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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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If the Las Vegas killers were liberals, they'd be called terrorists.


They explicitly sought to deliver a political message. Deranged, of course, but still clearly swimming in the familiar soup of paranoid, gun-crazy, rightwing hatred peddled specifically by the likes of Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Sovereign Citizens' movements, AND the Tea Party. The wanted to "die for liberty."

They delivered the Tea Party's favored FLAG for Pete's sake.

And that has barely been addressed outside of political blogs. No one wants to point at the Tea Party flag and the NRA stance on guns and Beck and Jones' claims about the "tyranny" of the government and admit the obvious connection.

Had an Occupy kid or an anarchist delivered a lefty manifesto and left some progressive symbol on the bodies of his murder victims, all we'd ever hear, FOREVER, would be how liberal groups are "just as dangerous." That's all it would take.

But instead, here comes Alex Jones to claim it was yet another "false flag" operation fiendishly designed to make rightwing gun fanatics paranoid about government look like ... rightwing gun fanatics paranoid about the government. It's okay because no one listens to him ... except for the huge numbers of people who apparently listen to him.

It would all be funny if the violence wasn't real. We could laugh at the gullible loons loading their guns in fear of FEMA deathcamps and Obamacare deathpanels and Mooslams and whatever else is in the wingut stew this week.

But it is real. It just doesn't count, apparently, because conservatism is the default American cultural position and isn't considered scary and offensive like long-haired kids with protest signs, or, you know, taxes.

No. It's irrational to reduce violence to statistics.

We don't lump every societal ill into one bucket. Many people die in car crashes, but we need cars, and therefore accept that risk. Or, to counter the latest pro-gun propaganda, we need doctors, and therefore accept that some of them will make lethal mistakes.

To reduce the problem with gun violence or mass murder to the "likelihood" of it happening to one particular person is a specious variety of "pragmatism" accepted by virtually no one, because we make qualitative distinctions in our civilization. The same logic would say that any social ill is irrelevant, compared to natural causes.

Why worry about murder at all, when cars and heart disease are vastly more "likely" to hurt people?

Because we have zero need for heavily armed paranoid people shooting up our neighborhoods, schools, and shopping malls.

Because we have no use for stupid men with rifles meandering around fast food restaurants.

Because we do not accept the risk that people will absorb so much rightwing propaganda that they will actually murder a pair of cops eating pizza "for freedom."

Because we have zero need for mass murder, and it does harm beyond the immediate list of casualties.

There is no tradeoff for these things. They are the selfish and stupid results of the worst of human impulses.

And of course, none of this is just a question of the "number" of deaths. It is the atmosphere of rage and senseless violence, and the poisonous, rationality-killing rhetoric that goes into supporting it.

You don't end up with a horrible culture because you have a lot of cars, and a corresponding number of auto accidents. You get a horrible culture when people do horrible things.

Every risk is not the same. Every death is not the same. Life and culture and society are not a set of numbers.

We know better than this.

We embrace anti-intellectualism more than other

developed countries. Check the statistics on how many people in other developed countries doubt evolution or climate change. We're way up there. Or down there, as the case may be.

Edit: Here's one. In 2006, we were second to worst in terms of doubting evolution. Just above Turkey.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/08/14/science/sciencespecial2/20050815_EVO_GRAPHIC.html

I bet we haven't improved since then.

Other countries have hateful rhetoric, racism; religious bigotry. General ignorance and tribalism are pretty universal.

But I don't see people in France or Denmark gaining nationwide constituencies based on the idea that scientists are lying to us about the age of the Earth or evolution.

It's a useful political tool -- holding the idea of hewing to completely irrational beliefs as a right. I think we're seeing it more and more because the things American conservatives want are harder and harder to justify.

If you can just throw out the entire notion of reason, you can justify anything you want. Like murdering cops in a pizza joint because government itself is some kind of evil conspiracy. It's not that big a leap from claiming tax cuts for the rich "pay for themselves" or that healthcare reform is a conspiracy to "kill Grandma."

Others do irrational, sure. But we're better at it than most.

Have you noticed how sparse are the mentions of the Gadsden Flag?

When it started it cropping up, here and there, yesterday, I noticed the headlines for (politically opinionated) blogs and so forth put that fact up front. Networks not only kept it out of the headlines, but barely mentioned it all.

I'm not much for bashing the reliability of "main stream media" in general -- blogs and so forth can be even worse -- but the fact that a the signature symbol for a public, vocal, U.S. political faction was invoked by terroristic spree killers targeting cops seems worth mentioning to me.

Can you imagine if they'd left an anarchy symbol or a peace sign or a rainbow flag on the bodies of their victims?

At what point does the automatic conservative entitlement to the benefit of the doubt fail? When do we get to talk about the problem with their entire point of view, not with a few "lone nuts?"

Not when they talk about "Second Amendment remedies, or when they bring guns to rallies, apparently. Not when they aim rifles at federal officials. Not when they claim the right to waltz into the Gas 'n Sip with rifles and laugh at anyone who feels "uncomfortable with that."

And now, not when they drape their f'ing FLAG over people murdered in cold blood?



How long, I wonder

... before groups of people concerned about the intentions of open-carriers take up their own weapons and shadow them as they go about their Taco-purchasing and mother-mocking activities?

If all of this is Constitutionally protected, we should arrive shortly at competing groups of heavily armed "good guys" stalking each other around shopping malls and fast food joints.

Which would suit the NRA / gun manufacturing lobby perfectly. Eventually everyone will be hauling their military-style weapons and body armor with them everywhere, on constant alert for whichever of their fellow Armed Citizens might have ill intent.

Sales will be spectacular.

Should go well.
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