Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guns, Rights, and the Deaths of Children

Rhetorical question raised on my Facebook page: 
Is your 2nd Amendment right more important than your child or grandchild’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
This question should be taken literally as well as "rhetorically." 
From George Orwell's, "Politics and the English Language" (1946): "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face [...]."
If willing to make a brutal argument, people could argue logically — and some on the radical fringe do — that the 2nd Amendment is central to Liberty and the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing the firepower that underlies the Right of Revolution and the threat in the Right of Revolution to overthrow any government that threatens American rights. The 2nd Amendment in this view, and its protection of a civilian population armed and potentially dangerous is the final guard against government tyranny.
So the blood of children is to be added to the literal "blood of patriots and tyrants" that figuratively waters and feeds the Tree of Liberty. And, of course, the American Nation does not lack people and can afford the sacrifice: given our current birthrates and immigration, given the relatively small investment the Nation has made in young children, and given the death rates Americans routinely tolerate in such areas as alcohol consumption (some eighty-eight thousand Americans per year) and automobile fatalities (37,461 in 2016, which could easily be reduced by returning to a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit).
So, the distressingly high rate of US gun deaths, including children, "can indeed be defended, but," again, "only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language" defending wide-open gun ownership, as with wars and purges, «ethnic cleansing» and other horrors, "has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."
To start a legitimate debate, politically-active Americans need to deal with those arguments on the anti-government fringe, and, as Jamelle Bouie has suggested, and some of my Facebook colleagues have endorsed, show widely visuals that can drive home the carnage produced when high-energy bullets impact human bodies, especially the bodies of children.

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