Fear, Violence and the Absurd

by Trevor Hultner

Note: I don’t suggest he should be deported, because it’s none of my business what people do in their own country – and because it would mean his coming back to England, and I’d rather have Abu Hamza back here than him. However, why is anyone in America paying attention to Piers Morgan? He’s a resident alien.

In a normal country, such people should have the right to life and property. Of course, they should have the legal right to speak as they please. But it strikes me as bad manners if they use this right to demand changes in the law. They don’t perfectly understand the ways of the country in which they find themselves. They’ve had no ancestral part in the formation of the country. Neither they nor their children have any obligation to share in the consequences of what they recommend.

I find Janet Daley irritating for the same reason as Americans do Mr Morgan. Some years ago, when she was banging on about the need to scrap the double jeopardy rule, so the alleged killers of Stephen Lawrence could be locked away, I suggested she should clear off home to America. She hasn’t spoken to me since.

I’ll make a partial exception from this rule for the Irish, and a larger one for people from the white dominions – ie, Germaine Greer, Peter Tatchell and so forth. Then there are variable exceptions for foreign immigrants – variable according to their degree of identification with the country. Outright foreigners should have a right to speak, but none to be heard and taken seriously. SIG

Fear, Violence and the Absurd

Nearly a month after the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the ensuing “debate” over gun control and gun violence still looks less like the exchange of ideas and discussion on systemic violence we need to be having, and more like an absurdist tragicomedy; the latest “act” of which is, of course, the recent “interview” between TV tabloid hack Piers Morgan and conspiranoid* fear-mongering talk radio host Alex Jones.

Ostensibly, the two got together in the same room to “debate” each other over gun control. That was how the show was billed, and what appeared on the lower third graphic when the exchange finally aired. And this makes sense: for the last several weeks Morgan has been calling for measures that many — if not most — libertarians and anarchists would no doubt oppose, while Jones is without a doubt one of the the most outspoken (some would say vitriolic) gun rights advocates with access to a microphone and Internet connection.

Those who saw know that nothing like a reasonable conversation actually took place. For those who didn’t watch, this short analysis by fellow C4SS writer Jason Lee Byas captures the spirit of the spectacle nicely: “Within two minutes, (Jones) starts screaming. Within five minutes, he challenges Morgan to a boxing match. Towards the end he begins mocking Morgan’s accent.” In other words, viewers of the program were treated to a dramatic teleplay of epically absurd proportions.

It’s immediately clear that both players were aware of their assigned roles, and they performed them beautifully. Jones was the court jester (or perhaps a more apt description would be rodeo clown?), responsible for keeping us, the audience, riled up and agitated — and more importantly, entertained; Morgan was the quintessential “straight man,” a stoic voice of reason, remaining steadfast after Jones’ whirlwind of irrationality died down. You can find evidence of this in how Morgan described the interview during an appearance on “CNN Newsroom” early Tuesday:

“I can’t think of a better advertisement for gun control than Jones’ interview last night. […] It was startling, it was terrifying in parts, it was completely deluded.”

It almost sounds like Morgan was describing a particularly effective horror movie from the 1930s. “You’ll scream! You’ll shake! You’ll come back for more! Witness the horror masterpiece of the century!” you can very nearly hear him exclaim. In fact, the interview is so scary that it compels viewers to swing right back around to a pro-gun stance; as Laissez-Faire Books editor Jeffrey Tucker wrote in a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, “If we get gun control, what means will the people have to protect themselves against Alex Jones?”

Joking aside, what no one — not Jones, not Morgan, not liberals or conservatives, nor (to a lesser extent) libertarians and anarchists — is willing to admit is that the problem of gun violence, and violence in general, is a wicked problem, eluding easy answers completely and teasing more complex ones unfairly. It is, like poverty or climate change, an absurd problem.

Liberals want a more powerful regulatory state concerning gun rights. Conservatives and right libertarians oppose this on constitutional grounds, and left-libertarians and anarchists oppose it on the grounds that they don’t want a stronger state, period. Conservatives want a bigger police state with armed guards in every school. Liberals (or, as Roderick Long calls them, the “aristocratic left”) agree with this proposal but disagree on the uniform the guards wear, while libertarians, anarchists and individual progressives (the anti-privilege left) definitively oppose it.

Right-libertarians would like to see a less-regulatory state and more guns in the hands of individuals for self-defense, which liberals oppose. Conservatives play lip-service to it but would probably oppose it if it meant the “wrong” people getting their hands on guns. Of course, left-libertarians and anarchists by and large want to dismantle a state that advocates and promotes violence on a systemic scale; this solution is one that liberals and conservatives alike strongly oppose.

The possibility no one will admit exists — or, at least, they won’t in any serious sense — is that there may not be a solution to gun violence. For all the good a conversation on systemic violence, state violence, militarism, etc. might do for a small percentage of the population, the fact that at the end of the day, the current state still exists, will serve to nullify that good. People will still deify military service. Children will still be raised to want to be police officers. And the absurd problem will continue on a systemic level. Therefore, we must, as oppositional forces often do, commit to an absurd answer; we must struggle to teach our own children to reject killing, to reject domination over each other, to reject that systemic violence.

*(portmanteau of conspiracy theorist and paranoid)

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7 responses to “Fear, Violence and the Absurd

  1. I, too, am a Resident Alien in the United States ( although I seem to spend most of my time here in the UK). There are two things which differentiate me from a US Citizen; 1) I do not have the right to vote, and 2) I can be deported. Curiously, attempting to vote is probably the one thing that certainly WOULD get me deported. It does happen – people get sent voting papers, they vote (illegally) and get kicked out.

  2. Mr Morgan is a desperate man – the ratings of his show on CNN were terrible and he could not really come back to Britain. Not after all the fake stories at the Daily Mirror, for example people dressing up as British soldiers and pretending (in the middle of England) to be committing atrocities in Iraq, – and the “hacking” stuf (eventually someone would notice that the Mirror Group, under the leadership of Mr Morgan, had engaged in more “hacking” and so on than the News of the World and co ever had). Even the media has limits – and Mr Morgan had gone well beyond them.

    His ravings (against the Bill of Rights or anything else) must be understood in this context.

    The best thing Americans (of any poltical point of view) could do, is to ignore Mr Morgan.

  3. Hey, did he really do that, the bastard? Dress actroids up as our soldiers, and others as “Iraquis”, and get one lot to bash up the other lot?

    Several people, at the very least, must have “been involved”. Why has nobody grassed the bastard up? Or are they “all dead”?

    If true, then he will have to go.

  4. Jones was too angry and Morgan was trying slimy lawyers tricks using leading questions but Jones was correct. At least 200 million human beings have been murdered in the last 100 years by armed/costumed thugs on the orders of political/bureacratic scum(the 290 million figure is interesting–I will look into this new set of stats). The total number of deaths from all US massacres in the last 60 years plus the 3 UK ones plus Brevik is only around 1200 people. Tragic enough but when you divide them into the govt death tolls you realise that, if every massacre had all happened together on the same day, and that day was repeated the next day and the next day and so on, it would take approx 500 years before the total deaths equalled the states horrorific “score”. Again, I am saying that all the “private” massacres of the last 60 years would have to happen, every day, day in and day out, every day for the next 500 years to equal the murders done by (or made possible by) guns in the hands of the states thugs.

    If Jones could have clearly got that over on Morgan’s debate he would have really done a good job.

  5. I alway’s have this simple philosophy, when in Rome do as
    the Romans, Morgan would be better to take insight from this,
    they won’t put up with what we put up with in the US, he’s on
    hot coals, they may just boot him out if he goes to far!

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