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Thoughts and Prayers

In December 2012, a man walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and murdered 26 people (20 of them children). As is the custom when an event like this occurs in America, the American people were treated to an array of statements from politicians declaring that their thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims. However, any attempt to introduce measures to control access to certain types of firearms was fiercely resisted and eventually defeated. Hell, we even got treated to a raft of conspiracy theories stating that the attack was a “false flag” event designed to take guns away from Americans.

Last month, a man opened fire on a crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas, eventually killing 59 people and wounding several hundred more. Once again, the American people were treated to the “thoughts and prayers” brigade, and also told, “This is not the time to talk about gun control.” This was the act of a single madman, a lone wolf, a mentally disturbed and deranged individual.

On Sunday, a man walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas with an assault rifle and opened fire. By the time his rampage was done, 27 people lay dead and numerous other lives had been shattered forever. As per usual, the victims and their families got thoughts and prayers and, “This is not the time to talk about gun control.” Soon, someone from the NRA will say something along the lines of, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Now, we’ve all heard these lines, or some variation of them many times. The implication being that guns are not in and of themselves inherently dangerous, accompanied by some meaningless vibrations on the wind. Accordingly, whenever a bunch of innocent people get murdered by a madman with a gun there is fierce pushback against any idea that placing guns within easy reach of shall we say, persons lacking a certain amount of self-control, is a pretty fucking stupid way to live.

I’ve always found this attitude to be quite disingenuous. You see, in the UK, there was a spate of knife crimes, stabbings and what not. Of course, a knife isn’t going to leap up and stab someone on its lonesome, it needs to be wielded by someone. So, the UK did what any sensible government does when something otherwise mundane becomes weaponised: it banned the acquisition of certain knives by any person below the age of 18 and required ID for purchases. There was no hand-wringing or thoughts and prayers-ing. Nobody said “knives don’t kill people” or any other inane nonsense. They just took action to tighten a loophole and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. In fact, having recognised that people could and did sidestep the regulations by buying knives online, the government recently introduced new rules to make it mandatory for knives purchased online to be picked up in person, at which point, ID would have to be shown. It is also the responsibility of the seller to check the ID to avoid liability for selling a knife to an underage person. Now, is the system perfect? No, of course not. Will people find ways around it? Yes, because people are people and it’s pretty hard to find someone craftier than a person looking for a way to bend or break a rule. However, and this is the crucial point, it is far better than doing sweet fuck all.

Now, our American brothers from El Norte, might interject here that nobody in the UK has a constitutional right to carry a knife, and they would be totally right. However, the thing about rights is that there are always reasonable limits on how those rights are exercised. For instance, you have freedom of speech, but you can’t scream, “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre. You have the right to assemble freely, but you can’t establish a collective of lawbreakers, aka a “crime family.” You have the right to freedom of movement, but you’re not allowed to drive your car through someone’s house. You have the right to freedom of religion, but you can’t decide to worship Cthulhu via the ritual sacrifice of young virgins. Clearly then, all constitutionally guaranteed freedoms have controls, and it is the height of laziness to insist otherwise. Or perhaps just the height of cruelty.

The simple fact of the matter is, unless and until common sense controls are introduced to the right to bear arms in the US of A, common sense controls which are adaptable and respond to challenges and the inevitable instinct of people to try to go around them, the platitudes offered by their leaders after every atrocity are about as useful as prayers to Cthulhu.

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Proclivities

Once upon a time, there lived a people who thought that natural phenomena were signs of divine intervention. The sun was a golden chariot being driven across the sky by a god. This active volcano was proof that a god was rather annoyed with his people for flagging in their worship and he’d accordingly instructed his priests to toss him a pretty virgin. A girl virgin, of course, yer god’s no pillow-biter, even if men did run about gleefully having sex with each other back in those days.

Today, we look back on some of these archaic and sometimes horrifying religious beliefs and practices and say, “Thank goodness we’re living in rather more enlightened times”, right before we head back to worshipping our own gods and rampaging around with our own horrifying religious beliefs and practices. Sure, our new gods don’t demand we toss pretty virgins into volcanoes for their amusement, but some of their apparent proclivities are just as baffling.

Take for instance, the whole “natural disasters as punishment for butt stuff” movement. They would have you believe that one day, their merciful and loving god woke up to the chorus of angels like Prince Akeem, and while strolling through his garden, sipping his glass of chilled pomegranate juice and swiping through his Snapchat timeline, Gerald’s story caught his eye.

GOD: Ah, my son Gerald, what’s the scamp up to today? Pulled a nice bird has he? Good on ye son. Wait, what’s this? A wig? These women and their beauty accesso… *spits out juice causing a very strange pink rain somewhere in Indonesia* Is that a man? That’s a man! Wetin be dis? Gabriel! Gabriel ooooo! Bia, bia, bia!

ANGEL GABRIEL (running in to see what all the ruckus is about): Sah!

GOD: (replays Snapchat story): Wetin be dis wey my eye dey see so?

GABRIEL: Bros, e be like say na two man dey do demself, but my eye no too sure.

GOD: Chai! Dem wan kill me! These human beings sef, no be Adam and Eve I create? Wetin be all dis na? Michael, where you dey ooo? Show sharp sharp!

ANGEL MICHAEL (flutters down from the ceiling): I dey here sah!

GOD: Abeg, you see these two men wey dey do demself for Brooklyn?

MICHAEL: Yes sah.

GOD: Good, abeg, you come go Houston, go pour cold water for dem body, and when you finish for dia, go shake ground for Mexico small. This craze must stop now now.

MICHAEL: Wait, Houston and Mexico? No be Brooklyn de men dey?

GOD: I said what I said!

 

The Demands of the Throat

In the course of one of his many escapades, the tortoise, that lovable rogue and scoundrel, pauses to reflect on the fact that he may have just pushed his luck a little too far this time, and it is perhaps time to wrap up the gig before it falls apart. However, he decides to continue, musing, “There is no god like the throat. It demands sacrifices daily.” Of course, the scam blows up in his face shortly after and ever since he’s been thinking, “Should have gotten out when I could.” This is why the tortoise walks so slowly. Or has a cracked shell. I forget which particular facet of the tortoise’s nature the tale sought to explain.

There is no doubt that among the local deities, the throat would have been considered an especially demanding god. After all, the other gods didn’t demand an offering from you every day, only when you wanted something. Even then, their demands could be exceedingly specific. For instance, one could be faced with a request for a pregnant brown and white spotted she-goat, for example. Or a black and green cockerel with a red and white crown. Either of these could take weeks to locate or, just coincidentally, happen to have been sitting in your backyard all along. It was no coincidence that priests weren’t poor men.

Accordingly, when the white man showed up with his god, it would have been something of a relief. Here, at last, was a single deity who claimed kingship over all others, and granted direct access to his supplicants. No more inconsiderate demands for that she-goat you’d spent the last two years rearing, just your worship and prayers. No more priests only willing to meet you in the dead of night, this god wanted his worship done in the bright sunshine. And his priests, oh, such humble fellows, simple of raiment and undemanding in their care. And how the people flocked to him.

Over the years though, the white man’s god has gradually taken on some of the characteristics of the gods he so unceremoniously shoved aside. He has grown to like being addressed in the dead and dark of night, sometimes, all night, whereas his predecessors would rarely demand more than an hour of your time, maybe half the night where your problem was deemed grave enough. His demands have grown and grown. He could ask for your car, your house, or a certain amount of money based on how many years he has suffered you to live on his earth. His priests are no longer the humble advocates of self-denial they once were, oh no. Now they tell the people that salvation lies in wealth, and their god requires as much of yours as would be uncomfortable to hand over to them. That new car you just acquired? The lord requires it of you as a seed. Last time I checked, metal, glass and plastic don’t grow out of the ground, but what do I know. Also, no longer does their god offer his services gratis, his chosen “anointed” priests inform sadly. Their god requires a small consultation fee, depending on how dire your situation is, of course. Somewhere along the line, their god changed from a benevolent and kindly deity into a benevolent and kindly mafia boss. And just like Don Corleone, when he makes you an offer, you would be wise to accept it.

Somewhere, the throat is wondering just how the tortoise got it so wrong. Should be easy enough to catch up with him and have that conversation. Unless the tortoise is racing the rabbit this week…

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Sonia's Beauty Blog

makeup . hair . lifestyle

Pencil Goddess

My Occasional Thoughts About Stuff...

Red Lips Win

Lifestyle curator

Gorgeous Brown Skin

A lifestyle, beauty, health and fashion blog

amandarylee's Blog

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

Dame's Caucus

Romance... Erotic... Naija Erotica.

The World Of Pootermobile

Spreading Joy One BlackBerry Theme At A Time

Mickeymoye's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

KANAYO'S VOICE!

LINKING THE LOCAL TO THE GLOBAL AND THE GLOBAL TO THE LOCAL!

A Monk's Words

My opinion, my thought process..a valve for the bedlam in my head.

Didicola

Musing... Brooding... Educing

7am Kickoff

An Arsenal FC blog from an American perspective

zindzi

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it. - Benjamin Disraeli

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