Friday, April 27, 2007

Beware defenders of America's gun culture

It still seems incredible - that one crazed individual could slaughter 32 of his fellow students and teachers. All that disturbed individual had to do was to walk into a shop, sign a piece of paper, and re-emerge with a semi-automatic 9 mm Glock. Once he had laid his hands on a second similar weapon, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, some of which was hollow-headed - designed to kill- he had become a veritable killing machine.

Myself and some others used Toby Harnden's blogs to state one or two home-truths on America's so-called "gun culture" - or as others less flatteringly put it, "gun fetish". But I don't think any of us were prepared for the incendiary response which that elicted from the Stateside regulars who post comments there.

Given the kind of abuse that's been coming the last day or two, notably from "Maddie", and especially Mary Fernandez (Captain), I felt obliged to submit the following to the thread this morning, under the title : "Over the top, and over here".

Here's a link to a blog in the Washington Post , written by E.J.Dionne Jr.

In the short extract that follows, the author makes clear his exasperation, shared by many others in a long, long comments section.

"No one pretends that smarter gun laws would prevent all violence. But it's a disgrace that we can't try to learn from tragedies such as this week's Virginia Tech massacre and figure out whether better laws might at least modestly reduce the likelihood of such horrific events happening again.

Our country is a laughing stock on the rest of the planet because of our devotion to unlimited gun rights. "

I have still to read the entire thread, but some things are clear. One is the polarisation of opinion on the subject of guns. The other is the sense of weary acceptance that nothing will done to control the easy-availability of guns, given the NRA's throttle-hold on US politics. One writer goes so far as to suggest that it was Gore's position on gun control that lost him the election.

However, I do not see anyone being subjected to the kind of derisive put-downs we have seen from Maddie, far less the hysterical rants from Mary F. Either Americans are more moderate with their comments, or the Post's moderators are less tolerant of abusive comment, or possibly both.

Isn't it strange that the two Ms conduct themselves in this fashion on a UK-based blog ? Why do they post here, rather than the Washington Post, or comparable US newspapers ? Is it because they know they can indulge themselves here in hissy fits that would not be tolerated in their own country ?

Methinks that M&M have been taking some huge liberties. Am I alone in thinking this ? Does anyone else agree ?

Update Friday 10:55

I have just realised that an earlier submission to the same thread, sent last night, has not appeared. Maybe it's been censored, or perhaps it is being held back for legal checks ( since it mentions the Phil Spector trial, but is careful to refer to his "alleged" toting of guns ). Irrespective, here it is:

"I find myself asking why Maddie et al bother with blogs from such a piddling little country as ours.

What do they say to their friends or colleagues, one wonders, who find them forever at their laptops logged on to this site ? That they "like to get the UK perspective on US and world affairs" ? Maybe they do, or did, until, that is, it begins to differ from what they want to hear.

When affronted by our expressions of honest opinion, that's the signal for Maddie et al to go into public address mode, trying to silence us with their megadecibel blasts of invective.

Maybe they can't stomach the views that are expressed this side of the pond, views that are not constrained by the shibboleths they acquire from infancy through your parents, churches, schools etc. Our views are ones that make sense to a fairly typical medium-sized nation, living cheek by jowl with dozens of similar sized nations as distinct from a geographically somewhat isolated hulking continental superpower.

Given the geopolitical differences it is hardly surprising that our world-views should differ. We also condemn the absurdly high level of gun-related crime that we hear about almost every day now, whether it's Virginia Tech, or a NASA employee shooting dead a colleague whom he blamed for a bad job review, or a record producer alleged to routinely threaten women with guns for not succumbing to his cleverly disguised charms.

If you don't like the views expressed here, Maddie, there's a simple solution. I'm sure I don't need to tell an intelligent woman like yourself what that is.

So why carry on punishing yourself in this fashion? Do you think America will be weakened by the likes of me being left unchallenged to condemn America for its foreign policy or way of life from a distance of some 3,500 miles ? I feel hugely flattered if you do.

I'm told the Washington Post does good blogs. One wonders how its locally-based bloggers would react if one or more Brits took up residence, routinely flaming them for saying uncomplimentary things about the UK or its European neighbours?"

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