Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guns: The New Front Line of Irrationality

It is no secret that there is no longer any place for rationality and deliberation among those of opposing points of view in our political system. The only thing we may fail to appreciate is how many tentacles the behemoth of irrationality has. The one that seems to get the most attention is blind ideology over taxation, culminating in an absurd pledge to oppose all taxation that has destroyed any collegial relationships among our nation’s lawmakers, the fundamental enablers of behind-the-scenes bargaining.

That unbending stand on taxation easily grew into the equally menacing tentacle of socialism as the new “Red menace.” Under the guise of menacing language about “nanny states,” this ideology has managed to promulgate the position that the principle of government seeing to the needs of the public good is just plain un-American. Apparently, we are a nation of rugged individuals who worship at the High Church of Social Darwinism. Those who can’t make it should be allowed to perish before they breed any progeny.

It thus makes sense that the next tentacle should basically deal with the perishing of those who can't make it more specifically. One might say that the Social Darwinist position on gun control is that anyone who cannot defend himself/herself with an assault rifle deserves to be killed off by someone who can. This is, admittedly, a somewhat hyperbolic interpretation of John Diaz’ editorial in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, in which he declares that any debate on gun control is “ruled by absolutism and intimidation;” but, if my wording is exaggerated, I like to think of it as hyperbole in the cause of clarification.

Remember, we are talking about ideology at its most destructive. As Diaz observes, the gun lobby is as dedicated to eliminating opposition as the anti-tax lobby is. This is basic military thinking: The opposition is the enemy, and the best way to defeat the enemy is to wear down its numbers. The Congressional machinery of review, deliberation, debate, and negotiation simply does not figure into the equation. All that matters is strength in numbers. After all, if you win the argument, doesn’t that mean you’re right? Isn’t that the fundamental principle of democracy?

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