Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Can a Surgeon General do About Gun Control?

Well,     they could disapprove, all public and such.  They could point out that bullets make a doctors' job much dirtier, more stressful and more laborious than it otherwise would be,  but that's all they could do.  The Surgeon General is a 'spokesperson' for matters of public health.  It's a prestige title, in other words.  The SGOTUS has little power to make policy and  absolutely none to make law.  The office is in truth an expression of the old patriarchal mindset that views doctors as priests who scold their patients out of sinning against our bodies.  (Why not Surgeon STAR ADMIRAL, after all?)  This mindset: that good health is chiefly a matter of Will and avoiding sin, is, I suspect, a large basis for the hostility against public health care, but on this point let us not diverge too much.  This post is about Protesting Too Much and how the gun lobby is really no more than a factory for that.  A surgeon general does, after all have a public vehicle for expressing disapproval of lax gun laws.  He or she can give the impression that gun culture is Sinful/disapproved of by the mainstream, and this goes against precisely what the gun nuts truly care about. It isn't about guns being the Only True Way to defend oneself from cartoon masked men; or of privately owned guns being the Only True Eternal Way to violently overturn the status quo, should that become oppressive.  It's about wanting to believe that the Wayne/Eastwood model of effortlessly invulnerable manliness is the normative standard of American manhood.  It's not that gun nuts are so dim that they cannot distinguish movies from reality.  They know the John Wayne standard is impossible. But in their eyes the duty to maintain it as normative, to Believe in it, is unaffected by it's non-reality.  Real men; Real White American take no high-fallutin nonsense men;  are obliged to believe in an impossible standard of real manhood.  And since this a fantasy that White American Men want to have there can be no higher purpose of government policy or institutional power except to join them in pretending to believe that this fantasy is commonsensical. 

The truth of course is that gun culture in the US is dying what could be called a natural death.     Not in any great tribal struggle between Brave Defenders and strawman violets who faint at loud noise or the sight of blood.  The gun nuts continue to win their own invented battles in that invented struggle of theirs, and I'm sure it makes them happy.  No, gun culture is fading out not with a bang but with a whimper, as they say.  I myself do not own a gun because.... well that's just it, there is no because.  I am a White man from rural Nebraska.  In my teens my father and uncle would take me out to the boondocks and teach me how to shoot about a half dozen times if I remember right, and today I have no gun for no because.  If I owned a gun there would be a because.  Not owning a gun has always been the default of my culture in my adult life.  I'm fully aware that I could possibly be robbed, mugged, murdered.  But the realization that these bad things might happen does not produce any instinct to remedy the threat with a gun.  And again, no one really believes that owning a gun is the self-evident solution to this problem.  I'm also aware that the United States government could potentially become tyrannical in my lifetime; though again, no one really believes that having a gun in their closet right now will have any effect on La Resistance's fortunes twenty minutes in the future.  I know that I would be in far more danger from my own gun, from either accident or sudden wave of dysphoria,       than I'd be from any human devils I might use force to defend myself from, but again this is not why I do not own a gun.  There is no statement and no passion in why I do not have a gun.  There is no because.   

And that's where the Protest Too Much of the gun lobby comes in.  I remember a time when the NRA might view gun control advocates as wrong, which of course they would by definition, but merely and honestly wrong, perhaps dangerously wrong but not necessarily conspiratorially evil; not unless they were a truly big fish like Janet Reno.  Today the gun lobby states that simply disagreeing with them on any matter, or more to simply be cool to any legislative whim they might dream up, is in the fact itself  'Radical'. As far out of line from American Values as rejection of the right to vote; except no. Only a frothingly insane radical would suggest that the right to vote is more valuable than the right to own a gun.  Part of this to be sure is stratagem, affectation, inventing controversies out of thin air, inventing the standards for winning them on its own terms, and than crowing when it does.  In this way the gun lobby reassures itself and it's largely White Male supporters that they are still the ultimate decisive power force in the United States, winning their gratitude and maintaining their loyalty.  All those fantasies of revolting against the New World Order and restoring the US to its 'pure Constitutional path' come from the same place, a desire for White men to believe that we still are and forever shall be the ultimate decisive force here.  But we know it ain't so.

The truth is that the NRA's political power has been largely a confidence game for some time.  It is effectively untouchable because it is imagined to be so.  But neither the NRA itself or its general interpretation of the 2nd amendment is actually powerful enough to warrent the deference they receive.  The attitudes of Dr. Vivek Murthy towards guns are not 'radical' or even 'liberal' but simply the popular American consensus on guns.  Guns are not actually a source of great passion among the general public in every state lacking a city of million +metro.  I live here and I know that isn't the case. Guns even out here in the sticks,  are only the defining issue for a small privileged minority, and this minority is powerful because even the 'liberal media'  still overestimates the numbers, importance and influence of rural white male Christian conservatives. 

But the crowd is going to stop pretending to not notice the emperor's swinging dick someday, and the NRA know.  They along with every other breed of patriarchal authoritarian crank  can read the statistics an observe the changing attitudes and demographics for themselves.  Dogmatic purity than, has become the sort of totem for manliness and strength that guns have long been; passionate certainty as a test of being man enough for passionate certainty, insistence of one's own way being the only American way as a test of being brave enough to do so.  Protest too much.  Too much too much too much. 

No comments:

Post a Comment