Samís Bus Ride

A friend of mine in California wrote this analogy. Drew is a gifted writer and should probably write his own blog. However, he has resisted my previous suggestions in this regard. So, with his permission, I have decided to occasionally post some of his writings at Solport.

Sam gets on a city bus. People from all over town are on the bus. After a few stops a family gets on: Saddam, the father, his wife, Mrs. Iraq, and their three small sons, Sunni, Shia and Kurd.

Saddam isnít a nice man. He takes out a club and beats Mrs. Saddam, Sunni and Shia until they are bloody. No one on the bus does a thing. Eventually Saddam even kills little Kurd. And he keeps on beating the others. Sam looks around and no one on the bus is doing anything, but Sam decides that enough is enough. He goes up to Saddam and says ďStop. Stop absolutely. Donít do that or I will use whatever force it takes to stop you from killing Mrs Iraq, Sunni and Shia like you just killed little Kurd.Ē

To prove to Saddam that he really will do ďwhatever is necessary to stop himĒ he shows Saddam he is carrying a gun.

At this point, to Samís amazement, all the people on the bus who havenít done a thing up to now begin a big debate. To Samís annoyance they tell Saddam that they can stop Sam from shooting. Sam would rather Saddam stopped beating his family to death due to the threat of the gun, and Sam isnít happy the crowd on the bus are pushing the situation to where Sam will now have to actually use the gun. There was never any question that Sam would sit down and join the rest of the passengers silently watching Saddam beat his family to death. That isnít Samís nature. The passengers should know that. Just last week Sam was on this bus and a guy named Milosevich did the same thing. The Bus Driver (a guy named Kofi) told Sam he couldnít do anything because he didnít have the votes. Sam ignored Kofi and Miloseivch is currently in jail despite Kofiís moral objections.

But Sam notices something else too. The people on the bus are talking as though they think it will either be moral or immoral to shoot Saddam based on the group vote, not on the nature of the act itself. They arenít going to shoot Saddam. None of them brought a gun. Sam will or will not shoot Saddam. Sam will live for the rest of his life with the memory and the consequences of either shooting Saddam personally or standing by, capable of shooting Saddam but not doing so, and permitting (by inaction) Saddam to kill one or more members of his family. Why do all these other people think they will make Samís act moral or immoral by a group vote? Do these people think life and death morality is something that is voted on?

And they are all talking like they have, by their vote, the right to control the use or non-use of Samís gun. Control of the use of something is ownership. Sam bought a gun and learned how to use it. Guns are expensive. The other people on the bus donít have guns. Some donít because they think guns are immoral. Some donít because they have spent all their money on the pensions to support elderly relatives or on farm subsidies and canít afford a gun. But they seem to think that since Sam has a gun and they donít, this is some sort of ďgroup gun.Ē

Like most analogies, this one is not perfect. For example, Sam actually has lots of other friends with him, many of whom are also armed. However, I think Drewís story clearly points out the differences between the French/German/Belgium perspective and the Liberate Iraq perspective.


You know what would really make this great? Illustrations, or those little pictures that replace some words. And then it could be like that apple story that my pastor used way back in the day to explain the interrelationships between the persons of the Trinity (So you see, although the apple has a peel, meat, and a core, it is still... ONE APPLE).

Posted by: Flakbait | 04/12/2004 - 03:19 PM

...And posted before finishing.

As I was saying, other than that, I found it to be a fairly good comparison, and certainly entertaining.

Posted by: Flakbait | 04/12/2004 - 03:21 PM

Sam still rides the bus

Sam still rides the bus across town. There is still work to do out at the plant and that is a long way from the good neighbourhood where Sam lives. That neighbourhood has banks, cable TV, law and the best cops money could buy. Sam had lived there all his life. His friends Tommy and Jose lived down the hill in an older neighbourhood. That was still quite a nice place but older and more relaxed. Sam goes to barbeques there. It seems OK but he does not like Henri and Helmut just now, they sneer at him and turn away a lot.

After the trouble with Saddam, Sam asked Tommy and Jose to watch his back while he did the necessary. They had guns, older models and no spare ammo. Tommy practiced as much as he could afford, maybe Jose did and maybe he did not. So Sam made a citizens arrest on Saddam and shot up his street a bit. It was very noisy and people did not settle down quickly.

On the bus things stayed unsettled for a long while. This seemed strange. Old Kofi the driver still smiled and sold the tickets. He had a word for everyone and just chatted. Sam reckoned Kofi did not have a gun. But then the Bus Company did not pay a black driver very much and maybe they had rules about drivers and guns. Sam was not impressed and sometimes did not drop his fare in the slot, he would drop some silver in at the end of the week to make it up. Old Kofi would always just smile and nod.

The bus was very noisy then. The people from the poorer neighbourhoods chatted even more, they formed circles and talked in many languages. They looked over their shoulders at Sam, Tommy and Jose. Were they plotting to take their guns? Form a new world order? Convene a supreme soviet?

Sam thought about his brother in law, Bubba. Bubba was weird, he lived with Sis and their kids up in the hills. Every year he came down in his pickup to stamp "paid under protest" on his taxes and give the ATF cops the finger sign. Sis sent letters saying "it's not so bad" so Sam kept quiet. He was worried though. He thought Tommy and Jose were a bit scared of Bubba and his militia. But was Bubba right? Dunno.

Actually the other passengers were doing none of these things. Most of them were wondering where the next meal were coming from. Some of them were worrying about the rent or the bank loan. Some were just plain scared. Gaucho and Punto were very scared, though acted macho. In their neighbourhood the street gangs occasionally took some people. You found their corpses in the street at dawn. The gangs did not bother to burn the corpses with petrol. You could tell they had been tortured with electricity. It was common knowledge that they did not even bother with questions, you just hoped that your heart would give out. There was no point hanging on because they just tortured you
to death. Sam, Tommy and Jose could easily forget this with their law and their cops. The problem was that in the bad neighbourhoods there was order, of a sort, but no real law.

And then there was the new East side. Their policy was "you leave us alone, we leave you alone." Not much problem but no eventual solution.

Sam, Tommy and Jose could not agree on a general solution. Jose's neighbourhood had once controlled most of the town, then Tommy's people had taken over. They always had stories and answers why something would not work. Everything had been tried. They were so earnest about avoiding past mistakes. Sam got toothache after a while. These guys had so many excuses to avoid action. Sam's people had so much more stuff and power than the old
neighbourhoods. It could be different.

And so it went. They took the bus to the plant every day. The poor folk down near the door kept looking up at Sam and his friends. Some of the looks were fearful, some blank. Giving little away. The richer folk up at the top did not quite see things the same way. As long as the bus did not erupt in a knife fight Kofi the driver called the day a success. Things could be much worse, indeed they had been in the past.

People on the bus see events in quite a different way. As criminologists note, witnesses are quite selective.

Posted by: Cobden | 04/17/2004 - 05:41 AM
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