The Safety and Solace of a Sunday Morning

White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI

When challenged over the years about my somewhat spotty church attendance, I am proud of the fact that I never made excuses for my utter lack of piety based upon those hypocritical professions one tends to hear from the pulpit from time to time. So many of my like-minded  contemporaries had used conflicted doctrine and dogma as their convenient reasoning for not being on bended knee on the Sabbath. But my absence from the pew on Sunday morning usually had more to do with my presence on the bar stool on Saturday night. Sadly though, in present day America, one could actually make the argument that you’re safer in a bar than in a church.

The mass murders that occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, once again exposed that seemingly insurmountable political divide that confronts this nation when it comes to regulating firearms. In this instance, the fact that Devin Kelly’s conviction for domestic violence, while on active duty in the Air force, was not properly reported to civilian authorities has somewhat dampened the normally contentious positioning that occurs after these shootings. Second Amendment advocates can point to the fact that the laws and procedures were in place that could have prevented this horrific event, and that it was the actions of another armed citizen that was instrumental in limiting the potential for any further loss of innocent  life.

What I personally find to be the real issue in this particular case is the almost bipolar response by our President depending upon the perceived source of the atrocity. There is that sad and somber tone accompanied by an almost sense of helplessness when the perpetrator appears to be one of our own, and then there is that aggressive, bellicose, and provocative air on full display when the threat is considered to be foreign in nature. An attack in New York committed by someone born in Uzbekistan will bring about that clarion call for extreme vetting at our borders, but those murderous rampages carried out by some homegrown natural born killer is apparently not even worthy of a conversation about extending background checks at a gun show. That lack of coherent leadership in the Executive Branch only adds to the paralysis that grips the Legislative Branch when it comes to our nation’s gun laws.

For too many years, we’ve been fed this idea that additional legislation will do little to curb the rampant gun violence that plagues the United States–and statistically that is probably true. In fact, it is estimated that we would only see about a 3% decrease in gun related deaths if we were to implement universal background checks, nationwide waiting periods to purchase, and tighter mental health screening. But in a country that now loses over 33,000 human beings a year to guns–a thousand less premature funerals and the many thousands of less shattered lives and broken hearts is well worth some sensible legislation.

Time and time again, we’ve been subjected to that shopworn slippery slope line of reasoning that asserts that any further limitations on the ownership and use of firearms will ultimately lead to the total abrogation of the Second Amendment. If that were true, those privileges granted under the First Amendment would have been lost a long time ago. Ever since the tail end of the nineteenth-century, the Supreme Court has done its fair share of legal tinkering with that celebrated first portion of The Bill of Rights. And while we may not always agree with the remedies and interpretations handed down by the Judicial Branch, I believe most Americans would agree that the intent and integrity of the First Amendment remains intact–so I suspect will be the case with Amendment II of the United States Constitution.

The intriguing irony through all this is the fact that many of those same politicians, including the President, that are reluctant to limit what comes out of the muzzle of a gun would love nothing more than the ability to limit what comes out of the mouth of a reporter.

As I’m writing this, exactly two weeks have passed since the shootings in Sutherland Springs, and already our narrowly focused, short attention spans have been shrewdly targeted away from the serious and toward the salacious. Our back fence and bar stool chatter is now consumed with the possible improprieties of those who seek power and those who have already found their seat at the table. Keeping score on Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and Al Franken is far less taxing on our social conscience than coming to terms with the body count at a Baptist church.

Closing Time at the Indian Rock InnThere are still those moments when I long for the safety and solace of those Sunday mornings past–but for now this old bartender will remain content with the silence and sanctuary of those Saturday nights after last call.

Posted by: Chris Poh for  American Public House Review

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On Hallowed Ground – How Dare They Build a Mosque so Close to My Favorite Gentlemen’s Club

Now that there seems to be some genuine hope that the Macondo blowout is close to being permanently contained, Americans can turn their attentions to more serious concerns. Instead of giving reasonable consideration to whether or not we should allow oil companies to continue to build deep water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, we can spend our time worrying about whether or not Muslims should be able to build a community center in Lower Manhattan.

 Much of this controversy has been fueled by many of the same folks that have made it their mission in life to return America to the enlightened path of Constitutional purity and righteousness as intended by the Founders and Framers of our governing principles, after of course the exclusion of the 14th and 17th Amendments. On this particular issue though, the Bill of Rights squarely comes down in favor of those seeking to build their community and prayer center in the proximity of New York’s Ground Zero. So those in opposition to the construction have no legal recourse other than to plead the political position that the placement of the structure is insensitive and insulting to those who suffered and died as a result of the September 11th attacks. And sadly, a majority of Americans support that argument; but as usual without the benefit of the facts.

  •  Innocent Muslims were also amongst the dead and injured in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
  • Muslim first responders aided in that rescue and recovery.
  • Thousands of American Muslims faithfully serve in our armed forces, and many of those have been wounded or killed as a consequence of combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Mount Rushmore - Photo By Dean Franklin

  Lastly, if there is a case to be made for honoring this piece of hallowed ground by vetting what is allowed to be located in its vicinity, perhaps we might first consider doing away with the nearby betting parlor and strip clubs. But this after all is America, a country that is supposedly guided by a spirit of tolerance and inclusion, and a country that makes its decisions grounded in the rule of law. If we were to let our citizens decide the lay of the land based solely upon their sensitivities, personal prejudices and perceptions of historic events not much of anything would ever get built.

 I’ve actually encountered people that are offended by the presence of the brew pub close to Robert E. Lee’s headquarters on the Gettysburg battlefield. And then there’s that contingent of Lakota Sioux that would rather not have the faces of the white fathers from Washington looking down at them, after we stole the Black Hills in South Dakota via slaughter and subterfuge. Now I might be somewhat ambivalent about the possible demise of Mount Rushmore—but I’d sure hate to lose that brew pub.

Posted by: Chris Poh

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