Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Gun Rights Fantasy

I really don't understand why, after such tragic events, in this case shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, people are still more concerned about their right to have a gun than their right to live. But the strangest remark that I have heard is that if every teacher were carrying a gun then no children would've been killed. Seriously?

This is what I call a fantasy. It's a fantasy that if everybody were carrying a gun nobody would have to use it. Gun ownership correlates with gun violence. And also accidental discharge. It seems to me that gun rights activists, proponents of lighter restrictions on gun ownership, are deluded if they think that everyone carrying a gun is safer than only law-enforcement carrying a gun. The more guns that are around, the easier it is for folks who shouldn't have them to get them.

Sure, if someone is determined enough they might be able to get a gun anyway. But it would be a lot harder to keep them out of the hands of crazies who shoot up school and movie theaters. The reality is that the more people have guns, the more people use guns, and the more people can get guns, the more people will die because of guns.

Guns do kill people, and they're very good at it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What War on Christmas?

One of silliest headlines in the news these days is about some alleged war on Christmas. As if there is some concerted effort on the part of the media or maybe non-Christians to eliminate Christmas from American culture. Or perhaps just to eliminate the religious part of Christmas.

And you know that by saying there's a religious part of Christmas means there's part of Christmas that's actually not religious, right?

But if there is any sort of war on Christmas, then I think Christians lost it a long time ago. Maybe they lost it when they decided to hold the celebration around the time of the winter solstice in the first place. Or maybe they lost it when they started making Santa and home decorations more important than any religious symbol. Even when you find a nativity scene in the home of a religious family, when is it not dwarfed by the scope of other decorations? We see wreaths, lights, garland, lawn decorations and of course the huge Christmas tree (or trees, some homes now erecting more than one) boasting its own lights and shiny ornaments.

To me, most of the myths surrounding Santa Claus seem to violate religious principles. For instance, telling children that it is Santa who knows whether they're being behaving correctly or not ascribes to him a power which should belong only to God. Doesn't it compromise a child's moral compass when he's told that he needs to be good because Santa will know rather than because God will know?

And let's not forget that because Santa does not exist, just telling children that he does is already a lie. And I'm sure it's a practice in many households that some if not all of the gifts parents buy for their children are assumed to have been delivered from the NorthPole. Consequently children don't learn to express gratitude as they are instructed to believe that a mythical figure is bringing their gifts rather than their parents or other family members.

And I really wonder when it became so offensive for somebody to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Personally, I don't mind somebody telling me "Merry Christmas" even though I don't celebrate it as a holiday. But what I don't understand is the logic that says the person who celebrates Christmas should only say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." I don't go out of my way to tell people "Happy Eid" when I know that they're non-Muslim.

But I have a theory. It seems that a quick and reliable way to turn people's opinion against someone or something is to start by telling them that they are already enemies. ("Why do they hate us?") Telling them that the other side already hates them. And then they are led to believe that the best response to the hatred that supposedly already exists is more hatred in response. I think that is how FOXNews is poisoning its audience against Muslims (for starters) and also others who don't share their same worldview.