I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
October 03, 2017 - 11:33 a.m.
I was home sick all day yesterday. I'm still home sick. I could make that my entire blog. Part of me would like to, then I could eat breakfast. I might do that. Being sick makes me sleepy but I had to meditate to fall asleep last night. My mind was racing with thoughts on the politics of gun violence. Racing is perhaps not the right word; my thoughts were bouncing around in different directions. The central theme is that we need to think about what we can do that will be effective, not outlets for our anger. I'm fighting that right now as what kept me up the most was anger at people on my side of the gun debate who are subsumed in righteous indignation. It doesn't help and my being angry at them doesn't help. When you tell people, "You're wrong! You're evil! You're the problem!" all you do is harden their opinions. So, I am going to eschew one point where I'm totally right, others are totally wrong, but pointing it out will make things worse, not better. I will try and make my points by example, not ranting. It's difficult.
They key to political change is to get inside of the head of those that disagree with you. The greatest social change in my lifetime was on attitudes towards gays and same sex marriage. There was a deliberate change in strategy that worked. The basis of antipathy towards gays is fear; there's a reason it's called homophobia. Instead of portraying gays as trying to upend society the face of the gay rights movement became, "we are just like you, we want the same things, we want to love who we love without shame." There's still plenty of discrimination but there's been a seismic shift in attitude. We need a seismic shift on gun regulation.
The NRA and the extremists have succeeded by instilling a fear that "they" are going to take away your guns. The NRA was originally a sportsmen organization. It was for hunters and target shooters. Hunting is an integral part of the culture in much of the country. The NRA has been able to convince people that the aim of the left is to confiscate everyone's guns. We have to avoid language that feeds those fears. It's difficult. I love the Cheryl Wheeler song, "If it were up to me I'd take away the guns." I know she doesn't mean disarming all the hunters but that is not what the hunters hear. It lets the NRA paint every reasonable regulation as the camel's nose entering the tent.
Three is a second problem that I have no idea what to do about, those that in light of a shooting as happened in Las Vegas feel the need to get a gun to protect themselves. Guns don't protect you from guns, all the research shows that, but people ignore all the research all the time. They know it makes them feel safer and they trust their feelings more than they trust the facts. Once again, it's about fear.
Then there is a separate issue, nothing gets people talking about gun violence like a mass shooting. The reality is that the risk of dying in mass shooting is miniscule. We are all horrified from the 59 deaths in Vegas but not horrified by the 90 gun-deaths that happen in an average day, 60 of which are suicides. They weren't all in one place but the people are just as dead and their friends and families are just as devastated. It's the real face of gun violence. It's not terrorists and it's not lone wolf shooters. It's people, usually men, in despair who grab a gun and shoot themselves before they have time to get over it or seek help or it's men shooting other men out of fear of what will happen if they don't shoot. So many murders are black men shooting black men and to too many that's not important. They think of people in crime ridden neighborhoods and in gangs as people who made bad choices and so deserve what they get. These elements come together; progressives from rural states with gun cultures don't point out to their constituency how the rules that might inconvenience them save lives, and that the lives of black men in inner cities matter.
How many times have I written something like this? Too many times. What we all need to remember is that things are getting better not worse. While there's been a rise in mass shootings the murder rate has been coming down for years. This mirrors a trend in gun ownership, the number of people with guns is decreasing but the number of guns per person is increasing. We get the Vegas shooter with 23 guns in his suite killing 59 people. Fewer people that are more heavily armed will lower the murder rate but increase the number killed per event.
Tomorrow I'll go back to being silly. Maybe I'll tell you what I hate and what I love about Gotham. That was running through my head when trying to sleep too as what I would make for breakfast. It's bacon and eggs on lavash bread. I'm sure you were all dying to find that out. I have a few things to do today that cause anxiety. I will work my way up the anxiety ladder.
Be Sorry You Missed Mari - October 08, 2017
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