Monday, June 27, 2016
Energizing the Base
Like so many of these Facebook posts, it's meant for the converted and not to convince anyone outside the tribe. To the convinced, it will slip by the normal reaction of skeptical analysis and will immediately toggle the "boy, those gun nuts are just plain stupid" program. and the "if he argues he must be one of them" subroutine. Guns! Just guns and only guns! is the Pavlovian response, There's only one cause, only one solution in this simplest of all possible worlds.
People are simple and want only simple answers. That's why we have demagogues. That's why we make conclusions from inconclusive date. We have about twice the automobile fatality rate of the UK and Australia, can we assume the same causes? Do we dare to add other countries to the same question or have we Gerrymandered the short list? Are we selecting the data points to fit on the theoretical curve? Where do we fit on a universal danger list?
To those outside that bubble the first reaction might be "Those countries have a different health care system and they don't dump the mentally ill on the streets." It might also be true that there are fewer members of a large impoverished, addicted. angry and hopeless class trapped inextricably by circumstances, prejudices and a lack of social services, housing, education, opportunity for improvement, medical care and adequate diet: so much fodder for the many hate merchants we have. And of course no one is defining mental illness here. Even the less perceptive from outside the circle might suspect the band is playing another false equivalence Foxtrot.
Does restricting the view to massacres only, that tiny proportion of the firearms assault spectrum give a biased view? Is the apparent trend real, is it a short aberration on a line with a different long term trend? Is it the same kind of sophistry as letting the deeds of one man be the paradigm, the "typical." It comes right out of the manipulator's playbook.
Of course those countries have had massacres. We're just inclined to think they don't because the teacher is always right. The UK has had a great many of them: Bloody shootings in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin bombings in London. Spain, France and other countries in Europe have had massacres in train stations and public areas for years. Algerians, Basque Separatists, Baader-Meinhoff in Germany and the Red Brigade of Italy; ISIS, al Qaeda, etc. Mentally ill pilots crash planes, crazy people use truck bombs and poison gas and set fires,shoot up newspaper offices, theaters, night clubs and hotels. It doesn't register with us as being the same thing even though the innocent victims are the same type and degree of being dead.
Worst ever! worst ever! is what you hear and you're not supposed to factor in the fact that the previous worst ever and comparable school shooting was 90 years ago and the century's experience seems more sporadic and episodic than progressive. Everything is getting worse, say people like Trump and the Tea Party con men and manipulators of all kinds and the respective bases have never been more energized. No one will bother to notice that murders and armed assaults have steadily declined for decades despite the stated erosion of gun laws.
If it comes from our crowd we don't question, we just glad hand, high five and fist bump just the way the Trump Chumps do every time some silly giggling camp follower excuses his latest gaffe. After all, part of being a cult is to alienate the outsider and prevent him from being heard. It works.
So what if you have constructive ideas, will it ever be heard through the untruths and distortions; red herrings and outright lies? Over the grins and back slapping? I think not. Semi-automatic will always mean machine gun and they always spray super high velocity big-bore bullets that actually aren't. The number of murders will always be off by a factor of two. The decline in the number of guns per household will always be explained as bad or irrelevant and the lack of correlation between regulations and effects will always be shouted down. It's always getting worse, it's a disaster, a trainwreck and only Donald or Bernie or Hillary of Ted can save us. Hey teacher - pick me!
And then there's the unsupported assumption that only guns are suitable in a world where most massacres are done with bombs, from Haymarket Square to the Anarchist bombs of the early 20th, to Oklahoma City to New York and Washington DC to Boston. The single cause fallacy supporting the single solution fallacy.
I'm tempted to ask whether gun control advocates are just Onanists or are they really interested in winning over an opposition who doesn't trust any of their reassurances because of all the lies?
Just Island universes are we, or non-intersecting circles in some vast Venn diagram. No one to tell us what we don't want to hear that we can't dismiss with a snark and a bark and some fudged figures as the world ends, not with a bang but a giggle. Call on me teacher!