The lure of responding

(2,344 words)


Some might know of my resolve to avoid certain on-line conversations. It’s difficult. I come across articles, comments, and information that stir the urge to express my opinion.

Expressing my opinion is not a problem; that’s almost second nature to me and it has on more than a few occasions put me at odds with people. Problems usually arise in subsequent discussions. Weird that . . . I do a lot of research and reading, but invariably I get told I am wrong – an idiot, even. Sometimes I’m told I do the “wrong” research; the “right” research usually agrees with the other person. Perhaps I am an idiot.

Three subjects are of particular interest to me; religion, alcohol, and guns. They are not the only topics of interest, but they rank above the others, at least at this point. Politics is another, but that ship has done sailed and fallen off the edge of the Earth. As far as politics, we’re basically screwed.

What are my beliefs? Where do I fall?

Religion: I am a-religious, a-spiritual, a-magic, a-imagined-entities. Meaning, I don’t believe in any of it. If asked, I respond I am an atheist; a strong atheist, at that. I see no reason I should give any consideration to the possible existence of any entity loosely defined as ‘god.’ I see religion, both in contemporary and historical context, as responsible for more harm, more suffering, more persecution and more deaths than any other man-made idea or invention. I do, however, recognize the benefit some people draw from it. Given that, it’s fine with me as long as it is an internal and insular thing. The moment religion drifts away from the personal and aims to influence others or society at large, I have a huge problem with it, especially when it partners with government.

Alcohol: I see no usefulness to the stuff and wish it did not exist. In my opinion, no one can seriously balance the supposed benefits (enjoyment, social lubricant, etc.) with the well-documented harm it does to individuals and society. It’s not in the public’s sights, but the numbers are staggering. I have some personal experience in this. That said, I know full well what happened when we tried making it illegal. I still believe it is massively under-regulated and generally given a pass by politicians, the media, liberals, conservatives, and pretty much everyone. I think we should do more, much more, to curb its misuse.

Guns: I own, shoot, and carry guns. I believe they should be regulated. I believe people who own guns should prove proficiency in their use and safe handling, should demonstrate competency in one’s own life matters, and should be held to a higher standard of conduct, meaning there should be harsh policies for the unlawful and/or irresponsible use of guns. Within that framework, I believe people should be able to own and carry guns; anywhere and anytime.

That order is not casual; it is the order of importance I give those subjects. Also, only one of those has the potential of keeping me from being a victim. Hint: it’s not praying or drinking.

Here is the problem I run into when I get into discussions. Because I am interested in all three, I occasionally “cross the streams”, as it were.

Apparently, this is a big no-no. Apparently, you cannot mention one subject relative to the others. Mind you, other people do, but apparently I can’t.

We don’t live in an insular world, but that is how people want to frame the conversation. And yet, those three subjects often intersect in real life. In fact, they are each multipliers for the others in terms of bringing suffering to humanity.

Here is a summary of my positions when interacting with others.

I generally disagree with conservatives and agree with liberals about religion.

I generally disagree with liberals and agree with conservatives about guns.

I generally disagree with the majority of people about alcohol.

I use the “generally” qualifier because neither conservatives nor liberals are homogeneous in their make-up and beliefs. Unless, that is, one dips into the deep pools of the far right or far left. There one can find dangerous ideologues so steeped in their beliefs that no form of logic, reason, data, common sense will ever make them question their beliefs. Occasionally, one or two drag themselves out by their own efforts, but the majority are lost to reason and critical thought.

The Set-Up

I wrote something the other day in response to THIS article. The article deals with making guns safer. I won’t bother answering many of the “safety” points because they cater to people who are absolutely ignorant about guns. You might as well ask what safety features we could introduce to knives to minimize knife deaths.

But, this gave me pause, and I quote:

“fewer than 1.4 million war deaths since 1775, more than half in the Civil War, versus about 1.45 million gun deaths since 1970 (including suicides, murders, and accidents).”

The numbers were not what the article was about, but it is a powerful comparison, and it got me thinking.  Specifically, it got me thinking about other deaths we don’t seem to worry about as much, at least not to the extent that the media and some people react to guns death. Meaning, you will not hear the President go on national media to highlight someone or multiple people dying unless it’s related to guns.

I looked up the numbers . . . 88,000 deaths per year related to alcohol abuse. That is about 4 million yearly deaths or 2.75 times the number of gun deaths and war deaths referenced in the article.

I wrote something up to that effect, and I got called on it by someone I respect. Anyone else and it would have been an automatic Facebook block but, as I said, I have respect for this person.

You can read the on-the-fly exchanges HERE. Understand, those comments are on-the-fly responses. I’m linking it here because it’s a civil conversation and that’s something rare on Facebook or anywhere. I least I thought it was a civil conversation. It ended abruptly, so perhaps that’s just my impression.

This is what she wrote:

“Sorry, not an equivalent argument. Guns were designed to kill. Alcohol was not. That’s just a start. I can understand why you would not want to debate this but just know it is a deeply flawed argument.”

I took exception with two things.

First, that I made a deeply flawed argument. I don’t think so because I was NOT equivalencing the two issues.

I did NOT compare one versus the other to draw the focus from guns deaths. I did NOT argue that because there are more alcohol deaths gun deaths are not a problem. I did not EQUATE the two.

They are two separate issues, and alcohol is an issue that concerns me more than guns, and I drew attention to the fact.

Second, this: guns are designed to kill.

I admit over-reacting to this. As someone who likes guns, owns guns, and carries a gun, that statement is constantly thrown up at me, and not in a good way. More like “how can you like and support something designed to kill!?” It’s usually accompanied by a disapproving shake of the head. Tell someone you are lawfully carrying a gun and they act like you’re out there looking to kill someone.

As far as I remember, it has never been uttered as a compliment.

Upon re-reading it, I think the person meant that we cannot compare the two because of the different functions of the items in questions.

Even then, why not? Both result in unwanted deaths. Both should be regulated. Both should be targeted by strict regulations and enforcement.

So, here I am going to do it again . . . I’m going to cross the streams.

The meat of it

There was a point in my post where I drifted into my favorite pastime; levity. I applied a bit of the logic I encounter when discussing gun control to the problem of alcohol abuse. See if you can recognize the similarities.

I suggested alcohol be sold in smaller bottles, a waiting period before alcohol can be purchased, a limits on how much alcohol one can buy at any one time, no alcohol in houses of families with kids, no marriage licenses for people who drink, and, of course, absolutely no alcohol for anyone operating vehicles of any kind.

That’s right; highways should be alcohol-free zones.

As I said, levity.

Then, I got to thinking about it.

Why not? Given the number of alcohol-related deaths, why would we not consider those suggestions? Or at least actively pursue an agenda to lower alcohol-related deaths?

The answer again came back as “because guns are designed to kill people.”

I like to think of myself as a logical person. Reasonable, even, as in using reason to navigate through the choices we face in life. 

I don’t see that statement as justification for treating the two problems differently. I asked for an explanation.

Alcohol was invented for pleasure, came the response.

I still don’t see it.

I don’t see the function of something as exempting it from accountability.

Now, by now most readers will have forgotten what I said earlier: I am in favor of gun control.

Personally, I think most anti-guns people are barking up the wrong tree with their suggestions. Everything I read and data that is available says that what is being proposed will have no effect on gun violence. Cops go one step further and say that it will have a NEGATIVE effect.

I also think the same rules (my previous attempt at levity) applied to alcohol would have minimal effect on alcohol abusers. Sure, it will make it more difficult for them, but they’ll find their way around the restrictions. Heck, people kept getting drunk through the Prohibition, and my suggested rules are nowhere near as harsh.

So, why am I writing this?

Because of that statement: guns are designed to kill.

I have to be brutally honest with myself and answer “you betcha!”

That is a function of the tool. Guns are dangerous. They can also be used in a non-lethal capacity, but that’s a different debate point.

I own guns. I bought them because I like guns and I enjoy shooting them, but I initially bought them because I was advised by a cop to do so. And yes; if confronted with the appropriate circumstance, I might use a gun against another person and it might result in death (hopefully, of the other person and not me).

Given that circumstance, I want my gun to perform flawlessly. I want it to do what it does best; deliver force (in the form of some type of metal) at a distance. If the target is made of flesh, the bullet will do a lot of damage. I freely admit that if I’m in a situation where the use of deadly force is warranted I want the deadliest gun-bullet combination I can legally have. The fact that I hope and take extraordinary precautions so that I will never have to use deadly force does not diminish my desire to have a weapon that will do the job if it needs doing. 

But what does that have to do with addressing needless deaths by alcohol differently than needless deaths by guns?

I think I know the answer.

I think there are people who are offended by the thought of something designed to kill.

But, does that make them right? Certainly, they think so.

I don’t agree.

So, is it just a difference of opinions, or is there sound logic and reasoning behind either position?

I look at it from the standpoint of being a victim: I really could not care any less about the reason for my victimhood. I would take no comfort if I died because someone consumed too much alcohol versus if died because they shot me.

In case you are wondering, the lady in question stopped the conversation. She probably thinks of me as unreasonable, illogical, and possibly worse. Another friend I’ll never have.

But I still want to know; what supports the statement that guns deaths should be viewed differently?

Because that is exactly what the statement “guns are designed to kill” implies.

Certainly, if a drunk driver kills a family of four (search the news) I won’t expect to see the President on television saying we must do something; that, as Americans, we cannot tolerate such acts.

Wouldn’t that be something?

“My fellow Americans. I am here today to bring to light the secret shame of this here Unites States of America. Alcohol-related deaths. Easily twice as much as all gun deaths, including accidents and suicides. In fact, from 1970 to date, more than twice as many alcohol-related casualties as the combined number of American casualties in all the wars we have fought since the Revolutionary war.”

Dramatic pause with pursed lips.

“And today; today we mourn the loss of a young couple and their two children at the hand of a drunken woman.”

Another dramatic pause with pursed lips.

“This must stop. How can we face the world if we allow this to continue? If we are unwilling to admit we have a problem and take steps to correct it? We can’t. I am challenging Congress to look deep into their soulless hulks and put forth significant legislation to curb the slaughter of 88,000 Americans each year. Thank you, and FSM bless America.”

More levity, sure, but it frames a serious issue. At least, serious to me.

No less serious than guns, and if someone wants to rally the troops, have a call to action, and do so based on number of casualties, I will more than gladly point out that while we’re addressing the loss of lives due to guns, we should also address the loss of life due to alcohol.

Because pleasure carries an awfully steep tab.

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And now, this (for them who only look at the pictures):






Note: serendipity (or misfortune) struck again . . . that is the doodle that was next in line (as they appear in SmugMug). Once more it seems the universe matches my doodles with my topics. For the record, I add those in last, just before I publish, and I don’t look ahead to see which doodle is coming up. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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The Equalizer
The Equalizer

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to:


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.