Five Montana Debates That Will Never Be Settled [Opinion]
Debating an issue is as old as the hills. There's been a million of them, like what came first, the chicken or the egg?
I recently got into a conversation, well, more like an argument, but we'll call it a debate, with my brother-in-law.
After that debate I started thinking about the many things that are hotly debated in Montana and will probably never be agreed upon.
Here are five of the issues I know I have debated over the years -- and likely will for years and decades to come.
1: Barry Beach: One of the biggest and most heated debates of my lifetime is the Barry Beach, Kimberly Nees story. I will say I believe he is innocent. Beach was accused of brutally murdering 17-year-old Kimberly Nees outside Poplar. There have been many questions about the evidence and how it was handled and why Beach confessed (after two days of interrogation.) More than two dozen fingerprints were found on the vehicle, as were multiple footprints in and around the trail. A bloody palm print was found on the passenger door. An FBI investigation later determined that the palm print must have been left by the killer. Beach, then 17, was Nees’ neighbor and had previously dated Nees’ sister.
Beach was one of the people questioned by police for the murder but no charges were filed against him at the time. Poplar's police chief revealed that the night after the murder, a police officer broke into a sealed room where evidence from the crime scene was stored. The police officer was the father of one of the original suspects that was not charged. Because of his entrance, the evidence stored inside was inadmissible in court.
There is much speculation about how the case was prosecuted. Beach was tried and convicted in 1984 and sentenced to 100 years without parole. After many attempts at clemency and retrials, being released and then incarceration, again, Beach received a commuted sentence by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on November 20, 2015. His sentence was commuted to time served plus an additional 10 years on probation.
2: Open Gun Carry: I, for one, am in full support of the open carry. I carry my 9 mm with me, especially when I travel. You will get the one side that believes they should open carry and then you get the other side that just can't believe anyone would want to own such a dangerous item. I am a firm believer that it's not guns that kill, it's stupid people who don't know how to use and respect them that kill.
3: Legalizing Marijuana: I can truly say I am in support of legalized medical marijuana. I have known many people who have suffered from pain that it has helped. I would completely support medical use, when and only when it is prescribed through a doctor. When I say doctor, I mean an actual, I-went-to-medical-school, I-have-a-degree doctor, not a fly-by-night guy who opens a shop on every corner and passes out medical marijuana cards like subsidized cheese. I am also 110 percent against legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Really, outside of pain, what is so bad in your life that you have to get high 24/7?
4: Walmart: The big greedy conglomerate that puts local small businesses out of business. For every negative thing about Walmart, there is a positive. The negatives I here about Walmart include:
- They don't pay their employees well and have poor working conditions.
- The company avoids paying its fair share of taxes, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, which found that the company “avoids $1 billion a year in taxes” through federal loopholes.
- Walmart is also the beneficiary of billions of dollars per year in federal subsidies, according to a report from the non-partisan, progressive group Americans for Tax Fairness.
Now, as I said, there are some very good things at Walmart, too. Here are some positives about Walmart:
- As of December 31, 2015, Walmart employs 2.1 million people worldwide, in the United States alone, the company employs 1.4 million people or 1 percent of the nation's 140 million working population.
- Walmart's charitable donations are approximately $1 billion each year.
- The company has announced that it is raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour by February 2016.
5: Planned Parenthood: The dreaded Planned Parenthood, the evil empire that is all about killing babies, right? I think there is much more of a story to Planned Parenthood than just abortion services. They offer a full range of reproductive health care services at six clinics around the state. These services include: annual exams, birth control, pregnancy testing and counseling, screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and mid-life services.
I am, however, over-the-top opposed to federal funding for Planned Parenthood. I am opposed to abortion and am sickened by the recent news that came out about Planned Parenthood, however it came to light Monday that the stories of selling baby parts was fabricated.