Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Shouldn't talk About It

In the horrid backwash of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Virginia's governor has asked everyone with a political agenda to tone it down (I'd like a link to that).

This has been widely interpreted as a ban on discussing
  1. The troubling and inconsistent accounts of VT campus security's emergency response. All we have now comes from a security chief with an obvious interest in covering his ass.

  2. Gun control .
I think I'll discuss Number 2, since I don't live in Virginia. It should be amusing.

There is really only one wedge issue. It isn't abortion, it isn't gay marriage. It is gun control and all that travels in its wake. While the other two issues make screaming lunatics of conservatives, and high-minded martyrs of liberals, gun control (plus hunting control plus whatever) makes screaming lunatics of nearly everyone.

I regret to observe that the issue brings out the worst in anyone of a progressive bent. It brings out the worst trait of liberalism, which is the tendency to say "I know what's right, I'll decide for you what is right, and you're an illiterate turd if you don't accept my decision with gratitude." Cruise the progressive blogosphere today and you'll catch my drift. There is no end of vindictive, vituperative prose, chiefly (pardon me) aimed at demonising anyone who ever held a gun, and very little concerned with finding new solutions to this problem.

At work today, two of us were discussing the Explainer's alleged explanation of how a man with two handguns could kill 33 people. The explanation covered everything, badly, except what really mattered: that a 9 mm pistol bullet is capable of shooting through an engine block, which really leaves you with no place to hide. The size of the weapon, we were commenting, has little bearing on the stopping power of its projectiles.

This was my cubicle mate's cue to jump into the conversation with a jocular, but sincere, comment that we must both be potential homicidal maniacs because we knew how firearms worked.

Wow: knowledge is dangerous. When did that become a liberal concept? Where firearms are concerned, it has been a liberal concept all of my life.

Any issue that involves firearms (or seems to) draws an ineradicable line in the sand between rural and urban people. It is almost a caricature to think of rural people as hicks believing that liberals are people who "want to take our guns away." The trouble is, many liberals do want to disarm the entire population. Let's be honest: that isn't about crime. It is about a fundamental disquietude about firearms and hunting, which occupy a central part of real rural life ( as opposed to the gentrified version). Both are more foreign to most urban progressives than the life of a village in India.

Progressives rightly expect conservatives to look all facets of many issues, yet fail entirely to do so themselves when it comes to this point. Far too many urban progressives do not care what rural people think or how they live lives that may be vastly different from their own. Which suggests these progressives have forgotten how to listen.

Gov. Kaine was perfectly correct when he asked people to back off the political dimensions of the Virginia Tech tragedy. It is a poser for both screaming camps, fraught with awkward questions. The shooter's purchases were perfectly legal. His possession of them on campus was not, but was never detected. So, if gun laws ( including an outright ban on possession at this location) can't prevent mass murder, what can? Alert prevention and boots-on-the-ground police work?

Oops: that brings us around to forbidden topic Number 1, doesn't it? I will at least leave that one alone.

If I could advance one idea to the Democratic Party before the 2008 election, it would be to steal the gun control issue away from the right. The issue has not budged an inch in 45 years, and will not without a wholly fresh approach. To do that, progressives need to do some really honest self-assessment about the motives behind the violent animosity they show, not only to right wing interests using the issue, but toward people like me.

All I'm proposing is that urban progressives drop the "hick" stereotypes, consider how to neutralise this issue, and try to reconnect with the ordinary people they've frightened and antagonised over gun control. I expect to be hammered for suggesting that, from both sides if anyone actually reads this stuff. I certainly was the last time I brought it up, and the climate then was much less charged. Last time I shut up shop. This time I'm waiting for prose that makes my point.

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Blogger massmarrier said...

I don't see why you frame this as a rural issue and come down so hard, and so stereotypically on urban progressives. Those aren't the issues.

I see the progressive issues as shifting the handgun-centric culture. It's the bigger, harder struggle. As Australia recently showed, that is possible in a very similar culture.

That didn't require a fleet of new ideas. It used many older ones -- strict enforcement, gun buybacks and the like that many all-guns for every adult say are unworkable. There, they worked because the national will was to stop mass killings and the thousands of suicides and domestic slayings. It is working and thousands of Aussies are alive now because of it.

Conflating that with removing the shotgun from the wall of the hunter or varmit eliminator does address the issue. The progressives I hear from on this this would like a cultural shift instead.

I'll watch for those screaming, "Hick!" I haven't seen them recently.

10:12 am  
Blogger Uncle said...

I'll be blogging once more on this and then I do hope we can move on. I have many other things to talk about.

Rural v. urban has become less an issue for me than ideology v. unconventional thinking. I fear I am a plague on both houses.

10:35 pm  

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