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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Liberals and Persecution

I was reading an interview at the Atlantic discussing the problems with psychiatry, which had an interesting comment:

It's our characteristic way of chalking up what we think is "evil" to what we think of as mental disease. Our gut reaction is always "that was really sick. Those guys in Boston -- they were really sick." But how do we know? Unless you decide in advance that anybody who does anything heinous is sick. This society is very wary of using the term "evil." But I firmly believe there is such a thing as evil. It's circular -- thinking that anybody who commits suicide is depressed; anybody who goes into a school with a loaded gun and shoots people must have a mental illness. There's a certain kind of comfort in that, but there's no indication for it, particularly because we don't know what mental illness is.
The fact is, people do evil things, sometimes based on ideologies or philosophies that lead them to hate or despise a group holding different ideologies or philosophies. What is interesting to me is that two populations holding different ideologies or beliefs can peaceably live for years or decades in close proximity to one another, and then one can suddenly turn violently against the other. The various pogroms against Jews, the Armenian genocide, the conflicts as Yugoslavia broke up, the Rwandan massacres, all provide examples of one population suddenly turning on another.

Just this weekend brings a report of a Syrian village massacred by its religious rivals. The Daily Mail reports:
Baniyas is a Sunni Muslim pocket in the middle of a large Alawite enclave on Syria's Mediterranean coast, and activists in the area accuse militias loyal to Assad of ethnic cleansing. 
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the names of at least 50 dead in Bayda. There were reports of men's bodies, some blindfolded, lying in the street. 
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, cited witnesses as saying that some of the victims were killed with knives or blunt objects and that dozens of villagers were missing. 
The massacre began following clashes with Assad forces who had earlier arrested villagers and killed them in prison after torture. 
A survivor named as Abu Abdullah told the Sunday Telegraph: 'Security and Shabbiha militia entered the village with knives and guns and started to kill everybody they met.
'Almost 60 per cent of the women and children of the village were killed.'
 The Sunni-Shiite war is not just limited to Syria. I've noted a growing conflict between these two main branches of Islam in other countries, including Pakistan and Iraq. In fact, sectarian violence in Iraq is growing, threatening to push the country into civil war.

Although we haven't seen such violence in the United States--at least not reported this way--there seems to be a growing trend in the media to use stronger language to demonize and seek to punish certain groups. Of course, we see examples of discrimination against conservative Christians, whatever the particular church or sect, almost every day. (For instance, just last week, there was this CNN panel ridiculing Mitt Romney for encouraging college grads to have children--which now is apparently a radical concept).

One of the groups under almost constant attack today are gun owners. For exercising a right specifically guaranteed to the Constitution, for resisting encroachments that would never be tolerated as to other Constitutional rights, gun owners and their civil rights organizations (e.g., the NRA), have been demonized. This is not a matter of rational debate. It has become an ideological battle launched by the Left--an extension of the cultural wars. Glenn Reynolds linked to this op-ed at the Iowa State Daily that describes the problem:

I’ve come to realize after the Sandy Hook shooting that the reason we can’t have a rational gun debate is because the anti-gun side pre-supposes that their pro-gun opponents must first accept that guns are bad in order to have a discussion about guns in the first place. Before we even start the conversation, we’re the bad guys and we have to admit it. Without accepting that guns are bad and supplicating themselves to the anti-gunner, the pro-gunner can’t get a word in edgewise, and is quickly reduced to being called a murderer, or a low, immoral and horrible human being.
 
You might think that’s hyperbole too, but I’ve experienced it personally from people I considered friends until recently. And every day I see it on TV or in the newspapers, from Piers Morgan to the Des Moines Register’s own Donald Kaul, who among others have actually said people like me are stupid, crazy or should be killed ourselves. YouTube is full of examples, and any Google search will result in example after example of gun-owning Americans being lampooned, ridiculed anddemonized by the media and citizens somewhere.
Case in point is this column by Dave Perry, the editor of the Aurora Sentinel, which suggests that NRA members be treated as "enemy combatants"--i.e., foreign terrorists.
I have seen the light. After all these years, I now agree that it’s fruitless to give the benefit of the doubt to people who are so obviously corrupt, so clearly malevolent, so bent on hurting innocent people for their own sick gain.

No more due process in the clear-cut case of insidious terrorism. When the facts are so clearly before all Americans, for the whole world to see, why bother with this country’s odious and cumbersome system of justice? Send the guilty monsters directly to Guantanamo Bay for all eternity and let them rot in their own mental squalor.

No, no, no. Not the wannabe sick kid who blew up the Boston marathon or the freak that’s mailing ricin-laced letters to the president. I’m talking about the real terrorist threat here in America: the National Rifle Association.
I have several thoughts concerning Mr. Perry's comments. First, if Mr. Perry wants to know who is bent on hurting innocent people for their own sick gain, he should look in the mirror. It is the journalists and editors that splash the gory names and headlines of these evil mass murderers all over the headlines and broadcast news that perpetuate such crimes. It is known that the Newton shooter had newspaper stories of other mass shootings and constructed a "score card." Why would he do that? Because he wanted to beat the top score. And why would he care? Because the media would immortalize him.

Why don't we apply some of the same types of restrictions on Mr. Perry's first amendment rights as he would impose on gun owners--journalists must pass a background check before publishing a news story, place limits on the number of news stories a journalist or media outlet can publish per month, restrict the size of a news story, and so on. Mr. Perry would suggest such restrictions were ridiculous. He would argue that news stories don't kill. "The pen is mightier than the sword." Most guns have never been used to kill or commit a crime; and publications spread ideas, including those that lead to terrible violence.

Which brings me to my final thought. Mr. Perry is a perfect example of why gun owners need AR and AK rifles, and 30-round magazines, and lots of bullets. He represents people that would use force to punish others for exercising a Constitutional--nay, a God-given--right. Whether a government tyranny, or a tyranny of a callous mob, the Second Amendment was included to prevent slaughters like that in the village of  Binayas,  Syria, or mass imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay of someone holding a different belief, pursuit or hobby than of which Mr. Perry (and his ilk) would approve.

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