DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

The United States of Gun Violence

As I previously stated, I am transitioning my blog from this Blogger account to a custom domain through WordPress. My new address is www.TheProgressiveCynic.com and it will be the primary place for all of my future articles. That said, whenever I post an article on my new blog address, I will post an excerpt and link to the full article on this blog.

© Josh Sager – December 2012
In a foreword to this article, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the December 14th school shooting. Such a tragedy is awful enough when the victims aren’t children and I cannot image what the parents must be going through. I hope that the families of the victims get as much support as they need, and would hope that everybody has them in their thoughts.
Gun violence is reaching near-epidemic levels in the United States, yet our politicians are failing to act. Lax gun laws and a culture that is desensitized to gun violence have created a situation where thousands of Americans die each year due to guns, but our politicians are afraid to do anything.
In December 2012, there have been two mass shootings (one in an Oregon mall and another in a Connecticut school), leading many to say that now is not the time to talk gun control. These people argue that to bring up gun control in the aftermath of a mass-shooting is to “politicize a tragedy” and is insensitive to the victims. In a normal climate, this point might be valid, but, in our country’s current predicament, we simply don’t have enough time between shootings to waste. Every day, approximately 25 Americans are murdered with guns. How many days (and lives) can we spare, waiting for the time to be right for increased gun control?
According to FBI statistics, 68,720 Americans were murdered domestically during the time period of 2007 to 2011. Of these victims, 46,313 were killed by firearms—to put this into perspective, this translates to an average of 9,263 murders per year or 25 murders per day. These death tolls don’t even begin to illustrate our country’s gun problem, as it fails to account for accidental deaths and injuries due to gun ownership.
Out of all western industrialized countries, the United States has the highest gun ownership rate, and the highest homicide rate. According to a study by UCLA professors, the United States’ per capita gun homicide rate is over 19X higher than any other country of comparable development levels (ex. England).
In addition to the random gun violence with the USA, there have been over 60 mass-shootings within the United States since 1982 (mass-shootings are classified as shootings where over 4 people are killed). To make this statistic even more worrying, eight of these shootings occurred this year alone. Such an increase leads many to believe that mass-shootings will simply continue to increase in frequency and severity until somebody does something to curb the ability of some to perpetrate violence on those around them.
Gun Laws
Regardless of ones’ personal opinion on the issue of gun ownership in the United States, it is settled law that the 2nd Amendment to the constitution prevents the government from enacting blanket bans on firearms. In Distract of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court affirmed this interpretation of gun rights and struck down a Washington DC law banning firearms. That said, the American government has broad powers to regulate gun ownership and to intercede in situations which pose a danger to the public The government can regulate many aspects of gun ownership, including:
  • What types of weapons can be sold (ex. assault weapons bans)
  • Who can legally own weapons (ex. felons can have their gun rights revoked)
  • Where weapons can be legally held  (ex. banning guns in government buildings)
  • How people buy guns (ex. mandating background checks/waiting periods)
  • Registration of weapons (mandating that all guns be registered with the state)
Unfortunately, gun laws in many states are absolutely inadequate and must be reformed if we are to stop gun violence. Many states, particularly in the south, have deregulated guns to the point where there are simply no real ways to prevent violent or disturbed people from obtaining weapons.
To continue reading this article, please follow this link: http://theprogressivecynic.com/2012/12/16/the-united-states-of-gun-violence/

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Religious Substitution Test

As I previously stated, I am transitioning my blog from this Blogger account to a custom domain through WordPress. My new address is www.TheProgressiveCynic.com and it will be the primary place for all of my future articles. That said, whenever I post an article on my new blog address, I will post an excerpt and link to the full article on this blog.

© Josh Sager – November 2012
While Americans often like to think of ourselves as multicultural and free of any religious biases, this is not always the case—oftentimes, religions are treated differently in discussions of public policy based upon the biases of those speaking. In our culture, some religions are treated with more respect than others, and are able to get away with far more in the way of controlling public policy.
The majority of the United States population identifies as some variety of Christian and there is an entrenched bias in favor of things that align themselves with Christianity. It is intensely unpopular in mainstream politics to be seen as attacking Christians or the Christian faith as a belief system; we see examples of this taboo in the extreme reticence that politicians have shown in attacking the tax exemptions of churches that have become obviously involved in politics. In addition to the protection afforded Christian institutions by this bias, there is a tolerance for proposals of Christian religious laws that is not present for other belief systems. Christian religious zealots regularly attempt to legislate sexual morality, abortion policy, and even the civil rights policy of the United States, but are rarely called upon their efforts.
In contrast to the bias in favor of the Christian faith, the Islamic faith has a severe negative bias attached to it within American politics. Ever since 9/11, when the “war on terror” started, many Americans have become extremely polarized against the Islamic faith and have tolerated anti-Muslim policies and activists. During the last several years, there have been many anti-Muslim hate crimes and several attempts to attack Muslim religious freedom within the United States (ex. the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy). Such anti-Muslim policies and acts are unacceptable, but the American public has been largely silent on the subject in a way that would not happen if it were another religion being attacked.
Judaism, while not extremely relevant to policy in the United States (there are rarely attempts to insert Judaism into law or to limit Jewish religious expression), is a religion which has had a significant level of exposure in modern politics. In modern American politics, mainstream politicians are very sensitive to anti-Semitism and any perceived attacks on Jews are seen as intensely unacceptable. In many ways, this sensitivity is due to the vociferous support of Israel that is common in mainstream politics and the conflation of Israel with Judaism. No politician wants to be seen as “anti-Israel”, thus any criticism of Judaism is immediately condemned—far more so than most other religions (ex. Buddhism).
In order to illustrate the religious biases within the United States and help overcome it, I would like to ask every American to perform an internal “Religious Substitution Test” before debating about religion. To do this test, you simply need to look at the debate objectively and substitute the religions involved based upon the situation: in cases where Christians are attempting to impose their beliefs on society, substitute in Islam and imagine that it is a Muslim who is attempting to impose his religions on you. In cases where a Muslim is being discriminated against or legislatively having their religious freedoms attacked, you should substitute Judaism in the place of Islam and look at whether the attack remains acceptable.
To continue reading this article, please go to this link: http://theprogressivecynic.com/2012/11/21/the-religious-substitution-test/