Monday, June 4, 2012

How Would I Run the Country? (Part Three)

I was due to share my views on social justice, and I will soon. I just wanted to throw in an important item that is not always looked at, especially in these days of wildly divisive issues and socially destructive tribalism. I want to speak a word or two about transparency.

I've made a point on this blog of speaking openly on all issues. I once was a Catholic; now I believe strongly that the origin of all religious thought is a combination of superstition and fear. If I hurt anyone's feelings with such a pronouncement, I'm sorry, as in I'm sorry, wish you felt better, but I still think you're nuts if you're a Mormon, Methodist, Catholic, etc.

I once was homophobic; I couldn't help it, I grew up around and played sports with and hung out with guys that laughed nervously just thinking about it and made fun of the gay just 'cause it was icky and made them feel weird. I thought it was icky, too, gay sex I mean, but then again before I really hit my stride, I thought heterosexual sex was icky, too, but it definitely proved to be my cup of tea. It took a hundred years (not really that many), but I got over it. Gay sex is not icky, and if it is, too bad. It's not fucking about me, as Atrios so eloquently put it. Now I support gay rights, gay marriage, not altruistically but because, you know, I evolved, as in stopped storing my brain under a rock.

That's another example of being transparent, or open, about one's thoughts, feelings, or evolution. It's still not necessarily (fucking) about me, but this being my blog, that's beside the point. The point is that transparency solves a lot of problems. There's no mystery about my opinions, and though I may belabor a point or two, I usually  effectively catalog the items that shape my beliefs.

I did just that two posts ago -- which I also cross-posted at Daily Kos. I do that from time to time because, for whatever reason, people (so far) don't comment very often here, and I elicit a fair number over at Daily Kos. In that last post, I clearly stated that I'm for a nearly total ban on guns, with a tightly-controlled exception for legitimate hunting purposes. The reaction at Daily Kos was surprising. No one agreed with my position and either said it was impractical or I was being king of the world or autocratic or just in general taking their "freedom" away. I was somewhat taken aback, to put it mildly.

I don't want to re-litigate the issue here, but I do urge you to read my original post here at The American Human and also view the comments at my Daily Kos diary here. Then I'd love to have anyone who cares to do so comment on any aspect of gun ownership, including the yea or nay of it and most especially in answer to this question, which I'm just dying to know: If you own a gun for your protection -- and you believe it's a very important right and that you believe it makes you safer -- please let me know how many times you've used your gun to protect yourself or others, giving details and any information you care to share as to why you did what you did. Also, don't hesitate, please, to let me know that you own a gun but have never used it. Finally, if you don't own a gun -- whether you believe in the 2nd Amendment as currently interpreted by the Supreme Court or not -- tell me why you don't own a gun. If you don't own a gun and never really thought about that, share that, too.

The only thing I would ask is that you not share your opinion anonymously. You don't need to give a real name -- that's not so important -- but a screen name shows that you're willing to go on record. My screen name is calross -- big surprise, my name is Calvin Ross -- and I don't mind going on the record.

Now that I threw a few examples out about issues that should be handled transparently, let me offer an addendum that goes to How I Would Run the Country: If I controlled Congress and could write and drive legislation through and get it signed (maybe by me in my perfect world!), I'd make it the law that all figures in major public office, either elected or appointed, would be required to publish their financial records, including all current investments and savings, and all tax returns for the last ten years. Anyone who contributed to any candidate for elected office, whether local, state, or federal, any amount over $1,000 would have to file a public affidavit identifying themselves. Not exceptions, and for every single such contribution.

Now, I'm not weighing in on Citizens United and SuperPACs (they blow hard), but I'm making the case that a society that allows its publicly elected officials to practice politics without stringent transparency or allows financial involvement with and support of said elected officials without total transparency will inevitably suffer the consequences if secrecy is tolerated. The result will be corruption. Full stop.

If you have a better idea of how to conduct our political life, let me know, as well.

And I mean it: I really want to know the extent to which you've actually put guns to use in preserving your safety. If you believe in the right to own guns, you must have a reason. And that reason should include the practical, not merely the theoretical. I can, of course, appreciate that many of you might want a gun for protection and over an entire lifetime never have to use it. If that's the case, also please share that and tell us why you believe you've never needed to brandish or fire your weapon. That might be germane to the discussion, too.

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