Guns, Murder and Culture

It’s hard to begin to know where to start in expressing the profound sadness that the Virginia Tech shootings provoke in me. I’ve tried to stay away from the story for the most part, especially in the blog, because attracting people to my site with comments about this story seems somehow predatory. I realize most people who do post on the subject just want or even need to say something; I’m not questioning anyone’s motives, and I can fully appreciate the need to express our sadness. I’m just saying that I haven’t been able to so far.

But this MSNBC piece raises some old familiar questions for me which I regretfully feel the need to respond to. . . again. Or perhaps I feel better not responding directly to the tragedy, but rather politically, in the world I’m comfortable with.

Either way, this is an issue for which you will find no Liberalism on DFE:

Shootings draw global condemnation – Massacre at Virginia Tech – MSNBC.com

Most expressed shock at the shooting but few said they were surprised — criticizing the availability of guns in the United States, lax gun controls and the number of Americans who cling to the constitutional right that allows them to bear arms.

Or maybe I am a liberal on this issue and it is the political establishment that has it’s wires crossed. I have generally leaned towards the Left on most issues primarily because I’ve always seen the Right’s penchant for locking things they don’t like (abortion, gays, minorities, whathaveyou) behind the door of law, pretending they don’t exist. The Left generally accepts and celebrates both the diversity and the frailty of humanity. The Right generally views such things as obstacles for which law provides relief and religion is required to provide a final salvation.

My personal philosophy, such as it is, has always been that you cannot uninvent the wheel, so you’d better have a rational way to deal with round things. What is made can be destroyed, but cannot be unmade; it will forever exist – if only as an idea – to return again when you least expect it. That doesn’t make me the most sensitive of Liberals, it’s true. It does make me a pragmatist.

The War on Drugs has been a dismal failure; most Liberals would agree. In fact, it’s put the drugs right square in the hands of the people who should least have them. But where guns are concerned, the political polls switch.

So I know that the talk will be – and perhaps there will even been laws passed in Congress, to my regret – that we need to find ways to crack down on the guns we have in this country.

Never mind, of course, that Canada has twice as many guns and a quarter of the murders (if that). Never mind that guns of all kinds are illegal in New York City and that prevents not so much as a single murder. Never mind that Israel exists as a perpetual police state but cannot control the passage of guns or bombs in and out of it’s most populace cities. .

We just need to crack down on guns, that’s all. Because we don’t like them; because it’s a dangerous world; because it will make us feel better; because what we need, simply, finally, is salvation.

I don’t pretend to have the answer for what happened in Virginia. There aren’t any.

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By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

5 replies on “Guns, Murder and Culture”

When this occurred, I was really upset by the crime. But now, it’s 2 days later, and every news broadcast deals exclusively with the Virginia Tech Massacre. It’s the only story in American news.

It’s still horrible, and we have every right to mourn the atrocity, but aren’t we forgetting something? This kind of slaughter goes on EVERY DAY in Iraq. Here’s a headline buried in “Other News” in fine print today:

4 bombs kill 178 people in Baghdad

Absolutely true. It’s one thing to be hit harder by things that happen at home: that’s normal. But the disconnect, particularly in the media, from what is happening to the people of Iraq is abominable. As thousands die every month, we see nothing of the kind on our TV screen, and Conservative pundits have the audacity to screech about the “Liberal Media” not showing “the good things” happening in Iraq.

I speak as someone who does not yet own a gun, but probably should.

One of my personal obsessions as of late has been gay-bashers and gay bashing. When I turn on the radio on Saturdays and hear every other song on WITR’s _Reggae Sounds_ containing the phrase “batty bwoy” or “chi-chi mon”, I think of places like Tiki Bob’s where the jock and Barbie crowd goes to dance to, among other things, the latest Jamaican dancehall hits. I think as well of house music producer & drag queen Kevin Aviance’s beating on the streets of New York last year.

I think as well about the anti-corporate WTO summit hopping of the late nineties and the out-of-control human rights abuses perpetrated by the police and federal authorities in city after city in North America, and how they always managed to run out of anything but baloney sandwiches to feed the vegans that they dragged into jail to get them off the streets.

Seems apparent to me that the government cannot be trusted to defend the “rights” of anyone who isn’t at the minimum white, straight, christian, middle class and complacent. Actually, forget about the “rights” thing altogether. They have the power to enforce their “rights” but you can’t do much in the other direction. Like Howard Zinn noted in _A People’s History of the United States_, a treaty is typically a contract between two unequal parties, one who can back up their position with firepower and the other who can’t. Thus, the constitution is the Indian treaty for the rest of us.

I’m with you on this one for wanting to pack some heat. We can thank the NRA for that, I suppose, but I don’t know if we can trust the pobucker lobby for much else. Perhaps what’s needed is a gun advocacy organization for non-xenophobes. The Pink Pistols is a start.

@Mickey: Hmm. . . I’m not sure I take your meaning on any of this, but I appreciate you sharing your views.

I never claimed to want to “pack heat.” I never said anything of the kind. I am simply pointing out the limitations of law to control human behaviour, but I’ve never said anything at all about most of the subjects you ascribe to this post.

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