Barney’s bullet strategy and unintended consequences

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.  



BBS thought experiment [continues] 

BBS = “Barney’s Bullet strategy” (i.e., eliminating mass gun violence) [week one; week two]

A “thought experiment” is a lot like fiction, in that it requires a temporary suspension of disbelief. BBS definitely puts one’s imagination to the test.

The BBS thought experiment especially requires suspension of disbelief, because people tacitly know that any significant rule or regulation that lacks an enforcement mechanism is useless, at best. We’ve been learning this lesson explicitly through the ongoing “gun control” dilemma. —I note, some elected leaders are sounding as if they may finally make some incremental changes. “It’s minimal, but it’s something,” they say. We’ll see! Hope it won’t be just, “Hey, we tried!”


Embed from Getty Images



It’s fascinating, really. I’ve been in conversation with people who will have and want to discuss practical concerns about the numbers of bullets and so forth. At the same time they make no mention of “nano-chip-bearing bullets” or a “California-sized manmade-island.” Apparently, they’re willing to ignore those ideas (suspend disbelief) or not question them because of the critical role they play in introducing the possibility of real accountability. 

Further, if you read the first missive, “Barney’s bullet” gun safety, and the comment that I wrote under it, you’ll note that I made a point of describing enforcement as infallibly providing instantaneous justice. It was when I realized upon reflection that the “infallibility” and “instantaneous justice” features sent my contemplation whirling like a Sufi dervish. 



Thought experiment collides with mythology

One of the themes in the New Testament is expressed through the characterization of a political group. By “political,” I mean a group that the story connects with an ideology that the group expresses in society through its words and deeds. 

As a ‘source’ for the take I’m going to offer, I’d cite Brian McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus, at least for its basic framework. (Jesus’ message was out in the open, but that’s the title. Perhaps McLaren had a different title, but his editor/publisher preferred this one. If I had more time this week I’d clip some audio, as I have the book on disc. Perhaps I’ll circle back on that at some point in a slow news week. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it; time may have altered the memory without my realizing it.) Anyway.

This political group is the Pharisees. They are presented as a group of particularly fine, upstanding religious people of their day. While other groups could also claim that general description, the Pharisees were distinct in their ideas about the Jewish faith they shared with Jesus. 




As a reminder, I did mean for the fantasy aspects to indicate a large, playful, open space in which to consider the problem of gun violence. However, I did not knowingly write this Pharisee connection into the original ‘Barney’s bullet gun safety’ piece and the comment under it. The connection and some implications came to me while I was reflecting on my previous missive. 

According to the Pharisees, if society could just rid itself of those who violate the rules, then all would be well. This is perhaps quite obvious on the face of it; but the problem is how to identify all the non-compliant folks. [The Apostle Paul reconciled this problem a bit differently than the Pharisees, turning their premise upside down, in fact.] The Pharisees honored the 613 laws from the Torah, including the Ten Commandments. This is cumbersome, at best. So, theoretically, what the Pharisees might covet over all else is a universal metric, a tool to definitively discern all the guilty.



A Pharisee’s dream?

It occurred to me that BBS might be a Pharisee attractor/revealer. If folks in the dystopian world BBS presents are willing to accept the idea that having more than two or three bullets in the public space is the moral red line, with an infallible enforcement scheme that provides instantaneous justice (violators simply disappear to bullet island for at least 12 months), then the theory of the Pharisees that everything would be fine could be pragmatically tested. But is “the Island” big enough? Suppose folks want to stay on the island?



It’s occurred to me that Pharisees of every age long for, and seek a means to achieve the same false promise, i.e., as a way to sort the good from the bad and then separate out the bad from their midst. As I said above, Paul turned the idea on it’s head: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, RSV).


The lure of “law and order” is age-old [cf. Pharisees]. BBS has a dark side (i.e., potential overreach) that is well worth contemplating as a cautionary tale. That doesn’t mean I think we should fail to use the thought experiment to playfully explore possible ways of limiting gun violence. 


  Next week: UMC schism, a holistic take. [this post ~825 words]  

Your thoughts? 




One thought on “Barney’s bullet strategy and unintended consequences

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s