(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

On Dealing with Impossible People: Guns and the Assessment of Need

  • I made a statement about guns on Facebook while linking to an article about an outlandish statement made by the founder of "Gun Appreciation Day". My mom quoted part of what I said in a Facebook status. This is what happened:
  • Original statement my mom quoted: "If you "need" a gun in your everyday life to feel safe and aren't in law enforcement, actively in the military or out hunting, you might want to reconsider how you live your life."
  • Steven: If you go to a mini Mart for a soda and someone tries to rob you, are you saying it's my fault because I innocently went to grab a soda? Just food for thought.
  • Me: And you can't see yourself protecting yourself from a robber with any means other than a gun? We as a society can't work to remove the need to rob by working to create jobs and social institutions that teach people they have other options than crime, thereby making everything safer?
  • Steven: Nope, if I have the need to protect myself, it's by any means necessary. Ask a cop to stop armed robbery by not having a gun. Educating people does not make them apply what they learned. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Lazy people are going to be lazy, especially if they can get the same thing for less work.
  • Me: Since the original quote specifically exempted law enforcement, I'm not going to argue that.
  • In this country almost nobody "needs" a gun. Whether or not you want one or will use one given the appropriate provocation is up to you. If you "need" a gun to feel safe in your everyday life, you have much bigger problems to deal with in your life and and where/how you live that affect how you define feeling safe. In which case I pray for you.
  • Steven’s comment that REALLY set me off: "I pray for you for being naive to the world. May it not get you in a situation that you unknowingly walked into in the best part of town and where you will have to eat your words or worse, pay with your life or someone in your family because the did not have their proper defense. BTW, 2nd amendment is the right to bare arms for the possibility of needing to over run your government if a tyrant is in office or if your government oversteps their bounds against the people of our country. History in school should have taught you this. Based on your statement, I wonder if the teachers of Sandy Hook would have liked to have a gun when the shooting happened. Even at that, I wonder if they should have considered their life choices before teaching there. Think before you speak!!!"
  • Me: "While I hesitate to make any argument for or against authorial intent on behalf of someone who has been dead for over 250 years, it is well known that Jefferson had tyranny in mind when crafting the second amendment. And I think that such use against tyranny would count under "given appropriate provocation." But even then, this is not a NEED. You have the right to arms, but that does not mean you need arms. Let me repeat that, "right" does not equal "need."
  • I also think the best defense is preventative (which biases my arguments). In the case of government, it means paying attention to current politics and seeing warning signs of potentially dangerous behavior. In the case of my personal home safety, it means finding somewhere to live where the likelihood of having my home invaded is low. It means knowing where I am. It means taking self defense classes so I can at the very least I know how to remain calm and hold my own if I am put into a painful situation.
  • And how dare you bring up Sandy Hook like that and tell me to think before I speak. What happened in Sandy Hook was not part of their day to day life (a part of the original statement which keeps getting conveniently ignored). It was a special circumstance that arose because of a slew of causes including but not limited to a broader culture of violence, a healthcare system that is poorly equipped to deal with the mentally ill in effective ways, and an ineffective system of gun control that fails to properly address the kind of risk factors I just listed.
  • None of them could have anticipated this and if they did see it as normal, they probably wouldn't have been teaching in a peaceful, affluent, suburban school where the chances of getting shot are fairly low compared to areas known for experiencing violence.
  • Bringing that into this discussion was unnecessary and disrespectful to the people who died. Think before you speak."
  • More response Pam: “Being necessary to the SECURITY OF A FREE STATE". Our states and the armed people of those states have a right to protect themselves from the federal government when it decides to ignore the Constitution and violate the rights of the citizens. History shows us that the first thing an evil dictator will do, is to DISARM the people. After that, there is nothing that can be done to stop them without using arms. Give me liberty, or give me death. Freedom is worth fighting for. Ask anyone in our Armed Services. Think before you throw out the freedom many have died for....
  • Steven: No Danny, how dare you!!! You are the one that said, "where/how you live that affect how you define feeling safe". Just because they felt safe didn't mean they were safe. Therefore, my argument is true... Carrying a gun is for instances that, although you feel safe, you may not be safe. The only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, PERIOD!!! [False, false, falsity false. Remember those preventative measures I mentioned? Or how about working on fixing all the causes I mentioned as well. Oh, no? Guns are still the only way?] Think before you speak!!!
  • Me: You could have made that point without bringing Sandy Hook into this. Don't blame me for bringing something up that had no place in the discussion.
  • And Pam, yes, yes, but what does that have to do with anything I've said? I already said that the ability to protect yourself from a harmful government is a right everyone is deserving of. Please don't insult my intelligence by continuing to reiterate a point I agreed to (in addition to tired nationalistic quotes that are completely unrelated to the discussion at hand). The fact still stands that no matter how much of a right it may be this does not automatically make it necessary.
  • Steven: Now you are insulting your own "intelligence". I made a point that you couldn't disagree with so you say it didn't belong. That's what people say when they get shown up. You are correct, you have the right to own a firearm and protect yourself and your home, but doesn't mean you need to. Let the criminal rob you at gunpoint and kill you and your family because you don't feel the need. Your choice, but I won't put my family in that same, potentially, dangerous circumstance. I am done with this conversation as it is impossible to rationalize with someone who is thinking irrationally. Have a good night...
  • Me on Tumblr: Now, he’s right, I shouldn’t have ignored his point about guns and would have been much better served pointing out how it is still irrelevant (and disrespectful) it is to question whether or not the teachers at Sandy Hook wanted guns because they didn’t have them. The only reason to bring that up in a discussion in this specific way is to try to shame me. But by this point in the night I was tired and had been drinking and wished to end the conversation rather than go through the effort of pointing out how guaranteedly dangerous it is to carry a gun compared to how irrational it is to imagine a constant threat to safety great enough to warrant lethal retaliation when statistically (and given the increase in mass killings in supposedly safe areas this may be changing, which returns back to my other ignored point about structural changes for preventative measures) you will NEVER need it. 
  • The logic here is faulty in that there is a direct causal link between not being “protected” and the likelihood of such an event occurring all on the slim chance of violence occurring. That sounds a lot like a form of paranoia which, as it has been displayed here, does not sound like a healthy reason to have a gun. You will never need a gun. Period. You will never NEED a gun in your day to day life if you aren’t in a profession that requires it and do not face imminent and constant threat to you or yours’s personal safety. You can have a gun. You can want a gun. You will NEVER NEED A GUN.
  • If you do face such a constant threat to your safety (a situation that is likely precluded by racial, environmental and/or economic factors beyond your control, a topic I flat out refused to get into here, but which must also be addressed in creating the kind of preventative change I talked about above), you’re probably already rethinking your life and looking for some way to change/cope with your situation. My original statement still stands. And I'm glad we can agree that it is indeed impossible to rationalize with someone who is irrational.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In which Danny goes and sees Les Miz

Did I do that right? Les Miz? Les Mis? (an internet search) tells me that both work.

I finally went and saw this because my friend Erin works at the new Regal cinema in Bellingham. As my roommates and even cinephilic boyfriend can tell you, I very rarely go to the movies without it being someone else's idea (I'm more likely to watch Netflix or borrow one of the hundreds of DVDs Grace, Trisia, Sara and I collectively keep on our bookshelf). Also, Bellingham has trained me well and I find myself averse to the sanitized, corporatized, movie-going experience.

Give me something a little dirty and grungy and local. Or just local since all the ones I linked to are pretty clean that I've seen.

Spoilers contained after this point, you have been warned.

Ah, right, Les Misérables (it's French originally so it's not pronounced less miserable, in fact, judging from what I saw on a GIANT SCREEN with an amazing sound system, I would say that they're quite miserable. Google tells me it translates into English to mean "The Wretched"). That's what I was going to talk about.

I liked it. It was pretty. It was everything I've been told by the raving hordes of internet/theatre fans. Visually and cinematically, the level of detail they went into was mind-blowing. Anne Hathaway made me tear up... twice. First when she entered prostitution to earn money for her daughter, an unfortunately all too real struggle many women find themselves going through even now, and second when she died.

My natural sass and refusal to deal melodrama made it hard to take a lot of the rest of the characters seriously (see for reference English majors reacting to people who call Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet a love story without understanding the full implications of the actions within the play).

Yes, Marius, Cosette is a pretty blonde, but you haven't even met her yet. What in hell are you doing telling me you're completely in love with her?

Inspector Javert, what are you? Quit walking around on the edges of high places. Do you have a suicide wi-oh.

Eponine, the stupid boy doesn't like you, quit mooning ab-- oh well, nice hat, since you can't have him you're going to join in the revolution effort? As long as you believe in the same ideals of freedom and democracy, who am I to tell you not to join in.

And I know, some of you are reading this, probably thinking I missed the point. For one quick example: Javert is a conflicted man because all he's doing is his job (as Valjean points out to him repeatedly) for a system that the People are rebelling against. He offends our democratic backgrounds because he represents the staunch refusal to accept change, and enforces the law as it stands mercilessly and in ways cruelly. To borrow alignment language from DnD, I would call him Lawful Good/Neutral working for a system that is portrayed as having become Evil inasmuch as it no longer works towards the good of the people rather than maintaining the status quo.

I don't dislike the characters at all and I love (LOVE) the socio-political discourse at work. This is a revolution after all, dealing with a corrupt and unfair prison system. Highly appropriate given the current state of the world!

After the little blonde kid (never caught his name, wikipedia tells it's Gavroche) gets martyred, part of me was hoping it would lead to full insurrection, but alas, history proved otherwise and all the pretty boys died. Have I mentioned the eye-candy yet? Because it's sweet.

I'm told that the stage version with full musical numbers helps lesson the...angst (though that's not quite the word I'm looking for) as highlighted in the cinematic version. If I could watch it in mute, I would have been so much happier. I mean, when Cosette and Marius actually talk and there's butterflies flying around implying they're soulmates or Fantine dies and the flag behind her says "mort" which is French for "dead," I'm enraptured. And I'm sure Victor Hugo's original novel probably had none of the musical appeal of this adaptation.

Maybe this is a sign I'm not one to suggest musicals to (just a guess).