Still thinking about the gun control question: I've had trouble articulating even to myself my reasons for thinking that a definitive repudiation of the right to keep and bear arms--i.e., repeal of the 2nd Amendment--would represent a major change in the culture and the self-understanding of this country, and even imply at least the possibility of rejecting other provisions in the Bill of Rights, such as the freedoms of speech and press. That's not just paranoia: reports of efforts to shut down free speech on university campuses appear frequently. And of course there is an awful lot of overlap between the gun-banners and the would-be censors. Reports of the latter aren't just about the shout-downs and the "no-platforming": they're also about polls of young people that show support for the censoring of "hate speech." That might not be so worrisome, as no right is absolute, if it weren't for the practice of so many on the left of declaring that any speech which offends them is simply an expression of hate, and even implicitly a physical threat. It's primarily about political speech, with a grossly overextended definition of "political"--the personal is the political! and vice versa. And political speech is precisely what the first amendment is intended to protect, and precisely what these people want to censor, not pornography, libel, or any other kind of speech that used to be considered outside of constitutional protection.
This piece at National Review about Joyce Lee Masters, a scholar who is an expert in the history of the right to keep and bear arms, provides some support for my intuition. She shows that prior to the American founding it was well known that rulers believed that they had very good reasons not to grant that right, and that accordingly there were good reasons for America's founders to insist upon it and to put it into the Constitution.
You can argue that those considerations no longer apply, and that's a fair point. But I sometimes hear people say "Only the police and the military should be allowed to have guns." Whatever you think of that, it implies a view of the relationship between governed and governing which is very, very different from that assumed in the Constitution, and, more subtly but no less strongly, in the whole spirit and temperament of the American republic.
Routine disclaimer: I'm not a gun enthusiast, not an NRA member, and not opposed to legal measures that would keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them to harm others while leaving the basic right intact.
Chances of that last thing happening--the prudent balancing of the two concerns--seem to be growing slimmer, though. As a practical matter it's difficult. And laws have to be enforced: from what I've read it seems pretty clear that the Parkland shooter could and should have been stopped under existing law. As a political matter, in this as in so many other matters, the country is becoming more polarized. Gun controllers are more and more open about their desire to repeal the 2nd Amendment as a step toward getting rid of private ownership of guns altogether, or at least severely restricting it. And gun proponents therefore resist any regulation at all as precisely one of those steps. When "common sense restrictions" are discussed, there's little agreement on what "common sense" means. Both sides might say with John Prine 'That common sense don't make no sense no more."
I've read different opinions on the question of whether Sundays during Lent should be considered part of Lent or not, at least as far as whatever Lenten discipline one has undertaken is concerned. Like a lot of people, I've chosen the answer I prefer, which is that you can give yourself a break on Sundays. That's how it came about that on a long drive on the fourth Sunday of Lent this year I listened to several of NPR's Tiny Desk concerts, though I had decided to listen only to classical music during Lent.
I had subscribed, via my phone, to the Tiny Desk podcast some months ago, but had never actually listened to an episode. So the podcast app on the phone was perpetually pointing out to me that I had some fifty or sixty unheard episodes, and it was getting on my nerves a bit. It wasn't actively nagging me, but every time I looked at the phone I'd see that little red dot with a number in it, and it gave me a very slight but real sense that there was something I needed to take care of; these smart phones have a way of inducing such feelings. (I know, I could probably turn off even that relatively unintrusive notification, but that itself requires giving some attention to the device.)
I was getting a little tired of Mozart, and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time had proved to be very unsuitable for the car--too much dynamic variation. So the last couple of hours of the five-and-a-half hour drive seemed like a good opportunity to get some of those podcasts out of the way. I had never heard of most of the artists on the list, so I didn't pick and choose, just plugged the phone into the car's stereo and hit "play" on the most recent episode and just let it go till I was almost home.
Each Tiny Desk concert is twenty minutes or so long. I think I had heard three or four and wasn't much taken with any of them until Anna Meredith came up. I'd never heard the name and expected to hear a singer-songwriter with her guitar, and, to be frank, was not going to be surprised to find her a bit on the dull side. I mean, you know...the one gal or guy with only voice and guitar...if the songs aren't really top-notch, that can be a bit dull. But then the music started, and it grabbed me and didn't let go until the end of the first piece, which is called "Nautilus." Here's a YouTube video for it; what I heard was pretty much the same, except for that wobbly sound that comes in around 2:30, but a couple of minutes longer.
I find this weirdly exhilarating. I was of course only hearing it, and I guess I had it turned up fairly loud. I thought it must involve a dozen or more people banging and blowing on things. I was surprised when I learned later that there were only five of them.
When I got home, I naturally I had to find out right away who Anna Meredith is. She is a young (b. 1978--well, young to me anyway) Scottish composer. I think, based on her Wikipedia entry, that she started out in the classical world but now is sort of all over the place. So let's just leave it at "composer and performer of music."
Lent being over, I sought out the Tiny Desk video. The music had been fun to hear, but seeing it performed was even more fun. I have now watched this video three times, and enjoyed it more each time. Their energy and enthusiasm and lack of pretension or posturing, the way they seem to be enjoying what they're doing so very much, are a joy to watch. See for yourself:
I don't know how you'd classify this music. Just file it under "Delightful."