I finally got time to watch President Obama’s speech at the Tucson shooting memorial on my computer and now see why he got such rave reviews, even by many, not all, of his detractors.
He is an excellent speaker and he took the high ground, unlike the ultra defensive and shrill crowd on what is often referred to as the hard right (and they really give well meaning conservatives a bad name they don’t totally deserve, except for the fact that they have not stood up often enough to the rabble rousers).
Meanwhile, despite the shooting rampage a week ago Saturday that saw a U.S. congresswoman gravely wounded and a federal judge killed along with five others, to include a nine-year-old girl, who by all reports could have been a future leader, and still many more wounded, a gun show went on as scheduled this weekend in Tucson. And even though they were reportedly taking up collections for the victims there, there were also bumper stickers critical of Obama (the implied threat: guns/Obama) available there, as well.
So Okay. I really don’t see anything wrong with holding the gun show as planned way previous to the tragedy, not really. And I am a supporter of the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms), even if I don’t completely understand its meaning — and if you are really honest with yourself, without some large amount of research, you could not either — I mean it defies literal translation in modern terms — it‘s kind of like the Holy Bible.
But the right to keep and bear arms is ingrained in our American society and culture (even though some people do not necessarily support it). And perhaps it does define us. It sets us apart, I think, from the rest of the world, and I mean that in a positive way.
The people in the United States of America are not granted power from the government, they have granted some powers to the government.
And even though the government is supposed to simply be made up of people holding proxies for us, not a separate entity of its own really, there is always the danger of any government assuming more control than it is supposed to. As a partial remedy to that, the people are able to keep and bear arms in their own defense. This can be debated, but I think it is understood to be at least one element of the Second Amendment, some, in fact, would say the only element.
But here lies the paradox. Even though I support the Second Amendment and I generally go along with the idea that the populace could in an extreme circumstance rise up against authoritarianism, I think that is the only cause for rebellion, that is an extreme circumstance. We have never gotten there and have not even come close, as far as I can see, but of course there is always the danger (the American Civil War is another subject, let’s don’t go there now, and really fighting for the right to own other people, c’mon). And get this: the danger of authoritarianism is no less a threat from the left (or liberal) side of the political equation than the right (conservative) side.
Tell me, what is the difference between Stalin (on the left) and Hitler (supposedly on the right)?
In our own nation, liberals might support laws against hate speech, thus endangering our First Amendment free speech rights. In the past conservatives pushed through the Alien and Sedition acts (I believe on at least two occasions), which banned speech against the government (strangely, conservatives don’t mind speaking against the government when they are out of power), and that certainly violates free speech protections.
While I heard about it, I think I must have been too busy working at the time to blog much about it (or maybe I did), but I find it reprehensible and quite alarming that people were urged to and did bring guns several months ago to congressional town hall meetings when the bane of ultra conservatives, the new health care law, was being discussed.
The gun-toters would defend their actions by saying they were sending a message to the government that the people have a right to keep and bear arms and to overthrow authoritarian rule. But like I always say, I am no more fearful of the government than I am of some self-appointed militia.
I decided to end this post where I did because it seemed to have become an attempt to analyze the Second Amendment, and I am not prepared to do so any further than I already have at this time (and I also want to make myself breakfast). I will only add that my general understanding of this most ambiguous element of our constitution seems to grant gun ownership rights to the people (the Supreme Court seems to recognize this, with only a little qualification). But it also deals with the idea that the government’s military should not be wholly separate from the people, such as the King’s army of old. I’ll leave it there.
The following is not meant to give ammunition, so to speak, to the gun-toting crowd, but quite by accident I ran across this after posting my latest blog and I think it sums up the sometimes seeming futility of legislating civility and responsible behavior: “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” Plato (427-327 B.C.)