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View Diary: If government is full of tyranny, why arm it to the teeth? (239 comments)

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  •  To many people, the gun may be a talisman, (7+ / 0-)
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    Aunt Pat, kharma, RichM, ssgbryan, Possiamo, fumie, wader

    but it's also a projection of the penis, particularly the power the penis projects.  Owning and firing guns gives them a sense of power unattainable for them without the ability a gun gives them to exert that power over others.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 10:16:44 AM PDT

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      •  The same thing. (1+ / 0-)
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        The sex of the person holding the gun is not a distinction in the desire for the power the gun projects.  

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 04:11:00 PM PDT

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        •  That's sad, and not for them. (2+ / 0-)
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          SueDe, DavidMS

          Reviewing unsubstantiated, mostly "derogatory ... speculative literature on the personality characteristics of gun owners," the NIJ Evaluation (p.120) mentions "the psychoanalytic" view that "weapons are phallic symbols representing male dominance and masculine power." The idea of gun ownership as sexual aberration has been casually espoused by such anti-gun luminaries as Arthur Schlessinger Jr., Harlan Ellison, Mike Royko, and Joyce Brothers.[41] The only serious study endorsing this view is by psychiatrist Emmanuel Tanay who sees "the need for a gun" as serving "libidinal purposes ... to enhance or repair a damaged self-image ..., and involving "narcissism ..., [p]assivity, and insecurity".[42]

          There is no viable argument for the penis theory as against pragmatic explanations for gun ownership. Psychiatrist Bruce Danto rejects the penis theory because it fails to account for female gun ownership. In fact, 50 percent of those who own a (p.12)gun only for protection are women (especially black women), even though women are much less likely than men to own guns for sport.[43] This pattern is more accurately explained by a woman's need for protection than by feelings of penile inadequacy.

          Dr. Danto also notes that the penis theory would predict that male gun owners would lean toward the largest barrel and bore weapons available. But the respective popularity of guns of different sizes uniformly appears to reflect purely pragmatic concerns.[44] The penis theory is equally incapable of explaining other demographic differentials in gun ownership. When all gun owners are counted (not just those who own for protection alone), survey evidence shows that

              gun owners are disproportionately rural, Southern, male, Protestant, affluent and middle class ... [and that] weapons ownership tends to increase with income, or occupational prestige, or both.[45]

          The explanations here are, once again, purely pragmatic; hunting is more an activity of rural people generally, and Southerners particularly, than of city dwellers. Among urbanites, guns are most owned by the affluent because they are more likely to hunt--and also to have the money to afford guns and property that they may need to defend. Most guns are owned for sport, and males more than females engage in gun sports. Survey show Protestants are more likely to hunt than Catholics or Jews (Protestantism is most predominant in rural areas); beyond that, Protestants and gun owners both tend to be descended from older American stock, retaining cultural values redolent of the "individualistic orientation that emanated from the American frontier ..."[46](p.13)

          In contrast, the penis theory has no explanatory value for these demographic trends. Are Protestants or the affluent or rural dwellers or Southerners more subject to feelings of penile inadequacy than Catholics or urbanites or the poor, and so forth? Incidentally, it may be relevant to note that surveys show gun owners are no more hostile to feminism and the women's movement than are non-owners.[47]

          Tanay's arguments for the penis theory validate only his own (self-admitted) fear and loathing of guns. He asserts that "the owner's overvaluation of his gun's worth is an indication of its libidinal value to him." Because Tanay never attempts to explain what "overvaluation" means, there is nothing to distinguish guns from the "overvaluation" involved in having other collectibles. People who do not share the passion often marvel at the amounts of time and money spent by others who "over-value" such more or less intrinsically worthless items as old phonograph records, musical instruments, cars, political campaign buttons, stamps, coins, and candelabra.[48] Much the same problem characterizes Tanay's evidence of "narcissistic investment":

              Most of the dedicated gun owners handle the gun with obvious pleasure; they look after the gun, clean, polish, and pamper it ... speak of their love and respect for guns.

          Most, if not all, collectors revere the objects they collect; they clean and polish them (if coins or antiques) or encase them (if gems or musical instruments) in velvet, suede, or other attractive settings. Are all collectors motivated by feelings of penile inadequacy? Or does Dr. Tanay's depiction of gun owners reflect only his own narrow-minded inability to evaluate the feelings of those who love and respect something he admittedly loathes?

          A final point of interest is Dr. Tanay's citation of Freud's view that weapons may symbolize the penis in dreams. This, Freud said, is true of dreams involving any long object (e.g., "sticks, umbrellas, poles, trees") but especially objects that may be viewed as penetrating and injuring ("... knives, daggers, lances, sabers; firearms are similarly used ..."). This passage refers to dreams in general without distinguishing gun owners from others. Dr. Tanay is perhaps unaware of--in any event, he does not cite--other passages more relevant to his argument. In these other passages Freud associates retarded sexual and emotional development not with gun ownership, but (p.14)with fear and loathing of weapons.[49] The probative importance that ought to be attached to the views of Freud is, of course, a matter of opinion. The point here is only that those views provide no support for the penis theory of gun ownership.

          •  Very interesting. (0+ / 0-)

            Thank you for the extensive exposition.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Tue Apr 02, 2013 at 05:54:37 PM PDT

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    •  I have never seen so much obsession (1+ / 0-)
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      With speculating on penis sizes as I have in discussions about firearms... all from the anti-gun ownership side. A lot of you really have a one-track mind in that sense.

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