Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Rage That Boils

Guns Yet Again

So there we were again, once more looking back at another pointless mass shooting. And there we were again, churning up the same old dredges of the same old arguments heading to the same, old inevitability of doing absolutely nothing.

I say this in past tense, because, at this point, most people have checked out. Few care about this stuff any more (except for the poor families who have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives). We’re tired of being sad, we’re tired of being angry, we’re tired of no one doing anything about any of this. We have accepted the inevitable: Murder Nation is here, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

I have no more sadness in my heart for gun violence victims. I’ve cried out all my tears, there are no more. I suspect it’s true of a lot of folks at this time. At what point does that happen? What is the tipping point for tragedy when it’s no longer a heart-wrenching event and becomes a mere way of life? We can cry when the first captain of a high school football team gets killed in a texting-while-driving accident, but we don’t even acknowledge the 3000 annual deaths now caused by that idiotic practice. So many happen, it’s no longer news. Same with AIDS, same with drunk driving fatalities, and now the same with the gun violence. We cried over Columbine, we cried over the Batman shootings, we cried over Newtown. The Navy Yard? Mass murder is so commonplace now it’s no longer interesting. We’re more interested in the roster of this season’s “Dancing With The Stars”.

I may not have tears, but I do have rage. I have plenty to spare. It’s probably the result of my French-Canadian ancestry, every French-Canadian I’ve ever met has a temper that will curdle air when properly ignited. And so, with this latest travesty, all I have is my rage.

The Reason for My Rage

If there’s one thing that gets my dander up, it’s doing nothing when things need to be done. When it comes to this type of gun violence, nothing is exactly what we have done. Oh sure, some states enacted various legislation (some good, some bad, some just spackle), and some institutions & workplaces have installed metal detectors and stationed armed guards. But that’s been balanced out by other states loosening up the rules and allowing “open carry” and other things. In reality, we are at status quo when it comes to this entire debacle. Nothing meaningful has been done.

Here’s what really gets my dander up: being forced to take no action or ineffective action, not because we aren’t entirely sure what to do, but because the very deck is so far stacked, against even the IDEA of taking action, it is impossible. I think most people have run into this at some time or another. Perhaps you work for a large corporate behemoth with so many processes, controls, checkpoints, and managers/executives, that getting things done requires Herculean effort. Perhaps you’ve been tied up in a snarl of bureaucratic paperwork courtesy of your local/state/federal government you don’t see any way to get through it. Perhaps you’ve been stuck in legal limbo between two sides armed with a pile of legal textbooks yet not a shred of common sense or dignity, making prison seem like a welcome respite. In all these cases, you are not stuck because of facts, or data, or reason, but because some idiotic bureaucrat in Cubicle 7 can’t spell “cat”; some executive is too busy counting his stock options to actually read a proposal; or some state legislature wrote one law that counteracts another law for no reason beyond a suitcase full of campaign donations.

It’s this way with the gun debate.

Reason Is Not Driving This Debate

There is no “reason” occurring in the gun debate. When it comes to guns, reason has not only been subverted, it has been squashed. Squashing debate is inherently bad: it’s bad for reason, it’s bad for change, it’s bad for the democratic process, it’s bad for society. What we have here, quite literally, is a tremendous threat to our very nation and, indeed, to our very lives.

Congress Is Afraid of the NRA. This is undeniable. Time after time after time, the NRA has swept down upon Congress with either a horde of threats from their angry members, or suitcases full of cash for campaign warchests. Either way, this is awful for democracy. How can we ever make any meaningful change when our very lawmakers are so terrified by a certain lobby that they will not even consider action of any kind? This is a grotesque subversion of our democratic process (and it’s not just happening on a federal level, it’s happening in states, too). It’s one thing to say “we’ll vote you out if we don’t get our way”, that’s happened since the founding of the country. But now this fear is so invasive, some legislative bodies won’t even debate the issue. How is that good for the country?

We are not allowed to know the facts. Pro-gun forces love to say, and often rightly so, that we should not “knee jerk” our way to gun legislation. I’ve been caught on this myself, I will admit. I hate assault weapons and high-capacity clips, but I have to be honest and acknowledge assault weapons have been used in a minority of such incidents (this includes the Naval Yard shooting, despite erroneous reports to the contrary). So then why does the NRA constantly try to block research into the issue? This is not an organization that wants facts, they want to control the narrative. But controlling the narrative, and controlling the flow of information, is anathema to a free society.

It’s not just the CDC that’s the problem: the NRA has pushed for & received legislation making investigating gun crimes almost impossible. This infuriates me to no end: here the NRA says stuff like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, yet they actually hamper criminal investigations through the legislation that the cowed-under Congress approved. That’s right: the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby are accomplices in murder by limiting access to the necessary information to investigate crimes. So forgive me if I say a big “bite me” to any pro-gun individual who cries “persecution” when there’s a tragedy like the Naval Yard shooting: if you support the NRA, you are an accomplice because of the hamstringing of the ATF and other law enforcement bodies.

Here’s another way the NRA is an accomplice to crime: they fight background checks. They like to say “criminals shoot people” but don’t even pretend to prevent criminals from getting guns. They say “the system doesn’t work”, but instead of using their extensive influence (remember: Congress is afraid of them) to improve the system, they are trying to kill it. You don’t try to kill things that you like, you try to kill things that you don’t like. It is beyond the realm of gullibility to even suggest the NRA supports keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

The Death of Responsible Gun Ownership

In my earlier blog post on this topic, I ranted about the idiocy of civilian ownership of high-capacity/high power firearms.  Instead of simply rehashing that, let me take a different tack, and rant about plain and simple responsibility, and how this controlled narrative is preventing us from approaching gun ownership responsibly. Put simply, the gun industry has convinced us to move away from responsible gun ownership. Entirely. It comes down to three things:

Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

I’ve hated this slogan from the minute I saw it. What the gun lobby is doing here is quite insidious: they are using an age-old propaganda technique by redefining a gun. A gun nowadays is just another inanimate object, like a blender or a table or a paper clip. This takes away the seriousness of gun ownership, takes away the need for responsibility in the ownership. It’s just “a thing”, not a thing that was expressly invented to kill. If it’s just a thing, then it’s no big deal to own one, and, therefore, no big deal to sell one. If it’s no big deal, then we don’t need to check out people who want to buy one or need to keep records of who bought one. We can make them as common as blenders, tables, and paper clips.

It’s a Fundamental Right

I’m not going to debate the meaning of every clause in that badly-written Second Amendment (seriously, it’s written like shit, compare it to any other sentence in the Bill of Rights). But here’s how repeating this “fundamental right” stuff over and over hurts responsible gun ownership: if it’s “fundamental”, then we shouldn’t even try to reign it in. There it is, it’s fundamental! Fundamental means “applies everywhere in every circumstance.” So we can’t raise objections to anyone owning one. “Um, should Weirdo Bobby own a gun?” “Well, it’s fundamental” :throws up hands:. Assinine.

All Guns Are Equal

And then we have this last one: all guns are guns so they’re all OK. It’s no longer guns for hunting, or guns for personal protection. It’s now a whole class of guns that have nothing to do with either. But they’re all OK, it’s all “no big deal”. If a gun is just a “thing” and not a “weapon”, then we can have bigger “things”. We have higher-powered blenders, right? But here’s my problem with that: by continuing to allow these weapons to be manufactured and then owned by the civilian population, more will be manufactured and owned by the civilian population. Doesn’t that bother anyone? People like to say “only criminals will have guns”. And there is truth to that. But how are guns getting to criminals? They were buying them. From stores! Only 15% or so are acquired from theft, the rest are simply bought. Sure, bought under the table, in secret, with accomplices, but bought nonetheless. So if you want to be able to buy assault rifles, you have to accept the responsibility that criminals can now buy them, too.

Why I Blame

This is why I directly blame the gun lobby and most vociferous of the “guns should be unrestricted” advocates for any mass shooting out there: the redefinition of a gun as a “harmless object”, the notion that gun use is “fundamental”, and the free availability of guns whose only possible purpose is to murder a lot of people has guaranteed that we will become Murder Nation. It is unavoidable at this point.

If you would only use your power an influence over Congress and the States to convince lawmakers and shopkeepers that these are dangerous weapons requiring sane controls; if you would only advocate that rights, although fundamental, must also be used responsibly; and if you would agree that there are a class of weapons with no practical civilian use, thereby banning their outright manufacture (you can’t steal that which does not exist), I would not be as much of an asshole towards you.

But you want irresponsibility. And that I cannot tolerate.

Liberty Enshrined

Everyone believes in something. Even agnostics and atheists believe in something. Some put blind faith in money, thinking it will make them happy. Some put blind faith in material possessions, because, well, *sparklies*. Some put blind faith in their political party or right-left-center talking points. Some put blind faith in celebrity, buying Bieber cologne or other ludicrous claptrap. Some put blind faith in themselves, being so arrogant as to think they are infallible and therefore beyond question. Some even put blind faith in science, as odd as that sounds, believing that any and all studies that cross their path must be true (this leads to a lot of fad diets as well as other errors).

Copyright America In Context

Liberty’s Shrine

In my own case, I tend to put blind faith in the American ideal. For folks like me, Independence Park in Philadelphia is the Temple Mount, the Ganges River, the Mecca of our own beliefs. It’s a place of extreme importance, a shrine commemorating the place where the founding principles of this country were put to paper and approved by an assemblage of great minds and strong characters. A place where heretofore un-codified principles were defined and written into law and principle, grandiose notions such as “[w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”; “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”; or “[t]he privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it”. Fabulous ideas, amazing ideas, ideas that would inspire nation after nation to rebel against tyrants and kings and establish democracy. It’s the Great American Way that Independence Park symbolizes, the Great American Way that I hold most dear.

Unfortunately.

Folks are going to worship me someday, aren't they? :sigh:

“Folks are going to worship me someday, aren’t they? :sigh:”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, ideals aren’t real. They don’t exist, and you can’t count on them. If you do, you will be betrayed. Every time. The American Ideal is the same: it’s full of betrayal. The original Constitution says that certain people are only worth 3/5ths of other people, and also said that those in bondage who escape to another state must be returned into bondage. Basically, it protected the vile institution of slavery for nearly 100 years. Even today, long after that particular abomination was wiped out by amendment, there is betrayal. These documents have been subverted, abused and weakened, leaving a system of government so devolved it barely represents the will of the people at all, and our nation is in a fine ruddy mess because of it.

Then again, it’s still important to hold onto ideals. It’s vital, actually. They are the goal, the dream, the vision, and without our goals, dreams and visions, we are a dead species. And to keep goals, dreams and visions alive, it is important that kids be indoctrinated (for lack of a better word) with ideals that are truly valuable, else they, too, will grow up to be tyrants and monsters; and you can’t do any worse than indoctrinating them into the important American ideals of equality, liberty, self-governance, and independence.

And naked statuary, of course

And naked statuary, of course

There is also no better element of that indoctrination than a trip to Independence Park in Philadelphia. I really like Philadelphia for one simple reason: the park is dedicated not to rebellion (like Boston, with it’s homage to the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere), nor to warfare (like Valley Forge or Yorktown), nor to marble monoliths (like Washington, DC) but to ideas, thought, consideration, and debate. It’s a site that contains meeting rooms, and convention halls, and judicial chambers;  not cannons, trenches, or cemeteries, but desks. It is a truly remarkable place in that aspect, it’s dedicated to ideas, and I find that refreshing.

But he's just sitting there! THINKING!

But he’s just sitting there! THINKING!

Liberty Imprisoned

I first visited Philadelphia in the 90’s. At that time, the Liberty Bell was in a non-descript glass enclosure inside Independence Hall. Anyone could see it. I never bought into Bell lore myself (like most American legends, it’s more tall tale than fact), but I kinda liked the presentation: subdued, no drama, viewable by everyone, kinda like I envision liberty itself. Freedom should not be a big deal, it should not be something we put on a pedestal. It should just “be”. You don’t pay attention to it when it’s there, you just live your life, yet everyone notices when it’s absent.

Then 9/11 happened, our liberties were sacrificed to the Lords of Fear, and The Liberty Bell became a symbol of our shift to madness.

In the grief-stricken days after 9/11, we were all expecting more terrorist attacks. We went bat-shit crazy protecting everything.  We improved airport security, then we “improved” airport security, then we began the systematic groin-groping known as the TSA. We started monitoring financial transactions, then started monitoring foreign communications, and now the NSA has a full-blown domestic spy program best suited for watching cheating spouses and stealing credit card numbers. We placed Jersey barriers in front of government buildings, we put metal detectors at the entry of every government building and landmark, and we built a prison for the Liberty Bell.

Liberty's Prison

Liberty’s Prison

On my second visit to Independence Park, I spotted the Liberty Bell Center, and it saddened me. The Liberty Bell is no longer just “there”, like our liberties should be. It is encased in a steel and glass structure, surrounded by guards and various security devices, reminiscent of a prison. It also, oddly, has the look of a high-end shopping mall, meaning not only is Liberty imprisoned but it’s also commercialized (they should call it Liberty Disney). I was so repulsed by the appearance of the Liberty Bell Center from afar, I didn’t have it in me to go there. Liberty was imprisoned and I didn’t want to be stuck on the outside, pressing my face against the glass in the hopes she’d remember me in her confinement.

I think the NPS has toned down the security in the intervening years, and I’ve heard from others that the Center is actually a pretty nice facility. But for me, the illusion has been shattered. The Liberty Bell, like the very civil liberties it represents, is not just cracked but contained, with an admission fee, groin groping, and gift shop.

[Photos on this blog entry are mine and thusly copyrighted.]

——————————————————

Links:

Independence National Historical Park

Founding Fathers Fetish (slate.com)

3D Tour of the Liberty Bell

Google Map of Independence National Historical Park

Heavily recommend listening to Bill Moyer’s interview with poet & author Sherman Alexie. Alexie was born & raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and has written about his life as a man of two worlds (both racially and as a man who suffers from bipolar disorder).

I have a great deal of hollow empathy for the Native American. I want to call it real, I really want to know & understand tribal culture past & present, but honestly I can only I call it “hollow”, for I’m a white New England suburbanite whose only connection to Native Americans is through the co-opting of Indian stereotypes I enjoyed as a Boy Scout and a handful of books I’ve read. So other than growing up in an alcoholic household, I can only imagine the pain of growing up Native American in a country that tried to exterminate your forefathers.

Sherman Alexie certainly sounds like that gateway, that bridge between cultures. I found the interview compelling & powerful in its sadness & humor. I think I’ve figured out my next Kindle read ….

A very good friend of mine, someone whom I respect greatly for the strength of his character, his ability to see with a broader vision than most, and his reading list, recently made a post on Quora about civility. He was inspired to post out of frustration of the harsh rhetoric coming from Texas during the recent abortion debate. Politics down there became downright ugly, up to and including people trying to smuggle bricks into the state capitol (for, I’m assuming, a peaceful brick-hurling ceremony?!?). He was following the story via Twitter, and just got fed up with the vitriol (which surprises me, for when I think of civility, I think of Twitter).

His own comments were brief, but he posted these links on his post:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/353310/three-observations-about-left-and-civility-david-french

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/civility-its-the-glue-that-holds-society-together/article13205990/

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/01/david_brookss_tree_of_failure.html

http://atheism.about.com/od/fundamentalistatheists/a/CivilDecency.htm

http://www.foundationsmag.com/civility.html

I found myself disagreeing with many, but not all, of the sentiments in these articles. Generally though, I think people miss the point on civil discourse.

Civility: A One-Sided Argument

Let me start with David French’s “Three Observations About the Left and Civility” in the National Review. I was going to pick it apart paragraph-by-paragraph, quoting each and rebutting each. I soon realized I was going to be horrible redundant, so I stopped. Here’s the gist: he is only looking at the problem from one viewpoint: his own. To be vulgar uncivil, he is Bread Slice “A” in a shit sandwich: if he looks to the left, all he sees is shit. The problem? Bread Slice “B”, when they look right, sees nothing but shit.  Every one of his key points could easily be flipped to the alternate viewpoint, and be instantly recognized by the other side as true. Leftists use harsh rhetoric because they truly, truly believe it? So does the Right, they have horrible rhetoric (look no further than the Limbaugh-Fluke “slut” debacle). The Left believes in their ideological virtue? The Right is all about “ideological virtue”, listen to any CPAC speech (or many of Romney-Ryan’s campaign speeches of 2012). Conservatives are “sick and tired of this nonsense”? Seriously? The entire country is sick and tired of the GOP’s Congressional nonsense.

The problem with French’s article is he’s only seeing it from his own side of the equation. It’s the same flaw the staunchest “Lefties” have: a singular point of view. If he had the capacity to objectively look at what his side was doing, he’d see the entire political system is a shit sandwich, one the rest of us are forced to partake of on a daily basis.

Which segues into my next point: people only decry “incivility” when they are the ones who have the power. I’ve discovered this through observation. At one time, I was part of one of the worst work environments I’ve ever seen. There was intense vitriol and animosity in that organization for years and years. And it was fascinating to see it develop, if you managed to extract yourself from the fray. It always involved the same meme: if you’re in the majority, or have the support of senior management, or the decision helps (or at least does not disrupt) your own work or function, you are generally calm and cool and “stress civility”. If you are in the minority, are disempowered, or it is you who will be inconvenienced or derailed, you will fight tooth and claw against the tide, and call it “speaking my mind” or “defending my rights” or “speaking truth to power”. It also comes in waves. One moment, it’s Side A who has the advantage, and they’re calm and call for “civility”. Then the tide turns, Side B has the advantage, and Side A turns into table-thumping monsters. It’s the way chaotic, leaderless systems develop, and if we have a chaotic, leaderless system in this country, it’s our political system.

As an aside, that “harsh work environment” eventually involved into an environment where no one gives a shit anymore. Teamwork and collaboration are all but dead, and the quality of the organization has suffered. Apathy has kicked in. Guess where the voters are right now. Yep.

Incivility = Frustration

I can’t remember the exact source (it was pre-Internet), but I remember reading an article by a psychologist on this topic many years ago. The guy was kind of an asshole, actually. He had his students commit social experiments on frustrating people. The students were instructed to gather groups of people for “focus groups” to talk about a serious topic and intentionally ignore half the room. The end result is the “ignored” would almost inevitably become “uncivilized” in one way or another. They’d shout, or insult, or badger, or storm out. The best outcome is they’d simply tune out or just leave the room.

I’ve seen this in real life. You want to irritate someone, ignore them. Do stuff around them or without them. Parents see this: at a certain age, kids hate being led around by the hand all the time. They want to have initiative, they want to have a say, even if it’s for a different bedtime or something else to have for lunch. This doesn’t actually change in adulthood: what really happens is good parents recognize this and give the kids ever-increasing liberties; or bad parents “lose control” of their “rotten kids”.

Chris Hannay touches on this in his Globe and Mail article “Civility: It’s the Glue that Holds Society Together” when he says:

How does a government encourage civility? Normal politics. Not excluding people. Civil rights. Listening to people. Rule of law.

With the exception of the last point (in some countries, “rule of law” = “oppression”, not “justice”), he’s right. All of these actions involve including people, and their viewpoints, into the discussion. But read this again carefully, the title of Hannay’s article is a misnomer. The reality? Civility is an effect, not a cause. The glue is not “civility”, the glue is a system that listens to the people.

Where I differ from my friend is in the cause of his frustration. He was upset about all the vitriol on Twitter. I contend that the vitriol is only a symptom, and the cause is a political system that locks out people. Texas is notorious for that, as is the GOP in general. The GOP engages in trick after trick, ploy after ploy, to get their way. It’s shameful, really: from Texas gerrymandering of districts to Wisconsin’s passing of an anti-union bill without a quorum to Pennsylvania’s voter ID law (intended, by their own admission, to ensure GOP victories in that state) to John Boehner’s “majority of a majority” tactics in the House to that damnable Senate filibuster (admittedly a stunt both sides use), the GOP is a cabal of trickery that makes Voldemort say “wow, pretty nifty”.

I think people can accept an honest defeat in an honest debate. But shut them out of that debate and railroad all over them, and people get pissed.

The Cure is NOT Civility (Almost)

So this is why the people grow irritable: they feel they are not part of the process and are sick of it. All the Twitterati who alienated my friend are probably in that category. He actually suffers from that same malady: he is very pro-Second Amendment. He is very protective of his gun rights, as he feels they are under threat and has very negative criticisms of the other side. I suffer as well: I’m on the gun control side of the aisle, feel our very society is threatened by the gun lobby, and my post on the topic is, well, not incredibly polite. Both of us feel we are being railroaded into a society we won’t like for our own reasons, and if there’s a topic where no one’s listening to the other side, it’s gun control (i.e. “flame bait definition 2″). If I honestly felt that the “other side” at least acknowledged “my side” of the argument as valid and took steps to address it, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a dickhead about the whole thing. I’m sure he would agree from his side. But neither side does, so it continues.  And so does the incivility.

We do have the showboats. The thing about anger is it sells. Holy cow, does it ever! You want to get the masses motivated to take action, get them pissed. Tyrants learned this. Every successful tyrant throughout history became that way because they a) picked a target and b) got their populace pissed off at it. It’s the secondary reason despots control their media: first they need to repeat, over and over, how wonderful they are; second they need to make the populace hate someone else. It’s a control mechanism.

There are a lot of jerks, mostly on the right but not exclusively so, who use anger as a motivator/control mechanism. We all know the names: Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, Bachman, the Koch Brothers. Gingrich did it, the Tea Party runs on it. Some in Occupy did it, but they didn’t really take hold (thankfully). The Black Panthers did it, Malcolm X did it, certain segments of the anti-Vietnam movement did it. The gun control lobby is all over it, and I admit with pride I’m a Bush Hater.  A few of the articles in the links above reference this issue in their cries for “civility”, and when you hear most people  talk about civil discourse, this is what they mean. They want our leaders to act like adults, and they want talk radio, Fox News, Rachel Maddow, and the liberal blogosphere to cut it out and start playing nice with each other. It’s a nice sentiment, and I’ll admit it would be a welcome change.

But I have a better idea.

Fix The System

School-House-Rock-Bill

Earlier I mentioned a horribly bad work environment. The real cause of that horrible work environment was the lack of structure in decision making, and the lack of competent leaders who would develop and support such a structure. Instead of having a process where every item of a project was honestly evaluated for effectiveness and communicated to all involved, it was the “Lord of the Flies” and God help you if you drew the “Piggy” card that morning. Was the root cause the department leadership who allowed it all to happen, or (in some cases) even encouraged it? Well, yes, but not for why you think. The root cause was not management tolerance of a bad work environment, but the lack of a sound structure for decision making. In the absence of such a structure, it becomes gamesmanship and tomfoolery. Whoever manipulates the system and out-shouts their competitor wins.

The real cure for incivility in political discourse is not improving the maturity of politicians, pundits, and think tanks. The answer is reforming the system to enforce fair and equal processing of legislative action. Let’s list some of the dirty tricks that have happened in recent years. We have Senate-style filibusters. We have Senate “secret holds” and other tactics to hold up nominations, and recess appointments that counter those tactics. We have the “majority of the majority” rules in the House. We have sneaking in shady bits into legislation int he dark of night. We have the manipulation of voting records in Texas. We have all sorts of crap in Wisconsin. We have false voter fraud. We have suppression of evidence laws. Do I even need to mention the secrecy mess?

We have uncivil political discourse because we have a shitty political system. It’s a system full of tricks and stunts and garbage that, bit by bit, kills discourse and pisses us off. That’s what needs to be fixed. Not prayer breakfasts, not talk radio reform, not even Washington’s Rules of Civility will fix it. We need to reform the system, remove all these stunts for good, and back it up with punishment. Wouldn’t you love to see jail time for that congressman who slips in immunity from litigation from a campaign sponsor into an agriculture bill?

Fix the system, fix the civility. Simple.

Tales of Infinite Sadness

I started my expedition through all the units of the National Park System to satisfy my fascination with all aspects of nature (flora, fauna, geology, aquatics, atmospherics). I did not expect to quickly fall in love with the other side of the parks: the historical side. As I began to tour each of those smaller sites, reading up on the history of each and their placement in the overall scheme of things, I also began to see the Great American Narrative forming, piece by piece, and was inspired to blog about it. It is only by seeing all these bits and pieces, filling in all the gaps created by our own, pufferied view of history, can one really see who we are and what we’re all about.

Yes, we are writing the Great American Narrative. And oh, what a narrative! We have heroes and villains, success and failure, trauma and reprieve, disaster and rebuilding, winning and losing. But through it all, there is something that is clear: we are making forward progress. Oh, sure, we’ve had setbacks. Right now, between lingering recession, erosion of certain civil liberties, the War on Terror and a culture that pits right against left in a Kobayashi Maru of political degradation, it feels like we’re going backwards. But really, we’d have a long way to go before we fall back to where we’ve been. Think about it: there’s no way any of our founding fathers would ever have imagined us having a half-black President. Like him or not, that’s a massive advancement from our formation over 225 years ago, when we held nearly 700,000 souls in lifelong bondage (a number that would swell to nearly 4 million by the time the War of Emancipation).

OK, so maybe progress is a little stalled …

That’s the interesting part of the Great American Narrative: we always seem to come out ahead, one way or another. The slaves were freed, but then they had to suffer through Jim Crow segregation, racial discrimination, institutional poverty, entrapping government subsidy programs, and bad educational systems, yet are finally coming out the other side. Sure, we’re not post-racial yet, but you can tell we’re really, really close (I’m guessing one more generation and we’re done with it — the recent Trayvon Martin murder debacle notwithstanding). Women also have made gains, from being the Great Unseen to becoming the major breadwinner in 40% of households and damn near winning the Presidency themselves. We’ve seen advances everywhere else, from sanitation & health to science & technology to occupational safety and even how we treat our children. Yep, we’re winning everywhere.

Well, we’re winning everywhere, unless you’re talking about the American Indian. When it comes to the Native American, there are no tales of victory. There is no Appomatox. There is no Seneca Falls or Nineteenth Amendment. There is no VE Day or the fall of a Berlin Wall. There is no eonomic security or energy independence. When it comes to the Native American, there is only one narrative, and that is a long tale of misery and betrayal and hardship and defeat and pain and infinite sadness.

The Parks reflect this in spades. Every park has some tiny, preamble segment of its visitor center museum dedicated to “early inhabitants”: always some native tribe who “lived off the land” only to, inevitably, be driven out of their homeland, be defeated in battle, be wiped out by some disease or pushed into starvation through overhunting or economic blockade. The lucky would be stuck on some downtrodden reservation, their pride replaced by the plagues of alcoholism, obesity and diabetes.

rez_house

North Dakota reservation house, circa 2009

Horseshoe Bend is just one of hundreds of chapters in this sad, sordid book of misery. In this case, it is a tale pitting one side (the Cherokee tribal nation) against the other (the Creek) for the benefit of the middle (white Southerners). This particular Creek tribe wanted to keep their lifestyle and land and resisted American assimilation. White European settlers wanted the land for their own expansion. The Cherokee were allies of the U.S. and joined up with the militias of several states (led by future New Orleans hero and President, Andrew Jackson) to take Creek land through “justifiable” retaliation for some Creek raids on farms and forts throughout Alabama. The Creek, despite fortifications that impressed even Old Hickory, were eventually surrounded and horribly defeated. Out of a thousand Creek warriors, only about 200 escaped to south Florida to join up with the Seminoles. They had to surrender 23 million acres of land to Alabama and Georgia (2 million of which would go to the same Cherokee who turned their back on their brethren). It would end up being a short-loved victory for the duplicitous Cherokee: within 25 years those same people were expelled from Georgia & Alabama and forced to march down the Trail of Tears to dusty, infertile Oklahoma, where they would lead a hardscrabble life for generations. In the end, the only victor would be the white Europeans who used trickery, deception and long-standing inter-tribal rivalries to defeat the natives and take their land.

1b-002-ss-07-egander_lg

Only those with the bleakest heart can travel through Horseshoe Bend and the rest of the 400+ units of the National Park Service, and not be touched by the Tales of Infinite Sadness of the Native American.

[Unfortunately, I did not own a digital camera when I visited Horseshoe Bend.]

=========================

Links:

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

Creek-Cherokee War

Scientific analysis of the demise of the Native American

Google map of Horseshoe Bend

Next week, President Obama will be giving the first State of the Union speech of his second term. I’ve listened to a lot of SotU speeches over the years, and after a time, they all sound the same. The same beats, the same phrases, the same patters and pauses and phony applauses. That’s why SotU Bingo is so popular, everyone knows it’s just a big bag of phony.

The sentence that always gets my dander up is “The state of our union is strong!” Obama said it, Bush said it, Clinton said it, even Roosevelt said it (with a slightly different phrasing). But when you look at it, right now, in the world in which we currently live, it actually isn’t. No politician will ever have the courage to say it, but in my opinion it needs to be said. Just as a man will never get out of the rut he is in as long as he is lying to himself, so too will a nation never get out of its rut unless it is honest with itself.

I would love for President Obama to give a State of the Union speech that brings out a level of harsh, basic, patent honesty that will truly shake up this country. Something, perhaps, like this:

—————-

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: today I come to you, as President and in accordance with the traditions of the office and my duties as defined in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, to address this body and this nation on the state of our union.

“For two hundred and twenty-three years, Presidents have delivered addresses, in writing or in person, to this assembled body. For two hundred and twenty-two years, Presidents have declared that “the state of our union is strong”. Through war, recession, and catastrophe, presidents have continued to maintain that the nation is strong and we can work through any peril that may face us. I, too, believe that this nation can strongly and bravely face any external peril, be it foreign aggression, economic tribulation, or the hazards of climate and nature. However, the one thing that can harm this country, and that harms this country today, comes from within. We can not be defeated, but we can defeat ourselves.

“The strength of this nation comes from the strength of our ideals and the strength of our citizens. That much is undoubtedly true, and based on those factors alone, I could easily stand here before you and say “our country is strong”. But this type of strength is not enough to make for a strong UNION. A strong nation not only requires a citizenry of high character and strength, but a government that can perform those functions necessary to bring stability, justice, safety, and peace. Unfortunately, we do not have such a government, and that is keeping this nation from truly being great in this 21st century.

“Our Founders had the wisdom and foresight to create a fabulous document, the first written democratic Constitution in the history of mankind, a document that specified an amazing notion: the idea of three branches of government and the separation of powers. Put in the context of the span of human civilization, this was a magnificent creation! A chief executive, a notion existing since the dawn of humanity, providing leadership, especially in times of crisis or war. An independent judiciary, answerable only to the law and the principles upon which the group was founded, ensuring justice is applied evenly and fairly. And a legislature, the representatives of the people, giving a voice to all the members of the group in the decisions that are made. These three branches form the strength of a triangle, and, like a three-legged stool, when one is weak, the whole thing topples.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this nation is a three-legged stool wobbling on the weakness of one. We have a situation where one branch is failing this nation, and their failure is putting the entirety at risk. This Congress, this assembled body, is in a state of disarray the like this nation has not seen since the day Charles Sumner was caned on the floor of the Senate in 1856. This chaos is keeping this country back. It is holding our economy hostage. It is preventing the honest exchange of ideas. It is interrupting the wheels of justice. It is not capable of providing the necessary oversight to prevent Executive Branch overreach. It is engaging in a level of hostility that is inspireing division amongst the people. It is acting in a way unbecoming to the intent and purpose of Article 1 of the Constitution, and is an embarrassment to the people of these United States and to the free nations of the world.

“We have a Congress that cannot perform its most basic of duties. We have a Congress that cannot propose, much less adopt, a budget. We have a Congress that cannot confirm federal judges, leaving an overwhelmed judiciary. We have a Congress that forces the Chief Executive to invent clever ways to circumvent it because they are incapable of action. We have a Congress that, on the one hand, decries something as evil and demands action, yet on the other neuters the very agency designed to do it. This is a Congress that does not even allow the free discussion of ideas within its own halls, a body whose very rules allow an anonymous few to squelch even discussion of a topic! Regardless of political philosophy, right or left, the suppression of debate is fundamentally, morally, ethically WRONG and the Senate ought to be ashamed of itself for even having those rules. And the House isn’t much better: the majority party will only discuss things THEY want to discuss, to the detriment of fair and open discussion.

“Ladies and gentlemen of this Congress: this country needs a working legislative branch. It cannot function without it. Without a functioning legislature, we have uncertainty. We have doubts about our future. Nothing cripples a society like an uncertain future. We also have injustice, the injustice resulting from the silencing of open debate. This Congress, those of you assembled here, have duties. You have responsibilities, and you took oaths of office, sworn upon Bibles and Torahs and the Bhagavad Gita. Your oath compels you to serve this nation and the Constitution of the United States, not your party, not your ideology, not your favorite radical talk-show host or blogger, and certainly not the lobbyist who frequents your office on a daily basis. You need to serve your country and the Constitution. But you are not doing so, and judging by polls taken across the country, the people know this and are judging you poorly for it. This body needs to get to work, doing the people’s business, not perpetuating your own petty feuds.

“This Congress has a job to do, and needs to begin immediately. Propose and pass a valid budget. Vote on the appointments before you, ESPECIALLY the judicial appointments. Begin open and honest debate on the issues before you, and allow them to come before a vote. Eliminate any and all rules that allow anonymous blocks of any debate or appointment. Tackle the gun issue head on, free up the CDC to study the issue with scientific methods and allow the ATF to enforce the laws that you’ve passed OR repeal those laws if they’re too invasive, just don’t let them remain in the worthless state they’re in. Tackle climate change head on with honest, scientific debate, free from those who would skew such debate with lies and deception. Tackle this economy head-on by passing tax and regulatory reforms you deem necessary, and make them long-lasting so our business community knows there will be stability in our economy. Stop the pointless bickering over the debt ceiling, that is a fabricated issue and you know it. And get the lobbyists out of your offices and into the gallery with the rest of the citizens of the country. They are no better than the average person simply because they have large purse strings. And if there are members of this institution who find themselves incapable of performing their duties and fulfilling their oaths, then at least have the decency to step aside, retire, and allow another to take your place.

“This nation cannot survive and thrive with a malfunctioning government. We need a competent and honest Congress. Please give us one. Thank you, good night, and God Bless America.

—————-

Yeah, won’t happen. We’ll have more platitudes and more “mystery guests” in the balcony and more standing ovations of the same applause lines we’ve heard time and time again. Entropy will continue, and things will get worse, until either the next great leader, or the next great crisis, comes along and gives us the impetus to change our ways.

[Editted to include an oversight on "executive branch oversight". Was intended to be part of this post but was missed.]

The Sane

When I was 14, my buddies and I took a gun safety course over a couple consecutive weekends. We were all excited: the goal was that coveted prize known as an FID (Firearms Identification) card. With one of those babies, we could get a gun permit that would allow us to carry shotguns for hunting. It was one of the early “road to adulthood” milestones: I still have my original one, laminated & locked away in the same strongbox as my high school & college diplomas.

I loved hunting back then. I liked the small-game hunting, that was the really fun stuff. We hunted with our purebred beagles, awesome dogs. Repeated Kennel Club champions, they’d chase those rabbits all through the fields, trying to run them in front of us. It was our job to pay attention to the howling and predict where the fluffy little bastard would appear and shoot it as cleanly as we could without endangering the dog. That was a sport, and I loved it.

Our Hero

Pheasant hunting was great, too. We still used the beagles, but the dogs didn’t really give a damn about the birds. We just hoped the dogs would stumble across one, while they were sniffing around the underbrush, and flush the bird into the air so we could take a shot. We also had some friends with real “birder” dogs, that added a neat dynamic to it.

I was never that big on deer hunting. First, in the era before global warming, it was always friggin’ cold! Second, it was far too serious. People would prepare for months to go deer hunting, gathering & maintaining their gear, plotting out their vacation days, stocking up on food & firewood, getting supplies. We also took a nowadays-unconventional approach: we’d actually walk the woods and track the deer, which would lead us miles and miles into the woods where, if we did get a good shot, meant we had miles out of the woods to drag the ruddy carcass back to the truck. It could be hard work, and had dangers of its own, but I consider that true hunting. I’m sorry, modern deer hunters, but riding out in your ATV to sit in a tree stand with heat packs up your ass and a high-powered rifle with scope watching a known deer trail is for pussies. Get your ass out of the tree & track a deer for 12 miles and then I’ll be impressed. ;-)

Source: www.bowhunting.com

Wuss

I stopped hunting in my early 20s, partly because I had a falling out with my dad and partly because I found I enjoyed the “walking in the woods” part far more than I enjoyed the “blowing the little bastard’s head off in a clean shot” part. It just wasn’t my thing. But I still have absolutely nothing against hunters, even the tree-stand pussies. Hunting is a sport, even though technology doesn’t make it that much of a challenge anymore. It also has real purposes. Deer really are vermin, even if they are adorable, and in the absence of predators they can get out of control and destroy forests & crops. Hunting also rewards one with food, and even though most of us “suburbanites” can head to our nearest Outback for sustenance, hunting is still an important source of food in our rural communities. I’ve been in some of these poor rural areas and listened to some of these folks, and they definitely hunt & fish to supplement a generally poor diet.

Hunting still has a real need, and although sometimes hunting may need to be restricted for biodiversity reasons, I’ll never support any gun control measures that curtail hunting. The same goes for other, legitimate gun sports like competitive shooting (skeet, etc.). Guns are needed in rural areas for protection from coyotes and what-not as well (asking an Alaskan to give up his rifle would be like asking him to jump off a tall building). So let’s leave these people be.

The Understandable

I can relate to hunters, but I do have trouble relating to the “personal protection” crowd. These are the people who buy handguns (and only handguns, see next section) for protection for themselves, their loved ones, and their homesteads. Unlike hunting, I don’t have a good frame of reference or any experience in the matter. I’ve never hung out with cops, or took self-defense firearms courses, and I don’t study up on the topic. But looking at it from a distance, as objectively as I can, I see many reasons why a personal handgun won’t really help you.

Most robberies occur when no one is home, and the thing that’s most likely to be stolen is your handgun. Most owners don’t seek the training they’d need to really use the weapon defensively (range target practice alone is NOT adequate for that). And the circumstances where a handgun really would help you seem to be narrow: you need to be awake, your gun needs to be handy, you need to have a shot, the criminal needs to be intimidated enough to run, etc. Plus you need to be cool and collected and professional (most people can’t even drive their cars professionally!).

Source: www.smosh.com

Yeah, that’ll work

I also see many more reasons where having a handgun in the house can be a really bad idea (when your depressed, drunken brother-in-law shows up out of nowhere and rummages through your stuff; or when your 5-year-old finds it where you left it when the dog distracted you by pissing on the carpet on gun-cleaning day); and only a few “perfect storm” moments where it will help you (you’re awake, the criminal sees you have one, and doesn’t have a death wish, etc.).

But, in the end, I may have an intellectual problem with the effectiveness, but I don’t have a philosophical problem with handguns-as-protection. It is entirely possible to own & use one appropriately and safely, and the risks posed by most varieties of handguns are at least counter-balanced by the risks they prevent. There are, undoubtedly, situations where a handgun can help you. There are anecdotes all over the place, and  some (often disputed but at least believable) statistics showing it to be the case. And heaven knows we live in a dangerous world full of rapists & murders. In the end, we do have a fundamental right to protect ourselves, and handguns can be one mechanism to do that.

The Bat-Shit Crazy

So I called this post “gun owners scare the crap outta me”, and so far have blabbed on at length about how gun owners don’t bother me. It’s because the first group are “hunters/sportsmen” and the second group is, hmmm, “cautious homesteaders”?? (gads, that’s awful.) The point is the prior two groups are not categorized by their gun ownership. It is not their identity. They are people who have other identities who happen to own guns for one reason or another.

“Gun Owners”, by contrast (and I’ll use the capital letters for clarity), are those whose very identity is tied up in their guns. These are the vocal, the loud, the proud, and (in my opinion) the friggin’ ridiculous. These are people so focused on their gun ownership to the point of obsession, fetishism, and being creepy as all get-out. It’s like the difference between a woman who keeps a few china dolls from her childhood, and a woman who has 8,000 of the freaky-assed things on every shelf, all of them staring at you while you’re trying to enjoy your corn flakes. One is kinda cute, the other is a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here, bat-shit crazy.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Adorable

Source: http://www.urlesque.com

OMFG, What the Hell?!?

It is very easy to detect when someone has descended into madness, any kind of madness, either in whole or in part. All you have to do is listen to their logic and their justification for their position. You talk to the woman with 8 china dolls, and she’ll tell you where she got them, what favorite aunt bought her which one when she had her first Communion, and what not. You talk to the woman with 8,000 china dolls and she’ll tell you how they all talk to her when she’s sleeping. One is sane and one is crazy. Talk to a hoarder, and she’ll explain how she may someday need to save a drowning man with that bucket of gum wrappers and those Time magazines from 1987. Talk to an alcoholic and he’ll explain how “it really helps him relax and meet people” as he stares at you through yellow eyes, his rock-hard liver hanging out his own asshole, while his Impala is wrapped around a telephone pole. Extremists come up with the craziest of ideas, stuff they certainly believe to be true but under no circumstances passes any sort of test of fact or logic.

This is how I feel about Gun Owners. I listen to their conversations and arguments, and I can’t help but think something is horribly, horribly wrong with them. Let me go through a few of my favorites.

“I Own an Assault Weapon”

So let’s just start here, and let’s not quibble about the definition of “assault weapon”. One of the biggest bullshit misdirections of the whole debate is defining that term (although I guess if you’re going to legislate it then you need to define it, fair point). But Gun Owners know full well what the rest of us mean: it’s any gun that is designed for the sole purpose of killing a shitload of people. Large-capacity clips, rapid fire, high caliber, silencers, etc., etc., whatever. All items worthless for hunting and way beyond the notion of personal protection (more on that later). These weapons have no other purpose than killing a bunch of people (actually, there is one other, but I’ll come back to that, too). They certainly aren’t meant for keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder.

“Suck on this, you nut-gathering bastards!”

If you own an assault rifle, you bought it for one reason: so you can kill a shitload of people. Sure, in your head you may think up any reason you can, but the bottom line is you’ve bought a weapon designed to kill a shitload of people and deep-down that’s what you want to do with it. You’re just egging for a fight, an excuse, and you’ll take it. Here’s why: sane people don’t buy things to not use them. I recently bought a Sawz-All to renovate my kitchen. I bought it to cut up countertops and shit. I didn’t buy it for “practice” or “because it’s my right” or “it looked good on my shelf”. I bought it to cut up shit, and Gun Owners bought their assault weapons to kill people (in reality or “just in case”, it doesn’t matter). They shouldn’t insult our intelligence by making up any other reason.

“I Need It for Protection”

Another statement I can’t get my head around. When it comes to any form of protection, even things like sprinkler systems and door locks, you have to balance out protection vs. risk vs. cost vs. practicality. Home fire extinguishers are a great idea. Home sprinkler systems are available but also require maintenance and improperly done could flood your house. Wrapping the whole thing in asbestos is bat-shit crazy. Same applies to personal protection weapons.

You want to deter or prevent the bad guy. Understandable. A handgun is concealable, pretty accurate in trained hands, and easily controlled. You can keep it in the nightstand or in your purse or under the seat. You can access it pretty quickly. And if something goes horribly wrong the caliber and capacity is low enough that it will be bad for you but perhaps not catastrophic to society. And if it’s stolen, well, that’s bad too but at least it’s only a 10 or 12 shooter and has a limited caliber & feature set.

So what the hell do you do with an assault weapon? Can’t hide that in your purse! A good robber — one who waits until the house is empty — is gonna see that thing and steal it straight away. Unless you have it in a gun safe, but then it’s not much use as a personal protection device, eh? Oh, you’re going to be 100% careful to leave it available when you’re home and lock it when you’re out? And you’ve never locked your keys in your car either, eh? And let’s say you do encounter a burglar/rapist in your house. Are you really going to light up the joint with 30, 50, or 100 rounds in a rapid-fire mode? Seriously? Hope your wife & kids aren’t in the next room. And don’t say “I can shoot it accurately”. You can shoot it accurately at a range under controlled circumstances. Unless you’ve had years of urban warfare training, you ain’t gonna be able to shoot jack shit when you’re walking through your dark house in your boxer shorts as you step on your kids’ Legos. There’s gonna be bullets flying all over the friggin’ place.

Source: http://www.kevinmd.com

“I’ve always hated that avocado tile in the bathroom anyway”

I don’t see any realistic home-invasion scenario where an assault rifle is better than a personal handgun for protection, and see plenty where the overkill is far more dangerous than not even having anything. And let’s not even talk about the ramifications if one gets stolen by a criminal or discovered by your drunken, pissed-off brother-in-law.

“It’s Our Right and We Must Use It”

This one really pisses me off. It preys on our fundamental core values: our own liberties. It’s a cheap shot, actually.

First, let me point out the obvious. All our rights have limits. You can’t use your freedom of speech to slander another or cause a riot. You can’t use your freedom of press to libel another. You can’t use freedom of religion as an excuse to control, imprison, or defraud people. Liberty stops when exercise of that liberty harms another, even the Founding Fathers understood that.

But here’s the real deal. All rights should be exercised responsibly. Sure, you have the right to do stuff, but that doesn’t make it right. You have the freedom of speech, but sometimes you need to STFU (or at least stop talking to yourself). You have the freedom of the press, but printing out 20,000 copies of your Kaczynski-esque manifesto and spreading it around town is just a wee bit ridiculous. Your freedom of religion doesn’t mean you should sacrifice live goats in the public square and paint swastikas in blood on your foreheads. Those behaviors are crazy and ridiculous, so is the Gun Owner’s desire to have weapons whose only purpose is to kill a shitload of people. It’s ridiculous, and they damned well know it. This isn’t about “government squashing our rights”, this is about acting responsibly and keeping an entire class of weapons whose one and only purpose is killing a shitload of people out of circulation.

Not only that, but by Gun Owners not acting responsibly and keeping these wholly bullshit weapons off the market permanently means that other bat-shit crazy assclowns can also stockpile these things. So that means more and more, in a never-ending escalation, until everyone is at risk from everyone else!

Source: public domain (Operation Fast & Furious gun hoard)

Your Neighbor’s Living Room

Not acting responsibly is one symptom of mental illness. Just saying …

“We Have a Duty to Stand Up to Our Government”

That’s my reply when a Gun Owner says “we have a duty to stand up to our government” (or the U.N. or the CIA or whatever).

It leaves me absolutely speechless. This is an argument so patently ridiculous, so baseless, it cause a full-synapse reboot.

This is not Guatemala. This is not Venezuela. This is not the Congo or Afghanistan. For crying out loud, this is America! And hate it or not, there is no reasonable scenario where our Armed Forces or police forces are going to put us under martial law or anything. It’s tin-foil-hat wearing nonsense, utter and stupid.

And don’t go tossing out Ruby Ridge, Waco, or other, similar occurrences. These are people who instigated trouble and then fought it and they were slaughtered. The notion that you are going to fight a war with the police or the FBI or the National Guard and end up anything other than a puddle of moisture is ridiculous. I don’t care how many rifles you own. Also don’t toss out the “accidental arrest” situation, where the cops have the wrong address and break down your door. It happens and it sucks, but are you really going to start shooting at them? Have a nice trip to the afterlife.

Source: www.pestproducts.com

Even the crickets are speechless

Here’s the real deal: what is the greater likelihood, the real risk-benefit analysis? That the government is going to run roughshod over our rights in jackbooted fashion, and that you can fight back; or that the assclown next door with his cache of assault weapons — weapons that Gun Owners demanded remain on the market — is going to go nutso and shoot up the neighborhood because his girlfriend dumped him.

The latter is by far the likelier scenario.

What really pisses me off is these folks are running around saying “it’s our right!” Well, what about my rights! The right not to live in a culture of fear where at any moment some nutjob sonofabitch is gonna freak out because Hostess stops making Twinkies and decides to shoot up a 7-Eleven on a lark. It’s bad enough having to tolerate handguns, at least those have a purpose and have reasonable limitations. Having all these outrageous weapons is just begging for trouble. Why should I have to face that in my own  life simply because the Gun Owners only care about their rights? Screw them!

As a side note, I’ve found that the real Gun Owner, while defending his right to own whatever gun he wants, is also the guy who’ll tell you not to vote. Go figure.

“I Like My Guns”

Yes! Huzzah! Finally, if you get one to admit this is why they want a 100% free 2nd Amendment, you have an intellectually honest Gun Owner!

Of course people like their guns. They are exciting to shoot! It’s a rush, there is no denying. And, in the end, this is the only reason people own these assault weapons: they like the rush.

What else is a rush? Gambling. Methamphetamines. Auto-erotic asphyxiation.

This is another cause of chronic, illogical thinking: constant exposure to addictive substances or actions. It is my belief that some people are addicted to firing weapons, and continue to spout nonsense statements like these because of that addiction. They are hooked on the rush of firing these weapons. Call it what you want, it’s an addiction, and like all addictions, it’s harmful.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

At least you’re only killing yourself

I grew up in an alcoholic family. I’ve heard so many addiction-inspired lies and nonsense from alcoholic parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, I can spot them a mile away. It’s a lie so incredibly shallow and so blatantly obvious it’s insulting to your intelligence that someone would try to pull it on you, but it’s a lie so believable in their universe because of the physical or psychology effects of addiction. It the type of lie that sets me off, causes me to tense up with such rage because it is so directly insulting. This is exactly the type of feeling I get from Gun Owners when they spout off the NRA’s talking points.

This is also why the gun lobby makes such little sense to us, but such tremendous sense to the Gun Owner: their only answer to anything is “let’s have more guns”. They are the pushers of this addictive substance. They’re making a buttload of money from gun sales, and they know what sells guns: the rush of shooting them and the fear of other guns! Go ahead, Gun Owner. Ask yourself honestly “why did I buy this high-powered weapon”. It’s either a) you get a huge rush shooting the damned thing, or b) you are afraid that someone else has one and you wanted something that would kill them first. This is the real trap that the gun lobby has set, it’s insidious in its design: they sell the only product where selling more to person A guarantees more will be sold to persons B, C, and D. Normally drug dealers try to get you hooked to sell more to you, but the gun lobby tries to get you hooked so they can sell to someone else because that person is now afraid of you! This is a far more effective model than any drug or cult, with far greater marketing potential!

Don’t think for a moment the NRA and other groups are protecting the 2nd Amendment. They are funded by and working for the gun industry, whose only goal is to sell more weapons.

The Summary

And so now we come back to the title of this post: Gun Owners Scare the Crap Outta Me. It’s very simply summarized as follows:

We have an entire segment of the population who’s logic and sanity is in question because of an addiction-like fascination with very dangerous weapons.  And that scares the wholly hell out of me. Much more so than U.N. black helicopters.

How did we end up here??

===============================

[This post will probably get me killed. Ah well, it's been a good life. My will is up to date, and for your information, none of you are in it. :-P]

[Edit 2: it has been pointed out to me all the inner-city violence is linked to handguns, not to assault rifles. This is very true, and has definitely added more to think about. However, inner-city violence is a different animal and requires completely different solutions than the  random mass-shooting incidents that inspired this point.]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers