Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Well-Regulated Hypocrisy

The shooting massacre at Virginia Tech university in the USA is of course tragic, but there's something sickening about George W. Bush's public commiseration with the victtims and their families while his illegal war in Iraq is killing more people than that every day (not to mention Bush's accomplice Tony Blair getting in on the act).

No doubt some will argue that there is no connection between these two events, but I think there is: America's obsession with guns and its foreign wars both reflect the same sad illusion: that violence is an effective way to solve problems.

America's gun culture also reflects, I feel, a lack of understanding of the country's constitution. The relevant clause (Amendment II, 1791) says (complete with redundant commas), "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". In the context of the first part of the clause, it seems clear that what is intended here is a collective right of self-defence.

The right of the people as a whole to protect themselves should not be interpreted as the "right" of every individual nutcase - a Chapman, Hinkley, Whitman or Cho - to carry a gun. 30,000 Americans die of gunshot wounds every year - some just because someone doesn't like Mondays or whatever. But Americans have a problem with anything collective, because it smacks of communism to a nation of people who pride themselves on their "rugged individualism".

1 comment:

Tusk said...

I think that you misread American culture:

1. America, as an American, is by far the most collectivist of all cultures I have lived in. What, in fact, is American voting, if not the most collective and brainwashing activity on earth? You are an individual, so you get to vote for your man. Yeah, you and about 45 million other people.

2. The tawdry and well-worn cliche of America's gun culture forcing the deaths of thousands of people doesn't bear a second mention. But I will say this, the right to bear arms should increase individual responsibility. It is a mighty duty to be able to carry a gun and to not wield it. If America is the non-collective and non-Communist country you pretend it to be in your commentary, then, sir, why not say this, leave it to an individual to fuck up.