Category Archives: BLOGGERS

Massacre in Las Vegas

from Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses, 10/2/17

On the occasion of the latest episode of mass murder, I would like to redistribute an essay I wrote in July of 2012 – after yet a different shooting. Please note that I see no reason to change the title of the essay. LD

An American Motto: Free, Armed and Stupid – An Analysis (22 July 2012) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I – Gun Violence Epidemic Continues

Well here we go again. Late in the evening of July 20th “a masked gunman entered a Colorado movie theater playing the new Batman movie and “opened fire…killing at least 12 people and wounding 50.” [To this we can now add the December 14th massacre of 20 young children and 6 adults by twenty year-old gunman in Newtown Conn.] The gunman was not a large anthropomorphized bat but rather a young white male, and he “was armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns” all of which he had legally obtained.

This is nothing new in the Land Of The Free. Among the more notable victims of the nation’s love affair with deadly weapons have been Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan and, of course, John Lennon. Then there are the recent (and periodically on-going) mass murders among the population at large: the Colombine High School shootings, the Beltway sniper incidents, the Virginia Tech massacre, and the 2011 Tucson killings. To this can be added the daily shootings that occur in every city in the country. Taking the representative year 2007, there were 31,224 deaths from gunshots with 17,352 of them (56%) being suicides. The numbers have, generally, been going up.

Part II – The Gun Advocates’ Excuses

Those who stand against tightening up the nation’s presently useless gun laws have a variety of arguments most of which are in good part delusional. Thus:

1. EXCUSE NUMBER ONE – Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

a. It is certainly true that while sitting on a shelf, locked in a draw, or carried in a holster, guns are inert pieces of machinery and, ultimately, it takes a finger to pull the trigger. Yet this fact is actually irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because guns are not manufactured to stay on shelves, in draws or holsters. That inert status has nothing to do with why they exist. So, we can go on and ask,

b. Why are guns manufactured? Why do they exist? Primitive firearms were invented in China sometime in the 12thcentury. They were invented to be used in warfare, that is to kill and injure other people. As the technology spread Westward, first into the Arab lands and then to Europe, it was improved, but the raison d’etre (its reason for being), to kill and injure others. stayed the same. The only thing that has changed over time is that in certain lands, particularly the U.S., a monopoly on the possession of such weapons ceased to be held by the state and guns diffused into the population as a whole.

In the United States, this process of diffusion was allowed based on a peculiar interpretation of Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment says that the right of the citizens to bear arms shall not be infringed. But that statement forms a dependent clause in a sentence that links the right to bear arms to the maintenance of “a well regulated militia.” Apart from the National Guard, the modern U.S. does not maintain militias. And, most of the membership of the National Rifle Association (NRA), along with the other gun-toting tough guys walking the streets of (particularly) the mid and southern U.S., don’t even belong to National Guard.

c. The hard truth is that guns were originally invented, and still today are primarily made, to shoot people. Their other uses: in hunting, to shoot holes in paper targets, to blast clay projectiles out of the air for fun, are strictly secondary to their primary purpose.

d. So the argument that guns don’t kill people is a-historical and something of a red herring. Guns are essentially our partners, intimate accessories if you will, in what is most often criminal activity, facilitating the efficiency of acts of homicide, assault and suicide. At the rate we pursue these activities, we just couldn’t maintain the modern level of mayhem without them.

2. EXCUSE NUMBER TWO – Guns are most often used for self-defense.

a. If you go on the web, you can find surveys that allege the use of guns for self-defense numbering in the millions of episodes per year. However, these surveys are often carried out by biased organizations and are methodologically flawed. They have therefore been demonstrated to be unreliable.

b. More reliable studies, conducted by unbiased sources have shown, among other things, that: very few criminals are shot by law-abiding citizens; most criminals are shot either by the police, or by other criminals; and firearms reported to have been used in self-defense are, most of the time, used against members of a family or erstwhile friends during arguments.

Along the same lines, the statement concerning the Colorado theater massacre issued by Luke O’Dell, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners association, reflected the misconception that the answer to gun violence is more guns: “Potentially, if there had been a law-abiding citizen who had been able to carry [a gun] in the theater [in Colorado], it’s possible that the death toll would have been less.” One might more plausibly argue that if the shooter had not been able to procure a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns “to carry” into the theater, the death toll would have been zero.

Part III – The Problem of Lobby Power

It seems not to matter how many times these massacres take place. Nothing is likely to change. Here is what an article entitled “Still Little Interest In U.S. Gun Control” in the Philadelphia Inquirer of 22 July 2012 had to say, “Despite periodic mass shootings…the political calculus seems locked down. Most Republicans adamantly oppose tighter gun controls, and most Democrats would prefer to focus on other issues.” Why so? The reason has to do with a very flawed aspect of our political system. Ours is a system that allows a relatively small number of citizens (in this case gun zealots) to form a special interest, or lobby group, that raises and distributes great amounts of money nationwide and, in some parts of the country, exercises strong voting influence. These lobbies can hold crazy ideas that demonstrably harm society and make us look like an insane nation to the rest of the world, but that doesn’t matter either. The politicians will positively respond anyway to get money and electoral support. In this sense, we live in a land devoid of “national interest.” There is only the interest of lobby groups and the politicians controlled by them.

Nor is this situation unique to the problem of the nation’s gun laws and the power of the NRA. If we look at foreign policy, we see that similar lobbies skew policy with disastrous results. The Zionist lobby has the entire U.S. government head over heels in support of the basically racist state of Israel. And, this position does demonstrable harm to our standing throughout the Middle East and Muslim world. It’s crazy, but it has been going on for at least 65 years. The Cuban lobby of anti-Castro fanatics has intimidated Washington to blockade, sanction and otherwise isolate Cuba even though the rest of the world is content to trade and have normal relations with the island nation. Our politicians say they take this stand because the Cuban government is a communist dictatorship. So what? Do we have normal relations with China? Do we trade with Vietnam? They are obviously being less than truthful. They take the stand because they are bought and bullied by a bunch of well organized, well funded, fanatics. The whole thing is crazy and has been going on since 1960.

Part IV – Conclusion

There is simply something wrong with our political system. Too few people can command too much power in the name of relatively small minority groups. We need campaign finance reform and much more transparency when it comes to the operations of special interests. We need shorter electoral periods and limits on how much it can cost to run for any office. We need honest and open regional and national debates on both domestic and foreign policies that affect large numbers of our citizens (whether those citizens know it or not).

And, last but not least, we need a rational rethinking of what the word “freedom” means.

– Does “freedom” mean that just about anyone is free to carry weapons that potentially put the rest of us in danger? Free to carry weapons that are most often going to be used to shoot off the carrier’s foot, or shoot someone he or she imagines is acting abnormally, or shoot a family member in a heated argument, or, in a fit of depression, to blow one’s own brains out? Does it mean that people are free to carry weapons that they may decide to use in an act of mass murder?

– Does “freedom” mean that if you have a lot of money you can use it to corrupt the nation’s politicians so that they distort the positions and policies of government to such a degree that they cease to have any connection to common sense definitions of community or national interest?

The answer is yes. That, in good part, is actually what freedom means in the U.S. And these stupid definitions of “freedom” are slowly but surely undermining the body politic. There are no super heroes out there to save us: no Superman, no Batman, no Catwoman, and the like. There is just us. And if we don’t find a way to, in essence, work our way free of the pseudo “freedoms” that are ruining our political system, no one else will. Things will simply get worse.

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A Culture War Against Tolerance – An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses, 7/16/17

Part I – Tolerance Amid Growing Intolerance

In case you haven’t noticed, the United States is a country deeply divided on a large number of basic issues: racial issues, gender issues, issues of sexual preference, the role of government in society, the role of religious views in shaping laws, and so on. Influential Institutions, such as media outlets, are being labeled as “left” or “right” depending on how they report or relate on these issues. Battles now rage on these topics in the halls of Congress. Finally, the Supreme Court’s legal decisions on cases that reflect these questions have been trending toward the “conservative” end of the spectrum. All of this makes it quite difficult to have a meaningful discussion or debate about such issues in the public realm. Such attempts have often led to further divisiveness instead of reconciliation – reflecting what some might describe as an ongoing culture war.

The one place where thoughtful debates are usually encouraged is on the university and colleges campuses. This is particularly so in the “humanities” and “social sciences” classrooms, where you find courses in history, English, foreign languages, sociology, anthropology, political science and the like. Such areas of study draw on diverse source material and examples. And so, running against the popular grain, so to speak, divisive issues often become legitimate aspects of study.

This process of study and discussion concerning controversial topics has been going on on U.S. campuses at least since the end of World War II. By the 1970s clear preferences as to how these issues should be thought about appeared. And, they consistently agreed with a tolerant stand that maximized the virtues of equality and social justice….

continue reading at To the Point Analyses

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The Mason Missile, November 26, 2016

by John O. Mason, The Mason Missile, November 26, 2016

Greetings, and happy holidays!

Yes, I am over the shock of the reality of Donald trump becoming the next president of the United States, keeper of the nuclear codes, leaders of the “free world.” How did it come to this? Was Trump really the avatar for change he made himself out to be?

Donald Trump-a billionaire (as far as we know) real-estate tycoon who inherited the business from his father (who discriminated against minorities renting is apartments; who used his father’s connections to attain deferments from the draft for Viet Nam; who has insulted almost every one of the “other” demographic groups-Mexicans, Muslims, the physically handicapped; who acts like women are his playthings to just grab wherever he chooses; who offered simple sound-bite rhetoric to complicated foreign policy issues, like the civil war in Syria; who joined the ‘birther” crusade that said Obama was not born in this country; who, in spite of his “protectionist” talk on trade, had his brand of ties made in China, his brand of clothing made in Mexico, and the furniture for his hotels made in Turkey.

Now, barring a miracle in the Electoral College, he will be our President, the face we have to show the world who and what we are as a people. Is it anything to be proud of?

The Trump campaign has brought out of the woodwork the racism in this country, against African-Americans, Asian-descended people, Muslims, Jews, and LGBT people-swastikas sprayed on walls, arson fires in churches, taunts of kids in schools, and physical assaults. How can we tell kids that bullying and terrorizing minority kids is wrong, when they see the President of the United States do it and get away with it?

Racism, long confined to such code works as “inner city” or “law and order,” has returned into the political mainstream, due to Trump’s campaign….

continue reading at The Mason Missile

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Eight election epigrams

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 11/17/16

1024px-white_house_06-02-08Half the country hopes he meant what he said and half hopes he didn’t. Just like 8 years ago, but not the same halves.

There’s right, wrong, and politics. When questions have only two answers to most voters—right and wrong—politicians beware!

The Democrats’ hoped-for version of 2010: if it doesn’t come in 2018, will it ever?

A white woman to follow a black man? That was asking more than many Americans could handle.

Workers white, black, Latino, female, male, undocumented: what do they have in common and how can men of ill will pit them against each other? US history—from the beginning to last week—shows how: it’s not the worker part. Divide et impera, as the ancients said.

All things to all people: enough people believe that a candidate is listening, hears their needs, and will work for them in office. A track record can be too long. Then, all things to all people quickly turns into some things to some people, and the equation becomes: “all minus some = disenchantment.”

If the only thing to fear is fear itself, what is the only thing to hate?

Logic 101:”A includes B” does not prove that “B includes A.” Thus: white supremacists may support X, but not all X supporters are white supremacists. Fortunately.

Offer a 70-year-old man the chance to become a good, empathetic, rational person? The triumph of hope over developmental psychology.

(Photo: public domain, from Wikimedia Commons)

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