January 24, 2013

It’s Time to Jail the NRA

Mike Bond writes:

It’s time to jail the National Rifle Association Directors as accessories to mass murder. For once again a madman with automatic rifles has slaughtered our children. And we rid ourselves of the NRA’s political accomplices, the Senators and Congressmen who vote to legalize weapons of mass murder. The time has come.

If the United States were a civilized, rational nation this horror could never have happened. But we have become an errant, self-pitying, dysfunctional, and emotionally and fiscally bankrupt society run by a corporate-political clique that sells us nice visions of ourselves while they rob us blind and inject our minds with poison.

Over 13 years ago, after the Columbine School Massacre, I wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle that as a hunter and gun owner I recommended the following:

  • Private ownership of handguns and assault rifles be prohibited. Their sole purpose is to kill people.
  • Ownership of rifles and shotguns be registered, like automobiles, and limited to those who have passed a licensing program and mental and criminal background tests.
  • Advertisement of guns be prohibited in all media.
  • Gun-related political contributions be prohibited.
  • All media, particularly the Internet, be controlled for the level of violence. We spend billions to restrict trace chemicals in our children’s foods but scarcely a penny to govern what goes into their minds.

Obviously, none of this has happened. There have been 36 major massacres since then, each bloodbath aided and abetted by the National Rifle Association. Mass murder weapons are far easier to obtain now than they were then.

We are talking about murder here: cold, calculated murder. For even the NRA fanatics – even our pay-for-hire politicians – know that every law they pass to legalize mass murder weapons will result in many more deaths. This is premeditated murder. It’s time we jail them for it.

We have descended to the ninth circle of Hell, a place where so many crazy people have guns you fear you need to have guns yourself, because it’s obvious the society cannot protect us. The politicians will not protect us – they have no interest in our welfare, only in the corporate contributions they use to sell us nice visions of themselves so we keep them in office.

The police cannot protect us – they’re targets themselves. At Sandy Hook the police were earnestly reporting that they were going to do “a detailed investigation” – who cares about an investigation when your child is dead, and you know who did it and it keeps happening over and over again? And when for a long time everyone has known the cause?

Just like the insane murderer at Sandy Hook, the NRA and their fully-owned politicians have developed a pathological personality disorder, an emotional disconnect – they cannot understand the impact of their actions. They are immune to other people’s pain.

And the media is equally at fault – there’s lots of talk about emotional connections, how people are helping each other, lots of nice photos of teary mothers hugging rescued children. But what about the little girls with their heads blown away by high-powered bullets? Where are those pictures, so we can see what it’s really like? Where are the pictures of the little boys with their intestines spread across the classroom? So we can fully understand the horror?

Because until we fully understand the horror we can never change the evil in ourselves, in our nation, in our way of looking at ourselves, in our way of being governed.

The simple truth is that we are owned, and our politicians work for, Colt Arms, Ruger, Remington and all the other murder industries and their lobbyists. We are owned by the National Rifle Association.

It’s time to take our nation back. To do so, the first step is to jail the criminals. All of them.

January 18, 2013

A friend writes ...

A friend writes, about Democrats' "tepid support for any gun regulation":

If a classroom of children were obliterated by the Taliban in Afghanistan, they'd be appalled at the savagery, and say it's just a barbaric society and we must DO SOMETHING to civilize them. When it happens here, they confirm that the USA is indeed a barbaric society by the way they shrug their shoulders and move on, life as usual, ho hum. Yesterday in the Times there was an essay (or a comment) where someone wrote that someone in Europe said to them that "life is cheap" in the US, and how sad that made them feel. But it's true, and it's reflected in the cruel policies everywhere here, from accepting warlike levels of gun violence, not providing universal health care and higher education, wrenching people's homes and property away when they are old and go into a nursing home, the level of incarceration and homelessness and poverty that is astounding in a nation that is so "rich". The list is endless, really. Cruelty and violence is all the US really stands for anymore.

January 16, 2013

Means and Ends: The films of Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino

With Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty in theaters at the same time, it is revealing to compare them. Both are manipulative entertainments profiting from a taste for violence, but they get away with it — that is, they are actually honored — in different ways.

Bigelow wallows in the violence of imperial war exploits with just enough ambivalence that discerning viewers can comfort themselves that her movies raise important questions about that violence. What is never questioned, however, is its justification. In other words, the end justifies the means, though maybe not any means.

Tarantino has also landed on the formula that the end justifies the means: any means as long as the end is unquestionably justified. Thus, in the context of the Nazi holocaust or American slavery, few people would begrudge the vengeful violence that Tarantino obsessively presents.

In short, Tarantino avoids questioning the means, and Bigelow avoids questioning of the end. Thus each of them allows an unquestioned indulgence in violence as entertainment. There is no reason to consider their films as anything more serious. Bigelow and Tarantino are poseurs.

Embed: Gun deaths reported in U.S. since Newtown

January 14, 2013

Freedom to Connect

From speech by Aaron Swartz, May 2011, University of Chicago, about the fight against COICA/SOPA/PIPA, by courtesy of Democracy Now:
I was at an event, and I was talking, and I got introduced to a U.S. senator, one of the strongest proponents of the original COICA bill, in fact. And I asked him why, despite being such a progressive, despite giving a speech in favor of civil liberties, why he was supporting a bill that would censor the Internet. And, you know, that typical politician smile he had suddenly faded from his face, and his eyes started burning this fiery red. And he started shouting at me, said, "Those people on the Internet, they think they can get away with anything! They think they can just put anything up there, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them! They put up everything! They put up our nuclear missiles, and they just laugh at us! Well, we’re going to show them! There’s got to be laws on the Internet! It’s got to be under control!"

Now, as far as I know, nobody has ever put up the U.S.'s nuclear missiles on the Internet. I mean, it's not something I’ve heard about. But that’s sort of the point. He wasn’t having a rational concern, right? It was this irrational fear that things were out of control. Here was this man, a United States senator, and those people on the Internet, they were just mocking him. They had to be brought under control. Things had to be under control. And I think that was the attitude of Congress. And just as seeing that fire in that senator’s eyes scared me, I think those hearings scared a lot of people. They saw this wasn’t the attitude of a thoughtful government trying to resolve trade-offs in order to best represent its citizens. This was more like the attitude of a tyrant. And so the citizens fought back. ...
I'm pretty sure that deranged senator was Patrick Leahy of Vermont, lead sponsor of COICA and PIPA (SOPA was the House version of PIPA).

January 13, 2013

Mental Health Screening for Gun Ownership

Mental health screening as part of the "background" check for gun purchasers requires only one (1) question:

Do you want to own a gun?

If the answer is "yes", it is clear that the person should be not allowed to have a gun.

January 7, 2013

One way to look at it

William Blum writes:

Capitalism can be seen in historical evolutionary terms, independent of any moral point of view or judgement. Broadly speaking, the organization of mankind's societies has evolved from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. And it's now time for the next step: socialism.

Socialism or communism have always been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos. Ralph Nader has observed: "Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out."

Capitalism gave rise to some very important innovations, such as mass production and distribution, and many technological advances. But now, and for some time past, the system has caused much more harm than good. It's eating its young. And our environment. We can take the advances instituted by capitalism for the purpose of profit and use them to create a society based on putting people before profit. Just imagine.

human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism