Friday, December 14, 2012
The Needs of the Many and Few
"The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few." - Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a Spock
"Our culture is cowed by extremists who would rather see dead children than let go of their fantasy of armed insurrection. This must change" - Anil Dash
"No mass shooting killer was ever stopped by someone telling him he's in a gun-free zone." - Bill Hobbs
"Molon labe. Google it." - Tea Party + Libertarian activist
Wikipedia maintains categories of articles. One of those are regarding mass murders, and there are subcategories involving common years: 2012 currently has 69 entries (2011 also 69). A good chunk of recent mass killings have been overseas: especially in Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria. But the ones that aren't in areas in outright civil war: are largely here in the United States. The US entries for 2012 (with "dead" and "injured" notated)...
* Shooting at a church college (April: 7d 3i)
* Shooting at a coffee shop (May: 6d 1i)
* Shooting at a movie theatre (July: 12d 59i)
* Shooting at a Sikh temple (August: 7d 4i)
* Workplace shooting (September: 7d 2i)
* Mall shooting (Earlier this week: 3d 1i)
* School shooting (Today: 28d)
This kind of thing, and the reactions to it, have taken on a predictable tone. Some of today's reactions...
* Editorial cartoon: Santa reacts to the shooting
* Another editorial cartoon: God reacts to the shooting
* Tom Tomorrow recycled a cartoon from the Giffords shooting for today
* "Slowpoke" Sorenson pointed out one she did on gun news coverage earlier this year
* Bors reminded folks about a cartoon from August: "There's a shooting every week now"
Those on the Left are frustrated that no time is ever considered a good time to debate shootings. Those on the Right are afraid that their guns will be taken away as a form of collective punishment. Both sides agree that mental illness needs to be considered, but can't agree on how that should take place. What Anil Dash said earlier today: its harsh, but its close to the mark: we as a society, are balancing our collective security; against the right of the few to be enabled to conduct armed revolt. Consider the following...
* We could begin labeling and incarcerating the mentally ill. The danger in this: we used to sterilize the "unfit"; with appalling results.
* We could massively treat the mentally ill. Most states have closed their sanitariums, and many a wandering vagrant are mentally ill. Universal health care might solve this: however, Tea Party advocates have vigorously opposed any attempt to enable or force medical care at their cost; hence the "Obamacare" fight of the past three years.
* We could reduce the supply and / or range of commercially available guns. In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the right of non-militia to own firearms. And since Obama became President; the Right has been so terrified of a Black Democrat coming for their guns, they've bought them up in record numbers.
* We encourage the population to be armed. The US already leads the world in gun ownership; and "concealed carriers" currently number 8 million: this trend originally encouraged after a mass murder in Texas 21 years ago. Repeated calls for more guns, is a sign of an "escalation of commitment".
The White House is currently due to respond on several online petitions for states to secede from the Union. Never mind the Treyvon Martin case in Florida, or a law in Indiana that may allow people to shoot cops in self-defense. When folks on the Right are saying "molon labe" or complaining about arms confiscation and reduction: are they seriously considering an armed insurrection? Or is it more like nuclear disarmament: that nobody wants to really have nukes around, but the folks that have nukes don't want to give them up? Is the Right's insistence on remaining armed with military-grade weapons (Glock & Sauer guns are used primarily for European police and military) a form of an arms race with the government and police, let alone fears of criminal gangs?
This will not be an easy situation to resolve: a solution might require some rhetorical "loss of liberty"; the bearer of which, is yet to be determined in this long debate of ours.
Added: there's a great piece from Mark Ames regarding some of these points, as well as recent NRA leadership. Why he thinks we haven't seen some mass revolt by the Right: "They could’ve gone out and organized something and maybe built a politics of people power or even a politics of what they call revolution, a politics that actually changed things. But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came."