hail of gunfire in recent years to have this talk to protect future lives.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m not for gun bans – I’m for gun CONTROL. The gun, especially the modern assault firearm, is a very useful tool that has the unfortunate capacity to claim multiple lives in a near instant. The incident at Stoneman Douglas High School is just the most recent example of how we have too many people who lack too little empathy to be trusted with such a massive responsibility.

I feel I can safely say that I have yet to hear a sound argument against tighter gun laws.

“But places with strict gun laws have higher homicide rates.”

Yes, some of them do because of factors like economic status and general education levels. But this isn’t about stopping murders altogether because that would be logistically impossible. This is about denying those with an inclination to kill a means of doing so more efficiently. I think we can all agree that stopping a single victim knife-murderer is both easier and more preferable than a shooter with an AR-15 that destroys lives numbering into the double digits before anyone can respond.

“But Switzerland has mandatory gun laws and they never have mass shootings.”

Not true on multiple counts. Firstly, guns are only mandatory with military service; you have to have served first before they hand you a firearm. Otherwise, you must obtain a ‘weapon acquisition permit’ that requires a valid ID, a residence address, and a clean criminal record no older than three months. And even then, automatic firearms are still prohibited.

As for gun violence, despite having much lower gun death rates than the U.S., Switzerland still struggles with its gun culture. Much like us, Swiss historians believe that it was an armed citizenry that discouraged direct attacks during World War II. But they are struggling to keep track of military-issued weapons which contributes to gun violence in the country.

“But owning a gun is an American right.”

Yes, and that’s what we’re arguing about. You think it’s an inalienable right, I think it’s an earned privilege. And if someone abuses that privilege or are inclined to abuse that privilege, they should have it taken away for the safety of those who know how to handle that kind of power properly. It’s a simple system that every movie geek like myself is familiar with – “Bust a deal; Face the wheel.”

Look, I get that gun culture is a proud American tradition. But the thing about traditions is that they grow stale and outdated as time passes and our understanding of the world changes. As such, it’s our duty to call traditions – major and minor alike – into question when they can be used to the detriment of another. Remember; public executions and slave ownership used to be traditions.

So, while you all heal from this latest tragedy, I hope you continue to find the strength to make your voices heard – to stop the violence for the memory of those lost and the future of those we don’t want to lose.


The Agent on Charlottesville and The Rise of White Nationalism (Or “Why Hate Speech Is NOT Free Speech)

There are no jokes here. There is no laughter to be had. THIS. IS. DISGUSTING.

Well, this is definitely the most depressing and tragic thing I’ve ever had to talk about.

I’ve spent literally every day since August 11th, either on social media or in one-to-one talks, discussing the horrible events that occurred in Charlottesville and the aftermath in its wake. And I’ve been coming across the same exhausting argument every time since then – “I hate what the white nationalists have done and what they represent, but we can’t do anything because they’re exercising their freedom of speech.”

So then, field operatives, let’s discuss Incitement and Imminent Lawless Action and how those legal concepts apply to these bone-chilling events.

Incitement is defined in criminal law as any act meant, “to instigate, persuade, or move another to commit a crime.” This works in tandem with Imminent Lawless Action, the standard by which we use to judge whether a person’s speech falls under the protection of the First Amendment or if it’s an act of Incitement.

Imminent Lawless Action is judged based on two legal standards that the speech must pass if it is to be protected. The speech (and speaker, by extension) in question will lose its First Amendment rights if, “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

So, let’s apply those standards to the nationalists, shall we?

Is their advocacy directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action? Well, when you fly the colors, wear the uniforms, chant the slogans, and preach the rhetoric of groups of people that are well-known and documented for violence against people based on race and religion, it’s kind of hard argue that aren’t with them. A lot of people have started claiming that they joined up as a joke or to troll people, but this isn’t the internet; doing stuff like that in real life isn’t as easy to write off as a joke. You MAY have started it as a joke and let it get way too far out of hand, but you still chanted slogans in public that promoted violence and murder and you need to take responsibility for that.

Was/is it likely to incite or produce lawless action? Well, I’d say running over a group of peaceful counter-protesters counts as pretty bloody likely to incite violence, don’t you?

Now, I’m not going to jump on this ‘Punch the Nazis’ meme that the internet is ballyhooing around because that’s just a stupid idea; It puts a lot of innocent people in harm’s way, makes white nationalists look right, and makes genuinely good people just as guilty as the forces they fight. That said, I do believe that the white nationalists and hate groups that took part in the protests should be held responsible; they should be charged with Incitement, punished to the fullest legal extent, and be sent a clear open letter to the world: responding to political discourse with a call for blood is not allowed in this country and those who do are not welcome here.

Responsibility to the responsible; kindness to the kind; tolerance for the tolerant. Those are my politics and I’ll stand by them to the end of time.

Why Anti-Transgender Bathroom Laws Need To DIE

Would having something amputated be a valid choice?
Source: PrideLife

Yeah, you read that title right. Not ‘stop’. Not ‘go away’. They need to F***ING DIE. It’s rare for me to get THIS angry about something. But then again, it’s rare for me to see an argument for something so damaging that’s THIS poorly informed and ignorant.

This one’s going to be a short and sweet week because, in all honesty, arguing this point is so easy that it feels like I just challenged a jellyfish with a severe learning disability to a life-or-death game of chess; a battle of wits with and unarmed soul. That said, I have to say something in the hopes that the word will find a way to spread and end this madness once and for all.

To catch you all up to the times, several places – North Carolina and Tennessee being the big ones – are pushing for laws that will prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity; forcing them to use the room of their birth gender.

The main argument from supporters of these laws is that they want to protect women and children from sexual predators who would disguise themselves as women to get closer to their intended targets. There are several reasons why this doesn’t work as a logical argument.

Firstly, the vast majority of convicted sexual predators are straight, white men, not transgender women. In fact, it’s the LGBT community that’s most often the victims of sexual violence. You are LITERALLY blaming the victims, people.

Secondly, allow me to tell you a personal story from my own experience. In my four years as a stage actor for my college drama club, we never had our own dedicated changing rooms or even separate rooms for men and women. Instead, we would have to change in a studio behind the backstage area. What’s more, we all had to change clothes together; meaning everybody saw everything.

In those four years, not to mention for years prior to my arrival and after my graduation, there has never been a sexual assault or rape in the club. Do you know why? It’s because that NO ONE IS SO BLINDLY HORNY THAT THEY WOULD RAPE SOMEONE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WATCHING THAT WOULD KICK HIS ASS IF HE TRIED!

Seriously, it’s a PUBLIC restroom; I.E., everyone can see/hear everything that goes on inside. A rapist usually acts in secluded areas later at night and target people that know them because the victims falsely trust them and no one is present to stop them. A public restroom is practically a miniature panopticon and the exact opposite of what a sexual predator would want.

Let’s just be honest – if you support anti-trans bathroom laws, it has nothing to do with you wanting to protect women and children. It has everything to do with the fact that you’re freaked out by someone that you don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. You are an ass-backwards, regressive wart on the ass-crack of humanity that can’t get over the fact that their way of thinking is outdated and not only doesn’t work anymore but is actually damaging to society. May you burn along your oppressive laws, you slimy, festering carbuncles on the planet’s face.


Weeding Out Problems: The Pros and Cons of Legalized Marijuana

Will my state see the gavel fall on marijuana possession for the last time this Wednesday?

With New York allowing the use of medical cannabis and my own home state of New Hampshire pushing harder to make recreational self-medication possible, I figure it’s about time to discuss the up and downsides of this popular drug.

Now, speaking personally, I believe in reserving any kind of recreational substance – alcohol, tobacco, etc. – for VERY special and appropriate occasions. That way they carry more meaning and are more satisfying than if you contently indulge every night. What I’m attempting to say is that, regardless of your stance on the issue, marijuana is one of those things that need to be filed under “enjoy responsibly” and that I don’t approve of or encourage people to recreate scenes from their favorite slacker comedies.

That disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin the discussion.

What Legalized Marijuana Can Do For Us

I just find the idea of this being the norm for big “tobacco” companies in the future amusing for some reason.
Source: Worth1000

Firstly, note that, unlike the case of alcohol and nicotine poisoning, it’s practically impossible to overdose on marijuana. A study by Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young shows that the LD-50 (the dosage needed to cause death in fifty percent of cases) of THC, the active chemical in marijuana is 20,000 to 40,000 milligrams for every kilogram of body weight. That means the average adult would have to consume close to 1,500 pounds of weed in under fifteen minutes in order to overdose, making it a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco.

Secondly, there is a financial advantage to consider. According to a study by the ACLU, more than 3.6 billion dollars were spent in 2010 to enforce marijuana possession law and estimate that a total 20 billion dollars will be spent in the next six years. That’s a lot of money being spent on something that could be regulated in the same manner alcohol and tobacco.

Speaking of the regulation, money could also be recouped through taxes as alcohol and tobacco are. Research from the Cato Institute has found that 8.7 billion dollars in federal and state tax revenue could by generated annually if marijuana was legalized and taxed.

What Legalized Marijuana Can Do TO Us

If you’re going to spread bogus propaganda,1950’s, the least you can do is SPELL THE NAME RIGHT.
Source: Michigan Weed

Despite overdose being nearly impossible, there are still health risks associated with marijuana use. After all, inhaling smoke – any kind of smoke – is not good for the lungs. Also, it does impair judgment and thinking even though the effects are temporary.

If we are going to legalize it, we will have to set a system in place to properly punish those who abuse the privilege of self-medication just as we do now for public intoxication. This will mean an initial cost to train police and give them the necessary tools and resources. But, as we have established, the money saved on enforcing possession law and earned through taxes will more than enough to compensate for this.

Should We Legalize It?

Honestly, legalizing recreational marijuana could open a lot of potential possibilities. The only issue is making sure others are responsible with their use. Before any of us can go ahead and make it possible to enjoy weed casually, we first need to make sure we can discourage people from abusing it and hurting themselves and others in the progress.

I guess the message to take away from this is this; DON’T just say “no”; just say “I’ve had enough.” If this new policy comes your way, don’t be irresponsible with it. Be an adult and enjoy while moderating yourself.