Monday, April 06, 2009

Kermit’s Apologia

Alternate title: Guns don’t kill people: idiots do

As Charlie recounts, the last several weeks have echoed with a hail of gunfire. Thirty-seven dead in a series of mass shootings. And what, seven cops dead? Something like that. A bunch of American wannabes — immigrants, too.

But it would be wrong to blame America’s absurd, laughable, and lamentable gun culture. According to Kermit. The shooters are just idiots. Well, thanks Kermit, that explains a lot. Here’s Kermit on the recent cop shootings in Pittsburgh:

Friends said 23 year-old Richard Poplawski feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

I would like to propose a simpler, more elegant explanation. Richard is an idiot. He also undoubtedly suffers from some as yet reported mental disorder aggravated by the stress of being "laid off from his job at a glass factory earlier this year".

Well, simpler, anyway. And then, Kermit makes this jaw-dropping claim:

Over the weekend I have heard numerous empty-headed news readers parrot what will undoubtedly become the latest truism, that these shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon. Keep in mind that this is pure bullshit. It is the reporting that is the phenomenon.

Well, of course, you hear about the odd multiple shooting in Germany or Finland; Spot was not aware, however, that many more shooting occur in other countries that are never even reported! Why, it’s comparing apples and oranges! No wonder Kermit is so exercised.

It is silly, really, to claim that the rate of death from gun violence in the United States is comparable to other western, industrialized countries:

Eric Proshansky, deputy chief of the Division of Affirmative Litigation, New York City Law Department. He has been part of Michael Bloomberg’s legal team in his campaign to eliminate illegal guns in New York City.

“The elevation of the gun to sacred political status explains in part why 30,000 annual gun deaths have not given rise to anything like the complex regulation of, for example, the automobile or pharmaceuticals.”

The rate of gun death in the U.S. dwarfs, for example, Japan. According to the link:

Japan, where very few people own guns, averages 124 gun-related attacks a year, and less than 1 percent end in death. Police often raid the homes of those suspected of having weapons.

You can find statistics for other countries at the link above, too. We have something called the Fourth Amendment in addition to the Second Amendment, so the wholesale raid approach wouldn’t be appropriate or lawful here, but it is absurd to maintain that the U.S. hasn’t cornered the market on gun violence.

If they are idiots as Kermit says, how come we have so damn many of them? Here’s why, courtesy of Norwegianity:

Read Digby on the Pittsburgh gun nut who assassinated three police officers because the voices in his head on his radio told him Obama would take away his guns. Then read Dave Neiwert for more facts and figures, Tim F. for the perspective of someone who lived just blocks away, and then read TBogg because at times like this no one’s more bitter than a political humorist writing an obit for those murdered by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s listeners.

And here’s Charles M. Blow in his recent column in the New York Times:

And between his tears, Glenn Beck, the self-professed “rodeo clown,” keeps warning of an impending insurrection by saying that he believes that we are heading for “depression” and “revolution” and then gaming out that revolution on his show last month. “Think the unthinkable” he said. Indeed.

All this talk of revolution is revolting, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out, strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh. (We sometimes forget that not all dangerous men are trained by Al Qaeda.)

Sinclair Lewis wrote a dystopian tale of an authoritarian take over of the United States during the Depression in his book It Can’t Happen Here. But it was clowns like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck helping it happen, not preventing it. A cautionary tale.

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