folks buying groceries refreshing the tree of liberty

As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Oh, and kids in school. And folks shopping for groceries, if they’re not white.” Yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant…what?

Okay, some of you are saying, “Greg, old sock, I don’t think you’ve accurately quoted our boy TJ.” Maybe you’re right; this may not be an exact quote, but it’s close enough to the way it’s interpreted by a lot of people who identify as right-wing lunatic gun nuts. Okay, okay, maybe they don’t actually identify themselves that way, but stop calling me old sock.

I mean, sure, TJ was talking about Daniel Shays, a farmhand in western Massachusetts who was having trouble paying his taxes, partly because he was also having trouble collecting the pay he was supposed to have received as a grunt in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. There’s still a lot of debate about what TJ meant by that tree of liberty bullshit, but the right-wing lunatic gun nuts take it as an article of faith that TJ was suggesting folks need to periodically have a good old fashioned bloody war of rebellion against the legitimate government. This is exactly WHY the term lunatic is included in the name of ‘right-wing lunatic gun nuts’.

But even right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how mass murder events at schools, mall, movie theaters, and grocery stores fit into that ‘blood of patriots and tyrants’ business. Especially when…oh yeah, and churches, I forgot to include churches. And temples and mosques. Anyway, right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how that blood of patriots stuff fits with those mass murders committed by white men specifically against victims who aren’t white. Or men. Or people who don’t quite fit into the right-wing lunatic gun nut definition of ‘men’.

So the right-wing lunatic gun nuts have developed a pair of sure-fire (get it? Sure-fire? See what I did there? I’m a hoot) responses to those events. First, they…well, wait. I say ‘first’ as if this is the preferred response, which would be inaccurate on account of these two responses are pretty much equally relied on. So when I say ‘first’ I’m just admitting that I can’t share two responses at the same time. These responses are numerical, not sequential. Or the other way around, maybe? Doesn’t matter.

First, they blame the mass murder on emotional health. As in “This kid who shot up the supermarket in Buffalo must be CRAZY because, yeah sure, he says he was motivated by hate and he says white folks are being replaced by non-white folks who breed faster and yeah sure, that’s exactly what Tucker Carlson says on FoxNEWS every night, but c’mon, you’d have to be CRAZY to believe that, so there, it’s a mental health issue.”

Second, they claim the mass murder is a false flag event perpetrated by Democrats or Jews or some other Satanist-pedophile group in order to TAKE OUR GUNS, or at least distract us from Hunter Biden’s laptop. They seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to believe.

Sometimes they combine the two responses, suggesting Democrats and Jews and other Satanist-pedophile groups convince mentally ill white folks to commit mass murders to distract the population from some vague but really awful thing that Democrats, Jews, and other Satanist-pedophile groups really enjoy.

But as I was saying (you may have to refer back to the beginning of this blog), yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant 30-mile bike ride from one bike pub to another bike pub, some white kid went to a supermarket in a predominantly black community and killed a whole bunch of folks who were just buying groceries.

Mentally ill (probably) white kid led astray (probably) by Democrats, Jews, of some other Satanist-pedophile group (probably), but clearly guns aren’t the problem.

Right now on television (I don’t actually know this, but I know this) some conservative is on a national news Sunday program explaining that the mass murder in Buffalo would never have happened if we had better mental health programs, which we can’t afford to make free because that would raise taxes, but maybe for-profit insurance companies could include mental health anti-mass murder options for people who can afford it, but guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people and if they didn’t have guns, they’d do it with axes, do you really want to ban axes, and besides guns are good because an armed patriot inside the store could have returned fire and prevented more needless death, and sure there was a security guard who did return fire and hit the killer, but the shooter was wearing tactical body armor which is protected by the Second Amendment, however a highly trained patriot could have shot him in the head–or at least the part of his head that wasn’t covered by his tactical helmet–and that would have ended the tragic situation, but there’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says private citizens should have to undergo training to carry a weapon, and did I mention the kid was mentally ill, because that’s the problem. Unless if was a false flag event.

So it turns out TJ, whatever he actually meant, was right about the blood and the tree of liberty. We are refreshing the fuck out of that tree.

in this together

It was Oxford Township, Michigan’s turn to hold a candlelight vigil last night. You know, for the three kids who were murdered and the eight others who were wounded by a 15-year-old classmate. We’ve gotten really good at those candlelight vigils.

One speaker at the vigil said, “We’re all in this together.” But no, we’re not. Well, we’re all “in this” but we’re not in it together. Most of us are in the Jesus suffering fuck, pass some goddamn sensible gun safety laws already contingent, but the folks in power mostly belong to the God gave us the 2nd Amendment and if we have to routinely sacrifice random men, women, and children to it, then that’s just what we’ll have to do club. So no, we’re not in this together. Except, you know, when it comes to that whole candlelight vigil business. We’re totally in that together. Those things don’t just happen; they take work. Organization, cooperation, shit like that.

The headline in this morning’s Washington Post:

Oxford High School shooting suspect in custody, motive unknown after 3 killed, 8 injured in Michigan

Motive unknown. Motive. Like this is some television show where the crime can be solved. If only we understood why this kid decided to borrow the Sig Sauer 9mm pistol his daddy bought on Black Friday and used it to murder his classmates, we’d…what? Solve school shootings?

We can all hazard a half dozen guesses as to the kid’s motive. There’s no fucking mystery here. Every kid who has ever attended school in a modern industrial society has, at some point, felt miserable and hopeless and frustrated and unloved and resentful and alienated and lonely and angry. A very small minority of those kids have focused all those awful emotions on their classmates.

The problem isn’t the kid’s motive. The problem is the capacity to act on the motive. Some of those kids have access to firearms. How did this kid get access to his daddy’s new pistol?

That’s not a mystery either. Michigan doesn’t require firearm owners to lock up their weapons. That’s right. If you live in Michigan, you can just leave guns lying around the house–like throw pillows or coasters for your drinks. Maybe this kid’s daddy kept his guns (yes, guns, plural, the police seized a bunch of them from the house) locked up–I don’t know. But in Michigan, he had a legal right to leave them scattered around the house like Hummel figurines.

This is America. We don’t do common sense gun law. We do candlelight vigils. We hold a vigil, then we ask why this happened, after which we vow to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again, and then we lament that there’s absolutely nothing we can possibly do to prevent it from happening again. That’s what we do. Because we’re all in this.

But not together. We’re a long way from together.

#NotTakingaGun

I’ve got to run to the market later today. Maybe I’ll also make a lightning stop at a hardware store, I don’t know. But in any event, I won’t be taking a gun with me. Because there’s absolutely no need to.

Also, okay, I don’t own a gun. So realistically I couldn’t take a gun with me even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. I don’t own a gun for the same reason I’m not taking one to the market. I don’t need a gun. I have zero use for a gun.

I’ve no need for a gun, but I rather like them. They’re incredibly efficient tech, they make a loud noise (sometimes I enjoy making a loud noise), they can make a hole suddenly appear in a target a distance away (which is actually sort of cool), and if you fire them at night, you see flame come out (which is very cool). Guns can be fun to shoot. But I don’t have any need for one.

I’ve been in situations where I could justify owning and carrying a gun. I spent several years as a private investigator specializing in criminal defense work. Most folks think that if you’re working to defend an accused criminal, other criminals will like you. Not so. The thing is, defending an accused criminal often means finding and revealing other criminals who may be guilty of the crime. Or they might have information that could implicate them in some way. Information they DO NOT want you to have.

And let’s face it, nobody–not even an innocent person–wants a stranger asking them nosy, impertinent, personal questions. It tends to piss people off. And here’s another thing: criminals don’t keep normal business hours. Which means a lot of the time you end up asking criminals nosy, impertinent, personal questions at their home, or in a bar, or when they’re with friends (who are often criminals as well).

As a PI, I had a concealed carry permit. I considered carrying a gun several times. But I was always concerned that if I had a gun, I’d get too confident. I’d get cocky, take more chances, take more stupid chances–because I’d be carrying protection. I never carried a gun because I know how easy it is to make a really bad impulsive decision. On those occasions where I had to enter a situation where there was a realistic chance I’d get hurt, I took a partner. Reliable guy–he’d been a LRRP in Vietnam and a police detective. He’d be armed, he’d enter the bar before me and take up a position. I’d come in a bit later and do my thing. And if it all started to go sideways, I knew he’d step up. So I felt…not safe, certainly not safe enough to be cocky, but I felt the odds of getting seriously hurt were low enough to risk.

My point, such as it is, is this: I know what it’s like to be afraid that somebody might realistically decide to assault you. Or stab you. Or pull a gun and shoot you. Genuinely afraid. Not-sure-you-can-control-your-bladder afraid. And yet, despite being in those situations multiple times, I’ve never actually had to physically defend myself. Or have somebody else defend me.

So yeah, I can go buy groceries without carrying a gun. And so can you and everybody else.

Some folks will insist that the only way to preserve a legal right is to use it. There’s some truth in that. But the gun-toting folks who make that argument are almost always the same folks who are willing–even eager–to make it more difficult to exercise other legal rights. To vote, to get an abortion, to marry somebody you love, to peacefully protest.

There’s really only one reason to carry a gun: to shoot something or somebody. You don’t have to intend to shoot something or somebody, but carrying a gun indicates you’re prepared to do that. There’s only one genuine motivation for carrying a gun. Fear. You’re either afraid somebody or something may harm you, or you’re afraid somebody or something will harm somebody else.

People who are genuinely afraid to leave the house unless they’re strapped are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be armed. You can’t trust a scared person to make good decisions. Scared people are much more likely to make really bad decisions. But I suspect folks who are genuinely that frightened are a very small minority. I suspect the vast majority of people who insist on being armed when they leave home are either fantasists who like to imagine themselves as tough and heroic, or assholes who just want to intimidate other folks. Or they’re both–fantasists who are also assholes.

Regardless of their reason for wanting to carry a gun, the fact is they don’t need to. They’re far more likely to need to carry a flashlight, or an umbrella, or a breath mint, maybe a magnet. I mean, those things actually come in handy sometimes. A gun? Almost never.

I think I’m going to start announcing this on Twitter whenever I have an errand to run. “I’m going to the market for cheese. I’m #NotTakingAGun.” It’s silly, but that’s the point. Taking a gun to go buy cheese is silly.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Okay, I did it. Went shopping, made it home safely. Notified Twitter.

so what the fuck just happened here?

A week and a half ago I wrote, “…don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks.” And yet, I was sorta kinda surprised. Because, c’mon…how could this ridiculous doofus illegally buy an assault-style rifle, carry it across a state line, insert himself into a volatile environment, carry it while claiming to offer medical care he wasn’t trained or qualified to give, carry it while claiming to protect property nobody asked him to protect, then using it to shoot three people, killing two of them, and NOT suffer any consequences? It just ain’t right.

But yeah, that’s basically what happened. But WHY did it happen? I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been around the criminal justice block a few times, and I have opinions. It begins with the Wisconsin law on self defense, which essentially says a person can use deadly force to defend themselves if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”

A lot of self-defense laws, including Wisconsin’s, include an exception for provocation and/or criminal conduct. You can’t provoke an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self-defense; you can’t engage in criminal conduct that would cause an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self defense. Makes sense, right? Okay, here we go.

Wisconsin’s self-defense law states: “A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack…”

That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it. But it continues: “…except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant….” So the law says yeah, you CAN defend yourself if you provoke an attack, but LIMITS the amount of force you can use. You can fight back, but you can’t kill your attacker.

But wait. Again, it continues with another caveat: “…unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.” So even if you’ve provoked an attack through illegal behavior, you can only use deadly force to defend yourself after you’ve exhausted your other options for escape.

What does that mean in the Rittenhouse case? If he’d engaged in unlawful conduct that provoked an attack, he was only justified in using deadly force to defend himself IF he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape. He DID try to run away before the second killing, but he tripped and fell, then shot Huber and Grosskreutz. That very possibly could fall under the Wisconsin self-defense law–tried to escape, but couldn’t. But in the initial killing, Rittenhouse was running away from Rosenbaum, then stopped, turned, shot and killed him. That seems likely to fall under the unlawful conduct exception, which would prevent him from using the self-defense claim. BUT ONLY if Rittenhouse was engaged in unlawful conduct. Like, say, illegally carrying a rifle.

The judge, remember, dismissed the illegal rifle charge. Which removed the unlawful conduct exception. Which meant Rittenhouse only had to feel his life was in danger to kill Rosenbaum. Hey bingo, he walks.

That’s how I see it. Again, I’m not a lawyer. My reasoning may be flawed. But that’s how I see it. It sucks. It’s wrong. It’s obscene on a number of levels. But that seems to be how the law is written.

There’s a lesson here. If you want to stop vigilante tourism, enact better laws. If you want better laws, vote for better legislators. You want better laws, prevent outside money and outside interests from influencing weak-ass greedy legislators.

Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t walk because he was innocent. He walked because of the motherfuckers who wrote Wisconsin’s self-defense law .

twins

Well, isn’t this a surprise. Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael are offering twin self-defense arguments. Sure, the circumstances of each killing are different. Rittenhouse had to travel for an hour or so to bring a firearm to a volatile situation on the off-chance that he might ‘need’ it, whereas McMichael only had to travel a few blocks to bring a firearm to a volatile situation on the off-chance that he might ‘need’ it. But each of these guys deliberately armed themselves then inserted themselves into a situation where they might ‘need’ to shoot somebody.

And hey bingo, Guess what? Turns out they both somehow (seriously, who could have guessed something like this might happen?) found themselves in situations where they believed they ‘needed’ to shoot somebody. What a coincidence.

He’s very sorry and cries very sorry tears.

I mean, all they did was 1) arm themselves with a deadly weapon 2) to protect property they 3) didn’t own and 4) which nobody asked them to protect against 5) an unarmed person who 6) may have been on or near that property. Then when they 7) confronted that unarmed person and, 8) brandished their deadly weapon, and that unarmed person 9) was uncomfortable having a deadly weapon brandished, and 10) decided to try to disarm them, they 11) were forced to shoot that unarmed person in order 12) not to become an unarmed person facing an armed person.

It’s logic! An armed person is a threat to an unarmed person, so it was clearly necessary for Rittenhouse and McMichael to shoot an unarmed person before they become armed. You know…in self defense. They’re both very sorry they had to kill unarmed people. They both cried about it. They’ve suffered so much.

He’s also very sorry and cries very sorry tears.

What? You think none of this would have happened if both Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael had just stayed home and watched Lethal Weapon on television? But then who would have protected that property? What? You say none of the victims dead people were killed near the properties that were supposedly being protected? Doesn’t matter; the issue is self defense. Against unarmed people. Trying to take guns away from patriots selflessly willing to put themselves at risk to protect other people’s property.

Did I get that right?

Jesus suffering fuck.

mel gibson delusions

Kyle fucking Rittenhouse. In a rational universe, I’d feel sorry for this kid. I mean, he seems the sort of kid who grew up loving action hero movies, imagining himself fighting Commies and other monsters, but was always one of the last kids picked when teams were chosen. I obviously don’t know him, but he seems like an inadequate dweeb with Mel Gibson delusions.

K. Rittenhouse — inadequate dweeb with a rifle and Mel Gibson delusions

But we don’t live in a rational universe. That dweeb is currently on trial for murder and has become the chubber-cheeked darling of a warped, right-wing fan club.

Here are a couple things you probably ought to know when discussing the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: 1) it’s not about right and wrong, it’s about the law as it’s written, and 2) the law regarding self-defense in Wisconsin has a lot in common with the Florida law that allowed a jury to acquit George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. We’re talking about Wisconsin Code 939.48, which deals with self-defense and defense of others.

Let me make it even more simple. A lot of the stuff you probably think ought to be important in the case, isn’t going to be important. For example, you may think it’s important to question whether a 17-year-old high school dropout living in Illinois had any legitimate fucking reason to be in Wisconsin, at night, during a violent demonstration, illegally carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. Right? You may think it’s important that the people who owned the business that Rittenhouse said it was his ‘job’ to protect, never asked him to protect their business. You may think it matters that he described himself as an EMT, when his only ‘training’ came during a youth police cadet program that was canceled due to the pandemic not long after he joined. You may think all that stuff matters when deciding if Rittenhouse is guilty of murder.

But nope. Because Rittenhouse claims he was acting in self defense. None of Rittenhouse’s bad behavior has any bearing at all on whether he believed he was defending himself when he shot Joseph Rosenbaum four times and killed him, or when he shot Anthony Huber and killed him, or when he shot Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm, nearly severing his bicep.

I know, that sounds crazy. But the primary question of law is whether Rittenhouse, at the moment he shot and killed/wounded those people, believed it “was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.” That’s it, that’s the point on which this trial will almost certainly turn. Did this kid think he was about to get the shit kicked out of him? Did he think he was about to die?

Rittenhouse, having fatally shot Huber and about to shoot Grosskreutz

But, wait. What’s this? The Wisconsin law has a ‘criminal conduct’ exception? Why yes, it does. Except that exception is confusing as fuck. Here it is (with my emphases included):

“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”

So, was Rittenhouse engaged in unlawful conduct? Well, yeah. He was carrying a gun that had been illegally purchased for him by a straw buyer (a crime in Illinois), and he was carrying the gun illegally in Wisconsin, where the crime took place. Wisconsin law says, “any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” Was that conduct likely to provoke others to attack him? Maybe? Being an asshole is certainly likely to provoke folks. But here’s the key: did Rittenhouse reasonably believe he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape?

Nothing about this is legal.

Here’s the problem: Rittenhouse was running away at the beginning of each fatal confrontation. He was running away from Joseph Rosenbaum when he heard a gunshot (a ‘warning shot’ fired by a third party). At that point, Rittenhouse turned and aimed his rifle at Rosenbaum, who apparently attempted to wrestle the firearm away…and was killed. He was also running away from Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, who were chasing him after he’d shot Rosenbaum. When Rittenhouse tripped and fell, Huber hit him in the shoulder with a skateboard; Rittenhouse shot and killed him. Grosskreutz (who actually IS an EMT and was legally carrying a handgun for self defense) apparently pulled out his firearm at that point, and Rittenhouse shot him.

It seems to me that everybody who ran into Kyle Rittenhouse after a certain point, had a reasonable fear for their lives. And that’s the problem with all these ‘stand your ground’ or ‘no need to withdraw’ self defense laws. The only person who gets to take advantage of the laws is the one who shoots first and survives.

This was a clusterfuck. No, that’s not right. It was a series of cascading clusterfucks. Absolutely NONE of it would have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t an arrogant, fuckwitted, asshole with Mel Gibson delusions. None of this would have happened if he’d just stayed the fuck home. As far as that goes, none of this would have happened if the Kenosha police hadn’t shot an unarmed Black man seven times.

But legally, none of that really matters. What matters, according to the law, is this: was Rittenhouse legit in fear for his life at the time he pulled the trigger?

The answer is probably yeah, he was. That may be all that matters at the burnt end of this trial. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not anything remotely like justice, but don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks. All it takes is one juror who believes the Mel Gibson wanna-be was really and truly in fear for his life. And to be fair (man, sometimes I fucking hate to be fair), I can’t blame Kyle Rittenhouse if he walks. I mean, I completely blame him for killing those people. I completely blame him for stupidly inserting himself into a situation where he didn’t belong. But I firmly believe every accused criminal deserves a fair trial and a competent defense. A competent defense includes using the law to help the defendant.

There’ll be a lot of blame to go around if Rittenhouse walks. Be sure to focus a lot of that blame on the motherfuckers who wrote the law.

a polite society

JaDerek Gray, 19 years old, he’s got himself a motorcycle and a gun. Unnamed motorist, got himself a car with kids and a gun. I mean, this is Texas, right? So yeah, everybody got himself a gun. They both cruising down I-35 on a Friday afternoon, long Fourth of July weekend, right? The guy in the car starts to change lanes, doesn’t see Gray tooling along on his motorcycle, almost pulls in front of him. Gray swerves, the car driver corrects himself, everybody is alarmed but okay.

At this point, all we’ve got is a near accident. A failure of road courtesy. A momentary lapse of situational awareness that could have been ugly–but wasn’t. Happens all the time. Everybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle or a bicycle on a public road has had this moment. Everybody who’s driven a car on a public road has had it too. It happens, you check yourself as a driver and as a rider, you maybe shout an obscenity, you remind yourself to be more careful and cautious, and you go on. Right?

Except JaDerek Gray is 19 years old and he’s got himself a gun. Except the car driver has a gun too, along with his car full of kids. So what happens? Gray speeds up, passes the guy in the car, slows down, then stops. Stops. Right there on I-35, on a Friday afternoon at the beginning of a long holiday weekend, he stops. He draws his gun. So the driver, he pulls his gun too.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner said Gray died from multiple gunshot wounds.

So now Gray is totally dead. 19 years old, and he’s dead. That’s got to fuck up his family and friends. Instead of celebrating the Fourth of July, instead of grilling burgers and eating potato salad, they’ve got to start planning a funeral. And the driver of the car and those kids, you know they’re fucked up too. Isel Valenzuela, the passer-by who witnessed the shooting, who stopped and turned off Gray’s motorcycle, who applied pressure to Gray’s wounds until paramedics arrived, who watched Gray bleed out and die–his holiday has been ruined as well.

A distinct absence of road courtesy

An armed society is a polite society. You hear gun nuts and Second Amendment jihadists say that all the time. They say it like it’s some sort of holy writ, as if it’s something that might have been said by the Founding Fathers or Charlton Heston. But it’s from a novel by Robert Heinlein, the iconoclastic libertarian science fiction writer.

Heinlein wrote Beyond This Horizon in the early 1940s. It’s one of those Utopian society stories–there’s no poverty, no nationalism, no hunger, no war; genetic engineering has eliminated disease, aging is treatable, and medical technology has made most injuries reparable. So basically everybody is incredibly smart, incredibly healthy, incredibly beautiful. In effect, it’s a society of perfect people, a society of saints.

I suspect Heinlein had studied Emile Durkheim, the Daddy of Sociology. Fifty years before Heinlein wrote his novel, Durkheim wrote this:

Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousness.

And that’s what happens in Beyond This Horizon. People get offended over increasingly trivial issues, pissy little shit like slights of etiquette and protocol. They resolve these issues by dueling. Almost everybody wears a sidearm of some sort. A person who doesn’t want to risk getting shot over stupid shit (like a bit of crabshell catapulted onto a neighboring table in a restaurant, which happens in the novel), they had to wear clothing that identifies them as noncombatants (basically dweebs who have lower social status). The actual quote in the novel is:

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

It’s NOT meant to be a principle on which to base society; it’s a goddamn plot device. It’s meant to show that even a Utopian society isn’t a Utopian society because people are fucked up beings. It’s not an argument that guns are good; it’s actually an argument against that. It’s an argument that killing each other over trivial stuff is just fucking stupid. It’s an argument that says courtesy enforced by the fear of getting killed isn’t courtesy at all. It’s just fear.

It’s an argument everybody on that Texas interstate highway lost. An armed society isn’t a polite society; it’s a scared and stupid society.

the second amendment, matt gaetz, and the battle of the wabash

This year I was going to avoid writing about Memorial Day. I’ve written about Memorial Day just about every year since I started writing this blog. I’m not even going to bother linking to all those earlier blogs (though if you’re interested, just type ‘Memorial Day’ into the search feature and hey bingo).

But here it is, Memorial Day again, and I’m about to write something that’s not exactly about Memorial Day (well, not about Memorial Day at all), but about cheap-ass pseudo-patriotic feculent cowardly politicians who give speeches during the Memorial Day weekend. And when I say “cheap-ass pseudo-patriotic feculent cowardly politicians” I mean Matt Gaetz.

What happened was I read what Matt (Hey, what’s a little child sex trafficking among friends?) Gaetz said a few days ago at an America First rally.

“For all the fake news media, the Second Amendment is not about — it’s not about hunting, it’s not about recreation, it’s not about sports. The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. “

Aside from the fact that an America First rally is an awfully nice way of saying “Rally for Fascism Yay!” there’s this: Matt Gaetz is, obviously, a fuckwit. You have to make some allowances for fuckwits. Because they’re fuckwits. So I’ll agree that Matt was correct when he said the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting or recreation or sports. But he’s absolutely wrong in thinking (and I use ‘thinking’ in the loosest possible way) that it’s about the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government. That’s just fucking stupid.

It’s the same sort of cellular-level stupidity that allows gun nuts to simultaneously insist that an AR-15 assault-style rifle is NOT IN ANY WAY a military weapon BUT is still absolutely vital for citizens to own in order to go Matt Gaetz on the US military. You know, if necessary.

Gen. Washington telling the Continental Army to just go home.

Thing is, the Second Amendment was grounded in the deep distrust and suspicion of the Founders regarding a professional standing army. Remember that most of the Founders had a Western European mindset, and Europe had a long history of standing armies, answerable only to a king, imposing the will of the king on the people. I mean, they explicitly denounced the entire concept, stating “standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican government, dangerous to the liberties of a free people, and generally converted into destructive engines for establishing despotism.” That whole “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” business was about insuring themselves against a professional army acting on the whims and wishes of a supreme ruler (or the army’s own generals).

That’s why, after the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army was disbanded. Gen. George Washington gave a speech to the troops, in which he said (and I’m paraphrasing here):

“Guys, war’s over. Thanks for helping to kick the Brits out. But go on home now. Take your guns and uniforms, put that shit in the closet, and if you’re ever needed again, we’ll let you know.”

Oh, they kept a few troops to guard the arsenal at West Point, because you can’t just leave artillery laying around like lawn ornaments. But that was basically it. The former members of the Continental Army met periodically with other civilians as informal local militias to train or put down the occasional slave rebellion.

But in 1784 problems on the Western Frontier (which at the time was somewhere around Ohio) triggered Congress to approve the creation of the First American Regiment. The problem was settlers versus Native Americans. The settlers were all “We just want to live in peace, and cut down all these trees to create farms where we can grow crops on land that the savages weren’t really even using like god intended, but the savages want to cancel our culture.” Yes, the settlers kept personal firearms to hunt and to protect themselves from attacks by the natives they were displacing. The job of the First American Regiment was to support the locals, secure the frontier, and discourage Native Americans from slaughtering the white settlers. They did this by slaughtering the natives first.

First American Regiment, looking for unruly natives.

You may be assuming the reason the new American government was protecting those settlers was because they were racist assholes who didn’t think of the natives as human. Which would be accurate. But the primary reason was because the new US government didn’t have the authority to impose taxes on its citizens, which meant the government was broke, which meant they needed to generate some serious pocket money, which they decided to do by selling the land the natives weren’t really using like god intended to the invading settlers. So obviously, they had to keep the settlers from being slaughtered by the natives because dead folks don’t buy land.

That policy worked really well. The First American Regiment fought the natives, which allowed local militias to keep the slaves in check. Everything was cool…until November of 1791, when 320 troops from the First American Regiment supported by about a thousand local militia/settlers tried to teach a lesson to a coalition of Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, and Potawatomie tribes. That lesson was rejected. It’s generally called the Battle of the Wabash, but it was more of a rout than a battle. The native coalition kicked ass. Over 800 soldiers and militia members were killed; around 270 were wounded. A quarter of what had been the standing army of the US was wiped out.

“WTF, I’m wearing a snazzy uniform and being killed by a native wearing feathers and a purse?”

Congress responded to the defeat in a variety of ways. They decided maybe a standing army of professional soldiers wasn’t an entirely bad idea after all. They created the Legion of the United States–about 5000 troops–to insure a more effective military force for slaughtering natives. A month of so after the defeat, Congress also passed a lot of amendments to the new Constitution, one of which authorized well regulated militias to keep and bear arms. Five years after that they changed the name of the Legion of the United States to the Army of the United States. Probably because ‘legion’ sounded French.

My point, though, if you can call it that. was that the Second Amendment wasn’t about fighting a rebellion against the US government. It was about arming local groups who could be called upon to fight against local enemies (like slaves who resisted being slaves) freeing up the standing army to fight against regional enemies (like godless natives who resisted giving up their land to decent god-fearing white settlers).

My other point, which I seem to have strayed from, was that Matt Gaetz is a treasonous fuckwit who should be giving his speeches from a prison cell.