Friday, December 14, 2012

Man without a Country? The Far Right, the Gun Culture it Embraces and the Ruination of a Republic

“Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down” - Stephen Stills

“To give victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary." – Abraham Lincoln

“But I'm not givin' in an inch to fear
 I promised myself this year.
 I feel like I owe it to someone” – David Crosby

Considering the season, the plan was that the next "... and several butcher's aprons" blog post would be a light-hearted and festive missive, filled with good-tidings, cheer and benevolent hopes for the holidays - and that will indeed be appearing in a mere matter of days. Today, however, we sadly and tragically find that this re-post from earlier in the year, and the opinions expressed within, only grow more timely and relevant with each rising of the sun upon our increasingly troubled republic. We grieve as a nation with the families and friends of those lost in Newtown, Connecticut and hope and pray that as we progress and evolve as a country and society such events, so frequently a part of our lives, will soon be but anguished and heartbreaking memories left far in our past and not recurring incidents.

From July 30, 2012 -
With the recent rash of Right-wing, reactionary responses to the heartbreaking shootings in Colorado, I must admit to now sometimes, sadly and seriously, questioning if I even belong in this country any longer.  In instance after instance it feels as if this grand and noble experiment in democracy, in a free, liberated and thoughtful people’s government, has been irrevocably and horrifically high-jacked and harmed beyond all hope by the increasingly vocal and influential yokels, bigots and un-intelligentsia that progressively dominate our social and political discourse. These rebels of regression now not only own an entire political party, in the GOP, but also a television network that serves as its persuasive propaganda arm. It astounds and angers me that Conservatives and gun proponents  are actually exploiting this tragic occurrence to contend that we need even more lenient gun regulations, and this despite knowing that all the weaponry - the semi-automatic assault rifle, the thousands of rounds of armor piercing bullets, the tear gas canisters  were  purchased legally. They further attempt to make the preposterous, nonsensical and exceedingly precarious proposition that if others in the theatre had carried concealed firearms the massacre could have been prevented or at least lessened. James Holmes came equipped with military-grade, high-powered armaments and, was garbed in protective bulletproof armor. Can anyone really think that an Old-West style shoot out in a panicky, dark, crowded, smoke-filled movie theatre would have resulted in anything but further and continued carnage while also making it extraordinarily difficult for the police on the scene to sort out and stem the situation? Is a 2012 adaptation of Dodge City with untrained assault weapon toting patrons possibly a logical rejoinder to any dilemma?  Yet this alarmingly escalating societal and governmental propensity towards a solution of amplified aggression is in many ways just the tip of the iceberg of the backward-leaning, counter-civilized and inhumane behaviors and attitudes becoming readily accepted in this great land of ours. America is getting more conservative, more intolerant, less compassionate and less educated seemingly daily.  The Grand Old Party and its presidential candidate preach that education is unnecessary and elite, certainly an obvious and easy way for the upper-class to prevent those that they believe are beneath them from advancing financially and socially in our society. Willard Romney, he of the Harvard MBA, is of the mind that higher education is not intended for the masses but for the privileged few who can afford to attend colleges and universities and has actually stated that one gets the education one can afford.  It’s an idea that lacks any forethought or forward thinking, reeks of classism and elitism and does nothing but damage the fortunes and future of our country. For Mitt, advanced degrees are meant for him and his progeny, while the proper position of the offspring of the impoverished and working class is in defense of our state so that his boys can remain free, unencumbered and secure to crew and play lacrosse.  Economically, Romney promotes the Paul Ryan plan, a policy that openly steals from the poor to give to the rich. And those who are most severely damaged by this inexplicably support it, possibly because they're too uninterested, uninformed and uninvolved to be aware that they are being taken advantage of, used and manipulated.  The Republicans repeatedly and proudly brazenly boast that they care nothing about the health and well-being of the common man, the working class or those in poverty. Mitt is actually a perfect negative representative of our time and of everything that’s wrong with our country – he lacks empathy, he’s selfish, self-absorbed, intolerant, elitist, classist, bullying, he has no core or convictions, and he lies as easily as he draws breath. The woeful actuality that he is virtually tied with Obama in polls at this point, a decent man who has been slandered and libeled and personally attacked like no one in the history of American politics, someone who has actually lived out the “America Dream,” no silver-spooner he, says more about the gloomy gist of this treatise than all my amassed verbiage could feasibly express.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is at 19.5 percent, almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest nations combined – please pause and take that in – over 20 times higher than 22 other nations combined.  Among the world's 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all children killed by guns are American children. A yearly average of 29,500 gunfire deaths has been recorded nationally by the U.S. Department of Justice:  Bureau of Statistics for the past 30 years in America. We are not defending ourselves with guns, we are slaughtering each other. American citizens do a far superior job of slaying fellow Americans than any outside terrorist organization could ever dream of or hope to do. Our passion and religious fervor for munitions, viciousness and violence make us our true own worst enemies. The good news is that this is a situation that could be easily remedied, if only any politicians, including our President, would have the courage to take on the NRA and our ingrained gun culture. This has nothing to do with our freedoms. No one needs to own semi-automatic assault rifles. If you’re aghast and see my notions as an unwarranted attack on the Constitution, then truly be a strict Constitutionalist and own a musket if, and only if, you are in the military, as the Second Amendment literally, clearly and solely allows.

Others have argued that individual gun ownership is imperative as our preeminent protection from a treacherous and threatening central government.  If you judge the contents of your gun locker to be sufficient security against federal tyranny you are genuinely and grievously in error. Should the imagined incidence of the United States government unexpectedly going rogue and commencing combat against its innocent citizens arise you would no doubt find yourself spectacularly outgunned by the might of any one of our armed forces. But fret not, for despite dire and desperate warnings from the likes of Fox News, Michele Bachmann and the deleteriously disturbed contributors to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page,  despite the attempted brainless-washing from the increasingly ignorant individuals in the Tea-publican party, (interestingly, cautions not admonished prior to an African-American occupying 1600) you are in no danger from our government - our government of the people, by the people and for the people - the most egalitarian and representative government in history. You are in precipitously more peril from your inexperienced and indignant neighbor instinctively brandishing his 9 millimeter because your dog defecated on his previously pristine lawn.  Our forefathers and founders were wise and wily fellows (unfortunately much more so than most presently occupying leadership roles) and created a unique, revolutionary and exceptional form of government whose checks and balances guarantee that no such fearful and fully fictional folly would ever foment.  Required in these United States is but the ballot and not the bullet to remove a rapscallion from office. That is the true nature of American Exceptionalism. This is an exceptional nation not because we can own assault weapons and armor piercing bullets but because if we disagree with a person in power we can peacefully remove them - no blood shed or revolution required.  It's free speech, free assembly and free expression that makes us an emancipated citizenry, that guarantees our liberties and freedoms, it’s the First Amendment and not the Second that may yet save us from the seemingly predestined fate that has befallen each earlier empire throughout  the annals of time. Should you wish to dispute the use of the characterization of “empire” as descriptive for this land of the free and home of the brave feel free to find more fitting terminology for the planet’s sole military superpower with soldiers stationed in over 150 sovereign nations.

The problems lie not with the country itself, not with the rock-solid foundation and underpinning of our potentially great nation, it’s not the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights at fault– it’s the increasingly under-educated citizens, the increasingly corporate- controlled, corrupt, bought and paid for politicians and it’s the religious institutions who too often proselytize hatred, intolerance, fear and separatism rather than love, acceptance, tolerance and togetherness.  But because the foundation is true and strong our republic can survive and strive, ideals intact,  but the keys are education, cultural diversity, shared experiences, open-mindedness, empathy, compassion, and some human kindness, but are we even capable of that anymore? It’s time we start looking at ourselves through the prism of reality and facts and figures and not through the arrogant rose-colored glasses of jingoism, and maybe then we can avoid the aforementioned destiny that has destroyed all world empires before us.