Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two things that bother me about America

Unflagging, uncritical reverence for the institutions of
  1. Guns
  2. Religion
Can't speak truth to power when the power is the electorate. But I have no trouble with Obama's comments. And good for him for saying it in public. Let's start questioning the special reverence we give to Religiosity, the free pass from rational scrutiny ideas seem to get if they're based on "religious grounds". Let's call into question the image of "guns as American tradition" which hearkens frontiersmen (who are of debatable moral standing anyway) and fathers teaching sons to pheasant hunt and replace it with the image of drive by shootings in inner cities in which it's inevitably the star academic performer, the one who had a chance to "make it" who gets gunned down by accident on the one night he goes out with his friends.

When "religion" means wholesome church picnics and encouraging neighborliness, no one blinks. But when "religion" means "I shall impose my world view on you, because my god told me to", we should question it. And that kind of "we are a Christian nation" mentality is much more rampant in small, homogeneous communities. The idea encounters no natural resistance there. Since we're all the same religion, we can legislate our religion, or at least talk about doing so, and never meet anyone who will or can disagree, lest he or she break with the community. "Why don't you want to illegalize porn & drinkin', Prudence? You a sinner? You on the side of the Devil? And you got a problem with the 10 commandments? No? Good, I'll put 'em in front a the court house, where I like 'em."

And when "guns" means hunters in the woods, we tolerate it. Get a permit, be careful, wear orange, don't pull a Cheney. But when it's "Let's take a few words of ambiguously phrased technology access law written several hundred years ago in a technologically, socially and economically different age and apply them to modern society, irrespective of the consequences" we should question it. And that kind of mentality also is more prevalent in rural areas, in which there is hunting, there is space to hunt, there is need for guns for pest control and livestock protection. And in which life isn't so different from that of the time the constitution was written. It's these non urban environments in which the consequences of liberal gun laws in urban environments aren't apparent. No drive by's on the prairie. Just the occasional "take your guns to school and kill all your classmates, because you are sullen" day. But no LA freeway style hand gun troubles.

Yes, Barack, please take on these attitudes that come up whenever Americans lead lives insulated form contact with people who are not just like them. I have no problem with it.