On accidents and executions

Accident warning

Accident warning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When is an accident a criminal act? When is an execution really brutal murder?

Two shootings that Meredith Carroll mentions in the Denver Post on Sunday were, indeed, accidental by some definitions.

A police officer accidentally shot his teen daughter in their garage; a woman in Florida accidentally shot her 7-year-old grandson. They were unfortunate events, to put it mildly, that resulted from carelessness. They were also by far the most common type of accident: the ones that can be prevented.

That the shootings were in some sense accidental doesn’t mean those who pulled the triggers are blameless. They pulled the triggers quite intentionally with horrific, unintentional results. There is, or should be, a legal price to pay. We should also find a better word than “accident” to describe such things.

Similarly, the media have almost universally described the beheading of journalist James Foley as an execution.

More precisely, it was murder.

“Cleansing” a term that masks brutal reality

A Denver Post editorial ran under this headline the other day:

The latest religious cleansing in the Mideast

Feel free to click that to read the Post’s opinion. I agree with it, but it prompted this response from The Smith Compound in the form of a letter to the editor:

We should purge the euphemism “cleansing” from our collective vocabulary when what we really mean is persecution, extortion, and murder. There is nothing truly religious or clean about what you described in that editorial. You already know that; just tell it like it is.

Words matter.


Supermoons right on “schedule”

The sight of a rather large moon over the Flatirons this morning reminded me of a Sunday evening news report about the supermoon on Saturday night.

Two more are “scheduled,” the news reader said, one in August and another in September, leaving me wondering who is in charge of supermoon scheduling.

We should have them more often.

English: A supermoon is a perigee-syzygy, a ne...

English: A supermoon is a perigee-syzygy, a new or full moon (syzygy) which occurs when the Moon is at 90% or greater of its mean closest approach to Earth (perigee). The March 19, 2011 supermoon is just 221,566 miles (356,577 kilometers) away from Earth. The last time the full moon approached so close to Earth was in 1993, according to NASA. it is about 20 percent brighter and 15 percent bigger than a regular full moon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Are the children refugees or illegal immigrants?

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a Republican Gang of Four complained that President Obama wouldn’t visit our porous border with Mexico, they simultaneously accused him of “lawlessness”—get this, for enforcing a 2008 law that had overwhelming bipartisan support.

To these callous conservatives, children in search of safety are “illegal immigrants” when in fact many of them arguably meet this dictionary definition* if not the United Nations definition of “refugee”:

one that flees; especially :  a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.

They play politics with words, as usual, while they should be helping find solutions of substance. So much for the idea of lifting a lamp by the golden door.


* “Refugee.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 July 2014. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/refugee.

No more harshing over “words” people use

Impacted Wisdom teeth

Impacted Wisdom teeth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time when words such as webinar, impacted (except when referring to wisdom teeth), incentivize and irregardless made me cringe.

I’m mostly over that after tiring of online gripe fests rife with harshing the alleged destroyers of modern American English.

This TED talk pretty much cured me of all that, except that impactful still makes me want to puke.

That’s the editor in me.

Elk shooter’s character more important than residence

Would Sheriff Andy Taylor have shot and killed an elk like Boulder’s Big Boy right there in his own town of Mayberry?

Of course not. The fictional sheriff wouldn’t have gunned down the critter in Mayberry—or in Raleigh or Durham or any other city or town, in season or out, let alone lie about it.

It’s not a matter of residence, as a politician and a Denver Post writer would have it as laid out in this Sunday opinion piece.

It’s a matter of character, plain and simple.

There may be good arguments for requiring some workers to live in the city that employs them, and as the column points out the issue has been legislated and litigated.

It’s more important to have police officers who can be trusted to obey the laws they are supposed to enforce.

Jeremy Meyer’s column simply confuses two important issues.

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Bad news contrasts with memories of good VA care

The news of mismanagement and alleged scheduling fraud at the Veterans Administration brings to mind for me the timely, compassionate care I have received at VA facilities in both Fort Collins, Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

When I needed attention urgently one day a few years ago, I got it almost immediately. Other times, I didn’t mind waiting because I was sure other veterans had more pressing needs and I understand that the VA’s ability to provide health care is limited by inadequate funding.

Don’t let the recent bad news shape your opinion of the people who see and treat veterans daily with professionalism and respect. In my experience, they are beyond compare and, once again, I thank them.

Dept. of Fuzzy Thinking: Lethal injection “less safe”?

…opponents of the death penalty have made it less safe.

via Death penalty in America: How the push to abolish capital punishment has made lethal injection less safe.

For whom has the death penalty ever been safe? Certainly not for those we kill.

People who are opposed to the use of capital punishment aren’t responsible for the botching of executions that should not even be taking place.