So there I was at Williams-Sonoma, looking at copper serving trays marked with warnings not to actually use them for serving while my girlfriend shopped for magic sponges and $15/lb candy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a fat man in a bright chartreuse shirt barged in between us to look at something on a shelf – not very politely, I might add. I immediately noticed that 1) the back of his shirt read “!WARNING! I SHOT THE LAST TAILGATER!” and 2) he was open carrying a Glock 19/23 in a Safariland duty holster. I took a photo, but he was moving, so the image didn’t capture his shirt and his gun at the same time.
I followed him over to the customer service island where he asked an employee for another employee that he had spoken to previously, describing her in oddly specific detail (as this was happening, I was moving behind a very impressive kitchen knife display to a point about three yards behind him, and not once did he notice that I was following him so closely). When informed that she wasn’t there and that any employee could assist him, he said in an agitated tone, “oh, I know. I have a message for her.”
As he said this rather mysterious phrase, his hand dropped to his Glock with his thumb ready to disengage the holster’s retention, right as I took a photo.
If he said anything else, I didn’t notice, because I was focused on his right thumb. But then his hand came off the gun, and I stopped thinking, “I’ll need to aim at his lower back so there’s less chance of hitting any of the Williams-Sonoma employees on the other side of the counter.” I did not draw or move to draw my pistol.
Thankfully, his bizarre behavior ended as soon as it started. He poured himself a cup of water from the complimentary Williams Sonoma water pitcher – sadly, they didn’t have any complimentary Williams-Sonoma candy out that day – and walked out of the store, having a conversation on what I hope was a wired headset, otherwise he was just talking to himself.
Was there a perfectly innocent meaning to all of this? Maybe. But he didn’t know the employee’s name, so it’s not like he was her adorably awkward uncle and just wanted to show her his new gun while he was at work. The other employees were left talking about how that guy was crazy, but they knew there were sane gun owners out there. Frankly, I was impressed with how nonchalant they were – but I don’t think they saw him put his hand on the pistol. They weren’t interested in calling mall security, but I later contacted local law enforcement.
This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why CCW reciprocity is a hard sell. This is why gun people get a bad reputation. And some people shouldn’t own guns.
Fireclean has subpoenaed me in their lawsuit against George Fennell. They are seeking every last sliver of information regarding this topic that I might have, including but certainly not limited to “all communications between you and anyone else that pertain or refer to Fireclean.”
I am represented in this matter by Dan Barr (the author of a book on reporter’s privilege) and Katherine May of PerkinsCoie.
I don’t know that I could possibly have better representation for this challenge, a statement I would also make about Jay Brown and Jeremy Kutner of LSKS, who successfully represented me in the lawsuit Fireclean filed in Virginia earlier this year.
The costs of my legal defense in that case exceeded $120,000. While they were largely borne by LSKS, this situation has been no small matter for me. Needless to say, all proceeds have been and will be applied to the direct costs of legal defense in the various legal maneuverings attempted by Fireclean.
The next major event in the case is scheduled for July 14, 2016, when a hearing will be held on our motion to dismiss the case. Here is our brief in support of said motion. This link, and the one immediately prior, are the two most recent filings on our side of the case. You also might wish to brush up on our initial motion to dismiss.
It’s my understanding that in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean against their competitor, George Fennell of Steel Shield, Mr. Fennell’s motions to dismiss or transfer venue were denied by the judge in that case. These cases are completely separate and the denial of Mr. Fennell’s motion to dismiss does not concern me, legally or emotionally.
Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff of the Eastern District of Virginia handed down the first substantive ruling in the lawsuit filed by Fireclean. In order to support their lawsuit, Fireclean had asked the court to force me to turn over all kinds of financial and other information, including about my subscribers. They also sought information as to any servers that might host my blog in Virginia as well as communications with Virginia residents relating to the blog.
Their most confusing discovery request was for copies of communications with Fireclean. On this matter the judge stated, “One would expect Plaintiff to have knowledge of its own communications with Defendants.”
In denying all of Fireclean’s demands, the judge called their motion a “fishing expedition.” Fireclean must now proceed to respond to my pending motion to dismiss their case with only the information they already have. My motion to dismiss the case will be heard by the court next month.
I realize that articles regarding sexual assault on campus are not normally found on my blog. Nor is this a topic which my readers, if they were aware of the specific case to be discussed, were likely to be sitting by their computers waiting for my opinion on the matter. However, as you will see, I have strongly held personal beliefs regarding this topic and feel it is an appropriate time to discuss them.
Before I delve into what I believe, based on personal experience, to be the real problem, I’d like to pause for a moment and head off a few comments I can envision being posted soon after I publish this article. While I personally would not drink until I passed out simply for health reasons, an adult’s choice to do so should not be punishable by rape. I’d also like to say that while in the gun world we focus on guns as a solution for violent crime including rape and sexual assault, guns are not the answer to every crime, and I don’t think carrying a gun would have helped the young lady at the Stanford party, or even the majority of sexual assaults in the United States.
With that said – reading the details of her attack brought back memories of my time in college, and something that happened, or almost happened, while I was at a party in the fraternity house at which I lived for a semester or so.
As some of you may know, I started college early. I certainly focused on academics part of the time, but I’d seen Animal House and wanted to experience some of the fun and camaraderie and history lessons seen in that classic of American cinema.
However, not many fraternities would take a 16 year old pledge, either by choice or according to their bylaws. I found one that would take me (by chance a national fraternity that was about to set up a chapter on campus) and began participating in meetings, activities, and after we took over a house vacated by a fraternity on a five year suspension, plenty of parties involving the generous consumption of alcohol. While I wasn’t everyone’s best friend in the fraternity, some of my “brothers” and I became pretty close.
At one such party, a girl passed out after drinking too much. Some of the guys took her into the vice president’s room and put her on the bed so she could sleep it off. A short while later, the treasurer beckoned me down a hallway away from the main party, where I had been trying and failing to impress girls, and into the doorway of the president’s room. I was a little slow on the uptake, but soon realized that he either wanted me to join him in raping the unconscious girl or to just go ahead and do so on my own. She was at the time fully clothed, so I don’t think anything had happened to that point, but I refused whatever his exact request was and went to make something of a fuss about it with the fraternity vice president, then stood outside the room for a while. After that, I was persona non grata in the fraternity – not that I was the coolest kid to begin with.
I’m not telling this story to impress anyone – really all I did was decline to participate in a rape, which is about the minimum level of acceptable behavior for a human being.
I am telling this story because I don’t think Brock Turner got the idea to take this girl behind a dumpster, partially disrobe her, and shove his fingers inside her limp form all on his own.
In my opinion, the real problem is that he didn’t get to a point in his life where he thought it was acceptable to do all of that (lacking consent) without a clear lack of moral guidance at home and an example of how to behave at school.
His father wrote the judge a letter asking for probation, and I think all or nearly all of the answers I was seeking as to how this happened may be found within the father’s despicably self-centered pleadings. As with the impact statement above, I would recommend you read it in its entirety.
Most telling to me is that while it claims Brock is sorry for having hurt those involved, the only specific people he mentions as having been hurt are members of his own family. It’s as if he’s willing the woman involved to not exist. And while he talks about spelling tests and academics and athletics, he seems to confuse achievement in those areas with character. Character is not what drives you when everyone is watching, but reading that letter, it’s clear to me that Brock was raised only to care about what happened when everyone was watching. “How fast can you swim? How many words can you spell? How high is your GPA?” There’s nothing about “What are you going to do when you’re alone with someone who is vulnerable?”
To be clear, my dad never sat me down and said “Son, don’t rape people.” He simply set the example that my mom, his wife, was an equal. He gave me books in which men were men and didn’t have to subjugate women in order to feel manly. He did a million other things, but of course he wasn’t alone in making me who I was that night at a party, a teenage boy desperately trying to fit in with the older, cooler kids. Without his guidance, though, I don’t know who I would have been that night.
Shortly before that party I had participated, along with members of my fraternity, in a fundraiser for Take Back The Night, which is an event dedicated to ending sexual and relationship violence. The guy who tried to get me to rape that unconscious girl was there too, smiling at all the girls, paying lip service to an idea he clearly didn’t believe in. When we were done with the fundraiser we left and that was that. Other than wanting to put a check mark in the volunteer box in a visible way, we had no more interest or motivation to attend that event than we would have had in picking up trash along the road. Several years after I dropped out to join the military (which was soon after that party), that fraternity was kicked off campus for unrelated and repeated allegations of rape.
Last year, I took part in the planning committee for Take Back The Night at U of A. This basically consisted of going to meetings and speaking up only when I felt it was appropriate, which wasn’t very often because the other members knew what they were doing. When the event came around, some fraternities showed their faces for the opening walk around campus but didn’t stick around to listen to women (and men) who’d been sexually assaulted tell their stories. It was unsurprising but still disappointing to see that nothing had changed in a dozen years.
I am also telling this story because I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only straight guy with a vested interest in this conversation. There were gay guys at the booth we had at the center of campus trying to get people involved, but let’s face it, no 20 year old straight male athlete or fraternity bro is going to listen to what a gay college student has to say about sex with women. I don’t quite know how I can reach those kids with my message that you are not more of a man if you have sex with an unconscious woman who cannot give consent, but I’m going to try, and I think you should too.
– Fireclean filed in Virginia, but cannot establish a reasonable justification for a Virginia court to have jurisdiction over me;
– Most of my statements were either not defamatory or opinions protected by the First Amendment;
– Despite saying the word “malice” a lot, they are unable to allege or prove any actual malice – that is, that I published anything either knowing it was false or seriously doubting that it was true, and without actual malice (which is a specific legal term defined by the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan) they have no case. This may be due to the fact that I absolutely believed, and still believe, everything I published on this matter to be true.
– They claim there was a concerted action between Everett Baker and myself to injure their business, but have no facts to show that any such plan ever existed.
Donations to the GoFundMe account have been exceptionally helpful in a number of ways. Your continued donations will help ensure full victory in this great and noble undertaking.
A major thrust of their suit is that I claimed or implied their product was Crisco. If you will recall from the first article, I clearly stated “I did not – and still do not – believe that FireClean is Crisco…”
When TFB posted an article titled in part “FireClean is Crisco,” I urged the author to change his title and commented publicly on the article that, again, I did not think FireClean was Crisco.
There are obviously issues with their other claims in the complaint, but that is one I felt needed to be addressed immediately.
Furthermore, the series of articles published here contained tests from three different laboratories, and I published every bit of available data and every relevant quote from those who reviewed the data. FireClean’s legal complaint contains a redacted (missing the full spectra) NMR test from a single laboratory.
This article was in specific response to the inundation of media articles I saw at the time discussing how, I perceived, the US was so horrible for using nuclear weapons – but their use was written about in a vacuum, without proper, or in most cases, any context regarding why we decided to use nuclear weapons against Japan. I also wished to call attention to the fact that other mass deaths of civilians at the hand of the Allies were not given such special recognition, or in fact any recognition at all, even if their death tolls exceeded that of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
There were many comments on the article, including some overtly racist ones which I quickly sent to the trash bin, but also some very thoughtful comments criticizing and/or disagreeing with my conclusions.
Many, many articles and books and papers have been written about whether or not the bombings constituted the right thing to do, with many saying that Japan was on the verge of surrender and a blockade of a few months would have pushed them over the edge, while the other side says an invasion would have been necessary and would have ended up costing more lives. I do not really wish to rehash all of these arguments, but as today is the 71st anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, I felt it necessary to say a few things.
I have in the interim read (truth be told, listened to) the book The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945. I think it is a fantastic work, and would encourage anyone with the time to pick up a copy. The author, John Toland, told the story from as much of a Japanese perspective as possible, including many interviews with primary sources – essentially making the reader a fly on the wall of many important meetings on both sides throughout the war. I felt that I was fairly well educated on the topic of the Pacific war prior to reading this book, but learned numerous important facts over the last few weeks.
Still, it should not surprise anyone that the writer of an article called “We Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Nuking Imperial Japan” went into the reading of such a book with a few preconceived notions and came out of it with those notions strengthened and reinforced.
Japan was not united on the concept of continuing the war to its bitter end, but those with the real power – the military – were almost to a man absolutely committed to fighting no longer to win, but to preserve what we can loosely translate as the “national essence” of Japan. To this end a number of last-ditch efforts were underway in the expectation of an invasion including arming civilians with spears and bows.
Many of the primary Japanese actors were not viewing the situation in a manner I as an American would consider rational. Despite the fact that the Japanese military and political leadership knew since 1943 that they were losing the war and by no means had the industry to win, they continued fighting “for the Emperor.” Their decisions led to mind-boggling losses on both sides.
In mid-August, when the Emperor decided to use his influence to force his government into (more or less) accepting the terms of surrender set forth by the Allies, a coup was attempted by very “loyal” Japanese troops who believed that the Emperor had been misled and that his surrender declaration must not reach outside ears.
In other words, “for the Emperor” to them no longer meant fighting for the actual Emperor but for the idea of an Empire. From 1931 to 1945, in fact, the military of Japan essentially did whatever it wanted and said it was “for the Emperor.” This thought process was derived from the, again, loosely translated concept of “insubordination.”
As stated previously, today is the 71st anniversary of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. I find today to be an especially poignant time to argue that the use of atomic weapons against Japan was more than justified, both at the time and in hindsight. Although American troops captured the highest point on the island on the fifth day of the battle, fighting continued for another month as virtually every Japanese fighting man on the island fought to the death or hid out in the complex network of caves and tunnels that had been prepared for the defense of the island.
This for a tiny bit of rock that held little strategic significance other than that it was one step closer to the Home Islands. I find it hard to believe that the Japanese would fight so tenaciously for little gain in February and March of 1945 and yet be on the verge of surrendering their homeland in August of that same year – without the psychological shock of the use of atomic weapons.
After a long hiatus, Brett and I have completed the fourth podcast episode. In it, we discuss Froglube, Palmetto State Armory, 5.45×39, SHOT Show predictions, and some other random things which may or may not interest you.