Monday, October 31, 2011

Children and Guns

I just finished watching the comedy super-hero movie Kick-Ass, where one of the main characters, 11-year-old Hit Girl, kills dozens of mobsters with guns and knives.

Of course, this reminded me of another assassin little girl, Hanna, a 16-year old girl trained by her father in the backwoods of Finland to become the world's most dangerous assassin. Within the first 20 minutes of the movie, Hanna manages to kill half a dozen CIA agents with her bare hands, and a reindeer.

Let's not forget schoolgirl Ami from The Machine Girl, who, after having her arm amputated by the yakuza, receives a prosthetic machine gun attachment for her stump, and then goes on a murder spree where thousands of gallons of ninja blood are spilled.

Now our list would not be complete without teenage Baby Doll from the movie Sucker Punch, who, after killing her own sister, retreats into a dark messed-up fantasy world in which she kills giant samurai, steam-powered zombie german soldiers and orcs using everything from M-4 automatic rifles and razor-sharp katanas, and let's not forget slitting the throat of a baby dragon, all the while attempting to escape from a Vermont mental institution where she is scheduled to have a lobotomy. Heavy stuff, and super cool.

I have to say it is pretty mind-boggling to see the complete anti-thesis of the male action hero perform such feats. Nothing could be more defenseless than a young girl... except when this young girl is a trigger-happy martial arts expert. And everyone likes to see an underdog triumph against insurmountable odds.

However, these are merely movies, and the defensive use of firearms is never as cool as portrayed in fiction. Using lethal force in self-defense is a serious matter that requires serious training. And the glorification of weapon use in movies and videogames gives children the wrong attitude towards firearms, especially when the shooting sprees are performed by teenage girls. A weapon must always be approached with respect, for its use is always fraught with potential dangers. For this reason, I do not believe that children should be given toy guns and left to their own devices. "What possible harm could come from a toy gun?" the layman asks. Well for one, it trivializes weapon ownership and impairs upon children the wrong attitude to have towards it.

Even a toy gun should be treated with the same safety rules as a real weapon. According to the NRA, these rules are:

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. ALWAYS keep the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

From the very first day a child is given a toy gun, he must learn that even a toy gun is not a toy. While this seems contradictory on the surface, it is not. A 'toy gun', you see, is a teaching aid. The toy gun should be kept in a gun safe under combination lock or key, which only a responsible adult has the ability to unlock. When requesting the toy gun, the child must explain his intention for checking the toy  gun out. The child should then fill out a form detailing for what duration of time the toy gun will be needed, and then he or she must return it on time. During play, the child should never be allowed to point it at a person or animal, or any object not to be shot at. The only acceptable thing the toy gun can be pointed at is a paper target. That's it. While it may seem to take the whole fun out of the experience, that is part of the point. Guns are not toys. Period. Children must be made to understand this at an early age so that they know it instinctively.

Once the child is of age and he has shown responsible behavior with the toy gun, then perhaps he is ready for his first pellet or BB gun. Again, the same rules for handling and safe storage apply. Marksmanship is a martial art, not a game. Shielding children from violent movies and video games, and hiding the reality of self-defense from them does them a disservice. Sooner or later, the child will not be under your direct supervision, and the child may come into contact with a real firearm. But if you have diligently trained the child to have the proper attitude towards firearms, the child will translate his knowledge of proper safe handling and apply it directly to a real firearm, and there need not be an accident.

We adults know that Kick-Ass and Sucker Punch are just movies, and that weapons are not toys. If you have instructed your children as I describe, they will know it too, and they will be safe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time for Change

Was it right to kill Gaddafi?

I am not a fan of dictators, but after watching a brutal video in which Muammar Gaddafi is being beaten up by a bloodthirsty crowd, I can't help but feel sorry for the suffering of another human being, however cruel he allegedly was. I'm not going to repost this video here, if you really want to see a lot of real blood, go ahead and google it yourselves. Yes, he was a tyrant who did terrible things to the people of his country. But according to the Geneva convention, prisoners of war (yes, it was a war) are not to be mistreated in such a way. Even Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic were appointed legal counsel and tried in courts of law.

Capturing a man and brutalizing him is an even worse fate than what cattle experience at a slaughterhouse (though Peta may respectfully disagree). At least cattle are granted a quick death. In fact, any moderately decent man would have simply shot Gaddafi to put him out of his misery, but the melee that can be seen in the video of his capture demonstrates that no decent men were present. And a really decent man would have followed due process of law.

Any prisoner or any person deprived of his freedom is to be granted a trial. That principle is a basic building block of civilization. A trial must be based on factual evidence, and must allow the defendant the opportunity to challenge the accusations. This is what civilized people do.

Also, civilized people do not kill other human beings out of hatred. They place them under arrest, and they bring the suspects to justice. Call me a liberal hippie if you so desire. If you seriously believe that Gaddafi, or any other human being, deserved to be tortured by a frenzied mob, then you are as vile and despicable as Gaddafi himself.

The only situation where it is acceptable to take another human life is in an act of legitimate self-defense against a clear and direct threat. Period. The people in the video were clearly under no threat from the suspect. Their lives and properties were not being threatened.

Unfortunately, this is a barbaric world filled with barbaric people, and I cannot expect illiterate masses to abide by higher moral standards. Yes, morality is relative. Yes, morality does not exist in nature. We come together as human beings, and call upon our natural-born sense of empathy and reason to build our own code of morality, so that we may live in a moral world where justice prevails and all are treated equally in the eyes of the law.

I need to take a break, have a beer and calm down. I need to get these horrible images out of my mind, or I'm going to have nightmares, that for once do not involve missing final boarding call.

Do yourselves a favor: Do not vote into office any politician who supports the death penalty. These men and women are no more than Gaddafi wannabes, and we do not need to have such morally corrupted pigs ruling over us.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DHS Now Going After Innocent Citizens Just Because It Can

Imagine that you are standing on a sidewalk outside a building where you have been invited. Wouldn't you say you have a right to be there?

The Department of Homeland Insecurity seems to think that you are national security threat.

Ask your presidential candidates what they want to do about this, and pay close attention to their answers.

We are living in a dictatorship.

British: Declaration of Independence was Illegal

This is funny. A group of British lawyers are arguing that the US Declaration of Independence was illegal. According to them, Americans did not have the right to secede and establish their own laws.

Geez, I wonder how they can live with the fact that Britain technically seceded from the Roman Empire in 410 CE after the Roman Army packed up and left.

By that logic, Rome is still the Capital of the World and we are all its citizens. Does anyone want to pay tribute to Ceasar? I didn't think so.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Harold Camping: Doomsday Definitely Next Friday

Ah, dang. I was all psyched for the upcoming snowboarding season. Apparently I will have to change my plans, because Harold Camping says the end of the world will take place next Friday. Wait... wasn't it supposed to be last May? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hungarian police is overreacting

The film set of World War Z, an apocalyptic zombie movie based on a Max Brooks novel, was raided by the Hungarian police SWAT team, where they discovered 85 'illegal' firearms. I understand that it's their country and their laws, but frankly, what are they afraid of? That movie star Brad Pitt is going to go crazy  and shoot up real zombies? Firearms on movie sets are not used in crime; They are used to make movies. It is a silly distraction that the weapons were functional. If this is how you treat film companies that come to your country to spend millions of dollars, how will you treat your own citizens when they are in need to defend their own lives?

Friday, October 7, 2011

What justifies taxability?

Most of us reluctantly agree that taxation is a necessary evil to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity", but we all disagree about how this is to happen.

Without revenue, a government cannot operate. So a government has a few options to obtain revenue:

-accumulate spoils of war by conquering other nations
-operate revenue-generating businesses
-gather fees for services
-ask for donations
-tax the people

Generally, relying on the spoils of war is dangerous. It means the nation must be in a constant state of expansionist wars. The problem is, you make a lot of enemies by doing that. And when you stop expanding, you implode under your own weight. It's called imperial overstretch. This is what killed Rome. Operating businesses is viewed as an unfair competitive advantage against private businesses who do not have access to the same resources. Fees make government services less accessible to the less financially fortunate. As far as donations are concerned, they are rare and far between, and taxation is just universally reviled.

But still, taxation is the primary means by which governments earn revenue.

So what can government tax, and what justifies taxability?

-Income? -> you've earned it, shouldn't you keep it? The less you earn the less you can spend. The less you can spend, the less businesses you deal with can profit.
-Assets? -> you own them, why does the government deserve a cut of them? What if your assets are not liquid and you have insufficient income to pay the tax? Why should you liquidate your assets?
-Consumption? -> why make every good and service more expensive? What's the reasoning? Who seriously thinks that taxing transactions is a good idea? Following that logic, why not tax lawn sales and kid's lemonade stands too? Why not tax gifts made among friends and family members too?
-Vices? -> who's to say that your booze or tobacco is to be discouraged? Who's got the moral high ground to be able to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own health? Why not tax random crap for no reason... let's say chairs, because sitting for 8 hours per day increases your chances to die of a stroke. "My goodness!? can you imagine a world where chairs are not taxed? Preposterous!"

Never forget that consumer spending is the backbone of the economy. Taking money away from consumers just makes the economy worse. The only thing that makes sense to tax at all, the only thing that is justifiably taxable, is wealth. Yes, wealth. [insert sounds of conservatives collapsing from heart attacks]. Who seriously cares about billionaires? Who seriously feels sorry for them? WHO THE F*CK CARES ABOUT BILLIONAIRES??? They were once called 'nobility'. How 'noble' to profit off your serfs, good Sir. How 'noble' of you to allow me the privilege of toiling away in your fields while you enrich yourself by the sweat of MY brow. You sit on your ass in your fancy office all day while I do the actual grunt work that pays for your kid's third Jaguar. Oh my, what if you couldn't afford the 40-meter yacht and had to settle for the 35-meter one because your tax rate went up a bit? Oh no! Disaster!

It is those that have WAY more than they really need that should bear the entirety of the tax burden, not the poor little bastards already struggling to pay off their f*cking credit cards. Taxing the wealth of the well-heeled would leave more money in the pockets of ordinary people, money that they could use to live better lives, start their OWN businesses and be independent citizens themselves.