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Monday, June 27, 2022

Bullshit Argument 24- "American Lives" or "Won't Someone Think of the Children?"

You could probably get someone to throw a punch by pointing out the hypocrisy needed to pretend they literally are incapable of understanding a statement like "black lives matter" while holding onto a position like "America first" but of those two, only one of them is exclusionary, xenophobic, nationalistic, rooted in white supremacy, and trying to prioritize a group that is generally already at the top of the socio/economic hierarchy,  so it's not a perfect comparison—mostly just a way to point out "Oh so you actually DO get the concept."

For as long as I've been alive, "the children" have been used to weaponize every homophobic, transphobic, body-autonomy-crushing 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. 

And don't even get me started on how those "American lives" are ACTUALLY treated when things like veterans issues or homelessness are the topics on the table.

Not that I particularly want these arguments trotted out on the regular, given what they almost always defend, but gun advocates 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 it becomes brazenly, unavoidably obvious that they do not actually care about human lives, American lives, or children's' lives.

I mean I hope that people start behaving in a way that takes into consideration things like "the children" who are being killed because they care about children who are being killed and not because they're worried that their breathtaking hypocrisy is going to get them eaten by irony demons or lose them political points, but it's worth pointing out.

Bullshit Rating- Perfect bullshit. 10/10. Would hypocrite again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Bullshit Argument 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. Like when people say: "We can't do that because it's a slippery slope," LITERALLY invoking the name of a logical fallacy to make their argument, you absolutely know that what you're about to hear is not going to be a good argument.

You want to know how I already know folks have a water's edge somewhere about what kinds of weapons civilians should have access to? 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 an M141 shoulder-mounted anti-structure weapon (or if they do, they know they could go to prison for having it—and not for a couple of days). They don't have 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. We want ordinance like this to be in the hands of carefully vetted people who use it only when absolutely appropriate (and not without some measure of oversight)." And for 240+ years, we've managed to have conversation about where that line should be, so acting like bump stocks simply MUST be legal or all liberals are coming for all guns is the worst kind of fallacy imaginable.

Not every conversation is intended to erode gun rights with the end goal of total banishment. I'm sure SOME liberals will keep going, but like most of the history of this country, most will lack the political momentum once there is an equilibrium.  One the compromise doesn't involve accepting dead children on the 6 o'clock a few times a year, there won't be momentum. Unless of course there can't BE a compromise….then the momentum becomes a buildup and the backlash a flood.

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.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 22- The Government Should Be Afraid of Its People

"Oh no! They have a rifle!"
The United States military is not afraid of your 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 they also have shit you haven't even heard of yet. And oh yeah, they have the most sophisticated air domination in the history of Earth that can effortlessly deploy weapons of mass destruction we haven't even seen. 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 those organizations actually 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.)

Okay, wait. I've seen that meme too. With the Viet Cong saying "Cool story bro" or whatever it is to tell you that yes indeedie a bunch of peoples with automatic rifles can totally defeat the US military.

So let me head the bullshit off at the pass.

1- Vietnam was half a century ago. Warfare has changed. Get over yourself.

2- The Viet Cong was not a militia with what would today be civilian grade weaponry. It was a MASSIVE political organization with its own army (and if you're enjoying irony today, no small amount of US-made weapons). I would need a FLOW CHART to explain fully the cavalcade of mistakes made in Vietnam that led to the loss. Suffice to say that the United States Military would never make those kinds of errors 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 could much 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 are 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, the U.S. government 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.

Even a marine rifleman who IS essentially carrying almost everything a civilian could acquire in our country is better trained by orders of magnitude, deployed with such weaponry ONLY in very specific theaters, monitored and kept in check by a sophisticated chain of command designed to prevent exactly the sort of things this series of articles is about.

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—a proxy group given broad authority to enact domestic terrorism. If the police are abusing their authority in a potentially lethal way, they might hesitate if they know their target is armed. (A weirdly telling data point given how many police officers shoot and cite their fear for their lives when a target is NOT actually armed.) If people start disappearing in the night. If white supremacists start trying to take matters into their own hands. This is why there's the old phrase comes from: "If you go far enough left, you get your guns back" (and the reason I'm not against guns so much as the absurd arguments that civilians need semi-automatic long rifles or it's tyranny). 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 about disarming a nation 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 (dude named Bacon), 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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 21- If Guns Kill People, Pencils Misspell Words

This is (somehow) an even more ridiculous version of "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" Like just when you thought that narrative couldn't get ANY worse, someone brings out the misspelling pencils like they've just slam dunked a rhetorical point. Check and mate. Game, set, and match. 

Uh…no…

And yeah, the full version of this has a fatphobic thing about spoons making people fat, just in case these folks worried that they were in danger of making a point that was not demonstrative of how terrible they are as people.

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 pencil is NOT to misspell words. Whereas the purpose of a gun is literally to kill. 

That is its intended function. It has no other.

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, a gun would have any number of artistic and technical functions and only sometimes be lethal (often unintentionally).

It's just a BAD argument. It's under the fallacy dictionary in false equivalency. 

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 killing people with misspelled words (or in the case of the fat-phobic example, using spoons on OTHER PEOPLE). 

There is a major, fundamental, philosophical, moral, and ethical difference between mistakes we make that hurt no one (but maybe our English teacher's heart) and those that kill…as a primary functionality. Those that might affect us, and those that rip the life out of another.


Bullshit Rating: 7/5 Perfect bullshit. Would not respect again.


Monday, June 13, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 20- Victim Blaming

This is just really the worst sort of place to which humanity can descend. It's hard to even have a sarcastic quip about behavior this disgusting. 

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 at the time, and the biggest politician beneficiary of the NRA decided to make it a TALKING POINT. 

And this isn't the first or only time.

This particular tweet refers to the Parkland students and just for the record, they FUCKING 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? We see this over and over again, often even when there absolutely IS a history of complaints and violence.

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, for the last decade, been saying, "fuck your feelings," as a matter of personal and political ideology to everyone with whom they don't agree. 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, after watching their friends be murdered, had the unmitigated temerity to use their First Amendment rights 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.


Friday, June 10, 2022

Privilege and Narcissism

Image credit:
Joking Hazard card game.
                                                                                      
When you’re familiar with both, at some point you might realize that narcissistic abuse and everyday oppression have a relationship to each other that is analogous to Newtonian physics. They are not exactly the same, but if you apply one to the understanding of the other, you will consistently get HIGHLY USEFUL RESULTS.  


Storytime:

Being a performance artist, Rhapsody often has to get out and make connections that, as a writer, I don’t have to make. All I need is my computer and a wifi connection, but she needs to go to places where people gather. Getting on the radar of a venue’s organizer. Making connections in the local, sex-positive, queer, non-monogamous, indie, music scene. Trying to collaborate with folks to cross-pollinate between fans. There’s a measure of social interaction and gatekeeping that I try to avoid but that is essential for live performance arts. 

Out in the wider social milieu, Rhapsody sort of expects to run into all types. But in the world she’s built around herself of queer, leftist types, there’s a lot more of a curated experience. It takes a certain type to cheer on a song about Mario and Luigi riding train on someone who likes “golden coin showers.” 

There was an artist. Let’s call him Brad. Brad was someone she looked up to. Someone she was excited to meet. Someone she hoped to work with. An artist who’d played the venue Rhapsody had dreamed of playing and worked hard to get to. And while they were chatting about possibly collaborating (another dream of Rhapsody’s), the conversation took a turn. 

Brad was telling Rhapsody that the venue made him change anti-sex-worker slurs (something he thought sacrificed his artistic integrity), and they wouldn’t let him sing a song about being a member of a doubly marginalized subset of the queer community if he wasn’t actually a member of the group in question (a position he found objectionable because he had friends in that community—some of his best, I’m sure). But he had no end of problem bloviating at length about Rhapsody’s own lyric to “peg the patriarchy.” Because that was an offensive concept to him. Suddenly Rhapsody was being mansplained about just how difficult it is nowadays to be a cishet, white guy.

“I’m public enemy number one!” he whined.

Of course, this sentiment isn’t exactly entirely inaccurate from a social justice context. (It’s a little absurd in general, so it certainly gives insight into what Brad thought about social justice.) But there are ways to phrase it that could have held space for that frustration while acknowledging the context in which it mattered: “Being at the top of the social hierarchy means I have a lot of unearned and often unexamined advantages; venues that work hard to be safe spaces aren’t likely to give me free rein to say whatever I want, and that can be frustrating.” This would, of course, also mean not framing what amounts to mild frustration like a whiny victim who is being censored—as if the reaction to oppression is somehow as bad or worse than the oppression itself. Or as if there aren’t people whose identity intersects with multiple forms of marginalization who experience silencing tactics far worse than having to pick a different song from their extensive library…for a given venue. Faux wokeness is nothing new in Rhapsody’s world. The world is full of cishet, white guys who think enlightenment is castigating the "drunk uncle” bigots and then proceeding with absolute identical treatment regardless of history, institutional levers of power, or the socio/political power differentials. Exactly the sort of people who think the “real” problem is that they can’t say whatever they want in other groups’ safe spaces. 

Dealing with the disappointment that an artistic and creative favorite turns out to be kind of a “dudebro” was hard, but the worst thing for Rhapsody was realizing that she had to be silent. She had to just “grey rock” this guy and let him blow up her phone with his “it’s tough to be a cishet, white guy” complaints…and then, without rebuttal, go about her day. 

She realized she couldn’t point out his behavior was pretty entitled. She couldn’t defend the position of the venue to keep things safe for marginalized communities. She couldn’t explain why a token friend who thought a song was okay might not be a the slambangingest judge for the whole community, nor their opinion a good criteria for allowing it at a venue . And as uncomfortable as that was, she realized that she had to be silent because anything she said was going to make the interaction get even worse. She had to be the bigger person. She had to not take it personally. She had to walk away and not talk about how she really felt.

Rhapsody has a history that makes her sensitive to abuse—particularly from narcissists. And in that moment, she realized that she was having the same reaction to Brad as she would from realizing someone was a narcissist. A deep, prevalent frustration that the best that could be achieved was walking away and “being the bigger person,” an unfortunate soft euphemism for ignoring all grievances because bringing them up will make things worse.

But the analogy between emotional abuse, particularly narcissistic abuse, and privilege is sort of a flash epiphany. Once you see it, it’s like the smudge on a movie theater screen—you probably won’t unsee it.


There could hardly be a more perfect parallel to the checklist of what characterizes a narcissist’s grandiose sense of self-importance (or the deep insecurity of covert narcissism) than can be seen in what we call privilege. Whether spoken aloud by the unapologetic racist/misogynist/transphobe/homophobe/etc…or denied vehemently while clung to in the form of hypocritical double standards, holding the worldview of superiority, entitlement, denial of empathy to some groups while demanding it for themselves, being exploitative of others while being hypersensitive to anything perceived as unfair regarding themselves, insisting all advantages have been earned despite clear evidence to the contrary, and presuming anyone who wants a fair playing field is merely envious of their success. 

We can even see more parallels of narcissistic things like wanting to be the center of attention when white men insist that any media that doesn’t feature them is a terrible trend of “forced diversity” (even though their ongoing hegemony is a simple matter of demonstrable fact). It shows up in haughty behaviors (often ostensibly linked to “culture” but somehow managing to target everyone who isn’t at the top of the social hierarchy regardless of their culture). All of these characterizations of narcissism are ubiquitous staples of privilege.

And then, of course, there’s the gaslighting. (“Oh, that wasn’t REALLY racism/sexism/transphobia.” “There isn’t a bigoted bone in our bodies—this is really about [adjacent issue]”) Everywhere you look, marginalized communities are being told they aren’t really marginalized and that every rock-solid piece of evidence they proffer up has some other explanation or is only ever the behavior of a few bad apples and not a systematic, systemic problem that should be actively confronted by those who benefit from it.


That didn't happen.

And if it did, it wasn't that bad.

And if it was, that's not a big deal.

And if it is, that's not my fault.

And if it was, I didn't mean it.

And if I did...

You deserved it.


This is a poem called “The Narcissist’s Prayer” (I’m trying to find attribution if you know it.) But it could just as easily be called “The Privilege Playbook”. This is the exact order of the scripts used when telling people that their lived experiences of oppression and marginalization aren’t real/that bad/anyone’s fault but their own. First, deny that privilege and marginalization even exist. Then, insist it's not really a big deal and that someone is just "looking for reasons to be offended." And then, deny complicity because "not all X." Then, fall back on their own pure and unbigoted intentions (over systemic and systematic impact). And if all that fails, blame the people for their own lack of progress because of the "tone" of how they express their injustice. "I might actually care about this if people would just protest more nicely/more quietly/more ignorably."

Also, these cishet, white dudes (clueless or deliberate) are constantly doing exactly the things they accuse others of doing. Indoctrinating youth into a paradigm where their narratives are unquestioned.  Silencing speech. Authoritarianism. Violence. Not to mention statistically being most likely to follow and support a political party that considers itself the victim of the very things it is actually doing (like destabilizing free and fair elections) and justifies all manner of bad behavior by somehow convincing itself that the other side would be even worse. Of course, the truth—by any fair and consistent rubric being applied—is that it is really these folks who are doing all these things, and those they accuse of it rarely are—or are only doing so on a much more limited scope and/or as a reaction to their own mistreatment (like safe spaces). What it brings to mind immediately is how a narcissist is so self-absorbed that they can’t help projecting, and everything they think is happening goes through the filter of what they themselves are doing. Or more succinctly: “Accusations from a narcissist are confessions.” Which seems to describe white dude indictments pretty accurately.

Obviously, it would be a profoundly damaging bit of ableist nonsense to say that every cishet, white male is a narcissist. But to notice that the way privilege behaves mirrors narcissism, and how the way it hurts mirrors narcissistic abuse is a highly useful observation. The way privilege reaches out and changes narratives, won’t accept blame, attacks anyone who points out that they are being hurt by its behaviors, accuses others of what it is doing, and cannot seem to muster empathy gives us a roadmap for what to expect. 

Unfortunately, this insight is not quite as useful on the macro level as it can be on the interpersonal one. We can use the D.E.E.P. method to keep ourselves safe from an individual. (Don’t Defend, don’t Engage, don’t Explain, and don’t Personalize—all these things only make the interaction worse.) It’s considerably harder to simply work around or “grey rock” the group that is running most of the institutions. We can’t go “no contact” on our own culture or grey rock our country. (Although, if you’re paying close attention, this is precisely what safe spaces are trying to do, why they’re so important, and why letting privileged people opine on the manner in which such spaces stay safe is such an epic shit-crumpet move.) And of course, a society can’t be diagnosed with a disorder in the sense that a trained psychologist [and ONLY a trained psychologist] can diagnose an individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

But in terms of how to contextualize what is happening, how to predict what will happen next, and how to deal with individuals who are not actively challenging their privilege every day, some basic understanding of the narcissist playbook will yield (time and time again) extremely useful results.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 19—MOAR GUNS (Arm Teachers)

Updates needed for the more recent mass shootings 
in places that DID have armed guards.

You know the NRA doesn't allow guns at its conventions? Can you think of why that might be? But sure, more guns is probably the answer, so let's arm teachers. 

Know who this narrative 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.

Connect the dots. Wait, no. There's only one. Connect the DOT. 

Nothing about the world of guns suggests that adding many many more of them into a landscape filled with minimally trained civilians would make people safer. In fact, every expert and every bit of evidence suggest that it would make things much MUCH more dangerous. 

Insurance companies have outright refused to cover schools that even consider this as a policy. Experts have said this is a bad idea. Even combat vets are unenthused.

What do they know that your average bad argument-maker doesn't?

They know that adding more guns isn't a deterrent as much as it is a recipe for disaster. Best possible case scenario, a shootout with lots of wayward bullets. Worst case? Accidents. Statistically speaking, as you add dangerous things to places with kids, you get accidents. It's why you barely have jungle gyms any more that aren't coated in soft foam and built over this spongy rubber mulch. Kids are (literally) not able to assess danger the way that adults do because that part of their brains hasn't formed yet. That's why they don't get the final word on how to live their lives until the age of majority.

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 bullshit policy hasn't even started yet! Every bellwether that exists says "This is a terrible, terrible idea.”

There's a reason the NRA won't allow guns at its conventions. 

Wait.

Stop.

Let me just say that again.

THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION—the pro gun group behind almost all of these bullshit arguments—does not allow guns at their 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.

I'll give you a hint. It's not because ubiquitous guns make things so much safer. It's because these institutions know full well how fucking dangerous guns are. They know there's no way to ensure someone is a "good guy." They know that a firefight between a bunch of people who think they're the good guy would be a fucking disaster.

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 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 (patently absurd), there's basically no evidence that "good guys with guns" would act as a deterrent (see earlier arguments).


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.) The worst part is that it is mic-dropped by people who actually don't want to address root causes and refuse to acknowledge that this spaghetti is NOT sticking. It's used as a fire and forget missile. It's the shutdown argument when the shooting happens on a school. "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. It just makes a bigger pile of bullshit.

Bullshit Narrative #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 their ass too! I took a week of Hapkido last summer so I've got some serious street moves."

(Best said with a retainer lisp.)

Fully-trained, combat-ready soldiers in war zones with entire platoons watching their back don't always react to danger the way these people insist should be the norm. This is part of the reason the whole "good guy with a gun" argument is so fucking ridiculous. It completely ignores not only a human nature that takes extensive training to overcome, but ALMOST EVERY TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED.

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 then 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, gone for the air conditioner ducts, and died harder is fucking meaningless clownshoe babytalk.


Bullshit rating: The bullshit is real but you're imagining that you've cleaned it up.


Bullshit Narrative #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) against any kind of gun control is that it (deliberately) ignores so much space between "Free, unrestricted access to grenade launchers" and "Ban them all." "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.

We already HAVE a waters edge for what kinds of weaponry a citizen can legally own. And that line is somewhere between revolutionary era Charleville muskets and "if you can afford a Tomahawk missile, it's yours." We're just having a discussion about whether that line needs to be moved.

It's patently absurd, disingenuous, 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" and that they simply want to burn the constitution. Hiding behind that level of rhetoric is pretty much the silencing tactic of someone too cowardly to have a conversation about what compromise might actually cleave to the ideals envisioned by some dudes with long rifles without giving one angry man a military grade arsenal to level on school children.

It's worth mentioning the following 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 jingoism that carrying a firearm is their inalienable human as an American:

As a civil liberty, the second amendment was conceived of as and continues to have a magnitude F-5 racial double standard. The second amendment is for white people. It was conceived so explicitly and continues to be so in practice. 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 white people who wonder what "white privilege" is, but that's probably another article.

Also it would be nice if the folks most likely to cite the second amendment cared about the other nine in such a substantive way, 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 compound with anti-government sentiments (even if they didn't break the law). You know....like the way white supremacists (who actually DO break the law) do on the regular.

We don't have to imagine what the government would do because we can just REMEMBER.

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 we can eat around. 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.


Monday, June 6, 2022

Covid Exposure!

So far it's been four days, no symptoms, and all negative tests, but we had a possible covid exposure. Treble and Clef got dropped off only a couple of hours before the news of some positive tests with folks who were hanging out with them the night before, and their dad tested positive with a fever this morning. Since the boys are testing negative and have been separated from those who are testing positive for four days now, and it LOOKS like they probably got out in time, they're going to be staying here through some of the usual transitions, which means a bit of a choppier-than-normal week.

My update plans were to finish the 25 Gun-Control Narratives this week, and that hasn't changed, but you will likely see the updates happening in fits and starts and at very non-standard times. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 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 nothing but homemade pipe bombs and Bowie knives. Cause that would be, like….WAY cheaper and then we could just make sure that all the soldiers are really "determined actors." That's all that matters, right? Determination?

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 combat toxic masculinity, male entitlement, bigotry, and yes…even the stigma around mental health issues. 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.

Bad actors may always get the urge to be violent, but we don't need to make it easier for them to do so with a dismissive shrug. We're talking about how easy it is to ACT upon that urge.

This argument fucking sucks.


Bullshit Rating: Just because you call it a cow pie, doesn't mean you should eat it.

Bullshit Narrative 15- Gun Violence is Down.

Yeah but school shootings are way, way up.

Look, I get the statistics and I get using statistics 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 picture. 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:

ONE

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.

And it certainly didn't happen because there was a policy change.

TWO

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 Islamophobic 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 were up to once every month or two before the pandemic and we're ramping up.

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.


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 14- Guns Make You Safer

No they don't.

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. Which, I agree, is her purview as an adult who is allowed to manage her own risks.

But this story was the exception. Not the rule. For every one person defended by a gun, there are 34 who get shot and die.

It's your choice to play those odds, but don't fucking LIE about it.

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 because flying is safer, and we'd outlaw hot dogs because they are so easy to choke on.

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. The vast majority of them are wrong.

Guns don't make you safer. They make you less safe. Period. Accept the risk. Don't. Up to you. But don't pretend it isn't true.

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: Telling me this is chocolate isn't going to fool me.


Bullshit Narrative 13- Guns Don't Kill People. People Kill People.

That's why we don't want to do background checks on the guns, Turbo. Because you're leaving out the last line. "But people with guns kill people a LOT more quickly and efficiently than without."

[Note: I'm going to format all of these articles when I'm done with "next" and "previous" links and a link back to the original post where I'm linking out each of the narratives. But bear with me while I get them all written and posted.]

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…like…a thirteen-year-old. It just takes the place of an actual argument chiefly because it's just really easy to remember, has that slick rhetorical device of repetition, and looks good on a bumper sticker.  

No one is looking to regulate guns because they come to life like the brooms in The Sorcerer's Apprentice and kill people by themselves. 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 would-be-killers to kill a lot people really, REALLY fast and from really, REALLY far away. It's the same reason we want to stop Iran and North Korea from having nuclear weapons instead of saying with a dismissive shrug, "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 killing easier since the first sharpened stick and heavy rock. Guns make it a LOT easier for them to do so, and CERTAIN guns make it absurdly easy. So much easier even a toddler could do it. (Ironic voice "Hashtag: Wish I were kidding.") 

Do you know the reason assault weapons kill six times as many people in mass shootings? It's not because those people are inherently deadlier or have a greater will to kill people. It's not because "people kill people" but those people just happened to WANT to kill more. It's because those weapons are better at it. They kill a lot of people very quickly. They're easier to reload, fire bullets faster, and are more accurate at range. 

No one is actually saying that humans aren't involved; this is just straw man bumper sticker bullshit. Attempting to stop all deadly violence was never what gun bans were attempting to accomplish. Keeping the MOST dangerous kinds of weapons out of the hands of people who haven't been thoroughly vetted is.


Bullshit rating: Seems deep, but is actually super shallow. Sure is a lot of it though.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 12- "Assault Rifle" 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 horrific gun violence and the drills to prepare them for it. Mock them for their semantic misunderstanding of gun jargon. 

Maybe you SHOULDN'T legislate from a position of ignorance. That idea has probably got some merit. Of course that means like half the Republicans would never be able to make a law about abortion again because they don't even seem to have the first good goddamn clue about how uterus-havers reproductive health works, and they make laws demonstrative of that fact literally any time they have the votes.

But hey, why let ethics ruin a good double standard!

The thing is, this could be such a great touchpoint for education and dialogue. This could be where gun lovers and gun aficionados step up to the plate to have a dialogue about which laws might really, actually 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 help figure out what to look for in a background check, how to close loopholes, what hardware is the most dangerous (and perhaps least likely to be used in all the ways they advocate for), how to run buyback programs on existing weapons, and how to write these laws to try to make a substantive policy compromise.

(Every time there's a high profile mass shooting, someone suggests making AMMUNITION much harder to get. Would that work? I don't know. But I bet I know who would! People who enjoy guns responsibly.)

They could pioneer effective legislation and help make some real difference.

Instead they've allowed this to become a point of mockery and derision (which, if you're keeping score, is 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 pinky fingers on the cup when they have tea too. For shame!" 

And then, after they refuse to engage someone unless they're already a gun expert, they act all surprised Pikachu face when liberals organize the political will to pass unilateral bans. 

And here's the real gut punch. This isn't just arcane elitism that shuts down conversation. That could at least be dismissed as self-sabotaging in a world of shifting political will. When leftists won't leave their "bootlicker" rhetoric at the local communist party meeting, the worst thing that happens is they can't figure out why their ideas are wildly popular but THEY never are. 

But when this shit happens around guns, this behavior isn't just odious. It borders on the worst sort of willful ignorance and turpitude. Most of the laws ignorant white men pass will never affect them personally. They're just legislating morality about exactly the sort of topics where expertise is required.

When it comes to guns, the opposite is true. 

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 Kroger, 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, a machine gun from a semi-auto, or the exact body count at which a shooting becomes a "mass shooting." It is beyond reprehensible to claim that they don't get a seat at a table until they're an expert. Trying to silence them for this is not only a logical 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 actual 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.


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 11-The Shooter [Any Shooter] Was Mentally Ill.  

This is the argument that just keeps on sucking. 

When people blame mental illness after each shooting (especially if the shooter is white), and then do absolutely nothing at all to try to improve the deplorable state of mental health in this country, what they make very clear is that they're not even kind of sort of maybe fooling THEMSELVES with this half-assed derailment. They know full well this is not the X factor in these cases. They just want to point at something (anything) it could be other than guns.

It's called scapegoating and the mentally ill have been on the shit end of it basically forever.

Look, it's easy to see someone commit an atrocity that is horrific beyond imagining and think that no one in their right mind would be capable of doing something so horrible.

It's easy to imagine that simply the fact that someone did this MUST mean they are insane. There must be something wrong with them, right? But it's a comforting lie. (There is something wrong with them, but it's not mental illness.) At best that's simply NOT ACCURATE. And at worst it is ableist as fuck and scapegoating bullshit that leads to the worst sort of stigma, prejudice, and bigotry.

Claiming all people who would do this are mentally ill simply displays a breathtaking ignorance of what "mentally ill" means in a clinical (and meaningful) way, and is used almost exclusively as a dodge to avoid talking about what else might be involved in the calculus. 

Every other factor from gender to easy access to instantly lethal, long range, high capacity weaponry is excluded from the diagnosis so that folks who don't want to have tough conversations can just further stigmatize those who actually have mental illness and go on about their day.

                                           
                                                                 
"Welp. Musta been crazy. Can't do anything so terrible if you're not crazy. Nothing to be done but arm teachers or something. 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 "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. It turns out the term "mental illness" has an actual meaning.)

  1. Mental illness does not equate to violence. IT. DOES. NOT. Only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to those with serious mental illness. (Which is actually LESS than the amount of people in the general population—around 6%-7%.
  2. OF THOSE CRIMES, only 7.5% were directly related to the symptoms of their illness. In other words, chronic depression doesn't make you violent, so someone who is violent and depressed would contribute to the statistic above, but their only mental illness (depression) was probably not a factor.
  3. The severely mentally ill are TEN TIMES more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. They are also more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. These are statistical facts. They don't fit the narrative of scapegoating, but they are demonstrable and irrefutable.
  4. 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.

But hey, if this ACTUALLY led to a conversation about better access to mental health that would be great. I'll spoil the ending for you, though. It won't. Because that's not why people talk about mental illness after a shooting. They do it so they don't have to talk about guns, and they don't care that they are increasing the stigma for folks around them who suffer from mental illness.


Bullshit rating: This bullshit will suck your shoe right off your foot if you step in it, it sucks SO much.


Bullshit Narrative 10- Gun laws haven't worked in Chicago/But what about Chicago?/ Chicago Chicago 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 about six 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 despite having several huge cities (including two in the nation's top ten). 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.


Friday, May 27, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 9: Gun Control Can Never 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 disprove 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.


Bullshit 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 periodic written and ability tests and a battery of exams of legal knowledge and practical ability the first time they demonstrate they are responsible enough to own one? Further we will strip them of that 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 VAST MAJORITY deaths that are caused are chiefly because of accidents (and are seldom 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.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 7: Knives Are Just As Deadly. That One Time in China a Guy Killed 33 People With a Knife

You know there's a reason folks still need to go back to 2014 on the other side of the world for "that one time with a knife" story even though we've had hundreds 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," and getting all excited about the headline/title.

("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 to "ONLY" having lost 33 lives to? I'll give you a hint. It starts with a "G" and ends with an "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 most of them are only 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 Newtown, a dude in China went on a stabbing spree and stabbed 22 children. TWENTY-TWO.

Not one died.

It's not exactly a feel good story, but it just shows that no one is going to kill "just as many people" with a knife.


Bullshit Rating: A baked pile of shit in the afternoon sun that you didn't know was bullshit but you discovered was NOT a rock when you tried to pick it up and throw it.

Bullshit Narrative 6- The Only Thing That Can Stop a Bad Guy With a Gun is a Good Guy With a Gun

Actually, statistically, they stop 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.

But wait…there was that one actual time out of…checks notes…hundreds. 

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 shootout 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 have done 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?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 5- "The Problem is [Some Bullshit That it Clearly Isn't]."

[Everything in italics will disappear in a few days. This full article was started before NOT Writing About Writing existed, so it's going to remain here as I finish it up. You can go back there for the intro and the first four narratives. I'm restarting this series after a long hiatus (because schools weren't open for a while), so before just getting pissed and knee jerk arguing about how I hate freedom or some bullshit, I would ask everyone to remember the following:

I don't hate guns. I'm not repulsed by gun culture. I have owned, fired, and enjoyed using guns. 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. And I'm not wholly convinced that the left might not need to learn to use them before our current political landscape has played itself out. 

I am anti-bad-argument. And the culture war around guns has some of the worst.] 


"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 the biggest contributors 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. 80-90% of these guys end up having a history of domestic violence or intense anger.
  • It's very often men marinating in cultures of extreme 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, as compared to the population at large) but not by conspicuously overwhelming margins. Jilted dudes (with their sexist entitlement) are terrifyingly overrepresented, and many of them first kill a woman close to them before their rampage, though this is 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 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. 

We don't.

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. 

That's it. 

There is no part two.

And while it is unfortunate that we HAVE enough data points that we don't have to give any oxygen to the ludicrous conjecture 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.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Mailbox Questions (Non-Writing Questions 10-12)

Everyone knows if you put some leg into it, your glowing 
green balls will do more damage.
I'm going to post this 20 Questions in the usual format when it's all finished, but many of these questions required substantive answers, so I'm going to break up the roll-out over a few days to keep the length of each post reasonable. 

Link to Questions 1-9

10- Why do you write about social justice instead of about writing? 

Ah, yet another "non-writing" question that is actually really sort of about writing. Okay, I'll let another one slide in since getting 20 non-writing questions is actually a bit on the hard side once the repeats are accounted for. 


So here's the thing: I don't write about social justice INSTEAD of about writing; the two are absolutely inextricable. Take notes now. This'll be on the quiz.

If you learn NOTHING else from me…well, okay, if you learn nothing else from me it should probably be that a writer who wants to be successful needs to write every day (or very close). But if you learn TWO things from me, the second one should be that narratives matter. They matter a LOT. Who tells them. Where they start. Where they end. What's being left out. What's being included. Entire mythologies about who we are (whether those mythologies are religious or not). They all come from narratives—stories.

Who we respect and who we dismiss. The way we think about our place in the world. All of this comes from stories. How we erase certain people from stories, emphasize the flaws of one group, emphasize the virtues of another. 

It's all shaping the narrative. If we refuse to accept the narratives that marginalized communities try to tell us about our own complicity in forms of oppression, we are picking which stories we will listen to and which we won't.

And that has everything in the world to do with writing. Because when you take on that mantle of storyteller, particularly in a  all stories are political. Even a story with "no social justice" IS a story about political and social structures. It is a story with assumptions about gender roles, about race, about sexuality—in the case of "no social justice" it would be the assumption of the status quo. And and whether the writer are defending the status quo actively or simply passively not questioning it, that value system will come through. 

Contempt for social justice, particularly in fiction, is one of those things that springs up when people want to ignore the stories that might make them feel a little bad about their culpability and participation in societal injustice. If it were truly a non-issue, it wouldn't get people so riled up. 

11- Where would you travel/visit/vacation?

Unlimited budget?

It's probably a tie between Ireland and Orlando. There are things I want to see in Ireland, and a casual glance at my last name might let you in on at least part of the reason why. (The other has to do with some maybe woo-woo/personal spirituality stuff that I'm hinting around about, but not quite ready to get into on an open channel.) Orlando has so many cool amusement parks that I've never been to. It seems like I could easily book a month there, and only have a few days of even slowing down to catch my breath…and maybe get a foot massage.

Sadly, my budget dictates more modest travel plans. An AirB&B just out of town or if I'm going wild, a drive to Disney for a couple of days. I've been using an Amtrak rewards card and I'm almost up to the point where I can take a round trip. I might try to get to the Midwest this year to see some Internet friends.

12-Hey: what was your first....DnD experience?!? How old were you? Who was your DM? What module and who was in your party?

We're talking late 70s here, so there's a lot of these experiences lost to the shroud of time. I do remember we were playing BASIC Dungeons and Dragons, without the advanced rules you find in game stores today. Your "class" could be "elf" (which meant you were ALWAYS a fighter/magic user because that's what "elf" meant back before Advanced Dungeons and Dragons set it up so that classes and races were separate identifiers). I remember playing through the very first module (The Keep on the Borderlands). My friends and I were pretty young and were getting a lot of the rules wrong, but the older we got, the more adept our understanding became.

I'm so old school, they tore the school down.

Role playing games are one of those weird cultural touchstones for me. Much like console video games. My life has essentially been mapped to their development, so I've grown and matured as they have, and my tastes have evolved with the medium. Basically me, video games, and role-playing games all got over "rescue the princess" or "kill the orcs" plots right around the same time. The games got more sophisticated as I did and the niche genres (as well as the late nineties and early aughts within the "gaming cultural zeitgeist" that the mechanics of the game could greatly enhance or detract from the intended themes) became more and more attractive. Not that I don't sometimes want to bust out my old Palladium Books and have one last Heroes-Unlimited-With-Ninjas-And-Superspies-Martial-Arts-Running-Around-the-Rifts-Campaign-Setting for nostalgia's sake (because if you haven't had a supe character use a Chi focus to throw a Death Head transport into another Death Head transport, you're just letting the best things in life slide right by), but mostly I'm into telling stories and improv acting and digging deep into personal drama. 

But somehow we always end up back at Dungeons and Dragons. There's just something about that game…it's flexible enough to carry VERY sophisticated themes, but with a combat system that can do hack and slash without getting bogged down into mechanics if the characters want to solve their problems with violence…or when there is no choice. Also dragons.

I can't be sure exactly what my first character/campaign was, but I know two things:

1) I was a magic user. I know that because I'm almost always some kind of magic user. I've played a handful of fighters and rogues (there was a fighter-who-was-double-specialized-in-the-bow archery kick for a while after Kevin Costner's Robin Hood came out), but for the vast majority of my tenure as a seasoned dice dork, I have enjoyed magic of some flavor. Mage. Cleric. Psionicist. (All three in the case of one particularly lenient DM.) And of course in 5th ed, bards are finally cool, so I've been playing a lot of them lately. Let me bend the laws of reality…within reason.

2) I didn't have a party. For years, I couldn't find more than one other person at a time to play D&D with me, so one of us would be the dungeon master and the other would be the adventurer. So my first game would have been just me and a friend.