Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Day After Election Blues: Scioto Stays Red


Do you have the Day After Election Blues?

We offer no excuses. Democrats suffered overwhelming losses in this week's election. Many offices were up for grabs, yet election totals show the strong tendency to vote a single party Republican ballot in Scioto County and in the State of Ohio. Everyone talks about the power of the party, not about the need for diversity and individual cooperation. The overwhelmingly GOP public vote proves the party's domination in our homeland.

In a place that very often seems to choose the party over the individual, this domination begs the question of how a political lock affects all of our lives

These days campaigns pit party nominees less as competent rivals and more as bitter enemies. Political units realize a differing opinion on a single issue produces votes. They harp on this popular difference to stir voters' emotions and make them fear outcomes of electing a candidate who will ruin their very existence.

It's come to the point where even one simple point of dissension strangles all respect for any logical variance. As a result, concessions die and disagreement often turns to total bias – now the bias is so strong that it produces furious denial of framing an issue in a different perspective. Political division is so strong that hatred rears its ugly ad hominem head, cements single-party loyalty, and perpetuates voting red or blue just because of family tradition.

The present political division in Scioto County influences our society in so many negative ways. Without input from both parties, diversity suffers as does the will toward progressive movement – plus, a lack of toleration produces discrimination and conflicts. Much of this stems from blame generated by political parties. Blame – the act of censuring and holding individuals or groups as morally irresponsible – seeks to find scapegoats for our difficult problems, yet leads to strong party affiliation. You know, “they” caused gas prices to rise or to let criminals cross the border.

What happens when one party has a virtual lock on the issues that most affect the public? That party becomes so strong that they simply advance major policy initiatives without the necessary support of the opposition. In other words, they use their power to force their own agenda and deny the opposition – party dominance assumes that only a particular conception of representative democracy (in which different parties alternate frequently in power) is valid. We know this isn't true, don't we? In hindsight, history has taught us some very important lessons – need I mention Vietnam or January 6?

Allow me some liberal examples of my beliefs that would assuredly challenge hardcore Republicans and extreme right-wing supporters in Scioto County:

I abhor gun violence and support reform but do not wish to confiscate legal, reasonable firearms.

I support a woman's right to choose, but I do not favor abortion in any irresponsible, birth-controlling nature.

I respect parents' rights to understand curriculum, yet I believe critical race theory is not being taught in public schools.

I do not favor censorship; however, I trust institutions can establish logical policies on defining appropriate, age-access to materials.

I acknowledge the difference in “sex” and “gender” while respecting the individual's rights to practice their own identity and be treated with respect and equality.

I respect religions, but I strongly support separation of church and state.

I believe the strongest society is diverse and living here where diversity is marginal at best reduces the strongest fabrics of our united nation.

I detest the opioid epidemic and illegal drug trade while, at the same time, realize private firms that specialize in life-saving rehabilitation are vital to the recovery of Scioto County and Appalachia in general.

I respect the individual but do not wish him/her to be overly beholden along party lines and “same old, Good Old Boy” policies that promote failing, single minded, conservative policies.

I strongly believe teaching children to think and reason for themselves is paramount in education and stems from tolerating diverse views in creative yet responsive settings.

In closing, I fear political domination will weaken both the advancement and innovation of the area. I have never served on a group or on a committee that discourages compromise formulated by all members to advance successful objectives. Tunnel vision and total conservatism inhibit growth. As the Republican administrations in our area rubber stamp their legislation and consolidate their views on issues, they also ignore the will of the minority, be that minority race, gender, religion, or creed.

No amount of flag-waving and denigrating opponents strengthen the fabric of our weary community. If they believe they need to “make America great again” through stepping back into the past, I would remind them that the past had significant its own problems, many of which lingered through decades … and, in some cases, through centuries, Most of these social nightmares were propagated by irresponsible leaders handicapped with blinders who refused to acknowledge political compromise and the necessity of bipartisan support.

You see what I mean? We Dems lost the election. We know it. However – “We” can be your best friend, your devil's advocate – “we” are the opposition who promise to do our best in our minority to make sure that your majority rule does not equal patting each other on the back and sanctioning rigid, total conservatism. 


Friday, October 7, 2022

Scioto Candidate Josh Lawson: Your Vote Matters


Many people seek change. They have new, better opinions and ideas they fervently support, yet as the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” The meaning of this idiomatic expression is that it doesn’t cost anyone to say something, and the real difficulty is in doing it. This is a perceived truth all too evident during elections.

How important is the act of voting? Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said: "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

The simple act of casting a vote – the most basic act of citizenship – can support and even help effect important change. One would think all Americans over the age of 18 would vote as a civic duty; however, according to the Pew Research Center, only 55.7 percent of the U.S. voting age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election.

Voter turnout numbers in the United States are quite low compared to other developed nations. In August 2016, the Pew Research Center ranked the U.S. 31st out of 35 countries for voter turnout based on the voting age populace among the mostly democratic nations that are a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Stats on U.S. voter registration tell a similarly shocking story. The Census Bureau recorded that there were roughly 245.5 million Americans who were eligible to vote in 2016, but only 157.6 million of eligible voters were registered to vote. The United States Election Project had similar findings, estimating apathy slightly higher: 46.9 percent of eligible voters did not vote that election. Many Americans simply do not take the effort to learn the voting process, as some see it as a burden.

Participating in elections is one of the key freedoms of American life. It is the right and privilege of U.S. citizens to vote for the betterment of society. Moreover, voting is the duty of every citizen in a democracy. It guarantees people have the opportunity to make their voices heard, and it safeguards individual liberty.

As elected officials have the power to control lives and take money from wallets, all Americans have a great stake in the outcome of free elections. Thus, their votes have a very significant effect on community and county decisions. In order to be properly managed, the affairs of these political divisions must rest in the hands of the capable and trusted leaders elected at the polls.

Too many Americans sit on the sidelines during elections, especially during midterm or off-year elections. Apathy is the enemy of the true voice of the people. Such indifference derails this essential component of a successful democracy.

Those who doubt registering and casting a vote are so important need only imagine living in a foreign country where such rights are denied. Or, these doubters can look back in time and consider the corrupt inequality in the U.S. when literacy tests and poll taxes were blatant forms of discrimination barring Blacks and other minorities from voting in Southern states.

One such important call to action is at hand. All eligible people in Scioto County should cast a ballot in the November 2022 election. Let's all be sure to vote in this critical race.

Josh Lawson, candidate for Scioto County commissioner, is running on a platform of innovation, collaboration, and recovery. He is focused on many intersecting social concerns of the county such as poverty, homelessness, and economic exploitation – all issues of what he calls “a collective trauma” that has devastated the region for decades.

Lawson is asking for your vote in the upcoming election. He points out that of the roughly 58,000 eligible voters in Scioto, only 46,000 are currently registered to vote, and, on average, only 28,000 of those registered actually turn out to the polls. Where is the majority in the total population of 74,000 residents? He believes they need to be better represented.

Josh Lawson urges every citizen to vote in the election this fall. To help accomplish this monumental task, he is leading a drive to register as many new voters as possible because he understands the need for change and the importance of those who will wage the good fight against this lingering trauma. He believes success takes cooperation among all people of every strata in the county.

Lawson is asking for one action from Scioto citizens. He calls on all residents to “stand up for themselves, cast their ballots, and make their voices heard.” He says the only real challenge is “to overcome the social apathy that has propped up the status quo in Scioto County for far too long.”

So, Josh Lawson summarizes his campaign appeal with a question: “Will the real Scioto County majority please stand up?” The election is near, and the definitive answer will be given as people cast their ballots. Good luck, Josh. Your aim is true. 


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Long Covid And Mental Health

Some long Covid symptoms overlap with symptoms of psychological distress, making it difficult to pinpoint their cause.”

A Harvard team separated the overlapping symptoms, such as fatigue, brain fog and memory issues, to look at just symptoms such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath or trouble smelling or tasting, which are not usually linked to psychological conditions.

The results were “almost identical,” Siwen Wang, one of the study’s authors, said.

Wang and her team suspect that a few factors could link stress and long Covid: First, stress can activate molecules that signal the body to produce inflammation. Stress can also lead to a suppressed immune response, making it harder for the body to fight off viruses. She said people with depression might even develop antibodies that mistakenly target their own cells.

Having a mental health issue is always going to be more likely to predispose you to health problems later on, whether it’s Covid, long Covid [or] a different post-viral illness,” Becker said.

(Aria Bendix. “Stress, anxiety and depression may increase the risk of long Covid, study finds.” NBC News. September 07, 2022.)

Of U.S. adults overall, around 19% of those who've contracted Covid have long Covid symptoms, according to a June study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For some, the symptoms are debilitating. In the new study, 800 people surveyed said their long Covid was preventing them from engaging in routine daily activities.

(“Long COVID.” Household Pulse Survey National Center for Health Statistics. CDC. June 2022)

I contracted Covid in July 2022, and the result was devastating. With a history of major depression disorder, I tested positive and struggled with the disease for many weeks. It knocked me for a loop as I began experiencing respiratory problems, high temperatures, weight loss, and tremendous fatigue. I suspect I suffer from long Covid, and I struggled with these and other symptoms for a long time.

New research shows that people who were experiencing psychological distress before getting Covid were more likely to have long-lasting symptoms than those who were not, according to new research. In other words, those who felt stressed, anxious, lonely, depressed or worried about Covid before getting infected were at higher risk of developing long-term symptoms from their illness, a new study found.

For the research, a team at Harvard looked at survey responses from nearly 55,000 people in the United States and Canada from April 2020 to November 2021.

(Siwen Wang, MD; Luwei Quan, BA; Jorge E. Chavarro, ScD; et al. “Associations of Depression, Anxiety, Worry, Perceived Stress, and Loneliness Prior to Infection With Risk of Post–COVID-19 Conditions.” JAMA Psychiatry. September 07, 2022.)

Of that group, more than 3,000 participants said they'd had Covid, and around 1,400 said they had long Covid, defined as Covid-related symptoms lasting four weeks or longer.

The results showed that people who reported psychological distress before they got infected had a 32% to 46% increased risk of long Covid, compared to people who did not report such distress. And those who reported high levels of two or more types of psychological distress, such as both depression and anxiety, had a 50% increased risk.

What's more, the study found a stronger association between long Covid and psychological distress than long Covid and some of its known physical risk factors, such as obesity, asthma and hypertension.

The factors that we identified are more strongly associated with risk of long Covid than pretty much anything else anyone’s found," said Andrea Roberts, an author of the study and a senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The findings indicate that mental health can have an effect on physical Covid symptoms, the researchers said. But they emphasized that the long Covid symptoms among the patients studied were very real and arose as a result of their infection.

The results shouldn’t be misinterpreted as supporting post-Covid conditions as psychosomatic,” said Jacqueline Becker, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who wasn’t involved in the research.

We’re seeing people who are just having trouble leaving the house or performing other, more regular activities like remembering to turn off the stove when they’re cooking. Multitasking has become a little bit more effortful. Some people aren’t able to function at all,” Becker said.

(Aria Bendix. “Stress, anxiety and depression may increase the risk of long Covid, study finds.” NBC News. September 07, 2022.)

I, personally, found long Covid greatly ramping up my depression and interfering with my mental health during the infection. At age 71, I feel particularly vulnerable to the impacts of long Covid. I urge all people with pre-existing mental illness to seek the best standard of care if they contract the illness.

Claire Steves, a professor in ageing and health at King’s College London, said the Harvard study emphasised the need to build support for vulnerable people and to improve mental resilience in the population at large. “It’s important to state that this association does not mean that prior mental health issues cause long Covid, rather that mental health issues increase the vulnerability of individuals, due to decreased reserve so that physiological changes manifest in daily life.”

The Bottom Line

Make no mistake. No matter the slight symptoms shown by many who test positive these days, Covid can be debilitating. I strongly believe your immune system and preexisting health problems greatly affect the impact of the virus. I know I had recently quit wearing a mask to the grocery store and to other public places weeks before I fell victim. I surely learned this was unwise. Now, I will take the needed precautions once again.

Know the common signs for Covid.

Common signs and symptoms associated with long COVID

  • Fatigue

  • Mood changes

  • Loss or change in taste and smell

  • Cough

  • Chest pain

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Sleep problems

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Memory problems (“brain fog”)

If you feel bad or experience these symptoms, get tested. My advice is to respect the damage Covid can inflict. Be proactive and responsive to signs. Above all, take care of yourself and be especially mindful of others whom you may expose to the virus. Remember – many are vulnerable to severe consequences once they contract Covid. I know I would not want anyone to suffer with the strain I had. I was a physical and emotional wreck for a very long time.

I was not eligible to take the new antiviral pills; however, my wife Cindy had Covid too and did very well with this treatment. Seek advice from health officials. Here is an an address for information about the pills and what you need to know about them:

We all are tired of Covid restrictions and putting up with new strains of the virus. It tests our patience and our way of life. However, on the positive side, maybe this journey will help us all develop some healthier habits and more sympathy for those in harm's way. I know one thing from my Covid experience: I am so much more conscious of my environment and the fragile connection to the outside world. 


Monday, August 15, 2022

To Scioto Commissioners:

After much thought and soul searching, I realize I must make myself clear about writing in this blog and online concerning the Scioto County commissioners. These officials do a fine job in their office with the tough work facing them. I commend them for their service and their love for the county. Scottie Powell, Bryan Davis, Cathy Coleman, and (Former Commissioner Mike Crabtree) deserve praise. Thank you for your hard work.

I have disagreed with the commissioners at times in their stance on various issues along with some other views such as declaring Scioto County a Second Amendment Sanctuary; however, I never meant for my writing to be a personal attack on any of them. I hope they – and the public – do not take it that way. I do not mean my understandings to take away from their accomplishments. They are good people, and I realize I may have a different view or two on politics. That's all.

Still, I am concerned that they and others may see my writing as harmful rhetoric. I am sorry if this is the case, and I want to take this time to apologize for any such detriment that may be conceived. I sincerely apologize for such a view, and I want to say I hope the commissioners accept my concerns as a person who also loves Scioto County. I support all their work to better our area.

Commissioners, please excuse me if you have taken offense in anything I have said.

I especially want to reach out to Bryan Davis for understanding that any disagreement I have is not personal or hateful. I know that Bryan and I have different opinions at times and we can express our passion in pretty forceful terms. Thinking about my past posts, I am sorry if Bryan is upset with me, and I hope we are still friends. I want the best for all folks here. 

If I have said things to upset you, Bryan, I hope you forgive me. You are a dedicated person I respect very much.

Thanks for reading this blog entry. I pray we residents of Scioto can continue down the path of area recovery and improvement. Politics aside, we are people in transition with high hopes for the future.

Commissioners, thank you. I know we can work out any differences with greater understanding.


Frank R. Thompson

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Second Amendment Sanctuaries: Please Consider the Deadly Assault Weapon MCX-SPEAR

The MCX-SPEAR, the civilian version of the US Army’s new NGSW-R (Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle)

A gun company is marketing an assault rifle that can shoot through bulletproof vests to civilians, a report says, amid ongoing debates about gun control following a string of deadly mass shootings.

SIG Sauer's MCX-SPEAR is the civilian equivalent of the US Army's NGSW-R (Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle), specifically created to tear through body armor, The Daily Beast reported.

"'It'll shoot through almost all of the bulletproof vests worn by law enforcement in the county right now,' Ryan Busse, a former firearms company executive now a senior policy analyst with the Giffords Law Center, told the outlet.

(Alia Shoaib. “New assault rifle being sold to civilians is twice as powerful as the AR-15 and capable of shooting through bulletproof vests, report says.” Business Insider. July 23, 2022.)

War-Fighting Weapon

Of course, making this gun commercially available raises questions about the possible outcomes if it were to get into the hands of a mass shooter. SIG Sauer's MCX-SPEAR can fire bullets with twice the kinetic energy of an AR-15, The Daily Beast reported. The gun fires bullets with a longer range, and it has a noise suppressor that could make a gunman harder to locate, the outlet reported.

Sig Sauer rifles were displayed during the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 5, 2018, in Dallas, Texas.

"The MCX-SPEAR was developed with direct input from US warfighters to provide more power, distance, and accuracy to replace the current M4 rifle platform," the company's website says.

This is a weapon that could defeat any body armor, any planned body armor that we know of in the future,” then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Army Times in 2019. “This is a weapon that can go out at ranges that are unknown today.”

Milley had in mind the body armor worn by Russian and Chinese troops. The Army just shrugged when asked this week whether the same could apply to that worn by cops.

Please, refer your question to Sig Sauer and civilian law enforcement agencies,” a spokesperson for the Army Modernization Team told The Daily Beast.

(Michael Daly. “‘Proud’ Gunmaker Figures Out How to Make Mass Shootings Worse.” The Daily Beast. July 20, 2022.)


The company said that the MCX-SPEAR would be available at "select dealers," Firearm Blog first reported in January. In the press release, Ron Cohen, President & CEO, SIG SAUER, Inc, said it was "a rare opportunity for passionate consumers to own a piece of history.

One of the dealers said that the arms manufacturer sent out 2,500 and 5,000 of the weapons and they sold out quickly, despite the hefty manufacturer's suggested price tag of $7,999, The Daily Beast reported.

A customer service representative for SIG Sauer told the outlet that more weapons would soon be shipped to gun stores at a lower price than the "first editions" models.

"I know it's coming," the representative told the outlet. "We're trying to get these things out as fast as we can. Get as many guns as we can out the door."

(Alia Shoaib. “New assault rifle being sold to civilians is twice as powerful as the AR-15 and capable of shooting through bulletproof vests, report says.” Business Insider. July 23, 2022.)


Civilians and firearms created with the specific purpose of tearing through body armor? My God, what have we become? I'm sure every gun-worshiping Billy Badass will drool over this weapon. SIG Sauer's marketing to civilians is just insane. It features either military guys or special forces officers touting the weapon. The plan is clear: forget basic training, just buy the gun military special operators use.

I know gun-lovers and Second Amendment Sanctuary supporters are going to give many reasons for civilians buying and owning and … using … such a deadly military firearm. However, I am sick and tired of the reckless abandon of gun companies, gun lobbies, and politicians who ignore gun violence perpetuated by these weapons of mass destruction.

Our own Scioto County commissioner Bryan Davis recently stated in the Facebook video of the July 7, 2022 commissioners meeting …

And what we need to do is make sure that if there is an armed assailant out there and he has a gun, you know what, it's all right to have one that's bigger than what he's got. And, you know what? It goes back to the founding of our country. The Founding Fathers showed great wisdom in the fact that the right to bears arms shall not be infringed. And that means no way, no how.”

Well, I say “how.” We must address gun violence and stop madmen from accessing assault weapons like the MCX-SPEAR. Our officials who oppose all reform should understand the real consequences of their support of “no infringement.” Ohio has currently loosened gun restrictions and firearm training. Its new commitment to “stand your ground” legislation now opens the door to terrible judgments by those with overly aggressive behaviors and mental illness.

Put this weapon in the hands of the public? Why? I see no reason for such greedy marketing behavior or for directly creating the desire for more death and destruction. 


Friday, July 22, 2022

Ohio GOP: Abortion Ban Allows Rape Into Motherhood

Ohio's new abortion law does not have an exemption for pregnant children or mental impairment.

The USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau reported, Ohio's Republican lawmakers who control the state have no plans to change that.

There is much debate among doctors, lawyers, and lawmakers about which circumstances an abortion could be administrated if the pregnancy presented "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" or death of the pregnant person.

(Amelia Robinson. “Ohio girls are raped into motherhood. After rape at OSU, she was nearly one.” The Columbus Dispatch. July 21, 2022.)

The new abortion law took effect despite public sentiment for legal abortions.

In May 2022, Pew Research found, overall, a clear majority of adults say abortion should be legal if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health (73%) or if the pregnancy is the result of rape (69%). A smaller majority says abortion should be legal if the baby is likely to be born with severe disabilities or health issues (53%).

Democrats’ attitudes about these circumstances follow a similar pattern. At least eight-in-ten say abortion should be legal if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health (84%) or the pregnancy is the result of rape (83%). A slightly smaller majority says the same about abortion if the baby is likely to be born with severe disabilities (68%).

Republicans are more divided on these questions: While a clear majority say abortion should be legal if a woman’s life is endangered (62%), a slightly smaller share say the same about a pregnancy that is the result of rape (56%). Republicans are far more divided on abortion if the baby is likely to be born with disabilities or health problems: 38% say abortion should be legal in this circumstance, while 29% say it should be illegal and 31% say it depends.

(“America’s Abortion Quandary.” Pew Research Center. May 6, 2022.)

A poll by USA TODAY Network Ohio/Suffolk University in late May found about 53% of Ohioans polled by said they wanted to protect abortion rights here. Another 39% wanted the Ohio Legislature to restrict access to the procedure. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The partisan divide was stark: 85% of Democrats backed abortion rights compared to 21% of Republicans.

(Greg Gatlin. “Poll Shows Ohio Voters Want Abortion Rights Protected.” Suffolk University/Cincinnati Enquirer. June 05, 2022.)


Brief History

In late June 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortions nationwide, Ohio outlawed abortions for people who have been pregnant for six weeks or longer. Soon after, in July, several news outlets reported that Ohio’s law forced a 10-year-old girl who had gotten pregnant by rape to travel to the neighboring state of Indiana to legally terminate the pregnancy.

Many people, including politicians and members of the media, questioned the veracity of the story. About a week after the story went viral, a 27-year-old man was jailed and charged with raping the girl, according to reputable news outlets.

As news of that arrest circulated online, a rumor surfaced claiming that Ohio’s abortion law would have actually allowed the girl to legally terminate the pregnancy in that state – in other words, she supposedly could have avoided the trip to Indiana for an abortion. For instance, Glenn Greenwald, a journalist and lawyer, stated in a tweet thread, “Ohio has a rape exception in its law…”

As news of that arrest circulated online, a rumor surfaced claiming that Ohio’s abortion law would have actually allowed the girl to legally terminate the pregnancy in that state — in other words, she supposedly could have avoided the trip to Indiana for an abortion. For instance, Glenn Greenwald, a journalist and lawyer, stated in a tweet thread, “Ohio has a rape exception in its law…”

Glenn Greenwald


An ICE official told Fox the arrested suspect is a Guatemalan immigrant in the US illegally, likely shifting the focus of the story. Also, Ohio has a rape exception in its law so that part is still unclear.

But that was not the case. Ohio’s law banning abortions for people who have been pregnant for six weeks or longer did not make an exception for rape victims, as of July 2022.

(Nur Ibrahim. “Does Ohio’s Abortion Ban Have a Rape Exception?” July 18, 2022.)

No Exceptions – Judging Morality With Politics

Recent Ohio legislation banning abortion falls clearly along political lines. The GOP defends a legal regime that they helped to craft.

Slate Senior Writer Mark Joseph Stern explains …

By the time it shook out that the GOP is the anti-abortion party – which was not fully clear until 1980 – you still have Republican politicians saying they’re for the rape and incest exception. That continues from Ronald Reagan through Donald Trump. If you ask Republican politicians whether they support a nationwide ban, the answer is always yes, but with a rape exception …

Then, some groups like Ohio Right to Life claimed that the abortion 'only added to the pain and violence perpetuated against a victim.' This idea is relatively new …

The movement started focusing on the idea that abortion hurt women more in the ’90s. Early on, in the ’60s, there was lots of other victim-blaming. Lots of anti-abortion thinkers would say: Well, women are going to just cry rape. Women are going to have consensual sex, get pregnant, and invoke a rape exception. Henry Hyde [author of the amendment limiting federal funding of abortion] famously complained that if women claim rape, no other accountability is asked of them. They don’t have to prove it. So there is a distrust of women that runs through a lot of this. And also a sense that if there’s a contrast between a fetus and a woman as to who’s more innocent and more deserving, it’s always going to be the fetus.

Then there was this conviction, based on an argument going back to the 19th century, that people couldn’t get pregnant unless the sex was consensual. They would say that was true even of incest. So as soon as the new anti-abortion movement exists, there’s very strong opposition to rape and incest exceptions. Support for these exceptions was a strategic development that came later.”

(Mark Joseph Stern. “The Real Reason Why the GOP Is Rushing to Pass Abortion Bans Without Exceptions for Rape.” Slate. July 19, 2022.)

After Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2018, you see this explosion of laws without rape or incest exceptions. At the time, this felt quite sudden to a lot of people. This generation of laws – the so-called “heartbeat bills” – ban abortion at six weeks, and most did not have rape or incest exceptions. Stern says, “I think that’s a direct response to the changing of the Supreme Court. Previously, Republican legislators had a sense that pushing too hard on unpopular things like abolishing rape or incest exceptions could make it harder to reverse Roe.”

In the face of horror stories like the 10-year-old girl rape victim in Ohio, the anti-abortion movement has doubled down. Jim Bopp, general counsel for the National Right to Life, said that the Ohio girl should have been forced to carry her rapist’s fetus, telling Politico: “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.”

Other anti-abortion groups condemned the girl’s abortion as “violence perpetuated against her.” And John Seago, the president of Texas Right to Life, acknowledged that abortion bans may cause doctors to delay care for miscarriage patients until complications arise.

Stern concludes:

The GOP did change. It became much more beholden to the anti-abortion movement and much less concerned about competition because of a combination of political polarization, gerrymandering, limits on access to the vote. These are essentially one-party states. Republican politicians aren’t worried these positions will be unpopular with voters because voters wouldn’t elect Democrats anyway.”

(Mark Joseph Stern. “The Real Reason Why the GOP Is Rushing to Pass Abortion Bans Without Exceptions for Rape.” Slate. July 19, 2022.)

Choice For Governor

In Ohio, we will have a choice. Will voters decide to make abortion the major issue in the state? Time will tell. We do know that women are sure to be a powerful voice in the election for governor.

Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, now the Democratic nominee for governor, said if voters choose her over DeWine she'll seek to have abortion rights written into the Ohio Constitution.

Whaley has made this issue central to her campaign, and she said if she wins she will immediately start putting together a ballot initiative to codify Roe into the Ohio constitution.

"This legislation is further proof that Gov. DeWine and the extremists in the legislature will stop at nothing until all abortions are illegal in our state," Whaley said in a news release.

"Ohio women deserve to be able to make these choices between themselves, their families, and their doctors – without politicians like Mike DeWine inserting themselves in the process. Not only does this bill take away a woman's right to make decisions about her own body and future, but it will hurt the economic future of our state."

(Jim Gaines. “Ohio's proposed abortion ban: Chances of passage likened to previous abortion bills.” Journal-News. Hamilton, Ohio. July 13, 2022.)

the lost women

Lucille Clifton - 1936-2010

i need to know their names
those women i would have walked with
jauntily the way men go in groups
swinging their arms, and the ones
those sweating women whom i would have joined
after a hard game to chew the fat
what would we have called each other laughing
joking into our beer? where are my gangs,
my teams, my mislaid sisters?
all the women who could have known me,
where in the world are their names?

From Next: New Poems by Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1989 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with permission of BOA Editions Ltd.. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Blacks And Gun Ownership: The History of White Fear


Guns are just about as American as apple pie. To many, especially white folks, they've represented all the highfalutin ideals enshrined in the Constitution: independence, self-reliance and the ability to live freely. For Black folks, guns often symbolize all those same things – but, as we like to say on the show, it's complicated.

Firearms have always loomed large in Black people's lives – going all the way back to the days of colonial slavery. Right from the jump, guns were tied up in America's thorny relationship with race; you can actually tell the story of how America's racial order takes shape, in part, by tracing the history of guns in the U.S. and who was allowed to own them.

(Gene Demby and Natilie Escobar. “From Negro Militias To Black Armament.” NPR. December 22, 2020.)

To this day, nothing frightens a White nationalist more than a Black man with a gun.

Am I wrong? I don't think so. And, I challenge you to prove Blacks have equal access to what many conservative Whites know as their Second Amendment rights.

Do black gun owners have equal protection under the Second Amendment? In theory, yes. The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms. But Blacks have a complicated history with gun ownership. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with Critical Race Theory.

May the story be told.

From the beginning of European settlement, guns, and the White men wielding them, controlled indigenous peoples who resisted incursions onto their land and the enslaved peoples whose labor was essential for Southern plantations.

Gun control may have been portrayed as a measure to reduce crime, but even in its earliest forms firearms regulation has been used as a means to control specific societal groups by keeping them from possessing weapons. Gun control existed in North America even before the creation of the United States and was racially motivated in its earliest forms. The first law in the colony of Virginia that mentioned African-Americans was a 1664 act that barred free blacks from owning firearms.

Gun ownership was not free-for-all in the colonial period and in the early republic. Because of the importance of the militias to public safety, gun registration was mandatory and government officials had the right to come into your home to inspect your musket. The government had opinions as to which weapons you should buy and even as to how you should keep your weapon – mandating, for example, that gunpowder be stored in a safe manner.

The men who enrolled in militias in the early days of the nation – and, under the 1792 Militia Act, enrollment was mandatory for all able-bodied free White men between the ages of 18 and 45 – had six months to buy themselves “a musket, bayonet, and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack.”

(Rebecca Onion. “Automatic for the People.” July 2018.)

Before the Civil War, enslaved people could own guns with the approval of their masters, and freedmen in some states could get approval from local officials to carry weapons. But, following Nat Turner's slave rebellion, lawmakers began to curtail the gun-ownership rights of Blacks.

And, even though Black soldiers took up arms for the Union army and Congress passed a bill which gave Black soldiers returning from the battlefield the right to keep their weapons, lawmakers from places like Mississippi and Florida refused to accept this and passed Black Codes which restricted freedmen from owning guns or other weapons. Hordes of white vigilantes actually raided Black homes to confiscate them.

Some Southern Blacks continued to own firearms. During Reconstruction, guns became important symbols of freedom for ex-slaves. Observers throughout the post-war South noted how eager freedpeople were to procure “pistols, old muskets, and shot-guns” in preparation for self-defense, as possessing a gun sent a clear signal that its owner would not be intimidated.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that from time to time, armed freepeople successfully repelled Klan attacks on their homes. However, they were often outgunned by these racists.

In addition, states would not protect Blacks from White violence. In came Jim Crow laws and and the continued oppression of African Americans.

Segregation measures continued into the 20th century with laws being disproportionately enforced against Black Americans. Meanwhile as the KKK continued to gain followers and terrorize Blacks in the South, many politicians turned a blind eye.

Gun control measures expanded in 1938 making it necessary to have a license to own firearms. The government could then grant or deny gun permits to applicants on the basis of suitability.

In 1966, members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in California. Members began openly carrying weapons in protest of police violence and in support of Black people's right to bear arms.

On May 2, 1967, members of the Black Panther Party congregated at the California State Capitol building carrying guns. They protested police brutality and the proposal of the Mulford Bill, a strict gun-control measure to to ban open carry of loaded weapons in the state. Panther leaders Bobby Seale and Huey Newton argued that the law was intended to disarm Black Californians.

Despite the protests, the bill was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan and supported by the National Rifle Association. Black Panther Party members were arrested for disturbing the peace.

"Anyone who would approve of this kind of demonstration must be out of their minds," Reagan said.

(Manisha Claire. “The Unequal History of African American Gun Rights.” 2022.)

The law was part of a wave of laws that were passed in the late 1960s regulating guns, especially to target African-Americans,” says Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms (2013).

Racial History Continues

Since the election of Donald Trump, guns sales to Black Americans have quadrupled, and black gun groups, such as the National African American Gun Association, report that attendance at their meetings has doubled.

Is it any wonder that racial minorities are seeking ways to protect themselves, with Trump having emboldened hate groups who see him as their long-awaited leader and with incidents of racial harassment and violence having escalated after his election.

And now, the latest Supreme Court ruling guarantee’s the Second Amendment right of people to carry their firearms in public space for “self-defense,” according to the Los Angeles Times. These new gun laws were advocated for because white people grew concerned about their gun rights. And, who is even more concerned than them? Black gun owners.

Consider Amir Locke, Philando Castile, Atatiana Jefferson – the list of Black licensed gun owners killed by police for having a gun keeps growing. Kelly Sampson from gun safety organization Brady told NPR this is precisely why Black people feel left out from their constitutional protection.

Then there's the perception of a black person carrying a gun. Tamir Rice, John Crawford and Robert Dentmond were all shot and killed by police because they were seen with objects that looked like real firearms.

We live in a society that codes Black people in general as criminal but especially when we carry arms,” Sampson said. “So when you strip away all of the rhetoric around the Second Amendment, you still can’t get away from the fundamental issue that we live in a country where Black people are disproportionately dying from gun homicides, and Black people also are disproportionately impacted by police violence.”

Historically, the government worked to keep guns away from Black people or apply gun control laws specifically to us. Jabir Asa, minister of social media for the Cleveland chapter of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, told NPR the court’s decision is a way to address the disparity.

Take California’s Mulford Act of 1967 for example. The National Rifle Association even backed it, though the bill prohibited the open carry of loaded weapons, a move directed toward the Black Panther Party.

We have already seen historically that when you go on any kind of gun-grabbing campaign, the only people with guns are the kind of people who would never worry about the legality of having them in the first place. And then you find yourself in a position where you’re vulnerable to fascists,” said Asa, via NPR.

(Kalyn Womack. “Black Gun Owners React to Supreme Court’s Concealed Carry Decision July 16, 2022.)

White Men And Guns

Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. has tripled, while imports have doubled. This doesn’t mean more households have guns than ever before—that percentage has stayed fairly steady for decades. Rather, more guns are being stockpiled by a small number of individuals. Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University.

The findings include:

  • An estimated 55 million Americans own guns.

  • The percentage of the U.S. population who own guns decreased slightly from 25% in 1994 to 22% last year.

  • Between 300,000 and 600,000 guns are stolen each year.

  • Gun owners tend to be white, male, conservative, and live in rural areas.

  • 25% of gun owners in America are white or multi-racial, compared with 16% of Hispanics and 14% of African Americans.

  • There are an estimated 111 million handguns nationwide, a 71% increase from the 65 million handguns in 1994.

(Hepburn, Lisa; Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. “The US gun stock: Results from the 2004 national firearms survey.” Injury Prevention. 2007; 13:15-19.)

So, who is buying all these guns – and why?

The short answer to the first part of that question is this: men, who on average possess almost twice the number of guns female owners do. But not all men. Some groups of men are much more avid gun consumers than others. The American citizen most likely to own a gun is a white male – but not just any white guy. According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.

The profile:

These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated.

For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious – and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story – one in which they are once again the heroes.

When Northland College sociologist Angela Stroud studied applications for licenses to carry concealed firearms in Texas, she found that when men became fathers or got married, they started to feel very vulnerable, like they couldn’t protect families. She said,“For them, owning a weapon is part of what it means to be a good husband and a good father.” That meaning is “rooted in fear and vulnerability – very motivating emotions.”

But Stroud also discovered another motivation: racial anxiety. “A lot of people talked about how important Obama was to get a concealed-carry license: ‘He’s for free health care, he’s for welfare.’ They were asking, ‘Whatever happened to hard work?’” Obama’s presidency, they feared, would empower minorities to threaten their property and families.

Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of Greater Good and John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, reports …

The insight Stroud gained from her interviews is backed up by many, many studies. A 2013 paper by a team of United Kingdom researchers found that a one-point jump in the scale they used to measure racism increased the odds of owning a gun by 50 percent. A 2016 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that racial resentment among whites fueled opposition to gun control. This drives political affiliations: A 2017 study in the Social Studies Quarterly found that gun owners had become 50 percent more likely to vote Republican since 1972 – and that gun culture had become strongly associated with explicit racism.

For many conservative men, the gun feels like a force for order in a chaotic world, suggests a study published in December of last year. In a series of three experiments, Steven Shepherd and Aaron C. Kay asked hundreds of liberals and conservatives to imagine holding a handgun – and found that conservatives felt less risk and greater personal control than liberal counterparts.

This wasn’t about familiarity with real-world guns – gun ownership and experience did not affect results. Instead, conservative attachment to guns was based entirely on ideology and emotions.”

(Jeremy Adam Smith. “Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?” Scientific American. March 14, 2018.)

Smith continues …

That’s an insight echoed by another study published last year. Baylor University sociologists Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken created a 'gun empowerment scale' designed to measure how a nationally representative sample of almost 600 owners felt about their weapons. Their study found that people at the highest level of their scale – the ones who felt most emotionally and morally attached to their guns – were 78 percent white and 65 percent male.

'We found that white men who have experienced economic setbacks or worry about their economic futures are the group of owners most attached to their guns,' says Froese. 'Those with high attachment felt that having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities.'

That wasn’t true for women and non-whites. In other words, they may have suffered setbacks – but women and people of color weren’t turning to guns to make themselves feel better. 'This suggests that these owners have other sources of meaning and coping when facing hard times,' notes Froese – often, religion. Indeed, Froese and Mencken found that religious faith seemed to put the brakes on white men’s attachment to guns.

For these economically insecure, irreligious white men, 'the gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males are worried about,' says Froese. 'Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.'

Unfortunately, the people most likely to be killed by the guns of white men aren’t the 'bad guys,' presumably criminals or terrorists. It’s themselves – and their families.

(Jeremy Adam Smith. “Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?” Scientific American. March 14, 2018.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, White men are also the people most likely to hurt themselves especially when they’re in some kind of economic distress. A white man is three times more likely to shoot himself than a black man – while the chances that a white man will be killed by a black man are extremely slight. Most murders and shoot-outs don’t happen between strangers. They unfold within social networks, among people of the same race.

Smith writes: “In addition, a gun in the home is far more likely to kill or wound the people who live there than is a burglar or serial killer. Most of the time, according to every single study that’s ever been done about interpersonal gun violence, the dead and wounded know the people who shot them. A gun in the home makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her husband.”

Every week in America, 136 children and teenagers are shot—and more often than not, it’s a sibling, friend, parent, or relative who holds the gun. For every homicide deemed justified by the police, guns are used in 78 suicides. A study published in 2018 in JAMA Internal Medicine once again shows that restrictive gun laws don’t prevent white men from defending themselves and their families. Instead, those laws stop them from shooting themselves and each other.

Please, read Jeremy Adam Smith's entire article by clicking here:


Since the days of early settlement of America, the propagation of the myth of the predatory Black man has been used to instill fear in whites and to justify their brutality and violence against Black individuals and communities The narrative has been passed down from one generation to the next and is still used to underwrite injustice against Black people.

White America has long associated black men with criminality and hypersexuality. The ghost of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion still haunts Whites today. It's why some social science experiments show that even trained police officers are biased to see black man as threats.

This fear of black men doesn’t just spring from racism. It’s also psychological. There is a body of work in literature and psychology that speaks to a historical tradition where some White people – White men, in particular – project the primal aggression that they refuse to see in themselves onto black people.

This is what author James Baldwin meant when he wrote in a 1962 essay that the racial tensions menacing America “are involved only symbolically with color.”

These tensions are rooted in the very same depths as those from which love springs, or murder,” Baldwin wrote. “The white man’s unadmitted – and apparently, to him, unspeakable – private fears and longings are projected onto the Negro.”

(John Blake. “There’s one epidemic we may never find a vaccine for: fear of black men in public spaces.” CNN. May 27, 2020.)

And, let's face it – much of America remains segregated. Until something changes, Black men must learn to live with the fearful white gaze. Blacks with equal gun possession? Now, if you want to talk about “White fear” – just read the following:

The Afro-American militant is a 'militant' because he defends himself, his family, his home, and his dignity. He does not introduce violence into a racist social system - the violence is already there, and has always been there.

It is precisely this unchallenged violence that allows a racist social system to perpetuate itself. When people say that they are opposed to Negroes 'resorting to violence' what they really mean is that they are opposed to Negroes defending themselves and challenging the exclusive monopoly of violence practiced by white racists.”

(Robert F. Williams. Negroes with Guns. 1962)

White fear has manifested itself in outright violence post-slavery through the imposition of Jim Crow segregation. White fear has manifested itself legislatively via redlining laws and cruel lending practices barring blacks from owning property in ‘white neighborhoods.’

White fear has manifested itself in so many structural ways that it has become part and parcel with the fundamental functions of every private and governmental institution in this country …

White fear is killing us …

It is criminalizing black bodies. It is incarcerating black identities. It is limiting black potential …

And, it is shooting black boys in the streets of their own neighborhoods. White fear is the single greatest cause of death for black people today and has been so since this country’s inception.”

(Jenn M. Jackson. “White Fear: The Single Greatest Killer of Black People in the US.” Water Cooler Convos. 2014. Accessed April 19, 2015.)