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
June 16, 2016 - 9:10 p.m.
I got home today and proceeded to fall fast asleep. I'm good but not good enough to write in my sleep. Now that I'm rested let's see if I can do better.
I was back at DSS this morning. The bureaucracy makes you jump through hoops but the people that work there are very nice and try to make it easier for you. One of the most annoying things they have is a signing pad; it's like when you electronically sign for a credit card except you can't see what you are writing or what you are signing. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?
I finished fairly early and realized that I was downtown, not that far from where Carey works, so I called him and asked if he wanted to have lunch. He didn't answer the phone so left the message on his voicemail. I then headed uptown to my Trader Joe's and my PO Box. When I got out of the Post Office I saw I missed his call back to me. I called him back and got his voice mail. He called me back and we finally connected. I had some time to kill till he got off from lunch so I went to my school and sat in the library. Then I headed back downtown. The thing is being uptown or downtown is no big deal; the subway ride from 59th Street to Chambers Street is all of 15 minutes. I met him outside of his office building and we walked down to the World Financial Center to eat. I told him that I hadn't seen the new transportation hub so we went there first. It still isn't finished, you don't enter through the main building, the Oculus. It's nice but no Grand Central Station. From the balcony it looks like a giant ice skating rink. I'm pretty sure there were better ways to spend the fortune it took to make it, like rebuilding Penn Station which is used by ten times as many people. It is not a must see.
We ate at the food court at the Word Financial Center. I had barbecue. It was not good. The brisket was way too dry and the service poor. No matter as I was there for the company. I have not hung out with Carey in ages. He took a long lunch break, almost two hours. We always spend a lot of time remembering stupid things we talked about 25 years ago like the name of the grimoire in the film, I Madman; it's Much of Madness, More of Sin.
When I went home I once again just missed the Bx29 bus. I had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. They do this just to annoy me. I'm not paranoid, everyone is actually against me.
And now to get serious and write about Orlando. I hope that when I repost this in five years people will be expecting me to write about theme parks not a massacre. Now you all knew what I meant. I'm not going to write about grief or rage or platitudes but about what other people are saying and how it relates to what happened.
People are arguing if it's a terrorist act or a hate crime; there is an agenda and a mindset behind each choice. It is of course both, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often go together; people terrorize what they hate. As a practical matter and how to respond to it, it has more in common with other hate crimes. This was not planned by a terrorist organization; it was one man lashing out. Was he inspired by ISIS or was he using it to give meaning to his act and his life? I wouldn’t pretend to know. I doubt we'll ever know. That is also not a dichotomy. There can very well be elements of both and there probably is. People are complicated. I doubt the killer even knew. This was an attack on gays. It was done to create terror in America. It is part of the pattern of homophobia and fueled by anything that fuels homophobia. It was also a part of the pattern of violent Islamism terror and fueled by anything that fuels that.
It's important to remember that violent Islamicists are not the same as Muslims. The language is important. Viewing it as a war between Islam and the west is using the Islamicist world view. It's like confounding the Inquisition with Catholics.
The usual anti-terror methods won't help prevent something like it happening again. The killer wasn't part of a terrorist organization. There was no conspiracy. There is no way to gather intelligence on what's going on in someone's head. Of course banning or vetting immigrants will not prevent native born Americans from committing acts of terror.
What we can do is not increase the levels of hate and fear as that creates more terrorists. The more people that feel part of society the fewer there will be that feel the need to destroy society.
Of course we should do more to prevent guns from getting into the hands of killers whether or not they are terrorists. Does anyone need an AK-47? Some people might enjoy them, they might collect them. That is not social value to make them freely available. Plenty of people would love driving Indy Cars but we don't let them on the streets as they are too dangerous.
I hate to say it but I'm not sure that banning the purchase of guns by anyone who has been on the terrorist watch list in the last five years would pass constitutional muster and not on second amendment grounds. It's the due process clause that give me doubts. The killer was investigated and taken off the list because there was no evidence he was a terrorist. He probably wasn't a terrorist then. Just think if we were talking about the no fly list, anyone, especially Muslims, would be open to discrimination. If some vengeful person accusing them they get on the list without foundation and then they wouldn't be able to fly for five years.
What we could do is make affirmative gun laws, that people need to show a good reason to own a gun, or at least an assault rifle or pistol. Other long guns are rarely used in crimes and are primarily for hunting and target shooting. That reminds me of another point. When people say, "Let's get rid of all guns!" you are validating the fears the gun lobby is instilling in law abiding gun owners. The line the NRA is selling is that if they give an inch the anti-gun lobby will take a mile and try to take away all guns. Don't give them ammunition.
The one thing we are going to have to accept is that we can never totally prevent these things from happening. There are 320 million people in America. No matter what it is there are some people that will do it. There might not be many but if one in ten million people would do something, that's still 32 people who would do it. There are seven billion people in the world so there would be 700 people in the world. We can't find them all. That makes finding a needle in a haystack seem like child's play. So these thing will happen. How do we live with that? How do we live with 30,000 people dying in car accidents every year? We do it. We can do things to cut down the number. We should do more than we are doing. We can do better. But we can't eliminate them. That's true of auto accidents, mass shootings, and terrorist acts.
It's now so dark I can't see anything. I never put the lights on in here. I think that's my cue to finish and post this. Did I include everything I wanted to say? I'm sure I didn't. I'll say one more thing. Think things through. If you think there's some easy solution, you're wrong. People aren't monsters. If it were easy it would be done. It's complex and we'll make mistakes. That's true of most things.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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