Calhoun's Cannons for Sept 19, 2013
The US seems a country hell-bent on its own failure
Did you know that in Iowa, the very heartland of America, a legally blind man can go into a gun store and buy any kind of weapon he wants? It's true. And it's delicious to think about. The white cane. The guide dog. The AR-15. It's the perfect symbol for what America has become.
It's perfect because it's absurd, its potential for pointless, bloody death is extremely high, and nobody with a lick of sense seems to think that this was not a good idea. That's because, in America, guns trump public safety, trump common sense, trump everything. And the public's appetite for pointless, bloody death is still not slaked. Far from it. Our blood lust seems limitless.
Twenty-two little slaughtered kids didn't do the trick. Now, 12 more killings at the Washington Navy Yard hardly caused a ripple, except for the usual media hand-wringing: A few days of, Oh, Dear, sigh, well, nothing to be done, our hearts go out to the families, time for closure, let's move on. And we got a few days of the usual questions -- How did a deranged man get his hands on weapons without even a background check? The answers remain buried in the back pages, but I'll give you a hint: With the NRA's help, all sensible gun laws have carefully crafted loopholes built in to them to make the laws basically moot -- mere window dressing to shut up the noisy grieving parents and heart-broken, outraged communities.
That's because, in a country that finds nothing absurd in selling guns to blind people, gun ownership trumps everything. After all, it's a "right," and "rights" can always be demagogued even into absurdity -- one town's mandatory own/carry law that forces even blind fools into being gun-toting vigilantes. What can possibly go wrong with that?
And so we plod on, the body count growing, day by day. And that's clearly O.K. with us. That's how much we love our guns. More than our children, more than our fellow citizens. So we pretend to write gun laws that are more sieve than shield, then shift the blame for the mayhem to video games and mental health and poverty and poor schools, all of which can be ignored utterly since doing something about those interlocked and complicated things will require higher taxes and a heavy-lift commitment to create (and pay for) a decent society. So, that's off the table. Who wants a decent society when we can have a society that sells guns to blind people?
So America turns itself into one big "Jackass" movie. Absurd, idiotic, with a high potential for pointless, bloody, sophomoric mayhem. Which is why I now find myself turning the page and changing channels when news of another slaughter appears. It's not "compassion fatigue," really. More like "rerun fatigue." It's all become annoying background noise, like a loud lawnmower motor on a quiet Sunday morning; You know you can't do anything about it since your neighbor has a "right" to mow his lawn anytime he wants to, and his "right" to mow his lawn trumps your "right" to peace and quiet. So you block the sound from your mind since nothing will be done to change the situation.
It's a hell of a way to live, especially since We the People have the tools and the capacity to create a different country, but choose not to. And so we end up with a country that sees no problem in selling guns even to blind people. And then keeps wondering why things keep going so terribly wrong.