I’m a relatively smart guy. You know what the problem is with being a relatively smart guy? The problem is it’s hard to believe that other people can be so incredibly fucking stupid.
I know that sounds arrogant, and that bothers me. But it doesn’t alter the fact that there are some astonishingly stupid people out there — and some of them are in Congress. The depth and breadth of their stupidity is so massive it can’t be covered in a single blog entry. It can’t be covered in a single book. There are people in both houses of Congress who are stupid on an encyclopedic scale; it would take multiple volumes to cover the extent of their stupidity. But right now I’m just thinking about their stupidity on the current United Nations Arms treaty.
If you’re not aware of it, the U.N. has spent the last seven years banging out an agreement that will establish some minimal controls on the international gun trade. We’re talking about tanks, military drones, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, AND small arms sold in bulk. The controls are based on whether the weapons “will be used to break humanitarian law, foment genocide or war crimes, abet terrorism or organized crime or slaughter women and children.” It’s aimed at curbing the major arms dealers, the corporations (and nations) that deal in bulk weapon sales.
The treaty was passed, 154 to 3. The three nations that voted against the treaty? North Korea, Syria, and Iran. The U.S. approved the treaty, but it needs to be ratified by Congress. And here comes the stupid. There are a LOT of Republicans (and, sadly, some Democrats) who are siding with North Korea. Why? Because, despite all the evidence, this nitwits believe the U.N. treaty will inevitably lead to the confiscation of firearms from gun owners in the U.S. That is some serious stupid, right there.
“I am gravely concerned this treaty will infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of American gun owners.” — Senator Jerry Moran
“I have great concerns that this treaty can be used to violate the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.” — Senator Mike Lee
“This U.N. treaty takes away Constitutional authority; it diminishes the Constitution, it gives up Constitutional rights to a U.N. authority that should not exist. Anyone who votes for this U.N. treaty is violating their oath to support and defend the Constitution. It’s that simple.” — Representative Louie Gohmert
Let me just repeat the purpose of the treaty. It’s to make it more difficult for major arms exporters to sell weapons in bulk to governments or political movements or other military entities who are likely to use those weapons to 1) violate humanitarian law, 2) engage in genocide or war crimes, 3) engage in terrorism or organized crime, 4) or slaughter women and children.
The treaty would have NO effect at all on anybody’s ability to walk into a gun shop and buy any gun they can afford. In order to believe the treaty would somehow infringe on the Second Amendment, you’d have to be really paranoid and pretty fucking stupid.
How paranoid and fucking stupid? Paranoid and fucking stupid enough to believe the treaty includes provisions to ban people 55 and older from owning a weapon. That notion is circulating widely among conservatives. NO, I’m NOT making this up.
Why do they believe that? Because 1) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is said (I can find no record of this statement) to have expressed an opinion that people who’ve been “adjudicated mentally defective and persons with attenuating cerebral faculties” probably shouldn’t own weapons because they could be a danger to themselves. And because 2) somebody in Amnesty International pointed out that research shows “a significant majority of gun-related suicides, accidental shootings, non-fatal negligent discharges are perpetrated by persons 55 and over.” So therefore: 3) the United Nations is going to seize the guns of everybody over age 55, and that’s just the first step to 4) confiscating ALL THE GUNS.
I know, I know…that defies any semblance of normal logic. But logic is weak armor against stupid, especially when stupid is driven by fear. Want proof? Here’s Rep. Gohmert’s argument against limiting firearm magazines to ten rounds:
“[W]hy would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?”
Got that? If you limit ammunition to ten rounds pretty soon people will be marrying goats. And that slippery slope will inevitably lead to laws requiring us to speak French and eat soft communist cheeses. You can’t refute that logic.
While I, too, have often said that these people are idiots, I also tend to believe that it’s merely their fealty to the gun and ammunition industry that puts them in a position to say these things, knowing that the comments resonate with the stupid among us. That is, they know that what they’re claiming isn’t true, and frankly, they don’t give a shit one way or another what the effects of these sales might be, they simply want to support the arms industry while appearing to support some kind of higher ideal to their idiot base.
Patrick, I agree that a lot of these guys know better and are pandering to the stupid and paranoid (not to mention canoodling with NRA lobbyists) — but I’m convinced folks like Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz and Steve King are genuinely, authentically, and sincerely stupid.
The combination of their stupidity or their corruption or their evilness or… I just can’t even wrap my brain around how they can exist and be in public office…
The folks who pimp for gun manufacturers aren’t any different than the folks who pimp for tobacco companies. Since the product is legal and people have to deliberately choose to use the product, politicians and lobbyists can convince themselves they have no responsibility for the result.
I believe that’s the same argument traditionally used by the angel Lucifer.
Patrick, bless his heart. He thinks too highly of these knobs. Unfortunately, there are people this dense representing “us” in DC. You have to be very smart to act this preposterously stupid; I don’t believe for a second that this is an act in deference to the NRA. Limiting you to 10 rounds = men marrying goats. It’s really very Pythonesque, in a frightening way.
Hey Susan, I’m also convinced that there’s a genuine bone-headed stupidity at work in some of these folks. Folks like Moran may just be shills for gun manufacturers, saying what the NRA wants them to say — but the Gohmerts and Kings of the GOP often say stuff so fucking loopy that it’s clear it grows out of their own chaotic form of logic.
Steve King of Iowa recently said same sex marriage was wrong because gay folks simply don’t qualify for a marriage license in much the same way people with poor eyesight don’t qualify for a drivers license or people who haven’t been trained to cut hair don’t qualify for a beautician’s license. That’s not the standard right wing Christianist argument; it’s original stupid thought.