In A Brief Defence Of Guns…

In the spirit of Christmas and good cheer, I’d like to take a moment to speak about guns and people killing each other. Obviously this is a difficult topic; the recent events in the USA are abhorrent and have shocked the world, but a little should be said about gun law across the pond and the reaction that has taken place this side of it.

Whenever there is a mass shooting in the States the British public and press responds with overwhelming condemnation of American gun-law. Unlike them, Britain is united in its distaste for gun-ownership. The debate by gun prohibitionists was won in these Isles long ago, so regardless of whether a person leans to the left or the right they are likely to view the idea of owning a semi-automatic rifle as being pretty close to insanity. Because of this, intentionally or not, a faint air of smugness creeps into the commentary, a repetitive assertion that, “Of course we don’t get shootings like that here. We’re not stupid enough to legalise guns.”

But amidst all this mutual back-slapping, I’d like to defend that group that seems most alien to us in Britain, the American pro-gun lobby.

If a debate is to be had about something, it is because that thing is a trade-off. Debate exists when there are pros and cons; if a measure had only pros it would have been universally embraced, if it only had cons it would have been immediately dismissed. In Britain we seem to assume that gun ownership is all cons, but that flies in the face of reason. There must be some upside to keep the debate going, even if that upside has long ago vanished from our own shores.

I would suggest that that upside is dignity. There is a statistic that is often used by anti-gun groups: that those who carry a gun are more likely to get shot than those who don’t. To focus in on this is to ignore the wider implications. The reason why they are more likely to get shot is because they are more likely to fight back. Both types of person are attacked in this comparison, it’s just one meekly hands over their wallet and the other tries their luck. Obviously those who try their luck are more likely to get hurt, but they are also more likely to leave the situation with a higher degree of dignity. They made the choice and were willing to risk the injury for the right to defend themselves.

In Britain this is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around, because we have had such a vast cultural shift away from the right to self-defence and intervention. Undoubtedly many will find the assertion of peacefully handing over a wallet dignified in itself, but this goes to show how greatly we have become conditioned to submit to authorities other than ourselves. Without the means and right to defend ourselves, we have become more reliant on the police and thus ended personal responsibility.

So despite the horrendous atrocities that take place in the USA I can understand why they are reluctant to hand in their weapons. Once given up, a nation begins a slippery slide into passivity and submissiveness that is remarkably difficult to undo. We in the UK have already been through that process, until now we’ve reached the stage where the very notion of self-defence seems abhorrent. I hope the Americans do not fall into the same trap.

Yes we can! No you can’t!

I have to hand it to the democrats, they sure know how to stuff it all up. Just a mere two years ago Obama was swept to power with the democratic party holding both the senate and congress. It was assumed that we were facing a generation of democratic rule, with the republicans facing a long era lost in the wilderness. On the international stage, the election result was hailed as a breakthrough for sanity, with praises heaped upon the new administration. Indeed, Obama was even given a nobel peace price (seemingly for just not being Bush).

How times change. On Tuesday night the democrats got the biggest kicking seen in a generation. Broadcast around the world were images of dancing Republicans, celebrating their conquest of congress. Obama had been successfully been painted as an evil nazi communist muslim, and they were ready to “reclaim” America.

But rather than this being a proper movement, it is a confused mess. The republicans were reliant upon disaffected over-60’s who want more money for medicare, whilst also whipping up support with deficit reduction rhetoric. They claim to be libertarians, whilst embracing the religious right. They want the state out of their pockets, but still in their pants. What this amounts to is a confused mob, united whilst they are on the outside pissing in, but what on earth will happen now they have power?

America is in for a tough time. Obama faces a rabid congress whose sole aim is to de-construct everything he’s done over the past two years. He can either let them do so in exchange for moving forward with a mild and ineffective agenda, or he can fight them, causing gridlock and stagnation until 2012. Either way, not a lot is going to get done.

Two years. That’s all it took for the democrats to stuff it up. And just when the republicans looked like they couldn’t get any crazier, they run further into the hands of Sarah Palin, deluding themselves that the reason for losing the last election was the likeable moderate John McCain, rather than his lunatic running mate. I feel sorry for Americans, they electoral choice seems to be between the incompetent and the insane.

Oh, and the people of California voted against legalising cannabis. Tossers.

Midterm Blues

The economic downturn in the United States of America has sent the political spectrum swinging wildly. In government they have a left leaning President who has delivered on healthcare reform; something a large portion of the country thinks of as radical “socialism”.

Yet whilst the executive turns to big-state solutions, a libertarian wind is blowing to upset the political elite. This is no organised movement, however, and there are numerous eddies pulling this way and that, confusing any hope of a concise swing in the popular mind.

California has a huge budget deficit, and it is in this state that the libertarian movement has its strongest play. Today, whilst voting in the midterm elections, the citizens of California will vote on weather or not to legalise cannabis. It is estimated this will lead to savings/earnings of three billion dollars per year. It is of no surprise then, that this is the primary motivation for the sudden courage politicians have shown in supporting a “yes” vote.

If California legalises pot, then many other states could soon follow, the temptation of the massive savings, drops in crime, tax raised and health improvements could prove irresistible, especially with California pulling out into the lead above their neighbours. In turn, the rest of the world would be free to pursue their own legalisation agenda, something nations have been afraid to do previously, encase they were penalised by the USA.

If this is the small, yet hopeful breeze of libertarianism, the rise of the Tea (Taxed-Enough-Already) Party is the confused hurricane. They claim to be fighting for a smaller state against a government out of control and intent on meddling in peoples lives. Whilst that is an honourable endeavour, the conservative right has once again been manipulated by religion into sullying their own message with extremely un-libertarian goals of imposing their faith on others.

The political figure-head of the Tea Party is Sarah Palin, a woman widely mocked, yet who holds a talisman-like status amongst her followers. Tonight’s election results could see a great shift, not just from the democrats, but from traditional republicans into the hands of this new and dangerous force for ignorance.

Ted Haggard, The Second Coming?

Everybody’s favourite hypocrite, Ted Haggard, has relaunched himself onto the public stage. Haggard, who was disgraced back in 2006 by a sex and drugs scandal, held a prayer meeting at his home in Colorado Springs on Thursday Evening.

At his height, Ted Haggard was an immensely powerful evangelist who claimed to have the ear of then-President Bush. However, everything for poor Ted came crashing down when it turned out he’d been seeing and taking drugs with a gay prostitute. Given that this was against everything he’d ever preached, we all found it hilarious (and ironically the closest thing to evidence I’ve ever seen for the existence of a god).

And now he is back! Using the prayer meeting as a possible launch pad for a new church he met with press outside his home.

“For the people who come tonight, that means they believe in the resurrection in me,” he said. “Because I died. I was buried.”

Is this a new beginning for Ted Haggard? I hope so, because with him representing Christians more people will be turned off religion entirely.

To see Haggard (pre-disgrace) check out Richard Dawkins’ documentary, “The Root Of All Evil” in which he interviews Haggard about evolution. If the man does not give you nightmares, you’re a stronger person than I.

Welcome back Ted!!