American Lives Aren’t Worth Much

I have to admit I’m not a massive fan of American’s and their culture: the idea that unbridled capitalist greed is the way to power and influence, has led to a society that’s become too controlled and corrupted by wealth for my liking. But watching thousands of American people die every year is both maddening and horrifying. Is it that American lives aren’t worth very much?

I’m English and live in England, and it seems the only news drifting across the Atlantic from the USA these days, is the mass slaughter of Americans by Americans. And it appears the reports we hear are just the very worst cases. Looking at an article from the BBC the other day, unbelievably, mass shootings (four or more deaths) occur virtually every day in the US!

stats

stats

In any other advanced, democratic state, these levels of mass murder would cause total outrage and be considered utterly unacceptable. I’d go further by saying a nation can’t even call itself a civilised, stable, advanced state if its citizens are just going around blowing each other’s brains out on a daily basis. Surely that’s rule number one for any orderly society – killing each other is probably not a good idea?

Now we all know why this only occurs in the United States and not elsewhere – gun control. From what I gather, there’s this ludicrous law that gives people ‘the right to bear arms’, which for some reason American’s think is a sensible, important right, that’s fundamental to their ‘democratic freedom’? The result is people popping down to their local shop and buying guns like we Europeans might nip out to grab a pint (litre) of milk. Beyond ridiculous.

guns

Apparently, this situation stems from the US constitution, specifically the second amendment. I’ve not really researched the details (no point, it’s obviously wrong), but isn’t there a clue in that title? An ‘amendment’ suggests something has been changed from an original. So why do Americans see this as something written in stone – the second amendment needs further amending.

In reality, I’d guess America’s love of guns is really a cultural thing: history, upbringing and education. I also realise ingrained cultural norms are hard to shake off, hard to see beyond, but for someone from the outside looking in, gun laws in the USA do seem like utter madness.

Humans are one of the few instinctively social animals, and from an evolutionary standpoint, being social offers numinous advantages that increase the chances of survival (not being killed) for each individual within that social group. At it’s simplest, it’s “let’s all watch each other’s backs”. All human societies are based on this, from families and tribes to city states and nations. It’s gone from “you keep an eye out for lions whilst I pick these berries” to “we’ll all pay a fee and employ some specialist protection guys (an army), so we can all be safe and go about our work”. OK, it’s other people (nations) we fear now, but it is not about killing those within our own group, that’s not social! Being social is about an ability to protect each other, not dismissively distributing an easy means to kill one another as and when it takes our fancy. Fundamentally wrong, completely irrational.

Why would any nation state facilitate an ability for it’s citizens to easily kill each other?

Americans often say they own a gun so they can defend themselves. Defend themselves from what, another gun? Surely bullet-proof armour would be a better defensive option? What’s really being said is “I don’t want to be shot, so if I shoot them first …”, or I’ll kill anyone that tries to kill me. No … If you don’t want to be shot, don’t allow people to carry guns. Why is that idea not simple to understand? No guns, no shootings. No guns, no nut-case with a trivial grievance, armed to the teeth, walking in to a school and murdering innocent little children.

But then perhaps the lives of American children aren’t worth as much as English children, or French children, or Spanish children, or Swedish children, or …

sandy-hook

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Yeah, Americans and their gun fetish, what a crazy ‘catch 22’ style hole they’ve dug themselves into. They need to have guns to defend themselves from all those dangerous people with… guns.

    Of course it’s a lot more than just a simple fear of your neighbours, foreign terrorists, criminals or ‘crazy people’ (the usual scapegoat in mass shootings) The US is a paranoid and deeply divided nation. Millions fear their own government and are convinced they need to protect themselves from it, by arming themselves to the teeth.

    The irony is the actual biggest threat to US citizens is… armed US citizens. It was calculated recently that more Americans have died as a result of firearms than have perished in all the armed conflicts since the war of Independence. A tragic and seemingly intractable situation and, given the immense power of the NRA, the weapons industry and gun lobbyists, one that is unlikely to change significantly any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thanks Jason, you’re obviously pretty knowledgeable on this subject. The NRA, aren’t they the morons who said “guns don’t kill, people do” and “teachers should carry guns in schools”? I don’t think I’ll ever understand America’s blind spot with this. I’m aware of the whole profit making, election funding corruption stuff, but this is about thousands of people dying every year? It’s amazing that American’s allow themselves to be manipulated like this. It’s stupid and disgusting,

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  2. Even though it’s a mystery to most of us outside the States (their reading of the right to bear arms is a misinterpretation of a soldier’s right from the times of Henry II, when soldiers were known as ‘men at arms’ and only being thus could they claim this right), it’s still a given and a reality, and looking at America as some kind of singular entity is akin to looking at Europe with the same eyes. Yes, it’s a more homogenised society than Europe, as language and history weave the historical experiences into what seems like a common or shared past, and all the people refer to each other as ‘Americans’ in a way that ‘Europeans’ don’t. The reality of a continent made up of immigrants is bound to be something different.

    Country areas where dangerous wildlife interfere with stock, or hunting traditions exist, are a further cry from downtown New York or LA than Hackney or even downtown Stockholm (to throw a liberal example in the mix). You can even see the need for guns in such areas. An inner city gun serves only one purpose; it’s the great Mexican stand-off, otherwise known as human-mutual-obliteration, a minor version of the cold-war and thus not as effective.

    Like English foxes, the safest place for wildlife in America is probably downtown anywhere.

    The Second Amendment does need its own First Amendment. However tackling the gun issue as a Federal matter is a non-starter, as that’s where people like the NRA and other powerful lobbying groups can muscle in and create fear of negative media, or funding losses for the power brokers causing them to stick their heads up their backsides until the issue goes away.

    In the way Weed found its backdoor, at County and subsequently State level, almost like by-laws; the gun issue needs to find its own backdoor and create a groundswell of ‘gun-free’ or ‘bullet free’ zones.

    It was Woodrow Wilson who declared that a man has the right to extend his fist … When his fist meets another’s face, his rights end and the other’s begin. This principle was used by the anti-smoking lobby, and the logic of it had so much impact that it underlies the thinking across the world for similar bans (It’s only really in America and Ireland that the compensatory awards for indemnity compensation awards tend towards the absurd, hence their push to be first through the door on that issue).

    We have the right in the UK to purchase all sorts of magic mushrooms and other wacky designer drugs, but we don’t have the right to consume them. If American Citizens insist on the soldier’s ‘Right to Bear Arms’, could not bullets instead be banned, and if not banned ‘micro managed’ through local by-laws, thereby potentially sidestepping the need for Supreme Court rulings and making having them a tiresome chore. An AK47 without bullets is still a weapon, and would classify as ‘arms’, albeit not as effective as a baseball bat, but Henry II’s men at arms often had to make do with very big sticks!

    All Americans could have the right to keep very big sticks; the Second Amendment is unaffected; downtown clacking becomes a new complaint, and hospitals need to stock up on bruising creams and steaks, for the odd eye-poke. Searches at schools would be a lot easier too, and in the long term, the American Olympic Javelin performance would likely improve, without the need for performance enhancing drugs.

    It’s a paralysis of imagination; laugh or cry, the only two options; the nature of Tragedy doesn’t change.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I don’t think we should be offering any excuse for American gun laws. They should be made to feel nothing but shame in allowing mass murder to continue on a daily basis.

      I’m aware the US is not a homogeneous nation like some – the ‘United States’ makes that clear – and I understand their unique history. Not forgetting their civil war; the Southern States still hold a grudge! However, I don’t know of any European state that has these problems? Australia and Canada have similar migration histories, and they also have large ‘outback’ wildernesses, with similar hunting traditions. But they don’t go around blowing each others brains out?

      The problem is simply America’s infantile, macho culture, and a poor cultural education system that distorts the American people’s view of themselves. We’ve seen this so clearly recently, in this year’s US election campaigns.

      Of course, the capitalist ‘wealth equals power’ combo also plays its ugly part. Apparently, there are profits to be made out of mass murder?

      Perhaps a surreptitious, backdoor approach could work – banning bullets – so nobody is seen to be ‘losing face’. Anything and everything is worth a try. Anything to cure this American sickness.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s