“America is not a young land…”

Children should have the legal right to divorce their parents. We treat them as possessions. Unless they announce their interest in law or medical school, we cough politely and wonder if they couldn’t get a job that “pays the bills.” We keep them from deleterious material on television and the internet without considering the deleterious effect of the heterosexual images with which we smother them. Non-fictional texts and novels in which they might find shared experiences, insights, or distraction turn into firewood for politicians so illiterate they can’t read a stop sign. We don’t want them messing with their bodies. A pregnancy must be endured. And when we send them to school they can expect to find solace, as they dodge bullets or see their friends in body bags, in their parents thinking a Second Amendment right to own a personal firearm is inviolable.

For children who mature into voters, we insist that democracies matter. Participation keeps the fascist creeps at bay. Alex Pareene:

Researchers and pollsters typically claim to be measuring young people’s support for “democracy.” In the U.S. context especially, that is misleading. They are measuring support for our political order. By labeling what that is and what it does and for whom as “democracy,” that order likely serves, paradoxically, to undermine support for democratic values. Frustration with our anti-politics is channeled into disdain for “politics.” Politicians elected to solve problems by doing politics blame “politics” for why the problems cannot be solved. In that context, what do you expect people to embrace? What solutions might they turn to, once you have taught them that this system, which excludes them from any meaningful representation of their interests, which forecloses any possibility of their preferences from being enacted, is “democracy”?

When preparing this post, I wrote “Buffalo” in the headline. An easy mistake.

For conservatives, a pro-life position includes the following: we want you to quake in your shoes when you drop your kids off at school, when you mull over ending a pregnancy, when you undergo gender affirmation surgery, when and eat inside a restaurant. The party that has espoused the shibboleth of limited government since the days of Franklin Roosevelt believes we should die for using our bodies for pleasure and for believing our children are safe in fourth grade.

To discuss universal background checks and assault weapons bans  without accounting for the sheer number of guns is to not reckon with the damage wrought by a mythos that encouraged self-reliance as self-regard, warped individualism into mass coercion, and embraced bipartisan comity as an excuse for resignation. Even the putative heroism of men explaining why guns matter as a means of protecting their homes and children comes off as mere macho preening: Dad with his paunch as Judge Dredd.

The Second Amendment entrusts no individual with the right to bear arms; Republicans scoff at the idea of a Fourteenth Amendment whose emanations and penumbras turn into a right to privacy expansive enough to protect abortion and gay marriage. Pundits would have us think an equivalence exists between the the interpretation of an amendment such that it puts murderous weapons into a citizen’s hand and the interpretation of an amendment, written after a civil war that transformed us into a new country, such that the liberty codified in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution’s preamble signifies for new generations of Americans. Amending the Second Amendment would be a start.

America is not a young land, William Burroughs wrote: it is old and dirty. We have been fucked for decades.

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