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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
Number of posts: 17,671

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Young earth creationism and Orwell's 1984.

I revisited 1984 the other day (hey, Audible deal of the day for three bucks) and was reminded of this:

(O’Brien) ‘We are the priests of power,’ he said. ‘God is power.’

(Winston) 'But the world is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny – helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.’

(O’Brien) ‘Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.’

(Winston) ‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals – mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’

(O’Brien) 'Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth – century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he should come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.'

When ideology of any kind becomes more important than humanity, horrible injustice is the result.

I'm from the south.

I spent most of my life there. When I was young my politics were as deep red fundamentalist Christian conservative as any you’ve ever seen. But then I reached, as Bill Maher says, the age of reason. I decided that the cultural attitudes and political ideology of my youth were wrong. It wasn’t easy. There wasn’t anybody around to support my decision. In fact, there was active resistance. It alienated friends and family. It affected every job I got thereafter. But I persisted, because I knew it was the right thing to do.

It was the right thing to do because I saw how people in the south got treated and how southerners treated each other. I saw workers of every race screwed over by corporations, lied to by religion and traumatized by education. At the same time I saw poor and middle class southerners of every race, creed, and sexual orientation quietly working together in peace to try and have a better life while getting screwed over at every turn.

After graduate school in the north I finally moved away from the south to an unabashedly liberal community and I have seen the same bigotry that gets blamed on the south every day. It comes from people who have had their liberalism handed to them on a silver platter. They have enjoyed the privilege of marinating in an ideology they didn’t have to earn. For many of them, liberalism is little more than social plumage.

There is an especially dangerous and ugly kind of bigotry beneath the feathered plumage of ideological arrogance. Liberals, or progressives if you will, are supposed to support others and help them have a better life, not use them as a foil to prove the bona fides of their liberal ensemble. Behaving that way is dangerous because the obvious arrogance and bigotry of such an attitude makes it impossible to build a successful political coalition. If you behave that way not only will people not work with you, they will actively work against you. And there will always be somebody out there willing to exploit that division.

When ideology becomes an affectation it also becomes a product. The people that profit most from ideology as a product are the 1%, and they are selling us the tools of our own destruction. They pit us against each other by turning citizens into consumers. The result is the Morton Downey horse race culture war scrum that American politics has become. It's nobody else's job to tell us how right we are. It's up to us to prove that we can make what we believe work for them.

There are other contibuting factors to a roll off in gun purchases.

A more important one might be market saturation.

In terms of the symbolic importance of guns, the features of guns that make them dangerous for innocents makes them equalizers for innocents in the event of an assault. That merry go round of potentialities underlies the entire debate. So whenever there is a mass shooting, calls for the elimination of guns are matched with the desire to acquire them for defense.

The Navy Yard shooting and Sandy Hook, while both mass shootings, involved a different set of victims and their role in our culture. Sandy Hook involved children while the Navy Yard shooting involved the military. Never mind that guns are not commonly carried on military bases and certainly not in office buildings, any organization with the word "navy" in it calls to mind rough and ready soldiers kicking ass and taking names at the drop of a hat. The murder of defenseless children in what should be in a place as safe as their homes personalizes the experience for the public in a way that the killing of people associated with the military would not.

I expect a bunch of factors combine to make the Navy Yard shooting a less viable product for lobbyist group and firearm manufacturer profit. He used the wrong gun for the wrong reasons on the wrong people too soon after the last mass shooting and too late after landmark legislation had run its course. The result was outrage fatigue, legislation fatigue, stereotype confusion, and an event that does not fit the ideologically based business model of the outrage manufacturers and fearmongers that feed off of both sides of the issue.
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