I’m sure you’ve all seen all the repugnant things religious leader fuckheads have said in the last few days. I’m not going to comment on that because it makes me feel ill.
This post has three sections.
Seriously, the sheer number of American pathological gun nuts I’ve dealt with online in the last two days is staggering.
I’m finding exactly the same problems I have with religion, especially when religion is driving good people to kill and giving bad people an excuse to kill (and an excuse to get good people to kill). It’s a faith-based claim that offers no rationale except for bullshit cliched arguments that have clearly not been critically examined by someone who cares about anything other than feeding on confirmation bias.
So my problem is faith. I just typically go after religion because it’s the largest and most prevalent manifestation of this defective way of thinking; and so it just happens to piss me off more often.
But now I find myself forced to go after the American gun cult.
Something about children being killed with legal weapons just makes me fucking mad, you know? There’s also something about the callous self-justifications from trigger-happy traditionalist idiots, while families are mourning, that just begs to be called out.
So here it is.
America’s gun laws fail so hard at preventing homicides, robberies, accidental shootings and suicides according to evidence from peer-reviewed literature (not reports from “think-tanks” and other bullshit sources); but that doesn’t matter. The solution is moar guns! It’s a Second Amendment right!
Yes, more guns is exactly what America needs.
Here, by the way, is the Second Amendment:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The Second Amendment argument is stupid, and clearly nobody has read it — if it were still relevant it’d imply that citizens should be allowed access to nuclear weapons. Besides, interpreting the Second Amendment on an individual protection level is problematic and unsophisticated.
Then times changed, democracy got better (fine, it’s actually a polyarchy, but whatever) — making revolution less meaningful. Also, civilisation is qualitatively different now than it was at any other point in history.
Violence, all over the world, is in decline (help speed it along!), and liberalisation is rising, despite some other depressing statistics (I’ll get to them). The revolution in the United States will not be televised, because it won’t happen; it’s little more than another American Dream.
Second, guns for personal protection? Bullshit.
I looked through a bunch of my university library’s research databases and all I came up with, from reputable psychological and medical journals, was strong evidence that legally owned guns for self-defence are rarely used for self-defence; they’re more likely (22 times!) to be used in homicides, accidental deaths, suicides and to intimidate family members. This general trend of this study has been corroborated by numerous others.
(In light of those studies, which, most charitably, paint private gun-packers as highly incompetent and dangerous people, rather than autonomous agents capable of defending themselves; would a militia comprised of these people really capable of overthrowing a hypothetical tyrannical government? That might be a little too much to expect…)
Here are two charts that should hit this crime rate point home:
A more in-depth analysis can be found here. I guess facts really do have a progressive bias.
The cost-benefit analysis, if you care about protecting people, just doesn’t justify guns for personal protection.
Some might be tempted to use this against me when I advocate full drug-legalisation. They’d be wrong. Drugs are an individual choice, and you can’t use drugs to kill lots of people, only yourself (if you’re so inclined, or if you’re an irresponsible user, or by accident — but then, mountain climbing can kill you in that way). Drugs should be illegal in situations where they can play some causal role in harming others: like when you’re driving. If you drug-and-drive, fuck you. You’re a criminal because you put others at risk.
(Incidentally, in some U.S. states, car licenses are more heavily regulated than gun ownership.)
So, being a rabid supporter of “the right to bear arms” is to buy into a bullshit faith-based enterprise, with its own mythology and various off-shoot sects. The fact that it’s about providing false-consolation and a false sense security and the fact that it’s totally contrary to the evidence makes it exactly like religion.
And, on exactness: this is exactly why I go after religion. Religion is based on faith, which is essentially pretending to know things you don’t know. Appeals to faith are used to justify tribalism, delusion and all manner of bullshit. When someone says “that’s what I believe” you’re supposed to avoid being disrespectful. Fuck that I say.
People can be wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with exercising your own free speech to hold them to account. And making light of the majority hard-headed among them in front of fence-sitters.
So fuck those idiots against gun control. There is blood on their hands.
This is important to me.
I have lived with bipolar disorder since my early teenage years and I’m now in recovery.
I’ve never shot anyone, but I’ve faced discrimination in personal, professional and schooling situations due to the stigma associated with mental illness.
I don’t care about it, personally, because I’ve been lucky; it hasn’t ever really gotten in my way. But discrimination affects others badly. Really fucking badly. And I totally understand why.
The mentally ill don’t need to be singled out based on the actions of criminals. It’s offensive to do so, and it doesn’t even make sense.
The amount of demonisation I’ve seen the mentally ill as a group subjected to — surreptitiously by the hard right (because it wasn’t guns!) and inadvertently hiding in articles in the PC left media (smacked down here) — since this recent mass murder in the United States is mind-boggling.
It’s quite simple: the United States has worse healthcare than some developing countries (Columbia!); but look at these fucking statistics. Now, what should the priority be following Friday’s Connecticut shooting? It’s pretty fucking obvious to me.
To start with: to demonise people with autism spectrum disorders is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of established facts about abnormal human psychology.
Second; what effect does mental illness have on crime? The first clear-cut example is psychopathy; but does psychopathy predict criminal behaviour? A bit of arithmetic carried out on Baylor College’s neurolaw-focused blog, using some estimates and some quantified statistics indicated that 15% of all psychopaths currently living in the United States are incarcerated for some crime or another. Would increased mental health funding, and more accessible high-quality treatment help these rates? No. Psychopathy is untreatable, and very difficult to diagnose.
What about the mentally ill population as a whole? That’s a point of contention too, and it shouldn’t be, because there are more of these things called facts — and they’re in. The mentally ill, as a population, are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Check this in the peer-reviewed literature for yourself, and look through other articles.
This is the crux of my argument: if the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators of violence, then taking measures to reduce violence also protects the mentally ill. Tackling gun violence is a step towards protecting the mentally ill, and a step towards protecting everyone else.
Better healthcare is an absolute imperative. There are some shocking stats associated with mental illness in the United States. The one I find scariest is that only one-third of adults and one-half of children with diagnosable mental illnesses actually get to talk to a professional in any meaningful capacity.
Clearly, mental health services in the United States need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed soon; but right now, a scourge that infects American culture as a whole must be fixed. This is gun culture.
This is a hard calculation to make with objectivity, but right now, America’s progressives and concerned conservatives should try to rewrite the gun laws.
Now is the time. This isn’t an either-or thing; it should be a both thing — but smart progressives should not lose sight of the myopia of their fellow countrymen.
Help everyone first: fix your fucking gun culture.
Now, you could say that who am I, an Australian descended from undesirable colonisers (I’m not, but that’s what I was told) — to derive morals from facts (as Hume supposedly prohibited) and moreover, how dare I use my moral standards to judge another country’s laws and culture?
Because fuck you. If ethics aren’t about minimising suffering and maximising flourishing for all conscious creatures, then ethics is a waste of everyone’s time — and anyone who believes that has no grounds to support any moral cause, or to judge the behaviours of others. That’s why.
Why should we be interested in minimising suffering and maximising harm? Well, would you apply the same standard to medical research? How about physics? No. I didn’t fucking think so. So why do people hate it when you try to come up with a normative system of ethics? Out of respect for unjustified, unsubstantiated bullshit faith-based opinions.
Also, you didn’t read Hume properly. He used inference to the best explanation (induction) all the time, despite pointing out a “problem with induction” (that modern epistemology and philosophy of science has easily accommodated in the form of evidentialism; even verificationism), and he was an empiricist. He’d be fine with physics and medicine; and if he knew about consequentialism, he’d be fine with that too. (The problems in that BBC link have largely been resolved, it just covers naive consequentialism really, but you can find that shit out yourself. Go read some Peter Singer and even Sam Harris — neither of whom I totally agree with — and make up your own mind.)
My thoughts go out to all the families who lost loved ones last Friday. If children, a teacher and a psychologist being murdered in cold blood with legal weapons isn’t a wakeup call for America, there’s something wrong with the American leadership, and by extension, the people who elected those leaders.
Before you tell me, read what I wrote. Read it again. Check my sources. I don’t like repeating myself. I will approve your comments (I do that anyway), but only to enshrine you as a dunce.