Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Rules of Metal

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Gun Control Legislation < Common Sense

I'm a Southerner; Mississippi born and raised. Over the course of my stay in the Midwest, which is now in its 9th year, I think the hands down winner of the "Argument Most Likely to Cause Violence" award has been the ongoing debate on gun control. I mention that I'm a Southerner solely to highlight the fact that guns are as much a part of the South as summer heat and Jack Daniels. I grew up around guns, feel very comfortable around guns, and advocate the right to carry a gun (although I don't own one wife would go nuts). Most people I know are anti-gun and pro-gun control legislation. I can understand people not liking guns or even having a fear of the very sight of a gun. What I cannot understand is this ridiculous idea that if you ban guns violence will disappear from the face of the planet.

Gun violence is a major problem in this country; no one with common sense is going to debate that. What has always bothered me about supporters of gun legislation is their unrealistic ideas as to what this legislation is going to accomplish. People think that if you make it illegal to own a gun it will therefore become tougher to buy a gun and that will cause gun related crimes to go down while simultaneously ridding society of all violence. BULLSHIT!

Allen Keyes is a moron of the highest pedigree. He said one of the smartest things I've ever heard in my life. During a failed attempt at the Illinois Senator position currently held by Barack Obama back in 2004, Allen Keyes stated that gun legislation does nothing to deter gun violence because criminals don't follow laws. That is something that I've been trying to tell my gun control advocate friends for years. Making guns illegal will accomplish the same goal that making heroin, marijuana, and cocaine illegal...absolutely nothing. People who buy firearms that they will use for criminal activity are 9/10 times not the same people who are going to walk into a gun store and fill out the necessary paper work (school shootings aside). They are going to buy one on the streets; the same place people go to purchase heroin, marijuana, and cocaine. Assault rifles have been banned for years yet, in some strange coincidence, every time the authorities bust some multi-state drug ring they find a slew of assault rifles, cash, and hand guns in the stash. If you ban guns you are only taking protection out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. The people who keep that gun in the nightstand praying to God they never have to use it to defend their families in the face of danger. The car jacker will have a gun whether you legislate them away or not, but will the single mother of three? She is the person who stands to be hurt by gun legislation.

Currently in Chicago we are in the midst of another year of where a multitude of our young people are dying in gun-related violence. This has sparked Mayor (Emperor) Daley and community leaders to shine the light on the gun control issue and are calling for tougher gun laws. I compare this to replacing a blown light bulb with a ain't gonna work. We aren't striking to the root of the problem when we passively lobby for legislation. We aren't addressing poverty or single parent homes or poor schools or gentrification; we don't want to talk about those things because they don't make good news headlines. The gun is only the instrument used to is not the driving force and until we start to make attempts to locate and dismantle this driving force we will continue to have a gun violence problem in this city, in this state, and in this country as a whole.

It doesn't take Al Einstein (or even Al Yankovic) to understand why most gun-related violence occurs in poor neighborhoods; the same neighborhoods with poor schools, high drug sales, crooked cops, little opportunity for prosperity, and no one making a REAL attempt to do anything about it. We want to point the finger at the inanimate object because we don't want to face the facts. So we seek to ban it just like the cocaine, heroin, marijuana (and even alcohol, remember?) when we want to find something to vilify.

Just like most other issues concerning America today "it's the economy stupid". Just like in the '90's, if you give people a chance to earn a living and feel like a decent human being crime drops. It's not useless legislation that makes soccer moms and fat pocketed politicians sleep better at night that is going to make the difference. Take away the driving force and the instrument rusts...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Paper Mache Protest

Alright, for the past week I (and I'm assuming you, too) have been inundated with visions of protesters across the globe all with their panties in a bunch over Tibet, China, and the 2008 Olympics. I for one will stand at the top of the highest mountain I can climb and call bullshit on this entire charade.

My first issue with this whole sandpaper hand-job are the attempts by protesters to put out the Olympic torch. Are you serious? I know the whole idea of parading the torch around was invented by the Nazis, but attacking some poor guy who is just trying to live out a dream is completely deplorable. You're not helping the oppressed in Tibet or bringing to the forefront some human rights violation of the Chinese government by doing this; you are simply being an over zealous nut bag who can't separate his "protest of the moment" syndrome from an event that is not about China, it's just going to take place there. These feeble attempts to shine a light on a brutal regime is only shining a light on clueless protesters attacking a person carrying the Olympic torch. Besides, and someone should alert the protesters to this, if you put the torch out, they'll just relight it and move on to the next city.

The Olympics, as grand a stage as it is, is not a platform for your agendas. Yes, the Olympics are a corporate field day of agendas, but the games are also the culmination of a lifetime of effort by athletes that, even if they go home without a single medal, are proud to have had their moment in the spotlight. The greatest athletes in the world gather to compete in a centuries old tradition that still draws millions of eyes and start kicks millions of dreams...and you want to use it to whore your cause? And, yes you are whoring your cause because what is going on in Tibet ain't nothing new. Where were all of these protesters 10 year ago? Or even 10 months ago? The people of Tibet have been being stepped on for years and NOW you get off your ass to scream about it when the cameras are on? You gotta do better than that.

My second and biggest issue with these protests has to do with the general ineffectiveness of protesting something like this. You think governments across the world have been clueless all these years about what goes on beyond the borders of China? No, they just haven't cared; and I doubt they will start to care any time soon. Especially with China emerging as THE super power now that America's light seems to be fading. These countries want to get their slice of the Chinese pie and they aren't going to let some misguided, though well-meaning protesters stop the money train.

If you want to let the world know how you feel about Chinese oppression you have to use the only tool that powerful countries care You've got to stop buying stock in Chinese companies, stop buying products made in China, push your congressman on legislation that would put economic sanctions on China until they atone for their wrongs. If that doesn't work, take the cause to another level. Go to China, help organize Tibetans and other oppressed Chinese to make the social and governmental changes that need to be made to make their lives bearable and to give them a voice (on some real Beastie Boys type shit).

But none of these things are going to happen and the number one reason why is most of the people participating in and doing stories on this paper mache protest are only half-hearted. It's the spirit of America: protest oil today, global warming tomorrow, Mumia Abu-Jamal (there STILL needs to be more noise made over this case) next week. We float from luke -warm hatred to luke-warm passion to our Ford SUV in the blink of an eye. So while this is a serious issue that deserves serious action, we'll put it on the shelf with Iraq and Darfur and all the other "protest of the moment" fire that we seem to get from time to time. Besides most people in this country can't even find the Tibet region of China on the map.