Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Response from the Right Wing

One of the responses I received about yesterday's blog was as interesting as it was amusing. It was from the same guy who told me two years ago that his mother would have hated me although she had never met me, never heard one word about what I stood for, what my opinions were, what I do, etc., You get the idea. As a result I do not know whether she hated me for my bad jokes (my family suggests that they get pretty irksome from time to time), the fact that I volunteer a substantial portion of my time in assisting others who need help (her son is a corporate lawyer who billed his services on a time basis, e.g.. a two minute phone call is billed for 15 minutes of his time and I cannot imagine him giving away any of his time to anybody for any purpose), or for what I believe. I suspect two things; first, I suspect that the son of this woman is the one who in fact, transposes his own feelings about me to his mother (he knows even less about me than his mother did, and she knew nothing) and second, he can't handle what he thinks he believes about what I believe. With this as background I share what his response was to yesterday's blog: "If you wrote this and believe it, you should call a neurologist and make an appointment for an exam." In response, this is what I believe.
1). More than one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds since 1968,
2). Eleven teenagers a day are killed in these United States from gunshots.
3). The NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington and is THE ONLY ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA which does not have to disclose how much it spends or who it spends it on for its lobbying activities.
4). I did write the blog yesterday, Duhh.
5). I do believe what I wrote yesterday. It is my opinion. In a free society I am entitled to an opinion. I respect and encourage others who have different opinions to interact and discuss those opinions with me. That interaction is also what a free society is about. There is nothing wrong with sharp ideological argument, as long as partisans do not seek to demonize their opponents and make their cases without ridicule and threats. I did receive several intelligent and well thought-out responses to my blog from conservative friends.
6). I don't ever suggest that because someone disagrees with me, that they are suffering from a mental illness and that they should see a doctor because of the opinions they hold.
7). The fact is that the perpetrator of the carnage in Arizona was able to walk into a sporting goods store and purchase the murder weapon together with a loader allowing 33 bullets to be fired in a short time without the need for reloading. He was able to do this after exhibiting a pattern of strange conduct for several months that resulted in his expulsion from school, i.e., an obvious pattern of young adult-onset schizophrenia.
8). This type of loader was illegal until President Bush allowed the law to lapse in 2004 after specifically making a campaign promise that he would extend the law to protect the citizens of America. It has been widely reported that Bush caved in to the demands of the NRA to let the law lapse.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Third Rail of Violence

The third rail in this tragic incident of the violent massacre of innocent people in Tucson, Arizona is one that is carefully avoided by politicians and the media alike. Thanks to the antics of the NRA and an extreme right Supreme Court, weapons of destruction are as available to the lunatic fringe of our society as candy bars are to children. The clout of the National Rifle Association has grown beyond the pale. There are few lobbies in Washington as powerful or protective of their interests. Any gun laws are seen as violations of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which cites the need for a well-regulated militia, stocked with arms.

The power of the N.R.A. is pervasive, both in national and state politics. When Democrats were trying to pass a campaign-finance disclosure measure last year, they had to write a special exemption for the gun lobby in order to secure majority support in the House. Liberal Democrats like Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio and the current victim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords openly boasted of their support for gun ownership. Even if these politics could be countered, the courts, especially the Supreme Court, are raising new, and probably insurmountable, obstacles to substantive gun control. Last year, the court threw out a Chicago gun-control ordinance, the year before a Washington, D.C. law, both of which had the intent of reducing the daily slaughter of Americans by guns.

It is one thing to protect the rights of sensible, gun loving, responsible citizens, but it is sheer insanity to have created the present climate that allows unstable and obviously demented persons access to such weapons. The current tragedy is one of but a series of such events (e.g.,Columbine, Virginia Tech.) that are fostered by this climate, not to mention the daily killing of our citizens by guns which have become so common place that they rate hardly a mention in the news of the day. While the idiotic and hate-filled rhetoric of the Palins of our society are no doubt contributory to such incidents, the soil in which such activities ferment has been cultivated by a lavish devotion to the questionable language of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Until and unless the current tragedy brings these considerations back into the equation, nothing will change. One does not need to be a flaming liberal to suggest that reasonable limits on the rights of crazy people to obtain access to weapons are logical and appropriate. If I were a politician making such a statement, it is most certain that weapon worshippers would show up at my next public appearance openly brandishing their weapons.