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On gun laws, 'charity' for politicians, great souls and more ...

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No laws, more deaths

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker writes about Richard Martinez, whose 21-year-old son, Christopher, was murdered in Elliot Rodger’s killing spree in Santa Barbara, California. Mr. Martinez had pleaded, “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop?”

Mr. Gopnik observes: “Why did Christopher Michael-Martinez die? Because the NRA and the politicians they intimidate enable people to get their hands on weapons and ammunition whose only purpose is to kill other people as quickly and as lethally as possible.

“How do we know that they are the ‘because’ in this? Because every other modern country has suffered from the same kinds of killings, from the same kinds of sick kids, and every other country has changed its laws to stop them from happening again, and in every other country it hasn’t happened again. Australia is the clearest case — a horrific gun massacre, new laws, no more gun massacres — but the same is true of Canada, Great Britain, you name it.”

‘Charity’ for politicians

Brendan Fischer at the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch: “The ‘charitable’ wing of David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has dropped nearly $900,000 on ads to boost Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s reelection campaign, just days after polls showed Walker tied with his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke.

“Incredibly, whomever provided the funding for the ads — whether it was David Koch himself or a collection of deep-pocketed donors — can write-off the expenses as a charitable contribution, just like a donation to a neighborhood church or the American Red Cross.”

Great souls

To mark Maya Angelou’s passing, Katy Waldman at Slate recalls the stanza below from Angelou’s poem “When Great Trees Fall,” saying “it captures her grace and gentleness, as well as that calm stretching action she urges upon us: Fill the spaces and move beyond them.”:

And when great souls die,

after a period peace blooms,

slowly and always

irregularly. Spaces fill

with a kind of

soothing electric vibration.

Our senses, restored, never

to be the same, whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be

better. For they existed.

Ben Carson unleashed

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post thinks Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon famous for separating conjoined twins connected at the head, is getting carried away as newly beloved conservative icon:

“In the 16 months since his speech to the National Prayer Breakfast made him an instant conservative celebrity, [Dr. Carson] has drawn a parallel between same-sex marriage, and pedophilia and bestiality; he has declared the United States ‘very much like Nazi Germany’; he has likened Obamacare to slavery; and he has called the veterans’ health-care scandal, in which some died while on waiting lists for medical appointments, ‘a gift from God’ because it shows the ills of government health care.

“Along the way,” Mr. Milbank writes, “Carson has exhibited the demagogue’s belief that those who don’t agree with him aren’t just wrong: They are un-American and dangerous.”

Press under attack

Simeon Tegel at GlobalPost: “Here in America, we consider a free press to be a basic right, a fundamental need for living in a democracy. So it might be shocking to hear that only 2 percent of Latin America’s population lives in a completely free media environment — on par with the Middle East and North Africa.

“That’s according to the latest annual survey by Freedom House . . . South of the Rio Grande, it says, journalists are finding it harder and harder to operate without being censored, harassed and, in some cases, murdered. Repression by governments and violent retribution by criminal gangs, including drug cartels, are the main culprits.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com).


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