Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meme-Busters: On Hammers and Guns

There's a new meme floating around on the right-wing hemiblogosphere: that according to the FBI more people are killed with hammers than guns. This seems to be the last stop in the game of telephone that began with a claim that more people are killed with hammers and clubs than with rifles. The implication, of course, is that it's silly for those liberals to claim that assault weapons are dangerous and should be banned; why don't we ban hammers and clubs while we're at it?

OK, here's the FBI report. These are the relevant points:

  • All blunt instruments combined-- rocks, bricks, concrete blocks, baseball bats, hammers, steel pipes, tire irons, golf clubs, frying pans, snow globes, and so on-- kill more people than rifles. This doesn't strike me as surprising.
  • On the other hand, rifles plus shotguns kill more people than all blunt instruments combined.
  • Guns (mostly handguns, of course) kill seventeen times as many people as all blunt instruments combined.
And you can look it up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet the Hysteric-Americans

A recent remark by Vice President Biden, that President Obama was considering doing something about gun violence by executive order, set off a wave of panic among the gun crowd. Some people, who apparently had never heard the phrase before, interpreted this news as meaning that Obama planned to act unilaterally to confiscate their guns. Cries of  "Chicago thuggery!" and  "Revolution!" and "Dictator!" started filling the Internet.

All of this was ridiculous, of course. Executive orders are common and Constitutional; they can't override existing law. And confiscation? But I started thinking: Haven't I seen this before somewhere?

I had. More than once. In the health care debate, many people firmly believed that Affordable Care Act, essentially a collection of Republican proposals from the last twenty years, was intolerable leftist tyranny and the death knell of American liberty. And some people didn't wait until 2010. I recall reading a right-wing blog just after Obama's election in 2008 (months before the Inauguration)where one commenter said that Obama would be America's last president and its first dictator. It seems that for this group, the sky is falling pretty much all the time. If there's nothing in the news, there's always the (nonexistent) Obama spending tsunami, or perhaps the (nonexistent) rising crime rate.

These people are probably the most important voting bloc in the Republican party. I call them the Hysteric-Americans. You could think of them as similar to an ethnic group--African-Americans and Asian-Americans vote Democratic, Hysteric-Americans vote Republican. But they don't really share a subculture. That retiree in a small Midwestern town? She's one. That foul-mouthed guy with the tattoos who looks like he just parked his Harley? He's one too. (Of course, Hispanic-Americans or Asian-Americans don't really share a subculture either.) Update: The guy in the video linked to above has just had his permit to carry a concealed weapon revoked.

I sound like I'm mocking these people, but I don't mean to. It can't be pleasant to lead a life where the dominant emotions are fear and impotent rage. It's shocking that there are people who, for their own personal ends, deliberately cause millions of people to lead those lives.

Relax, folks. It's not as bad as you think. It's not as bad as they would have you believe.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I Respectfully Request a Six-Month Moratorium on the Following Expressions:

1. "Game-changer"

2. "Going forward"

3. "Footprint" (btw, what's the status of "Boots on the ground" nowadays?)

4. "Game-changer"

5. "... begs the question:"

6. "Game-changer"