Skip to main content

Dark Age Now

Yesterday, Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association gave his organization's prescription for solving the epidemic of gun violence in this country. As you no doubt know, Wayne's idea is recruiting armed guards for all of the nation's schools. Now, with an exaggerated attempt towards fairness, 40% of this nation's high school's have at least a part-time presence of armed guards or school resource officers. The NRA's proposal would go far beyond that, however, calling for retired military personnel and police officers at all schools, around the clock. I saw the figure of $80,000 to fund a full-time security professional for the 40+ hours necessary to watch out for armed shooters.

"The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," is probably the one quote destined live beyond this poorly received press event.

I'll say one thing for the utterance above, it has the virtue of simplicity. Mind-numbing, infuriating, bib-wearing simplicity. Like all absolutists, the great intellects of the NRA have trouble thinking through the implications of their ideas or even the short-comings. As one blogger pointed out there are any number of examples of bad guys with guns proceeding unstopped during a massacre, even when confronted with a good guy with a gun: a school officer exchanged fire with one of the shooters at Columbine. Then let's turn to the other big news story on the national scene this week: the failure of the Republicans to deal with the Fiscal Cliff. Where does Wayne think the money for armed guards for every school in the country is going to come from?

Let's not even grace this as a rhetorical question. The point of the NRA presser was never to contribute in a meaningful conversation on gun control. At best Friday was the airing of collective delusions, at worst it's a variation on NRA's successful blueprint on combatting meaningful reform for the past two decades. Take no responsibility for the situation, blame everyone else, throw some crazy idea, like chum out into the water, to provoke the sound and fury of debate. Sit back while status quo reasserts itself.

But I'd like to advance one more reaction I haven't seen anywhere else. The NRA's proposal should be taken as a serious policy initiative from the pro-Dark Ages faction of our society. During the Roman Empire's long decline, the frontier was increasingly left to its own devices. The Roman Army degerated into collections of mercenaries and local warlords. The equipment and training left behind Rome's retreat became the power centers of the Visigoth, Hun, and Frankish feudalism. When you cast a central authority as the enemy and work tirelessly to militarize the fringes of civilization, you cannot be on the side of light and understanding. The NRA is an agent of chaos, disorder, and barbarism.

But at least they have shown a remarkable consistency in their vision. Stand-your-ground and concealed weapons laws and now ranks of mercenaries in school buildings; this is a vision of a society atomized into paranoid armed camps. You have to wonder what this country would be like if the amount of money devoted to destroying society was spent instead on reconstructing it.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 

SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.

I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Review Grab-bag

If find myself pressed for time this month and absolutely overwhelmed by the various media I'd like to tell you about. 

First up. I watched Guardians of The Galaxy Volume 2, okay? So you can get off my back. And? I loved it. About as much as the first one, honestly, give or take a joke or two. What it misses in novelty and sheer comedy (this is a percentage thing: there are more jokes and fewer of them completely land) it more than makes up for resonance and, you know, feelings.

It's actually damn impressive that the first movie 1) got made in the first place 2) worked as well as it did. There are five characters I doubt many had any reason to care about and by the end of the first flick, you loved them.

Total surprise.

So that's the first film. The second film surprises by taking all of this very, very seriously and finding ways of making you care about such diverse topics as the attempt of a green and purple sister at reconciliation over the purple one's cybernetic mu…