Saturday, December 22, 2012
Before declaring the war on Xmas lost, a few words on the NRA and the amplification-free singing of Angry Anglicans ...
That anybody thought the NRA would have anything useful to offer the current debate about guns in the United States is only useful as a way of measuring anybody's distance from reality and sanity.
The pond liked this header so well, it decided to preserve it in digital aspic:
The actual Huff story about the NRA press conference is here, complete with video link, but it's a measure of the madness that Wayne LaPierre would propose an armed guard in every school as a solution.
Because soon enough you'll need an armed guard on every train and bus, and an armed guard in every office and shop, and then an armed guard on every street corner every day and night ...
Oh heck, why not just make it compulsory that every citizen is required to open carry a gun (unless they want to hide their weapon), so America can get back to the good old days of the wild west and any varmint who crosses the line can be called out and shot down in the street and sent to boot hill (unless of course you prefer a dry gulching or a back shooting).
The NRA's vision for America is to see it as an armed encampment, fully locked and loaded, and they've moved heaven and earth to make it so.
Already the United States is arguably the most violent nation on earth, what with its routine resort to war these past few decades, its use of drones across borders, its high incarceration rate and the abuse prisoners suffer, its death penalty, its military industrial complex, the level of civilian armaments, the level of death and injury arising from said weaponry, and above all, the stranglehold the gun lobby, the gun culture and the gun business has on politics and the will to take meaningful action.
One of the reasons is that the United States is also one of the most insular, least travelled nations in the world. People are easily spooked by talk of decadent Europe or repressive England or foppish Canada, and how if the government comes to take away their guns they'll end up in a totalitarian regime like Nazi German with no way to fight back - what might be called the Red Dawn myth (though there are many in the gun culture who in fact bear more than a passing resemblance to the good old gun-wielding SS and yearn for its return).
It's about this point that the pond has to admit to being a gun-owner, but these days only an occasional gun user. You see, if you can't say that, you know nothing about guns.
But if you start to burble on about how you were taught to shoot in the bush, and were shown how to hunt using a single shot rifle, and did target shooting where the skill was accuracy, not spraying a hail of death (and the pond wasn't half bad at it), and yet still you can't see why anyone would need a military assault rifle which in essence and main purpose is only designed to kill people, a lot of people quickly and efficiently, then still you'll be dismissed as a traitor and a librul.
And the way that this is aided and abetted by high-capacity magazines and bullets that would ruin game if used in a hunt is remarkable. These add-ons only serve to assist the military in slaughtering people in the field ... unless you happen to be in the US, and the field turns out to be a primary school.
Which is why in the land of the NRA insanity rules, and why LaPierre has to come up with rhetorical absurdities to defend the absurd.
Naturally he takes to blaming video games, movies and music videos for the atrocities.
Which reminded the pond of one of the NRA's favourite rhetorical tricks. You see, video games don't kill people, people kill people (repeat for movies and music videos and guns).
And never no mind that in Britain or Australia, there are the same violent video games and movies (and ye ancient cats and dogs hideously violent assaults by Justin Bieber music videos), but not the same per capita killing by way of guns. Not even in the same statistical ballpark ...
Insular Americans never know, or if they do, they devise the most exotic, devious, and downright stupid explanations for the differences. A bit like Wayne LaPierre in full hypocritical rhetorical cry ...
Truth to tell, the last time the pond went on a homicidal rampage with a DVD, it took an awfully long time to kill people by slicing their throats with the sharp edge of the disc. But likely enough we'd manage quite well with a military grade AR-15 Bushmaster assault rifle ...
Anyhoo, it's up to the citizens of the United States to sort this one out, but so long as you have a goose like Wayne LaPierre in the NRA, you can bet they'll fight every initiative devised to maintain the right of US citizens to live in an armed encampment full of fear and slaughter.
Never mind, this is the pond's last piece for the year, and any notion of sorting out the USA in a blog would be the sign of terminal delusion.
But it is worth noting in passing, for all his pious tweets demanding political action, that there were reports that the Rupert Murdoch-owned, News-owned Fox News had already played their ideological part - as you can read in Fox News Execs Squashed Talk of Gun Control After Newtown Massacre: Report.
Why is the pond surprised? What a wretched, pious hypocrite he is ...
But that's the last time the pond will brood about the perfidious Murdoch this year.
And it's also farewell to the assorted religious fundamentalists we'd usually report on over the weekend break, as we contemplate the gap between religions and reality.
There's just one question to ask - if the secularists have won the war on Xmas, how is it that the pond is travelling to Melbourne to celebrate Xmas with assorted believers and non-believers? The dreaded Xmas family orgy ...
If this is victory, perhaps you could give the pond sweet smell of defeat.
Anyhoo, the Pellists have gone quiet, preparing for the storm ahead in the New Year - but can we just sign off by drawing your attention to a wondrous bit of angry fundamentalist Sydney Anglicanism.
It seems that Anglicans love singing and music, as you can read in Phillip Jensen's In Praise of Singing, but there are extremely strict guidelines to follow, which might well help rob any music of joy, spontaneity and happiness:
... it is sadly misguided when so called “worship leaders” try to utilise music to create or heighten such emotional states. We must not confuse intensity of emotions with spirituality or engage in our own private reverie with eyes shut and hands raised or see music as ‘the way to the Father’.
Indeed. No happiness or emotional states or heightened feelings or private reveries or eyes closed wide open or hands raised or using music to find your way to the Mother, Gaia bless her, please! And none of that bloody Hillsong muck!
It turns out that wily, wise Jensen is suspicious of technology:
Attempts to improve the music at church are usually counterproductive. New songs and louder amplification is often the death of congregational singing – it is to chorus singing what playing hymns too slowly, in a key beyond the range of the average voice, is to hymn singing.
A pox on the new, a pox on your amplification systems and your so-called sophisticated digital technologies.
Why, the Jensenists would be out the back of the stage with Pete Seeger and his axe the moment Bobbie Dylan plugged in his geetar at Newport. (We keed, we keed, maybe Pete didn't have an axe, maybe that's all apocryphal if you read the wiki here aright).
Anyhoo, it's a blessed relief that the aim isn't actually to improve the music, but to make it sound like all those godawful hymns and carols that have been fodder for satirists these past few centuries.
So having admitted defeat, acknowledged that the war on Xmas is a complete abysmal failure, please join in the singing, but remember, no amplification, no new songs, only White Christmas and Jingle Bells and Six White Boomers.
And if some bugger gives your child an amplification system, feel free to crush it, and you will be blessed by the Jensenists.
And now for any readers left out there - yes, we know all you public servants have buggered off, instead of wasting your office time surfing the intertubes and ruining the nation's productivity, unlike the valiant hacks at Fortress Murdoch - all that's left is to wish a happy Xmas, remembering that the X stands for the many and varied gods you might follow (as Dave Allen noted when raising a glass and saying may your god go with you ...)
Oh and merry Holydays (oh yes we love the holyday joke) and a tremendous Saturnalia, and a sweet solstice - oh okay that happened yesterday so sweet solstice for 2013 - and a great new year, and if the pond survives, business will resume some time in that glorious new year, with lists of the best and worst of 2012 already wiped from the mind, along with any memory of making any new year's resolutions...
Or as father used to say in Tamworth, have a bloody grouse good one ... and my mother used to say, I think I'll have a little of that dry sherry now, and a slice of the rum-saturated Xmas cake, and a good lie down ...
(Below: and now a test. Are you up to it, are you ready for that peculiar mix of family, and grog, and useless presents, and nausea and sunburn? Relax, if you can get past the first verse, you're Hulk strong and ready for anything).
Posted by dorothy parker at 12/22/2012 10:38:00 AM