Should Be Proud
June 13, 2022
I’ve told my Stonewall story a number of times to folks who asked about it. During the past 53 years, some people, both straight and gay, have asked what actually happened that late Friday evening in June, 1969. Of course, being a part of it was an unusual experience, and makes for a riveting story.
Today, we are over half a century beyond the now-famous Stonewall Rebellion, and I look at current news events wondering if we have learned anything at all.
Gay pride and gay liberation seem pretty much accepted now by the general public. East Hampton actually had its first Pride Parade and gathering at Herrick Park this past week.
But there is also a recent trend — the rise of a troublesome undercurrent of radical racists and homophobes showing themselves publicly nationwide. Recent criminal and media behavior raises questions of how durable this inclusive public opinion and behavior will prove to be. These groups, individuals, and even government officials are more open and brazen, and willing to commit serious disruptions and criminal bodily harm.
We should question if we have often misunderstood acceptance and tolerance for just cosmetic good behavior. Perhaps the better situation might be a genuine understanding and welcoming attitude within the prevailing social norms and laws?
Consider our former president and his still-in-office supporters — and certain media — who continue obstructing social progress by promoting ugly behavior and legislation. We must understand that right-wing lower court judges, and the current packed Supreme Court, are effectively imposing revisionist thinking that is poised to destroy decades of social progress. All this claims to “make America great again” and is aligned with certain narrow religious scriptures. The traditional separation of church and state is dissolving rapidly, and authoritarian doctrine is taking hold. The public-be-damned seems like the plan.
That said, I must explain today how I wound up participating in the Stonewall Rebellion within the context of that time in 1969. What was the social background at that time, and is it much different today?
Today, we must look at bullying in the schools and realize its origins are at home and in much media. Something terrible has recently happened to social opinions and behaviors.
In 1969 the laws were that it was illegal to be gay! To be honest and “out” meant to be unqualified for most everything: to be a gay doctor, to be a gay lawyer, to be a gay teacher, to be in the military, to dress “inappropriately,” to engage in same sex, to have a relationship similar to marriage, to enjoy certain tax advantages, to be safe in public — just to be gay!
How the hell could a decent, well-raised kid be gay and exist? One obviously could not — if honest and out of the closet.
Religious doctrine was similar to these old exclusions then and seemed to be the basis for most of the laws and mores of that time. Very little religious doctrine has changed and now seems to be rewriting the laws and overwhelming democracy.
Today, as we celebrate how far we have come from all that, we must open our eyes to understand how far we have slipped back, and how threatened our progress is in today’s political climate.
Corporations, bars, and merchants will celebrate with big floats in the New York City Pride March this June 26 for fun and obvious economic reasons. Tucked within that multimillion-dollar extravaganza will be several not-for-profit organizations celebrating their important work and accomplishments. It will be entertaining, but difficult to understand its original purpose.
We should be proud of our first annual Pride march last week in East Hampton. It was impressive for its humanitarian purpose and clear demonstration of the rightful pride in ourselves and our self-worth.
Our Own Yards
June 11, 2022
Hardly a week passes without some staggeringly bad news. The Amazon is being deforested at an unprecedented rate. The Antarctic is experiencing record-high temperatures. We are losing insect species even faster than we had thought. It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment, yet we seem to be sleepwalking through the nightmare. The bad news can leave us feeling pretty helpless.
The good news, however, is that we can each do something about our accelerating environ-mental collapse. We can’t single-handedly save the Amazon. And we’ve already pretty much deforested the American Northeast. But we can fight the habitat loss and climate change we are responsible for in our own yards. Every turf lawn removes viable habitat from the planet. If we continue to treat our landscape as we currently do, we’re cooked. According to the United States Forest Service, “We are on track to lose the very foundation of our ecological health and resilience through the loss of invertebrate species, including essential pollinator species. . . . Without pollinators, human life and all terrestrial ecosystems on earth would not survive.” Habitat loss is a major contributor to the emergent insect “apocalypse.”
We may think of insects as pests or, perhaps, fondly remember the fireflies and butterflies we chased as children. Mostly, though, we probably don’t think of them at all. Yet, without insects, our world would rapidly become unlivable. Just try imagining a world without the flowering plants that insects pollinate, the plants that we eat, as well as the ones that regulate our climate and atmosphere. Insects are largely responsible for garbage duty. Without them, we’d be swimming in a fetid mess of waste. They play a central role in maintaining soil health, keeping birds fed, and remain a central link in the overall environmental food chain. When the insects go, we won’t be far behind. And they are going fast!
So if we can’t save the Amazon on our own, what can we do? The answer is all around us. Our lawns are net consumers of energy and resources. We consume 1.2 billion gallons of gas annually for mowing and trimming. Lawns are the single largest irrigated crop in America. We fertilize them, spray them, and keep them immaculately leafless. And after all this, they are bad at sequestering carbon, they are bad at preventing runoff into our bays, and they are useless as insect habitat. (What all this means for our soil biome is another sad story. Yes, there is a soil biome, very much like our gut biome, and this biome is essential to the Earth’s health, just as our gut biome is essential to our own physical health.)
If we all converted some portion of our lawns or yards to pollinator-friendly gardens and meadows, with mostly native plants our local insects have coevolved with, we could make a meaningful contribution to reviving our stressed environment. We would create pollinator oases. And if enough of us did this, we would have a regional pollinator pathway that would join the nationwide effort to revive and reconnect our ailing and fragmented environment. In Larry Weaner’s words, this kind of thinking “. . . turns the landscape from a consumer of resources and a polluter into a source of environmental renewal”(“Garden Revolution”).
If you’re uncertain about how to start, check out Edwina von Gal’s Perfect Earth. And there’s Changehampton, a local group working to install a pollinator garden at East Hampton Town Hall and to help us all reimagine our landscapes. Or visit the Pollinator Pathways site online. It’s spring, time to plant some native flowers and shrubs. You’ll brighten your landscape and make the world a better place for your children and grandchildren.
June 9, 2022
A League of Woman Voters reminder: I would like to remind the voters in East Hampton that due to the confusion surrounding redistricting, this year’s primary election on June 28 has expanded to include a second Primary Day on Aug. 23.
On June 28 registered members of the Democratic and Republican Parties will have a chance to vote for their choice of candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.
On Aug. 23, we will also have the opportunity to vote for primary candidates for Congressional District One and State Senate District One.
With these primary days being split, I encourage voters to go to the League of Women Voters guide at Vote411.org. This website is available for nonpartisan information about the candidates running in these races. When you enter your home address, you will see what races are on your ballot and see where candidates stand on the issues that matter in our community.
I encourage everyone to go to the polls and vote. It’s your right as a citizen.
League of Woman Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island, and the North Fork
Shoulders of Giants
East Hampton Village
June 13, 2022
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I love that quote by Isaac Newton and it’s one that inspires me nearly every day. The giants are those who came before us. They did the heavy lifting and held the line. We build and improve on what they’ve passed forward. Looking back, we can see exactly where we came from and avoid the pitfalls; while looking forward, we know precisely where we’re going and why. This is particularly true when it comes to government and we’ve had some tremendous local leaders on whose shoulders we stand here in the Village of East Hampton. Great mayors, trustees, and members of the various other boards within the Village apparatus. The collective knowledge of all those working in the administration of the Village Hall and the various departments, both paid and volunteer, is just mind blowing. All those now serving in the trenches are the giants on whose shoulders the next generation will stand. And so it goes.
A true leader knows that their position is not only a privilege bestowed upon them by their peers, it is a responsibility to be borne with much gravity and the utmost integrity. They serve their constituency with humility and grace. They make every attempt to treat others as equals, knowing that in a community, without each other we are nothing. They choose their staff well, based on merit and experience. They delegate authority and encourage those appointed to act with confidence, conscience, and the rule of law. They encourage constructive dissent and differences of opinion from all quarters. How else is a leader to maintain true north? A true leader must serve as the ultimate steward, honoring those giants who came before and making every effort to pass things forward in better condition than received. Come hell or high water, they hold the line and never betray the confidence of the people.
Sadly, rather than being guided by those giants, we are currently witnessing the actions of an individual who has taken a position of public service and elevated it to that of an emperor. He pays no mind to the giants. He may as well be spitting on their graves as he carves up the Village Code, proclaiming that he alone has all the answers. Meanwhile, he singles out those who question him and attempts to keep them in line with bullying, intimidation, and lawsuits. Search your conscience, people. That is not okay. Would you want your child to emulate that behavior? It’s not okay in the schoolyard. It’s not okay on the internet. Why in the world would anyone think it’s okay in local government?
There is, unfortunately, always a lag in perception. What may be seen right now as a nonstop carnival will, I am confident, one day be looked back upon as a boondoggle of gluttony and largess. With that realization will come the sad acceptance that the legitimacy of our local government has dried up and blown away, the rule of law drawn and quartered for a return on investment. It’s shameful what some will do for a dollar. At first it was laughable. Now it’s absolutely disgusting and downright dangerous. The abuse of power grows insatiably. As the saying goes, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
All I can hope is that a growing number of you out there will find the candor and courage to speak up and speak out before all that we love about this village is lost. If a majority of you do so, I promise you an alternative will appear.
East Hampton Village
June 13, 2022
The village election is upon us, and I hope all eligible voters turn out to vote. All elections are important, as that is the only time voters get to give their representatives a “midterm grade.” I want to thank all those who have been supporting me, and I hope every voter takes the time to evaluate all of the candidates and votes for those that they really feel have the village’s best interest at heart.
Thanks to all,
ARTHUR (TIGER) GRAHAM
Fish Hooks Party of East Hampton
June 13, 2022
I recently read your June 9 village election editorial and your mock endorsement of Mickey Mouse over candidates Sarah Amaden and Carrie Doyle. This “punch line” reads as snarky, juvenile, and, frankly, embarrassing for your 140-year-old publication. These two women possess excellent professional and personal qualities and have honorable records of community involvement.
In a region where many hide behind their tall hedges, the willingness of Ms. Amaden and Ms. Doyle to volunteer for public service should be celebrated, not ridiculed with a cheap one-liner. I live outside of village limits, so I have no dog in this fight, and Mr. Graham seems to be a decent person as well. As a subscriber and avid reader, however, I do have a stake in the columns you print. Perhaps we would all be better served if Mickey Mouse wrote the editorials?
East Hampton Village
June 13, 2022
Over the past year we have been fortunate to meet with many residents of the Village of East Hampton, reconnecting with some we knew before and having the pleasure of meeting others whom we did not know. The experience has been enlightening, heartening, reassuring, and most of all, a learning experience. What has been gratifying has been experiencing the passion that residents feel about East Hampton, and their ferocity in their efforts to ensure that the essence of East Hampton remains true to its traditional, classic origins. We feel the same way.
In many of our one-on-one conversations with village residents they always discuss their most pressing concern, which varies from person to person. These include larger topics like zoning, sewer systems, and the airport, but most people’s big issue that they want to discuss with us is on a more micro and granular level that is specific to them and affects their day-to-day life (a cracked sidewalk near their house, the builder’s sign that is too close to their property, the broken tree branch on the corner). There may be some overlap, but we have discovered that no individual’s big issue is the same, even though we all live in the same village. And of course that makes sense: We are all unique individuals.
But even though people have issues, suggestions, irritations, or criticisms, the commonality that resonates is the fact that we all have a deep love and appreciation for this breathtaking place that we call home. And everyone who has taken the time to meet with us and express their views is doing their part to make certain that the village is at its best.
We have lived in East Hampton Village a combined 70 years. We have worked here, raised our children here, and buried our family members here. Between us we have volunteered for the East Hampton Library, John M. Marshall Elementary School P.T.A., Fighting Chance, the Ladies Village Improvement Society, East Hampton Food Pantry, East Hampton Garden Club, and I-Tri. We care deeply about East Hampton Village.
You can imagine our dismay when we opened our hometown newspaper and saw your editorial, which encouraged your readers to vote for Mickey Mouse or Jimmy Stewart over us. When you delineate an un-fact-checked and often erroneous list of grievances against the mayor and then add that “apparently Ms. Doyle and Ms. Amaden agree with all this, or they would not have signed on with Mr. Larsen,” you make a broad and dismissive generalization, based purely on conjecture.
In one fell swoop, you have diminished all of our accomplishments, professional successes, independence, and rendered us cartoon characters who you assume can only be relegated to blind disciples of the person who you have harbored a multi-decade-long animosity toward. (Referring to Jerry Larsen in a 2019 podcast, you told Alec Baldwin, “he and I had a fistfight in seventh grade and I clocked him in the head and all I remember is his head was really hard.”)
We did sign on with Jerry Larsen and the NewTown Party because we felt that they energized the village and addressed our failing infrastructure. Additionally, despite your claims, we experienced inclusion for the first time in decades. Jerry reached out to us, solicited our opinions, encouraged our ideas, and gave us a seat at the table. He inspired us to dip our hand into local politics, something that had never occurred to us. We appreciate the open dialogue we have had with Jerry and members of the NewTown Party. We have disagreed with him on various issues and we do have an open dialogue without recriminations or scandals.
In a recent debate, Mr. Graham said that he had voted with Jerry and the other NewTown Party members on hundreds of decisions, disagreeing only four times, because “he wanted to get along.” If we are elected, we will be true to our own personal convictions and not make important decisions because we want to get along. The onus will be on us to persuade our fellow trustees why we disagree or concur, and for them to try to persuade us to see their opinion. Certainly, we can find civilized compromise.
We hope on Tuesday that East Hampton Village voters will vote for Sarah Amaden and Carrie Doyle and not a fictional character, “in a village election that really matters.”
Vote for Tiger
East Hampton Village
June 12, 2022
Mathematically speaking, the way to elect Tiger Graham to the village board is to vote for Tiger and abstain from voting for anyone else.
‘Serving the Hamptons’
June 7, 2022
While admittedly reading this review I was quite entertained and let out a few laughs (Laura Donnelly’s writing is indeed entertaining). I am, in fact, a bit disappointed. One thing Laura has not touched on is that “Serving the Hamptons” highlights the Hamptons as a whole, which was important to me.
If you watch the show, you will see that the diversity in the employees, patrons, and visitors is what makes this Hamptons show so different. Aside from my establishments, the show highlights surrounding local businesses as well. Reading this review from The East Hampton Star was shocking, but I hope that all my peers and colleagues take the time to think about the impact this show can have on the growth and continued diversity of the village for the better. We can all succeed if we continue to support each other and not bring one another down.
Mr. Erdem owns the restaurant 75 Main in Southampton. Ed.
June 13, 2022
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I want to thank the director and board of trustees of Guild Hall for having the wisdom and the courage to put a hold on and to rethink the proposed alterations to the beloved John Drew Theater.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the director and the board of trustees of LongHouse showed the same wisdom and courage to admit their blunder(s) and try to rectify the situation and havoc created. The first and primary way to do this is to bring back the heart and soul of LongHouse, beloved by the original staff and members, Matko, and restore him to his original position.
Like Guild Hall, what praise this action would bring them!
Replace the Y.M.C.A.
May 8, 2022
The Town of East Hampton is planning to pay $590,000 to the Y.M.C.A. in 2022 to operate the town’s RECenter. The building contains the only indoor pool east of the canal. The entire facility serves students, adults, and youngsters.
It’s time to replace the Y.M.C.A. as the center’s manager. The Y.M.C.A. has — over a long period — consistently proven its inability to manage the facility. The place is filthy. They often do not have enough lifeguards, so the pool cannot be opened. The machines aren’t properly maintained. The weight section is dangerous: weights left on the floor, cramped and ancient machines. The men’s locker room is a pigsty and I’m afraid to shower there.
I would recommend that a local consortium take over. We have many local, qualified athletic managers who could easily fill the roles. There is an excellent bunch of employees and staff already on hand working there, who should be retained and given raises. All we need is an accountable and responsible manager who is not ripping off the town, the taxpayers, our children, and the dues-paying members.
SPENCER L. SCHNEIDER
Where Town COW?
June 7, 2022
To the Editor,
On Jan. 13, you ran a story titled “Where Now Town COW?” We were told to expect a “cellular on wheels” sometime in April or May. I don’t believe it has been put in place yet. Our cellular service is getting worse as the summer crowd is moving in. What’s the holdup? Is the town administration or is it at the provider level?
June 8, 2022
I am amused that the town, “given the overwhelming mountain of litigation,” brought about by the attempt to restrict aircraft operations at East Hampton Airport, has decided instead to pursue closing the airport completely.
If the town’s goal really was to “establish local rules to balance the community’s stated desire,” then why not stay the course and see these lawsuits through to the end? Trying to close the airport will not make the existing lawsuits go away and instead might cause additional suits to be filed.
Always the Goal
June 13, 2022
To the Editor,
The airport: “They want to close it. We’ll keep it open.” That’s the words that were uttered multiple times during this past election cycle. Now it looks like closure has become the option. It seems to have always been the goal in this era of modern theater, an alleged purposeful distraction from all the other shortcomings this town board continues on a daily basis.
The affordable housing crisis now in year 39, senior center still being discussed for a ninth year; how’s that communication working for Springs?
An airport that was commissioned under the F.D.R. administration should be a historical landmark. The town board doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to do such a thing. Never did. Wasn’t this an airport that was run by women during World War II? Rosie the Riveter is certainly an afterthought and long forgotten. An airport with a longer history than the still-drying paint on some of the homes that have been built around it — the boondoggle of events this is, was, and will continue to be. Then again, it makes sense if you read that wind farm agreement closely. All the ultra-leveraging just may lead to us someday holding the bill. How does the town pay back the state? That would be with land. If the airport was closed, the town would have a sizable amount of land. Pay attention, see beyond the words, find the destination.
June 13, 2022
As a lifelong homeowner and resident of Leeton Road I am completely and utterly opposed to any parking made available on Dolphin Drive. It poses such a danger when entering or pulling out of Dolphin Drive to Montauk Highway. We are a family community, with joggers, walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, and children playing!
We also need to preserve and protect our main dune that serves as our only protection against the possible wrath of the Atlantic Ocean. We can’t have people just walking over it, as every step starts to damage and diminish the integrity of our only natural barrier.
Our community of homeowners also is respectful and responsible to conservation of the flora and fauna with which we share this parcel of land. This is of the utmost priority to us.
I’m actually stunned that we are back talking about this topic. Time to put it to bed, once and for all. No parking!
June 10, 2022
To the Editor:
Last week, David Lys responded to a letter I had written about his plan to drive more pedestrians to trample the wounded primary dune at the foot of Dolphin Drive. Lys called me a liar spreading “inaccurate and fallacious” information (without specifying a single fact he claimed was wrong). Then he said at the end: “I want to reiterate what is already publicly known: That the letter writer has unsuccessfully represented litigants against the local East Hampton Democratic Party multiple times on spurious charges that each time have been dismissed by the courts.”
I really wasn’t looking to get into a discussion of the town Democrats, but since David brought it up.
I have been involved in one matter in which I sued the Democratic Party, in 2018. The East Hampton Town Democratic Committee had a practice back then (I don’t know if they still do it today), which was patently illegal under its bylaws and New York State law, of moving its delegates around from the districts in which they had been elected to less-important districts, and then appointing people to replace them. This would be tantamount to telling David Lys that he has to go serve in Brookhaven for a while, because the party needs to reward someone by appointing them to his seat in East Hampton. Since voting for internal positions like the chairperson was weighted by the size of the district (the number of voters), this would allow the committee to manipulate internal elections by moving the faithful into the largest election districts. The practice was indefensible, and I doubt David will respond with an argument that specifically champions it.
My case was not spurious but it was unjustly dismissed. I happen to have the transcript of the proceedings from May 30, 2018, which is quite educational and which I will be happy to share in its entirety with anyone who asks. I told the court:
“Mr. Kelley’s motion to dismiss was returnable on June 14th. My papers were due on the 7th of June. By deciding the motion to dismiss today, Your Honor, you’re doing so prematurely before the return date, when we had no notice that that motion would be determined. We had no opportunity to respond to it. So with all due respect, Your Honor, I think that it is. . . reversible error to dismiss the case on that motion.”
In other words, the court granted a motion which was not actually before it and to which I had another week to respond. I have been an attorney since 1981 and that never happens, except I suppose when you are suing the Democratic Party in a local court.
Shame on David Lys for repurposing that as a “spurious” claim — but I also have witnessed the way in which people like me who speak out about Democratic political initiatives in inconvenient ways, then get slandered by letter writers to The Star, who much of the time turn out to be members of the town Democratic Committee faithful themselves.
As to my motives, I am registered as a “blank” (as David Lys is not), a member of no party, though I generally vote Democratic. The reason I changed my registration in the early 2000s was largely because I find this kind of behavior unbearable.
Even though I lost, I am very proud of the work I did — for free — trying to hold the town Democrats to legal and ethical standards.
Nod of Agreement
June 5, 2022
Sometimes I feel we live in a storybook town. We kind of do, compared with the rest of the country, and even world. I mean there’s community here, even a community preservation fund to help save the beautiful natural vistas we all know and love. Many come here just for that, and to forget how stressed they are in a big city and a busy life. Some come to heal and never leave. Here, you can breathe (soon the pollen will subside) and enjoy the peace and bucolic sweetness of a back road, a general store, a duck pond, cattails and tall grasses, turtles seeking shelter, and the clean cool water of the bay and ocean. It’s a meditator’s paradise. We need that now. As we keep in mind there’s a war raging under our noses, arguments bubbling up, people fed up, others guarding and circling their own as the flags fly in the breeze and the churches fill up on Sunday morning.
Are we in agreement at all about anything anymore, or a house divided? Biblically or metaphorically, we know the outcome of that old chestnut. If you live in a chalk-and-cheese relationship, as I do, you know avoiding the discussion is better for your blood pressure and nervous system. And yet every once in a while, the truth or the issue pops up and there you are, facing the ugly reality of our times. You become pleasantly or shockingly surprised that you and the other are in a moment of agreement. Shockeroo — but you go with it.
“Nobody needs magazines and automatic weapons but the military.” You pause after hearing this said aloud. Did you hear right? Have you entered the “Twilight Zone”? These are not the droids, you know. But, alas, there’s a part two: “But no one wants to be told they can’t own a gun if they want to.” Hmmm. Deep, cleansing breath. Steady, steady. “Just like we don’t want to be told what we can and cannot do with our bodies?”
A nod of agreement. “Yes, exactly. Why don’t they worry more about kids who are alive anyway?”
So we have a pause. There is room for discussion, albeit a passionate one. Different strokes for different folks aside, there is talk to be had and right now is a good time — a summer summit, if you like, on the beach, at the cafe, in the water, on the deck, on the porch, in the car, in my case (not recommended by the way). When the small ones go to sleep or are occupied safely and not within earshot, get into it. Stay calm though; these are your loved ones and friends, remember. Just as we were all right once, we were all wrong once, too. Own it. It’s humbling, and almost refreshing to admit we’re only human. Lots to learn, even at this stage of life. We’re at the same instant wondrous and ugly in our behavior. Room for improvement, always.
I used to believe in fairy tales as a young girl. Then I grew up. There are no saviors of us or knights or goddesses in shining armor and capes rescuing us. Better we learn to rescue ourselves. Use our noodles and believe in our intuition. But not let ourselves be jaded and feel hopeless. We’re not screwed; we’re just temporarily lost as a people. We keep being reminded our usual way isn’t working. Are we gonna listen? Are we too broken?
We might need a tuneup, maybe an overhaul, like my Jeep gets now and again as I prolong her life until she’s had it. I must respect that day when it comes, as I had to when my mom died. She will forever be around us and that brings comfort. I am going to create a garden and meditative space to honor her and all she stood for: her peaceful way, her love of children and imagination, her kindness in the face of anger. I might need the space of Stonehenge to achieve it, but a small part of my yard will have to do.
Mom knew the value of making the most of what you’ve been given or achieved. No shame in living within your means and dreaming, always dreaming, for a better way, a kinder outcome. Maybe we could start little talks the way some of you did those little book boxes around the back roads of town. It’s worth a try. I’ll meet you halfway.
Better hope than despair,
Covered With Blood
June 10, 2022
To the Editor,
I taught fourth grade classes for 11 years, from 1965 through 1976, and do remember often asking my students to stop talking and, “Be quiet!” but never because I was afraid a crazed gunman would shoot us dead! Nor did I ever tell my first graders (shades of Sandy Hook) to hide in a closet, nor ever worry about “losing” my third, fifth, sixth, or second-graders to anything except June “graduation” from my class to the next higher grade — never violent, bloody classroom deaths.
But after hearing Miah Cerillo, an Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School surviving fourth grader, tell how she “covered myself with blood and put it all over me,” I suggest that names and titles of all proposed “red flag” laws be revised to the more honest and accurate “bloody shirt” laws.
Shame Is on Us
June 9, 2022
To the Editor,
No American citizen needs a firearm that has the power to blow the head off a schoolgirl and the capacity to indiscriminately kill and maim dozens of people in minutes, yet companies that manufacture these weapons of war and market them to young men cannot be held accountable for the lives they ruin and the families they destroy. This is because Congress gave these degenerate companies legal immunity from civil liability and now refuses to take any steps to curb the manufacture and distribution of these weapons of war to the civilian population.
Instead of making even feeble attempts to curb a civilian arms race that we are seeing play out in real time, Republicans are unified in opposition to any further restrictions on the purchase of weapons of war and to universal background checks. Assault weapons are not needed anywhere outside of a firefight in a combat zone, which, unfortunately, we are creating in our schools, in our supermarkets, in our places of worship and public assembly, and, ultimately, in our homes. If, after listening to the Uvalde pediatrician describe the horror of treating the mangled bodies of children he had known for all their lives, the best Congress can do is to propose sending grant money to states to “incentivize” red-flag laws and allocate as-yet-undefined funding for mental illness, the shame is on us for sending these venal, cynical, shameless failures to Congress.
Even if Congress does nothing else, it should repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was enacted by Congress in 2005 and codified under Article 15 of the United States Code as 15 U.S.C. 7501-7503. This statute gives the gun industry immunity from civil liability. It prevents the federal government, state and local governments, and private parties, such as the survivors and victims’ loved ones, from suing gun manufacturers and licensed gun dealers for money damages in civil lawsuits.
It is entirely predictable that, emboldened by immunity from civil liability, gun manufacturers over time mass-produced ever-more-powerful and destructive firearms, ever-more-lethal ammunition, ever-larger ammunition magazines, and engaged ever-more-irresponsible, reckless, and aggressive mass marketing.
The threat of civil lawsuit that Congress removed by statute is one of the most powerful and certainly the most democratic of checks and balances to regulate the conduct of businesses. It is, in fact, using the free market to regulate the free market. Without the threat of civil liability, the conduct of the gun industry became more and more reckless because the pursuit of profit came without any potential cost.
As President Biden said, no other industry has this sort of immunity from civil liability. Granting private industry and private parties immunity from civil lawsuits by state governments and local governments, through federal statute, violates basic principles of federalism and is anathema to representative democracy. It takes accountability out of the hands of state judges and juries. It is exactly the sort of federal government overreach that Republicans are always complaining about, and it is therefore long past time to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
June 10, 2022
In her letter last week, Ms. Derrico labeled President Biden a “fool” for not taking the blame for, among other things, the price of oil and gun control. But it is Ms. Derrico who has lost her sense of reality.
Let’s start with gun control. If President Biden and the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers had their way, we would have seen meaningful gun safety measures long ago. It is only because a vast majority of G.O.P. lawmakers have been bought off by the National Rifle Administration and, under its thrall, obstinately oppose any efforts to increase gun safety. School and other massacres, they insist, are the price of freedom. Well, to the vast majority of Americans, including N.R.A. members, that is too high a price.
A perfect example is our lame duck congressman and wannabe governor, Lee Zeldin. Mr. Zeldin (who brags about his “A” rating from the N.R.A.) has opposed every meaningful effort toward increased gun safety. Indeed, he (and most other Republican lawmakers) opposed the gun safety act passed just the other day by the House. This bill includes encouraging states to enact “red flag” laws, which are designed to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves or others, and raising the age from 18 to 21 to purchase semiautomatic weapons. This alone could have prevented the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres. President Biden supported these and other stronger safety measures that could not find G.O.P. support.
Now, Governor Hochul recently signed into law significant gun-safety measures that might just make New York a lot safer, including raising the minimum age requirement and banning large-capacity magazines. Mr. Zeldin decried these efforts, insisting that it should be easier for New Yorkers to buy and then carry firearms wherever they want. So, just who is to blame for the unending gun carnage? Don’t point your finger at the Democrats.
Now, oil prices. Ms. Derrico apparently lacks the fundamental notion of how oil markets work. To simplify, the price for a barrel of oil is set on world markets and is driven by supply and demand. If supply cannot keep up with demand, the price of oil rises; when there is an oversupply, like during the pandemic, the price falls. President Biden has about as much control over the price of oil as I do. To be fair, the sanctions imposed upon Russia after its assault on Ukraine have impacted oil prices, but virtually the entire democratic world supported these sanctions as a price to be paid to keep Ukraine a free democracy. What President Biden has accomplished has been to induce Saudi Arabia to increase its production of oil to help ameliorate the market shortfall, but he gets no credit for that.
So, when one flails wildly looking for the pinata of blame, do it with feet fixed in the real world. And if you want meaningful gun safety, vote for a Democrat.
Does It Matter?
June 13, 2022
When Matthew McConaughey made his speech on Tuesday last, describing the unrecognizable bodies of the young kids in Uvalde, it was a staggering enactment of the level of inhumanity that has infiltrated our way of life, The frightening description of a young girl who could only be identified by her green sneakers because the rest of her body was completely destroyed by the high-powered rifle that killed her, left most Republicans nonplused. Indifferent. Unmoved.
The AR-15 is made to kill people in war; why is it circulating in our nonmilitary universe? Who exactly is polluting our country with military-grade weapons?
But then, the Jan. 6 hearings depicting the attack on the Capitol played. Violating the essence of our democratic system, depicting a level of joyful violence that one finds in the religious fervor of ignorance and blind devotion. Fox won’t show it because it was a “normal” visit to the Capitol. Republicans won’t discuss it because they are pretending it didn’t happen
Trump encouraged the rioters and waited three hours before he told them he loved them and that they should go home. He should go to jail for sedition.
The country isn’t polarized, it’s stupid. One of our parties has lost its soul in favor of excessive (more than the usual) power and wealth. It didn’t make a better, smarter, more-useful playbook. It turned blood sucker and offered people the program of hating and beating up others to feel valuable and worthwhile.
They are like cokeheads when the last line doesn’t get them high enough and they need to extend their universe to be able to sleep at night. Like slobbering dogs in a desert where there’s only sand to eat. How long before they turn on each other?
Forty percent of the electorate didn’t participate in 2020. Do we not care enough to vote? Are we so insipidly lazy that we would put Trump in again? Does it matter what happened to those kids?
Ten Homakase, a sushi caterer, promoted a $200 omakase to be served on May 28 at the Hero Beach Club in Montauk as a single event. A June 2 editorial implied that the dinner was an ongoing offer from the hotel, which it is not.