paranoia raises its ugly head again


Recently, a newspaper in New York published the names and addresses of people who owned firearms in certain local counties. Ostensibly, it was to promote public safety.  Maybe that was the intention, but I seem to remember the men in white sheets using the same justification for their (cross burnings and worse).

To celebrate the recent and well-deserved recognition of the fine writing talents of the stunningly articulate and witty John Zande, I thought it’d be nice to do a post based on the theme of paranoia.  The particular brand of paranoia I’d like to focus on doesn’t relate directly to religious beliefs (although I expect it’s to blame somehow) but is more along the lines of ‘the government’s out to get me’.  You know, when they threaten your freedom and your way of life, stuff like that.

For those of you who are not residing in the United States of America and may not be familiar with its quaint traditions or recent current events, I’ll do a quick summary. In 1791 some words were agreed upon by the politicians of the day that reflected the perceived importance of guns for the general population. The country had recently become a independent democratic republic and had no standing army or police force. Two hundred and a bit years down the line, the country has quite a large army and a very organised police force, so the general population has little need to be heavily armed.

Or so you might think. Unfortunately, the excellent efforts to unite the disparate states by brainwashing its citizens with a rousing brand of nationalism – based around a flag, a song and an old document – have kind of backfired. Somewhere along the line, the idea of having a gun to be part of a national, informal militia to defend against a serious threat of foreign invasion, became confused with the right of every individual to stockpile increasingly deadly weapons of their choice.

I’ve already blogged about gun control facts and the extreme statements some people who hold guns have made. But this angle is particularly intriguing and would benefit from just a tad of amateur psychological consideration.  Is it reasonable to compare the motivation for a press publication that results in a breach of privacy for people who own guns, with the motivation for the activities of a vile and racist underground criminal organisation that has resulted in the death and injury of thousands of people?  If you think this is a valid comparison, please tell me why.  If you don’t think it’s a valid comparison, can you imagine why a white, male gun fanatic in Texas would think it is?  I expect part of the answer can be put down to “an unwelcomed cognitive clusterfuck”. (expression copyright, John Zande)