COLUMBIA — On Nov. 2, we return to the polls to vote for candidates for representing the party of our choice in the August primary along with a number of judges, amendments and propositions that we may vote on. In the debate over voting as a right or a privilege, Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, stated it best: "Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege. Not everyone in the United States may vote. As a general matter, only those who have reached a certain age, are mentally competent, and are American citizens, are allowed to vote."
By any standard, however, voting is a serious responsibility, which demands that the prospective voter understand the issues and candidates alike. While it is axiomatic that one should arm oneself with the readily available information and exercise that obligation to cast an informed vote, those who choose to remain uninformed or who vote purely by emotion would better serve the electorate by staying home.
As in past election campaigns, I do not presume to endorse individual candidates or political parties. That function I leave to the individual (who is best qualified) or to the editors, syndicated columnists, bloggers and other pundits that profess to know what is best for all of us. Nevertheless, there are two issues on this ballot which beg edifying remarks.
The first is the City of Columbia's Proposition 2, the anti-Taser issue placed on the ballot by the People for a Taser-Free Columbia. It is an initiative one might expect to find in the judgment-challenged air of San Francisco or Berkeley, Calif., rather than here in the more lucid confines of flyover country. The notion that the police can be trusted with firearms such as pistols and shotguns but are forbidden to carry the less-than-lethal Taser gives new meaning to absurdity.
Is it not reasonable to assume, given a choice, a police officer can protect the public or himself with less loss of life or permanent injury by employing the Taser instead of the standard sidearm or shotgun? An officer's options must include something other than that of deadly force. Even the most intellectually challenged must agree the police-issued service weapon is far more lethal than the Taser.
It stands to reason that the individual officer's personal safety is enhanced by being so armed. In the course of duty, the officer is subject to attack by an adversary under the influence of drugs or alcohol and armed with a knife or other instrument designed to inflict grievous bodily harm. Only the seriously judgment-impaired could opt to limit officers to nightsticks, pepper spray or the ubiquitous whistle in lieu of the Taser.
Finally, to that perhaps 1 percent of residents to whom the Taser incites fear, here is an unfailing recipe to evade its consequences. Avoid the alcohol-, drug- or insipid-personality-induced idiotic or menacing public behavior that marks you as a danger to good order. If and when you are told to do something by a police officer — do it.
The second is Proposition B, the "Puppy Mill" ballot initiative, or "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." This movement is the brainchild of the Humane Society of the United States, supported by extremist animal protection groups. Among the activities raising a red flag over the propriety of this campaign are that a non-Missouri organization (HSUS) paid volunteers to gather signatures and that less than 3 percent, $73,000 of $2.38 million, of the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs campaign's contributions was raised in-state.
When one looks at facts, unclouded by emotion, one finds Missouri among the first states to enact strict dog kennel laws and that the Missouri Department of Agriculture is aggressively focused against unlicensed kennels. Accordingly, the passage of Proposition B could close or materially harm Missouri's properly inspected, licensed and operated kennels, while doing nothing to find and shut down unlawful kennel operations.
These out-of-state bankrolled and unsolicited activists are bent on overregulating Missouri's dog breeding enterprise by appealing to an uninformed and emotional electorate beneath a cloak of puppy-loving righteousness. After all, everyone save the legendary W. C. Fields adores dogs — who would not come to their rescue if a need is established?
HSUS has made no secret of its intent to diminish factory farming and end sport hunting. Its president, Wayne Pacelle, was quoted 14 years ago (before becoming president of the HSUS) as saying: "We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creatures of human selective breeding." Pacelle states that this quote was taken out of context. A yes vote on Proposition B lets this camel's nose under the tent.
Both Missouri Proposition B and Proposition 2 propose fixes for issues that are far from "broke." A "no" vote on each is recommended.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.