The Gun Is Our Moloch

From Jon Gruber at Daring Fireball:

THE GUN IS OUR MOLOCH

Garry Wills, writing for The New York Review five years ago, after the Sandy Hook grade school massacre:

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Our gun laws are insane. We, collectively, have agreed that regular mass shootings, often at schools — schools! — are a reasonable price to pay as a nation for unfettered access to military-grade killing machines for anyone and everyone who wants one.

It’s sick. Everyone outside the U.S. knows this. A majority of Americans knows this and supports stricter gun control.

There are new gun laws being drafted. But you know what most of them are for? For making guns even easier to purchase legally, without background checks.

This idea of gun=god was actually explored in an episode of American Gods last year.

Let’s Face It…

If the death of twenty 6- and 7-year olds (plus six adult staff members entrusted with keeping those children safe) at Sandy Hook in 2012 did not bring about gun control legislation in this country, yesterday’s shooting in Florida—or the other 18 school shootings that have happened in 2018 already—won’t do a thing either. THIS is what our country has become. Your elected officials—whose lips are surgically attached to the anus of the NRA and Wayne GODDAMNFUCKING LaPierre—are just fine with the continued slaughter of American children in school as long as their pockets are lined with that almighty blood money.

THIS is who we are, America—and will remain so until every last one of those MOTHERFUCKERS are removed from office and the NRA is driven back under the rock it crawled out of.

Another Day Ending in Y

“Dear Donald Trump: you’re a disgrace to the United States for too many reasons to list. You’re a racist, a sexual predator, a lifelong financial criminal, and you committed treason by knowingly allowing Russia to rig the election in your favor. Every day you find a new way to embarrass decent Americans everywhere, while aligning yourself with the slimiest of gutter trash this country shamefully has to offer. This was no different.

You oppose all forms of gun control, Trump, because your slimy political base consists of the kinds of bloodthirsty lunatics who worship guns and violence. You’ve done your best to cut off access to mental health treatment, as you’ve siphoned off the funds in favor of your corrupt wealthy donors. So when a kid took an AR-15 into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today and left at least seventeen people dead, this was entirely on your shoulders.

Would gun control and mental health treatment have stopped this shooting? Maybe. When you’re the (supposed, for now) President of the United States, and you’re the person who’s almost single handedly preventing those things from happening, you’re to blame for school shootings. Period. You should have been too ashamed to even show his face today. Instead you dared to posted this tone-deaf tweet, which based on the verbiage, you probably didn’t even write yourself: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Hey Donald Trump, take your thoughts and prayers and condolences and shove them up your traitorous ass. You got those kids killed today with your evil policies. You know it too, because unlike your drooling gun-addicted base, you’re just a political opportunist who’s burning this country down in order to keep your shithole supporters happy. You’re literally a traitor who sold this country out to Russia. You’re also a murderer of children.” ~ Bill Palmer

What. The. Fuck.

From RawStory:

An enraged Waffle House customer shot and killed a waitress early Friday who asked him not to smoke.

Police said Johnny Mount was eating about 1 a.m. at the restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he lit a cigarette, reported WLOX-TV.

A waitress asked the 45-year-old Mount to put out the cigarette or smoke outside, and he began arguing with her.

Police said Mount then pulled out a 9 mm handgun he had concealed under his shirt and shot the 52-year-old waitress in the head.

She was taken to a nearby hospital but died from her wounds.

Mount was arrested as he tried to leave the restaurant and has been charged with first-degree murder.

He remains held on $2 million bond.

‘Murika!

This week’s school shooting (not to be confused with last week’s or the one the week before that or next week’s or the one the week after that) got me thinking about violence in America; something that as a society I believe we’ve grown increasingly numb to.

Perhaps numb isn’t the right term, but there’s no denying the schizophrenic way that violence is viewed by our society. Violence is woven into the American DNA and celebrated with an almost orgiastic frenzy in everything from our popular music to our movies, television shows and video games, yet we seem shocked and appalled when a shooting occurs. Do we really need car chases and killings in every damn episode of {Fill in pretty much any Television Show Name}?

Just the other night we were watching a preview of some upcoming series and I turned to Ben and said, “Does everything need to have a shoot out in it?”

It’s past time that we throw off any illusion of being a nation of Peace, because we most certainly are not. As a society we revel in death and destruction as exemplified by our popular entertainments—except of course when that death and destruction happens to visit itself upon good, god-fearing white christians or in those infrequent instances when karma comes back to bite us on our national ass. (See 9/11.)

I’m tired of politicians, lawmakers, and so-called “men of god” saying they want peace, yet with every step and word uttered, fetishize and advocate for never-ending violence and bloodshed. In short, I think it’s time we cut the crap and just embrace our murderous, bloodthirsty national identity. The ancient Romans never apologized for it and certainly never made excuses.

So yes, we are the planet’s dominant serial killer—not only of the other, but also of our own people. And we have the guns, the tanks, the missiles, the nukes and the military spending to prove it—not to mention the psychopaths with their personal arsenals wetting themselves over fevered visions of turning the United States into a christianist theocracy and meting out Old Testament punishments upon non-believers with impunity. ‘Murika! Fuck yeah!

It’s not like any of this is new—and to be honest it certainly is not limited to only the United States. But our country was birthed in bloodshed and it comes with the territory as much as we’d like to deny it as a nation. Yes, the United States was created with noble ideals (something I think has kept some of our basest instincts in check), but again and again it seems that as a society we reach for the gun, the assault rifle, the switchblade, the missile or the bomb to settle our differences—or to simply make a point instead of examining why we do it—or seeking alternative methods of resolution. And when something bad happens, we wring our hands ask, “How could this have been stopped?” while remaining stunningly, blindingly oblivious to the obvious answer and unable to affect any real change because of the NRA’s death grip on our politicians. And then we promptly forget about the whole thing until the cycle repeats. Ad nauseum.

Another Day, Another Shooting in America

This is just too good not to pass on in its entirety:

From AMERICAblog:

Earlier today, someone took a killing machine and loads of ammunition into a heavily-trafficked area and opened fire, killing some and wounding more. The shooter may have a history of mental health problems; they may be a militant racist; they may be a Men’s Rights Activist; they may be a religious extremist; they may have just gotten laid off from work. Whatever their motive, they will almost certainly have obtained their killing machine legally.

You’ve probably read the details elsewhere by now, but at the end of the day, they don’t matter. This story isn’t all that different from the many that came before and are sure to come after. America averages one shooting of at least four fatalities per day, with one shooting per week at schools. These shootings are happening faster than we can meme them. The routine is familiar, and we already know how the next few days are going to play out:

First, we will be reminded that this is definitely not the time to discuss ways that we could have prevented this shooting, along with tomorrow’s and next week’s and the ones to follow. At times like these, a bad reading of the Second Amendment is more important than a basic understanding of the First:

There needs to be a mandatory waiting period imposed on anti-gun extremists commenting on breaking news crime incidents. #UCCShooting ~ Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) October 1, 2015

Instead, it would be much more productive for all of us to quietly appeal to a higher power—one that has pretty clearly signaled to us that they’re agnostic when it comes to American gun policy:

Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy. ~ Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 1, 2015

Second, we will be reminded that although America’s homicide rates are practically off the charts compared to other countries, now is definitely not the time to second-guess our borderline religious commitment to the killing machines that make it way easier to kill a bunch of people at once:

After all, don’t you know we might need to revolt against the government some day?

Third, someone from the NRA will say that the real solution that would have prevented all of this is more guns. Most of America will find this ridiculous. Congress will find this reasonable. President Obama will scold them.

Fourth, there will be a new round of public opinion polling showing broad support for public policies that could have prevented the shooting, ranging from universal background checks to a ban on high-capacity magazines. We will flash a momentary glance at Congress to see if they will pass any of these policies, and then remember how unbothered they were by what that guy from the NRA said.

Fifth, gun sales will go through the god damn roof.

Sixth, this video will go viral:

Seventh, another mass shooting will take place. We will go back to step one.

See you next week.”

Why We Look

We look because it’s there. We humans look towards violence in order to define it, to decide where we must run (or if we should stand and fight). We are fascinated by suffering. There is a cognitive bias towards the terrible. Many complain that there is not enough “happy” news. The problem is that there is happy news all around us, we just don’t notice. A baby smiling or someone offering someone else a spot on the bus doesn’t go viral because most humans experience little kindnesses and forget them. But we don’t forget violence.

We look because it’s always available. There is a moment, as you watch a violent video, that you feel you need to fast forward. ISIS fighters in front of ragged flags, knives out – fast forward to the death. Gunshots on a pier – fast forward to what thousands of live viewers saw. The destruction of culture, of lives, of futures, of belief in the decency of mankind – we look because in the end we want to see how far we’ll fall if given the impetus. We want to see how thin the spiderweb veil of sanity really is, how deep the well truly goes until we hit rancid water. And we look to feel superior and to give the amygdala that tickle of surprise we crave. Broadcasting is not new. We learned to sing so we could make others feel strange things, we learned to orate to raise the blood of soldiers, we learned to repeat horrible stories to outrage and distract. From the Lives Of Saints with a pierced St. Sebastian to the latest LiveLeak link, we need violence to feel whole. And that’s why we love these videos. We love them. We share them – “OMG” “#prayers” – we post them, the news organizations replay them over and over. They are our reward for staying out of trouble.

more…

Fuck the NRA

“So while the NRA may be a bloated, possibly corrupt, excessively powerful lobbying force, partly staffed by horrible racists, it’s also the mouthpiece of a fandom more widespread than Bronies, Trekkies, and Furries combined and multiplied by a hundred. Gun ownership is almost inarguably the single most popular hobby in America, and the NRA is a consequence of that.

Even popular gun-control efforts that failed, like the 2013 bill, would have been nothing more than tiny, symbolic changes, such as making background checks more ubiquitous, or eliminating high-capacity magazines. Elliot Rodger passed his background check and didn’t use high-capacity magazines. The presence of the NRA makes real reform so far-fetched, nothing has even been proposed, let alone voted on, that will get us anywhere close to Richard Martinez’s “Not One More” promised land.

And meanwhile, there’s shooting after shooting. When these things happened, the president used to fly out to the grieving town and give a speech. Now we don’t even fly our flags at half mast. They’ve become an ongoing problem we can’t take the time out of our day to be individually upset about, like Adam Sandler movies.
Matching shooters gun-for-gun isn’t a solution anyone takes seriously, not even the NRA. The real answer is that we, the American people, see that there are school shootings, and we all agree that they’re tragic, but then we’ve done the David Foster Wallace thought experiment in our heads: Gun control would mean an America with fewer school shootings, but we would lose some of our gun freedom.

And apparently we don’t want to live in a place like that.”