An empty suit of armour

The shootings in Newton, Connecticut continue to occupy my thoughts.

In part, it’s the identity of the victims. There is nothing more precious than children of that age – old enough to express themselves coupled with a complete absence of cynicism. Capable of the most hilarious – and often quite insightful – observations. The world is filled with wonder and hope for them, and not the sadness and misery adults too often see. My own child is now past those delightful years, but their memory is still fresh with me. And there was this (which was her school).

So yes, close to home in that way.

But there’s also how moments like this reveal the utter vapid and venal nature of the North American right-wing movement. The National Rifle Association has – wisely – gone into silent running. This is their last tweet:

But that hasn’t stopped others from unintentionally exposing the id. From former conservative blogging bigwig Jeff Goldstein’s primal scream, to CNN talking head Erik Erickson’s “It is not healthy for a nation to come together at tragedy so far removed from God” lament to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer who…well….who spouted off things like this:

Sublimely eloquent evisceration of Mr. Fischer here. Short form here:

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It’s all empty. There are no intellectual underpinnings…just emotionalist outbursts. The closest is Glenn “Instapundit” Harlan who cites an academic study that purports to show “more guns = less crime”. Alas that study is this study. It also doesn’t help that he begins with a quote from William S. Burroughs:

“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

This is the same William S. Burroughs who shot his wife in the face while playing  a drunk game of William Tell.

The most insightful comment I read yesterday was that the American fascination with fetishization of guns was, in fact, the white American males’ fear of irrelevance. A safety blanket for those who fear they may no longer be top dog in a changing world. Despite the fact they, you know, continue to run things. But then who says fear is rational.

The last thing that has me concerned is – Stephen Harper having remade the Progressive Conservative Party of my father into the Republican Party - that dynamic is happening here. What is the public good in having the long-gun registry destroyed? What is the public policy purpose in reclassifying assault weapons of the type used in Newtown from “prohibited” (you can’t buy them) to “restricted” (you can buy them). American gun advocates at least attempt to couch it that an armed populace deters the government from behaving despotically. But not so here in Canuckistan. I suppose, like the long-form census, there is some mumbo-jumbo of it being “intrusive” that cites no constitutional or philosophical principle. But then there’s no problem with other irrational and likely unconstitutional intrusions. There certainly isn’t any statistical supporting evidence from the United States. Thus it seems to stem from, and designed to appeal to, the white male id and their fears of increasing irrelevance. So is clever play on the CPC’s part? Well, obviously it’s popular with a certain demographic but ultimately I don’t think the men of the CPC are that clever. I think they institute policies that appeal to insecure white men because they are insecure white men.

It’s not an original observation to say that – despite some lingering philosophical pretensions - the “conservative” movement exists solely to serve entrenched and privileged interests, both protecting directly as well as proactively targeting any group that might hypothetically challenge those interests. Example both there and, as mentioned above, here.

It looks ferocious, powerful and intimidating, but it’s  at moments like this that it is crystal clear it’s an empty shell of armour – intellectually and morally bankrupt.

UPDATE: Billmon