Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dystopian Desires

John Stewart says it best: "Their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present." Stewart was talking about the real reason why gun advocates like the NRA push back so hard on reasonable gun control measures. Fearful people in this country want guns as a safeguard against their own government/society. I grew up in this culture, the dark little secret at the heart of a certain kind of rabid gun collector is they don't want to make sure they have a hunting rifle or that they can fire off a few rounds in a gun range. What they want is a way to stop hordes of undesirables in the event of a total breakdown of law and order.

The irony is, the rampant gun culture in this country, the expectation that the best solution to a problem is violence, probably does more to advance that societal decay than anything.

But I want to backtrack a little bit because there's something a little earlier in this monologue that really resonates. After a few clips of pundits claiming that the assault weapon ban didn't do anything to bring down gun violence, Stewart starts pointing to all of the perfectly reasonable things that do work when combined together in a rational system of laws. This country brought down the incidence of drunk driving deaths, not because of a single law, but an entire series of laws, initiatives and public awareness campaigns. Small steps bringing measurable improvements. The gun lobby would have us believe that if a single gun control measure doesn't work, then we shouldn't try anything.

Link to whole video.

I don't think the gun debate is the only place where this mentality surfaces. Republicans would have us believe that if a single millionaire suffers higher taxes, that's it, no one will ever be hired in this country again. If a single undocumented worker is allowed to successfully gain citizenship, that's it, the entire world will immediately start hopping over the border. It's ridiculous, but we've heard this nonsense for so long, it's hard to even realize just how insane this line of reasoning is.

Reform is possible. Just because something has happened in the past, doesn't mean it always has to happen. Segregation wasn't ended in one day. Child labor wasn't abolished after a weekend of debate. Plenty of work remains before everyone in this country will be able to marry whom they choose. Does the fact it's difficult to make these changes, mean we shouldn't bother?

Are we doomed to a dystopia because some people can't imagine anything else?
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