Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is a violent civilisation...

Never cheap of a controversial discussion, i shall respond hereby to my friend Bobby's suggestion: "Post about gun control on your blog, and I will be happy to argue with you :)"

I met Bobby during my end of studies internship in Virginia Tech... this campus recently got some extra notoriety for being the theater of the most recent -and most deadly- university shooting in the US (unfortunately it tends to be so frequent that we have to be precise which shooting we're talking about)

So tell me why is it that, some 200 years after americans have had to "defend themselves against evil native indians" (hmm..), they still all should have guns at home and go shoot each other in universities, ghettos and other suburbs?!

And by the way, what is it about guns that so fascinates kids all the way to the remote buddhist regions of the world?!

May i illustrate by quoting Gil Scott-Heron's excellent song on the subject?

Peace out.

GUN by Gil Scott-Heron

Brother Man nowadays living in the ghetto
Where the danger's sure enough real
Well when he's out late at night
and if he's got his head on right
Well, I lay you 9 to 5 he's walking with steal.

Brother Man says he's 'fraid of gangsters
Messing with people just for fun
He don't want to be next
He got a family to protect
So just last week he bought himself a gun.

Everybody got a pistol, everybody got a 45
And the philosophy seem to be
At least as near as I can see
When other folks give up theirs, I'll give up mine.

This is a violent civilization
If civilization's where I am
Every channel that I stop on
Got a different kind of cop on
Killing them by the millions for Uncle Sam

Saturday night just ain't that special
Yeah, I got the constitution on the run
'Cause even though we've got the right
To defend our home, to defend our life
Got to understand to get it in hand about the guns

(chous repeat & solo break)

Saturday night just ain't that special
Freedom to be afraid is all you want
Yes if you don't want to be next
You've got a family to protect
9 out of 10, you've got a friend, you call the gun.

(chous repeat)

Everybody got a pistol, this must be the NRA
Yeah 'cause when it's time to shine up
You know damn well they're gonna line up

And the philosophy seem to be
At least as near as I can see
When other folks give up theirs, I'll give up mine


Ray said...

Hi, I feel compelled to respond because I've been having this discussion with my students in class. The lyrics of the song are excellent, by the way. But ironically, the adage, "when other people give up theirs, I'll give up mine" also does not hold true, at least in American society! A majority of the public here believes in owning guns. I am not sure what exactly makes people in America believe that they will be more secure with guns. I have asked myself this question many times. Is it just self aggrandizement on their part? Is it merely the John Wayne influence of weilding a gun and riding off into the sunset? Is it the lack of sensitivity and isolation that is at the core of this society? Is it merely a result of bad laws in place? Is it a response to violent images in television? Or is it the real desire to protect oneself?

But like you said, this idea has seeped into most parts of the world. If Buddhist kids are holding guns, you know there is something terribly wrong! I think, guns everywhere in the world should be banned. Period. But then my students say, who will protect us from the bad guys, who inevitably find a way to get guns? Well, isn't this the reason we have the police???!! But sadly, I didn't have an answer. Because there are really no assurances and guarantees in the kind of world we live in.

P.S. You were at Virginia Tech??? Well, glad you left long time ago!!! How do you feel about this issue then?

joune said...

i feel that "the times they are a-changin'" like mister broken-voice-poet would say.. at the time, the only blood ever spilled came from the skateboarders knees.. mine included.

americans don't trust the police, they only believe in self-defence... while the french trust in the police and vote for Sarkozy... i feel that anyway you look at it, this world is sick!

Anonymous said...

I do not think this world is sick. We need to the root of the problem of violence. Archaeological discoveries of traumatic injuries in primitive hominid skulls strongly hint that our species has a long history of violence. Despite repeated attempts throughout history, including efforts to eliminate violence through the imposition of criminal sanctions, we have yet to dispel our violent nature. Consequently, criminal violence remains a common feature of most societies. Pictures, movies, video games showing fashionable(or attractive) way of wielding guns obviously incites this violent nature of humans. We see shooting incidents like the Virgina when arms reach people with empathic disorders.
Using neuroscience and pschychatric genetics we need to get the root of violence and not see it just as anti-social behaviour.

Ray said...

True..very true...
BTW, I have a French student in my class this semester and he is watching the elections closely and also supporting Sarkozy...the race between Sarkozy and Segolene Royal is pretty interesting with two diametrically opposite candidates one each side and one (Bayrou) in the middle.

joune said...

if totally-tarian and totally stupid are opposite, then yes i guess we could call them diametrically opposite!

they're both scary though!

BigBobby said...


I don't own a gun, but I'm happy to argue for keeping private ownership of guns. Heh...and I won't use any of the tired arguments you hear from the NRA.

Most of your arguments assumed that we're never going to live in a society, that's less stable than the one we have today. There are plenty of places that are turbulent today, that have had periods of peaceful civilization in their past. wasn't that long ago that France was conquered by another country. Do you think that citizens with guns helped the French people fight their occupiers? Sadly, situations do exist in which an armed public is helpful, and you never know when those situations might occur.

As for Virginia Tech, it was a tragedy but 34 lives is actually pretty low for a record, when you compare it to the lives lost to other violence such as arson. Should we ban matches? Really, the worst mass killing in this country was committed with box cutters. The second worst was committed with fertilizer. If someone is intent on killing many people, using a gun is a pretty bad way to achieve their goal.


joune said...

my god(*) you're right, i never thought of this.. how careless can we be?

and in case extraterrestrials should come invade our planet, we should all be equipped with laser guns...


should we work to make our society stable and peaceful or keep living in the fear of instability and ready to kill our neighbours?

as the world's number one thief of the planet's resources i understand the americans's constant fear of reprisals (europe of course does the same but not quite in such an public way since we officially abandoned our colonies) but i don't think that having everyone armed at home and ready for civil war is the correct attitude to make the world a better place.

(*)don't get me wrong "my god" here is purely meant as an exclamation without any religious connotation! ;-)