April 23, 2009

"Cowboys" take sudden heed of civil rights

Right-wing shouters and bloggers — including even Tennessee's Glenn "Instaputz" Reynolds — are predictably and self-righteously horrified at Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn's reaction to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's obfuscatory gun memo.

The memo, tactfully released on the 10th anniversary of a deadly mass shooting in Columbine, CO, elicited a response from Flynn that suggested urban police officers might, when confronted with a firearm-toting citizen, "put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it."

In fact, reaction from law enforcement to the memo has been pretty much uniform, at least among those interviewed in the press.

Local conservatives, who've spent the last two State Supreme Court elections energetically mocking the alleged tendencies of certain judges to defer to constitutional protections at the detriment of law enforcement, are suddenly assuming the contrary position.

Because it's all different when they're your rights, isn't it?

None of them, naturally, has entertained the strong likelihood that Flynn's remarks were inspired by Van Hollen's own ill-advised hypotheticals involving hunters bearing loaded shotguns "quietly tracking game" along Wisconsin Ave. or State St. during rush hour.

Whether the described activities fit the legal definition of "disorderly conduct" isn't exactly the point in such a situation: public safety is.

As a practical matter, anybody foolish enough to act out one of Van Hollen's scenarios is effectively begging for a police gang tackle.

Nor have the right-wingers engaged Chief Flynn's apparent reasoning, that the memo may send a message to convicted felons, who are prohibited from owning firearms, that so long as they open carry, they might amble casually around Cathedral Square with impunity.

Let's face it, Van Hollen's memo is a bungle, even couched as it is in a series of footnoted legal disclaimers abdicating its authority.

He was asked to discuss a theory of law, and made the mistake of tossing forth a couple of particularly inapt factual scenarios, and it's little wonder that Flynn and the others have responded as they did.

Now conservatives want to waggle their trigger fingers at Flynn for saying little more than nearly everybody else to whom the AG's memo was directed will say: It tells us nothing we didn't know already, clarifies nothing, and in fact only muddies the waters still further.

That is, the opposite of what it was supposed to do.


Anonymous said...

Van Hollen's memo is a bungle
I think you're assuming facts not in evidence. The memo likely accomplished exactly what it was intended to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

No, generating a small national shitstorm over a non-issue, reinforcing au currant paranoid memes about the librul police state grabbing guns, and generating bullshit headlines in the JS - Open carrying of firearms legal, Van Hollen says - for use in campaign literature.

Anonymous said...

I mean, it's quite possible he's (also) professionally incompetent. But there seems to be a pattern developing of bizarre, quixotic tilts against neo-bircher shibboleths that make no sense outside of public relations strategy. He's pretty damn good at inserting himself into the news cycle.