Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Joe the Plumber," and Day 23: 183.5

See that ".5" on my weight?  I went up since the last report.  Except I went up further than that, and am back down to only half a pound above where I was.  And this morning I walked a good long trek from Sweetie's office to downtown K-town, and on to my office.  Yes, that's the long way.  It's still cool in the mornings and the city is really quite attractive while it's still waking up.

Lately in the news we're seeing this kid, one Elliot Rodger, who up and killed a bunch of people before taking his own life.  Frankly, I don't think anyone who really knew Rodger was especially surprised that this happened.

This much of it makes sense, if it can make any sense: emotionally disturbed individual becomes fixated on person or persons as the root cause of his assorted problems.  True or not, this is an understandable paradigm in American culture, and we refer to people who cause problems as "bad guys."  Unfortunately Rodger's mistaken notion was the women in general and the popular, attractive people who might have been his social peers in particular were the "bad guys" in his life, and he whipped out his multiple legally-purchased weapons and started killing the "bad guys."

If I go read about the "bad guys," these essentially blameless people who were killed simply for not finding an antisocial, erratic loner attractive, I will probably wind up very very sad.  And some of them weren't even people Rodger wanted to be attracted to, some were just his roomies.  I guess he though they were in the way.

What's Joe the Plumber got to do with this?  You might remember the guy: asking Obama a question during a campaign rally, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher was the stalking horse that became an icon of the Republican party and 15-minute media darling of the John and Sarah Show.   It's weird that the guy, even now, is more recognizable under the "Joe the Plumber" nickname than under his own.

Also, he is not now nor has he ever been a licensed plumber, even though he worked as a plumber at the time.  That was a bit embarrassing, and may have been at least part of what cost him his bid for Ohio Representative in 2012.

Anyway, in an open letter published on BarbWire, Wurzelbacher had this to say: "As harsh as this sounds, your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights."


Strictly speaking this is indeed true.  He tries - and fails - to soften this amazingly crass blow with words of comfort that come out sounding pretty damned hollow.  After a line like that, maybe it would be better to think better about the whole open letter idea, and maybe not send it.  Oh well, too late now.

And both the parents who call for a serious re-examination of gun rights, and Wurzelbacher in his moment of utter head-slap obtuseness, are right.  I think it's high time we reconsider just how easy it should be for people to have guns, and until such time as the laws are changed, no number of dead kids and mourning parents will override the rights of the American people.  People who aren't mourning also have to have their say.  Rights can, and have, be changed.

I am approaching the point where some of the hand wringing makes sense.  "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."  Well, that may or may not be true, but the fact that so many people have free and easy access to guns doesn't seem to have done the crime rate any favors, so maybe it's time we take another look at how freely people can get guns.  The point of the 2nd Amendment was to help ensure the then nascent US Government not decide to take up any dictatorial practices.  When the people you're attempting to oppress have weapons of their own, oppression takes on a certain deadly risk and tends to die young.

But the other systems in place to keep the government from running away with itself are pretty effective.  I suspect the Damoclean sword of an armed populace might be overkill at this point in our history.  But even more overkill is the capacity to own more guns than you have hands, more ammo than needed to utterly puree the legal hunting limit in your locale, and being able to buy anything more lethal than a toenail clipper when you're seeing a basketball team's worth of therapists and still walk around loose among an unsuspecting neighborhood.

How hard would it be to just start up a database, open to all mental health professionals, and be able to drop in names and SSNs of people who seem just a bit too edgy for gun ownership?  "Warning, dangerous nutcase, no guns for this one.  No machetes or even toenail clippers, either."  A few quick lines on a secure web page that is accessible to mental health professionals and the people in charge of the background checks.  "Whoops, sorry, no bazooka for you."

Granted, the rollout of the Obamacare website doesn't raise my hopes at all for government-operated databases, but you never know, maybe they can contract the job to some 18-year-old, set him up with a six pack of Pepsis and get things done.

Unless some nutjob comes along and mows him down, too.

So far I think the most positive outcome of all this is it should put Joe the Plumber's future Congressional aspirations on permanent standby.  So that's not all bad.

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