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Obamacare, Gay Marriage, and the Supreme Court: Who Gets to Decide?

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided nine cases, ranging from invention royalties to whether hotels must keep guest information and provide it to the police on demand. It’s fair to say all the cases were important, but two were deeply divisive: the ACA/Obamacare subsidies and gay marriage. The Court ruled by a margin of 6-3 that subsidies are okay if insurance is purchased on a federal exchange (King v. Burwell), and by a 5-4 vote that all states must perform and recognize gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

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At oral argument for Obergefell, Justice Kennedy mused aloud whether nine unelected justices had the right to change a definition which has been in existence for millennia, by saying, “Oh, we know better.” (Ultimately, he decided they did.) But that’s the real question, isn’t it? Who gets to decide?

Whether you agree with this week’s Court’s decisions or no, remember many landmark cases have been decided by a 5-4 majority. In other words, the opinions of five people outweigh millions of citizens — without the consent of the governed.

Any five justices can outweigh the wishes and opinions of the entire country

Any five justices can outweigh the wishes and opinions of the entire country

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The Media Created Lone Wolf Killers; Only They Can Stop Them

The media is culpable for tragedies like the one in Charleston this week. The killers are responsible for their actions, but the media knowingly plays a significant role in causing these tragedies. And, they have the power to stop them from happening.

Take four high profile cases: Dylann Roof (Charleston), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Seung-Hui Cho (VA Tech), and Jared Loughner (Giffords shooting). We know they have five things in common.

I. Access to guns. Let’s start here, since the media’s go-to theory is that gun control will solve the problem. Access may be a contributing factor, but to believe it plays a major role, we must accept at least three unrealistic premises:

1) Means and the motive are the same thing. Normal people aren’t overwhelmed with uncontrollable urges to kill simply because they could. If that were so, why don’t scarves compel you to strangle, or matches insist you commit arson?

2) A person determined to have a gun would be deterred by gun control. If someone is intent on using a gun to kill, why would they be too afraid to commit a far less serious crime, like stealing or illegally buying one?

3) If a gun couldn’t be had, these individuals would abandon their plans of mass murder. Even the media admits these incidents are months or years in the making. If they couldn’t access guns, they would just plan it differently.

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II. Age. These individuals are young, usually in their early 20s. It’s one of the most puzzling things about them: they have their lives before them, and they throw it all away. Maybe they don’t understand “this too shall pass”. Their troubles seem eternal. Or maybe experience hasn’t yet taught them compassionate.

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III. Failure and Rage. They are/were failures in some way, and that infuriated them. They were disappointed in life, angry about the failure they experienced. So angry that they felt justified hurting innocent people.

Seung-Hui Cho

IV. Isolated loners. These guys were not popular. Maybe they were picked on. They had no concerned friends to challenge them or give them a reality check. No one noticed them at all.

Without friends, jobs, or hobbies to occupy them, they spend months and years concocting elaborate, terrible crimes.

Jared Loughner

V. Motive. This is the key and it’s where the media is complicit. These individuals share the same motive: they want to be Important. They’re nobodies who want to be Somebody and what is an angry failure going to do with that? They don’t have the brains or talent to achieve anything – at least they don’t think so. So they turn to the easy way: notoriety.

The media will gladly bestow notoriety on anyone who will commit a terrible deed, with the justification that it’s negative coverage. As if the killers cared! It’s attention! The media will make them important. Everyone will know who they are.

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Today, Dylann Roof was Forgiven

I read an article today in The New York Times about Dylann Roof’s bond hearing. The victims’ families were there because they had something to say to Roof. Here are some excerpts from the article:

“You took something very precious away from me,” said Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, her voice rising in anguish. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” said Felicia Sanders, the mother of 26-year old Tywanza Sanders, a poet who died after trying to save his aunt, who was also killed. “You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know,” she said in a quavering voice… “But may God have mercy on you.”

Yahoo News also ran a piece that quoted another relative, Anthony Thompson.

“I forgive you, my family forgives you. We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. … Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

I commend The New York Times and Yahoo for focusing on the courage of Nadine Collier and Felicia Sanders and Anthony Thompson, instead of Dylann Roof, the coward who murdered nine people (mostly seniors) at a Bible study.

Roof hasn’t asked for forgiveness, and he doesn’t deserve it. And, no one would blame the victims if they were bitter and angry for the rest of their lives. Instead they rose to a height few of us could, and wisely forgave him. Perhaps they realized if they did not forgive him, his cruelty and senseless actions would drive their thoughts and actions for the rest of their lives. Or maybe they did what they believe is right.

Whatever their reasons were, who could help but admire their courage?