A talking worm develops an extremely loud screaming sound. He’s wrinkled and ugly and orange. But neither his physical ugliness nor his rancorous sound is his worst feature. He has evolved an extremely toxic poison.
How is it so toxic?
It is really three separate toxins: Fear and Hate and Greed. Together they are much more toxic than any one of them is alone.
He blackmails everyone around him, from sea to shining sea. He threatens to release the poison into the air if he doesn’t always get his way.
His way is to take all the money. His way is to take all the power.
His way is to use the money and power to make more toxin.
He uses the extra toxin to threaten even more people that he will release the poison into the air if he doesn’t get his way.
His way is to take all the money. His way is to take all the power.
His way is to use the money and power to make more toxin.
Eventually, he tries to blackmail everyone on earth.
He explains that he is a “self-made worm” — that it is his right to take over the world because he and he alone made the world.
That is, of course, a lie.
Life evolved for 4 billion years. All his ancestors, and the life his ancestors interacted with created the conditions for him to make the toxins. He doesn’t mind that he lies. Lying is fun!
He gets his way. To him, that’s all that matters.
He gets all the money.
He gets all the power.
For fun, he releases the poison any way.
But now, it’s enough to destroy every living thing on earth.
Many Paths rose. Shadow Walker enfolded her in his strong arms and she returned the gesture. He stepped back, still holding both her hands in his and smiled as he spoke. “Come with me! I’ve got something to show you!”
Many Paths tilted her head to the side and frowned. “Can it wait? I’ve just been talking with She Who Saved Many Lives. I’ve got the work on setting up our meeting with the other tribes. So much needs to be done.” She sighed and bit her lip. “So much to do, but I’m not sure what comes next.”
Shadow Walker could see that she was concerned. He frowned sympathetically. Suddenly, Shadow Walker chuckled.
“What joke is this that brings laughter to your heart?” Asked Many Paths. “I’m serious. There’s much work to be done.”
“I never thought of this before, but — Many Tribes. Many Paths. You see? Just as you yourself think of many ways to do things — many more than most of us have patience for — so too do the various tribes try many paths of how to live.”
The eyes of Many Paths grew wide. “Yes! Of course! I never saw it before either! It’s just the same, in a way. Maybe that is a good way to explain it to the many tribes I hope to convene. It is in keeping with the wisdom of the tale of the Forgotten Field. We don’t necessarily have to agree on every path we take; we just have to be sure that we work together when we must.”
Shadow Walker laughed again. “That’s what I was thinking. Just because of your name.” Many Paths and Shadow Walker gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment and he squeezed her hands. After a pause, he continued. “But that is not what I came to tell you. Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes have discovered a book that has many recipes for making the kind of meeting that you wish to convene with the many tribes. You should come see for yourself!”
Many Paths frowned again. “How can that be?”
Shadow Walker smiled and now Many Paths smiled as well. She sensed that the sunny mood of Shadow Walker would not be clouded by her worry. But she looked at her mate askance. “I still don’t see how a book from long ago can be so well-suited to my current task at hand.”
“Come with me, love, and judge for yourself. It appears that you may not be the first person to think about how best to cooperate, after all.”
Many Paths snorted. “You will not be deterred I see, so yes, let’s go see this book you claim will help.”
Shadow Walker smiled again. “Yes! And, if I am wrong, and the book is useless, you and I will have a pleasant walk on a beautiful day and we’ll have a chance to see your brother and his friend, Cat Eyes.
Shadow Walker and Many Paths soon arrived at the hidden entryway that Trunk of Tree had accidentally discovered while stalking a deer. This hidden path connected the Veritas and the two sides of the snowy mountain. They arrived in the Village of the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. They were greeted warmly. Their kin on this side of the mountain felt fully committed to having a meeting with all the tribes.
Many Paths happened to spy a group of elders chatting excitedly. As she guessed, this signaled that the presence of Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes. Many of the Veritas on this side of the snowy mountain had now learned how to read the strange markings arranged in books. In the center of the group, she smiled to see her young brother, Tu-Swift. She called out his name and he smiled broadly and waved for her to come join the group. She noticed that though the group included many elders, there were also people of every age, even children of no more than six or seven summers. Gradually, the people so gathered noticed Many Paths and Shadow Walker approaching. Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes came out to greet them. Tu-Swift smiled broadly as he greeted her. “I see Shadow Walker brought you already! Come! Look what we’ve begun to read!” He held out one of the hundreds of books that had been recently discovered. At first glance, the book looked just like the others, but then she noticed that it had an elaborate symmetrical drawing on the cover.
Tu-Swift & Cat Eyes had become proficient at reading. He could hardly constrain himself as Many Paths sounded out the markings on the cover as she read the title aloud, “A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation.” Tu-Swift could not wait any longer so he began showing her the various chapters. “Look! It’s a whole book to help you with your meeting with the other tribes! Here, look! It is a whole book of recipes or patterns for helping people to better collaborate! Here’s one called ‘Who Speaks for Wolf.’ Another one: ‘The Rule of Six’ and here. Look! Another: ‘Small Successes Early.’
He showed her the pages one after another. Many Paths barely had time to read the titles before Tu-Swift jumped to the next one. There were dozens! Tu-Swift laughed. “Can you believe our good fortune? This should help us with the meeting, right?”
Many Paths hugged her brother and then smiled broadly at Shadow Walker as she assented. “Yes. These — these Patterns — they seem that they would be a big help. But it will take me time to read these. I am not so swift at reading as you are brother. But thank you for finding these. Can I borrow this book until I have had time to read them all?”
Cat Eyes said, “Of course. But we have come up with another plan. See what you think. Tu-Swift and I will take turns reading them to you. You and Shadow Walker can listen and then we — and some number of interested Veritas should discuss each one before we go on to the next. We have to see which ones might best work for the meeting, but also for before the meeting and after the meeting. It’s clear from the book of Patterns that an effective meeting depends on what you do before the meeting begins and after as well, not just what happens during a meeting. What do you say?”
Many Paths let out a long slow breath. “I did not come prepared for such a thing. I thought we would go back this very day. That’s what Shadow Walker led me to believe.” She stared at her mate.
Shadow Walker’s good mood could not be dampened. He shook his head. “I had no inkling that Tu-Swift wanted us to stay for an extended discussion. I think it’s a good idea though. Here’s another. I will walk back and get whatever you need. We don’t both need to go.”
Tu-Swift interjected, “I have an even better idea. I’ve already read most of the book. Let Cat Eyes begin reading these Patterns to you and then you can discuss. Meanwhile, I’ll go back and get anything you really need although I can’t really imagine … we have everything you need right here, Many Paths.”
Many Paths shook her head. “Is your leg that well heeled already? Why not send someone … someone unhurt?”
Tu-Swift laughed. “You mean someone faster. There is no-one faster.”
Shadow Walker’s face finally managed its own frown. “That can’t be true. You surely can’t be the fastest runner here yet. You’re still on the mend.”
Tu-Swift smiled, “Ah, yes. I am still on the mend. But who said I would be running back?” His eyes twinkled.
Many Paths pursed her lips. “If you’re not running…. Ah! But you have continued to learn how to ride horses haven’t you?!”
Tu-Swift smiled at his sister and nodded vigorously. “Correct!”
Many Paths sighed. “You are amazing, dear brother. But you are right. I don’t really need anything. But the people should know.”
Cat Eyes said, “Some of the people here, including my parents, were going to visit later this afternoon for trade. They can take a message to your people.”
All agreed. Many Paths gave her message to and they all found comfortable places to sit. Tu-Swift began reading the first Pattern.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The above is the text of the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution. It is not my “distillation” or “summary” of the Ninth Amendment. It is the Ninth Amendment. You may recall that the first ten Amendments to the Constitution are known collectively as the “Bill of Rights.” To me, the Ninth Amendment could, in today’s terminology be titled, “Democracy for Dummies” Amendment. In the linked article in the Wikipedia, you can see that this ninth Amendment was added quite intentionally. In fact, some founders who argued against provisions of the Bill of Rights were worried that by enumerating some rights, such as the right to free speech, later generations might take it to mean that since those rights were enumerated, no other rights existed. So, just to make absolutely sure that no-one would make such a silly mistake, the founders added the Ninth Amendment. This says just about as clearly as it’s possible to say: “Look, just because we didn’t list a right should be not be used to argue that it doesn’t exist.”
Remember that the founders had just waged a war of independence against the tyranny of England. They had essentially bet their lives on winning a war against a much greater military power. They were quite serious about freedom! The passage is short and unambiguous.
The first thought that occurs to me when it comes to a Ninth Article in the “Bill of Obligations” is simply that each citizen should read the Ninth Article. Further, we should be vigilant that no politician, party, or demagogue tries to pooh-pooh it away or intentionally misinterpret it.
It honestly never occurred to me, as recently as a fortnight ago, that a Justice of the Supreme Court would be the one to pooh-pooh it as being meaningless, particularly a Justice who otherwise argues for a “strict reading” of the Constitution. But that’s where we are today.
Justice Alito is so hell-bent on destroying freedoms for Americans that he intentionally pretends he cannot comprehend this single, clear, short sentence in a foundational document for our country. Remember, Justices are sworn in. When they are sworn into office, they swear that they will uphold the Constitution of the United States. There is no “escape clause” in their oath. They do not say, “I swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States except for the parts I don’t like.” They do not say, “I swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States unless people who supported me to get on the court tell me to take a wrecking ball to it.”
Here is the text of the Oath of Office for Supreme Court Justices regarding the Constitution.
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
What do you suppose “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion” means? To me, it means just that. It’s not okay to take the oath of office with fingers crossed behind your back and think to yourself:
“Finally! The opportunity to foist off my ideas about how America should be run on an unsuspecting public. Screw the Bill of Rights! And totally screw all those Amendments and precedents since about having women vote and blacks being citizens and an implied right to privacy. Nope! What I want is an American Taliban. So, that’s what I’ll make happen!”
That’s not what taking the oath of office means.
There is another part of the oath of office for Supreme Court Justices:
“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”
What do you suppose it means to swear that you will “administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich”? Would you interpret that to mean that it’s okay to show preference to rich donors? Would you interpret that to mean that you’re going to use the power of your office to enhance white privilege or male privilege? Is it okay to mean that if you happen yourself to be a white male? Is it okay to subvert the oath of office if you happen to believe that things are just better if white males have more power? Is it okay to subvert your oath of office if you happen to believe that, actually, come to think of it, people of color and females really shouldn’t have any rights at all?
If a Justice of the Supreme Court decides to “strike down” part of the Bill of Rights because they don’t find it personally to their taste, what is the appropriate action? How about if they are sworn in while saying one thing but meaning something much different and more self-serving? How about if they lie under oath during their confirmation hearing? How about if they intentionally mislead under oath? Is that acceptable?
Let’s consider what constitutes a lie. Suppose we are playing tennis and you hit a ball that lands near the line on my side. I see it as in, but close. I call it out anyway. You ask, “Really? It’s your call, but it really looked in to me.” I answer, “Well, it was close all right, but I had a really clear look at it. I’d call that ball out every time.” That could be the literal truth. It was close. I did have a clear look. And, since I cheat, I’d call it out every time. But the implication of my statements, in context, is that I am re-affirming that I saw it as out.
Or, suppose you and I are throwing a surprise party for a mutual friend. I tell you, “You know, it’s going to cost some money for the food and drinks for everyone. I’ll go pick up the stuff, but can you afford to pay for half?” You say, “Oh, I can afford to pay my half. That’s the fair thing to do.” Note that you didn’t say you would pay for your half. You just said you can afford to pay half and that it’s the fair thing to do. If I interpret that to mean you will pay half, is there lying involved?
Here’s another example. You apply for a consulting job on a large new construction job. You give them a lot of good ideas about how to go about solving the problems they presented to you. Instead of hiring you, they decide to use your ideas but have the boss’s brother-in-law implement it on the cheap. In fact, that was their intention all along. You ask about it and the boss says, “We looked at your proposal. Many of the elements of it were exactly what we were planning to do anyway, so we figured, we didn’t really need an outside consultant after all.” Sure. They were going to file a plan with the city, just as you proposed. They were going to file an environmental impact statement, just as you proposed. They were going to hire a crew to do the work, just as you proposed. So, yes, many (three, to be exact) of the elements in your proposal were indeed something that they were going to do even before they read the proposal, but there were also many other elements of your proposal that they had not thought about until they heard your proposal. They had not previously considered passive solar heating, gray water irrigation, or battery back-up. In context, they were intentionally misleading you, perhaps to avoid your suing them.
Suppose you go to a doctor to see about allergies. The doctor has just gotten back from a conference where a paper was presented about an expensive new drug (Damitol) that might work for allergies; unfortunately, some patients lose their sense of smell and others break tendons. The drug company mentioned that doctors who publish papers about good results with Damitol will get free tickets to a conference in Hawaii. The doctor engages in the following dialog with you.
Doctor: “There’s a new treatment for allergies,Damitol. I’m recommending it for you. It’s expensive though.”
You: “Oh, well… aren’t there cheaper drugs?”
Doctor: “Yes, but they don’t always work.”
You: “Does the new drug, Damitol, have side-effects?”
Doctor: “Every drug can have some side-effects, but personally I’ve never seen a single patient with bad side effects from Damitol.
You spend a lot of money on Damitol and lose your sense of smell. Worse, you snap your Achilles tendon.
Did your doctor lie to you? Did he intentionally mislead you?
Are those mealy-mouthed misleaders the kind of characters you really want on the Supreme Court? I certainly do not. It may be tempting to think: “Well, it’s okay to cheat because they are on my side.”
That is precisely the flaw that dictators and would-be dictators have used to gain power since the beginning of time. “Look here,” they say, “I’m on your side. And once I get in power, I’m going to favor you by cheating for you.” It never turns out that way. They lie, and cheat, and appear to favor you in order to gain power. Once they gain power, they will wield it to steal from everyone including you. Putin, e.g., kills generals and oligarchs who support him when it suits him. Killing “the faithful” is an important tool to keep everyone in line. The message is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe or what you’ve done for the dictator in the past. The only thing that matters is what they feel like doing at that moment.
It’s no “accident” that Justice Alito cited an English judge who condemned women to death for witchcraft! It’s a signal to every guy who never learned how to partner or be successful in consensual relationships: “Hey! I’m going to help create a world in which you never have to ask for sex again! Women should be chattel. You’ll be happier that way. And so will they. And if they don’t do what you want, we’ll burn them at the stake. I’ll help you get revenge on all those women who turned you down! And once we begin to burn them at the stake for ‘witchcraft’ (another word for ‘disobedience’), you’ll be surprised how docile they become.”
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This, as most readers may know, is the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights. Before considering what a reasonable companion Bill of Obligations might be, let’s consider what the Amendment itself says.
The construction of the sentence is essentially:
A well regulated Militia Being necessary to the security of a free State
The right of the people to keep and bear Arms Shall not be infringed.
Some have emphasized the last few words: “Shall not be infringed” and argued that this means no regulations for keeping and bearing arms is Constitutional. Despite that, no-one actually believes that. No-one would argue that the government cannot regulate poisons, or bombs, or tanks. No-one argues that convicted felons should be allowed to arm themselves while out on bail.
The overall construction of the sentence clearly gives a rationale and that rationale is the premise that a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State. In particular, it does not say that the reason is that it you, as an individual, have a right to keep your home or your family or your body safe and that’s why you as an individual have the right to bear arms. That might be a good thing. I’m not saying it isn’t. But it is simply not at all what the Second Amendment says. What it says is that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State.
A free State could have a well-regulated militia to help ensure the security of that free State and in order to help ensure that that State does indeed have a well-regulated militia, there could be necessary training of how to use arms. The State could limit participation in the militia to those who are over 18, say, or over 15. The State could limit participation to those who are physically and mentally capable to use whatever arms they have. It wouldn’t add to the security of the free State to put rifles in the hands of people who were blind, or incapacitated or inebriated. If the goal is to increase the security of the free State, it would make sense to train people how to use whatever arms they have in a safe and effective fashion. It adds nothing to the security of the State to have people blowing their brains out or killing their comrades with weapons they don’t know how to use.
Notice that there is nothing in the Second Amendment that says or implies that anyone and everyone who wants to be part of the well-regulated Militia is entitled to join that well-regulated Militia. Everyone who wants to be a medical doctor does not automatically get to be a doctor. Everyone who wants to be a lawyer does not automatically get to be a lawyer. Everyone who wants to be President does not automatically get to be President. Everyone who wants to be an airline pilot or a trucker or a public school teacher or a real estate agent doesn’t get to assume that role. They have to show that they have the capacity and the training to carry out those roles. Not everyone can be a rocket scientist.
Speaking of rocket scientists, it would not have taken a rocket scientist to have written the Second Amendment to mean the various things that people have claimed it means. For example, it could have easily said, “…the right of each individual to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t.
The Second Amendment could have said, “A well-armed populace being necessary …” It doesn’t.
The Second Amendment could have said, “In order to ensure that every person is safe and secure, the right of each individual to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It doesn’t.
The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had the vocabulary and intelligence to clearly state that each individual must be able to bear arms in order to protect themselves if that is what was intended. It wasn’t. So, they didn’t.
Regardless of how often or how loudly people insist that the Second Amendment means something that it doesn’t, it still doesn’t make it so.
However, regardless of whether someone interprets the Second Amendment to mean what it says or to mean something else entirely; e.g., that every individual, regardless of capacity or training, has a right to get as many guns as they want, it is still worthwhile to consider what might be in a “Bill of Obligations” with respect to arms.
What might be some elements of such a Bill?
Just as we require a person to show capacity for many roles before we allow people to have that role, it seems that is also a reasonable obligation for having and using things that kill. If you would like to drive your automobile on public roads, you need to prove that your automobile is safe. You have an obligation to insure that it’s safe. Your car has to pass a safety inspection. If it’s unsafe, it could harm you or others.
Your obligations don’t end there. In order to drive a car, you have to show that you have the ability and knowledge to drive a car and that you have an understanding of the rules of the road. Even after you obtain a license, you have to follow those rules. If you run a red light, you will be fined. If you run enough red lights, you will have your license taken away.
Candidate obligations that relate to the Second Amendment might include:
You have an obligation to learn which arms are appropriate to your needs and within your capabilities.
You have an obligation to learn to properly use the arms you own.
You have an obligation to prove that you have the capacity & training for the arms you have.
You have an obligation to operate such arms in a safe, reasonable manner.
Notice that to join a legitimate Militia, you would need to fulfill these obligations.
You have an obligation to learn which arms are appropriate to your needs and within your capabilities.
Don’t choose a weapon that is too heavy or has too much “kick.” If you want a gun to kill gophers, don’t choose a howitzer or a machine gun.
You have an obligation to learn to properly use the arms you own.
Learn how to load, unload, fire, and maintain your weapons. Learn how to keep it safe from unwanted and unauthorized use.
You have an obligation to learn to properly use the arms you own.
Your weapon should be periodically inspected to ensure it’s working properly. Your own knowledge and capacity should be tested periodically; not every five minutes, but not every five decades either.
You have an obligation to operate such arms in a safe, reasonable manner.
Your weapons should be under lock and key except when you actually want to use them. Untrained people, including your own toddlers, should not have access to them. Do not point a gun at someone as a “joke.” Do not fire your gun at an uncertain target. “Something’s moving in the bushes” or “I thought I heard a noise” are not sufficient reasons to fire a gun. Don’t take your gun out “just because you’re upset” about your life or about what someone else has done. Don’t take your gun to unreasonable places like airports, airplanes, movie theaters, rock concerts, or Walmart. Don’t operate your weapon when you’re drunk, stoned, or otherwise incapacitated from illness or drugs. Don’t go looking for trouble with your weapons.
The Constitution of the United States of America is a foundational document.The Constitution outlines a form of government and processes to ensure democracy. At the same time that the Constitution was ratified, so too were ten important Amendments collectively referred to as “The Bill of Rights.” The founders rightly thought that outlining the structures and processes of government was not enough to ensure democracy. It was also necessary, as they foresaw, to outline rights of the people that could not be abridged by those governmental structures and processes. They are often referred to as “unalienable rights.”
To comprehend what the Constitution says and how it came to be, it’s useful to outline just a little of what the founders were reacting to and who they were. They were men. For the most part, they were financially successful men and relatively well-educated. They were “white” men. They were overwhelmingly of European descent. They were mainly English speaking. They had successfully executed a War of Independence against England. They were not a homogenous group, but compared with the world as a whole or the current population of the United States, it was a very homogeneous group of people. They were still quite aware of the excesses of monarchies and the horrors of tyranny. That background is important to understanding why they wanted to make sure that people’s rights were protected from government over-reach.
Their homogeneity as relatively rich, well-educated, white men meant that the envisioned “government” would be for their own kind. Blacks had no rights. Children had no rights. Women had no rights. The other species on the planet had no rights. When they talked about rights, they were talking about their rights.
Their background and particularly, the homogeneity of their background, also meant that they presumed some degree of honor and rationality existed in the whole cohort. They didn’t agree with each other about everything. Far from it. There were many debates and compromises baked into the Constitution.
I cannot read the minds of the founders, but I imagine that because of their recent experience with tyrants, they were quite aware of the necessity of protecting rights. It’s not clear to me that they thought much about the need to codify obligations. They had been brought up to assume obligations and so had the other founders they worked with. It’s not surprising that they did not to bother to enumerate obligations. These were the days when a young woman or man of nobility would forgo someone they truly loved in order to fulfill family obligations. If men thought their “honor” had been besmirched they would duel to the death over it. Honor really mattered. I think that’s part of why they didn’t feel it necessary to even think about a “Bill of Obligations.”
I would like to engage in a little thought experiment based on the premise that now, centuries later, we do need to think carefully about obligations. You have the right to free speech. You do not have the right to go into a crowded theater and scream “FIRE!” In order to cause a panic and kill people. This didn’t occur to the founders because, none of them would have ever done such a thing; at least, because of honor. It isn’t that rich white men were morally or ethically superior to a multi-cultural society. Far from it. But it is another aspect of the historical reason, I think, why they might never have bothered to enumerate such obligations.
To start, let’s look at the very First Amendment to the Constitution. I hope everyone will have the patience to wade through this lengthy document.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Oh, look. It’s really not that long after all.
The government should not be in the business of establishing a religion.
The government should not restrict people from practicing their religion.
The government should not abridge freedom of speech.
The government should not abridge the freedom of the press.
The government should not abridge the freedom to peacefully assemble.
The government should not abridge the freedom of people to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Despite the simplicity of the concept, there have been various arguments, often in courts, about what these rights “really” mean. It is not legal to scream fire it a crowded theater. That seems reasonable. It is legal to use your wealth to ensure that your favorite candidate wins because the courts have recently held that spending money to buy politicians is just “freedom of speech.” Huh?
But I don’t want to argue about how to interpret “The Right of Free Speech.” Rather, I want to examine what might be reasonable and commensurate clauses in “The Obligations of Free Speech.”
Here are some candidates.
People have an obligation to speak the truth.
People have an obligation to listen respectfully.
People have an obligation to consider that their own opinion is not the only one that matters.
People have an obligation to follow agreed upon rules of conduct for the speech they are engaged in.
One major benefit of the right to free speech is that ideas can be discussed and debated, and people working together can come up with more intelligent decisions that those of any single individual. In order for that to work, we need to hear many ideas, not just one. The obligations of free speech are also necessary for that process to work in achieving its goals. If we hear many ideas but many people lie, or refuse to listen to each other, or are disrespectful or break the rules of debate, we will not have intelligent decisions.
Consider an analogy to tennis, although you could generate one for any sport; indeed, for nearly any human endeavor, but let’s stick to tennis. In tennis, you have the right to hit whatever shot you want. You can hit it hard or soft, or anywhere in between. You can hit it flat or put a lot of topspin on the ball or slice it or put sidespin on. You can drive the ball or hit a lob or a drop shot. You can hit it down the line or cross-court.
Over the years, people have tried all sorts of various strategies and tactics for tennis. People use different grips. Some hit a two-handed backhand and some hit a one-handed backhand. A few even hit with two hands on both forehand and backhand. People try different things out and play improves, not only for the individual, but for the sport. So it is in any sport. Performance improves over time because people try out different things and what works better tends to be repeated and what does not work tends to fade away. But none of that would happen unless all the players also follow the rules. Their right to hit the kind of shot that suits them works hand in hand with their obligation to follow the rules. If players did not fulfill their obligations to play by the rules, and instead began simply insisting that they had won every point, tennis as a whole would not improve nor would the individual players improve. Most would eventually quit and among those who were left “playing tennis,” without rules or obligations, it would soon degenerate into a fist fight, or, more likely, I suppose, it would escalate from shouting to shooting.
It’s the same for every human endeavor involving more than one person. You not only have some freedom of action vis a vis the other(s); you also have obligations. Just because you feel like assaulting someone on the street and taking their money, doesn’t mean you can do it. People who assault people are meant to end up in jail. Most eventually do.
A society with a high degree of freedom and no sense of obligations is like buying a Lambroghini and paying extra not to have any brakes. It isn’t just human institutions and inventions that have opposing systems in balance. Look at life itself. Inhibition/excitation; inhale/exhale; sympathetic nervous system/para-sympathetic nervous system; biceps/triceps; adductors/abductors; dilation/contraction; heartbeats; sleep cycles; ATP/ADP Cycle.
By the way, a society that was all obligations and no freedom would be like buying a Lambroghini and paying extra not to have a steering wheel or gas pedal; having the tires replaced by railroad wheels; you get to ride your Lambroghini down the track and back up again. That’s it. Well, that sucks! Yes. It literally sucks most of the fun out of life! It makes your life more predictable, but that’s not a good tradeoff; at least, not to me.
Compared with most people, I think I prefer a lot of freedom. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in obligation, however, or that my freedom is subject to limits when it infringes on the freedom of others. I strongly prefer freedom of speech. I’m very happy for the First Amendment. But I would not go into a crowded theater and scream “Fire!” Nor should you.
How about someone using Big Data analytics on your on-line behavior being used to manipulate you into buying stuff from the company who’s paying for you data. Here’s the deal. You think you are communicating on GiantSocialMediumCompany with your friends. The GiantSocialMediumCompany hardly seems as though it’s even there.
“Sure, it pops up some annoying ad about Kepsi or Poke every so often, but it easy enough to scroll past it. Except, you know that most recent Kepsi ad was kind a cute. Anyway, of course, I didn’t click on it.”
Uh-huh. But you see, the fact that you even slowed down as you scrolled down past the Kepsi ad, is interesting data to Kepsi (and Poke too for that matter). They aren’t the only two parties who will be interested in your data. Who else might benefit? Lots of people. From many examples of your on-line behavior over time, they can determine which “wedge issue” you are most likely to emotionally react to. They likely have a rough categorization of the type of approach you’d pay most attention to: visual, clever text, GIF, video, website, complex/simple, personal/impersonal, etc. Then, you can be targeted with arguments that are calculated — not to open your mind or to help you see the other side. No. These are arguments designed to move you a little further away from your neighbors and friends; anyone who has even a slightly different opinion about a topic you care about. That’s the purpose. Not to educate. To divide. And it’s working.
And, that, to me, is a an absolutely egregious breach of what should be the First Article in the Bill of Obligations.
Once upon a time, a great wooly Mammoth happily grazed on green and golden grass. He had satiated his hunger early that morning, but he continued to graze all afternoon. After all, he reasoned, who knows whether the grass will be here tomorrow?
The Mammoth, who had been eating tons of grass from a seemingly endless field of grassy plains, grew bored. The Mammoth, of course, was rather mammoth. He liked the grass, but eating tons of it became ever more boring for the mammoth Mammoth, so his mind wandered and he noticed that a small Mouse was chewing on a grain of grass seed.
“Hey there!!” The Mammoth bellowed. “What are you doing eating my grass!? Leave that alone! All this grass is mine!”
The mouse scampered away and the Mammoth resumed eating tons of grass. But it was still just as boring as ever using his trunk to shovel mouthful after mouthful of grass. He decided he would go looking for the Mouse. He eventually found Mouse and the Mouse was again eating a teeny grass seed.
“Hey there!!!” The mighty Mammoth bellowed. “I told you not to eat grass!! It’s all mine!”
The Mammoth noticed that other animals were laughing. Hyena came over to Mammoth and said, “You are a mammoth Mammoth! Why are you bothering a tiny mouse?”
The Mammoth waved his trunk menacingly and answered, “Indeed! What business is it of yours? Anyway, as you can see, the Mouse is hoping to gain enough weight and strength so that he can come and eat me!”
Now, other animals had come to observe the commotion.
A large Elk said, “That’s ridiculous! Mice don’t eat Mammoths!”
Mammoth smirked and said, “I tell you he wants to eat me! He wants to kill me! I am going to crush this mouse and make life safe for myself, my family, and for all of us.”
The Hyena laughed. The Elk rolled his giant eyes. Even the Yaks began to yuck it up.
Mammoth however began raising up his giant feet and smashing them down to squash the Mouse. But each time, the mouse would scamper away just in time. The Mammoth grew angrier and angrier still because he was having such a hard time smashing the Mouse. He smashed his giant foot down on a sharp stone so hard that it caused his foot to bleed.
The Mammoth bellowed in pain and anger. “Now look! See?! That Mouse is making me bleed! I told you he was trying to kill me and eat me!”
This only made the Hyenas laugh harder. The Elk shook his head in disbelief. The Crows cawed and chuckled. The Lion roared with laughter at the misguided Mammoth.
This only made the Mammoth even angrier and he smashed his giant feet down trying to crush the Mouse. Most of the time, his giant feet came down in the dirt or the grass, but, as luck would have it, he also smashed another foot down onto a sharp rock and now another of his feet began to bleed. “Look! See!? The Mouse is trying to kill me! Laugh if you like, but after I protect myself by killing the Mouse, I’m going to protect myself more by killing everyone who laughs at me! I’ll show you all!”
It has been estimated that there are about 40 billion mice on earth right now.
Of course it seems large enough when you think you’re headed to grandpa’s farm for the weekend. That’s what I was doing when the bombing started. Mom & Dad were going to drive me there after work. But they never made it home. Not yet.
The backpack seems large enough until you find yourself rushing all around the house, like I did, trying to decide what to stuff in it to get away from the bombs. Water? Food? Our pet cat, Lucy? Weapons? Extra clothes? Some of each? Radio? Batteries? Chargers? Electricity. Phone? The kitchen knives, unsheathed?
Meanwhile … the noise never stops. No word from folks. Think you’ll get used to the explosions and the inhuman screams of pain. But you don’t. Not really. You think you’ll find a place that’s better than the last place you were. But you don’t.
No, you won’t get used to it. At least, I never did. You won’t find a better place, either. At, least I never did.
Just death everywhere Stench. And noise which I never did get used to.
The “sharpness” in the explosions evaporated though. I studied enough bio to know what happened. I lost some hair cells is all. They still make a huge THWOMP in my sternum and they still hurt my ears. Oh, yes. The nearby explosions are plenty loud. They are just dull.
Like everything else now, I guess.
I don’t hear birds any more. Maybe there are a few left. What’s that thing about canaries and coal mines? Hard to believe the air here used to be clear enough to breathe without choking. It never used to stink thisbad either. Maybe the stench killed the robins and jays.
Maybe the birds all flew away first. Smart. They have their own built in method of transportation. Anyway, whether the birds are all dead or all flown away, I don’t know. I just know I don’t hear them. Anyway, why would they be singing? I like to think they flew away. All I know for sure is that they’re gone.
Except for the crows*.
I remember in the “before times” being grossed out at the way the crows picked the meat off the bones of road kill. I remember wondering: “Do they get sick from rotting meat ? Or, do they just never realize that rotting meat makes them sick? Or do they do know it makes them sick but they’re so damned hungry, that they don’t care.”
I was sure, back then, that I’d never be that hungry.
What did I know?
Anyway, I thought the crows were gross, all right. But they were brave! They’d swoop out to their sickening feast of squashed squirrel or raccoon or unlucky dog and peck away at the rotting carcass while a car or truck would zoom right at them! Only at the last second, they would angrily flit out of the way. I never saw one get hit.
I guess I kind of wanted one of them to get hit. It would serve them right for being so gross!
“For being so gross.”
As best I can understand it, that’s how all this started. Some folks were being gross. I guess I never really saw them being gross. My parents thought it was a good idea to kill all the gross people but others didn’t agree. I don’t know what the grossness even was. My folks — did I mention I haven’t seen them since all this started? — any way, my folks never explained it.
That was back in what I call the “before times” when we could just drive to the grocery and get fresh vegetables and fruits, butter, cheese, chips, cookies, bread. Olives. I especially liked olives. My folks thought that it was weird for an eight year old to love olives so much. In fact, they called it “gross.”
They were joking. I think they were joking. They may have been joking. I kind of miss them. I don’t think they thought I was gross back then. Lots of people eat olives. I don’t think I started the war. Olives?
I don’t know. I don’t think I was gross enough to deserve to die. Like I said, I’m not sure what the “grossness” was all about — not the grossness that they were killing each other about.
No-one should eat road kill. Or bomb kill.
And no-one does.
Except for the crows.
*Author’s Note: At the exact moment I wrote the line “Except for the crows” (the first time), the crows outside cawed loudly! Now, all I hear are the wind chimes.
Cancer has not only “forgotten the face of its fathers” (as Stephen King’s gunslinger says).
Cancer has forgotten the fact that it even had fathers and mothers.
Cancer has forgotten the fact that its life is made easier, every day because of those who went before.
Cancer has forgotten that every little victory it feels today comes about because of millions of choices and struggles of other lives that went before.
Cancer doesn’t care.
Cancer acts as though it is the only life form in the universe that really “counts.”
Throughout history, there have been many individuals who act as cancer.
A few of them have gotten into positions of power and used that power to blackmail, strong-arm, and manipulate others into joining the cancer. Their “relationships” are based on lies and power.
Now, we live in an atomic era when cancerous people in power use that power to restrict the ability of their own people to know the truth.
We live in an atomic era when cancerous people in power threaten to use atomic weapons unless they get their way.
Cancerous leadership has never been a good thing in the same way that having a cancerous tumor in your body has never been a good thing.
Perhaps you think: well, I don’t really care much about politics.
Okay, then what do you care about?
Sports? Guess what. Sports are ruined by dick-taters. Outcomes can be predetermined or overturned by the dick-tater. Cheating becomes common. If you don’t “toe the line” politically, you won’t be able to play or you’ll be imprisoned or poisoned.
Business? Maybe you just care about business. Guess what. Business success is determined by how much “protection” money you pay to the dick-tater. Whoever pays the most will succeed. And, even then you aren’t safe. When business people become too successful under a dick-tater, the dick-tater destroys them and takes their assets. Just like Putrid.
Your family? Maybe you focus your attention on your family so you don’t really care about whether you live in a dick-tater$hit. You should care. Under dick-taters, the children are taught to spy on and inform the authorities if the parents do something “bad.” Of course, since it’s a dick-tater$hit, what counts as “bad” can change from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time. And your children might or might not understand what you actually said. No matter. Turning in the parents will be a “feather in their cap.” How do you think that will change your family? Husbands and wives are also encouraged to turn on one another. Romantic love and family love — these are antithetical to a totalitarian state. Everyone should love the dick-tater more than anyone in their own family. And, they’ll be asked to prove it. Tell your teen-ager they can’t date a drunkard. Yeah, that might make sense. But understand: if they get upset with your parental guidance, they may turn you in. They’ll make up crap. There’s no burden of proof in the courts that are run by a dick-tater. The dick-tater doesn’t really even care whether you’re guilty or not. Having an innocent person jailed for crimes against the state, especially if they’re turned in by their spouse or kid — that sends a nice strong message to everyone else in the Teliot.
You may have thought I was going to end that paragraph with the word “country.” I considered that. But it no longer a real country. It is more akin to a toilet. In an ordinary toilet, the waste is flushed. But in a dick-tater$hit, the waste is kept. Whatever is decent, honest, truthful, creative, loving — that is what is flushed away. Instead of a country, you have a reverse toilet — a Teliot.
Not caring whether or not you and your family and friends live in a dick-tater$hit — that makes exactly as much sense as not caring whether or not you and your family and friends have cancer.
“I don’t care if I have cancer, because I’m really into sports!”
If you die, you can’t play or even watch sports.
“I don’t care if I have cancer, because I really care about my business!”
If you die, you can’t run a business.
“I don’t care if I have cancer, because I care about my family!”
Maybe ask your family whether cancer affects them.
“Well,” you might say, “Democracies are far from perfect too!”
That’s true. Democracies are not perfect. Sometimes, people are unfair, even in democracies. Sometimes people are cruel. Sometimes people are corrupt.
Similarly, even if you are cancer free, you might stub your toe, or cut your finger shaving or slicing vegetables. You might sprain your ankle. And a few people will die in auto accidents. Does that mean it doesn’t matter whether or not you have cancer? Cancer, if left untreated, will necessarily be bad. It is the very nature of cancer to be bad.
Imagine a world in which you don’t just suddenly “get cancer.” You don’t have some weird symptom, go to the doctor, have some tests and find out you “have cancer.” No. Imagine that the only way you get cancer is if you choose to have cancer. You go to the doctor and he offers you a choice: “Would you like cancer? I can give you some, really cheap.”
Imagine a society who decides, “People stub their toes and get sick anyway so let’s all get cancer!”
Imagine a society who decides: “People aren’t perfect under a democracy so let’s have a dick-tater run the country!”
Maybe all you really care about is food. Guess what? Food will be worse under a dick-tater$hit. Regulations about food safety will be rolled back. Your food will be more tainted.
Maybe all you really care about is art. Guess what? Art will be regulated under a dick-tater. In the Teliot State, the good stuff will all be flushed away, along with the artists who produced those works. The dick-tater will decide which are gets presented and most will be commissioned to glorify the dick-tater.
In the Teliot State, everything good is tainted. Everything good dies. Everyone decent is suppressed. Even the military is tainted, as the ineptitude of the massive Putrid war effort reveals. The police. The courts. The politicians. The shopkeepers. The business tycoons. The teachers. The parents. The kids. Everyone must allow the cancer of totalitarianism to invade and corrupt their body, their mind, their soul.
Democracy is hard. I grant that. And often it is messy. But it is a path to life. The Teliot State is a path to death. Don’t believe me. Ask the Russian journalists who have been disappeared. If you can find them. Ask their families. Ask the mothers of the thousands of Russian soldiers who were sent off to die — supposedly to “liberate” Russian speaking Ukrainians. A big fat lie, of course. Everything is based on lies in a Teliot State.
Don’t believe me. Ask the Russian athletes who are banned from international competitions.
Don’t believe me. Ask the families of the Russian oligarchs who were murdered in the last few days. Oh, wait you can’t, because they were killed too.
Don’t believe me. Ask the Ukrainians how much they’re enjoying their “liberation” so far. Ask the raped women. Ask the mutilated children. Ask the dead. Ask the tortured.
I’ve known many people who have had cancer. The treatments are painful and dangerous. But they’re still generally better than letting cancer take over. Because once cancer starts, it wants to take over everything. Cancer finds it distracting from its past failures so it keeps wanting to try to conquer new parts of the body. Same with Putrid.
Like all dick-taters, Putrid delivers far less than he promises. Of course he does. The Teliot State squelches incentives, creativity, innovation, truth, science, medicine, and life itself. To some degree Putrid and his ilk, tell lies about how well they’re doing, but the truth cannot be totally hidden from the people. So, Putrid, like all dick-taters is terrified of having the people find out just what a horrendously bad job he’s doing. That’s why he lies to the public and makes sure everyone else tells the same lies. If people don’t realize what a horrible job he’s doing, maybe an angry mob won’t tear him to shreds.
What better way to distract from your own failures than blame someone else?
So Putrid blames the west, NATO, the EU, the UN, Ukrainians, oligarchs who don’t spent enough time kissing his a$$, military commanders — in short, everyone but himself.
Remember the Berlin Wall? That was not erected by the West Germans to prevent poor people from East Berlin coming in and taking stuff. That was put in place by the Russian dick-taters to keep East Berliners from finding out just how bad off they were under the communist totalitarianism than were their brothers and sisters and cousins living in a democracy right next door! People were killed trying to get into West Berlin.
Every day, all around the world, people are trying to escape the cancer of the Teliot State. They risk their lives to do that. Why do you suppose they would do that? Because they have seen first hand what a stench-filled place a Teliot State becomes. The criminals run the Teliot State.
There may be honor among some thieves, but not among the sort of thieves who aspire to being dick-taters. They literally kill other members of their own families just so they can feel more assured none of them will try to replace them.That happened fairly recently in Saudi Arabia and in N. Korea. Putrid is now killing his oligarch supporters to strike even more fear into his fellow Russians. “See? You think I won’t kill you if you don’t support me? This long-time ally and friend had the nerve to ask me whether I should stop this war. The nerve! So, I killed him and his family.”
Maybe Putrid felt a teeny surge of heroism when the gave the order to kill his allies for gently questioning his wisdom, but mainly he did it to make sure every Russian understood the message: “I’ll kill anyone for anything so you do what I say or you’ll be next.”
As the Wicked Witch of the West once famously observed, “These things must be done delicately. “ So, Putrid made these murders look a little bit like suicide, but they were carried off with the same MO at almost the same time so that everyone in the country would get the message that these were killings ordered by the Teliot Tyrant but that everyone was supposed to act as though they were suicides.
The Russian people are in a tough spot. Ideally, they would rise up as one and get rid of the maniac; rid themselves of cancer. Ideally. But it’s a lot to ask. It’s one thing to go to a surgeon to put you under anesthetic and have them remove a cancerous growth. It’s quite another to perform the surgery yourself on your own body! Tom Hanks, in Castaway damn near killed himself taking out a bad tooth. It took a lot of nerve. And it will take more to take out a cancerous growth. But what choice is there? If you don’t kill the cancer, the cancer will kill you.
Meanwhile, we still have a choice. Do we want to put a monstrous cancer in charge of our country? And, that will not just mean that they are put in charge of government. Please understand, once in charge of government, they work to be in charge of everything up to and including your sex life. Before you decide that’s a good idea because everybody should have sex just the way you like it, you’d better understand that a dick-tater could just as easily decide and implement a policy that everyone should be trans or that everyone should be gay. At first, of course, a dick-tater$hip will implement policies that are supported by either a majority or at least supported by a violent minority. They need some support to gain absolute power. But not to keep it. Once they control the police, the courts, the army, they don’t need to institute policies that are popular any longer. They can institute any policy that benefits them. Any. Policy. Including your worst nightmare. It doesn’t matter what they say now. It doesn’t matter what they “really” believe. It doesn’t matter how many people agree with a position. Once they have absolute power, they will make it stick. They will accompany an unpopular policy with a host of lies to make it more palatable. These lies will not be debunked by the “free press” because there won’t be any. And if you yourself do not repeat these lies, you are subject to arrest — or worse.
Given any absurdity, given any cruel and stupid policy, I can write a paragraph of lies “explaining” why we’re doing this. Of course, it will typically be pretty transparent, but so what? It doesn’t have to stand up to debate. It doesn’t have to stand up to an election. It doesn’t have to stand up to the scrutiny of a free press. Everyone will be required to recite said paragraph. Everyone in such a society knows in their hearts that the policy is bad. And everyone knows in their hearts that they themselves are being evil by perpetrating it.
Can you image how that feels inside? To know that you are doing what you yourself know to be wrong, and yet, you feel compelled to do that evil every single day. On top of that, you’re required to encourage others to do that evil and to lie about it. It’s a whole evil and elaborate charade and every participant dies inside. But it makes the dick-tater feel good. The dick-tater is the only beneficiary.
In Russia right now, there are about 150,000,000 losers and one “winner.” Ultimately, the only person who benefits is Putrid. I have to qualify “ultimately” because of course, in the short run, some see a short term benefit of some kind (not be put in prison, receive bribe, steal neighbor’s wife, get his son a better grade) but at the same time, no matter how much people try to rationalize it, they know they are doing wrong.
In the USA, right now, we still have a democracy. But it’s hanging by a thread. There is nothing “conservative” about destroying democracy & instituting a dick-tater$hit. This is not a question of conservative versus liberal or left versus right. We can have those debates in a democracy because they are meaningful. Debates are shows in a dick-tater$hit. They are not meaningful. It doesn’t really matter to the dick-tater what philosophy he purports to adopt. One dick-tater might call themselves a “Communist” and the next one might call themselves a “Nazi” and the next might call themselves “Bicameral” and the next “Hufflepuff” — The dick-tater doesn’t believe any of those philosophies. Their “philosophy” is that the only thing that matters is them and whatever they feel like should determine what everyone does. And, if he goes absolutely insane and insists everyone in the country should all go eat poison ivy three times a day, most will pretend they did it and some will actually go do it. And on TV, there will be testimonials from people who ate poison ivy and it cured their gout or their heart disease or their “Ravenclaw” tendencies. People who die from eating poison ivy will not be counted in the official total as having died from poison ivy. It will be listed perhaps as “political putrefaction” but the world will find out fairly quickly.
Eventually, so will the Russian people. But by that time, something else cancerous happens first. People who survived the purges of Stalin, by definition, are more pro-Stalin and acted to please him more than the millions who were put to a fast or slow death. And the pro-Stalin survivors acted evilly for decades under him. One way to assuage your guilt about doing evil for a long time is to convince yourself that it isn’t really evil. The dick-taters like Stalin will give you a reason that you can tell yourself. The dick-tater knows it’s a lie; you know it’s a lie; everyone outside of Russia who thinks about it knows it’s a lie. But it makes you feel a little better. You start by habitually doing evil. Then you begin to habitually feel bad. Then, you find that believing the lies of the dick-tater makes you feel a little better. And now you have told yourself the lie so long that you actually come to believe it. That, in turn, means there is a lot of truth that you cannot listen to. You not only repeat Russian propaganda, you also self-censor because you don’t want to hear the voices of Western journalists, etc.; they will only make you question that which you do not want to question.
Question yourself now. Before it’s too late. Too late for you. Too late for the world.
An expression that perhaps goes back to the Roman Coliseum or “gentlemanly” dueling. What is a weapon? What can it mean to say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”?
A few years ago, I decided to try a little experiment. I knew that studies showed that owning a handgun did not, in general, make you safer. Actually, it was the reverse. Nonetheless, I thought perhaps I would feel safer. For one week, I imagined that my cellphone was a lethal weapon. I could pull it out and cause someone else horrendous pain or to end their life or both. As you might imagine, I did not feel more secure or safer. I felt more paranoid about others but also afraid I might accidentally shoot someone.
In the middle of Monday night, one of our cats turned over some cat bowls and made a huge ruckus. I immediately yelled bloody murder and jumped out of bed. I would not want to have a gun if I’m awakened like that. My body is primed for action and my mind is not yet anywhere to be found. I literally have no idea as to what’s going on. It only last a few moments. But those few moments are enough time to grab a gun and shoot someone. And that someone is far more likely to be someone in your family than a home invader. Maybe they left a book in your room and couldn’t sleep so they came into your room to retrieve it. I don’t really think an error like that is self-forgivable. Your mood would be altered much to the negative for the rest of your life. The only alternative would be to shut off your feelings so completely that you literally became a heartless monster.
What occurred to me tonight taking pictures of flowers, as one is wont to do, is making a much better use of the iPhone than a gun for home protection is. For one thing, if you own a gun for home protection, you hopefully rarely use it. I use the iPhone nearly every day. The statistics say that you’re actually more likely to die in a home invasion if you have a gun, but let’s say, no, in your particular case, you did manage to shoot two people dead. And, that’s that.
Except of course, it isn’t done at all. You will find out that those two people you shot didn’t think it was so cool and they may sue you. Or, you may find out things about those families such as how desperate they were to make enough money to feed their kids that they turned to crime. Of course, you don’t want to hear that. They broke the law. And, indeed, in many states, that can be enough to get you off the hook.
The “hook” of the law, that is. But that’s not the only hooks there are. There’s the social hook. How do you think other people would view you? Maybe some will view you as a hero. But certainly many will not. You might end up being much more annoyed at those who view you as a hero that at those who view you as a villain. Either way, your life will never be the same. Those changes are much more likely to be negative on balance.
There’s another social hook. How would you feel about someone you care about marrying into a family where someone killed two young lads? Better protected? Or, might you be worried about how that gun might be used in the future, in say, a marital dispute? (Although, of course, suicides and accidental killings should also be on your mind, but those are always a possibility with a gun owner. But in the case of the dual killer, we don’t just know he might kill when provoked; we know he will kill when provoked. Maybe you think a home invasion is sufficient reason for murder. But how about a marital dispute? Surely you’ve noticed that even couples who love each other can come to a point where they are too frustrated to think clearly. I don’t really see how a gun helps a situation like that.
Lastly, there is your own hook. That may be the sharpest and deepest cutting hook of all. You will second guess your actions on the night of no matter what. That’s just human nature. Some dark, rainy evening, when that re-run is playing for the 13th time, it will hit you that you knew damned well they were unarmed. Another part of your brain screams “Bullshit!” And, so you block it out. Until several weeks later, you discover your cousin’s preferred brand of weed is way stronger than what you’re used to. And, as that snuff movie replays itself yet again, it occurs to you that you not only knew they were unarmed, you thought: “So what? Nobody’s going to put me in prison for it. In this state, they’l think I’m a hero.” Again, you hear the booming voice: “Bullshit!” Only this time, you realize that isn’t your voice at all. That voice is the one he used to destroy you when you told people about his molestations. That’s not you. Or is it? You might, at some point, find yourself depressed by this debate, perhaps riddled with self-doubt. At other times, maybe you’ll come to peace with your actions. But the debate will never stop.
I take pictures of flowers. They are for anyone to enjoy or ignore. No regrets. That’s my “weapon” of choice.