Gun Control and the Price of America's Manifest Destiny
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Gun Control and the Price of America's Manifest Destiny

By Michael Murray | Think Pieces | July 27, 2012 | Comments ()


The other day I came across this in my Facebook newsfeed.


Obviously, as the Bible tells us that Adam was made from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam's rib, neither one of them should have a belly button. Unless of course, God, having fashioned man from his own image, actually has a belly button himself, but that would necessitate that God had a mother, and people just don't seem to be willing to stretch their imagination that far.

Every depiction I've seen of Adam and Eve has them sporting belly buttons presumably because that's what looks most natural to the beholding audience. It's one of those instances of cognitive dissonance, I think, a situation where what one believes is so alien to the culture they inhabit, that the person is obliged to compartmentalize and hold two mutually exclusive truths at the same time-- just making sure to keep them in separate boxes. And so, Adam and Eve can have belly buttons in spite of their divine manifestation.

As a Canadian outsider -- where religion really isn't a part of the national conversation -- the manner in which both American discourse and culture are bound to religion has always struck me as kind of weird.

It's not really all that surprising that religion is the fulcrum upon which the nation was built, given that America was settled by Pilgrims who had to flee religious persecution. As a concept, America was a place where you could let your freak flag fly, and an individual's public expression of their divine beliefs was a central part of this. "Here, in America, we don't need to be scared, we can practice our religion openly and proudly." Being religious, and being publicly religious, was deeply embedded in the very idea of being American, and now, centuries later, this vestigial sense of identity remains burned into the collective psyche. Religious convictions, like tracer bullets flashing through the sky, illuminate all that takes place on the ground, and as commerce is the engine that drives the country, religion has gotten uncomfortably mashed up in the politics that govern it, with supernatural explanations for policy carrying as much weight as those that are mortally reasoned.

Recently, a friend of mine who was in the midst of a crisis, retreated into prayer to seek divine guidance. He would "know" when God spoke to him. If he saw a bird looking at him and then flying off a post, he would know that God was telling him to take the job and move to a different city. However, if I came to him as an informed friend and explained to him all the reasons why moving might be a bad idea, it wouldn't have any purchase for him. In his mind, God would never use me as a vessel through which his words might be manifest, but would only use a mystical tool--the communication had to be supernatural and it had to serve his interest.

This sort of obdurate commitment to a principle that lives beyond reason is the spine that gives body to the gun control debate in America, too. People pore over The Constitution as if it was an immaculate document, carefully parsing the Second Amendment in an attempt to decipher the message. Did the forefathers mean that only the militia -- who at the time would have been comprised of farmers with slow-loading muskets rising out of misty fields to take on the King -- have the right to bear arms? Or did they mean the entire nation should be an armed and waiting militia? People treat the constitution as if it was an oracle sent from the future rather than the past, and try to shake the truth free of it as if it was a Magic-8-Ball.

How 18th century thinking about gun control relates to the 21st century is beyond my understanding, and with the massacre in Aurora, we are once again forced to ask the question, "Why aren't there stricter gun control laws in America?"

James Holmes, the young man responsible for the carnage at The Dark Knight Rises screening, entered the movie theatre clad in body armor and armed with four legally purchased guns. We all know what he did. He'd been planning it for months and had purchased more than 6000 rounds of ammunition as well as countless other items designed to aid in the elimination of humans. When Holmes began to execute his plan, the people in the theatre were thrown into the kind of nightmare they'd paid to see, not live--and for those who believe that guns serve as a necessary protection against such violent intrusions, it should be noted that not one person in the crowd fired back in self-defense.

The End Times come in many forms, I suppose. For some it came in the pitiless form of James Holmes, for others who wait for a specifically Biblical unfurling, they hope to see a fiery conflagration that will herald the second coming of Jesus Christ. Many welcome this idea, and they want to have their guns with them when Armageddon looms. This supernatural mentality has people all over the country hoarding weapons and constructing bunkers, and so when a man like James Holmes buys an obscene amount of weapons and artillery, it seems unremarkable-- he's just another self-reliant survivalist. Public safety, public sense, even, takes a back seat to personal liberty, and religious freedom and the right to protect one's religious freedom, becomes the right to own all manner of paramilitary weaponry.

That our popular culture has an effect on our behavior seems so self-evident as to be beyond debate. In this situation, the murderer was literally posing as a character from the movie's narrative. He called himself The Joker and he dyed his hair orange.

The connection is plain to see. This doesn't mean the movie caused the shooting, but it does draw a straight line linking how what we see can influence how we behave. When a crazy person tried to kill Arizona Senator Gabrielle Giffords, it was after Sarah Palin had placed her on a "target list" and exalted her supporters, "Don't retreat, instead- RELOAD!"

These cues, taken by people looking for an excuse to act on their burgeoning madness, lead to tragedy. It's human nature that we're inspired by the world around us, as it creates us just as we create it.

Just the other day my wife showed me this video:

The first thing I thought after seeing it was that if I was 12 years-old I would immediately go out and try to recreate the prank. On a much darker scale, when Canadian psycho Luka Magnotti's video of murder and desecration was posted on the web site Best Gore (a site that was to serve the artistic needs of amateur horror film makers) my morbid curiosity was such that I went to have a look.

Obviously, it's a mighty big step from watching violence to committing atrocities, but my point is that we're vulnerable. I would never for a second condone censoring art in any of its forms, but we have to accept the obvious fact that the more we're exposed to violent culture, the more apt we are to be caught up in a violent culture.

Any attempt to limit the free market through which art, religion and guns flow is seen as an affront to the sacrosanct principle of American individualism. The individual rises and falls based on merit, the American myth goes, and there's nobody to blame or praise but the individual. It's opportunity that America offers, and people are given as much space as possible to be the person they're destined to become. But this form of Manifest Destiny comes at a price, and often that price is paid in blood, as mass shootings-- now as American as football and Levis-- show us again and again and again.

Eloquent Eloquence: Online Death Threats Are Not Surprising. Surprising Is When Those Threats Are Spelled Correctly | "The Watch" Review: 20 Years Later, and Ben Stiller Still Doesn't Understand the Role of a Straight Man

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • kirbyjay

    When I hear a gun advocate start to ....zzzzz.....zzzzz..zz.... ooh sorry, this subject makes me sleepy...but when someone delivers their opinion on gun ownership by vomiting every detail they know about a particular weapon, besides tuning them out I think, here is a person that just wants to impress everyone with their knowledge of assault rifles, doesn't really have a valid opinion on the subject, and is just a big giant blowhard, and I thank the gods that I don't have to go to their barbecue.

  • kirbyjay

    Guns, religion, babies and boobs always guarantee comments over 100.

  • Michael Murray

    Two things:

    As far as the 2nd Amendment goes it would make more sense as a protectorate against an over zealous government if citizens had the right to education, in particular computer literacy. Any guerilla organization that's going to have any revolutionary success against a monolithic government, has to be able to communicate, mobolize and hack the hell out of things. You want to be Anonymous and shut down the CIA, etcetera...

    On another note, I saw the Dark Knight Rises last night, and quite separate from it's critical value, the movie was ruined for me by the shootings in Aurora. They were ever-present in my mind as I watched the action unfold and I could not enter into the fictive world that was before me on the screen.

  • Humble Servant

    As always, fantastic insight, Michael! One myth of the American founding is that it was based on religious freedom. This is not accurate to our understanding of the term and I would like to elaborate...
    While the Puritans from England who settled the Plymouth Colony were leaving a country that was not permitting them to practice their zealous version of Calvanism, first to Holland, and then to the Colonies, it is important to note they left England, and also Holland, because of internal strife within the puritan group itself. It is, I believe, wrong to picture the 'Pilgrims' as valiant and persecuted innocents striving to establish a great and free country. They are more akin to an oppressive cult wanting to find a place where no authority can bother them, like Rev. Jim Jones and his People's Temple in Guayana.
    By invoking the mythology of the 'Pilgrims' Americans are reinforcing the founding notion that religious zealots make all the rules and forbid all other forms of faith.

  • Kati

    Thanks, all y'all, for such an intelligent, reasoned, thought out, and supported comments section. I tried to initiate such a discussion Re: gun control both on FB and in person with spectacular crown fire outcomes. Well done. *doffs bowler*

  • Salieri2

    You wear a bowler? That's awesome!.

  • Ash

    i'm scared to watch that embedded video in case something awful is about to happen to those seagulls.

  • Mr. Able

    A few different thoughts.

    First, I'd like to speak against the argument that the Constitution is a flawed document from 230 years ago that should be treated as such. I've heard that I and my ilk treat the Constitution like a fetish, and that its unreasonable to take it so seriously. The problem is that the Constitution is law. It is the foundation of our government. It is not to be treated like some philosophical treatise from the same timeframe that you can pick out the parts that you like or the parts that you don't and try to make it fit into your life with as little difficulty as possible. It is law and deserves to be treated as such. If you have a problem with the second amendment, I recommend that you start working on an amendment to cancel it, because any other efforts to reinterpret the amendment or declare it antiquated and unimportant amounts to an open defiance of the rule of law, a quaint concept that protects you as well as me from tyrannies disregarding laws because its convenient for them.

    Second, I'm confused by why the second amendment is the subject of so many historicity questions. The same people who wrote it wrote the first amendment and the fifth amendment. Both are products of the 18th century, and yet, who would say that the freedom of speech is a cute, antiquated notion, or that you are no longer protected from self-incrimination? Even more interesting, what about the third amendment? Clearly, a product of its time, and yet, I doubt that you'd appreciate being forced to feed and house servicemen because the government forced them upon you. If you're going to ignore the second amendment on the grounds that its outdated, Bush's arguments about wiretapping holds up just as easily.

    Finally, the amendment itself. I am going to dig into that because, I think I've already pointed out that, as law, the amendment deserves careful attention. The language is pretty clear, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." No matter what purpose the founders put there, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," the right is reserved to the people. I actually happen to think that the first half is relevant as well, since, historically speaking, it seems to say be saying that the right to bear arms is necessary to protect a free state by overthrowing a tyrannical state, but, that doesn't matter. Whatever purpose the founders had, it's still reserved to the people and the uses of those arms are also reserved to the people's judgement. If you don't trust the people's judgement, that's fine, but, the law is the law and does not care for your opinion.

    In summary, we have repealed amendments before, we certainly can again, but attempts to get around the Constitution doesn't just undermine the parts you dislike, it undermines all of it; the good ideas with the bad.

  • BAM

    In the words of Heath Ledger as Joker, "Why so serious [Pajiba]?"

  • Michael Murray

    This is an excellent article on well, the Joker and the question, "Why so serious?" as well as the responsibility that the artist might have to the life their work takes on outside of their inent. In other words, a buzz kill, but a brilliant one: Colorado shootings: Where is the unstoppable force of public anger?

  • hapl0
  • Michael Murray

    Thanks for adding the correct link!

  • hapl0

    [Apparently I'm wrong about the "body armor" so please take the time to read BierceAmbrose's reply before repeating what I already know]

    Romney (in talking to Pierce) compared Oslo to Aurora and how if it was going to happen, it would have happened anyway regardless of what the gun law is the reason why this tragedy happened in the first place.

    The focus should now be how to make this harder to happen in the future not for those bad guys who have contacts in the black market or what have you but the "regular" people whose only access comes from the internet.

    And Romney and his like dare to suggest inaction?

    I would actually like to see the shop owner that sold him the full body armor and whoever else who feed a system that allows military grade body protection to be sold to a civilian to be tried.

    The body armor to me is an equally if not more dangerous weapon and cutting easy access to it will at least stop a massacre exactly like this one from happening because a perp wouldn't dare to mount such a grand scale assault the next time.

    Yes, yes, I realize he could have walked in without one anyway since no one fired back but I'm thinking about the what ifs now.

    What if the off duty cops who did security work at that theater had been there that night?

    Wouldn't the death toll be higher with the body armor? And how easy it would have been to stop him without one or even prevent this from happening in the first place because the perp chickens out during the planning when the only access to body armor to this perp is unavailable?

    Just do something to reduce the chance of this kind of case happening again instead of nothing just because it won't stop it from happening completely.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Double-sigh, reasoning.

    The plural of anecdote isn't data. We have a lot of anecdotes and not a whole lot of data. The data we do have is suspect - everybody's got an agenda. On this topic, it sucks to be us.

    Just do something to reduce the chance of this kind of case happening
    again instead of nothing because it won't stop it from happening.

    Or better, reduce the chance of this kind of case happening by how much and how sure are we it'll work, at what cost? The problem isn't that nobody's got a point, it's that everybody has one. Extra-lethal gizmos lying about and more people die by accident. We're up in the law of large numbers. It's gonna happen. Yet, they do get used, effectively, for self-defense. It happens. So, how many people get killed, raped or beat to death vs. how many accidental deaths and nut-job shootings?

    I'll listen to a "gun restrictions" argument when the costs in deaths and are mentioned in the same breath with defensive gun use stats. I'll listen to a "gun rights" argument when civil rights and self-defense are mentioned in the same breath with accidental deaths and spree killings. I'll listen to either when we start by admitting we're in the fog here.

    I'm bugged by the need to flee to certainty, just because what we're talking about has high stakes. High stakes uncertainty is the price of being informed and aware. Go back to sleep or learn to cope.

    I am offended by parading out-group scapegoats as a way to get off that hook - "gun nuts", religion, whatever. It's them, those, those them people. You know, they aren't like us. That's what has me so bent about the original think piece. No need to call religious people from times past stupid for having navels on their Adam & Eve, unless you're painting religious people as stupid, so they're the problem and can carry our sins for us.

  • mrcreosote

    Perhaps if the first damn thing out of the NRA's mouth was some sympathy for victims of gun violence rather than a self-absorbed call to "Don't blame the guns!" A large part of this battle is public perception, and the leading gun lobbying organization in the country is correctly portrayed as a group of craven opportunists who insist on appealling to the worst aspects of their membership. Look, this is a TV and movie site. and of all the reality shows Top Shot regularly has contestants who are accomplished shooters and competitiors with a strong sense of dedication and ethics. Unlike other reality shows, where interpersonal relationships are fraught with deceit and backstabbing, these people seem to just be really good marksmen who want to compete with the best. To put it bluntly most of them are not assholes. Yet, every time I go to my local gunshop and/or range there is always at least a few jagoffs who not only shouldn't own guns, but probably shouldn't get sporks. That may be the same with all hobbies, but it's harder to kill people with kites, or model trains. And that's the problem. When gun owners go wrong, really bad things happen. So NRA instead of simply paying lobbyists to throw dirt on the bodies and the issues, how about working with mental health professionals? How about pushing to end gun show loopholes and internet bullshit? Because that's not allegedly their demographic. But in reality I think it kind of is. That's also why although I own guns I would never join the NRA. To me they are the worst kind of "them"

  • hapl0

    I've been thinking about the same thing for some days now.

    But I can't imagine telling the people who have lost their loved ones that day and all those before them that this is the price of living in America because you know, shit happens.

    I am definitely in the thick of it now.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, embrace the suck. "Shit happens" is the price of living - not just in America. The world is an imperfect place. Screws fall out all the time. Knowing that, "The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it."

    Human-up and say it, if you mean it: "We're gonna make a policy choice to eliminate all guns because the 80-kabillion deaths that'll eliminate is worth the loss of hunting, recreation, militia, the getting up in every single person's every house, barn, garage, outhouse, boathouse and doghouse and oh, yeah, the 70-kabillion deaths from people stabbed in malls because nobody had a gun. We're gonna write off all that, because this is the best - least bad - we can do."

  • BierceAmbrose

    Sigh. Facts first.

    It wasn't body armor. That was misreported, then repeated yet again, here. So, I suppose that misreporting a specious Tea Party connection - but let's make sure to name-check Sarah Palin - gets dropped when Jon Stewart calls it out, but since he hasn't dinged the body armor misinformation, that's fine.

    The guns weren't purchased mail order.

    No one fired back. The theater has a policy banning firearms. See my /chum from an hour ago for a couple counter-examples.

  • hapl0

    Well forgive me if it was indeed just a "urban assault vest made of “heavy-duty nylon” and has no Kevlar or other bullet-resistant materials."

    I want to start a new argument about what the hell is an urban assault vest and how the availability of it despite its lack of bullet proof properties is still dangerous because it emboldens the perp because if CNN, Pierce and the Aurora PD can think it's the real deal then it wouldn't matter anyway. But then this is not like some other countries where even a toy gun that looks real gets banned so this is hopeless to begin with.

    I know that all four guns were purchased at the store and I know no one fired back because I said this, "Yes, yes, I realize he could have walked in without one anyway since no one fired back but I'm thinking about the what ifs now." so that's that.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Sorry, man - er dude - er wench - er human?

    I got that you said "no one fired back." I'm griping at someone else, really, as "no one fired back" has been paraded around as an argument that *defensive* handguns can't ever help. That name-checking call out of mine is some more splash-damage - really directed at the "think piece" not you. I'm still kind of blindingly angry on that count, and it's bleeding through sometimes. Entirely my failing.

    FWIW, I wasn't gonna touch this one at all, then I read the comments. Agree or disagree, you guys are having the most awesome, sincere, caring, fact-driven discussion of this mess that I've seen.

    I honest to Crom love you guys right now, including, and especially those of you who think I'm an unrepentant, reactionary troglodyte for what I've been saying.

  • GunNut2600

    I live in Baltimore. We give any other city a run for its money when it comes to gun violence. But our gun crime occurs in predominately black parts of town and involve drugs so white folks don't give a shit. Getting a legal firearm is nearly impossible to get here in MD. Pretty much we had a de facto ban on private firearms in the city as it is so difficult and expensive to get a permit.

    If anyone thinks that allowing easier access to firearms would lower the violent crime rate in my're an idiot. The factors leading to the insane crime rate are much more complex than just access to firearms. In a very real sense, my city is still coming to terms with the MLK riots that caused the middle class (white, black, hispanic, whatever) to flee the city. Drugs have utterly destroyed whole neighborhoods for generations and its reflected in our school system and our horrific unemployment. For many kids, the shot callers are the only folks on their blocks even working...abet illegally. Banning away free guns...neither would even alter the murder rate.

    In this publicized case, which always occurs when white folks shoot up white folks, this is to me another example of folks looking at the wrong factors in the discussion.

    I was part of the last generation that you could put someone away for mental problems in an institution against their will. I was six and was misdiagnosed and locked up basically in a school that handled severely emotionally, physically, and mentally damaged kids 24/7. It ended up saving my life as it turned out I have a serious neurological disorder that could have killed me and there were doctors there that quickly recognized this. But today, unless you are a direct threat to yourself or others (meaning within 24 hours you are drawing blood) you can't commit someone against their will. You can't even get someone put away for observation with clear evidence of danger. And forget insurance covering it. Just getting put under observation is enough to get your policy canceled.

    Another huge problem is that we have totally under funded mental healthcare. People exclaim that someone should have seen the signs in this guy but the stark reality is, even if they did, there is shit you can do about it. There aren't enough docs, beds, or facilities to even offer a semblance of help to the people that need it. We closed down our mental institutions and the prison system now takes it up, only now, people are locked up in cells and drugged just enough to keep them docile. If we locked up white folks at the same rate we lock up blacks and Hispanics...then we would get reform and people would start noticing this problem...but hey...who gives a shit right?

    Seriously...if anyone walks away from this incident thinking that the guns this guy had is the biggest issue...I don't understand how clueless you can be about life.

  • Salieri2

    I think it might be wise to draw a distinction between gun violence that is ongoing daily as part of, I'm sorry to put it this way, "normal" crime, and gun violence that is spree-killer-based. It seems to me that they are different animals with different approaches needed.

  • GunNut2600

    Isn't that always the way?

    Remember that 60 minutes interview where Anderson Cooper asled Cam'ron what he would do if he was living next to a serial killer? That was the dumbest fucking question I think Cooper could have asked. It made no sense. What the fuck is Cam'ron going to know about white people problems? Cam'ron should have asked Cooper what he would do if he lived in section 8 housing, his mother was on crack, his dad was dead, and he had six siblings to support, no marketable skills, and less than a high school education.

  • BierceAmbrose

    In this publicized case, which always occurs when white folks shoot up
    white folks, this is to me another example of folks looking at the wrong
    factors in the discussion.

    Some piece of media started counting gun deaths in Chicago since the Aurora massacre.

  • GunNut2600

    I apologize for that mess. I was commenting using my phone. It gets pretty darn easy to lose one's place...and come off sounding like a complete idiot. Add in the auto-correct feature and well it always seems to turn into a mess.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Fine by me. I'm hitting the babble-zone maybe 1:4 on this topic.

    Perhaps toward your point, this:

  • Slash

    I mentioned this on another site, but the common denominator we should be discussing isn't "guns," it's "men."

  • BierceAmbrose

    /Chum - Some particulars ...

    - There was *another* attempted mass shooting in
    Colorado not so long ago. Guy was shot dead before he got too far.
    Turns out it was by someone in the Church - *Church* - indeed with
    law enforcement training, but neither in uniform nor under the
    direction of law enforcement at the time.

    - "Nobody shot
    back" The theater in Aurora has a posted policy forbidding
    guns. Maybe not so much the patrons' preference, and a lovely illustration
    of the conundrum of gun laws - the good guys go unarmed, while the
    bad guys ignore the law. Explain how you're going to be more
    effective curtailing guns than the war on drugs has been in
    restricting availability, or you're arguing that we should be sheeple
    and accept our losses. Make that case if you will.

    - "Nobody
    shot back" reads like a slam on the 3-4 guys (we know of) with
    the presence of mind and courage to throw their own bodies between
    the shooter and their - what's the word?, friends, lovers, family,
    etc. don't capture it(*). We know they stepped up when it mattered &
    didn't count the cost. I feel bad that we left them only the option to die with that courage.

    - You fail to mention the
    gentlemen from Aurora law enforcement who said they'd place armed
    officers as security in theaters for a while. (Whether they've done
    this, I don't know.) So po-po guns in theaters are good, but us
    civilians are, apparently, one dye-job away from going postal.

    Nobody shot back @ the Giffords shooting either. That guy didn't
    stop until he *was* stopped, physically. Also he *was* stopped physically. So, how many people died because nobody there was carrying?

    - Meanwhile, "No
    guns" Bloomburg travels with armed security. Why is his life
    worth more than mine? Why is he - or his security guys - more trusted
    to use force only when needed than I?

    (*) The word I'm stuck on is "charges." There's gotta be a better word. The guys who shielded others saw some other people as their responsibility. I don't know how to reconcile my responsibility to look out for myself, and perhaps some others with choosing to be powerless.

  • John G.

    I think this Scientific American take on the issue of gun violence in America is pretty interesting, not one I've heard before.

  • Jannymac

    The belly button thing is an easy explanation...I'm pretty sure that the church murdered anybody out there who would even think to ask the question.
    On the gun control issue, as much as everyone is going nuts about this we actually live in one of the safest places on earth. And the overall murder rate in the US has been declining for decades. The only thing I think we need to do is to make sure that people who own guns are properly licenced to do so. We make people take training to get behind the wheel of a car, or pilot a plane so guns should be in the same -- not because it will keep maniacs from blowing away folks in a theater (not possible), but so that kids don't accidentally shoot themselves or there friends.

  • BierceAmbrose

    "Selective enforcement" - see the several previous comments about restricting gun access to scapegoat classes like blacks & civil rights folks in the South.

    Of course dissidents in the former Soviet Union, or say Iran, have an easy time getting heard.

    The right to defend yourself (and be responsible for how you do it) seems like a civil right.

  • Salieri2

    Man, I totally misread that. Thought you said "dissidents in the former Soviet Union, or say Iran, have an easy time getting hard."

    And thought wait, how does BierceAmbrose even know that?

  • BierceAmbrose

    They're hard all the time because repression is hot.

    "Back in the day" before we got all one-world-y and so on, there was a massive dissident-tourism industry. You could get package tours to the repress-o-sphere for pennies on the ruble if you knew the right people.

    Um, I've heard.

  • Sofia

    I'm an outsider but my impression is that a portion of Americans seem to have a quick fix for everything.

    Anxious, sad? Take some pills.

    Hungry? Junk food is cheap and delicious.

    Scared? Get a gun.

    It's why the US has the highest rate of obesity in the developed world, why it's one of the most medicated countries and why it has the highest rate of gun ownership. What are the real issues and why do people seem so scared to deal with them?

    This guy obviously had mental issues. Why was he allowed to get a gun? That's the real problem. So many Americans bring up freedom and rights like they're foreign concepts to everyone living outside the US, but what they don't realize is that you also have to be responsible.

  • alwaysanswerb

    I'm an outsider but my impression is that a portion of Americans seem to have a quick fix for everything.

    Probably true.

    Scared? Get a gun.

    Alternatively: Guy shoots up a theater? Ban guns.

    This guy obviously had mental issues.

    In other words: Guy shoots up a theater? Mental issues.

    Which (going along with your theme) is kind of a quick and easy explanation. I'm not saying it's not true in this instance, because I don't know, but I find it interesting that a lot of people default to "mental issues" when it comes to murders and rapists, when a lot of them are demonstrably neruotypical. Meanwhile, plenty of people with clinically legitimate mental issues manage not to shoot up theaters. Seems like a stigma that's worth examining.

  • Sofia

    Yes, I agree with that. My point was that this guy could get a gun very easily. He got loads of ammo, lots of guns, and that was okay because it was his right. Him being mentally ill is another issue altogether. My point was that all he had to do was walk into a store, fill up a form and walk away with enough arms to do a mass shooting.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You talk like guns are the only way we are at risk of large-scale mayhem. There are tons of things we can get "very easily" - no forms even -
    that could wipe out a packed movie theater full of people.

  • Salieri2

    But have they?

  • BierceAmbrose

    From time to time.

    Oklahoma city for one. And the bat-shooter rigged his apartment with about eleventy-kabillion bombs. Of course, if we're talking outside the US ...

    Guns are easy, and seem to have some weird attraction.

    I wonder, what if we let people have all the guns they want, but they have to hand load the cartridges and make their own powder?

  • pepper

    the freedom to bear arms should come with the freedom to bear the responsibility, and that means 'arms control'. However, as a non-USA citizen, i find it repugnant to allow the freedom for the first and argue for less restrictions on the second.
    We're talking about weapons that deal death on a large scale, that fire more accurately and more rapidly than those the Founding Fathers had in their age and time. Yet when the issue of gun-control appears in US news, what we see is a lot of bluster and rhetoric, very little action done, and every few years a tragedy happens and then there's bluster and rhetoric again, but controlling - actual controlling, as in limiting access to and removing (from some people) - is never really an option, is it?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Access is already limited in general and removed from some people entirely - Instant background checks, disallowed for felons and people with diagnosed mental illness. Some kinds of weapons are not available at all, and others are nearly impossible to get licensed.

    The word you want is *more*. Access "more" limited, and removed from "more" people. That might make sense, but there is no *absolute* right to keep and bear any kind of arm in the US.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I'm not American, and I'm asking this question out of curiosity, not to make any sort of point. What do they mean by mental illness? Does this include everything from psychopathy to generalized anxiety disorders?

  • Jezzer

    And there shouldn't be an absolute right to keep and bear any kind of arm. That's patently ridiculous.

  • Sofia

    Exactly. Limiting access to and removing guns from some people is seen as the government denying them their freedom or some of that propaganda bullshit. It's ridiculous.

  • Gina

    Who will be doing the limiting? Who will be making the decisions regarding who is competent to own guns? The government, of course. You're being utterly disingenuous.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, I think *I* should decide. My first, modest proposal:

    To start with, nobody who's in a PhD program should be anywhere near a gun(*), and double-secret nobody who's having problems with their PhD program.

    Seriously, register and watch them all. You seen people in those programs? They're batshit the whole time. Some recover, eventually, after they get out, but I say they're under surveillance from the time they become gradual students until at least three years after they get the credential & they pass some sanity screening. (FWIW, have we considered PhD program selection as an indicator of batshittery in general? Maybe we should just monitor them all.)(**)

    (*) Also knives, bricks, megaphones and large amounts of alcohol.

    (**) I know a lot of PhD people. Some of my best friends are PhD people. I have nothing against PhD people, except in general yes I do, because they're batshit.

  • BierceAmbrose

    BTW, I happen to agree with you - limiting access to some kinds of weapons and removing guns from some people makes sense.

    Now, who, and how ya gonna do it so it doesn't go sideways?

  • BierceAmbrose

    It is exactly the government denying some people the freedom they would otherwise have to own and shoot guns.

    Say what you mean. Own it.

  • ScrimmySCrim

    There should be a law where all mass murderers have to legally change their names into something really lame or humiliating. Something like "Small Penis Man" or "The Only Vagina I Have Ever Touched Was My Mom's When I Was Born."

    Damn it, this was supposed to be a reply to InternetMagpie. Copied

  • BierceAmbrose


    We could even just refer to them as such.

  • TheOriginalMRod


  • DarthCorleone

    In general, I give "slippery slope" arguments about as much respect as I give straw men and ad hominem attacks. Debate the issue at hand at the point that there is a suggested line being drawn; if someone tries to move the line beyond your comfort zone later, then debate that. Don't tell me that an idea is wrong just because it exists on the same spectrum as a more extreme action. It's nothing more than lazy fear-mongering.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, yeah, except ...

    1 - Commerce Clause.

    2 - Why do they write legislation with such sloppy language.

    I get all wound up on that last one. "Well, we'd never use it do to that, it's just for this." Well then, frakking say what you mean. Look at that ridiculous copyright law.

    Me and my tinfoil hat don't think the "flexible" language is so much an accident, as a Trojan horse, most of the time. I hate that I think that.

  • DarthCorleone

    That's a fair point on the practical side, but in most cases it's not the angle that the "slippery slope" seems to be taking. If I pass a law banning firearms with specific characteristics A, B, and C, then I think in that case you can circumvent ambiguity.

    Flexible language seems to me to be less about opening the door for unintended consequences and more about wording things to satisfy more people.

    On a tangential note, few things in our legislative process bother me more than completely unrelated riders. I realize compromise gets the job done often, but I'd just assume the legislators could shake hands and pass two unrelated bills as separate entities. I do realize that creates a lot more paperwork and requires a lot more time.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Flexible language seems to me to be less about opening the door for
    unintended consequences and more about wording things to satisfy more

    Well, yeah. So, if 30% of the people agree that it's a dessert topping and they want that, and 30% of the people agree that it's a floor polish, and they want that, we call it "sludge" and bury the dual-definitions in a footnote somewhere.

    Then we get a desert topping 70% of the people didn't want, and a floor polish 70% of the people didn't want. But at least we did something.

    On a tangential note, few things in our legislative process bother me more than completely unrelated riders.

    Oh, I wish I had your perspective. To be honest, I'd have to say that "many things bother me about as much - meaning a whole lot - as completely unrelated riders." It would be a large list.

    Half the problem is nobody reads the damn things. The other half, on par with unrelated riders for me, is calling for regulatory elaboration. There's a great video out, today I think, of Barney Frank getting all testy with Maria Bartiromo because she's pushing him on what the hell the rules are fo this or that bit of Dodd / Frank, passed 2 years ago.

  • specialj67

    I agree with all who said that the real story not being
    discussed in much of the news coverage is about mental health issues and the
    shortcomings of our healthcare system regarding those issues. Of course, being a presidential election
    year, if it’s not a politically sexy and/or easily simplified issue, then no
    one wants to talk about it. It’s easy to
    put together a talking heads debate segment about gun control because the general
    narrative has been established over the decades: the NRA with their “it’s a
    slippery slope to complete government control of everything!” versus those
    hippy-dippy socialist Europe lovers and their “government knows best”
    attitude. Who cares if it’s reductive as
    hell? It’s familiar and has built-in
    conflict that makes for good TV/Internet/newsprint drama.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, aside from putting very PhD candidate on a watch list - they be crazy - who do you watch, and how do you decide?

  • BierceAmbrose

    That "Think Piece" went too far.

    This isn't a "think piece." It's mustering a collective "Eeeeeewwww." to pin the bad feelings of a tragedy on acceptable scapegoats. "Round up the usual suspects." or because it's particularly important, perhaps twice the usual number.

    I started responding to the misrepresentations and calumnies until I realized that they were the point. Shame on you - for writing this, and for publishing it.

  • Michael Murray

    Lordy Bierce, calumnies? I can almost see you taking off your glove and smacking me across the face. What I suppose I was looking at was the individualism that runs through America, in all aspects, and how that individualism has broader consequences for the notion of community. Libertarianism is great, if each one of us can be depended on to make good decisions, but the more fractured and spread apart we become from one another, while ironically having access to more people, the more difficult it becomes. Did that make sense? It might not have. I just ate a big lunch and am lying down.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Abject apologies, Super. What you are doing is genius.

    I am loving watching you vigorously argue both (all) sides in this debate. Along with the entertainment, it's a fine technique to illustrate that there are arguments from several sides. I wish I thought of it.

    The commentariat is having a civil, factual, and passionate debate. I love you guys. Hell, if we could guarantee that *you'd* be the ones regulating my (nonexistent) guns, I'd be OK with that. How do we make sure its you, and stays that way?

    To me, the "think piece" gratuitously slimed a bunch of subgroups, repeated reporting both bad and misleading, and etc. I found the "think piece" really, really offensive.

    Entirely my fault that my jumping in late to the party wasn't clearer.

  • MIchael Murray

    What do they say, "the truth isn't two sided, but round."

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, agreed with that. I have no patience with (See what I did there?) gratuitously polarizing.
    People leap too easily to binary. Rule of thumb I use - unless you have
    three candidate options, you don't really understand anything.

    I'm still more than a little bit angry, and think the original piece is out of line. The comment discussion is wonderful.

  • Michael Murray

    Pajiba lives in the comments--that's where everything that matters happens. The pieces are just portals into that country.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I think Chris Rock was on to something when he talked about charging out the ass for bullets.

  • Salieri2

    So only the rich are armed & trained? Nope, don't like that.

  • Yes, because God forbid someone with a firearm actually PRACTICE using it.

  • lowercase_ryan

    That's what Duck Hunt is for.

  • Gina

    Who plays Duck Hunt anymore?

  • Bender

    Goddamn patriots, that's who. If more people played Duck Hunt we wouldn't be in this mess.

    True story.

  • 724wd

    and those that cast their own? reloaders?

  • lowercase_ryan


  • lowercase_ryan

    The slippery slope argument about taking away guns is ludicrous. If guns were outlawed tomorrow how many gun owners would line up to turn them in? A small fraction at best, but I think the actual numbers would be next to none. Do you understand what an impossible undertaking it would be to remove the guns from private citizens in this country? It could never happen. Banning assault rifles is one thing. Going door to door and forcibly collecting hand guns, rifles, and shotguns is another.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Look up the allegedly serious proposals to do exactly that, which have come from supposedly-serious people since the Aurora massacre - folks with their fingers way too close to the metaphoric tossing every house in America trigger.

    Google is your friend.

  • alien07

    The sad fact is, not all of these incidents can be prevented. Look at the shooting last year in Norway. Norway has much stricter gun control laws than the US. Nevertheless, Anders Brevik was able to legally obtain weapons and murder 69 people with guns.

    Poland and the Czech Republic require a psychological evaluation before an individual can purchase a weapon. I would argue that this isn't unreasonable and it would actually be a good idea for this restriction to be implemented in the US. As with most issues, prudence, moderation, and compromise make for the best decisions. Gun control laws do have their place and purpose.

    However, I do believe the 2nd Amendment does, in fact, express the idea that is an individual(and natural) right to own and carry weapons(this interpretation was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008). The best summation I can give(paraphrasing) is "the 2nd Amendment gives teeth to the rest of the Bill of Rights." Of course a "citizens' militia" armed with semiautomatic weapons can't defeat the US Army. But consider this: in Monroe, Louisiana, in the late 50s, the KKK was in collusion with local police and openly attacking and shooting at black people. The black people of Monroe formed a private militia and were able to defend their homes and families with guns, repelling several attacks and ultimately stopping the police from working with the Klan.

    This is why we have the right to bear arms. Governments are only as good as the flawed people who comprise them, but our rights as human beings are intrinsic and eternal, and sometimes we're forced to defend those rights by force.

  • BierceAmbrose

    However, I do believe the 2nd Amendment does, in fact, express the idea
    that is an individual(and natural) right to own and carry weapons(this
    interpretation was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008). The best
    summation I can give(paraphrasing) is "the 2nd Amendment gives teeth to
    the rest of the Bill of Rights." Of course a "citizens' militia" armed
    with semiautomatic weapons can't defeat the US Army.

    There's three arguments made at the time & after, based on my amateur and limited reading ...

    1 - Political expedient: counterweight to tyrants. If a government derives it's justification from the consent of the governed, well, you don't have to worry about the peasants getting uppity.

    2 - Symmetry with responsibility: citizen-soldiers, participating in the defense as a natural consequence and responsibility of a government of, by and for ...

    3 - Natural right: people have a natural right to personal self-defense, which the government may not impede for political expediency.

  • BierceAmbrose

    I am in favor of "citizens' militia" in general, for a bunch of reasons.

    - Would demystify guns, for good and ill. People unfamiliar both over and under-estimate what guns can do.

    - Would similarly demystify the military. (Somewhat, yes, I know.)

    - Great resource during disasters. Why wouldn't the locals, with local interest and local knowledge do a better job of keeping some kind of order during disasters, for example? I'm kind of bugged by the arbitrary and (some say) large scale civilian gun confiscations in New Orleans.

    - etc.

    In general I am a fan of individual people knowing more about the big stuff that impacts our lives, ideally from hands-on experience. Book leaning can be spun by the authors. Reality is a teacher with less of an agenda.

  • Wednesday

    The Second Amendment begins with the phrase, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,...". Well-regulated. Not "because I want what I want for whatever ridiculous reason I want it."

    I don't want to see a ban on guns or hunting. I don't think that better mental health screening is the answer, either. Because I know two family members who are entirely competent at the moment, and have gun collections, and WHEN they snap (with one of 'em, the odds are it's honestly just a matter of time, folks), it will be too late: they've had their automatic death machines for years now.

    But honestly, why do we buy into the slippery-slope argument? Why do we let the NRA frame the argument, that if we take away assault rifles, we're one step away from Red Dawn? Maybe the nutjob in Aurora could only have shot six people instead of 60 because he couldn't order a metric fuckton of ammo over the Internet. Not ideal obviously, but better. All without restricting the right of a person to defend himself or help defend his home and family.

    Well-regulated. Reasonable. Compromise. These aren't dirty words.

  • loveyouintheface

    well said!

  • The amount of ammunition he ordered didn't matter, now did it? He didn't bring 6000 rounds into the theater. He brought several hundred at MOST, and didn't fire all of them. He also could have easily bought as much ammo as he wanted at Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, or Wal-Mart. If he wanted to use .22(like the Va Tech shooter), he could have carried in thousands of rounds in a backpack.

    "Assault rifles" are functionally no different than grandpa's hunting rifle. Semi-automatic handguns have been around for over a hundred years. So some stupid politician enacts a magazine ban---again. It won't work---again. Say they mandate that magazines can only hold ten rounds. First, that does NOTHING to address the hundred million or more mags already out there. Second, if someone has a ten round magazine, nothing says he can't buy ten of them. It only takes a second to do a magazine swap.

    No semi-auto rifles or semi-auto handguns? Then the shooter will just use a pump shotgun(as Holmes did), a lever action rifle, and a brace of revolvers(and stuff his pocket with speedloaders). That combination of firearms served the cowboys quite well, and were very efficient at slaughtering Native Americans. Do you think someone armed with those firearms couldn't kill twelve people in a theater?

    Gun control is useless, and placing restrictions on certain types of firearms and not others is just politicians placating people who are ignorant about firearms. A perfect example is the "Assault Weapons Ban" of 1994. It defined a firearm as an "assault weapon" based on a combination of physical attributes(pistol grip, detachable magazine, bayonet lug, etc).It also banned the import of "assault weapons" based on those physical attributes. So what did makers do? They eliminated enough of those attributes to comply with the law, and kept making guns. AR15 manufacture didn't even slow down during the "ban". AKs kept coming in, and enterprising US companies made enough parts here to get around the import ban. Therefore, you could convert your AK that was imported with a thumbhole stock to a wicked cool scary pistol grip AK with no problem.

    The magazine capacity ban spurred handgun buyers to swap from 9mm to .40 or .45. Why? Because if someone is going to carry a full sized handgun that only holds 10 rounds, it makes more sense to carry a larger caliber. Oh, and it spurred development of really small 9mms for concealed carry.

    Gun control is stupid. Oh, and it's useless and futile.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Unless you restrict the ownership of all kinds of guns.

  • BierceAmbrose

    "Restrict" meaning what? Open up the code and say what you're proposing that will be sufficient & effective. (I think I know, but it isn't my proposal. So, make yours.)

  • Paul

    UK doesn't have guns available for the populace without strict controls. Very few incidents of major slaughter with these instruments of death. Discuss

  • BierceAmbrose

    So, you are proposing that we replicate the UK's gun control regime? (You didn't answer the question.)

    You're framing the argument wrong. Like most things, guns don't have *one* effect in the world. It's like talking about cars looking only at car deaths, or only at miles moved, or only at C02, or only at make out sessions conducted to bad 80's music.

    So, let's talk about massacres via guns vs. murder by other means (and gun defense preventing same), gun deaths vs. other crimes, and other uses of guns. There's plenty of relevant links in this comment scrum. You might want to include the recent UK street riots (when college got more expensive) contrasted with this:

  • dahlia6

    Moderation isn't exactly something the United States is world-renowned for, though.

  • BierceAmbrose

    But honestly, why do we buy into the slippery-slope argument? Why do we
    let the NRA frame the argument, that if we take away assault rifles,
    we're one step away from Red Dawn?

    - Because many of the people who advocate for "reasonable, prudent" gun control legislation are unabashed when they think nobody's looking that it's just a step toward a complete ban & confiscation. I thought you'd know about two comments about gun control on the sly made by our current president. Links - easy to find. I don't think he'd actually do it unless *all* the wind were blowing that way at that particular moment. BUT, it's of a piece with joking about siccing the IRS on people. You don't even say that when it's your finger on the button. (Both Reagan and Bush-II. Some things you just don't joke about. Ever.)

    - Because many of the people who advocate for "reasonable, prudent" are completely stupid about guns. Feinstein, who's up in arms again (See what I did there?) completely beclowned herself when composing the "assault weapons ban" the last time round. More or less - wood stocks, safe and fluffy, knobby metal bits, scary and bad.

    - Take a look at gun legislation & how it's implemented and enforced in Chicago, New York City, Washington DC and the State of New Jersey. The series of articles "Emily Gets Her Gun" is an example of "reasonable and prudent" gun legislation being used to create an effective ban.

  • Wednesday

    Because many of the people who advocate for "reasonable, prudent" gun
    control legislation are unabashed when they think nobody's looking that
    it's just a step toward a complete ban & confiscation.

    And we don't have to let THOSE people frame the argument either. Except, I truly doubt those people are in a high enough majority to effect such a secret/sly change for very long in any case.

    You don't know what's in the heart of people who want reasonable gun control. It's foolish to suppose if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile. Did it happen with the Brady Bill? I remember when that was passed (and aforementioned family member decided he should stock up on C4 *just in case*), and yet, despite it being marginally more difficult to buy weapons capable of firing many rounds very quickly, the Stormtroopers did not actually go door-to-door confiscating guns.

    I live in the reddest of red states and I hear that nonsense argument every blessed day. It does nothing to persuade anyone not already convinced that they have the God-given right to be armed to the teeth from kindergarten to church to the bar.

    Will it save lives? Not very many, no. Determined people will find a way to commit violence no matter. That guy in Scotland a few years back managed to wreak havoc in a school without a gun, and a loony tune in my area attacked children -- in school -- with a fucking claw-hammer. That doesn't mean it's a good idea for anyone with a hard-on for "self-protection" (other aforementioned family member) to have on-demand access to guns. The very people most vocal about NEEDING guns are the ones I'm LEAST likely to trust with them.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Because many of the people who advocate for "reasonable, prudent" gun control legislation are unabashed when they think nobody's looking that it's just a step toward a complete ban & confiscation.

    And we don't have to let THOSE people frame the argument either.
    Except, I truly doubt those people are in a high enough majority to
    effect such a secret/sly change for very long in any case

    Well, not so secret. At least three examples in this very comment discussion - not from me - of "reasonable, prudent" gun control becoming de-facto bans. Out loud, in public. I don't know what's in people's hearts. I can watch what they do after they say "just the tip."

    Nobody believes them. See here:

  • Bert_McGurt

    I think it shows a lack of respect to the current members of the armed forces to assume they'll be easily and willingly turned into tools of government oppression against the population they're sworn to protect. A population which includes their friends and family.

  • BlackRabbit

    Not to mention that, realistically, milita vs, military would be a pretty one-sided battle. Also, who no one shot back? Gee, it's dark, filled with tear gas and frightened/panicking people, flickering lights, and you don;t know who's around. Only a fool would fire back in that situation. Not to mention that if you see someone with a gun in that situation, how do you know they're not an accomplice?

  • Some guy

    Wait, you are telling me that a group of armed citizens with the barest form of weapons have no chance in a war against a highly trained military armed with the latest in technology?

    Tell that to the Mujahideen and Viet Cong. Or the colonial minute-men under General Washington.

    If I'm not mistaken, all of those, technically militias, fought against and either defeated or fought to a stalemate the most technically advanced militaries in the world.

    Our military and police forces come out to maaaaybe 2.5 million individuals.

    Gun owners in the US come out to between around 50 and 70 million people, with almost 200 million guns in circulation.

    Ask yourself again, in a citizen VS military fight, on American soil, in the backyards of those who own those guns,

    who is going to win?

  • BierceAmbrose

    And yet the oath keepers are identified as a potential terrorist group (depending on which revision of which HS report, or training material you get.)

  • APOCooter

    Egypt. Syria. Libya. Iraq. Iran. North Korea. Nicaragua. Honduras. Guatemala. Peru. Chile.

  • Bert_McGurt

    All third-world, or marginally second-world countries. All with a history of unstable governments and military coups. None with a 200+ year history of representative democracy. None with a moral or ethical playbook even close to what exists in the US. None are a relevant comparison, because I'm not just talking about the abstract potential of a government to turn against a segment of its population.

    What I'm talking about is that if such a situation were to come to pass, the people fighting hardest for gun rights are the ones with the least to worry about. The ones crying the loudest aren't the marginalized groups that end up on the wrong end of those conflicts. It's not the blacks, or the gays, or the Hispanics calling for gun rights. It's primarily the well-off, white, priviledged part of society. And they're not the ones that are going to need to fight the government.

    The American Revolution happened because the American colonials felt marginalized by the British. They didn't revere and praise the Redcoats.

    If there's such an implicit expectation of betrayal of the American populace by the military, then it's disingenuous of those clamoring for the right to own weapons (with the express purpose of fabricating anti-government militias) to loudly proclaim how much they "support the troops". They need to find a different argument, or express their reservations consistently.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Just to clarify, I have no problem with supporting the military and owning a gun. Just don't tell me it's for a militia.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Just to clarify, I have no problem with supporting the military and owning a gun. Just don't tell me it's for a militia.

    Perhaps it should be.

  • googergieger

    Two things. Do you actually think the artists of them paintings were painting the actual Adam and Eve or you know, painting what they knew about the human body and winged it?

    Also, apparently our country wasn't founded on religious persecution. That is to say Puritans founded this country so they could have a country made up entirely of Puritans. So they fled here to religiously persecute.

    Now carry on with the talks of guns.

  • CardinalChunder

    Yes. Thank you, googergeiger. Despite being a Brit, I swallowed that whole 'fleeing religious persecution' line for years before questioning it. I mean, you don't like to question someone else's history, do you? And we did more than enough shit to anyone and everyone back in the day for it to probably be true. It sounds like something we'd do.

    Except that the last, full throttle, religious persecution we had lasted for about three years under Mary I. The Plymothians land almost a century and two monarchs later when the death penalty was available for everything right down to Theft and Being Irish While Holding an Opinion, while being Puritan was punishable with an infrequently enforced fine and some harrasment as long as you remembered to yell 'God Save the King' every once in a while.

    Overall, I'd give the Pilgrim Fathers religious persecution 2 thumbscrews out of 5, where 5 is 'renounce and we still burn you', and 1 is 'That guy threw a boot at me'.

  • John G.

    "the actual adam and eve"?

  • BierceAmbrose

    That is to say Puritans founded this country so they could have a
    country made up entirely of Puritans. So they fled here to religiously

    As did some other groups. Then there were the people out to make a buck, the ones who wanted to be religiously left alone and weren't so persecute-y, the ones dragged here on ships and after the founding multiple waves of folks looking for things like more potatoes. One requirement on the US Constitution was to allow these very disparate groups to coordinate enough to get along while accommodating that diversity. They were kind of stuck with finding how *little* they could do, centrally and collectively.

    I wonder sometimes if the UN, and EU(*) wouldn't do themselves some good if they'd just lighten the fuck up on the homogeneity.

    (*)The EU is perfect in all things, of course and we Amurrikens should just get over our attachment to our quaint and dated federal system. Call me in 200 years, if you're still there.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Actually, there's some obscure doctrine about *why* Adam & Eve actually have navels. The people establishing the iconography were neither ignorant nor compartmentalizing.

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