Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

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The Murderers Got Away With It.

Photo Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia, Public Domain

Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? Adolph Hitler

The murderers got away with it.

Their success encouraged Adolph Hitler in his assumption that what had been done to the Christians by the Turks could be done by the Germans to the Jews, and no one would remember it later. Every time I publish a post on the Armenian Genocide, I have to delete a few comments claiming that it never happened. The “explanations” are spurious, the comments are full of rage.

I assume that the people who make these claims have been brainwashed by lies.

It is a miserable experience to face what you have done when what you have done is a crime against humanity. But it is a necessary beginning to forgiveness and healing.

Turkey has been running from its own history for 100 years. This not only dishonors the dead, it creates a climate in which others who are inclined to practice genocide feel that they can get away with it. After all, there is precedent of a million-and-a-half cold-blooded murders that not only went unpunished, but were swept under the rug of history and forgotten for a century of bloodshed.

I began this post by saying that the murderers got away with it. But, of course, no one ever gets away with anything. This life is a short experience. Eternity awaits. In that eternity, everything we do is known. No one gets away with anything.

There is only one Way out of the misery of our sins, and that Way is the Cross. Only the death of God could be sufficient to pay the price of sins such as those that we humans can commit.

If the Turks lived out their days wallowing in the muck of thinking that they got away with it, they were deluding themselves. God is not mocked. They paid the price, in full and for eternity.

Part of our call as Christians living on this side of eternity is to erect and maintain barriers that fence in the bestial impulses that prey on all of us. No person, anywhere, is so pure that they can, of their own thinking and good intentions, prevent themselves from falling into the trap of their own fallen nature.

The vast hubris of telling ourselves that we can be good, that we are, essentially, good, is just that: Hubris. The people who claim this are oftentimes advocating and committing crimes of blood guilt while they say the words.

Jesus said that there is none good except God. He did this to point out to the rich young man who sought to follow Him that he was, in fact, addressing God in the flesh. But the point He made transcends that conversation.

There is none good but God. When we try to pretend otherwise, we doom ourselves to the anguish of constant self-justification. Any contradiction of the life lies we use to pretend that our sins are not sins pushes us to rageful attack. We live today in a society that is rotting with the rage of those who deny the real God so that they can be their own god.

Righteousness and self righteousness are two different things. Without the Cross, without the redemption that only Christ offers, all our righteousness is self righteousness, which is to say, that all our righteousness is a pose, a sham and a lie.

The Ottoman Turks committed genocide against the Christians of Armenia. This crime was not just a crime against the individual people who were murdered. It was not just murder, committed one and a half million times. It was a crime that struck to the heart of what it means to be human. It was a crime so vast and so evil that it is a crime committed against every human being who ever walked, or who will ever walk, this planet.

The call to bring this genocide into the light is not just a call for justice. It is a necessity of human survival. There are some crimes that we must not ignore and can not tolerate if we are to survive as a species. Genocide is one of those crimes.

ISIS is in the process of committing new genocides today. Their targets are Christians and the followers of the ancient religions that predate Christianity. But their ultimate victim is Islam itself.

By committing genocide and claiming that it is an Islamic practice, they are also claiming that Islam is of the devil. No one outside Islam is defaming the faith in this manner. It is coming from its own violent adherents.

Only the harsh cleansing of truth can scrub away the stains of sin this deep.

The truth is that the Armenian genocide was genocide. The truth is that it was committed 100 years ago by the Ottoman Turks.

The truth is that this crime is so vast, so deeply threatening to our claims of humanity, so portentous in its capacity to kill without limit, that human beings as a race, a tribe, a species, can not, ever, allow anyone to get away with it.

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ISIS and Genocide are Satan’s Delight

 

Oklahoma plans to execute a murderer in the next few months.

This murderer raped an 11-month old baby to death.

How does it make you feel when you read the sentence? Would you like to volunteer to dispatch this man yourself?

That’s satan’s delight. The dark lord’s pay-back for atrocity is a triple hitter. First, there is the payback of the deed itself; the horror and suffering of the victim, the sadism and utter degradation of the perpetrator. Then, there’s the horror and rage of those of us who must deal with the after effects. And finally, there is the fall from grace of those who see it and are moved in their hearts to murder as revenge.

Every outrage is a trifecta for satan. Every time.

Consider for a moment how much more delightful government-waged atrocity is to this being of hate and death. Genocide, and its evil twin the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents of every group, feed his craving for annihilation.

If the heinous murder of one innocent child can make good people crave the taste of bloody revenge, the mass slaughter of millions can raise up the murdering beast in all of civilization. Genocide has the power to make monsters of us all.

The antidote to that, if you are a Christian, is the certain knowledge that these murderous rages of retribution, no matter how tempting they may seem, are of the darkness and not the Light. You can not follow Christ and yield to them.

Recently, a blogger on a small web site posted an article setting out the roadway to an American genocide against Muslims. I could sugar coat it, but that would be a lie. The roadway of discrimination leading to organized violence against a specific group of people was explicit and clear.

The resulting carrying on was due, at least in my opinion, to the fact that the web site is a Christian site. It was precisely because the worldwide response of Christians everywhere, ranging from the Pope to those who are victims of this genocide has been so completely Christian that so many people have latched onto this obscure web site and its blog post. It may not be much, but it’s the best they’ve got.

The bulk of this reaction was gleeful denunciation from the same people who have heretofore been mostly or even entirely silent about the genocide in Iraq. These are the same people who bash Christians day and night.

It was accompanied by a more muted See? It’s not just us! response from a few Muslim commenters.

The truth is, I understand and sympathize with the Muslim response, while I take the “outrage” from the consistent Christian bashers as a pose that is simply part of their on-going hazing of Christians in general.

The point to me is that this writer has gone over the falls of giving satan his delight. Christianity is the religion of life, not death. We stand for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. We acknowledge that all human life is sacred.

We know that we will be persecuted and attacked for this. Our Savior told us that we would be persecuted for His name. He also told us that our reward in heaven would be great.

That does not mean that we are called to sit idly by while millions of innocent people are being slaughtered. Self defense is always allowed, and the defense of those who cannot defend themselves is part of that.

But we may not ever — ever — engage in bloody battles of vengeance aimed at expiating the rage and hurt we feel over the atrocities we witness. That savagery is not Christian. It is anti-Christ. And it dooms those who do it to the same hell where the followers of ISIS are sending themselves.

Make no mistake about it: God is not mocked. And calling for the indiscriminate slaughter of any of the people that He made in His image is mocking Him, big time.

ISIS and genocide are satan’s delight.

Don’t allow yourself to become his delight, as well.

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Proportion and Reality in an Age of Mass Slaughter

I started to use the phrase “age of genocide” in the title for this post. But, on reflection, I decided that the word genocide, horrible as it is, is actually too small.

Do we have a word to describe the organized mass slaughters of millions of people by governments, and in the case of ISIS, wannabe governments?

It is not “just” genocide” because, in the case of some of these mass slaughterers, such as Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot and Chairman Mao, it was not a slaughter aimed at a discreet group of people so much as it was aimed at anyone they could kill. Then we have the slaughtering dictators such as Idi Amin, who certainly aimed much of his killing at Christians, but also killed quite a few others, as well.

In fact, finding a “pure” genocide anywhere is way past difficult. The Armenian genocide, which wiped out most of the Christian population of Turkey (did anyone every wonder why that country is 99% Muslim?) and the holocaust the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews, are the closest.

But the Nazis, even though they clearly stated, intended and nearly accomplished the total annihilation of the Jewish people in their conquered territories, also murdered whole seminaries of Catholic priests, gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, liberals and the disabled. The murder of Muslims in Bosnia (which United Nations troops, including a lot of Americans, brought to a halt) is another example of what might be at least an attempt at pure genocide.

What we are seeing in the Middle East today is, once again, a lot bigger than “just” genocide. Like most genocidal murderers, ISIS is, at base, just a bunch of murdering thugs. What that means in terms of what they do is that they don’t stop at “just” murdering every Christian and Yazidi they can kill. They also kill Muslims who don’t fit their idea of what a “true” Muslim is, and they kill journalists in attempts to extort ransom money, and they kill a lot of other people, as well.

They kill because they are cold-blooded murderers who have created a religious excuse for being what they are.

That’s why the term genocide is too small for the organized slaughter of innocents that has been taking place all over our globe since the turn of the 20th Century. If we limit it to the organized attempts to wipe out specific and discreet groups of people within a given population, we will ignore the murderous destruction of millions of other lives.

That’s how Stalin gets through the genocide sieve. He killed everybody.

Genocide as a word has a meaning that is too small for the organized murdering that we are dealing with in today’s world. If that doesn’t scare you, you probably don’t understand it.

Alongside this murdering fury that is the true hallmark by which our times will be remembered in history, are the emotional reactions to this savagery from its bystanders.

Members of the groups which are being slaughtered are often themselves under attack or at least somewhat marginalized in the less murderous societies in which they live. That was the case with Jews around the world when the Nazis were gearing up their killing machine. Even American Jews suffered social discrimination in terms of club memberships and the names they were called.

That leads to a frozen-in-place non-response by those who should be most equipped to help. Instead of rallying support for their persecuted brethren, members of the same group often turn away and ignore their plight. That certainly happened with the Jews.

Then, we have the subtle collaboration of news media and groups who do not like their own neighbors who are members of groups being persecuted in other lands. That fits the situation with Christian persecution. I’ve experienced myself the aggressive bullying whose motive is to silence anyone who talks about Christian persecution. I’ve also witnessed the relative silence about it in the mainstream media.

This is coupled with a group emphasis on anyone who does something that can be used to either weaken concern for persecuted Christians or to increase public dislike of them.

Witness the extraordinary emphasis given to the Westboro Baptist Church, which is in fact, just about a dozen (or less) individuals with signs. You would think, based on what has been written and said in certain Christian-bashing circles, that they were the pope speaking ex cathedra.

The same goes for one lone blog post which was written by a grievously wrong Christian calling for the classic run-up to genocide against Muslims. I’m going to write a full post on that alone as soon as I finish writing this one. But before I do that, I want to discuss the lack of proportion and reality with which it is being dealt.

First, in some Christian-bashing circles, their outraged coverage of this one blog post from an obscure blog site is the only commentary they’ve made about the mass slaughter of Christians in the Middle East. These are often the same people who attack anyone who tries to talk about Christian persecution.

I don’t take their outrage seriously because I see it as a targeted outrage, designed to create prejudice against Christians and provide tacit support for worldwide discrimination against and persecution of Christians. I see these bloggers as enablers of violent persecution of innocent people.

Second, we have the reaction of Muslim people who feel beleaguered because of the hideous behavior of their co-religionists. See? They seem to say. It’s not just us.

No. It’s not just them. Psychopathic murderers with government or quasi government backing are a widespread phenomena that cross all ethnic, religious (or non religious) groups. In light of this reality, I think it’s time for us to lay down the “It’s them!” “It’s not just us!” nonsense and simply acknowledge that murderers walk among us and they will use any excuse to ply their trade.

And that this the point of this post. Genocide as a word is too small for the mass murders we have seen for the past 100 years of human history. There is no group of people innocent of these murdering rampages.

If we are going to deal with these mass murders effectively and end them, we must begin by looking at them with a sense of proportion and in the light of reality. ISIS is nothing more than a gang of extortionists and mass murderers. They can dress up in Halloween costumes and claim that god is on their side all day long, and it will not change the fact that they are cold-blooded, murdering savages who have damned themselves before the real God.

Ditto for every other gang of murdering savages we’ve seen. Ted Bundy we can execute. But when the Ted Bundys of this world get their hands on philosophies and government, it takes a bit more than a flip of the switch to end them.

Proportion, applied to ISIS and all their murdering type, requires that we stop playing games with mass murder. There are some crimes that have to be stopped, and the organized mass murder of innocents is one of those crimes. We must not equate everything with this one thing. Blog posts can be argued and their ideas scuttled. But blog posts, however upsetting, are not the same thing as the actual organized murder of innocents on a mass scale.

Reality requires that we acknowledge that there is no group of people who can point their fingers at someone else and claim moral superiority in this. Organized mass murder of innocents has become part of the human story. If the history of this bloodshed has shown us anything, it is that any group of people is capable of it.

I’ve referenced the wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous before when I was discussing the self-lies we tell. I will probably do it many times. AA has a wisdom in dealing with self-lies that kill.

You must accept reality on reality’s terms. 

That’s AA advice for recovering alcoholics and co-dependents. It is wisdom for our time.

 

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President Obama’s Statement Regarding the Murder of James Foley

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This is the strongest statement I can remember from President Obama.

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At This Time Last Year: 45 Churches Burned in Egypt

 

The story originally said 20 churches burned. Then, it was updated to 45 churches burned.

It’s an old story. Out of date. After all, it happened a year ago.

Which means, I suppose, that we should dust our hands of it and forget.

But it’s more than a year-old story. It’s part of an on-going, continuous pattern of blood violence that rises to a genocidal scale directed at Christians by various Muslim groups throughout a whole region of the world.

The question arises and keeps arising: Who is funding this? The Islamic Brotherhood, who participated in church burnings, kidnappings, forced conversions and murder of Christians in Egypt, is, so far as the people they murder, kidnap, rape, force from the homes, sell into slavery are concerned, the same as ISIS, is the same as Al Qaeda, is the same as Boko Haram, is the same as Hamas.

They may have all sorts of carefully defined definitions and distinctions among themselves, but they are all the same in their results. They slaughter innocents, and they destroy the societies in which they live.

Make no mistake about it: People who do this kind of thing enjoy doing it. If they kill all the Christians in that part of that world — and they very well might — then, they will kill someone else. In fact, they already kill other Muslims who do not fall within their narrow definitions of who has a right to life.

Let’s go back for a moment to the question I keep asking: Where are they getting their money? Armies run on money. Terrorism runs on money. They are probably making money from the spoils of war, including the buying and selling of abducted women and girls in the slave/human trafficking market. But someone is still supplying a lot of doh-re-me to be used to slaughter men, women and children and bring whole nations to the brink of a dark age. Who?

For now, I’m going to leave you with a few photos from that long time ago outrage of last year. Because these people deserve better from us than to be swept under the rug of political correctness and forgotten as if they had never lived.

 

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ISIS, Genocide and Us. Whither are we Tending?

Pic giant 071414 SM Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

Isis leader Bashu Bakr al-Baghadi

These videos are hard to watch. But we need to know.

We also need to think.

If you are like me, watching these will enrage you. That’s an ok place to start. But we need to get past that and think.

America is part of this, has been part of it ever since 9/11.

We need to get real about what’s happening. The American people are so misinformed and propagandized these days that they have trouble assessing things.

I deal with the public a lot and have for many years. I have witnessed an appalling loss of thinking ability in the public at large. People talk in circles, recite slogans as if they were facts, and follow this or that demagogue with a blind allegiance that is scary to behold.

We need to think, and by that, I mean think for ourselves with all our rational wits.

But first, we need to know. These videos are not thoughtful, exhaustive or balanced. But they portray a hard reality that we’ve got to know.

Only after we know will we be able to begin the process of working out whither we are tending.

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