Let’s talk about weddings first. As a lover of freedom and equal rights, I am delighted that the Supreme Court rewrote the Constitution (essentially) to give all adults the contractual and legal rights of marriage.
But I couldn’t find a way to celebrate. For starters, as an old boss once said, “You don’t get a prize for doing what you’re supposed to do.” What actually happened here is that the country stopped being awful in one particular way. So, what is the right way to celebrate the cessation of being awful? As a member of the oppressor class in this situation (albeit not personally) I choose to recognize this great advance for humankind with fewer rainbows and more humility. My people (the straight majority) created a problem that should not have existed in the first place. And it took five non-elected people to fix that situation. Our government failed hard on this issue, even though I like the end result. I can’t be proud of the system in this case. But I do like the fact that when it came down to respecting the Constitution – a document made by slave-owners hundreds of years ago – the majority of the Supreme Court decided to ignore it and make up whatever argument got them to a more-equal world.
I have been watching the liberal world mock the dissenting justices’ opinions as if those opinions are ridiculous on the surface. Scalia, for example, notes that marriage is a bad place to look for a greater degree of individual freedom of expression. He’s right, obviously, but since judges vote along party lines, his argument is seen as nothing but a cover for bigotry. The hypnotist in me says all “reasons” are rationalizations and that our stated reasons only match up with common sense by coincidence now and then. In hypnosis class we learned that reason is the thin coat of paint we slather on our decisions after we make them. Scalia had a sound legal argument, but in a case such as this, no one really looks at the legal argument. Scalia was probably anti-gay-marriage from the start and found an argument to support it. The majority of the court presumably favored equal rights in this situation, and they had the power to ignore the weakness of arguments on their side. They did exactly that, which I appreciate.
So I love the decision of the Supreme Court in this case, but if we are being objective, it moves us closer to the Iranian model of government in which non-elected officials make the important decisions and the elected folks pick up the garbage and collect taxes. I say that in a way that sounds critical, but again, being objective, the Iranian style of government worked for us this time.
And I don’t see marriage equality as a victory for love. You don’t need the government to issue a license for love. Marriage is an issue of law, money, and dignity. That is important stuff, and everyone should have access to an equal amount of it. But lets leave love out of it. Love was never in the debate and it did not conquer anything.
Now let’s talk about guns.
I keep seeing graphs and statistics like this, showing that the United States has lots of gun murders and it also has lots of guns. Murder rates by country generally map directly to gun ownership rates. Countries with lots of guns have lots of murders. Therefore, goes the liberal logic, reducing the number of guns will reduce murder rates. And for some individual cases, that reasoning makes perfect sense. A person that has no access to a gun is less likely to shoot someone. I’ll give that a small “duh.”
But isn’t it also true that the reason Americans have so many guns is because there is a lot of violence to protect ourselves from? The only reason I want to own a gun is because I live in a violent country. Move me to Japan and I don’t need one. That point often gets overlooked.
Another factor that is often overlooked in this debate is that countries with the lowest gun violence rates often have the least diversity. (I’m looking at you, Japan.) We like diversity in this country, but diversity comes with some rough edges. And frankly, a majority of Americans would probably prefer high gun violence in order to keep the vibrant melting pot that is us.
For the record, I am in favor of gun ownership with some common-sense restrictions. I am not well-informed on this issue, so I don’t know all the options being discussed. But I might favor a law that provides steep penalties for whoever makes a gun available to an eventual killer, either by carelessness or by commerce. And perhaps you can protect yourself from that pass-through liability by doing an optional background check, or asking the gun buyer to register. I don’t have an opinion on how practical that would be. I just think that if you make a lethal weapon available to an unstable racist, you need to take responsibility for that. At the moment, we ask crazy people to police themselves, and we see how that is working out.
In Top Tech Blog: I know you think I talk too much about humans and robots merging. But check out these advances and see if you still think you won’t be part robot in your lifetime.
Winner of the brevity award goes to Tony Burton for reviewing my book on Amazon.