Yesterday I reblogged a very clever satire reflecting on the issue of gun control as it is currently being argued in US politics. The most popular theme in this debate right now is the idea that guns don’t kill people, just like spoons don’t make people gain weight, and shoes aren’t responsible for kicking people.
I would like to cite this newspaper clipping which has been circulating around the internet as a prime example:
Yeah, we get it. Your inanimate gun doesn’t do anything when left to its own devices.
Um, you do realize, sir, that you just left a shotgun, and the requite ammunition, on your front porch? You left, for all intents and purposes, a loaded lethal weapon where you, yourself, admit the mail worker, the trash worker, and a small child had immediate access to it.
Let’s just assume, for the moment, that this isn’t also a satire. (And I am going to cross my fingers and squinch my eyes and just hope against hope that it is. Because, let’s be honest – we all know at least five pinheads who would do this just to make a point.) Let’s assume “Walter New” actually left his personal, legally obtained, rightfully owned Remington 870 sitting on his front stoop.
In Walt New’s version of this satire, the gun sits there, lazy, lonesome, innocent, and unharming.
That. Is. Convenient.
Because in my version of this story, a man purposefully leaves an essentially loaded weapon on his porch within arm’s reach of a mail worker. …They don’t have the best reputation for keeping their cool under pressure.
He leaves an intriguing piece of lethal mechanics available to little Ida Mae’s curious hands as she walks Coco the schnauzer down the road. She takes it down to show Bobbie Jean, and ends up blowing her prepubescent head off. Of course she can work a pump-action rifle – what do you think this is? France?
He leaves a ready kill shot available for the trash worker, a guy out on work-release after getting a skip on that questionable manslaughter case. It would have been a hard fifteen year sentence, but, man, he had a great lawyer.
Yeah, sure, guns don’t kill people on their own. It’s irresponsible people with guns that are on the stand here, and you, Walter New, have just made that case. So, thanks.
Mr. New posits in his letter to the editor that the news media suggests that guns kill people. I think Mr. New is misinterpreting the news. No one, no one, is suggesting that guns are walking around on spontaneously-evolved hind legs and shooting people with their own brand of artificial intelligence. We’re three, four years from that kind of technology at best.
But let us be honest about what a gun is – it is a weapon. It’s only function is to shoot things. You do not dust with it. You do not clean belly button lint with it. You do not groom your dog with it. You do not fluff your down pillows with it. It is for shooting and shooting only. It was made to kill. So, though guns can do no harm without a human shooter, let us not pretend a gun is something that it is not.
People do not propose gun control legislation because the guns themselves are out of control. To suggest that this is the issue at hand only brands one’s self as an ignoramus. People propose gun control legislation, Mr. New, because gun controllers are not controlling their guns.
Even though your decision to leave a loaded killing machine within the grasp of school children is deplorably irresponsible, no one, Mr. New, wishes to take away your right to bear arms.
(Unless you run a meth lab. Do you run a meth lab, Mr. New? Because if you do, I should also point out that those places are crazy volatile and can blow at any second. It is possibly even a worse place for your Remington than your front stoop.)
What I find most ironic is that Walt New cites in his letter to the editor that most gun violence is a problem of “criminals who misuse them.” (See what I mean about the meth lab?) And yet, gun-toters are the same census group who voted down the criminal background checks and waiting periods before being able to buy a firearm.
So, those who want the legislation agree with you – guns need operators to kill people. Those who do not wish to lose the right to bear arms agree that it is criminals who misuse guns who cause the most damage, and cause the largest threat to society. And yet it is again those same voters who turn down measures to attempt to keep the guns in the hands of responsible American hands, and refer back to the argument that guns needs hands to operate them?
This is my argument. I’ll leave it in your hands.
The United States America is the best country on earth. Says Americans. And who’s to say we’re wrong? There are 316 million of us. And the numbers are still growing: we got people coming here all the time, whether it be for the freedoms, the education, or the state of the art freshwater systems.
It’s certainly easy to tout the advantages of living in America versus any of the globe’s “third world” countries. The choice between living in a small, under-furnished studio apartment on Twenty-Sixth Avenue versus residing in a tree next to a parasitic creek and fighting over your next meal with hungry badgers seems like a no brainer.
But when it comes to comparing countries in the first world to other, copper-piped, food-marted first world countries, the details about what makes one better than another kind of all comes out in the wash. There is nothing inherently better or worse about the countries themselves; it’s really the needs of the individual that dictate the best place to move:
“We have socialized health care.”
“Yeah, well we have lower taxes.”
“We have cooperative housing.”
“We have better education.”
“We have the most accessible borders and lenient immigration laws.”
“We have no extradition treaties.”
Here is a little bit of hot truth for you: every first world country believes itself to be the best country in the world. I assure you, no one is walking around in France going, “Ah, France is a wonderful country. The only thing that would make it better is if we were British.”
And certainly there is not one Italian gazing upon the Colosseum saying, “I mean, it’s okay…but this place is no Luxembourg.”
Even the Canadians think Canada is great.
Here is the difference though, between Americans, Britons, and typical, first-world self-love: audacity.
Imagine the world is a playground. America is the big kid who had that growth spurt two years too early, and is throwing the red dodgeball at all the kids who aren’t even playing. We’re stomping around in our oversized high-tops yelling “America! America!” while bouncing that ball as high as it goes.
We want to be friends with all the other kids. We just haven’t figured out that not everyone likes dodgeball yet. Pretty soon we’ll start a nice game of wall ball or four-square, and start letting all the other kids play with our cool army toys. (But not all of them. We leave the coolest stuff in our room at home.)
England, on the other hand, is the skinny, asthmatic kid gently swaying on the blue, rubber-seated swing. He’s watching the Irish kids toss each other off the jungle gym and shaking his head, feeling genuinely sorry for them, and thinking, “You were so much better under British rule. It was only then we could show you how to be truly civilized.”
And they see the Australians wrestling inside the jungle gym and think the same thing. And see the Americans, and think the same thing. And the Indians. And most of the Africans. And pretty much all of the Islanders, both Atlantic and Pacific.
Maybe American’s are big, fat bullies. But the Brits have rote condescension. We Americans may be in that fourth grade phase where we think that everyone just hates us cause we’re awesome, but no matter how old those Brits get, well, they’re always just going to be a little bit better than you. They’re British.
The Constitution of the United States is perhaps the single greatest document ever conceived of in the history of human existence. Specifically it is the Bill of Rights, the amendments added to the constitution before it was ratified, that Americans fight so readily to protect, and what makes the Constitution supreme over all other forms of governing artifact. Almost the entire document, which spells out the basic human rights that the Declaration of Independence holds to be “self-evident,” can be summed up thusly: you have the right to think, say, believe and do whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of anyone else.
As an example we’ll start with a longtime favorite: the right to bear arms. You can own a gun. You can own several guns. You can have in your home your very own arsenal, comprised of varying types of firearms in any different number of sizes, calibers, colors, and designed for any range of purposes.
But what you can’t do is rummage through your gun collection, pick up your favorite nine millimeter, and go pop a cap into the first random blonde you see filling out her Powerball ticket at the Seven Eleven’s lotto counter. To do so would be a violation of the blonde’s inalienable right to life. So, while you do have the right to own a gun, you do not have the right to shoot people with said gun. Unless another person has broken into your home, or in some other way is directly threatening your life, to shoot another person is infringing on their rights, therefore making the act criminal, and unconstitutional at its essence.
For the past many years, there has been a strong push in the United States to criminalize homosexuality. Most of this push has been made on moral grounds, rooted in claims found in religious texts; statistically, we can assume that the majority of the morally-based push to criminalize homosexuality has come from claims found in the Christian bible, since most of the US population identifies with a Christian sect of some kind.
On the other hand, some of this push has been made purely on a level of discomfort; if homosexuality is illegal then it will stop, and the discomfort I am feeling will go away. No matter what the reason, the movement exists to make two men smoochin’ a crime. But the fact of the matter is, there is nothing unconstitutional about being a homosexual or practicing homosexuality, and therefore it is impossible to criminalize it.
It is important to understand that laws are not based on morality. (If that were the case, most tax law would have to be eliminated.) So, for the sake of this argument, let us assume that practicing homosexuality is a choice of moral disgrace – that it is irrefutably immoral to be a homosexual or engage in any homosexual act of any kind. We are going to take off the table the idea that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle. Since this is going to be purely an argument of legality, and not one of virtue, let’s just default the moral stance to “shame on you.”
If two men or two women choose to engage in sexual acts together, the result of those actions is that those individuals will be sent directly to hell after an untimely death. Ten points to God. However, they still cannot be accused of doing anything unconstitutional.
As explored before, the Constitution of the United States protects the freedoms of Americans, and Americans are free to do whatever they please as long as they are not infringing on the rights of anyone else. Americans are free to engage in any immoral act they want without fear of reprise from their government.
An American may take the Lord’s name in vain right in front of the chief of police, and not a thing can be done about it. An American may worship false idols on his own front lawn – he may even teach his children to do the same thing, and his vote will still count in every election. We can lie to our mothers. We can call out sick from work and go to Six Flags instead. We can eat cheeseburgers – oh yes, milk and meat at once. We have the freedom to make these choices, regardless of whether they are cosmically good for our souls or bad.
What is important in this scenario is the right of the homosexual American. When a woman meets another woman and they decide to start a lesbian relationship, they are entering this relationship as two consenting adults. These people are protected, under the rights of the Constitution, to make the choice to do that, even if it is morally wrong and even if upon their deaths they will burn in hell for all eternity.
If their friends and neighbors are concerned for the well being of their everlasting souls, they can send them copies of Watchtower, but they cannot make a law criminalizing their choices. That would be a violation of their constitutional rights since their choice to be in a relationship together does not violate the rights of anyone else. And if seeing those women sucking face on the corner of 21st and Broad streets in bright daylight makes you uncomfortable, well, sorry to say but you will just have to look the other way; comfort is not covered by the constitution as a basic human right.
The major way that the American people are attempting to make criminal homosexual relationships is by banning marriages between same-sex couples. The first thing that is important to note is that legal marriages in the United States are performed either by a Justice of the Peace (you know, a judge) or through a religious institution.
The first amendment protects freedom of religion, so even when same-sex marriage is legal in every state, any and every religious institution has the right to deny performing same-sex marriages in their own institution. It is their right, as expressed by the constitution, to practice their religion freely, and not be forced to sanctify an unholy union.
(On the other hand, if any church engaged in human sacrifice, we would surely bring charges against that. I’m just sayin’.)
The status of “married” effects so many aspects of our lives, in meaningful and practical ways: the way a person will file his taxes and the exemptions he qualifies for, accessibility to health insurance, the rates of his car insurance, the names and accessibility of his bank accounts, changes in credit scores, availability of loan monies – the list goes on and on and on. To deny a person of access to those privileges by denying them the ability to marry is a form of oppression, and therefore directly infringing on his constitutional rights.
So while a religious institution is free to deny the joining of two same-sex souls in the name of God, the governing forces of the United States of America are not permitted to do so, because doing so would be equivalent to denying these Americans with privileges arbitrarily open to those who choose to marry a person of another sex.
As part of the argument to make homosexuality unlawful, frequently the contention is made, “if homosexuality is okay then what is next? It’ll be all right to be a pedophile?” Many people seem to be afraid that granting (though it would be more accurate to say maintaining) the rights of homosexuals would be the first step in a landfall of legalizing would-be criminal sex practices.
So, again, for the sake of this argument let us assume that homosexuality and pedophilia are all on the same spectrum of moral deplorability. We will assume the circle of hell that is reserved for same-sex partners is also the afterlife home to the depraved individuals who prey on children for their sexual satisfaction.
Providing that be the case, there is still a very specific reason why homosexuality is protected by the Constitution and pedophilia is not.
What is the argument that has been made again and again thus far? The Constitution protects the freedoms of the American people to think, say, believe or do anything, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.
When homosexuals choose to enter into a relationship, as stated above, they do so as two consenting adults. Their choice to engage in homosexual activity together is voluntary, and since they are both adults, they are able to make that choice without restraint. Therefore, their actions are protected as freedoms.
The actions of a pedophile, however, would never be protected because a sexual relationship between a child and adult is lacking the major component of consent.
A child is restricted in many areas of life, even in regards to a law. The most significant component of the law regarding children is called “age of majority.” This is because it is recognized that children are not physically or emotionally mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with these freedoms, which are inherently types of legal functions.
For example, it was decided that it was unconstitutional to make alcoholic beverages illegal. Now we can drink. (Woo hoo!) Children, however, cannot. Young children’s bodies are not yet physically developed enough to process the effects of alcohol. Adolescents’ bodies may be physically able to process the toxins, however their brains have not matured enough to process the complex scenarios which are a part of deciding whether to drink, what the repercussions might be if one does choose to drink, and especially controlling how much to drink once one starts.
Therefore, while a child constitutionally has the right to consume alcoholic beverages, the ability to exercise that right is put on legal hold until the child reaches an age of majority, which is decided by each state individually. (In most states it’s 21 years old, just a little FYI.) There are ages of majority limits for innumerable activities, not the least of which are sex acts.
Generally the age of majority for sexual relationships is 18 years old, the same age that a child is legally turned into an adult and can do almost anything else that was previously out of his legal reach. Sometimes there is an addendum which says something to the effect of children the age of 16 may engage in sexual relationships with other minors of the same age until age 18. Either way, no one over the age of 18 is allowed to engage in a sexual act of any nature with a person under the age of 18.
We can plainly see that sexual activity is one of the exploits that is legally removed from the spectrum of activities available to children because they haven’t grown enough to make decisions about it; their bodies aren’t physically mature enough, their brains aren’t physically mature enough, and their neurological processes for handling those types of emotions haven’t been made yet.
Ergo, it is impossible for a child to enter into a sexual relationship consensually. To do so, then, is a violation of the child’s constitutional right to safety, and as such pedophilic practices can never be made legal. It would be unconstitutional.
From birth, every American is considered a fully-formed human being and is granted every constitutional right we have. So, while the immoral homosexuals may engage in their deplorable acts of sexual indecency and be protected by the constitution, a pedophile is halted in his sexual practices by the very same constitution, because it is protecting the rights of the child, and the child has a right to safety and a right to be free from threat and coercion.