Edited on 8/1 for linkage.
Let me make one thing clear, I think Cody Wilson comes off like an ass. The typical wunderkind, know it all, prick that we all knew in high school and college. The one kid with the radical POV that you couldn’t tell if he was a racist, anarchist, idiot savant, or all of the above. That kid you hung out in the woods with (all the while wondering if they’d ever find the body if only he walked out) and listened half rapt and half terrified to all his conspiracy theories. The guy who made those theories seem real, because some of them were. The guy who both repulsed and attracted you, who you wanted to be both exactly like and nothing like.
Both my life experiences and my personal philosophy disallow absolutism. On some days I feel that there should never be absolute freedom, that to grant the ability of everyone to do whatever they want is the exact antithesis of civilization. On other days I just want to blow up the world and start over again.
We do need people like Wilson, envelope pushers who singularly push an agenda that we have to push back on, and I appreciate him for that. But still there’s that remnant of that guy I grew up with who only got more radical as he grew older, whose genius for whatever became an axe to wield against people who didn’t recognize it. That, frankly, scares the shit out of me. Maybe that is the point after all.
Link via. CBS News
Video via. YouTube and Vice
Edited on 7/26 for awkward wordiness. And a link.
One of the things I missed in my first go round here that should have been obvious is the fact that having something in common with those who you oppose politically can be a bridge builder. In my wrestling with this topic and in speaking with gun enthusiasts and owners across the spectrum I’ve found that being educated on the topic of guns, holding, firing and identifying them, the political side of the debate is softened a bit.
There are people who I’ve met, mostly online, who think the idea of a liberal gun owner is ridiculous, who routinely make fun of the same liberals who they claimed were ignorant on guns and berate us for speaking about something we don’t know about. Yet when we do educate ourselves, and come around somewhat to understanding their position, they mock us still. Those people will never be reached, they have put up a wall against liberals and progressives as thick as the walls of their safes and no longer see us as people. There are equivalent people on the left to be sure, intolerant elitists who make fun of what they don’t even try to understand, I have occasionally been one of them and sometimes still am.
The bottom line is this though, we need to respect each other even if we don’t like each other and every single conversation I have with someone who does not share my values is made less difficult through a common bond, if shooting is that bond, in any form, so be it.
There is a lot here that I’m struggling with and still more that I outright reject but there’s a lot of food for thought here.
And until they can really support Black gun owners, and not just trot out the token, FUCK the NRA.
Oh and THIS.
Edited on 6/26 for clarity. paragraph breaks and shameless pluggery.
I’ve added a couple of new, and probably to some, surprising links to my site.
I’m still working out some of the kinks but hopefully by the end of today I’ll have this thing working as intended.
Though the technical end of adding the blogroll/sites I like HTML code may be surprising to some, the content of the last two sites may be a bit more surprising.
A few years ago I looked at the issue of Gun ownership. Specifically, whether those of us not of the typically represented demographics should think about pursuing licensing and buying firearms. Never one to make a rash decision, I tend to internalize and test market the idea to the rest of my life and as that life changed I reexamined my thoughts on the matter.
A few weeks ago I started the process of getting a permit.
- I moved to a rural area: Gun culture is woven into the fabric of the part of the state where I now live. Partially it’s “when in Rome” and partly it’s because the number of cops here is tiny compared to where I was before and although crime is less prevalent, things that can kill you other than people are proportionally greater in number.
- I’m marrying into a family of hunters and want to bond with them: We differ politically in many respects but they seem to like and respect me so I’ll do the same and bond with them over this pastime. Plus: venison.
- I am fearful: I don’t know what the future holds but if the last few years are any indication, things can change quickly. If a disaster happens that leaves us without the things we have come to rely upon, what we do have may be threatened. Yes this is to some degree paranoid….but is it….really????
- I have resolved the contradiction of being a left-wing gun owner: Well okay, not fully, but enough to know it is possible, and not at all contradictory to want to defend yourself or fend for yourself in case you have to.
- My brother encouraged me: My brother works in a job that can sometimes creep out into his real life, one that can put him and his family at risk from retaliatory minded people. Also bonding.
- Sport: As I get older I realize that its good to be good at something. Shooting offers me the potential to compete without the strong physical toll other sports can take.
- Because I want to: Enough said.
- I can’t argue what I don’t know: one of the truths that many gun owners use against regulation (and the left in general) is that many of the people calling for it have never touched, used or seen a real firearm. I think they are absolutely right and I desperately do not want to be one of those people who speaks on something they know nothing about.
- Finally, because I want to exercise one of the rights denied my forefathers. I also believe that when the number of gun owners of color reached a tipping point, the conversations will change. For the good? Who knows. But what I do know at the moment is that it needs desperately to do so.
Oh, and I won’t be joining the fucking NRA. I already belong to this club with the contradictory sounding name.
BTW, The above t-shirt is real and you can get it here.
When we talk about violence, specifically gun violence in this country we hear a few very different takes depending on the location and the background of the shooter.
When the shooter is ideologically motivated and Muslim, we hear about terrorism first. We hear the panicked cries of mostly white conservatives and a few moderates and liberals about the cultural significance of Islam and its propensity for creating violent jihadists. Even though the insane, rational gymnastics of connecting violence and extremism, in these cases we still won’t talk about Guns, and there is little to no discussion about mental health.
When the attacker is White, and the ultimate ideological motivations are sussed out, we revert to the discussion about “mental health” and family and run away as far as we can from Guns and ideological motives. Somehow access to firearms, however they achieved them, is eliminated from the conversation and the ideological motivations all but erased by about day 2 or 3.
If the assailants are young black men and they are killing each other over gangs, drugs or other petty conflicts, it’s all about the culture. Single moms, video games, and music are the usual suspects; again, surprisingly the narrative no longer focuses on the availability of firearms, even illegal ones.
In my mind there are four primary causes of violence in general, particularly gun violence, and they cut across most cases regardless of whether they are in a school or out on the streets. Irrespective of where we come from or who we are there are a set of preestablished reactions to stressors that trigger us to want to hurt or kill. Those motivations go right to the heart of what we all share emotionally as human beings, and I believe that is one of the reasons we don’t talk about them.
1. Personal/Group Insult or Revenge – One of the most common reasons for violence and aggression of any kind is feeling violated in some way. Whether it is through direct insult or insulting one’s group, it is a defensive reaction to a breach of some social contract that causes most violence. I believe this tendency is built into us as we are social beings. Our hierarchical understanding of group and private structures create a means through which we have a built-in trigger, groups that tout exclusive membership use this instinct to manipulate people into reacting with violence when they otherwise would have just cooled over time.
2. Fear – Is it that pop-psychological to indicate fear as a primary motivation for violence or aggression. As well as being social we are also programmed to be wary of personal injury. This is an odd one because fear as a concept can be very nebulous or very specific. Fear that a bear is coming right at you is very different from fear of being attacked by a bear. The chemical reactions, the physical changes that result from the various states of fear are very distinct and can be manipulated by people and institutions that are more powerful and have some of their fears to contend with. I found this discussion of fear interesting as it almost serves as a surrogate for the triggers of violence.
3. Social Engineering – As social beings who have developed hierarchies to survive under specific circumstances we have also come to understand how reinforcement of those structures is required to keep the status quo. I’m not passing blanket judgment on this as dangerous by any means, some social structures have helped us advance to the point where we have created a better life for millions of people. Others, however, though seemingly good ideas at the time, often descend into disruptions that do damage to a great many people. It’s tough to say without the benefit of hindsight that some form of social engineering was good or bad especially if we learn from the results. In this case, violence based on established and enforced social norms.
4. External Perceived or Existential Threat – this is admittedly a kind of toss off. Its fear but not the tangible bear chasing you down type, it’s a minor madness in a way and it crosses the bridge to woo-ville in some cases, but either the feeling of something “not being quite right” or the manipulation of that feeling can drive people to violence, what distinguishes this factor as a trigger is its slippery nature. In a way its one of the most potent modern triggers because of the deluge of information we receive and have access to on a daily basis. So much information crosses our eyes and ears daily that it’s often really hard to distinguish between what is demonstrably real and what is pure hokum. Existential threats have us not believing our own eyes when we see a concrete example of the opposite of what we believe or are told to think. Cognitive dissonance is the state this puts us in and in and of itself is a kind of mass mental disorder that affects our macro brain. It is also one of the ways large groups and governments keep control of the status quo. In fact, it is the prefered method of tyrants, both big and small.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of everything in terms of an organism. From my limited understanding of the organization of life, it looks distinctly like from the tiniest cell to the largest societal collections the functions are similar but blown up accordingly. Using the example of the internet (again with a basic knowledge of biology) you can see how humans have organized themselves in the image of their biological networks. You can look at societal organizations similarly, but the internet is the clearest model of our mimicking the structure of our neural networks in our construction and organizations I can see. We build on what we know.
I look often at how these incidents of violence make perfect sense. Ideas are like mutated cells or gut influenced genes; they can grow and spread, are road tested by the environment and shaken out accordingly. You have to get non-judgemental when you think this way and see both the biological process and the spread of ideas the same way. Physiological changes, random occurrences of genes or the environment’s influence on them, have consequences. It is my feeling that biological evolution and the evolution of ideas may not only be linked but now be one in the same. We’ve reached a level of complexity in out inner and outer constructions to see where our intellectual developments have gotten almost as complicated as our biological ones.
When you look at movements, especially extreme movements, be they nationalistic, religious or racially based they broadly share the same development cycles and paths of growth. Some, like Islamic fundamentalism, are less exclusive biologically and more rooted in ideology. This is part of the reason Islam has snowballed so quickly. It is not as exclusive as some other movements, it requires no biological purity test, no cultural purity test, and no nationalistic paternity test, there is a small barrier of language, but learning a few prayers can solve that. Many other extreme movements are based on passing some racial or nationalistic purity test and have far fewer adherents as a result. At the risk of sounding like an Islamophobe, it is the perfect virus in that way.
Let me make something clear right now; I hate no person. I am opposed to certain ideologies because they make no rational sense to me beyond social grouping, but I don’t hate anyone who believes in them. I apply cancer or virus metaphor to almost all religions and any social group that forcibly bends its members to a particular kind of violence or extreme coersion.
When violence arises as a result of these affiliations, a large part of how you get perfectly rational and not insane people to enlist is through the use of the last cause of violence. In a sense, you are taking a little bit of the first three elements and mixing them to create a stew of cognitive dissonance. You create a world where, by some non-biological or vaguely biological association, you pit one association against another. The reasons could be cultural, circumstantial or just made up entirely but they don’t pass a rational examination.
What also doesn’t pass the rational examination is the ways we here in the US, separate these groups and their affiliates into little social boxes that have unequal weight on the actions of people who commit violent acts.
I’ll talk about how we treat different groups and ideologies differently in Wednesdays post.
Black gun owners.
The entire conversation is worth watching but the part about African Americans and guns is interesting to say the least.
Watch the part of the conversation Conversation with Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders concerning Black gun owners here.
A few small caveats though, this guy was a trained former NRA instructor, the town had no police force and he hesitantly engaged.
Oh, and Bullshit sir, you ARE a hero.
I don’t do Facebook much. Every time I’m lured back by some innocuous post and I get sucked back into the insanity for a bit, I pull a little further away. On several occasions I’ve been worked into such a frenzy that I feel like my heart just might quit. Frankly, aside from a few friends and relatives, it really isn’t worth using anymore.
The ridiculousness of this past election cycle had me closer than ever to hitting “delete.”
When you hear friends you thought were reasonable, say completely unreasonable things, or friends you knew were unreasonable already, say things so outrageous you can’t believe they felt emboldened to say them “in public” it feels like time to pull away.
This whole planet has me concerned at the moment. Where the US is heading is very well a dangerous and potentially violent place. Some of us believed that having access, making information and opinion more democratic, would create a learned republic. One akin to the one the founding fathers envisioned, except more varied economically with women and Black folks included, effectively democratizing learning and making us all better voters and better citizens. HA!
It seems there is that little missing element that also exemplifies an egalitarian democratic republic, ignorance.
When you have no compelling reason to cooperate in the democratic process there is no incentive to educate yourself and its so very easy to just hit the nearest button that has written on it how you feel at that very moment. Not how you think, or have reasoned through, but simply how you feel.
Now feelings are great, they are great for creating art, for manipulating and coercing your kid to do their homework, great for schmoozing and wooing, but alone, they are terrible for democracy. Feelings betray biases, and generally biases are not reasonable, they may come from a vague place of reason, but they are not reasonable in and of themselves. Feelings should not be the sole reason you vote for a particular candidate, using feelings as a sole measure will always lead to buyers remorse.
So does this mean that democracy may not be the best way to go?
I really don’t know but as the days go by, I’m doubting American democracy more and more and that scares the shit out of me.