Sam Harris On Guns + My Own Thoughts

Anybody interested in the problem of gun violence and America’s unique relationship to firearms (should be all of us), should take the time to listen to this podcast by Sam Harris. It’s probably the most sane and level-headed analysis I’ve heard on the subject in a media landscape dominated by hyperbolic zealots on either side of the spectrum. It’s one-and-a-half hours well spent.

Let me share, briefly, my own feelings on the subject. To set things straight from the get-go, let’s agree to the following: It is indisputable that America has more guns per capita than any other western civilized country we care to compare ourselves to. It’s also indisputable that we have more gun deaths (total and per capita) than any other advanced  nation. It is much easier to get hold of a gun in America than in any other modern, first-world nation. The correlation between the number of guns in our society and the high occurrence of gun violence can hardly be denied. If we cannot agree on these things, don’t bother reading further; you are not a reasonable-minded person.

Still, a few years ago, for whatever reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to own a pistol. The local gun shop in the neighboring town of Monroe informed me that the state of Connecticut requires one to have a gun permit in order to buy a handgun. They kindly offered to provide the training necessary to get the certification. After a six-hour course, including firing a total of twelve shots (the only shots I had ever fired in my life at that point) with a .22-caliber revolver at a shooting range, and passing a 30-question written “test” (open-book, discussion with the other people taking the class allowed, and self-grading of said test), I was given a diploma certifying that I had fulfilled the state-mandated requirements. At the local police station I submitted my application and finger prints for a criminal background check and after about six weeks received notification that I could pick up my pistol permit at the state police facility in Bridgeport. I now had the state’s blessing to own and carry a gun in public.

That very same day I headed off to a gun shop and, on the advice of the store clerk, bought a 9mm Springfield XDM semi-automatic pistol with a total capacity of 19+1 rounds (legislation passed after the Sandy Hook massacre now prohibits me from loading it with more than ten rounds when not on my property, which is rather good news for the 11th person I plan on killing).

Next stop was the shooting range where I had previously “qualified” by shooting a revolver twelve times. The inadequacy of this qualification soon became apparent when I discovered that I didn’t know how to load the magazine of my newly acquired pistol; small wonder as this was the first time I’d ever held a semi-automatic pistol in my hands. Let me repeat this since it’s not insignificant: I was licensed by the state to own and carry any kind of legal firearm, yet I had never operated, and did not know how to load my pistol.

No matter how hard I tried I could only stuff a couple rounds into the magazine before it jammed. I finally sought the help of the range officer on duty, and after he also failed to load up the magazine, he finally discovered the problem: the store clerk had sold me two boxes of .40 caliber ammunition to go with my 9mm pistol.

What I’m trying to say here is that even in Connecticut (and even after Sandy Hook), the requirements to own and carry a pistol, are woefully inadequate. It is absolutely crazy to allow somebody with the training I received to own, buy and carry, openly or concealed (which is the law in CT) any kind of firearm.

I agree with most, if not all, of what Sam Harris said in his podcast, and have become more convinced than ever that what I said in a previous post is true: we need to repeal the second amendment of the US constitution. Or rather, repeal and replace, since I don’t want to ban guns. But the way 2A is worded makes it very difficult to come to any kind of consensus as to what it actually means in practical terms. The gun nuts (the Ted Nugent fan boys) will always point to “the right of the people” and “shall not be infringed”, while the gun grabbers (Bloomberg et al.) will emphasize “a well regulated militia”, and they will both be right. My own vision for a revised 2A might include words to the effect that gun-ownership is indeed an individual right, but not any gun for anybody at any place, and the power to regulate requirements and limitations is given to congress. I believe Sam’s analogy to the requirements to get a pilot’s license is appropriate and sound. I say this knowing full well that any member of Congress who proposes a repeal of the second amendment will have committed political suicide more effectively than declaring an unbelief in Jesus.

 

Praise the Lord! Allahu Akbar!

Just a few weeks ago I was Charlie. Now I must also be Muath al-Kasasbeh.

I felt it on 9/11 2001.

I felt it on 7/22 2011.

I felt it on 12/14 2012.

I felt it again yesterday as I saw the headlines that ISIS had burned Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh alive in a cage, filmed it in gruesome detail and posted the video on the Internet.

A visceral punch to the gut. A literal feeling of being sick. A despair and deep depression and sorrow when faced with the pure evil man is capable of.

I can’t shake it off. The image that intrudes upon my mind uninvited of the poor man trapped in a cage while the flames consume him. All the while a professional film team has their cameras trained on him to capture every agonizing second.

For our viewing pleasure.

I didn’t watch the video. I don’t need to. My imagination is quite vivid. Only now I wish it wasn’t.

My heart bleeds for his wife, his parents, his family. For mankind. I would cry if I could.

And then anger. Raging anger like I’ve never felt before. Right now, although I know intellectually it’s the wrong solution, I would support any measure to wipe the pest that is ISIS from existence. Bring out the heavy artillery. Bring out the bombs. If we could flatten Dresden, surely we can exterminate these animals. Bring out the napalm, the mustard gas; hell, bring out the tactical nukes!

Does anybody still doubt that Sam Harris was right when he said Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas? The terrorists quoted a specific chapter from the Koran that justified burning a man alive as punishment.

Fight any and all irrational ideas and dogma that are used to justify acts of terror. Put down the subhumans like the rabid dogs they are. The same goes for the silent enablers who, while not actually are physically taking part in the atrocities, approve in their hearts.

Death to Muhammad the Scumfuck. Piss be upon his name. The same goes for his followers.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

Muath al-Kasasbeh

Muath al-Kasasbeh, a true martyr. Not for Islam, but for humanity. Peace be upon his name.

“Lying” By Sam Harris – A Quickie Review

Finally picked up Sam Harris’ “Kindle Single” (a short book/essay approx. 100 pages) “Lying” (not an affiliate link) and finished off the last few pages. I found the book to be unimpressive both in its main premise “Thou Shalt Not Lie”, and the reasoning for it.

A short quote: “Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to. And by lying to one person, we potentially spread falsehoods to many others – even entire societies.” Translated: “You should always tell the truth, not doing so might lead to dire consequences.”

Sort of like a butterfly effect of lies, almost; I tell a perfectly harmless white fib with the purest of intentions in Sandy Hook, CT, and a week later a textile sweatshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh comes crashing down killing hundreds.

The book is filled with silly examples and assertions that a bright 5th-grader could easily refute. Having watched a lot of Sam Harris on Youtube I had expected more. Considerably more.

Even assuming that people somehow have a reasonable expectation, or even a right, that I tell the the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at any given time, this statement is nothing but hyperbolic dramaqueenery©. Denying me the right to lie whenever I’m in the mood is a direct assault on my autonomy (and also the 1st Amendment). Talk about a pompous bag of gas.Two thumbs down.

Hypothetical:
A German SS-Obersturmführer leads his entourage of armed soldiers, Schmeissers held tightly against their chests, from house to house in an Amsterdam neighborhood in November 1942. It’s dark, cold, and a steady drizzle of almost-freezing rain makes the cobblestone slippery under foot. The officer halts at a door and raps it with Aryan authority. A middle-aged woman eventually appears. “Entschuldigung for das inconvenience mein Frau, but hast du any illegal Juden hiding in your loft?” the officer demands.The woman, clearly afraid, stutters, but finally manages to reply in the negative: “No sir, no Jews here. No Jews at all.” The Obersturmführer bows stiffly at the waist as only SS officers do, tips his hat to the terrified woman, utters a polite “danke schön”, adjusts his eye patch, twirls around sharply on his heel and continues on to the next house in search for untermenschen to send off to the work camps in the East. Arbeit macht frei, usw., doncha know!

anne_frank

Lying, runaway Jewess. Picture credit: Bergen-Belsen work camp archives, from a production of “Glückliche Tage” (“Happy Days”) performed by the camp drama troupe.

What a fucking cunt that woman was, lying to the officer like that, knowing full well she had an entire family of Jew fugitives hiding upstairs. You just can’t trust anybody these days.

P.S. I find it much more interesting to read a review of a book, however short and incomplete and biased, thereby perhaps gaining some new insight, rather than just a statement that so-and-so has read such-and-such.

EDITED TO ADD: It appears that Anne Frank was posthumously baptized by the Mormons. Presumably this selfless act by the Latter Day Saints has led God to forgive her for lying and being a Jew, retrieved her from hell and put her in the Heavenly Witness Protection Program where she is now playing dodge ball with Jesus in an undisclosed Heavenly location (Heaven is a big place).

I Am A Cunt And So Can You

I have an Internet acquaintance that I’ve been chatting with on and off for the past few years via various forums, email, Facebook and the like. I’ve never met him in the physical realm, but he seems like a standup guy and I hold him in high regard. He recently mentioned to me that Sam Harris had written in his blog a book review, recommending it too atheists in need of arguments when debating the existence of a god with religious people. (For those of you who don’t know, Sam Harris is an author/philosopher/neuroscientist/the fourth horseman of the “neo-atheist” movement.)

I knew from previous exchanges with my friend, himself a student of philosophy (we’ve discussed various topics such as politics, philosophy, religion, atheism, guns, bodybuilding, illegal performance enhancing drugs and the widespread practice of male circumcision in America) how much he likes Sam Harris and enjoys his books. I was therefore a bit surprised when he told me that reading Harris’ blog and the book review in question specifically, had turned him against Harris, and stated quite emphatically that he didn’t know who would be the bigger cunt; the guy who wrote it, the guy who reviewed and recommended it, or those who read it.

I haven’t read the book in question nor Harris’ review of it, but any book that provides the atheist with valid ammunition in debates with theocrats and “people of faith” of any creed; creationists, intelligent designers, hardline Bible thumpers, Muslim jihadists, and even “moderate” non-literalist, cherry picking Christians and Reform Jews, is, in my opinion, a good book. The guy who wrote it, a good guy. The person who reviews and recommends it, also good. As is the person who reads it for the specific purpose of arming him/herself with arguments to debunk religious poppycock. If that makes me a cunt, then so be it. I’ll take it as a compliment.

Let me finish off by saying that the Bible is bullshit, the Koran is a lie, and the Baghavad Gita did not fall from the sky (credit Corporate Avenger), and the sooner we can rid society of the scourge of belief in ancient fairy tales, mythology and omnipotent, judgmental sky zombies, the better.

Examining The Meaning Of Life, Death And Existence

How lucky we are that this guy, Sam Harris, emerges at the same time my “hero” Christopher Hitchens fades away. God’s ways are mysterious, indeed. Radically different personalities, humble and soft spoken versus giant ego, arrogant and even mean at times, they both are/were shining stars in their chosen fields. America needs to listen to this guy and more like him.

Partially from this speech, but also other speeches/debates I’ve seen on YT, I can’t help but feel that he may be flirting a tiny little bit with New Age ideas, Buddhism, and even a bit of Tony Robbins and pop psychology. I haven’t quite figured him out yet, but he is undoubtedly an intellectual giant of promising stature

If you’re interested in the whos, whats, wheres, whens, hows and whys of your existence, you should absolutely check him out. As soon as I finish the rather boring, formulaic, fictional story of an English archer’s trials and tribulations in France during the Hundred Years’ War I’m currently reading, I will get some of his books and dig deeper in.

Remember, the unexplored life is not worth living.