TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
BETTER THAN GUN CONTROL?
With all that’s been said in the past several days about alleged mass murderer James Holmes, and throughout the resuscitated gun control discussion, there are a few facets to the situation which have thus far escaped scrutiny and consideration. The following is written with the disclaimer that Holme’s guilt has not been ultimately established. So until that time, let’s agree that that guilt is “hypothetical”.
Under that hypothesis, then, we see a young man who has risen though the steps of geeky math/science proficiency and has yet managed to dodge the maturity that earlier generations would have expected of a 24-year-old man. He seems to be an idiot savant Peter Pan, in some ways disturbingly typical of his generation. His abnormally drowsy demeanor in his court appearance (which looked to some experts like a stupor induced by drugs administered during incarceration) aside, this person is supposed to be one of our best and brightest, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience, no less, and on a government grant of nearly $30,000.
Does anyone out there wonder whether this guy’s read any Shakespeare, or for that matter, Tolstoy, Cato, Burns or even Fitzgerald? Could he possibly discuss Hemmingway or have a grasp of the significance of, say, any REAL battles . . . like Guernica, Lepanto or Vinegar Hill? If he did, he would shock us all once more.
Look around you. Especially at the under-40 crowd. How many of them do you know who ever discuss the important philosophical and political issues of our time – or are capable of such a discussion? I am acquainted with many film aficionados and even the most sophisticated and well-educated among them are far more likely to delve into the special effects, production qualities, acting performances, even the off-screen trivia and gossip about the stars and directors, than they are about the substance of the movie in question or the expression of thought.
So we see James Holmes, at the chronological age of 24, but seemingly arrested in his moral and intellectual development somewhere in his toddlerhood. The “brilliant” Ph.D. student with the attitudes and obsessions of a middle-school delinquent.
Did he spend undue time on interactive computer games, such as “Grand Theft Auto” and the like? Did he, a social isolate, desire to meld his pathetic reality with the reality of a Batman movie? Leave his lonely corner and his math books, get an outfit, dye his hair, prepare his apartment to blow up and then, without remorse or even much of a sense of what he was about, go to a movie and become one with it? This is, in fact what survivors themselves described - that at first it seemed to be a part of their movie experience. Holmes took the movie experience and transformed it into an “interactive” one – like his computer games, his X-box. So how was this so different in his mind? It would have been like extending the technology to another dimension perhaps. Isn’t this in theory what a math/science wizard is supposed to do? Take the next step in innovation? Of course you would have to add to this the administration of psychotropic drugs, illegal and prescription, and then, in a world more and more devoid of a moral compass and more and more confined to interactive games of violence, the next step for someone such as Holmes, if mentally unstable, could be this. And this does not even assume he acted on his own initiative, but that even absent collusion from another source, he was preprogrammed to think this way.
Of course nothing in this scenario would apply to a healthy mind or to a person raised in a normal culture. And this is where those who are now sanctimoniously preaching gun control/confiscation miss the whole point. For now we can set aside the old, but sound, argument that in a crowd the presence of law-abiding, armed citizens is a huge deterrent to violent crime. Let’s just take a look at one such preacher – Roger Ebert.
Ebert, the quintessential Left-loving movie reviewer, allowed himself to stray far afield from his own area of expertise – the art and business of making films – to the, to him, foreign realms of criminal justice, to opine that after all, the debate on guns is over and we all need to give them up. This shoot-‘em-up at a Batman horror/action blockbuster proves it.
Now, many are tempted, logic and history notwithstanding, to hand over our Second Amendment right in the hope that honest criminals will surely comply and, the world now a safer place. we can all go back to the blood and guts of the siege of Gotham and enjoy our screen violence in peace. Of course, there are also those who, unlike Ebert, blame not the availability of firearms but horrific screen violence on TV, movies and computer games. Maybe, they say, these things should be given up in the interest of crowd safety. What do you say, Roger? Give up violence-inciting movies instead of our self-defense?
It is possible to find a very big “positive” for widespread gun ownership and there are many experts and historians who can make that case. It is far more difficult to find a reason to justify our tolerance for senseless, terrible violence on a screen. It has been established that some of us are profoundly influenced by what we see in the movies. Ted Bundy admitted that he was inspired by violent porn to embark on his own career of violence and murder – another instance of making movies one’s reality.
Think of it this way: if we are resolved to give up 1) our guns or 2) our violent movies, what case can be made to keep them? It can be posited that many or most of us probably owe our lives to the Second Amendment, whether we know it or not. You could say that you were able to walk into a convenience store or a bank and survived without being shot or knifed because of the deterrent of the Second Amendment, because whoever might otherwise have decided to rob or attack you thought he might be stopped by a bullet from a law-abiding citizen’s gun. He didn’t want to bet that no one there would be armed. For the same reason you are generally reasonably safe in your own bed or on your front porch (unless you live in Chicago). You and I are protected every day by the Second Amendment, whether or not we own a gun or carry one, from the assumption on the part of the would-be criminal that someone would be. It’s sort of like the “herd immunity” you hear about regarding vaccinations. You probably owe your life to the Second Amendment and never even knew it.
The same cannot necessarily be said of violent movies. I don’t mean to suggest that our First Amendment is any less central to our freedom, but for the sake of this argument, can you or Roger, for that matter, make a convincing argument that we have a real need for this on-screen mayhem? And yet we cherish our First Amendment (especially Ebert). There might be a way around this dilemma.
My smarter brother suggests this: don’t abridge anyone’s right to make a movie about anything, however violent or worthless. Protect everyone’s right to make films that incorporate senseless, unredeemed violence and filth. Just assess those qualities in it for what they are and deny copyright protection. Violence which is necessary to convey a real point or to allow a real understanding of history – such as that in Braveheart, Michael Collins, Inglorious Basterds or For Greater Glory, for example, would be protected, but not violence just for its own sake. The right to make that kind of movie would not be infringed – if the film maker thinks it’s important to get his message out there, for art’s sake, or whatever, but money would cease to fuel such productions. No one would back them or show them of course.
There is a sort of precedent for this kind of approach. The Daughters of the Confederacy had a copyrighted logo which incorporated the Stars and Bars and they lost that copyright because it was a symbol used by terror groups like the KKK or neo-Nazis, etc. They still can use it, but they have no copyright on it. In the film business this would mean a short run of piracy until the pirates found out they had nothing of value either.
If we must give up something here, let it not be a sacrifice of the innocent and law-abiding, let it not be the Bill of Rights we cherish. Let it be the ticket to the big bucks for the purveyors of this stuff. I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises and make no assessment of my own as to its value – it might even be good. It is supposed to have cost around $250 million to make. The “stars” of this show were well paid. The makers of the movie expected to get around half or more of that back the first weekend from those who went to see it. The hype is incredible. Well, maybe that and Ebert’s review of same could all go away. Let Ebert review something else - something with more in it than horror and death for its own sake.
And remember Holmes’s apartment? I haven’t heard there was gun in it, but his skill with wiring and bombs made it deadly. We could disarm innocent citizens and render them defenseless and still not stop crazy people and other villains from their deadly pursuits. The Unibomber didn’t use guns. Neither did Jack the Ripper. Turning over our guns to the Feds, the State or the UN won’t eliminate crime or violence. On the other hand, we could just simply protect our Constitution and Bill of Rights and understand and accept that there are crazy people out there and that we must run the risk of their occasionally running amok as the price of our freedom. That, actually, is the prudent and reasonable course.
Sally Morris is a member of Americans for Constitutional Government and the Valley Tea Party Conservative Coalition.