Saturday, February 23, 2013

Navigating Irrationality

The above illustration, from M. C. Escher, is a good illustration of the twisted nonsense of so much of the American right-wing's discussion about guns.  I would be remiss in this discussion if I didn't note what may well be the single stupidest comment - revealing a level both of ignorance and reality that is astounding - I have come across (and considering the person in question, that is really saying something).  In a discussion about gun laws, a person noted the not unimportant Supreme Court case DC v Heller, the case that noted the Second Amendment seemed to extend the right to bear arms to individuals qua individuals, yet also was clear that right was neither absolute nor outside the state's legitimate interest to regulate.  The response to this important citation?  Ahem:
I've seen this before. What I haven't seen is Scalia's support for this opinion. He seems to going completely on precedent, but upon what was that precedent founded originally? He is an originalist, but I am unaware of anything from the founders that would support

"It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose"

Says who other than the opinion of other justices? To insist we have an inalienable right to defend ourselves and then turn around and presume to dictate how we can do that doesn't make any sense. I know for you own sake you are content to lazily default to SCOTUS opinion as if it is God's Word written in stone, but I doubt that in this case it truly matches what the founders had in mind.

As to the last line, what is in common use is what is used by the military. If they are bearing automatic weapons, then we are to have that same weapon for ourselves. Also, what constitutes an "unusual weapon" is a rather subjective measure upon which agreement would be difficult. 
Quite apart from the tortured prose, I'm astounded by the comment author's waving away the simple reality that the entire discussion he's having revolves around gun laws, specifically how Heller impacts what and how far the state can regulate gun sales to individuals and gun ownership by individuals.  The law, apparently, is irrelevant in at least one person's world when discussing, you know, law.

Another level of crazy, and one surely to make the rounds, I discovered when reading this post at Whiskey Fire. Now, Jim Hoft has been awarded "Stupidest Man On The Internet" and for very good reasons.  His latest call to arms concerns the Department of Veterans Affairs notifying veterans deemed mentally and/or physically incompetent that they will no longer have access to firearms.  He enlists the help of another right-winger whose caps-lock gets stuck a lot, "Michael Connelly, J.D.", a self-described "Constitutional Attorney", who breathlessly titles his screeching headline, DISARMING AMERICA'S HEROES.

Thers at Whiskey Fire makes the unsurprising point that this is part of an entire program the DVA has set up, with all good intentions, to deal with the tens of thousands of walking wounded our wars of choice have left us.  Thers also makes the point this system, repeating that it is well-intentioned, is severely broken.  He isn't the only one who says it; the DVA knows it and is trying to fix it.

Thers also notes that this doesn't involve only firearm ownership; it has to do with removing any legal and fiduciary rights and responsibilities from those deemed by the DVA mentally and physically incompetent.  Not only can't these folks own guns; transfer of their financial well-being is often transferred to others, resulting in well-documented fraud and abuse going back before the turn of the millennium.

The system needs to be changed.  The system should be changed.

All the same, in the wake of the Newtown massacre, am I the only one who remembers that there was mention made of keeping guns out of the hands of those who have a history of mental illness?  Aren't there those who, while perhaps through no fault of their own, have been exposed to situations resulting in extreme cases of Post-Traumatic Stress that might well lead them to pose a danger to themselves and others?  Is it possible this is a situation both the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs has been trying to get people talking about for a while?  Why, yes!  Yes it is.

Wasn't a highly decorated member of the United States military recently murdered by a veteran with severe PTSD?  Why, yes!  Yes he was!

Haven't we been hearing as nauseum that we need all those guns of ours to protect us from . . . THE UNITED STATES MILITARY THAT MIGHT BE ORDERED TO ROUND US UP AND TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS?!?  Why, yes.

Yes, we have.

Sitting around and calling veterans "heroes" out one side of one's mouth, while simultaneously instilling fear of these same people as potential agents of tyranny against whom all real patriotic Americans should arm themselves is not just the height of hypocrisy.  It is insulting and demeaning.

Not to mention just plain stupid.

Look, we have all sorts of serious problems.  Some of those problems include wars of choice that have left tens of thousands of young Americans wounded in ways that aren't visible to the naked eye, yet every bit as debilitating as having lost a limb.  The military has made huge strides over the past decade of war in dealing with and treating the mental wounds from exposure to extreme combat situations, for which they should be applauded.  Part of that effort includes recognizing that sometimes, some of these individuals, while definitely in need of care, also pose a very real, very grave danger to themselves and others.  Restricting their access to deadly weapons, most especially firearms with which they would be familiar and well trained, is an important part of protecting them and others around them.

In the real world, including the world in which we've been talking about restricting access to firearms to people with diagnosed mental illnesses (as ridiculous, insulting, and truncated as that discussion has been over the past couple months), this is important stuff.  It is necessary.

For people who routinely navigate the Escher-like recesses of their own minds, however, all these contradictions and nonsense can only mean the camel's nose of gun-grabbing is already in the tent of American freedom.

Virtual Tin Cup

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