A Nation of Perverts

pervert\transitive verb: to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right: corrupt.

pervert\noun: one that has been perverted.

So, it must be true; we have turned away from what is morally right as a nation, and we refuse to change our ways.

It wasn’t always for affectation. For many years it was a necessity. A gun was a tool for procuring food. A gun provided protection in a hostile environment. It was true two hundred years ago. It was still quite true a hundred years ago, particularly in rural areas. Fifty years ago, it was not so much true anymore, not even in rural areas. Today it’s hardly true anywhere. For the vast majority of Americans, there is no physical necessity met through gun ownership. But there is a psychological need, and it’s met with increasing fervor. It seems the further we progress from the actual need to own a gun, the greater is our emotional need to possess one. We adore them. We demand them. We can’t get enough of them.  We collect and display them. It’s the look: we want the guns and ourselves to appear ever more formidable (“it looked cool,” said Rittenhouse). It’s the power: we want our guns to be ever more potent, ever more capable of ending a lot of lives in a little amount of time. The urge is moronic; there’s nothing much left in our civilized world to shoot at anymore, other than each other. And so, we do; we shoot and kill each other ever more efficiently and ever more needlessly.

We do it because we’re perverts. We’re a nation of perverts.

If it’s still the latest, it won’t be for long. Perhaps it already isn’t. Before the murders at Oxford High School, there had already been at least 28 school shootings across the country this year – more than two a month. School shootings are always the most heart wrenching, but they comprise just a small part of the 225 mass-killings over the same time period of 2021. Every other day or so, another multiple shooting is reported.

We allow it because we’ve been seduced … and we seem to be okay with that.

Our nation condemns the Crumbley family. The Oxford High School murders were so flagrantly perverse. How could they, how could any parent with any sense, with any accountability, purchase a Sig Sauer hand gun for a troubled adolescent boy? Who could be so brainless? The sheer audacity makes it easy for us; the Crumbley’s are low-hanging fruit to point at. It’s them, not us. But we made them; we enabled the Crumbley’s; we’re a nation of Crumbley’s.

It’s not just them, the stupid people. It’s us, the self-ascribed sensible people who set it all up and watch it happen. We are the ones complicit with the NRA, the politicians, and the arms merchants; we allow and encourage the abuse they heap upon us. We pay them to hurt us.  It’s self-abuse. We’re a nation of self-abusing perverts. We, the sensible people, consciously abet an industry willing to sacrifice our children for their profit. When the sacrifice plays out, we wallow in shocked horror and incomprehension. We’re shocked every time, as if it has come fresh out of the blue. And then, quite predictably, we reload our sensible emotions and move on.

The NRA and the gun merchants seduce and pervert us for profit. In 1871, the NRA was founded as an organization teaching marksmanship and gun safety. For many years it was a grassroots hunting club, funded solely through individual membership dues. Not anymore; today, the NRA is minion to a supportive master. Recreational hunting is increasingly less popular, and NRA dues-paying membership is in decline. The arms industry has stepped forward, taking up the slack. More than half of the club’s revenues now come through company donations and other corporate deals. With their funding come expectations. Compliantly, the NRA has become agent to the arms industry, an industry with ambitions beyond the dwindling sales to traditional sportsmen. Hence, the proliferation: guns for freedom; guns for patriotism; guns for God; guns for adornment; guns to save people; guns to kill people.

The weapons and their ads aren’t aimed at sportsmen; there aren’t enough recreational hunters to generate the desired profit margin. The ads seek a wider market; they’re meant to stimulate fantasies of buyers beyond the deer-hunting crowd. The profit-generating ads are for guns designed to kill something other than four-legged animals. The ads glamorize weapons made to kill two-legged animals; they’re designed to kill human beings. The ads glamorize the power to be had in owning that kind of weapon. The ads work. When we contemplate buying a gun, we fantasize using it for its intended purpose. We purchase such a weapon because the ad and the fantasy of killing a human being has made us feel powerfully good. We’ve been seduced.  32% of us own guns, but only 4% of us use them for hunting. Ninety-two million Americans own guns, but don’t hunt. That’s a lot of gun fantasizing going on that doesn’t involve the shooting of birds or a four-legged animal. For many, the fantasy might envision a “good” person killing a “bad” person. For some it might be another fantasy. Whatever the fantasy, it always imagines the killing of a human being as a feel-good, cathartic event. Every day or so, one of those fantasies erupts, and another cathartic event takes place.

It’s become normalized. We accept it, perhaps uneasily, but we accept it just the same. Recently Rep. Thomas Massie posted a Christmas card for all to see on Twitter. He posed, with children and wife, in front of their holiday tree, all holding lethal weapons. Nearly all the weapons were assault rifles, designed for killing human beings. The card’s message read, “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.” The photo caused a national stir for a few days, primarily for its insensitivity in regards to the recent Oxford High School murders. Little has been said of its perversity; Massie has placed an instrument designed to kill human beings in each of his children’s hands and a seed within their heads. He joyfully celebrates the manipulation as if it were wholesome. We see it as insensitive rather than perverse. We might not approve, but we accept it; it’s just some snarky gun fun meant to tease liberals. The stunt will likely help rather than hinder his re-election bid.

What if it were something else? What if instead of a gun shop, Massie had visited a sex shop? What if he posed himself, his wife, and his children under the family Christmas tree, each smiling joyfully, while holding a dildo?  What if his Twitter card message was, “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring Vaseline.”?> Would we think him just a bit insensitive, or would we see him as grossly perverse? Would we be concerned with his mindset? Would we be aghast with what he was obviously doing, or had already done to his children? Would we re-elect him? I think the answers are known.

With a sex toy, we’d be abhorred; we’d see his derangement and the abuse done to the minds of his children. We’d react; he’d not be re-elected; even gun-enthusiasts would turn on him – even if each family member held a dildo and a gun. But when it’s just a gun, not so much; we see the posing as distasteful, but let it slide. Each family member holds an instrument of war made perfect for mass-murder. The image bothers us for a while, but its implications have become normalized. We end up accepting it because we’ve been perverted.

We’ve formed a circular firing squad, or more aptly, a circle jerk party. Our NRA and the arms industry, our politicians, and our gun owners form a triad of mutually abetted empowerment. The arms industry peddles (see ads again) expensive military style weapons to the general public. Gun sale profits are funneled to the political campaigns of willing sponsors. Political sponsors verbosely validate the industry inspired fantasies of the gun-buying public. The gun-buying public provides votes for the political sponsors and profit for the NRA/arms industry. So, around it goes, each one of the trio first perverting, then validating the perversions of the other two. Every couple of days, another mass-killing takes place. Every week or so, another school-shooting occurs. It’s all quite normal.

Congressional legislators are perverted with money from the NRA/arms industry, pressure from the gun lobby, and votes from the gun-buying public. Legislators protect the industry from oversight and grant it immunity from victim lawsuits. Manufacturers knowingly sell military-style weaponry to civilians that are repeatedly used in mass-murders, yet bear no liability for the abuse. You (or anyone) could step unto a hotel balcony with an AR-15, shoot and maim dozens of people, and its manufacturer would be immune from lawsuit as long as the weapon efficiently met advertised expectations (the power to end a lot of lives in a short amount of time). Perversely, if the gun somehow misfired and injured one of your eyes while firing upon the crowd, you could conceivably sue the company for damages. We, through our legislators, have given our gun merchants carte blanche license to advertise and sell instruments specifically designed to efficiently kill human beings, knowing that some will be used to that purpose. Further, we, through our legislators, resist any legislation which might lessen either the sale or the lethality of the instruments.

Shortly after the Oxford High School murders, a committee chaired by Sen. Rosemary Bayer introduced bills in the Michigan Legislature that would lessen the lethality of assault weapons, but not impact their sale – nor would the bills introduce any form of liability upon weapon manufacturers. The bills would prohibit selling or possessing a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, beginning on Jauary1, 2023.

Wow, imagine that! If you’re a shooter, you’d be restricted to 10-round bursts of gun-fire rather than the 15 that Ethan Crumbley enjoyed. If you hoped to target 30 people, you’d be inconvenienced into carrying three clips rather than two. The proposed legislation illuminates the depth of our perversion. We’re amendable to accepting mass murder in 10-burst increments, but no more than that. We’re willing to allow 10 quick deaths, but not 15; that would be too much. Actually, it’s not even that; we’d just require that the murderer perform more clip-changes to fulfill his fantasy. It’s the type of legislation the arms industry would decry publicly, but profit by privately (they’d sell more magazine clips).

Seduction is a term usually relegated to sexual matters. One party manipulates a second party into activity that gratifies the first party. It doesn’t always mean the second party receives no gratification, but it does mean it was manipulated into gratifying the first party’s desire, often through pretentious means. Our nation of gun owners has been seduced by the arms industry. We “give it up” and buy into their hype. We believe it, and make it feel real. With a gun, an expensive and lethal gun, we feel strong, safe, dangerous, and powerful. It’s a heady feeling. The feeling is so good that we’re willing to allow daily mass killings for it; we’re more willing to watch weekly school massacres than risk losing that feeling. We sacrifice our children to feel strong and powerful. We’ve been seduced. We’re a nation of perverts.

It’s us. We’re all in this together and there’s no one else. It’s us, and we’ve really made a mess of things. It’s us, and there’s no one else; we’re in need of a self-induced intervention.

Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring strength and valor.

Vern Loomis lives in the Detroit area and occasionally likes to comment on news and events that interest him in whatever capacity available. Besides Dissident Voice, his other musings can be found at Transcend Media Service, ZNetwork, CounterPunch, The Humanist, and The Apathetic Agnostic. Read other articles by Vern.