The Guns-Everywhere Law Comes

This essay first appeared on Huffington Post

Some of my favorite people live in Georgia. Old friends, family, two gorgeous pre-teen granddaughters, some greatly beloved others. As far as I know none of them are currently packing heat — but it does look like everybody else in Georgia will be doing so if they choose, as soon as Gov. Nathan Deal signs the Guns Everywhere law recently passed by the Legislature.

Is this the new reality for American weaponry?

Photo Courtesy: Steve LaBadessa/ZUMA Press

Probably so. Those who hold the Second Amendment holy have a ferocity unmatched by all the peaceable kingdoms of the world combined. This writer, a peaceable Pollyanna if there ever were one, posted an essay suggesting stricter gun control laws might not be all bad several years ago on a news aggregate website. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Threats were made. So taking on the Georgia guns-everywhere legislation has little appeal.

Pieces of it, though, do invite consideration. The following is offered purely as food for thought.

For example, the law will not necessarily mean the worshipers in the pew behind you have brought along their AK-somethings — unless your church or synagogue “opts in.” Having sat on a few governing boards of religious organizations, this writer can only imagine the discussions ahead. They are not likely to focus on What Would Jesus Do. One appropriate comment did come from Episcopal spokesman Dan Plummer, who was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story as saying that allowing guns in churches was “bad theology.”

At kids’ schools? Why not. Schools will be authorized to arm their staff members. This assumes that staff members will be quicker on the trigger than recent school shooters, and hopefully will shoot the shooters rather than innocent others. Still…

If you want to hang out in a gun-free bar, no problem. Just find one that has opted out and posts a No-Guns-Here sign. Otherwise, the law is fine with your carrying a loaded Glock into a crowded bar, you are just not supposed to drink alcohol. This law, therefore, will be easy for all those teetotalers who like to go to bars.

Best news of all, for the 75.9 million people who go through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport every year, there will probably be a stranger packing a loaded gun nearby in case you need one. He or she is not supposed to go past the security people, but if it happens — and you know, gun-carriers can be forgetful — it’s only a misdemeanor.

None of this is to imply that the Georgia law is a bad thing! Please, NRA and gun enthusiasts don’t come after me again.

The Brady Campaign is still at work in Georgia.

“Pre-Born”: curbing women’s rights through semantics

“Pre-born”?? What’s in a word?

Recent stories out of my formerly-beloved longtime home state of Georgia are all about the newly passed law protecting the pre-born. Hello? When did a fetus become not a fetus? When did children get split into two categories, the born and the unborn?

The semantic gymnastics have little to do with reality, but everything to do with women’s rights. Women’s rights are marching backwards so fast, in so many ways, in so many areas, it’s getting impossible to keep track. In Kansas, for instance, women don’t even have the right to hear the truth from their physicians – who are now required to tell them that if they have an abortion it might put them at risk for breast cancer, a rumor which has no proven scientific basis. But it helps narrow women’s options. Elevating the fetus to a protected status simply means demoting the woman carrying it to a status of being without rights or choices.

A fetus is a fetus is a fetus. It resides within a living, post-born woman. This is called pregnancy. No one, absolutely no one, not one living soul anywhere on the planet knows the full circumstances of that pregnancy other than the woman.

What in the world is with all these men (OK, and a lot of women who similarly cannot know the circumstances of someone else’s pregnancy) and their obsession with denial of women’s rights? Do they know about wars, poverty, global warming, hunger, homelessness, abused children……………

Medical marijuana: a boon & a challenge

When my sister Mimi found that marijuana could relieve her severe gastrointestinal distress, years ago, one joint after dinner was all it took. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up the supply. After one foray into the rather scary realm of pot-dealing in a state (Georgia) where we could have wound up in jail very quickly, we decided that not even such clear relief was worth the risk.

Today, at least in California and 14 other states — with the District of Columbia possibly to be added soon — the risk is minimal but the dosage is fuzzy. The conundrum was outlined by writer Lena K. Sun in the San Francisco Chronicle:

On Tuesday, District of Columbia officials gave final approval to a bill establishing a legal medical marijuana program. If Congress signs off, D.C. doctors – like their counterparts in 14 states – will be allowed to add pot to therapies they can recommend to certain patients, who will then eat it, smoke it or vaporize it until they decide they are, well, high enough.

The exact dosage and means of delivery – as well as the sometimes perplexing process of obtaining a drug that remains illegal under federal law – will be left largely up to the patient. Doctors say that upends the way they are used to dispensing medication, giving the straitlaced medical establishment a whiff of the freewheeling world of weed.

Even in states where marijuana is allowed for medical use, doctors cannot write prescriptions because of the drug’s status as an illegal substance. Physicians can only recommend it, and have no control over the quality of the drug their patients acquire.

Because there are no uniform standards for medical marijuana, doctors have to rely on the experience of other doctors and their own judgment. That, they say, can lead to abuse.

California’s “quick-in, quick-out mills” that readily hand out recommendations have proliferated, worrying advocates. The state, the first to legalize medical marijuana 14 years ago, allows for a wider range of conditions, including anxiety.

To guard against abuse, some doctors say they recommend marijuana only after patients exhaust other remedies. Some doctors perform drug tests as part of pre-screenings.

Mimi died over a year ago. Her last decades, like almost all of her adult life, were spent in the State of Georgia, where medical marijuana is still against the law. I know what her required dosage was; legalization and proper oversight would allow doctors to learn dosages that work for their patients. It seems worse than cruel that thousands of other sick and dying citizens continue to be denied the potential relief that legalized medical marijuana could bring.

Dispensing medical pot a challenge for doctors.

Abortion foes stoop to new lows, and new absurdities

Two pregnant women. One has someone behind her holding a gun to her head. The other one, a Black woman, is being led by a white man. They are entering an abortion clinic.

Wait! Saved by Georgia Right to Life!

It could soon be against the law to force someone to have an abortion, or to have an abortion that is “racially motivated” in the state of Georgia. SB 529, the Coercion and Prenatal Non-Discrimination Ban sponsored by Senator Chip Pearson and lustily supported by Georgia Right to Life, passed a couple of weeks ago by a vote of 33 to 14. The bill now goes to the House, where HB 1155 will send the same message into the world: Thou shalt not “coerce” someone into having an abortion; thou shalt not abort “on the basis of race or gender.”

If you have not noticed forced or racially motivated abortions being rampant in this country you may wonder what’s up with Georgia Right to Life.

I happen to think I know. My crystal ball says if the rather ridiculous law passes this is what will follow: GRTL will find some poor woman willing to declare, after seeking a perfectly legal abortion, that her doctor actually forced her to have the procedure. A high profile case will ensue, the doctor may or may not be convicted — that part really doesn’t matter — but more and more doors will close against abortions. Once enough doors are closed, GRTL and others eager to dictate what women may or may not do with their own bodies will have achieved their goal. Legal abortion will be denied the women of Georgia.

So, you say, they can just go to another state (until the method proves effective and other states follow along. Other states are watching.) If they have money and resources, that will be true. But the poor and un-empowered women of Georgia will be left without safe choices. And you can believe that there will be plenty of back-alley abortionists in business by then.

A diminishing number of us know what it was like in the heyday of back-alley abortions. The right-to-life people, who are so worried about embryos but don’t believe women have rights, won’t tell you. I will. Filthy men (and sometimes even women) made big money butchering desperate women who had no other choice. So the women lay on kitchen tables or gurneys bought cheap at hospital supply warehouses, had unsterilized objects puncture their bodies and went home — often to die.

There are two problems with the RTL people. One is their righteous zeal. The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition Education Fund, for example, “cooperates with God and other Christians…” Hmm. I, a committed Christian, have talked with God about a lot of things and She never told me She wanted to consign mature women to barbarity. The second problem is with mature women. The RTLers believe a fertilized egg has more rights than the woman within whose body it is harbored. If you find that as hard to believe as the notion that women in Georgia are being herded into abortion chambers against their will — check out Ohio Right to Life‘s opposition to the current H.B. 333. ORTL opposes the morning-after pill because “it may cause early abortion” on the morning after.

If the RTLers could, for one moment, stand in the shoes of just one poor, desperate, pregnant woman from the days before Roe v Wade they might get a tiny glimpse of the terror that comes from being without choices. The RTLers say, Choose Life, which I do, every day, for myself and everyone else humanly possible. If abortion becomes criminalized, as is the RTL aim, uncounted thousands of women will have no choice but the deadly back-alley abortionist.

Who really needs H1N1 vaccine?

This new piece of the H1N1 puzzle – to vaccinate or not – does seem to be the first no-brainer we’ve been dealt, especially among all the full-brainer problems floating around with no apparent solutions. The whole business of whom to vaccinate, how to ration, whether to Be Very Afraid because the vaccine is dangerous and maybe the pandemic itself is a vast conspiracy, is becoming the stuff of legend as well as news. Also the stuff of comedy.

Unless, of course, you happen to catch the virus and turn out to be quite sick. A friend in Georgia had that experience and isn’t laughing. But she is the exception (58, otherwise healthy and unvaccinated) and recovered in less than two weeks.

Here’s what seems to be a good rule: if you’re over 65, maybe even over 55, just don’t get it. The vaccine, that is; try not to get H1N1 either; with reasonable precaution you probably won’t. If all of us in this category would quit obsessing and worrying and adopt this just-don’t-get-it policy, there will probably be quite enough to go around for those who do need it: children, pregnant women, people with cystic fibrosis, healthcare workers, etc.

The pandemic could be on its way out anyway. Although President Obama has declared H1N1 flu to be a national emergency (a good move, since it freed up hospitals to pitch triage tents in parking lots, etc, if necessary, and allows other emergency steps to be taken) some experts including Ira M. Longini Jr., an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (quoted in the October 24 New York Times) believe the peak has about been reached. “Indeed,” writes Times reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr. in that same news summary, “cases have already started to decline in the Southeastern states, where they spiked in August when schools opened.”

The best news of the pandemic is probably the fact that it has become fodder for stand-up comics and comedy shows. Once we start laughing at things they tend to whittle themselves down to sanity. My favorite message so far came from host Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, in response to some of the craziness coming from the likes of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. What we need, Daily suggested, is a vaccine against the vaccine, so we could have peace of mind while being vaccinated. Or while passing on the vaccine altogether.

A little peace of mind goes a long way these days.