Saturday, April 20, 2013

Real Time With Bill Maher: Counterpoints (4/19/13)

 We had a relatively strong panel this episode, with no real idiot or showboat there to ruin things. But the discussion was pretty muted, and I seriously dislike Salman Rushdie's arrogance. But let's get to the counterpoints.

Bill Maher: There is no other religion in the world today that has the ability to inspire hatred as Islam does.

This is a problematic position to have. And I wonder why it doesn't cause any cognitive dissonance because although Bill realizes that Christianity once had a similarly checkered past of violence towards other people, he dismisses it out of hand because it's not happening today. Religion doesn't kill people. People kill people. And they will use whatever they can to justify and facilitate their hatred. Instead of blaming religion, you should blame the conditions in which these people grow up in.

And just because most Muslims polled probably wouldn't care if a person who insulted the prophet Mohammed died doesn't mean something's wrong. Our political system works fine despite the fact that 40% of Republicans think that President Obama was born in another country.

Bill Maher 2: In our post 9/11 world, I feel like this incident represents a maturation of the American people in its response to acts of terrorism.

They shut down Boston and its surrounding suburbs for the entire day to catch one person, even when they were sure that they had him confined to a 20 block radius. I don't think our response matured at all. And it's a complete joke to compare this incident to 9/11, which killed 1200x more people and destroyed billions of dollars of wealth in a single day.

Bill Maher 3: How does our country have a political system where a position that 90% of the people support doesn't get turned into law?

90% of the country also wants cheaper cars, free money, prestigious jobs, and prime real estate. That doesn't mean they expect to get it or expect that they have a realistic chance of getting it. The fact of the matter is that Amy Holmes was right. Support for this position is a mile wide and an inch deep. This issue doesn't drive people to the polls because people tacitly realize that gun violence is not a huge problem in this country.

Salman Rushdie: Every other modern country in the world has simple majority rules. *glares at America*

I hate foreigners who come to our country and criticize the fact that we're different. Simple majority rules is a huge reason why other countries have political systems that are often more dysfunctional than ours. There are much weaker checks and balances and much less minority protection which is why governments overseas often have erratic changes in policy enforcement, which leads to greater instability and more economic uncertainty.

Colin Goddard: A ban on high capacity magazines would prevent the body count for mass shootings from piling up so high.

This is pretty backwards logic. The vast majority of these mass shootings occur on ostensibly "gun free" zones where other people aren't legally allowed to carry firearms. And magazines are such simple objects (literally a metal box with a spring mechanism) that it would take no time at all for a person to circumvent a low capacity magazine.

I've said it repeatedly in the past but we can't let these exceptions right the rules that other people live by. If some idiot goes on a rampage with an F350 and runs over 50 people in a crowded walkway, are we going to ban heavy duty trucks to civilian ownership? No, we would write off the incident as some mentally disturbed person trying to kill as many people as possible and then go about our business.

At the same time, when Bill Maher expressed his disbelief at Gabby Giffords still supporting individual gun ownership, it's completely baffling. If you get into a car accident, are you going to be against individual car ownership once you finish your physical rehab?


There is one point that Bill mentioned which I do agree on, that I feel is important enough to warrant a separate concurrence, and that's this:

Bill Maher: It is completely unfathomable that a Senator from California has the same status as a Senator from Wyoming.

I dislike the Senate. It is grossly unrepresentative of the American people. And it makes it possible for sparsely populated states to extract huge concessions from states where people actually live in. There should be an additional cost associated with living in the sticks, not a political material benefit.

We should amend the Constitution to abolish the Senate and only have the House as the legislative branch of the US. In order to give consideration to states, each state will be guaranteed at least 3 representatives. To me, this represents a much more equitable and sensible distribution of political power in the legislature, because right now small state Senators wield power disproportionate to their electorate, and it hurts the overall legislative process.

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