Tag Archives: gun control

Phobicness (#Orlando)

My 2016 campaign will focus on eradicating the suffix “-phobia” from the language of our polity.

“Homophobia” and “transphobia” inadequately characterize the lethal hate our LGBTQ friends and family experience daily. We are anti-LGBTQ. Anti-trans. Anti-woman. Anti-child. Anti-black. We are not phobic. 

I have a phobia. It makes me scared while going along with apparently fun high-up enjoyments such as sitting in a stadium, riding a roller coaster, motoring around the Alps, white scarf aflutter, and drinking cocktails on a Brooklyn roof in July. 

My irrational anxiety about perching higher than evolution intended (I’m neither a leopard nor a sloth, not even in spirit) does not make me legislate rules keeping people off of roller coasters. It does not make me fabricate religious justification that cloaks my heights-avoidant neurosis in sham moralism. 

It does make me hand off certain heights-required tasks to non-phobic companions. But it doesn’t make me slaughter 49 people with a military weapon at the only place they feel safely and fully themselves.

 Irrational fear does not impel slaughter. 

A culture defining masculinity as dominance buttressed by firepower impels slaughter. 

A culture that fails to name domestic violence as terrorism impels slaughter. 

A culture that equates gayness with weakness, femininity and castration impels slaughter. 

These are decisions we make together. These decisions are not based on irrational fears. We decide to treat LGBTQ people, disabled people, women, and children as second class. Third class if they are people of color. We sell military weapons to people we’ve told are fully entitled to the minds and bodies of others. Then we blame another culture when the inevitable result of all our decisions turn out worse than we expected. 

We are not “afraid” of LGBTQ people. We actively constructed a society that deprives them of human dignity. We handed assault rifles to people who believed us when we said that str8t is gr8t. And then we blame “radical Islam” and “mental illness” for these decisions that we made together, thus relieving ourselves of the moral obligation to confront our actions. 

We call “senseless” a massacre that makes perfect sense, given the logics of supremacy undergirding our society from its founding. 

We made Orlando. 

I am Americaphobic. 

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Peacenik Ranting

So I was innocently enjoying a professional development event in my town’s civic center this noontime when I heard from a tablemate, who’d recently checked her twitter, that there was a bomb threat at the courthouse across the street.

SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?

But to which I couldn’t muster much more than a weary “I hope I can get out of the parking lot.” (I could.)

Rant 1: Don’t call watered-down legislation that won the support of a clear majority of the legislature (and a massive majority of the electorate) a failure. Call the system a failure.

Rant 2: We live in a culture of violence. Sometimes that violence is aesthetically glorified—like in movies and video games—and sometimes it causes nationwide terror—like in Boston, Newtown, Aurora, etc etc etc etc etc.

But if it’s a cultural, system-wide problem, then how can we possibly arrive at a solution? Certainly reasonable gun control may help stall, if not reverse, the gravity.

If weaponry in general were not depicted as such an endemic part of masculinity, of patriotism, of power.

If weaponry were regarded as culturally neutral as, say, pharmaceuticals, wine, or children’s toys. That is to say, if they were regulated with dispassionate reason based on data rather than feverish corporate lobbying disguised as grassroots human “rights” activism.

Here‘s Adam Gopnik elegantly (and boldly) connecting our aesthetics of violence with our actual lived experience of violent, shattering events. Contra liberal doctrine against “censorship.”

The reason we don’t want our kids—or our teen-agers, or ourselves for that matter—lost in violent imagery, whatever the beauty of the pixelated townscape, is not because of something that they will cause but because of what they are right now. It’s not what they might do it’s who they are in the act of becoming. Fictive or not, violent images increase the sum total of violence in the world. If we believe that we, as Edmund Burke said, should hate violence and love liberty, then we can’t hate violence and still make it part of our idea of pleasure.

If I spent 10 years of my professional and personal life devoted to the principle that our culture affects—changes–our lived, historical experience (which is one way to describe the work of a literary scholar), why can’t I say out loud, as a liberal, that this shit matters. That all our movies and films that center, drooling, on killing MATTER. These images and stories change us.

And perhaps they have changed us back into the kind of culture we were before we developed a civil society, when the rule of law began replacing feudal systems of social regulation.

Maybe “civil society” was always a fiction, given our long history with extra-legal systemic violence (ahem lynching, ahem rape, ahem domestic violence, ahem “stand your ground” laws, ahem stop-n-frisk).

So I’m willing to condemn Tarantino’s (or the Law and Order franchise, or like any drama on TV that isn’t Mad Men) bloodlust as bad for our society, sure, though they’d still sell enough tickets and ads to drown out any plaintive peacenik self-righteousness on WordPress.

But I’m still going to laugh at the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote.

Sorry. I just am.

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Morning Titter

 

 

Your quick hit of salacious but relevant political humor. In honor of Hickenlooper signing into law some common sense regulations of our you-know-whats.

funny gun thing

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Mr. Tiny Sips Takes a Big Ol’ Gulp

Today’s big news is that snowboarding may no longer be cool.

Sometimes heads of state are racist. Even when they say they’re not.

And Mr. Incremental Pragmatism closed his eyes, pinched his nose shut, and cannonballed into the deep waters of Big Politics. Without a floatie.

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Many Dimensions to Our Culture of Violence

Many words, lately, on violence, guns, and women. It would take me all day to find all the links for you, so you can trust me on it. Aurora, Newton, Steubenville, this lovely meditation on the “slow violence” culture impels women to do unto their bodies daily.

This blog is forcing me to wrestle with the fact that what we can accept as obvious in academic humanities circles—that we live in a rape culture, for example, in which violence against women is the unquestioned norm pervading most of our daily life–actually takes a really long time to explain to people new to the concept. But sometimes examples of it can help.

I don’t intend to add to the litany about guns, violence, and gender. But it was all on my mind as I read this riveting NYT Magazine piece about a remarkable family who sought to use newfangled, hippy-dippy “restorative justice” to forgive the boy who killed their daughter and to give him a life-giving, rather than life-destroying, sentence.

Conor McBride

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Beautiful Writing (About Gun Control)

In last week’s New Yorker, the inimitable Jill Lepore lays out the history of gun control legislation from the Constitution onward.

Turns out, and it’s not surprising, that the current civil-rights-based interpretation of the 2nd Amendment was radical when the NRA started floating it in the 70s. For 200 years prior, everyone understood the Constitution to affirm the people’s right to form militias for the good of the commonwealth. The 2nd Amendment goes along with the 3d Amendment, protecting the commonwealth from a military regime (that part about not having to quarter a soldier without your consent).

Li’l militias soon got absorbed into the standing national army, and armories were publicly operated storehouses for the sanctioned army to use. Citizens used guns for hunting and didn’t think of the two as connected.

The right to defend your property from a shady-looking nogoodnik had nothing to do with it. But in the 70s, the NRA formed a lobbying arm. And during the Reagan administration, the NRA lobbyists started to succeed in getting this new, radical, civil rights interpretation placed in legal journals–and in getting it passed into law.

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