I haven’t done a political blog post in awhile; I’ve been trying to be more open minded, less reactionary, and more open to ambiguity- but I’m seeing this argument come up more and more online and I want to put in my two cents. I’m seeing people say “If only more of the people in the club had guns, none of this would have happened”. Bullshit.
I live in Orlando, I've been to Pulse before. There were at least 320 people in the small building that night, probably more but 320 is the reported capacity. 320 people in a small bar with a small dance floor, a little karaoke room, and a little patio. When scientists are studying roads, and moshes, and clubs to understand how human traffic reacts as a group, they tend to simulate using fluid dynamics, using individuals as particles. A "sea of people" is almost literally that, an ocean of individuals getting buffeted around and carried with the currents that are available to them. There's some individual bias as people have minds, they have intentions and places they want to be, but they still have to do so by going with the flow, and overall the crowd acts much like a liquid. This is why in a club when a fire breaks out the worst immediate danger to you isn't the smoke or flames, it's the people around you, surges and crushes which can literally squeeze the life out of people. In a small bar, when guns start going off, the panic, hysteria, and pandemonium is not an ideal place to try and play hero and introduce more weapons into the mix. That tide, that flood of people fleeing makes it almost impossible to figure out where the danger is, and to make a clear shot. And worse, the confusion is going to lead to more killing. One guy starts shooting, another guy starts shooting back, another guy hears this and pulls his gun... is the man standing over the body the original shooter or the guy who killed the original shooter? In your terror with only a split second to judge are you going to be able to make that rational decision or are you going to shoot to protect yourself, potentially killing an innocent. A slaughter with more weapons only becomes a greater slaughter.
As someone who spends much of their time online, I've seen a lot of discussion going around recently on the subject of "Trigger Warnings" for media content. For the most part, there seems to be a capricious disdain for this idea of having a warning preceding a piece of published content. The very mention of the phrase seems to send some people into a dizzying tantrum of vitriolic opposition, in which they seem to see the very idea of a "Trigger Warning" as the infantilisation of society along the lines of extremist college liberalism and overt political correctness. There's a primal disgust with the entire concept; as if its simply the emotional frailty of the kind of youthful hipsters who inordinately avoid gluten... Personally, I've never understood this backlash.
WARNING: Mild language and intellectual discourse contained within!
This has been one of the biggest weeks for Civil Rights the United States has seen in a long time. Confederate flags are being pulled down with even orders from governors to remove them from State Capitols, and are getting banned from NASCAR and removed from major retailers, the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and more importantly, so has same-sex marriage!
This is a great week for America, and one that gives me a shred of hope in a country who from Ferguson to Baltimore, Charleston and New York, hasn't given me much. That said, this is not a clean victory, and the Conservative right and dissenting Justices haven't been quiet about their discontent, and that's something I wish to address, here and now.
For anyone who cares about the current issues with government surveillance and the NSA, this is the email I've written to John Mica, Marco Rubio, and Bill Nelson. You can use this as a template to contact your own congressperson and senators respectively.
As a registered voter in Florida’s 7th District, I would like to discuss an issue which greatly concerns me. On May 26, 2011, Congress passed a four-year extension of three expiring Patriot Act provisions without making much-needed changes to the overly broad surveillance bill. The extended provisions are set now set to expire on June 1, 2015: Section 215, Section 206, and Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. These sections deal with business records, “Roving John Doe Wiretaps”, and “Lone Wolf” surveillance respectively.
For clarification; Section 215 is the "Business Records" provision. It allows the government to take "any tangible thing" in relation to a terror investigation, without having to provide any evidence that this “thing” is pertinent to the investigation before violating the individual or business’s privacy. This defies everything about our modern definition of search and seizure, where there must be proof provided that the item is actually relevant to the investigation at hand, and that there is reasonable suspicion of a crime. Section 206 is the "Roving John Doe Wiretap", which allows for requests to tap an unnamed individual or organization, without explanation given for why. This is contrary to every other roving wiretap law, where the government must state what it is particularly looking for, and who they are specifically looking to target. Finally, Section 6001 or the "Lone Wolf" provision allows for spying on any individual regardless of whether or not they are actually known to be affiliated with a terror organization. It is also granted in secret courts, outside the public eye.
These provisions are unconstitutional (directly violating our 4th, 5th, 6th Amendment rights), ineffectual for national security, and a severe violation of our civil liberties. They defy everything about our modern standards for search and seizure, and invade our privacy en masse. When these provisions are up for expiration on June 1st, I would like you to not vote for their renewal, and to let them just expire.
Several provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1st: Section 215, the "Lone Wolf" Provision, and the "Roving Wiretap" Provision. They need to die and not be renewed. The NSA needs to be disbanded, the spying on American citizens needs to end. I called my Congress person John Mica and Senator Bill Nelson to make my views known at lunch today, I would ask any concerned citizen and registered voter to do the same. If you live in Florida, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson's number is 202-224-5274. If you live in District 7, Congressman John Mica's number is 202-225-4035. To email them:
Democrat Senator Bill Nelson:
District 7 Congressman John Mica:
Otherwise; please go here and find your own representative: http://www.house.gov/
I love Russell Brand as a person, I really do, and I agree with much of what he said towards the end about creating communities and societies who inherently love and value life more than death and the after life. However, I do think to some extent he simplifies an issue in the modern sense without looking towards the historical and broader moral context.
The root of democratic and just power should be a basis of coexisting trust between authority and population, for it is with the consent of the People that the government is given power. It derives its authority from the trust placed in its continued protections by the People, and it is with the People’s will that it should tread. The trouble with an authoritarian system, however- built on politics and bureaucratic principles- is that it becomes instead of a beneficial and progressive system for the betterment of the governed and for man as a whole, rather a tool for the deception of the constituency in order to maintain the shell of a dominion.
With the recent declaration of Pope Francis that the Theory of Evolution and the Big Bang are, in fact, correct, there is perhaps no better a time to discuss the idea of Faith as it pertains to our everyday lives. His declaration, to many, has come as the Vatican’s response to the ideas of Creationism and Intelligent Design, and the offering of an olive branch to the scientific community. For others, this is the beginning of the Church's declining relevance, as it waves a white flag in the face of amassing evidence: a chance to simply try to incorporate otherwise empirical ideas into religion’s scope as a last ditch effort for survival. It’s a confusing state of affairs when you have a community whose scripture and teachings would promote blind faith and then also take a stand for evidence. So it would seem apt to strike while the iron is hot and dig into the subject of Faith, religion, and secularism now more than ever.
Of all the wonders that this world possesses, I would posit that the greatest is the mere fact of its existence. We take so for granted that this universe Is, Was, and shall always Be. We comprehend an unchanging system, static and dormant now as it has always been. Yet, we know this to be false; we know that the stars are born and die, that the galaxies spin with reckless abandon into the infinite void, and that even this little world will not be tomorrow as it was today. That this fallacy of permanence should so permeate our very existence I find so ironic when so many of us fail to live in the moment. We ignore the fundamental sensations of living. We ignore the warmth of the sun on our skin and the sound of the wind. We ignore the beauty of trees and even the coarseness of the sidewalk. We ignore the dazzling sparkle of the light against windows, and the determination of a procession of ants. All these little aromas and sights and textures… All of these perceptions lost to a passive ignorance.
My name is Jeffrey Hepburn, and I'm a young writer, graphic design artist, and aspiring filmmaker.