Friday, October 2, 2015

Humanity lower than ducks


    In Oregon on Thursday, nine people were ...
    You know what? I'm done with parsing shootings. There's nothing else to say about them anymore, and I feel like I'm part of the slaughter process: the killers kill, the victims die, the cops rush in, and then the explainers explain. Count me out. Just because crazy people mow down innocent bystanders to scratch some unfathomable itch doesn't mean I have to dig around in the gore trying to extract a heaping handful of something that feels like sense. 
      Here, one last sentence: People are murdered pointlessly in this country by lunatics using guns that they can get too easily, and nobody is going to do anything about it.
    Did I leave anything out?
     Good. I'll direct your attention to the trio of sleeping ducks above, seen at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Life's a beautiful thing, and should include ducks, and naps, and napping ducks, and naps in general, which are restorative, and good for the inner mental balance. 
     Ducks understand that; people, not so much. 
      The world as I would have it would occupy itself debating exactly how much time a productive person can guiltlessly spend napping. Not the whole day, obviously, the nap would lose its specialness and nothing would get done. But some time must be carved out in a culture that just doesn't emphasize napping enough. If it did, each desk would be a little higher off the floor, and have a foam mattress underneath. "No Burt, 2 p.m. won't work for me -- I'll be napping under my desk, burping animal cookie scent. How about three?" 
     Of course, I suppose it's hard to focus on parsing the positive aspects of the midday snooze for humans as well as ducks in a culture where YOUNG PEOPLE ARE KILLED RANDOMLY FOR NO REASON AT ALL AND NOBODY CARES OR DOES ANYTHING....
       Sorry. Ducks, um, use the sun to help maintain body temperature, in between hunting for fish, and ... ah ... never killing each other just for the heck of it, just because they're disturbed and powerful weapons are scattered around by the hundreds of millions. Which makes humanity, I suppose, less evolved than ducks. Lower than ducks, even. despite our vaunted brains or, rather, because of our vaunted brains, which aren't so vaunted, if you ask me.  
      Okay, I'm drifting back into the killing in Oregon, when the truth is, in five days we won't even remember it.  The ducks, however, may stick in mind. They're so cute. And peaceful. 

36 comments:

  1. Except that as I write this, it's 13 dead.

    I really wish someone would go to the NRA HQ & start blasting away. Those are the people that need to die!

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  2. Is that really the key issue? I didn't see any news reports thats said 13....and your comment on the NRA exhibits the corrosive effects of violence.

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    1. That was the number on the NYT site minutes before I wrote that.
      Pleading hasn't worked. Seeing that there are dozens of mass killings hasn't done anything. Maybe wiping out the NRA's employees will finally knock some sense into Congress, which is filled with the worst cowards seen in this country's history.

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    2. Actually, nine was correct. As I like to say, Most people who offer corrections are themselves wrong.

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  3. The Ghost of Christmas PastOctober 2, 2015 at 5:30 AM

    Once again you want to use a tragic event, which actually is rare and statistically insignificant, to try to take away the most basic human right--the right of self defense and the sole guarantee of the people against government tyranny and self determination, from the majority of good people. Shame on you. Oregon HAS harsh "gun control laws" and the campus was in theory a "gun free" zone. We need to repeal all federal, state, and local gun control laws now. In 2016, while I normally don't vote, I will make a point of voting and vote against any politician who opposes full Second Amendment rights in any way, even though that means that, as a leftist, I propably disagree with them on everything else. Nothing is more important than protecting Second Amendment rights against attack. Nothing.

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    1. You make a great point.....it is actually a rare and statistically insignificant event. Why do all the gun nuts say they need weapons to protect themselves if it truly is so rare and statistically insignificant? It would be even rarer and more statistically insignificant if we didn't have 300 million weapons floating around in people's hands.....

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    2. The Ghost of Christmas PastOctober 2, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      Besides the absolute right of self-defense, important in itself, guns are also vital to oppose government tyranny, the main reason for the Second Amendment. Restrictive gun laws have to go.

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    3. Guns are vital to oppose government tyranny? Really? Think about that for a minute. Do you have any idea what the military industrial complex of this country looks like? This is not the 1700's. No amount of unhappy citizens with guns is going to overthrow the lawfully elected government of the United States. Saying otherwise just sounds silly.

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    4. The Ghost of Christmas PastOctober 3, 2015 at 9:51 PM

      We need to have a right to ownership of all weapons.

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  4. George Costanza was right about napping under his desk.

    Nothing will change until the penalty especially for having or selling illegal guns gets tougher.

    Ghost, you misinterpret the 2nd amendment.

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  5. http://news.yahoo.com/oregon-community-college-gunman-sympathized-with-va-tv-shooter-shared-newtown-school-shooting-documentary-062320159.html

    So he shot anyone who said they were Christian in the head and claimed to be a pagan???!

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  6. The bucolic rural existence of ducks in the Botanic Garden pond is so peaceful. An apt allegory for our times are the urban ducks in the Lincoln Park lagoon. Mostly one on one, at times they form into gangs, and engage in duck fights.

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  7. Cosley Farm in Wheaton has a peaceful duck pond as well.

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  8. "There Have Been 45 Shootings At Schools So Far This Year : The mass shooting at a community college in Oregon also marks the 142nd shooting at a school since Newtown"


    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-school-shooting_560d88bde4b0af3706dff6b8

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  9. I wonder if the ducks know where to fly so they don't become victims of gun violence as well?

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  10. A long way to go I suppose, but we seem to be approaching the phenomenon articulated by that great humanitarian Joe Stalin: "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic." But then I suppose that ten deaths, the last official tally, can count as a "rare and statistically significant" event," except of course to the victims, their many grieving survivors, and citizens of a traumatized community.

    There will be a few days of editorials. A few weeks of headlines about the motives of the deranged person. Then we survivors will move on. Until the next time.

    I like the ducks.

    Tom Evans

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  11. Oh and I forgot. There will be candlelight vigils.

    TE

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  12. Brilliant article.

    I fear the nuance may be lost on many people however, given that the first comment I saw online after the murders was that "this never would have happened if the school wasn't a gun free zone."

    Sure. The problem is that there aren't guns in every possible space. Sigh.

    I can imagine the inevitable moment when everyone in the U.S. is required by law to carry a loaded and cocked fully automatic weapon and a mass killing occurs anyway, and the gun Onanists respond with "If it wasn't a bazooka free zone this never would have happened!"

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    1. The Ghost of Christmas PastOctober 2, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      People have a right to have any weapons they want.

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    2. oh, yes-very realistic ghost, let's walk around with automatic rifles

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    3. The Ghost of Christmas PastOctober 3, 2015 at 9:53 PM

      Any weapons at all, much more than automatic rifles.

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  13. Somebody on Nancy Nall's blog made this comment, which I'm blatantly cutting and pasting here, both because I think he makes a good point, and because it concludes on a hopeful note, which is so rare when it comes to discussions of the gun mania gripping certain segments of society:

    "The gun problem needs a grassroots movement like the one started by Candy Lightner. Lightner, you may remember, founded M.A.D.D. in the 1980s after her child was struck and killed by a repeat offender who got off with a relative slap on the wrist. Within a few short years, social acceptance of drunk driving cratered and legislators scrambled to change the laws.

    Lightner, it should be noted, eventually broke with the organization when she felt it had become 'too neo-prohibitionist.' But that’s a great tribute to just how successful the movement had become.

    If 80-some percent of the public favors background checks and closing the loopholes that make purchasing a gun easier than exercising the right to vote, then it’s time to corral this sentiment into a bloc that raises consciousness and threatens lawmakers.

    I was just young and foolish at the time M.A.D.D. got started and I resented any incursion on what I considered my rights as a young person to have fun. It’s the same sort of attitude being displayed by those crass fools who would pretend that mass-shootings are nothing but Obama publicity stunts. I eventually found myself outnumbered and acknowledged that my position was indefensible. Roughly during the same time frame, people began questioning why they had to put up with others’ cigarette smoke, and social consciousness on smoking did a 180-degree turn as well. Both the alcohol and tobacco industries were exposed for their mendacities, which were trifling compared to the hooey that’s being trafficked by the gun industry. I’m a firm believer that social consciousness can be changed on guns too."

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    1. Sadly, the difference is the M.A.D.D. movement wasn't hampered by right-wing nuts (the NRA) and other political interests who would be frothing at the mouth to stamp out any anti-gun grassroots movements. No-one was against stopping drunk drivers; there are plenty who are against any gun laws.

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    2. Though a national petition on Facebook or the Internet, with photos of our children, sent to every member of Congress,or a march at the White House, a hunger strike in front of the White House....anything would be better than nothing.

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    3. I'm afraid I would have to agree with Sandy. A major problem is the power our elective system gives to single-issue voters. And having worked in advertising, I would have to give a nod to the brilliant marketing campaign waged by the NRA, with a relatively modest investment convincing a sizeable portion of the citizenry that the founding fathers wanted us all to be driving around with a Glock in the glove compartment. And, of course, the message is amplified by the way it conforms with anti government sentiments fomented mostly by the political right. I'm sometimes asked by English friends about American gun violence and why nothing can be done about it. The best I can do is tell them to be grateful for what they have and never to buy into the seductive argument that a gun in every household will make them safer or more free.

      Tom Evans

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    4. As long as the right to bear Arms, is enshrined in the US. Constitution,,these shooting outrages, are set to continue.....and it would take a very brave Presidential Candidate to campaign for the Presidency, on a change to the Gun Law issue....and he would probably lose. It is not easy to change amendments.

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    5. With all due respect, Sandy, perhaps you're too young to remember the early campaign against drunk driving. Even people as logical as, well, me!, were not too excited to be told that we couldn't drive home from a bar after having had one too many. The logic was inescapable; compliance not so easily arrived at. And the "beverage" and "hospitality" industries, though they eventually came around, were certainly opposed to many of the measures, since enforcement would surely cut into their profits. Add in the usual "Freedom!" folks, and it's not like these measures were welcomed without any political and industry opposition.

      This thing is way too long to bother reading, but a couple quotes: "What was certainly lacking was public concern with the problem (drinker) driver." ... "There is no evidence that any of these approaches convinced the public that drinking and driving was dangerous." "In the early 1980s the public's attitude toward drinking and driving was substantially transformed. Citizen activism is generally given credit for this change." ...

      "However, the movement toward a national standard of .08 BAC was slowed by the strong opposition from the alcohol and hospitality industries, claiming that the lower limit would impact social drinking."

      http://documents.jdsupra.com/2a7743e0-ea80-41d8-9739-efb8cf57928b.pdf

      And this only refers to the move to .08 as the standard in 1998, but "The liquor, beer wholesaler and restaurant industries are waging a well-financed campaign in the House to defeat a measure backed by the White House and traffic safety groups to impose tougher anti-drunken driving laws throughout the country.

      The fight pits a coalition of traffic safety groups -- headed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Safety Council and Public Citizen, which contend the measure would save hundreds of lives annually -- against lobbyists for beer distributors and restaurant chains such as Hooters, TGI Friday's and Red Lobster that say it would cut into their alcoholic beverage sales without appreciably reducing drunken driving."

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/highway/stories/hwy032698.htm

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  14. Good point about the wingnuts, Sandy.

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  15. Sandy and Tom both make good points, and I understand that there's plenty of room for pessimism, as even the President acknowledges. I'm just trying to look on the bright side, for a change. ; )

    "It is not easy to change amendments." No, but the Supreme Court has indicated that it is somewhat easier to change the INTERPRETATION of amendments to suit the political inclinations of a majority of the members. And I believe that, were the "silent majority" of citizens vocal enough, some laws could be passed that even this Supreme Court would accept.

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    1. Actually the Supreme Court has not said that the right for anybody to own any guns has been enshrined in the Constitution, although the NRA has cleverly managed to convince many people (and how many people actually read Supreme Court rulings?) that recent decisions have done so. Justice Scalia's majority opinion in The District of Columbia vs. Heller opines that the public does have a constitutional right to bear arms beyond service in a militia, but goes on to make the following qualification: "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever...The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places...etc."

      Mr. Ghost, for instance, would still not be able to include a sawed off shotgun in his armory or enter the Halls of Congress with his Bushmaster slung over his shoulder.

      Tom Evans

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    2. Good point, Tom, though I hope your first sentence wasn't meant to imply that I was confused about that. : ) Clearly, there are already laws restricting what kinds of guns people can own. I was referring to the reinterpretation of the significance of the militia clause.

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    3. Scalia's reinterpretation of the militia clause was indeed unhistorical and a case of right wing judicial activism. But his long qualifying statement left the door open for plenty of regulation.

      TE

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  16. The indignation and anger against the murder of innocents only applies to the pre-born and Planned Parenthood in Republican eyes. Death by bullets, no big deal, and we don't care enough to effect change. The Supreme Court should be fully respected in their defense of the right to bear arms, and to kill, but not the right for women to choose? Hypocrites.

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  17. Very well written Neil. Your "one last sentence" says it all.

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  18. Lee is on the right ideal path but how can he afford to quit his job and yes that's too fanatical with the ideas at Dick's sporting goods. We have to compromise.

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