Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Return

Upon hearing of Michael Jackson's death I rushed downstairs to my computer in order to investigate the news and most likely post a comment on how the self-proclaimed "King of Pop" was no "King" (Le Roi de pop est mort--que l'enfer!, vive Elvis, le Roi authentique!)

Pardon my semi-literate (at best) French. Unless you're complaining because you are French, in which case va te faire mettre (pardon my French).

I pressed the button, but my computer declined to power up. I checked all the cables, but could identify no problem; so I took it to my personal geek squad, the chemical-engineer/technological savant, Drew, hoping that it was nothing more than a failed power supply (which is what I suspected/hoped but had no way myself to confirm).

As Drew tinkered around, we discussed a myriad of comments, from his views on the recent Battlestar Galactica series to the hazards of some form of chromium (hey, he's the chemical engineer, so that's the best that you'll get from me).

Sure enough, the power supply was shot, so I had to order a new one and wait. In the time between then and just a few hours ago, I haven't been able to blog or even check my email. I bristled over how dependent I have become on this machine and its connection to the world wide web (I only just found out that Billy Mays is dead!--God, I hope this doesn't mean more from the ShamWow DB).

Well, the new power supply arrived earlier this afternoon, and after a bit of confusion with some of the connections, I called Drew. By the time he arrived at my house, I'd figured out the problem, but it was a good thing that he dropped by, for I hadn't noticed that in my haste to get things up and going I hadn't reconnected the main hard drive and a fan.

Thanks to Drew, I'm back in business.

Thanks Drew.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon, RIP

I wonder if, as Ed McMahon strode through the pearly gates, Johnny Carson stood off to the side and roared, "Here's Eddie!"

How cool would it be to see Jesus bantering with Johnny and Ed?

Iran's Government Shows True Colors

The Iranian government claims that recent elections were fair and legitimate, but it shows its true colors when dealing with detractors.

Iran has a government that threatens, harms, even kills its "citizens" (they seem more like subjects to me) for assembling in dissent.

Given the obviously malicious nature of the Iranian government, it is not hard to believe that it would run corrupt elections in order to maintain itself as it sees fit regardless of the people's will.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Whipped Up, Jitterbuggin' Brown Eyed Men: The Significane of the Zoot Suit

This is adapted from a piece that I wrote some time ago.

It has been said that much can be inferred about a man based upon what he carries with him—clothing included. Just as one might metaphorically take a walk in someone else’s shoes, analyzing the shoes themselves might likewise enlighten the situation. If how people dress says something about who they are, then Douglas Daniels’s assertion that “zoot marked the emergence of a specific urban identity” suggests that the zoot suit itself symbolized a specific departure from traditional social and cultural mores, to a representation of “concrete experience: growing up poor, urban, and often colored in the U.S. . . . [and thus] symbolized rebellion against society.”[1] That formation of a sub-culture, as symbolized in the zoot suit, occurred during a period of supposed nationalism is strikingly problematic. American nationalism of the 1940s was largely an Anglo-Saxon-American nationalism. Zoot culture thus arose as the product of a large minority’s alienation and self-actualization. In this way, both positive and negative factors account for the emergence of the zoot suit.

The term “zoot” or variations thereof (e.g. “zoot suit”) is ripe with connotation, but ambiguous in denotation. For the purposes of this study, “zoot” will be used both in reference to the image invoked of a distinct clothing fashion as well as the sub-culture associated with those who wore such garbs. [2]To understand how a style of dress contains such deep cultural meaning, one must understand the historical context from whence the zoot suit emerged, that is the early 1940s. America’s post-World War II memory tends to focus on the ties that bound its people during one of its most intense international struggles, but the zoot suit phenomenon and the controversy surrounding it at the time demonstrates clearly that the home-front was not always, if at all, so felicitous. Instead of uniting all Americans in a common endeavor, the conflict abroad, with its tendency to promote an “either you are with us or against us” mentality, often put minorities of race and ideology on the fringe.[3] Metaphorically, what was not apple pie became sauerkraut or sushi. Alienated by race and class from mainstream white America, black and Latino-American youths forged identities of their own, and thus castigated for “generally being more aggressive than a colored minority had a right to be."[4]

Nationalism is the hubris of a people. In its purest (or perhaps foulest) form, nationalism expounds the supremacy of a people over all others. It tends to classify people in bulk, and often adds a qualified or intense xenophobia. In times of war, such arrangements fit nicely in the popular mentality. Nations can boast “we are this, but they are that.” In the United States, nationalism usually accompanies a certain paradox due to its multiethnic demographics. In response to this, people have often referred to the United States as a great “melting pot,” in which diverse peoples become one. However, throughout its history, the United States has struggled with the immigration and assimilation of foreign identities, and whenever any specific minority group does not appear to conform, strife erupts.[5] This is what happened in the zoot suit and general race riots of the 1940s. Black and Latino-Americans, easily discernible by skin color, having been alienated by the nationalist climate of World War II, distinguished themselves with “a form of visual protest [for being] denied equality by the establishment. [6] Unaccepted by the majority, they developed their own expression of ego, like Stephen Crane’s man who “said to the Universe / ‘Sir, I exist!’”[7] Thus, while the nationalistic fever of World War II did “impede the perfectly normal process of group identity,” that blacks and Latino’s were not generally welcomed into the fold prior to and even after World War II must not be overlooked.

Since “zoot suiters” rejected prevailing social mores, many accused them of anti-patriotism [8] This goes back to the “us” and “them” mentality discussed previously. Ostensibly, zoot suiters were unpatriotic because they wore excessive fabric during a time of material conservation. [9] However, the hatred of the suit and those who wore it more reflected the latent—or not so subtle—animosity towards those who, in the language of the time, would not “Straighten up and fly right.”[10] Whites supposedly rioting against the zoot suit did not assault other whites who wore the despised clothing, and when violence broke out, those arrested were overwhelmingly colored. [11]

Whites hated zoot suits because zoot suiters were typically minorities who refused to play Uncle Tom or Sancho Panza. The phenomenon came to fruition during a time of intense nationalism, which invoked a sentiment that x is American, and whatever is not x is not American. Syllogistically, the formula is as follows: All people who dress and act according to prevailing (white) attitudes are good Americans. Zoot suiters are not people who dress and act according to prevailing (white) attitudes. Therefore, zoot suiters are not good Americans. [12] The zoot suit in fact was the result of reason following contemporary white attitudes, for in spite of black and Latino efforts, whites refused to recognize them as good Americans no matter how they dressed. On one side, it was a positive move for a struggling minority to establish an ego. On the other side, it was the negative result of years of racism, neglect, and second-class citizenship. Many of the sons of the men who first donned the zoot suit would be even more assertive in the 1960s through organized protest groups, such as the SCLC, SNCC, and later the Black Panthers. [13] The moral here is that nationalism breeds division as much as it does unity in a people, and the zoot suit, zoot suiters, and the zoot suit riots were living, historical

[1] Douglas Henry Daniels, “Los Angeles Zoot: Race “Riot,” The Pachuco, and Black Music Culture,” Journal of Negro Hstory, Volume 82, Issue 2 (Spring, 1997), 215.

[2] Daniels cites the Los Angeles Daily News: “There is no mistaking a zoot suit once you see it, there being nothing subtle in the style,” and offers a description of his own: “It was sometimes a suit, sometimes a sport coat and slacks, and always loosely fitting, except for the pants’ cuffs, whose narrow size made the trousers appear even baggier. Coats were often fingertip length; sometimes they reached to the knees, and invariably they had shoulders more like epaulettes. Duck-tail hair cuts . . . among blacks, long watch chains, wide-brimmed hats with narrow crowns, perhaps adorned with a long feather, and in Southern California, thick-soled shoes accented the suits.” Ibid., 207.

[3] Ibid., 214-215.

[4] Ibid., 203.

[5] E.g. Irish immigrants of the mid-nineteenth century, and Southern European, Eastern European and Chinese immigrants of the late-nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.

[6] Frank Marshall Davis, quoted in Daniels, 208.

[7] The poem in full reads “A man said to the Universe / ‘Sir, I exist!’ / ‘However,’ replied the Universe, / ‘The fact has not created in me / A sense of obligation.’” Although I cited the poem from memory, it can be found at http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/cranes3.html.

[8] Daniels, 205.

[9] Ibid., 204.

[10] The quote is from the song of the same name, written by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills, and performed by many, though perhaps most notably by Nat King Cole himself in 1943.

[11] Daniels, 203.

[12] I have invoked an Aristotelian line of reason here. Typically, a syllogism reads “All X are Y. Z is X. Therefore Z is Y. But I have used a different, though equally valid argument that “All X are Y. Z is not X. Therefore, Z is not Y.

[13] SCLC stands for Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and SNCC stands for Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.

Adieu, Jon and Kate

Jon and Kate have filed for divorce.

Now this uncommon family has waded into all-too-common waters.

So what's next on TLC? Two series, back to back time slots: Jon Plus Eight, and Kate Plus Eight?

I hope not. I hope that they go and stay away.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Beast Within

It's there, hardly in the shadows now, no longer content to lurk but ready to emerge. It is vile. It is bestial. And it is there.

It's the part of me that does not favor peace. It's the part that would see my enemies humiliated, broken, and mangled.

It's the part of me that's getting ready for Fantasy Football!!!!!

Eliminate Government Health Care

It seems whenever I point out the obvious flaws in socialized medicine--flaws terrible enough to eschew it forevermore rather than consider it once again (as both Republicans and Democrats are doing)--someone asks a variation of the question:

"Well, then what do you suggest as a policy to resolve the current crisis?"

The unfortunate truth is that most people who pose this question are not interested in even considering my answer; they simply retreat to it because they haven't a ready or viable defense for socialism.

There is nothing unique about what I think should be this government's health care policy. I cannot lay proprietary claim to the ideas behind my creed. To put it tersely, I think that the government should back off--back way off.

Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe recommends four easy steps in this article from The Free Market. Click on either of the link to read more of his rationale.

1. Eliminate all licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health care personnel. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health care services would appear on the market.

2. Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.

3. Deregulate the health insurance industry. Private enterprise can offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot insure oneself against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one's own hands to bring these events about.

4. Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy. Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. Subsidies for the ill and diseased breed illness and disease, and promote carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate them, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living. In the first instance, that means abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

Notice the action verbs that begin each of Hoppe's recommendations. Eliminate appears three times, and deregulate (meaning to eliminate regulation). That's because, as economist Stefan Karlsson points out ,
the real shortcomings that [the U.S. health care industry] does have are not the effect of its free market elements, but to various regulations and factors unrelated to the health care system.
In fact, as Karlsson and others point out, is the socialism already inherent in the U.S. system that is the root of the problem. Currently, the government is funding nearly if not half of all medical spending in this country, "spending more per capita than any other OECD country, including those with socialist, government-funded healthcare." (click on the link to look at the graph).

So, rather than doing more of the same--if you really wish for substantive change, that is--we should try something truly different. As Hoppe suggests, let's eliminate and deregulate the things that are the very source of the "crisis."

By the way, I think that the term "crisis" is inappropriately used to identify the problem(s) with health care in the United States. A crisis would be that there are no doctors, treatments, or medicines. That costs for doctors, treatments, and medicines are too high for many is not a crisis. At best it's a predicament, and only for those who cannot affort medical goods and services. Read Hoppe's article and do a little checking around yourself, and you'll see that the cost problem is not the health care industry's fault. It's the government that needs to change.

Here's a bit of an afterthought--far too often an afterthought for most people--Government health care is unconstitutional.

I know. Who cares about the constitution anymore?

I do. (I do...I do...I do...)--that's the sound of the echo in this lonely room.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Health Care Costs

This seems to be a fairly common sentiment among those who think that the government must step in and reform the health care industry:
"Well if we don't do something about it, then pretty soon no one will be able to afford to even go see a doctor."
So you really think that bringing the government in will reign in costs?


Can the government do anything inexpensively?

The government is only good at making things worse, and the irony is that it sets a heavy price tag for its "services."

You want to improve health care? Get the government out of it where it already is entrenched. Don't open the flood gates to regulation and bureaucracy.

Iran Plays Both Ways With Numbers

Iran's "supreme leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has finally settled the disputed election by declaring that there was no fraud in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "definitive victory."

An article at msnbc.com quotes the dick-tator as citing the large margin of victory (11 million votes) as proof that the election was not rigged:
If the difference was 100,000 or 200,000 or 1 million, one may say fraud could happen. But how can one rig 11 million votes?
So since the number is so high, then it must be true? But Ahmadinejad himself has used the argument that the holocaust didn't happen or at least didn't happen on such a scale as most westerners claim because the numbers are so high.

According to Ahmadinejad, then, the Zionists are quite skilled at large-scale fraud; but according to Khamenei the Iranian government really sucks at it.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad's government was responsible for counting and reporting the vote. Unless they produce actual, physical, and verifiable ballots to prove that there was no fraud, then the reported number cannot stand up to scrutiny. It's not hard to add numbers to a ledger.

I now weigh 240 lbs. (down from 310 lbs. since October of last year!) I would like to weigh 200 lbs.

Since you cannot see me right now, how about this: I just lost 40 lbs. I now weigh 200 lbs.

The bottom line is that the margin of victory is neither an indication of or vindication against fraud. As Stalin said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."*


*My source says that this quote is attributed to Stalin, which means that he may not have actually said it. Nonetheless, it's a good saying, at least.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama the Great

My mother is out for a visit for the next ten days. This morning--the first of her visit--we were chatting over coffee when I told her and my wife of the whole PETA complaint over Obama assassinating a fly on television.

To my horror, my own dear mother said, "I know that you won't agree with me, but I really like him."

"Obama?" I asked.

"Yes," she clarified. "He seems to be a good man with a good family."

"What has he done as president that has been so good?" I challenged.

Her brilliant retort: "Well the economy was screwed up before he was president; it's screwed up now; and it'll most likely be screwed up after."

I noted silently that this did not identify a single good thing about Obama as president, but I didn't press her on it--she is, after all, my mother; and academically unprepared for such a debate. I simply agreed that the economy was and is bad, but added that pretty much everything Obama has said he will do to fix the problem will end up making it worse. I even offered her some excellent reading on the subject.

Still, it just bugs me. I ask what's so great about Obama as president, and I get "He didn't cause the economic problems that we have now."

Other great things about Obama as president:
  1. Obama did not launch nuclear missles California and New Jersey.
  2. Obama did not bite off part of Evander Holyfield's ear.
  3. Obama did not rip off people in the nation's largest ever ponzie scheme.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Murders a Fly--Oh the Inhumanity!

PETA--People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--is complaining because Barack Obama swatted (and killed) a fly.

Holy Mary, mother of God, are they serious?

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," says their spokesman. Leading me to assume that he must not bathe or brush his teeth, since doing so kills curiously small microbes with which I have the least sympathy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Madoff Money

The SEC just banned Bernie Madoff from acting as an investment adviser.

Thank goodness! Otherwise I might have been tempted to solicit his services. But right now I'm busy trying to get Michael Jackson over to babysit my kids.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Robot Chicken

If you're not familiar with Robot Chicken, it's a claymation show that spoofs pop culture. It airs late at night on Adult Swim.

Here's Robot Chicken's take on E.T.

Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek...

Click here for some funny takes on Star Wars.

Click here for a funny take on the Six Flags dancing old guy.

North Korea

North Korea always seems to create crises in order to gain some kind of concession for them to back down, be that concession food for its leaders...I mean people, or something else.

It's time either to give them nothing at all and see if they make good on their threats, or it's time to give them something that is in no way, shape, or form a concession.

I'm torn between both ways.

Two Jokes, Both Bad, No Time to Post Anything Else

Why did the hypocrite cross the road?

Because he told you not to.

Why did Barack Obama cross the road?

To buy a pack of cigarettes after signing tobacco regulating legislation.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What I Hate

Originally, I called this blog "What I Hate," and I intended to use it as a vent for my frustrations that run the political, economic, and social spectra. However, after a month of posts exclusively on what I hated (e.g. those who would limit freedom of speech, taxes, global warming alarmists, and a few others), I realized that, as master of my domain (well, yes, technically Blogger.com is the master of this domain, but I digress), I could post on lighter themes--virtually anything that I wanted.

Hence the current title: "What I Think."

Essentially, this blog has no theme beyond what the title "What I Think" suggests. Since my thoughts rage from one extreme to the other and all around in between, it's an eclectic hodgepodge of anecdotes, rants, observations, and other miscellanea.

However, in a return to this blog's roots, allow me to note some things that I hate.

1) I hate having to pay for my daughter's dance lessons just so that I can pay to go to a 3-4 hour recital at which I watch her do two dances.

2) I hate the term "book smart," which is usually uttered by people who aren't "book smart", which is usually because they aren't very smart.

3) I hate American Idol. If I ever do forsake the first commandment, my idol will be a heck of a lot better than some guy (or gal--mine is an equal opportunity hatred) who just so happens to be really awesome at karaoke.

4) I hate people who justify an act of government on grounds that the constitution doesn't prohibit it. Read Amendment X.

5) I hate Vince, that Sham Wow guy. What's with the headset? You're not speaking to a crowd of slack-jawed yokels at a county fair; you're making an ad on television. Lose the headset. By the way, new from the makers of Sham Wow (not recommended for young readers)--The ShamPon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

That's Me!

While at a work picnic this afternoon, one of my colleagues referred to me as "golden boy."

Hell yes!

The Truth About the Pittsburgh Penguins

OK, hockey fans...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poor Republicans

A recent headline for a cnn.com article reads "GOP has self-esteem issues, poll says

Some people are unnaturally insecure and suffer unjustly from low self-esteem. However, I think that the GOP has been such a steaming pile of crap for so long that it's only natural that it should have self-esteem issues.

The good news, if the poll is correct, is that maybe the GOP will take steps to redeem itself...

Dang, I almost typed that out with a straight face, but I just can't. It seems that Republican consultant Phil Musser thinks the solution to the GOP's problem is
We need to be smarter about how we deliver our message and adopt the playbook essentially that's has been owned by the left -- about how we build grassroots movements using new and innovative technology standards
No lesson learned here. It's not that the Republican Party is a hodgepodge of quasi-fascist warmongers and fiscal illiterates. It's that they don't Twitter!

Hey, Republicans, get this: It's not how you're delivering your message! It's the message.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Federalism? Naw!

The Feds are now investigating the killing of an abortionist in Kansas. According to the New York Times, they are interested in finding out if the assassin worked alone and whether or not the assassin violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Funny. I thought that murder was in the states' jurisdiction, and I'm pretty sure that shooting the doctor down in a church did not violate the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Federal marshals have been dispatched to make sure that no one disrupts the doctor's funeral.

Again, I don't quite see how that's in federal jurisdiction.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wall Street Journal Article: How Hillsdale Beats Harvard

Read the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124389872115674363.html

Read about Hillsdale College.

Pro-Life / Pro-Death?

You may well know by now that a few days ago, May 31--to be exact--, a militant anti-abortionist shot and killed a doctor infamous for providing controversial "late-term" abortions of fetuses matured beyond 21 weeks (meaning that the fetuses were viable--that is they could live outside of the mother's womb).

I should like to take a moment to examine this case, and I waited these few days in order to measure the more frequent reactions to it before submitting my analysis.

First, it comes as no surprise that the assassin has been widely condemned--and not just from far-left/pro-abortion circles. As awful as any abortion is (and especially "late-term" abortions) it is also awful to imagine justifying the shooting an unarmed man at--ironically--church (or anywhere else, for that matter).

What I'd like to deal with now is the approach taken by a great many critics: that it is inconsistent to call oneself "pro-life" and either kill another person or even support the killing of another person.

Without advocating the killing of Dr. Tiller, I will nonetheless disagree with the above assertion.

Being "pro-life" doesn't necessarily require one to be a pacifist.

Resorting to violence in defense of oneself is perfectly justifiable, for it aims at the protection of innocent life from the unwarranted assaults of another. If a man broke into my home with intent or even just opportunity to do me or my family harm, then I would take whatever measures possible to stop him. If I have to tackle him and wrestle him to the ground while my wife calls 911, then that's what I'll do. If, during the struggle, I have the chance to get my hands around his throat, then I will squeeze. If that squeezing results in the man's asphyxiation, then so be it. He won't be a danger to me or my family any longer. If the situation calls for me to use a weapon, say a knife or a gun, then I will employ either with no hesitation. Dispatching with such a threat is not inconsistent with my opposition to murder. Nor would it be inconsistent with my opposition to abortion. Killing such a man and harboring no regrets would not make me one iota less "pro-life."

Furthermore, the applying term "pro-life" as an adjective to describe a person asserts neither the denotation nor the connotation of someone who supports life over death in all cases. A "pro-life" person is someone who is against abortion. Being "pro-life" doesn't mean that a person has to want everyone to live. A person who is identified as "pro-life" can celebrate when a dangerous man dies (as in the previous example). A "pro-life" person can be glad that Stalin is dead, and a "pro-life" person can hope for Osama bin Laden's death, be it natural or, shall we say, expedited.

The kind of killing that renders a "pro-life" person inconsistent with his or her beliefs is the intentional and unjustified killing of another person.* This kind of killing is called murder.

The issue is not a general question of whether a "pro-life" person can intentionally kill another person and still be considered "pro-life" (which, remember, is just a semantic phrasing of "anti-abortion").

The issue is specific to the killing of Dr. Tiller: By killing Dr. Tiller, did the suspect contradict his "pro-life" creed?

To solve this dilemma, we must first answer the following questions.
  1. Was the killing intentional?
  2. Was the killing justified? (As in "Did the victim pose a threat to lives of an innocent person?")
There is no doubt as to the first question.

However, the second question is far more complicated.

From a legal standpoint, the shooting deprived the doctor of due process of law. Whatever the charges against him--and the charges are very grave if you believe that a human fetus is a human being--even the Nazi's had their day in court.

And this brings us to the sticky point. No matter what your persuasion is on the issue, humor me, please, and just suppose that a viable human fetus is a human being. Supposing this to be the case--remember, you're humoring me--then Dr. Tiller was in league with Dr. Mengele; like Mengele's Auschwitz, Tillers clinics were "death camps," and his victims were the epitome of innocents.

Still humoring me? Because this is my point. To the suspect in this case, the Dr. Tiller whom he shot is the Dr. Tiller described above. It all hinges on what a viable fetus is. If it's a human, then Dr. Tiller was indeed a monster who, if left alone, would have continued to murder many times more. The suspect felt that he had to act outside of the law because the law is, perversely, on the side of the abortionists. Just as Mengele acted under the full sanction of law during the Holocaust, Tiller acted under the full sanction of the law in Kansas. If you wish that someone had walked into Auschwitz and shot Mengele to death before he could murder more children or even just escape from the prosecutions at Nuremburg, then you have understand just a little bit what the suspect was thinking.

Of course, if you don't consider a viable human fetus a human being, then there's no question that the killing of Dr. Tiller was a despicable and cowardly murderer.

The whole case reminds me of John Brown. In the mid-1850's, Brown moved to Kansas in order to help establish the territory as a free-state. He condemned slavery, slave-owners, and those in support of slavery with the almost identical rhetoric used by those against abortion, abortionists, and abortion supporters. During Brown's time in Kansas, he was personally responsible for several killings. Murders, from a legal stand-point, but justified according to his principles.

In Dred Scott v Sanford (1857), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slavery was legal in all territories. Essentially, slavery was the law of the land except in the established states that had abolished the institution. The Dred Scott decision convinced Brown that he needed to be bolder, so he returned to New England and began planning a slave revolt that he hoped would spread throughout the South and lead to the end of slavery once and for all. In 1859, his raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, VA, failed to spark the slave revolt. He was captured, tried, and hanged.

Henry David Thoreau and a good many others noted that while what Brown did was in deed illegal and punishable by death, the problem wasn't what Brown did, per say, (and Thoreau was a true-blue pacifist) but that Brown felt that he had to do it. As Thoreau stated,

Though you may not approve of his method or his principles, recognize his magnanimity. . . . When a government puts forth its strength on the side of injustice, as ours to maintain slavery and kill the liberators of the slave, it reveals itself a merely brute force, or worse, a demoniacal force. . . . The only government that I recognize,--and it matters not how few are at the head of it, or how small its army,--is that power that establishes justice in the land, never that which establishes injustice. What shall we think of a government to which all the truly brave and just men in the land are enemies, standing between it and those whom it oppresses? A government that pretends to be Christian and crucifies a million Christs every day! Treason! . . . High treason, when it is resistance to tyranny here below, has its origin in, and is first committed by, the power that makes and forever recreates man. When you have caught and hung all these human rebels, you have accomplished nothing but your own guilt, for you have not struck at the fountain-head. . . . Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made? or declared by any number of men to be good, if they are not good? Is there any necessity for a man's being a tool to perform a deed of which his better nature disapproves? Is it the intention of law-makers that good men shall be hung ever? Are judges to interpret the law according to the letter, and not the spirit? What right have you to enter into a compact with yourself that you will do thus or so, against the light within you? Is it for you to make up your mind,--to form any resolution whatever,--and not accept the convictions that are forced upon you, and which ever pass your understanding?
To summarize Thoreau's apology of Brown, the state had assumed a monopoly on the justice industry, and its laws were on the side of the unjust. Brown may have been a traitor to Virginia, but he was a hero for humanity.

The 13th Amendment ended slavery. John Brown had been dead for over six years, and his revolt had failed. He didn't end slavery, and he died a criminal's death.

The solution to the abortion issue is not to be found in the assassination of abortionists, as the suspect in the present case seems to have concluded. He is as wrong as John Brown was. Rather, just as the solution to the slavery issue was the abolition of slavery, the solution to the abortion issue is the abolition of abortion.

In the darkness of his deeds, John Brown did indeed bring to light the need to end slavery. Perhaps in the darkness of his deeds, the suspect in the killing of Dr. Tiller might at least lead eventually to the end of abortion.

* By "unjustified killing," I mean that the victim did not pose a threat to the killer or other innocents. By "intentional . . . killing" I mean that the killer purposefully committed homicide. This is an important distinction, for a man can still properly be called "pro-life" if he kills another innocent person by some sort of accident, say a car crash.

Bill of Rights