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Parry writes: "The 20 school kids slaughtered in their classrooms in Connecticut ... are a sacrifice that some Americans feel is 'worth it' for their personal dreams of waging some violent revolution sometime in the future."

Parry writes:
Parry writes: "The 20 school kids slaughtered in their classrooms in Connecticut ... are a sacrifice that some Americans feel is 'worth it' for their personal dreams of waging some violent revolution sometime in the future." (photo: unknown)

The Price of Revolutionary Illusions

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

27 December 12


he 20 school kids slaughtered in their classrooms in Connecticut - and many other children who die of gun violence every day - are a sacrifice that some Americans feel is "worth it" for their personal dreams of waging some violent revolution sometime in the future, whether from the Right or the Left.

Some of these revolutionary dreamers may have watched movies like "Red Dawn" too many times and are obsessed with absurd plots about North Korea, Cuba or maybe the United Nations invading and conquering the United States. Others look forward to the collapse of the world economy, followed by some armed uprising of the dispossessed.

So, to stay armed in anticipation of such eventualities, elements of the Right and the Left are saying, in effect, that the ongoing butchery of American children and thousands of other innocents each year is just part of the price for "liberty" or "justice" or whatever.

Thus, whenever anyone suggests that perhaps some commonsense gun control might at least begin ratcheting down the numbers of victims, there is an angry reaction from believers in this romanticized idea of armed revolution. You're accused of wanting to disarm the American people and put them under the boot of totalitarianism.

Especially on the Right, there also has been a cottage industry of concocting a false or misleading history about the Second Amendment, with quotes from Framers cherry-picked or simply fabricated to suggest that the men who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights wanted an armed population to do battle with the U.S. government. [See, for instance, Steven Krulik's compilation of such apocryphal references.]

The actual history indicates nearly the opposite, that the Framers were deeply concerned about the violent disorder that surfaced in Shays' Rebellion when poor veterans and farmers rose up in western Massachusetts. The revolt was subdued by an ad hoc army assembled by wealthy Bostonians in early 1787, just weeks before the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia.

George Washington, who followed Shays' Rebellion closely, was alarmed by the spreading unrest, thinking it might validate the predictions of the European powers that the new United States would collapse amid internal strife, pitting the rich against the poor and regions against one another.

Any review of Washington's writings in the years after the Revolution show him fretting about civil and economic chaos and the dangers they posed to the country's hard-won independence. [See's "The Right's Second Amendment Lies" and Robert Parry's America's Stolen Narrative.]

Avoiding Disorder

It is within the context of these concerns that the writing of the U.S. Constitution must be understood. The new governing document marked a thorough rejection of the states'-rights-oriented Articles of Confederation in favor a strong central government that could hold the nation together and address its economic needs.

With Washington presiding at the convention, his fellow Virginian James Madison provided the architecture for the new system, which so radically altered the relationship between the central government and the states that a powerful opposition arose, called the Anti-Federalists, to block ratification of the Constitution.

To save his masterwork, Madison joined a sales campaign known as the Federalist Papers in which he not only extolled the economic advantages of the new system but sought to finesse the ardent opposition by downplaying how much power he had bestowed on the central government.

Though Madison did not believe a Bill of Rights was necessary, he agreed to add one to win over other skeptics. In effect, the first ten amendments represented concessions to both individual citizens and the states.

Some additions were mostly cosmetic like the Tenth Amendment which simply stated that powers not granted to the central government in the Constitution remained with the people and the states, a rather meaningless point since the Constitution included very expansive powers for federal authorities.

The Second Amendment could be viewed as mostly a concession to the states, ensuring the right of a "free State" to arm its citizens for the purpose of maintaining "security" through "a well-regulated Militia." Until 2008, U.S. Supreme Courts interpreted the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" as a collective, not an individual, right.

After all, if the Framers had intended the Second Amendment to be what some Americans now wish it to be - an invitation for citizens to take up arms against the U.S. government - you would think that the preamble would be written quite differently.

Instead of "A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State," the authors would have written something like, "An armed population necessary to wage war against an oppressive federal government or an unjust social order, the right to the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

But logic and the historical record make clear that the Framers were not encouraging domestic disorder. Indeed, one of the key goals of the Constitution was to create a governing structure that would permit peaceful change by balancing the popular will - as expressed through the House of Representatives, elected every two years - against avoidance of hasty changes - assured by the Senate with six-year terms and (originally) selected by state legislatures.

Though recognizing the need to respond to popular sentiments and thus to avert crises like Shays' Rebellion, the key Framers were mostly well-to-do white men, many possessing African slaves and/or land on the frontier inhabited by Native Americans. These American aristocrats opposed radical challenges to the post-Revolution social order.

So, the Constitution defined armed rebellion against the United States as "treason" and promised federal assistance to quell domestic violence in the states. The Constitution also tacitly endorsed the abhorrent practice of slavery and even mandated the return of runaway slaves.

The concept of the Second Amendment's "well-regulated Militia" was primarily intended to maintain "security" in the states, not undermine it. There were fears of more uprisings by poor whites or, even more frightening to many Framers, slave revolts or frontier attacks by Native Americans.

Thus, with the Second Amendment in place in 1791, President George Washington and the Second Congress turned to strengthening the state militias through the Militia Acts of 1792. Their urgency related to a new anti-tax revolt in western Pennsylvania, known as the Whiskey Rebellion.

Once the militias were strong enough - and with negotiations with the rebels failing - President Washington personally led a combined force of state militias to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. The rebels were scattered and order was finally restored.

In other words, today's reinvention of the Second Amendment as some ultra-radical idea of the Framers to empower the population to violently challenge the established order and overthrow the government amounts to revisionist history, not the actual intent of the Framers.

Revolutionary Illusions

Though this revisionist history is more vocally promoted by today's Right, it has a significant following on the Left, too.

With the Right, the idea of armed insurrection is mostly embraced by whites angry about federal action in defense of minorities, such as outlawing racial segregation and addressing the legacy of white supremacy. The Right's dream of revolution usually involves fighting government bureaucrats who arrive backed by black helicopters and intent on trampling the "liberties" of "real Americans."

But the romantic notion of armed revolution perhaps has been more insidious on the Left, because it has caused some progressives to essentially remove themselves from practical politics altogether, to wait for some inevitable collapse of the System, followed by a popular insurrection that somehow brings Utopia to the world.

Though the Right has similar true-believers - although with a very different desired outcome - the Right has continued to engage in regular politics. It has built a vast media infrastructure that conveys right-wing messaging to Americans in all corners of the country; it has well-funded "think tanks" to develop cutting-edge propaganda; and it has organized itself within the Republican Party, now having a substantial say over who the GOP nominates for state and federal office.

So, the Right has combined its armed militancy with political activism on the national, state and local levels. By contrast, the American Left mostly shut down its media outreach operations in the 1970s; it largely switched to "organizing" around local issues, rather than national ones; and it rejected opportunities to compete for a larger say within the Democratic Party, in favor of investing time and money in minor third parties.

As the Left opted for these approaches - and its political relevance declined - some leftists drifted away from any practical thinking. Instead of getting serious about achieving meaningful reforms, some got lost in fantastic conspiracy theories or were absorbed by dreams of some glorious revolution in the future.

For these reasons, whenever anyone suggests that the daily carnage from gun violence demands some commonsense gun laws - like banning assault rifles and magazines with more than 10 rounds - the proposals are met with such fury that most politicians, journalists or academics retreat.

Yet, while those who embrace these revolutionary fantasies may consider the price of the 20 dead kids in Newtown or the thousands of others who die each year "worth it," the question now is whether most Americans will continue to acquiesce to that judgment.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush," was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, "Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also available there. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+7 # BenECoyote 2012-12-27 13:54
Mr. Perry unfortunately missed the mark on this one. By using the very techniques he accuses the right of to discredit anyone who differs with his opinion he belies the underlying premise he is trying to make.

Look at the bit about the founding fathers. He has got it backwards, in fact Washington supported the people that were rising up in many cases, such as the alarm at fort ticonderoga, when the Vermont Militia manned the fort in opposition to the NY Governor. When the governor wrote to Washington for help, he politely told him that he was on his own. In fact, the VT legislature was so worried about the potential dangers from an armed government and a disarmed population that they included both in our constitution, which also outlawed slavery long before the US did. Article 9 says that all vermonters should own a gun or pay a fine if they are morally opposed to gun ownership, and article 16 says that standing armies are bad for liberty, so they should be avoided and that folks have the right to bear arms for their protection.
He then scoffs at the 10th amendment, but ignores the fact that Vermont (and wisconsin) both made 10ther arguments against the fugitive slave act, VT issuing a writ of habeas saying that not only would vt NOT help return fugitive slaves, but required the courts and police to help fugitive slaves escape. this was in violation of the federal law, and made possible by an armed citizenry able to stand up if the feds decided to enforce it.
+12 # trini-boy 2012-12-27 14:59
Very rarely,if ever, do i comment on RSN articles even though I am an avid reader of RSN articles! However, the views and opinions in this article were so outrageous that i had to comment! The reaction of the 'far-right' and The Gun Lobby to this tradgedy is absolutely DISGUSTING! I will say no more!!
0 # 666 2012-12-28 07:17
I am less critical of Parry's historicity and more critical of how he continually uses "history" to whip his "damn the left, support obama/the dems" agenda. His real illusion, IMO, is to put much of the blame for the rise of the fascist right on the elements of the left that failed in the wake of vietnam (and other things in the late 60s/ early 70s, not the least of which was what was achieved: the Great Society, civil & women's rights, the environmental movement, etc.) The fascist right became entrenched during the cold war & civil rights movement (as parry knows), NOT later; another enabling factor for the right was the corruption & cronyism in the dem congress -- repeated by the gop when they finally gained control, and in which both parties now participate -- see wall street & the MIC. Parry is right that the left partially marginalized itself in the 70s, but to try to pin blame on the left is to show exactly how important & valid the left is.
+6 # obstreperous1 2012-12-27 15:10
Though there are many more, from Mason, Henry, and others, one quote puts the lie to your premise -"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure." Thomas Jefferson
+9 # Krulick 2012-12-27 20:39
Jefferson was in France in 1787 when he said this; AFTER the bloody French Revolution he had a serious change of heart and you don't hear him blithely calling for such random and frequent blood-letting again. And such action, though a last resort, is NOT sanctioned BY the Constitution, which provides various peaceful means to resolve any possible loss of liberty. So it does NOT put lie to the premise, as the Constitution, ratified AFTER this quote, was designed to make bloody revolution unnecessary, and indeed, as noted, calls it rebellion and treason and levies the ultimate penalty against it.
0 # obstreperous1 2012-12-28 00:51
Really? And you have this psychic knowledge how? Well how about Patrick Henry, he was here- "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone...Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation...inflic ted by those who had no power at all?"
+2 # Krulick 2012-12-28 09:47
What psychic knowledge? Care to show some quote from TJ post-French Revolution that equals this one for bloodlust?

Henry was an over-the-top fanatic, known for histrionics ("Give me Liberty, or give me Death!") and hyperbole, who advocated state support of religions and amnesty for Loyalists. But, he too, feared that the radicalism of the French Revolution would "infect" the US and he went from being the arch-anti-Feder alist (in which cause he lost to Madison, including the above speech in which he tried to sink the Constitution but failed; oh, and he wasn't talking about mobs of individuals "acting at individual discretion," but the STATE militias whom he feared would be weakened or destroyed by the proposed new Constitution. He was wrong, and he lost the debate.) to becoming a Federalist before his death. Oh, and though originally for a Bill of Rights, he led the fight against it because he "smelled a rat" in Madison's plan to soft-soap the anti-Federalist s with a sop to buy off their opposition.

Anyway, this is a perfect example of those quotes that do NOT refer to the 2nd Amendment, are chopped up and cobbled together, taken out of context, and leave out critical parts that explain the REAL purpose of the words.
+2 # Krulick 2012-12-28 09:50
And it has NOTHING to do with any absolute right for ANY individual to own ANY weapon he pleases!

Irrelevant to anything under discussion. Nothing about individual rights or private gun ownership here, is there?

It's the PUBLIC LIBERTY he's discussing, and the force in mind is the STATE MILITIA under STATE CONTROL, the control of the militia being the thing Henry most feared losing to the new federal govt, whether by leaving the states naked to federal tyranny, or by letting standing armies "the bane of liberty" ascend.

Where is any absolute private right to "own and carry guns"
expressed there? Henry was ALWAYS speaking in context of the STATE-controlle d militias! And this was a year before the 2nd Amen, in which Henry was NOT involved, and when the BoR was put forth for ratification he OPPOSED it!
+1 # Krulick 2012-12-28 10:03
Without context, the words are irrelevant:

"I acknowledge that licentiousness is dangerous, and that it ought to be provided against: I acknowledge, also, the new form of government may effectually prevent it: yet there is another thing it will as effectually do - it will oppress and ruin the people."

(A bit further down, when Henry addresses the militia and who controls and arms it:)

"A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them?... You will find all the strength of this country in the hands of your enemies; their garrisons will naturally be the strongest places in the country. Your militia is given up to Congress, also, in another part of this plan: they will therefore act as they think proper: all power will be in their own possession. You cannot force them to receive their punishment: of what service would militia be to you, when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? for, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not furnish them."
+2 # Krulick 2012-12-28 10:06
"Let me here call your attention to that part which gives the Congress power "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States..." By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither - this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory. Our situation will be deplorable indeed: nor can we ever expect to get this government amended, since I have already shown that a very small minority may prevent it, and that small minority interested in the continuance of the oppression. Will the oppressor let go the oppressed? Was there ever an instance? Can the annals of mankind exhibit one single example where rulers overcharged with power willingly let go the oppressed, though solicited and requested most earnestly? The application for amendments will therefore be fruitless. Sometimes, the oppressed have got loose by one of those bloody struggles that desolate a country; but a willing relinquishment of power is one of those things which human nature never was, nor ever will be, capable of."

THAT was what Henry was arguing! He lost and was wrong.
0 # mdhome 2012-12-30 12:39
" "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel."

The republicans have approached that jewel and have smashed it to bits, will we ever regain any sense of liberty and freedom of the kind the writers of the constitution wanted.
+5 # RMDC 2012-12-28 07:42
your point is not clear. The great French Revolution did not break out until 1789 when Jefferson was back in the US. And the French Revolution was not bloody -- the reaction by the royalist factions is where the violence started. They invited mercenaries from Switzerland and Austria to come in to France and assassinate the leaders of the Revolution and terrorize the general population back into submission.

Had the king accepted the constitutional monarchy as was offered to him, he would have lives. But he did not. He called on his fellow aristocrats to attack France. It was impoverished citizens against well armed foreign soldiers.

You are right about the Constitution. It does set up a totalitarian government -- never to be challenged again by a revolution. The Americans did exactly what Tom Paine criticized the British for doing in 1688 -- writing an eternal constitution that bound all posterity to the whims of a few people who lived way in the past.

Jefferson's views are best seen in the Declaration of Independence which does justify revolution.
-1 # Krulick 2012-12-29 01:55
Yes, as I said, TJ changed his opinions AFTER the French Revolution, as did Patrick Henry.

Not Bloody?!!! So all that blood dripping from the guillotines in France as part of the devolution of the revolution never happened right? Who cares who started it? it showed that things can spin out of control. And the result of all that chaos? Emperor Napoleon.

No, the Constitution sets up a constitutional democratic republic, IF as Franklin noted, we can KEEP IT. I think we lost it years ago to a kleptocratic oligarchy. But the process for amendment refutes your claim of "eternal" binding of posterity.

And the ONLY relevant views of Jefferson regarding the 2nd Amendment are his actual remarks regarding the 2nd Amendment!

See Below:
0 # Krulick 2012-12-29 01:56
Jefferson’s seventh letter regarding his contribution to the BoR process was written to Dr. Joseph Priestley, June 19, 1802. It, like the other six letters (written 12/20/87, 2/7/88, 2/12/88, 7/31/88, 3/13/89, and 3/18/89), can be found by date at:
"One passage, in the paper you enclosed me, must be corrected. It is the following, ‘and all say it was yourself more than any other individual, that planned and established it’ i. e., the Constitution. I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, and never saw it till after it was established. On receiving it I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, the substitution of militia for a standing army, and an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union. He accordingly moved in the first session of Congress for these amendments, which were agreed to and ratified by the States as they now stand. This is all the hand I had in what related to the Constitution."
+2 # NAVYVET 2012-12-31 22:04
You're my kind of guy, Krulick! Keep writing.
-1 # Krulick 2012-12-29 01:57
Notice, as mentioned, the purpose of the 2nd Amen was ONLY "the substitution of militia for a standing army," with no mention of "guns" or "individual rights"! Again, in EACH letter, each time he brings up his concerns for why a BoR is desired, the ONLY concern he ever brings up regarding what was to become the 2nd Amen is his concern over "standing armies" and NEVER gun ownership per se or any individual rights in that regard!

According to TJ, Madison submitted an amendment for "the substitution of militia for a standing army" and another for "an express reservation to the States of all rights not specifically granted to the Union"! And it was THESE [purposes behind the] amendments "which were agreed to and ratified by the States as they now stand."
+25 # Working Class 2012-12-27 15:11
The opposing histories argued by Perry and BenECoyote may both be true. We can spend energy arguing which is correct and what it means in todays world, but why do it? I own guns...several. I shoot at the target range and have spent many hours in the field hunting birds and big game. Never the less, I totally support common sense revisions to today's gun laws. History is great, I love it. But todays society is much different from that of our Founding Fathers. They wrote the Constitution based on a their world, not todays. Many parts are still very applicable, and I would not suggest changing any of those. But the Constitution is a living document subject to change when the majority of "We the People" decide it is necessay. If that were not true, Blacks could still be slaves counted as 3/5th of a "person", and only white, male, property owners would have a right to vote. We need to demand back ground checks on all gun sales and limit gun magazine capacity. We need to stop cutting budgets for mental health. We need to seek a solution to the violence promoted by the entertainment industry. There is no single action that will solve the problem of gun violence, but we can start taking common sense steps while still protecting the right of law abiding citizens to have guns.
+2 # Junius 2012-12-27 15:27
[quote name="Working Class"] But the Constitution is subject to change when the majority of "We the People" decide it is necessay.

Yes, it's called "amendment." Have you heard of any effort to do so?
-1 # obstreperous1 2012-12-27 15:44
Why do it? Because what you expressed you support, I would support, too, but that is hardly all they want, despite the denials.
+1 # Working Class 2012-12-28 09:30
Quoting obstreperous1:
Why do it? Because what you expressed you support, I would support, too, but that is hardly all they want, despite the denials.

I have faith in "We the People" to draw the right conclusions of what needs to be done. If we don't trust "We the People", ie: the majority in our democracy, then we don't believe in our Constitution and the government it established. The major change we need is to limit the influence of money in the process. Money is drowning out the will of the majority and not only in taking a reasonable approach to gun safety. I believe in the right to own guns. I don't believe in the boogie man or that the government is going to disarm us, or that it wants to. We are the government, that is unless we continue to allow big money to rule our government. Junius, I don't feel we need an amendment to better define the 2nd Amendment. The Courts have ruled that we have a right to own guns. That does not mean we cannot regulate who looses that right because of mental defect or by breaking the law. Nor does it mean we can not regulate the number of rounds a gun can hold. If I could have one amendment added to the US Constitution it would be that only human beings, not artifical enities, are to be considered "persons" under the law, and that money is not speach, thus it can be regulated in the area of politics. If we could get those two things in the Constituion then "We the People" might have a chance to keep our government.
+2 # Junius 2012-12-27 15:15
The Philadelphia convention was certainly dominated by conservatives; but Patrick Henry, in opposition, launched a movement for a more balanced convention. Jefferson, whose response to Shays Rebellion is well known, advised Henry that the Second Convention Movement couldn't win, and that he should instead push for a Bill of Rights. The result was that some of the Revolutionary legacy was incorporated into the conservative document, giving both or maybe all sides something to be pleased with- for instance, the term "well-regulated ." The Shays rebels had called themselves Regulators, by which they identified with the North Carolina Regulators of 1770. "Regulation" meant armed popular action to achieve reform.

The gentleman mentions Washington and Hamilton's suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion. He might have added that Hamilton's statue graces one side of the Treasury building, but on the other side is the likeness of Hamilton's successor at the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, who rose to fame as a supporter of the Whiskey rebels and was appointed by Jefferson after Washington and Hamilton's party was swept out of office.
+1 # obstreperous1 2012-12-27 15:40
Gallatin was politically known way before that, he was a member of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1789. His understanding of the bill of rights was well known, and it's indicative of the thought of the day- "The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.
+7 # Krulick 2012-12-27 20:33
As Alexander Hamilton put it, in Federalist 29:

"If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security."

And what body, "which is constituted the guardian of the national security" was Hamilton referring to, that the well-regulated militia "be under the regulation and at the disposal" of? Wouldn't happen to be... CONGRESS, would it? As in... THE GOVERNMENT???!!!

As in... "a government-cont rolled militia" subject to government regulation!!! Regulation (from the latin root for RULES) had only one meaning in legal documents of the era.
+8 # Krulick 2012-12-27 20:34
As for Gallatin...

"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals... It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." -- Albert Gallatin of the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789

And the 2nd Amen is a perfect example of a right of the people at large!

"The people," as the "people at large," the "whole body of the people," the collective "body politic," have the populus armatus jus militiae right to be involved in the state's (or nation's) military function, by establishing, arming, controlling, maintaining the upkeep and readiness of the militia ("keep arms" as Adams meant it), and serving ("bear arms" as Madison meant it, if qualified) as citizen-soldier s (as opposed to "regular" professional soldiers in a standing army), drawn from the "body of the people," and "trained to arms" and "enrolled" into an organized, "well regulated" state militia.

"It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of." But the "right" to "own and carry guns" was never one of them. (See Pennsylvania Test Acts)

THE PEOPLE is NOT each and every PERSON "considered as individuals"! It is the collective enfranchised body politic as its own corporate identity.
+1 # obstreperous1 2012-12-28 01:13
That argument, the militia angle, has already been rejected by the SCOTUS, try again.
+4 # Krulick 2012-12-28 10:17
No, the current politicized rogue majority on the SCotUS simply ignored 200 years of consistent correct interpretation; FOUR of the justices got it right (Anthony M. Kennedy, the most powerful man in America, the guy who single-handedly cast the ONLY vote in America that actually put GW Bush in the White House, had he sided with the correct minority, would have swung it back to stare decisis and precedent.) and nothing in Heller or McDonald makes the previous rulings and dicta vanish, they just invented a "found" right that the language and history doesn't support, and that nobody else in the federal judicial system found for 200 years. The words as used by Madison and the federalists don't change their meaning AS they used them because ignorant justices swallow the lies and fabrications of NRA-backed pseudoscholars! READ the true history of the amendment, it's language and meaning, at and see how the current majority is just ignorant or cynically deceitful. Indeed, if you read and UNDERSTAND the essays, YOU will be better educated than the SCotUS majority!
+15 # Susan1989 2012-12-27 15:51
If semi automatic weapons were banned...along with high capacity magazines, what do we do about people who already possess these weapons? If they are not all confiscated, then the rest of us will be rendered powerless over those who have them...includin g criminals. The real problem and question is how we got to this point. It seems as though we are all filled with fear...and to some extent....right ly so. The entertanment industry, the gun well as just plain citizens seem to be filled with rage. Could it be that the average person feels increasingly powerless over a culture that is controlled by corporations in collusion with the political structure? These problems have deep roots in the evolution of a blood thirsty American culture. Just drive you car on any highway and you will see examples of this rage. People no longer feel that the system is protecting them...but it is indeed protecting the likes of HSBC! The public trust has been lost...squander ed...and people of al ages are feeling it.
-4 # obstreperous1 2012-12-27 16:55
Please do not worry like this, over such a thing. The actual chances of you or one of your loved ones being involved in a mass shooting like this one is less than being hit by lightening. I hate that the media and gun control advocates are amplifying this all out of proportion to it's actual impact on the public safety, scaring so many people.
-11 # shraeve 2012-12-27 19:34
Again, I agree with you, ob. The gun-grabbers are playing this for all it is worth. We are experiencing national panic over 20 dead children. We kill that many children on our highways in any given week.
+2 # rblee 2012-12-28 01:04
Sure, and "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of beautiful children and beautiful teachers. It is its natural manure." And, of course, it's our god-given right to have our own personal mass killing machines!
+2 # Holmes 2012-12-27 23:57
So, it is not a random act of nature, but of demented humans. In ancient times if you has a bull known to be dangerous and it got out and damaged some one, you were liable for damage. Lets seen some responsibility for dangerous 'bulls'.
+15 # shagar 2012-12-27 15:52
How to address the gun question at all? There are guns in every society on the planet and yet something in the american psyche has fostered and fermented in the mix of individualism, irrationailty, exceptionalism and gunpowder, to produce the irremediable crisis that is american gun culture. I would start by suggesting that it is less a culture of guns, and more a cult of gun worship that grips america. It transfixes all, whether pro or con, when numerous alternatives abound in other democracies.

I think that the hypnotic trance of gun worship in america is no more about militias and rights, than Christianity in america is about doctrine and the epistles of Paul. Both are simple tools to justify the presiding sentiments that grip the nation: "they hate us" and "we deserve what we've got" . Guns, by their palpable weight and implicit authority give credence to whatever the irrational mind seeks to justify. and christianity puts the spin on whatever can't be understood, but needs to be maintained.

The world looks on in horror, not because we don't understand but because we are not in the cult. We may be slaves to other illusions, but none as morbidly destructive to the foundation of our own societies. Your worship of the gun, is steadily shredding your capacity to change without resorting to violence.

Pogo was right.
0 # Smokey 2012-12-27 19:32
[quote name="shagar"]

"I think that the hypnotic trance of gun worship in america is no more about militias and rights, than Christianity in America is about doctrine and the epistles of Paul."

COMMENT: Gun control and Christianity? For almost three hundred years, there have been Christian groups in North America - for example, the Quakers - who have studied their Bibles and who have rejected violence

"Pogo was right."

COMMENT: Pogo was a cartoon creature who was wrong about a lot of things. In the world of human beings, some people have a lot of power - sometimes they're supported by firearms and corporate power - and some people get kicked around by the powerful.

The argument that "all of us are responsible for (name the social problem)" is often a dodge to avoid responsibility.

The gun question illustrates the point. Lots of Americans - maybe the majority - have asked for increased gun control. Many Americans don't own guns and most have never fired guns in anger. Very few Americans profit in a big way from the manufacture and sale of guns.... The culture of violence is promoted by a comparatively small number of people..... Pogo got it wrong.
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-12-27 16:11
Y'know, I sometimes think that some of your much touted "amendments to the constitution" should be scrapped and start over again, or at least updated to fit the current milieu, especially the Second (I'm stickin' to this one due to the topic).
I mean, I see a people's mass revolution as a gleam of hope but not as envisaged by most gun-nuts and survivalists, especially the latter who tend to be isolationist but the former seem to be at least partly of the anti-social anti-government type as well, willingly led by the likes of those professional welkin-ringers, shit-stirrers for the status quo, fear-mongers and cowards, Fox and Mush Limpballs.
See, that "well-ordered Militia" both sides keep bandying around, is hardly how I (or the framers) would even loosely describe the Militarized, Darth Vader-type cops with body-armor, shields, helmets, similar firepower to the Army, including helicopters, armored personnel carriers and now Drones.
It would be interesting tho' if I was at a safe distance, to watch the survivalists and the heaviest of armed gun-wallahs clamber out of their caves and basements to try to knock out even one squad of today's "Well-ordered Militia" with their pop-guns, no matter how powerful.
I think I'll stick to the "Occupy" model.
-9 # shraeve 2012-12-27 18:52
You will stick with the Occupy model? Are you including the Black Bloc, who think they can fight the police with their bare hands? Talk about living in a fantasy world!
+4 # Anarchist 23 2012-12-27 21:21
I don't think the 'Black Bloc' anarchists should be included; they move with too much parade ground precision from what I heard. They are probably 'agents provocateurs, always so handy to discredit popular movements. Such agents were used with good effect at the Chicago Democratic convention in 68.
+5 # cafetomo 2012-12-27 16:13
"That's not blood you're coughing up, Billy. That's freedom". ~Bill Maher
+8 # candida 2012-12-27 16:39
Mr. Parry, I have been enjoying your articles on this topic and appreciate the history lessons. I would like to know more, however, about your contention that the Left engages in similar delusions of historical grandeur. I have no doubt that such individuals exist, but I think you overstate the case considerably and, thereby, skew the causative factors in the decline of the Left. I couldn't help notice, for instance, that you didn't cite even one Leftist individual's or organization's name, let alone one with any social power to speak of. Rather than delusional thinking being the cause of the Left's demise (let alone some presumed support for weapons proliferation), there is much more evidence for the violent suppression and oppression of the organized Left in the 1960s and 70s by the FBI and local police/sheriff (I imagine you're familiar with the considerable research on COINTELPRO such as Ward Churchill's book) and similar mechanisms of control that have continued up to the present over, for instance, the Occupy Movement. The pro-guns and weapons contingent has lined up solidly on the Right and the Republican Party (with significant influence in the Democratic Party, to be sure, but due to the lobbying power of the NRA, not leftist delusional thinking. I mean, really, when's the last time you saw a raving Leftist on cable?). I would need and respectfully request more evidence for your thesis about the Left contributing to the current insanity around weapons proliferation.
-12 # shraeve 2012-12-27 18:46
Then you don't know much about the Left. There was the Black Liberation Army, which engaged in shoot-outs with the police. In an armored car robbery in Nyack, NY, two police officers and a security guard were murdered by the BLA. There was the Black Panther Party, that had fetish of carrying guns around. There were numerous lefties who hijacked airplanes to Cuba. There were the Weathermen and the Weather Underground, who liked to bomb things. One of their bombs detonated prematurely, killing several Weather Underground members in a townhouse in New York City. They bombed the math building at the U. of Wisconsin, killing someone.

There was the leftie Wounded knee takeover in 1973, in which an FBI agent was murdered. Two years later two FBI agents were murdered at the Pine Ridge reservation.

There was the Symbionese Liberation Army (where is Symbion, anyway?) that murdered a school superintendent. The SLA kidnapped Patty Hearst, who later converted to their cause and took part in some of their criminal "revolutionary" activities, including a bank robbery in which someone was murdered.

On the "literary" side there was a rag called "The Negro Digest" (later "The Black Digest") that said that "every white throat slit is an end in itself". There Mao's "Little Red Book", that had his famous quote, "Power comes from the barrel of a gun". There was Grace Slick and her interview in which she talks about killing cops.
+1 # jon 2012-12-27 20:01
"There was the Symbionese Liberation Army"

And look what happened to the SLA in LA. Leftist revolutionaries were served notice on their future that day.

If anybody thinks they can fight the US Government, they are out of their minds.
+6 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 07:57
"Black,... black, ... Black, Negro ...American Indian (?) ... Mao (communist?) Grace Slick ..."

Whew! If anyone ever laid out more clearly the dark side of White supremacist, news clipping, fear, insecurity and self-righteous excuse mongering I don't believe I've seen it. Not since J Edgar Hoover's planted photos connecting MLK's concocted communist connections have so many vitriolic suppositions been connected to express hate, fear and the justification of vengeful preparations.

I consider myself a humanist - purporting to support the admonishments offered by Christ, Mohammed and Buddha that the achievement of goodness (Godliness or a heavenly state) requires that we should EACH (individually), in our own hearts, adopt an attitude of caring, support and concern FOR one another. Your expression of contempt, loathing and personal insecurity somehow stand in rather marked contrast to what, apparently you consider and, with animus, condemn as LEFT.
+1 # candida 2012-12-28 14:57
Quoting shraeve:
Then you don't know much about the Left. ...

You lump a lot of disparate elements under the Leftist banner. However, even if we were to grant all your examples (which I don't) as "Left" (SLA is more than a stretch) and Leftist aggression (the FBI raid and massacre at Pine Ridge doesn't qualify, even if agents died in the process, and the Grace Slick example is just weird unless you believe one can be Left just by being Black...ohhh!!) , anyways... Parry cast his allegations against Leftist delusions in the present tense. To recap, Parry argues there are those on the Left TODAY who believe in violent revolution and this contributes to a popular "common sense" that resists gun control in the present (underscore "present"), and that is where I cast my question to him for evidence. Again, the issue of what are we going to do about gun control today (as in the here and now) is one of the present, not the past. Yes, it's easy to trot out the standard examples from the 70s (don't have to be too well versed in Leftist history for that), but that's really not the issue.
+3 # Smokey 2012-12-27 19:16
[quote name="candida"] "I would like to know more, however, about your contention that the Left engages in similar delusions of historical grandeur."

I can remember the day when the Black Panther Party marched into Sacramento, to show its weapons to the California state legislature. The Panthers were against gun control. Governor Reagan responded with a few jokes.

Patty Hearst? She was one of the armed leftists who made a splash during the 1970s. Ward Churchill had some Native American friends who brought guns into political protests at Wounded Knee. Some of the Chicano militants in New Mexico and Los Angeles carried guns.

Guns on the political left have - apparently - been rare during recent years. Although I know a few feminists who keep weapons hidden away
for self-defense.

However: I agree that, yes, the gun industry doesn't want the Black Panthers or the Weathermen SDS or similar groups
marching around with firearms. Che Guevara is dead and gone and we won't see armed Leftist uprisings in the United States in the near future.
+1 # RMDC 2012-12-28 19:08
right Smokey -- when the left or real revolutionaries take up guns they are called terrorists and the FBI begins a counterinsurgen chy war against them (called COINTELPRO). The leadership is murdered. But when rightwing rednecks buy guns by the millions, no one in government cares at all.

I remember in the 60s when the FBI spread rumors to radical right wing groups about a coming race war. Right wing whites were advised to buy guns and they did so. today's gun buyig spree is really the descendent of that FBI program, although there are certainly other factors as well. But for a white gun nuts, African americans are one big motive for owning guns. I went to a gun show once in rural virginia, just after 2009 and the Obama inauguration. There were many posters with bull's eyes on Obama. The talk was "now he's in office, better get your guns while you can."

In very many cases, ownership of an assault weapons is an expression of race hatred.
+7 # Michaeljohn 2012-12-27 17:30
Shagar is right. A cult of gun worship based on fear and fantasy.
+3 # ganymede 2012-12-27 18:42
(Part 1)As usual, Robert Parry has produced another very thoughtful and provocative piece that goes to the heart of the matter of our violent gun worshiping culture, but I do agree with one of the comments that Parry tries to hard to hang some of this gun idolatry on the left. To me it's a 99% rightwing, nativist, somewhat fascist problem.
I live in New York City where guns are almost a taboo subject simply because virtually no one has one and guns are seen clearly as a big negative. We're not talking about hunters and security situations where guns are clearly necessary. Also, we've seen how Bloomberg and New York State have the right ideas about regulating guns and the gun murder rate has dropped precipitously as a direct result of these regulations. New York is one of the safest cities in the country, and people will soon get to understand why most European countries have a tiny fraction of our murder rate.
+1 # ganymede 2012-12-27 18:45
(Part 2)I think the Newtown murders are going to bring about some fundamental changes in how we view guns, especially the automatic types that can fire dozens of bullets in a few seconds. The NRA is going to collapse after a huge fight because they have so much power and money, but are totally lacking of any sense of morality - commonsense will prevail. The government is not coming to take away the legitimte right of gun ownership and soon everyone will know that. Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to get this country off to a good start, but they had no way of knowing how technology and culture would develop, and there is enough flexibility in the wordage of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to legally show that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do nor does it sanction the current crazy scene with guns.
Some extremist rightwing groups might forcably try to resist, but there is very little support for civil war. We may support chaos and mayhem around the world, but this country had one of the most disastrous civil wars and we're not going to make that big a mistake again.
+7 # Smokey 2012-12-27 18:57
It's time for the Occupy movement to come home to its basic concerns.

The Occupy movement was launched because of the enormous influence that big corporations have in American politics. The Occupy people have said, repeatedly, that they want economic justice and less corporate influence in state and national government.

What does that mean in today's discussion about firearms? The military-indust rial powerhouse represents big government and big industry at its worst. The big companies in the gun industry - often with government support - pay for lobbying groups like the NRA. If the Occupy people can call attention to this mess, and if they can reduce corporate influence in politics, they'll do a lot of good. Follow the money. Keep the public's attention focused on the big corporations and their influence.

Here's a thought: Europe and Latin America during the 1920s started to develop private armies, political parties with guns, citizen militias, private "security firms," and vigilante groups with loose connections to corporate and army powers.... That's what paved the road to fascism and dictatorship in Italy, Spain, Germany, and other nations... The United States may see a repeat performance.
+9 # Paine 2012-12-27 19:22
There can be little doubt that democracy in the US is but an illusion, a cruel joke on our citizens. The collusion between the bankers, Wall Street, the corporations and the Washington elite has relegated citizens to the role of spectators. Our country is well beyond reform. To quote Tom Paine “Our prayers have been rejected with disdain; and only tended to convince us, that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in Kings more than repeated petitioning — and nothing hath contributed more than that very measure to make the Kings of Europe absolute:…” The politicians in Washington may not be Kings but they may as well be.
There is nothing romantic about armed resurrection. It is a horrible thought. However, should there be the need to save one’s family, friends and country from tyrants, guns, may indeed, be an intricate part of the process. In the meantime, why not invest in healthcare programs that include mental health programs and community outreach? Provide these services for all the residents regardless of income. Throw in full employment and people might be too tired to revolt. Who can say? I fully support disarming the mentally ill. I would also suggest that elected officials not have permits to carry concealed weapons. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
+1 # Sandy 2012-12-27 21:33
But then who gets to decide who's 'mentally ill'? Could be a problem there... How about this society supports mental health services with no strings. Two of the major reasons people don't get the mental health help they need: They or their families can't afford it, or fear of being labeled and discriminated against. If we had real health care in this country, I think most of these murder/suicide cases would have never happened.
-17 # shraeve 2012-12-27 19:23
Robert Parry has completely mischaracterize d the American small- government Right. We are not concerned with racial issues. That was 50 years ago, ancient history. The race issue is settled. We are concerned with a government that is continually growing and shows no sign of stopping. We are concerned about a Marxist-Leninis t Left that has infiltrated some powerful American institutions, such as the government and academia. We are concerned about elitist Lefties who despise us for "clinging" to guns and religion.

Liberals use race as a means of distracting people from the real issues, namely ever-increasing power of the government and the elitists who run it.
+7 # fliteshare 2012-12-27 20:40
Marxist don't need to infiltrate anything. The conclusions that Karl Marx drew in his study of Capitalism ("Das Kapital") are now coming to fruition. I would call it:"Reality sets in". Next time somebody tells you,"Karl Marx was wrong", do yourself a favour and take the expense of this messenger's clothes into account.
+2 # Holmes 2012-12-28 00:10
"....namely ever-increasing power of the government and the elitists who run it." This is usually called Fascism. It even worse if the the governments has been bought by corporations which do not even pay tax to support the results they depend on. We used to also call that Colonialism.

Get a passport and travel. Also go back to uni and do some reading. The terms you are using do not mean what you think they do. Is this the state of education in the USA?

Also have a look at the long history of India. Weak, disorganized central governments invite the take over of the state by others - Genghis Khan, the Huns, Alexander the Great, the Brits, the Arabs, the Persians, as well as your neighbor etc etc. 5,000 years of it. One of the results has been the Caste system.
-1 # Smokey 2012-12-28 10:03
[quote name="Holmes"]"...
"Weak, disorganized central governments invite the take over of the state by others - Genghis Khan, the Huns, Alexander the Great, the Brits, the Arabs, the Persians..."

Hmmmm.... Same scenario for Israel about 2,000 years ago.... A guy named Herod became a Roman puppet.... There was another guy named Jesus who may have started a non-violent resistance movement of some sort.

"Occupy the Temple courtyard!" I don't know if the early Jesus people made that statement or not. However, they were upset about the money people who were trying to exploit organized religion and everything else. There was a riot. A few days later, Jesus was on trial.
0 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 08:08
"yeah!", he muttered. "The race issue is settled." 'We lost!'

'For now!', spat a camouflage dressed individualist beside him, ' ... but we're getting stronger every day in organizing to bring back the REAL America that THEY have mongrelized!'
+2 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 08:30
" ... who run it,"

'... and Obama, who uses it to redistribute wealth, through class warfare to lazy, shiftless, takers and socialistic communist, booger eating, pinko, welfare recipient non-tax-paying, handout receiving union types whose votes are bought by the Democrat party with REAL Americans' taxes.'

C'mon, shraeve, finish the Romneyesque breakfast chant that plutocrat propaganda keeps spouting through Koch-financed Small Right Wing media and the US Chamber of Commerce to keep us at each others throats while education, health care, environmental destruction, climate change, infrastructure investment, and the social safety net are freed from the yoke of government and public concern.
+2 # Smokey 2012-12-28 10:17
[quote name="shraeve"]

"Liberals use race as a means of distracting people from the real issues, namely ever-increasing power of the government and the elitists who run it."

You may be correct. Although it should be noted, also, that the elitists who run government are often the people who represent the big corporations.

Mitt Romney laughed at the 47% of the people who - according to Romney - are "much too dependent on government." (The list includes disabled veterans, the elderly in nursing homes, the unemployed, etc.)

In reality, it's powerful elitists like Romney who get the most out of government. The homeless people - who may get some spare change, if they're lucky - are the folks with big needs that are often ignored.

Racism? It's still a big problem. The race issue isn't settled. However, at the end of his life, Martin Luther King was focusing his attention on the needs of poor people. Dr. King was a great prophet. Celebrate his work for economic justice.
+7 # rjmcca22 2012-12-27 19:30
We have to start with the rights of the 20 school children, the firemen, the movie goers, the Virginia Tech students, hundreds of police men every year. Each of them permanently lost all of their constitutional rights because of a gun. The authorities have no problem with depriving peaceful demonstrators of their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly by locking them in pens miles away from the authorities that the demonstrators are protesting against. So why is the second amendment untouchable. Rights have to be balanced, particularly a right that allows one to have a dangerous weapon. Why is the liquor industry not allowed to continue serving people drinks beyond the point of intoxication and then let them drive off in their own car? This is all about Congressmen and their IOU's to the gun industry. Curbing gun violence requires changing the culture because there are already 300,000,000 guns on the streets. Too late to reverse that. But we can start by banning assault weapons and then seizing guns. Have the same police forces that are seizing marijuana seize dangerous weapons instead. Work on changing the culture so that guns are seen as weapons of self-defense, not as symbols of power or control. This is a problem that will only get much worse the longer its ignored.
+11 # tabonsell 2012-12-27 19:32
The history lesson is well and good for those who don't know American history – which unfortunately is the majority of Americans – we only have to read the Constitution to see the Founders' "original Intent" about an armed militia.

In Article I, Section 8, paragraph 15, it clearly states that the function of the militia under national jurisdiction is to enforce federal law, repel invasions and suppress insurrection.

The argument that the Second Amendment was created – incidentally by a panel headed by Father of the Constitution James Madison – was to foment insurrection is ludicrous in every way possible

If not treasonous that contention certainly is subversive.
+4 # HerbR 2012-12-27 19:38
Interpreting present-day events in terms of 1787 life and logic is, at best, a dubious proceeding. Just what paved the road to fascism and dictatorship cannot be reduced to a one-sentence phrase. Broadly speaking, it was World War 1, that "useless war", which gave us Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Tito, Pilsudski, and their kind in other places. A "useless war" brought on political revolutions in almost all countries that participated in it, and changed the politics in all of them for the worse.
0 # HerbR 2012-12-27 19:40
...and just who are these "some Americans" , anyway?
+2 # Krulick 2012-12-27 20:55
I am flattered that Mr. Parry has mentioned my list of bogus and mis-representat ive founder quotes! Though not exhaustive (I hope to expand on the list and commentary next year some time), it covers many of the most egregious and most repeated examples, certainly the most important ones.

To see the page mentioned go to:

Many other quotes relevant to the 2nd Amendment are scattered among the other essays of the series on the home site,

(Oh, and the name is spelled KRULICK, in case anyone is doing a search)
+1 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 08:15
Your techniques for selectively evaluating and constructing truth, as you wish it, are instructive in understanding how so many preachers can select biblical passages with which to interpret their various christian absolutes from the many authors of approved biblical texts.
0 # Krulick 2012-12-31 19:43
Bruce, who are you addressing? What are you specifically referring to?
+2 # cordleycoit 2012-12-28 12:18
This shear propaganda from the Ministry of Truth. I think you are an uneducated man insulting people because of their beliefs. Forty nine percent of Americans love slaughter? They love slaughter because they own guns? Does owning a fire arm make sensitive people monsters? Does loving the Bill of Rights make me a blood dipped killer? You are guilty of non logic and your mommy dresses you funny.
+1 # Hasmenés fiú 2012-12-29 02:33
?Give me your tired, your poor, ...and most violent, yearning to be free and we shall nurture the latter?. (The tires and poor can just go to hell!'

This is what ought to replace that copper tablet on the ?Lady of the Harbor?.

Or rather, PLEASE send the Statue of Liberty back to France... or Japan! Those places deserve it muchmore... bothe countries LIVE UP to the original creed!

It alway seems that America has been the 'dustbin of humanity' the most rude, most violent, nost predjudice people are somehow drawn to America ... Lest one not forgets the most selfish and greedy!

This is what America has become! True democracies exist OUTSIDE of America. Once upon a time America was a genuine magnet for the poor and oppresed. No longer! Now it has once again, become the 'Dustbin of Humanity? ...and that is a real shame! The decent Americans have become a marginalist minority. America IS the most violent country on the planet! No question about it! It unfortunately always from its inception has been a huge part of American 'culture' if one can call it such. Shame! Shame! Shame!

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