Because they’re so ignorant, but at least they’re really enthusiastic in their ignorance. Found a fun little op-ed in the Vanderbilt college paper that really stands as a shining example of how full of crap most college kids are. And I’m not excluding myself from that, I’m sure that when I was a sophomore in college, I was pretty much entirely full of crap.
In one way, it’s not really fair – I doubt that I receive any honest debate, because usually 19 year olds are such ardent believers that it is entirely inconceivable that their ideology could be wrong…of course, that doesn’t make the fisking any less fun for me.
Firearms remain a distinctly American obsession. Unsurprisingly, this feverishly religious fixation has ordained guns alongside the infallible icons of baseball, apple pie and NASCAR. While the rest of the civilized world has abandoned such instruments of technological feat and individual dignity, we have survived this strange, globally endemic wave of demasculinization by preserving our right — constitutional right, that is — to bear arms.
Ah, the redneck trifecta – NASCAR, gluttony, and firearms. Because anything that the masses like must be bad, right? I do really enjoy the subtle implication in there that because we still believe in our constitutional right to bear arms, we’re somehow uncivilized. I guess I should thank my lucky stars that I can manage to hunt and peck words out on this new fangled electronic typewriter thingy.
Things have changed since 1787. Guns still, in some sense, represent power, freedom and revolution, possibly in socially underdeveloped and politically unstable countries or in the National Rifle Association headquarters. However, other devices have replaced those antiques and proven to be our modern leverage against institutional authority. Personal computers, the Internet and even YouTube have created an inversed Orwellian state, where the people constantly monitor the regime for signs of deviation from the ideal.
You know, I actually believe that the pen is mightier than the sword…but the pen needs the sword as well. You see, there are people who don’t like the pen, and they have lots of swords, so when they come to silence the pen you’re going to need a sword of your own. Side note, this kid managed to get the required anti-NRA dig in in the second paragraph, so he’s right on the format. But he is right – things have changed since 1787, and we do have personal computers, the internet, etc. Since the First Amendment covers modern technological innovations, shouldn’t the 2nd Amendment cover…modern firearms?
In the light of new revelations of school shootings, one of which occurred and one of which was thwarted, we must ask why these terrifyingly similar incidents still happen even after Columbine, even after Virginia Tech, even after those painful, frustrating moments where we vowed to implement change, even after realizing guns are no longer weapons of self-preservation for ordinary citizens. Today, guns are necessary tools for the police, military and recreational hunters, not for a mentally instable 14-year-old.
So, who is supposed to protect ordinary citizens from the Very Bad Men that exist in this world? Can you guarantee that there will be a police officer at every corner, by every house just in case they’re needed? Of course you can’t, and to act on such a guarantee would place us square into a police state.
One thing for sure, the problem is not that guns are inherently evil. In the same spirit, the problem is not that our young boys are playing games with fake guns. The problem is that our young boys are playing with real guns. The problem is that those young boys are also bullied, mentally volatile, naive, vindictive and suicidal. The problem is that the parents and the schools leave them unattended, unmonitored and unknown.
Actually, this is the first smart thing that is written in this entire essay. Guns and video games aren’t the problem – there are serious social and economic issues at the root of most of the gun crime in America. It’s not coincidence that most of the nation’s violent crime occurs in economically depressed areas, but instead of actually addressing the issues that cause the depression, most people would rather focus on the device used to perpetrate the crime.
Resolution of this dilemma will most likely take decades, if not generations. It will involve the participation of you and me as socially responsible, genuinely concerned and proactively conscious citizens. We can learn from our European and Asian counterparts in a manner that does not interfere with our cultural identity but in a way that requires us to be open, sensible and reasonable. Even in rural America, where the gun speaks law and order, we must gradually evolve into a culture where law and order are fully sufficient for civil stability. In the meantime, we must stop exploiting the Second Amendment to justify our pathetic, quasi-patriotic, petty imitations of antediluvian, cowboy-esque individualism. Rather, the clause should be respected symbolically in the context of its historical reality, progressive activism and unconventional wisdom. In short, our society must be willing to gamble on mutual trust and mutual peace. The prospects are too tempting.
Aaaaaand…we’re right back to foolish idealism. The mindless glorification of non-American society, the stereotyping of gun owners as redneck cowboy-wannabes, belief that we can “all just get along”, and topped off with a delicious cherry of “let’s make the world a better place”. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so damn tragic.
I’m sure that one or two of you will think I’m being too harsh on this kid. You’ll say, “But Ahab, he’s just 19, he can’t know any better”; and I’ll say that he’s got to learn some time. The last paragraph of his essay is the part that really gets me, because it’s actually the most foolish and misguided of the whole thing. People do not just “get along”. Unfortunately, some people are violent, malevolent assholes who enjoy hurting their fellow man. I mean, look at this sentence:
we must gradually evolve into a culture where law and order are fully sufficient for civil stability
What the hell does that even mean? Law and order is civil stability; that sentence is just a pile of nonsense.
I’m sure that this kid has the best of intentions – but his ideals are just that, high minded ideals that have nothing to do with the real world where everyone else lives. I can only hope that the result of his publishing such a foolish missive will result in some sense being pounded into his skull.
Edit/Update: Uncle has his way with the piece. I especially love this line: I, instead, don’t gamble and take steps to ensure my own safety. And all the hippie, tree-hugging mutual trust bologna in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans the very second someone breaks that mutual trust your gambling on.
Uncle’s way with words will never cease to amuse me.