Open Thread: Voices Against Violence

Tony Bennett Raises His Voice Against Gun Violence

Greetings SkyDancers. Like many of us over the past week or so, I’ve been kind of glum. I think more so than anything, my gloom has its roots in the senseless number of gun deaths occurring on a daily basis in America. A few have been shared here this week. These are a fraction of all the senseless deaths that occurred, some tragically due to negligence. My own position on gun control is total repeal of the 2nd Amendment. A rational examination of the 2nd Amendment from an historical/rhetorical perspective unequivocally insists individual gun ownership is not a natural right enshrined in the Constitution. I’ll refrain from lengthy argumentation at this time, but merely disclose my stance. Even if one takes an originalist interpretation from the opposite perspective, another primary consideration is the responsiveness of our primary governing document. I would submit the Constitution was created with the intent to conform to the generation it serves, and should be altered to meet the needs of that generation. I don’t think the Constitution meets our 21st Century needs, and the 2nd Amendment reflects one of those areas in need of modification. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the Constitutional creators believed individual gun ownership was a natural right. What matters is whether we, in the 21st century, find individual gun ownership a reasonable proposition. Obviously, my position is no. In my view, We the People needn’t sacrifice one more life to gun violence. We the People need not succumb to belligerent falsehood disguising itself as natural right.

The Brady Campaign launched a new initiative this week with the intent to empower Americans to speak out against the unconscionable level of gun violence in this country. It’s called Voices Against Violence, and it introduces an innovative new protest tool: the first voice petition.  The VAV mission resonated with me:

We are the Voices Against Violence

We are the voice of the people, and we will no longer be silent as gun violence devastates our communities.

We know that an overwhelming majority of Americans support common sense gun laws that save lives. We know that millions share our dream for a safer nation. And we know that by acting responsibly – and by working together for a common purpose – we can make America the safer nation we all want.

Now is the time to raise our voices against gun violence and urge Congress to take action.

Every day we wait, another 90 Americans die from a bullet. We’ve had too many moments of silence. It’s time to make some noise.

Join the millions who want to end gun violence with the world’s first petition you sign with your voice.

Enough is Enough!

Voices Against Violence kicks off the world’s first voice petition with a distinctive voice and on a symbolic Saturday:

Singer Tony Bennett, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma in 1965, will perform at the “Realize the Dream” rally as part of the Voices Against Violence (VAV) campaign on Saturday, August 24th at the Lincoln Memorial.  The rally is a part of the “National Action to Realize the Dream” march planned to continue the efforts begun 50 years ago when Dr. King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

I applaud Tony Bennett. Here he is voicing “If I Ruled the World.” I thought it fitting:

Until the 2nd Amendment is repealed, I’m all for much tighter gun control measures, including a national gun registry. I also support systematic firearms confiscation in certain cases – when an owner loses the right or is the subject of a restraining order. The NRA and its allies screech and howl about the dangers of a gun registry, but from a law enforcement perspective, I consider it essential, if only for law enforcement to be adequately prepared prior to responding to domestic violence situations, for instance. 

Wayne LaPierre, NRA hypocrite

Radicalized gun advocates like the NRA oppose the very idea of a gun registry as tyrannical, an abomination, yada yada yada. Ironically however, Buzz Feed recently revealed that a massive national gun registry has already been compiled without the consent of any on the “list.” It was compiled and is in active use by none other than the NRA:

The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.

But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy.

As much as I’ve read about the NRA’s undue influence on public policy, I’ve never encountered an explanation that adequately explains their continued success. But this database is that missing piece. And it’s a frightening piece. Apparently, the efficacy of the NRA’s political machine is attributable to tactics similar to the success of Obama’s innovative presidential campaigns; tactics,  incidentally, that I’ve admired. Unfortunately, that which can be applied for good can also be utilized for ill. It would seem the NRA excels in micro-targeting, the element that proved so successful for the Obama campaign:

…the NRA is using tools similar to those employed by the campaigns of its nemesis, President Barack Obama.

“There are certainly some parallels,” said Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama for America. “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them to test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

“Part of the way they have gotten to a place where they are able to do what they do is through data,” Quinn said. “There is some irony.”

The vast size of the NRA’s database and its sophisticated methods of analyzing the public mood go a long way in explaining the organization’s enduring influence. Even in an age when opinion polls show gun control measures gaining in general popularity and when wealthy benefactors like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are spending millions to counter the NRA’s lobbying and advertising budgets, the NRA has built-in advantages.

It would seem that the NRA’s violence-favoring-voice has many more octaves than I had ever imagined, though I should have guessed that it could target its pitch so precisely. The profit margins of the weapons manufacturing industry rely heavily upon the NRA’s vocality.  Unfortunately, there is one voice against violence that will not be widely heard, in perhaps one of the perplexing ironies I’ve encountered in quite some time. I don’t have a reaction to it yet. I’m still processing:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Heading into the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Mother Jones reports the speech is effectively silenced by copyright and inaccessible in the public domain. Lauren Williams writes:

I have a dream that on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls as they watch the footage on TV of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous words. I have a dream that on the red hills of Georgia, the great-grandsons of former slaves and the great-grandsons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood this week, open their MacBooks and pull up the seminal speech on the internet.

But that speech is not free, alas.

It will not be in the public domain until 2038, 70 years after King’s death. Until then, any commercial enterprises wishing to legally broadcast King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered August 28, 1963, on the National Mall, or reprint its words must pay a hefty fee. CBS and USA Today learned this the hard way in the 1990s, when both reached undisclosed settlements with King’s estate after using the speech without permission. Intellectual Properties Management, the King family business that works in conjunction with music company EMI Publishing to license King’s copyrighted image and works, did not respond to an inquiry from Mother Jones about the cost of hosting a video of the speech on our site.

Again, I’m not sure what to think of the King copyright situation. It doesn’t sit well with me. I’m conflicted. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, SkyDancers.

Dying Camellia Revisited III 4x6

Dying Camellia – Herald of Corrosive Decay

Some pretty disturbing, but unsurprising news coming from Fitzwalkerstan. Religious radicals are attempting to amend the Wisconsin State Constitution.  Mind you, I’m not at all opposed to amending the state constitution. As a matter of fact, I think it deserves the same level of overhaul due the U.S. Constitution. But rather than a progressive enhancement of founding ideals, Right Wing Extremists are attempting to solidify a regressive religionist state. A few implications of the amendment:

  • It could be invoked to give parents and guardians permission to rely on “faith” and “prayer” rather than carry out their duty to seek medical care for gravely ill children.
  • It would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control, or allow religious employers to pay women less.
  • It could allow state employees to refuse to marry couples if such a marriage would conflict with their religion — if the couple is inter-racial, for example.
  • Theoretically, this bill could even allow priests to refuse to report child rape without penalty.
  • It could allow children to opt out of bona fide schoolwork that conflicts with their religion (e.g., no more evolution!).

One would think this amendment might ruffle some feathers, instigate some bristling, or at the very least raise some eyebrows. From what I can glean, it has yet to receive much attention. My guess, and this is only a guess, is that Wisconsin is deeply divided at the moment. The most devastating divide isn’t between Left and Right. The Left appears to be consumed with consuming each other in true cannibalistic Tea Party fashion rather attending to the right wing political juggernaut which beards down upon them. “Divide and Conquer” has successfully divided and is effectively conquering Wisconsin.

While in all likelihood this amendment won’t get much traction immediately, I suspect it will slowly gain the kind of well-funded propagandist support that has dissolved Wisconsin’s Progressive legacy in nearly every other sphere of governance.

To conclude on a more positive note: Van Gogh magnified like a gazillion times. Very enjoyable.

And the very weird. From Open Culture: Technology transforms Van Gogh’s self-portrait into photograph.

What’s on your minds, this evening?

Church at sur-oise, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890


11 Comments on “Open Thread: Voices Against Violence”

  1. peej says:

    Hey Folks,

    My weekend scrabble fest begins again. And my cantaloupes are fruiting, so things over here are pretty good. 🙂

  2. dakinikat says:

    I have been thinking about this so much after the last school shooting. This has to stop. Places without freaks running around with arsenals don’t have the number of these outbursts of violence that we have. I joined Gabby Giffords organization. We need an offset to the NRA.

    I really hope we can make a difference.

    • peej says:

      Me too, Kat. But, I don’t think modest gun control measures are going to make a dent in the level of crime. Especially in economic conditions such as ours. Permanently bad economy=more violence of all kinds – domestic, random, and accidental. I believe that as long as we sanction gun culture and an armed citizenry gun violence will only increase. Even if it decreases, what’s an acceptable level? The American citizenry has proven itself unfit to bear arms.

      • RalphB says:

        We really need weapons control efforts not only domestically but around the world.

      • I’m all for much tighter gun control measures, including a national gun registry. I also support systematic firearms confiscation in certain cases – when an owner loses the right or is the subject of a restraining order.

        Yes, it seems like a reasonable request doesn’t it? I wish we could have common sense gun control laws. But I also know that it is unrealistic to push to repeal the 2nd amendment….

        And I still agree with Chris Rock, make the bullets cost 5,000 dollars a piece.

  3. RalphB says:

    Imani Gandy: The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald Are Lying to Us. Does Anyone Care?

    ABL asks a darn good question. Obvious to me that a lot of people actually like being lied to when it fits their biases.

    • peej says:

      Agreed, RB. Great read. As this thing has played out, it’s been looking to me a lot like how the IRS and Benghazi scandals played out – let me rephrase that – exactly like it. I find that disturbing. Then again, a number of Left Wing media sources that I’ve traditionally put a lot of faith have now been Greenwalled – just regurgitating the grand narrative. It’s looking a lot like the right-wing propaganda-sphere. I’m disappointed by that beyond measure. So, maybe I’ve become more discerning as a result. Maybe this will end with a better media environment. Thank you for the link. Another blogger I wasn’t familiar with. Another good outcome – the rational Snowden critique seems to be generated from outside the mainstream media. I’m really thrilled to be introduced to new blogs – you and BB have been super fantabulous about posting really good analyses. Thank you for that and thank you for directing my attention to new sources. 🙂