Thursday, February 18, 2016

Simply Pathetic

Last Wednesday night on my local PBS station they broadcasted a show telling the history of the Black Panther movement back in the 1960's. Setting aside the reasons the group formed, Panther members eventually felt the need to arm themselves for protection from the cops and overly concerned citizens. The videos the program showed them carrying small carbine rifles, shotguns, and revolvers, all kiddie stuff in this day and age when movies, television shows, and gun manufacturing advertising literally say you're not a man unless you own an assault weapon and the required accessories for that extra bit of murderous bling.

The thing that almost had me laughing though were the videos of those police officials and overly concerned citizens—all white folks that were in a total nuclear hissy fit meltdown over what they considered were armed thugs, the Black Panthers, that were roaming the public streets. The general refrain those people all repeated was that we lived in a “civilized society” and that no one should be allowed to walk the streets carrying weapons like it was the Old West. This idea went as far as legislation in the California State Assembly to prohibit individuals or groups from carrying weapons in public. Even the conservative messiah Ronald Reagan, who at the time was governor of California, makes an appearance in those old videos supporting the legislation to making it illegal for American citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The huge Catch-22 in that whole episode was the fact that the people openly carrying firearms in public places seeking to protect themselves were African-Americans.

While I grew up in South Carolina, I clearly remember the time when people viewed the open carry of weapons in public places by civilians like the local main street or inside business as a sign that someone was mentally deranged. In those strangely innocent and relatively calmer times—compared to the nightmarish crap we regularly have to deal with now, firearms just weren't that big a factor in the daily lives of most people. Weapons were just dangerous tools that a kid would get a serious ass whooping if they touched without a responsible adult standing right next them.

Before someone possibly loses their Second Amendment mind, I also grew up around all sorts of weapons from hunting rifles, shotguns, and revolvers. One of my few good memories of my father was him taking me out to the old Georgetown County landfill and shooting the piles of junk and a few unlucky rats that got in the way. Throwing more fuel on the fire, several years later I go and join the military and spend four years in the active army and after that a total of seventeen in the National Guard. Quite the difference when compared to countless armchair warriors who despite supporting the troops somehow never found their way to the local armed forces recruiting office.

Over those intervening years of my military service I shot so many different weapons so many damn times that going to the rifle range became long boring affair that I mostly slept through. In fact on the last occasion I went to the weapons range a few months before I finally retired, a young private thought I was insane because I didn't want my share of the ammo for the old and crappy M-60 machine gun we were shooting. So I'm not some liberal pansy that faints at the sight of a dainty .22 handgun designed for a suburban housewife. No, I'm a retired veteran who is an ardent liberal and feels most of the goddamn country has become engrossed in a psychotic delusion about the ownership of military-grade firearms.

It appears a massive chunk of the populace has come to believe their manhood, or womanhood, is founded on the ability to efficiently fire off dozens of rounds from their AR-15 or semiautomatic pistol, instead of basing their self worth a crazy thing like an education that just might expand their understanding of civilization, their fellow human beings, or the natural world. To justify this talent and the ownership of the weapons that make it possible, they engage in fevered nightmare scenarios from violent home invasions to nationwide mass insurrections, the one common element in them all being the skin color or ethnic heritage of the possible assailants.

Yes, home invasions do happen and the potential victim has every right to defend themselves. But contrary to what is commonly assumed in some circles, having a gun in the home is far more likely to be used in a crime directed at one of the people living there, either through accident, suicide, or assault. Some might be surprised to learn that I AM NOT saying civilians shouldn't be allowed to own firearms for hunting or basic home protection. I am saying that like automobiles such ownership should depend on a person's ability to be trained and then licensed. But here is where a lot of deluded people lose their paranoid minds.

Unlike the 1960's, the people showing off their personal arsenals in public places are paranoid middle class white people. Not only terrified of countless shadowy boogeymen out to take their stuff, they are utterly convinced that nefarious agents of the United States government are on the verge of declaring martial law with the expressed purpose of taking their weapons. That once the God-fearing folks are defenseless, federal stormtroopers will swoop in and force them into internment camps where they will be reeducated to become socialist-atheistic-Muslims working for Satan. The only problem with that absurd last statement is the fact that you wouldn't have to look very hard to find a group who believes something close to it.

This is where our stalwart leaders, and those seeking to become such, should step forward and diligently work to calm the outlandish fears spreading like a virus through the more suggestible segments of the American public. But no, proving that the purest form of democracy is a crazed mob many of our public leaders actually feel it is to their advantage to not only support this insanity but show that they are willing participants.

I've got to admit, that while I made the mistake of voting for George W. Bush in 2000 it was not long after that I developed a huge disdain for the entire family. The one exception to that rule was Jeb Bush, compared to his brother he seemed to be at least a semi-rational adult who appeared to be a capable governor of the state of Florida. While I would have never voted for Jeb for president in a hundred-million years as the republican presidential primaries started he at least seemed RELATIVELY saner as compared to Trump, Cruz, Carson, and the rest of that proto-fascist pack.

As the months went by, all I can say is at least he was consistent in his desire to pander to the worst and lowest aspects of his party's political base. It was all summed up nicely with his tweet of this photo showing his new semi-automatic pistol captioned with the word: “America.”

That one photo immediately struck me as the most craven act of political desperation and cowardice I had ever seen in my lifetime. I know the target audience for the picture was meant for the South Carolina Republican masses which quite frankly continue to prove the over a century old adage that while the Palmetto state is too small to be a republic it was way large to be an asylum, which it certainly meant in terms of population size.

Instead of being a true leader and tweeting a picture showing the best of the United States, like the beauty of our national parks, the space program, or any of thousands of other pictorial representations of American hopes and optimism he chooses something specifically designed to kill people. So it seems that as a nation we have lost almost all of what made being an American truly special when the one supposed sane person in the room full of psychopaths and idiots surrenders to them. I absolutely hate to write this, but it looks like George W. Bush is not only the smarter brother but a better human being than Jeb.


Pixel Peeper said...

I have to force my fingers away from the keyboard EVERY SINGLE DAMN TIME when I read one of those pro-gun Facebook memes.

LOL at reeducated to become socialist-atheistic-Muslims working for Satan!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Before Georgie, Jr. ran for president, I actually liked Jeb and thought he would have made a better president. As for W, I never voted for him, because I thought he would have been fun to hang out with in a backyard BBQ, but as prez? Not so much. Now, I still think Jeb is the most sane of the bunch of wack-a-doodles trying to get the Republican nomination. This is the first I've heard about that tweet, so I'd have to mull it over for a bit before coming to any conclusion as to how I feel about it.

Georgia gun laws are insane. What we "lovingly" call the Guns Anywhere Act allows anyone to openly carry just about anywhere. In bars? Okeydoke. In stores and restaurants? Of course. On the street. Even in most parts of the airport. And what's more, police officers can't ask an armed person to show his permit to carry! Now, a bill is up for a vote next week by the House over allowing guns on college and university campuses. Swell.

The Bug said...

I was disappointed when Jeb didn't run instead of W - because I think he made more sense (although as a Democrat I wouldn't have voted for him anyway). But good grief, has he been disappointing this election cycle! Just when the republicans needed a calm, rational, SANE candidate...

sage said...

Lot's of threads here, that get woven together. I think that if Africian-Americans become more prominent in their right to arms, there may be a rethinking of the 2nd Amendment. Like you, I was once more impressed with Jed, although I am tired of dynasties (so I hope he and Hillary fade away, but then I'm scared of a Trump, Cruz, or Rubio)

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: I can happily write that I have mostly subdued the urge to take on Facebook battles. I found the feeling of utter futility at trying to debate someone on Facebook to be far worse than the frustration at reading something so stupid it makes my skin crawl.

Susan: Yeah, I'm at a loss as to why our society has become so fearful that we have abandoned the ideas of a civilized society like I mentioned in the post and now eagerly await some apocalypse that will turn the country into that libertarian wonderland Somalia. I believe it somewhat revolves around the fact that the demographics of the country are rapidly changing along with economic uncertainty. What I find darkly funny is that to be scared of the former means we never believed in the idea of our melting pot society and democratic principles with the latter meaning that our uneducated masses do not understand unbridled rabid capitalism can in someways be worse than communism.

The Bug: Even though I now have no respect for Jeb, I sort of have an idea he is in someways a victim of the current zeitgeist. But then again, if he was such the leader his political ads suggest he should have worked harder to overcome the hysteria.

Sage: Yes, I've heard and read several times that the best way to get gun control laws passed is to have lines of African-Americans at gun shops going to buy AR-15s and ammo. But I'm still puzzles at how we have so complete abandoned the idea of a civil society where it would be weird to even consider carrying a weapon around in public places. Yes, I blame it on scared white people, but I have to think the trend in movies and television to treat weapons as simple answers to complex questions has dome a lot to create this climate. When the super action movies started rolling out in the 80's that is when I started to hear people talk about the need to buy assault weapons.

Should Fish More said...

Like you, I'm a vet, 66=68, corpsman with the Marines. Like you, I grew up with guns and am comfortable with them, even own a couple of rifles. It irks me that I feel I have to state tht before I parse out my views on guns and control of the runaway gun culture. Hell should it matter whether or not I own guns or are familiar with them in order to have an opinion about it? I never owned a H bomb, but I don't care for them. Never had smallpox, but know I don't care for it.
Good post, my view are probably several yards to the left of yours, but that doesn't matter.

Marja said...

When we talk here about America, a popular subject is our disbelieve of the lawful possession of guns and how they end up in the hands of sick people who keep killing people and especially children.
Another popular discussion is that it is unbelievable of how many people support someone like Trump who is obviously against gun control. We are even afraid of him getting to the top as that would be bad for the whole world.
In Holland we have a simular figure like him named Wilders who is equally scary. What is happening to the world

Beach Bum said...

Should Fish More: I feel the same way about having to say a preamble about guns every time I write something about them. As you being more left that me, that's totally cool. As long as you don't follow the route of my punk ass, narcissistic, little spoiled SOB of a cousin who thinks Vlad Putin is the best thing since sliced bread. He got extremely weird a few months back I dropped the little bitch like the egotistical piece of shit he has become.

To me Vlad Putin is dangerous tyrant that has the wild distinction at being able to make Dick Cheney look like an ethical and caring human being.

Marja: I'd like to be able to tell you Trump is a societal aberration soon to be tossed aside when his followers realized his true nature. Unfortunately, it's starting to look like he might get the republican presidential nomination. After that, who knows both Hillary and Bernie Sanders have huge issues that could totally derail their chances at winning the November election.