Every day, I come across a new article that takes the crown for “dumbest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.” Today’s entry comes from Mischa Livingstone, a Scottish film director who teaches at an art institute in California. On his blog, he wrote a piece about gun control that fit nicely into that category. . .
Mischa opens in as anodyne a way a possible:
Let’s talk about guns. It’s all the rage. Everyone is doing it. Hand guns, assault rifles, high capacity magazine clips. It’s very exciting and a quick “gun store online” Google search yields a bounty of “Shoot now pay later!” results (179 million). So many choices. So much to discuss.
Those are 49 words he could have done without. And yes, the “dumbest thing” category includes poor editing as well as gun-related idiocy.
It’s all very American to be sure, this ultimate freedom of ownership, freedom being the big issue. Google “Freedom in America” and you get a whopping 1 billion plus results. Compare it to “Freedom in the UK’ (483 million), “Freedom in France” (106 million), or “Freedom in Syria” (88 million) and you see a clear disparity. Granted, these are not scientific results, but like it or not Google has become the measure by which we quickly evaluate a topic’s worth.
Clearly not scientific, and I don’t, in fact, like it. Especially since most of the articles related to France would be in, you know, French, where the translation of ‘freedom’ is liberté. And here’s another news flash: in Syria they speak Arabic. So searching for an English word is kinda useless there, smart guy.
But the point he’s trying to make isn’t that we like the word “freedom,” but that the word is loaded (pardon the pun) in relation to guns.
Gun ownership inevitably comes up in any discussion of freedom in the US, umbilically linked to what it means to be American. Guns are part and parcel of the American myth, wrapped up in the entrepreneurial, brash, optimistic if a tad naïve and lacking in history, image of Americans that is stereotypically upheld by others.
Actually, yeah. Considering that whole American Revolution thing, I’d say gun ownership is a pretty historically accurate part of the American idea of freedom. We still tell our kids the story of Paul Revere’s ride, warning the colonists that the British were coming… to raid the armory and take their guns away. A call that was answered by armed militia, and resulted in the Revolution. It’s a pretty big moment in our history. But I guess Mischa just wants to skip over that part and label it “naïve”.
We talk about guns, although who can blame us? We do live in the shadow of many a brave soul known for their conquering nature. And what are guns if not a symbol of our subjugation of others?
I’m going to have to stop him right there. This is the mindset that people who’ve never held or fired a gun develop — guns are scary tools of intimidation that are only used to terrorize innocent victims. They never see guns as a means for self defense. They never see guns as a means to put food on your table. And they never see guns as a means to preserve our “free state” against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Through the hoplophobic fog in which they live, they only see the negative and turn a blind eye to the positive benefits of an armed populace.
The Trail of Tears is a story of subjugation at the point of a gun, and would fit the author’s narrative nicely if viewed narrowly. But in context, it’s a story that reenforces the idea that a disparity of power between the government and its citizens never ends well for a disarmed population.
So Livingstone has clearly made himself known — guns are evil incarnate. What’s next?
I propose a new myth, of my own creation. In this tale a gun-toting Ichabod builds a wall around himself, built entirely of firearms. He calls his wall Freedom and protects it from all who dare approach. As his wall grows, so declines Ichabod’s sense of others, for they are obscured by his dedication to his own freedom. Finally, Ichabod is crushed as his self-imposed prison collapses, barely noticed by the rest of the world that has long since moved on.
Ah. The oft-repeated stereotype of gun owners as reclusive nutjobs. Good to see that one still alive and well. But the final image in this “myth” that the author wants to plant in society is one in which the guns — those inanimate objects with no morality of their own — lead to the downfall of the nation. It’s not the people using the guns that are the cause, but the guns themselves.
I’d cite the declining murder rate to counter the author’s argument, but who am I to argue with an art school professor? I mean, I’m just a risk analyst who used to provide data for the Department of Homeland Security. It’s not like I did any analytical work for anyone important.
The standard liberal mindset is that the newest opinion is almost always the one to follow. Which explains the abundance of fad diets pretty nicely. Just because an opinion is new, though, doesn’t automatically mean that it is better. Just like that old 1970’s lathe in the machine shop that keeps turning out perfect products every time, sometimes the old ways are the best. Sometimes. This being one of those time.
So what’s this obsession with the past? And why must we cling to outdated ideas simply because the constitution and its amendments say so? No wonder the country is stagnating.
There’s a reason that the Founding Fathers decided to enumerate these specific fundamental civil rights. When the English government denied them to the colonists, it sparked a bloody (in both senses of the word) revolution. These were civil rights so basic that they initially considered them obvious to anyone with a brain, but wrote them down anyway to be sure they’d never be infringed.
So, if the United States is so backwards, what shining example does Livingstone hold up for us to follow?
China did it. […] Other countries would be advised to follow suit, the US among them.
Right, because I totally want to live in a country where train derailments that result in mass casualties are only investigated after an attempt to bury the entire accident site fails. That’s a caring government right there, a fine place to live.
But the passage that had me smacking my head against the keyboard the most was the author’s assertion that supporting the Constitution is, yes, un-American.
This, I fear, is what is happening as we rage on about our freedoms and liberties. We toss these terms around, hell bent on protecting the tired catch phrases of the past rather than committing ourselves to a healthy future. All this talk about 2nd amendment rights, civil liberties and what our founding fathers meant is so mired in yesteryear as to be profoundly un-American. I thought this was a nation of innovators and forward thinking individuals.
Let me rephrase that statement:
All this talk about [first, second and fourth] amendment rights, civil liberties and what our founding fathers meant is so mired in yesteryear as to be profoundly un-American. I thought this was a nation of innovators and forward thinking individuals.
That’s better. I wonder if the author would still agree with his own assessment of the situation now.
This is what drives me insane: it’s the cognitive dissonance in the argument that gun control advocates present. They rally behind the Bill of Rights when it suits them, but want to rip it to shreds when it’s inconvenient or involves something they don’t understand. They want to have their cake and eat it too, and they don’t see the tiniest problem with that. Excuse me while I try to cleanse the stupid out of my brain with a little whiskey.