The Plastic Hippo

January 10, 2011

The right that shall not be infringed

Filed under: Politics,Rights,World — theplastichippo @ 5:04 pm

Consider for a moment nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. On Saturday morning she was shot dead outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona along with a senior state judge, a political community outreach worker and three senior citizens, 14 others were injured. The target was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who remains in a critical condition after being shot in the head at close range.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
“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.”

The amendment, as part of the Bill of Rights, was adopted in 1791 in the first term of George Washington, the first President of the United States, just eight years after the American War of Independence. Having gained victory over the British, the newly born nation was close to bankruptcy and was being eyed with predatory intent by the Spanish and the French. Tensions between the original states threatened civil war, slave rebellions were common as were attacks by Native Americans keen to take back their tribal homelands. If the revolution was to survive into the 19th century, “a well regulated Militia” was needed to defend the republican cause.

310 years later, Christina-Taylor Green, having recently been elected as a member of the student council at her school, was taken by her mother to see one of Congresswoman Giffords regular “Congress on your corner” public meetings. The interest they shared in democracy was rewarded with bullets fired not by “a well regulated Militia”, but by a lone gunman bearing a semi-automatic firearm. He was restrained as he tried to re-load.

Ms Giffords represents a marginal district in Congress and as such was “targeted” along with 19 others by no less than the infamously gun loving Sarah Palin. Palin`s Facebook page published a “hit list” charmingly accompanied by telescopic rifle gun sights. After Palin published her “hit list”, Giffords office was attacked and in March the Congresswoman said this to a local television station:

“We’re on Sarah Palin`s “targeted” list, but the thing is that the way she has it depicted, we’re in the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realise that there are consequences to that action.”

Clearly there is no evidence to suggest that Palin actively incited the shootings in Tucson and her website is just part of the knockabout fun called politics. Any “well regulated Militia” would realise that this was not a call to arms and would leave their flintlock muskets safely above the fireplace in the old homestead. Unfortunately, gun ownership in the US is completely unregulated and any spaced out psychopath can arm themselves with enough fire power to single handedly win the Battle of Bunker Hill.

There have, of course, been previous deaths brought about, in some cases, by the firearms of people only a few years older than Christina-Taylor Green. Young, angry Americans who happen to dislike Mondays or who bowl for Columbine grow up in a culture obsessed with violence in the name of almost paranoid self defence enshrined in the 18th century. With the largest and most powerful armed force on the planet and a willingness to deploy shock and awe interventions anywhere in the world, the need for “a well regulated Militia” to protect internal borders seems questionable. The latest slaughter in Tucson suggests that every president from George Washington to Barak Obama have failed to uphold the second amendment by allowing the right to bear arms to go unregulated. The disturbed assassin in Arizona legally bought his Glock at an outlet called Sportsman’s Warehouse. Using a semi-automatic kinda takes the skill out of deer hunting.

There are sections of American society, including Sarah Palin and the increasing ominous Tea Party, that believe the second amendment to be more than a right but a duty and some of the more extreme in the gun lobby defend utmost violence against people that they disagree with as “patriotic”. The frontier spirit of the American Revolution has evolved into a sinister mindset that embraces lethal weaponry as a force for good in protecting the state from the enemies of the people, namely liberals.

But politicians like Palin need to be careful. Gun toting middle America might not share the intelligence, subtlety and political sophistication of Ms Palin and may take her message literally. Those controlling her Facebook page have quickly removed any comments critical of the former Governor of Alaska but allowed a disturbing comment that celebrated the murder of a child. The consequence of this dangerous mix of a closed mind armed to the teeth and provocative political posturing has an air of inevitability about it. We may view events in America as distant and alien, but on this side of the pond, politicians also need to think before they speak.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has suggested that the sexual exploitation of young, white girls is a “specific problem” in Britain’s Pakistani community. This is a little like saying that all middle-aged, bespectacled, grey haired former Home Secretaries are child abusers. Although the evidence shows that 98 per cent of sex crimes are committed by white men, his comments are based on the convictions of just two individuals and it is likely to infuriate a part of our community already alienated and ripe for radicalisation. Young men of Pakistani heritage might like to point out to Mr Straw that Harold Shipman, Derek Bird and Raoul Moat were white middle-aged men and therefore we should fear and hate anyone fitting that description. As America lurches to the right in response to the Obama administration and Britain lurches to the left as the scale of coalition cuts bite, the last thing we need is politicians pulling on white hoods and pouring gasoline onto an already burning cross.

After the carnage of 9/11 and here in 7/7, paranoia became rife and the polarisation between corrupt dogmas accelerated. Those aiming an Uzi or a Boeing 767 at innocent people claim to have the same God on their side. God knows what God thinks about this insanity. On September 11 2001, when the attention of the world was focussed on the twin towers, the Pentagon and an anonymous field in Pennsylvania, Christina-Taylor Green was born into the world in Arizona.

Nine years, three months and eight days later any hope of her growing up, living the American dream and perhaps one day becoming a Congresswoman and marrying an astronaut were snuffed out. Yet another victim of the second amendment. The right that shall not be infringed.


  1. […] comment on the front page Comment in brief 10 Jan 10 ThePlasticHippo The right that shall not be infringed Cllr Bob Piper Two-faced buggers This page gets updated throughout the week YamYam links […]

    Pingback by Comment in brief « The YamYam Walsall — January 10, 2011 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  2. As a friend of mine has quoted “if your first instinct upon hearing about a tragedy is to scrub your websites, then you have a problem as a political movement.” Amongst many others.

    Comment by Linda — January 10, 2011 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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