Our peculiar institution

Our peculiar institution

Ten more dead at another US high school.

The details no longer even matter. They all become numbingly similar. Someone with easy access to guns and a grudge shoots up a public space in an act of nihilistic glory. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Meanwhile, we have people like this roaming the country.

What I find so odd about American gun culture is the totemic fetish to which the extreme Second Amendment cultists attach to their guns. To me, who doesn't attach meaning to inanimate objects, it is mystifying.

It's akin to medieval warriors naming their swords, and imbuing them with mystical powers. It was silly then, and it's murderous now.

What I do know is that the gun cult makes everyone unsafe. And make no mistake: It is a cult. There's no other word for it. You're free whether or not you have a gun. And I argue that this gun cult makes us all less free, as we live in fear of what will happen in a public space. Will we win the massacre lottery? Will it be our turn the next time we're in a cinema watching the latest blockbuster?

"Because I can" is not an answer to why one needs weapons of war flooding our nation. That is the most selfish and privileged of answers. Even the First Amendment has limits on it. The idea that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct and cannot be regulated is ludicrous. If I can't shout "fire" in a cinema when there is in fact no fire, then surely assault weapons can be banned, as they serve no societal function.

Sixty years of stealth libertarianism have inured us to the duties we owe each other as citizens. We're no longer members of a commonwealth, but atomized individuals with particular interests. These solitary interests are all that matter. I don't owe you anything as a fellow citizen, and don't you dare expect anything out of me. If I want to carry my assault rifle into an eatery, well, that's my right. I don't care how it makes other diners feel.

This is no way for a modern state to function. As Benjamin Franklin famously said: We either hang together, or we will surely hang separately.

With another ten people sacrificed to Moloch, the gibbet stands ready.



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