Posts Tagged ‘gun control debate’

…are we living Orwell, or Kafka? Either way, it’s freedom that is lost.

The Eyes Watching You

1984 and the Surveillance State


George Orwell. 1984. New York: Plume, [1949] 2003. 323 pages.In the kind of horrifying coincidence that surely would have prompted one of his more acerbic essays, the news that various U.S. government surveillance agencies have been gathering data from millions of citizens’ phones, email accounts, and web searches broke during the week of the 64th publication anniversary of George Orwell’s 1984. As the news reports poured in, and as sales of 1984 surged by an astonishing 6,884 percent, a friend asked me whether the PRISM story strikes me as more Orwellian or more Kafkaesque.

My response? We’d better hope it’s Kafkaesque.

No one wants to inhabit a Franz Kafka novel. But the surveillance states he describes do have one thing going for them—incompetence. In Kafka’s stories, important forms get lost, permits are unattainable, and bureaucrats fail to do their jobs. Like the main character in Kafka’s unfinished story, “The Castle,” if you were trapped in Kafka’s world you could live your whole life doing nothing but waiting for a permit. But at least you could live. Incompetence creates a little space.

What is terrifying about Orwell’s 1984 is the complete competence of the surveillance state. Winston Smith begins the novel by believing he is in an awful, but Kafkaesque world where there is still some slippage in the state’s absolute control, and still some room for private action. Winston says that Oceania’s world of telescreens and Thought Police means that there are “always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed—no escape.” But he follows that by saying, “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” He also believes that while the diary he keeps will inevitably be discovered, the small alcove in his apartment where he writes his diary puts him “out of the range of the telescreen.”

via The Eyes Watching You : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education.

…and why it’s a failure.
This is a good article that discusses the gun control debate.

I’d comment more on it, but I don’t have the time. You should already know where I stand on this issue.

An honest debate about gun violence
By Mark Goldblatt

Few things in American public life are as predictable as gun control advocates taking to the airwaves and editorial pages in the immediate aftermath of a shooting spree to call for more stringent gun control measures. The summer of 2012 was a banner season for anti-gun rhetoric since it featured not one but two horrific incidents: the July 20th massacre of patrons at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the August 5th massacre of worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

The absolute worst time to engage in such a debate is in the immediate aftermath of a shooting, with our emotions still raw, and with images of the carnage still fresh in our minds — which, of course, is the reason the political left wants to have the debate while the yellow police tape is still up at the crime scenes. But as time passes, the potential for a saner debate increases. To ask, for example, whether a civilian should be allowed to purchase a high-capacity “drum magazine” for a semi-automatic weapon, as the Colorado shooter was allegedly able to do, is not to dismantle the Second Amendment. Would such a restriction be the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent? Maybe. But it’s not an unreasonable question to ask.

That debate, however, has nothing to do with the broader problem of gun violence in the United States. Though both the Colorado and Wisconsin massacres were violent and did involve guns, they were aberrations. Legislation aimed at reducing the likelihood or deadliness of such incidents will have little or no impact on how many Americans get shot and killed from year to year.