Another day, another massacre…

The response to the latest campus shoot-up is depressingly predictable, and it gets worse each time. Just heard some talking head on NPR (he's also been on Michigan's WPBN and Illinois' KHQA) intoning the "If You See Something, Say Something" mantra—this time regarding human beings exhibiting suspect behavior. So now it doesn't just apply to mysterious packages left unattended on subway platforms, but to people who seem "weird" or "off" or "loners" or "maladjusted" or "mentally ill" (all problematic labels). Rat-out culture is being extended and institutionalized, while the Gun Lobby makes it impossible to address the ubiquity of the instruments of death used in these routine massacres. (This latest punk had an AR-15 and five handguns.) So (count on it) within a year or two (maybe less), there will be round-ups and pre-emptive arrests of the socially awkward, the introverted, Asperger's diagnosees, etc… and you will still be able to walk into a gun show, slap down your money and walk out with an AR-15, no questions asked. So spare us your 100% bogus talk about "freedom," gun-fetishists.

And then there's the tiresome "guns make us safer" mantra… The notion that everyone should be armed (even in fucking grade schools!) and ready to blow away the bad guys…. Precisely the logic that has led to such paragons of social stability as Syria, Somalia, Libya, Bosnia, etc. Thanks, fellas. Very fucking helpful.

And then there's the opposite dogma… Only seeing "gun control" as "the" answer to the problem, which focuses everything on the instrument and dodges the tough question of why so many people are taking out their frustrations in this ultra-pathological way. We are allowed to talk about "mental illness" and we are allowed to talk about "gun control." We are never, ever, under any circumstances, allowed to talk about social alienation, the atomized landscape of suburbia (this shit never happens in the cities), the cult of individual revenge that Hollywood has fed us from Death Wish to Rambo, or (heaven forbid) the lowered expectations forced upon youth by the globalized economy. You're allowed to talk about guns, but not the more fundamental problem of gun culture. The gun-fetishists have got a point when they say that everyone is armed in peaceful Switzerland, so the problem isn't guns per se. What they don't get is that their macho posturing about blowing away criminals and miscreants, fetishizing guns as a symbol of rugged individualism, glorifying guns as what made "America great" (by enforcing slavery, exterminating Indians and stealing a third of Mexico) are the very things that are absent from the more modest and mundane culture around guns in Switzerland.

I see little prospect that we will ever have the conversation that needs to be had around this question… and meanwhile we lurch closer to either a total police state or total militarized social entropy (or both) with each new massacre.

See our last post on this peculiarly American pathology

  1. How the NRA rewrote the Second Amendment

    Why the Second Amendment is a non-grammatical muddle of equivocation, and how the NRA got the courts to impose an interpretation sharply at odds with that of Madison and his Bill of Rights co-framers. A damn good analysis from Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice. Not that it'll make any difference.