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Internet Meme Demolition Derby: Guns vs Godless Society Edition

If a madman wants to kill innocent people he will find a way.godless society

Killers don’t need guns to kill people.

Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer.

9-11 terrorists used box cutters & planes.

The Nazis used cyanide gas…

Taking guns from innocent people will not protect innocent people

The problem is not guns.

It is a Godless society

Today’s installment of the Internet Meme Demolition Derby is by request, and not quite parenting related so much. But it involves subjects that you might want to discuss with your kids, especially if they are old enough to digest current events.  It hails from the noxious Facebook page Right Wing Rants & Raves, which I will not link to… go find it yourself if you must. Suffice to say that I could probably harvest a year’s worth of IMDD material from the lovely people that inhabit that particular dark corner of the internet.

I’m sure that this particular meme is making the rounds of social media due to the recent (August 26, 2015) highly publicized on- air shooting deaths of Roanoke, Virginia reporter Alison Parker, her cameraman Adam Ward, and the person they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, who survived with serious injuries, all at the hands of a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ7 in Roanoke.  Or perhaps you are reading this at some point in the future, in which case you can probably just Google “recent shooting” and you’ll find an appropriate recent incident for the meme to reference. It’s the good old USA, we like shooting each other… a lot.

Whichever mass shooting or salacious gunfire related escapade has captured headlines today isn’t particularly relevant to our meme breakdown. One of the predictable responses to these tragedies is some variation on “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. This meme merely expands on that trope to go into more detail about the non-firearm related ways we can do each other in, with the addition of some “take our guns away” paranoia and a crude dig a us godless atheists at the end. I think we atheists, non-believers, secularists of all stripes need to be prepared to rebut the nonsense in these kind of conservative memes. And as parents we need to be ready in case our kids come home with questions about the latest episode in our Bang, Bang Crazy country , (I recommend following that link to Jim Wright’s Stonekettle Station blog btw. He has done some excellent writing on this subject and he’s definitely better at it than me.)

If a madman wants to kill innocent people he will find a way.

Right off the bat we see that our narrator wants to separate the world into two types of people, “Killers” and “Innocents. Killers are inexplicable madmen. They aren’t like us normal folk. There must be something seriously wrong with them. Normal, sane, innocent people just don’t do these kinds of horrific things. Which is nonsense of course. People of all stripes and all walks of life become murderers. Celebrities murder people. Politicians murder people. Police murder people. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers kill each other, sometimes for reasons that baffle us and sometimes for reasons that we completely understand. The notion that “murderer” is a class of person distinct from “normal” in any significant way is both ludicrous and dangerous. Especially when you consider that people who suffer from mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violent crimes rather than the perpetrators, so describing killers as “madmen” is not only deceptive, it perpetuates a negative stereotype of mental illness, adding to the stigma that keeps many people from getting the help they need. Also, it’s really precious to see mental illness blamed for mass shooting incidents by people who don’t support universal access to mental health care.

Killers don’t need guns to kill people.

Well duh… It’s like they think none of us have ever played Clue!  We’re well aware of the wide variety of murder weapons at our disposal thank you very much. The crux of the matter, the reason we’re having this conversation is that firearms make it so much easier to kill people, lots of people in a small amount of time. That’s why they give them to soldiers, (we’ll get back to that point.)

Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer.

Technically, Timothy McVeigh built a bomb that used ammonium nitrate, an ingredient in fertilizer, to attack the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. It was the largest terrorist attack on American soil until 9-11-2001 (which we’ll get to next,) killing 168 people and injuring 680 others. McVeigh was executed on June 11th 2001 and his accomplice, Terry Nichols remains in prison serving 161 consecutive life sentences.

In my opinion the Oklahoma City bombing is a terrible example to bring up when discussing gun control in response to a mass shooting. In response to the bombing, the Federal government took several steps to improve the security of Federal Buildings in order to prevent another tragedy. In 1995 Congress enacted legislation requiring chemical taggants to be incorporated into dynamite and other explosives so that a bomb could be traced to its manufacturer (thanks Wikipedia). I was surprised to discover that as of 2009 only Nevada and South Carolina have laws requiring identification to purchase large amounts of ammonium nitrate, but it should be noted that most people I asked (a terribly unscientific sample I know) assumed that that was the case and were fairly nonplussed at the prospect. “Take reasonable measures to prevent people from easily building bombs and blowing up Federal buildings,” is a completely uncontroversial statement across most of the American political spectrum. And nothing remotely like it has happened since.

9-11 terrorists used box cutters & planes.

September 11, 2001. Four airliners, 19 hijackers, three buildings and a field in Pennsylvania. Box cutters. BOX CUTTERS? In some ways it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories  have sprung up around the events of 9-11. Fifteen years later it feels a little unreal, as if the plot of a bad summer action flick had wandered off the entertainment page and infected the headlines. But it did happen. And what was America’s reaction? We LOST OUR FUCKING MINDS!!! We as a people demanded that nothing like this EVER HAPPEN AGAIN! We immediately began bombing Afghanistan and would soon invade that impoverished nation, despite the fact that the majority of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. We willingly empty our pockets, take off our shoes, submit to metal detectors and back scatter x-rays   and invasive searches in order to have the privilege of flying on an airplane. We began racially profiling people of Middle Eastern descent, or even those who merely fit our blinkered stereotypes like Balbir Singh Sodhi , an Indian immigrant and Sikh who happened to be wearing his religion’s traditional turban when he was shot and murdered by  42-year-old Frank Silva Roque, who had reportedly told friends  that he was “going to go out and shoot some towel-heads” the day of the attacks.

2,996 people were killed in the 9-11 attacks. Since that time, perhaps due to the heightened security measures or simply because the 9-11 attacks were highly unlikely to succeed in the first place, only 74 people in the United States have been killed by terrorists, the majority (48 people) classified by New America as “deadly right wing attacks”. Over that same span  more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in Gun Homicides according to GunPolicy.org. One of those people was Balbir Singh Sodhi, who just wanted to run a gas station in Mesa.

The Nazis used cyanide gas…

And here’s the 800 lb gorilla, the ultimate villains, the Reich to top all Reichs, the  Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei,  Hitler, Himmler, in all their Godwin flavored glory. There is quite literally nothing nice you can sayozzie guns about the Nazis. I mean that literally, not ironically. The only nice thing you might hear is that “The trains ran on time” , which is actually about Mussolini’s Italy… and also not true. Besides, who would want to be anywhere on time, on a train, in Hitler’s Germany? 

Yes, as part of the Final Solution, Nazi Germany’s plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews during WWII which would culminate in the Holocaust and result in the death of fully 2/3 of the Jewish population of Europe (6 million people), the Nazis did use gas chambers. The gas chambers of “extermination camps” like Auschwitz  used cyanide gas for instance. But this overlooks one salient point. The Nazis also used a whole hell of a lot of guns. Trust me, I used to be in a wargaming miniatures club. The Nazis had plenty of guns. And they weren’t shy about using them as part of the Final Solution either. The gas chambers were part of an evolution in the Third Reich’s program of extermination. They were adopted because they were efficient.

After the defeat of Nazi Germany and the world wide discovery of the concentration camps, the Holocaust became the de facto definition of a crime against humanity. It is what we think of when people use the term genocide. The Nuremberg Trials held after the war to try Nazi officials were the blueprint for the International Criminal Court, and the events of WWII led to the formation of the United Nations, institutions devoted to bringing to justice those who would commit such atrocities and preventing them form happening.

And whilst the last 70 years since the end of WWII have hardly been free from international bloodshed or gross crimes against humanity, nothing on the scale of the Holocaust has happened since.

Taking guns from innocent people will not protect innocent peopleobama-gun-control-room-body

“From my cold dead hands” is what the NRA bumper sticker reads. Jack-booted thugs from the government kicking in doors and confiscating legally owned firearms is the preferred paranoid fever dream of the gun rights fetishist. It is considered their trump card argument. The Second Amendment  guarantees their right to bear arms and any discussion about regulating the sale of or tracking the ownership of guns puts USA on a slippery slope to becoming a dystopic nightmare of a country like Australia, Japan, or the United Kingdom where remarkably few people are murdered by guns for some strange reason. This subject alone could be an entire blog post, but I’ll be brief. On a national level, legislation to even mildly regulate guns is a complete impossibility.  Nobody is coming for your guns. Even if we wanted to, there isn’t the political backing to do so. I certainly hope that there is something that we can do as a nation to prevent mass shootings and the rash of gun murders we are faced with. But I guarantee prying them from your cold dead hands is not on the schedule.

The problem is not guns.

It is a Godless society.

Oh… silly me. The problem with all these gun murders isn’t the all the fucking guns all over the  fucking country. It’s got nothing to do with gun show loopholes, or semi-automatic to automatic conversion kits, or any of the other factors that make the US number one with a bullet in gun murders per capita.  It’s our Godless Society! We have developed a penchant for blowing each other away because… well actually there doesn’t appear to be a “cause” here. There’s no indication provided as to why a Godless Society is less likely to be all shooty. As a matter of fact, that claim doesn’t hold any water at all. Because US America is NOT a Godless Society. Whilst we do have that pesky 1st Amendment  nominally preventing us from having an official state religion, the US is one of the most religious industrialized nations on Earth. And those countries that have reduced their gun murders through reasonable legislation? They are all more secular than the US. If religion was the answer to gun violence then America would have its answer on every other street corner.

Or heck, look at the examples above. Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic. Hitler was Catholic, the Nazis’ entire anti-Jewish agenda was based on centuries of religious, Christian teachings blaming the Jews for everything from Christ’s death to to the coming Apocalypse. The 9-11 hijackers were members of Al Qaeda,  an organization based in Saudi Arabia, one of the most religious countries in the world.

I will be completely honest, I have no fucking clue how to solve our country’s gun problem. But in each of the cases cited in this meme WE did something in response. We tightened security at our airports and federal buildings. We practically begged NSA to spy on us (and acted like spoiled children when we found out they were). We dismantled Nazi Germany and did our best to create international institutions  dedicated to preventing something like the Holocaust from ever happening again. Yet we throw our hands in the air and appeal to a deity to intervene because there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop us from fucking shooting each other. I guess if God was interested in stopping his/her believers from shooting anyone you would think they would take an action a little more convincing than a lazy internet meme. Kinda makes one wonder why they don’t. Maybe fixing this problem something that we’ll have to do on our own.


Featured Image Credit: Parowan Demolition Derby ’09 by Judy Kiel

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at www.flickr.com/photos/blotz/

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  1. Yeah, when a killer armed with a knife tries to take out bunches of people, he just doesn’t have the reach of a killer with guns. It’s simple enough and repeated ad nauseam. I just don’t see why it’s that hard to comprehend. We are so worried about terrorism yet we’re not scared enough of the gun in the glove box in the car next to us.

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