Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fire the Gun

A friend of mine recently enlightened me about the seriousness of certain constitutional rights in the US and the inability of the federal government to ban the right even when they wanted to. I am referring to the right to carry fire arms allowed by the second amendment of the constitution of United States of America.
The subject of guns has always been sensitive with me. I am apalled that there are so many men and women who feel that there is need to carry a gun for any reason other than shooting at dart boards. Now every state in the US has minor variations of the laws pertaining to guns. I am not sure how many states have similar laws, but the state of Arizona allows the citizens to carry firearms without a license as long as it is visible and they do not use it. I believe no federal law can over ride this. Okay, this seems all hunky-dory on paper but Obama's recent presence in Arizona just emphasized how risky this law is.
A few people who attended Obama's health-care conference openly carried guns. One person even carried an AR-15 rifle. These men said that they were just trying to uphold their second amendment rights. One man's explanation was" If you do not use your rights, you lose your rights". All of these men also incidentally happened to be protesting against the new health-care policy. Other people in the gathering viewed it as a clear act of intimidation and a threat to people who were there to uphold their first amendment rights. Eventually, people will forget this incident because nothing eventful happened.
The non-occurrence of a fatality was sheer luck I would associate with first time events. But now, this right has been so well publicized in a manner that it clearly opens up new vistas to potential troublemakers. I am afraid of future repercussions. Even a not-so-well informed man can guess how easy it is for a crazed terrorist (who has no fear for his life) to wreak havoc and further destabilize the world. While I am nervous that the possibilities for chaos are enormous, I am even more distressed that the federal government cannot even do anything about it. The Supreme Court ruled last year that an outright ban on carrying firearms is a violation of the second amendment!
I have heard similar arguments from the law-makers of other countries which revolve around an obsession to uphold constitutional laws written many decades ago. In this particular case, over two centuries ago. I doubt that the authors of the Bill of Rights envisaged the blood thirsty world we live in today two hundred years back. In those lost ages, while the law and order mechanism was not as well regulated, the inherent goodness among men was more prevalent. There weren't so many fundamentalist groups warring for causes they even don't remember.There was not such a clear hierarchy of power among different countries of the world. Globalization which brought different countries to war as much as they brought lucrative friendships amongst others did not exist then.( I pause to mention that I believe that the common kind of friendship among countries is the lucrative one). Well anyway, the point I am trying to make is that we need not trust the wisdom of our predecessors on every issue. their lack of foresight need not prevent us from having any. There must be a way for the Congress to bring in an amendment to get around the second amendment and various state laws at least so a national leader can travel in a weapon free environment.
On a personal note, even though I am not important enough to be assasinated, I would feel extremely uncomfortable to be among a group of people openly displaying weapons. I am sure there are a lot of people who share my feelings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blue Blues are Not Just Blue

Another Indian celebrity visits the US.. Another airport detention..another media circus. Somehow some people never tire fuming about how their favourite celebrity was once again humiliated and some others never tire idolizing the impartial and 'extreme'ly committed spirit of the men in blue.

I am definitely no great fan of SRk but I deinitely tend to look at this incident as another one of those unexplainable unjustifiable acts by the TSA. Let me first narrate a perosnal experience with the border patrol guards in the USA. I and a bunch of friends happened to be travelling near the Mexican border without any photo identity or documents to prove that we were legal immigrants in the country. As luck would have it, we were stopped and questioned by the border patrol and were detained for about two hours until they could completely verify our identities and our stories. I had no complaints against the border patrol then. I knew they were only doing their job.

I would not be complaining against them now if they had just pulled SRK out of line to verify his identity and let him go. The tricky part to gloss over is the fact that he was detained for two hours inspite of having all his documents in order, with ample proofs of his identity and his purpose of visit and without any apparent provocation. I am at a loss to understand why common people fail to have self respect enough to see that this was not an incident of common protocol.
Here is a frequent visitor of the US, claiming to be famous in his country. Is the claim so difficult to check that the Indian consulate needs to intervene to secure his release???

In my opinion, this was clearly not an incident of purely obssessive security measures. The official in question could have had any number of motives. He could have been one of those naive americans set out to teach the world who is boss...or he coild have an aversion to the growing Asian population in his country..or he could have just have left home after an argument with his wife.

In the end it just boils down to flouting of power which is a common probem worldwide. Only, the classes of affected people are different in different places. Although SRk would never have been detained or questioned in India, how many Indians feel as strongly about the numerous poeple among the low income groups in India being harassed by the Indian police for no valid reasons. Much like most other problems in today's world, we never try to resolve problems at grass-root levels and talk about meaningless isolated incidents. Why do such incidents occur? What is the pattern among all such isolated incidents? Even if we identify the problem, is there a solution?