Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Eternal State of Ready

I'm not the sort of person who does things in order, or rather has things happen to him in order. For the majority of my life it feels like things are happening to me in the wrong order and I need to spend my time running aroun putting things together in the way they are supposed to go. Not complaining mind you, I think it is fun! It also leads to ordinary excitment which is some of my favorite kind. I could explain what I mean by that but I don't want to. Instead I want to talk about weapons.

Recently I've read three articles in three very different publications. The first was in Harper's and it was one man talking about his experiences with carrying a concealed weapon. He discussed a sense of hightened awareness and the line between being ready for something to happen and wanting something to happen started to become blurred. The article really did go out of its way to paint gun carrying in a positive light but ultimatly it makde the whole thing look kinda creepy and paranoid.

The next article I read was a Time magazine cover story where a reporter managed to spend some time hanging out with an extreme militia. There are people who have military level training, sometimes at the hands of former memebers of the military, and they prepare themselves constantly so that they are able to go to war with any threat, to be attacked from any direction at any moments notice. These enemies could be in the form of a sudden terrorist uprising, helping to overthrow an unjust government, the feds, the census worker, mexicans...erm wait no cartel members, et cetera. Again the line between being ready for something to happen and activly desireing something to happen is once again blurry to the point of being indistinct with only the leadership of the various militias holding some of the more agressive members back.

Then I read about Isreal's nuclear program, or rather the fact that Isreal might have a nuclear program in Forgein Affairs. The discussion focused around the pros and cons regarding the secracy surrounding Isreal's nuclear capabilities.

A paticularly favored professor of my used to spend her time terrorizing us. More importantly, she would constantly ask us, "What time is it". We we start seeing reoccuring threads in varying forms of media what does that means in terms of our current cultural moment. She was big on the whole current cultural moment thing. I love Blyn. So here we are three articles discussing the use of weapons, rights, ideas, and what some may call (ie me) an excessive state of readyness. Where does all these things leave us and what concusions can we draw from it.

I can tell you right now that I am not sure. I've totally bitten off more than I can chew. Not in terms of complexity of thought or ideas, but definetly in terms of my current ability to process all of this. I am exhausted, I've had a grueling month at work, and I am taking a break from sorting On the Edge Cards before preforming deck building and this is the first thing I thought of doing to entertain myself. I also have a headache and I don't have one or two of the articles with me so I can't do any fancy quoting. So we are going to treat this like a rough draft, something that I may or may not come back to at a later date....I hope it is may because I do think that this topic is very important and it is worth of some serious thought.

So lets do some concealed weapons first. I learned some interesting things in this article. First of all the whole "everyone gets to carry concealed weapons" thing is relativly new. As late as the early 80's you had to go, register with the poilice, and pass an intereview in which you prove that you have some sort of need to carry a concealed weapon. These needs included private security or living in a paticularly dangerous nieghborhood. Otherwise if you were just a person there was no carrying of the concealed weapons. The next interesting thing I learned is that the number of crimes stopped by armed private citizens and police in 2003 is roughly equal. This makes sense because really just how often are cops around when you need them? They are much to busy patrolling speed traps or whatever the hell it is that they do. This is also in line with some of my beliefs. I believe that to a certain extent that people should be responciple for their own protection, that the cops can't be everywhere at all times and even if they could be we wouldn't want them to be everywhere now would we? God I hope the answer is no.

However, armed citizens breed problems. First of all it creates a divide between the armed and unarmed. It is a divide that I feel is dangerous. The harper's article is rife with it. While I am here the culture surrounding concealed weapons is also rife with increadbl amounts of irrational fear. Condition white is something you are only allowed to be in when you are in your house, with your door locked, alarm system on, and there is a dog at my feet. Oh umm this all comes from the August issue of Harpers 2010 and right now we are on page 32. This paticular passage ammused me because my door doesn't lock, I have no alarm system nor do I have a dog. So guess I never get to relax then or something. I am expected to be terrified both of an ever increasing crime rate and liberals that want to take away both my guns and my McDonalds...honeslty I am okay with the McDonalds I'll just get french fries elsewhere. I am a moral dud, hell even if I were armed I am still a moral dud because it is imperative that I remain on alert at all times forever. The author then goes onto other things and at the end of the article confesses that he will give up his gun because it really is a pain in the ass. He doesn't talk about the adversarial attitude of the people he encounted while getting his permit. Well okay he mentions it but in such a way that it mostly fades into more of a subtext than anything else. The thing that raises my alert flags more than anything is the sense of moral supuriority these people are encouraged to feel as they lug around their guns under their coat. It is the same sort of supuriority that makes "that cop" into a dickhead. I don't mind you wanting to feel morally supurior to me. In fact I encourage it, I think it makes for a wonderful filter in terms of people who I feel like talking to. But now their moral supuriority is made manifest because of a gun. It isn't the gun that freaks me out but rather someone who is willing to excercise potentially lethal force against a target is willing to feel better than me because of the ability to excercise said force. Sure sure you can shoot them in the leg, but as all dexter fans know there are arties in the legs that will kill someone just as certainly as a shot to the neck.

You know what before I get carried away lets hop onto the other side of the coin for a bit. On this other side of the coin, where there is a hightened awareness of one's situation, a blurred line between wanting something to happen and being ready for it, the moral supuriority, and the fear there is also a healthy respect for the awesome responciblity placed upon them. While carrying a gun, along with the heightened responcibiliy comes the knowlage that even minor altercations can portentially ballon outwards into a leathal conflageration. Wow I just used all sorts of big words there didn't I? Gold star for me. I am not going to harp on this point over much because it seguays into the time article rather well. It also midtigates a lot of the stuff I am talking about above significantly an it isn't to be ignored. It isn't so much that I think the guy next to me carrying a gun is some sort of wacko, or an unbalanced fear mongering freak job. It is part of a far more subtle interconnected movement in our country where everything is going wrong so we need to arm up and everyone not arming up is the enemy. Amen.

So now we are at the time article. Oddly enough I came away far more comfortable with these people than the people from the Harper's article. Isn't that a little strange? There are reasons for this though. See with the militia you know where you stand. THey are a public organization which operates out in the open and they arfe pretty clear about thier views. Now granted a lot of these views are distinctly anti government and unusually intense but they are up front about it. They talk with an increadible degree of frankness concerning their willingness to use voilence against any enemy that dares show its face regardless of origin. Let me be clear on this some of these people are really really scary. But I find their openess comforting

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