So…guns are the problem Seattle?

Seattle is having a very rough time right now.  They have experienced more murders so far this year than they did all last year.  Police are looking for answers, and Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz has something - not someone - to blame.

Seattle police officials Tuesday said the outbreak of violence through Memorial Day weekend and since the beginning of the year has more to do with guns than with gangs.

Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief for Operations Paul McDonagh said that, while gang activity has played a role in the jump in homicides this year — 15 to date compared with 21 in all of 2011 — the common denominator is the use of firearms.

“A person who has a gun is more likely to use a gun,” Metz said after the weekly council briefing.

Frankly, there are things I would like to say to Metz that don’t really belong on this kind of website.  For the record, this was published yesterday with no mention of the six more that were killed at the Racer Cafe.

I was informed this morning that one of the dead who’s identity hasn’t been officially released was Kimberly Layfield.  That name means nothing to most of you, but it sure as hell means a lot to me.  Kim was a very special friend.  We went to high school together and were pretty tight in those days, over 20 years ago.  I lost touch with her after I joined the Navy, but thanks to the internet, I caught up with her several years ago.  It was like old times.  There is something like a .001% chance it’s not her though, and I still pray it’s not, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Complicated World of Bigotry

In the greater Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a very quaint and beautiful area where I would love to live someday, there is a grade-A @$$hole who has led a fevered vendetta against gay rights. He’s the pastor of Antioch Bible Church (where he’s been for over two decades) and has not only been a firm opponent of gay marriage, but of anti-discrimination legislation and domestic partnerships. He is arguably to the right of many gay marriage opponents from far more conservative areas of the country.

It’s worth noting that the pastor in question, Ken Hutcherson, is black. Whatever solidarity he is supposed to have as an ethnic minority for a sexual minority is apparently quite lost on him. Ken Hutcherson’s existence shouldn’t be shocking to those with life experience outside of textbook indoctrination. I’ve met many racists and homophobes, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, and they all come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s nearly a waste of time to confront them about it. Bigotry is not something people like to admit, and if you mention it they tend to act like they’ve been unfairly attacked.

Now that the high emotion surrounding the passage of the health care bill is in the past, it is very important to remember this. Racism and xenophobia is rampant in the culturally homogenous society of Japan, where even those of Japanese ancestry who were born elsewhere have difficulty being accepted. I’ve personally heard very disparaging remarks towards blacks from Hispanics, heard bigoted comments towards blacks from Indians, heard whites say horrible generalizations about black people and vice versa. Racism is not a homogenous factor of one particular ethnic or political group; it’s the result of the natural tribal instinct that we share with our primate cousins.

No Junk Food, No School Programs

In a modern example of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Seen and the Unseen,” in Seattle, school adiminstrators are finding out that their ban on junk food has actually hurt student activities:

The Seattle School Board is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthful food in high schools amid complaints from student governments that the policy has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in vending-machine profits over the past seven years.

The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.

But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many students are not particularly interested in those items.

(I just want to insert a “Duh!” in here. Like, seriously?)

In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.

The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.

That’s one way to make the point

TSA has caught a lot of flak lately.  I can’t exactly feel bad for them either, since this is of their own making.  The “porno” scanners, groping people, thefts of personal property, and whatever other wacky hi-jinks they’ve been into haven’t made our hearts all a-flutter at the mention of their name.  Apparently, someone has figured out a way to teach them a bit of a lesson:

KC McLawson works for a cafe near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and since the body-scan and patdown controversy last November, her boss has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the TSA knows of his displeasure.“We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren’t allowed to come into our business,” she says. “We have the right to refuse service to anyone.”

Banning TSA from a restaurant. Seems a little harsh, doesn’t it?

McLawson explains.

My boss flies quite a bit and he has an amazing ability to remember faces. If he sees a TSA agent come in we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave.

Their kind aren’t welcomed in our establishment.

A large majority of our customers — over 90 percent — agree with our stance and stand by our decision.

We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.

Are Public Schools Becoming Prisons?

This comes from J. Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

It’s not right for a 6-year-old boy to be handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer because he “acted up” in school. But that’s exactly what happened at the Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans. In keeping with our work to reform the abusive juvenile justice system in the Deep South, we’ve filed a lawsuit against the school district to stop the brutal and unconstitutional policy of chaining students who break minor school rules.

Our client, J.W., is a typical first-grader. He’s just four feet tall and weighs 60 pounds. He enjoys playing basketball, being read to by his parents, coloring and playing outside with friends. But his school treated him like an animal. Within one week, he was twice forcibly arrested, handcuffed and shackled to a chair for talking back to a teacher and later arguing with a classmate over a seat. The amount of force used on J.W. was simply ridiculous and, predictably, inflicted severe emotional distress. Shockingly, this level of punishment is official school policy. We’re not just fighting for the rights of J.W., but for all the students at Reed Elementary.

Unfortunately, J.W.’s story is hardly unique. All across the nation, schools have adopted draconian “zero-tolerance” policies that treat children like criminals and turn schools into prison-like environments. The primary function of school is to help educate our children so that they can become productive, well-informed adults. These policies do just the opposite — they seize on any opportunity to criminalize behavior and eject children from schools, driving up dropout rates.

Vouchers are the Right Option for Disabled Children

I received an e-mail from a family member that detailed protests by disability rights activists of Sen. John McCain. Here’s some of it:

The 2008 election campaigns have included rhetoric about tax breaks for middle income families, and media coverage has included stories about families who have children with disabilities. Left out of all the election rhetoric are the candidates’ positions on and commitments to those babies with disabilities who grow into adults with disabilities who all-too-often survive on extremely low incomes (less than 30% of the median income). These extremely low incomes are often the fixed benefit amounts of SSI and Social Security.

In 2006, according to Priced Out in 2006, the federal SSI benefit was $603/month and the average cost nationally of renting a studio/efficiency apartment was $633/month.


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