Sunday, June 21, 2015

Australian comedian Jim Jefferies on America's crazy gun culture


This week a white 21-year-old man murdered nine Bible study attendees at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It sadly will not be the last case of multiple murders in America where a mentally sick individual can so easily get access to guns.

Last year Australian comedian Jim Jefferies dissected the US gun culture for an audience in Boston (see above).

"In Australia, we had the biggest massacre on Earth," he says, referring to the 1996 Point Arthur shooting in which a 28-year-old Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and wounded 23. "The Australian government went, 'That's it, no more guns!' And we all went, 'Yeah, all right, that seems fair enough really.' Now in America you had the Sandy Hook massacre where little tiny children died, and your government went, 'Maybe we'll get rid of the big guns?' And 50 percent of you went, 'Fuck you! Don't take my guns!'"   

The Washington Post reports on a new study by the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group, which shows that when guns kill people, they are overwhelmingly used for murder rather than self-defence.

In 2008-2012, guns were used in 42,419 criminal homicides and only 1,108 justifiable homicides (defined as the killing of a felon during the commission of a felony by a private citizen), according to the report — a ratio of 38 to 1.

Finfacts Blog 2012: Annual Gun Deaths: Japan 2; US 32,300

On Thursday, Jon Stewart, the presenter of the "Daily Show," the comedy news program, began with a monologue on the massacre in Charleston. His guest on Thursday was Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Here’s a transcript of the monologue at the top of his show, which addressed race, terrorism and gun violence:

I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist. And I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah. That’s us.

And that’s the part that blows my mind. I don’t want to get into the political argument of the guns and things. But what blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us, and us killing ourselves.

If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into our — we invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe. We got to do whatever we can. We’ll torture people. We gotta do whatever we can to keep Americans safe.

Nine people shot in a church. What about that? “Hey, what are you gonna do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?” That’s the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around, and you know it. You know that it’s going to go down the same path. “This is a terrible tragedy.” They’re already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this. This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church in South Carolina, which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for 100 and some years and has been attacked viciously many times, as many black churches have.

I heard someone on the news say “Tragedy has visited this church.” This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. You know, so the idea that — you know, I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here.

And we’re going to keep pretending like, “I don’t get it. What happened? This one guy lost his mind.” But we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it, and I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it. In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. That’s — that’shit you can’t allow that, you know.

Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals, and the white guy’s the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing. Al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they’re not s— compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.

So our guest tonight is an incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists, and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration. And to be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world I would rather talk to tonight than Malala. So that’s what we’re going to do. And sorry about no jokes."