Friday, May 27, 2016

The Insidious Agenda of the Bubble Gun Ban

Another grade-schooler got suspended for bringing an obviously fake gun to school.

How many times have you heard similar stories? Once? Twice? Two dozen times?

Immediately, people start complaining about a lack of common sense and political correctness run amok, and sure, that’s fair, but let’s look a little deeper for once. 

The school sent home this five-year-old girl for the day and recorded the suspension in her permanent record because she took a transparent, plastic, bright green and orange bubble blowing gun to school, so what does this and the many cases like this teach kids? I contend it teaches two things.

First, this nonsense teaches kids that guns are bad. School is a place where are we are taught to be good little boys and girls, but guns are so horrible that even a finger or a Pop-Tart shaped like a gun has to be treated as if they might suddenly take on a life of it’s own and massacre a school full of innocent children. Any child who would dare even draw a picture of a gun clearly has animosity towards others and is a menace to any safe society, so the message is clear. “Fear the gun, fear the gun, fear the gun!”

Second, this nonsense teaches kids to blindly follow the rules and not use an ounce of critical thinking skills. Any rational society would at bare minimum call the parents and say, “Hey, no big deal, but we noticed Suzy brought a bubble gun to school, and that violates the school policy. We know it’s nothing, but it’s against our policy, so can you just double check to make sure the kid isn’t bringing any gun shaped toys to school?” but no, this zero tolerance bull crap requires suspension and a note to be placed in the child’s permanent record even though anyone with a single brain cell would know that the child is no threat, but it’s not about thinking but about rules, and the numbskulls at the school are merely pawns of the school policy. They do what they are told unquestioningly, and by unthinkingly conforming to the system, they are training up a new generation which will be even more mindlessly conformist than themselves. 

Is it any wonder that American college students are crying out for safe spaces and screaming about micro aggressions when we’ve spent over a decade training them to avoid any critical thought and freak out at anything that even remotely resembles an object that could be dangerous if used improperly? We have raised and are raising generations of cowardly morons. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Captain America: Civil War - A Second Amendment Allegory

Here’s a fun tidbit for anybody wanting to start up a discussion on gun rights. 

Captain America: Civil War recently opened in theaters to great box office success continuing Marvel’s trend of making ridiculous amounts of money off their cinematic universe. As everybody knows, these characters are ripped straight from the comics, but less well known is the fact that the stories themselves are often retooled adaptations of specific comic storylines. The newest Marvel movie is based off an incredibly popular comic series called Civil War published back in 2006, and unbeknownst to the vast majority of comic book readers, it makes a nigh perfect case defending the Second Amendment. 

In the comic book version of Civil War (nothing in this article will spoil the movie), a group of superheroes who are part of a reality TV show botch an attempt to apprehend a super villain. Instead of putting down the villain quickly away from the public, the showboating heroes give the villain enough time to use his powers to cause an explosion that vaporizes a grade school and all the students inside. This high publicity incident causes a swell of popular outcry against superpowers, and the politicians soon draft the Superhero Registration Act which requires all people with superpowers to register with the government. If super powered people wish to continue using their powers, they must submit to training and work as government agents.

Iron Man becomes the leading figure for the pro-Registration movement believing that opposition to the wave of populist outcry for government oversight would be futile and thinking that as chief organizer of the movement he can create a stronger force of super heroes by making moderate and common sense reforms. In contrast, Captain America believes that people have the fundamental right to use their powers and abilities to help themselves and others and therefore refuses to support the Superhuman Registration Act condemning it for oppressing the individual and violating civil rights. The superheroes choose sides over the issue, and shortly after the government begins regulating superhuman activity, it becomes an all out superhero civil war as Iron Man’s forces begin to imprison heroes simply for defending themselves and their community. 

Ostensibly, the entire Civil War story arc presented two differing and equally defendable points of view and readers were supposed to decide which side they supported, but the story was clearly written with Captain America as the protagonist and his side as the virtuous one which left readers almost unanimously landing on the anti-Registration side of the argument, but it’s less clear how many comic readers understood how closely the Registration Act corresponded to real life gun control measures. 

Isn’t a gun basically a superpower? It grants great strength to normal people who would otherwise be at the mercy of the strong. It allows people to defend themselves and other innocents, and according to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, gun ownership is a civil right, yet every time a mass shooting occurs at a school or any other location, some people get scared and demand stronger gun regulation. Many say guns should only be in the hands of the government, but more moderate gun control advocates say we need “common sense reforms” allowing private ownership of guns but giving government regulatory oversight of who is allowed to have guns, how you keep track of guns, what guns are allowed, what kind of training is necessary for gun possession and where and when you are allowed to use guns. It’s the Superhero Registration Act. 

This pro-2nd Amendment message can be found to a certain degree in the movie as well, but in the film, political implications are overshadowed by interpersonal conflict leaving the overall message a bit muddled. Still, the basic idea in the movie remains that the government wants all those with power under their thumb and under their control, and that’s a message that most people will reject while watching the movie and all people should reject in real life, so if you know people who like Marvel movies and support gun control, point out the similarities between regulating superpowers and regulating weapons. Maybe they’ll see the hypocrisy in opposing jail time for someone who has a suit of armor that can rip through buildings while they applauding efforts to imprison people for having a magazine with eleven rounds instead of ten. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BTW, Tigers Kill People

Stacey Konwiser, a tiger keeper working in the tiger pen at a zoo in Palm Beach Florida, was doing last minute prep work for an upcoming “Tiger Talk" last month. Though extremely experienced and widely praised as a “tiger whisperer,” Konwiser inexplicably entered the tiger pen while knowing the tiger had access to it, and one of the tigers attacked. Though the zoo staff immediately tranquilized the rogue animal, the keepers had to wait for twenty minutes while the darts took effect before they were finally able to pull Konwiser out of the pen and rush her to the hospital. Sadly, Konwiser later that day from a bite wound. (for clarity, the picture alongside is not of the attack on Konwiser but of a stuntman with a trained tiger)

By all reports, Konwiser was a lovely person who truly loved her work and her tigers, and I have nothing but respect for her. She did all in her power to raise these majestic creatures, lovingly care for them and preserve this endangered species, and I respect her dedication to her career and the spirit of her goals. 

That being said, has it ever occurred to anybody that perhaps big cats should be endangered? Yeah, I said it. Maybe we should be celebrating the rarity of these animals that can shred humans quicker than a sugar crazed cadre of nine-year-olds can demolish a piƱata. 

Last year’s death of Cecil the Lion enraged millions of Americans who were furious that American hunter Walter Palmer would dare slay a poor, innocent, overgrown kitty cat. Palmer’s tour guides were charged of breaking poaching laws by luring Cecil out of the cat sanctuary, but the tour guides deny the charges and say Palmer was completely ignorant of the law and bore no responsibility for the alleged crime. Zimbabwe refused to press charges against Palmer and says he’s welcome back in the country, yet the animal rights activists never let the facts get in the way of a good target for their rage and consequently scoured him in the media and threatened his life. 

Here’s the thing. I get that it’s sad to see the cute little fuzzy wuzzy animals that remind you of your dearly departed kitty cat Cuddles get slabbed, but we both know perfectly well that all you people bemoaning the tragic loss of Cecil would be screaming, “Kill it with fire!” if you saw Cecil prowling in your neck of the woods. 

In case everyone forgot, big cats kill people! Sometimes they are hungry, sometimes they are territorial and maybe sometimes they just feel like having some fun. Remember that time Cuddles clawed you when you got all up in his grill? Those same basic spiteful instincts are in the big cats as well. The only difference between Cuddles and Cecil is that people die when Cecil gets in a bad mood.

Many big cat species are considered endangered, but has anybody stopped to consider that maybe there is a good reason they are endangered? People have a tendency of killing off animals that kill humans. Is that a bad thing? 

I understand there are ecosystems to maintain and that many people feel inspired by the beauty and grace of these fantastic creature. I myself am a cat lover, and there is a big part of me that would love nothing more than to spend the day playing with lions, and tigers and…well, less so the bears, but still, I get it. I too would find it a tragedy if these animals were to go extinct, so I can sympathize with a desire to save them, but shouldn’t we take a second to consider that by saving these predatory animals we are quite literally killing people? Hundreds of humans are killed every year just by lions alone, and though that’s certainly not going to drive humanity to extinction, I doubt this fact is of much comfort to the families of those who become glorified kitty chow, and let’s recall that these hundreds of human deaths are being caused by animals that are endangered and relatively rare. What happens if we succeed in increasing their population?  

It’s not the programs to save the big cats that bug me but the animal rights people who blindly support these efforts unthinkingly. It’s usually the people who live in the most urban environments far away from any animal that could be considered a threat who are the most insistent that we must save these predators and allow them to run free, but these animal rights advocates never have to deal with the consequences. These free range big cats almost universally make their homes in the backwater parts of poor countries where the locals have almost no voice with which to complain about the man-eaters. From their climate controlled houses in the suburbs, these keyboard warriors demand that dangerous animals be preserved by being dumped in the back yard of the most vulnerable peoples in the world, and all this is done so the animal rights activists can feel good about themselves as they watch the animals in documentaries from the safety of their homes where sensible people in generations past have eliminated all the dangerous animals from the local habitat. These animal rights activists’ tunes would change if they knew the lions were roaming free just ten miles from their children’s playground. Rest assured, every free lion is hunting in someone’s playground.

If communities across the world decide they want to undertake the risk of having a giant predator in their neighborhood, more power to them. I’m not trying to tell India, Zimbabwe or Uganda what they need to do with their own animals, and again, I mean no disrespect for Stacey Konwiser who chose to risk her life to work with big cats, but I am telling Americans who champion these causes that more big cats will inevitably equal more human deaths, and if you wouldn’t want these things living in the plains near your home, it’s highly hypocritical to insist they must live in the plains of Africa.