15 June 2016

Spalling Behind the Rainbow

I have too much anger and despair over the needless tragedy-massacre at Pulse to be excessively organized or coherent here, so this is a rather disjointed set of connected but not-quite-in-order musings.

I don't blame Islam, or confused/inconsistent/incoherent gender and sexual identity politics, or any other hot-button social-conflict issue. All these various factors set the stage more for outrage than for violence. I blame the NRA and even-more-extreme gun nuts, who turn outrage into violence.

The NRA and various Second Amendment extremists want the government to subsidize their right to be violent against that very government. If one actually reads Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, or indeed just about any of the passionate documents concerning the fate of the former thirteen colonies published (or, often, sent as letters) between 1783 and 1803, one discovers something curious: Words matter, but — to quote a twentieth-century immigrant Russian Jew turned atheist, speaking through a fictional character — violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. And yet the twisting of the Second Amendment (especially, but not only, the excision of the Militia Clause) — particularly as it relates to weapons optimized to kill large numbers of humans (and not for hunting, or even self-defense against a couple of "home invaders") — has a disturbing hidden agenda that buries the inherent cowardice of these nutcases.

One of the justifications offered (and it's more common than public statements from all but the most radical "militia movement" organizations admit) is the need to protect against government tyrrany. Leave aside for the moment their assumption that these "individualists" are always right and that "government dominance" is always wrong (one refutation: Little Rock Central High School... and yes, that is foreshadowing, your indication of quality rhetoric and literature). There's a fundamental contradiction that the gun nuts evade with their particular claims of right: That they should not have to pay a price for converting their disagreement with the government into the capacity for indiscriminate violence against everyone (not just the government). If they really were true patriots, they'd be willing to pay the prices of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors by covertly and illegally preparing to oppose true tyrrany. Instead, they assert the selfish coward's prerogative: That no potential price should be paid for their "right" to obtain whatever weapons they wish.

Except, that is, the free-market price of those weapons. And now the foreshadowing and cowardice comes to the fore: Weapons useful in the "militia sense" are not cheap. And there's a clear socioeconomic and racial and anti-immigrant bias behind that distinction. One might wonder if chronically underfunded and underpaid justice-system components would do a better job — in terms of both "protecting personal safety" and "enhancing substantive justice through skepticism of inappropriate political directives" — if the money spent on assault weapons were instead devoted via the "t" word (taxes) to improving the justice system for everyone. That, however, would spread benefits around to other races, other ethnicities, other religions, other socioeconomic groupings... that is, it wouldn't be selfish enough to satisfy their cowardice.

It's telling that the NRA and related organizations, in their purported "firearms safety" classes, expend no effort on proper target acquisition and downrange/collateral clearance. It's as if only the power of the weapon itself matters... not how it might be used.

Selfishness and cowardice. And I put my butt on the line to protect their right to be jerks... which almost none of them did.