Tag Archive: Violence



93967746-us-gun-control

In America, there always seems to be a problem with discussing gun control. So much so that terrible events like school shootings don’t generally generate a discussion about the need to limit access to guns and rifles. Why is this? There are many tactics used by gun-lovers, and I will go through them one by one below.

1. “This is not the time to be talking about gun control”

Whenever a terrible act of gun violence occurs, we will always hear the same response: This is not the time to be talking about gun control. However, the reason that people say this is because this is exactly the time to be talking about gun control: this is the time when people are paying attention to this issue. Why is this a problem? On a smaller scale this doesn’t make sense. If I punch you in the face while walking down the street near a police officer and the officer does nothing, aren’t you going to ask the officer, “Why don’t you do something?” Is it fair for me to then retort: “This is no time to discuss police inaction”? On a larger scale this doesn’t make sense. If suddenly the glaciers covering Greenland sheath off into the sea and someone says, “We need to reduce our carbon emissions!” is it fair to respond: “This is hardly the time to discuss carbon emissions”?

Of course it is better to discuss issues before they become a problem, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot discuss issues after a problem has occurred. This is just not logical.

2. “It’s our second amendment right to bear arms. If we don’t have weapons, we will be allowing tyranny to take over our country!”

Two problems here. First, at the time of the second amendment, concealable automatic weapons did not exist, assault weapons did not exist and even handguns did not exist. The fact that the word amendment is part of this argument should demonstrate something. The Constitution is a remarkable document, and it admits that it cannot foresee societal and technological developments that might change how society must be structured — amendments allow this document to be updated. The second amendment is a modification to the Constitution. Likewise, it can be amended again when new developments occur. Few people use muskets anymore and I doubt any spree killer has ever, would ever or could ever try to use this technology to kill multiple people. Spree killing was simply not possible when the second amendment was written. Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with making another amendment to update the second amendment to prevent spree killers from killing many people.

Second, although it’s nice to imagine a group of well-intentioned and well-armed civilians taking back the American government from a tyrannical leadership,  it’s simply not feasible and, unfortunately, this dream must be abandoned. Consider what this scenario would actually look like. Let’s say this hypothetical rebel group is deciding to attack the White House. First, the group would need to be sufficiently large to begin with — something difficult to achieve because you’d need some charismatic leader to inspire people to go to battle and probably give up their lives. I say probably because there are many levels of government protection that this rebel group would be facing. If the rebels attacked the White House, the first groups to respond would be the Secret Service and the Washington Metropolitan police force. Combined, a somewhat formidable force, employing handguns, kevlar vests, helicopters and some assault weapons. Fine, let’s say the rebels take down the secret service and the local police and take over the White House. Now what? The president is either held hostage or dead. Is this the end of America? No. The government will not suddenly collapse. The remaining government will react quickly to this insurrection with full scale military force. Now you have the US Army, Air Force, and Marines attacking you from all sides. Unless you can convince a massive number of Americans that this insurrection is a good idea (with little or no media access, by the way), you’re doomed. Fine. Let’s assume that you convince millions of Americans that this is a good idea. What about the other Americans? Now you have a civil war. You don’t need a degree in mathematics to realise that the probability of overcoming all of these problems is infinitesimally small. Sorry, you and your brother Bobby aren’t going to topple the American government, regardless of how many AK-47s you’ve stockpiled.

Am I saying that you should just give up if your government slips into tyranny? No. However, with modern weaponry, such as jet aircraft, drones, and nuclear technology, it’s no longer as simple as gathering a group and attacking the government. It requires a much more well thought-out campaign using various media (old and new) as best you can to sway public opinion, holding mass demonstrations (non-violent and violent, depending on the need), and possibly, guerrilla warfare.

3. “This was the act of a crazy person and this couldn’t have been prevented.” (AKA “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”)

On the same day as the Newtown massacre, a crazed man in China attacked a school with a knife and stabbed over 20 people. None died. Is this not a clear enough comparison? Although we cannot stop people from having mental breakdowns perfectly, we can limit their ability to kill people.

4. “I don’t want the government getting into my business and controlling my life.”

The government does this all the time and we accept it. Now, I will admit, there is a line, and I do consider myself to be a bit of a libertarian in many respects; however, government interference is not always tyranny. Most government interference in the States is done for the safety of Americans. I know this will irk many libertarians, but think deeply about it. There may be many things that you don’t want the government controlling (drug use, prostitution, marriage, etc), but there are many that you do want them to control. Any law is an example of government getting into your business and controlling your life. Organizations like the FDA ensure that the foods and drinks we consume are not poisonous or dangerous: this is also a form of controlling your life. So, unless you want to live in a state of anarchy where anyone can kill you at any moment, you can’t actually believe this statement genuinely.

5. “Banning guns will only take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Criminals will be the only ones left with guns.”

First, this argument assumes that there are certain people considered “criminals” and certain people considered “law-abiding citizens.” This is not true. We are all capable of being either criminals or law-abiding citizens given the right circumstances. Just because you have never committed a crime before doesn’t mean you will never do so in the future. So how can you be justified in having a gun? Just because someone has committed a crime, doesn’t negate the possibility that they only want a gun for self-protection.

Of course, there are life-long criminals in society. This leads to my second point: banning guns does not empower criminals over law-abiding citizens. If criminals need a gun on a regular basis, they will be more subject to being arrested and more concerned about hiding their weapons.  In countries where handguns or automatic weapons are illegal, it is quite shocking for people to see one of these weapons lying around a house. A society that does not accept the prevalence of guns is a society that is more likely to talk about people who do own these guns and therefore, more pressure is placed on these people to not carry or to hide  these weapons very well.

What is the overall solution? That is where individual beliefs come into play and I think that there is a lot of reasonable sway here. I can accept the right to protect your family, if you think that owning a handgun will do that. I can accept even stockpiling short clip rifles if you’re worried about doomsday or something like that. I cannot accept owning an assault weapon for any reason. There’s no purpose other than killing people and/or feeling cool. Not good enough for me. I would be fine with simply a ban on automatic weapon sales, but I would prefer that the government went a little further because concealing handguns can cause many deaths as well. So, while there may be a gray area as to how much the government controls guns, America is definitely in the black extreme right now and needs to shift towards the white.

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How many people would claim that they love killing people? How many of those people do you actually think, if they knew the gruesomeness and cruelty of killing someone, would actually continue to claim that they love killing people?

Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Norway, in which he single-handedly walked around an island full of unarmed civilians and shot them one by one, doesn’t even answer yes to the above questions. Breivik has been very straightforward about the brutality of his crime with the utmost details. He has incriminated himself over and over, without remorse. Yet, he did admit one thing: he said that as he was killing people, he had a strong desire to stop the whole time. He said that he only overcame this gut feeling by convincing himself that it was a necessary evil to help society as a whole.

So, aside from sadistic psychopaths (I’d argue that although non-sadistic psychopaths wouldn’t feel empathy for people they killed, they would be able to reason enough to decide that its not a good thing to kill random people and therefore have no desire to do so), people have a built in morality against killing random people.

We do not need the silly ten commandments to know that killing people is not good. This is instinctive. What were people doing before the ten commandments? Killing each other randomly? Society could not function if this were the case since society is built on trust.

Claims are made that modern societies are built on Judeo-Christian values; however, many less violent countries, such as East Asian countries, were not founded on Judeo-Christian values.

Also, I would argue that it is not even our society that makes us moral. The society just keeps the trust among us for those few who, for whatever reason (bad upbringing, bad DNA or a combination of these two), commit crimes. But, there are always exceptions. Most people will act morally in any political system.

People try to use NAZI Germany’s holocaust as an example of how our morality can be molded according to the regime in power. This is absolutely false.

If you actually know about the details of how the holocaust was carried out, you’d know that the most difficult aspect of pushing through the holocaust was human reluctance to kill. At first, soldiers were just ordered to shoot Jews. This didn’t last long. Although people naturally will go along with authority, this only goes so far. Watching numerous people die by your own hands is something that few people can endure. Eventually, some German soldiers refused to obey their superiors orders, and this led to a cascade effect of other German soldiers refusing. The result? The gas chambers. If you claim that gas chambers are more cost effective than shooting people, you are not thinking about what is involved in the gas chambers. First, the technology didn’t exist. They had to do some serious R and D to figure out how to pull off mass death via gas chambers. Second, they needed to transport people to gas chambers. Third, they needed to build gas chambers and death camps. Fourth, they needed to man these death camps. Fifth, they had to burn the bodies. Sixth, they had to do this in a way to not alert the local population (who, by their own morals, if they found out, would have become horrified). This is only six reasons, but there are many more. The fact is, the NAZI government learned very quickly that their soldiers were moral and they needed to circumvent this morality very quickly and efficiently to prevent mass mutiny.

Even in wartime, there are outbreaks of peace that happen. The Christmas Truce of World War I is probably the most well known example. Even though both sides of the War were taught to hate one another by political and military authorities, suddenly, mass outbreaks of peace occurred between British and German soldiers. It seems it’s actually not that easy to ensure a war continues without pressure from forces above (forces that themselves have not participated in the ugliness of war).

It is for these reasons that it really bothers me when someone claims that humans need religion to be moral. This is the greatest insult to the humanity that exists within all of us.


Recently I had a discussion with another blogger, Sacredstruggler, about her article, Islam: A Cult of Violence?

You can read the article, but in short, her thesis was that we, I guess either America or Westerners, are the terrorists now because we responded to 9/11 and in fact the numbers of deaths in the Afghan and Iraq wars outnumber 9/11 so, we may in fact be worse than the terrorists.

If you’ve read my other articles, you’ll know that this is the kind of nonsense that I’m absolutely against.

Ironically, I’ve had a discussion with a devout Muslim, Musingsaudi, which was informative and friendly, on this same issue! She never got angry at me for my opinions, and I was never angry about her opinions. I am especially impressed because I was arguing that Islam is not a religion of peace. You can see how amicable the conversation was with that link.

However, my discussion with Sacredstruggler was not the same 🙂

She threatened to censor my comment, so I copied everything that was said and I’ll paste it below 🙂

——

3 thoughts on “Islam: a Cult of Violence?

OCTOBER 20, 2012 AT 12:04 AM REPLY

I think that you are conflating two activities that are distinct. The attack on 9/11 was a terrorist attack with the intent of spreading terror. The campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq were wars against the Taliban and the Saddam Hussein regime, respectively. Unfortunately, there is a growing and unfounded belief that people in both of these countries despise the American intervention in their countries.
This is not the case. Although many are upset about how the wars were carried out or abuses of power that occurred (which, few will deny, were atrocious at times), the ousting of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Hussein regime in Iraq were praised by people with adequate education. The problem, most especially in Afghanistan, is that many people don’t have access to even basic education, and only learn about world affairs from their imams or mullahs. The opinions of these uneducated people do not have merit, I’m sorry to say. They are just parroting what they hear.
Talk to Malala Yousafzai about Afghanistan or the Kurds in Iraq, and see if they’d rather be living under the previous regimes. These are only two examples.
Without deeper examination of the situations in both countries, that is, just looking at the death tolls of 9/11 verses the two wars, it is easy to say that, “Now, we are the terrorists!” But, you have to look at more than just deaths; there are many things that have been positive in Iraq and Afghanistan but nothing positive has come from 9/11.

By the way, I was NOT a supporter of the Iraq war, I just like to look at things critically. I don’t just force myself into a political box and sit there.

OCTOBER 20, 2012 AT 12:23 AM REPLY

This man’s family were far from “uneduacted”. And all people’s opinions have merit. The people in this country allow the media to control their minds and opinions. Shame on you for thinking you know more than people who live it because you have media access. Empirical knowledge is the only kind that is logically defensible.

Shame on you for pushing an idea that people have only as much worth as they do their education. Shame on you for thinking it’s all honkey dorey over there. The government, wealthy, and powerful have a vested interest in maintaining war, so of course they strictly control the way we receive information about it. ie. transfer tubes.

I prefer to talk to real people, not pundits. I’ve talked to friends who have served telling me about lakes filled with dead bodies many of which were women and children, so if you bought the idea that they are kissing every American soldier’s hand. You got served.

The number of civilian deaths doesn’t go away by focusing on the “good” we’ve done. And the “good” we’ve done wouldn’t have been necessary in large part, unless we had trained, armed, installed the same people we were seeking there.

I’m a registered independent, so not sure what you’re accusing me of as far as a political box.

I want to reply to your comment, but I don’t want it on my page. So, I’ll be deleting it very soon. And this will be the first comment I’ll ever have deleted off my page. So be proud.

OCTOBER 20, 2012 AT 12:42 AM REPLY

Ok, censor me.

——–

Well, it’s pretty hard to censor someone in the age of the Internet. 🙂

To be honest, I was writing off the cuff, so I probably made some statements that can be refuted, but the way she responded was ridiculous. So, let me analyze some of the ridiculousness.

“This man’s family were far from “uneducated.”

– Of course I don’t believe that ALL people who are educated from Iraq or Afghanistan agreed with the Iraq or Afghanistan interventions.

“And all people’s opinions have merit”

– Really? So an uneducated KKK member who says, “Jews control the world” has merit? Oh, wait I get it: it seems that you believe when ignorant people from other countries state stupid things, then it has merit. Ok, I got it.

“Shame on you for thinking you know more than people who live it because you have media access”

– I didn’t say this. You don’t actually know how I know what I know. I didn’t say my information came from the media alone. This is an assumption. BTW, shaming me? Really? Ok, I feel shame… go on.

“Empirical knowledge is the only kind that is logically defensible”

– Do I even need to respond to this? So, what about the statistics that she wrote about so confidently in her initial post? Hmmm….

“Shame on you for thinking it’s all honkey dorey [sic] over there”

– I didn’t say this. In fact, I mentioned the abuses of power “which, few will deny, were atrocious at times”. So, actually, I don’t believe it’s hunky dory “over there” (Iraq or Afghanistan?). I never disputed the numbers of deaths you stated, so unless I think death is a good thing, especially death on a large scale, then I probably wouldn’t think that things are hunky dory, would I? BTW, who says “hunky dory” ?? 🙂

“I’ve talked to friends who have served telling me about lakes filled with dead bodies many of which were women and children, so if you bought the idea that they are kissing every American soldier’s hand. You got served.”

– That’s great but you should always fact-check people’s statements. I also met a soldier who was in Iraq who told me they found nukes. I said, “How do you know that?” He said, “Look, I’m a soldier, I get access to this kind of info.” That is obviously a lie. He probably heard this from someone and just trusted it. Further, first hand accounts have been shown to not be as reliable as you would think. Look into it. It’s surprising what people think they saw or didn’t notice and so on. So, I think I just returned your “serve”. BTW, “you got served”?? Are we having a dance battle here, or what?

“The number of civilian deaths doesn’t go away by focusing on the “good” we’ve done.”

– I didn’t say that.

“I want to reply to your comment, but I don’t want it on my page. So, I’ll be deleting it very soon. And this will be the first comment I’ll ever have deleted off my page. So be proud.”

– I like my response, “Ok, censor me”. Also, I am proud. It means I forced you to think so differently it made you irrational 🙂 Enlightening someone is always something to be proud of. 🙂

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