Am I a Patriot?

I’ve wondered before whether I am a “patriot”. A cute statist girl called me one several years ago and I wasn’t sure whether I should feel insulted. (She later decided she hated me because I don’t support “the troops” or the Blue Line Gang, both of which she adored.)

I decided to figure out what makes a person a patriot, but I discovered that the rabbit hole is deeper than I had expected.

Dictionary.com defines “patriot” as:

  1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
  2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.

It also says the word is from Greek, patriṓtēs — fellow-countryman.

I’ll get back to #1 in a second.

I guess I fit #2 somewhat. I’m more of an educator and advocate than a defender. And I oppose interference the violation of individual rights by anyone; federal, local, freelance, or whatever. It’s the violation that matters, not who commits it or why.

But what about #1? This raises the question, what is a “country”? According to the dictionary it is a state or nation. I unequivocally reject the state, but what is a “nation”? Back to dictionary.com…

  1. a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own
  2. the territory or country itself

I’m fine with people and territories, but the people are only a country if they want a government “of their own”? No thanks on the shared government. That’s just antisocial. I guess this is why I’m not a nationalist; I am not a statist and it seems you can’t be one without being the other.

Since I don’t support any country’s government or its government’s “interests”, I can’t support a country.

So, no, I’m probably not what most people would call a “patriot”, and I’m fine with that.

And whatever else they may be, DemoCRAPublicans are partiots– loyal to their party, their chosen branch of the political cult. If that loyalty supports or defends the country, they are OK with that. But they are also fine with it if it hurts the country. Or if it harms and kills individuals. The Party is what matters to them. I find that disgusting.

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Banning 3D-Printed Guns

Scott Adams says 3D-printed guns will be effectively stopped (or severely limited) with “friction” by government “laws” or 3D printer company policies/apps. (You did save the files before the anti-liberty bigots of the U.S. feral government threatened everyone into taking them offline, didn’t you?)

He believes 3D printers will end up being manufactured by just a few big companies, as usually happens with products like that, and you’ll have to download their approved apps from their app stores to print items. And that they’ll simply forbid gun-printing apps. He’s probably right.

Yes, he admits hackers might get around this, and some people will build their own printers without this limitation, but this is where his “friction” fetish comes in play. For the average person, this added difficulty will be enough to prevent them from printing guns.

But will it, though?

If guns required gun-specific parts which couldn’t be used for other things, he might be right. But they don’t. That’s why you can build a gun from plumbing.

And, if 3D-printed guns were banned by government or the printer manufacturers, don’t you think more effort would go into designing guns which are built from parts no one could possibly recognize as gun parts? Or parts which have other, actual uses.

Print this lamp part, this repair piece for your coffee pot, this game piece, etc., put them all together in this way, and you’ve got a gun. No gun or gun part was printed. Yet a gun was printed after all. By someone who didn’t have to be a hacker or build their own 3D printer, but who just wanted a gun enough to print one. Kind of like the way it happens now.

Does he really imagine the app stores would be able to tell all the parts which can be used to make a gun from the parts which can’t?

Yes, it still might reduce the number of guns being printed, and if you start with a flawed assumption you might see this as a win. But that’s an admission that you aren’t thinking rationally.

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Bad Choices and Shifting the Blame

I don’t blame manufacturers or retailers for the misuse of their (non-faulty) products. Not even with products known to be really dangerous if used according to their purpose.

When someone buys something dangerous and makes the choice to misuse it, that’s where the blame lies.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking guns, opioids, cars, or anything else.

If you misuse something it’s YOUR fault if you die from it and YOUR fault if you harm others. You are not the victim. I hold YOU accountable. And, if the shoe is on the other foot, as it has been a few times, I accept my responsibility.

Yes, I get it. Where drugs are concerned, people foolishly abuse drugs manufactured by people who just want to make money from addicts. It’s easy to say someone shouldn’t make something that people can get addicted to. Even though people can apparently get addicted to anything. They don’t force anyone to use their products (unlike government). They are simply meeting a want, even though we might dislike that want.

So, being addicted doesn’t change anything. To have become addicted, you still had to make the choice to use something known to be dangerously addictive at least once. Unless you are one of the vanishingly rare cases where someone drugged you without your knowledge and you became addicted, you chose the path. I feel bad for addicts, but that’s no reason to attack the manufacturers, treat them as criminals, and ignore the voluntary choice the future addict made.

Nor is there any legitimate reason to treat addicts as criminals instead of as people who may need medical help. Prohibition is still evil.

The choice to misuse a product is still a choice, and it’s not helpful to coddle those making these choices or to shift the blame to someone else.

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Bullying’s Cure is Fighting Back

It’s as predictable as the equinox: school starts in the fall and bullying catches society’s attention anew.

It’s not as though bullying stops over the summer break, but then it is usually left-over momentum from the previous school year.

“Back to school” recharges it.

Schools decry bullying, often getting the community involved. It’s a halfhearted effort at best. Schools can’t eliminate bullying without undermining their own system since it’s based on authoritarianism — socially accepted bullying.

The dictionary says a bully is anyone who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate someone weaker, usually to force them to do what the bully wants.

Who, other than an insecure person with little self-worth, would behave this way? Whether it’s the schoolyard bully, the authoritarian teacher or principal, the politician or the politicians’ badged “muscle,” if you choose to push others around — literally or figuratively — to force them to do what you want, you can’t think very highly of yourself.

I pity bullies, even as I hope their victims fight back hard enough to make the bullies reconsider their poor life choices.

Fighting back is the only cure for bullying. The victims must fight back, and shouldn’t be penalized for doing so. Yet this is the solution no one in an official capacity, who claims to oppose bullying, is willing to accept.

Forcing victims to rely on someone else to solve the problem for them is also bullying. It doesn’t teach responsibility and won’t build confident character for facing life’s other struggles. Encourage the victim to stand firm. Back them up if you’re concerned about their safety, but don’t tolerate anyone who treats fighting back against a bully the same as bullying.

Some bullied kids have gone on to strike out in tragic, angry ways at those who didn’t bully them — themselves or other innocents. I suspect this is because healthy ways of fighting back were forbidden.

The frustration must build to intolerable levels, finally snapping in the worst possible way.

The victim, because of his lack of competence in dealing with bullies, becomes a bully. Or a mass-murderer.

It’s no excuse, but it is predictable.

You can create a monster by being monstrous to someone. Forbidding self-defense or turning a blind eye to officially sanctioned forms of bullying is monstrous. Society ends up paying the price for official cowardice.

Bullying is a problem. It won’t be solved by ignoring the solution or by making the social environment worse for its victims.

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The “Guns are Bad” Assumption

Assuming guns are bad handicaps you. It keeps you from being able to talk about them sensibly.

It would be similar to what would happen if you thought dogs are bad. You’d have trouble discussing them in a reasonable way. Your faulty assumption would creep into everything you think and color everything you say. You might talk about how to register them (or the people who keep them), talk about mandatory dog-owner insurance, or discuss what kinds of dogs people should be allowed to keep. You might claim that government gives people the right to keep dogs, so it can take away that right. I mean, dogs aren’t specifically mentioned in the Ninth Amendment as something you have a right to keep, so government dog-owner control is clearly Constitutional. And obviously the founders never envisioned pitbulls, so only whatever kind of dogs they kept are covered by the Constitution. Right?

Of course, it makes no sense. Not realistically, historically, or rationally.

But that’s the kind of argument you get over and over from people who live by the faulty assumption that guns are bad.

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September 11, 2001

This year I wasn’t going to mention “9/11”. And I didn’t on that anniversary. I thought I had blogged about my own experiences of that day years ago, but apparently, I never have. Ammo.com had sent me their article on the event, and I wrote back saying I wasn’t going to mention it this year. But I guess I will after all. Just a little late.

In 2001 I was living in north-eastern Pennsylvania (“NEPA”), working in a small shop which built custom picture frames and framed art for Manhattan art galleries. New York City was about an hour and a half away, according to those who went there (I never did).

The shop sent a truck into NYC every Tuesday and Wednesday evening to deliver frames and framed art and pick up our work for the next week. Our schedule was always tight. On the morning of September 11, we were all working like we did any other morning.

A couple of people had radios at their work tables and one of them announced that she had just heard that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I commented that it was an odd coincidence that such an emergency (a “9-1-1“) happened on 9/11. I had a radio in the room where I packaged the finished frames and art for the truck (my main job), so I turned it on to see what they were saying.

There wasn’t really much real news about it– they would just talk about “the accident” between songs, speculating on what went wrong and what kind of plane it was (there were differing reports).

Then they came back on and said a plane had just hit the second tower. I said to co-workers “that wasn’t an accident”. We all immediately suspected terrorism. Later they said a plane had hit the Pentagon and more planes had possibly been hijacked; they made it sound like there was a swarm of them (because at that point they just didn’t know anything)– and that there was one “missing” somewhere over PA. I got a little nervous. We were in the middle of nowhere– literally in a cornfield– but as it turned out, Pennsylvania fields weren’t completely safe either.

The radio stopped even trying to play music and went to constant commentary and reports from the scenes.

I was completely stunned to hear when the towers fell, one after the other– I hadn’t believed it possible. Only a little more than a year earlier I had gotten my only glimpses of them (and the Statue of Liberty) as I flew into, and then back out of, the airport in Newark, NJ, on my first trip to PA. To think that they were now gone was unbelievable.

I can’t remember how long it was before we got the first reports of the plane crash in southwestern PA, but it was a while.

At some point during the confusion, they announced that all flights had been grounded country-wide. That didn’t seem real, either.

Our manager updated us and said he hadn’t heard from, or been able to contact, any of our customers. The lines were either down or overwhelmed– maybe both. We were working blind. He said to keep working as though the truck was going out… for now.

On lunch break, some of us went outside to eat. I looked up and saw no contrails at all in the sky. Something I had never seen before in that area– there were always planes visible in the sky. I told my co-workers to look up at the sky and make a mental picture because they’d probably never see that again.

Soon we got word from some source unrelated to our customers that no trucks were being allowed into Manhatten. The trucks weren’t going anywhere that day. Or the next.

The mood at work was somber. And we were worried about our jobs.

As it turned out that was the last day I worked until the 13th of December (our workweeks always started on Thursday).

On a tangent: It’s almost callous to admit, but those 3 months I was unemployed were some of the most fun months of my entire life. Karaoke ’til 2AM when the bar closed– then the huge after-party at a friend’s house… 5 days per week. Going to bed at 8 in the morning– if at all. Much debauchery.

Soon after I got called back to work we started getting damaged art to re-frame from buildings next door to the WTC. Truckloads of it– anything that they thought could be salvaged. The broken frames all had a thick layer (an inch or more deep) of fluffy gray “dust” on (and especially behind) them. (I was as careful as I could be to not breathe it and to keep my hands clean, but I did save some.) The glass was shattered and the plexiglass was cracked. Some of the art had been pierced by flying debris. We kept the art at our shop until the insurance was all settled, then we began the repairs. We delivered the first repaired pieces back to NYC on September 10th or 11th (I don’t remember exactly) of 2002.

And there’s my story.

9/11 changed me, and not all in a bad way.

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