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"Violence is mute." - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
"Violence is mute."
There has been a long-running thread in our public discourse, starting in the 1970s and now reaching out to 2012, and that one thread has been, above anything else, an attempt to silence those who would speak truth to power.

David Frum, who went on a brilliant tear after Wayne LaPierre's bizzare performance art piece, nonetheless contributed his own voice to those who would shout down voices of challenge in his book Dead Right, when he infamously praised the dismantling of the social safety net with these words:
: Everyone is at constant risk of the loss of his job, or of the destruction of his business by a competitor, or of the crash of his investment portfolio. Risk makes people circumspect. It disciplines them and teaches them self-control. Without a safety net, people won’t try to vault across the big top.
The sense there that people should feel threatened, should feel that their sustenance is at risk should they speak up, step out, act up, is part of what drives the Right right now.

I thought of Frum's Dead Right when I read Firmin Debrabrander's essay "The Freedom of an Armed Society." Violence, and the threat of it, shuts us up. Women are undeniably, on average, smaller and weaker than men: that's why they're more likely to be abused, to live under the threat of abuse, and to stay silent about it. The potential that there is a gun in every pocket would silence all of us. The freedom of speech that we all take for granted is curtailed when we dare not speak our minds. More than half of all "self defense" shootings presented in court are, in fact, escalating quarrels. Fixated on winning the quarrel, given the immediacy of absolute and determinant violence, the traditional fist fight with its attendant risks of injury to the initiator have instead become incidents of homicide.

When Trayvon Martin was shot, Wayne LaPierre did not come out and suggest that all young, black men should get a concealed carry permit. That's because LaPierre had nothing to contribute to that discussion. What we're really seeing here, with both the gun debate and the social safety net, is the final wish of the Angry Old White Men: They'd like the world to Shut Up And Stop Changing So Damn Fast, so they can age and die peacefully as they have lived. They'll have to mute a few of the louder voices along the way.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Comments
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: December 27th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I had to read the David Frum quote twice, as the first time I elided the middle. "Everyone is at constant risk of the loss of his job, or of the destruction of his business by a competitor, or of the crash of his investment portfolio. ...Without a safety net, people won’t try to vault across the big top." sounds to me like an argument FOR the social safety net. It took me a bit to realize why you were saying it was the opposite.

Maybe it's because I'm the sort of person who things a strong social safety net is a good thing.
resonant From: resonant Date: December 27th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
And you'd think a good safety net would be good for capitalism - people would be more likely to try starting their own business, if they knew they wouldn't be putting the lives of their family members at risk by giving up workplace health care.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Risk

The irony of Frum's position is that capitalists in general and venture capitalists in particular don't risk their own money or health. They get other people to give them money, thus socializing the risk.
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