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A matter of alternative fact

In history, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThere has been a great deal of discussion in the media of late about “facts” and the incomprehensible notion of “alternative facts.” Considering such dialogue, it’s only fitting to review what constitutes a “fact” and if, indeed, there can be any possibility an alternative to any fact. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

First, we need to define the word, “fact.” What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is a fact out of context still a fact? Is a fact the same thing as the truth?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com, the definition of the word “fact” is listed as follows.  Pronounced, “fakt,” it is a noun meaning: 1. A thing done 2. Archaic 3. The quality of being actual 4. Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence and 5. A piece of information presented as having objective reality. OK, that’s a lot of material, so let’s focus on definitions 4 and 5 from our list.

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the "alternative facts" from the White House.  Photo courtesy NBC News

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the “alternative facts” from the White House. Photo courtesy NBC News

Starting with number 4, “Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence,” we might best illustrate this in the following phrases. “It is a fact that water is vital to life,” or “prove the fact of damage to the house after the storm.”
If you stop watering your plants, they die. Stop drinking water and you die too. These notions are “facts” because we know them to be impartial. If a house is destroyed by a storm, the wreckage is visual and cannot be disputed. These things are all “facts.”

Moving on to definition number 5, “A piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the key word to focus on is, “objective.” To be objective something must be taken impartially and without bias.

For example, two people could easily agree on the color of a house, in this case without worrying about a specific shade. Bob says the house is green. Mary says the house is green. Bob and Mary aren’t looking at the location, style or anything else that may prejudice their judgment of the structure, only that it is green. That’s what it means to be objective. Therefore, for information to be factual, it must be viewed objectively.

Somewhat confusing, however, is that a fact can be argued for its validity of context, but not as to whether it is a fact. A great example of this is the idea of global warming.

Politically, there’s a good deal of disagreement between liberals and conservatives about this concept. Scientists have factual evidence that the earth is, “in fact,” growing hotter, over all. But the context of the facts is where the disagreement lies.

Is the fact of global warming a direct result of man’s poor energy choices and pollution? Or, is global warming the natural result of the planet’s life cycle and nothing we do will have the slightest effect one way or another? This is where the argument takes the facts and places them in opposing context.

Where does “truth” come into all of this? Most people make decisions about politics, religion, and just about every other emotionally-charged concept, based on what they believe to be the truth, with little thought to what might be factual. That’s where this all gets a bit murky.

Indiana Jones may have offered the best explanation of this idea, from a scientific perspective. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” he said to his class, “Archaeology is the search for ‘fact,’ not ‘truth.’ If it’s truth you’re interested in, (the) philosophy class is right down the hall.”

What he meant was that in something like philosophy, as in religion and politics, “truth” is largely dependent on your point of view (a subjective belief). While archaeology, and other sciences – physics, meteorology, chemistry, etc. – are based on objective, factual study, unemotional and unbiased.

What all of this objectively leads to is the conclusion that a “fact” cannot have an alternative – it either exists or it doesn’t. It’s logical then to deduce that an ‘alternative fact’ can likely be only one other thing – a lie.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

Sharing Your Labor of Love, To Boldly Go

In Entertainment, history, National News, Opinion, television, Uncategorized on October 17, 2016 at 11:16 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOI recently returned from a trip to Ticonderoga, New York where I visited one of the most unlikely attractions for an area rich in American revolutionary history. Hidden away in a repurposed storefront of this tiny, historic town, one man’s childhood dream has become reality that he’s chosen to share with the world.

James Cawley is, by profession, an Elvis Presley tribute artist. But his lifelong love of the original Star Trek television series drove him to construct one of the single most accurate recreations of the classic show’s space-going sets. Wise men may have said only fools rush in, but Cawley did it full throttle, going where no few fans had gone before.

Around 2004, he rounded up friends and associates in the entertainment business to produce a web-based continuation of the Starship Enterprise’s five-year mission. Titled first, “Star Trek New Voyages,” and later adopting creator Gene Roddenberry’s planned second series name, “Star Trek Phase II,” Cawley and crew made nearly a dozen full-length episodes and shorts featuring Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the rest of the original series characters.

Using his own time, effort and money and thanks to the care and hard work of his associates, Cawley’s dream became a reality as he, himself, took up the center seat on the web show as Captain James T. Kirk. With computer generated special effects, hand-crafted costumes and painstakingly detailed sets based on the 1960s series, his vision was to capture the appeal of the original show, and that he did.

Unfortunately, that dream was cut short when CBS Paramount, the owners of Star Trek, issued highly restrictive rules for fan-made Star Trek productions. Although no revenue was generated by Cawley’s show and any donated funds were used for production costs, not paychecks, the company still saw it as a copyright infringement.

Unwilling to let all of this hard work dry up and blow away, Cawley and company worked with CBS Paramount to officially license his production sets into an attraction that fans could visit and appreciate along with them.

Transporter set from Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga NY

Transporter set from Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga NY Photo by Gery Deer

Now open to the public, the Star Trek Set Tour is a one-of-a-kind fan experience. Built from and arranged according to the original Desilu Studios stage plans, the tour includes a complete bridge set, transporter room, hallways and much more. Several areas of the ship’s interior sets are still under construction and more are planned, but that only adds to the value of the experience.

While there is a charge to visit the sets, volunteers still do nearly all of the labor-intensive and highly skilled creative work. And it is clear Cawley sees this project as his way of sharing what he’s built with all of us. Chatting with him during my visit, I made a comment referring to “his” ship but he was quick to correct me.

“This is ‘our’ ship,” he responded, looking across the bridge set from where we stood watching fellow fans marvel over the realism of what he’d built. It was clear this is his labor of love and he’s proud to share it with us.

Star Trek Tour creator, James Cawley with Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer on the Enterprise bridge set.

Star Trek Tour creator, James Cawley with Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer on the Enterprise bridge set.

At this point, it’s important for me to tell you that other than having been yet another visiting fan transported back to my childhood as I sat in the recreated captain’s chair I have no affiliation with the exhibit. But I bring all of this to your attention because I can relate to Cawley’s vision, his desire to see a dream to reality and bring it to others who will enjoy it with him.

We should all have a labor of love in our lives, something that earns us no money but serves to enrich others and ourselves. For some, it might be volunteering as a sports coach or tutoring underprivileged children. Others may see community theater or serve in public office in such a way.

You don’t have to go where no man has gone before to do it. But, whatever yours may be, when we are able to share our interests with other similarly impassioned people, it makes us better and more well rounded human beings.

Click for a fun video of Gery entering the Enterprise bridge!

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch Deer In Headlines, the podcast, on MyGreeneRadio.com. New episodes every Tuesday.

Here are some of Gery’s photos from The Star Trek Set Tour … For more information visit http://www.startrektour.com

No One Is Qualified To Be President

In Education, history, Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on October 3, 2016 at 6:08 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

DIH LOGOThere is a great deal of debate going on as to whether the current presidential candidates are “qualified” to hold the office. Good question, but the answer is a bit more ambiguous than we might want to know.

The American system of representation is not based on educational or experience qualifications. It is, instead, dependent on general popularity of the vote. There is no list of professional requirements to run for either president or congress, arguably two of the three most powerful branches of government.

To be president, there are age and citizenship requirements. We’ve heard enough from Donald Trump over the years challenging President Obama’s citizenship that the actual law warrants a look. The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 1, reads as follows.

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” Other than that, the office has fewer qualifications than someone applying for a job as a Walmart stock boy (woman, person, whatever).

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

The point is that no one is really qualified to do the job until they’ve already done it. The only people who have the practical experience to be President of the United States have already sat in the big chair. If you don’t believe it, let’s review the backgrounds of some of the most prominent presidents in history beginning with the man who most Americans would agree was our greatest president – Abraham Lincoln.

Now we’ve all heard this tale a million times. A Kentucky-born backwoods boy grows up in hardship, teaches himself to read and goes on to become president during the bloodiest time in American history. He had spent most of his young life in manual labor having also spent time as a lumberman, shopkeeper and postmaster.

It was only after having been elected to the Illinois state legislature – again with no formal education whatsoever – that he became a self-taught lawyer. The rest, as they say, is history. Lincoln is forever seen as one of the greatest Republicans who ever lived. But when he was elected president, he had served on a state legislature, so he was more qualified than many others.

Our next case study into presidential qualification is, in an effort to be fair and balanced, the Democrat favorite – Thomas Jefferson. In many ways Lincoln’s socioeconomic opposite, Jefferson was born into one of the most prominent families in Virginia.

He was provided the best education, studied Latin and Greek and spent leisure time (something Lincoln would never have had) practicing his violin. He grew up learning from some of the elder statesmen and scholars of the time, formally studying law as an apprentice before being examined by the bar as a fully qualified attorney; again, a sharp difference from his presidential counterpart here.

Of course Jefferson went on to draft the Declaration of Independence and played a pivotal role in the separation of the colonies from England. But the point of all this is that here are two completely different men upon whom fate and providence moved to sweep them into the history books.

But for all their differences, they had two things in common; characteristics that should be the most important qualifications of anyone seeking the highest office in the land. Both were very smart men and both were compassionate and cared about the fate of their country and its citizens.

There was no glory seeking or publicity hounding in these men. They believed they had an honorable duty to carry out and the people agreed. Today we choose candidates because of race or gender or the gibberish they spew from the debate podium. The only way to make America great is for our citizens to wise up and demand more from our leaders.

There are still Lincolns and Jeffersons out there but their voices will forever be squelched by the unqualified noise of the media-obsessed political machine. Integrity, intelligence, humility, humanity are the best qualifications for president.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to Deer In Headlines on air at MyGreeneRadio.com, October 2016. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

What does Labor Day mean to you?

In Business, history, Holiday, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 31, 2016 at 9:00 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The American Labor Day holiday was first organized and celebrated by the Central Labor Union in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Two year later, as the idea spread to celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday,” the union selected the first Monday in September to be the official, common date.

All across the country, industrial centers began holding celebrations of their own, following general guidelines set in the first proposal of the holiday. Each would include a street parade, a festival and amusements all for the enjoyment of the workers and their families.

labor day photo

Photo Courtesy US Department of Labor.

The legislation that established Labor Day as a legal holiday was passed on February 21, 1887 in the state of Oregon and four more states followed suit that same year. There is some dispute, even a century later, as to who was the actual “founder” of the holiday, but that should be left to your own research.
For most modern Americans, Labor Day is just another day off and a last break to end summer. But it should still be held as a celebration of the working class who build our streets, run our factories, and keep the infrastructure of America up and running.

When I think of Labor Day, I think of those in my family who worked long, exhausting hours with low pay and virtually no benefits or vacation time. Many worked at National Cash Register (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio. In fact, my father worked there during the 1950s and 60s for a whopping $1.50 per hour (around $9 in today’s money), and that was some 30 cents higher than the minimum wage at the time.

In my opinion, hard work is something a lot of modern Americans today seem to be allergic to, for lack of a better description. Our information-driven economy has many of us office-bound, tied to a desk and a computer screen rarely to experience the kind of manual work necessary at the turn of the century when the Labor Day holiday first started.

Constant complaints about how immigrants “take” the jobs of Americans are unfounded, to say the least. Those jobs are always available but no one seems to want them – they’re hard. Immigrants looking for a home in the Land of the Free simply appear to be more willing to work, taking any job necessary to provide for their families. America was built on this kind of fortitude and it should be admired.

Instead of being so closed-minded Americans should be more appreciative that someone is still willing to work hard without complaint, day in and day out, to the benefit of the rest of us. Papers or not, any person willing to work hard in this country and benefit the greater good is an American.

I come from a long line of hard workers. There was no privilege in any branch of my family and I mean absolutely none. My ancestors and immediate family were factory workers, truck drivers, farmers, coal miners, and a host of other grueling occupations. To me, Labor Day is a day to salute my own heritage and a way to be thankful that my family saw fit to encourage me to go to college and pursue my own interests.

But I was not coddled nor did I have it easy. I paid for my own education. I drove a truck for my dad, worked in a plastics factory, swept floors, worked in a tire and auto repair shop, and helped manage our farm and livestock. Without those experiences, I’d be a very different person and I’m grateful for them. I still do that kind of work on occasion, but, gratefully, I don’t have to depend on it for my livelihood and I have the utmost respect for those who do.

So this Labor Day, regardless of your occupation, income or professional position, consider those who might have it tougher or may not have the same privileges. Labor Day celebrates all workers, but the highest tribute should go to those who do the hardest work and continue to maintain the standard of living for Americans in all walks of life.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

GREENE COUNTY PERFORMERS HEADLINE WILD WEST SHOW AT ANNIE OAKLEY FESTIVAL

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, National News, Sports News, Uncategorized on July 26, 2016 at 9:15 am

Greenville, OH – Jamestown whip artist Gery L. Deer and Xenia thrown weapons expert, Kirk Bass, will lead a full troupe of whip artists, trick ropers, knife throwers and other Wild West arts experts during the 2016 American Western Arts Showcase during Annie Oakley Festival, July 29 and 30, at York Woods, 6129 Reed Road, Ansonia, OH 45303. The event is free and open to the public.

Presented in the spirit of the stage-style Wild West shows of the late 19th Century, each production will include some detailed history about how these arts came to be and who still practices them today. In addition to performing, Gery Deer is also the show’s producer and chief backer.

“This is a one-of-a-kind show in this region,” Deer says. “We have some of the best Wild West arts entertainment anywhere in the Midwest with real practitioners of each skill,” says Deer, who started the event in Jamestown, Ohio, in 2002. “These are talented performers with genuine ability, no fakery, no tricks. Everything you see in our show is real and all of our shows are in 3-D and high definition!”

Champion knife thrower Kirk Bass, of Xenia, Ohio, is co-producer of the event. He and his daring wife Melodee are among the performers to take the open-air stage for two shows on Saturday, July 30 beginning at 1 p.m. with a series of western arts perform the suspenseful Bass Blades impalement show, and much more.

Whip marksmanship competitions headline the afternoon show beginning with the National Whip Speed and Accuracy Exhibition Competition, the world’s only Bullwhip Fast Draw contest. Plus, there is a brand new contest taken straight from the big screen.

AOF_3_GLD

David Crain vs. Luke Taylor in the American Western Arts Showcase “Bullwhip Fast Draw” competition at Annie Oakley Festival at York Woods.

In 1981, a fedora-wearing, leather-clad archaeologist threw the crack heard round the world when he “whipped” a pistol from the hand of a jungle guide. At the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones demonstrated his skills with the holstered fast-draw of a 10-foot bullwhip, all while having to spin around to take aim first.

In the spirit of Dr. Jones’ proficiency, this year’s Showcase competition will include a special “blind fast draw,” where whip artists must mimic the move used in the film to turn, draw their holstered whip and shoot at a target with speed and accuracy.

“With the popularity of Indiana Jones among western performers, particularly whip artists, it’s odd this hasn’t been done before,” says Deer, who holds multiple, national whip speed and accuracy titles and is the director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the only permanent whip training facility in America. Contests begin at 1 p.m., followed immediately by a matinee performance at 2:30.

At 5:00p.m., visitors to the festival will see the Grand Western Showcase hosted by AOF_5_GLDthe music and comedy of Greene County’s own, The Brothers & Co. Variety Show. “We pull out all the stops on Saturday evening,” says Deer. “The Brothers & Co. Variety Show is an Americana-styled musical variety show from a by-gone era, full of comedy, magic, and some of the best four-part music on stage today. There will be nothing else like this anywhere at the festival!”

The event is sponsored by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., The Brothers & Co. Variety Show, and the Annie Oakley Festival Committee. All performances are family friendly and presented on the grounds of the Annie Oakley Festival. For links to the festival and sneak previews of the performers plus more information go online to ohiowesternarts.org.

If Trump gets nomination, I’m done with GOP

In Business, Economy, history, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOBecause I’ve always tried to get people to think about my subjects from more than one perspective, I’ve rarely shown my personal political leanings within the wording of my columns. In fact, I so often take opposing views in any given article, after any given Deer In Headlines column is published, I could be called, in the same day, a “bleeding heart liberal,” and a “right wing conservative.”

But, here it is, for the record and publicized for the first time anywhere – I am a registered Republican. (If there was a pool going somewhere, I’d like a cut please.) I am certainly not, however, what you might think of as a typical modern conservative. In truth, my considerations often demonstrate a far more liberal position but I’m also frequently sickened by the level of hypocrisy in both parties.

So, I should explain, “why Republican?” Well, I didn’t go with the GOP from any ideological position. Many years ago, during the first presidential election for which I was old enough to vote, I had to choose a party in order to participate in the primary election. At the time, I knew more about the Republican candidates, so I picked that one. Really scientific, wouldn’t you say?

No, it wasn’t the best way to choose, but I was 18 and had to make a fast decision. As the years went on, I always avoided just blindly voting the party line and chose whichever candidate I thought was best based on the facts at hand. So, my party affiliation really didn’t make much difference. But today I think that affiliation does matter, possibly more so than any other time during my life.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Donald Trump has managed to do exactly what he set out to since the day he announced his candidacy for president. However caustic and cartoonish his campaign, The Donald has ripped through the fabric of the Republican Party and scattered the conservative base.

My problem here is that any group that would allow and encourage a self-aggrandizing buffoon like Trump to climb to the top of the party has obviously lost its way. Poking around in the dark for the lesser of who cares, people have desperately searched for a non-politician. Sadly, they think Trump is that person. Still, Americans need a good leader and someone who understands the complexities of the world stage on which America is just one player.

To be an effective president, Trump would have to work on a team, listen to more knowledgeable advisors and make decisions based on the best interests of the people, not just to get his own way. I believe, as do others, that Trump is totally incapable of this behavior.

As Trump plowed through the rest of the party making his way to the top, he has repeatedly shown he is not ready or personally equipped to be that kind of leader. As a businessman, he comes across more like a dictator. In other words, it’s his way or nothing. Ironically, Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Obama for the very same behavior citing executive orders.

At this point, I need to be clear about something else regarding my political leanings. I don’t like Hillary Clinton either. She’s a proven liar from a deceptive family and a political insider. Bernie Sanders isn’t much better. His blathering on about so-called democratic socialism is idealistic nonsense lacking even the most basic economic foundation.

So why come out about my party affiliations now? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Over the years I’ve watched in disgust as this party that revels in moral values seems hypocritically more bigoted, angry and hateful than ever. A fact made more clear every time Trump opens his mouth to denigrate Muslims, minorities, women or whomever he’s attacking that day and is met with unbridled cheering from ignorant followers.

The party of Lincoln would certainly cringe if he were here today. In recent times, the GOP has argued harder for the right of someone to own an AR-15 assault weapon than for women and minorities to be treated equally. Honestly? It’s just embarrassing.

Trump’s shocking rise from joke to frontrunner proves that the Grand Old Party is nothing of the kind. It has become, instead, little more than another corporate sell-out run by rich, old white guys with followers who seem to thrive on hate, bigotry and fear.

A Trump nomination will be the last straw for me. When it happens, although I disagree with a great many liberal policies and ideals, I will march myself to the board of elections and change my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Since, I tend to think for myself rather than be a political lemming, I’d obviously rather go “independent” but I wouldn’t, for two reasons. First, the idea of an “independent party,” is an oxymoron. You can’t be independent about something if you’re just going to follow a group. Secondly, I still want to have an effect in the primaries.

Many people are angry about the direction of the current administration and the country and I sympathize. I have many friends, family and business associates who are Trump supporters for those very reasons. And for them, I am simultaneously surprised and disappointed, but I still support them and their right to choose the candidate that best reflects their views.

So, I certainly hope these revelations have not put you off of reading my work, but I felt this was important enough to make a stand and let you, my readers, know where my head is in this election. In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing more about what happens next in my political participation, so stay tuned to Deer In Headlines.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Saving the mythical middle class

In Economy, history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics on February 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the post-war euphoria of the 1950s, Americans were convinced of a concept that has carried through into the next century. The “middle class” was a figment of someone’s imagination – probably a politician – and sold to the public as the ideal life. But the idea of a middle class has become as mythological as the Leave It To Beaver universe that created it.

As the presidential election year kicks into high gear, saving the dying middle class will be the subject of countless speeches. But how do you preserve something that no longer exists, if it ever did at all? The truth is, you can’t.

But who is the middle class? As it turns out, there is no consistent definition of this mythical group. Depending on the source, the middle class can be defined in a number of ways, from economical status to age and race demographics. So when you hear a politician spout off the words, “middle class,” the context is vital, otherwise it’s meaningless.

According to CNNMoney.com, one definition by the Pew Research Center is based on income. It lists the middle class as those Americans who earn between $46,900 and $140,900. Another marker has to do with aspirations.

Most people who consider themselves middle class want to own a home, send their kids to college, have proper healthcare and investment savings, a car, vacations, and so on. Obviously, that means that the money has to exist to make any of that a possibility so we’re back to financial definitions once again.

Photo courtesy NBC News

Photo courtesy NBC News

The simple fact of it is the concept of the middle class is a myth; a myth we have all been trapped into believing to the point of mass hysteria. The American dream does exist, but it’s far less detailed than we’ve been taught over the last 70 years or so, and it’s not as tied to the middle class as once thought.

Between the American dream and the middle class, I’d much rather focus on the former; at least I know it’s ambiguous and depends on my own efforts, choices and aspirations. The American dream is different for each person.

Yours might be to own a bookstore while your neighbor’s may simply be to be healthy and happy in his or her own way. But trying to be part of the middle class has done countless families harm over the years, struggling to “keep up with the Joneses,” and fighting the never ending war to amass “stuff” so as to appear successful.

As a political hot button, the idea that the middle class is suffering provides unlimited opportunity to yank at the heartstrings of conservatives. Liberals don’t seem to care as much about it. It all goes back to that subliminal mental tie-in between the middle class and the American dream.

The question remains, how do politicians evoke emotion over a group that doesn’t actually exist? Or, stated more correctly, a group that encompasses so many different kinds of people as to eliminate any particular demographic. Actually, it’s easier than you might think.

If politicians can keep that apple pie imagery flowing and preach doom and gloom over its demise, people will flock to the polls to protect it by voting for them. It’ll have the same effect as the anti-communist films of the 1950s and 60s depicting a family on a nice summer picnic when suddenly the nuclear bombs start dropping. Destroy the middle class and America dies.

But, once again, it’s impossible to destroy what doesn’t exist. The middle class is defined by whoever wants to use it to their benefit, to push their agenda. Oddly, I’d say the middle class is more about a state of mind of the individual than actual numbers.

We all just want to be normal, average Americans in similar status to our neighbors so we can relate to each other. In the end, I think we all just want to be financially stable and happy with our lives.

Gun crime liability rests with shooter

In Crime, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on January 21, 2016 at 1:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOGun control is one of those subjects that is, at best, incendiary and at worst causes explosive arguments. Debate is heated and emotionally driven regarding the real meaning of the second constitutional amendment and how it applies in modern American life.

But it might be that we’re missing a larger question as we grapple to decide whether guns should be available at all to private citizens. Perhaps a larger and more readily answered question should be, who actually carries the criminal responsibility when someone uses a firearm to harm others?

Recently, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders stated that, if elected, he would work to repeal the immunity granted by congress to firearms manufacturers. Passed into law in 2005, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.

Most of the disagreement comes from debate surrounding the “intended use” of a product relative to manufacturer or reseller liability. From some points of view, the only intended use of a firearm (gun) is to kill people. However, those law-abiding citizens who maintain guns with absolutely no ill intentions towards others heatedly contest this line of thought.

Ranchers and farmers must have firearms in order to protect property and livestock from wildlife. Even in southwestern Ohio, for example, the wild coyote has become an ever-increasing problem to cattle farms and other livestock producers. While fences, traps and dogs have been used to curb the problem, often a rifle seems to offer the only permanent solution.

At some point, lawmakers need to understand that pulling the trigger is the choice and sole responsibility of the shooter.

At some point, lawmakers need to understand that pulling the trigger is the choice and sole responsibility of the shooter.

But, if one subscribes to the concept that guns are only intended for killing of people, then, logically, culpability rests solely with those who build and sell weapons. Since, by this definition, the products are meant for killing there is no “misuse” of the firearm if it is used to murder.

Conversely, if an axe were used to kill someone, the manufacturer wouldn’t be held criminally liable because the product was not intended for that purpose. Once again, however, why is no one looking at the guy on the trigger (or handle, if the axe is still in play here)?

Once upon a time in America, responsibility for ones actions was the basis for many a legal precedent. Today, the United States has adopted a social climate rich with the idea the personal responsibility is politically incorrect.

At what point did Americans stop blaming the person who pulled the trigger and begin assigning responsibility, not to the perpetrator, but to the manufacturer or seller of the weapon used to commit the crime?

And the next question is, where does self-defense come into play? Who is responsible if someone threatens a law-abiding citizen with an illegally obtained gun and the victim protects herself with a legally purchased and licensed concealed pistol? Good question. It would clearly depend on the facts of the situation.

Making guns entirely illegal is not the answer either. Arguing that swords and battle-axes are illegal so no one uses them to commit crimes because of that fact is, well, stupid; apples to oranges. This kind of weapon simply doesn’t do enough damage for those with mayhem in mind.

Facing facts, the bad guys will always have guns because, quite simply, they don’t obey the law (that’s what makes them bad guys). So if the only people who can own and use a gun – for any purpose at all – are criminals, what are people supposed to do to protect their families and property?

When an act of self-defense has taken place, it should be up to the investigating police officials and, perhaps, eventually a jury to evaluate the culpability and intent where any weapon is concerned. Once again, the discussion has to circle back around to personal responsibility.

Better background check data, waiting periods for purchase and greater restrictions on gun show sales are good options for the short term. They maintain second amendment rights while providing increased safety and also address the question of personal responsibility. Applying some common sense while protecting the rights and security of Americans might just save some lives.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is syndicated by GLD Enterprises Communications Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Combating fear and terrorism at the holidays

In Crime, history, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, Travel, Uncategorized, World News on November 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs the holiday season begins, bad guys around the world are watching and willing to do anything to disrupt safety and security. In the shadow of the Paris attacks in which 129 people died and more than 350 injured, it’s hard not to worry that another strike is just around the corner.

The level of anger and hatred leveled at peace-loving people is almost incomprehensible. But what can we do, as individual Americans, to remain safe and keep the terrorists from spreading fear?

For the most part, remaining diligent about safety should be a common sense concept. But, surprisingly, many Americans are complacent about their place on the global stage. But it’s only a matter of time before ISIS and similar groups manage to hit an American target on a massive scale, just as al Qaeda did in 2001. In other words, we’ve been lucky.

As the White House plans for the reception of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism themselves, many conservatives are debating the idea that the inrush of refugees may include planted ISIS terrorists. Although this is certainly a legitimate concern, my guess is, however, they already have people on the ground here in the States, recruiting American young people on our own soil.

It can still happen here ... again.

It can still happen here … again.

Young, mush-brained Americans are being recruited into these terrorist cells in staggering numbers. One report by CNN.com states, “ISIS takes a somewhat secular approach, portraying how much better life purportedly is in the caliphate as compared to the corrupt West.”

The article also offers a reminder that it’s not just American youth who are attracted to the ISIS recruitment process. It also appeals to a wide demographic of people from all ages and socioeconomic ranges.

Additionally, gun control in the U.S. may help reduce domestic terror violence, but taking guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens might actually make ISIS’ job easier by making them bolder. My guess is that one of the few things keeping the bad guys at bay is a “Texas” mentality – the belief that we’re all gun-crazy and packing heats everywhere we go.

While that wouldn’t scare the leaders or group on the whole, those individuals they recruit to actually act would think twice if there was a possibility of not completing their “holy” mission – the deaths of hundreds of free Americans. If the assailant were to be gunned down by a regular citizen before he can detonate his bomb or unload his weapon on innocents, he’d be a failure and dishonor himself.

Americans can’t afford to depend entirely on the federal government to protect them from these threats and should remember the advice of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On the official DHS website, the agency states, “Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities.”

DHS officials urge citizens to be “vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity” and watch the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Alerts for information about specific threats. While being vigilant, however, it’s important to be clear on who exactly constitutes “the enemy.”

Clearly, Americans are behind our French allies, in solidarity against a common enemy with no borders, no face, no diplomatic recognition, no motive (except murder) – the enemy could be anyone. But we must keep in mind that “alert” doesn’t mean “paranoid.”

The words “Islam” and “Muslim” are being thrown around in the reports about the most recent terror attacks. We must remember that Muslims are not the enemy – ISIS is the threat. Muslims, like most Christians, are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who are deeply harmed by what these radicals are doing.

History is full of religious extremism, from virtually every major sect on the planet. We’ll never be completely rid of it, but we can do our best to keep it from damaging our society and protect citizens of the free world as effectively as possible.

As a people and a country, America survived 9/11 and we’ll survive whatever ISIS throws at us. But anything we can do to prevent this most recent threat from any level of success is worth the effort and diligence.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

5 Pieces of advice for my younger self

In Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology on August 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOImagine if you could go back 10, 20, 30 years and talk to your younger self, what would you say? What advice would you have knowing what you know now? Well, believe it or not, you might find out some of that advice is just as relevant as it would have been back then. So if I could have a conversation with my younger self, I have five things I’d tell me, him, you know what I mean.

My number one piece of advice would be, and I know it sounds cliché, not to sweat the small stuff. Every day our life path carries us down one road or another, each with its own set of obstacles, successes, failures, and milestones. The important thing to know is how to recognize which is which and remain calm and in control, regardless of what is thrown your way.

There’s no way to really offer much more to anyone else on that subject though because everyone’s definition of “small” is going to be somewhat different. For example, to me small stuff is a flat tire on the car or having to retype a report I’ve worked on for days. As devastating as some events can seem at the time, when weighed against the larger mass of things, most fit the “small stuff” category although we’re often too consumed with the situation for a clear view.

The second thing I’d say to the “younger me” is to ignore people who say you are destined to … whatever. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make. That is, your story isn’t written yet. Every choice you make is like shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, the picture is redrawn at every turn. So, if you want something, go after it and don’t let anyone get in your way.

Number three is borrowed from some philosophical and religious concepts, which tell us that you are the only one who can cause yourself injury. I don’t mean injured in the physical sense, like being whopped over the head by a crowbar, I mean the kind of damage that’s done to the one swinging it. We only hurt ourselves when we cause pain and injury to others.

old youngThe fourth piece of advice is never to take yourself, or life, too seriously. Despite what you might think, you are so not “all that,” and you need to have some humility if you want to get along in the world. But it can’t be artificial because that’ll come back and bite you in the … well, you know. Be good to people because you want to and because it’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but the needs of others will often have to come way before yours.

My fifth and final piece of advice for my former self would be to relax a bit more, while you have the time. Life gets harder as days go on, not easier, regardless of what you might see in the media. Take whatever time you can when you have it, but never at the expense of others.

So, for now, that’s all I would say to me 30 years ago. No, actually, there is one other thing. I’d tell me to give my Mom a hug every chance I got and spend as much time with her as possible. Her absence has left an indescribable open wound that will never heal.

Oddly, the funniest thing about all of this is that, as a younger person, it’s highly unlikely any of us would have listened because we knew everything already, right?

The truth is people were giving you advice like this all the time but it just flew in one ear and out the other. After all, what did old people know? You had the world on the end of your line and you were reeling her in.

Now that I understand some of this, I know that some of the best people I know are on a constant journey of self improvement. Remember, it’s never too late for a little sage advice. Take care out there.

 

Watch the television version of this piece from WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program …

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Gery L. Deer is an independent journalist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, More at gerydeer.com.