Thursday, December 20, 2012

Placing blame where it belongs...or anywhere it'll stick, as long as it isn't over here!

Anyone listening to the conservative blogosphere or talking heads, or the typical conservative POV expressed on social media and elsewhere, is by now pretty clear as to where conversations can go regarding the Sandy massacre.

A discussion about limiting accessibility to assault weapons is verboten, for instance. There is no practical way to keep guns out of the hands of violent, mentally ill people, because that would infringe on the rights of good guys. We do not need a discussion about a culture that conflates masculinity and gun ownership, and what impact that has on insecure, mentally ill young men – a culture that is, coincidentally, fostered by the companies producing these weapons (like the following ad by Bushmaster – who produced one of the guns Adam Lanza used).

But you must understand that guns are not the problem here, unless it be that there are not enough guns floating around. To say otherwise is to be akin to Hitler, Stalin, and pretty much every other evil dictator out there – to want to leave the people defenseless to the wicked whims and evil machinations of tyrannical government. (Nevermind that, for all the villains you can dig up who disarmed the populace, there are plenty of countries who have implemented very strict gun control laws without butchering their people; you must be afraid, very afraid, that anyone who talks about in anyway regulating your right to bear arms [curse those fascist founding fathers!] wants you to be defenseless against the government. Because you, good American, with your cache of assault weapons, are the valiant guard of freedom, against the tyranny of our government...and their tanks, jets, drones, and everything else. That's a charge not to be taken lightly! And ignore, for that matter, that almost no one is talking about disarming the populace [you know, what those dictators actually did], but about limiting the types of guns that people can own to ones that are, say, well suited for hunting, self defense and target practice, but that aren't well suited to, say, taking into a public place and massacring large numbers of people or outgunning the police who have come to stop you). Guns, after all, do not kill people. People kill people, and they would do the same whether they had assault weapons or not; pay no heed to the fact that there were multiple gun massacres this year alone, because we can dig up a few people from the last century who managed to put together bombs and kill people (and we'll very disingenuously ignore that we tightened restrictions on the materials that went into making those bombs after the fact, because we want no such tightened restrictions on the weapons used in these massacres). We can point to people committing crimes without guns, like the assailant who attacked twenty-some kids on the same day with a knife in China; again, we'll ignore that all of those kids survived their wounds, while none of the Sandy Hook victims did. Yes, you may be able to inflict vastly more damage with an assault weapon than a knife, but you could still hurt people with a knife; and if you're going to restrict the one, you'll have to restrict the other. And since everything can cause damage (even flat screen tv's!), we'll be in a lot of trouble if we go down that slippery slope.

So we know what we can't talk about – where absolutely no blame lies and no discussion can happen. But the inevitable question, when such a senseless taking of innocent life occurs, is why, and how can we prevent it in future? Since none, absolutely none, of the discussion can involve guns, let's look at the creative ways that conservative/gun-rights activists have tried to explain the massacre, and where they've put the blame. (Warning: you will be weeping for humanity by time you're finished. Also, don't read if easily pissed off, because sensitive or compassionate these Grade A obfuscators are not).

Women and femininity. Charlotte Allen writes for the National Review that the real problem was that there wasn't enough “male aggression” at the school. You might be tempted to think that there was exactly one aggressive 20 year old male too much, but you'd be wrong – because, while “[w]omen and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers,” “male aggression” would have, Allen would have us believe, miraculously carried unarmed men to victory against a skilled, armed assailant. Because they're men. Aggressive men. It's hard to tell who she's more offensive to in this piece – men, who are, by her accounting, raging, aggressive magicians who can apparently withstand gun fire unlike mortal women (because they're men!), or women, who, even when performing feats of heroism, are given a tepid tribute of “seemed to have performed bravely” “according to the reports”. Well, yes, I do. Heroic women gave their lives to defend others (not through a failure on their parts, but because, as human beings, we are all – even men, believe it or not – susceptible to bullets), and they are all but dismissed as being not only useless but the problem. Still, I can't imagine too many men thrilled at being nominated for the honor of bullet absorption by virtue of being born male.

Video games. Newt Gingrich sees the issue as lying with less church and more video games. Specifically, “war games”. Unless something's changed recently in the Party that I'm not aware of, joining the real military and killing actual people where necessary is still a good thing; it's when you do it in make-believe that it's an issue. Violent video games, then, where you take fake guns and kill fake people (or aliens, or monsters) are bad. (Interestingly enough, it's video game legislation that made it to Congress before anything to do with guns).

Teachers and teacher's unions. Yes, you read that correctly. You know those heroes, who gave up their own lives to protect children? According to Tea Party Nation, the solution lies with taking power from the “radicals in the classroom” and busting teacher's unions. How or why doesn't matter. Only know that “if people are serious about stopping this sort of thing,” we need to eradicate the power of those “radical” teachers and bust their unions. Or so goes tea party logic.

Abortion and God. God is angry about abortion, thus, as a “consequence”, 20 children are murdered. That may not make sense to you, but it did to James Dobson, who listed as other sources of God's murderous rage gay marriage and atheism.

Not enough God. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association declared that “God is not going to go where he is not wanted” – and the solution to school shootings, in his eyes, is morning prayer. One can only wonder what sort of feeble minded deity would avenge himself on elementary students who were insufficiently sycophantic, but such musings are probably best kept out of Fischer's earshot.

God's been fired. Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and fountain of sanctimony, declared that we've “systematically removed God from our schools” and turned them into places “where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability”. Which might have been a better argument if Adam Lanza was or had been recently a student at the school. But considering that it was an elementary school, and he was a 20 year old man with a mind of his own, blaming the victims really doesn't achieve much here.

Abortion, and not enough God! Huckabee again. The issue is, according to him, that “we’ve escorted [God] out of our culture and marched him off the public square and then we express our surprise that a culture without him reflects what it’s become.” This would be a better argument if the places where God reigned supreme were in a better state; if, say, churches weren't rife with pedophile scandals. If, historically, Christian lands weren't bastions of cruelty, paranoia, superstition, and ignorance. If Christians didn't, say, wage the Crusades, or eradicate peaceful “heretics” like the Cathars, or kill scientists and physicians, or burn so-called “witches”, or torture confessions out of people; if there were less massing killings and wars between the Huguenots and Catholics, and “Papists” and protestants, and every sect of Christianity; etc., etc. See, for this sort of argument to be valid, the instances where Christianity reigns and secularism is banished have to be the good times. They have to be better then what we're talking about. And, quite frankly, they're not.

Gun control advocates have blood on their hands. And other such nonsense, put forth by various gun advocates. Again, the solution isn't to keep the guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them; it's to put more guns in the hands of more people who should. A ton of cure is totally better than an ounce of prevention, you see.

So there you have it. Women, gun control activists, teachers, video games, abortion and gay people...we can have conversations about how much those things are to blame for school shootings. But not a word about guns.

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