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here is a current hubub about wild assertions that the government will ‘own’ your DNA.  I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean.  The government has identification information about you already if you have a driver’s license, a birth certificate or a social security card.  If you have a CCW permit, have ever been arrested, or simply submitted to a background check, the government also has a record of your fingerprints.  It is now in the works that if you are ever arrested that you will also have to submit a sample of your DNA.

Having a record of something is not the same as owning it.  The government is collecting DNA samples which are then submitted for testing and recording of a DNA profile for identification purposes.  They can tell some basic information about you from a simple DNA test but the real value for identification is if there is a match with an unknown DNA sample for criminal or other forensic purposes.

You do have a significant ownership right in you body and body parts although the government will not allow you to sell the parts in a pre-meditated matter to the highest bidder.  So no, you can’t sell your kidney.  If you are hurt on the job and lose a finger your state government has already determined the value of that finger and that is all you will be paid for it through workers’ compensation legislation.  It is sort of sad that while  you cannot sell your body or parts, the government has already determined the value of the same.  Even if you die on the job, you will only recover the statutory amount allowed.

With DNA sampling and recording, the government has a new tool for identifying people.  Many years ago, blood types were kept on file for prisoners and criminals.  DNA samples will be a double edged sword really.  It is a more intrusive way of identifying people but can also help to avoid false identification and conviction of people who may be accused of a crime.

Here is a primer on DNA testing and how it works.  It is pretty interesting reading if you don’t know how it works.  Here is an article describing some of the process involved in testing a certain stained blue dress for a DNA sample of a former president who might be eligible for first husband this year.  (Yikes.)  Here is a quiz so you can test your DNA evidence knowledge.  I got 6 of 9 on the first try.  Here is an article about a potentially inexpensive and rapid DNA matching test involving a gold water solution.  Pretty interesting stuff.

Some of the fear of DNA testing is that people will know all about you, your hereditary diseases, if you are prone to same sex attraction, the color of you eyes and all of the other private data about you.  We are still several years off from anything like that and it is possible that kind of understanding from DNA will never materialize.  The Human Genome project took several years to complete the mapping of a human gene, and they still don’t really know what it all means but they are working on it.

This is still another encroachment on our privacy rights, but there are several people who have been released from prison that are glad we now have DNA testing.

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Polygamy is a very touchy subject.

It was in the doctrine of the early Church to practice it and ever since Official Declaration 1 in 1890 polygamy has not been a part of the Church Doctrine and will be cause for excommunication if the practice is not repented of.

Notions of what exactly constitutes abuse have changed over time.  Neglect and other terms are often used to disparage the parenting of some individuals.  “Abuse” and “neglect” are very highly charged emotional terms that tend to cloud the debate.  If the acts are described in greater detail rather than simply categorized there may be some clarity to the discussion.

One example should suffice.  If a parent forces their kids to fight each other, that might be called abuse.  My grandfather many years ago became very tired of two of his boys fighting each other.  I don’t know how often they fought or how rough it was but no one seemed to have suffered any permanent damage.  One day my grandfather grabbed a stick/switch and told my dad and his brother to fight each other or he would fight them both.  It was a one-time event that cleared up the problem.  They didn’t fight any more.  I would not call that one time event abuse.  Giving it proper context and meaning takes away some of the sting.

Well, there has been a lot of action recently in Texas against a polygamist settlement.  The polygamist group in particular is the FLDS faith with settlements in Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.  There have been underage marriages, statutory rapes, expulsion of young men from the group to avoid competition for marriageable women, and abuse of ownership of property for punitive reasons.  The FLDS faith has a bit of a bad track record in following the laws of the land and natural laws as well.

In Texas a 16 year old girl complained of abuse and the state agencies responded by getting a warrant for the entire 1700 acre ranch and searching the whole thing for the 16 year old.  So far the state has not been able to conclusively say they have even found the 16 year old that made the allegations.

In the course of executing the warrant and protecting the children, the state of Texas has decided to take ALL OF THE CHILDREN INTO STATE CUSTODY.  More than 400 of them will be stripped from their families, moms and dads.  Because many of them will be siblings in very large families, they will probably also be separated from each other.  Currently the men are still in custody at the ranch (not free to leave) and more than 150 women have followed their children to be with them at this time.  Texas has 14 days to determine if the separation will be more permanent.

The state of Texas also chose to invade and search the temple of the FLDS people.  Traditionally religious structures were given some additional protection from state intrusion because of respect for religious belief.  There were other less-invasive means of securing the contents of the temple and awaiting additional hearings or something to avoid the wholesale desecration of the FLDS temple.

This is very heavy handed state thuggery.  There is no reason to simply remove all of the children from the settlement, treat all the men as guilty and turn the worlds of these children inside out.  The men are not allowed to leave the ranch and even if they were they are not allowed to visit their children because a state court judge will have to decide if visitation is appropriate.  This is a massive abuse of power and not consistent with the best and  highest traditions of freedom and due process in the United States.  This action stemmed from ONE accusation of abuse, not two, or ten, or a hundred.  One accusation of abuse was enough for the State of Texas to step in and completely destroy a community for a time.  That is outrageous.

What is worse is that the citizens of Eldorado Texas in a non-scientific poll of the town generally support the actions of the state and find the raid to be a good thing.

After the Short Creek Raid in Arizona in 1953 of a polygamist group, 236 children were taken into custody, and approximately 150 of them were in foster care for two years or more before being returned to their parents.  Some children were never returned.  It is entirely possible that similar results will come from this Texas raid.

Texas has a bit of a history of heavy handedness in dealing with people with different religious beliefs.

If they are coming for the polygamists today and no one cares, what is to stop authorities from coming after home schoolers and other non-favored and non-popular groups?

It is true that when someone’s rights are trampled on, it effects the rights of everyone.  There is no reason to think that when oppression of one group begins and is at least passively accepted by the larger population that the oppression will then move on to other groups and will continue unabated.

Texas should be ashamed of such heavy handed thuggery and inability to even attempt to determine who is guilty or not.  Simply taking all of the children and treating all of the men as guilty until proven safe for visitation is plain wrong.  Even if you don’t agree with their religious practices.

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I don’t often like to take up the cause for a violent criminal, let alone a career criminal, but when our penal system is being abused. . .

A man who has already served 15-ish years in prison for shooting a police officer and related offenses is now 71.   He shot a police officer in 1966 and was tried for attempted murder.  The officer died in 2007 from complications related to his paralysis which was caused by said gun shot wounds.  After the defendant got out of prison for attempted murder, it appears that he became a repeat offender of some sort and when he was arrested for murder of the same individual because of the subsequent death in 2007, he was picked up from a half way house on his way out of the penal system.

Some people think that people who shoot cops should be put away forever.  That is one point of view, but the justice system in this country does not automatically work that way.  The complications from the forty year old gunshot are alleged to have caused a Urinary Tract Infection that was the proximate cause of death.  The case may hinge on medical testimony about causes of infections and why paralysis from a gunshot would would put a person at a higher risk of having a Urinary Tract Infection.  What if the deceased merely failed to drink enough cranberry juice one day?

Regardless of the merits of the case, the judge in the new murder case has ruled that the case can go forward in spite of the very long interval between the injury and the death.   There is a major moral problem with this case going forward.  The U.S. Constitution prohibits trying a person for the same crime twice.  Also, traditionally there has been the “year and a day” rule at common law that said when the victim dies after that interval of time it is presumed that the initial injury was not the cause of death.

While the defendant in this case may be a career criminal, it is at the very least a violation of the spirit of the law to charge him with murder when he has already completed his prison sentence for attempted murder.  On the legal side, there are questions of whether he should be sentenced according to the penalties back in 1966, or if the year and a day rule was on the books back in 1966 and the subsequent changes to the law in 1996 are illegal as an ex-post-facto law (also prohibited under the U.S. Constitution for criminal violations and punishments).

Maybe his prior prison sentence will be considered credit for time served if he is again found guilty and sentenced.

It is very sad that a rookie police officer at the age of 23 was shot, wounded, and paralyzed for the rest of his life and that kind of injury can never be paid for really.  That is why we have a justice system with set rules and punishments.  Now that the police officer died over forty years later, it is not proper to go back and charge the same individual with murder.

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The trademarked name TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. Not a regular firearm, but an electric firearm.

A hearing impaired man, practically deaf without his hearing aids was exiting his bathroom after a shower and only wearing a towel. He was greeted by cops with guns drawn. After failing to respond to officers’ commands that he show his hands while simultaneously holding up at least one hand to his ear and claiming that he couldn’t hear, he was tased.

This occurred in Wichita, Kansas to Donnell Williams. The cops were apparently responding to a report of a shooting [which was falsely reported] and were scared of a man wearing only a towel whose other hand was probably holding up the towel. Modesty be darned. There were no reports of a weapon being seen or anything else that would indicate a threat. The cops also say they had no idea the man was hearing impaired even though he told cops he couldn’t hear immediately prior to the tasing.

From the article: “Williams was not hurt in the incident.” I guess the TASER must have tickled him or something.

A man who acted very stupid in eastern Utah was tased by a Utah Highway Patrolman. He was failing to comply with the officer’s orders and started walking back to his car when he was tased. Here is the ten minute video:

It would be nice to have a verbal warning when the suspect is not obviously a risk. If you notice, he was not given a verbal warning to comply or be tazed and when the second officer shows up the first officer pointedly states that he gave him a verbal warning “turn around right now or I taze ya” at about 9:45 on the clip. Either the first cop has a bad memory or was already trying to cover up for his actions.

The Utah Highway Patrol has already cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

The TASER is supposed to be a non-lethal weapon, but there are deaths from the use of it in the hundreds.

It is a good alternative law enforcement tool, but it is for sure used too often and too quickly.

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Because of the nature of this topic (violence) there are some graphic descriptions and one bad word, the s-word if you want to know.

And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;

—– 2Nephi 1:21

This is a truth that seems to have been forgotten in today’s world. We are taught to not fight back, let the police handle it, and to just all get along. Some things are worth fighting for, and sometimes you just have to fight.

People with guns can slow down shooters who enter crowded areas. At least that is what was proven in Trolley Square. Fortunately there was an armed citizen, an off-duty cop who kept his firearm with him in spite of Trolley Square’s “no-weapons allowed” policy. There is widespread agreement that the off-duty cop saved lives that day although we will never know exactly how many. It is a good thing he was there and that he fought back.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting where 33 people were killed and many others were wounded, there has been some criticism about people who did not fight back when they had the chance. The students at the school have been referred to as “children” who need to be protected. College students are allowed to vote, buy guns, enter into contracts, buy a car, get a credit card, sign a lease or buy a house, get married, buy alcohol by their Senior year, get tattoos, have abortions, and be tried as adults if they commit crimes, so why not allow them to start making more adult decisions? The shooter was likely responsible for bomb threats earlier this year and chained some of the doors shut to prevent escape from the building.

There is one heroic story from the Virginia Tech shootings. A 76 year old professor that “was a Holocaust survivor who later escaped to Israel from Communist Romania”. He stepped into the breach to defend his students and allow them to escape. He was shot to death. Too bad other students at the scene didn’t join in, it would have saved more lives.

In 1989, the “Montreal Massacre” occurred. 14 women were killed, and an uncounted number of men had to turn in their man cards. Cowardice won the day instead of bravery. It is one thing to cooperate with an armed person, but altogether different once shots are fired. Here’s what happened in Montreal according to the Crime Library (the writing leaves something to be desired, but as a narrative of what happened it is OK, contains graphic descriptions):

Lifting his rifle, he shot twice into the ceiling. It was no joke.

“You’re all a of bunch of feminists!” the man shouted, his eyes now alight with anger. “And I hate feminists!”

This time, he ordered the women to get up from their seats and the men to leave. A few moved to obey, but others remained confused. They wondered whether they should try to overpower the gunman, protect the women, or leave. The choice as to what was best was unclear. But after a few moments, the male students and teachers walked outside. In weeks to come, many of them would have nightmares about this moment, reliving it over and over, wishing they had acted differently. . . .

Nathalie Provost tried to tell him that they were not necessarily feminists, but this only enraged him. He lifted the rifle again and, as they screamed for mercy or tried to leap out of range, he methodically shot them from left to right. All were hit. Provost was shot three times.

The men waiting outside heard the shots and the agonized or frightened screams. They could hardly believe what was happening. At least 20 rounds had been fired. A few ran down the hall to raise an alarm and find someone who could call for help, while others waited.

Then the gunman came out and strode past them. No one tried to stop him. No one dared. He aimed the rifle precariously at them and they backed away, allowing him to leave. He fired at several other students on that floor, and three more were hit, including two women. Then he continued on his way. . . .

Inside a stairway, he bent over his gun. A student running down the steps heard him swear over his lack of bullets, fled past him, and then heard a shot fired. Apparently the man had reloaded. . . .

[he made his way to another classroom]

As people hid beneath desks, the madman strode up and down the rows as if looking for something. He shot until his clip was empty, reloaded, and shot again. . . .

The strange young man sat down next to the wounded woman, quietly pulled a knife from the sheath strapped to his body, and used it to stab her in the heart. She screamed in surprise and pain. This violent act shocked those who were watching. . . . He pulled the knife out and then plunged it in twice more until the girl lay silent, blood gushing from her wounds. . . .

Without a word, he laid his knife down, along with his remaining ammunition. He removed his cap and placed it on the table. The room was deathly still. People hardly dared to breathe. This man was up to something but his actions masked his intent. Still, he seemed emotionally spent, as if he had done what he came to do.

Even as the police prepared to enter the building downstairs, he removed his parka and wrapped it around the rifle’s barrel. Someone in the building pulled the fire alarm, which jarred everyone.

The gunman said, “Ah, s[***].” He turned the rifle’s barrel toward his own face, pressed the muzzle against his forehead, and pulled the trigger.

He died at the scene. There were many opportunities people had to fight back, at risk to themselves that may have stopped the carnage. Pauses when he had to reload, when he was in the stairway, or even in the first classroom when the shooting began. He couldn’t be good enough to shoot everyone. Maybe you die, maybe you don’t.

Our society idolizes soldiers, policemen, firefighters and others that place their lives on the line to save others. We need to be willing to do the same thing. Fight back, don’t just wait until a bullet comes your way, do something about it!

It is true that every situation is different. Cooperation and non-violence can help defuse many situations, but once bullets fly it is time to fight back. Here is an example that you may find illuminating. It is a perfect example of what to do:

During my life I have had many experiences of being guided in what I should do and in being protected from injury and also from evil. The Lord’s protecting care has shielded me from the evil acts of others and has also protected me from surrendering to my own worst impulses. I enjoyed t
hat protection one warm summer night on the streets of Chicago. I have never shared this experience in public. I do so now because it is a persuasive illustration of my subject.

My wife, June, had attended a ward officers’ meeting. When I came to drive her home, she was accompanied by a sister we would take home on our way. She lived in the nearby Woodlawn area, which was the territory of a gang called the Blackstone Rangers.

I parked at the curb outside this sister’s apartment house and accompanied her into the lobby and up the stairs to her door. June remained in the car on 61st Street. She locked all of the doors, and I left the keys in the ignition in case she needed to drive away. We had lived on the south side of Chicago for quite a few years and were accustomed to such precautions.

Back in the lobby, and before stepping out into the street, I looked carefully in each direction. By the light of a nearby streetlight, I could see that the street was deserted except for three young men walking by. I waited until they were out of sight and then walked quickly toward our car.

As I came to the driver’s side and paused for June to unlock the door, I saw one of these young men running back toward me. He had something in his right hand, and I knew what it would be. There was no time to get into the car and drive away before he came within range.

Fortunately, as June leaned across to open the door, she glanced through the back window and saw this fellow coming around the end of the car with a gun in his hand. Wisely, she did not unlock the door. For the next two or three minutes, which seemed like an eternity, she was a horrified spectator to an event happening at her eye level, just outside the driver’s window.

The young man pushed the gun against my stomach and said, “Give me your money.” I took the wallet out of my pocket and showed him it was empty. I wasn’t even wearing a watch I could offer him because my watchband had broken earlier that day. I offered him some coins I had in my pocket, but he growled a rejection.

“Give me your car keys,” he demanded. “They are in the car,” I told him. “Tell her to open the car,” he replied. For a moment I considered the new possibilities that would present, and then refused. He was furious. He jabbed me in the stomach with his gun and said, “Do it, or I’ll kill you.”

Although this event happened twenty-two years ago, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I read somewhere that nothing concentrates the mind as wonderfully as having someone stand in front of you with a deadly weapon and tell you he intends to kill you.

When I refused, the young robber repeated his demands, this time emphasizing them with an angrier tone and more motion with his gun. I remember thinking that he probably wouldn’t shoot me on purpose, but if he wasn’t careful in the way he kept jabbing that gun into my stomach, he might shoot me by mistake. His gun looked like a cheap one, and I was nervous about its firing mechanism.

“Give me your money.” “I don’t have any.” “Give me your car keys.” “They’re in the car.” “Tell her to open the car.” “I won’t do it.” “I’ll kill you if you don’t.” “I won’t do it.”

Inside the car June couldn’t hear the conversation, but she could see the action with the gun. She agonized over what she should do. Should she unlock the door? Should she honk the horn? Should she drive away? Everything she considered seemed to have the possibility of making matters worse, so she just waited and prayed. Then a peaceful feeling came over her. She felt it would be all right.

Then, for the first time, I saw the possibility of help. From behind the robber, a city bus approached. It stopped about twenty feet away. A passenger stepped off and scurried away. The driver looked directly at me, but I could see that he was not going to offer any assistance.

While this was happening behind the young robber, out of his view, he became nervous and distracted. His gun wavered from my stomach until its barrel pointed slightly to my left. My arm was already partly raised, and with a quick motion I could seize the gun and struggle with him without the likelihood of being shot. I was taller and heavier than this young man, and at that time of my life was somewhat athletic. I had no doubt that I could prevail in a quick wrestling match if I could get his gun out of the contest.

Just as I was about to make my move, I had a unique experience. I did not see anything or hear anything, but I knew something. I knew what would happen if I grabbed that gun. We would struggle, and I would turn the gun into that young man’s chest. It would fire, and he would die. I also understood that I must not have the blood of that young man on my conscience for the rest of my life.

I relaxed, and as the bus pulled away I followed an impulse to put my right hand on his shoulder and give him a lecture. June and I had some teenage children at that time, and giving lectures came naturally.

“Look here,” I said. “This isn’t right. What you’re doing just isn’t right. The next car might be a policeman, and you could get killed or sent to jail for this.”

With the gun back in my stomach, the young robber replied to my lecture by going through his demands for the third time. But this time his voice was subdued. When he offered the final threat to kill me, he didn’t sound persuasive. When I refused again, he hesitated for a moment and then stuck the gun in his pocket and ran away. June unlocked the door, and we drove off, uttering a prayer of thanks. We had experienced the kind of miraculous protection illustrated in the Bible stories I had read as a boy.

I have often pondered the significance of that event in relation to the responsibilities that came later in my life. Less than a year after that August night, I was chosen as president of Brigham Young University. Almost fourteen years after that experience, I received my present calling.

Two points if you realized this is the story of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He cooperated until it would endanger his wife, and most of all, he listened to the spirit. He knew he could ‘successfully’ fight back, but that it would kill his attacker. Instead he was inspired and able to help talk his way out of the situation. He was willing to act, but was inspired to hold off for a wise purpose in the Lord.

Hopefully we will all be as able and wise as Elder Oaks has shown us to act when we should act and to forbear when we should forbear. We will be forever grateful we were obedient to the spirit when it whispers to us. I add my testimony that by having our priorities in order and by listening to the spirit, we we never have to regret acting in self defense. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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