Archive for January, 2013

Gun Control: Why Background Checks and a Database for the Mentally Ill Will Not Work

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Today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords begged lawmakers at an emotional hearing to act quickly to curb firearms because “Americans are counting on you.”

At the same hearing, a top official of the National Rifle Association NRA rejected proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and said requiring background checks for all gun purchases would be ineffective because the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to enforce the law as it is.

Which is true, especially since the NRA has been working hard to make sure that enforcement of such background checks and similar restrictions is almost impossible to do.

But that is a different discussion. Or is it?

The hearing kicked off a year in which President Barack Obama and members of Congress are promising to make gun restrictions a top priority. Obama has already proposed requiring background checks for all gun sales and reviving both an assault weapons ban and a 10-round limit on the size of ammunition magazines, and several Democrats have introduced bills addressing those and other limitations.

Under persistent questioning from Sen. Patrick Leahy from Vermont, NRA’s Wayne LaPierre conceded that in a reversal, his organization no longer supports universal background checks for gun purchasers. According to a 2012 poll conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 74 percent of NRA members support mandatory background  checks for all gun purchases, a position that the NRA has stridently opposed. So who is the NRA representing?

Let’s say that they indeed make conducting universal background checks into law.

So what?

That won’t change anything with respect to gun violence.  Remember that neither Lanza nor his mother nor the Colorado shooter nor most any of these recent perpetrators had a criminal background. Lanza himself wasn’t even officially owning  a gun – his mother was who – had she in fact undergone a background check – would have come out clean.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell: "If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opporttunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell: “If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opporttunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school.”

So this fight over something that is going to be ineffective anyway, such as background checks,  does not really only address the issue, it is a waste of time. Sure, it cannot harm and in this case addresses the low hanging fruit, namely those with criminal backgrounds that surely will not be getting a gun (which is a good thing but common sense) but it will not do anything with respect to those who don’t fall under that particular category.

The same is true with a database for the mentally ill – as if mental illness wasn’t already a stigma; now we are going to make sure we have a database of such already marginalized people that could lead to a serious reluctance by those people to seek help, out of concern that they end up on some national database for anyone, including employers, to access.

Furthermore, such rounding up of the mentally ill, if you so will, misses a few key points:

1) Not all mentally ill people are dangerous; a majority of them are not and, in fact, a lot of them are more likely to be the victims of gun violence, or violence and abuse, than its perpetrator;

2) Not all criminals are mentally ill in the sense that they can be rehabilitated. It is unclear whether the drive to kill, a lack of empathy and the desire to harm others is a mental illness or just evil without any diagnosable and thus treatable cause. This brings us to the next point which is that…

3) …If someone were dangerously disease minded, they would not self identify, walking into a shrink’s office stating “Hey Doc, I’m a sociopath“.

The debate of today and opposition by the NRA to background checks and the proposition to now go after the mentally ill is window dressing and a waste of time because it is by far the least important and effective part of gun control. Most importantly, it is a distraction from the real issue behind all the gun violence and gun deaths: guns. Too many fucking guns.

The number of guns in civilian hands need to be reduced in this country, if not completely abolished, while the rest is being licensed and regulated. The more of that stuff lies around, just numbers wise, the more likely someone with bad intentions is going to pick one up and do bad things with it.

Background checks, or lack thereof, will not truly and effectively address the issue.

The NRA doesn’t give a shit about constitutionality, freedom and the rights of the people they preach about wanting to uphold; they are the lobbying arm of the gun merchants, exploiting the Second Amendment to make sure said gun merchants can unload their merchandise onto the public, unhindered. They aren’t even representing their own members, the 74 percent, who are for background checks.

Note that firearms are the only consumer product not regulated by a federal agency for health and safety. This unique exemption has been exploited by the gun industry as it has moved to embrace increased lethality as the foundation of its design, manufacturing, and marketing efforts in the wake of the long-term decline in household gun ownership.

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Image: Dubi Kaufmann – Dubster.com

The NRA actually got a program passed to help people whose gun purchasing rights were revoked to petition for them to be restored.

Felons Finding It Easy to Regain Gun Rights,” was a chilling New York Times report in November of 2011 exposing the NRA’s hard work to insure that our criminals and mass murderers remain the best equipped criminals and mass murderers in the world.  After all, why should someone’s Second Amendment rights be abridged just because they’re a violent criminal? Or because twnety children were massacred in their class rooms? Or because some 30,000 people die of gun violence each year in this country?

It is clear the NRA is working not for the safety of its constituents, and much less of that of America,  but for the free flow of firearms form their closest companions, the $12-billion-a-year gun industry. Background checks will change nothing about that. And as long this very issue is not addressed, deaths from guns will continue to remain a notable feature of the American landscape.

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Quote of the Day

She's every woman

She’s every woman

Beyoncé pisses me off. She is such an out of touch, overprivileged and pretentious puke who rarely seems to be taking the time to examine her privilege, such as when she said this:

 “When I gave birth, that was the first time I truly let go and surrendered. And it taught me how amazing that feels… Giving birth made me realize the power of being a woman. I have so much more substance in my life. And expressing that excitement and that sensuality and the connection I have with my husband—I’m a lot more comfortable with that now. I actually feel like my child introduced me to myself.”

-Beyoncé, GQ

Yes, because that is totally what womanhood and being a woman and empowered is all about: giving birth. In fact, that is our entire raison d’etre as women…to give birth because otherwise we are nothing but unhappy, sloppy, weak, man hating, disgusting, bitter wrecks who don’t know themselves and are lost in a sea of meaninglessness just killing the time in between giving births.

I am so glad B is totally not validating the view of every misogynist, Right wing, Republican nut job who has worked long and hard to reduce a woman’s entire being and diminish her rights accordingly, based on her birth giving abilities and willingness, even going so far as to place the existence of a bunch of cells in the gestation period above the life and choices, autonomy, humanity, dignity and wishes of a woman.

Thanks Beyoncé, you privileged Oreo, for proving once again that women are, more or less, uteri attached to a female body with the added bonus of a fuck hole;  thank you for making being a woman and empowered all about reproductive capacity – especially adding salt to the wound of those who are reproductively challenged or experience some other health issue that makes giving birth hard or impossible and who are made to feel incomplete because of notions you perpetrate; not to mention those who simply may not want to be mothers because they do not define their happiness and sense of fulfillment and worth as a human being by whether they had a child or not. 

Thanks for not only making them all feel like worthless, incomplete human beings and women, but for also essentially validating the views of all who reduce a woman’s personhood and humanity to her reproductive capacity. 

Given such enlightened sentiments, I am totally surprised at the onslaught of legislative attacks on reproductive rights with law makers believing that they have every right to control and dictate and legislate a woman’s reproductive choices by, in fact, taking away those very choices they allege women have, forcing them to do something with their body they do not want to do, and thus without their consent –  much like a rapist who uses physical force to force a woman to do something she does not want and thus without her consent – even going so far as to declare a child resulting from an actual, literal, act of rape divine providence; legislators who assert that a woman’s personhood is debatable and that she has little rights if she doesn’t use her body to give birth.

I am not the word police here or trying to blow things out of proportion. I just really would like to point out how deeply entrenched patriarchy – and all of its adverse consequences for some – is in our society and that such sentiments say a lot about how these issues, especially women, are viewed and are viewing themselves. I know Beyoncé is deeply religious so that might definitely have something to do with her attitude of wholeness connected with motherhood.  Religion, after all, was born out of patriarchy, male dominance and misogyny.

This is also not a judgment on women who are parents and who made that choice. This is about a culture that works hard on many levels –  subtle or obvious, direct or indirect – to take away the choice from women who do not want to follow the traditional path; a culture that devalues and judges women, seeing them as less than or lacking in some way and thus being incomplete if they exercise their autonomy and choice, to not be a parent; a culture where women have to constantly justify and explain their private, reproductive,  family and lifestyle choices to strangers and law makers who look at them with astonishment and even a sense of pity for not being or not wanting to be a mommy; this is about women being socialized, encouraged, cajoled, and coerced into childbearing from the moment of birth.

So, Beyoncé, get back to never, never land with glitter and diamond encrusted pacifiers for the daughter whom you are going to teach all about the virtues of human and woman hood, namely giving birth. 

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Gun Facts: United States and United Kingdom

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Source: GunPolicy.org

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The Women of Twin Peaks: Lara Flynn Boyle

Donna Hayward – Laura’s Best Friend

 

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Atheism Under Review at CNN – Proceed at Your Own Risk

Last week. CNN’s iReport section featured an essay by a mother explaining why she has chosen to raise her children without God. Within hours, the essay got flagged as “inappropriate” that upon clicking the link on CNN’s website, the following blackened screen appeared basically warning readers that they are about to enter the seventh circle of Dante’s Inferno or something and that CNN is currently “reviewing” the page.

CNN atheist under review

I understand that the warning was probably automatically generated after the essay received a certain number of flags.  However, it is interesting to note that such warnings are never generated for Christian proclamations of religiosity. But god forbid, pun totally intended, that someone identify themselves as an atheist because then all hell breaks loose. The way this woman  – who has been merely sharing her story and in no shape telling others what to do and what to believe – has been bullied in the comments section, not to mention the fact that her essay was flagged in the first place,  is quite disturbing.

It is also a testament to the sad state of affairs where apparently merely identifying as an atheist is enough to set people off and prompt them to attack you or get defensive.

Religious people complain often that they are misunderstood and that their beliefs are under attack, even though they themselves and the policies they promote and support are the problem as they take away and lessen the civil rights, and with it autonomy and human dignity, of people whose choices religious people do not agree with and like. 

For far too long religious people,  under the guise of fair play and equality, have been shoving their agendas – no matter how destructive – into everyone’s lives setting into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card. 

In this example it is probably safe to assume that intolerant, closed minded individuals have been the flaggers. 

Update: Since then, CNN has removed the flag warning issuing the following:

CNN hasn’t flagged this iReport as inappropriate, but some community members have. This is a divisive topic, however it does not violate our Community Guidelines, so we ask people to please stop flagging it. We will continue to review the story as often as possible. – dsashin, CNN iReport producer”

We will continue to review the story as often as possible”? ..as if its contents and meaning were going to change or might prove offensive later on, depending on how many sponsors pull out and what kind of backlash we get. Very good. Journalism at its best.

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