6/28/2008

#182 The Gun Society

Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine has been on my mind for a long time. Right wingers like to imagine that Moore's movies are simple, lefty denunciations of the American Way but that's mostly because many of Moore's interviews involve multi-syllable words that confuse and overwhelm the righties. There isn't much Moore can do about that, since he's interested in finding out how culture works and why our economic system is so screwed up. There isn't a lot of point in interviewing dumb people for that kind of information, so very few right wingers points of view end up in Moore's films. Even Moore's interviews of out-of-work minorities in Gary, Indiana provide more intellectual stimulation than a typical G.W. Bush speech. Listening to Carl Rove speak has been proven to actually lower the listeners' IQ, so that kind of interview would be completely out of context in a Moore documentary.

However, back to my point, Bowling for Columbine was a particularly brave film because Moore actually started with a premise and an expected conclusion and he ended up admitting he was unable to support his own expectation. Moore, obviously, expected to be able to say that gun availability explains the US's out-of-line gun violence. Toward the end of the movie, Moore visited Canada, just across the lake from Detroit (one of the US's most violent cities) and discovered that Canadians own more guns per capita than US citizens and they are dramatically less inclined to use them on each other. Massively disinclined, in fact. Moore concluded Columbine without a conclusion and some personal confusion.

I, however, have a theory. Way back in 1998, I wrote a business-related Rat Rant (#3) titled Teaching Quality. I have always believed that everything in business and society is driven top-down. Meaning, that people follow the example of the leaders. If a business's CEO is a crook, his employees will be less honest than they would be in a more ethical environment. Keep that CEO in power long enough and you'll have ENRON. If the leadership is customer-hostile, conservative and afraid of change, authoritative, sexist, racist, greedy, or foolish, that will be the culture of the business. If a nation is inclined to use violence as a first resort for every political and economic conflict, the citizens of that nation will assume that same tactic in resolving everyday problems.

There aren't a lot of nations in the world that are more inclined to use violence to resolve problems than the US. Our competition is Russia, several African nations, most of the Arab nations, and a fair bit of South America. Our polar opposites are Canada, most of Europe, and Japan. Several of the nations in that group of countries are easily as heavily armed, as individuals, as the US, but they are dramatically less inclined to shoot each other. Switzerland, being one of the most extreme examples, where practically every household possesses a military-grade weapon and a national guard member who is trained to use that weapon in his country's defense. Their national gun violence statistic is a fraction of a fraction of the United States' statistic, but they exemplify the definition of the 2nd Amendment far more accurately than do typical gun owners in the US.

This country will launch rockets, fire off cannons, send in troops, and redirect the gross national product in defense of any one of our major corporation's interests and do it without a second's thought for the lives taken for the holy dollar and for our royalty class. You will have to research long and hard to find another first world nation that is that quick to pull the trigger for trivial pursuits. If fact, you'll have to call China and Russia 1st world (something I would not do) to find a second example of such a vicious, violent successful culture.

Our Court of the Lowest Common Denominator reinforced all of the wrong conclusions about the 2nd Amendment in the most recent test of the nation's private gun ownership laws. Head loony and right wing mob boss, Fat Tony Scalia, said, "The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home." The court tossed out a 2-year old Washington D.C. law in rendering this extension of private gun ownership laws. As that city's mayor said, "More handguns in the District will mean more gun violence." Duh. But that isn't the concern of the CLCD. They are protecting the corporate interests of the gun manufacturers and nothing will come between those profits and the salaries of the execs for whom our government represents.
Stay tuned. This court is going to get a lot nutter in the next few decades. By the time Roberts and Scalia are through, we may need another Franklin Roosevelt to revise the makeup of the court to keep it from turning the country into a corporate fascist state. The far right wing of the court is easily that radical.

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