being the mental and scholastic wanderings of Collie Collier
Copyright © 1999 B. A. "Collie" Collier
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed
(and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless
series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
-- H. L. Mencken
I know this zine ish is supposed to have an Ignorable theme of 'Forming a Gaming Group.' However, I've not been in a successful game for over 5 years now, despite my (increasingly half-hearted) efforts. I consequently can't think of anything helpful or useful to tell folks regarding this subject... except perhaps that one shouldn't do whatever it is I did. Unfortunately I'm not even sure what precisely are the mistakes I've been making that cause me such troubles in finding a good gaming group.
So... this one's just commentary on the previous IR -- I'd like to make deadline for Kiralee. ;-)
Argh... my last zine has taught me to use a spell-checker... how embarrassing! Sorry, all.
Re your comments on gun ownership, I thought you might be interested in some facts that have occurred since the paper was written. Please note: I quite agree with your assessment of the situation, with the sole disagreement that I like to think some solution is possible. Maybe it's Pollyanna of me... I sure don't believe it will occur out of the kindness of people's hearts. We seem now to be a nation dedicated first and foremost to security, not freedom, and we all know what Ben Franklin said about that.
But anyways... first, there's an extremely interesting book out, titled "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws" (University of Chicago Press, 1998) written by an economist named John Lott. Mr. Lott was not an advocate of gun rights previous to his report, and was in fact fairly indifferent to the issue... at least until he was assigned the task of researching the usage of guns in defense. He is another on the list of academia who began their research with vague anti-gun leanings, who later changed positions on the issue.
Mr. Lott concludes crime comes from fewer rather than more guns. In fact, he demonstrates that concealed weapon laws have a significant impact: just brandishing a weapon stops crime completely 98% of the time. Greatest reductions in crime are seen in poorer areas when residents get guns for defense. I find this fascinating, especially considering your comments about our "economy and system is designed and has been right along so that there must always be a miserable underclass..." It would make excellent sense, if you wanted this underclass to exist, to keep it a lawless and helpless scapegoat for all social issues.
If you like, there are some excellent articles by him here. Yes, I have Lott's permission to reprint his articles. ;-)
Secondly, the British, Australians, and Canadians. For the longest time I thought of them (at least in regards to guns and their cultures) as social goals to aspire to... but now I find they're having the same problems we are. In the case of Canada, they've always had more violent crime than we have in America, even after adjusting for population differences (see this page for a startling graph). Most notably, there was a schoolyard massacre a few years ago in Canada -- something that was supposedly anathema to the 'Canadian psyche.' No one could stop the gunman, and thus many children died.
In the case of Britain and Australia, as guns are becoming less and less common, violent crime is rising steadily. Believe it or not, if we equivalently compare populations, Britain now has more violent crime than America. It's unsurprising, really. If you were a thief, would you be more worried about robbing a house where the owner might be home and armed... or a home where the owner might be home, but you know for a fact that she/he won't be armed?
Scarily enough, violent crime is practically skyrocketing (relatively speaking) in Australia -- check out an article on the report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics "Recorded Crime." A quick quote:
The figures are contained in the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication "Recorded Crime" which reviews the rate of reported incidents across a broad range of offences. The data indicate that between 1996 and 1997, serious crime increased considerably in Australia. Murder rose by 3.2%, assaults increased by 8.6%, armed robbery grew by a frightening 44%, unarmed robbery increased by 21%, unlawful entry with intent, including both (UEWI) involving the taking of property and (UEWI) 'other', rose by 3.9%, while motor vehicle theft increased by 6.1%.
And from 'The Age,' the Fairfax Australia News, I quote:
The Premier, Mr Jeff Kennett, also cautioned against 'short-term expediency,' saying that while he could understand calls for more police and extended gun amnesties in the wake of the shootings, such measures would probably not help. ...
Mr Howard said he was appalled by the recent shootings, in particular by the apparent triviality of a couple of the events that triggered them. But he argued that the violence did not necessarily indicate that the gun laws had failed. 'It's too early to make a judgment as to whether the new national gun laws are effective. I believe they are, but you will need to wait a number of years and observe the trends over that period of time to make a judgment,' Mr Howard said.
I found this article fascinating. Apparently Mr. Howard is more than willing to use 'short-term expediency' to justify confiscation of guns... but god forbid his own reasoning for immediate action should be used against him. Furthermore, I love the fact that he's willing to let people die in an attempt to justify his personal cherished beliefs. It seems to me this clearly shows his true agenda. As the old saying goes, "'gun control' isn't about guns... it's about control."
Well, that's enough pontificating from me... ;-)
Re my having possible strong feelings in regards to 'hegemony' as implying predominance of one thing over another, I'd have to say yes. While I do not consider myself a cultural relativist, I emphatically do not believe in blind ethnocentrism either. I don't think other cultures are necessarily better than my native culture -- but I sure don't think mine is the best of all possible worlds either! Like people, I feel cultures have good and bad parts. It's up to us as responsible and hopefully informed citizens to pick and chose what we'll emphasize in our daily lives, in order to maintain both our own and our culture's health.
LOL! Okay, I'll keep your advice in mind -- no friends as bodyguards when I take over the world.
Ah, philosophical debate -- I rise unswervingly to the bait! ;-) Well, let's see. In regards to your comment about the police/citizen shootings, I'd have to do more research before I could state definitively that it was or wasn't 'apples and oranges,' as you say.
Re arguing that cars are a necessity, whereas guns generally aren't, I could offer the anthropologist's viewpoint... namely, that you believe cars are a necessity because that's what your worldview has taught you. However, there are many cultures with excellent public transport that get by just fine without this 'necessity.'
As far as guns generally not being a necessity, I could also argue that in a lawless society (and in some places of America this is emphatically so) a means of defense is most assuredly a necessity. Hm... no, that's a weak argument, in that it applies only to a segment of the population. We need something that applies for all.
Umm... okay, how's this? Guns actually are a necessity, in the same way that blood banks are -- you may only need it once in your life, but if you don't have it -- you're probably dead.
Oh -- even better! While it's not currently a prevalent social meme in America, a gun could be said to be a symbol of responsible citizenship. Owning a gun means you are prepared (and hopefully trained!) to protect and defend not only yourself but others as well. In such a situation, gun ownership could be said to mark the mature, adult psyche.
Don't know how applicable you'll find all that, but it was fun to think about. ;-)
Re your comment:
The only part you lost me was the "criminals are victims of the system" bit.
Argh -- you caught me! ;-) I didn't really believe that either, but was required by the argumentation template we were supposed to be using to have a population group that appeared to be at fault -- but actually was not.
About the only possible agreement to the 'criminals as victims of the system' argument which I could muster is the large number of individuals imprisoned in the so-called War on Drugs. I can't recall who precisely said it, but there's a quote I heard once about prisons being made by bricks of law, just as brothels are built of bricks of religion. I think the War on Drugs is based on bad laws... I can't help but wonder, should we legalize drugs, if a huge amount of our violent crime problem would just disappear.
To everyone else, RAEBNC, and see you soon!
Last Updated: Mon May 17 1999