Leonard Pitts Jr.
It should've been the shot heard around the world. Chances are, you didn't hear it.
An ominous sort of history was made near
A 3-D printer, for the benefit of those who remember when the mimeograph machine was the cutting edge of duplication technology, is a device that can download computer blueprints and use them to manufacture complex physical objects right on your desktop.
The one Defense Distributed used is said to have cost
So we now have technology, largely unregulated, with the potential to turn every desktop into an armory.
Hold that thought as you ponder another recent headline. It seems one
While D.C. residents are allowed to have registered firearms on their property, they are not allowed to carry them in public. Police Chief
Kokesh, apparently delusional, promises to turn back peacefully if confronted, but says it is his hope the city will suspend the law for him and even provide his group a police escort.
You will not be surprised to learn that, by "tyranny," Kokesh means the duly elected (not a hanging chad in sight) president of
Because it isn't. Kokesh's march is just the latest product of the great American panic machine, the mechanism by which the extreme right works itself into spasms of apoplectic terror over threats that don't exist.
"We're going to be under sharia law!"
Except, we're not.
"We've become a socialist country!"
Except we haven't.
"There's a War on Christmas!"
Except there isn't.
"They're trying to take our guns away!"
Except that it is now theoretically possible for a mental patient to manufacture his own gun in the comfort of his aluminum foil-lined basement. That's a sobering development with far reaching implications barely considered, much less addressed, by lawmakers though this technology has existed for over a decade. Since Wilson's test, there's been a flurry of calls for legislation. On Friday, the federal government ordered Wilson to remove the blueprints from his website. All of which is the very epitome of locking the garage after the Hyundai has been hot-wired.
It's a pity some of the energy that has gone into fighting imaginary tyranny did not go into pondering this real and eminently predictable threat. But, then, we are unserious people in a very serious age.
And therein lies the danger of the panic machine. We spend so much time fighting threats that do not exist, we are left ill-prepared for the ones that do.
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- Why the Boston Bombers Succeeded
- What Next After Boston?
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- Boston Marathon Bombings: Horror Without Terror, Just Anger
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- Gun Laws and Human Nature
c) 2013, Tribune Media Services Inc.