What is the very best science fiction book or series written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQ+ community that is from 1997 or earlier?
Please check this post if you have any questions about the limiting factors of this poll.
All the rules are here. This is also where to leave nominations and seconds.
I'm recovering from my last big article, which took upwards of 80 hours to write all told, so I took yesterday off from blogging (though not writing). I told my Patrons what was going on, but it'll cost folks at least a dollar a month to get those kind of updates. Lots of my third job this week, so even tomorrow might be a lighter fare, but we should be back on schedule.
In the meantime we need your seconds on the current batch of nominations for our next poll (and more nominations if you have them). I'd like to get this poll up by early next week.
Please go back to the original entry for both the rules and to drop a comment or second. If you place them here, they will not get counted (and probably not given the needed second).
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
So let's start by saying that yes, I am angry.
I am very angry.
And I'm sure some will use my emotion or my sardonic wit to try to delegitimize the substance of this post. ("Clearly he isn't even TRYING to not be biased because of those jokes...") Let them. This isn't about them any more. At this point I've given up any hope of convincing people who have decided nothing will ever convince them. I'm done trying. I can work around them.
Like someone who is done fighting, and finally ready to leave a relationship, I am just fucking done with the bullshit.
So don't expect this to be "reasoned debate" over brandy with calm and disinterested parties–each using the mere hint of some kind of fallacy to whack-a-mole checkmate the other. ("Oh Chad. Was that slight an ad-hominem. Bad form, good sir. Bad form.") But this isn't about debate. Debate is in the rearview mirror.
Largely though, it wouldn't even matter.
This has become a partisan issue surrounding increasingly intransigent folks who perceive the slightest restriction as a threat to be quashed and who, with each mass shooting, have become even more intractable instead of more willing to consider solutions (outside of turning the whole country into a civilian militarized zones). And a moderate group of Republicans who have begun to join the left in begging for sensible gun control laws but are not able to get past the vocal minority, their party's vice grip, and an NRA lobby.
The latter have relinquished their right to reasoned discourse by refusing to even come to the table. Like much of the party with which they have a symbiosis with, they have decided to forgo debate, discussion, incremental change, or compromise in favor of the politics of power, slick cheats like gerrymandering and voter suppression, grotesque amounts of dark money, and scorched earth politics and will absolutely positively not do anything but crawl over each other to ingratiate themselves to the NRA's ever more intractable position that no limitations of any kind are ever acceptable.
So let me start by divesting you of the notion that I am an enemy of firearms. I have handled guns, fired guns (and done quite well at it) enjoyed desultory good-guy gun fantasies. I've owned guns. (I don't currently.) I have nuanced views on gun control. I want to come to some kind of reasonable compromise of personal protection, hunting, and also make it harder for school children to be murdered en mass. As of this moment, technically, I still don't want to take all the guns away (though I'm in a shrinking majority). I would love a conversation about sensible, reasonable regulations.But every fucking time the NRA and the politicians on the right essentially side step any possibility of a discussion in favor of looser restrictions and fewer regulations lest those politicians bring down fierce political retribution arm of the NRA, they silence any conversation in favor of the politics of power. The NRA, far from merely being hostile to anti-gun politicians, will "primary" an incumbent who deigns to consider any sort of restrictions or compromise. And perhaps more to the point, every time gun OWNERS allow the NRA and politicians to speak for them on the issue––an NRA who represents gun manufacturers (who want to sell more more more guns) not gun owners––the praxis message that ends up shouted from every rooftop is that there will be no discussion, no debate, no compromise, and no reasonable limits.
And by letting these utterly intransigent groups take point in every discussion, any moderate is ensuring that the only solutions are scorched earth solutions.
The NRA began to shift its message and the intensity of it in the 80's and 90's, and hit fever pitch when the sunset clause of the Brady bill took effect. Their modern incarnation with the well established, predictable response to mass shootings is a relatively new development.
We––we who would like some sensible gun laws––are begging, in fact pleading, for a conversation and the door gets closed in our faces. Every. Single. Time. And most of us (but not all thanks in part to that absolute inability to compromise) don't actually hate guns. But when we ask for some sensible regulations, the head of the NRA goes on the attack and says such a thing is only ever done by those who "hate freedom".
Here's a quote from Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA.
"The elites don't care not one whit about America's school system and school children. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms."Okay, forget for a moment that the anti-semitic dog whistles in the larger speech were shockingly overt and belie a powerful lobby that is essentially advocating for armed white supremacy (*cough*), that's not some rando on 4chan or Reddit or some fringe state senator from Kansas who got quoted as outrage porn to make a Facebook post go viral. That's the head of the NRA (talking mostly about the political mobilization of the survivors of Parkland) saying that anyone who is asking for waiting periods, smaller clips, banning bump stocks, and a tougher road to owning a semi-automatic assault-style weapon "hates individual freedoms" and doesn't really like kids either.
In what world would a political operative even dignify such a bad faith presumption about what those who want some sensible gun control. Republicans fell into the mud weeping openly at the word "deplorables" (after a solid decade of hating "PC speech" and telling snowflakes to fuck their feelings, but maybe that's another article), yet suddenly it's no problem if a national player is saying shit like this? And instead of protesting en mass, cancelling memberships, or calling for retractions, far too many gun owners and GOP politicians just nodded along and let the NRA go right on being their national mouthpiece. ("Sure. Fucking Jews hate America and just use seasonal school shootings as a pretense to whip people into a frenzy and gut civil rights because they hate America and it has nothing to do with making kids safer. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Hand me that annual dues envelope, would you?")
Instead of communication, pro-gun folks follow the NRA (and those politicians the NRA owns), allow the NRA to speak for them, and parrot the NRA's talking points no matter how ill supported or morally dubious. They typically wait a few days in which they tell people not to "politicize" the tragedy, adn then start lobbing out a couple dozen well-worn, classical, hand tooled, boilerplate narratives that operate chiefly like a ninja smoke pellet–distracting and confusing while they slip away to wait out the outrage and elect another politician who will tweet "Thoughts and prayers" while not even considering the slightest legislation, and become even more calcified against any regulation.
I don't hate guns. I'm not repulsed by gun culture. I don't call people who like guns "ammosexuals" or claim they all say "Yee haw" when they pull the trigger. I don't snidely claim that these are men's "toys." I know people who use guns responsibly and people who WOULD NOT BE HERE if they hadn't defended themselves with them.There are plenty of people on the left who aren't against guns. Some are quite in favor of them, to be honest. They're not about to leave all that "distasteful violence" to law enforcement, the military, and US institutions rotten with white supremacy. There are plenty of people who don't want to take guns from folks in the country who are 45 minutes away from their local sheriff. There are plenty of people who don't want to legislate away the possibility that a person from a marginalized group can have personal protection in an age where Nazis are literally marching in the streets.
I just hate the really terrible arguments and narratives we see every. single. time. there's a mass shooting (and particularly a school shooting), and I hate how they're used like they are mic drops (instead of widely debunked bullshit) by people who then go and congratulate themselves for "giving it to some liberal snowflake." It's time for these folks to stop acting like it's a surprise that people who care about these issues are starting work around them, dismiss them, "meanly" characterize them, and whatever else they say when they fall down like wounded men's soccer players when their bad faith fallacy-o-thon's that are LITERALLY excusing children's murders are no longer treated with utmost decorum like they've been offered up in good faith by a growing group who finds the body count too high a price to pay for gently engaging their smug derailing.
If you're a gun aficionado who is wondering why all your best spaghetti isn't sticking to the wall with liberals, welcome. I can't promise this is going to feel good. But otherwise, this post isn't here to try and be diplomatic. You want room 12A just along the corridor.
This is about exposing those narratives. It's about anyone who is still actually listening. It's about the few who are still willing to have a conversation instead of hiding behind the shitty slogans and flawed reasoning. I don't know what the answers are or exactly what legislation we should be enacting, but I do know what a flawed or fallacious narrative is when I see one.
Narrative 1- Doing literally nothing.
The narrative we most often hear. Crickets.
Like, if critics of gun legislation took a shooting off and didn't call for greater gun control, the NRA and its supporters would just glance nervously around at each other for a few minutes. ("Are we okay then?" "Okay, I guess we're okay.")
I have to take a moment to hand it to the lawmakers who have plowed forth with the idea of arming teachers and started test balloons and feasibility studies.
Oh don't get me wrong, that's the worst fucking idea since Australia imported toads to deal with their beetles, but in some way at least it is stepping out of the usual narrative, which is to do absolutely, positively nothing.
Take a couple of weeks. Pretend to care. Tweet "Thoughts and prayers." Let the opponents tire themselves out by telling them you agree something has to be done. Let it all die down. And actually do nothing.
Few things belie the in-the-bones feeling that an oft repeated atrocity probably isn't caused by the sham explanations someone offers up repeatedly than does doing nothing over and over again. If they thought it was violent television, they would be falling over themselves to enact strong FCC regulations. If they thought it was mental health, they would be scrambling to find the budget for better mental health care. When children are dead (and really dying in real time), we usually go fucking bananapants trying to find and stop the cause. If people really thought it was prayer in school that could save have saved children's lives, they would be crawling over themselves to make it compulsory. We'd see fifteen super-PAC's overnight and a right wing coalition of senators and congressmen engaged in a national campaign. There would be laws in half the states tomorrow. They know full well that's not what it is. That's why the minute it's out of their mouth, they go back to doing literally nothing.
Everyone knows all that shit has nothing to do with these shootings.
They just want to throw detractors off the scent––they want it to be ANYTHING but under-regulated firearms and a wink/nod culture of toxic masculinity. If it sounds like it might be a half way plausible explanation about WHY CHILDREN ARE DEAD, then they go with it. But when they offer up that crap, but don't turn around and try to do something about it, it kind of exposes the deep-down truth not being talked about at dinner parties: that no amount of bodies could possibly make any damn difference if the price is going to be the slightest regulation of their guns.
Bullshit Rating: Complete bullshit.
Narrative 2- "Don't Politicize It/It's too soon"
Actually...it's too late.
We should have been talking about it yesterday.
Did you know I drafted a little over half of this article in the days right after Parkland. Not in the last few days. Life kind of turned up to eleven and it's a HUGE article, so it went on the back burner while I tried to make daily content happen and dealt with some heavy shit and a decent sized mood crash. And to my horror, and to this country's shame, I knew that we would be here again in time, and this article would be topical.
This is where we are as a society right now. In the umbra of absolute certitude that this is going to keep happening. Literally locked in a cycle where I can be talking about the LAST school shooting and not even miss a beat.
"Don't politicize this" after an unforeseen tragedy by someone who shoehorns it into an agenda that is only tangentially related is a reasonable reaction to some partisan spin and politicians with particularly cavalier moxie. Things like the PATRIOT Act with its surveillance and torture exceptions being whipped up before the country could think straight after 9/11 is politicizing a tragedy.
In August of 2002, George Bush Jr. stood in the aftermath of a wildfire while the ground was still hot from embers and announced that he was going to allow more logging so that forests would be "thinned" and nothing like this would ever happen again.
That is politicizing a tragedy.
If this were a Bascule bridge that failed every few days and sent people to its death, the engineer would not be politicizing it to say "NOW will you listen to me?" after each fresh death toll.
Standing in the carnage of yet another school shooting and saying "We have to stop this," is not politicizing it. And only the people callow and superficial enough to consider the slightest gun regulations a partisan issue would claim so.
Even if this weren't rich, first-rate hypocrisy from many of the same folks who cheered and "heart" reacted when their leader tweeted a snide remark about a gunner at a baseball game being a Bernie supporter on the same day that it happened, who decried the Las Vegas shooter (inaccurately as it turned out) for liking Rachel Maddow, posted pictures of Cruz in antifa attire (also inaccurate and fake) within hours, and who (and we can't underscore this enough) fucking always always ALWAYS bring up their political agenda immediately if the shooter isn't white (remember the Pulse shooting?)
Even despite all that hypocrisy, "Don't politicize this" is just way to silence people–to guilt them into not talking about the safety of their own loved ones and how we might change a situation in which this is anything but unforeseen or unpredictable.
When else are we supposed to talk about it? A day later? Two? After the funerals? You know the cycle is getting so tight, we don't really have that much time until the next one. Parkland was only a few months ago. Can we all just pretend we're talking about the last mass shooting and it's been months? And even though Tomi Lahren's bullshit guilt trip might get some traction because she invokes the ol' "The bodies aren't even cold" line (a frequent enough staple at Fox news to make me suspicious that someone has done some market research), it is designed only to silence anyone who isn't ardently pro gun.
Here's the problem with that: When the bodies do get cold, they hope people have forgotten. Not forgotten forgotten of course, just political-will forgotten. Just calmed down a little–enough that they'll go back to their other priorities, and get mad about the Muller investigation, the latest tweet storm, and the West Bank and forget about this unseemly business come donation and voting time. They hope they're inured and numb and won't donate to Moms Demand Action or The Brady Campaign (or whatever).
Plus, not to put too fine a point on it, but they are going to be politicizing out of one side of their mouths as they try to shame people for doing so out of the other. It's not like they waste any time jumping in front of a camera and saying that what we need are more guns or armed teachers or whatever the fuck. It's not like they waste any time sending out the cry: "After this last shooting, your freedoms are under assault again. Please donate now so we can defend your civil rights!" NRA funding goes UP after every shooting. They're actually MAKING money off of this shit.
Bullshit rating: Absolute raging bullshit.
Narrative 3- "No law could have prevented a determined actor.
Hang on. I can't hear you over the sound of construction on this giant wall the GOP are building.
This is logically meaningless. It's claiming to be omniscient about causality. Bad argument, good chap. (Sips brandy.)
It would just as logical to say: "He did it, but ANY law could have prevented it." Maybe if there had been an extra stop light on the way there he would have had that much longer to think about it and changed his mind or gotten thirsty, gone to the Subway first and met up with someone he fancied in fourth grade. The point is we don't KNOW and using that umbra of ignorance to presume that nothing could have made any difference is at least shitty critical thinking.
But perhaps more to the point is its implication. According to this logic we should have no laws. Ever. For any reason. Because they won't stop 100% of bad things from happening and won't prevent a determined actor from doing whatever it is any way.
This is not how society societies. Hell, it's not even how humans human. From the first time Ug said to Oog, "You no eat best part of elk if no kill, or you not come next hunt," humans have understood the concept of a deterrent.
We don't throw up our hands and say "what could possibly have changed this" when children are dead. Even if it's an earthquake or tsunami or something, we STILL come up with better building codes and better preparedness.
We banned lawn darts after one kid died.
Tide pods are now in lock up in the grocery store and have disclaimers and a bitter tasting coating after a few people went to the hospital.
I have to take my shoes off every time I fly because of that one guy with the shoe bomb twenty fucking years ago.
We didn't throw up our hands and say "What possibly could have prevented this? Certainly no law. Guess I better tweet something poignant."
We only do that with one thing: guns.
Bullshit Rating: Mammothian pile growing mushrooms out of it.
Narrative 4- "If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns."/Criminals don't obey laws.
Listen, this is fucking rich coming predominantly from the same group of folks that have twisted themselves into pretzels to criminalize sex work, abortion, drugs that are as mild as alcohol, and even 1st amendment civil protest.
But it is also a deep post hoc fallacy. "He did it, therefore no law could have prevented it." A clever chiasmus does not a sound argument make.
This narrative demonstrates a breathtaking lack of awareness of how basic, fundamental laws work. When we make something contraband we know it's still going to be out there...just not as much. We don't just pass a law making things illegal but still keep the fucking things available at every local Walmart...except now it's illegal; we also pass other laws around the whole market to create "chokepoints" that cut down on the means and opportunity of someone being able to get their hands on it if motive outweighs illegality as a deterrent.
Technically nothing is stopping me from running through a Starbucks with a war rhinoceros either, but as I begin to contemplate the logistics of such a plan (availability of rhinos, availability of rhino armor, likelihood of making it to Starbucks before being apprehended) I realize it would probably be really hard to pull off and I'd rather play Shadows of Mordor. If I could pick up what I needed on my way home from work tomorrow, I might be more inclined to ideate this plan.
I know I could get a lawn dart if I wanted to. YOU know I could get a lawn dart. Hell, I could probably design a lawn dart if I cared enough. (I don't actually want a lawn dart, but they're out there, even though they're illegal.) But we don't just throw up our hands and say "Oh well. It's still possible to get lawn darts. Guess all laws are useless. Might as well stock them at the local CVS." I know I might get arrested for trying and the price will be really high and I can't just go to the lawn dart store that orders them from the lawn dart factory and that is the same thing that happens when laws make anything contraband.
Lastly, it's an absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous claim. It's like standing in front of one's neighborhood composed of nothing but blue houses and saying that painting houses blue simply won't work. There are several other countries that stopped this bullshit in its tracks or at least cut it down by passing laws. These laws absolutely DO work and saying they don't is being deliberately obtuse.
All these "can't put the toothpaste back in the tube" arguments try to envision a world where the only legal change is that a switch is just flipped in some room from "legal" to "illegal," and suddenly there is a flooded black market and tons of hidden weapons. And yeah...you know what? Some of that's going to happen. But acting like buyback programs and outlawing parts and ammo and seizing weapons that are found in the course of other searches or whatever won't have an impact in five to ten years is absolutely the pinnacle of tactical mendacity. It's not like "The Black Market™" has an outlet store in the strip mall on fifth street.
Bullshit rating: Big Steaming Pile
Narrative 5- "The problem is [some bullshit that it clearly isn't]"
The problem is a lot of things and anyone who wants to make it only about their little ridiculous fucking pet issue is insta-wrong. The calculus that goes into something like this is complicated, but it's not impossible to parse by looking at the lowest common denominators between virtually every shooting.
Mass shootings are just about always done by men. (Since 1982 there have been only 3 women–and one [San Bernardino] was a couple.)
It's basically always domestic abusers or bullies of some stripe. 90% of these guys end up having a history of domestic violence or intense anger.
It's very often men marinating in cultures of codified misogyny and bigotry like a hate group (if white, they are very likely to be white supremacists as well).
And it's these men who have easy access to long range, instantly lethal, quickly reloadable weaponry.
These are the lowest common denominators. There aren't any others.
Men+anger+guns. End of line.
Race is a small factor (white men are slightly more often shooters than other races) but not by conspicuously overwhelming margins. Jilted dudes (entitlement) is terrifyingly ubiquitous, though not universal. This paints a pretty easy-to-decipher picture about what happens when you take bigoted, abusive men with anger issues, and then hand them a weapon that can kill dozens of people in a minute.
Here's what it ISN'T: It isn't mental illness. It isn't autism. It isn't video games. It isn't violent movies. It isn't lack of spankings. It isn't absence of school prayer. It isn't fluoride in the water. It isn't Ritalin or abortion or how many doors the schools have. It isn't Loony Tunes. It isn't whatever the fuck weird ass shit someone wants to try and Texas sharpshoot. (Ugh, what an awful name for a fallacy right now.) Those things are not common enough to be causes. Those things may have contributed in to the complex calculus that makes a human mind embrace something like this, but they are not the root causes.
If it were any of this shit, we would see women, who also have mental illness, doing it (we don't). We would see it happening in other countries like Japan with their even more per capita video games and violent media. (We don't.) We would see permissive, atheist cultures that don't spank their kids experience the same mass shootings. (Nope.) We would see other countries have this problem like The UK or Australia where–NEWSFLASH–they have violent video games too.
This isn't rocket science. Or brain surgery. Or rocket surgery...on the brain of the science rocket. It's toxic masculinity in abusive fucknugget MEN (often entitled men) who are able to easily get their hands on something that can kill a lot of people really, really fast.
There is no part two.
And while it is unfortunate that we have enough data points that we don't have to conjecture anymore about it being Tarantino movies or Fruit Loops, we DO have said data. We can actually be critical thinkers and look at the lowest common denominator across the hundreds of mass shootings in the last few decades because we have HAD hundreds of mass shootings in the last few decades.
Bullshit rating: Hard to see, but definitely there and super smelly; you probably already have some on your shoe and have gotten used to the smell.
Narrative 6- The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun
Actually, statistically, it's themselves, but why ruin a good rhetorical anaphora with things like facts.
It's weird to use this one after an event where the shooter just walked off the site to go get a drink at Subway and hang out at Mickey D's. A good guy with a gun did not stop this one. It just ended.
Or more recently where the shooter cruised in past the armed security that was on campus and put that whole narrative to the lie. Or the cops standing outside the school in Parkland.
But you know what, okay. I'm sure they mean like the good guy who was actually there? Or there? Or that other place? Oh and that one time the guy totally did––except....well....yeah.
No? Okay, let's assume this means that in most cases, once a shooting is underway, it is unlikely to end in something other than a shoot out with law enforcement...even though actually that's not true either and most of them actually either just END or end in a suicide.
But HOLY SHIT does it take a lot of willful obstinacy to begin a narrative at the moment the shooting starts like nothing anyone could possibly do would have had the slightest influence up to that point.
That's like saying only an engine overhaul can fix a seized up engine that has caught fire. I mean it's technically sort of true. Like once the car is on fire from the pistons grinding the cylinders, okay; you have to overhaul the engine. Yep. No getting around that. But acting like changing your oil is some pointless endeavor because engines "just seize up" and once they do, there's no possible way to fix them except for overhauling the engine....that would be a completely outrageous position, and so is the idea that we can't have a conversation about how to prevent gun violence that traces a single causal factor prior to the first shots being fired.
And tell me....what does a bad guy with a gun even look like?
Bullshit rating: What the hell has this bull been EATING?
Narrative 7- That one time in China that guy killed 33 people with a knife!
You know there's a reason folks still need to go back to 2014 for "that one time with a knife" story even though we've had dozens of school shootings since then.
Also, I don't want to be an elitist, but just for shits and giggles, it would be really cool if folks would actually click that link they find instead of just Googling literally the first fucking thing they find when searching for "deadly knife attack."
("Need to prove knives can be deadly too. Google don't fail me now! JACKPOT!")
"That one guy" was actually five guys working as a small unit, and they were part of a terrorist cell of separatists that had had training on how to make their attack as lethal as possible. God forbid we ever have five dudes with auto-converted semi-automatic rifles who have been trained all working in tandem. We'll be lucky if the casualties are in the low triple digits. You know what China attributes the "ONLY 33" lives lost to? I'll give you a hint. It starts with a hard G and ends with uncontrol.
Entitled, angry men actually do go on knife sprees quite often. That's because entitled angry men will grab at the most deadly thing they can easily get their hands on before they lash out violently at a world with the temerity not to give them everything they want. (But it's women who are the overly emotional ones, right?) The difference is what they are able to do when it's a gun as opposed to a knife. There's a fucking reason most of the knife attack stories out there are about zero or one or two dead people and a few more injured. That's terrible, but it's a lot less terrible than when the easiest thing that the entitled, angry man had available was a gun and the body count gets into double digits. It's just a lot harder to kill people with a knife. Period.
In fact, here's another story from China you're probably less likely to hear about. Just before Newton, a dude in China went on a stabbing spree and stabbed 22 children. TWENTY-TWO.
Not one died.
Bullshit Rating: Sun baked pile you didn't know was bullshit but you discovered was NOT a rock when you tried to pick it up and throw it.
Narrative 8- But cars kill more people than guns and we don't make THEM illegal.
God this argument. This fucking argument. It's SO, SO bad, it needs to be in The Bad Argument Hall of Fame™. Like it needs its own fallacy. The "What About Cars" Fallacy. Can someone make this happen?
So.....about guns...... are you saying we're going to license, register, insure, have identifying marks that can be read from a distance, rigorously ticket the more minor misuses of, and regularly inspect firearms for full functionality as well as putting their users through periodic written and ability tests and a battery of exams of legal knowledge and practical ability the first time through. Further we will strip them of their license if they demonstrate they are irresponsible or have a substance abuse problem?
Great. We agree. Let's call it a day and go get a drink.
Uh oh. Sad trombone. That's not what this narrative is about, is it? It's JUST trying to compare the body count in a breathtakingly sophist false equivalency.
Well, how about this then: when a gun can take you to your job interview across town, get you to the airport in half the time as public transit, the big versions transport food around the country, and the deaths that are caused are chiefly because of accidents (and not actually the INTENDED OUTCOME) we can have a conversation about how this isn't the absolutely most disingenuous and obtuse narrative of false equivocation that God's green Earth ever did see.
And frankly, if we spent hours a day handling our guns around a bunch of other people handling theirs, there would be a lot more accidents. Fucking grow up with this bullshit.
Bullshit Rating: I'm pretty sure a pile this big is not from a bull. It's from a dinosaur.
9. Gun control can never possibly work
Except in every country and most states where it has?
We don't have great gun statistics because the NRA stifled the CDC TWENTY years ago, mostly because they were terrified of how the truth about guns didn't fit their beloved narratives.
(Nothing quite like a lobby group shutting down a bipartisan study to belie the fact that maybe they aren't invested too heavily in the truth and might possibly know what the study would find.)
But the patchwork of state, local, and other country's statistics we do have all say the same thing: "Yes, gun control can work. It does work. It will work. On a societal level, it will make a difference."
I'm not saying that means we need to start banning them all tomorrow. But the narrative that it wouldn't work is demonstrably false.
Bullshit Rating: Retire this bullshit. It's making you look really, really foolish.
Narrative 10- Gun laws haven't worked in Chicago/But what about Chicago?/My whole gun control argument depends on Chicago/ Chicago Chicago Chicago/ Hey look, it's Chicago!
This narrative is the way totally-not-racists try to tell you that Chicago being the toughest city EVER on guns doesn't do any good because there is still horrific gang and "black-on-black" violence riddling the streets into a "war zone" every night. (Chicago's raw numbers are alarming, but actually its gun violence RATE [as compared to population] is much lower than over a dozen other cities.)
The problem with hanging a whole narrative on Chicago is that it actually doesn't have the toughest laws in the country. That's just...not accurate. It's wrong, and this whole narrative is wrong and they should feel wrong.
Chicago had tougher laws a decade ago, but in 2010 their handgun ban was struck down and the NRA has been hacking away at it ever since. And it really became false four years ago when Illinois allowed concealed carry. So to use this in today's national discourse was bullshit before the words formed in people's mouths.
And even back before these bans weren't struck down, Chicago was surrounded by places that didn't have such a ban. It's a half hour drive to Indiana in no traffic and they have always had some of the loosest laws in the country.
Actually it's California that has the toughest gun laws these days and they are #8 in gun related violence. New York has stricter gun laws and is headed for historic low homicide rates. But those don't fit the narrative, so let's keep talking about Chicago some more.
Chicago. Chicago. Chicago.
Bullshit Rating: This was some serious bullshit ten years ago when you first tried it, but sweeping this bullshit under the rug is pretty nasty.
11 The shooter was mentally ill
This is the argument that just keeps on sucking.
When we say this after each shooting*, and then don't do anything to try to improve the deplorable state of mental health in this country, what we make very clear is that we're not even fooling ourselves with this halfassed derailment. We know full well this is not the X factor in these cases.
(*After each shooting when the shooter is white–because when they're not white we claim to know the motivations and it has nothing to do with some romanticized tragedy about how troubled they might be.)
"Welp. Musta been crazy to do that. Nothing to be done. Has the new season of Daredevil dropped yet?"
And this is particularly revolting and full of splash damage onto folks with genuine mental illness when the definition of "mental illness" becomes "obviously anyone who would do something like this."
(That's not really a clinical definition by the way, and over half of mass shooters are found to be mentally sound.)
1. Mental illness does not equate to violence. Only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to those with serious mental illnesses.
2. OF THOSE CRIMES, only 7.5% were directly related to the symptoms of their illness.
3. The severely mentally ill are TEN TIMES more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. This is a statistical fact.
4. The mentally ill are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. This is a statistical fact.
5. Alcohol and drug abuse are far more strongly correlated with violence than mental illness is.
Why mental illness factors so prominently in gun violence statistics is when SUICIDE is factored in. Turns out, like most other deterrent logic, people are less statistically likely to kill themselves if they do not have easy access to a way to do so quickly and effectively.
Bullshit rating: Will suck your shoe right off your foot. It sucks SO much.
12 "Assault rifle"/"military grade" has a particular meaning/The definition of "mass shooting"... You can't legislate from a position of ignorance.
Yes. That's the important part when someone is making an impassioned plea to save their children from an increasingly ubiquitous form of absolutely terrifying gun violence. Mock them for their semantic misunderstanding of gun jargon.
If it were even remotely true that you couldn't legislate from a position of ignorance, over half the Republicans would never be able to make a law about abortion because they don't even seem to understand how human reproductive health works. Of COURSE you can legislate from a position of ignorance. Of COURSE you can. The last two years have been proof of that. This is the most ignorant thing I've heard in....well at least since the last time I checked my "Other" inbox.
All you need is the votes.
The thing is, this could be such a great touchpoint for education and dialogue and to have a conversation about WHY certain weapons are so much more dangerous than others and for gun owners and gun lovers and gun aficionados to step up to the plate with a dialogue about which laws might really make a difference in a situation like a school shooting. The NRA and gun advocates could be the LEADERS of this movement with their understanding and knowledge.
They could pioneer this legislation and help make some real difference.
Instead it has become a point of mockery and derision and EXACTLY the sort of smug ass snobbery that conservatives often cite as the main reason they don't like liberals. ("Oh those people don't even know the difference between a magazine and a clip. I bet they leave their pinkie fingers on the cup when they have tea too. For shame!")
And here's the real gut punch. This isn't just arcane elitism that shuts down conversation. It borders on the worst sort of willful ignorance and turpitude. If someone can have a gun aimed at their head, be killed by a gun, have their kids killed by a gun, have their friends killed by guns, live in fear of guns, and have to maneuver in a society in which people can open carry semi-automatic rifles into the grocery store, they absolutely, positively get to weigh in with their political opinions on guns, even if they don't know a bump stock from a silencer or a machine gun from a semi-auto. It is beyond reprehensible to claim otherwise. Trying to silence them for this is not only fallacy called the Courtier's Reply (a variant of argument from authority), but is the lowest, most cowardly tactic of those who can find no tenable argument.
A moment that could have been a chance to take the mantle of leadership turned into the cheapest opportunity to score a political point.
Bullshit rating: Technically that's an Indicus, not a Taurus, so I can't even take you seriously that you're complaining you stepped in bullshit.
13- Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
That's why we don't want to do background checks on the guns, Turbo.
This is one of those arguments that sounds deep and hella profound if you're twelve and then completely falls apart as soon as you start to think about it with the reasoning skills of a thirteen year old. It just takes the place of an actual argument chiefly because it's just really easy to remember and looks good on a bumper sticker.
No one is looking to regulate guns because they come to life like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and kill people. Every weapon requires human action to kill people unless it's a claymore that's been stored at the top of your closet and you're not paying very much attention as you go frantically searching for the box you stored your original birth certificate in.
The reason we're thinking (some) guns might need regulation is because they enable people with a will to kill a lot people really fast and from really far away. It's the same reason we want to stop Iran and North Korea from having nukes instead of saying "Nukes don't kill people. People kill people."
We don't let people strap C-4 to themselves and walk around grocery stores because "Bombs don't kill people. People kill people."
People do kill people. But this is not actually a major plot twist. People have been killing people using tools to make it easier since the first sharpened stick. Guns make it a LOT easier for them to do so, and CERTAIN guns make it absurdly easy. So easier even a toddler could do it. (Hashtag: Wish I were kidding.) You know the reason revolvers and shotguns are used less than half the time of rifles and semi-automatic handguns? Because they're not as GOOD at killing a lot of people very quickly. They're harder to reload and in some cases less accurate at range.
No one is actually saying that humans aren't involved; this is just straw man bumper sticker bullshit.
Bullshit rating: Seems deep, but is actually super shallow. Sure is a lot of it though.
14 Guns make you safer
I have a friend who pulled a gun on an attacker who was probably going to rape her. She understands that gun is statistically more likely to be used against her, and basically doesn't care. She was haunted by what was about to happen, and for good reason. Largely I think this is her choice.
For every one person defended by a gun, guns are involved in 34 homicides.
There's a statistic out there about guns in the house being more likely to be used against you. It's actually more fucked up the closer you look at it. It's not like your home invader disarms you and turns the weapon on you. That shit mostly happens in movies. Here's the truth: If you're a man, you're more likely to use it in a suicide. If you're not a man, you're more likely to be killed BY THE MAN that lives there with you.
I want to stress that this should probably be a risk vs. reward analysis that an adult gets to make on their own. We don't force people to do the statistically less risky things or we'd all fly everywhere instead of taking road trips and outlaw hotdogs.
But stop lying about it. There is no veracity whatsoever to the claim that guns make you safer. They don't. There is literally no statistical or logical way to support this claim, and other than emotional appeals and anecdotes, there is no way to defend the idea.
Everyone thinks THEY will be the one the gun makes safer, but most of them are wrong.
Guns don't make you safer. They make you less safe. Period.
And if that's your choice, you get to make it because you're an adult in a country with that particular civil right, but let the rest of the fucking country have a conversation about the laws that will reduce the chances of your choices killing our children, and for fuck's sake stop fucking LYING about it. You look morally bankrupt on top of untrustworthy.
Bullshit rating: Your attempts to tell me that's just chocolate are not fooling me.
15 Gun violence is down
Yeah but school shootings are way, way up.
Look I get the statistics and using them to support a point. And it is right that we don't just use the statistics that support our point and never look at the big pictures. Half of the complaints against the NRA and its supporters are that they are using only statistics that support them and massaging the others, but anti-gun folks turn around and do the same thing. It's true and if we're going to have a conversation with any intellectual integrity and tear down these shitty narratives, we have to acknowledge it. It's almost as if somewhere behind all this NRA bullshit, there might actually be some good arguments and salient points.
But there are two things to keep in mind:
ALL violent crime is down. And it's been going down for the last quarter century–most probably according to sociologists because of Roe v. Wade (which is not something most Republicans want to hear). So gun violence has gone along with that and that's a good thing, but it didn't happen because everyone suddenly got more responsible about their gun ownership in the nineties.
There's a complicated intersection here between big and flashy events and statistics. Statistically a kid still might be quite safe, especially compared to say...car accidents. And the way statistics play against big flashy events is a point a lot of liberals have been making to every Islamaphobic bigot who thinks Muslim=terrorist since 2001. A lot of this goes back to earlier points about what drives a young man to be violent in this way. And yes, there's absolutely a more complicated equation going on here than just "guns" or "not guns." But you can't just keep doing nothing about mass shootings and particularly school shootings while you intellectualize statistics. You just CAN'T do that.
This isn't a one off event. We're up to once every couple of months here.
It's not that these statistics are WRONG, it's just a bad argument. It doesn't prove anything and it certainly doesn't prove that we should do nothing.
Bullshit rating: Statistically speaking that bullshit doesn't exist because the ratio of bullshit in the universe to not bullshit is infinitesimal. So you just stepped in nothing. Statistically.
16 Pipe bombs. Crossbows. With a will, they'd have found a way!
You know how I know that the sweet spot between cost, accuracy, range, lethality, and convenience is an automatic rifle? Because every fucking army on the Earth is NOT deployed into the field with homemade pipe bombs and a Bowie knife. Cause that would be....WAY cheaper and then we could just make sure that all the soldiers are really "determined actors."
I realize many are capable of imagining a Blood Vengeance VIII type scenario in which Actionheroguy Shwartzenstallonedamme kills a bunch of people with his left thumb and a toothpick, but this crosses the Rubicon of realism into movie-addled fantasy that makes even some of these other sophist arguments look erudite and well thought out.
These massacres are often planned out for months and so there IS some merit to the idea we cannot JUST pass a gun control law and call it a day. Like most things blazed to black and white and single serving solutions, it's far more complicated than that. We need to be having conversations about and allocating resources to helping toxic masculinity, male entitlement, bigotry, and yes even mental health. There's more going on than just access to guns, but to act like someone could do just as much damage with homemade or medieval weaponry is the pinnacle of disingenuousness.
This argument fucking sucks.
Bullshit Rating: Just because you call it a cow pie, doesn't mean you should eat it.
17 Something something something second amendment something
Yep. We get to bear arms. And the supreme court has even ruled that the second amendment applies to personal firearms and not just....um....well regulated militias. Unlike many, I don't imagine that I know more about constitutional scholarship and legal jurisprudence only when I happen to disagree with a SCOTUS outcome. There are rulings I have strong objection to, of course, but I don't imagine I am better able to decide if they are constitutional.
The problem with making "The Second Amendment" the sum and substance of an argument (or counterargument) is that there's so much space and nuance between "Free, unrestricted access" and "Ban them all." And the second amendment is trotted out AS an argument chiefly when the slightest call for nuance or compromise or sensible regulations is thrown into a false equivalency of outlawing all guns, all types of guns, everywhere, for all time.
It's patently absurd, disingenous, and intellectually bankrupt to assume that someone who wants better background checks and more rigor around bump stocks and extended magazines is no true American who simply wants to burn the constitution, and hiding behind that level of rhetoric pretty much a the silencing tactic of someone too cowardly to debate.
And as a tangent to everyone who, with a single tear running down one cheek, looks at the eagle perched on the Stars and Stripes and says with voice wavering from the emotional patriotism that carrying a firearm is their inalienable human as an American, let me just say this: as a civil liberty, the second amendment was conceived of as and continues to have a magnitude F-5 racial double standards. The second amendment is for white people. Black folks get shot in the back for having B-B guns in open carry states, and POC armed in any way are essentially arrested by law enforcement for walking down the street no matter what the local laws are. White people, on the other hand, take selfies in Walmart sporting their M-14s.
Usually the same ones who wonder what "white privilege" is, but that's probably another article too.
The NRA was conspicuously silent when Philando Castile was shot where concealed carry is legal basically for informing an officer that there was a gun in the car–what would have been a recruitment poster for all time if he'd been white. The image of armed Black folks has been the impetus for much of our significant gun control legislation, and not to put too fine a fucking POINT on it, but we don't actually have to "imagine" what would happen if a group of POC (particularly Black folks) were to form a highly armed anti-government compound (even if they didn't break the law). You know....like way white supremacists (who DO break the law) do on the regular.
The second amendment's fucking history was explicitly for groups of locals to be able to put down slave revolts, and we still act like we're having a conversation where race is a side dish. The argument that it is a "right" not only ignores a grand canyon of nuance, it isn't even true in praxis.
Bullshit rating: Just saying that's "bovine excrement" over and over again didn't help you when you stepped in it.
18 They should have/I would have
Sure thing, Rambo. Watch more movies.
Seriously, do people not realize this sounds like a fifteen year old who just watched a fight and then started telling their friend who was in the fight, "I was totally going to jump in if it went on any longer. And I would have kicked both their asses too! I took a week of Hapkido last summer so I've got some serious street moves."
Until someone's in a life or death situation, they have no idea what they're going to do in a life or death situation. And every life and death situation is different. People train all their lives and still freeze up or don't freeze up the first ten times but do the eleventh. There's no way to know. So trying to armchair quarterback a bunch of civilians about how they should have totally turned into John McClane, and died harder is meaningless.
Bullshit rating: The bullshit is real but you're imagining that you've cleaned it up.
19 MOAR GUNS (Arm Teachers)
Know who this benefits?
People who want to sell guns.
Now.....remember who pulls the NRA's strings?
That's right. It's people who want to sell guns.
Nothing about the world of guns suggests that adding many many more of them to minimally trained civilians would make people safer. Insurance companies have refused to cover schools that consider this. Experts have said this is a bad idea. Even combat vets are unenthused.
Guns have already been left out by teachers, showed off to students in non-emergencies, found by students. And of course accidents are going to happen. And this policy hasn't even started yet! Every bellwether that exists says "This is a terrible idea."
There's a reason the NRA won't allow guns at its conventions. There's a reason that soldiers have to check their weapons when they're not on a mission unless they're on a billet that requires it. There's a reason airports and federal buildings and government buildings don't allow them. It's because they know full well how fucking dangerous they are.
Set aside, for a minute, that these are the same teachers begging for textbooks and humanities funding, and counseling and the things that maybe actually COULD have helped before the shooting started, how long until some teacher kills a student of color because they felt threatened or just has a Blackboard Jungle moment. And even if we could somehow guarantee that every armed teacher were simply a paragon of gun safety and weapons training (absurd), there's basically no evidence that "good guys with guns" would act as a deterrent (above).
While most educators wouldn't want firearms on campus, the worst part of this narrative isn't that the idea is floated at all. Hey, sometimes we throw spaghetti at the wall and we all have different views on guns. Let's talk about solutions. It's that it is mic dropped by people who actually don't want to address root causes. It's used as a fire and forget missile. "Arm teachers. Problem solved. Let's get a beer." and the objections and concerns and even logistics are basically ignored. ("Sorry. I can't hear you talk about background checks and toxic masculinity over the sound of me solving all the problems with a two word phrase.")
Bullshit rating: Adding more bullshit doesn't make it NOT bullshit.
20 Victim blaming
I wasn't even going to mention it because lord knows not every extreme action of fringe groups should be held up as if it is being made by the mainstream folks on one side of an issue, but the leader of the Republican party, the president of the United States, and the biggest politician beneficiary of the NRA decided to make it a TALKING POINT.
This tweet refers to the Parkland students and they DID warn law enforcement, their teachers, even the tooth fairy that the shooter was dangerous. No one was listening. But why should that stop a good tweet that stigmatizes the mentally ill, right?
And then of course there was #walkup––an entire movement designed to overshadow and silence The March for Our Lives with the idea that high school kids have some level of responsibility for preventing their own murders.
Let's just set aside for the moment that these are by and large many of the exact same people who have been telling everyone they don't agree with on social issues, "fuck your feelings," for the last decade as a matter of personal and political ideology. Now it seems they are literally advancing the idea that it is up to high school students to be nicer to violent, entitled young men–and particularly to women to never "spurn" them. (Read: "say no to an advance.")
This is to say nothing of the people so horrifically callous and depraved that they were making pictures of the survivors into targets. The survivors who deigned to use their first amendment rights after watching their friends be murdered to ask for some sensible gun legislation.
Or the false flag conspiracy theorists who claim every shooting is just a bunch of actors trying to soften the ground for a gun purge. Each one willing to dismiss parents who have lost their children as crisis actors.
Or the so called "incels" who cheer from their communities at the deaths of the "normies" when a woman rejecting a man is the impetus of his free will decision to commit mass murder.
Or the mainstream media using the narrative framing of words like "provoked" and "spurned" to describe a young woman with the temerity to resist four months of harassment, who was then murdered for it.
Far from being fringe, these groups and narratives are repeatedly brought to the table and repeated by mainstream news and pundits....and also the leader the Republican party.
Bullshit rating: You would think that major players in would be above such bullshit. You would think that.
21 If guns kill people, then spoons make people fat.
This is (somehow) an even more ridiculous version of "Guns don't kill people...." Like just when you thought that narrative couldn't get ANY worse, someone brings out the spoons.
The problems come early and often with this gem of a narrative. It is SO bad that even its logical structure as an analogy (W is to X as Y is to Z, like those SAT questions) doesn't stand up because the primary function of a spoon is not to make people fat. In fact (though it is fatphobic as all fuck), the point of this is to insinuate that over time and through many bad decisions a spoon could contribute food delivery that made someone fat. Whereas a gun used properly will kill the first time, and that is its intended function.
I do understand a gun can be used to kill for food, to only injure someone, or possibly to intimidate someone. But the primary purpose of a gun is a lethal weapon. But in this preposterous analogy, someone would have to be shot by a gun hundreds of thousands of times over the course of years to die.
But the real reason this narrative is beyond the ridiculous and obtuse enough that I'm actually having to get clever to avoid some serious ableism here is that people do not run around using spoons on OTHER PEOPLE.
There is a major, fundamental, philosophical, moral, and ethical difference between the choices we make for ourselves and those inflicted upon us by other people.
Bullshit Rating: 7/5 Perfect bullshit. Would not respect again.
22 The government should fear its people
The United States military is not afraid of AR-15s.
They have tanks and jets and body armor and artillery and drones that make firing a hellfire at a human considerably easier than beating the first level of Pole Position and shit you haven't even heard of yet. They are, in general, slowed down primarily by the political will of the folks back home––an issue they wouldn't be dealing with in any such scenario.
The only thing these little guns are going to do is maybe give a militia a few days standoff against the ATF or FBI because they will go out of their way to avoid the optics of dead kids' bodies in the background on the six o'clock news. (Something the NRA could stand to learn.)
To head the bullshit off at the pass the Viet Cong was not a militia. It was a MASSIVE political organization with its own army (and if you're enjoying irony today, no small amount of US made weapons). The cavalcade of mistakes made in Vietnam that lead to the loss the army would make in the ONE place on Earth it has sufficient resources and deployment ability. Any political movement sufficiently large to play an analogue to the Viet Cong in the US can more effectively work in non-violent ways.
Unless there's a colonizer of the US that could directly intervene who I'm not aware of.
The counter insurgency conflicts we're involved in today are similar. Your average soldier doing patrols might be concerned about an IED, but the government of the United States (very obviously) is not.
I am not saying that there is no scenario in which the citizenry of a nation with the most powerful military that has ever existed on the face of the Earth decides it's time to take up arms in a guerrilla war against its own government, but if even if that does happen, they wouldn't be afraid of our small arms. They wouldn't be afraid of us at all unless we were (very) well supplied by another world power and our conflict was essentially a proxy war. The same could be said about any country with gun control and no monthly massacres, of course.
There are situations where guns would be useful (if obviously escalating and violent and prone to accidents and mistakes). There are places where this argument touches something real. If there is some version of the brownshirts in the US. If the police are abusing their authority in a potentially lethal way, they might hesitate if they know their target is armed. If people start disappearing in the night. If white supremacists start trying to take matters into their own hands. But there are just an awful lot of ways to not trust, and even resist your government without taking up arms against it.
The idea of being The Wolverines is fun for a couple of hours while eating some popcorn, but that Hitler quote is mostly not what people think it's about, and there's only been one uprising in the United States that even gave the government pause, and even back then, it was a whole shit load more than some armed civilians.
Bullshit Rating: This shit is from a bull/wolverine hybrid. You were so concerned with whether you could, you didn't stop to think about whether you should!
23 The slippery slope
You know you're in bad argument territory when the argument people are non-ironically advancing has the same name as the fallacy that its poor thinking is named after.
You want to know how I already know folks have a water's edge somewhere? Because they're not reading this from their armed M1 Abrams or their fully functional Apache attack helicopter. Because they might own a whole panic room full of assault style rifles, and maybe even a few M203 grenade launchers, but they probably don't have M141 shoulder-mounted anti-structure weapon (or if they do, they know they could go to jail for having it). Or a bunker buster they can launch from an A-10 Warthog. They likely don't have the howitzers that the Continental Army used against the British during the American Revolutionary War either. Or an Ironside ship with functional 24-pounder cannons.
Because we already HAVE a line in the sand. And we have always HAD a line in the sand.
We already draw the line somewhere and say "Okay there's no need for any citizen to own this weaponry." And for 242 years we've managed to have conversation about where that line should be, so acting like bump stocks have to be legal or liberals are coming for the guns is the worst kind of fallacy imaginable.
Not every conversation is intended to erode with the end goal of total banishment. I'm sure some will keep going, but like most of the history of this country, most will lack the political momentum once there is an equilibrium. One that doesn't involve accepting dead children on the 6 o'clock a few times a year.
Sometimes we just need to talk about the fact that the line in the sand seems to be a little misplaced.
Bullshit rating: You didn't slip in the bullshit. You just pretended to so people wouldn't think you didn't notice it.
24 Anything else about which the argument is "American lives" or "Won't someone think of the children"
For as long as I've been alive "the children" have been used to weaponize every homophobic and transphobic agenda the GOP sees fit to try and use as a wedge to fire up their Christian base right around an election. "American lives" has been used since early fall in 2001 to be the rallying cry to legitimize oppression, surveillance, torture, and an erosion of all the rights codified in amendments that aren't the second.
Not that I particularly want these arguments trotted out on the regular, given what they almost always defend, but people need to understand that if they do nothing while school shootings happen several times a year, they don't get to use these points anymore. They're going to start getting that same laugh that Trump got during the debates when he said that no one respects women more than he does. If they don't do something (and I want to make very clear that I'm not necessarily talking about anyone specifically––yet....though I could sure name some names) it becomes brazenly, unavoidably obvious that they do not actually care about human lives or the children.
More to the point, I hope that people start behaving in a way that takes into consideration the American lives and children who are being killed because they care about the American lives and children who are being killed and not that their breathtaking hypocrisy is going to ring just a little bit on the ironic side come next election cycle.
25 Liberals are coming for your guns
This one is complicated.
This one might not be total bullshit.
At least not anymore.
Liberals WEREN'T coming for the guns. At least not most of them. They were coming for the assault style rifles (the AR-15 and all its clones) that are trivial to convert into full auto (conversions which are so laughably "illegal" with scare quotes around them that people will put up pictures of them firing it on Youtube under their real name). They might have been coming for the extended clips, and the bump stocks and the background check workarounds and the laws that essentially let people walk around in Piggly Wiggly armed for war. They were coming for no waiting periods, gun show loopholes, and guns for convicted abusers. They were coming for some sensible gun laws. They were coming to get the FBI to take domestic violence more seriously when it comes to who gets to own a firearm. They were coming to try to arm twist the nation into a conversation about how to defuse toxic masculinity and entitlement that is causing young men to be this angry, about better mental health care as a matter of policy and change and not just a scapegoat for doing nothing, and yes about some sensible gun regulations.
Sure some were. There have always been a few liberals who wanted all the guns melted down into statues memorializing murdered school children. And they've grown in number every shooting since Columbine. And if you wanted to just take your soundbites from them, you could whip up quite the persecution complex. But there were probably no more of those folks than there were folks who wanted rocket launchers to be legal. The political will just didn't exist. It was all sound and fury.
By and large, however, this is a complicated conversation and people on all points of the political spectrum are DYING TO HAVE IT. You'll notice that this entire article, in no place, have I suggested that we outlaw guns. I have only pointed out the bad arguments that are used to defend doing absolutely nothing.
There's a lot of of impassioned positions about gun control, and a lot of them have salient points, and not every argument belongs on a list of fallacies, but instead of having THOSE discussions, folks have let the NRA engage in this conversation for them. And the NRA is not debating in good faith. With a national, culture war issue they have essentially convinced most of the GOP to follow them in sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "Lalalalala I can't hear you."
This shouldn't be surprising, as they are essentially the propaganda wing of companies that are war profiteering and have successfully controlled the narrative about why the war should be ramped up–earning a lot more profit.
But by leaving the table with nothing but some shitty, easily debunked narratives that are either fallacies or criminally and immorally negligent of nuance.... By disrespecting those who want to stop seeing their children murdered with the same bumper sticker slogans, bullshit boilerplate narratives, and TERRIBAD arguments that they trot out after every mass shooting and school shooting... By answering desperate pleas over and over with an outright refusal to have a conversation or compromise.... the NRA and the intractable pro-gun folks are basically ensuring that the political will is building to do exactly what they fear the most––to come for the guns.
They reduced us to one option and then are going to try to scare everyone else with the fact that we're considering it.
Maybe, and I'm just spitballing here, try not reducing us to one option.
Because I don't really want to take all people's guns or ALL the guns (and I know a lot of other liberals don't either), but if no compromise and no discussion and looser regulations and the NRA being the front line of this national cultural conversation with its racist double standard and adamant insistence that MOAR guns is the only possible solution is the only choice I have....
...I'm picking the statues.
Bullshit Rating: Actually becoming somewhat plausible.
Friday, May 18, 2018
|T shirt available at:|
After I spent several hours modding yesterday's post and dealt with no small number of private messages pontificating the quality of my character, intelligence, and education, something really nice happened. One of those things that kind of sort of makes it all worth it.
Someone told me they really appreciated how reasonable people were on my page.
Well...people aren't really "reasonable" on my page. Some are. They're awesome. Some are not. And I go through and erase their comments. What looks at first like a reasonable comment section is actually a couple of hours of moderating, cleaning out comments that break our commenting policy in some way, and banning the people who crossed the line egregiously.
But still it was nice to hear....
First a personal story (a bit long):
I used to debate social issues. Hard. I loved a good debate. I thought open and free debate was how we were going to "GET SOMEWHERE."
My spaces were more about civility and respect and free exchange of ideas and I was very proud of not being too coupled with either "side" but an impartial arbiter of "both sides" as problematic in their own ways. I remained above it all. Of course I cared about equality, but arguments had to be good (thus bad arguments had to be picked apart) and civil, respectful conversations were vital.
Here's what I noticed though. While I would find arguments that survived the crucible of debate and let them change my world view, most people around me returned to their "home position" at the end of each encounter. Instead of "oh yes, okay we've cleared up that gender inequality IS a thing" it would be like "But can you PROVE we need feminism?" all over again.
And I would think "Jesus I just saw you get into this until you had absolutely had to capitulate this point like AN HOUR AGO." Or "how come every single time you get to the exact same point about this issue you suddenly have pressing business and disappear like a ninja with a smoke pellet only to return the next thread with your 'healthy skepticism' completely replenished like a stamina bar in a fighting game."
I would see the fallacy patrol try to call out fallacies like whack-a-mole but ignore their own. They would use metonymy left and right but then invoke semantics as "crucial critical thinking" when NotALLMen was on the line. I would see anyone who had something to say held to an impossible standard of tu quoque. I would see fallacies of relative privation. And people didn't say "Oh yes, my bad. Poor critical thinking on my part," when called on it. They just got angrier. Like they were the only ones allowed to point out (often incorrectly) a fallacy.
I would see people become the nuance brigade, but their nuance only worked one way. It only got to apply to the poor maligned misunderstood status quo and its defenders. The nuance of how that status quo was hurting people who weren't cishet white men was cheerfully ignored (usually in favor of another "reset to square one" debate). The nuance of invisible cultural forces was scoffed at.
And it was always that you had to convince them. Fucking ALWAYS. Calmly. Gently. (EVER so gently.) With whatever level of intellectual rigor they felt like applying. They never had to convince you that inequality WASN'T a thing. (Think about that for just a second.) No matter how many times you proved something, it would be a claim that required evidence (again) the next time round. Because they never saw the irony of getting to define what could and couldn't be asserted without evidence and then demanding people convince them of the truth of their own oppression.
And that didn't happen once or twice or with that one guy. It was pervasive. Constant. Ubiquitous. Not the slow change of percolating ideas that maybe isn't as fast as a thread of angry people would like it to be in the heat of the moment, but literally NO CHANGE week after week, month after month. Just debate. Debate for the sake of debating. The same debate over and over. Endlessly rehashing the same tired arguments like this time they are a refreshing take that no one has ever encountered.
And everyone HAD to debate them. HAD TO. No one was allowed to say, "Look I don't feel like having this conversation again," or they were "unable to prove your point." And you couldn't ask them to leave you alone or find a space in which certain assumptions about inequality were considered non-debatable or you were "stifling their free speech." And if you asked them to step out of any thread that piqued their interest to do some intellectual due diligence and catch up to the level of the conversation or Google a basic concept themselves or to just to posit questions in better faith, you were kicking to the curb a poor, pupil of humanity whose only desire was to learn.
And it wasn't actually "most people" doing this well-known song and dance. It was most people WHO WERE DEBATING FOR THE STATUS QUO. The "I prefer humanism over feminism" or "do we KNOW that was racism, tho?" crowds. It was the people who thought rage at bathroom bills wasn't ANY different than transphobia itself or who are willing to give open, naked bigotry a pass because of some pretzel twisted nuance that might might might might make it anything else. It was the people who valued their objectivity over taking a moral stance. The status quo defenders. They were the ones that seemed to "reset" every damned time they approached a topic and treated everything as debatable and the debate itself as an entitlement.
People weren't debating to get to truth. They weren't asking questions out of sincere curiosity. They certainly didn't want a clearer understanding or increased empathy of what other humans were going through and how they experienced the world.
They were debating to win
They were debating because it was a fun intellectual diversion that didn't affect them. The most generous thing to be said is that maybe they were debating to show off their spectacular brains. But over time in broad patterns, really, they were debating to grind the debate itself and the willpower of anyone challenging the status quo into powder. It's the intellectual equivalent of running out the clock (since you're already in the lead). So that these conversations would be silenced and the world could go back to how it was–unfair in a way they swore up and down they cared deeply about, but with no specific injustice they were willing to actually challenge or even believe was real.
We weren't "GETTING SOMEWHERE." It was more like phone calls with customer service. ("Have you tried calling it 'equalism' and claiming they're being irrational?") and every debate was a fresh new phone call with a new representative that goes right up to the top of the flow chart. ("Have you tried shaming them for being ridiculous?")
These debates weren't conversations, explorations, empathetic exchanges. They were problems to be solved. ("Oh you are using the Sicilian opener. Naturally you will expect me to defend with Capa Ferro.") They were obstacles to be overcome. Opponents to be defeated.
It's a very singular definition of "civility" or "respect" to demand it shape and mold the behavior that is acceptable within the scope of a debate, but to have absolutely zero intention of letting that debate actually affect you beyond its own borders. To treat these issues if they are NO MORE THAN an intellectual contest to be won.
I grew tired of debate for debate's sake because of this. I want to write (a not insignificant time sink). I want people on my page to feel safe and not feel like their humanity is the subject of an ever resetting intellectual exercise. If someone approaches in good faith, they give off "tells," even over text media, and I have a teacher's patience when someone cares to learn. But I'm tired of bad faith actors and the damage they do.
It's not that no one EVER learns or debating is always useless in every space. (I still end up in one from time to time.) Adversarial argumentation forms the backbone of our legal system and skepticism is crucial to science. All this stuff has its place. And in any given debate, the audience may be learning more than anyone involved. This is all good stuff. But it doesn't have to happen everywhere all the time. The main reason I stopped hosting these kinds of debates in my own space is because most of them AREN'T REALLY DEBATES.
What they are is scripts. Complicated dances where everyone knows the steps to counter their "opponent's" moves. That's why they reset. Because they have to or they don't work. "Now back to the beginning of the song–from the top." Because they are absolutely intended to counterpoint the debate rather than develop a more meaningful connection with another human or establish a more intellectually rigorous narrative, and whether intended or not, they maintain various forms of oppression and even strengthen them by attrition. The people debating so rarely allow for the possibility of real change.
I can think of few things less civil or respectful.
And that is why comments have been, are, and always will be moderated in my space. You or your comment might disappear if you can't follow the commenting guidelines. Sometimes a Bard will match wits all night long and into the morning light, but he knows to just pull out the fireball and rapier when a troll shows up.
And then there's this.
Because some days, especially after days like yesterday, I just go where the muse points me.
"Dudebros, SQuiDs, Sea Lions and JAQoffs, it is with deepest pride
And greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight
And now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair
As Writing About Writing's Facebook page proudly presents
be my guest
Put my modding to the test
Tell me "fuck this social justice stuff"
And I will do the rest.
News du jour, hottest take
Trot out all your boilerplates
Try discussion, it's delicious
But "ta-ta" if you're pernicious
You are welcome to engage
But remember it's MY page
And the comments here won't be the wild west
Feel free to find a venue
That likes fights, and then you'll
Be their guest, oui THEIR guest
Not MY guest
Linguistic jokes every day
Quotations authors have to say
I'll prepare and serve with flair
The memes of writing every day.
I'm progressive; don't be scared
Your scroll wheel finger came prepared
But if you're hostile while complaining
I'll make sure you're not so draining
We post comics, Tumblr Pics
So my blog will get some clicks
But I won't not care for justice you can bet
Try not to show your ass
Or it's a one way pass
To NOT my guest
~If you're stressed
The unfollow button we suggest~
Or "ban" pressed, no protest, be my guest
Life is so irritating
For a white dude not bloviating
He's not whole without a soul to splain upon
Ah, those good old days of hegemony
Suddenly those good old days are gone
Too long we've been debating
Thinking outshouting was "checkmating"
Claiming FREEZE PEACH if any space told us to shush
Most "debates" were just silencing non cis white dudes
This comment policy's not hazy.
You got banned. Oh oops-a-daisy!
You're my guest. You're my guest.
But this is not debate contest.
Lose the sword cause fuck me Lord
I'll click on "ban" to be less stressed.
Yes I make a buck or three
But this page is still for me
Feel free to witness my soft-shoein'
But for assholes I'm "adieu"-ing
You think you're clever, but you're not
I hear your argument a LOT
After the hundredth or so time, I'm not impressed
I made your comment ghost!
So next time read the post?
Don't be a pest. Or I'll divest.
Of you–my guest
Be my guest, enjoy a jest
But don't punch down to the oppressed
Like a million people follow my page here
And they're the BEST.
But if my content doesn't please
I can't take time to appease
If your choler won't stop flowing
I will help you with your going
Post by post, pun by pun
Banning bigots til I'm done
I don't mind telling you I do it with some zest.
So if you want to rage
Please find another page
I'll ban if pressed
You may have guessed
I don't detest.
Please, be my guest.