When a colleague came into my office yesterday and told me to read the news, that was my reaction, along with disgust, disbelief, anger, sadness, and sympathy.
The intellectual side of my brain realized that I was being a hypocrite. After all, I’d read about the deaths of innocent civilians, including children, at the hands of our troops, on many occasions. Where was my outrage then?
The emotional side didn’t care, however. I was still stunned.
When I got home, I checked in with the news again, and predictably, instead of grief, I saw news reporters being assholes and exploiting the victims, and I also began seeing knee-jerk, opportunistic calls for greater gun control. Here we go. Do I have bad timing or what?
You see, I’ve recently begun the process of applying for a gun permit here in Washington. To be honest, I haven’t gotten very far. I’ve only filled out the application up to this point, and I haven’t yet submitted it, but now that shrill cries are going up across the nation for tighter gun control, I suspect I’m going to have to shit or get off the pot.
I never thought I would be in this predicament, though. I never wanted to own a gun. I, like most other non-rural, laptop-toting males, detest guns unless they’re being used in video games. So, how did I get here? Why have I been motivated to get one?
Is it because Obama was re-elected?
Nope. I’m not one of THOSE people. A bible-thumping, right wingnut. I don’t dislike the guy more than any other politician, and I think the people who blame him for everything are completely batshit.
Is it because of the continued erosion of our civil rights?
Nope. I’m not one of those either. If the government kicks down my door because I cut the tag off of my mattress, I’ll shit my pants, scream like a bitch, and cower in the corner like every other IT-employed American male.
Is it because of the New World Order blah blah blah blah blah?
Nope. Despite reading snippets of this mythical thing while randomly web-surfing, I’m not even sure what in the hell it is.
Clearly, I don’t fit the usual talking points; the stereotypes. I’m not conservative. I believe that weed should be legal, gays should get married, and that Jesus is a baseball player for the Tijuana Braves … and nothing else.
So what is it, exactly, that makes me want to purchase a gun?
Well, it’s three things, really. Three easily-identifiable things which have brought me to my decision.
I’ll start from the top …
The first, is Castle Rock v. Gonzales, a decision handed down back in 2005. In it, the Supreme Court ruled that the police are not obligated to protect us. It ruled that, if you walk into a police station and claim “So and so has threatened me, and I need protection”, the police have no obligation to give you that protection. A lower court had already re-affirmed that the individual officers would have “qualified immunity”, and also could not face charges.
What this means is that, if you are being beaten to death in the middle of the street by a group of people, and the police stand by and watch, the police have broken no laws.
Now, at this point in the article, you’re probably laughing. ”Oh come on, Rex, that would never actually happen. I’m sure if the police see someone threatening or assaulting you, they’ll step in and help. After all, the police in my upper-middle-class neighborhood are the finest, bravest, most upstanding group of young men you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet! How about you live in the real world like the rest of us, instead of indulging us all in your paranoid delusions? We the people, and our police, will protect you!”
I hear you, man. I swear I do. Your rebuttal does, however, bring me to …
Event #2, April 28, 2012. I stood in Westlake Park and watched a man get threatened by a self-professed “drug dealer”. Not a very intimidating drug-dealer mind you, just your run-of-the-mill Seattle street kid who tries hilariously to be gangsta despite being, well, not very gangsta. KnowwhatImean, dawg?
Now … remember when you called me paranoid just a few lines up? Ring a bell? Yeah? Well, check this out:
Download Video: MP4
Now, after I posted that video, a couple of people said “Gee, Rex, I’m not sure that guy makes your point very well. After all, he’s an idiot. A douchebag. A loudmouth. A creep.” To which I replied, “no, you don’t understand, he makes my point PRECISELY!”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Popular people, like popular speech, need no protection. It’s only the most vile people and words, which need protection. In fact, had that videographer been a nice, respectful, popular guy — I doubt I would have posted it. It would hardly be newsworthy, as it would just be the SPD being their usual incompetent selves.
You want to know the real irony, though? The man that everyone shit on after watching the video? He was there to film “The Republican War on Women”. That’s right, he’s one of yours, my lib homeys. I laughed to the point of tears upon realizing that. In fact, this video, his video, tells the entire story:
Oh, and ladies, thanks for coming to his defense … you civil rights warriors you.
If you watch the above video, you will see a person slap the videographer’s camera in full view of a police officer, and you’ll see the police officer declare that it’s not assault, because the assailant “only touched his camera”. On the bright side, if you are ever arrested for slapping a police officer’s camera, gun, baton, hat, etc, at least you now have an affirmative defense.
In any event, when I played the second video for other people, I once again found very little sympathy for the videographer. Scratch that, I found no sympathy.
Again, he was unlikable. Whiny, self-important, loud-mouthed, rabble-rousing — many names arose, but consensus was that the man brought it all on himself. He deserved no police protection, because … he was unpopular. Because we, the people, don’t like him.
Folks, this instance, this circumstance, this stupid, stupid interaction that was filmed above … was very eye opening for me. It was on this day, that it fully hit me, why we have things, at least in theory, like the 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, and so forth.
The First Amendment was not put in place to protect women’s groups in 2012 Seattle. It was not put in place to protect the Gay Pride Parade on 4th Avenue. It was not put in place to protect Katie Couric or Peter Jennings. These people and groups need no protection. They are in the majority. They enjoy the approval of, if not most people, at least large amounts of them.
For that matter, none of our Constitutional rights were written for the mainstream. The cool. The popular. The well-connected. The status-quo. As mention, these people don’t need protection. Instead, the Bill of Rights was put in place to protect the minority. The unpopular. The offensive. The hated. They whiny. The self-important. The loud-mouth. The rabble-rouser.
Constitutional rights are in place to protect us not only from the government, but also from mob-rule. To protect us from the mandate of consensus. To protect us from the overwhelming majority, which is always, always, wrong at the extremes.
Freedom of association was not put in the Bill of Rights to protect the rights of wealthy bankers. Freedom of religion was not guaranteed to protect God-fearing Christians from Prozac-fearing Scientologists. It was put in place so that lowly sweatshop workers could organize, and so Kewpie-doll-worshipping pygmies could hold services on the third Friday of every month.
When a side must be taken, it is the state’s job to side with the unpopular. So long as the unpopular has not broken the law, of course, but even when she has … she is still entitled to due process, non-cruel punishment, and all kinds of guarantees which protects the unpopular from the pitchforks and torches of the angry villagers. Our forefathers knew, that left to their own devices, the village people would ruthlessly infringe upon the rights of the least popular, before recording an awful song and dance which would live on forever in stadiums around the country.
As far as the SPD is concerned, however, protection of the people can and will be withheld based on the discretion of the individual officers. Officers who enjoy “qualified immunity” from any and all decisions they make, and therefore clearly, CLEARLY (watch the videos), could not care less . Decisions which, for the most part, are supported by the city’s status-quo.
The net result is that police protection has in essence become … a popularity contest, and unsurprisingly, the popular people like this arrangement just fine. The rest of us, however, don’t always fare as well.
Which leads me to …
Last, but certainly not least, there is one final occurrence which convinced me to apply for a gun permit.
I’ve not written about this particular circumstance before. I haven’t had the time. Today, however, I will reveal that which was, to me, the decision maker. The last straw on the camel, nail in the coffin, spank on the monkey, or you know, the thing that convinced me.
In 2011, the first-ever “Slutwalk” was held here in Seattle. Upon learning the premise of the Slutwalk, I denounced it as a social gathering where privileged white girls gathered to exaggerate their first-world problems. It’s a position which I stand behind, and a position which I feel that I have considerable evidence to support.
Shortly after publishing that article, I was inundated with email. The responses ran roughly 50/50 for and against my position, but what was notable, was that those who were against me, were extremely hateful and violent. They were, by far, the most violent emails I’ve received as a blogger. One woman in particular, a person whose IP originated at a local educational institution, threatened to track me down and castrate me. I am not kidding.
As bad as this was, however, it was nothing compared to what would happen the next year … this year’s march. This year, the Slutwalk turned into something much more sinister.
At this point in my life, it is rare that I am stunned. It is quite rare when an article in another media outlet shocks my conscience. This is exactly what happened, however, when I read the Capitol Hill Times account of the 2012 Slutwalk:
“This new sense of structure has already born fruit for SlutWalk Seattle. During the 2011 demonstration, there were several complaints about photographers who attended the event to take voyeuristic pictures of the sometimes scantily-clad demonstrators. The SWS security team made itself available this year to address those concerns. Over the course of the entire event Sunday, only one individual was accused of inappropriate photography. The individual, a man who appeared to be in his late 50s, was confronted by SlutWalk Seattle security in a non-physical manner and escorted away from the demonstration. No police involvement was necessary.”
Did you read that?
Good. Now, go back and read it again.
To summarize, members of the Slutwalk have now taken it upon themselves to confront and “escort” citizens away from public streets and sidewalks, when Slutwalk participants, in their sole discretion, decide that they don’t want them to be there. A group of people have decided amongst themselves that they have a legal right to walk through streets of Downtown Seattle in their underwear without being photographed … a right that absolutely does not exist in this city … and that they have a right to enforce this non-existent law. Not just enforce it, but enforce it selectively on the basis of which photographers they, in their sole discretion, think are “appropriate” and “inappropriate”. On public streets.
And, as we saw in the videos, the Seattle Police Department is perfectly fine with this. For God’s sake, the people “escorting” the law-abiding citizen away openly relayed their illegal activity to the local newspaper, and nobody, not one person … save for me … has taken any public exception to it.
Congratulations, Seattle, we now have anarchy. We have private citizens making up laws, and enforcing those made-up laws, without any interference whatsoever from so-called “law-enforcement.”
Is my decision making sense to you now?
I think it should.
If this is the kind of town we’re going to have then so be it, but I don’t want to be caught holding my dick when the thought police of the day decides that my presence in my own neighborhood is “inappropriate”.
It’s important to note that these groups, these supposedly-”liberal” groups, in general, are also on the side of gun control.
And why wouldn’t they be?
After all, the angry mob needs no protection. The witch-hunters don’t need weapons. They’ve got numbers. They’ve got the lone photographer, the “man in his late-50′s” as the Times so eagerly points out, greatly out-numbered. They used those numbers to bully and intimidate the law-abiding citizen, the “man in his late-50′s” (sounds evil doesn’t it?) … into surrendering his own civil rights … before running off and bragging about it to the press.
While reading the piece, I realized just how easily this could have been me. I realized that no matter how much I yelled for protection, protection would never come. I realized that even after doing nothing wrong, I could be vilified in the local rag the next day … you … “Man in his 40′s taking pictures of the underwear-clad women!”
Yellow journalism. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
What would I do with a gun, though? What would I do if these stormtroopers tried to remove me from Pike Street? Surely I would never use it. I honestly don’t think I have it in me to kill another human being regardless of the circumstances. What if I was cornered and being assaulted? What if they decided to go after my family? I guess we never truly know what will happen.
In any event, after reading the CH Times piece, I realized that things had gotten to a rather daunting point here in good ole Flaketown, and the rule of law was not what we’d been promised years ago in civics class.
I downloaded the permit forms the next day. I do still have the right to self-defense. We all do.
As for yesterday’s shooting … it’s gut-wrenching. It’s also a reminder that freedom isn’t free. It never has been, it never will be. Millions upon millions of people have died for freedom, and every year, more will die either because we fought for it, or because we already have it.
It’s a goddamn shame that some of these people will be children, but the fact is, they will be. Wherever people are free, atrocities will happen. Of this, you can be certain. Freedom is expensive, and it’s scary as hell. It truly is. This is why most people, the vast majority of the world, cannot handle it.
In a free country, or even a quasi-free country, there can be no guarantees. No guarantees of safety, no guarantees of how things will play out. That’s the entire basis of freedom. Unpredictability. There is no freedom without risk, and there is no risk without loss. You simply can’t win them all.
That being said, even with Friday factored in, I’m still shocked by just how well we do. Statistically, you’re still more likely to win the lottery than get massacred. The government’s agenda is to keep you scared so that you stay dependent upon them to feel safe, and overall, they do a terrific job. Intellectualism has been all but eradicated from American culture, and in its place, there is fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of carbohydrates, fear of criminals, fear of men in their late-50′s taking inappropriate pictures.
So much fear, that more and more people are voluntarily rejecting freedom. They’ve been convinced that there’s too much risk in freedom. Even though heart disease kills far more people than terrorism, and yet there is a McDonald’s on every corner, we’re still convinced that the government will keep us safe. We’re convinced that, all things considered, freedom is a bad thing.
And you know what?
Freedom sucks. It truly does.
Every time I get on the road and some asshole cuts me off, I immediately start praying that someone from the government will take his license and lock him away for a thousand years. After all, he’s dangerous. Cars are lethal weapons every bit as much as guns, tens of thousands of people die every year from cars, and yet … here they are. Even this guy still has one! It’s an abomination that he’s on the road. He’s got too much freedom. Too much freedom and I want it to go away. Please, won’t someone make him go away and make me feel safer?
Thank goodness politicians don’t listen to me when I’m pissed off, for if they did, you would all be in concentration camps. Every, single, solitary last one of you … and you now what? You’d deserve it. We all would. With the exception of young children, there is no such thing as “innocent people”. We’re all selfish fucking assholes who would vote for Hitler if he promised to give us free shit and persecute our enemies. Deny it all you want, but you know I’m right.
Yes, it’s a good thing for you that the government doesn’t do my bidding when I’m pissed off, and in addition, you better hope they don’t listen to you either.
Freedom is an awful, awful, hideous, dangerous, risky, repeatedly-abused thing, but … it sure as shit beats the alternative. School shootings are atrocious, but as unspeakable as they are, you haven’t begun to see atrocity until you’ve seen a heavily-armed, authoritarian government turn their angry mob citizens against a powerless, unarmed, unpopular minority of the population. Against the rednecks, weirdos, loners, Jews, trailer trash, gypsies, male photographers in their late-50′s, etc, etc, etc.
We’ve seen what happens when the angry mob, knees jerking, hell-bent on revenge, gets their way, and I want none of it. I’d rather the people, all people, have the means to protect themselves against bigger, stronger, and more numerous people than themselves.
It’s not a good time to do away with a Constitutional right which was put in place for this very reason. A right which was designed, at its core, to allow people to protect themselves … from the people who claim to be protecting them.
Call me crazy, but after seeing the protection that my local government has to offer; that your local government has to offer; drug dealers and Slutwalkers ruling the streets as immune officers lazily look on … I just don’t think I’m ready to put all of my eggs in that basket.