Dear Prudence, what have you gone and done now?
If you read Slate.com, an online news outlet not unlike this one (BPE), except with some more famous writers and quoted-on-TV time, if you read it with any regularity then you know, or know of, one of the site’s most popular features: “Dear Prudence.”
Written by Emily Yoffe, “Prudie” gives sage advice on just about anything. Your wife is trying to push you into a three-way with her BFF? A smokin’ hottie every man and half the women in the city want to seduce? Prudie has an answer for that. Most of us men are thinking, “Dude! You’re wife is giving you a free E-ticket! What’s the complaint?”
OK, we men are dogs, we admit it — I admit it — let’s move on.
At any rate, Prudence, aka Emily Yoffe, has an answer for you. I don’t remember what the answer was to the above dilemma, I’m still picturing myself in a Ménage à Trois with two smokin’ hotties …
Let’s get back on track here; I’m too easily distracted. It’s this reptilian brain thing.
So, for years now Emily Yoffe, as the Prudence of “Dear Prudence” fame, has been guiding the online world to peace, harmony and even bliss with her common sense, often “no judgments here” advice. Most of the time it’s rather serious subject matter, but on occasion it’s really funny. Prudence has a sense of humor.
Now, I rarely click on to the Slate site because, like the Baltimore Post-Examiner, Slate puts links to its articles up on Facebook so it’s easy to read them, or ignore them as the case may be. Emily Yoffe does the same with her “Dear Prudence” columns as well. So, I read “Dear Prudence” often, at least a couple times a week. Literally thousands of people read Yoffe and her Facebook posts will sport hundreds of replies, some serious and many humorous. The Facebook comments are as entertaining as the column itself.
For all intents and purposes though, Yoffe remains, at least as Prudence, controversy free. Yeah, you may not agree with some of Yoffe’s advice, but for the most part it isn’t very controversial fare. Until Tuesday …
It was rather shocking when there in my Facebook Newsfeed was a post from Yoffe, unconnected to any of her “Dear Prudence” columns. It said, “So the National Rifle Association has gone silent. They’ve shut down their Facebook and Twitter feeds, no spokespeople are willing to go out and explain their positions. It turns out the fearsome NRA hasn’t got the guts required for self-defense.”
First of all, if Emily Yoffe wants to state her opinion on Facebook and everywhere else, she certainly has that right. In fact I commend her for doing so, even if it means a slight dip in her readership. It’s courageous, to a certain degree. It is. Yoffe had to know she would get some serious backlash from many of her readers and even more from the Facebook populace that saw just that one post. The name-calling alone can be daunting. So making that post took some courage because she has an international image and controversy can change that image with her fans.
As of this writing, close to 900 people “Like” her post. The question is: do all those people like her comment, as in agree with Yoffe? Or did they click “Like” to acknowledge having read it? In the Facebook Universe, “Liking” a post doesn’t necessarily mean you “like” something. It can also mean “I’ve read it and want to let you know.” Often I’ve clicked “Like” on a post for that reason. Many other people I know do the same.
Along with the “Likes,” Yoffe has over 400 replies to that one post. Yoffe gets a lot of replies to all her posts, but this one has the most I’ve seen, by far. No surprise, the majority of replies oppose Yoffe’s remarks and many are downright hostile. The latter is to be expected of course. People like to be fierce on the Internets, especially if there’s a certain amount of anonymity to masque the individual.
One poster to Yoffe’s comments found another government conspiracy in it. Author Simone Fairchild wrote, “I hate to break it to you people but seriously, our government planned these attacks to shut down our Second Amendment. There are too many unanswered questions and too many coincidences. Let me post the link.”
No, she isn’t kidding. There’s no “j/k” following her post. You know, some people say we in the U.S. are an over-medicated society. But then you read something like that and think, “Maybe we’re not medicated enough.”
After reading Yoffe for so long it’s likely she and I share many political and social beliefs. But here’s where I differ with Yoffe on this issue: The National Rifle Association may have gone silent in these days since the massacre in Newtown, CT, but it isn’t because they don’t have the guts to defend their positions. No, the NRA might actually be respectful toward the victims of the shooting, or, more likely, they know this is not the time to engage. But I can assure you, the NRA will come out swinging soon enough and Emily Yoffe is a big enough name she may become one of their prime targets. Pun intended.
The NRA has been defending its position on firearms control for most of the past 40 years and a mass shooting in a couple of kindergarten classrooms isn’t going to back them off, at least not in the long term. Besides, the NRA has thousands of unpaid surrogates doing that for them right now, from commentators in the media to the posters on Facebook responding to Emily Yoffe — or the 20-plus who commented on my last blog.
Here’s the thing: Yoffe didn’t come out and say she wants to ban all guns. She didn’t even imply she wanted to ban assault weapons. She just said the NRA is afraid to defend its position on firearms control. But for the many people who don’t like that comment, what they read was: “BAN ALL GUNS!”
Now, Yoffe might be fine with banning all guns, but I don’t know because she never wrote that, at least not in that comment. The reality is though, if someone writes anything that remotely resembles a criticism of the NRA or expresses a need for more firearms regulations, the gun fanatics immediately extrapolate that to mean, “BAN ALL GUNS!”
Here’s another reality, one mentioned in my previous blog, but seemed to have gotten lost to all the people commenting on it — and this goes for the fanatical “BAN ALL GUNS” crowd and the fanatical gun rights people alike: the U.S. government is not going to try and disarm nearly half of its citizens, nearly half of voters; the logistics would be insane. First of all politicians like to court votes, not alienate them. Well, not usually. I just remembered Romney’s “47 percent” remarks.
Realistically though, even if the Feds wanted to round up all the privately owned firearms in the country, they don’t know where they all are and the anti-gun legislation crowd got one thing right: criminals are not going to give up their firearms voluntarily. Agreed, a small percentage of the population, but with enough firepower to do some serious damage. They prove it every day in this country. The government is trying to disarm them whenever possible, as they should, but between the Feds and the state and local law enforcement, they ain’t getting the job done. If the various law enforcement agencies can’t disarm the criminals, what chance do they have trying to disarm the rest of us?
Simply put: the various governments (federal, state and local) cannot disarm America because there are millions more law-abiding gun owners — the vast majority of gun owners — who have done it right, purchased their firearms legally and never have a thought to commit any crime, not even taking a deer out of season. The vast majority of them are at least going to think twice about giving up their guns voluntarily and I’m willing to bet very few of them would. It just isn’t in our national character. Guns are part of our culture and will be for the foreseeable future.
Any politician who suggests banning all guns should have his or her head examined. Ditto for any politician who tries to scare people into thinking a president (or other politician) is planning to do so. If the government did try it the ensuing bloodbath would be so severe it would make the siege of Fallujah look tame.
Then there is this simple fact: more gun legislation doesn’t end the problem of nut cases going into crowded areas with semi-automatic assault weapons and killing large numbers of people. Even banning assault weapons won’t do it because there have been three million sold since 2004, when the 1994 assault weapons ban expired. And those are just the registered assault weapons. Guarantee you the vast majority of those gun owners aren’t going to be giving up their Bushmasters and AK-47’s voluntarily.
There was a segment on the news the other day about gun buy back programs that are held throughout the nation. Since the massacre in Newtown police departments and the agencies sponsoring the buy backs have been recording record numbers of guns brought in — no questions asked. But still, in a city the size of Detroit, Michigan for instance, they got less than 2,000 guns. I’m sure that’s barely a dent in the number of privately owned guns in that city.
There’s nothing wrong with gun buy-back programs per se, they do reduce the number of guns on the streets, but like every other proposed remedy for the gun violence, it isn’t a panacea.
Will banning assault weapons work? To some extent. It limited the number of assault weapons on the street the first time around, but it does nothing about the assault weapons already sold legally. Would banning military style, 20 and 30 round ammo clips help? No doubt. If a shooter has to reload every ten rounds that would slow him (or her) down, but not by much. If a shooter has multiple loaded magazines at the ready they can still reload a new clip into the gun in a matter of seconds.
Would banning body armor help? Many of the shooters in these mass killings now wear body armor, but not having armor didn’t stop mass killers. Many of them are out to die anyway. And get this: you can now buy backpacks with armor for your children. Who really wants to oppose that?
Then there is the mental health issue. It’s not likely any of these mass killers were sane when they committed their crimes. The fact is the way we treat the mentally ill is deplorable. Someone could write a couple 2,000-word essays on that topic. The worst thing about how we treat the mentally ill though has little to do with the institutions or the system. It’s how we as a society stigmatize mental illness.
Suicide in the military (and with vets) is considered epidemic. An attempt is made every 18 minutes, many of the successful, if you want to use that term. The reason being the stigma that comes with mental health issues, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) makes asking for help seem like a weakness. Same with non-military people. No one wants to be labeled “crazy.” Tell someone you’re taking Prozac or Xanax and the “looks” come out. You know the look: “is this guy safe?” “No bitch! He’s effin crazy!”
Add to that the fact that we as a society have been cutting funding for mental health care, putting thousands of people with mental health issues out on the street and the message is clear: mental health is not important. And like everything else in this mass murder debate: addressing mental health isn’t a panacea either. Not every person with mental health issues is dangerous. It’s a very few that go out and harm themselves and others.
Later today the NRA will be addressing this debate and the tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown. What will be their solutions? No doubt mental health will be addressed. You can also bet they will suggest arming the teachers and school officials. Just what teachers need: another job, this time as a law enforcement official. Yep, adding more guns to a hyper-armed society would fix it. Fail.
But I’m fully expecting Wayne LaPierre and his colleagues will oppose any more regulations, including closing the loopholes in registration. More guns in more hands is their primary philosophy and they’re not likely to change that. Besides, with President Obama proposing new gun laws and appointing Vice President Biden to head up the team to create these new laws, LaPierre can go back to his membership and say, “See? I told you he had a secret plan!”
So Emily Yoffe, you are about to be proven wrong. Not to worry though, I appreciate your sentiments and will continue reading “Dear Prudence.” Just out of curiosity though: what is your answer to the guy who is uncomfortable with his wife trying to push him into a three-way with her BFF? I have my own ideas, but they’re best left off this page.