The Worship of Sports in America

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How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Friday, May 31, 2013

What American Parents Can Learn From The French...

In my last posting, I railed against the idiotic changes in the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V (DSM-5), the bible of the mental health field which list the various known clinical diagnosis for those suffering from mental health issues. Specifically, in the latest edition (to be published next month officially) the DSM now considers extreme temper tantrums in young children a clinical diagnosis now known as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMSS). Considering that young kids throwing tantrums because they cannot get their way has been a staple of parenting within the Western child-rearing experience since antiquity, I thought this to be a most extreme example of bovine excrement insomuch as how we label children without discipline or self-control “dysfunctional.” I argued that ascribing another “clinical” to childhood misbehavior only serves—in the long-run—to enable negative behavior in children, giving them as well as their parents yet another “out” when it comes to avoiding personal responsibility (see: "Temper Tantrums Are Now A Disorder'").
I'm going to just come out and say this: For the most part, American parents are both arrogant and lazy! They are arrogant in that many feel that they are incapable of learning anything from others insomuch as how to improve their parenting, and lazy in that when their half-assed parenting—ably assisted by an often overstepping legal system and overly-sensitive child advocacy types such as social workers—yields uncontrollable, irresponsible, and entitlement-minded teenage monsters, they blame some (obscure) “clinical,” equally half-assed diagnosis. Or they proclaim that their little brats are simply “not understood.” Given how much many American parents are indulgent of their offspring’ sense of entitlement—imparted upon them in many cases by these same parents—I totally understand!
Having been raised as a Generation Xer, having had a part in raising my own nieces and nephews, and having spent the better part of the last decade or so working with children, I think I know a little about raising children. While it's true that I'm not a parent myself, that actually gives me an objectivity that most parents lack in making such a broad declaration about American parents; any belief system predicated on love tends to cloud judgment and obscure clear, pragmatic-based decision-making in many things...especially in the realm of parenting.
With such being the case, it’s my turn to be as equally arrogant in telling American parents what they are doing wrong.
As hinted, we in America have to shed this idea of “American exceptionalism,” especially when it comes to parenting. American parents have to be willing to consider the possibility that other cultures might be ahead of the curve when it comes to parenting, and that we might actually be behind the curve. On my facebook page, someone sent me a link regarding an article from an issue of Psychology Today from last year, written by family therapist Dr. Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. In her piece, “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD,” Wedge cites the reasons for the vast differences in the numbers of diagnosed cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) between French and American children. In the briefest terms, the therapist reveals that

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. 

The article goes on to explain that while we Americans tend to look upon pathologies like ADHD as having “a biological disorder with biological causes,” the French “view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes.” And of course, this results in a difference in treatment. American child psychiatrists and other clinicians are quick to prescribe psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin as the remedy of choice, while their French counterparts treat “the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling.” The result is

to the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child's social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. 

In France as well as other countries, adults—particularly parents—do not turn every misbehavior into a clinical diagnosis. On the other hand, we here in America are gullible to the point where it’s been inculcated into our cultural natures to ascribe every questionable behavior in our children as some newfound alphabet-abbreviated “malady.” In many cases, American parents are too do not take into consideration that much of their kids behavior is simply the result of various social influences of those their children come into contact with, who in a lot of cases tend to be similarly (socially) dysfunctional. I’m not saying that there is no occurrence of ADHD in American children per se; I am putting forth the thesis that ADHD does not occur anywhere near as much, nor does a true case of ADHD have as much impact on a child’s behavior on American children’ behavior as many parents would like to think. The differences between the French and American perspectives on ADHD diagnoses and treatments is pretty much along the same line as the differences between the high rate of males labeled as “special education” in American schools, while in European schools, females are the majority of students labeled “special education.” Such disparities toward the way we approach children and child-rearing in this country points to the reality that we Americans simply do not look at the Big Picture, which includes consideration of another approach different from our traditional (and ineffective) ones. Simply put, parents in America cannot and do not think outside of the box. We have come to accept the strange, almost pathological and counterproductive ethos that all behavior can be remedied by idiotic “clinical” diagnoses, medicine, and/or the intervention of others (i.e., social service-related professionals) when it comes to managing our kids. The sad and simple reality is that most negative children behavior can be managed by proactive and responsible parenting, as well as regulating aspects of their physical environments—not after-the-fact “treatments,” when negative childhood behavior patterns are becoming set in stone.  Again, the French model of parenting provides how effective such an ideological shift attitudes toward parenting can be.
Last year, author and parent Pamela Druckerman struck a bad chord among many American parents (naturally, since most American parents don’t think they have anything to learn from others) when her book "Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting" hit the stands. In relating the observations of Druckerman’s book to her own experiences, author Judith Warner—who penned her own book “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety” on these differences—noted that Druckerman, I’ve often noted wistfully how French children know how to handle themselves in restaurants. I’ve envied how French children eat what’s put in front of them, put themselves to bed when instructed to, and, generally, tend to help keep the wheels of family life moving pretty smoothly. But the difference that struck me the most deeply, when my family moved to Washington, D.C., from Paris…how much emphasis French parents put on demanding they behave respectfully toward other people (See:  "Why American Kids Are Brats").

Such a difference is based on the general difference in expectations that French parents impart on their children during these crucial formative years. Basically, French parents have somehow managed to maintain the instinct for organic parenting, while American parents—at least the marginally responsible ones—tend to research methods of “better parenting” by spending money on parenting books and harking on the words of “experts”…both recognized and self-professed. For example, the French do not believe in changing the general family routine for the sake of a new baby. For them, the baby fits into the family. American parents seek to restructure reality to fit the arrival of a new baby. The difference is that because of this difference, French parents have more time for themselves. American parents on the other hand spend every minute indulging our children’ every want and need, which results in many feeling “overwhelmed” and thus unable to muster the fortitude and strength of will to discipline their children to the point of necessity. For the French, the happiness of the entire family matters, not just the children. For Americans, objective critics know from observation that all logic and reason tends to fly out the window when the welfare of an American child perceived not to be met. If an American baby is crying, whining, or throwing a tantrum because their “need” for instant gratification is not being met, we rush to their sides to find the cause; the French apply tough love to a fussing and/or crying baby, allowing them express their dissatisfaction in almost every case except of immediate needs (feeding, diaper changes, etc.). American children learn early on that if that act out, they can get what they want.  Of course, if a parent in America dared considered allowing a child’s temperament to rage unchecked, it would be considered an “abuse.” We here in the states want to meet every demand of our kids’ happiness. As a result, our kids develop a sense of entitlement rather than a sense of responsibility (or duty to family, as in the case of many Asian children). Now we have a nation of picky eaters (compared to French children, who like myself when I was younger, are taught to eat whats in front of them), obese brats, and guilt-ridden parents who overcompensate for "not spending enough quality time" with our children (which only spoils them even more).

And let’s not go into the lack of respect that American children have both each other and adults; those of us who have spent time working the public schools know and have experienced this firsthand. While American parents are quick to assume their children have been slighted by some perceived “disrespect” of an adult and/or authority figure, French parents start out parenting by emphasizing respect for and in front of adults (according to many observers of these differences, including Druckerman). French children are given very strict boundaries by parents who strictly enforce those boundaries, but are able to maintain a sense of freedom among their children. All-too often, anything goes in many American households. Many children are not given boundaries. And in the rare event that they are, they are enforced half-heartedly. And thanks again to an overstepping, overstepping “child welfare” apparatus in place here in America, many parents have been rendered impotent when it comes to being the voice of authority for their children. And children know this, and are able to take advantage of this enabling regime by dictating their own behaviors in the house that their parents (at least on paper) control. As an ex-case manager, I have heard from many American parents how they are forced to maintain semblance of control over their teenage children because of threats by their children to “call the authorities” on them if they even threaten to impose a level of discipline on them. And then we wonder why kids today have both the time and the mental/emotional wherewithal to make pipe bombs with the intent to blow up their schools (See:  "Prosecutor: Oregon Teen Planned Columbine-Style Attack at His School").
The late Bernie Mac discusses his approach toward child and teen discipline and instilling respect

American parents expect others to love and indulge their children they way that they themselves do, and this is not reality. The reality is that children are like farts; you don't mind your own, but those of others don't smell so good. American parents need to open their minds more and learn to consider thinking more like the French rather than themselves. Do what’s in your child’s interests, not what their desires demand…maybe then we wouldn’t have a nation of stressed-out social workers, teachers, juvenile court personnel, and—most of all—parents. As the old saying goes, "if you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting."

 See also: "ADHD, ODD, & Other Assorted Bull****!," "Adults...Children's Worst Enemy! Part 1," and "Adults...Children's Worst Enemy! Conclusion"

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Temper Tantrums Are Now A "Disorder" (...or, "Are You S***ting Me?")

Earlier this year, I posted a piece here regarding some aspects of mental health related to behavioral, mostly as it relates to how we tend to over-diagnose children and teens in America. Most of the observations I made were based on reason my personal experience in working with (in some cases, so-called) “at-risk” kids. Fast forward to earlier this week.
I’m watching the news the other day, and the subject were the upcoming changes in the mental health profession’s “bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-V). In addition to expanding the scope of some mental disorders like autism, the revision of the DSM has redefined other well-known emotional and behavioral “maladies.” One of revisions that was brought up on the news segment was recognition of “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder” (DMDD), better known as “extreme temper tantrums.”
As in the case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and many cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (see previous posting: “ADHD, ODD, & Other Assorted Bull****!”), this “recognition” is not without its critics, both within and outside the mental health profession (see: “Critic Calls American Psychiatric Assoc. Approval of DSM-V “A Sad Day for Psychiatry”). And even without professional criticism, such an asinine move on the part of mental health professionals only goes to further malign the profession as a whole by laypeople. By this, I mean that many aspects mental health as a field of medicine as well as psychology in general already have their detractors, who question whether private and/or public resources should be diverted to addressing mental health concerns of those in need of such services. The insanity of calling modifiable behavior a “disorder” can go a long ways toward forcing those on the fence into likewise questioning the legitimacy of someone who is mentally unwell. This could conceivably affect public funding for these services that others who are genuinely in need of them could benefit from.
More to the point, calling a child’s temper tantrum a “disorder” is yet another way of absolving lazy parents of their hand in their child’s behaviors. This new “diagnosis” would be given to children (as well as and adults) who are not able to control their emotions, and who “have” frequent temper outbursts during inappropriate situations. To say that recognizing this behavior as a “disorder” goes well beyond bovine excrements. Kids (as well as people) don’t “have” temper tantrums in the same way that people “have” a seizure, or a migraine headache. Tantrums are a willful action on the part of those who engage in exhibiting them. They are simply the result of the lack of emotional training…there is nothing “abnormal” or involuntary about them.
In the same vein, I’m of the mindset that there are individuals who do in fact suffer from very real symptoms of ADHA and other true mental disorders—some. But in other cases like ODD, and temper tantrums, such diagnoses are just another potential opportunity for abuse by irresponsible parents and educators looking for an easy fix for plain old bad behavior, which will no doubt come in the form of psychotropic medicines. And such a predictable outcome is almost expected. Given how badly parents have had their disciplinary hands tied and their traditional (read: Old School) disciplinary attitudes watered down by New Age “experts” and others, who’s distorted perceptions blind them to the difference between “abuse” and discipline, there are few disciplinary options between the “time-out” and police involvement. Simply put, the fact that one parent, a policeman, or some other individual can handle an emotional tantrum while the primary parent cannot seems to indicate that it was not beyond the child’s ability to control himself, but rather, he chose to be a brat with the parent but, not another individual.

If more parents were responsible, took more of a (literal) hands-on approach in not tolerating their child’s bad behaviors, and if the police and other authorities would learn to stop taking such liberal attitudes toward parent’s who opt to use Old School disciplining techniques in rearing their children, it’s more likely we will see a reduction in “disorder” diagnoses like DMDD, and have the resources to divert to those who truly have emotional and/or mental issues. Not every behavior a child exhibits is an example clinical “problem.” Many are just parents who lack organic insights into raising a child, and teaching him/her proper emotional control and appropriate behavior as well as the recognition of boundaries. Stop the madness people! Temper tantrums are not a “disorder,” but a need for a parent to remind a child of his/her place!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Boston Bombings, White Males, And Random Violence

WARNING: If you are sensitive to issues of race, then avoid reading this posting (because regular readers know I have no problem writing objectively about observations critical about any and every ethnic group, including my fellow African-American demographic).

Almost all of America knows or has heard about the rampant, bloody, mostly gun-based violence in my hometown of Chicago. As of this past Thursday, the city logged its 100 homicide of 2013—with only a third of the year having come to pass. And sadly, this type of violence is emblematic of many urban areas around the country. However, this type of everyday violence if often overshadowed in the news by acts of random violence of individuals we can only described as “deranged.”
Within the past 48 hours, a video-taped shootout that happened in a small Ohio town last month has been a part of the news. The video shows a middle-aged white male getting out of a car without warning, which had been stopped by police officers, and proceeded to unload a volley of gunfire from an assault rifle at the officers. The officers responded with returning fire, killing the man. On the video, the man could be heard yelling, “Kill me” (see video below).

Such events seem to reflect an undercurrent of disaffectedness among white males—those who primarily perpetrate such destructive actions their fellow citizens.
The events three weeks ago during the Boston Marathon—an outrageous tragedy to be sure—got me thinking about life in America as an African-American. More so, as an African-American who has spent much of the last 2 decades so working with both underprivileged youth and adults, I have both experienced and bore witness a level of social reality that on the surface would seem to generate anger and frustration that should have many more individuals setting off deadly bombs in effigy at “the system.” No, I’m not advocating killing or maiming as an instrument of protest. What the bombings at the Boston Marathon got me to wondering about is what makes otherwise privileged—or potentially so—white males so dissatisfied with American society that they would lash out in destructive ways, while far more troubled black Americans endure real trials with a comparatively better social grace?
In what seems of late to be a regular occurrence, we often read or hear about white males like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarmaev—the brothers alleged to have been responsible for the bombs at the Marathon—who feel disenchanted by their experience in America. In extreme cases, these disgruntled white males have proceeded to take out their perceptions of discontent on society (as it were) in destructive ways that usually end-up being invariably lethal to innocents.
                                    Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarmaev
James Holmes, the orange-hair-dyed perpetrator of the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting that resulted in some 12 deaths and 58 injuries, was a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado. In fact, before committing the mass shooting in a theater, he’d previously declined the university’s offer of acceptance into its PhD program—complete with a $21,600 grant from the National Institute for Health.
                                          James Holmes
into its PhD program—complete with a $21,600 grant from the National Institute for Health. Holmes had an opportunity to pursue an advanced and decent education of his own choosing that many black males rarely get. Dzhokhar Tsarmaev, the younger of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects attended the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin school, one of the region’s premiere competitive public schools, with a student body comprised of young people from over 70 nations and counts among its alumni the likes of actor Ben Affleck, NBA legend Patrick Ewing, and author E.E. Cummings. Tamerlan was an inconsistent student at a local community college. When so many black males are forced to attempt to learn even the basics in schools with limited funding located in high crime and poverty areas, learn in overcrowded classrooms with disruptive “special needs” students, all the while resisting the various social pressures that reduces learning to a secondary purpose of attending schools (while struggling to graduate), Holmes, the Tsarmaev brothers, and other white males’ educational prospects puts them in an enviable position in life more so than many of their black male contemporaries. The bottom line is that many white males—disgruntled or otherwise—have choices in their education that many black males do not. That translates into better life opportunities…the like which makes one wonder why some become ticking time bombs that inflict pain on others.
The disconnect between how black males endure life’s trials versus the perceptual pains of dangerously frustrated white males goes back past the recent mass shootings and bombings. Whatever problems these individuals have couldn’t possibly come close to say, experiencing the ineptitude of the government response to basic needs in the immediate aftermath of post-New Orleans Katrina, or to the indignity of being systematically denied equal accommodations (or respect) under the law of the old segregated South. When lynchings, unprovoked racial violence, and de facto/de jure denial of basic rights and human dignity were commonplace in America, there was plenty of vocal criticisms leveled against the federal and local governments, but there were no retaliatory bombings of government offices as a show of protest. There were no mass shootings of innocents, or armed individuals attending the public meetings between Congressmen and their constituents. During times when there was a true violation of Constitutional rights by state and local (and in some instances, the federal) governments, black male anger never boiled over into acts of wanton violence—even against the system that turned a blind eye. And as white males have never been subjected to such wholesale indignity on a level even close, it makes me wonder what levels of comparatively lesser frustrations could trigger the desire to inflict hurt on those who have nothing whatsoever to do with hindering an individual’s chances for success…especially when the cards are stacked in his favor by virtue of birth?

 Civil Rights-era voting rights protestor attacked by police and attack dogs

Black anger and frustration, even during the most trying of socio-political and economic times, has rarely elicited anything in the way violent rage-against-the-machine-type reactions that destructive-minded angry white males are willing to engage in (sadly, most of our destructive tendencies tend to be self-directed). The closest thing to explosive anger that can even be remotely compared as an example of brink-level frustrations that some angry white males exhibit was the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. And to put this into perspective, the Panthers were formed only after a couple centuries of oppression that included lynchings, disappearances, race-riots (which many African-Americans caught the business-end of), government inaction (or collusion in the car of local police departments) with regards to violence perpetrated against blacks.
What is it about disgruntled white males that find them seemingly unable to cope with something as common as—for instance—a job loss in manners which doesn’t cause American society to rewrite the rules of workplace safety? A generation ago, the phrase “violence in the workplace” was unheard of. But today, how often have we seen instances of violence in the workplace perpetuated primarily by disgruntled white males? African-Americans have our share of socioeconomic problems, but being unable to handle something like being dismissed from employment, unjustly or otherwise, is not one of them. We weathered the disproportionate levels of higher unemployment among our ethnic demographic during the Carter and Reagan years, as well as during the recent economic crisis and the resulting economic downturn.
Even among many white males who do not resort to mass shootings, bombings, or poison-spiked mail deliveries, their alarmist mindsets tend to reflect either frustrations and/or paranoid preoccupation with their well-being simply doesn’t gel with reality the way the average African-American see it. And realistically-speaking, these white males have never really had any real cause to be vigilant (or hostile) towards any particular state or the federal government as a “tyrannical” force looking to “suppress” their civil liberties or “rights.” Coming from the perspectives of those who have had to endure arrests, physical violence, and fear of death just to sit on the front of a public bus, the concern for these white males have for their dignity and their “rights” to be potentially “violated” by any government seems unreal to African-Americans. In fact, compared to the African-American historical experience, their knee-jerk penchant for challenging innocuous laws as being a “violation” of their “rights” is akin to someone looking for an enemy to fear…one that simply isn’t there.
                                  Tea Party protestors marching during the first Obama Administration

Our mistake is in assuming that such deranged individuals are “crazy.” I believe this to be hardly true. Those particular white males who harbor feelings of disaffectedness, and who engage in mass shootings and other such destructive demonstrations of their extreme angst tend to pick and choose targets who have little or no chance of fighting back. They chose locales where their potential victims are caught completely unawares, and who are not capable of preventing this cowards from potentially interfering with their plans to inflict maximum pain. And that is what these individuals are…cowards! If they were truly unhinged from reality, they would chose targets that would truly reflect their seemingly “I-don’t-care” attitude with their lives, and life in general. Why not walk into a police station, a gun show, or even a public housing project and attempt to randomly inflict pain? Because they fear the same pain they seek to inflict would be visited upon them. Shooting a classroom of early grade elementary students; a house of worship; bombing an annual sporting event…all in the name of expressing dissatisfaction? Not “insanity,” not “protest,” and not “justice.” Its cowardice.

                        Sandy Hook Elementary shooter Adam Lanza

Granted, African-Americans has a myriad of socioeconomic woes (and yes, tend to inflict these problem on ourselves), but there is a lesson that these dangerously disgruntled white males can learn from us. If any should feel encouraged to express their frustrations and personal failings by bombing, shooting, and/or poisoning others, look at how black people have handled real oppression, real problems, and real suppression by “the system,” not embrace the paranoid imaginings of one’s emotional distress.
Additionally, our lawmakers may be entitled-minded, self-interest-driven, ideological, money-motivated, egotistical elitists, but their own individual love of liberty makes it hard to believe that any of them would concertedly work to suppress our rights, so white males really need to come off that conspiracy-level thinking. Yes, its fine to be vigilant, by not to the point of paranoia. And definitely not to the point where one feels guns are the only way our government is willing to listen to us.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where Is The Reason In Gun Regulations?

Back during the presidential elections of 2008, President Obama remarked that some people in some parts of the country—instead of embracing change—tended to cling to the things which they were familiar with…their guns and their Bibles. At the time, he faced a great deal of flack for this remark, reflecting that he was “out of touch” with a certain segment of our society. As I’ve often said, if you give your ideological opponent enough time, they will eventually prove your point for you. And I’ll be damned if Obama hasn’t been proven right.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate voted down a bipartisan bill to expand firearms background checks to include weapons purchased at gun shows (where currently, no background check is required). The laudable legislative attempt was the first such federal attempt to initiate changes in gun ownership laws in the last generation, and came in the wake of December’s Sandy Hook shooting. The effort was cobbled together in an attempt to restrict the possibility that guns may errantly end up in the hands of criminal and would-be mass shooters.
As per routine, many lawmakers felt obligated to vote along ideological lines rather using reality and the need to at least create a starting point to address the free-for-all gunplay that seems to have been running rampant in the news of late. And as those conservative lawmakers who voted not to enact the attempt to curtail the proliferation of guns attempted to justify their vote with the usual talking points, their assertions were met with derision from the fellow moderate and liberal lawmakers who supported the bill. As the bill was voted down, vocal condemnations of “shame on you” could be heard from the Senate gallery by observers, who’s outburst reflected the polls showing that a majority of Americans (with numbers varying state-to-state) supported expanding the background checks for guns were promptly escorted out of the Senate chambers for the disruption. In addition, more than 20 major newspaper editorials—including the Washington Post and the New York Times—reflected a similar level of disgust with the vote. The Dallas Morning News opinioned that

the coward defied the will of most Americans and helped the hardliners and hypocrites prevail. They allowed the NRA (National Rifle Association) members who threatened retribution against anyone who voted in favor of the bill.

In essence, nearly all Republicans and four Democrats were too wimpy to pass the bill, rejecting what was a rather watered-down anti-gun proliferation legislation in order to get the votes necessary to pass it in the House of Representatives. This reality indicates that on the issue of regulating the proliferation of guns, there is simply no compromising on the part of some within Congress (and in the legislatures of many state governments). And predictably, most of those voting against the measure have attempted to pass off their actions as “voting my conscious.” However, the reality is that these rejecters of the bill represented a very vocal, passionate, and organized minority of rabid gun-owners—spearheaded by an effective, single-issue interests group and passing their lot off as representing the interests of the public at-large. And although the same could be said for potentially any interest group and their supporters, only opponents of regulating gun proliferation have developed an ethos that distorts the general understanding of law related to their single-minded cause issue. How so?
This distortion and rabid protection of gun privileges is an evolution—or devolution—of conservative ideology over the last generation or so. The traditional conservative voices of moderation and reason on the issue have become the fringe element within the Republican party, while extreme right-of-Reagan reactionaries have successfully polluted both the GOP as well as the body politic with their uncompromising distorted thinking in regards to the Second Amendment. Consider a 1991 editorial by noted conservative columnist George Will...

WASHINGTON —  Two staggering facts about today's America are the carnage that is a consequence of virtually uncontrolled private ownership of guns, and Americans' toleration of that carnage.
Class, not racial, bias explains toleration of scandals such as this: More teen-age males die from gun-fire than from all natural causes combined, and a black male teen-ager is 11 times more likely than a white counterpart to be killed
If sons of the confident, assertive, articulate middle class, regardless of race, were dying in such epidemic numbers, gun control would be considered a national imperative.
But another reason Americans live with a gun policy that is demonstrably disastrous is that the subject was constitutionalized 200 years ago this year in the Second Amendment: ''A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'' Many gun control advocates argue that the unique 13-word preamble stipulates the amendment's purpose in a way that severely narrows constitutional protection of gun ownership.
They say the amendment obviously provides no protection of individuals' gun ownership for private purposes. They say it only provides an anachronistic protection of states' rights to maintain militias.
However, Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas Law School says that is far from obvious. In a Yale Law Journal article, ''The Embarrassing Second Amendment,'' he makes an argument dismaying to those, like me, who favor both strict gun control and strict construction of the Constitution.
He begins with some historical philology showing that the 18th century meaning of ''militia'' makes even the amendment's preamble problematic.
He notes that if the Founders wanted only to protect states' rights to maintain militias, they could have said simply, ''Congress shall have no power to prohibit state militias.'' George Mason, a sophisticated Virginian who faulted the Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights, said, ''Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people.''
The Second Amendment is second only to the First Amendment's protections of free speech, religion and assembly because, Mr. Levinson argues, the Second Amendment is VTC integral to America's anti-statist theory of republican government.
That theory says that free individuals must be independent from coercion, and such independence depends in part on freedom from the menace of standing armies and government monopoly on the means of force.
In the most important Supreme Court case concerning Congress' right to regulate private gun ownership, the court, upholding the conviction of a man who failed to register his sawed-off shotgun, stressed the irrelevance of that weapon to a well-regulated militia. Gun control advocates argue that this lends no support to a constitutional right to ownership for private purposes.
But Mr. Levinson notes that the court's ruling, far from weakening the Second Amendment as a control on Congress, can be read as supporting extreme anti-gun control arguments defending the right to own weapons, such as assault rifles, that are relevant to modern warfare.
The foremost Founder, Madison, stressed (in Federalist Paper 46) ''the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.''
So central was the Second Amendment to the understanding of America's political order, Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision said: Proof that blacks could not be citizens is the fact that surely the Founders did not imagine them having the right to possess arms.
The subject of gun control reveals a role reversal between liberals and conservatives that makes both sides seem tendentious.
Liberals, who usually argue that constitutional rights (of criminal defendants, for example) must be respected regardless of inconvenient social consequences, say the Second Amendment right is too costly. Conservatives, who frequently favor applying cost-benefit analyses to constitutional construction (of defendants rights, for example), advocate an absolutist construction of the Second Amendment.
The Bill of Rights should be modified only with extreme reluctance, but America has an extreme crisis of gunfire. And impatience to deal with it can cause less than scrupulous readings of the Constitution.
Whatever right the Second Amendment protects is not as important as it was 200 years ago, when the requirements of self-defense and food-gathering made gun ownership almost universal. But whatever the right is, there it is.
The National Rifle Association is perhaps correct and certainly is plausible in its ''strong'' reading of the Second Amendment protection of private gun ownership.
Gun control advocates who want to square their policy preferences with the Constitution should squarely face the need to deconstitutionalize the subject by repealing the embarrassing amendment (Source: "How Embarrassing: The Constitution Protects the Guns that Kill").

What Will’s essay indicates is that modern conservatism has taken reason hostage, and replaced it with blind dedication to ideology…sans the flexibility of years past. Ronald Reagan, the president whom today’s conservatives love to invoke as being representative of the embodiment of political conservatism had no problem being flexible on the issue of regulating guns. As governor of California, Reagan signed one of the strictest anti-gun laws in the nation, the Mumford Act. The law was a response to the Black Panther Party exercising the Constitutional right to bear arms in its goal to protect themselves from openly hostile police forces that were known to be brutal against blacks and other minorities of the time.

What Will’s essay also implies is that, despite man rabid gun owners’ propensity to invoke the Second Amendment in defense of their rights, the Constitutional has inherent characteristics of flexibility with the need to adapt to changing times and needs. It is not a document from God. It was made to be changed, corrected, and amended-based. Hell, the word “regulate” is in the Second Amendment. NO RIGHT is absolute! You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater (Speech), you can’t print baseless and libelous material (press), and you can’t use government to promote a specific religious faith (religion). By this logic, one cannot expect to have open access to any and every weapon they want in a civilized, law-based society.
There are NO unrestricted laws. Gun laws are no different. Congress regulated “Tommy” machine guns and “sawed-off shotguns” during the gang wars of the 1930s and the growing tide of gun-related crime during that tumultuous period of time. So gun owners, get a grip on reality! And leave the notion that the Second Amendment cannot be adapted (notice I didn't say "eradicated") to suit the needs of a modern violent America in the land of make-believe!

Satirist John Stewart's recent roasting of the Senate vote to reject expanded background checks

See also: "Gun Control...No! Responsible Gun Control...Yes?" and "Too Many Rights Make Wrongs."