Smart people saying smart things

Jo Hilder: “Evil, Mental Illness, and the Responsibility of the Free”

In Australia, since a certified mentally ill young millionaire went on a killing spree in Tasmania in 1996, we have comparatively strict gun controls. This means for us now when the mentally ill, or the criminally disturbed, or the simply very angry in our community are provoked by their inner voices or their emotions, to act out, the worst they can usually do is brandish a very sharp knife, or a very hard fist. Several mental health support workers a year in Australia are hurt by their clients in acts of violence involving knives and fists, and a few over the past few years have been killed. But our gun controls mean there are fewer guns available for mental health clients to point at people. This is a very good thing.

If the U.S.A. intends to improve mental health services without also improving gun controls, all that’s likely to be produced is a spate of gun-related deaths against mental health workers. Improving mental health services is only half the picture. The other half is making sure the availability of those weapons capable of causing immediate and widespread catastrophic loss of life is severely limited.

Tim Perry: “‘Where Was God?’ and Other Wrong Questions”

I think many of us are afraid to talk to God about this tragedy and would rather talk about [God] (Where was God?) or talk about more mundane things instead (gun control; mental health). Talking to God about this horror is risky. To ask, “How long, O Lord?” is to walk the knife-edge of faith that separates believing Alyosha Karamazov from his unbelieving brother Ivan. It forces us to give full consideration to Ivan’s complaint against God – if the blessings of heaven require the suffering of just one child, then he wants none of God’s heaven. And to let that complaint out, to utter it even, is to risk – risk the shallowness of our own faith, risk really entering into the pain of others, risk really looking into the face of evil.

Alise Wright: “Immanuel”

We need to remember that violence against children doesn’t only happen in schools. God’s presence didn’t stop thousands of children from being molested in churches. God’s presence didn’t stop a child from being called an “evil little thing” for having a different opinion from a Christian leader. God’s presence didn’t stop a pastor from suggesting violence against children who don’t conform to gender norms.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that violence against children is pervasive, and is just as likely in places where children are taught Bible lessons as they are where children are taught the three R’s.

Scott Paeth: “Murdered Children Deserve to Have a Future”

At the heart of my faith is belief in a God for whom murders like the one in Sandy Hook are not the end of the story, a God who stands in solidarity with the victims of violence, who became incarnate in a human being and suffered every sorrow of human life, and whose death revealed the rotten core of the cycle of violence that sustains our civilization.

The God I worship is one who will not let the murder of innocents be the last word, but who promises to bring justice to the victims and justification to the perpetrator. In the end, despite all of my doubts, I am a Christian because I believe that murdered children deserve a future; and I believe that we are entitled to hope for one on their behalf. Without hope for the victims, there is no hope at all.

Katie Grimes: “A Church That Does Body Counts”

If you want to know whom a given community or society considers to be human, look at whom they mourn. For example, in the United States until very recently, an African-American or Mexican-American person who was lynched by a white mob was not mourned in public. Such a death didn’t really “count” as the death of a human being; in fact, such deaths were often not even counted as deaths at all–it has only been through the painstaking work of historians that we have even begun to have a public record of how many persons of color were lynched in this country during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is almost as though there is an inverse relationship between mournability and disposability. This is certainly why as Army General Tommy Franks said, when it comes to Iraqi and Afghans, “we don’t do body counts.”

… It seems to me as though Christians should not only remember the “victims of history,” who are often those whom history forgets, but also that we should mourn them. The church should do body counts. When we do, we will be a church in which all bodies count.

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  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The Alise Wright link reminded me of the things that people like Mike Huckabee and his cohorts say about how our nation is being punished by “turning away from God.”

    I want to reply, “No Mike, our nation has not turned away from God, our nation has turned away from you.”

  • fredgiblet

    For the 6 years following the gun ban in Australia the murder rate went up.  It’s true that they haven’t had any spree killing (at least not with guns) since, but the gun ban didn’t help their murder rate which, for my money, is the better thing to be worried about.  Also that’s not counting the other violent crime rates which went way up as well until the general crime rate started falling again in ’02.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    No, it didn’t.

    The overall homicide rate has been on a steady downward trend. Gun homicides as a percentage of all homicides has gone down. In the 6 years following the changes to gun laws, the number of gun homicides went down, up, down, down, up (then down, down, down, btw).

    http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html

    Why are you an apologist for murder weapons?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I feel like if you’re constructing an argument like this, you shouldn’t use checkable statistics unless you’re 100% sure that they support your argument. If they clearly don’t, or it’s even ambiguous, then you should stick to the usual generalities and axioms (“Of course the crime rate would be higher after a gun ban; it stands to reason that criminals will be emboldened if they know that all potential victims will be unarmed!”) 

    Axioms like that sound pretty good and they’re almost completely unverifiable, since they are almost more like opinions or statements of faith than actual empirical evidence; after all, you can’t say for sure that no criminal anywhere has ever been emboldened by a gun ban, right????

    But when you use a specific statistic like that (“the homicide rate in Australia with guns went up for the six years following the gun ban”) you kind of run the risk of someone actually from Australia — or, Hell, someone who owns a computer with Internet access — checking it out and making you look like a bad researcher.

  • fredgiblet

    http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html

    According to that very link (that he provided) homicide went up.  Now there is one difference from what I’ve previously seen and that is the dip in ’97, however the stats on that link run from June to June, so I’m assuming the stats I saw previously were January to January and showed an increase in ’97 as well.  Other than that they pretty much match what I saw before.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sgt. Pepper is a she, I believe.

    Very first paragraph of that link says Over the past 18 years (1 July 1989 to 30 June 2007), the rate* of homicide incidents decreased from 1.9 in 1990-91 and 1992-93 to the second-lowest recorded rate, of 1.3, in 2006-07. *rate per 100,000 population.

    Decreased, Mr. Giblet. Not increased. Total homicides may well have gone up, which I’m not seeing any actual indication for on that page, but the population’s gone up too.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    But when you use a specific statistic like that (“the homicide rate in Australia with guns went up for the six years following the gun ban”) you kind of run the risk of someone actually from Australia — or, Hell, someone who owns a computer with Internet access — checking it out and making you look like a bad researcher.

    Yeah, exactly. I really don’t understand people who make shit up on the internet. Don’t they realise that the rest of us have Google, too? Some of us even (shock, horror) have expertise or direct experience in the shit they’re talking about.

    I remember a while ago reading some idiot bloviating about how European socialised medicine only works because they refuse to provide any treatment at all to people aged over 65. And elderly Europeans were responding, saying “didn’t you realise we’re on the internet too?”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One of the Best Things Ever during the primary season  waswhen Rick Santorum claimed that the elderly in the Netherlands had to wear bracelets saying “Don’t euthenize me” because 99% of all dutch people over 65 were accidentally euthenized by over-eager doctors against their patients wishes. And then one of his press goons was accosted by a Dutch reporter who asked, “I’m dutch, and that is in no way shape or form true. What’s up with that?”

    (The press goon couldn’t even frame to answer the question. His poor mind couldn’t accept the fact that it might matter to a journalist if the candidate’s statements were in diametrical opposition to plain and simple facts. He kept saying something like “you have to understand his committment to a pro-life worldview”, and the reporter kept saying “Yes, but he told a bald-faced lie.”)

  • fredgiblet

    That was, indeed, exceedingly amusing.  It’s also amusing how righties insist that socialized health care will lead to rationing, when non-socialized health care leads to rationing at least as much if not more.  I’ve heard stories from people in socialized healthcare countries going both ways, but no one who wanted to give it up for our system.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’ve heard stories from people in socialized healthcare countries going both ways, but no one who wanted to give it up for our system.

    Pretty much it. Right-wing pundits will (correctly) cite lots and lots of evidence that if you ask pretty much anyone in any country with socialized health care what they think of their healthcare, they will complain about it.

    What they always fail to show is that if you then go on to say “So would you prefer we got rid of it and replaced it with a fully privatized system like in the US?” they will respond in the negative. In some countries, they may also kick you.

    As it turns out, the one universal constant about all healthcare systems, socialized and privatized, is that people like to complain about them.

    (Too many times I have told the story of my friend who spent a year in england and came back complaining about how horrible the healthcare was because she always had to *wait* in *lines* with *poor people*. Sure, it didn’t cost her anything, but that didn’t make it better. (This is the same person whose response to “what if we had a socialized system but you could pay to upgrade to better service?” was “That would be terrible, because I would always get the terrible non-upgraded service, because how could I justify spending money just to have better service when I could get adequate healthcare for free?” Yeah.))

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s a really good point. How many people honestly like dealing with the health care system? By definition, most people who have to deal with are ill or know someone who is ill at the time, which makes them irritable. Add in the fact that it’s not always going to be perfect (there will inevitably be a lines at some point, you’re not always going to get along with every doctor or nurse or receptionist, people will make mistakes, it might smell bad, the food might not always be great, an extended stay might be a pain in the ass) and of course people are going to complain about it. The fact that complaints exist isn’t, as you say, a reason for reform. 

    If people were trying to be honest about comparing health care systems, they would ask people under different health care systems to step back and evaluate their systems as a whole. I think analysts who did that would get the same results you did — very few people actually enjoy going to hospitals regardless of the system, but when it comes to the bottom line people under socialized systems by and large prefer them to ours, at least as frequently as people under privatized systems prefer them (and probably more often). 

  • fredgiblet

    The overall homicide rates went up.  Dead is dead, I’d rather have 100% of murders be committed by guns and a lower murder rate then 0% of the murders committed by guns and a higher murder rate.  YMMV.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The overall homicide rates went up.

    [citation needed]

    And you’ll want to explain why Sgt. Pepper’s citation is wrong, while you’re at it.

  • fredgiblet

    Have you looked at the link?  Both of the graphs for homicide show a dip in ’97 followed by being ABOVE ’96 until ’02 when the crime rates dropped again.  As I stated a couple posts up the stats I saw before showed an uptick in ’97 as well, I’m guessing because the stats I saw were January to January instead of fiscal year June to June.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And looking at that graph, the only year they show that beat 1993 is 2002, and the overall trendline is still downward. 2002 in fact looks like an outlier, because all years they show after 2002 clock in at fewer than in 1997.

    You can prove anything with statistics if you pick the statistics carefully enough. That doesn’t mean that, when you look at the overall picture, anything you’ve just proven is true.

  • fredgiblet

    Check my first post.  I said it went up for the 6 years after the ban, and it did.

    The point being that the expected result per the gun control advocates would be a sharp reduction in homicide, that didn’t happen.  The homicide rate was at a low in ’96-’97, then went up after that despite the ban.  It wasn’t until 6 years later that homicides dropped below the number from ’95 (though depending on population growth the RATE might have been lower in ’00).  Judging solely by that it’s pretty clear the gun ban did nothing to homicide rates for at least 6 years, and since GUN homicides dropped we know this wasn’t hold-outs keeping their guns, it was gun homicides being replaced with other homicides.

    In the meantime the information I’ve seen showed other crimes going way up as well, meaning that for 6 years after the ban started you were LESS safe in Australia than before.  In ’02 all the crime rates started dropping rapidly, it makes me curious as to what happened in ’01-’02.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hey, somebody actually from Australia, can you fact-check this for me? Was the gun-control legislation under discussion advertised as intended to produce a sharp reduction in homicide (gun or otherwise), or just a reduction? And what exactly is meant by ‘gun ban’ here? Not allowed to buy, not allowed to have, applicable to some guns, applicable to all guns? When did it go into effect? I’m trying to figure out how it was supposed to work, how well it worked compared to how well it was supposed to work, and whether how well the people who wrote, passed, and enforced it said it was supposed to work has any similarity to how Mr. Giblet says it was supposed to work.

  • fredgiblet

    To be clear, I don’t know how the gun ban was sold in Australia, it’s entirely possible it was sold solely as “prevent sprees”, in which case it could be called a success.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And what exactly is meant by ‘gun ban’ here? Not allowed to buy, not allowed to have, applicable to some guns, applicable to all guns?

    Civilians don’t get to own semi-automatic rifles, aemi-automatic handguns or pump-action handguns.

    Other handguns are available to target shooters under strict conditions: ongoing membership of a registered club after a 6 month probationary period using the club’s guns; background checks and licence renewal; and the type of handgun you’re allowed to by depends on the length of your experience and the type of competitions you participate in.

    Other rifles may be owned under licence (and with background checks) if you can demonstrate a “Genuine Reason” (or “Genuine Need” for some categories of rifle). For example, you’re a farmer and you need to be able to shoot foxes on your property. The belief that a gun will help you protect yourself against a hypothetical future attacker is not accepted as a genuine need.

    In some states if you’re a collector of various weapons you’re allowed to own them (subject to license and storage conditions) provided they are rendered permanently inoperable.

    Whatever sort of gun you want, you have to complete an accredited training course in gun safety before you can get a licence.

    When did it go into effect?

    The biggest change was the National Firearms Agreement, which passed in May 1996 (just over two weeks after the Port Arthur massacre). The agreement included a 12 month amnesty and buy-back period: over 600,000 guns banned under the agreement were handed in by their owners in exchange for compensation, and destroyed.

    Was the gun-control legislation under discussion advertised as intended to produce a sharp reduction in homicide (gun or otherwise), or just a reduction?

    You know what? I don’t remember anything that specific. My main memory was that when 35 people were murdered in a spree killing the general public response was something like “holy shit this is appalling! How do we stop this from ever happening again?” Plus (sorry) a lot of “you expect this sort of thing in America but we can’t let it happen here”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    No worries!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Hey, I found the answer to your question about the aims of the 1996 gun control laws. They were, in fact, aimed at preventing mass shooting incidents. In the decade prior we’d had 121 people die in 11 spree killings. Port Arthur was the biggest and the last straw.

    The fact that we’ve seen a decline in overall homicide, gun homicide specifically,and firearm suicides since then has been a happy bonus.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess there haven’t been any mass shootings in Australia since that gun ban went into effect.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There have not. The only occasions where 3 or more people have been killed in one incident have been a few domestic cases and family murder/suicides.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So Fred Giblet is even more full of shit than I thought. Good to know.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The overall homicide rates went up.  Dead is dead, I’d rather have 100% of murders be committed by guns and a lower murder rate then 0% of the murders committed by guns and a higher murder rate.  YMMV.

    Oh my God, dude, get help for your reading comprehension problems, because you’re looking like a King Idiot.The overall homicide rate has been on a steady downward trend.I cited the authoritative source. You pulled the same thing out of your arse that I disproved yesterday. Shove it back up there and ask yourself why you’ve chosen to be an apologist for murder?

  • fredgiblet

    Homicide was trending downward, post-ban the trend reversed temporarily, then it went back down, this doesn’t support the idea that the ban reduced homicides.  As I stated a moment ago the best that can be stated is that it had no effect on overall homicides since they trended downward at roughly the same rate over the entire listed period.  If the goal was to reduce gun homicides then it’s a success, if the goal was to reduce all homicides it failed as overall things continued as before and in the short-term the effect was negative.

    All this is clearly laid out in the link that we have both used.

  • Damanoid

    Right now, the fact that Australia hasn’t had any spree killing since 1996 seems like a pretty good deal to me.  How many has America had this year alone?

    On the other hand, if banning guns clearly caused a huge rise in the murder rate, I’d have expected Australia to rescind the ban.  

    Out of curiosity, what is the murder rate in Australia compared to the United States?   

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Our overall murder rate is less than 1 per 100,000. Our gun homicide rate is literally one in a million. I would have to know 10,000 people for the chances of someone I know being killed by a gun to fall below 99%.

    Some more interesting facts from the Australian Institute of Criminology:

    1. As I mentioned earlier, the overall homicide rate has been steadily falling. The AIC notes that the drop in gun homicides specifically has not coincided with a rise in murders caused by knifes or other sharp implements.

    2. The rate of suicides by gun also fell (quite dramatically), as did the rate of accidental death caused by guns.

    3. Accidental gun deaths happen at a vanishingly small rate: much less than one in a million.

    4. Since the firearm controls were introduced, homicide by a military style rifle is close to non-existent. There used to be a small handful every year; now it’s unusual to see one person die from these types of guns that no civilian has any claim to need.

    Also, a bug chunk of the gun homicides that we do have are related to drug gang activity. If you’re not involved in drug gangs, your chances of being killed by a gun are much less than one in a million.

  • hidden_urchin

    Wait…you mean the evil commie nanny state took away your guns and murderous criminals didn’t pick up knives instead?  What about cars?  Did they start using cars to run people down?  After all, if someone wants to kill a lot of people then zie will find a way.

    No? 

    IEDs?  Poison?  Winged demons from the depths of hell?

    Still no?

    Gee, it’s almost like the gun lobby’s arguments are nothing but that which comes from the back end of a bull.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Except that bullshit can do wonders for your veggie garden.

  • Kiba

    Winged demons from the depths of hell?

    Okay, who’s been leaking my plans for world domination?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Gee, it’s almost like the gun lobby’s arguments are nothing but that which comes from the back end of a bull.

    Yeah, but see, Australia censors violent video games. That‘s what did it. The gun thing is just coincidence

  • Carstonio

    I like the Susan Faludi/Michael Moore theory that the gun problem in the US is really about racist fears, rooted partly in the wars of conquest on Native Americans and partly from the mindset and militarization involved in perpetuating slavery. Does any of that have parallels in Australian history? Were aborigines living in cities ever subjected to anything like Jim Crow?

  • Darakou

    Australian Aboriginals were historically subjected to segregation policies, such as separate sections in bars, theaters etc. They were relocated onto reserves, I remember learning that in the old days they had to get licenses to purchase alcohol. Then there was the Stolen Generation. Up to 1970, mixed race children were  legally allowed to be removed from their parents and placed in state boarding schools. The idea is they would integrate into white society and the black blood would be bred out in several generations. I’d recommend watching the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” for more information.

  • LouisDoench

    I would add one more element to that list of aggravating factors. The US role in WWII.  The US as last bastion of liberty gains added cache from the role the US played in liberating Europe from the Nazi’s and destroying the Empire of Japan. A big part of our exceptional-ism problem is rooted in the fight against global forces of evil. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Possibly, although I had hoped people would smart enough to make the mental leap that the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Japan had nothing to do with how well armed the US Civilians were. (How many militias were there in the Philippians and other US colonies, anyway? And were they in any way successful?).

  • The_L1985

     I’m not a big fan of Michael Moore, but I’ve long suspected he was on to something with that.  The places where people are most gung-ho about guns do tend to be the more racist parts of the country (though they’d never admit to it).

  • fredgiblet

    “On the other hand, if banning guns clearly caused a huge rise in the murder rate, I’d have expected Australia to rescind the ban.”

    First that would require that politics be evidence-based, it isn’t.  Second GUN homicides went down, they were just replaced by other homicides for a net increase.

    Murder rates are lower in Australia, just like around most of the world.  But then Australia has better social support and less inequality than we do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So you’re arguing that the way to reduce gun homicide in the US is to reduce poverty and income inequality in the US? I’m not seeing the connecting dots, but I am down with any argument that ends with ‘therefore we should reduce poverty and income inequality in the US’.

  • Damanoid

     “First that would require that politics be evidence-based, it isn’t.”

    Yeah, funny about that.  But seeing as how Australia’s overall homicide rate dropped after that initial rise, AND has continued to drop, AND there have been no gun massacres in Australia since, it seems like the evidence proves that Australians were right to stick with the ban, yes?   

    So based on the evidence of the Australian ban, we could reasonably expect the overall homicide rate in America to drop over the long term, as well as a reduction of both firearm-related homicides and wholesale massacres.  That seems like the evidence-based conclusion to draw from this particular data.

    “Murder rates are lower in Australia, just like around most of the world.
     But then Australia has better social support and less inequality than
    we do.”

    Are you suggesting that Australia’s social support and equality account for their dropping gun-related and overall homicide rates, rather than their actual ban on guns used to shoot and kill people? 

    I’d certainly accept that a higher level of equality and social support would tend to reduce murder rates.  But a quick search seems to indicate that  income inequality in Australia has actually increased over the past several years.  So the evidence would appear to disprove the economic theory. 

    It does seem as though the evidence really does point to guns as the culprit, doesn’t it?

  • fredgiblet

    It was dropping before the ban as well.  So the ban comes into effect the trend REVERSES for 6 years then continues.  I don’t see that as compelling evidence that the gun ban had a positive effect.

    At the best what I see is the gun ban having no effect on overall homicides when you look at the entire period given on the site, at worst it reversed the trend temporarily.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Do you know what the word ‘trend’ means? I don’t think you do.

  • The_L1985

     But how BIG was that net increase, compared to the overall number of homicides, and how LONG did the increase last, before the trend changed?

  • fredgiblet

    The peak was 20% higher (roughly 360 vs. roughly 300).  The upwards motion lasted 6 years, then after the peak it dropped rapidly.  It ended 2007 well below the expected trend line.

  • hidden_urchin

    The real question is whether or not the fluctuations were significant at a value of at least p = 0.05. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The real question is why fredgiblet is so invested in apologetics for weapons mass murder.

    No, really, let’s pretend that there is a legitimate disagreement about the evidence and that the claims of NRA propagandists are not entirely driven by their foregone conclusion. Let’s pretend the evidence is unclear.

    What possible reason is there to justify civilians owning semi-automatic and military style weapons?

  • hidden_urchin

    What possible reason is there to justify civilians owning semi-automatic and military style weapons?

    I, uh, actually have a semi-automatic .22.  (I inherited my grandfather’s gun collection and that was one of them. I’m planning to get rid of it at the next police department buy-back.)

    My answer to your question, however, in the case of a functional weapon and not one that is permanently disabled as part of a collection, is “none.” 

    Hunting should not require a semi-automatic weapon and/or high capacity magazine.  If you need such things to bring down game then you need to either improve your marksmanship or you need lessons in judgement.*

    Home defense should not require a semi-automatic weapon and/or high capacity magazine.  Any gun should serve equally well as a deterrant should you be concerned about a home invasion.

    Target shooting should not require a semi-automatic weapon and/or high capacity magazine.  Yes, it may be fun and feel powerful but is your entertainment really worth lives?

    Here’s the reason for such weapons and/or ammunition: paranoia.  Whether you fear government goons coming to take your guns or your neighbors looking for help after the collapse of civilization, the purpose of the gun is the same.  It’s to be used against other people.

    *Using the general “you” here.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Here:

    http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/aic/research/homicide/homiciderate2.png

    Looks like 2002 was an anomalous outlier on an otherwise downward murder rate trend, which is why fredgiblet keeps harping on it.

  • http://twitter.com/Didaktylos Paul Hantusch

    The obvious retort to that is that, but for the gun ban, the murder rate would have been higher yet.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, no, the obvious retort is that what fredgiblet said is patently untrue. Every bloody sentence of it.

    Making shit up on the internet, and in defense of the desire of idiots to own weapons of mass destruction? What is wrong with people?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Also, dude who never posted here once but has suddenly been on the boards like a rash talking shit about guns…please tell the NRA to stay the fuck away from every one else’s countries and stop spending money lobbying to make our society as fucked up as yours.

  • fredgiblet

    I’ve been reading the site for years.  Just never bothered posting until now.

  • fredgiblet

    Doubtful.  Crime skyrocketed in both Australia and Britain after the bans.  My expectation is that the bans prevented a large number of murders of passion, but then the escalation in crime in general creates more opportunities for crimes to go wrong, resulting in more deaths during botched robberies and the like.

    Just a thought, I don’t have any statistics on HOW the murders happened.

  • Carstonio

     As someone who doesn’t know if gods exist or not, I wonder why more Christians don’t at least consider the deist solution to the supposed “problem of evil,” where the god is simply indifferent to humanity.

    A major reason that I’ve long disagreed with “the opposite of love is not hate but indifference” is that being hurt by someone is usually worse than being ignored. Still, a god’s caring about humanity could just as easily be negative instead of positive. No disagreement about the hatefulness and barbarity of the belief that natural disasters and human-cased tragedies are divine punishments. But that doesn’t mean the belief is factually incorrect.

    The God I worship is one who will not let the murder of innocents be
    the last word, but who promises to bring justice to the victims and
    justification to the perpetrator. In the end, despite all of my doubts, I
    am a Christian because I believe that murdered children deserve a
    future; and I believe that we are entitled to hope for one on their
    behalf. Without hope for the victims, there is no hope at all.

    I believe that those children also deserve a future, but I reject the idea that hope for the victims requires belief in an afterlife or an ultimate justice, because I don’t have the knowledge to say that such things exist or that they don’t exist.

    One fact of human existence is that people who do good sometimes suffer anyway and that people who do evil sometimes prosper. What I hear in the lyrics to Farther Along, I hear someone who not only accepts that reality but also sees any attempt at improving human justice as ultimately futile. Fred refuted that in part in his Soul Freedom thread, but there seem to be plenty of people, Christian and otherwise, who view ultimate justice as an excuse not to work for greater temporal justice.

    Instead of focusing so much hope for the victims on an afterlife that may or may not exist, perhaps we should focus it more on preventing other children from being victimized.

  • Raymond

    The idea that God is indifferent to humanity doesn’t sell.

  • GeniusLemur

    And if God is utterly indifferent to humanity, why does it matter that he exists?

  • The_L1985

     That’s why I don’t think too much about the reincarnation argument.  The possibility of future lives doesn’t affect my current life all that much, and it’s rather hard to make restitution for something you may or may not have done in a past life that can’t be proven and makes you look rather odd if you try to explain it.  Better to behave as if you have ONE chance, and don’t screw it up.  If you have another chance waiting, all well and good, but that’s no excuse to screw up the life you’re living NOW, is it? :)

  • Carstonio

     That’s obviously understandable if one assumes that only alternative is a loving god. But caring can be positive or negative. The alternatives can be more than just a malevolent god. The caring could be hypercritical or narcissistic or passive-aggressive, or intrusive like a gossipy neighbor. I would think that it would be natural to prefer indifference over even the less noxious of those other alternatives.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    As someone who doesn’t know if gods exist or not, I wonder why more Christians don’t at least consider the deist solution to the supposed “problem of evil,” where the god is simply indifferent to humanity.

    You seem not to understand the fundamental premise of Christianity.

  • The_L1985

     [i]”As someone who doesn’t know if gods exist or not, I wonder why more
    Christians don’t at least consider the deist solution to the supposed
    “problem of evil,” where the god is simply indifferent to humanity.”[/i]

    Because the Bible constantly portrays a deity who guides, punishes, rewards, and cares about the people of Israel.  “Is there evil in the world and the LORD hath not done it” and so forth.

    I believe more in the sort of “justice” seen in Terry Pratchett’s [i]Mort[/i], where people have the sort of afterlife that their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) leads them to believe–but unlike the Discworld death, I have a sneaking suspicion that not everyone ends up at [i]precisely[/i] the final destination they suspect, if their religion has more than one possibility based on deeds in life.

  • Carstonio

    Because the Bible constantly portrays a deity who guides, punishes, rewards, and cares about the people of Israel.

    That assumes that the book is authoritative or should be treated as such, and that seems to be the common denominator between believers who see the book as inspired by their god and those who seek it as spoken by their god. I’m attempting to put myself in the mindset of someone with no preconceptions about any religion’s scripture, with the person expected to evaluate all the different ideas about gods.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m attempting to put myself in the mindset of someone with no preconceptions about any religion’s scripture, with the person expected to evaluate all the different ideas about gods.

    You asked why Christians don’t think God is indifferent. Whatever their views about the bible, Christians have made some sort of decision about Jesus.

    The concept of the incarnation doesn’t square with an indifferent God.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The gun-fear lobby has to some extent infected Canada too. The long gun registry, implemented in the 1990s, was purposely sabotaged by gun owners in multiple ways, the most prominent among them purposely driving up costs by requesting forms multiple times because “lost paperwork” is a pretty handy bullshit excuse akin to “the dog ate my homework”.

  • MaryKaye

    I read a study some years ago about suicide rates in Britain.  At the time, a common method of suicide involved natural gas from gas ovens.  Britain then began to require addition of a foul-smelling chemical to natural gas.  It is not too surprising that the rate of suicide via gas ovens went down, as people were deterred by the horrible smell.  But it is quite surprising that the overall rate of suicide also went down.  The authors of the study noted that suicide is an impulse decision for at least some of the people who do it, and that availability of the culturally important means, or not, affected the number of people who carried it through.

    I would expect that some proportion of gun violence is, similarly, impulsive and might not occur if the culturally important means were difficult to get.  It’s true that people could use bombs or knives.  It’s also true that suicides could use bridges or poison.  But some of them didn’t.

    I know that the one time I was held at gunpoint it was very much a crime of impulse.  A referee call had gone against someone, who fetched his gun, probably from his car, and broke up the sporting event; luckily he didn’t fire it.  I can’t know for sure but I don’t think he would have proceeded with fists or knife.  The gun did a lot to restore his lacking sense of power in the situation, more than a knife or his fists would have.  Fists would have made us angry; the gun made us afraid.

  • Lliira

    If history has taught us anything, it’s that violence against children
    is pervasive, and is just as likely in places where children are taught
    Bible lessons as they are where children are taught the three R’s.

    More likely. While teachers sometimes molest children, when they are found out these days, the norm is to get them in jail and make sure they never have contact with children again. The norm when a child is sexually assaulted by someone with a position of power in a church is the same as the norm for when a teenage girl or grown woman is assaulted, inside or outside a church: absolutely nothing. More punishment for the victim, more victims for the rapists.

    Most religions give their hierarchies power without cost or responsibility. Whether it’s Hinduism or Catholicism or Scientology or the SBC, the principle is the same. Say that someone else — 99% of the time, a man — is in charge of other peoples’ immortal souls, and you just put that person above everyone else. And when that person is oh so important, he gets to do what he chooses to the rest of us.

    We finally figured out that unlimited power was a recipe for disaster in government pretty recently, historically speaking. It’s past time we figured out that it’s a recipe for disaster in every single aspect of life. Too many of us still accept it at work, in religion, and within families.

  • fredgiblet

    I just found the raw numbers, 381 in ’01-’02 vs 319 in ’96-’97.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Look, people, don’t quibble with the apologist as if there is some validity to what he is saying but is missing the shades of grey. That’s way too generous.

    Australia’s firearm-related homicide rate, per 100,000:
    1996   0.57
    1997  0.43
    1998  0.30
    1999  0.26
    2000 0.30
    2001  0.24

    This is not what we call an upward trend.

    Ah, but the apologist says that the TOTAL homicide rate went up for 6 years after gun control was introduced, then went down for unrelated reasons.

    Have yourselves a look at the first graph on this page (http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html) and tell me where you see a 6-year long upward trend, cos I can’t find it.

    Then read this paper (http://aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/261-280/tandi269/view%20paper.html) and note the bit where they say the decline in gun deaths was not offset by an increase in homicides due to knife injuries.

    Seriously man, you are putting effort into making yourself look stupid in defense of keeping weapons of mass murder on the street. You appeared on this blog, as if from nowhere, to do so in the immediate aftermath of a bunch of people being shot many times each in a primary school. What the hell? You heard that some kids and school teachers were massacred so you thought “quick–I better make stupid arguments on the internet lest people start to think that maybe civilians don’t really need assault rifles”? I really hope the NRA are giving you some kickbacks, cos if you’re doing this for free–what the hell is wrong with you?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    While I’m here and people are discussing Australian stats, a couple of important notes:

    1. We have been undergoing rapid population growth, which means it is even more important than usual to look at rates alongside raw numbers.

    2. Homicide is a low-incident phenomenon: less than 300 per year for all causes. So fluctuations in the numbers are particularly susceptible to one-off events with multiple victims. For example, the peak in total number of homicide victims was in 1999. That year included the Snowtown murders (11 victims of a serial killer were discovered) and 2 murder-suicides that took the lives of 1o children and 2 adults . In 2000, 15 people died in a fire at a backpackers hotel, which was classified as manslaughter due to criminal negligence.

    These cases accounted for more than 5% of the year-on-year variation. None of them would have been prevented by some Rambo with a gun.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally, is there any truth to the urban legend I’ve seen circulated by pro-gun owners that buybacks and amnesties are OMGBAD because the guns become no longer traceable and HALP HALP WHAT IF SOMEONE DOESN’T GET CONVICTED OF A CRIME ZOMG.

    I am obviously parodying with snark, but the basic line of argument should be clear: I believe they are trotting out something specious as a way to devalue the effectiveness of gun buybacks because somehow nobody thinks to – gee – record the serial numbers first?????

  • hidden_urchin

    Such a story not only acts to devalue gun buy-backs but also plays off of already familiar narratives: the first is that the government is out to take your guns and the second is that the government can’t be trusted with anything.  From there it isn’t too big a leap to weave these themes into a story where the government gives you a small sum for your guns to keep you happy and then does nefarious and evil things with them because the government is an evil entity held at bay only by the fear of the power of the American Patriot and his guns.

    In reality, gun buy-backs around here are run by the police departments and those people have a much greater incentive to get them out of circulation than pretty much anyone else.  Each gun they take out of a home or off of the street is one fewer that they have to worry about encountering.

    Incidentally, the reason I am waiting until the next buy-back to decollect some of my guns is because the police department is the only organization I actually trust to see to it the weapons are destroyed. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I wonder how stories about buybacks accidentally destroying weapons that could be used as evidence in a criminal trial come about, anyway. Surely there’s a chain of custody that can be used to prove who had the weapon last and what it looked like.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, there is, but a conspiracy is more fun and it might be more of a “this could happen” as opposed to being inspired by reality. 

    I think, though, that in some cases evidence is not held indefinitely but is eventually destroyed when certain lengths of time have been passed or other conditions have been met.  It’s possible this process is being drawn into the narrative as well to lend it a feeling of legitimacy.

    It’s also possible they’re talking about Those People who commit crimes with guns and then use the buy-backs to get rid of the gun.  Everything I’ve read about gun buy-back programs, however, suggests that the department does at least check guns against registries of stolen weapons and, I would suspect, they would check them against any open cases as well.  Just because they don’t ask questions about where you got it, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid. 

    They also catalog them before destroying them so there is a record of their existence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Well, it’s not that implausible. Just because someone is supposed to keep records doesn’t mean that they actually do, and just because someone keeps records or physical evidence doesn’t mean that the evidence can’t be lost or damaged — look at all those rape kits destroyed by a leaking roof in Texas back in 2002. If you move a million units of anything — guns, packages, glass bottles, pencil erasers around once, the odds that nothing bad will happen to any one of them are astronomical.

    None of that is a meaningful argument against buybacks though, since procedures can be put in place to limit that.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    (The press goon couldn’t even frame to answer the question. His poor
    mind couldn’t accept the fact that it might matter to a journalist if
    the candidate’s statements were in diametrical opposition to plain and
    simple facts. He kept saying something like “you have to understand his
    committment to a pro-life worldview”, and the reporter kept saying “Yes,
    but he told a bald-faced lie.“)

    So that’s what this ‘journalism’ stuff I keep hearing about looks like.  Sure wish we had some of that…


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