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A while back I made a post after reading a couple of successive Ernest Hemingway stories. (Hemingway is a depressing lout!) In that post I commented on how I was disappointed after hearing for so many years about the quality of the man’s writing to find that he was such a fatalistic malcontent. While I couldn’t imagine it possible, I think I have found someone just as fatalistic and deplorable as the old lummox!

d005fec4a48e2742b893d53f3b813906I recently read the story ‘Wool’ by Hugh Howey and am just finishing up book four of his ‘Bern Saga’ about Molly Fyde and I have to say, Hemingway may have a rival when it comes to unnecessary and gratuitous misery and fatalistic pap!

While I did like the story telling and found the premise interesting in Wool – interesting enough to get the follow-up books that continued the story in ‘Shift’ and ‘Dust’ and, the story itself did seem to include a number of the main characters continually meeting suffering, pain and loss. The original story starts up with killing off two central characters to the initial theme before you have even gone through a couple of chapters. I assumed that perhaps this was because it started initially as a short story that was added to and expanded more over time.

But as I am approaching the end of book 4 of the ‘Bern Saga’ I’m starting to see a growing pattern that I couldn’t help but start to compare to my experiences with ole Ernie. I don’t think there has been a single chapter of all four books that has not involved one of the main characters not going through some kind of morose and excessive suffering of one kind or another.

24790961-_uy200_As an example (spoiler alert) I can mention the main premise of these four volumes: a quest by the main character, a young Molly Fyde, to find and re-unite with her parents that she thinks have been dead for more than 10 years. Before the end of book three, she is sent by an artificial ‘copy’ of her mother to kill her real mom and then Howey has the audacity, after the girl and her friends have run from authorities, been stabbed, tortured, jailed, accidentally killed their own friends, been beaten, mugged, raped, lost limbs and a slew of other excessive miseries … the prick goes and kills her father just one hour before the long sought reunion can take place!

There were some points in the book — more than one – more than a handful — where every single main character was either imprisoned, facing imminent death ripe with pain and suffering, exiled, bleeding or otherwise suffering all at the same time!

Just as with Hemingway, they both seem to be fatalistic malcontents who think that in order to tell a good story, you have to make everyone in them miserable as often as possible and interweave every possible misgiving you have about humanity or the universe or existence at every opportunity. Even the babblings of the ‘Bern-Seer’, a would-be pseudo-philosophical mystic who’s epigrams start many chapters, reflects a great deal of this.

In one portion she even doubts the existence of free will simply because a young man likes her and admits that he found himself with no choice when she asked him nicely to fix a leak behind her sink. While she (Howey) almost repairs it as she second guesses herself later, reflecting upon consequences as a possible determinant of behavior he still doesn’t quite make the mark but then overburdens it with doubts that it is simply what people tell themselves as a rationalistic lie to make their existence seem less futile. (the source of free will is in part from consequences, but results from the ability of those dealing with such consequences to make choices as to how to see them – to see reality for what it is and what it’s true potential can be, or to deny it and throw their hands up and claim to merely be a victim of it. Of course Cole had no choice but to help a woman he had come to like and value who asked him politely to help her out – he had chosen a LONG TIME AGO to behave that way!)

I was at first excited as there are so few good stories with strong female lead characters, least of all written by men. I enjoyed McCaffery and Rand for their strong females. But Howey just unnecessarily goes over the deep end with the anguish he weaves into his story telling. If that much pain and suffering is what he thinks it takes to tell a good yarn, I can’t help but imagine it reflects some of his own world view and cosmology. And in thinking such, I feel sorry for him and can’t help but wonder if he’ll become a depressing old drunk that pisses off his fans in some out of the way hole-in-the-wall bar just like Hemingway.

ImageI’ll never forget when US Airways flight 1549 had to do an emergency belly landing in the Hudson river and no one was injured. Shortly following the event, a whole lot of people started clamoring about how it was ‘a miracle’ or that God definitely played a role in getting all those people to safety. My inbox was no exception.

Such things tend to frustrate me because it shows the blatant confirmation bias of the religious thinker. No one questions that ‘God’ steps in to do the ‘good’ outcome but they do not also apply that similar thinking to the ‘bad’ outcomes any more than they think the same ‘God’ would have played a role in causing or should have played a role in preventing the situation in the first place.

For example, do you suppose that anyone on board was ‘cursing’ God when they thought they were going to die? Or what about passengers or witnesses to crashes where no one survives? Well, obviously, that is just part of God’s plan then right? It’s a mystery!

Such thinking is not only inconsistent and intellectually dishonest, it distracts from the real heroes doing real things — real people! — who are contributing to great outcomes. To more than one person who sent me the ‘miraculous’ assertion, I had but one response:

Yes, I am sure that God personally intervened to make sure that all of those passengers and crew as well as the people on the ground were not harmed.
I’m sure that the years of training and calm headed, quick thinking of the pilot and the flight crew played absolutely no role in keeping the jet from crashing.
And the air traffic controllers using the world’s most advanced and coordinated air traffic system, radar technology, two-way radio communications and direct lines to multiple airports across the northeast didn’t have anything to do with it.
Nor did the years of development and advancement in aircraft design, technology and safety measures contribute in any fashion.
The flight attendants, their years of training and their similar cool thinking keeping the passengers calm and following safety procedures that have been practiced and rehearsed had nothing to do with it.
Not to mention the passengers themselves for following instructions and remaining so calm and working together.
No one on the ground in New York city with a cell phone, similarly developed through years of technology utilizing one of the most advanced telephone systems in the world calling upon seeing the plane going down did anything to help.
The 911 operators utilizing their refined network of emergency resources and vast network of trained emergency response procedures obviously did not contribute.
Nor did the quick response of the harbor authority and their rescue vehicles that rushed to the aid of the plane once it was safely upon the water.
Obviously it was all God’s work.

Now I’m sure you’ll probably say ‘well, God created all those things’ or that he had a hand in carrying them out. But I’m just curious. If God really wanted to make sure all of those people were safe, wouldn’t it have been far easier and less trouble in the long run….

…. if he had just moved the goose 3′ to the left?”

WSIDAirplaneGeeseinFlight

Apathy Sux!

I often get question on my methods and intentions as to how I tend to take an ‘in-your-face’ approach to addressing absurdities and things that I view as bad behavior. When describing such things, I am quick to point out that I do such things ‘when appropropriate’. What this means is not only do I judge whether a situation is worth (deserves) speaking out about, but whether it can be done in a manner that will not bring harm unto myself. (see my blog post on the Golden Rule) When pressed for an example of what I’m talking about, there is one particular story that always pops into my head.

When I was still living with my folks and going to college, I did a greater deal of my hunting at a small plot of old Dodge family donated land in NE Oakland county called simply “Dodge Park #10” up off of Oakwood Road north of Oxford, MI. As it was not an official ‘park’ (with any facilities or a day use area) the bulk of the people using it were hunters in the fall. However, in that it was rather remote down the dirt portion of Oakwood road surrounded by undeveloped land on the north and a large aggregate gravel pit on the south, it was often a hangout for local high school kids outside of the hunting season.
One particular year, the state Department of Natural Resources was having trouble with kids ‘baha-ing’ off of the state access service road behind the main parking area. Initially they had up a rather basic locked swing gate. The kids broke off the lock. Then they bolted the gate shut. The kids unbolted it. Finally they brought in a whole dump-truck full of dirt and broken up concrete, put it across the entire service road making it inaccessible even to themselves and again put up the bolted gate.

oakwoodOne particular fall during bow season, I show up at the main parking lot to find 3 cars of hunters – all standing around gawking, and a jeep full of high school kids in various states of industry. By the time I showed up, the kids had already unbolted the gate again and they were in the process (about 8 of them) of removing the concrete blocks one by one. I surveyed the scene and most of the hunters were looking at one another and shrugging. Reluctant to leave thinking they should do something, but the looks on their faces amounting to “what can we do?”
I wasted no time and quickly went about donning my hunting gear and feigning to be oblivious to what was going on as I listened to the conversations on both sides. The kids were content in ignoring the other hunters and myself, realizing they felt they could do nothing about it and taking advantage of that fact. The hunters kept making comments to one another quiet enough not to be heard by the kids along the lines of ‘what gall’ and again, ‘well, what can you do?’ (mind you, this was before wide scale use of personal cell phones)

I eventually finished getting my gear on, threw my bow over my shoulder and took one last look at the hunters with an attempt to put a very obvious ‘disappointed’ look on my face communicating ‘how pathetic you are!’ I locked up the back of the truck, went to the front and reached into the console where I always kept a pad of paper and a pen for just such events. (I should also point out that when I came into the parking lot, I backed into my space so my truck would be facing forward)
I then took the pen and pad and walked so as to be as obvious as possible up behind the jeep and scribbled something down. A couple of the kids looked up at me as I did this and I just gave them a wave and a sarcastic smile, walked back over to my truck, put the pen back in the visor and threw the still-open pad of paper onto the dashboard where it would be well within view of anyone that wandered over to look. I then re-situated my bow on my shoulder, tipped my camo wool stetson at the hunters with a look of ‘was that hard?’ then gave another sarcastic smile to one of the kids still watching me, tipping my hat again and proceeded to walk into the woods.

Knowing that there was going to be quite a spectacle going on behind me and guessing that no one would make a move until I was well out of sight, I headed for a thick spot in the brush, walked into it and proceeded to do a ‘j-hook’ so I could watch what resulted. Since I was in full camo and tend to be quite stealthy in the woods, I was quite certain no one saw me pull off this maneuver and since it was a thick stand of alders, I was also confident no one saw me looking on.

First one of the hunters came over and looked at the slip and threw his hands up turning to his buddies and laughing. “why didn’t I think of that?” he said – or something of the sort. Most of the kids had gone back to working on removing the blocks except for the main two who watched me writing. The one that continued to watch me then walked over to take a look at the slip himself.It was obvious he had a good idea what was on the slip already, but he then quickly went over to grab one of the larger boys (probably either the one who was driving or the one who had the bright idea to go out baha’ing that particular afternoon). They both walked over and looked at the slip again as the hunters started to laugh and grab there own things finally assuming the most likely result.
The two boys talked to one another briefly, took a look around to see if they could spot where I went but I was well out of sight, paused briefly, looked back at my truck, looked at the other hunters watching them intently then finally shrugged and told their friends to pack it in. They all loaded into the jeep and left and I never saw the jeep or the kids there again – and the bricks remained until I stopped hunting there years later.

What did I right down? Well in case you hadn’t figured it out all ready, just a couple of letters and numbers. I simply wrote down their license plate and a short description of the jeep.

The point being, that as long as the kids felt no one could – and no one would – do anything to stop them, they felt emboldened to do whatever they pleased. As long as it was obvious that the hunters were just going to stand there and do nothing, there was no problem with doing something that was obviously wrong. It wasn’t until someone ‘stood up’ and did ‘something’ that said – “no, not gonna happen – not on my watch – not without appropriate consequences” that they decided to give up their venture.

licenseI didn’t make a huge scene. I didn’t get in any arguments. I didn’t tell them what to do or what not to do. I simply made it clear that they were being watched, and that I had taken note of who they were and what they were doing with one simple gesture.

As an aside, I had already used this practice – most specifically against other hunters who were behaving badly. (it’s a subject for another blog, but I am far harder on other hunters behaving badly then I would ever be to ‘day users’ because, in a manner of speaking, those hunters represent me) In those cases, such as when hunters are shooting at anything that moves or at road signs, dumping trash, drinking beer, etc. I wait for said hunters to be well back in the woods and simply write down their license plate number and stick it – by itself – under their own windshield wiper. There’s nothing funnier but to watch than one of them coming back to the car and going through the chain of thought necessary to realize that if someone had the where-with-all to write it down once, that they could write it down twice – then to think back through their own mind to what they might have done to inspire it. It requires them to come to their own conclusions as to what they may have been doing to ‘inspire’ such a gesture, then make their own choice how to proceed.

Apathy sux! Pass it along…

the-angry-mob

There are a number of folks who have disagreed with some of my statements and some of my methods. I treat the absurd with absurdity, I ridicule the ridiculous and whenever someone is being obtuse to the level of it being profane, I response with the acute use of profantity – e.g. ‘Fuck that shit!’

con-man4When debating particular ideas, concepts and the corresponding societal movements that all-too-often spring up as a result of them, I tend to be rather particular to not only attack the ideas themselves, but to then specifically condemn the people that ‘follow’ such ideas.

Whenever an idea exists, not based primarily on the self-evidence that is good or right, but instead leans upon consensus as a means to gain prominence, there is inevitably some charismatic figure making a good pitch leading the charge. It is the general practice of others when addressing such ideas being broadcast from a primary source of one or a small number of individuals, to attack the source. The problem is, the ideas don’t exist on evidence, they exist on consensus. The slickest con-man in existence is entirely irrelevant if no one swallows his magic elixir!

More specifically, whenever anyone is making a claim that will not stand on it’s own, it can only stand as a result of others supporting it. It can only resonate in society if a ‘mob’ gets behind it and forces it to become an actionable reality. Thus whenever anyone claims to support the idea, they aren’t simply supporting the assertions of the charismatic figure, they are taking on those assertions and becoming the means by which they achieve relevance.

Furthermore, were there not so many willing idiots, there wouldn’t be a market for the snake oil salesmen to begin with!

Let me give an example to get to the heart of what I mean. Someone comes up to me supporting some statist idea that the government should be empowered to collect taxes from me under threat of force. Those who disagree with my methods are making an assumption that the individual is simply enabling the use of force by not standing in the way of it being carried out. They aren’t the ones directly responsible because it is someone in a statehouse somewhere that proposed it, and it’s someone in a police force somewhere that will enforce it and make it actionable.

But in reality, especially in any society with representative governance, such ideas will never ever exist unless a significant enough number of people – individuals – either support it or allow it. Whether it be authoritarian concepts of statist politicians or similar principles being stated from pulpits by evangelical preachers, the ideas themselves are irrelevant until individuals make them actionable.

philosoraptor-choose-not-to-decide

To quote RUSH from the song ‘Free Will’,

“If I choose not to decide, I still have made a choice”

In other words, as the passive thinker stands there and tells you “I think this politician is right when he says you must be forced to help others” or “I think this preacher is right when he says you should not be selfish and sacrifice for the needy”, the most important part of either of those sentences is the first two words, “I think”. They are in essence telling you “You need to be forced to comply with what ‘I think'” – supporting the third party is simply a convenience to that individual in that someone else is energetically telling them ‘I’ll happily force them on your behalf!’

Thus, I don’t play nice with such people. If you say you support someone else doing me harm – you, in my mind, are saying harm should be done to me. If you help propel ideas to prominence that only propel to prominence because people like you help them get that way, you are the one making the concept actionable.

I still hold the statist or the theist responsible for promoting bad ideas and will challenge them regularly on the falsity, absurdity and profaneness of those ideas, but it is the individual that ‘believes’ the bullshit that I hold the MOST responsible for it’s existence!

lightbulb-idea

A few absolutes about human ideas…

  1. If you can conceive of it, chances are someone has already thought of it before.
  2. If you try to do anything about it, someone will claim they thought of it first (whether they did or not) and try to stop you.
  3. If you try to build it, some union boss is going to say you need to do it with union labor.
  4. If you actually build it, some advocacy group is going to claim it is dangerous to the environment, harmful to children, unfair to minorities, etc.
  5. If it turns out to be beneficial, some religious group will say it’s a miracle and try to give the credit to their chosen god or gods.
  6. If it is cutting-edge, some other group is going to say it’s evil and try to get it banned, protest your workshop or declare a holy/social war against you.
  7. If it is useful, someone in the military is going to try to find a way to weaponize it.
  8. If you created it for a specific purpose, someone will eventually find a way to misuse it regardless of how many warning labels you put upon it. (See #7 & #12)
  9. If it can be used in any way to hurt somebody else (see #4, #7 and possibly #12) then someone will use it that way on others despite the labels and warnings in #8.  Refer back to #6 for the consequences.
  10. If you try to sell it, someone in China will quickly make a knock-off version of it for less.
  11. If it makes money, someone in government is going to find a way to tax it. If it makes people’s lives simpler and easier, someone in government will require 14 forms to get one and further regulate it to make it more difficult and complicated.
  12. If people buy it, someone will eventually find a sexual use for it.
  13. If you make it durable, someone will find a way to break it.
  14. If it makes you rich, some liberal is going to say you exploited your customers, workers or the environment getting that way.

American-BuddhismImagine coming together for July 4th to sing the song “Vishnu bless America!”, reciting the words to the pledge as “one nation, under Allah” or picking up your money to see the words “In Buddha we Trust”.

For some people, these concepts or others like them are downright offensive and would even be considered as evil. Yet somehow the inclusion of the word ‘God’ on our money, in our pledge and in patriotic songs is considered entirely acceptable simply for the sake of tradition and by will of a majority. Yet the inclusions of these words should be equally as offensive for exactly the same reasons.

Granted, the word ‘God’ is somewhat more generic than say the word “Yahweh” or “Jesus”, but it is commonly understood to most that when the word ‘God’ is used (or at least as it has been used) it is meant to refer to the God of Abraham, i.e. YahWeh – and most specifically in a Christian sense.

One not even need refer to the letters of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson or the Treaty of Tripoli to understand that a government with a Constitutional amendment – it’s first amendment – prohibiting establishment of religion, should not include any references to it in any form what-so-ever. If this concept is offensive to you, I point you back to the first paragraph and suggest you ponder the establishment of a ‘non’ Christian form instead and how you might reject to it. Freedom of religion doesn’t have to mean freedom from religion, but it must mean freedom of government from religion – period!

Sharia-law-in-the-USA

(written as a response to a view that too many people texting on cell phones is bad)

The Jacquard Loom

Jacquard LoomIn 1801, a guy named Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a new machine called a ‘Jacquard loom‘ to simplify the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns. He based his machine upon designs of earlier inventors but was the first accredited with perfecting the concept. The machine he invented was controlled by a card that had holes punched into it to tell the machine what threads to use to create pre-determined patterns on the fabric it created.

Although the loom did not manipulate the information on the cards in any way but simply used it as a set of instructions to follow, this invention is now retrospectively looked upon as one of the first primitive forms of computer programming and is definitely the first use of a technology later re-introduced for the very purpose of programming the early main frame computers which used nearly identical punch cards to enter information into the silicone based programmable computing machines.

The period of time known as the Industrial Revolution quickly followed the introduction of this device and other similar inventions such as Eli Whitney‘s cotton gin in 1794 (also hailed for the first well known application of interchangeable, uniform component parts and leading to the creation of cotton mills), Edmund Carwright‘s 1784 invention of the power loom that helped lead to the Jacquard device, Paul Moody‘s 1828 creation of the  leather-belt-and-pully transmissions (later dubbed a ‘line shaft‘) which became a standard in many mills.

These innovations along with the eventual invention of mechanical ‘sewing machines’ in the mid to late 1800’s when combined with improvements in transportation, sanitation and communications virtually created a fashion industry, brought people cheap, affordable, high quality clothing and improved lives as well as made fortunes around the globe.

Luddites and Luddite-ism

Perhaps you have heard the term ‘luddite‘ used to describe people opposed to technology? Were you ever made aware of where that term came from?

Luddites is a term coined from the name of Ned Ludd. It was originally applied to textile artisans who were opposed to the use of the mechanical and programmable looms in early 19th century England around the time of the introduction of the Jacquard and other power loom devices.

Ned Ludd allegedly destroyed a couple of these machines a quarter of a century before the discontented textile craftsman began their protests and thus was seen to symbolize the ‘machine destroyers’ and his name used to identify them. Of all places for those protests to begin, they got their start in none other than Nottingham, England and many modern mythologies sprung up by those in the movement depicting Ludd as a modern day Robin Hood, even going so far as alleging he lived in Sherwood Forest. And of course, there are many similar examples of people who have opposed various technologies (and gained notoriety as a result) throughout the ages.

Breaking the Frames

I already alluded to the influence the punch card loom had in leading to digital programming. It is not a stretch to say that the introduction of mass produced textiles is far reaching throughout our modern society. It led to not only cheaper and more cloth based goods and products, but influenced hygiene and health care and has improved just about every other modern industry in one form or another.

As with most things, there is a good and a bad potential in any of them. But the possibilities of the use of technology are enormous! Some accredit the cotton gin and power loom with increasing the practice of slavery. Many still today accuse clothing manufacturers of facilitating child labor and sweat shops in third world nations. (there was such a story about a factory fire in Bangladesh just yesterday, and initial reports are claiming it to have been industrial sabotage)

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really interested in going back to wearing dried and stretched animal skins or very expensive, hand-loomed silks as my primary form of clothing. And I’m not about to give up my cell phone either.

When you head in to work tomorrow, take a look around you. Take a look at your fellow workers. Try to imagine for a moment how many of them are content with working there. Is it at least 7 in 10? If you currently work in a non-union workplace and just 1-in-3 of your fellow employees think starting a union is a good idea, they will soon be taking money out of your paycheck whether you join the union or not – and there will be nothing you – or the law – can do to stop them! On the contrary, the law will in fact, protect their right to do it!

The Michigan ballot proposal 2, a proposed amendment to the Michigan state Constitution is dubbed the ‘Protect Our Jobs‘ proposal. But perhaps it should be called the ‘Protect Our Mobs‘ proposal instead. The proposal was essentially started by a number of large union lobbies in response to the growing number of states adopting “Right to Work” legislation. In that many dub ‘Right to Work’ laws as ‘Union Busters’, the unions decided to make a pre-emptive strike by enshrining the right to unionize and collectively bargain in the state’s constitution, essentially forever banning ‘Right to Work’ in Michigan.

Well, that sounds great right? Protecting a worker’s right to organize? But workers already have a right to organize and Right-to-Work legislation cannot take that right away. Right-to-Work simply gives a worker the right to ‘opt-out’ of a union if they do not wish to belong to one. Now some of you more savvy civics students may be aware that due to the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, workers already have the right to opt-out of unions if they so choose. So what’s the problem?

The problem results from two things. The first being a US Supreme court decision made in the case of Abood vs. the Detroit Board of Education from 1977, and the second a standard set by the National Labor Relations Board.

Mandatory Dues

In the Abood case, the Supreme court ruled that an individual cannot be forced to pay for political costs associated with a union at his workplace if those political funds went to support causes that the employee himself did not support. Great right? But the case also upheld that an employee can be required to pay union dues even if he has no interest in joining the union, lacks a vote in said union, negotiates his contract independent of the union and receives no other benefits from the union. Not so great!

The briefs from Abood cite a number of reasons for the decision from ‘receiving benefits’ of collective bargaining to ‘promoting peaceful labor relations’ and stopping ‘free riders’. But suffice it to say, once unionized, employees who are not members of the union at a company can and are required to pay union dues.

The 30%

Protect Our Mobs

The second issue is just what it takes to establish a union in the first place. If you aren’t part of a union shop now, Proposal 2 passing will only increase the likelihood that you soon will be by making union protections a front page issue and enshrining such organization as part of Michigan Constitutionally protected rights.

So just what does it take to start a union? Well, according to current policies with the National Labor Relations Board, (empowered by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935) “[the perspective union] must file a petition supported by a showing of interest from at least thirty percent of the employees in the group that the union seeks to represent, typically called the bargaining unit.” So, in other words, just 30% of the people working for a given company need to be interested in forming a union. That’s just under one in every three employees. Another way to put this is, that 3 out of every 10 employees of a company can require the other 7 to pay to support their desire to unionize.

Besides the fact this is only an attempt to stifle individual rights by blocking the right of individuals to opt out of union membership and mandatory dues withholding from their paychecks, this is law is also a blatant attempt at establishing ‘group rights’ and empowering large unions. I cannot make the suggestion strongly enough on just how this will kill Michigan jobs and take away individual choice.

Vote No on Proposal 2

Vote No on Protecting Mob-rule!

The following is an example of an extreme allegorical situation. In that it is an extreme, it serves only as an example scenario to examine a moral premise under more contrasting circumstances.

Imagine you are taken captive by a group of thugs. You are with someone you truly care about deeply and someone who is just a good friend. One of the more sadistic of the thugs tells his comrades to hold you at gun point and to shoot any of you if you ‘try anything funny’.
He somehow managed to figure out that you were closer to one of the people you were with than you were to the other, so he grabs the person you care deeply about and holds his gun to their head. He then reaches down to his belt with his other hand and pulls his knife out of it’s sheath and throws it to your feet. Then he commands you to slit your good friend’s throat or he is going to shoot the person you care deeply about in the head.

What made me bring this up was a combination of a number of people around me arguing in favor of pragmatic decisions combined with a quote I had on my facebook some time back:

“I have learned that I have it in me to be a prick to people who earn that treatment and deserve it, but I do not have it in me to do the ‘wrong’ thing regardless of what someone else does.”

I left the above scenario intentionally unqualified for the most part, but assuming you are well overpowered and doing anything other than what you are told is going to end up in at least the person you care about being shot in the head, and resisting or trying to fight back may well result in all of you ending up dead.

Do you pick up the knife and cut the throat of your friend?  What about if it was someone you didn’t even know well? Would that (or should it even?) make a difference in your decision?

Sometimes using an ‘extreme’ scenario puts things in better focus by drawing the contrasts more vividly between moral rights, moral wrongs, causes and effects. Let’s examine some of the things that are either specified, apparent or implied by this scenario.

  1. Regardless what you do or don’t do, you are being commanded to take a given course of action by someone who is a sadistic thug
  2. This thug wants you to kill someone, something you (should) know is morally wrong
  3. The thug is counting on you to follow his orders because he is holding something you care about ‘more’ hostage to get you to do harm to something you care less about, presumably for his own amusement.

The other thing that made me think of posting this scenario was a quote someone posted today from John Galt’s radio broadcast from the Ayn Rand book, Atlas Shrugged:

“Now that you know the truth about your world, stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms or to win at a game where they’re setting the rules. Do not seek the favor of those who enslaved you…theirs is a system of white blackmail devised to bleed you not by means of your sins but by means of your love for existence.” – John Galt [from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged]

The point of this analogy is to point out a very extreme case of pragmatism. The reality of the situation is that when you deal in evil or attempt to deal with the irrational, you have no reasonable expectation of a result. If you cut the throat of your friend, not only have you committed a moral wrong, but you only have a passing assurance that no further harm will come to you or the person you care about. All you have done is ‘buy a little time’ while demonstrating that under extreme enough of circumstances, you will do what you are asked to do so long as the stakes are high enough for you to not be willing to accept a potential alternative.

I’m sure most of you can guess as to the other reason I am posting this example. Some of you may think this example is too extreme to be relevant. I admit it is extreme, but only for the sake of pointing out the factors involved in more vivid detail. If a thug holds those you care about at the point of a gun, it is the thug that will bring them to harm one way or another, whether you willingly go along with their insane demands or not.

It is the thug that takes away your choice in such a situation. It is the thug that puts you at risk. It is the thug that poses the threat to the life of the one you love. It always was and it always will be — until you pick up the knife! The question is whether you become evil along with them for the sake of expedience. The question is whether you end up with blood on your hands.

There’s no such thing as an ‘assault’ weapon. There are weapons better geared to be used in armed assaults, but I wouldn’t take a deer rifle to a gun fight.

Let me expound on what I mean by that. Yes, there are weapons that aren’t suited to ‘hunting’. Most hunters hunt for the meat, or sometimes the hide, maybe the horns. (I personally have not found a good recipe for horn yet, so I hunt for my love of venison and wild game) You would not, for example, want to use a bazooka to shoot a deer if your intention was to get dinner. (that is unless you have a pallet that prefers bruised, blood, bone and hair speckled hamburger) But technically you ‘could’ use a bazooka to shoot a deer, just the results would not be suitable. So it’s safe to say a bazooka does not make for a good deer rifle.


Squirrel Hunting with an AK-47
But any time you create a ‘classification’ and intend to define things by way of that classification, if another classification equally applies, the stereotyping of that item is potentially invalidated. I know, for example a great many hunters who like to use AK-47’s because they are one of the most reliable weapons ever made. You can literally drop them in the mud, drag them through the sand, bury them in 12″ of top soil, pull them out and still get them to fire accurately enough to take down a deer. So although built to be used for armed assaults, they make very effective weapons for just about any purpose.

But let’s focus on those most ‘evil’ of weapons folks try to demonize. Weapons that are designed with the full intention of killing as many enemies as possible. Large round, full metal jacket, metal spraying machines who’s primary design and purpose is to hurl as much lethal stuff at human bodies as possible in the shortest span of time. They probably wouldn’t be suitable for hosing down deer if, as in most places, you are only provided 1 or 2 kill tags.

The problem is that any weapon created for the purpose of carrying out assaults works equally well for the purpose of defending against those assaults. Any weapon that poses a threat to others is capable of posing a deterrent to others as well. Thus any so-called ‘assault’ weapon is equally classifiable as an ‘anti-assault’ weapon. It’s all in how it is used.

Despite the desires of the anti-gun crowd to suggest otherwise, I have conducted multiple experiments. I have, for example, taken out my Ruger 10/22, thrown a fully loaded 30 round banana clip into it and set it on the table in such a configuration that it met one of the original qualifications as an ‘assault’ weapon. I set it out thus and left it there, properly supervised of course, for over 3 days straight. It never once got up off the table, ran out, and started mowing down innocent civilians and children. As I say, I have repeated this and similar experiments with my other weapons many times. Not once has any of them gone out and performed a killing spree on their own.

So the notion of an ‘assault’ weapon is nothing more than a rhetorical myth created by people who want to demonize something they do not wish to bear any responsibility for. But be damn sure, if they ever need that ‘anti-assault’ capability, they’ll be finding someone properly trained and throw those guns into their hands, all the while begging them “save me save me!” All I can say is ‘how pathetic!’