Hot Air: Vigilance

We’re Doomed, Pt. 3,256,724

Believe it or don’t, there is now such a thing as the Nest Cam.

The Eternal, Non-Blinking Eye

The line forms on the right for all those wishing to stick their heads in the oven.

Need I explain what a Nest Cam is? Okay. It’s a new-ish product from the security-industrial complex. Cameras are installed all around the house — inside, mind you — and are kept running 24 hours a day. The reason? So parents can keep an eye on their trophy brats from birth through sweet death.

New York magazine recently ran a lengthy piece on the phenomenon in its lifestyle section, “The Cut.”

My fondest wish is that American parents stop reproducing until this wave of neurosis-bordering-on-psychosis that has bedeviled this holy land since at least, oh, the beginning of time, somehow passes.

And, again, throughout my late 20s and into my 30s, I thought the folks that spawned the Baby Boomers, those poor souls whose minds and hearts were irreparably damaged by the Great Depression and World War II, had done nothing if not create a bursting population of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and other first responders to the twin mental and emotional crises that “Greatest Generation” had wreaked upon its heirs. How quaint that observation now seems!

Today’s parents have given the planet a progeny that’ll need whole teams of skull jockeys and professional hand-holders each, lest hundreds of thousands — nay, millions — of present-day youngsters reach their adulthood and immediately begin leaping off tall buildings.

Zurcher on Guns, Pt. II

We began a four-part series on guns in America here yesterday. Penned by gentleman farmer Sam Zurcher, the series is a refreshing take on America’s psychosexual obsession with firearms. At least that’s my characterization of our deep feelings for the damned things. Sam’s may not be all that different, but it’s surely far more nuanced and well-considered.

Zurcher’s Thinking Space

Here’s the second installment in the series:

Let’s look at the actual amendment. I’ll do this as quick as I can and I’m going to have to condense a lot of history. Sorry about this but I think it’s useful to know. Both sides have forgotten quite a lot in my view and since we’re having the discussion it will be good to remember how we got here.

Before and during the French & Indian War, which the rest of the planet calls the Seven Years War, you had a situation where many of the small communities on the frontier had to defend themselves. The British army, despite being there, couldn’t defend every town. By the time they got word the attack was over, to say nothing of the time it would take the army to get there. So the small towns would have a militia. A group of the local free white twenty-one year old males would be armed and munitions kept at a central location inside the town. If the French or more likely the French-allied Native Americans attacked a town, word would spread and the locals would congregate where the guns & powder were stored and defend the town. They drilled regularly for this possibility. When the revolution began British army knew trouble was brewing. They did the sensible thing from their perspective. The army left Boston and headed for Lexington and Concord, hoping to capture certain of the leaders and seize the munitions stored there. Paul Revere did the ride, shots fire at Lexington, and then at Concord where the colonists had already moved the arms out. 

Once you know these little details it isn’t hard to put together what the founders had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. Except you have to read some history. There isn’t a large classical tradition for the right to bear arms like with speech or the press. It’s also more than a little telling that when you look at the debates around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, there’s practically no commentary on the proposed Second Amendment. Yes gun lovers, I know all the quotes. The founders didn’t write about it at length in their normal legal/philosophical manner. One gets the feeling they said “also this…” and no one said anything else. 

Now the Amendment itself does say “the right of the people….” Wherever the Constitution refers to “the people,” it always means the private citizen. Sorry gun control advocates but there’s really no getting around that. Except where technology advances and we can start talking about the flexibility clause of the Constitution. But I’m not a lawyer and I’m not going to do all the court cases here. The point I’m really trying to make is that the founders are no help for us here. Is the Second Smendment for the National Guard, as some say? No. Is it for the private citizens? Yes, but the founders had a particular situation in mind. Who know what they would say about it today? And before you go around saying they absolutely would want the citizens to have whatever they want, I remind you they didn’t exactly trust the common people. 

Now I am required to say: There is no frontier to defend. The United States is under no threat of invasion by anyone (Red Dawn was a bullshit movie when it was made and age hasn’t improved it). So here’s the uncomfortable questions: Does an armed citizenry promote our freedom & security? Is the right to keep and bear arms valuable on its own? I’m not trying to stake out a position (yet) but rather trying to answer the question “What were the founders thinking?” 

The other often cited reason for the Second Amendment involves, quite simply, the violent overthrow of the government. The NRA alludes to this every time they say the right to bear arms protects all other rights. They never put it as bluntly as I just did for reasons that are obvious. Yes, the founders did think about it. It’s worth noting they were concerned about the a future government that threatened the rights of the citizens. What citizens’ rights are under threat? I’ll come back to this in a later post. In the meantime I’ll leave these thoughts for you to think about: How likely do you really think that is, and how do you think it would turn out?

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