When I was in the third grade, I remember an incident where a classmate shot a spitball that stuck to the blackboard while the teacher had her back to the class. She was writing a lesson on the board. For those of you not familiar with what a spitball is, it is a little wad of paper that a kid will roll around in the mouth and then shoot through a straw.
The teacher whirled around as a couple of kids giggled. She demanded to know who the perpetrator was. She never found out but in retribution she canceled a class trip for the following week that all of us were looking forward to. We were all punished for the actions of one individual.
This is the collectivist mindset. There are no individuals — only “the group.” There is no distinguishing between people. There is no individual responsibility. There is no accountability. And like my third-grade teacher, our elected officials know what’s best for us and can discipline us whenever it so pleases them.
This brings me to HB 2760 that recently passed overwhelmingly in the West Virginia House of Delegates. The vote was 98 to 4. The legislative summary describes the bill as “creating a uniform regulation of firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories.”
The bill would pre-empt local gun control ordinances, creating equal rights across the state under the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
On the state level, it creates no new law. After passage in the House, it moved on to the Senate where it wound up in the Government Organization Committee chaired by Sen. Herb Snyder. On March 23rd there was a rally held in Charles Town, covered in last week’s Spirit, urging Snyder to move the bill from committee to the Senate floor for a vote.
The bill is now dead in the water. As reported in the Associated Press, Snyder alleges that he has received threats regarding the legislation. This prompted Senate President Jeffrey V. Kessler, D-Marshall, to kill the legislation.
According to the Charleston Daily Mail, Kessler said of the threats, “not on my watch, not ever,” calling them way out of line and overzealous. Duke, er, I mean, Sen. Kessler thinks that we the people have been bad, and he’s going to punish us all.
If Snyder’s allegations are true, an investigation should be initiated, and if laws were broken, those individuals responsible should be provided their due process and prosecuted. They should be held accountable. Conversely, so should elected officials. Ah, there’s the rub.
I don’t get mad easily but I am deeply offended by Kessler’s attitude. I don’t like being treated like a subject. I’m a voter and I deserve respect. Kessler is being disingenuous. Let’s hold him accountable.
Two years ago, on Feb. 26, 2011, Kessler spoke at a rally held at the state Capitol in support of the unions in Wisconsin, where Gov. Walker had just signed into law new rules regarding collective bargaining. You might recall that in response, union protesters in Wisconsin broke into the Capitol building in Madison and ransacked the place, defecating in the hallways.
At the time, the Huffington Post reported that the police were investigating death threats against Walker. Apparently, Kessler had no problem with that. Kessler is apparently merely exercising his right to apply to you the voter a double standard.
He also didn’t have any problem with the other speakers at the rally. After speaking to the crowd about leadership he gave way to AFL-CIO Council 77 President Barbra Spradling, who called the Wisconsin governor Adolph Hitler. All the while, Senate President Kessler stood by smiling. You can watch it all on YouTube. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the link.
One more thing about Kessler — in the past he has sponsored legislation that would commit West Virginia’s electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. Let’s make statehood completely irrelevant!
No elected official deserves to be abused. Bad behavior needs to be addressed through the proper channels. People who threaten others need to be prosecuted and legislators that do not serve the people need to be voted out of office.
This entire episode does not pass the smell test. For all the Alinskyites out there, the political operatives, Kessler has provided a template. What Kessler seems to be saying is that if someone doesn’t like a bill they can send a threatening letter to the committee chairman urging its passage and presto, it will die in committee; instant political cover for double-talking politicians. Call me cynical, but how do we know that this didn’t just happen?
— Elliot Simon writes from Harpers Ferry