So lately with the gun debate raging, I’ve been seeing a lot of people throwing around this argument in snarky retaliation to whenever they’re presented with another long list of children being sacrificed to their ever-loving gunmetal gods. Yanno, apart from the general “the parents were incompetent and are at fault for this, not the guns themselves!” or the ever so pleasant “well those children were retarded anyways for [insert excuse, ranging from pointless to ridiculous, here], so that’s the gene pool cleaned up a bit!”
In general, I’ve been seeing this a posted a LOT on news articles comment sections; rule of thumb for the internet, even looking at the comment sections of anything is a bad idea, but as some people go unchallenged (actually just are ignored by most) the ideas spread to other corners of the internet, and not just comment sections. Then we really start getting pissed off from having to deal with comments section-grade arguments sprouting out of your extended family’s Facebook feeds, thus making it really hard to post your annual perfunctory communique of ”Happy Birthday” on their timeline. Or, God forbid, tumblr.
Anyways, the arguments of question that have been proliferating:
- “Well, more people die in traffic accidents. We should be banning cars.”
- “If you’re worried about children being killed, they get grievously hurt and even killed by participating in school sports. Shouldn’t that be banned first?”
- “So what about all the stabbing deaths? According to your stupid libtard logic we should be banning steak knives, too!”
But this is why the arguments are bad.
Pray tell: what is the purpose of a car? Why were they invented?
What have cars done for modern society? Or any vehicle in general? The first steam-powered vehicles were made essentially to haul cargo around; literally, horseless wagons. They were eventually made so that you could carry people in said horseless wagons, and the idea took off from there. Without having to copy/paste from Wikipedia the automotive industry has revolutionized economies all across the world; in the United States alone, it’s bolstered interstate commerce and made it possible for the consumption of fresh foods during off-seasons, expanded markets and literally expanded the world of individuals. It enables families to more easily and reliably get to work or school or recreation — it is an essential tool for the middle-class family to function in modern suburbia.
What is the purpose of school sports? While this author here has not been a big participator in sports in general, I can tell you that for one school sports is at the very least a source of instilling athleticism and healthy habits of taking care of your body in terms of strength and flexibility. Further on for team sports, it helps teach children how to cooperate as a team and follow directions. At varsity levels, it helps hone a strategic mind, pride of group, self-esteem and skills of coping with the understanding that one’s best effort may not result with victory. All in all, sports for children have an overwhelming positive effect on building character and learning how to deal with some of the unexplained parts of being a human being in a society.
And what is the deal with knives? I suppose long before the Bronze Age of human history, folks would break rocks into smaller sharper pieces. The size and of the pieces determined what purpose they’d be used for: spearheads, knives, flints, hammers, so forth. Knives were pretty useful in part of being able to help humans consume higher-calorie food — proteins. Why was this a big deal? The more calories a community were able to consume on average, the better-fed they are. The better-fed they are, the more likely they are able to survive bouts of lack of food, expand the variety of food available to them when basic foraging isn’t possible (winter is coming). Human groups may have attacked each other or forcibly absorbed smaller groups into themselves but if you didn’t have the food to make strong warriors, that wasn’t possible. You had to have the tools to pull it off. Knives remain important all throughout time for basic uses of cutting and skinning and trimming and, yes, stabbing things. However, as human beings developed better ways of stabbing things (then, spears and arrows; later, swords/lances/axes) there became a differentiation between knives and other short-bladed weapons (ie, dagger). The necessities of function of knives and daggers leads in to a pretty strong distinction between them, especially today; hunting knives, scaling knives, cooking knives, sushi knives, THE KNIFE-O-MATIC as compared to the dagger descendants, combat daggers, that are part of the equipment of well-armed modern soldiers. So the continued existence of knives is to be a tool that assists us in food preparation and consumption.
And so that leaves us with guns. Why were guns made? The first gun-like contraptions were from China, essentially pipe bombs with one open end and you hoped that the thing didn’t explode in your hands while aiming it at the invading Mongol army — bamboo and paper didn’t handle explosions very well apparently. But with the invention of nifty-as-hell bronze, they replaced bamboo tubes, and came up with shrapnel that was less likely to bounce around in the tube and shoot forward when the explosion went off. So the first gun was made with the intent of: “Kill them without killing yourself with as big as bang as possible”. However, those clever Mongols figured out how to make tubes and gunpowder as well, and brought that shit to everywhere they went. And if the nuclear proliferation era wasn’t any sort of indication whenever people saw something their enemies were using to kill them, they REALLY wanted to get a hold of that same tech as well to kill them back. And so, guns evolved to become more portable, easier to fire, faster shots, harder shots, deadlier shots, further shots; each technological advance making itself present in notable wars and battles. The latest incarnation of gun technology — Assault Rifles — were a brainchild of German engineering, stuffing the bullet punch of machine guns into the portability and range of a rifle. Gun innovation has always and will continue to be pushed onwards with the primary intent to be used against other well-armed people. Handguns were made to be easily portable, concealed, and fast to handle. Rifles were standard marching soldier weapons. Gatling and machine guns were heavy backline fire, sub-machine guns were the first attempt to make that power portable and now we have goddamned Assault Rifles, the whole line of features rolled into one.
So okay. What am I getting at?
Cars are made to transport goods and people. Knives were made as tools to hunt and eat. School sports, while entertaining its risk of kids getting hurt despite extensive protection measures, teach important values and is exercise. Their intent behind their existence and proliferation is to assist human beings, and their worth (culturally and economically) and necessity far outweighs the risks to human life by astronomical proportions. And while human beings who are intent on killing others can be absolutely creative on how to do so, the less assured-to-be-lethal implements they have access to, the less likely someone winds up dead.
However, guns were invented to kill human beings; I promise you no Chinese weaponsmith wanted to waste gunpowder on blowing up an elk. As I’m sure, you are not likely to find people who can say that an AR-15 is necessary to shoot squirrels in your back yard (but will likely find a handful who will insist on being allowed to, because a culture of monster trucks and 3,000 calorie meals is blind to the concept of overdoing things). Certainly, guns make it easier to hunt, but hunting in the United States is completely unnecessary for the survival of its citizens thanks to agriculture and the ability to distribute food across our nation during winters (thanks, cars). Hunting is now simply a tip of the hat to our the cultural past and has grown into a sport of showing off the bigger thing you’ve managed to kill; the sport component becoming more common over time as non-royalty individuals could afford to not have to go out and kill people (and that’s come up with its own myriad of awful fucking problems).
Also worth nothing, it is proven with all technological advancements of war (hot and cold), there are innovations made to wartime technological innovations that have genuine peacetime implementations that are beneficial to human beings. Non-hunting lethal arms fail to fall into that category, as by definition they exist to kill human beings no matter who is wielding them against whom.
We do not need hollow-point bullets, expanded magazines or armor-piercing rounds to frighten off would-be thieves or home invaders, shoot deer, or frighten your neighbor’s kids. You don’t need an assault rifle to shoot squirrels. And no, cars wrecks, teens with torn ACLs and steak knife-wielding asailants are not justification to ban cars, school sports or knives and it is pointless and disingenuous to suggest that America’s bonafide gun problems even be compared to traffic and sports accidents.
First, a story.
So, my first semester of my freshman year of college, I took this Intro to Women’s Studies class. The class met for five hours a week, one two hour session and one three hour session, and the breakdown of students was what I eventually discovered to be the typical sampling in any Women’s Studies class with no pre-recs at my mid-sized, southern Ohio state school. There were a number of girls who would become, or were already part of, the feminist advocacy groups on campus; there were a number of girls who would prove themselves to be opposed to feminism in both concept and practice, one of whom I distinctly recall giving a presentation on the merits of the “Mrs. Degree,” while my professor’s eye twitched in muted horror; there were a handful of girls and at least one guy I’d come to know later through assorted campus queer groups; and there were, of course, the three to six dudebros, self-admittedly there to “meet chicks,” all but one or two of whom would drop the class after the first midterm. At eighteen, I was myself a feminist in name but not in practice—I believed in the idea behind feminism (which is, for the record, that people should be on equal footing regardless of gender, not that we should CRUSH ALL MEN BENEATH THE VICIOUS HEELS OF OUR DOC MARTENS GLORY HALLELUJAH), but I didn’t actually know anything about it. I could not identify the waves of feminism. Intersectionality and how the movement is crap at it were not things of which I was aware. Never had I ever encountered the writings of bell hooks. In a lucky break, you do not need to know about the waves of feminism, or know what intersectionality is, or have read bell hooks to read this essay! (But you should read bell hooks. Everyone should read bell hooks. bell hooks is FUCKING AWESOME.)
The first couple of weeks of this class were about what you’d expect. The professor was fun and engaging, but she was not exactly pulling out the eye-opening stops on our wide-eyed freshman asses. There were handouts. There were selections of the textbook for reading. There was a very depressing class about domestic violence, abuse, and rape that was the typical rattling off of terms and horrific statistics that everyone winced at, but that nobody really internalized. The dudebros snickered in the back corner, grouped together like they would be infested by cooties if they spread out, occasionally chiming in with helpful comments like, “Dude, the lady on the back of this book is smoking,” and getting turned down by each girl in the class, on whom they were hitting in what I can only assume was a pre-determined descending order of hotness. The queer kids, myself included, huddled in the other corner making pithy comments. The up-and-coming active feminists glared at the bros, who leered back, and the Mrs. Degree-friendly crowd mostly texted under their desks and made it very clear that they were only there for humanities credit. Again, it was a fairly typical southern Ohio state school class full of fairly typical southern Ohio state school freshmen. Nobody was super engaged, is what I am saying here. Nobody, myself included, was really eating it up with a spoon.
And then one day, my professor opened the class with, “So, who here has seen Beauty and the Beast?”
You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance — as opposed to her ideas or actions — isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage in high-level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot.
If a group who, by accusation, has done ‘terrorist actions’ which amount to nothing more than the equivalent of defacing political propaganda posters on the street or putting up “STOP THE VIOLENCE” posters on storefront windows?
It’s time for those accusers to decide if they really do represent or even advocate Democracy, freedom of speech, or basic human rights. For them to wonder what ‘terrorism’ even is.
This has just been…. bugging me. Yeah, whatever, they’re just a lousy brunch of e-hipsters and hackers — but they’ve got the fucking right of what’s going on.
Sick and tired of stressing out over the inevitable election coverage? If you want a fun distraction, I’m going to be running another iJAG MST3K livestream tonight! The theme is post-apocalyptic, so we’re doing the episodes Robot Holocaustand Warrior of the Lost World.
Anyone who wants to can come around my livestream channel at4:00 PM PST today.
Edit: You should still go vote before you watch MST3k all night, folks!
Here is a collection of anti suffragette posters, postcards and cartoons. They’re old, and comically out of date, but looking at them gives me something like despair, because as a woman today I cannot imagine facing that attitude, and fighting it. Going out there and demanding better, and getting this kind of … unbelievable ignorance and intolerance in your face. This article has also been making the rounds.
I can’t believe that in 2012 I read about an American congressman who really believes that women’s bodies have a way of shutting down pregnancy if they are “really” raped. I cannot believe a lot of the things I have seen come out in American news lately. I can’t believe that the person who posted those images on “A History of Feminism” probably agrees with them, judging by the other content there.
You are voting today, right?
As Rose Winslow wrote from prison in 1917:
“All the officers here know we are making this hunger strike that women fighting for liberty may be considered political prisoners; we have told them. God knows we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.”
I live in Missouri where Todd Akin — the congressman you mentioned — is running to replace Claire McCaskill in the US Senate, and I am very quietly terrified that some day I might have to jump through degrading hoops to prove I need birth control pills, that I may need to buy a gun to be a last line of defense against sexual assault due to lack of assistance I would receive if I became a victim.
I am terrified that my neighbors may put in someone who refuses to acknowledge that I, as a human being, do not deserve rights equal to others in regards to my autonomy and safety.
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