Archive for category: Gun Laws

Comments on Martin-Zimmerman. To reiterate:

16 Jul
July 16, 2013

If you go to the original post on the verdict itself, entitled “Trayvon,” you will find more than five hundred posts in which all of the issues regarding the case were debated to the point of repetition over more than 48 hours, after which, as every new comment in the last several hundred had already been addressed, we closed the comments to preserve the give-and-take of the debate — debate becing one of the fundamental goals of the website.

The dynamic is explained in greater detail in the subsequent and concluding post, “Trayvon: Calling It.”  Commentary on that post is naturally being limited to a discussion about the debate dynamic here.  A third post stands only as a corrective to the false claim that I was exhorting anyone to riot, and that the reductive medium of Twitter was being so utilized.  Commentary there is being limited largely to a discussion of the claim and the uses or misuses of Twitter.

If you have a point to argue about the issue itself — be it the false claim that SYG was not fundamental to the prosecution of this case, that black-and-black violence can be cited so that we should all turn our attention away from the slaying of Trayvon Martin because sentient humans can only be concerned about one tragedy at a time, or just feel the general need to tell me to leave the country because I feel ashamed of this verdict and what it says about our nation — rest assured that you will likely find the appropriate back-and-forth already enshrined in the comments.  Oppositional comments were not winnowed, save for those that veered into outright racism, psychosis, hyperbolic ad hominem insult and libel.  Other than that, it all got a ride.

If you’re arriving late to the party, rest assured that it’s already in the comments, ready for your perusal.  As life is short, I can’t oblige by undertaking to answer the same arguments in sidebar posts that have already been answered in detail and with diligence on the main post in the days prior.



More proof that twitter sucks. (Updated)

16 Jul
July 16, 2013

A new top to this, apparently:  A reader has informed me that Mr. Podhoretz has apologized for the mischaracterization of the quote.  That was manful, and direct.  So while this post remains as a means of reaffirming the actual intent of what I wrote, it should be acquired henceforth with the knowledge that Mr. Podhoretz appears to have been unaware of the full context when he tweeted.  Mr. Kurtz remains in the wind, but due respect to Mr. Podhoretz.

*       *       *

Willful stupidity or rank intellectual dishonesty?  With these two fellows and their output, there is really no third choice that can be legitimately considered:

             John Podhoretz ?@jpodhoretz1m

  1. David Simon says he would have thrown brick at courthouse if he were a person of color in FLA. Why shouldn’t he attack it as a white guy?

    HowardKurtz ?@HowardKurtz7m

  2. Ugh: Wire’s David Simon: If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford.

    The Actual Statement:

    If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

    Yes, the complete statement is not an exhortation for anyone to riot.  It is instead a statement of admiration for the restraint and civic commitment that African-Americans are displaying in the wake of an appalling betrayal of their citizenship.

    By the time Mr. Kurtz and Mr. Podhoretz practice their intellectual reductions, they have achieved and propagated the opposite.  Perhaps the willingness to convert the skill set that used to be journalism and essaying to 140-character morsels breaks down the human brain.  Or perhaps, the process is readily suited for ideologues and paper-thin media gurus to simply manufacture a quote so simple and corrupted that they can actually wrestle with it.

Trayvon: Calling it

15 Jul
July 15, 2013

Went to dinner last night and I’d managed to winnow the comments down to a dozen or so.  Came back and we were back in the hundreds.  Moreover, I read through all of them and, without exception, they are entirely repetitive of arguments that have already been given a full ride. This is understandable in that many fresh posters are not inclined to review pages and pages of previous commentary, but such brutal repetition nonetheless impairs the commentary as a standing document.  Anyone reading at this point will be distracted to find nearly every aspect argued at multiple points. So as with the previous debate on the NSA that generated so much commentary, there comes a reasonable point at which we have to acknowledge that the back and forth is taking us nowhere new.

I’d like to genuinely thank the great majority of you for your interest, your passion, your honest rhetoric and your willingness to seriously engage with all facets of this case and the large issue of stand-your-ground.  I say so as much for the oppositional voices as for those who offered allied opinions; that’s what makes a debate.  And we are here for a good argument now and then.

For the residual few that continue to mistake this site for say, a Fox News or Huff Post website commentary dump, refusing any level of rhetorical rigor, well, thanks for stopping by. However, while we send no posts to any kill file for being oppositional, we do precisely that with those offerings that lose themselves in simple rage, or that embrace raw and unrestrained ad hominem and/or outright libels. Short of that, posts are published in total.

In several cases here, I actually let a few of the really crazed racist stuff through the gate, simply because it seems relevant to this, a discussion that centers on race and justice. These spasms highlight the simple fact that while this country has made progress at points, there is a reservoir of venality and racial rage that still informs our national dynamic. Normally, such posts would be consigned to the kill file for the obvious reason.  Here, uniquely, they provide some certain evidence of a particular kind. At least, I think so.

Apologies if you offered posts at some point after late this afternoon, but we do close the comments at a given point to preserve the back-and-forth dynamic of the commentary — and to keep that dynamic up front and available to readers of the blog. Rest assured that as many affirming posts were killed as otherwise; slightly more in fact.

The webmistress has posted the usual notice, warning fresh posts away.

Hope to hear from some of you again when it is necessary to once again stir the shit, as serious argument and debate are a core value of any experiment in self-governance.  Either that, or this site is a marvelous opportunity to piss everyone off thoroughly.   Either way, our work here, on this thread, is done.



13 Jul
July 13, 2013

You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.

In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all.  And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve.  I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies:  Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.  I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.  Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.


Newtown, Conn.

17 Dec
December 17, 2012


I’ve sat facing my computer a few times since those school children were massacred, attempting on each pass to write something that expresses anything honest about the slaughter, about this horror show that we call modern, post-millenial America.  Elsewhere, I have read the words of people who are so devastated by this event that they cannot think of what to say, or who to blame, or how to bring our country to some better place.  As if words or ideas are no longer sufficient or useful against something as elemental to our society and culture as firearms.

For me, this isn’t the problem.  For me, the struggle goes to an opposite extreme.  Each time I start to write about this tragedy, my head begins to hurt.  And too soon, I sense that all of the contempt and bile I feel for America’s continuing worship of the gun will pour out onto the digital page,  that any meaningful argument I hope to express will be lost in my low regard for those in my country — leaders and followers alike — who demonstrate such cowardice in the face of the continued bloodletting.

It is all of a piece:  The mass murders by damaged citizens allowed easy access to lethal weapons.  The absurdist argument that more guns carried everywhere — into schools and malls and theaters and restaurants — will produce safety. The pretense that weapons in the classroom — handguns within reach of children; teachers armed and ready for firefights — is some sort of insightful, plausible solution, rather than evidence of moral bankruptcy and a nation in decline. The stand-your-ground laws adopted in state after state, and a gun lobby that no longer even has the need to hold to its empty credo that guns don’t kill, people do.  Now, we are excusing the people as well,  eschewing even the personal responsibility that conservatives so often exalt.  Now, guns don’t kill and neither do people.  Now, shit just happens, with our freshest legalisms simply rationalizing our preference for pride and property over human life.

On television the other evening, I caught a glimpse of a drama in which some future America was overrun by zombies, a thrilling narrative in which survivors could only rely on force of arms to keep the unthinking, unfeeling hordes at bay.  And I realized:  This isn’t mere entertainment, it’s national consensus.  More than that, it’s a well-executed and starkly visual rendering of the collective fear that governs us.  We know that they’re out there:  The less human.  The poor.  The godless.  The frightening other. And they want what we have, they are going to take what we have, and they understand nothing save for a well-placed bullet.  It’s my understanding that the show I encountered is quite popular; in this America, it may even be called populist in its argument — a morality tale that speaks to why we must arm ourselves, and carry those guns with us, and stand our fucking ground; it declares that we can’t rely on collective, utilitarian will to achieve a safe and viable society, that government by the people and for the people is, at this point, an empty catchphrase for fools and weaklings.  No, our future is every man for himself, and a gun in every outstretched hand, and if a classroom of six and seven year olds is the requisite cost every now and then, so be it.

The president asked for the flag to fly at half-staff, a symbol of mourning reserved for extraordinary events, for the deaths of heroes and grievous national tragedies.  I understand the worthy sentiment, but something in the act itself makes me want to call bullshit:  What happened at that elementary school is no longer extraordinary at all.  Yes, it  is horrifying and, by standards, even remarkable within the context of a daily, or even weekly news cycle.  But extraordinary?  The national flag is usually brought to half staff for ten days of mourning.  Does anyone firmly believe that the United States can, in its current pathology, go anywhere near that long anymore without someone using a gun to take lives of innocents on a wholesale basis?   Somewhere, a shopping mall is about to be shot apart.  And another school.  And then a sporting event or street parade.  And somewhere in Florida or any number of other states that now devalue the act of homicide, another young black kid is playing his radio too loud or walking in the wrong subdivision ready to be confronted.  Admit it:  If the interval for national mourning is a week and a half, America has no business raising its flags ever again.

I know.  Too much anger and despair.  I should have walked away from the computer, and left this to folks more measured and thoughtful. There are better voices, to be sure.  In fact, here’s the best:  If you read just one thing more about what kind of society accepts the slaughter of its children as a political and cultural inevitability, let it be Gary Wills.  What follows from Mr. Wills is real clarity, and an honest verdict on what has become of the American experiment: