Friday, December 21, 2012

Thinking About Guns And Violence

I'm probably making a mistake here, but there are some things in the current discussion of guns and violence that need to be said. And in saying them, I am going to be taking a tone of authority and superiority that you may well find intolerable. I will say things about myself that you may find unpalatable or difficult to believe. And due to my desire to speak as precisely as possible, I will be using the word 'pussy' in a semi-pejorative sense. If my support of one odious facet of the patriarchy in the attempt to undermine others offends you, I apologize and will regret the loss of your good opinion. I will not be making any specific references to any specific tragedy, as I find the sight of people working themselves into a lather over other's suffering to be unsavory. As the man screamed, a cheap holiday in other people's misery...

But there are some basic facts about human nature that aren't being discussed. And I can't work or sleep for thinking about them. So here they are.

First off. Have you ever watched any game shows or court television, or paid attention to people in public? Competence is not evenly distributed among people, and it is not distributed in a smooth bell curve. It clusters. And the biggest bulge...

I'm probably not talking about you, or your friends. Bright, capable people associate with one another, and get this illusion that people in general are thoughtful, engaged, aware. But the people in the biggest bulge are a little dumb, a little inept, and a little selfish. These days I tend to see them as sweet and necessary rather than horrid and inevitable -- therapy works -- but your typical person uses the vaunted human intelligence purely to process culture and keep track of their car keys. They don't think clearly, they aren't really that aware of the world around them, and they think most of their actions are basically virtuous because they are good people. There is nothing wrong with them. But really. Do you want to put guns in their hands?

I did not say 'do you want to arm them?' To arm someone is to give them a tool they can use. And now I probably am talking to you. The chances are that you are not a violent person. There are only two kinds of people who can function effectively in violent situations. The trained -- and I don't mean they went to the fucking dojo or the fucking firing range, I mean military or police training -- and the traumatized.

That's it. If you aren't trained or damaged to the point of mental illness, you are a pussy. And that is a wonderful thing. In the words of a very wise friend of mine, "So what if I'm a pussy? Pussies are nice. People like pussies."

There is a myth making the rounds that you either are or are not a Brave Person, and when the crunch comes you find out whether or not you have the goods. Most people assume they have the goods, because we have a dopey cultural myth that good people are brave.

Brave they may be, but calmly functional? No way. You have either be trained to deal with dangerous situations, or you have to have survived a number of them in spite of your incompetence in order to face them with poise. It is that simple. There is no rising to the test -- the first few times you're tested, you fail.

That is how it is. So if you haven't been in a physical conflict, you're going to lose if you fight.

That is how it is.

And a gun will not change that.

You do not arm a pussy by giving them a gun. That just makes them Special Pussy! Now With Free Gun! If you don't believe me, look at the numbers. If you have a gun, you are four or five times as likely to be shot as someone who doesn't have a gun. Part of that is situational, but part of that comes down to the fact that most people belong in a petting zoo, and by carrying a gun they upped the ante of what could have been a beating.

And for the record, it is obvious that most gun enthusiasm in America is misplaced dick worship and fetishized fantasies of potency. If you want to argue that with me, let's sit down together and leaf through a stack of gun magazines and a Tom of Finland anthology and I'll lay a little art theory on you, and by the time we're done those advertisements will make you blush. Most gun purchasers are buying dick.

I am not talking about people who use guns as tools. I make fun of pickups that don't have dents in the bed, and instruments that hang on walls, and guns that untrained people keep around the house for 'protection' i.e. ready access by children and drunken alter-egos. If you know what you are doing, and do it well, I am not talking about you. If you are a sport shooter who keeps his guns safe, I am not talking about you.

I am talking about Special Pussy, Now With Free Gun. And that is the big bulge in gun ownership. That is your standard issue regular daily use gun owner. They aren't fit to make their own decisions, and the fewer of them have guns, the fewer shootings there will be.

If you care. I"m not sure how much I do -- perhaps the spirit of liberty represented by American gun ownership is worth the toll in human suffering. I'd like to see a good study on how that balance is working out.

The people who respond to a shooting by bitching about gun control and buying out the stock at Walmart are too dumb to know they are dumb, and selfish, and that they are pussies. Me? I think they should be deprived of a little choice.

Let me tell you about not being a pussy.

I always have four or five minor cuts or scrapes healing at any given time, and yesterday I sat in the cold until my toenails turned blue because physical discomfort does not motivate me. That's why I'm not scared of fights, which is why I don't get into them. When there is a chance that I might be injured, I feel at ease and even cheerful.

People kind of hate to see that. It makes them nervous. And intimidating people is tremendously pleasurable. It is possible to get addicted to that kind of pleasure. People who intimidate others for entertainment are terrible people. And when I get nervous in social situations, a lot of times a little tough guy juice will leak out of me, and I will feel like a terrible person. I'm getting past that. A lot of people in my life would be shocked to think of me as a violent person. And I really need to get over the need to correct them. To get over feeling shame at being thought a pussy.

If I act like a pussy long enough, it might take. It worked that way with being polite.

Being a pussy is good, and proper, and normal, and healthy, and it is to be embraced and celebrated, not disguised with a ridiculous, dangerous toy. While I sneer at people who 'belong in a petting zoo,' I'm mentally ill and an asshole on top of it. Society is supposed to be a petting zoo.

So we need to celebrate the importance of the lambs and goats and Galapagos tortoises. The personal qualities that make me resemble a pulp action hero would kill me if I didn't treat them as symptoms of a disease rather than a badge of honor. The amount of therapy that Doc Savage and Spiderman would need boggles the mind.

That brings us to the subject of mental illness.

Most mentally ill people are targets for violence. The mentally ill, as a population, are less violent than 'normal' people. But the section of society that causes the majority of the violence consists of men with PTSD, bipolar syndrome, OCD, and other things with which I've been diagnosed. These conditions are, for most people most of the time, stress induced.

You make people violent by treating them unkindly and teaching them that violence is a social tool.

Now, I have been diagnosed with a number of conditions predisposing me to violence, and whenever I've spoken to a shrink, I've made a point of mentioning my obsessions with violence, which include elaborate plans for mass murders. Those who have had the misfortune to be in conversation with me when my fear of crowds hits have told me it is disturbing to hear the way I speak of people as subjects for extermination, so I've eased up a bit on the public manifestations.

I am very much the kind of person who actually should be monitored. And I am not. I have touched the system, and I have told them this, and they do not care.

It is that simple. No-one is being monitored, basically.

So I take responsibility for myself, and it's working just fine, thanks. I will not be killing myself or others, and I am growing more stable on a daily basis. But there was a very long time where I represented a real danger to both myself and the general public, and nobody was there to help me. People like me have trouble dealing with systems and organizations and to expect us to go through the process when sitting in a waiting room or filling out a form represents real trauma?

Hey, I'm crazy, but that's nuts.

I have been able to refrain from suicide and violence against others for one reason. I care about people's feelings. While I can look at a crowd and feel a primal compulsion to see it turned to a smear of wet red screams, when I pause and reflect on a single individual's sorrow, it disarms me. Every time someone gives a shit, I take it and use it to build on the feelings of warmth for mankind I'm working to engender.

That is because people have been kind to me, and that kindness has given me a stake in humanity.

So if you want to keep people from killing? Being fucking nice to them actually is more effective than taking their guns away. Gun nuts, you are allowed to quote me on that.

(But as a suicide specialist, I'm calling bullshit on the notion that the massive wad of gun suicides in America would be replace by other forms of self-extinction if we instituted gun control. The 'impulse' part of 'suicidal impulses' is significant here. Impulses pass. Anything that makes it more convenient and time-efficient to kill yourself will increase the absolute numbers of suicides. It is that simple.)

And now it's four in the morning. And maybe now that I've unloaded my thoughts, I can now go to bed and imagine myself resting on the shores of the Sea of Dreams, rather than arguing with imaginary people at the top of my mental lungs.