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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for May 9, 2007


Killing Time

We do not see our hand in what happens, so we call certain events melancholy accidents.
Stanley Cavell

I was gong to write a column about the recent murderous rampage by a mentally ill Seung-hui Cho that left thirty-two dead kids on the campus of Virginia Tech, but there really isn’t anything to say. While gun killings nationwide go on at a happy clip, we do seem to have metronomic repeats of mass gun-downs on campuses and other public hunting grounds, so much so that the only thing I asked on hearing the news was the bemused question, “What, again?"

And then batten down the hatches for the silly hand-wringing that would follow, again, knowing full well that nothing will be done, again, because the basic fact is this: We love our guns more than we love our children.

In America, it is simply inconceivable that the mentally ill Mr. Cho would have to be required to justify owning a gun, perhaps prove he actually had need of a gun in the first place, pay for and subject himself to a thorough background check, a complete investigation that might take months and would cost him a pretty penny. And then submit to annual evaluation, range-qualification and gun-safety checks. That is an inconvenience and an affront that simply won’t be tolerated. Easy access to guns of any kind is of paramount importance in America, even for a mentally deranged person like Mr. Cho.

It’s also extremely important to Americans that they have easy access to guns with the highest firepower and rapidity of fire possible. For example, what game species requires a Glock 19 with the largest ammunition clips available? I suppose a rapid-fire hunt-down of scuttling cockroaches -- or terrified, scattering humans -- might require such killing speed. But it is absolutely vital in our society that a person like the mentally ill Mr. Cho, a man who had received a temporary detention order that declared he was an “imminent danger” to himself and others, be able to purchase as many rapid-fire weapons and the largest ammunition clips as possible, as easily as possible.

In America, we also have a fiercely guarded right to choose to be mentally ill, to decide to be deranged and wandering the streets, hungry, homeless, totally delusional, possibly imminently dangerous. It’s a right we take seriously and do everything in our power to maintain. Since Americans view mental illness as a lifestyle choice, there is no need for social safety nets or easily accessed universal medical care. If the mentally ill wish help, they can go on their own and try to find it. True, they may have to wait for years to even get on a waiting list, but that’s the way our society chooses to care for one another, and clearly, that’s the way we like it.

On the whole, the only interesting thing about this particular killing time was how swiftly and strictly observed was the Gentleman’s Agreement by all parties NOT to discuss the words “gun control.” While the nation was encouraged to have a windy national dialogue about mental illness or students or the courage of the survivors, and so forth, the topic of gun control was totally off the table, which created a peculiarly distorted narrative with a huge hole in the center of it.

While the mandatory few days of media hand-wringing is going on about this latest killing time, it must be said – again – that it’s true, we know how to build a healthier, more civil society, and we know how to create a less toxic, less violent country. It’s not rocket science; The Paxis Institute (wwww.paxis.org) and Daniel Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence,” offer some of the extensive research and works that point the way.

We also have the capacity to eliminate the easy availability of our most lethal weapons, to create systems to care for the sickest among us before they harm others, to support healthy families, create strong communities, care for children at risk, and create a shared Commons that benefits all of us. We know how to do all of these things, but we choose not to do it, because we love and value our guns more than we love and value our children, ourselves, our neighbors, our society, or even our country.

And that deep and abiding love is one of our cherished core values. Indeed, it’s The American Way.

20 comments:

Anne R. Allen said...

The U. S. of A: the only country where "we love our guns more than our children." What a great quote, Ann.

But the gun manufacturing oligarchs may yet do one good deed. I read in the Tribune that the gun nuts are totally bent out of shape at a suggestion that suspected terrorists not be allowed to buy guns. The NRA says that a "suspect" isn't the same thing as a criminal!! What a revelation.

Suspects can be jailed and tortured indefinitely and nobody with a name similar to one can travel by air, but Dog Be Praised! We're going to protect their right to buy assault weapons to shoot up the school of their choice!

Anonymous said...

"Killing Time" ..... ugh.

"We love our guns more than we love our children." .... < SIGH >

"... what game species requires a Glock 19 with the largest ammunition clips available? I suppose a rapid-fire hunt-down of scuttling cockroaches -- or terrified, scattering humans -- might require such killing speed. ... terribly vivid analogy.

" ... Since Americans view mental illness as a lifestyle choice, there is no need for social safety nets or easily accessed universal medical care." ... Similarly, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, chronic disease and serious health & life-threatening accidents. I mean this IS America! Everything is a lifestyle choice right? That's not to say some don't choose. Its just easier to lump them all together as bad choosers.

"On the whole, the only interesting thing about this particular killing time was how swiftly and strictly observed was the Gentleman’s Agreement by all parties NOT to discuss the words “gun control.” .... Yes, that did seem rather odd. Less than walking on eggshells it seemed more like - we've discussed this so often before and made absolutely no progress so let's all agree not to waste our time doing it again. Which leads to:

".... the topic of gun control was totally off the table, which created a peculiarly distorted narrative with a huge hole in the center of it." Huge gaping holes which everybody chooses to ignore. I mean, how many elephants can we stuff into a room and still choose not to see them? At some point the only possible explanation is that elephants are invisble. Or at least we choose them to be. This is America - its all about personal choice, right? The American Way indeed.

Nice blog Ann. There have been near limitless articles, columns and editorials on this but I think I like your's best all. Thanks.

I also liked .... " Dog be Praised". Can't wait to use that one!

4Crapkiller said...

What a load of crap from the anti-gun nuts. A gun is simply a tool for hunting and protection from nuts and criminals.

It seems like it is far more easy to illegally buy a gun than get one legitimately.

I really wonder what the secret agendas of the anti-gun nuts are. Are they unionists looking for increased government employees which we all have to pay for? Maybe they simply want complete government control of our lives. I wonder what backs up our right to vote?

Beware of the dictatorship of democracy. The people who want to take away guns from legitimate law abiding citizens wish to control us.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Ann. I guess I am an "anti-gun nut" as well. Isn't it true that in countries with strict gun control laws there are fewer deaths by guns? I think handguns are the problem not guns used for "sport."

Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:23am

"The NRA says that a "suspect" isn't the same thing as a criminal!! What a revelation."

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that piece of news last week. Where exactly was the NRA when the so-called "Patriot" Act was rammed through the legislature? These are probably the same people who were pounding their chests as this most un-Patriotic, civil-rights-violating Act was signed into law by numb-nuts Dubya.

Sorry, Boys. It's thanks to the PA that the government can take that stand on terrorist "suspects" purchasing guns. As the old saying goes: "Be careful what you wish for..."


And to Ann Calhoun:

Finally, something we can agree on. Well thought out, well written, and as the above poster stated, the best piece I've seen written on the VA Tech tragedy, anywhere.

*pg-13 said...

4CrapKiller said > What a load of crap from the anti-gun nuts. A gun is simply a tool for hunting and protection from nuts and criminals.

Which is why Ann's terribly vivd analogy is so appropriate:

... what game species requires a Glock 19 with the largest ammunition clips available? I suppose a rapid-fire hunt-down of scuttling cockroaches -- or terrified, scattering humans -- might require such killing speed

What kind of hunting do you do 4CrapKiller? You do hunt don't you? Or are you that bad a shot? I mean, if you can't hit it with a short clip how many more bullets do you need? And I don't know anybody who hunts with a hand gun. Harder to fill the larder that way, eh?

Leaving only that you need rapid fire handguns for 'protection from nuts and criminals'? Oh get real. What about you love guns more than our kids don't you understand?

4CrapKiller > The people who want to take away guns from legitimate law abiding citizens wish to control us.

Why is it all black & white with you guys? I just re-read Ann's blog and I don't see any where where she says she wants to take away your gun. (Although your very comments suggest that might not be a bad idea.) I do see where she suggests some kind of gun control is probably better than the for-all-extensive purposes No Gun Control we currently have. Which is why a crazy man was able to acquire rapid-fire handguns so easily.

And on and on and on it goes. Until we choose to change it.

Mike Green said...

Yes we try and try to make sense of insanity. We so desperately want to fix it, like comprehending infinity, many say they do, but do they?
Some things are unknowable, religion fills this void for some, some accept what is and trudge toward the inevitable, nearly asleep, without reflection.
I have no answers for the horror of VT, I cannot explain insanity.
But I will not wring my hands and forget,no.

Well put Ann.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to change the subject, but can anyone tell me what happened today at the RWQCB hearings? Was a time alloted for public comment? How about tomorrow?

Anonymous said...

Public comment lasted, oh, about 4 hours. It looks like the board will hold the CAO's in abeyance as they look to the county for progress in the coming months.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the RWQCB appears to be backing off to let the County step up. It's a relief and been a long time 'comin. Thanks to all of our fine citizens who spoke up today.

Mike Green said...

Yahoo!!!!!

Kumbaya

Anonymous said...

This is so great...I think it will go a long way in uniting the community. Come on, people. We are by nature creatures of kumbaya. Let's give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

Don't be too quick to think the RWQCB has rolled over and is dead.

If we don't show real support of the County and actually progress toward building a sewer, we will find out just how legal the Water Board can be.

I'm tired of the fight and just want a sewer! I don't want to hear any more about location, treatment method or affordability. I don't want to hear the neutered CSD crying about how much they are doing to help us, they put us in this position. I don't want to hear another thing from the CSD other than an honest plan on resolving the bankruptcy they created. I don't want to hear that the TAC has any say in the process other than listing pros and cons of the Countys short list of practical solutions. I've heard enough of the misconceptions from the activists. I do believe that only the County can bring in some economic relief in the form of grants and loan interest loans.

Now all I want is the 218 vote by only property owners and know what the County Public Works Dept is prepared to proceed with a single project as soon as possible.

Yes I know I will be paying for all the delays brought on by this protracted process. If I can't afford to live here, then I will have to move. I can only hope that those who have created and contine the delays will also have to move long before my family.

- A Los Osos family for the past 35 years.

Anonymous said...

Bev. De Witt-Moylan here:

When I was in grad school I worked with a speech therapist who told me that children in the language learning developmental stages have to hear a word thousands of times before it becomes part of their functional language.

Following about sixteen months of defendants telling the board repeatedly - since the written submissions began in 2006 in preparation for the April 28 hearing and throughout all the other written submissions, public comment, and oral testimony over the past 16 months or so - that Water Board threats were scaring the people and taking attention away from the real issue of water quality, Dr. Press said yesterday that the emphasis on the enforcement's maximum fines and penalites was scaring the people and taking attention away from the real issue of water quality. While Dr. Press appeared to indicate that the emphasis on maximum fines and penalties was ours, and that they never meant for us to take them so hard, it was that observation that began the amazing segue into reason and logic that carried the rest of the day.

After having that numb, banging-your-head-against-a-wall feeling for all these months, after experiencing that awful, empty-eyed disconnect between what we were telling them and the board's responses, yesterday felt like a convergence of rational humans engaged in constructive problem solving.

It was a most satisfying, long-awaited day. I am so very happy for the rest of the town who are spared, at least for now, the difficult reality of facing enforcement. May we all make this our opportunity.

P.S.
To get back on topic, speaking of logic and reason, a wonderful column, Ann, and needed.

*pg-13 said...

> It was a most satisfying, long-awaited day. I am so very happy for the rest of the town who are spared, at least for now, the difficult reality of facing enforcement.

Dog be Praised!!!!!

Shark Inlet said...

I agree with Ann on her gun comments.

On the matter of the RWQCB ... whew.

It would be a mistake, however, to oppose the a 218 vote for any reason. Even if the order of the votes isn't perfect or you don't like TriW remaining or not remaining as an option.

If the 218 vote fails, the RWQCB would have justification for pursing enforcement actions, whether with maximum or "reasonable" penalties (which no one could afford either) and the project would be bumped back to the bankrupt LOCSD or worse, the State could step in and impose their own (likely even more expensive) solution.

4crapkiller said...

To PG-13:

Glock for hunting? Good for an intruder maybe or if you have a gang coming after you. But I used to hunt rabbits with a 22 revolver with my boyfriend when I was much younger.

He had a pack or really slow beagles. It was unfair to the rabbits to shoot them with a shotgun or rifle. We ate the rabbits, and because the pack was slow, they never caught a rabbit with the resulting dog fights and torn ears.

Actually I enjoy my freedom and that of my kids and grandchildren more than guns. I am a traditionalist. When I grew up, we did not have the type of crimes by nut cases that you see today. Kids were not being snatched, and people were far more civil. We grew up as a family, and no one in my community had even heard of dope or drugs for recreation. Unwed mothers went to a home to have their babies, and divorce was really strange. Athiests were shunned and homosexuals were where they belong, in the closet, not fighting boy scouts, and teaching in school the benefits of "alternate lifestyles". We were Americans and supported our country and our way of life.

I guess when the "feel good", "all for me", secular liberal progressives took hold, things started to change for the worse socially. We knew communists were the bad guys who wanted to enslave us. We still know that those who wish to take our guns away, like Hitler, like Stalin, and like any dictatorship, have something in store for us. It starts with the banning of handguns, then rifles and shotguns. Then the vote.

Yes, nutcases do not deserve the right to keep and bear arms any more than felons. Yes, we lose people to accidents, and people blow their brains out. Nut cases murder people for gain or because of anger.

But the nut cases see this happening in violent movies and on TV every day. They wage virtual war in video games. This is the true reality for nut cases.

We should remove the graphic violence from TV and movies.

*PG-13 said...

Thanks. That was a nice retrospective. It covers lots of territory and pretty much says it all: You don't like change.

Please, I don't say that disparagingly. You write about wonderful times. A time when kids were not being snatched, and people were far more civil. A time of much more family oriented community. A time of hunting rabbits with a 22 revolver and a pack of slow beagles. (Note 'revolver' not a semi-automatic with oversized clip.) Although some people might take issue with your take on out-of-marriage births, the social stigma of divorce, homosexuals belonging in the closet and anybody practicing any religion (or no religion) other than the community standard needing to be shunned. Yep, those were the good old days.

Too bad those good old days were ruined by the "feel good, all for me, secular liberal progressives" who were the agents of change for all things for the worse. They being even worse than Stalin and his commie bad guys who wanted to enslave us and Hitler who wanted to take our guns away. Oh my!

> It starts with the banning of handguns, then rifles and shotguns. Then the vote.

Of course. Why didn't I think of that? Its all so sensible and clear. Gun control, any gun control, no matter how minor or logical or sensible leads invariably to the banning of handguns, then rifles and shotguns. Then the vote. Gadzooks, what have you been drinking? Your sarsaparilla is going to your head! Brain freeze!!

Sorry, change is inevitable. Its a constant. In nature. And most especially in all things human. Chnages in nature are based in natural law. Changes spawned by humans are the joker in the deck. Simply put, no matter how much you may wish, your Mayberry is not a constant. Welcome to today. And what can we do now to make today work better even if we can't return to the good ole days of the past?

Anonymous said...

Mayberry never existed, and neither for most people did a lot of the past you're inventing - except maybe for some of the WASPs who used to make up a chunk of the citizenry before all those damn immigrants spoiled the place. You know, people from Europe and the British Isles, white people, WASPs. Your "past" wasn't much fun or very hospitable to anyone of color, anyone who was handicapped, anyone born with gender issues (hermaphrodites and homosexuals for instance) anyone who was desperately poor and couldn't afford another kid and wasn't allowed birth control, anyone who was retarded, anyone being sexually molested by trusted adults, women trying to make it in the business world, anyone who was mentally ill, anyone pregnant out of wedlock whose child was whisked away at birth so no one would be any the wiser, or couples whose marriages weren't at all fairy-tale but who had to stay together for appearances. Norman Rockwell painted the people in Arlington Vermont, solid citizens, but all WASPS...and not a homosexual among them? Luckily for you and your family, there was apple pie and chicken every Sunday and everyone took care of each other. For a very large number of people, such was not the case. It must be a nice feeling to have been an insider in the face of so many invisible outsiders.

Churadogs said...

Anony sez:"Mayberry never existed, and neither for most people did a lot of the past you're inventing -"

Read a wonderful book once, titled, I think,: "The Good Old Days: They Were Awful." If you read much history, you know that Mayberry really didn't exist, except in small enclaves for a lucky few, but those "Mayberrys" carried a terrible price for the rest of the world. Anon above points out reality for the majority of people. Not good. Nostalgia is nice, but it blinds us to just who we actually were and what we areally are now. And being egocentric by nature, we have a tendency to think that everyone's just like us or vice versa, that our past was THE past, that our history actually is THE history, without realzing "normal" isn't very "normal," history is as faceted as a diamond, reality depends on where you're standing (the old blind men examining and reporting on the "truth" of an elephant) and that we are an enormous range of "unique, majority-of-one-special interests" all colliding and bumping up against each other.

Your Mayberry memories are reality for you, but if you moved the focus a bit wider, you'd see that reality for others was far different.