Podcasts I Listen to: Point of Inquiry

This should actually be- podcasts I sometimes listen to.   I downloaded a single episode a few months back with someone I wanted to hear and then somehow the most recent episode ended up on my I-Pod.  It happened to be with Steven Pinker, a guy whose books I have been meaning to read- one of them is sitting on my wife’s shelf right now- so I decided to listen.

I really enjoyed his thoughts on “outsourcing” of violence by citizens in a democratic nation to the government.  Without the need to commit violence on our own behalf, we don’t need to project a constant state of macho aggression.  Which results in a society with an overall lower level of violence.

He also speculates that mass communication has helped people to understand each other.  We can put faces to people around the world.  We see the results of violence and we empathize.

He also talks a bit about guns.  His feeling is that some degree of regulation may help curb some of the violence.  Which I agree with.  But that the biggest problem is psychological.  Which I… also agree with.  Gun rights advocates argue that other countries have similar rates of gun ownership without the problems that we have.  They’re right.  Those countries do exist.

Steven said outsourcing violence reduces our need to commit violence ourselves.  The problem is that people who own guns may not be so eager to outsource violence to the government.  Like this guy:

Standing on the patio at Starbucks, he tells a story. A while back, he was right in this spot when the alarm went off across the street at the Bank of America branch office. Amazingly, people ignored it. They kept walking up to the bank to use the ATM. They didn’t seem to register the alarm at all.

Farago reckoned that, if a gunman emerged from the bank, he’d take cover inside the Starbucks, putting a brick wall between himself and the shooter.

“If I have incoming fire, I’ve got a plan ready to go,” he says.

There was no gunman. Just a false alarm.

But that’s not the point. The point is that Farago was alert to the potential danger in the world. He was prepared to defend himself, if absolutely necessary, with his Glock. Even though, so far in his incarnation as a gun guy, he’s never had any reason.

It’s a Catch-22.  If we could convince everyone there’s not so great a need for guns, guns wouldn’t be a issue.  Faith in the government is going to be a hard thing to cultivate as well.  So as usual, I got some answers, and I got some more questions.


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