Monday, January 28, 2013

Catch-22: Not Another Libertarian Argument Against Gun Control

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

-Joseph Heller, Catch-22

In my last post, I left you with:

"The truth is, after pondering for many long hours, I just don't believe the story in Atlas Shrugged. I believe the one in The Fountainhead. And in a following post soon, I will explain why..."

But we're going to have to take a break from our regularly scheduled de-programming to touch on another issue first. Every time I tried to start on this follow up post, I couldn't. I couldn't because I was distracted. I can't get my mind off of the gun debate in this country. I can't get my mind off of it because they won't let me.

Non-stop for weeks now-- and since November I've drastically reduced my consumption of news media, mainstream and otherwise-- they won't stop talking about gun violence and guns, and why did this happen, and other such masturbatory expressions of outrage.

Friday night I went out with my best friend to a hookah lounge to relax. We ended up having a lively conversation with several strangers about all kinds of things, but throughout the night, one girl could not help herself but turn the conversation back to "those children at Sandy Hook" again and again to offer up one inane bromide after another about "those children" and violent video games.

Remember what I wrote in my last post about Groundhog Day? *click* Then put your little hand in mine... *click* Then put your little hand in mine... *click* Then put your little hand in mine *click* "...all these violent video games" *click* "Well actually (insert standard libertarian arguments) *click* Then put your little hand in mine...

I am so bored of having this conversation. It actually makes me wish someone would shoot me. I wonder why she cared so much about "those children" and demanded some answer for such a horrible tragedy, but doesn't feel the need to wax empathetic / outraged / whatever-her-angle-is for all the children that died of starvation in North Korea last week.

Actually, I don't wonder why. I know why. Because "those children" are all over the television, so their deaths are more real to her, matter more to her, require her rehashed "insights" and "solutions." Of all the evils in the world that happen each day, the media masters said this particular evil was noteworthy and required our rapt attention, and along with every other uncritical, affluent consumer, this young lady obeyed. No great mystery here.

Now why the media considered this particular evil so especially noteworthy is another and more interesting question. Deduct five points from your score if you said, "Because they want to take our guns." Duh. Remember, the goal here is to stop being mundane. I'm so bored of the obvious answers and I'm so tired of repeating them. I'm going crazy, I'm telling you.

So what do I have to say? What do I have to say about guns and the gun control debate in this country other than, "Shut up, my rights are not up for debate, you white liberal hypocritical busybody scum of the earth." Because I honestly don't want to debate. I'm tired of debating and I don't want to acknowledge that this is even up for debate. It's my right to do whatever I damn well please as long as I'm not hurting anyone. Get off me. End of discussion.

Well at least I'd like to say something to you.

Again, I won't share the standard libertarian arguments. You know them. Plenty of people have made them already, probably better than I could. Maybe another day I'll cave, but not today. Not this week. Not this month. I'm tired. You already know that the statistics the gun grabbers use are out-of-context and misleading. Their arguments are erroneous and non sequitur. Their sense of empathy for victims of violence is so laughably, obviously one-sided, that actually trying to engage in a rational discussion with them is about as tedious as actually using my teeth to rip off my own toe nails and eat them times infinity.

So what will I share with you instead of the empirics and well-reasoned arguments? What hasn't already been said out there by libertarians and conservatives on the free and open Internet? A word of warning. Don't default to the "mental health" rebuttal too lightly. This is something I've actually done in the recent past myself. Many of us who believe that the government should honor the Second Amendment (you know, because it's the law) have argued lately that instead of going for the guns, we need to do more to spot and treat sufferers of mental health problems. Give 'em an inch...

There's something ominous in that line of thinking. Don't get the government involved in mental health either. Don't encourage policymakers to try to fix mental health problems. They're not going to be able to. Their track record of solving problems isn't exactly exemplary, and their record of making problems worse is well, pretty impressive to say the least. What takes the cake, however, is their record of taking some problem, real or imagined, and to see it everywhere, to artificially expand its scope to epic proportions, and thereby expand the scope of their prerogatives to solve it.

You want policymakers to find solutions to mental health problems? Well that means, to begin with, that you want them to define mental health problems. Who says they'll have the right definition? Who says the definition won't expand? Who says they don't already think you have a mental health problem? You've already seen the bumper stickers and heard the talk radio hosts say that "liberalism is a mental disease." Think gun-grabbing "liberals" won't return the favor? You're already a terrorist, you know.

Want conservatism to become a mental disease too? Just keep asking for the state to redirect its attention from your ammo clips to your very mind. That'll turn out better. And how much easier of a target are those crazy, kooky libertarians for the mental health care-icization of their beliefs? (All with a benevolent state overlooking the "care" of course.) Hey, maybe just wanting a gun could be a mental health problem. That would be a nice Catch-22. "Sure you can have a gun, if you pass a mental health check. Oh yeah, sorry, if you want a gun, you must be crazy. So no gun for you."

Here's another Catch-22: the more we draw attention to overblown media panics, the more effective they are; we play right into them. Yet, saying nothing allows their false premises and conclusions to go unchallenged. It's maddening isn't it? And it applies to more than media panics. In fact, I call it the Honey Boo Boo problem. If any of you can think of a way out of that nasty Catch-22, do please share in the comments. I'm all eyes!

The solution is to stop letting them invent problems to solve and then beg incompetents-at-best, liars-thieves-murderers-and-tyrants-at-worst to solve them. No, I'm not saying the death of innocent people at a shooters's hands is not a problem, but I am saying that elevating it to a national crisis requiring solutions from Washington is a contrivance. Everyone who has something to gain from it will play their part to hold the posture, whether it's a gun-grabber with a political agenda, a media corporation with profits to make, or a boring, self-important consumer of media who doesn't have anything else interesting to say on a night out.

tl:dr I'm saying turn. off. your. television.