I used to be a minor if somewhat active member of the “J-blog community,” a smallish corner of the internet of blogs dedicated to Japan and Japanese study. One of the main reasons I moved to a new, less well-defined spot was because since leaving Japan, its direct, immediate relevance to my life has receded by degrees.
The other reason is summed up by a tweet I cited in my inaugural post last year.
The “gaijinosphere” referring to Japan-related blogs authored by non-Japanese. Now this never caused any great deal of anxiety on my part; one of my closest friends for the 3 years I lived in Kansai held almost spectral opposite political and religious beliefs from me. But we had some great, if contentious discussions and debates, largely because we were both respectful and intellectually-curious. Many of the other “gainjin” I knew in Japan were not as nice about those topics, so I usually just held my tongue. In Japan you learn to keep the peace.
I guess I’ve had a somewhat comparable experience working at my current job in DC. Everyone is liberal and everyone knows everyone else is liberal. So when I hear conversations about how such and such a politician is a giant schmuck, how to the CEO of Planned Parenthood is such a nice woman, or how Muslims are being so unfairly treated in the US, all I can do is put on my headphones and get about my work.
Most of my coworkers would probably listen respectfully should I voice my dissenting views, but I’d also ‘out’ myself as the office conservative and no doubt my relationships with these people would change. I prefer to keep things cordial and professional in that arena.
Anyway, I digress.
There are a couple of Japan-related blogs I’ve still followed, one being How to Japanese, which usually sticks to topics of Japanese reading and grammar. Author Daniel Morales most recently posted a hopeful post supporting the Democrat-lead filibuster in favor of strong gun control laws and talking about the historical Japanese sword-grab. And I was reminded of the differences I have with most Japanophiles.
I started to rebut Daniel’s points, but he deleted my follow-up comment.
He did send me an email accompaniment.
[Edit: Since the initial posting of this piece, Daniel has asked me to remove the screenshot of our email exchange. I’m not sure why – I thought it reflected well on him that he actually emailed me to offer an explanation as to the deletion of my comment. But I have no real reason to keep it up if he objects]
Now, Daniel was also more or less respectful and I give him credit for sending me a message. On the internet it’s easy to just post and run, and as a blogger it’s super simple to just delete a comment or block a user and be done with it.
I also respect and understand that he wants to keep his blog relatively religion and politics free. And if he wants to delete comments that drive a conversation in that direction, that’s his prerogative. Censorship isn’t an issue when it comes to private media like blogs. No one is forcing you to be balanced or to give your opponents a platform to speak. So his deletion is certainly fair game.
Honestly, I do find it somewhat craven to write a political piece and then play the “no politics or religion here” card, but it’s his blog and he can do as he likes.
As he suggested, I do want to expound a little on the gun control argument.
I’ve debated exactly how to approach the issue here, for there are many ways. In actuality it probably doesn’t matter, as it’s one of those issues that’s difficult to persuade people on and tends to be emotionally driven. However I will trot out some of those “tired arguments” I articulated in my second comment on Daniel’s blog, because I don’t see that they’ve been satisfactorily refuted.
First, whether or not you believe in God (the founders of our country plainly did), our founding documents declare:
“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
I am no legal scholar and it may be that the Declaration of Independence has no judicial bearing upon the interpretation of our rights under the Constitution. The Declaration, however, asserts first that we as human beings have certain rights (you may choose to call them “human rights”) and that it is the job of governments created by men to defend, not define these rights. In other words, the Constitution defines our rights as human beings; it doesn’t grant them, nor does the government.
Now when we talk about the 2nd Amendment, we’re talking about the right of a people to defend itself both from individual enemies and from its own government. In modern times, yes, that means firearms.
There are many bubbled people who believe we’ve evolved as a species beyond the need for tools of self-defense. Forget China as recently as the 70s, forget Nazi Germany, forget the Soviet Union. We’re beyond all that.
It’s ironic that Daniel refers to historical Japan, where sword and weapon ownership were restricted to nobles and samurai. It’s a romantic time period and we do love us some samurai cinema and Sengoku anime. But it was a shitty time to be a peasant. Some asshole with a clan name and a sword could walk up to you and slice off your head for failing to bow as he passed by or for no reason at all. Farmer Yohei had no recourse. And thank God, right? If everyone had swords, the peasantry might have gotten ideas about not wanting to be ruled by despots.
You might have had less peasant-on-peasant murder by sword, but you also had no means of protecting yourself from the more powerful class or the armed government. Not really a convincing argument for disarmament, to me anyway.
On a more individual basis, gun control doesn’t work. There are no stats proving that gun ownership makes places safer, but if you look at the numbers in places like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, DC – gun control doesn’t bring down crime. Surprise, but criminals use other weapons or obtain guns illegally. Remember the Boston Marathon attack? No guns. Pressure cooker bomb.
And in venues like Orlando, Aurora, Sandy Hook – all gun-free locations. I’m not saying that everyone everywhere should be packing, but it doesn’t defy common sense that someone looking to shoot up some innocents is going to look for places where he’s unlikely to incur armed resistance.
And what about other countries with much stricter gun control laws? Again, criminals find a way. In Spain; in France, in Norway. You may not agree with the maxim that the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But many of us do, and that’s generally what police are. Most of the time it’s not legal firearm owners that are committing the crimes.
[Edit: One additional story, from Japan, that I had related in my deleted comment and just remembered – while I was studying abroad in Tokyo (at the same time as Kaiju, actually), I commuted through Akihabara daily. The year after I returned home to the States, I heard about an incident in which a crazy guy had driven a truck into a crowd of people there, then got out and stabbed some bystanders with a knife, killing some and injuring others. That helped drive home the fact that even in a relatively peaceful country like Japan, bad guys will still kill people. Even without guns].
And in cases like the Orlando shooting, we find that even when obtained legally, there were warning signs for the asshole that went ignored. How about vigilance and proper enforcement of the law rather than the retraction of freedoms?
Regarding the police, by the way – certainly call them. Victims in Orlando did. But they can’t be everywhere at all times, and meanwhile armed villains wreak havoc unopposed.
Or would you prefer, perhaps, that the government monitor all our phone calls, texts, and emails to weed out the bad guys? Hey, if it saves a life, isn’t it worth giving up freedom for? And the founders never anticipated the internet or cell phones, so clearly not covered under the Constitution, right?
Our Constitution is not a divine document or vessel of ultimate truth, so I understand that some may disagree with certain stipulations. Thus it is possible to amend the Constitution. So go ahead and lobby for the reduction of the right to self defense.
These arguments won’t convince our friends on the Left, but that’s secondary to defending our liberties and being able to articulate why they’re important.
Let me leave you with two last items. First, a toe into a whole ‘nother argument. Many don’t want to admit that radical Islam is a much greater problem than you or I owning a gun, but at least some moderate Muslims are coming around:
And lastly, some words from prominent conservative media personality…Howard Stern? I would have embedded the video, but it’s been taken down from YouTube (boo).
“I’m so upset about Orlando and what went down,” he said. “But I can’t believe these people who come out afterward, and their answer to Orlando is to take away guns from the public. It’s f—ing mindblowing to me. …
“The military – and they don’t mean it as a derogatory statement – but they look at the public as sheep. And think about it. We are sheep. Most of us sit around all day. We don’t know how to defend ourselves. We are in a flock. And we basically think everything’s OK. Except the wolves, the bad guys – whether they be ISIS or terrorists, homegrown or otherwise, ISIL, Daesh, the common thug, whatever. They’re wolves. They look at them as wolves.
“The military and police look at themselves as sheep dogs. They’re warriors, but they’re on the good side. You know, they’re protecting us. …
“It’s such a perfect analogy. And people go, ‘Well, if we take away [the guns].’ Now think about this, in France, they have the tightest gun-control laws on the planet. The terrorists all had AR-15s. They have Glocks. They have every kind of pistol. They’ve got missile launchers.
“Now let’s use the analogy of sheep. Now we’re all here. We’re sheep. We’re sitting here, ‘La, da, da, da, da. I’m gonna work hard. I love my family. Baaah!’
“Now let’s say I walked up to a sheep herd. And they know at night, every night the wolves pick off a couple of them. What if I went up to the sheep and said, ‘You want to have a shot at the wolves? I’m gonna give you a pistol. You can actually even the playing field with these wolves whose fangs are out – you could shoot them and save your family.’ ‘Well, Baaah, we’re not gonna do that! We don’t want to fight ba-a-a-a-a-ck. He didn’t hurt us. He only hurt the family down the street. And the shepherds will protect us. The sheep dogs are out there. They’ll protect us.’
“Well, the sheep dogs are protecting you, but some of them can’t be with you. There’s not a sheep dog for every citizen, and a wolf is still eating one of you every night. ‘Baaah, I know what. Let’s remove all the guns from the sheep.’ What? There’s an idea! Let’s take back all the guns from the people who might be willing to shoot the wolves.
“So then you go, wait a second. What if we had a completely gun-free zone?
“Now, I’m gonna tell you about the most gun-free zone on the planet. It happened during 9/11. It was on a plane. You know you can’t get a gun on a plane. It’s completely gun free. So what did the wolves do? They said, ‘This is great! We’ll just kill the sheep with box cutters. They went on the plane with box cutters, and all the sheep went, ‘Baaah!’
“Now if there had been an Air Marshal on that plane, a whole f—ing other thing would have gone down. There wouldn’t have been no 9/11.
“See, the wolves are always plotting. They’ll use box cutters. They’ll use an airplane and fly it right into a building. They don’t need AR-15s.
“Nazi Germany – which, by the way, didn’t happen 1,000 years ago – it happened within my dad’s lifetime. It’s not that long ago. Can you imagine if the Jews, at least when the Nazis were banging on the door, if they had a couple of pistols and AR-15s to fight the Nazis? If Anne Frank’s father had a f—ing gun? Maybe at least he could have taken a few Nazis out.
“Now why would the sheep say, ‘Oh, we’ve got an answer to all of the terrorism, all these bad wolves that are coming after us. We’ll just hand in all our guns. We’re gonna hand them in. Baaah. You know who will protect us? The government, or the police’?
“That’s a bad f—ing idea!
“Now I don’t like violence. I don’t like any of this stuff, but I consider myself a sheep. And I want the police to protect me. I support the police. I want the government to protect me.
“But guess what? Most of your politicians all have private security. … So they’re OK. Those are sheep that are very well protected. You, on the other hand, you’re a sitting duck. If you’re a sitting duck, do you want a fighting chance or not? I don’t understand it.
“I’ll tell you the truth. I’m not real good at protecting [myself]. You can give me 5,000 guns. I wouldn’t be good at protecting myself. I’m just a sheep. I’ll admit it. But I’m not for taking away people’s rights.
“I think the answer doesn’t lie in taking any kind of ability of the sheep to protect themselves from the wolves. I really don’t. I wish it were that simple. In France, they’ve done it very effectively. The population is not armed, but unfortunately the wolves are. … Listen, the kids at the Boston Marathon, they just made a bomb.”
“The military takes orders from their commander in chief,” he said. “You get a f—ing nutty commander in chief, and you’d better be armed. Because what the f— is gonna happen then?”
Noting that the “nutty” president could turn on Americans, Stern added: “That’s what happened when Hitler came to power.”