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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Guns for tots -- and other news from Bughouse Square

If mental competence and health become criteria in keeping firearms out of the hands of the deranged,  many gun advocates will be disqualified and restricted from possessing guns.  By now, most people are aware of one of the idiots of the global village, Alex Jones, who petitioned the White House to have CNN's Piers Morgan deported and then went bug house on Morgan's TV talk show.  Jones followed up his padded cell routine with a claim that cops and crackheads were out to kill him.  

Jones has his own talk radio show, but he frequents Coast to Coast AM a Premiere Network show that broadcasts on more than 500 stations per night, including Sirius, and has about 3 million listeners a night.  While it has some competent and intelligent hosts (George Knap and Ian Punnett),  some of its regular hosts, George Noory and John B. Wells in particular,  do fruit loop-de-loops with the  likes of Alex Jones, and their very presence on the air is enough to bring America's average IQ down to the level where custodial care seems required.

 Nighttime talk radio has displaced an American tradition for the practice of First 
A gathering at Bughouse Square.
Amendment rights where a perspective was maintained on the difference between the merely radical and the outright mentally incompetent.   Across the street from the Newberry  Library in Chicago is a park commonly called Bughouse Square.  It is where people with various viewpoints could mount a soap box and hold forth on any topic they chose.  It provided entertainment for students such as myself who did not have the money to spend on other amusements, and we wandered down to Bughouse Square to see what kind of diversions we could find on the cheap.  At that time one might come across some beat poets performing their poems, or some aspiring musicians trying to make their talents known, but mostly the performers were speakers who had some  political notion to rant about.  Although some of the speakers were from serious political movements and used the soapbox to launch some real facts and ideas into the populace,  most of the speakers were of the stripe that earned the place the name "Bughouse."   People gathered to giggle and snicker and make fun of these people, to laugh at the absurdity of their delusions and inability to reason in kind of a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I  spirit.  Some professors and other elders told us it was wrong to look at the spectacles created by people bereft of reason, but grudgingly admitted they could be amusing.  They said it was like going to side shows to see freaks and make entertainment out of the misfortunes of others.

A very prominent social psychologist  wrote an essay back in the day contending that places such  as Bughouse Square served a very important and essential purpose in social and political dialogue.  It required observers to make a distinction between those who saw flaws and dangers in our culture that we might not be aware of and those who lived in a world of misinformation and mental chaos.  He made the point that often the people who wandered to Bughouse Square to feel superior had their only acquaintance with the forms of human aberration in such occasions.  Bughouse Square provided a place for voices to be heard, but for those who listened, it also provided a context, a warning context that what one heard there might be insane and dangerous to believe.  Cults defined themselves by their appearance and their behavior.  The real danger is for the gullible, those who themselves are not equipped with information or reasoning skills to discern where discourse departs from reality and sanity.  Generally, what was said in Bughouse Square stayed in Bughouse Square. 

Cable television news, talk radio, and the Internet with interactive news and blogs have changed all that.  What is said in Bughouse Square often dominates what is being said in the electronic media.  On Wednesday night, that was the case with John B. Wells on Coast to Coast AM.  Wells had a guest who is a founder of Oath Keepers who was advising all police officers, public officials, and military personnel to revolt and mutiny if the government ordered them to register or confiscate the weapons held by people.  Their message was to resist any form of gun regulation.  Wells then went on to make statements that make Bughouse Square look an international peace summit.

Wells claimed that the Aurora, Colorado, theater massacre and the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary massacre were set ups by the government to establish a pretext for taking firearms away from the people.  He said anyone who could not see those slaughters were set ups is a self-delusional fool.  

The problem in broadcasting these statements is that they are not given the context they would receive were they said in Bughouse Square, where people would shake their heads in disbelief at what goes on in the heads of those poor souls who put themselves on display.  To suggest that some officials in government would plan and carry out the slaughter of 20 first-graders is a serious libel that inflicts serious damage on the culture.  People like Wells need to be given the opportunity to present their evidence that such atrocities were done at the behest of government, and if they cannot should be branded as the loonies of Bughouse Square, where they can rant and rave all they want, signifying nothing.  

Anderson Cooper on CNN has taken up this issue to some degree.  There are two professors who claim they can produce evidence that the Aurora and Sandy Hook slaughters were government sponsored.   Salon has done some reporting on how quickly the nut cases took up Sandy Hook.

The responsible media fulfills a need to let the public know that the malevolent freaks are out there inflicting their insult and abuse on the victims and and their survivors of these incidents.  But what they have to  report is that malignant brain cancer is not being confined to the Bughouse, but is being spread by a major broadcast network.  

Many of the gun-cult devotees have taken up the charge that Obama's concern about the availability and use of  weapons designed only for killing people enables the epidemic of violence that some want to inflict on the people.  They compare him to Hitler's disarming of the Jews.  As many commentators have pointed out, this ill-informed nonsense trivializes the Holocaust and its ramifications and unleashes a rage among the feeble-minded that in itself threatens public safety and health.  

Let these people have their Bughouse Squares.  But let Obama and others accused of plotting atrocities have the opportunity to face their accusers, and require the accusers to come forward with their facts and evidence.  The role of the media is to examine the facts, not merely report what is contended by the demented souls in the Bughouse.  

Mental health is an issue among the gun cult.  The legacy media and sane bloggers need to persistently distinguish between the right to free speech and the right to be insane. 

Twenty first-graders and six of the their teachers deserve not to have their lives and their families profaned in the name of lunatic causes.  Our national dialogue on serious issues deserves not to be directed by the inmates of the Bughouse. 

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks again for sharing another lucid analysis. I had a shock that there was not a constitutional law text on the Second Amendment - until now. (There is a $500+ routinely updated doorstop on firearms laws that is narrowly focused.)

This webpage has links to much great information. The pod casts are particularly good. The themes in the work are that gun (arms) control predates the republic, is as old as civilization, and that proper civilized society requires a balance of firearms ownership rights, regulations, and restrictions.

I'll soon buy the tome.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States