Who are the real cynics?

Cynical though I may appear, I can’t stand defeatist and vacuous arguments of the form, “Z is inevitable owing to a variety of causes, so there’s no reason to eliminate known cause Y.”

I shared an apartment with six other people my junior year of college, two women and four men. This story is not going anywhere close to where you assholes think it is. We five menfolk were collectively intemperate at times when it came to dousing our minds with liquid and botanical intoxicants, and we were also basically kids. So the downstairs was usually somewhere between messy and post-apocalyptic.

I, the neatnik of the bunch (hey, even Trump has staff members someone somewhere thinks of as bright), was one of the two residents who regularly tried cleaning up the place. (The women were not slobs, but they also never stayed downstairs when they were home, so the indoor landfill may as well have been in a different apartment.) One day, three of my roommates walked in just after I’d spent an hour getting the dishes, beer cans and bottles, plates, boxes, discarded newspapers, and dead rodents (OK, it wasn’t that bad) out of the house or into their proper places. The first thing my roommate Brian did when he noticed was zing a bottle cap across the room with an expert flick of his thumb and forefinger. It landed behind a couch I’d just dug out.

But I didn’t begrudge him. I knew he was probably correct; I understood that in our South Willard Street dump, cleaning was a palliative measure only. It wasn’t to make anything look nice for parents or anyone else; it was to keep from eventually being injured or killed by falling debris, sharp glass, or cyanide liberated from the asses of truculent demons. (Well, like I said, it wasn’t that bad.)

Anyway, this is a perennial favorite argument by people who like something that hurts people in some way.  Arguments rage about the utility of religion in society — entirely apart from the validity of its unsupported claims, does religion as a whole do societies more harm than good? I’ve seen people respond to the charge that mass murderers are well-known to act on supposed commands from their god with things like “Eh, people are gonna find a way to kill each other anyway.” Of course, this kind of asinine dismissal has in my experience never originated from a nonbeliever.

This isn’t precisely the argument pro-gun types make, but it’s close. When someone responds to figures about accidental gun deaths by toddlers by detailing the number of people killed by cars or swimming pools or some other non-weaponized solecism, they have abandoned all efforts at a good-faith argument, assuming the respondent was among the tiny fraction of gun proponents with honorable intentions.

Then you have this, a nice slice of the dishonorable and laughable far right:

“We already made rape, robbery, assault, and murder illegal and (guns or not) people continue to commit these crimes.”

You have to be utterly blind to the world around you to make a “Laws don’t completely eliminate a behavior, therefore laws have no effect on that behavior” argument. (OK, I realize that this clown isn’t not trying make a logical case for anything here, he’s just playing to his fellow knee-walkers and pants-shitters. But let’s pretend otherwise, just for fun.)

The writer is, in essence, asserting that, because the felony rate has not dropped to zero, laws against serious crimes have no effect. This implies that we as a society not only don’t need to make any new laws concerning serious crimes, we can also eliminate the ones we have. (If this does happen, it should occur in the context of putting all people like Steve MacDonald in some kind of intellectual leper colony, like the DumberDome.)

Let’s look at the transportation world vs. how the government deal with guns, as Nicholas Kristof recently did. The increasing safety of driving a car has occurred in concert with more and more regulations imposed on drivers and automakers. The 55 MPH speed limit, seat belt laws, child safety seats, airbags, and other measures have each helped. But people still drive recklessly, often intentionally so, and kill other motorists.

How do you suppose the Granite Grok baboons would feel about sharply relaxing immigration laws? One could posit that bad people are going to find their way into the U.S. no matter what, so it makes perfect sense to just scrap ICE altogether and pour the resources presently being allocated to their efforts into something useful. What about laws against opioid and meth use? Are these twits banging away at their keyboards in the woods of New Hampshire, a lot of them evidently on psychoactive substances of some sort themselves, cool with scrapping those laws, too?

It’s very easy to imagine ways to regulate guns to make them safer, as Kristof lays out. We have the technology to ensure that the person using a gun is the person it’s registered to. Think of what this could accomplish just on the streets of a single city like Chicago or L.A. But this would be expensive, and the NRA has no interest in making access to guns any more difficult for anyone.

But really, this post isn’t about gun laws so much as it as observation that, sadly, people still exist who use forms of “reasoning” that even 90 percent of right-wing trolls have learned to abandon. “Killers gonna kill” is not a useful salvo anywhere. (Of course, Mr. MacDonald is just as addled and dishonest when he tries his hand at climate denial, or anything else, as he is in this piece.)

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