Guns, guns, the musical fruit
The more you buy, the more you shoot
The more you shoot, the better you feel
So eat more guns at every meal
I’m a self-described “not a poet”. The lines above came to mind as I read a blog entry by my online acquaintance and photographer extraordinaire Richard R. Barron. He has incendiary things to say, which I encourage you to read before you continue with this entry. I agree with some, and strongly disagree with others.
I will quote several passages from his entry and respond to them below.
I think it’s a mistake to divorce many of the U.S.’s problems from the country’s repressed sexuality. Nearly half our country thinks it’s a sin to masturbate, leaving us with an incredible number of half-cocked (pun intended) young men wandering around with plenty of access to guns.
Most of them are parroting phrases they’ve heard from politicians and activists. Most of the “solutions” aren’t solutions at all — only distractions from the primary issue, which is the sheer abundance of killing machines in our country. (I don’t own any, but my neighbor owns enough for a few dozen people and almost none of them are locked up.)
Despite the oft-ignored fact that we actually voted for Hillary Clinton — by a few million votes — there should have NEVER been enough votes ANYWHERE to give Trump an Electoral College edge. This is a disgrace. If you voted for the tantrum-throwing dotard — or sat it out or voted third-party — you are to blame.
Note he didn’t say ALL Americans. Americans as a group. And he’s right. If we as a nation valued anything more than money, we wouldn’t spend most of our federal budget on enriching military contractors while actual soldiers and veterans starve, go without medical care, and/or kill themselves. We would be asking: “What can we do to improve education?” instead of “Look at how much we spend on education.” We would be actively combating climate change instead of whining about how doing so might “cripple the economy”.
I don’t like “vulgar” because of its classist roots — it was invented by upper class people to refer to us regular people. Also, I don’t think porn is related to the subject — except as an example of how the U.S. isn’t as awesome as most people think. Much of life in general is demeaning and violent toward women.
The NRA’s “rhetoric” is exactly what they believe, and what you pay for if you’re a member. It is a one-point group that exists for no other reason than “shall not be infringed”. If you believe your right to own a gun is more important than the personal safety of others, then the NRA is for you. If you don’t believe that, then get out.
Forty years ago (and before), the NRA was about gun safety, marksmanship, hunting, and conservation, but they changed in the late 1970s. (They sat quietly in the 1960s as Ronald Reagan enacted gun control laws in California — because scary black men were carrying guns.) Since the late 1970s switchover, the NRA has opposed every gun control measure. The new executive vice president came with this clarion call: “No compromise. No gun legislation.” They asked for machine guns regulations to be rolled back. Wayne LaPierre joined the crew in 1978 and took over in 1991. A few years later, lifelong NRA member George H.W. Bush resigned his membership — and every other reasonable person should have too.
All of this has been well-known for decades. There is no excuse.
Indeed. It is a killing machine, pure and simple. You can’t use a gun to repair a light fixture or cook a meal (both of which I’ve used a knife for). You can’t use a gun to create, build, design, or edify anything. It can only destroy.
1. I’m always surprised when fellow atheists use the word “soul”. Show me evidence for souls existing. 2. Also: Nope. My purpose in life is self-determined and unrelated to whether I’m fat.
I never fell for the “soldiers fight for our freedoms” nonsense. No they don’t. Most of them signed up as teenagers when their brains weren’t fully formed, after a lifetime of indoctrination that soldiering is honorable or glorious. Your opinion does not matter more because you are or were in the military.
(I advocate for better treatment of our veterans as well as for the men and women we put in harm’s way. I am very fond of the idea that only leaders who call for war should fight in wars.)
I don’t know Richard well enough to know whether he’s blaming real-world violence on violence in movies or video games. It sounds like it, because otherwise what’s the point of these lines? It’s a mistake.
The world is far less violent today than it ever was. Once-common atrocities like genocide and infanticide are now nearly universally condemned. Once-strange concepts like individual human rights are now the order of the day. In the early days of movies, the violence depicted on screen was far outweighed by violence in real life. Today, the opposite is true.
Violence in modern movies almost always falls into three categories: historical (“Dunkirk”), sci-fi/fantasy (“Star Wars”, “Justice League”, etc.), or localized (films that depict local, individual incidents of violence, such as a specific occurrence of rape, murder, or bullying). Two are loosely based in reality, and depictions have grown grittier and bloodier over time. In most of us, the scenes provoke visceral reactions: revulsion and moral outrage. The other category (sci-fi/fantasy) is as Richard said: “bloodless and faceless”, such as when a star cruiser explodes — you KNOW hundreds of human beings died, but don’t actually see the human effects. I think this is a reflection of the movie-makers wanting the PG-13 rating to increase audience potential and has little real-world effect.
If movies and video games are more violent than they once were, we know it’s not causing an increase in violence, because violence in the real world has decreased over time.
Because guns don’t make people safer. It is the absolute reduction in weapons that makes these buildings among the safest in the world. They become intrinsically less safe with every gun that shows up. The powers that be know this. The rest of us are taking way too long to figure it out.
Every “civilian” with a gun is an unbadged, untrained, unacknowledged arbiter of justice. Each can only enforce the laws in their own minds. It’s anarchy. It’s you-or-me. It’s kill or be killed. Leave your gun at home. (Take it to the range, or hunt if you think you need to, but…) I don’t want every Tom, Dick, and Shelly sitting around me in a restaurant to be armed. It does NOT make me safer. I am NOT safer in the supermarket because you brought your pistol in your purse. You are just as likely to shoot me accidentally as you are to shoot a criminal.
I hope not. But you marginally increased the statistical chances of those things happening. It is indisputable that if you left your gun at home you could NOT use it for violence, and that you specifically allowed those choices when you brought it with you.
No rights are god-given. There are no gods. I don’t care whether it’s in your holy book or not, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Church Of The Golden Trumpian. Your god is a sham. And your gun makes our world more dangerous.
This was my favorite passage in the entire blog entry. Right now, there’s a child somewhere who will be a mass shooter in 15 or 20 or 40 years. Right now. He’s riding the bike on your street, or playing at the playground you zip past on the way home, or sitting in your living room watching “Ninjago”.
(I think he meant “trope”, not “tome”.)
As a progressive liberal, you CAN expect from me that “no one needs an assault rifle”. Or a 17-round mag for your semi-auto handgun. Fuck, almost no one today needs a hunting rifle or shotgun for that matter. The preponderance of guns increases the likelihood of getting shot by guns. It might not address the “real problems” Richard listed, but it DOES address the very real problem that almost everyone can easily get a firearm in our country.
“But hunting is a family tradition.” Fuck you. Whipping children used to be a family tradition, but now we know it causes irreversible psychological harm and helps nothing. Stalking fellow mammals (or other critters) with an aim to end their lives so you can put antlers on your wall is absurd. If you’re starving and can’t find a soup kitchen, by all means trap or hunt for your next meal, but recognize that 99.999% of the world manages to eat without hunting.
If YOU snap tomorrow and decide to go on a killing spree, I don’t want your options to include weapons suited for war. I want your options to be very limited to, say, kitchen implements or garden tools. Come at me with a rake, and I will defend myself with a shovel. See how that’s better than a 19-year-old walking into Academy or Bass Pro and walking out with an AR-15?
Those other problems are very real, yes, and should be addressed. We can work on more than one problem at a time. Gun ubiquity is a real problem. Let’s work on it.
Fortunately, the first part isn’t true. “Fundamentalists” comprise a smaller percentage of our nation than the GOP would have us think. But yes, any person who believes the Bible must also believe in violence — the book is based on it, filled with it, and culminates in the ultimate violence: the genocide of most of the human race (anyone who disagrees) and the destruction of much of the universe.
While I’d like to see less violence all around, I don’t think most people are basically violent today. We beat our children less than we used to. We own fewer slaves than we used to. We abuse our spouses less than we once did. We send smaller proportions of our population to war than we did a century ago. Most people today — even those who enjoy violence depicted in movies or games — aren’t engaging in actual violence in their day-to-day lives.
I’d like to never see that phrase again. We need to (1) stop advocating penalties for unconvicted defendants, and (2) reform our justice system to match the advanced nations of Europe — if not improve upon them. We also need to dismantle the school-to-prison pipelines that keep our prison system crammed full of potential free citizens, and stop arresting people for ingesting things that make them feel better.
Again, it is a matter of fact that we commit fewer atrocities than we used to — both as a species and as a nation. But we can improve further. As for the absurdities, fortunately, I think we’re believing fewer of those too. Again, we have a lot of room for improvement.
In my ideal fantasy world, cities like mine would have more libraries than churches, more beds in the homeless shelter than in the county jail, larger parking lots at the city parks than at the city’s hospital, more solar-powered houses than SUVs, more hands-on community projects than private intoxication parties, and so on.
In The End
His blog entry was all over the place; I got the impression it was written as a stream-of-consciousness spurt rather than a carefully crafted argument. Good! Get it all out. Write it down. Tell us what you really think.
Come at me (or Richard) with your words, your thoughts, your informed reasoning. Leave your guns at home — this isn’t a contest of bullet holes, but rather of information and rationality.