“Morally Neutral” Technology

“Morally Neutral” Technology October 19, 2015

Whenever there is a gun massacre, one of the standard pieces of rhetoric trotted out to defend the strategy of doing nothing whatsoever is the pre-recorded NRA message “If guns kill people, do spoons make you fat?” Alleged moral: Gun are, like tools–all things–morally neutral. They do nothing by themselves. They are mere passive instruments and it always entirely the humans wielding them that are the actors.

What is overlooked is that, in fact, easy access to things–such as, you know, food does in fact tend to help make people fat, which is why Americans are more obese than people with less easy access to food.

And it’s not just the case with food.Witness, for instance, that piece of technology called the Pill, which the very same conservative subculture that constantly reduces guns to utter passive instrumentality clearly understands to act upon us and change us. Or consider TV, or violent video games, or porn films: the very same people who assure us that gun technology is totally passive also assure us that these forms of technology *change* us. So we are constantly being exhorted by such people not to let our kids be exposed to such technology lest it act on them and harm them.

Same with nuclear weapons. The whole of the last century was lived in the shadow of the fact that the mere existence of these weapons exerted pressure on two major civilizations to use them–and forever altered us and the way we thought and acts in their presence.

But with guns? Nah. Having a gun easy to hand, we are assured, makes absolutely no difference and does not change our thinking or behavior in the slightest. A civilization with easy access to the Pill with have its thoughts and actions very predictably altered toward easy acceptance of loose sexual mores, but a civilization with easy access to guns will in no way be very predictably altered by that technology toward easy acceptance of violence, murder and suicide to solve its troubles. And just because that is exactly what we see demonstrated when we compare US gun violence rates to those of the rest of the civilized world, what does that prove? Repeat the mantra: Do spoons make me fat? Har. Har.

As near as I can tell, every argument put forward by the NRA beyond the naked assertion of reckless will (summarized as “Screw the dead! Moar guns!”) is an absurd fallacy. And the naked assertion of reckless will cannot be argued with because it is not an argument but a mere assertion of desire like a child screaming “GIMME!”

“Guns are completely passive instruments” is just another falsehood that joins the roster of other terrible arguments for doing absolutely nothing to alter our annual human sacrifice toll of 32,000 plus two Sandy Hooks that the NRA does everything in its power to maintain as it lines its pockets with gun industry money in total disregard for human life.

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