Follow-ups to a couple of recent posts, plus other assorted thoughts.


Salon explains why the answer is not more guns:

But perhaps the biggest problem is the philosophy underpinning notions to arm more people. Goddard of the Brady campaign said it best in an interview: “The idea behind concealed carry is a kind of ‘defend yourself and your family and fuck everybody else’ mentality.”

… “America is not going to shoot our way out of the gun violence problem, and that’s what these people are calling for. And I think that’s dangerous and I think that will lead to more of us being killed by bullets,” Goddard said.

Read the whole thing. Seriously. I quoted the philosophical points, but this is one of the best evidence-dense debunkings of pro-gun bullshit that I’ve seen lately. If you’re going to argue for gun control, you need this information. Another article responds in similar detail to why the NRA’s plan for putting (more) armed guards in schools is a terrible idea.

For a more historical perspective, read Tony Horowitz on the similarities between the NRA’s idea of maximum guns and the proponents of expanding slavery.

In short, the NRA has become a neo-Confederate movement that sees Federals as foes, and that stokes the paranoia of its followers by claiming, as LaPierre did this year, that Obama’s re-election marks “the end of our freedom forever.” That’s more or less what Fire-Eaters said about Lincoln in 1860.

The argument about gun rights in this country has a much longer, more twisted history than most people are aware of. It also cannot be separated from the history of race – I had no idea about the Black Panthers’ aggressive use of gun rights (and the NRA’s calls for gun control in response). It looks to me as if the idea of “gun rights” has shifted from its historical roots in a way very similar to the transformation of Republicans from the party of Lincoln to the party of angry white men, mostly southern.

And on that note, Goblinbooks says something like what I said about how defending oneself against tyranny with household guns is nonsense, but does so much more stylishly.

Love spells:

I don’t think I said this clearly enough last time, but the reason that I’m so concerned about when love spells become rape is not just the magical implications, it’s the practical actions that we take as a result of the way we think. When we in the magical community fail to call out certain kinds of manipulative magic as part of rape culture, we’re enabling not just the thinking, not just the magic, but the actions.

If we say, loudly and clearly and repeatedly – because it’ll take a lot of repetition – that thinking of someone else as an object for your manipulation into bed is rape culture, we’re working to eliminate the so-called gray area where a lot of opportunity rapists operate.

If we leave wiggle room for people to think these kinds of spells are not rape, then that same kind of thinking is going to be used to justify totally mundane actions that lead to rape. If you’ve already done the spell to get her into your bed, why not offer her one more cup of wine after Beltane? What’s to stop you from seeing her stumbling, mumbling, not-really-consent as the manifestation of your magical prowess? Or maybe offering her a ride home, and then taking her to your house, or letting yourself in her place, and, well, encouraging her a little bit….that’s just taking action in accordance with your spell, right?

No. That’s rape. The magical actions and the mundane actions are products of the same thinking, and one will encourage the other. We have to discourage both.

This is very similar to the situation I encountered when trying to explain to people why things like DC 40 and other Christian Dominionist “prayer efforts” are dangerous. Even if you don’t believe in magic, these kinds of actions that specialize in raising emotional energy and directing it towards a purpose have tangible, physical manifestations. People vote based on Christian Dominionist thinking and actions. People rape based on rape culture. The thinking and the doing are both important, and if we’re going to change things, we have to work on both.

Why the s0-called fiscal cliff is a feminist issue:

Women get lower pay all their lives. Then they tend to live longer. When we’re talking about further impoverishing our nation’s seniors, we’re disproportionately talking about women. Talk to your political representatives and tell them to push back against the chained CPI and raising the Medicare eligibility age, which would actually cost more. Tell them to raise the cap on Social Security taxes (that is, tax income over $110,000 for Social Security) and solve this puppy without putting more people, and more women, into poverty.

Science, climate change, and cash:

If you’re younger than 27, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month. Never.

Therefore any memories you have that you’re using to judge how much our weather is shifting over time are themselves already skewed.

This enables people like the Kochs to make gut-based appeals that cover for their lack of solid science. I haven’t read the whole report there yet, but I have been following a few other stories about how the Kochs and their cronies are so very deeply invested in convincing us, by hook or by crook, that we should keep making them rich and making our world hotter.

Notice the similar dependence on appeals to uninformed instinct between the Kochs’ denial of climate change and the NRA’s denial of gun violence. Our memories make it easier to disbelieve that the climate is changing, because our memories themselves are shaped by that changing climate. Our instincts tell us that we’d be better off if we were armed, because our instincts are shaped by the culture of violence, complete with magically perfect good guys who, as far as evidence can find, don’t actually exist in real life.

Life is messy, and complicated, and understanding it takes real work. But that understanding can be the first step to change. Won’t you try with me, as the light begins to return in this new year, to take those first steps, to change?

7 thoughts on “Further thoughts

  1. Thank you for taking the time to further refine and clarify your thinking on these important issues. Your writing has given me new perspectives to inform my own activism.

  2. Be careful how you toss around the word “Confederate.”

    And look farther back for your historical examples.

    According to Stephen Holbrook, an African-American historian who taught at Howard Univeristy, the origins of gun control lie in the post-Reconstruction South, the purpose being to disarm and control freed slaves. It’s in his books That Every Man be Armed and Securing Civil Rights.

    Britain started gun control after the Russian Revolution when the upper classes started to worry about the Reds.

    The US got in the act when Italian-American mobsters rose to prominence during and after Prohibition, hence the law against automatic weapons passed in 1934.

    1. I don’t see that I used the term “Confederate” anywhere. That was a direct quote from Horowitz. I did say “southern,” and yes, I’m implying a connection between that and the part of the country that has (most) people who engage in what Horowitz calls “neo-Confederate” thinking and acting, but I am not trying to say that the strains of thought or populations are necessarily identical. Actually, this was the first time that the possible similarity in political and historical trajectories (between Republican conservatives and gun ownership advocacy) had occurred to me, so I wasn’t trying to present a complete argument tracing it back to its historical roots. Winkler’s article in the Atlantic that I linked to mentions that same period, and it was probably in the back of my mind, so thank you for pointing it out with better sourcing.

  3. Yes, it was Horowitz (and his Confederates in the Attic was a good book), but you appeared to be endorsing his rationale, which is historically backward, in that ex-Confederates endorsed gun control, provided that it was applied only to freed slaves, and wrote the laws setting it in place.

    1. Ex-Confederates endorsed gun control; these days, it’s the neo-Confederates (in Horowitz’s term, which I would qualify) who are anti-gun control, because they see themselves as the ones beleaguered by the federal government. That’s a 180-degree turn. Have I misunderstood his point, or are you saying that he is historically inaccurate there? (Edited to remove a statement where I conflated his piece and Winkler’s.)

      I’m suggesting that transformation is similar to the 180-degree turn made by the Republican party, as a party, from being the party that hosted the Northern abolitionists (and no, they weren’t all abolitionists by a long shot – that’s another statement that deserves book-length qualifiers) to the party associated with racism today. I’m wondering out loud whether these two transformations are similar and/or related. It’s obviously a lot more complicated – as your point about Prohibition-related concerns highlights – but the similar timelines pique my curiosity.

    2. Ok, I think I see why I was less than clear there.

      Horowitz’s piece does not touch on the way ex-Confederates were for gun control (if we want to apply the current terminology, which may not be accurate) in the Reconstruction period. His analogies are between the way pro-slavery politicians wanted to expand slavery at all costs and the way that today’s pro-gun politicians want to expand gun rights at all costs.

      I was addressing this with a slightly improved awareness of the long, complicated history that includes the ex-Confederate opposition to guns, (and I am very, very far from adequately aware of this part of history, and welcome more information about that) but didn’t describe how that is different from Horowitz’s point.

      Neither one of us is trying to say that there’s a direct connection in thinking between the Confederacy and current resistance to gun control. He’s comparing the ideological and political methodologies from separate time periods – expansion, expansion, expansion – while I’m wondering about two ideological transformations that I see as possibly related.

      I never meant to say that the Confederates were anti-gun-control, and if I was unclear about that I apologize. Throwing in the Goblinbooks link might have made it seem that way; I enjoyed the sarcasm at the expense of people who want to see themselves as the inheritors of the Confederacy (and do so inaccurately, as the current conversation demonstrates), but it probably confused the matter.

      Does that help? If not, I’ll try to write a new post straightening some of this out in the next few days.

      On Dec 24, 2012, at 5:52 PM, Works of Literata

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