Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thomas Wills Interview, Part 2: The Three Gs

You are currently a bachelor...

(laughing) Always have been.

Right. Are you worried you might alienate voters who feel that you are not properly committed to family values?

Wait. You look at all the governors, senators, representatives, and presidents who have had extra-marital affairs, and you're wondering if I am not committed to family values? Just because I'm a bachelor?

Well, I'm not. But there are people who would criticize...

Let them. I'm not going to pander off my concept of family just to silence critics. I'll get married when I am damn well ready and not a moment before.

That's a pretty strong reaction to a simple question.

(Chuckles) You're right. I just don't like people who wave the “Family Values” banner around. What does that even mean?

Family values?

Yeah. It obviously means different things to different people, so any group that claims to have the “proper” grasp of family values is intolerant. I'm okay with not being supported by intolerant people.

Speaking of tolerance, how do you feel about issue of gay marriage?

The whole issue? That's a lot to talk about. Let's start with the fact that I strongly oppose any amendment to the Constitution which would define marriage as existing solely between a man and a woman, for a variety of reasons.
First, and foremost, it would be discrimination. One aspect of the Constitution is to ensure that all citizens of the United States are treated equally and fairly. Look at the XIV Amendment and its application to due process, such as in Brown v. The Board of Education. In the interest of fairness and equality, marriage should not be denied to any couple consisting of two consenting adults.
This is the legality of marriage I'm talking about here. I recognize there are many churches across the nation which believe that God only blesses a union between a man and a woman. Well, the United States does not expect any person—regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation—to convert to any religion against their will or belief, so the United States should also not expect any person—regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation—to follow any tenet of a religion they are not a part of. The United States should not be concerned with the legislation of the spiritual or religious definition of marriage, only the legal one.

You can hem and haw and wiggle all you want, but it boils down to this: If you want to deny any right or privilege to one group but allow it to all the rest, it is discrimination, plain and simple. And discrimination has no business appearing in our Constitution.

Would you support a proposal to legalize gay marriage?

Of course I would.

You want to know what I think is sad? There are four different amendments to the constitution concerning voting. The Fifteenth deals with race, the Nineteenth deals with sex, and the Twenty-sixth deals with age. The Twenty-fourth dealt with race again. Four amendments! It took four to make sure that every adult in the nation was able to use their voice as a citizen and vote. Four amendments to make sure each state recognized the equality of every adult as a valuable voting voice. Essentially it took four amendments to make sure every state behaved like they were supposed to.
The Ninth and Tenth Amendments allow the States to determine the legality of everything not covered in the Constitution. Wouldn't it be great if the States decided not to discriminate on their own, that it did not require a federal amendment to the Constitution to ensure the fair treatment of individuals in the States?

So, yes, while I would support an amendment legalizing gay marriage, I would very much prefer not having to, and that the States would do their part without the federal government shaking a legal stick at them to keep them in line.

I guess that answers my question concerning the separation of church and state.

Is there a question? Was there ever? The United States is a democratic Republic, not a theocracy. Jesus said, “Render to Caesar that which is Caesar's, render to God that which is God's.” God's laws for the people living on earth concern spiritual growth and relate almost entirely to mercy. Man's laws concern themselves more with justice. The natural difference between the two is fairly clear, so it's strange to me that people would like to use God's laws to determine legality and justice.

What's your take on the Second Amendment?

The big debate was always between personal ownership of arms (which nearly everyone takes to mean guns) and the use of arms by state militia. The debate is always portrayed as an either/or situation.

And it's not?

I'd say that rarely is a political issue completely black or white.

Concerning gun control, I think stringent classification system is useful: guns used in sport, guns used in self-defense, and guns used for assault. I realize that not everyone views hunting as very sporting, and that debate is its own entity entirely. People have the right, I believe, to use guns in sporting manner, and I also believe people have the right to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense. I believe that just as a citizen needs a license demonstrating their ability to safely operate an automobile, citizens should need a license demonstrating their ability to safely load, clean, and operate their firearms. I think it is the responsibility of the city or state to monitor, not regulate, the amount and type of ammunition being bought and sold. I'm sure that none of this seems controversial or unreasonable at this point.
Where people run into trouble is the debate over the third category of guns: those used for assault. These guns have one purpose and one purpose only, to kill people and kill them quickly. Why any American citizen would
want to own one of these weapons is disturbing enough. There is nothing sporting about assault weapons, they are of hardly any use at all in self-defense. But, I'll admit, these weapons do have their uses. These guns are useful in situations where the opposition might be using similar weaponry. It would be these guns, then, that belong under the control of S.W.A.T. Teams, the National Guard, and any other State Militia type groups. Their use should be stringently controlled and monitored, so that only members of these groups have the legal authority to shoot them. Note that I said shoot and not own. These weapons should be the property of the city and/or state and only used in situations that threaten the security and safety of the city and/or state.

So how would you respond to the allegation that prohibiting the ownership of assault weapons is a violation of the 2nd Amendment?

Given that there is no stringent list of weapons that fall under the jurisdiction of the Second Amendment, are we then to assume that the amendment applies to all weapons? Because you have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise it's possible to make an argument for the ownership of rocket launchers, tanks, napalm...Hell, if there isn't a line drawn, couldn't you make an argument for the personal ownership of a nuclear weapon?
My response is that if you
do have to draw the line somewhere (and I'm sure we all agree that a line is necessary) I believe citizens have no business owning weapons whose sole purpose is the killing of other human beings. Let the city and state hold ownership of those weapons (if the state chooses to), and decide how and in what situations those weapons should be used.

And if someone presents an argument that assault weapons could be used for something other than killing people?

Like what?

Look, I'd love to fly a plane. But the only way I'm going be allowed to do that legally is if I'm a pilot. If people want to fire off assault weapons so bad, they should join an armed service.

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