Bang, bang! Your hashtag shot me dead…

At first, I was going to launch into a rant about the stupidity of the people, here in the celebrity-addled West, when I took an additional few seconds to ponder this:

What do you see when you read this Twitter hashtag?

It’s supposed to be about Monday’s death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and looks to have been popularized by the website “IsThatcherDeadYet,” which was not upset to hear about the Iron Lady’s passing. “It’s fair to say that we are not fans,” site co-creator Jared Earle told The Guardian.

When Thatcher died, the website asked readers “how are you celebrating?” and suggested they use the #nowthatcherisdead hashtag.

Monday at 7:58 a.m. ET, just after the news broke of Thatcher’s death, the hashtag popped up on Twitter. The first tweet from someone who seemed to have read it wrong came four minutes later:

“So sad to hear that Cher is dead. #nowthatcherisdead.”

That then led to some confusion and amusement. Comedian Ricky Gervais as among those who tried to straighten things out:

“Some people are in a frenzy over the hashtag #nowthatchersdead. It’s ‘Now Thatcher’s dead’. Not, ‘Now that Cher’s dead’ JustSayin’ ”

Idiots! I thought, and then I looked at the hashtag as though I were seeing it without the setup, and realized the natural way to make it out was to read “now,” then “that,” then whatever else one could make of the letters that remained.

So the stupidity, I now think, was on the part of the Thatcher-haters who devised the hashtag. The Cher interpretation makes for a better-written statement. The mind sort of wants a “that” after “now.” I mean, really, the thing would have made more sense, been easier to make out, had it read, “#nowthatthatcherisdead.”

Anyway, so much for the “Cher is dead” rumor. Which turned out not to be nearly as much fun as the “Paul is dead” one. That one had all those clues to look for…


A very bad photo Cher posted on Twitter after rumors spread of her death. Come to think of it, she does have a sort of Elvira, Queen of the Dead thing going there. I don’t know who the kid is.

111 thoughts on “Bang, bang! Your hashtag shot me dead…

  1. bud

    It was very sad to see the passing of Annette Funicello. She was one of my faves as a kid. I don’t recall ever hearing anything negative about her other than, perhaps, she was married twice. She was in very bad shape her last few months so perhaps this is a blessing of sorts. Still, it is a sad passing. She will be missed.

  2. Steven Davis II

    Those who follow Twitter have way too much free time on their hands. Twitter should have just been named, “look at me, look at me”

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Actually, you’ve got it completely wrong.

    Twitter is, for me, like having the old wire services coming through my computer at work, only many times better. Back then, I had access to maybe four news services at a time flowing to me, with only AP trying to keep me up-to-date in real time — the others, being newspaper-based, only filed once a day, unless a story needed a new top because of developments.

    Now, I have hundreds of such feeds flowing through my phone, each of them providing depth and breadth, just a click away.

    1. Steven Davis II

      The difference is, I don’t need news 24 hours a day. Twitter is for hyperactive people with ADD… and those who feel the world must know their every move or thought.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    If you’re not on Twitter, you’re really kind of out of sync with the news. I would be, anyway. The days I don’t have time for Twitter are the days I tend to miss something…

    1. Steven Davis II

      That’s actually kind of sad… that your whole world revolves around your phone.

    2. Barry

      I agree with Steven. I check on twitter fairly regularly- mainly to laugh (silently) at people.

      Here is what I have learned from Twitter.

      1) There are mainstream news people (media, etc) that have hundreds of thousands of tweets – sometimes tweeting hundreds of times a day. These people 1) have no life at all – at least any a life that anyone else would want so why would I give their opinion any credibility 2) Don’t do their jobs well because no one that spends 10 hours a day on twitter can do any job well.

      2) Twitter (and not just twitter) have created thousands of people that spread misinformation in a “reality” format. There are people- and reporters- that post anything and everything- without any fact checking at all- and then either never correct it- or just post something else and hope that it people don’t remember the other stuff.

      3) I won’t mention the large amount of just hateful, disrespectful stuff that goes on between self described “smart and intelligent” people. Twitter- more and more – looks like an example of “dumbing down” of society.

  5. Mark Stewart

    Twitter is … Not for me.

    Why is someone watching the demise of a long-since retired politician, especially with some degree of animosity? And why do we care what they tweet? This is a case where the wider noticing is worse than the original tantrum.

    Maybe twitter tags just need dashes between the words anyway. The hashtag mash ups are so banal and insipid. As an intermediary, I can see your interest in streaming news channels though. So enjoy.

    1. Barry

      hashtags are a way for people that think they are smart to make themselves look smart (in their eyes)

      It’s the modern equal of a someone trying to use big words to impress others. In other words- nothing new.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    But you filter it by choosing whom to follow. For instance, if you just want news updates, you can follow the AP and the NYT and WSJ and CNN.

    I like a broader spectrum than that — I like to follow people who know how to make interesting observations on the passing parade.

    But I’m selective. The feeds I follow probably fit into 5 categories:
    1. Pure news feeds, like the ones mentioned above. Both institutional, and individual journalists.
    2. Friends, acquaintances and sources — but only if they post frequently and relevantly.
    3. People I encounter out in the world who simply have fascinating observations to make — people I would never have run across otherwise.
    4. Political candidates and campaigns (and other advocacy feeds).
    5. Fun (and usually offbeat) celebrities — Joss Whedon, Professor Elemental, Harry Shearer, etc.

    It’s a very rich vein of life, I find.

    1. Brad Warthen

      Another celeb I started following the other day… @simonpegg, of “Shaun of the Dead” fame. Still my favorite zombie movie.

      A little while ago, he wrote, “@simonpegg: I sat near Margaret Thatcher in a restaurant once. She was old like a granny but the lipstick she left on the napkin I stole was blood red.”

      Not sure how he meant that…

      1. Barry

        Is that supposed to be funny? Smart? Just an observation?

        1) Who cares if he sat near Margaret Thatcher at a restaurant or anyone else? Who cares if he sat On Margaret Thatcher? Do you really care either way? I can’t imagine caring.

        I once sat at the same table as Oprah. She wasn’t there of course. The owner said she sat there. I guess she did. I didn’t care either way. I’d have been just as impressed if he has said the air conditioning repair man was coming by in a week or two. Certainly didn’t feel the need to tell hundreds of people about it. Can’t imagine wanting to. Certainly can’t imagine others caring about it – and if they did – I’d wonder about their mental state.

  7. Doug Ross

    I surf the web. The idea of scrolling thru hundreds of “tweets” to find something interesting doesn’t interest me. I do exactly what you do but in longer format. I browse through Andrew Sullivan, Salon, Slate, Yahoo News, ESPN, Deadspin, Lifehacker, The State, FitsNews TheChive, various tech and travel blogs, and Facebook. Being limited to reading 140 characters or clicking on a link that may lead me to something useless seems unproductive. Facebook is useful in that based on my likes, I get some targeted posts that I can follow or not.

    I guess I haven’t made the switch to being a phone-based consumer of information yet. I’m still on 3G and use my phone for email and Words With Friends.

    1. Brad Warthen

      Surfing the web is SO much more time-consuming than having bulletins fed to you, which allow you to decide whether to engage further. It’s the executive summary approach — way better suited to a busy schedule.

      1. Steven Davis II

        So those of us who don’t Twitter aren’t considered to have busy schedules… or as I prefer to put it, busy enough that I don’t have time to sit and stare at my phone all day long.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And of course, you don’t have to. An occasional glance will catch you up. The comparison I was making was to Doug poring through multiple news sites — Twitter keeps you up on the news in much less time.

          A typical, active user of Twitter probably spends less time on it in a day than you do just on this blog, Steven.

  8. Steven Davis II

    Did anyone catch this on their Twitter feeds… The Blue Angels just formally announced the cancellation of the 2013 season.

    How many fewer Air Force One trips will Michelle Obama and extended family cut back on this year? Everyone invited on that jet short of the crew, president, first lady and president’s children should be required to pay full fair for their flights on non-government related trips. Flying Michelle’s cousins to Africa isn’t a function of that airplane.

    1. Barry

      I didn’t catch it on “TWITTER.”

      I did hear it on the top of the hour news on the radio. But I know that’s not as “cool” as twitter.

  9. Steven Davis II

    With the stabbing in Texas this afternoon, will the liberals be calling for a ban on all kitchen knives now?

    1. Barry

      No- just like 95% of the media isn’t going to push the government to actually enforce laws on the books now about illegal guns.

      It’s amazingly rare for any government agency to actually prosecute someone that can’t buy gun from trying to buy one- and of course the main stream media almost never brings the subject up.

    2. Scout

      No, because despite what some people believe, no matter how often “liberals” state the contrary, their aim is not banning all weapons or abolishing the second amendment, but rather balancing legitimate needs for a weapon with limiting their potential damage. Kitchen knives are obviously a legitimate need, and you’ll note that as horrible as this attack was, nobody is dead. Had the attacker chosen a high magazine semi-automatic weapon, the chances of that outcome would be less. If anything, this incident supports the position that though attacks of this nature may be inevitable, when they are conducted without high-magazine semi-automatic weapons, the results are less lethal.

      1. Bryan D. Caskey

        “but rather balancing legitimate needs for a weapon with limiting their potential damage.”

        That’s the wrong analysis.

        It should be: Balancing the right you seek to limit against: (1) a compelling government interest; that (2) is narrowly tailored to achieve this interest; (3) in the least restrictive means.

        What’s the compelling government interest? Will the proposed law achieve this interest? Is the proposed law narrowly tailored to achieve this interest? Is it the least restrictive way to do so?

        That’s the analysis.

        1. Scout

          I don’t object to your analysis – I think you analysis can fit within my characterization. You were more detailed. I was considering my audience. I thought Steven would have stopped listening if I wasn’t concise. I realize he probably did anyway. But it is in my nature to try.

          I would think that the compelling government interest is public safety – preventing/limiting mass murder. I suspect the disagreements come more on your second and third questions. Many say limits on gun sales will not achieve this result or may not think it is least restrictive. I don’t buy all their arguments. But I think that is where the debate is.

          1. Steven Davis II

            How often is there a mass murder in this country using a weapon on the ban list… 4-5 per year? How many people are killed by another person using a cell phone to talk or text in a year? Cell phones are more dangerous overall than assault rifles. Would you agree to a cell phone ban?

        2. Mark Stewart

          Nope, wrong Bryan. The questions is is it a compelling societal interest to put reasonable restrictions/limitations on firearms?

          1. Bryan D. Caskey

            Maybe. Maybe not. Your question isn’t very sharp, future law-breaker Mark.

            What is your goal in passing a proposed gun control law? Is that a goal that the government should be pursuing? Does the law accomplish that goal? Is the law reasonably related to accomplishing that goal.

            Be specific.

            Scout and I may not necessarily agree on the answers, but I think we both agree as to what the questions are.

        3. Brad Warthen Post author

          Going back to Bryan’s earlier statement: “It should be: Balancing the right you seek to limit against: (1) a compelling government interest; that (2) is narrowly tailored to achieve this interest; (3) in the least restrictive means.”

          … I don’t start from the fundamental “right,” that you have to have compelling reasons to abridge, and here’s why: I think this particular constitutional right is a bit different from the ones, say, in the First Amendment. Those were matters of conscience, a sort of assertion of a fundamental belief in God-given rights as a human being that no man or government should be allowed to abridge.

          While I know there are 2nd Amendment enthusiasts who would assert that the right to carry around a deadly weapon is God-given, I don’t think most serious, thoughtful believers — Christians, anyway — would agree. In fact, it runs sort of counter to the message of trusting to God. But I don’t want to get too deeply into the theological weeds. I would just think that more people would see the rights to think and speak and associate freely would be more fundamental and divinely ordained than the power to do serious violence with no more effort than pulling a trigger.

          In fact, I think the right to bear arms is itself based less in the absolute right of an individual in a state of nature, and more in what is perceived as a public good. In other words, the Framers thought that everybody having guns was a good protection, for the whole society, to prevent tyranny from taking away the freedoms that we have.

          Do you follow me? In other words, a right to bear arms was probably written in more as a social good rather than a recognition of something that exists in all individuals everywhere.

          I may not be explaining this well.

          Of course, you could make the same argument for the rights in the First Amendment — that they also serve social goods of creating conditions in which liberty thrives. But I really think there’s more of a philosophical assumption that these are basic, eternal human rights, accruing to an individual even without the context of society at large, rather than some expedient that we hope will keep the British away… That’s why such an assortment of items were all crammed into that one Amendment. The Second — and for that matter the rest of the first 10, except for the 10th, which is a catchall — had a separate basis and purpose, and therefore was set out separately. Several of the other amendments in the first 10 were drafted to address particular grievances, particular injustices inflicted on us by the Brits. Like the quartering of troops. Others were more in the fundamental rights category, such as the right to trial by jury. Each seems to have its own separate texture and foundation. But only the First seems to read like almost a civic prayer or something. It speaks to the most fundamental RIGHTS of an individual…

          1. Bryan D. Caskey

            First, I would say that I’m *shocked* that a former newspaper editor believes the First Amendment deserves a higher status than all others.

            To address the issue of pre-existing: The very text of the second amendment contradicts the idea that the right to bear arms is a social good that the government is going to encourage. The text explicitly states “shall not be infringed”.

            United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his [the Second Amendment] is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.

            If Brad’s right (which he isn’t), and the Second Amendment is “a social good rather than a recognition of something that exists in all individuals everywhere” then the very text of the Amendment is nonsensical, and it’s not a “right” at all.

            It’s just a privilege that the government gives us, that can be removed at any time.

      2. barry

        David Gregory corrected you – he stated this morning that most liberal refrains regarding gun control over the psat 20 years was to ban private ownership of handguns. he stated more recently they had changed their approach and had dropped those kinds of statements.

  10. bud

    With the stabbing in Texas this afternoon, will the liberals be calling for a ban on all kitchen knives now?

    So far, unlike the assault rifle incidents, no one has died from that attack.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s hard to kill with an edged weapon — to some extent it’s physically difficult (against a determined defense) and to a greater extent there’s a huge psychological barrier. People have a horror both of being attacked with a knife or bayonet, and of using one on another person. Unless, of course, they’re psychopaths.

      It’s easiest to kill with drones. Then comes bombing or artillery. Then being a sniper. Then crew-served weapons such as heavy machine guns. All of those are easier than killing with a rifle, which is easier than killing with a handgun, which is easier than a knife, which is easier than bare hands.

      Psychologically speaking, I mean. But also, to a great extent, physically.

      I’m going by Grossman’s book, On Killing, here.

      1. Col Silence Jessup

        Brad, we live in a world that has steaks, and those steaks have to be eaten by men with knives. Who’s gonna do it? You? bud, Steven Davis III? I have a greater appetite than you can possibly fathom! You weep for salad and you curse the butcher. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that a cow’s death, while tragic, probably gave us delicious meat. And the butcher’s existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about in the un-party, you want me on that steak! You need me on that steak! We use words like “prime”, “choice”, “select”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent eating meat. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sits at the table of the beefy goodness that I eat, and then questions the manner in which I eat it! I would rather you just said “bon Appetit,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a steak knife, and sit down for dinner. Either way, I don’t give a darn what you think you are entitled to!

    2. Steven Davis II

      So you’re just disregarding the fact that 14 people were sent to the hospital because of one person and a kitchen knife.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t think anyone’s disregarding anything. I think people were telling you why there’s more sentiment for controlling guns than knives. Because they are so obviously so much more dangerous.

        1. Steven Davis II

          Do you think any of the nutjobs who have committed mass murder in the last year would have stopped if they had been limited to a knife? How many 5 year olds could a deranged person kill or injure if he stepped into a classroom?

          1. Scout

            If part of what makes them a nutjob is that they are divorced from reality – manifested by playing first person shooter games where they get to manipulate others, not interact with people on a personal level, and be in control, then yea I think using a knife would be less appealing to them. Using a knife would be messier, give them less control, would not allow them to remain aloof and distant, would require direct interaction with people, and would be much more personal. I think it would be too real for such “nutjobs” who have a psychological interest in maintaining their break with reality.

  11. Bryan D. Caskey

    The thing about Twitter is that it’s whatever you want it to be. You get to self-select what information comes to you. For instance, Brad likes to get news and commentary. However, that is only a small slice of what Twitter can do. If you don’t want news, you can get the latest sports scores and analysis. If you don’t like sports or news, you could get recipes for grilling sent to you. Twitter, by it’s nature gives you what you ask it for. Heck, you could just follow a few of your close friends and use it like free text messaging.

    My Twitter feed contains some legal news, some political commentary from a select few, friends, and a really neat feed that Tweets a “This day in WWII” fact. And I follow Brad, even though he doesn’t follow me back.

    It sounds to me like some people in the comments above don’t actually use Twitter, but are criticizing it, which (in my opinion) is silly.

    1. Silence

      I also followed Brad’s twitter feed, although he didn’t follow me back. As a result, I left Twitter forever.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And sorry about not following you. It’s not personal. It’s just that if a feed isn’t particularly active, I tend to drop it, or not pick it up to start with.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That would help, but it wouldn’t get him all the way there. He’d need to move to London and do something interesting, and do it with great frequency, like post at least once a day some interesting thing overheard on the Tube or something.

          Which is why I started following @HeardinLondon…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I hated Twitter — the very idea of Twitter, and everything I had seen on Twitter — until I resolved to honestly give it a try and start using it daily.

      Then I realized how ignorant I had been before. I had really been missing out.

      Twitter is the one social medium I see this way. None of the other forms — Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn — really deliver, as far as I’m concerned. Twitter is alive and dynamic and does so many things that none of the others do. It was the only social medium that delivered more than I ever expected of it.

      1. barry

        You might have been ignorant (your words) – I don’t know.

        I use twitter- and I disagree with most of your points regarding it. I don’t consider myself ignorant even though I hold that opinion.

    3. barry

      I use twitter- and I find it most a huge waste of time – and people trying to sound smarter than they are- and when an actual couterpoint is made- they get nasty and start calling names.

  12. bud

    Should everyone be allowed to buy a drone? Isn’t that a type of “arms” that should be protected by the second ammendment? Afterall the second ammendment does not specifically say the “guns” are protected but rather “arms”.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      Obviously not, Bud. No one takes the absolutist view that all things are “arms”.

      Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined “arms” as “any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.” 1 A New and Complete Law Dictionary (1771); see also N. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) (reprinted 1989) (hereinafter Webster) (similar).

      Although one founding-era thesaurus limited “arms” (as opposed to “weapons”) to “instruments of offence generally made use of in war,” even that source stated that all firearms constituted “arms.” .

    2. Silence

      I don’t think that there’s any reason that an individual cannot own a drone, as long as it’s operated pursuant to all FAA, FCC and other rules that pertain to its operation. There’s a slew of websites that sell them, and lots of folks who own them. A drone, or more properly “unmanned aerial vehicle” or “remotely piloted vehicle” is actually pretty common, with most communities having an R/C airplane club, or something similar. Now, if you wanted to weaponize your drone, I would assume that would be a different story. I assume that you could legally equip it with guns without running afoul of the BATF, rockets too, since those are also legal, but missiles might be tough to acquire. Here’s a couple of helpful links:

    3. Steven Davis II

      Yes, if they can pass the background check. Just like it’s legal to own Class III weapons (machine guns, short barrel rifles, flame throwers, artillery pieces, etc.). All it costs you is a background check and a $200 tax stamp.

  13. Bryan D. Caskey

    Also, the second amendment applies arms that one can “keep” and “bear”. You cannot “bear” a howitzer or a nuclear submarine with a Trident Missile. However, no one is asking to do so. Focus on what arms you can “bear”, and you’ll keep your eye on the ball.

    Next, bud’s probably going to ask about arms that weren’t in existence at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

    We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends,to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

    1. Silence

      Actually, I don’t think it would be impossible to own a nuclear submarine. There are many privately owned conventional submarines, and assuming that you could prove that it was safe to operate. There have been several commercial vessels operated using nuclear power, it hasn’t proven economical, but there’s no reason that it would be illegal to do so. Lot’s of private companies operate reactors, like SCANA.

      Owning a Trident missile might be more problematic. I doubt that the navy is selling any Trident II’s and the warheads aren’t for sale either. Again, it’s not illegal to own a rocket, so it’s all about your pocketbook.

      Acquiring the warhead would be a little tougher, and probably get you a visit from the NNSA, you’d need to be well hidden, or have the sponsorship of a foreign state.

      If you had a few extra billion sitting around, I’d bet that you could put something together… Maybe set up here: and pay someone to recognize you as a sovereign state.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Except of course automatic weapons, short shotguns and “stealth” weapons which were all banned in 1934. And Saturday Night Specials which were banned in the 1960’s. Plus all those other arms which have never been “approved” for civilan use.

      There are limits to all Constitutional rights…

      1. Bryan D. Caskey

        “There are limits to all Constitutional rights…”

        We’re just arguing about where the line is, and why some have decided to re-draw the line in a different place.

        Oh, and FYI, a citizen may still own automatic weapons and short shotguns, etc. It’s just a matter of having enough money to afford them (the practical limit) and clearing the regulatory hurdles.

      2. Steven Davis II

        Those weapons you just mentioned are not banned, they’re classified as Class III weapons that people can still purchase if they have the funds and the clearance. I know a few people that have full automatic rifles.

  14. bud

    Obviously not, Bud. No one takes the absolutist view that all things are “arms”.

    Actually Bryan if you listen to the NRA zealots that’s exactly what they do. Just find a video of Ted Cruz berating Dianne Feinstein on exactly those grounds. But between you and me we can at least establish that there IS a limit to the second amendment just as there is to the first. The problem now is to figure out where best to set that limit.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      Again, no one takes the absolutist view that all things are “arms”. Neither Senator Cruz nor the NRA takes this position. Again, to be clear, the absolutist view would be that military fighter jets, submarines, and ICBMs fall under the second amendment. No one takes this point of view.

      You’re wrong about Cruz. I saw the video that you’re talking about. I linked it on my blog. He simply asked Feinstein questions. At no point did he advocate the absolutist position. No one credible advocates this position. You’re simply wrong.

      If you want, I’ll make a bet with you, bud: If you find a video or written statement from Cruz to the effect that he is in favor of making all things subject to the second amendment, I’ll buy you lunch. If you can’t find the video/statement, you have to come shooting with me. Deadline to produce video or statement is 4:00PM 4/17. I’ll stipulate to letting Brad resolve any dispute about interpretation.

  15. bud

    Actually there are small drones that you can “bear”. Also bazookas, hand grenades, flame throwers, nerve gas, RPGs, and maybe even a small nuclear device. So you don’t get off the hook on the “bear” aspect of the amendment.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      Ok, even simpler: The Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, in common use at the time.

    2. Silence

      bud – once again, you can own a drone. Any R/C airplane is technically a drone.
      Flame throwers aren’t illegal on a federal level, but are restricted in some states. I’m not sure about SC, I’d bet they are OK.
      Grenades would be classified as a destructive device, so I think you could still own them if you did the appropriate paperwork. RPG’s probably as well, if you could find someone to sell you one.
      Cannons are also legal to build or own.
      Nerve gas would be an interesting one to research.

  16. bud

    Here’s the passage in question:

    “For congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment. In the context of the first or Fourth Amendment namely. Would she consider it constitutional for congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books”.

    There is a certain amount of interpretation needed here but since Cruz clearly does not specifically say the first amendment is limited he is implying that it is absolute. Otherwise why even bring it up? If he concedes the first amendment is limited, which he never does, with this line of questioning he would likewise concede that congress can limit the second amendment. Once the veil of absolutism is conceded then you’re back to deciding where to place the limit. Cruz MAY believe drones are outside the limits but he doesn’t say so. Although if pressed I’m sure he would say as much. BUT HE DIDN’T. And that’s the point.

    I would further take issue with the conservative claim that he is actually asking a legitimate question. That’s a ridiculous claim. He’s merely grandstanding for his conservative supporters. By berating the senator from California by “asking” a rhetorical, not an information gathering, question he merely showed himself to be a pompous ass. That in no way means he’s stupid. He probably chose this particular method of attack so that later his conservative minions would say, “he was just asking a question”. But of course that’s not what he was doing. Cruz was trying to defend assault rifles but in fact unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) implied ALL the amendments are absolutes, especially the second. Cruz’s demeanor was condescending and completely out of line. But it did serve his diabolical purpose of making him a hero in the eyes of conservatives.

    1. Silence

      There are limits on the first amendment as well. Schenck v. United States – “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”

    2. Bryan D. Caskey

      Bud, I’m just going to disregard all the “diabolical”, “minions”, and “pompous ass” stuff.

      I’m just going to assume that you’ve never seen or read the transcript from an oral argument of any case at any appellate level, because the question he asked – that’s the kind of questions that Judges ask at oral arguments. They want to find the limiting factor of your argument. They want to push you to clearly defining the legal framework supporting your argument. Seriously, go read some SCOTUS oral argument transcripts. It’s not a rhetorical question – it’s a legal question intended to sharpen the advocate’s point. Feinstein just swung and missed at the question.

      The response to Cruz’s question is: Obviously, no, Congress could not make a law choosing which books they like and don’t like. However, such a hypothetical is distinguishable from our proposed law for the following reasons…

      To address the issue of absolutism, you’re still wrong here. Cruz never said that any right was absolute. No one does.

      “There is a certain amount of interpretation needed here but since Cruz clearly does not specifically say the first amendment is limited he is implying that it is absolute. Otherwise why even bring it up?” -bud

      I would say there’s a certain amount of a willing suspension of disbelief needed here.

      He’s bringing up the First Amendment to compare it to the endeavor [the bill] that they are discussing; specifically, the ban on certain semi-automatic guns. that Feinstein proposed. He’s saying the First Amendment would not allow a similar law. He certainly is not saying that no law may limit the First Amendment. You’re assuming he is – but you’re incorrect.

  17. bud

    The Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, in common use at the time.
    – Bryan

    Here’s what the second amendment actually says.

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    And I don’t see anything about “law-abiding citizens”, lawful purposes” or “common use”. So we’re back to where we draw the line.

    I see no violation of the second amendment if we ban large capacity magazine clips, certain types of military style sem-automatic weapons and close the gun show background check loophole. Otherwise allowing most types of guns that fire ordinary bullets/shells for hunting and self defense seems a reasonable interpretation.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      “The Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, in common use at the time.” -The opinion of SCOTUS in DC vs. Heller (not Bryan Caskey)

  18. Silence

    It’s not really a gunshow background check loophole. It’s really a private-party sale loophole. Most (almost all) sellers at gun shows are federally licensed gun dealers. The rules apply to them at the gun show just as if they were selling out of their store.
    I’m not sure how many you can sell as an individual before you would be required to get a FFL. I remember a case in TN where some good ol’ boys (emphasis on old) were regularly buying and selling at a flea market or gun show and the BATF decided that they should have had a license. Not sure if they did any jail time or not.

    1. Mark Stewart

      That’s the real issue, Silence. Are gun show dealers – private citizens or registered dealers – simply going to conduct their sales in the parking lot then?

      All sales outside a limited list of close relatives should adhere to the background check requirement. And, no, this has nothing to do with loaning a friend a gun while out hunting or on the range – or on one’s back forty. This is about actual sales.

      If people can complete hunting tags, they ought to be able to handle some simple paperwork to make a legal weapons transfer.

      1. Silence

        @ Mark – Registered dealers can’t just sell out in the parking lot, they’d still be required to comply with the federal background check requirements. The issue that I see is with people who are truly individual citizens and not a dealer. If I have a rifle to sell, and I post it on craigslist or in the Bargain Mart classifieds, meet a gent in a parking lot and exchange the gun for cash – it’s certainly an imposition and not expedient to require a background check. I might not have access to a computer, although a phone is ubiquitous enough, but I barely could figure out how to transfer my car’s title when I sold it. I ended up having to drive back over to the guy’s house and sign in the correct place.

        Should I be required to sell my guns through an intermediary, who would then take a cut of my proceeds? That hardly seems fair to me. How long should I be required to keep a copy of the guy’s ID? I can’t even find my tax returns from 2010.

        Honestly, I’ve never sold a firearm, but I imagine that if I needed to, I’d like to be able to liquidate stuff. If I wanted to sell my entire collection (let’s say I had a few dozen guns and a few thousand rounds of ammo, hypothetically), would I be required to get an FFL and keep records like a dealer? Would my home be subject to warrantless and no-notice BATFE inspections and records audits like gun stores are?

        I wholeheartedly agree that requiring background checks is a good idea, and would prevent some guns from ending up “in the wrong hands”. I also think it’s probably inevitable at this point. I just wonder and worry about how the implementation would go, and where the breakpoints will be between an individual engaging in personal commerce and a business.

        1. Bryan D. Caskey

          “A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal to expand gun background checks to all commercial sales — whether at gun shows, via the Internet or in any circumstance involving paid advertising, according to Senate aides familiar with the talks.”

          That’s the best part of this new gun legislation. I can still sell guns out of the back of my trunk at the local liquor store.

  19. Bryan D. Caskey

    The problem with the people trying to regulate firearms is that they don’t even grasp the fundamentals of how they work. They just instinctively “feel” that firearms are bad, and they can’t be bothered with all the details. It reminds me of a cliche…

    The cliche concerns know-nothing scolds whipped up into a moral panic, who wish to ban certain Dangerous Books. When asked if they’ve ever read the books, they say, “No, I don’t need to.” When asked if they even know what the books are about, they say again, “No, I don’t need to. I know this book is Bad.”

    And then liberals chuckle. How silly. How stupid. How base. How absurd that a Moral Scold would seek to ban a thing without having the slightest idea about what it is they seek to ban.

    Sound familiar?

  20. bud

    The problem with the people trying to regulate firearms is that they don’t even grasp the fundamentals of how they work.

    Here’s the real issue. Folks who want to impose regulations on guns are stupid. Geez Bryan how insulting can you get. As long as we keep having 15,000 people killed every year by firearms while the Brits have a few dozen it seems like the folks who can’t grasp “fundamentals” are the ones supporting the status quo.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      I didn’t say that anyone was “stupid”. On the contrary, they’re (probably) perfectly intelligent people. They just don’t understand how firearms work. That’s all. And they’re seeking to regulate/ban/control something without a fundamental understanding of the subject.

      It’s not an indictment of their intelligence in general – just their judgment.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Three quick points:

        1. How did we get off on this guns tangent? Did my headline start it? (Yeah, I could probably go back and see, but it’s been a long day, so I just thought I’d ask.)

        2. True, a lot of people who want to control guns don’t know much about guns. Which is natural. They don’t like them, and aren’t interested in spending time getting to know more about them.

        3. But I think they know enough about them to know that they would like to limit the facility with which they can be used to kill innocent people — whatever expedient may be used to reduce the chance of that.

        It’s kinda like, I’m not a herpetologist, and I have trouble identifying different kinds of snakes. But I know that I don’t want to have anything to do with rattlesnakes — or with moccasins, or copperheads, or coral snakes, or cobras, if I can identify them. And not really being able to identify them, I’d just as soon stay away from snakes.

        Now this evokes a response in lots of nature lovers that my aversion to these creatures arises from ignorance, that they can be handled safely by a responsible person who knows what he’s doing. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to become an expert at handling snakes. I just don’t want to handle the blasted things. And I know enough to know that. I’ve got lots of other things I can do with my life.

        If I see a snake of any kind out in the wilderness, I’m going to leave it alone. And if I see one in my yard, I’ll leave it alone if I KNOW it’s harmless (as I did a garter snake I saw in my grandchildren’s backyard on Easter Sunday). But if there’s any uncertainty — if to my inexpert eyes it looks like a pit viper, or if it has the colors of a coral snake in ANY order (I’m not going to trust my life to remembering which color order is safe) and it’s in my yard, I’m gonna kill it.

        And I don’t want my next-door neighbor running a refuge for rattlers in his yard. I don’t care about how wise he is in the ways of snakes, or how careful or responsible he is. I don’t want the things there, that close to where my grandchildren play. And I don’t want people, however responsible or knowledgeable they are, to carry snakes into the bars, restaurants, movie theaters, etc., where I am.

        And I don’t think people who don’t want guns around them have to be experts to have a legitimate view on the subject.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I’m not talking about being an expert. I’m talking about understanding that if a venomous snake bites you – that you die from the poison, not from the scary rattle on it’s tail.

          For example, the leading co-sponsor of the magazine capacity ban in Congress, Diana DeGette, (D-CO) said banning high-capacity in magazines would be effective in reducing gun violence because “the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”

          She’s the PRIMARY SPONSOR of the legislation, but is confusing cartridges with magazines. That’s like confusing the rattlesnake’s tail with it’s fangs.

          1. Scout

            I think you are quibbling over details that don’t make a difference to the larger point.

            I admit it. I don’t know much about the details of gun operation. I just went and read about cartridges and bullets and magazines and clips on your behalf. And with my newfound knowledge, I’m not sure I agree that confusing cartridges and magazines is like confusing the fangs and the tail of the rattlesnake. Magazines and cartridges are both intimately involved with bullet delivery, as I understand it, and I think both would be more closely associated with fangs in your analogy. Maybe it’d be like confusing fangs and venom – to get the tail involved, I’d think you’d need some entire other part of the gun like a scope or a stock or a barrel. But does confusing cartridges and magazines, or fangs and venom for that matter, really get in the way of the point she is making. I don’t think so.

          2. Bryan D. Caskey

            She thinks that banning the magazines will result in magazines being used up after “the bullets will have been shot”. It’s just a fundamental failure to understand how the mechanics of a firearm works. Magazines aren’t “spent” after you fire rounds out of them. They don’t get “used up”.

            I’m not saying that everyone has to be able to identify a 1911 vs. a Hi-Power vs. a Sig Sauer 226 by sight. That would be like Brad being able to tell the difference between certain snakes. That type of knowledge isn’t necessary.

            What IS necessary (especially if you want to make a freakin’ law regulating guns) is that you understand how guns work. That’s all. I don’t even really care about the nomenclature being butchered on a daily basis, except that it’s funny to me. However, what this Representative did was to reveal that she doesn’t understand how guns work. They might as well be the phazers from Star Trek as far as she’s concerned.

            If you want to make a law regulating something, you at least have to have a basic understanding of how the item works. I don’t understand how an elected official could be that uninformed about a subject they are trying to pass a law about. Heck, Scout. You probably took 15 minutes and educated yourself. What’s the barrier to this Congresswoman doing the same thing?

            It just baffles me.

        2. Scout

          re: pt. # 1 – The headline was about twitter and Cher not really being dead. I suppose that guns could be tangentially related since they cause death and Cher was hypothetically dead. But I think what got us on this track was Steven asked out of the blue if the liberals would want to ban knives because of the stabbing incident, which caused liberals to point out how knives were different from….Guns.

    2. Silence

      bud – we fought a war to rid ourselves of the tyranny of “Great” Britain, what with their monarchy and their taxes and their fancy red coats, bearskin hats, warm beer, funny accents and what-not. Why would we want to emulate the Brits? It’s a police state. We are already free-er, more powerful, and just plain better than they could ever aspire to be.

      Anyone who says differently is itching for a fight.

  21. bud

    The opinion of the SCOTUS was written by a single individual who can read the English language. Guess what, so can I. Of course SCOTUS is responsible for it’s interpretation but that doesn’t mean the second amendment has words in it that it doesn’t.

  22. bud

    Here’s a parallel product that we can use a comparison, automobiles. In 1971 there were more than 54,589 people killed in traffic accidents. After 4 decades of increasing legislation to address a variety of issues with vehicle safety, driver competence, alcohol, road hazards and EMT efficiency that number declined to 32,367. During that time the population has increased by 100 million and vehicle travel more than doubled. Although there has been some grumbling along the way these efforts have largely been supported by the people. No one complains about registering their car. No one bitches about restricting the types of vehicles one can legally drive (No NASCAR vehicles allowed). Folks don’t complain when their 16 year old son or daughter has to take a drivers test. Yet whenever the tiniest little restriction is suggested for guns the NRA radicals go ballistic (so to speak). Why the difference in how these two products are treated in the regulatory arena? It’s a mystery to me.

    1. Silence

      driving is a priveledge, not a fundamental, unalienable, deity-given human right like owning any kind of gun we want.

    2. Bryan D. Caskey

      Good job, bud. You’re asking a question like Senator Cruz did. It’s not a rhetorical question here, but you’ve crafted it to see if we can set forth a sound legal theory that distinguishes regulating cars from regulating arms.

      It’s actually quite simple. There is no Constitutional amendment stating: “A quick and simple transportation device, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and drive Cadillacs, shall not be infringed.”

    3. Steven Davis II

      Where in the Constitution does it give citizens the right to drive motor vehicles?

  23. bud

    Hit enter too fast. Second sentence should read:

    In 1972 there were 54,589 people killed in traffic accidents.

  24. Scout

    Heck, Scout. You probably took 15 minutes and educated yourself. What’s the barrier to this Congresswoman doing the same thing?

    It just baffles me. -Bryan

    I agree. It does lesson a person’s credibility if they don’t take the time to research what they are talking about. This is a good point. Unfortunately it is a common malady. What is up with that?

  25. bud

    If you want to make a law regulating something, you at least have to have a basic understanding of how the item works.

    Here’s the thing about this whole gun safety issue. This really isn’t all that big of an issue for me. I’m much more interested in discussing economics and foreign affairs. And perhaps a few local issues like blue laws and voter suppression. But the pro gun folks keep throwing out all this nonsensical crap that it just gets the old political juices flowing. It’s especially offputting and insulting to keep getting called ignorant. Heck simply passing a few simple restrictions doesn’t seem too much to ask. Yet every ridiculous reason under the sun keeps getting thrown out. If requiring background checks for the sale of a gun is too burdensome then maybe we should just outlaw guns entirely. Then we won’t have that burden to deal with. Problem solved. End of story. If you have a gun of any type you go to jail for 5 years. I’m sure the pro-gun folks can easily see how irrational that is. That extreme type of law makes just as little sense as all this hysteria over a regulation supported by 90% of all Americans.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      Background checks? I’m cool with that. Symbolic, arbitrary, and ineffective bans on certain weapons/accessories in common use – not so much. Any time you want to go shooting and break some clay targets or punch some holes in paper, you let me know.

      Always enjoy the back-and-forth with you, bud. It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        My dad was a big postal chess player. He had a sort of notebook with chessboards and slots for the pieces. He had at least 20 games going at any time, all over the world, especially in the Eastern Bloc. The FBI was apparently concerned, since as an editor at SRS, he had top clearance.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          If I’d been with the FBI, I think I definitely would have wanted to be reading your Dad’s mail. That would definitely be red-flag behavior in someone with a high clearance.

  26. Silence

    One night in Cola makes a hard man humble
    Not much between despair and ecstasy.
    One night in Cola and the tough guys tumble,
    Can’t be too careful with your company
    I can feel Brad Warthen walking next to me

    Columbia, South Carolina setting,
    and the city don’t know what the city is getting.
    The creme de la creme of the chess world
    in a show with everything but Yul Brynner

  27. Brad Warthen Post author

    I had to think for a minute before recognizing it as “One Night in Bangkok.”

    I tend to confuse that one with 10cc’s “One Night in Paris.”

    Because, you know, I like to one-up people by making musical references that are more obscure…

  28. Brad Warthen Post author

    Walking with the Devil always makes me think of Carmen in “The Weight.”

    Which reminds me. I finished reading Lord of the Flies last night for the first time (somehow, I got through school without it being required of me — not that its being required of me would mean I had read it), and I need to find time to share some observations…

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