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When our kids were younger, I would clandestinely look forward to the annual trek to the boardwalk so I could satisfy my bumper car fix.  There, I could safely and legally smack the ever-living crap out of every driver who had cut me off over the previous year.  Some years required me to wait in line to go twice, even though the kids were ready to move on.  Now, two years into empty nest, I have no excuse to ride the bumper cars. Worse, it’s no longer just texting drivers that I need to slam.  It’s… well, others.

I don’t know where this whole blog thing will go, and I’m hopeful that it won’t just always be an exercise in verbal release; there are many positive and inspirational encounters I hope to describe as well.  But this is being born in the shadow of the Las Vegas shootings, which in time as we look back will just be another historical footnote.  So for the time being, yeah, think bumper cars.

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Art and the Artist

In the great tradition of classical musically-incited riots, shouting matches and fist fights broke out one night in Israel during a 1981 encore by the country’s premiere musical institution, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.  This wasn’t Paris after the 1913 premiere of the Rites of Spring (although conflicting versions of the response appear to bear some early traces of fake news) or the infamous Skandalkonzert the same year in Vienna. The IPO incident wasn’t even caused by a rejection of savage rhythms or harsh dissonances imposed on an unsuspecting audience by contemporary rebels like Stravinsky and Berg.  The Israeli audience did not object to the composition, they objected to the composer. Vehemently.  To that particular audience, Richard Wagner (and that’s pronounced “Ree-kard Vog-ner,” you heathen) represented the cruelest of insults, a musical icon of Nazi Germany itself, inextricably linked to the suffering those audience members had personally endured as Holocaust survivors, an unbearable reminder of bearing witness to the deaths of their family.  From this perspective, the passion and resolve of those patrons seems justified. The only problem is that while Wagner was indeed an avowed racist and Jew hater (I find that term so much more direct than “anti-Semite”), and his music and writings were enjoyed by Hitler, there is legitimate doubt that his music was ever genuinely played in the concentration camps or would be so directly linked to the anguish the survivors confronted.  (A personal friend of mine and Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor calls the suggestion that there was any music there “a bunch of shit.”) The quality of the music, then, was of little consequence.  Separating the artist from the art is simply too much of an ask.  Enter Kevin Spacey.

During the current epidemic of sexual misconduct by high profile men in power, the institutions associated with those men have become adept at implementing a rapid, zero-tolerance policy resulting in an efficient dismissal and divestiture of any relation with those perpetrators. You don’t see any Bill Cosby reruns, Weinstein has been ousted and his company renamed, and House of Cards, the Kevin Spacey empire that gave Netflix its place at the big boy table will soon be but a historical footnote.  The self-contaminating artist, once that contamination has been exposed, has contaminated his art. Any association with him is simply too toxic.     Setting aside for the moment the issue of verification (false claims, or what used to be called gold-digging), this rapid response protocol actually seems to be an example of capitalism responding responsibly, reflecting the moral mores of its consumers, essentially pulling the plug on the art associated with the artist.  Spacey’s case however, only weeks before releasing said art, “All the Money in the World,” (replacing him Dick Sargent-like with Christopher Plummer) stands out as unprecedented in terms of a pre-emptive response. It would be as though someone went back in time, confronted Wagner with “you’re a racist asshole” and chopped off his fingers or otherwise incapacitated him to prevent him from ever composing again.

Of course, from an “art” perspective, the performance arts need to be viewed differently from the creative arts. By that I mean, there is no way to separate the actor from acting, but is there a way to separate the composer from the composition?

Before Bill O’Reilly was canned from Fox, my best friend urged me to read his “Killing…” books.  I just couldn’t and still can’t.  I find O’Reilly so utterly despicable that there would be no way to read a word without hearing his smarmy voice narrating each syllable.  The books might be brilliant and informative and wildly readable, and very likely, if you were to tell me they were written by an author of that genre who I truly admire, maybe Doris Kearns Goodwin or David McCullough, I would gobble them up. And while we can replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in one film, can we really erase Spacey’s body of work to date?

There is also the nature of the crime itself.  As I said, I rejected O’Reilly prior to his sexual offenses being made public; I just didn’t like him. But is it fair to compare sexual predatory behavior to being a racist asshole?  Wagner, keep in mind, never raped or killed anyone (at least as far as we know).  An IPO violinist even conceded that Wagner was a “…great symbol for Hitler.”  Yet the camp survivors surely associate him and his music with their sense of victimization every bit as much as Cosby’s rape victims associate him and Dr. Huxtable with theirs.  Victimization requires the abuse by the powerful over the less powerful (or powerless).  Boycotting and divesting from Spacey and Cosby and Weinstein are public expressions of support for the victims.  To try to prevent victimization, one solution in Israel was to announce ahead of time that Wagner would be on the program so potentially offended concertgoers could stay away.  But there’s another kind of victim that can’t be overlooked, however: the majority of attacks perpetrated by non-public figures, be they artists or not.

Without going into lurid details, when I was 15 I was what would now be called assaulted by someone who appeared to be trying to become a friend of the family. I won’t disclose his name, of course, but it rhymes with Dr. Alan Jenks, former professor of Theology at West Virginia University.  Masquerading as a cellist, he would schedule musical get-togethers with me on the weekends, much to my parents’ initial delight.  After a few compulsory duets, he would put the cello down and maneuver over to the piano bench.  And… that’s about as much as I can stand to write, even now, some 40+ years later.  Jenks has no TV shows, no movies, and certainly no art. He was a terrible cellist. I don’t get to boycott him. Most victims, as we’re finding out in the recent “#MeToo” campaign, don’t.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter. As I’m writing this, the story of Senator Al Franken’s stupidity is breaking while Roy Moore’s continues to broil, and while neither of these politicians are currently “artists,” (though I wonder if SNL will now burn all the tapes of episodes Franken wrote for) the process of writing reveals that it really isn’t about the perpetrators and the after-the-fact punishments they may or may not face.  That the victims are now empowered to speak out, that they are deemed credible and believable, whereas before the initial Weinstein accusers they were automatically presumed to be opportunists, is enormously liberating.

Not that this blog has much of an audience, but I would never have previously mentioned Jenks by name in any kind of public forum, precisely out of the same kind of concern that any such accusation would simply be seen as occurring years after the fact and would essentially be my word against his, despite the lack of any other motive.  Google shows that Jenks is still alive and kicking. I haven’t bothered to see if he has any other accusers; surely I could not have been his only victim. But my believability now is indeed liberating.  If he sees this and protests, bring it on.

Judging art based on the artist remains fraught with peril. If you try to acclaim Wagner’s awesome sweep and majesty, someone else can easily undo that. Nicolas Slonimsky has compiled a delightful “Lexicon of Musical Invective” featuring critics’ “assaults on composers.” No composer or work is spared, not even Beethoven’s 9th, but the Wagner section includes some of the more entertaining comments. One of my favorites is on Tannhäuser: “[It] is not merely polyphonous, but polycacophonous.”  Personally, Wagner has never overwhelmed me, yet Cosby’s bit on going to the dentist has always made me laugh.  Maybe I feel a little guilty now about it, but for better or worse, the art lives on, even if the artist is contemptible. At least now we can call out that despicable behavior. We just all better hope that Christopher Plummer has behaved himself.

Thanks Beyond Squishing

So Michael Moore… oh, you’re still reading? … has this idea. Borrowing from the patriotic custom that has evolved over the last several years of personally thanking members of the armed forces for their service, he has suggested that a similar gesture be made to teachers. (I presume he had thought of this before the release of the Jason Hall film now showing, but I might be wrong. He is in the film business, after all.) When Moore offhandedly made this suggestion at a recent performance of his one-man Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, he received a spontaneous outburst of vigorous applause including, truth be told, from myself. That response, after a bit more thought, I think stems from two shared but unspoken sensibilities: 1) I am not among those who go up to service people and thank them for their service, 2) I very much feel a genuine sense of gratitude to many of my teachers. What’s up with that?

Thanking a serviceman for his service is accepted as patriotic. Yet, why does even the hint of “patriotism” leave me cold? One reason could be the sense that the term has been commandeered by those who insist on linking the notion exclusively to a military context. The one thing we can all agree on, after all, is that our men and women in uniform……..

See? That thought almost finishes itself. Choose from among the following: “…deserve our respect,” “deserve our gratitude,” “are the finest,” “are the bravest,” “put their lives on the line every day,” and of course, “all of the above.” Our service men and women certainly do unify us, that’s for sure. Presidents of both parties have long tapped into this unifying reality, always strategically placing the latest military heroes in the gallery of the House chamber during the State of the Union and recognizing them with a few remarks that lock members of the opposition party into joining the standing ovation. Curses! You got me again! But it IS unifying. We just all have to agree on that one thing, right? And if you don’t, well, you’re just unpatriotic. As we’ve seen with the now fizzling kneeling protests in the NFL, somehow the National Anthem is associated exclusively with the military, so protesting the Anthem in turn means you’re disrespecting the military and so you are not only unpatriotic, you’re an ingrate. But why does supporting the military represent the sole symbol of patriotism, why is it considered unifying, sacrosanct, and why is it and it alone the only thing we are supposed to concede as the one thing we can all agree on?

Maybe a teacher can help with that. Somewhere, I had a teacher who introduced Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He presented the Physiological Level rather colorfully, describing it as “the need to not be squished.” If your physiological needs are not being met, that is, if you are being squished, or more accurately, if you are in constant fear of being squished or if a squishing is imminent, then those needs further up on the hierarchy pyramid — love, belonging, self-esteem, etc. — have no chance of being fulfilled. Not being squished comes before all else. So, it stands to reason, we revere and esteem the military above all else because it singularly keeps us safe from squishing. Or, to put it as a “patriot” might, without the military I never would have had the opportunity to learn about Maslow in the first place.

And, there is a degree of truth to that argument. As a film maker, Moore won’t mind us considering “A Few Good Men” for some overused frame of reference. What makes Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup so compelling is not just that we can’t handle the truth, but that we really do need him on that wall. However, he also claimed that we felt his presence was “grotesque” and that it was something we didn’t talk about at parties. That’s no longer true. We DO talk about it at parties. We celebrate it in video games. We revel in it in film and books and entertainment. We “honor” it at that State of the Union address, in parades, in national holidays. We bask in it at reunions and we romanticize about it at battle reenactments. Dare I say it, we may even be obsessed with it. We’ve sterilized war and forgotten that it’s a thing to be avoided. We’ve conflated the military with our NFL team. (Hmmm…) We love the military and in our passion, we have lost sight of its true nature and mission, defense, and all that that implies. “Defense” necessitates a senseless enemy, intent on destroying our way of life, an enemy who is therefore worthy of being destroyed itself. That enemy gives us permission to validate our violent tendencies by sending a proxy onto the field who we can cheer on and clandestinely identify with while always maintaining a safe distance. The pain and suffering and misery inherent with that process is collectively assuaged by later honoring those who have selflessly partaken and survived their tour of duty. No wonder we personally thank them for their service!

But wouldn’t it be something if we didn’t need to?

That’s the part that’s somehow missing. It’s dirty work and it shouldn’t be considered naïve to strive somehow, some way, to permanently retire its necessity. It’s ok to acknowledge service, but in the back of our minds it ought to be done with a sense of resignation and perhaps even regret, not to the individual service men and women, but to the necessity for that service. Instead of thanking them for their service, we ought to apologize to them for needing it. And we ought to strive to find a way to make that necessity obsolete. Thanking military personnel for their service is a way of throwing in the towel on that effort. We’ve resigned ourselves to our violent selves and the futility of seeking peace (it’s just so much easier to accept the inevitability of the intractable enemy), so we almost perversely celebrate that nature. Every time someone politely but earnestly thanks a soldier for their service, the soldier should respond with, “And what are you doing to try to ensure that service won’t be needed again?”

But there’s another element to Moore’s suggestion that I have neglected, and that is the sense of downright outrage for even daring to compare anything to military service, let alone to affording comparable honor to spoiled, overpaid, unionized, tenured, glorified babysitters with fat pensions who don’t even have to work three months out of the year. And college professors? Please. College is, after all, just Liberal indoctrination camps. Teachers don’t lay their lives on the line. They don’t give up years of their lives. They don’t spend months away from their families. They don’t sacrifice. They don’t serve. Simmering beneath the discussion is the reality that some people actually believe this. Like the vets returning from Vietnam to an ungrateful and even hostile country that sent them there, teachers are scorned and ridiculed and resented. And people have to pay taxes to support these teachers! They are certainly not revered here as they are in other cultures.

Why just single out teachers (and coaches), for that matter? Why not thank sanitation workers for their service? Coal miners? Prison guards? Any of the other dozens of less-than-glamorous jobs that must be done? Because there’s something in addition to “service” that is equally worthy of our respect. How about inspiration? Motivation? Curiosity? Self-confidence? Knowledge? Aren’t these uniquely worthy of our gratitude? You have to admit, even though your school days are no doubt cluttered with memories of forgettable teachers, there are some you probably already thank tacitly more often then you realize. You already know that next to your parents, they were the most influential adults in your life. What an awesome responsibility! They helped shape you, for better or worse, in a role that was possible precisely because they weren’t your parents. (And as adults, we ask them to do the same for our own children.) They didn’t do it to get rich or for personal gain. They didn’t do it for recognition or accolades. They didn’t do it for its stability. They did it for… well, I won’t presume to declare their own motivations. I’m guessing a teacher of their own may have had something to do with it. I’m just glad they did.

So no, it’s not such an outrageous notion. Go ahead and continue to express gratitude to service men and women, but go ahead and thank a teacher too. It’s not a zero-sum game, though I hope it someday will be. I’ll start. A personal thanks to:

Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Morris. Mrs. Anderson. Mrs. Tomasky. Mrs. Wotring. Mr. Hohmann. Mr. Ervin. Dr. Miltenberger. Mr. Maxin. Mr. Felice. Mr. Moore. Dr. Rajasethupathy. Dr. Edelman. Dr. Steinlauf. Dr. Waldau. Dr. DeMello.

That list just makes me smile.

 

Tip me over and Pour me Out (or Finally, a Cure for Schnorring)

I actually read an email ad the other day. Even stranger, I liked the message. It was from Alice’s Tea Cup, a bona fide chain of (fairly vegan-friendly) tea houses in Manhattan that has been a long-time favorite of my daughter’s (and therefore by default of mine and my wife’s as well).  Alice’s Tea Cup, it would seem, is doing away with tips. Better yet, they are recognizing the inherent disparity in the entire tipping culture that is, speaking as one who now has a modicum of international travel chops under his hat, indecipherable to the rest of the world. Wait, what’s so wrong with recognizing and rewarding good service? I thought you’d never ask.

We don’t tip any more to recognize and reward good service.  Tipping has become little more than, to use the Yiddish term that is beginning to creep into the American vernacular, “schnorring.”  For those uneducated goyim, the definitive Uriel Weinreich Yiddish-English dictionary defines שנאר simply as “beg.” Good old Uriel is pretty laconic with his definitions, but Yiddish, as fluent speakers will tell you, isn’t meant to be defined, it’s meant to be experienced. Schnorring isn’t the same alms-for-the-poor, open palm of desire, brother can you spare a dime begging. Schnorring is much craftier.  A classic example might be this exchange from Fiddler on the Roof, admittedly from the town beggar:

        – Alms for the poor!
        – Here, Reb Nahum, is one kopek.
        – One kopek? Last week you gave me two kopeks.
        – I had a bad week.
        – So, if you had a bad week, why should I suffer?

Schnorring is begging with attitude.  Like Reb Nahum, the schnorrer believes it is deserved and owed.  The schnorrer has a right to be indignant if the schnorree is less than generous.  It’s this pervasive attitude of just being expected, without having done anything to earn it, that has infiltrated the tipping culture.

My local bagel eatery, in addition to placing the ever-present tip jar front and center, now also provides the digital equivalent on credit card purchases, swiveling the iPad device around with the 20% tip already calculated in.  You’re a cheapskate bastard if you conspicuously swipe that bar lower, or godforbid take it to zero.  Worse, the snarly counter help has done absolutely nothing to warrant a tip.  She took my order and shoved the bagels in the bag.  Next?  The tipping culture is everywhere.  My kids will all retell with glee the family lore, when more frequently than we could reasonably afford, we took all five of them out, which immediately promoted us to a “party” of six or more, which automatically triggered the apparently non-negotiable 18% gratuity that appeared on the check. This in turn, automatically triggered the conversation between my wife and the manager.

To be fair, there is another side to the tipping story.  The summer after graduating high school I waited tables at our local Lums.  (Look it up.) The formula went something like this: you were paid less than minimum wage.  You “declared” enough of your tips for tax purposes to make minimum wage.  Maybe just a bit more so you weren’t too conspicuous, wink wink.  But, if you really sucked and didn’t get tipped, you didn’t make minimum wage.  One of my colleagues, Jay, was an absolute genius in seeing to it that this didn’t happen.  One day, he decided to tell customers that the “chefs” had decided they would no longer make chef’s salads, but not to worry, because he himself would make them.  Orders for chef salads suddenly spiked. Of course, at Lums the cooks never made the chef’s salad to begin with, but the absolute, almost mommy-look-what-I-made! pride that Jay beamed when serving the absolute crappiest, ugliest, most lopsided chef salads ever purposely created carried the day.  He pretty much earned a year’s tuition that night.  I had an opposite incident where a “party” of 8 came in 5 minutes before closing and ordered everything on the menu, very much angering the cooks, who had pretty much broken everything down for the night. When the party left an hour and a half after closing, they tipped me… nothing.

My aforementioned daughter had a summer job at a local water ice establishment.  Here, the tip jar was not front and center, but not completely out of sight either.  She was paid minimum wage, but the act of receiving a tip was meaningful to her.  Although tips usually took the form of “keep the change” they nonetheless marked the success of any particular shift.  That and not getting yelled at by some rude customer.  Simply put, in water ice and bagel counter jobs, it’s pretty difficult to provide any kind of outstanding service that is clearly and repeatedly demonstrable to a customer, let alone have them recognize said service and respond accordingly.  These are not tip-worthy positions, and it isn’t the minimum wage kids who are the schnorrers here, it’s their employers.  Enter Alice’s Tea Cup.

I’ll provide the full text of their new policy below, but basically they’ve decided to address this issue honesty and fairly, recognizing their employees, their customers, and their own interests.  The cost of service will now be included in the product, the idea being that they can pay their employees a fair wage and no longer play the under minimum wage game. The new policy not only addresses the out-front service staff, but the behind-the-scenes staff as well (cooks, porters, etc.) who typically would either never have received a tip or would have been at the mercy of those who did to dole out a percentage of their own otherwise meager earnings.

Alice’s new policy does away with the accursed tip line and with it, the expectation of the tip. It eliminates the schnorring aspect of tipping.  Best of all, I suspect that if a server really did something extraordinary, and one felt truly inspired to recognize and reward that something, the gesture, whatever it might turn out to be (recognition to management, or yes, perhaps monetary) would be genuine and not coerced or provided under a dull sense of duty.  A small step perhaps in eliminating the culture of schnorring and entitlement that is in many ways unfairly foisted upon the post baby-boomers.  Bravo, Alice’s.  We’ll be there often.

 
Text of Alice’s Policy:

Starting October 30th, you will see price changes on most of our menu items at this location. First, this new pricing won’t cost you a penny more. The prices you see will have the cost of service (your gratuity) baked-in. Why the change? We’re glad you asked!

 For years, there has been a growing wage disparity between the more visible members of the restaurant (the server, the busser, the barista) and those who are behind-the-scenes (the cook, the porter, the pastry chef, and more). We do our best to give each member of our team a fair, living wage, but the mounting costs that come with running a restaurant leave our hands tied. This has led to our having an open and honest conversation.

While it’s customary to leave a gratuity for the staff helping you at your table, there are certain laws that determine who exactly may share in this generosity. We feel that the whole team, even those you don’t see, contribute overall to your experience. That’s why you will no longer see a tip line at Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter 2. This will be our test store and give us the opportunity to measure the success and viability of this new system. By eliminating tipping, adding in revenue share and raising minimum wage for previously tipped employees, we can ensure that the service that is now “baked-in” to the cost of your food can be shared by all our magical and hardworking team members. This change is simply a sincere effort to reward all the employees who make Alice’s such a special place.

Servers and support staff will continue to make a fair wage and one that is based on sales, so their hard work will still be rewarded. It will, though, make a HUGE difference for those other team members we mentioned above: those who contribute to your overall experience but could not previously share in your generosity. We will now be able to increase their wage without having to increase the price of food or sacrifice anything in the service we provide.

One other thing to note: since our new pricing derives from what would have previously gone to the server for dine-in service (and not, for example, the cost of goods), all to-go pricing will remain the same. And, yes, that includes scones!

The folly of “reasonable” gun ownership

There is a longer, deeper perspective on the gun culture in the US, and it extends far beyond that gun culture.  Yet in the context of this regularly scheduled national soul-searching, the first step into that perspective is never even attempted because it is just too outlandish, the ask is too great, the mere mention of it invokes preposterous teenage eyerolling.  It makes liberals look nuts.  In the context of the discussion it is pre-empted at all costs, expressed most recently (but certainly not exclusively) by Michael Tomasky’s careful declamation of the disclaimer not with an asterisk/endnote, but prominently parenthetically instead, lest it be missed:

“(for the record: I don’t want to take away anybody’s hunting rifles, collectors’ items, or non-assault-style pistols)”

Practically everyone who is Left of insanity, from Colbert all the way to Hillary, faithfully and emphatically injects the hunting caveat when discussing “sensible” gun legislation.  (After I posted the first version of this the NY Times published Confessions of a Sensible Gun Owner.) It is critical to do so lest you be seen as, well, crazy.  Declaring and affirming the hunting caveat ensures that the speaker or writer is “reasonable” and that the rest of the argument can therefore be taken seriously. Hunting is sacred, sacrosanct, off-limits, you don’t even hint at curtailing it, it’s a way of life, a tradition, a generational bonding opportunity from father to son that is so part of the culture that to even challenge any aspect of it ends the discussion right there and then.  You just don’t go there.  So I won’t.  Well, maybe I will a little: I don’t find anything sensible or reasonable about hunting.  Oooh.  Bold. Anyway, hunting is only emblematic of the deeper perspective.  Hunting’s twin sister fishing is where the real action lies.

I am somehow engaged in a Facebook “conversation” that has lasted now for over two years.  It began when an otherwise well-meaning contributor posted a video of a 4-year old boy catching a fish with his toy plastic rod and reel.  The comments section cascades with attaboy accolades from proud fishermen, but here and there individuals, surely non-fishermen types, pop in with reactions to the fish’s struggle for survival, the boy’s callous handling of the squirming fish, and the off-camera adults’ encouragement. What strikes these sensitive types is the boy’s disregard of the fish’s struggle and his complete detachment from the alive-ness of the fish, all at the behest of the nearby adults.  It stands in stark contrast to typical FB posts depicting children’s generally loving interaction with animals.  Is the boy being taught to disregard the fish’s struggle or is he already desensitized?  My contribution essentially posed that question, and I was (and continue to be) met with a resounding, “It’s just a f—ing fish!!”

At this point, I’ve no doubt tipped my hand, and the hunting apologists are ready to pounce with the usual defenses.  All life requires death. Plants are alive. Animals kill. The attempt is to lure the discussion into a “where do you draw the line” debate. To be sure, many have tried (Steven Wise’s “Drawing the Line” is perhaps the best well-known.  See his summary below.).  I for one don’t believe there is a line, and the attempt to define one is folly.  There is, however, a curve.  And somewhere along the curve you try to impose the least amount of harm to those around you, giving the benefit of the doubt as to the degree of their sentience.  You don’t harm or kill if you don’t have to.  And you try to be aware of your indirect actions, that your choices do harm and kill, brutally and horrifically, they inflict misery on an unimaginable scale, even if the “f—ing Others” and the gruesome and unspeakable method of their torment are systematically and meticulously hidden from you.

The incredulous, unanswerable question after Las Vegas (and Orlando and Sandy Hook and…) was how could the shooter just shoot indiscriminately?  Surely to the shooters, they’re just f—ing fish!

I’m not proposing that sensitivity to life, all life, no longer discounting certain life with our age-old disqualifier “It’s just a f—ing Other” will prevent the next Las Vegas, rather (to bring this back) that it might re-frame the entire gun debate.  The US gun culture, so foreign and bizarre to the rest of the world, thrives not because the NRA is an evil self-serving entity (although it is) but because “It’s just a f—ing Other” is an accepted corollary to our core American theorem of individual liberty. A gun — hunting rifle, collector’s item, non-assault style pistol, and as we know too well, full military style automatic assault style machine gun — essentially celebrates “It’s just a f—ing Other.”

The longer, deeper perspective accepts the inevitable accusations of outrageously diminishing the misery of the victims and their families by even suggesting such a comparison is possible.  But the elimination of the concept of the dispensable Other that seems to have plagued humanity since the beginning represents the necessary human evolutionary achievement that remains so distantly elusive.

wise

Source: Steven M. Wise, Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights