Showing posts from 2012

A little less conversation, a little more action

It was late December 1989 (almost exactly 23 years ago) and I was in Belgrade. The dark clouds of future wars were gathering inexorably. Ugly nationalism, racism, tribalism – call it what you will – was rearing its ugly head, foisting the increasingly (and perplexingly – for me anyway) popular Slobodan Milosevic on its shoulders.

"There," my late, much loved, uncle said, pointing across the river Sava, "is where we came together as a nation – thousands of us – to declare a new era." I had heard that Milosevic had addressed a rally there some months before, stirring up nationalist fervour and racial/tribal paranoia to a level that hadn't been seen in Serbia more than a generation. My uncle then pointed to a huge placard of their new leader on a nearby wall. "Yes - he's our man. He's the one who is going to save us."
"But uncle, isn't he just part of the existing communist establishment? You have a chance to get rid of that whole …

5 false assumptions in the gun control debate


I've had a great number of responses to my article "We need to talk about the whole gun thing" and I thought I'd address them – preferably in one article.

Many of the responses share a common feature: the tendency to assume one or more variables that are false, but that are nonetheless intuitively appealing – so appealing we can't relinquish them to see the situation for what it truly is.

I liken this process to the "grip reflex" of which I've previously spoken: as a species, humanity often seems to have difficulty letting go of something that seems intuitive (ie. that which comes to us automatically and just feels "right") – especially if it makes the issue with which we're confronted look "simple" or "common sense". We end up thinking:

"I've got a real grip on this problem and I'm not going to let go, dammit!"

Nagging, contradictory (and seemingly counterintuitive) data is either dimi…

We need to talk about the whole gun thing

I'm continually surprised to read the number of posts on Facebook of people (almost always so-called "conservatives") urging others not to discuss gun control in the wake of the latest mass-shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

They say that to do so would be to "point fingers" and "make politics" out of this tragedy. In other words, they're saying:

"You're not to discuss the 'elephant that has crept into the room', namely gun control.
It would be 'unseemly' and 'political' for you to do so."

It's as if they want a special dispensation not to discuss the most relevant legal, political and social issue impacting on this tragedy "out of respect for the fallen and their families".

Well I'm sorry: you can't silence the debate in relation to its most relevant issue – all on the basis of some purported "moral high ground". If we shouldn't talk about gun control now, w…