Feb 202015

vangilderWhen 72-year-old Gordon Van Gilder was riding in the passenger seat of a car stopped by Cumberland County, New Jersey sheriff’s deputies for a traffic violation, he hadn’t an inkling he’d be charged with a felony and be facing quite possibly the rest of his life in prison.

Van Gilder had just purchased for his antiquities collection a centuries-old flintlock pistol, which was stored in the glove compartment. When he was bullied into a search of the vehicle (kids: never, ever without a warrant) and was asked if he had anything dangerous in the vehicle, he mentioned the flintlock pistol.

Understand, this is not a functional gun. It’s doubtful it’s been fired since the 19th century, and indeed, was not even capable of such (no flint, powder, or ball).

A superior on the radio said to let him go, so they did. The story should have been over. However, the next morning, four officers came to his home in multiple cruisers to arrest him. This highly dangerous 72-year-old retired English teacher was then led away in handcuffs and chained to a bench during his booking. (Incredibly, the pistol has been seized and sent away for “ballistics testing.” Sorry, Mr. Van Gilder. Probably never see that again.) If he is convicted, he faces a minimum of three and a half years in prison. You can contribute to his legal defense fund here.

Cumberland County chief prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae has the authority to dismiss this clearly ludicrous case using prosecutorial discretion. So far, instead, her office has declined to comment. All of her contact information is here, if you’d like to politely inquire as to what she thinks she’s doing.

Finally, it seems to me that Chris Christie could straighten this out quite satisfactorily. Governor, one of your constituents is being viciously and needlessly harassed. Hey man, are you running for president or not?

 Posted by at 7:48 am
Feb 152015

Well, Alabama was in the national news all week.

Gay marriage is legal here now, despite the continuing efforts of our buffoon Chief Justice. I’ve said pretty much all I have to say about gay marriage here and here. I’ve had it settled to myself for decades—intellectually, morally, emotionally, spiritually—and I hope this divisive and destructive page really is finally turning. To my friends who still can’t see it my way:  please consider everything facing our world—all of the issues that could potentially respond positively to your energies—and ask yourself whether this is a hill worth dying on.

In other news, about a mile down the street a Madison police officer body-slammed a thin man from India who was here visiting his new grandson. He needed spinal surgery and is still partially paralyzed. I was mostly giving the officer the benefit of the doubt until I saw the video, which unambiguously shows senseless brutality. He’s been fired and charged with third-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor. I think the video shows malicious intent to injure the man, and that the officer should be charged with a felony. A federal investigation continues.

This paragraph was going to be about the winter storm that’s going to wallop us early tomorrow morning, but they’ve backed off to a winter weather advisory since I started the post. We might tumble all the way down to cold rain.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Feb 092015

On February 9, 2015, committed gay couples married in Alabama for the first time. I hope we will look back on this date as the moment we began to feel this page turn in earnest. I hope outspoken conservative leaders recognize the harm in continued resistance, and realize that if they can’t agree, they should […]

 Posted by at 2:20 pm
Feb 062015

Mr. President, the Crusades ended over 700 years ago. Furthermore, their causes, effects, and methods generate intelligent disagreement and discussion. Reasonable people can defend polemic territory all over the ideological map. ISIS is lighting people on fire now. ISIS is cutting people’s heads off now. ISIS is stoning women to death now. It is unambiguously […]

 Posted by at 10:45 am

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