This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours

Urgh. What a horrible week or so it’s been. I survived a massive haemorrhagic stroke for this?!

At around 2am on the morning of Sunday 12 June, a man walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. By the time two hours had passed, 49 people who had been in the club had been killed, and 43 injured. To highlight the disproportionate risk of violence people in the LGBT community face, it’s worth mentioning that Pulse is one of Orlando’s most popular gay clubs.

When even a Mail on Sunday commentator is saying this, it’s hard to imagine that America’s incredible rates of gun violence will ease any time soon:

1,600 kids aged 0-17 killed in gun violence so far this year

During my years in the States, I took for granted that part of the reason there is no US version of the UK’s 1997 Firearms (Amendment) Acts (which banned private possession of handguns almost completely in the wake of the Dunblane massacre) was the organised lobbying strength of the National Rifle Association. Y’know, using a rating system based on members’ voting histories and that sort of thing.

I think everyone did. But I feel like it was rarely discussed that what is really going on under that relatively benign description is that

the NRA spent $984,152 on campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle. It also spent more than $3 million on lobbying in both 2013 and 2014. The NRA also spent $28,212,718 on outside political contributions during this period, which includes ads paid for directly by the NRA.

Put simply, if you are a politician who wants to run a well-funded campaign, don’t get on the wrong side of the NRA. Cos if you do, you’ll be facing a candidate who is running a well-funded campaign.

“As former president of the NRA, I’m giving you TEN!!!”

Because, per Business Insider, the NRA vacuums in millions upon millions upon millions of dollars from donations and advertising. That money comes from firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.

Maybe that’s why the man who killed British MP, Jo Cox, on Monday reportedly used a homemade gun to shoot his victim three times.

Picking up on a theme, Jo Cox was working on a report on anti-Muslim attacks before her death

In the aftermath of that particular tragedy, the EU referendum campaign was suspended until the Sunday morning politics shows came on air. One tiny shaft of light in a horrible week, I suppose.

As I check the news before putting up this post, I see that Nigel Farage, leader of the “Eurosceptic and right-wing populist political party” UKIP has just used his LBC Radio call-in programme to accuse David Cameron of trying to exploit Jo Cox’s death to help the Remain campaign.

We're on a boat!
“Everything will be great, Joey Essex. Just wear one of these, for god’s sake!”

Except, he didn’t quite say that, of course. No, when asked if he was accusing Cameron of opportunism, Nigel Farage replied:

I think people are intelligent enough to make their minds up on that.

Because saying what you believe and taking responsibility for it is not part of what UK commentators and politicians are calling the post-truth environment. Ooh, what a terribly sophisticated remark. Except that it’s not.

“No, it IS very clever!”

Yes, during #indyref, I made the point that people have a tendency to present their own versions of truth for their own ends. And I should know. Before my stroke, I was a financial lawyer!!!

WOCKA WOCKA!!! (Click this link – it’s awesome!)

So, when Sayeeda Warsi changed her position on the #EUref from Leave to Remain during the past 24 hours, of course the two sides of the referendum picked their words very carefully. Brexiteers noted that it was rubbish to state that she had ever been “Leave” (notwithstanding that she might have been “leave”). Remainers were happy to glom onto The London Times’ initial headline about a Brexit camp in turmoil after leading Tory defects.

This is, as so often, a reflection of (not so) modern philosophy, and the Nietzschean idea that  – as Simon Blackburn relates it in an actually sophisticated discussion of truth here – there is not fact, only interpretation. But Professor Blackburn suggests that, in the wake of the work of Professor Crispin Wright at the University of Aberdeen and New York University, this idea may be on the wane.

“The big German number 10’s not going to like that!”

I’m attracted to the idea that, depending on what kind of truth we are talking about, the idea of truth as a value – the idea of trying to perceive a realistic view of the world so that one can make some sort of marginal effort at making it better – may be more important than a “literal truth” of the words one uses not being disprovable. At least, not during the presently occurring news cycle.

While, as noted in an earlier post on Diana Windsor, née Spencer, I’m not one for hopping on a grief train, it’s worth remembering that the loss of a human life and the potential it holds is a tragedy. And a public, specific, loss is a moment to think about private loss, and loss more generally.

More my speed, usually.

As the House of Commons was recalled today to reflect on the life of Jo Cox, Jeremy Corbyn related that Jo Cox didn’t just believe in loving her neighbour, she believed in loving her neighbour’s neighbour. She saw a a world of neighbours. She believed every life counted equally.

Her life was a demonstration against despair.

From everything that has been said and written during recent days, that seems to be a literal truth, and value worth pursuing.

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