Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is That A Gun Under Your Pillow?

For alphabetical reasons, I sometimes sit next to Michael Moore on bloggers' lists of links. He's the famous, millionaire leftie. I'm the poor, unknown leftie. I'm also the one who still has a 30 inch waist. Cry all the way to the bank, Michael.
Anyway, I finally caught up with Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine on television this week. I thought it was a much better film than Fahrenheit 9/11, perhaps partly because a lot of the material in the latter was already familiar to anyone who had read Moore's books. I also thought Columbine was made with rather more subtlety, although that's not a quality you usually associate with Michael Moore.

It's probably difficult for Americans to appreciate the depth of our incredulity at American gun culture - or perhaps I should say the American culture of gun ownership and its terrible consequences. The number of deaths by gun in America is almost equivalent to four self-inflicted 9/11s every year. Yet nothing is done about it. In Britain, with less than 100 such deaths a year, we had one dreadful school massacre at Dunblane and that was sufficient to result in tightening our already relatively strict gun laws.

I can't understand why a nation would cling so tenaciously to something - the right to bear arms - that was written in their constitution over 200 years ago in a completely different type of society. It's true that in Britain we've hung on to some ancient and idiotic customs and institutions - the monarchy, for example - but none of them cause 12,000 deaths a year.
It wouldn't matter so much if America didn't regard itself as the leader of 'the free world' and adopt a position of moral superiority - even sometimes in relation to the countries of Europe.

When I was about six I was given a toy gun as a present. After the purpose of guns had been explained to me I went outside when nobody was looking and put it in the dustbin. I've often thought this is the only thing I've done in my entire life that I'm proud of.

The twist in Moore's film was that the argument seemed pretty straightforward until he looked at Canada. They have similar levels of gun ownership to America. Yet they rarely shoot each other. They even appear to leave their front doors unlocked most of the time.
As it happens, my back door is unlocked as I type this. I shall lock it before I go to bed. But if I locked it during the day I would think I was becoming paranoid, particularly as I live in a low crime area.
If someone walks in and shoots me mid-blog, you can put on my gravestone: I may be dead but at least I wasn't paranoid.

More from that favourite bloggers' sport of seeing what Google searches people came to you from. Mine this week included "David Walliams big dick". Wouldn't you love to know whether Walliams himself was googling that one?
More worrying was "groping genitals boy". Before the police sieze my computer I should point out that I never wrote that phrase. The three words appeared separately in the same piece.
But my favourite was "Liverpool pogo dentistry". I love that phrase so much I'm tempted to register it as a domain name or have it put on a T shirt or tattooed on my buttocks.
Wouldn't you think the people of Liverpool have been through enough in recent decades without the scourge of pogo dentistry?


At 7:31 PM, Blogger Cut-Rate Parasite said...

I vote for the buttock tattoo.

A lot of us Americans are amazed at our own gun culture. Once a family member brought an actual gun into my apartment when he was visiting, and I basically ranted and raved until he put it in the trunk of his car. That's been the only time in my life I've ever seen a gun in person, outside of law enforcement and military settings, which I'm rarely in. But apparently they're everywhere, since they seem to be going off all the time. Very frightening.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Steve said...

What got to me was the fact that the USA/Canada comparison was done with a mere mile or so between the two places. All that seperated them was a small stretch of water.

At 11:43 PM, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

The gun culture, as you called it, is ridiculous. I know people who really, genuinely believe that they need to have one to protect themselves. From what, I have no idea, as these are usually the people who live in the most rural areas imaginable. I find it disgusting.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

c-r p: it wasn't a poll but any vote for my buttock is gladly accepted.
If any member of my family shows up with a gun I'll probably have more reason to worry than you did.

Both common sense and polling evidence tells us that, contrary to what we usually see in our media, not all Americans are gun-toting right-wing maniacs. One of the benefits of the internet is that we can now have contact with the millions of sane and intelligent Americans who share our values.
This means our justifiable hatred for your current political leadership is less likely to become a generalised and irrational anti-Americanism.
So to my American readers and fellow-bloggers, my heartfelt thanks for that.


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