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American denial
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Clinically Insane
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Sep 20, 2013, 08:04 PM
 
I have this unprovable theory that a number of Americans like to come up with single variable solutions to complex problems do so because they are in denial as to how big some of these problems are in scope. If you buy my theory, I don't know if this is related to some combination of the notion of American exceptionalism, ignorance, denial, intellectual laziness, ideology, or what, but I'm curious to hear what you think... Note that I'm saying "a number of" and not generalizing about the overall population, I'm being careful to identify a non-specific percentage of the population so that we can talk about this mindset without assigning any specific numbers.

For example, how many times have you heard people go on about the US gun murder rate being simply about mental health issues, or the cost of health care being about tort reform or obesity?

I'm surprised with how many Americans seem satisfied with these answers to these large problems. It's as if they see health care or gun violence as just this little problem, rather than this incredibly massive behemoth it is.

A symptom of this may be politicians complaining about how big and complex a bill like Obamacare is, and people accepting this is valid criticism. A system as big and complex as this is going to need a big and complex solution to untangle things, no matter what party comes up with the solution. The more we all learn about these problems, the more we seem to appreciate the complexity of these problems, and the more I want to sort of slap around people that seem satisfied with simplistic answers that look at a fraction of the variables involved.

Do any of you feel the same way? Any theories as to why this is? Do you think the difficulty of political change is a part of why these problems have snowballed to become as big as they are, and some people just don't recognize where things stand now? What's going on here?
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 08:45 PM
 
Gun violence is because of drug prohibition.

Sheltered white people talk about it being a mental health issue.

Carry on.
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 08:56 PM
 
Yawn. Another thread of Besson talking about what's wrong with America.

For f*cks sake, could you at least once turn to other nations or people groups ?

You're really a one-trick-whining pony.

-t
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 09:36 PM
 
Yeah, this is a pretty lame post.

Spree shootings have largely been the result of mental illness going unchecked.

Day-to-day gun violence is largely due to gang-on-gang thug violence.

The health care issue is more than just obesity. It's laziness in general - obesity is just a particularly obvious symptom of that laziness.
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 09:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Yeah, this is a pretty lame post.

Spree shootings have largely been the result of mental illness going unchecked.

Day-to-day gun violence is largely due to gang-on-gang thug violence.

The health care issue is more than just obesity. It's laziness in general - obesity is just a particularly obvious symptom of that laziness.

Do you think these issues can be solved by addressing mental illness and laziness? Fix those and these problems disappear?
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 09:56 PM
 
Of course not. Nobody around here bothering to engage in these conversations is that stupid and simple-minded.

You severely underestimate the difference in work ethic between your average American and your average, say, Scandinavian (I picked them because people love to compare the US to the almighty Nords).

America's culture - the norms of its citizens, more specifically - is unique. We are more ethnically and culturally diverse than anywhere else in the world. I don't mean that we have a lot of black people and that makes us special. I mean that we have people moving here and establishing lives and communities from every corner of Earth. That's not to say that countries in Europe don't have any diversity at all (although the further North you go, the less diverse the population is), but it's different, and I might go so far as to say that it's not to the same degree as it is here in the States.

Because we live in a country where we have constitutionally-protected rights, we don't want to give up those rights. Because we enjoy a solid free market economic system. we don't want to give that up in the name of socialism and allowing the government to take over a particular market or industry.

America is no more flawed than any other country on the planet. If it were so much worse here, you'd think people would be leaving in droves, and people from other countries wouldn't be so interested in moving here.

It's tiresome to hear the same FUD over and over about how bad everything is in the United States. I've asked friends of mine in Canada if they think that their healthcare system is better than what we have in the United States, and the response I've gotten has been "it's not better, it's not worse, it's just different."

You're a dual citizen, aren't you? If it's so miserably flawed in the US and Americans grind your gears so much, why haven't you left yet?
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 10:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
America's culture - the norms of its citizens, more specifically - is unique. We are more ethnically and culturally diverse than anywhere else in the world. I don't mean that we have a lot of black people and that makes us special. I mean that we have people moving here and establishing lives and communities from every corner of Earth. That's not to say that countries in Europe don't have any diversity at all (although the further North you go, the less diverse the population is), but it's different, and I might go so far as to say that it's not to the same degree as it is here in the States.
I'm trying to get at the core of what makes it different.

Toronto is apparently one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The city population is roughly that of Chicago's, yet the gun violence is not even remotely comparable. Why is this?

I don't like it when things don't make sense.

Because we live in a country where we have constitutionally-protected rights, we don't want to give up those rights. Because we enjoy a solid free market economic system. we don't want to give that up in the name of socialism and allowing the government to take over a particular market or industry.
I still don't understand how these things are being threatened. Perhaps challenged a little bit, but it's sort of like hitting something with a nerf baseball bat and responding with rocket launchers.

America is no more flawed than any other country on the planet. If it were so much worse here, you'd think people would be leaving in droves, and people from other countries wouldn't be so interested in moving here.
I'm sorry if this line of questioning is making you feel defensive. I'm not claiming that it is any more flawed than other countries, but I don't think we should feel at rest comforting ourselves that way.

It's tiresome to hear the same FUD over and over about how bad everything is in the United States. I've asked friends of mine in Canada if they think that their healthcare system is better than what we have in the United States, and the response I've gotten has been "it's not better, it's not worse, it's just different."
It doesn't really matter what your sample size of our friends or my friends or anybody in any particular anecdote says, and I didn't even bring up Canada in this thread (unless you count my listing it in the gun stats).

You're a dual citizen, aren't you? If it's so miserably flawed in the US and Americans grind your gears so much, why haven't you left yet?
I don't understand what it is about these sorts of conversations that make people feel so defensive. Everything can be improved, and trying to improve something is often a reflection of caring for that thing. Why would I create this thread to tear down America? That would be a complete waste of time.
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 11:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I'm trying to get at the core of what makes it different.

Toronto is apparently one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The city population is roughly that of Chicago's, yet the gun violence is not even remotely comparable. Why is this?

I don't like it when things don't make sense.
I live in Chicago.

The gun violence is because of gangs.

The gangs exist as they do because they're seen as a ticket out of poverty. There's lots of poverty.

The gangs are perceived as such because they make huge amounts of money off of drug prohibition.
     
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Sep 20, 2013, 11:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I live in Chicago.

The gun violence is because of gangs.

The gangs exist as they do because they're seen as a ticket out of poverty. There's lots of poverty.

The gangs are perceived as such because they make huge amounts of money off of drug prohibition.

This makes sense, but why aren't gangs seen as a ticket out of poverty in other parts of the world where there is poverty? There are certainly many places to choose from where poverty is a big problem.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 12:53 AM
 
Like where?

I'm not challenging you, I just want to address where you had in mind.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 01:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Like where?

I'm not challenging you, I just want to address where you had in mind.

I didn't really have a particular country in mind, but how about Haiti? Poverty is pretty wretched there, right?

Gun crime is also lower than it is in the US:

Guns in Haiti: Facts, Figures and Firearm Law

6.9 per 100,000 in 2010
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 01:43 AM
 
As a quick and dirty guess, I'd say you don't have enough disposable income floating around Haiti to support an extensive infrastructure for supplying drugs to the locals.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 03:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Gun crime is also lower than it is in the US:
Duh. That's because they can't trade food stamps for guns down there.

-t
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 03:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As a quick and dirty guess, I'd say you don't have enough disposable income floating around Haiti to support an extensive infrastructure for supplying drugs to the locals.
According to this page:

List of countries by percentage of population living in poverty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The UK has roughly the same percentage of people living below the poverty line as the US, and of course there exists great wealth in that country.

I won't be able to come up with a comparison that you won't find some sort of flaw in, but can we say "close enough" long enough to acknowledge the massive disparity between the gun murder rates?
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 03:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Duh. That's because they can't trade food stamps for guns down there.

-t

Please control your emotions.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 04:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
The UK has roughly the same percentage of people living below the poverty line as the US, and of course there exists great wealth in that country.

I won't be able to come up with a comparison that you won't find some sort of flaw in, but can we say "close enough" long enough to acknowledge the massive disparity between the gun murder rates?
They allowed their gun ownership rights to be taken away from them. This country was founded on the belief in, and the reliance on, an armed citizenry. That won't change.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Sep 21, 2013, 05:08 AM
 
Is it fair to say then what this boils down to is that we value our freedoms to own whatever guns we want more than the freedom to live in neighborhoods not surrounded by murder?
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 06:58 AM
 
I wasn't aware that my neighborhood was surrounded murder, and we have more guns per capita than just about anywhere else in the world. My town's only had 3 murders in 8 years; one strangling (6 months ago), one shooting (3 years ago), and one stabbing (almost 8 years ago).

However, I do know that if marijuana was decriminalized that my area's crime rate would drop by 34% overnight and we'd no longer have an overcrowding issue at the county lock-up.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Sep 21, 2013, 12:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
I wasn't aware that my neighborhood was surrounded murder, and we have more guns per capita than just about anywhere else in the world. My town's only had 3 murders in 8 years; one strangling (6 months ago), one shooting (3 years ago), and one stabbing (almost 8 years ago).

However, I do know that if marijuana was decriminalized that my area's crime rate would drop by 34% overnight and we'd no longer have an overcrowding issue at the county lock-up.
Pot is illegal in the UK and most other countries too though.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Please control your emotions.
Please &$#* *#$.

-t
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 03:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I'm trying to get at the core of what makes it different.

Toronto is apparently one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The city population is roughly that of Chicago's, yet the gun violence is not even remotely comparable. Why is this?
What's the gang activity like in Toronto? What about the rest of the country? What is the history of Canada with regards to prohibition of drugs and/or alcohol?

Gangs in the United States are almost entirely funded by drug cartels from Central and South America. They are simply drug mules. It makes sense that gang activity would be lower in Canada, because the United States sits between Canada and the drug cartels and takes the brunt of the drug-related gang violence.

I don't like it when things don't make sense.
Nor do I. It doesn't make sense to punish law-abiding American citizens because of a few clinically insane basket cases.

I still don't understand how these things are being threatened. Perhaps challenged a little bit, but it's sort of like hitting something with a nerf baseball bat and responding with rocket launchers.
Forcing anti-gun laws on Americans - things like national gun registries, arbitrary restrictions on firearm ownership, or an outright ban on firearms - is unconstitutional. It is a threat to our constitutional right to own weapons and protect ourselves and ensure our own personal safety.

Ending the privatization of healthcare goes completely against the fundamentals of a free market system.

I'm sorry if this line of questioning is making you feel defensive. I'm not claiming that it is any more flawed than other countries, but I don't think we should feel at rest comforting ourselves that way.
But you are. You only target America in all of your political posts. You never bring up what's wrong with other countries; you only talk about what's wrong with America. We're the only ones in denial. We're the only ones with a ****ed up healthcare system, the way you portray it. We're the only ones with violent crime problems.

I don't understand what it is about these sorts of conversations that make people feel so defensive. Everything can be improved, and trying to improve something is often a reflection of caring for that thing. Why would I create this thread to tear down America? That would be a complete waste of time.
You created a thread called "Americans in Denial" to discuss why you think Americans should give in and admit that it sucks here.

What pisses me off more than anything is that you, as a non-natural-born citizen of this country, seem to no longer appreciate the freedoms and rights afforded to you by our constitution. There are tens of thousands of people in other countries, especially Mexico, who risk their lives and give up all their money and possessions just for the breath of a chance of life in the United States. These are people who would give anything to be allowed to immigrate to this country.

It's a hell of a lot easier to move to the US if you're a Canadian. You should ****ing appreciate that and be grateful for it, rather than constantly focusing on how much you dislike this country, its policies, and the way things are done here.

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
This makes sense, but why aren't gangs seen as a ticket out of poverty in other parts of the world where there is poverty? There are certainly many places to choose from where poverty is a big problem.
Countries in Central and South America DO have gangs. Drug cartels have pretty much had totalitarian control over Mexico until very recently, when the country's government finally cracked down and started tearing down the biggest and most violent cartels.

It's just that in Mexico, instead of just shooting people, they decapitate them and put their heads on spikes near the interstate as a message to anyone thinking of messing with those gangs.

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I didn't really have a particular country in mind, but how about Haiti? Poverty is pretty wretched there, right?

Gun crime is also lower than it is in the US:

Guns in Haiti: Facts, Figures and Firearm Law

6.9 per 100,000 in 2010
This is incredibly disingenuous. Violent crime is higher in extremely poor countries:

List of countries by intentional homicide rate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Honduras suffers from an incredibly high homicide rate - 91.6 homicides for every 100,000 people. Haiti's homicide rate is higher than that of the United States.

Guns are not the only method of murdering people. You're being willfully ignorant if you are trying to claim that guns in the United States make our homicide rate higher. They don't. There are 102 countries with a higher homicide rate than the United States. 21 of those countries are in the Caribbean, 8 are in Central America, and 10 are in South America. Africa suffers from a similarly high homicide rate.

All these regions suffer from severe, deadly poverty. Guns are not the cause of their terrifyingly high homicide rates. Poverty and desperation and violent gangs are.

If the United States were able to permanently dismantle all the violent gangs in this country, our homicide and gun violence rates would plummet, and we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 04:14 PM
 
^^^ Good rebuttal.

In the PWL, besson has really become sort of a troll. He's rehashing the same old topics over and over again.

-t
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 04:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
America's culture - the norms of its citizens, more specifically - is unique. We are more ethnically and culturally diverse than anywhere else in the world. I don't mean that we have a lot of black people and that makes us special. I mean that we have people moving here and establishing lives and communities from every corner of Earth. That's not to say that countries in Europe don't have any diversity at all (although the further North you go, the less diverse the population is), but it's different, and I might go so far as to say that it's not to the same degree as it is here in the States.

Because we live in a country where we have constitutionally-protected rights, we don't want to give up those rights. Because we enjoy a solid free market economic system. we don't want to give that up in the name of socialism and allowing the government to take over a particular market or industry.

America is no more flawed than any other country on the planet. If it were so much worse here, you'd think people would be leaving in droves, and people from other countries wouldn't be so interested in moving here.
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Sep 21, 2013, 05:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
What's the gang activity like in Toronto? What about the rest of the country? What is the history of Canada with regards to prohibition of drugs and/or alcohol?

Gangs in the United States are almost entirely funded by drug cartels from Central and South America. They are simply drug mules. It makes sense that gang activity would be lower in Canada, because the United States sits between Canada and the drug cartels and takes the brunt of the drug-related gang violence.
Now we're getting somewhere...

This map does suggest that meth and cocaine use is pretty high in the US:

Drugs use map of the world | News | theguardian.com

however, you don't need drug mules to peddle meth, right? So, your theory is that the gun numbers are a combination of drugs and mental instability? This is making more sense to me now, I'm going to continue to think about this explanation.

Forcing anti-gun laws on Americans - things like national gun registries, arbitrary restrictions on firearm ownership, or an outright ban on firearms - is unconstitutional. It is a threat to our constitutional right to own weapons and protect ourselves and ensure our own personal safety.
Were you in favor of the automatic weapons ban? Do you think that people would feel as strongly about their personal safety if gun homicides were much lower? Would you be in favor of amending the constitution to make it more clear as to what kinds of weapons people should be allowed to own? I don't understand the clinging to the constitution bit when on this point it is pretty ambiguous as to what this means with today's weapons technology (e.g. I brought up the example of owning nukes). I understand the reverence to the constitution and being a country governed by law, but without this clarification we are just left with a never-ending debate as to what exactly the 2nd amendment should mean today. No matter how opinionated one is about what it should mean today, it is pretty clear that it can be interpreted multiple ways.

Ending the privatization of healthcare goes completely against the fundamentals of a free market system.
Is Medicare/Medicaid completely against the fundamentals of a free market system?

But you are. You only target America in all of your political posts. You never bring up what's wrong with other countries; you only talk about what's wrong with America. We're the only ones in denial. We're the only ones with a ****ed up healthcare system, the way you portray it. We're the only ones with violent crime problems.
I'm pretty ignorant to the politics of other countries right now, and who here would be interested in a lively debate on Portugal? How often do people on the internet admit to ignorance? This should tell you why I focus on America, and even if I wasn't ignorant to the politics of other countries, extra scrutiny and criticism goes with the territory of being the world's only superpower. It is not only this way with political debates, but with just about everything. There wouldn't be nearly daily articles tearing the iPhone a new one if it were small and irrelevant.

The fact that non-Americans like to give America a lot of attention should be a source of pride in a way, and you shouldn't feel the constant need to defend America - big things are complicated and messy, that's just life.

What pisses me off more than anything is that you, as a non-natural-born citizen of this country, seem to no longer appreciate the freedoms and rights afforded to you by our constitution. There are tens of thousands of people in other countries, especially Mexico, who risk their lives and give up all their money and possessions just for the breath of a chance of life in the United States. These are people who would give anything to be allowed to immigrate to this country.

It's a hell of a lot easier to move to the US if you're a Canadian. You should ****ing appreciate that and be grateful for it, rather than constantly focusing on how much you dislike this country, its policies, and the way things are done here.
Sure I take things for granted, but that doesn't mean that we should be content with the way things are (unless we actually are). Take any criticisms of Windows/OS X/Android/iOS... We take for granted what this technology can do, and if we were to take a step back at it and look at it the way a non-developed country would look at it, or even how we might look at it years ago prior to this stuff existing, what you can do with this technology is pure magic. However, none of us seem particularly interested in sitting around going "aww gee, this stuff sure is great, isn't it?"

Why should this be any different with improving a country?

This is incredibly disingenuous. Violent crime is higher in extremely poor countries:

List of countries by intentional homicide rate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Honduras suffers from an incredibly high homicide rate - 91.6 homicides for every 100,000 people. Haiti's homicide rate is higher than that of the United States.
I will look at this in greater depth shortly. Thanks for exploring this with me.

Guns are not the only method of murdering people. You're being willfully ignorant if you are trying to claim that guns in the United States make our homicide rate higher. They don't. There are 102 countries with a higher homicide rate than the United States. 21 of those countries are in the Caribbean, 8 are in Central America, and 10 are in South America. Africa suffers from a similarly high homicide rate.

All these regions suffer from severe, deadly poverty. Guns are not the cause of their terrifyingly high homicide rates. Poverty and desperation and violent gangs are.
Do you think there is a relationship between access to health care, poverty, and crime? Where does health care fit in to you? At what point does it literally cost us more to have this poverty?

If the United States were able to permanently dismantle all the violent gangs in this country, our homicide and gun violence rates would plummet, and we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
What about the mentally unstable? They can't all be linked to violent gangs.

I think looking at both violent gangs and mental health together makes sense though. Sometimes they are probably connected, sometimes they may not be... At least, this makes sense to me as far as some of the big variables, although I think there are others at play too.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 08:34 PM
 
Let's remember we have a Rule 8. Thanks.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 09:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Were you in favor of the automatic weapons ban? Do you think that people would feel as strongly about their personal safety if gun homicides were much lower? Would you be in favor of amending the constitution to make it more clear as to what kinds of weapons people should be allowed to own? I don't understand the clinging to the constitution bit when on this point it is pretty ambiguous as to what this means with today's weapons technology (e.g. I brought up the example of owning nukes). I understand the reverence to the constitution and being a country governed by law, but without this clarification we are just left with a never-ending debate as to what exactly the 2nd amendment should mean today. No matter how opinionated one is about what it should mean today, it is pretty clear that it can be interpreted multiple ways.
The Second Amendment is clearer than people think. While you are correct the boundaries aren't explicitly defined, how could they have been?

What is explicit is why the limitation on the government exists: to prevent interference in the formation of a militia.

This means the government can't infringe on a citizen's right to procure and bear a rifle and its ammunition. That is the absolute minimum armament requirement to be considered part of a militia. Infringe on that right, and you infringe on the capability to form a militia.

Frankly, everything else is on the table, and a rational argument can be made there is no other required armament.


P.S. If one tries to argue the Second Amendment states the right to bear arms requires a militia, they're going to get a remedial lesson in parsing a sentence.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 09:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The Second Amendment is clearer than people think. While you are correct the boundaries aren't explicitly defined, how could they have been?

What is explicit is why the limitation on the government exists: to prevent interference in the formation of a militia.

This means the government can't infringe on a citizen's right to procure and bear a rifle and its ammunition. That is the absolute minimum armament requirement to be considered part of a militia. Infringe on that right, and you infringe on the capability to form a militia.

Frankly, everything else is on the table, and a rational argument can be made there is no other required armament.


P.S. If one tries to argue the Second Amendment states the right to bear arms requires a militia, they're going to get a remedial lesson in parsing a sentence.

How about "any kind of handgun or semi-automatic rifle"? Do "arms" technically include rocket launchers? Napalm guns? Chemical weapons or nukes? What is the legal definition?

I know many would argue that automatic weapons should be included in the "have" list. What is your argument for or against these, if you don't mind me asking?
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 10:16 PM
 
I would say (to the chagrin of some), handguns aren't covered by the Second Amendment. Handguns are for portability and concealment. These aren't features required by a militiaman with a rifle. I'd say a similar argument applies at the higher end of the scale. Could a militia use a tank? Sure. Is banning tanks infringing on the citizens' ability to form a militia? That's a stretch.

The ban on automatic weapons doesn't really bother me for two reasons.

First, the only legit application for an automatic weapon is in combat as part of a squad. That's a rare enough occurrence for a civilian, even one in the militia, that I'm not worried this is government overreach, or infringing on day-to-day use.

Second, as I mentioned in the other thread, all semi-automatic weapons (including pistols) are fully-automatic weapons with a limiter. You yank the limiter, now it's full-auto. This isn't exactly a trivial procedure, but it's something any gunsmith could do if pressed. To put it another way, I feel secure in that we can get them should it come to that.
( Last edited by subego; Sep 22, 2013 at 12:48 AM. )
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 10:23 PM
 
Makes sense... What level of background checking would you be comfortable with?
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 10:34 PM
 
That's where things get sticky.

I don't have a problem with particular groups of people (say, felons) having their rights revoked. Likewise, it's naïve to think self-policing by buyers is adequate.

OTOH, a government list of who has guns is a very bad idea. Certainly if you believe the Second Amendment to be a check on the government.

I don't have an easy answer to this.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 11:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Now we're getting somewhere...

This map does suggest that meth and cocaine use is pretty high in the US:

Drugs use map of the world | News | theguardian.com

however, you don't need drug mules to peddle meth, right?
As far as I'm aware, meth is largely produced domestically. Cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are still largely sourced outside the United States, though.

I'm trying to find some statistics on types of drugs abused by ethnicity but am coming up empty-handed. A general knowledge of poor cultures among blacks and whites does appear to show meth use more popular among whites, whereas cocaine and crack are more popular among blacks. If that is indeed the case, then it would make sense that black gangs are still making all their money dealing drugs (pot, cocaine, crack, etc.) and protecting their drug dealing territories by way of violence.

The "war on drugs" is only one component of the prevalence of gang activity in the United States. That said, if so much money weren't being poured into the drug industry, gangs would no longer have a reliable source of income (and remember, that money is what they use to buy weapons on the black market), and their existence would be threatened.

So, your theory is that the gun numbers are a combination of drugs and mental instability? This is making more sense to me now, I'm going to continue to think about this explanation.
No - my theory is that there is no single cause of gun violence in the United States. Hell, guns aren't the single cause of violence and homicide in the United States.

One aspect of gun violence that your average American will quickly concern themselves with is the mass shooting phenomenon, because these incidents are senseless, kill many people at once, and involve innocent victims at seemingly safe locations (schools, theaters, military facilities).

In the context of mass or spree shootings, the mental health issue is a serious talking point, given that the perpetrators of these crimes are overwhelmingly sufferers of severe psychotic mental disorders.

In the context of gun violence as a whole, several factors need to be considered when determining causes and possible methods of prevention:

"Gun violence" is not the same as "gun homicide". A statistic on number of deaths due to firearm does not discriminate between accidental deaths, intentional homicides, and suicide. In United States gun violence statistics, suicide accounts for nearly twice the rate of intentional homicide. These are obviously two very different situations with two very different methods of analysis for the purpose of finding solutions.

Reason for homicide (the circumstances of the crime) is very important. Deaths caused by gang disputes are very different from deaths that involve a perpetrator and an innocent victim. Unfortunately, this data is skewed when analyzed from a national level, because in many police precincts, it's become politically dangerous to report on things like race of perpetrator or actual cause of homicide. You can see that in this FBI report on 2011 homicide data by ethnicity, where nearly a third of the perpetrators are of an "unknown" ethnicity. Similarly in this FBI report on homicide circumstances from 2007 through 2011 indicates that the majority of homicides were (a) non-felony and (b) caused by "other arguments". There's no telling what that actually means - in a precinct where officers are strictly discouraged from using "gangland activity" as the circumstance behind the crime, they're going to go with the generic "other arguments" option.

Here's a link to an FBI page with a list of all the different views of statistical data available for all homicides in the United States in 2011. You'll notice that there are a LOT of circumstances that can end in homicide. There's no single answer to preventing all of them.

Were you in favor of the automatic weapons ban?
I don't really know. If automatic weapons weren't impossible to acquire, they'd probably still be ridiculously expensive (low demand, high cost of production), and not everyone would own them.

A fully automatic weapon is expensive to use, too - ammo isn't cheap (it uses a lot of brass, which is expensive regardless of what it's used for), and a fully automatic weapon goes through a shitload of ammo.

Do you think that people would feel as strongly about their personal safety if gun homicides were much lower?
Yes. Homicides in countries where the gun homicide rate is low are simply caused by other weapons and circumstances instead. One of the worst spree killings in China was caused by a crazed eighteen-year-old who doused his crush's elementary school classroom in gasoline and set it on fire.

People have been killing other people since the dawn of time. Guns or no guns, people are going to keep killing each other. As long as people are killing each other, we need to take personal safety very seriously.

Would you be in favor of amending the constitution to make it more clear as to what kinds of weapons people should be allowed to own? I don't understand the clinging to the constitution bit when on this point it is pretty ambiguous as to what this means with today's weapons technology (e.g. I brought up the example of owning nukes). I understand the reverence to the constitution and being a country governed by law, but without this clarification we are just left with a never-ending debate as to what exactly the 2nd amendment should mean today. No matter how opinionated one is about what it should mean today, it is pretty clear that it can be interpreted multiple ways.
No, I'm not in favor of a constitutional amendment, because our political representatives have repeatedly proven they have no clue what they're talking about when it comes to knowledge of firearms and what really poses a danger to citizens. Given how worthless the assault weapons ban of the 90s was, I don't think Congress has any business deciding what guns we can and can't have.

Is Medicare/Medicaid completely against the fundamentals of a free market system?
I'm not going to go that far, but those social programs are completely broken, mishandled, and hemorrhaging money. They're a drain on the federal tax dollar pool and desperately need drastic reform. However, we all know that will never happen.

A strictly universal healthcare scheme where there is no privatized medicine is absolutely against the fundamentals of a free market system, since it's essentially a government-sanctioned monopoly with no competition.

I'm pretty ignorant to the politics of other countries right now, and who here would be interested in a lively debate on Portugal? How often do people on the internet admit to ignorance? This should tell you why I focus on America, and even if I wasn't ignorant to the politics of other countries, extra scrutiny and criticism goes with the territory of being the world's only superpower. It is not only this way with political debates, but with just about everything. There wouldn't be nearly daily articles tearing the iPhone a new one if it were small and irrelevant.
I'll agree that it's expected to be more aware of how things are in your own country than others' homelands. However, a lot of your arguments are built on comparing America to other countries (e.g. this country does gun control better, that country does healthcare better), so you need to have a grasp of what's actually happening in those countries before drawing a comparison and subsequent conclusion that involves them.

Sure I take things for granted, but that doesn't mean that we should be content with the way things are (unless we actually are). Take any criticisms of Windows/OS X/Android/iOS... We take for granted what this technology can do, and if we were to take a step back at it and look at it the way a non-developed country would look at it, or even how we might look at it years ago prior to this stuff existing, what you can do with this technology is pure magic. However, none of us seem particularly interested in sitting around going "aww gee, this stuff sure is great, isn't it?"

Why should this be any different with improving a country?
I agree that we can take things for granted. The comparisons to other countries is what gets old to some of us around here. We're not like other countries, in a lot of different ways, so comparisons are usually pretty short-sighted and ignore a lot of important aspects about topic in question.

I will look at this in greater depth shortly. Thanks for exploring this with me.
I'd recommend it. The US looks pretty great compared to the homicide rates in pretty much every country in Africa, Central+South America, and the Caribbean.

Do you think there is a relationship between access to health care, poverty, and crime? Where does health care fit in to you? At what point does it literally cost us more to have this poverty?
I think there's a much stronger relationship between education, poverty, and crime. America's public education system sucks from kindergarten all the way through grad school. We do very little to prepare children for the real world, and standards have slipped so low in the name of ensuring self-esteem (and the No Child Left Behind Act, which has ruined many childrens' chance of actually learning anything in the short time the school has them) that many high school graduates can't read, are unable to think critically and logically, and don't know enough about math and consumer finance to understand the basic concepts of a car loan or a bank account.

What about the mentally unstable? They can't all be linked to violent gangs.
They're not. Violent gangs account for much more violent crime in the United States. The mentally ill account for a tiny handful of crimes - it's just that when they do commit a crime, it's large-scale, completely out of nowhere, and terrifying to the American public, so everyone hears about it immediately.

Like I said awhile back - nobody hears or cares about yet another black guy killing a black guy in Detroit, because that's just an average day for that area.

I think looking at both violent gangs and mental health together makes sense though. Sometimes they are probably connected, sometimes they may not be... At least, this makes sense to me as far as some of the big variables, although I think there are others at play too.
Sure there are others - poverty's a big one. Our solutions for fixing poverty are broken at this point. Welfare does nothing to actually educate people and turn them from lazy bums into long-term contributing members of society. Education could go a long way toward improving things. Think about it - if you're intelligent and able to comprehend others' views and form coherent rebuttals to those views, you're less likely to just whip out a gun and blow someone's face off when they disagree with you.
     
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Sep 22, 2013, 12:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Pot is illegal in the UK and most other countries too though.
"Illegal" but not hunted down with nearly the same intensity. They go after major traffickers, we bust Jim Bob for having half of an ounce of weed and sentence him to a year in county (saw that happen 4 months ago). If they were to make picking flowers illegal but no one is ever arrested or ticketed for it, then that law isn't going to stop many people from doing it.
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Sep 22, 2013, 12:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Would you be in favor of amending the constitution to make it more clear as to what kinds of weapons people should be allowed to own?
I'll shoot. No. Thats what state law is for. We already have everyone in agreement on not wanting class 3 weapons in the hands of the average citizenry... Though with special licenses one can get them in certain states. This hasn't been a problem or subject of recent debate; so there's really nothing in the constitution to fix.
I don't understand the clinging to the constitution bit when on this point it is pretty ambiguous as to what this means with today's weapons technology (e.g. I brought up the example of owning nukes). I understand the reverence to the constitution and being a country governed by law, but without this clarification we are just left with a never-ending debate as to what exactly the 2nd amendment should mean today. No matter how opinionated one is about what it should mean today, it is pretty clear that it can be interpreted multiple ways.
Nobody is debating that we should have the right to own nukes; regardless of what the constitution says; so why does it need clarifying on this, or anything else everybody is in agreement on?
A lot of us don't see any ambiguity in the constitution. We all know what it meant back when it was written and it means the same thing now. Any attempt to interpret the meaning of stuff is merely a diversion.
Is Medicare/Medicaid completely against the fundamentals of a free market system?
Yes, people who use it would get much better health care at more affordable costs if these systems along with insurance didn't exist.
Sure I take things for granted, but that doesn't mean that we should be content with the way things are (unless we actually are). Take any criticisms of Windows/OS X/Android/iOS... We take for granted what this technology can do, and if we were to take a step back at it and look at it the way a non-developed country would look at it, or even how we might look at it years ago prior to this stuff existing, what you can do with this technology is pure magic. However, none of us seem particularly interested in sitting around going "aww gee, this stuff sure is great, isn't it?"

Why should this be any different with improving a country?
The reason some of us are defensive isn't because we can't take criticism; it's because we are genuinely absolutely terrified... terrified, of the consequences of enacting many of these tried, and proven failed liberal ideas. They will affect hundreds of millions of people. The problem is people who support federal (liberal) blanket laws are similar to taking our right to choose "Windows/OS X/Android/iOS". The argument is "which is best... ok I think Window and blackberry are best so lets force those on everybody... and if they disagree with me they're ignorant or greedy". Conservative are saying if you don't like firearms you have a choice not to buy or use one, ever. You also have a choice to move to city where they're banned. And if you want government controlling your health care then move to state of like minded people and get it there. So many choices. Liberalism, on these issues is all about taking choice away, and trying to push an oversimplified concept on 300 mill people. That's what standardizing to one federal blanket way of doing things is all about... simplifying. I guess too many choices is too complicated.
What about the mentally unstable? They can't all be linked to violent gangs.

I think looking at both violent gangs and mental health together makes sense though. Sometimes they are probably connected, sometimes they may not be... At least, this makes sense to me as far as some of the big variables, although I think there are others at play too.
Well I disagree with it being all about drugs... in a way. Because the gun control issue didn't really build steam until it was mental cases that went on shooting-sprees. It's not about how many people die from fire arms or drug related crime. Lets be honest. Most people didn't care about any of that, or worry about it, until they needed to use it as ammunition for their anti-gun argument that all began with obvious mental cases (who gave plenty of warning sign) going berserk.

I'd argue for the most part, you have a choice not to get shot at as well. A lot of us in the US aren't worried about all this gun violence liberals claim is out there because we don't put ourselves in situations where we need to worry about it. And for the people that carry that just adds extra deterrence for crimes. Do you really watch your back constantly worrying about if you'll be shot everyday due to our current gun laws?
     
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Sep 22, 2013, 12:39 AM
 
If you look at the number of murders committed, full-auto weapons are less dangerous than hatchets and butcher knives, by a good bit. Despite what you see in movies (bleh) automatic weapons aren't practical or useful for killing groups of people, they're for laying down suppression ("cover") fire to allow troop movement.
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Sep 22, 2013, 01:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
The reason some of us are defensive isn't because we can't take criticism; it's because we are genuinely absolutely terrified... terrified, of the consequences of enacting many of these tried, and proven failed liberal ideas. They will affect hundreds of millions of people. The problem is people who support federal (liberal) blanket laws are similar to taking our right to choose "Windows/OS X/Android/iOS". The argument is "which is best... ok I think Window and blackberry are best so lets force those on everybody... and if they disagree with me they're ignorant or greedy". Conservative are saying if you don't like firearms you have a choice not to buy or use one, ever. You also have a choice to move to city where they're banned. And if you want government controlling your health care then move to state of like minded people and get it there. So many choices. Liberalism, on these issues is all about taking choice away, and trying to push an oversimplified concept on 300 mill people. That's what standardizing to one federal blanket way of doing things is all about... simplifying. I guess too many choices is too complicated.
Firstly, the freedom of choice is more of a libertarian value, there are many conservatives that are inconsistent in what sort of freedoms we should have, particularly WRT a number of social issues. This whole "we love freedom" conservative rhetoric business is just manipulation, it's more like "we love freedom with the stuff we care about, but the stuff you care about, like gays marrying and stuff... Not so much!"

Secondly, these proven failed liberal ideas... I'd have to think about this more before making this argument for real, but I'm thinking that there are more proven successful liberal ideas than there are modern day conservative ideas. For instance, what developed country has succeeded without at least some basic safety nets or public schools that seem to be far more in the wheelhouse of the left?

I think what you are doing here is taking liberal rhetoric and conflating it with a generalization of all liberal values. I would say based on my perceptions, FWIW, that most liberals are in favor of owning some kind of gun, it is just a matter of which ones and where that line is drawn. We have seen just posts above this one some conservatives and libertarians not 100% sure about how they'd feel about legalizing all automatic weapons. So, some liberals would draw that line at certain semi-automatic weapons, some conservatives would draw it somewhere else. Don't paint this as "liberals want to take away all our guns" because that is just inaccurate.

There are also differences of opinion in background checking, availability of guns at places like gun shows and Walmart, etc., but all of this is also just more line drawing. If you are terrified you are creating boogeyman or else you subscribe to the slippery slope arguments. This sort of drama might be best warranted when there is serious discussion about actually banning all guns or something, but this hasn't existed, and as far as the whole slippery slope thing, I think that premise has merit, but I think these arguments are stronger with the drama not cranked to 10, and while demonstrating a more down-to-Earth understanding of the opposing viewpoint.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 03:57 AM
 
To all of the Portuguese people in this thread I may have offended, my apologies.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 07:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Do you think these issues can be solved by addressing mental illness and laziness? Fix those and these problems disappear?
Wait, isn't this the exact philosophical denial you've just railed on others for? A complicated, 1900-page healthcare bill isn't going to make all health care woes disappear either, just like gun control legislation will not make gun violence disappear.

Right?

So what we have here is yet another besson3c thought exercise where you first compartmentalize people who don't think like you by crafting a little straw-man analysis of their thought process and then we get to watch you sort it all out by backing yourself into the idea that your reasoning must be more effective because it sounds better than the straw-man. Never mind the fact that those who've opposed your line of thinking on gun control or health care have come to you armed to the teeth in stats and logic that encompass the entirety of an issue while you're arguing for the government panacea and trying to convince yourself that you're correct.

Did you bring this denial with you from Canada or has America just rubbed off on you?
ebuddy
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 09:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
Wait, isn't this the exact philosophical denial you've just railed on others for? A complicated, 1900-page healthcare bill isn't going to make all health care woes disappear either, just like gun control legislation will not make gun violence disappear.

Right?

So what we have here is yet another besson3c thought exercise where you first compartmentalize people who don't think like you by crafting a little straw-man analysis of their thought process and then we get to watch you sort it all out by backing yourself into the idea that your reasoning must be more effective because it sounds better than the straw-man. Never mind the fact that those who've opposed your line of thinking on gun control or health care have come to you armed to the teeth in stats and logic that encompass the entirety of an issue while you're arguing for the government panacea and trying to convince yourself that you're correct.

Did you bring this denial with you from Canada or has America just rubbed off on you?
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Sep 23, 2013, 12:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
OTOH, a government list of who has guns is a very bad idea. Certainly if you believe the Second Amendment to be a check on the government.

I don't have an easy answer to this.
Why couldn't they issue everyone a gun buying license (or append it to current drivers' license, the same way motorcycle and commercial driving works), and then revoke the gun buying license if and when someone becomes prohibited (like they become a felon or are diagnosed with a mental illness)? All you need is a valid buyer's license in order to buy. People who aren't allowed won't have a valid license. And the government won't be in a position to track transfers, only to disallow transfers by preemptively revoking the person's license.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 12:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Why couldn't they issue everyone a gun buying license (or append it to current drivers' license, the same way motorcycle and commercial driving works), and then revoke the gun buying license if and when someone becomes prohibited (like they become a felon or are diagnosed with a mental illness)?
Well, if the voter ID thread is any indication, people don't bother getting drivers licenses or state issued IDs. How would you distribute it (and verify you're giving it to the right person)?
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 01:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
Wait, isn't this the exact philosophical denial you've just railed on others for? A complicated, 1900-page healthcare bill isn't going to make all health care woes disappear either, just like gun control legislation will not make gun violence disappear.

Right?

So what we have here is yet another besson3c thought exercise where you first compartmentalize people who don't think like you by crafting a little straw-man analysis of their thought process and then we get to watch you sort it all out by backing yourself into the idea that your reasoning must be more effective because it sounds better than the straw-man. Never mind the fact that those who've opposed your line of thinking on gun control or health care have come to you armed to the teeth in stats and logic that encompass the entirety of an issue while you're arguing for the government panacea and trying to convince yourself that you're correct.

Did you bring this denial with you from Canada or has America just rubbed off on you?


Dude, it was a question, not a statement. Do you really think I'm interested in such a personal dissection? This is partly what makes the PWL insufferable at times. We're just having a conversation, can we dispense with the personal gotchas?

Cue somebody digging up something I said to illustrate a double standard, because of course PWL posters have to be perfect models of everything.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:11 PM
 
@besson

I think I've been around this horn enough times to offer some constructive criticism.

You have a pretty severe problem with passive aggression. I honestly believe you don't notice it.

Your OP was just nasty. Again, if I didn't believe it was unconscious I'd say the intent with your OP was to pick multiple fights, which I note, you have.

I appreciate your desire to have discussion where we honestly discuss people's faults (like those of Americans). You gotta start with yourself first.

Either admit up front this is just as much about telling people your low opinions of things, or keep your opinions out of it. If you're really interested in what other people think (which I believe you are), ask non-loaded questions and listen. Learning is listening, not talking about what you think.


To be clear, I know these things because I've made these mistakes, not that I'm somehow above it.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:14 PM
 
I definitely tend to ask loaded/leading questions, I'm working on that. I think the passive aggressive thing is a symptom of that, because I'm not naturally like that in real life, I don't think.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Why couldn't they issue everyone a gun buying license (or append it to current drivers' license, the same way motorcycle and commercial driving works), and then revoke the gun buying license if and when someone becomes prohibited (like they become a felon or are diagnosed with a mental illness)? All you need is a valid buyer's license in order to buy. People who aren't allowed won't have a valid license. And the government won't be in a position to track transfers, only to disallow transfers by preemptively revoking the person's license.
Everyone in the US has an implicit "gun buying license", much like how people have an implicit "alcohol buying license". There are certain crimes and actions that can cause you to explicitly LOSE that implicit license.

If anything, a gun license of any kind would just be a way to identify who has a gun and who doesn't. People who don't ever plan on buying a gun wouldn't ever get the license. Not only that, but it could easily be used by anti-gun states and municipalities to make it extraordinarily difficult to buy a gun, by making the license extremely expensive or simply time-consuming to apply for and acquire.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:21 PM
 
Still, as flawed as an internet-izen I am (is that a word), I still think it sucks when we have to dissect people.

Chongo is like the opposite of me, he leads people to things in a very opaque way. Some posters are very emotional, people like Turtle are very easily irritable, some people right walls of text and say little (e.g. Abe), many of us have foibles and little things about the way they write that establish a vibe, trigger certain things, etc.

Still, dissecting all of this is just annoying. Politely pointing this out as subego is great, even appreciated by me at least, but going after this is pointless because at the end of the day the internet is still going to be what it is. If the way I write is insufferable to you and you can't be polite about it like subego was, I would much prefer you ignore me for as long as these issues are works-in-progress for me.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I definitely tend to ask loaded/leading questions, I'm working on that. I think the passive aggressive thing is a symptom of that, because I'm not naturally like that in real life, I don't think.
One of the more frustrating things about your OP is that it's trying to simplify views in opposition to your own down to single absolutes.

That's been happening a lot in the PWL lately, or maybe it's just that I'm noticing it more because I've been more active lately.

Either way, nobody's saying that there's a single cause and therefore a single answer to gun violence. Or health care. Or anything else.

There's very little, outside of gravity, that's black-and-white.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
There's very little, outside of gravity, that's black-and-white.
B/W photography and movies

-t
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Either way, nobody's saying that there's a single cause and therefore a single answer to gun violence. Or health care. Or anything else.

There's very little, outside of gravity, that's black-and-white.

I appreciate hearing that. It might just be me, but it seems like a number of people in general are not good about suggesting this when they soapbox. My theory is that by acknowledging the complexity of some issues they feel like they are validating their opposition's viewpoint?
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
...because I'm not naturally like that in real life, I don't think.
I'm saying this as someone who truly loves you and considers you a friend.

You may want to look into that. I don't think it can be this consistent of an issue when posting unless it's leaking over from real life. I think you may not be conscious of it.

It's probably not possible to make this clear, but I'm going to try to anyways. I am not judging you. People do what they do for good reasons. I only bring this up because I get the feeling you would be happier here (and probably IRL) if you had a tighter bead on it.
     
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Sep 23, 2013, 04:45 PM
 
Gravity isn't black or white.
     
 
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