Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gun Control Equals Murder

Exactly once in my life have I felt like I was two inches tall. It was about eleven years ago, when I was in a secretary's office. While she was out of the room I looked around and saw, on her shelf, two pictures with a teen-age girl in each one. I knew them, but couldn't remember anything about them. Even stranger, they appeared to be twins. How could I completely forget two twin girls?

When the secretary returned, I commented, "I know those girls from someplace, but I can't remember where."

To this she replied, "You've seen those pictures in the newspaper. Those are my daughters, the ones who were killed on the old Chain of Rocks bridge."

"Oh," I said. Then, "I'm sorry; I didn't make the connection."

"That's okay," she said. "Don't worry about it."

I felt like I could have crawled in a mouse hole. When I told a friend about this, he put his hand over his eyes and said, "Oh, God."

The old Chain of Rocks bridge, which in far north St. Louis, was closed down sometime in the '60s. We used to party on it in high school, hundreds, sometimes a thousand of us. These days it is a bike and walk-way from Illinois to Missouri. In between the end of the parties and the start of the bikes, it was known for one thing: two 19-year-old girls (who weren't twins, but just looked a lot like each other) who were murdered on it.

They were, like their mother, less than five-feet-tall, and less than one-hundred pounds. Tiny little girls. I've worked out with weights that weigh more then they did.

They had taken their visiting cousin, a teenage boy, to show him their poetry they had written on the bridge. I don't remember exactly what it was about, but I believe it was the sort of idealistic "We can all get along" poetry than teen-age girls sometimes write.

While they were on it, four teen-age boys found the girls on the bridge, raped them, then threw them over the side. The drop to the Mississippi is about 60 feet. I have been on that bridge many times, and I wouldn't want to jump off of it. I'd live, because I could make it to the shore. . .but two tiny girls wouldn't be able to.

Only one body was ever found. Their cousin was made to jump over the side, but he was able to swim to the shore.

The police found all four boys rapidly. Like all criminals, they were stupid. One left his flashlight with his name on it on the bridge. All of those over the age of sixteen were convicted and given the death penalty; the 15-year-old got 30 years.

One of the rapist/murderers was executed, and swore right up to the point the needle was stuck in his arm he was innocent. Which he wasn't.

The leader got life in prison, because his IQ was so low and he was abused as a kid. However, he was smart enough to try to cover his crime.

The 15-year-old boy got 30 years but was let out after 15. He was going to be paroled earlier but said he didn't want out. Guilt, I suppose. When he did finally get out he wrote the family a letter of apology.

The other three never admitted their guilt or showed any remorse or contrition.

When people tell me they are for gun control this is the case I always bring up.

If those girls had had even a two-shot .22 derringer on them, they would be alive today. Criminals are not only stupid, they also cowards. Even if they had shot the leader – who almost always has the biggest mouth – the rest would have run.

Even if they would have had a knife with a big enough blade – maybe three, three-and-one-half inches – they'd probably still be alive.

When a version of this article was published, I made a bet with myself that at least one idiot would email me and say it would be a bad thing for those girls to have a pistol. I got only one, fortunately, but I did win that bet.

I was reminded of that old saying that a liberal is someone who would rather see a woman raped and strangled with her own pantyhose that see her defend herself with a pistol.

I sometimes have this fantasy I run across this scene, and just happen to have my .357 Sig Sauer on me. The one I load with Magsafes, frangible ammo that are like little shotgun shells. I think I would make all four of those boys jump off the bridge. And if they didn't, I'd shoot them in their both their feet and then their knees. I'd have to reload, but that's okay. And then I'd disappear, and nobody ever finds out who I am.

In the last ten years I have yet to find anyone who can come up with a reason for gun control.

I'm still waiting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Mythological Slice of Braveheart

You can learn more from a good movie or even a good cartoon than you can from the shambling, twitchy, semi-autistic egghead/nerds that infest and corrupt Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Someday, Ph.D.s will disappear, as will those those three colleges. Considering the horrors these reality-challenged nerdlings have visited on the U.S. -- and the world -- it will be for the better.

Think "Vietnam" and "the Best and the Brightest." Think "Iraq". . .maybe think "Iran."

Here's an example of what I mean about good movies: I used to think Mel Gibson was little more than a pretty boy with moderate acting ability. After seeing Braveheart some years ago I realized I was wrong, very wrong. He has a brain, and it's a good one, and he uses it. My opinion of him has done a 180 degree turn, and I now see him as the most impressive and culturally aware movie-maker out there.

I can't say the same for Ron Howard, not after The DaVinci Code.

Many people have complained Braveheart is in some ways historically inaccurate, and at times grossly so. The critics are right: it is. Here's one example of pure fantasy: in one scene the English send Irish conscripts charging the Scottish lines. As the Irish reach the lines, they stop, shake hands with the Scottish, then turn to face and fight the English. It never happened, and that's too bad, because the scene is one of the most important in the movie.


Because what really happened is this: the English used Welsh archers to try and mow down the Scottish.

Why did Gibson ignore what really happened and instead create a bit of mythology? Here is what I think is the answer: all tyrants use the strategy of "divide and conquer." It's why the English used Celtic Welsh archers to mow down their Celtic Scottish brothers.

What Gibson was showing us is this: in his version, while literally untrue but still showing us a higher and nobler truth, the Celtic Irish won't do England's bidding and kill their Celtic Scottish brothers. Instead, they join them to fight the English, who, being Anglo-Saxon, are German (the original British displaced by Germanic invaders now live on the coast of France, in a place called. . .guess what?. . .Brittany).

What's that old saying? "Either we hang together or we most certainly will hang separately." That's what Gibson is telling us: don't fight your brothers, stand with them against your common enemy -- or enemies. Be aware of the fact that all tyrants try to divide you so they can conquer you. Don't fall for it. Be aware of what's going on.

Gibson, who is of Celtic ancestry, clearly despises the English, even today (see his movie, The Patriot, if you want to see further proof of this). Why? Perhaps because the English king Oliver Cromwell killed or kicked out one-third of Ireland's population, almost all of them Catholic, because Cromwell thought Catholics were heretics. Gibson, as it is well-known, is a devout Catholic.

Then, of course, there were the Clearances in Scotland, in which many villages were burned to clear them of their people, leading many of them to leave Scotland and be scattered around the world. After these burnings and clearings, for many years, about six families owned most of Scotland.

Had everyone -- Welsh, Irish, Scottish -- hung together, would all three countries been conquered by Cromwell? Would the genocide have occurred? I doubt it. But they didn't, and so they hung separately.

That is Gibson's message: families (ethnic families), don't fight each other. Fight those trying to divide and conquer you. If you don't hang together, then you will hang separately.

Gibson also points out who the enemies are: corrupt government, as it always is, and the corrupt, treasonous and incompetent political, economic and intellectual "elites" -- be they named George Bush or Bill Gates or Wal-Mart or David Frum or Rush Limbaugh, or Bill and Hillary Clinton, or Ted Kennedy, or John Kerry, or Al Franken.

In Braveheart, the land-owning Scottish nobles, in another eye-opening scene, purposely leave the the field of battle, refusing to support Gibson's character, the Scottish hero, William Wallace. They were corrupted by their own self-interest (which they put above their nation, and their people) and their lust for money, land and power. Instead of sacrificing themselves for their country and their people, they sacrificed their people and their country for their own narrow, deluded, short-term selfish interests.

Only they didn't know this. Instead, they thought they were benefactors! As always, all tyrants think this, even today.

Nation, tribe and family, Gibson tells us, are above government and our backstabbing elites (even today, especially today) and those things are what we must rely on to repel that which threatens to destroy us. And what will destroy us are not "enemies" from the outside, but the inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

The theologian Walter Wink (author of The Powers That Be) writes of what he calls the Myth of Redemptive Violence. This myth, he writes, is the belief that violence, especially administered by the State, is necessary and restorative to make people whole. Violence equals health, you might say, or in Orwellian terms, War is Peace.

He believes this myth is one of the oldest known, and runs back to the Babylonian creation story, (the Enuma Elish) from around 1250 B.C.E. This story, he tells us, keeps reappearing, even today, even in something as innocuous as children's cartoons.

According to the myth, in the beginning Apsu, the father-god, and Tiamat, the mother-god, give birth to all the other gods. But the younger gods are so rowdy in their partying their parents decide to murder them so they can sleep. Their children uncover the plot and kill Apsu. Tiamat, also known as the Dragon of Chaos, swears vengeance.

Terrified, the rebellious gods turn for help to their youngest, Marduk. His price is dear: he wants to be undisputed ruler. Having gained this promise, he catches Tiamat in a net, drives an evil wind down her throat, pierces her belly and heart with an arrow. He then smashes her skull with a club and scatters her blood. From her corpse he creates the universe.

In this myth, creation is an act of extreme violence. Life comes from death. As the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur has pointed out, order is established by means of disorder. Tiamat (the Dragon of Chaos) is prior to the "order" imposed by Marduk by violence. The gods themselves are astonishingly violent. Evil precedes Good; in such a case only great violence by the latter can control the former.

Now contrast this Babylonian myth with the one in Genesis: Good precedes Evil. Creation is essentially good, but has been corrupted by Man, overwhelmingly through a combination of his awakening to self-consciousness and narcissism that leads to the scapegoating based on envy. The result was the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

What we have are two diametrically opposed stories: Evil precedes Good, necessitating violence to impose "order," or Good precedes Evil, meaning violence, however well-intended, will never return us to the Garden. In the first instance existence is inherently corrupt; in the second it isn't, but has been corrupted by us. In the first, Good grows out of Evil; in the second, Evil is twisted (or as C.S. Lewis called it, "bent") Good.

The first story is not only un-Christian, but anti-Christian. It is the most pagan of pagan horrors. In the first, existence is inherently a horror, in the second the horror is secondary, caused by the corruption of an inherently good cosmos. In the first the preferred response is revenge.

In the first story people are by nature incapable of peacefully co-existing and must have order imposed from above by strong rulers who, according to the myth, are motivated by little more than a lust for power and violence. In the second the need for a powerful authority, and the lust, are themselves the corruption. The first is an excuse for slavery and fascism; the second, an argument for freedom.

It can be argued (and I would agree with it) that a conservative is one who believes human nature is corrupt and that society represses or transforms the imperfections in it. In the latter case it would, for an example, attempt to turn envy into admiration.

But notice that it is a voluntary society that does these things, not the coercive (and inherently pagan) State. I'd argue that a true conservative believes there is much good in human nature, but it has been corrupted. To believe this is to believe people can redeem themselves, can change for the better. Unless there is some goodness in us – and because of that we instinctively know what it is – we cannot "return" to it. And that return, that true change of heart and mind, can only come about voluntarily, through persuasion. That, to me, is the Christian view.

The pagan view, on the other hand, believes might makes right, the violence is necessary and redeeming, that the Good (and order) imposed on Evil (and chaos) is usually motivated by vengeance and the lust for power. Whatever philosophy it hides behind, whatever ideology is used to justify it, underneath all of them it is the belief that the gods smile upon conquerors, that peace can only come about through war, that security not liberty is the highest good.

That ancient myth does not exist in its pure form today in the Western world. It was ameliorated by the influence of Christianity, although Christianity today has been influenced and therefore perverted by it. But in whatever form it exists, that Babylonian myth is far from finished, even today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My First Novel

"Shut up, maggot," evilly cackled the sadistic guard as he ground our hero's face into the dirt with his jackboot. "You're only alive because the State wants you alive!"

His evil cackle turned into a terrified shriek as our hero's love -- her brain encased in a nuclear-powered robodog -- used her nose laser to slice through the bars, removed the guard's gonads with her titanium teeth, and then hurled herself through the opposite window.

Our hero climbed to his feet, muttered "You fascist pig!" to the guard, now curled unconscious in a fetal position, kicked him in his decaying teeth, scattering them throughout the room, then headed out the window after his true love, knowing they would met in the clinic in Switzerland, where her brain would be replaced in the luscious body he knew so well.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Accursed Deodands!

I never ceased to be amused by how little the human race has changed in probably the last 30,000 or so years. We still believe in idols (like the State), talismans (like the Constitution) and spells (which we now call propaganda). And we still believe in curses and deodands.

The first time I read the word "deodand" was in Jack Vance's book, The Dying Earth. He used it to describe a totally black, man-shaped cannibalistic monster with red eyes. His vivid description of this creature, coupled with the almost poetic sound of the word, imprinted it on my mind.

At first I thought Vance had created the word (he also referred in his writings to tossing someone in a lake as "subaquation"). Years later, I found that he hadn't. But his use of it – an evil object – was accurate.

A deodand is a medieval superstition that actually made its way into the law in those days. It's based on the concept of "the guilty object." If an object, say a weapon or cart, killed or injured a human, it was declared a deodand and forfeited to the king.

It wasn't uncommon during that time for an animal that had been involved in injury to a person to be condemned, dressed in clothing, then burned at the stake or hanged. The last time this happened was in Switzerland in 1906.

The word deodand is from the Latin "deo dandum," which means "given to God." Its origin is often attributed to the passage in Exodus that reads, "[i]f an ox gore a man or woman, that they die, then the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh not eaten..."

It's an ancient and silly superstition, yet since people today still believe in spells, talismans and idols, there is no reason whatsoever for them to not believe in deodands and curses.

I suspect the origin of the deodand lies in our inherent tendency to scapegoat, or project our problems onto something outside of us. I once caught my three-year-old nephew stealing change out of my car. When I caught him, he ran, fell on his face, then jumped up and cried, "You made me fall!" He even pointed his finger at me, as if he had a magic wand ("I curse you, Uncle Deodand!").

Apparently, destroying a deodand is revenge, although I don't think I would get any satisfaction out of hanging a cow. But then, during the '70’s, I do remember seeing autoworkers smash Japanese cars with sledgehammers.

The concept of the deodand partly explains the destruction of the World Trade Center. Bring down these symbolic "evil objects," get some revenge, and then people in foreign countries dance in the streets to express their glee and satisfaction. Until, of course, we deodandize their cities.

Currently, in the U.S., guns and tobacco are cursed as deodands. Those who oppose them consider them to be inherently evil objects, even though a pistol or a cigarette will just quietly lie there forever without hurting anyone.

Tobacco has already legally been declared a deodand; hence, all the money tobacco companies have to forfeit to the State – that modern idol and false god. Opponents of firearms are trying to do the same with them, although so far, fortunately, they haven't had much luck.

Deodands were especially popular during the '80s, when the State was trying to steal peoples' property on the flimsiest of excuses. In one case, an innocent woman lost a $600, eleven-year-old Pontiac because her husband was caught with a prostitute while in it. The court ignored the fact this taking of her property without compensation was a violation of her rights under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In fact it commented, "cases authorizing actions of the kind at issue are too firmly fixed in the punitive and remedial jurisprudence of the country to be now displaced." This court's comments reminds me of what Paul Newman said in the movie, Cool Hand Luke: "Calling it your job don't make it right, boss."

The rationale behind a deodand was that all property "derived from society," and if people violated the law they forfeited any right they had to it. Supposedly, returning the property to the king (or the State) somehow removed the curse from the property. How taking property from the rightful owner and giving it to someone else removed the curse has never been explained. The reason, I believe it is obvious, is because it doesn't. It's just a money-grab by greedy people working for the State. This is what Thomas Hobbes meant when he wrote, "Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money."

The gun "buy-back" programs so popular several years ago were a case of the State buying "cursed" deodands and then punishing them by destroying them. Looked at this way, it isn't that much less silly than executing a horse. Since many more people are killed a year in car wrecks than by guns, perhaps it really isn't such a bad idea to bash cars with sledgehammers.

The idea of the deodand didn't make much headway in the U.S. until the War Between the States, when the Confiscation Act of 1862 authorized seizing the properties of rebels who owned property in the North. After that, it escalated to ridiculous levels.

In one case in 1926 a man lost his automobile because he lent it to the dealer from whom he had bought it, who then lent it to someone else, who used it to illegally transport liquor – all without the owner's knowledge.

In a more recent case, a yacht-leasing company lost a yacht because the lessor, or a visitor, left a marijuana cigarette butt on the ship.

The '70s and '80s saw legislation really get out of hand (but then, those last five words describes what always happens to the government). Here's some of the laws passed: the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO); the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Act (CCE); the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970; the Psychotropic Substances Act of 1978; the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1982; the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984; the Comprehensive Drug Penalty Act of 1984; and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986: the Comprehensive Anti-Ugliness and Anti-Stupidity Act of 1989 (okay, I made the last one up). Altogether, more than 200 federal forfeiture laws have been passed.

None had the slightest effect on crime, which is understandable when it is realized these "laws" do nothing more than lay curses on objects and then try to remove them by stealing them from the owners. I suppose this means politicians are actually witches. Thieving witches. Although I suspect that in their minds they somehow see themselves as priest-kings.

Fortunately, after an almost decade-long effort an unlikely coalition of organizations (the ACLU and the National Rifle Association among others) headed by Representative Henry Hyde, pushed through the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), which was signed by President Clinton in April 2000. It helped to stop some of the abuses. What should be done is that the legal concept of the deodand should be gotten rid of completely.

What actually is evil is not the deodand, but the State. Consider this case: Donald Scott, a 61-year-old millionaire wrongly suspected of growing marijuana on his 200-acre ranch in Malibu, California, was shot and killed in front of his wife when 30 local, state, and federal agents burst into their house to serve them with a search warrant.

Awakened by the commotion and his wife's screams, Scott grabbed his handgun and was descending the stairs when he was murdered. After a five-month investigation, the Ventura County attorney concluded that the evidence of Scott's "drug cultivation" submitted to obtain the warrant was non-existent. Testimony also revealed that Scott was "fanatically anti-drug."

Ominously, Scott had refused to sell his ranch to the U.S. National Park Service. His refusal made especially frightening the district attorney's finding that U.S. National Park Service police were present during the raid, that at the final police briefing before the raid, the possible government seizure of Scott's ranch was discussed; and that documents reviewed at an earlier meeting included a property-appraisal statement. In other words, the State's curse on marijuana was used to "bear false witness" against Scott so his property could be declared a deodand and stolen from him.

If the saying, "the love of money is the root of all evil" applies to everyone, then even those who try to use the State as a magic amulet to protect themselves are not exempt from it, no matter how much they pretend they are. And while this is no such thing as a cursed object, I have no doubts at all that there are cursed people.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guns as Equalizers

Pistols, in the 19th Century, were called “equalizers” because they made the tiniest woman equal to the biggest man. I’m not even going to say I’m a believer, because I don’t “believe” it’s true, no more than I believe 2+2=4. It just is true.

I have known three women who were murdered. I did not know them personally. One was strangled by a serial killer a few weeks after I left my job and she was hired. She was a small young woman, and for that matter, the guy who killed her wasn’t that big. I could have taken him, which is why these guys kill the weaker, such as women.

It turned out the guy who murdered her was a serial killer, and over 12 years or so he killed half-a-dozen women before he was caught and got life in prison.

The other two were sisters, and I did meet their mother. They were raped and thrown off of a bridge by four teenagers.

In each case, if these women would have had a pistol, or even a knife, they would have survived. Even a two-shot, .22 derringer would have saved their lives, just with the threat of it, if nothing else.

I once wrote an article about the two sisters, and made a silent bet with myself that at least one imbecile would tell me young people should not carry guns. I responded, “So you’re saying it’s okay that these women were raped and murdered, then?” and got no response.

I am reminded of the classical definition of a liberal: someone who would rather see a woman raped and strangled with her own panty-house rather than defend herself with a handgun.

I think it should be a law that everyone has to carry a concealed handgun. Sure, there would be an adjustment period in which those genetically and character-deficient were eliminated, but in the long-run (meaning a few weeks) society would be much more peaceful.