American Gun Eroticism

Frequent contributor to this blog, Microdot, stated yesterday:

 Perhaps Europeans have the onus of living in their own history that is far removed from the romanticized version of American gun eroticism. It’s very painful trying to formulate and organize intelligent logical ideas about America and violence.

I suppose the question that arises from this statement is: How and why did America move so far away from their European brethren on gun issues?

Here’s my 2¢. Europe suffered two ugly and devastating World Wars on their own soil, in their own backyards. Our involvement was ‘over there.’ Sure, we suffered a Civil War, but that was not on the grand scale of the European theater. Additionally, ours was romanticized and distant.  Theirs was ugly and recent, relatively speaking. My German relatives would not speak of WWII when I visited with them on several occasions. The killing, the blood, the bombed-out houses and buildings and the hunger are still etched in their memories. Only our returning vets experienced this and, upon returning, many chose not to share them with family. And it was not their own villages that lay in ruin afterward.

Another factor which may add to the discussion is our American pioneering history. The gun not only ‘won the west’ but the old Northwest as well [Ohio westward]. Native Americans understand this well.  Early TV shows glamorized the gun with endless Westerns showing the good guys blasting the bad guys. Today, evening TV drama shows invariably include guns and murder as entertainment. Then there are the movies and the video games. The gun reigns supreme in 21st Century American entertainment. Then again, the NRA promotes and guards gun ownership in America whereas, in the EU, stringent gun control laws prohibit this type of lobbying.

Let me posit one further differentiation between the culture of America v. that of Europe. As many right-wing pundits have charged, Europe is a ‘socialist’ configuration. The United States is not [despite the delusion of the far-right]. How does ‘socialism’  play into this discussion? Does the European ‘safety net’ reduce the number of seriously disturbed and angry males in their culture? Here right-wingers bitch about taxes, yet in many countries ‘over there’ the tax rate is above 30% for most working people in addition to VAT rates. And what benefit does the citizen gain from these taxes? Universal health care for one. And a social safety net for another. Add an inexpensive and two-tiered educational program for a third benefit. Few children in the EU ‘fall through the cracks.’ Europeans take care of their own, especially their children. How comforting it must be to know that the youth of Europe understand that society has their backs.

These are three factors that I see that clearly divide the citizens of Europe from U.S. citizens. As America looks for answers after the murders at Sandy Hook, might we look to our European ancestors for help?




8 thoughts on “American Gun Eroticism

  1. What’s a “VAT”?

    You’ve made two VERY important points that have been brought up here in the U.S., then quickly ignored and/or refuted.

    1. Seems politicians who have actually been in nasty combat locations are dead set against the U.S. getting into more. I suppose it might be compared to the angry driver who cleans up their act after witnessing a bad accident.

    2. Over and over again I see firsthand people going without the medical* treatment that should be readily available to everyone in the United States. It’s hard for me to talk about, but I’ve known some people who have actually DIED because they didn’t have a decent health plan; Or any health coverage** at all.

    * When I say “medical”, I’m implying all the medical sciences.
    ** It is blatantly untrue that hospitals are required to treat anybody who shows up.

    1. VAT is value added tax or tax already included in the price of an item. They hover around 20%

      The universal health coverage is an enormous advantage to members of the EU.

  2. VAT is what we pay in Europe as a type of tax…value added tax on goods and services. We all complain about the VAT…I just replaced the metal pipes in my chimney from my wood stove…I wanted to get black enameled pipes for the esthetic interior effect in the fire place, but I had to purchase them myself…so I payed a few Euros more of VAT than what I would have payed if I had taken the stainless steel stuff from a contractor. It more than balanced out, because I got a pretty good rebate for upgrading my energy efficient wood system from the French Government through my Fuel Oil company…
    N.O.W., I have real empathy for the plight of Americans dealing with the cost of decent health care. I had a visit from my Orange County Born and Bred Brother in Law who bragged about how his health care was only 1200 bucks a month…and for what?
    Here’s my reality….I pay my VAT taxes and pretty low property taxes here in France. I also pay about 30 Euros a month for a supplementary Health Insurance in an organization called a Mutual. The Mutual is not obligatory, but it has many benefits for someone like me on a relatively fixed low income. What do I get? I pay 23 Euros for a Doctors visit out of pocket in cash. Since I am a French resident and citizen, I get most of that back into my bak account…so I pay about 3 Euros for a doctors vist…same with my dentist. I have to purchase medication for a life long asthma condition…if I lived in the USA, the cost would be at least 2000 bucks a year…here, my out of pocket cost is under 200 Euros a year and because of my Mutual membership, that is totally reimbursed. If I go to hospital, my 30 Euro a month Mutual Membership will upgrade me to a private room and probably make sure I get free news papers…but with out it, I could not be denied the treatment I needed. Because I am over 60, I get a free total checkup and evaluation every 2 years. This is all about prevention. The icing on the cake for me was that my doctor, who I really like, just wrote me a “prescription” for a membership in a health club in St. Yriex-la-Perche. I get to use the very nice indoor pools and gym free. That;s a big deal for me, it’s getting a little hard to do weight training in my unheated barn in the winter and I’d rather swim in a pool a few times a week than ride my bike in the winter…though I will still bike, I promise!
    This is the socialist hell I live in!
    Why am I on this blog? You might well ask. I might be a French citizen, but I am also an American citizen… I vote in every French election and American election,,,that is my duty! I was born in Detroit and lived for 10 very bizarre traumatizing years in Toledo. I have been politically active since I was 15 years old. I said in a previous post that I had been shot at and stabbed and beaten up a few times…most of the violence I have experienced is the result of my passionate involvement with political and social action, I have spent a few weeks in jails…as I said before, this has only succeeded in making understand the nature of fear and that though I have a healthy respect of danger, I really have no fear once I make up my mind…but it has taught me empathy. I really like people and want to know what makes them tick. If ever you saw the total group of humans I love and consider my buddies together in one place, you might want to call the riot squad. Dutch bikers, old soccer players from Albi, perfume makers from Paris, Chateau owners from Bordeaux…farmers from the Dordogne…conservative, progressives, as long as they laugh at my jokes and have a few drinks together….we can all find common ground at least for a few hours…that’s my goal in life.

  3. Sorry I took up so much space here….I see that while I was writing my lengthy reply, Mudrake concisely answered the questions. I really do not think Americans understand the meaning of Socialism. I interpret it as belonging to a society. We all are part of this society, and we participate in the betterment of it, we contribute to the overall health of the society by providing for the least fortunate and our own well being. By up lifting the least, we en noble ourselves. We create a better environment for everyone.
    We are not alone…the American Libertarian mindset is infantile and pre adolescent. What you do to yourself affects the whole of the society you live in. I live in a country that is much more democratic in a working sense than the USA. My taxes directly affect the quality of my life and I have much more of an effective voice in deciding how that is defined.

    1. I think Americans have a problem with definitions. Mr. Mud made mention of learning from history. Most Americans have almost no knowledge of history or they would better understand why governments were originally formed. They would also be very afraid if said government ceased to exist.

      And the word “socialism” scares the hell out of most Americans because they don’t really know what it means. My new favorite quote comes from a lady attending a local Tea Party event last summer. She said “We have to get rid of that socialist Obamacare, but they better not touch my Medicare!” And the quote that kind of upsets my stomach comes from a former poster that goes by Tenth Generation Patriot. He wrote about how the “rich” man shouldn’t pay taxes for things like roads because the “rich” man provides for the rest of us. I can remember my older relatives talking about how things were prior to FDR. I refuse to tour those “Grand Old Homes”, because to me they represent the worst of human behavior.

      When Michigan passed the “Right to Work” legislation. I had mixed feelings at first because of my prior dealings with unions from the management side. It took about 10 hours before I figured out how dangerous that law is. Seriously, anybody younger than 55 will have no memory of how things used to be. I remember my sister getting paid $6,000 per year for her first fulltime teaching job. I remember the 45 hour workweek. I never had health coverage as a kid, but my dad’s unionized employees did. Remember how poor all the teachers were in our youth? Not a lot of incentive to get into the education field. Now my sister is retired and making over $50,000 per year plus full benefits because of the teachers’ union. But God forbid if anybody else wants those perks. She and I stopped talking during the election after I started to point out the flaws of the Romney/Ryan team.

      I chuckle sometimes when I think about why I enjoy reading this blog. First off, I love reading something that makes me think. But secondly, it kind of floats my boat to know that sometimes I’m not the only person thinking something.

      Maybe we could get together and write a blog post about definitions. We could have two definitions for every political form of government; the false but generally thought of definition and the actual true definition. I usually have trouble discussing things with the posse because they have a screwball way of defining certain terms. You mentioned the variety of friends you had; I think there could be a lot more cooperation between people if we all talked using correct terms.

  4. Thanks for a great post about the “gun culture” in the US. As usual I think you’ve described a complicated business accurately and concisely.

    When reading your comments, I think for the first time, i realized how much impact the early TV depictions of gun use influenced the country. I’m 60 next birthday so I grew up with some of the great ones, Bonanza, Rawhide, The Rifleman, and so one. I think these shows and many others had a major impact on my generation as well as the subsequent ones.

    However, the “gun culture” wasn’t the problem it is today until quite recently. That, I attribute to the ever-increasing gun availability. If it weren’t for that, I suppose we’d have a knife culture like some folks say they do in England.

  5. Interesting note about VAT:

    Last night while going to sleep the idea of a “Value Added Tax” came into my mind (see what you started). Then I remembered dealing with it a few decades ago after getting out of college. The United States has had a similar tax on and off for at least 50 years. While the U.S. does not have a national sales tax, states do and in Ohio there is an additional 2% available to each county. With all the politicians mucking up the tax codes, it’s hit or miss now.

    The current tax codes are so complicated that not one accountant can deal with them all. Even back in the early 80’s I had to rely on outside tax experts when figuring out the tax consequences for certain mortgage investments.

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