Guns ‘R US

my-parents-open-carry-bookDespite living in the US for 20 years before moving to Scotland, there are many things I don’t understand about American culture. The most mystifying aspect of this strange country is its deification of guns. Some things I get, like the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Putting aside the dire need for a copy editor to clarify whether that means bearing arms as part of an official militia, or just anyone can have them, it’s an established right in one sense or the other.

But why has it assumed such importance in American culture? The NRA fights tooth and nail to defeat all legislation attempting to regulate the absolute right to own guns, even when there is clearly a need for background checks prior to purchase, a database of guns and their owners, and a limit to the amount of firepower individuals can amass.

The NRA has won hands down in most cases, despite America having the highest death rate by gun violence in the world at 4.5 deaths per 100,000. It is legal to carry concealed guns in all 50 states, and you would think that was enough to satisfy the most ardent 2nd Amendment fan.

Think again.

The newest thug on the block is the open carry movement, made up of gun owners who delight in walking around with their weapons on display. They even have demonstrations in favour of the right they already have, and which no-one is likely to take away from them.

The Guardian reported on one woman’s response to such a demonstration in Austin, Texas. She and few companions exercised their right to go topless at the event. Apparently this didn’t go down well with the demonstrators, who were more outraged at the womens’ breasts than with their own need to let their penis extensions hang out.

This is bad enough, but now the open carry movement want to pollute the minds of children with a book called My Parents’ Open Carry.

Come join 13-year-old Brenna Strong along with her mom, Bea, and her dad, Richard, as they spend a typical Saturday running errands and having fun together. What’s not so typical is that Brenna’s parents lawfully open carry handguns for self-defense. The Strongs join a growing number of families that are standing up for their 2nd Amendment rights by open carrying and bringing gun ownership out of the closet and into the mainstream.

Ah, the Strongs. Of course. The Strongs shall inherit the earth. It’s instructive that

“for a limited time only, White Feather Press is giving away a free copy of the fun book Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate! by Doug Giles, with every purchase of My Parents Open Carry in book form. That’s a $15.99 value!”

What? Don’t gun nuts like equality – who’d have though it? The author says of this “fun book“,

Parent, if you have a young son and you want him to grow up to be a man, then you need to keep him away from pop culture, public school and a lot of Nancy Boy churches. If metrosexual pop culture, feminized public schools and the effeminate branches of evanjellycalism lay their sissy hands on him, you can kiss his masculinity good-bye because they will morph him into a dandy. Yeah, mom and dad, if – if – you dare to raise your boy as a classic boy in this castrated epoch, then you’ve got a task that’s more difficult than getting a drunk to hit the urinal at Chili’s. Read this bold and hard-hitting guide by Doug Giles, the politically incorrect master, on how to raise your son in a world which more and more seems to hate masculinity.

And there you have it. Sometimes I despair. Let’s close with a poem by Roger McGough.

Why patriots are bit nuts in the head

Patriots are a bit nuts in the head
because they wear
red white and blue tinted spectacles
(red for blood,
white for glory
and blue … for a boy)
and are in effervescent danger
of losing their lives.
Lives are good for you.
When you are alive
you can eat and drink a lot
and go out with girls
(sometimes
if you are lucky
you can even go to bed with them)
But you can’t do this
if you have your belly shot away
and your seeds spread out over some corner
of a foreign field
to facilitate
in later years
the growing of oats
by some peasant yobbo

when you are posthumous
it is cold and dark
and that is why patriots
are a bit nuts in the head

American Student in Cunning Stunt

Deep joy to read that the younger generation is still capable of big dreams. I refer of course to the American student who attempted full-body penetration of a giant vagina in the German university town of Tubingen. Possibly he’s a Star Trek fan with the motto, To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before, engraved on his heart. Jim Kirk would certainly be proud.

The Guardian has a full account here. Unfortunately, the lad became trapped, and had to be rescued by 22 firefighters “by hand and without the application of tools”. Quite right too. Anything else would be unsuitable for a family blog.

gal03-pi-chacan

The vagina in question: Chacán-Pi (Making Love), by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara

While you have to applaud our hero for his ambitions, clearly he didn’t know what he was getting into.

Lest you should think this post is merely an opportunity for gratuitous smut and innuendo, I was struck by a comment made by Tubingen’s Green mayor, Boris Palmer:

He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

It demonstrates a command of wit and irony to which most politicians in this right, tight little island cannot even aspire. It seems you get a better class of mayor in Germany. This excellent English-language interview with Palmer is well worth a listen.

And let’s spare a thought for the student, who probably wishes the internet had never been invented. There, but for the grace of the gods…

Foot In Mouth Disease

Badgers CropThis terrible affliction, endemic to politicians, has claimed another victim in the form of Owen Paterson, environment secretary, after a badger cull failed to meet its target. Rather than accepting that it was the fault of his department, he said, “badgers are moving the goalposts.”

You couldn’t make it up? Well, apparently you can. Paterson may be the first person in the world to put those words in that order, and he deserves our undying gratitude for contributing the phrase to the political lexicon.

It is a tad unfortunate that it means a toe-curlingly pathetic excuse for failure. One that blames the victims of a policy for not waiting around to be killed. But the Tories are dab hands at blaming the victims, so nothing new there. Nevertheless, Paterson now owns the phrase, which will haunt him for the rest of his career.

Cheers, Owen, and thanks for the inspiration. Oh, and here’s a song to help you get to sleep at nights.

I Read It in the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail this week achieved what seemed like an impossible goal – to be roundly criticized by all three major political parties in the UK. Yes, Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Conservative leaders are all disgusted by the vile attack on Ralph Miliband, father of the present Labour leader, Ed Miliband. The article, by Geoffrey Levy, calls him a Marxist, which is fine because he was, but also says he “hated Britain.” This is doubly bizarre because Ralph Miliband came here as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, and joined the Royal Navy to fight against the Nazis.

The Guardian has the main article here, among others exploring the developing story. Ed Miliband demanded space in the Mail to respond to Levy’s libel, and its editor, Paul Dacre, was forced to accede with ill grace. Miliband’s response is here, accompanied by the Mail’s reiteration of Levy’s accusations and an editorial in which it refuses to apologize.

The Mail’s behaviour is despicable because they’re attacking Miliband’s father as a way of attacking Miliband himself, who they called “Red Ed” right from the moment he was elected leader of the Labour Party. If only their fevered imaginations saw clearly. In truth, he has shamefully accepted large chunks of the Tory agenda, but he’s still the only hope of reversing the lurch to a Victorian past.

What makes it worse is the paper’s antisemitic history, supporting Mosley’s Blackshirts in the 1930s, sympathizing with Hitler right up to the start of war, and demonizing Jewish refugees. See this telling blog post on Pride’s Purge, with a clipping from the paper headlined, “German Jews Pouring Into This Country.” That would be the result of the actions of a certain Mr A. Hitler, good friend of the Mail’s owner, Lord Rothermere.

So who “hates Britain” now?

The Daily Mail is a truly evil, hate-spewing rag, and not just because of this issue. They hate immigrants (Muslims are the new Jews), the unemployed, poor, feminists, single mothers, atheists, secularists, and so on ad absurdum. The following video is the ultimate take-down, demonstrating exactly why the Mail is evil, starting with their penchant for drooling over photos of under-age girls.

The People’s Palace

Library-of-Birmingham-upright

A room without books is like a body without soul, and I say, a city without books, and a city without libraries, is a graveyard.
– Malala Yousafzai

I’m a big fan of public libraries. The title of this post is shamelessly stolen from a BBC documentary, celebrating the opening of the Library of Birmingham last week. Well worth a look while it’s still on iPlayer. The title says everything about what is owed to citizens in a democracy.

But it’s more than just a library. It’s a big, beautiful whack upside the head to the small-minded purveyors of austerity, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. That value was demonstrated by the young woman who opened the library, Malala Yousafzai, shot through the head at the age of 15 in her native Pakistan for the crime of advocating education for girls.

Since recovered and now a Brummie, she talked about education and the value of libraries.

Inspiring stuff. It’s sad that someone for whom education was a life-threatening endeavour had to say it in a country that allows its glorious legacy of public libraries to be destroyed.

I love this YouTube footage of the opening from Maria Clara Sibayan. It’s as much about the people of Birmingham enjoying their new library as it is about the building. And that’s exactly how it should be.

TED Talks: Lawrence Lessig on We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

An occasional post featuring talks by innovative thinkers, sponsored by TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). This is what the internet is made for – to allow challenging ideas to escape from their academic ghettos and hang out in a place where they can talk to each other.

American academic and political activist, Lawrence Lessig, succinctly skewers the root cause of political corruption in this talk – the insidious influence of campaign funding. It’s been said before, but Lessig does it with minimal elegance and real passion – a gourmet hatchet job.