Tuesday, July 14, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (15)

Dear No One,
This confederate flag business is kind of silly. It is a symbol of slavery, of a failed revolt against our republic, and it has no business flying above a courthouse any more than it has business flying over a mosque. The confederacy lasted under five years, from 1860/61 to 1865, and yes I just looked that up. It is a tiny blip in the history of the US and in the history of the South. Having southern heritage and southern pride has nothing to do with confederate heritage. There is no confederate heritage because the confederacy was never a real country. You may have ancestors who died in the Civil War fighting for the south. You may also have ancestors who died in the war of 1812, or in conflicts with Mexico, or with Canada, for that matter. Canada used to do some damage. Do we have special flags and reenactments to commemorate those things as well? Where are they?
Why don't you fly state flags? They've been around longer. There's more actual heritage involved. If your ancestors were born in those eleven states during those five years, that counts as confederate blood. I guess. I don't know if happening to be born during the Civil War is something to wave a flag over, though. Summing up, the confederate battle flag has little to do with the South, and less to do with being southern. I'm glad it's being taken down, as it’s mostly a symbol of people getting confused about symbols. That being said, we're taking it down for a stupid reason. The only reason we should have needed to take it down was the eminently obvious reason that it should never have been flying in the first place.
The nine people who were murdered at a prayer meeting in a black church (I remain in the dark about why we can’t just call it a church), that was sad. It's also an example of what psychologists call an associative cascade. Something happens, the media puts a magnifying glass on it, people get interested, media magnifies in response to interest, and peoples’ interest grows in response to magnification, and on, and on. Now I would love to one day be the subject of such a cascade myself, but in general it results in a lot of folks missing the point. Mass murders are the perfect example. They capture the imagination and become immediate and long lasting national news. Remember Newtown? Hundreds of volunteers were recruited to deal with the donations as millions of dollars swamped a relatively well-off community and an entire warehouse was filled with plush toys. Who were the toys for? Human beings have all the right impulses in the wrong direction. Millions of American children go to bed hungry every night, and we drown Newtown in plush toys while they are trying to grieve.
Mass murders account for about a five hundredth of overall gun deaths. Most gun deaths occur by accident. I’m probably not making that up. I can't fact check because I don’t have the internet and the library is closed until further notice. Where are the candlelit vigils? Where are you Wolf Blitzer, when you might actually be doing something useful? Why is it that newscasters engage in awareness raising only about things everyone is already speaking of? 
We shouldn't be talking about the flag that idiot child was waving around before he shot nine people. We should have been talking about what he shot people with. It was a gun. You use guns to shoot people, BTW. Thousands of people die every year for no reason other than a gun happened to be within casual reach. This is a cultural issue as much as a legal one. Americans think guns are cool. When I was a teenager going through my Ayn Rand phase, I thought gun controls, like economic controls in general, were a violation of the sacred individual liberties. There are plenty of persuasive and coherent arguments in that direction, but none of them are relevant to any non-hypothetical world.
In reality, the more guns you have the more people will die. This is an empirical truth regardless of context. More guns mean more deaths. I’ll grant that the military and police forces need guns, though far less than they have, but the common citizen does not. Self-defense is wonderful, so get a ranged Taser. Get ten. At what point did action movies start guiding moral judgements? If you bring a gun into your home your children are more likely to be killed or wounded by that gun than by an intruder.
You may continue to believe that it isn't true, that you are the exception, but you will not be. When a vice president of our country can accidently shoot someone in the face during a hunting accident that is the time we need to settle for using bows. In many states, fireworks are more heavily regulated than guns. Think about that the next time you want to bring up your right to bear arms. Why are fireworks not protected also? TaySway have mercy on us.

Yours, William Myrl (15)

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