Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oh, Josh, No...This is not particularly Insightful:

by aimai

For a while now JMM has been on a tear trying to bump up traffic by printing "thoughtful" pieces by his readers. I've been almost uniformly unimpressed. His essay on his thoughts on the "tribe" of gun people which was a similar form of trolling cum log rolling was tediously self absorbed and it was followed by more touchingly self absorbed faux sociology and philosophy of the imaginary divide between gun owners and gun-not-owners.  To me the whole exercise reeks of the eternal attempts of religious people to lecture atheists on what atheism is or is not.  Or heterosexuals who only use the missionary position lecturing gays and lesbians on how they "just don't understand."

No, really, we get it: you see atheists, gays, and lesbians grow up in a world saturated with images, ideas, and the facts on the ground generated by our imaginary "opposites."  Speaking as an atheistical Jew, for example, I don't "not get" Christianity--I've been soaking in it for about 2000 years.  I am deeply conversant with the knotty ins and outs of its theology and I even grew up eating Fish on Fridays since I was living in a State that made that accommodation for our many Catholic neighbors. I've been to more Christian weddings and funerals than I have to Jewish ones. I've studied more Christian theology in school than I have Jewish.  And as for lesbians and gays not "getting" what heterosex is like most of the lesbian women I know passed through a period of intense self doubt and dated extensively so, yeah, they probably "get it."

Comes now one of Josh's pets--not one of his correspondents from foreign lands like the Midwest but a cherry picked "thoughtful" essay on a topic "we" are presumed not to understand--the phenomenology of emotion attached to guns.

Growing up around guns and owning them as an adult affords a person memories and experiences that strangers to guns may have trouble understanding. The divide is phenomenological, not political (or not political until it gets to be), like the gulf between those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t or those who smoke and those who’ve never lit up. Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self. Depending on the nature of your social life, which time around guns can shape and color in ways that I’ll describe, you might forget that these patterns are even there, because you’re surrounded by people who share them—until someone or some even challenges you to answer for your thinking. 
Oh, no, honey. Let me break it to you--I am not afraid of guns or of triggers. I'm also not afraid of mice or any other little story you guys tell yourselves about women, or people in cities, or liberals, or people who never owned a gun. I'm afraid of people--I'm afraid of people that I know exist in this world. People who are variously careful, careless, stupid, ill informed, angry, short tempered, lacking in foresight, paranoid, living in close proximity to relatives and friends who may be all of those things, raising children who may be all of those things--people who forget their keys and where they put their rifle, people who punch the walls when they get excited and may pull the trigger under the same impulse, people who leave their guns out where toddlers can grab them and kill themselves.

People are unreliable and people who own guns have something very serious and powerful with which to play out their personal dramas: job loss, old age, dementia, divorce, adolescent angst, quarrels with neighbors.

This is not really that hard to understand. There aren't two kinds of people in the world: people who have fond memories of dad and huntin' in the back forty and the rest of us "know nothings," gun owners and non gun owners. There are simply people who acknowledge that on balance people are not reliable 100 percent of the time--they are not in control of their own emotions, let alone of the circumstances in which they may find themselves. We have to legislate for the safety of the majority, not for the pleasure of the minority.

We routinely control, as a society, many things that give people pleasure--drugs, sex, property use--hell, you can't even burn leaves in my town--because in society one person's pleasure may lead to another person's harm.  If you want to make a Second Amendment absolutist argument be my guest--but if you want to make in on the grounds that your hazy memories of feeling safe pulling the trigger with daddy gives your gun ownership primacy over my hazy memories of being able to drop my kindergartners off for school well, fuck you, you don't get to make that argument without some pushback. We get it, we get it, but we don't respect it.


Victor said...

For me, it's, "I'm not afraid of the gun. I'm afraid of the person holding the gun!"

A policeperson or a soldier, is trained on when and how to use one, and when and why not to use one. They've also been screened for mental health issues that would preclude them from holding those jobs.

You, not-so-dear gun fetishist, have not been trained.
And, for the most part, you have not been screened to see if you are mentally healthy enough to know right from wrong - and not act up, or out, at the slightest provocation.

I'm sorry, and not to paint with too broad of a brush, but I think most gun owners are pussies!

Yes - pussies!
And I don't mean that in any derogatory way towards women.

It's just that the word "pussy" has an even stronger connotation than "coward," even if I were to add "sniveling" before it.

I'm almost 55, grew-up in NY City, and lived in 4 of its boroughs. And in some shaky, or shady, not too great areas of them, either, may I add.
And I went all over those boroughs, too - in great neighborhoods, and also into the worst ghetto's and slums.
Try working as a bartender in "The Alphabet Jungle" on the Lower East Side, like I did, back in the early 1980's. And when my shifts ended, at either 2 or 4 am, or later, I went through those mean streets unarmed. No knife, even!

I also lived in Center City, Philadelphia, right next to one of the worst areas in that city.

Just a few years ago, I left Fayetteville, NC, where I lived in an apartment complex in a pretty depressed part of town, full of young military people.

And, in all of my living in cities, and towns, and suburbs, I have never had a gun.
And never felt the need for a gun.

I'm not so anti-gun that I want to eliminate ALL guns - though, that would be nice.

Have a handgun to protect yourself, your family, and your property, if you want to - even if it's more likely you or someone in your family will be shot with it, instead of some intruder or robber.

And you want to have a rifle or two to go hunting?
Have at it!

But, there's really no need for military assault weapons, is there? I mean, except to make you, you poor, low-self esteem, pussy feel more powerful and in control.

Or, maybe I'm missing something, and you're not a pussy?
Feel free to tell me why you feel you need to be armed in your home, and every time you go out, while I never, ever, did.
Oh, and I'm no uber-macho type, either. I'm more the studious type who likes the arts.

So, why do YOU need a gun, let along a military assault weapon - or more?

aimai said...

I'm having trouble editing but for the record I'd like to add this link:

To the horrifying "nothing to see here" 40 hour standoff in which a well known gun nut, paranoid, animal killing, bad neighbor ran onto a school bus, shot the bus driver, and kidnapped an autistic 5 year old boy.

We are all living in a climate of fear and irrationality in which we know for a fact that the people who need help are not getting it and will, inevitably, act out on the innocent nearby. This guy was already patrolling his land with a gun at night, had already beaten a neighbor's dog to death for "tresspassing" and had threatened his neighbors with the gun--even shooting at them--but apparently local laws and local law enforcement did not see this rising to the level of legal action.

The danger posed by people carrying guns has nothing to do with the feelings of people who are not carrying guns. The danger exists because people are dangerous.

If that mythical beast exists the "responsible gun owner" then I wish to g-d they'd step forward and start policing each other and stop lecturing the rest of us about how mean we are.

proverbialleadballoon said...

We have to legislate for the safety of the majority, not for the pleasure of the minority.

Right on. The point can't be made enough: there are only two reasons for owning a semi-automatic; killing a lot of people really quickly, or shooting it off being the only way the gun fetishist gets hard, ie, for pleasure, and neither is a good reason for a civilian to own one.

Sator Arepo said...

Rock on, aimai. Nice to see you writing.

Pete said...

Aimai, I have seen your comments in various places and always appreciate your perspective, use of language, and senzayuma. Here, too. More, please. Pretty please with sugar on it (if you like that sort of thing).

Anonymous said...

Great to see you writing here! Have always enjoyed reading your comments at BJ. I read JMM's piece and the piece he linked to and found it less than convincing. I am an Army vet (infantry) and I was raised in a home where we had firearms to be used for hunting. My dad also had a couple of collectibles. For some reason I don't feel any emotional attachment to firearms (maybe the liberal gene prevents me from having this particular fetish?) or any need to own firearms that are only useful to law enforcemnt and military personnel.

As I explain over and over again to the 2nd Amendment absolutists, if you need an assault style weapon with a 30+ round magazine for personal protection you are a terrible shot and need more practice at the firing range or you need to move to a safer part of town.

I can't remember who, but someone at BJ linked to this piece by Thom Hartmann on the history of the 2nd Amendment. It should be required reading for everyone.

Rob Patterson said...

What Mr. Latin palindrome up there said.

aimai said...

I'm grateful to Steve for letting me post. I have a blog of my own but have managed to forget how to log onto it. Thank you all for reading and commenting.

Victor said...

Why don't you start another blog, if you forgot how to log into the old one?

Hell, I'd read you!
But, maybe that's a reason NOT to start one! :-)

JoyousMN said...

Great post. Thx.

I've been posting a great deal on my Facebook and in my local paper. I think we all have to keep talking and keep the pressure on.

Steve M. said...

I should just give you this blog, aimai. The reaction to pretty much everything I post is "meh," but the readers love you.

MCA said...

Amen. This whole "You just don't get gun culture" line is Grade A horseshit. I grew up hunting birds and still do, and can report that ownership and use of a shotgun has had no massive effect on the way I see the world. There's no difference between what this guy is describing at TNR and the effect being in a band or playing a sport at a high level, or even just being a member in a family that's really into cross-country skiing can have on your life and how you see the world. Shooting a gun is a f'ing hobby. A hobby that, unlike those others, tends to impose huge externalities on the rest of the culture.

I "get" guns. Mythologizing them and waxing poetic about how awesome they are and how they're different from any other rush you can get in your spare time just makes the author of that New Republic piece look like a clueless, self-absorbed fool. Which is how anyone who pushes back on current efforts to impose some safety rules on the world of firearm ownership should be portrayed: carrying an infantilized sense of worth from a machine designed to kill human beings, and therefore worthy of our mockery, not sympathy.

aimai said...

I don't have your incredible, SteveBenen'esq work ethic, Steve. Must be a Steve thing.

Steve M. said...

You don't need it. You could do three posts a week and have ten times my readership.

TG said...

I liked this post overall, but:

"We have to legislate for the safety of the majority, not for the pleasure of the minority."

I don't think that's a very liberal ideal. For instance, one could take that as an endorsement of the Japanese American internment camps during WWII.

This thought could use some serious refinement, IMHO. Thanks.

Ten Bears said...

Actually TG, that's the point of the 2nd: to provide protection of the majority against the tyrannies of a minority. Doesn't say anything about government, or churches, or insufficeintly evolved rubes running around with weapons of mass destruction.

I have pondered of late, that as lifelong bear, elk and deer hunter and VFW the whole notion of "responsible gun owners" stepping up to the plate to deal with the problem... but that's not exactly a solution. And we may very well be outgunned.

No fear... (well, ok, a tad concerned with tyrannies of a minority.

Curt Purcell said...

I don't know what was more nauseating--the piece itself, or EvenTheLiberal JMM fawning over it. I was raised by a gun nut to be a gun nut, but it didn't take. I "get" gun culture, and I loathe it.

Batocchio said...


Phil Perspective said...

Did you see Doug J.'s post at Balloon Juice in response to this? It sounds like he misread your post. :-(

Rob Patterson said...

Steve M - We love YOU, too. Well, I do anyway.

Steve M. said...


JoyousMN said...

Yes Steve. I love your blog too. Read evrday but only comment very ocassionally.

Steve M. said...


Elmo said...

I tend to agree with his statement "Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self."
It explains my perception that many of the people I know who have concealed carry permits speak in trigger-happy terms about "pulling down on" someone who they perceived as threatening.

The recent surge in "open carry" participants is similarly troubling. The mythology of the Wild West is so deeply engrained in our culture that the act of displaying a weapon can seem like a hostile act.

CK MacLeod said...

I'm curious about this aside: "To me the whole exercise reeks of the eternal attempts of religious people to lecture atheists on what atheism is or is not." My own view is that atheism of this type is as religious as any (other) religion, but I suspect that my saying so would qualify me as a "religious person lecturing" under some definitions, if not my own, of "religious" and "lecturing." Anyway, I'd sincerely appreciate some examples of religious people lecturing atheists "on what atheism is or is not" so I can check my own considerations of what atheism, and compare this statement to others by atheists about what religion, possibly not the same thing as "theism," is or is not.

Whether and how well these examples might tie into the gun debate, I'm not sure, though I am confident that some of the greatest allies on the side of gun control, and some of the greatest potential weaknesses in the pro-gun coalition, can be found among the self-identified religious, if not, obviously, typically from among the narrow group of Religious Right spokespeople.

Valerie Keefe said...

As a note, I hardly think a straight couple into pegging is somehow more hip to LGBT folks, though I may be wrong... I mean, you just assumed that every straight couple is equipped with one set of Wolffian and one set of Mullerian plumbing... ah progressive cissexism, how fun!