(urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe
cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 17 19:24:35 PDT 2009
Don Doggett wrote:
>As someone who lives in the Wild West, I gotta say it ain't all it's
cracked up to be. They say an armed society is a polite society, but
mostly it's just a
>belligerently overconfident society.
In general, I'd agree, at least on the idea that you should look at the reasons a society values guns rather than the guns themselves. But I think that's actually our problem when talking about guns: we exaggerate their meaning.
I’ll admit that I’m not personally a big fan of guns. That
said, I don’t think that the mere presence of a weapon itself makes you more
inclined to use them. I mean, I could grab a lethal knife from just about any
building or house I wander in to, but, even in my angriest moments, I’ve never
felt inclined to.
What interests me more is the culture that has grown up (in
America, I suppose I should say) around the gun debate. It seems that we’ve
been forced to take sides as if we’re for arming every able-bodied citizen to
protect us from the unwashed masses or that we have to be labeled naïve pacifists
who blind themselves to potential dangers. What bothers me most is that we live
in a culture that either demonizes or romanticizes guns…both of which are
equally dangerous in my view.
The pro-gun side thinks that too much rides on our ability
to have any kind of gun we want, and so they’re pushed into unreasonable
positions of claiming that semi-automatic weapons are in fact for sport. Of
course you can use them that way, but that’s not their intent. Furthermore,
they end up tacking on a rhetoric of both personal and political freedom to a
personal weapon that quickly becomes hyperbolic. In much of the reasoning, a
sincere worry that easy access to powerful weapons could lead to quicker violence
becomes a sign of anti-liberty, which of course is ridiculous.
But on the other side, you get the anti-gun freaks who
refuse to recognize that it’s not the tool but the sociological and
psychological conditions that lead to violence. Guns become a distraction from
the real causes of violence like poverty or urban living conditions. So the
principled pacifists end up wasting a lot of breath trying to solve a problem with
the wrong tools.
Guns have become symbols of other issues which, in the
process, makes it harder to adequately deal with their own very real and
powerful nature as dangerous but also useful tools. We end up choosing sides on
the issue based on rhetoric and symbolism instead of taking a more practical
stance towards it. And if we do try to be practical, we’re often accused *by
both sides* of not understanding the true depth of the problem as a challenge to
a fundamental right (to liberty or safety). But, as I said before, either
choice is hyperbole.
----- Original Message ----
From: don doggett <kingwukong at yahoo.com>
To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:05:00 PM
Subject: Re: (urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe
As someone who lives in the Wild West, I gotta say it ain't all it's cracked up to be. They say an armed society is a polite society, but mostly it's just a belligerently overconfident society.
--- On Tue, 3/17/09, Son of Witz <sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org> wrote:
> From: Son of Witz <sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org>
> Subject: Re: (urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe
> To: "The Urth Mailing List" <urth at lists.urth.net>
> Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 10:43 AM
> >Anyway, the "Wild West" is too imbeded, it
> seems to me, on the minds of the Americans. That's
> normal. Plus, there's the constitution. The conquest of
> the vast and wild frontier, frontier life, and the inerent
> dangers of such a setting, all this was pretty different
> from the european experience in the 19th century. I think
> this is something, together with your constitution, that is
> still pretty much alive in your minds. It generates passions
> regarding the whole "guns or no guns" issues that
> are completely alien to europeans.
> That's how I took your post, and I thought it was an
> interesting insight. I didn't take it as a dis on
> Americans. Of course, not all of our families were even
> here during the wild west, but it's suffused into the
> culture, for sure.
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