Chill Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Phallic Symbolism

That’s a version of the 100-round drum magazine that enabled the Dayton shooter to kill and injure so many people in under a minute. Think of it as a stylized totem to a particularly bloodthirsty god…

Garry Wills, in the NY Review of Books, “Our Moloch”:

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch…

It has the power to destroy the reasoning process. It forbids making logical connections. We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. Thus do we deny global warming, or evolution, or biblical errancy. Reason is helpless before such abject faith…

… Molochism is the one religion that can never be separated from the state. The state itself bows down to Moloch, and protects the sacrifices made to him. So let us celebrate the falling bodies and rising statues as a demonstration of our fealty, our bondage, to the great god Gun.

16 replies
  1. 1
    Charluckles says:

    A sibling recently married into a family of gun worshippers. Our father was in the military and law enforcement so there were always weapons in our home growing up, but this is a whole different level. We recently visited them for a family reunion/party. One morning before most folks had arrived they had a shooting day. All the guns came out and they went over to the family range to shoot guns. I have no problem with this as long as it’s safe and responsible. But as I am walking through the house to go to the bathroom I pass an open bedroom door and notice that the bed is strewn with unsecured guns. There are kids running all over the house. I was livid, but kept my mouth shut. I just don’t think we will ever be visiting them again.

  2. 2
    Patricia Kayden says:

    And yet another shooting incident.
    Not looking forward to Trump’s speech this morning. Hard pass.

  3. 3
    prostratedragon says:

    As I just said last thread:

    “They Won’t Go When I Go,” Stevie Wonder

    Also, from Kieran Healy, “Rituals of Childhood”:

    A fundamental lesson of Sociology is that, in the course of making everyday life seem orderly and sensible, arbitrary things are made to seem natural and inevitable. Rituals, especially the rituals of childhood, are a powerful way to naturalize arbitrary things. As a child in Ireland, I thought it natural to take the very body of Christ in the form of a wafer of bread on my tongue. My own boy and girl, in America, think it natural that a school is a place where you must know what to do when someone comes there to kill the children.

    Social science also teaches us something about how rituals end, although not enough. The most important step is to kindle a belief that there are other ways to live, other forms that collective life can take.

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:


  5. 5
    prostratedragon says:

    In Chicago, several outdoor gatherings of people were sprayed with gunfire, resulting in at least 4 killed and over 40 injured. Chicago Sun-Times

    And on Friday, two women who were prominent activists in an anti-violence group were murdered in a drive-by shooting. Sun-Times

  6. 6
    lofgren says:

    In our movies, our constitution, and our national conversation, guns are always portrayed as the ultimate tool of justice. They are the irrefutable argument, the final word of the victimized man, the righter of wrongs, and the overthrower of tyrants. Of course the White man reaches for them when his proper role is not respected, when women refuse to date him, when Brown people get the privileges that should be his alone, or when his job goes to his lessers.

  7. 7
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Our Moloch is religion.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities,
    Can make you commit atrocities.”

  8. 8
    From Both Sides of the Pond says:

    Here’s my thought today on the right to guns. The right to having a gun, the purpose behind it, is fundamentally, intrinsically different than nearly any other right we hold. If you read the philosophers who inspired our ideas on rights – Locke, etc. – there is no conception of owning weaponry as an inherent right of man. It was included in the Bill of Rights so that Americans as a collective body (well-regulated militia) had the capacity to defend the other rights – speech, religion, etc. – from those who would take it away. In short, it was a means, but not the end in and of its itself

    But in the modern day, having that right vs. the government is practically meaningless. No Chairborne Ranger is going to hold out with his AR-15 against the military, or even any significant police special response unit. So if the right listed in the 2nd amendment is now useless for the preservation of other rights, what’s the point? And at what point does neglecting to regulate weapons by the government turn into an infringement of people’s first amendment rights by the government due to lack of providing protection for those rights from negligence in addressing a threat to public safety and order? The right to guns is ancillary to those that are part and parcel of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and therefore secondary, wouldn’t you think?

  9. 9
    PST says:

    @From Both Sides of the Pond: Ancillary is precisely the right word. It was only a means to an end, and as a means of defending the fundamental rights from government infringement, it is an anachronism. For most of my life, I’ve been content to settle for advocating half measures, knowing that even those would be long shots. But now I would gladly vote to repeal the Second Amendment altogether.

  10. 10
    Jeffro says:

    @From Both Sides of the Pond: Good thought but too complicated for most.

    How ‘bout “the guys who wrote the 2nd Amendment included the words ‘well-regulated’ as well as ‘right of the people’ and ‘shall not be infringed’, so…yup, it’s your right as long as it’s well-regulated. And here are your regulations, which were voted on by your duly elected representatives and signed into law…”

  11. 11
    Mike in NC says:

    We’re anchored off of a small fishing village called Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. Doing some laundry and ironing and other mundane activities before going ashore this afternoon. Sun is shining and the weather is breezy but mild.

    Feels like a million miles from Crazytown, USA.

  12. 12
    Searcher says:

    @Jeffro: Honestly, it keeps the spirit fairly well IMO.

    The 2nd Amendment exists because the slavers who drove the Revolution for fear the British would take away their slaves wanted to have non-Federal Armies (militias) in case the Federal government ever tried to take away their slaves. Those slavers used it to that effect to start their third slaver rebellion, the Civil War, and they used it, in the form of militias like the KKK, before and after that war to perpetuate violence against minorities.

    The second amendment is used today, without the well regulated part, to perpetuate violence against minorities (and women, who are technically a majority lumped in there) by the literal and spiritual descendents of those slavers.

    It needs to be struck the way the other shameful parts of our constitution were.

  13. 13
    Victor Matheson says:

    I just got back from a month teaching in Bangalore, India. One very common question I got upon my return was, “What about crime? Weren’t you worried about safety?”

    My answer was that in reality, for that month I had essentially no chance of being killed in an act of crime because there are no guns on the street, or even in the hands of cops. So, while my wallet was always in danger, as it is in any place with potential pickpockets, my life never was.

    I also spent a day in a juvenile prison with roughly 50 inmates. I was told that by visiting that prison I had actually met every incarcerated juvenile criminal in the entire state of Karnataka, population 60 million. I am not sure whether something was lost in translation there, but astounding.

  14. 14
    Another Scott says:

    @Searcher: If one looks at the state constitutions, including those from near the US Constitution times, It’s complicated. E.g. Volokh:

    Connecticut: Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. Art. I, § 15 (enacted 1818, art. I, § 17). The original 1818 text came from the Mississippi Constitution of 1817.

    Florida 1838: “That the free white men of this State shall have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.” Art. I, § 21.

    Michigan 1835: “Every person has a right to bear arms for the defence of himself and the State.” Art. I, § 13.

    North Carolina 1776: “That the people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State; and, as standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” Bill of Rights, § XVII.


    The 2nd Amendment is an anachronism and needs to be repealed or modified to make it clear that it’s a collective right subject to regulation.


  15. 15
    J R in WV says:

    @Mike in NC:

    We’re anchored off of a small fishing village called Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. Doing some laundry and ironing and other mundane activities before going ashore this afternoon.

    “Ironing…before going ashore this afternoon.” amazing. We have an ironing board, with stuff on it. Last time I used an iron it was to attach oak veneer to book shelves I made, looks pretty good if I do say so myself. Don’t iron clothes, much. On vacation? Just nope

    But you’re having a great vacation, so it’s all good. ;-)

  16. 16
    J R in WV says:

    @Another Scott:


    Florida 1838: “That the free white men of this State shall have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.” Art. I, § 21.

    Looks broken to me, after the US Constitution was repaired after the Civil War.

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