Sunday, July 16, 2017

It;s OK to be offended

June second when I read Henry Scroggin’s notorious letter I could not decide if really meant what he said, or was it irony. The firestorm of replies suggests to me that people took him seriously.  He has not yet disavowed the interpretation. Just when that storm looked dead we got Dr Blum’s reasoned response and then Sue Nimms’ attempted rebuttal using Faux News Alt-right factoids.
More recently Bill Hastings (June 14) explained Conservatism in rational terms that sound like a basis for lokahi (figuring out where we can agree).
While I surely disagree with the things in the first letter, whichever way he meant it, there is an important message.  Many people would censor such content because they find it offensive. The beauty of free speech is that hate filled content is its own limitation. Some people use offensive language to affect, some by accident, some don’t know any better. I try to see past the offense to find a message. Funny how both extremes accuse WHT of bias.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Evelyn Beatrice Hall and Voltaire 
Bill Maher, an equal opportunity offender, has been in the news for a slip, we will see what happens. I took it as self-degradation. I would be offended if his insightful comedy died an ignominious death over one word. He is the modern King’s Court Jester, who aggressively points out that the Emperor has no clue, the liberals have no direction and the Media have no principles.  
Last month I quit the NRA.  The cover of American Rifleman “Do you have Trump’s back?” offended me and that’s not easy. Does he need my protection?  I told them why but doubt they care. They have a right to say it, and I, to not pay for it.  It was not a singular offense, but the culmination of a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing an object not part of their core principals. It was hard to read the accompanying article: they implied that supporting him was the way to win his support for all NRA politics! He was the “Great god come from the skies. Take away everything and make everybody feel high” (apology to Bob Marley)

 NRA was formed for patriotic reasons, to improve army recruits. For 100 years, more or less, it stood as the defender of the second amendment which - here is where I annoy some liberal friends - is an essential part of our liberty.
"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security."  Thomas Jefferson
About twenty years ago the NRA pointed out that the Brady Bill had not lived up to its main promise.  Although about 800,000 misfeasors had been deterred from illegally buying a firearm from a licensed dealer, a felony, none had ever been arrested, not even one. I had the opportunity to verify that fact with the United States Attorney for the Southwestern District. He admitted that it was true until about a month before, since then they had arrested, due to the NRA publicity, so far a grand total of two.
The NRA has gone off mission. Instead of using politics to defend rights the NRA officers are using the second amendment to support their personal reactionary and perhaps racist politics. They hated Obama enough to blame him for things that never happened, never would happen. The irony here is that their criticism of Obama was good for their industry sponsors. Without a boogeyman for them to flog, gun and ammo sales have plunged.  I will have to find another organization to fulfill that mission, or convince the ACLU that the second amendment is still part of the Bill of Rights and Militia includes you and me.  
Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. He writes a semi-monthly column for West Hawaii Today. E-mail

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