Let me say right off the bat that I have no use for firearms, okay? I have never needed a gun in my entire life, and there is no reason for me to have one now, or ever. My only experience with a real firearm was when I was required to learn how to use the M-16 rifle in Basic Training. And I didn’t like it even then. Since I had no intention of ever using this weapon, why was I even learning how to operate it? I needed to pass Rifle Training just so I wouldn’t have to take the whole training cycle over again. That was the only reason.
I didn’t like it when my older brother, as a boy, had a BB-gun with which he used to shoot at birds and squirrels. I thought that that was downright cruel. We both had one of those harmless, toy cap pistols as kids. I was too young to know any better. I mean, boys are supposed to like playing with guns, aren’t they? I am thankful that neither my dad nor granddad was into guns either, like those fathers who buy their young sons rifles and want to take them hunting all the time.
Since I am so pro-life now, the only situations that would necessitate the use of a firearm is for shooting at a non-human target or skeet shooting at clay pigeons, and nobody really has to do either of those activities. Otherwise, guns are for killing, pure and simple. I would never own one or even have one in my possession. I certainly would not keep one in my home. For what purpose? Some people say that they hate guns, that they only have them to protect themselves against other people with guns, but I don’t buy that excuse. It’s hypocritical anyway, because then they are no better than the other guy. “I’m going to shoot you first to keep you from shooting me.”
I wouldn’t want to kill someone even in self-defense, because I still would have to live with the fact that I killed somebody. Willfully to take a life is murder, regardless of the circumstances. To cause a death as a result of self-defense, is still murderous intent. They purposely killed the other person to defend themself. There are those who don’t accept that contention, however, because they want to excuse their actions and absolve their guilt. Many of these gun owners end up killing members of their own family, especially their children, the very ones whom they are supposed to be protecting!
Some try to justify their gun ownership by reminding you that our Constitution grants us the right to bear arms. But that doesn’t mean we all should, just because we have the right to do so. The Constitution is not intended as the standard for human morality. The country has changed greatly since the Constitution was drawn up. In the Old West, for example, practically everybody carried guns with them at all times. Law enforcement was not as strict as it became to be later on. Men shot and killed each other all the time without any repercussions. The sheriffs were not able to maintain peace nor prevent crime and violence in their towns. When a sheriff himself was killed, they just appointed a new one to take his place. Next! “Gunslinger” was a regular personal assessment of the day for some.
So then what happens is, every time somebody gets a bigger and better weapon, you have to get one, too, to match it, to protect yourself, right? And of course, nothing is ever good enough, is it? We went from bare fists to crude, makeshift weapons, like sticks, clubs, bats, knives and swords, then, so that we didn’t have to get too close to our opponent, we learned to hurl stones and other things at them via slingshots, catapults, arrows, spears and the like. With the invention of firearms: handguns, rifles, cannons, bazookas, Gatling guns and explosive devices, like grenades, land mines and torpedoes, we could now accomplish longer-range annihilation. But even these became too limited for our special purposes. With a machine gun, you could mow down only a few people at a time. We need something that can wipe out entire nations at one time, like an atomic bomb! Hey now, that’s the ticket! “Well, since they got one, now we have to have one, too! Just let them mess with us! We’ll show ’em!”
This Governmental “arms race” is so stupid. When and where does it end, when we ultimately destroy ourselves and everybody else in the process? I hope they don’t think that they have to use the Bomb on my behalf. There is nobody that I hate that much to merit it. And how dare they jeopardize our lives while they are playing their silly little war games!
The manufacture, sale and use of firearms only perpetuate the aggression and violence to which human beings subject each other. And the way things stand, I don’t take a lot of stock in the concept of “maximum security.” If somebody wants to get in (or out) of something badly enough, they will find a way, as long as there are dynamite and other explosive devices at their disposal. We are so technically-sophisticated nowadays, however, that we have resorted to chemical warfare to wipe out our “enemies.” No cumbersome weapons and gadgets to deal with and no space-taking and environmentally-threatening nuclear paraphernalia—just a simple, little ol’, unseen, odorless, tasteless microorganism, capable of decimating whole nations, if handled properly or im-. And it’s untraceable. Where did it come from? Who introduced it? Who is responsible? I explore this type of conspiratorial genocide in another article. (Check out my Conspiracy Theory, Part II–The AIDS Epidemic and Other Medical Speculations.)
(# …For he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny! #)
Oh, really? Just watch me! We, as a society, tend to exalt, glorify and make heroes of combat soldiers who indiscriminately kill in the name of so-called patriotism. I had a recurring gig singing in a male quartet for religious services for certain veteran groups, which were held in the chapel at West Point Academy. After the mid-morning service we were always invited to stay for lunch. So one year my colleagues and I were sitting with one of the WWII Army veterans whose former unit was the focus group that day. During the meal this old lifer started telling us about one of his fellow soldiers who had been declared a war hero for single-handedly killing a very large number of Germans or whomever they were fighting at the time. He seemed to be so proud of this guy and kept bragging about his military accomplishments, and he seemed to want us join in on the adoration. The outspoken person that I am, and because I am not a hypocrite, I proceeded to let this man know that I could not get excited in honoring a mass murderer. It doesn’t matter to me why he did it, I was just not at all impressed with his wartime credentials. This man, and even the other guys with me, couldn’t understand why I didn’t share their unbridled enthusiasm about celebrating a killer. They probably deemed me to be an anti-patriot or something. I’m sure the vet was not pleased with my frank disdain. Pardon me, but I won’t pretend to condone war and support gratuitous killing. I don’t care what anybody thinks about me.
I feel the same way about law enforcement personnel, FBI agents, U.S. marshals, executioners, hit persons, anyone else who, in the course of their daily duties, have the occasion to kill people, for whatever reason. I would not have a job like that, but those who do that sort of thing voluntarily seem not to mind–after all, that is what they have chosen to do with their lives. So what if they may be protecting us from the terrible criminals of the world, or not, I don’t feel the need to glorify them or their efforts nonetheless. I consider a hero to be someone who is a positive role model for people, especially the young. They should inspire good. Why would I or want my children to honor and glorify a man who effects undue aggression upon perfect strangers? “Daddy, that Audie Murphy is my all-time hero. I, too, want to kill a lot of people when I grow up.”
My admiration goes, instead, to somebody like Desmond Doss, the WWII veteran who single-handedly rescued as many as 75 of his own men during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, without killing anybody in the process. You see, Doss was a Seventh Day Adventist pacifist and conscientious objector who refused to handle any kind of deadly weapon. He was even court-martialed during Basic Training for insubordination. When he was acquitted, however, he was allowed to serve anyway as a medic. He ended up in the war zone on the front lines with no weapon but managed to survive and save a lot of men with him. Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. That’s who I would root for. His inspiring story is related in the 2016 film Hacksaw Ridgem directed by Mel Gibson.
Even now, with regards to Iraq, Afghanistan, the recent Gulf War and any of our other military involvements, these men did not incite the conflicts and then volunteer to go over there and stop them. They are only following someone else’s orders. Why should I congratulate and cheer on somebody for doing their job and what they are being ordered and paid to do, and when it’s something that I am totally against besides? I choose not to condone their activities, even if it is in the name of so-called patriotism. I have more respect and gratitude for the guys who refuse to fight in these arbitrary conflicts, thereby choosing not to perpetuate them. Instead of the war infantryman, I cheer and honor the conscientious objector. What if they gave a war and nobody participated? I believe that nations and individuals perpetuate war because they want to. Otherwise, they would just stop, wouldn’t they? Nobody has to fight. “I’m done with this. I’m going home. Y’all take care now.”
I think one’s sentiment lies with which side of the conflict you’re on. In Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant production, Inglorious Basterds (2009), the Nazis make a feature film honoring a Gestapo soldier who single-handedly slaughtered hundreds of Jews and was declared a national hero by Hitler and his cohorts. During the premiere of the film, entitled Nation’s Pride, shown in Nazi-occupied Paris and attended by all of the Third Reich top dogs, including Der Führer himself, there is much cheering and applauding from the audience (in the film) as they watch on the screen this soldier plow down Jew after innocent Jew. They are absolutely delighted. The real-life theater audience, however, did not share in the jubilation. If anything, we were all horrified and appalled at the behavior of that audience in the picture. My lunch companions at West Point didn’t seem so willing to glorify that “war hero” in that particular situation in the film. So it’s okay when we are the ones doing the killing, but we feel quite differently when it’s they killing us. When we put ourselves in the other person’s place, we get a different perspective. I applaud Tarantino’s satirical depiction of the situation.
I have heard people try to defend Chris Kyle, the main character of American Sniper (2014), saying that he had no choice in what he was doing over there in Iraq. It was his calling and duty to kill all those people. Well, the fact of the matter is, Kyle voluntarily joined the Navy SEALS and trained to be a sniper. Nobody made him do that. He did it because he wanted to and apparently was very good at his job. The movie ends with Kyle himself being killed by somebody he was trying to help. Some people felt sorry for him, that he had to die like that, since he was such a “hero” in their eyes. But he had killed a bunch of people himself, including women and children, for whatever reasons, so why is his own demise any more sorrowful? I’m sure that his killer had his reasons as well. It seems that some people have selective tit-for-tat, and only certain ones should be required to pay for their misdeeds. I have said before that what goes around, comes around. I firmly believe in “karmic justice.”
For myself, I don’t like it no matter who it is being killed. You see, I have no enemies. If somebody personally does not like me, that’s their doing. I don’t hate anybody, and one is an enemy only if we have mutual animosity for each other. The casualties on both sides are human beings with grieving families and loved ones, so I choose not to root for either side. How does having antiwar sentiments and being pro-life make me unpatriotic? But if it does, then so be it. I’m certainly not going to apologize for having convictions of morality.
It seems that wherever American soldiers are concerned, we are supposed to treat them with some special honor and respect. Well, we don’t seem to be so appreciative and charitable to them when they come home. We often hear, “Thank you for your service.” from well-meaning civilians. Talk is cheap. How about a job or at least a little financial aid? It’s downright appalling how our returning war veterans are treated and ignored after they have served their purpose. Many of them can’t find work and end up homeless, and those who are injured and develop resultant mental problems, it’s even worse for them.
It occurs to me that only certain people have the right to commit murder and under special circumstances. As a civilian, I am not allowed to take the life of some despicable dirtbag who has wronged me and others or made our lives miserable, and the world would be a lot better without them. But my Government gives me permission, even orders me to, and will give me a commendation medal, if I put on a uniform, go over to some foreign country, sneak up on perfect strangers, who have not done anything to me personally, and blow them away with my M-16 rifle and machine gun. Oh! And the more “gooks” I kill, the bigger a hero it’ll make me. The message I get from that is, our country’s lawmakers are telling us, “Look, you will commit murder only if we tell you when and whom to kill. Otherwise, you will be punished for your heinous misdeeds.” In my opinion, they are no different than sanctioned executioners or even contract killing done by professional hitpersons.
The Vietnam Conflict alone had 58,191 American casualties, and for what? It wasn’t even our war, not that it should even matter whose war it was. It’s still pointless. I remember a very moving moment in my life, when I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (or as a character on “The West Wing” once referred to it—“The Wall of Death”) in Washington, DC in 1986. When I saw those columns and rows of all those names of dead soldiers, many of them practically children, I became very upset and depressed. Viewing the AIDS Memorial Quilt always elicits a similar reaction. The obituary directory itself was as thick as the former Manhattan phone book. All those wasted lives lost for no good reason. Can you imagine how many other lives have been lost to senseless wars since the beginning of our civilization? And I use that term loosely. I consider the act of mortal combat to be anything but civilized. Let’s all make love, not war.
(# War! Hoo! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again! #)
I just can’t find any point or sense to war. For perfect strangers to destroy each other on someone else’s behalf is mind-boggling to me. One head-of-state has a gripe or grudge against another nation’s leader, and instead of them trying to resolve their differences on a one-to-one basis, they will solicit their countries’ youth to fight their battles for them, who have nothing to do with their leaders’ disagreements. They’re out there killing each other and don’t even know why most of the time. Why don’t the two leaders themselves duke it out instead of sacrificing their innocent sons and daughters in their place? I think it’s morally wrong to coerce people to do one’s dirty work for them. In Apocalypse Now (1979) one Army officer was ordered to seek out and kill a highly-decorated fellow officer just because he became a renegade.
There was a case on “L.A. Law” once (the writers often based their storylines on real-life events, so I expect that this probably really happened), in which a young Army lieutenant was being court-martialed for disobeying a direct order in wartime. He refused to destroy a potential enemy community in Panama because of the innocent civilians he believed to be residing there. He was found guilty and convicted on the grounds that to disobey a superior’s order in a military situation, for whatever reason, is totally inexcusable and cannot be tolerated. The boy was therefore sentenced to ten years in prison! So this compassionate, moral-minded individual was deemed a despicable criminal because he would not willingly commit random mass murder. His compliance, on the other hand, would have declared him a national hero. Now how is that for ironic irrationality and twisted justice, to be sent to prison for not killing somebody? What’s up with that?!
So it’s more about military rules than the act itself. Why didn’t that commanding officer take the responsibility by bombing the village himself instead of forcing his reluctant underlings to do it for him? He didn’t seem to have any trouble giving the order, so he should have been willing to carry out the order himself. Let the guilt be on his own head. If I had been the defense attorney for that case, I would have read some people! A person should not be forced to do what they don’t want to do. Of course, our decisions result in consequences, at times undesirable, but still we should have the choice.
For the other side, however, I suppose I could argue that in a war zone, how do you know for sure who is really innocent? Civilian women and even children have been known to conceal firearms and explosives and act as snipers, so you really can’t trust anyone in that situation. Then too, we could consider the casualty of war to be a societal implementation for population control, just as are natural disasters, famine and pestilence. “The country is getting a bit over-crowded. Let’s have a war with somebody and get rid of a bunch of people.”
Another hypocritical, war-related situation comes to mind. On an episode of the TV cable series “The Glades,” a southern town is doing a Civil War re-enactment, and during the course of it, a soldier gets killed by another soldier impersonator. Now the law enforcement officials of the town are considering this guy’s death murder and wants to convict the killer of same. So it occurred to me that during the actual Civil War, or any war for that matter, people got/get killed as a matter of course, and the bystanders have this “Oh, well!” attitude about it. All’s fair in love and war. But because this is only a re-enactment and not a real war, the criterion should be different? It’s apparently all right for people to kill each other during a government-sanctioned war, but it’s not all right when you are only pretending to fight. Isn’t that, too, a bit twisted?
After seeing Bridge of Spies (2015), I was made aware of the gross hypocrisy that our country displays. It takes place during the Cold War with Russia in the ‘50s and ’60s. A man deemed to be a Russian spy is captured and made to stand trial. It is merely a formality, because it was already decided that he would be convicted and must face the death penalty. The lawyer assigned to defend him (played by Tom Hanks) is given a hard time as well and receives death threats, merely for doing his job. Now at the same time, our CIA was recruiting agents of our own to spy on the Russians. But I guess it’s all right when we do it then.
Likewise, with the Nuremberg Trials of 1948—which were presided over by a tribunal of some Americans—the convicted were found guilty of atrocious war crimes, namely the willful extermination of an estimated 10 million people, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Of course, the Germans’ actions were inexcusable, but how could the Americans sit in judgment of someone else when we had just dropped two (count ‘em, two!) atomic bombs on Japan, killing millions of innocent people? It’s all right for us to commit genocide at will, in the name of war, but we can’t let any damned foreigners get away with it!
Our current concern is the fear that Iran will acquire a nuclear device. So it’s okay for us to have one, but we don’t want anybody else in the world to have it. You see, we need ours to protect ourselves against potential hostile aggression, although, ironically, we are the only country so far who has actually used ours! So maybe all those other nations are trying to protect themselves from us! Do you blame them for being afraid? But then, how do we justify, in a non-war situation, the shameless massacre of all those innocent American Indians, slaughtered by our own army troops or the countless number of American blacks who have been lynched and murdered by our own countryfolk? Such hypocrisy!
Even the practice of spying and espionage seems senseless to me. A traitor is regarded to be someone who divulges government secrets to so-called enemy factions. The dictionary definition goes so far as to say that someone who even gives aid or comfort to an enemy is a traitor. So a civilian correspondent on assignment in Afghanistan, let’s say, comes upon a young, wounded Afghani soldier. Should he just let the kid die, or risk being deemed a traitor if he offers him some kind of help? So Christian charity can be considered treason, punishable by death, in some cases. But my question is, what secrets? What are you up to that you don’t want anybody else in the world to know about? It must be something nefarious or underhanded or else you wouldn’t be trying to hide it.
Why is certain information “confidential”? I would hope that the goal and purpose of every nation’s government is to serve the common good–but of course, that is not the case–so shouldn’t any important discoveries or innovations be shared with each other? Perhaps research scientists in Switzerland, let’s say, have discovered a cure for preventing all kinds of cancer, but deem it to be top secret and choose to keep it to themselves. I don’t understand that. Something that will benefit all of humankind, how can they sit on that information? You know that our country harbors a lot of secrets that they don’t share with anybody.
When we or any other nation makes a beneficial, technological or medical breakthrough, it should be shared with the rest of the world instead of withheld for their own benefit. Many humans live their lives in constant competition. They are always trying to better the other person. It occurs at home, in school and later spills over into the workplace. Corporate espionage in business exists just as it does in the military. If we all got along like we should, there wouldn’t be any secrets between us.
Moreover, the act of war is, in fact, a game (hence the term), a competition of winners and losers, so getting an advantage on your opponent by discovering their weaknesses and strengths is just part of the game. To learn of any secret information to help you win by whatever means should be commended and awarded whether than be deemed punishable by death. But then, who is the actual winner of a war or major battle? Is it the side who kills the most people? That makes them the winner? I would deem the winner to be the side who resolves the conflict with the fewest number of casualties, not the most.
(# Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war… #)
Although probably meant to be merely metaphorical, a “Christian soldier” to me sounds like a hypocritical contradiction. Real Christians are supposed to be self-proclaimed pacifists, not fighters. Jesus and his disciples were not warriors. There have been individuals over the centuries who have chosen warrior as their life’s career. They actually wage and fight wars for a living. The word itself suggests it to be an occupation. Alexander the Great was a warrior. Kunta Kinte claimed to be training to be a warrior when he was captured by the slavers. It’s too bad that he hadn’t learned enough to prevent himself from getting caught!
There is a scene in The Foxes of Harrow (1947) where one of the plantation slave women gives birth to a baby boy, and “Massa” Rex Harrison comments to her husband that the newborn is going to make a fine, strong slave. The mother overhears this, gets very agitated and keeps uttering, a little too proudly I think, “Him no slave, him warrior, him killer of lions!”, as if he has no other choice, and she considers warrior to be a noble profession, besides. What’s wrong with a doctor, a teacher or a scientist? Of course she wants more for her son than being a lowly slave, but wanting him to be a fighter and killer, to me doesn’t seem like a commendable alternative.
A while back, although I don’t know when the first incident of it was, the military came up with the oxymoronic phrase, “friendly fire.” That is when a soldier, or more than one, are killed, even if it‘s unintentional, not by the regarded enemy, mind you, but by someone from their own side, often from their immediate company. For the family and friends of the victim(s), since the result is the same, that is, death, they don’t see what is friendly about it. “Mrs. Smith, I’m sorry about your son, but it was from friendly fire, not the enemy‘s.” Is that supposed to make her feel better about it? “But it wasn’t the ‘enemy’ who killed my boy. You did! You call that friendly? What, were you smiling apologetically when you blew my son away?!”
Right here in New York City recently, a black, off-duty police officer was pursuing a fleeing perpetrator of a crime, when another officer, white, shot the other one dead, thinking that he was a criminal himself, so he said. Yeah, right. The news media reported the death as a “friendly fire” killing. It was another case of shoot first, find out who they are later. The cops also like to use the equally-oxymoronic phrase “good shoot” to justify their killing someone in the line of duty, whether it was self-defense or not, or whether he was even the right guy. Even if it only appears that the guy has a gun, the officer has the right to shoot him. And it’s only considered a “good shoot” if someone other than the cop dies. If it’s he, however, in the same situation, then the other guy is a “cop killer.”
I was trained as a military policeman during my stint in the Army, and we were taught always to use minimum force when apprehending a perpetrator. If someone pulls a gun on you (sometimes it’s not even a gun but some harmless object which they mistake for one), you don’t have to kill them. Just disarm them by shooting it out of their hand. If they are running away, shoot them in the knees. That’ll slow them down, I’ll bet you. They don’t have to aim for their back or their head. That way, if the officer makes a mistake in judgment, at least it won’t be fatal. If the guy turns out to be guilty after all, they will be dealt with at a later date. This “I had no choice” defense does not set well with me. You always have a choice. You either do one thing or you do something else. That’s your choice.
I have been fortunate enough to have gotten through life with a modicum of physical conflict. I remember only one or two altercations ever. I don’t look for trouble, so I manage to stay out of it, for the most part. I am a confirmed pacifist. I prefer to try to settle disputes with my mouth instead of my fists. I won’t strike you, but I will read your butt for filth! I especially enjoy writing letters by way of reading people. When someone has wronged me and I proceed to tell them off, most of the time I think of things later that I should have said at the time. In a letter I get the chance to organize my thoughts and I can speak my mind without rebuttal or being interrupted. And it gives the recipient a chance to heed my words and reflect on what I am telling them. They don’t have to guess at what I mean or try to remember what was said; it’s all right there in print. I have had to read friends and even lovers as well as foes. I have read the CEOs of corporations and businesses for receiving shoddy service and merchandise. “Reading” by letter is also quite therapeutic for me, as it allows me to clear the air and get stuff off my chest without destroying things out of frustration or attacking someone physically.
Although I never resort to pugilism myself, I realize that physical altercations, however petty, often do occur between individuals. Now, I can enjoy a choreographed, cinematic fistfight or free-for-all bar brawl for dramatic purposes, especially when women are participating—besides, it’s all fake, and nobody gets hurt—but I can’t get up the same enthusiasm for real-life, professional boxing. What’s the deal here? Two guys are paid millions of dollars (some of them) to get into a ring and duke it out together in front of thousands (sometimes millions, if it’s televised) of rooting, cheering spectators. The winner is the one who knocks the other one unconscious for at least 10 seconds, for everyone’s delighted amusement. “Look, man, I’m going to kill you tonight, or at least beat the shit out of you. Don’t take it personally. It’s all in the name of fun.”
It seems hypocritical that a “sport” whose main intent is to beat each other up tries to follow such strict safety rules. What does it mean to fight fairly? If I am fighting somebody, I want to hurt them as much as I can. If I cared anything about their feelings, I wouldn’t be fighting them in the first place. Boxers can punch each other in the face all they want, but “no hitting below the belt.” So I can’t kick him in the shins or knee him in his groin? Why not? I’m in this thing to win. What happened to “all’s fair in love and war”?
I think that Mike Tyson was treated unfairly, suspending him from boxing because of his “unsportsmanlike behavior” at the big fight with Evander Holyfield in June 1997. I mean, what is a fight without somebody getting hurt? So Tyson bit his opponent’s ear. Did that disappoint the fans somehow, who must all be vicarious sadomasochists anyway? Perhaps they felt cheated. Instead of merely biting him, maybe they would have preferred that he beat his face to a bloody pulp and knock him out cold. Now, that’s a fight! I think that the whole idea of physical violence for profit and exploitation is stupid, cruel and barbaric. Then they have the nerve to be hypocritical about it. I liken pro fighters to your high-priced prostitutes. They voluntarily sell their bodies for lots of money, and the people who patronize them and foot the bill get off on the experience, whereas some will condone the former and protest the latter.
If we’re so damned smart, why have we still not come to the realization and acceptance that all human beings belong to the same species and that no one individual or group is better than any other, in terms of their creation? I don’t think that there ever will be complete World Peace. Ever since there have been people there has been conflict. Humans just cannot seem to get along! When there were only four people on earth (Biblically speaking, that is), even your brothers Cain and Abel were at odds with each other. Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity. It sort of defeats the purpose. What is it going to take, extraterrestrial intervention for us to get our act together and start working together as a unit for the good of humankind, instead of always at each other with our petty squabbles and disagreements?
(# …All we are saying is give peace a chance. #)
Can I get a “amen” up in here?