Those of us who live in mature liberal democracies such as the United Kingdom and all of Western Europe have a lot to thank the United States for – not least her huge role in ridding Europe of tyranny in the Second World War. In my case I have always seen America’s own democratic processes as a model for the world and believe the American constitution and the Bill of Rights (etc.) to be inspiring and moving documents. I cannot be labelled anti-American – I love the country and its people and it’s always a privilege to visit. So when I criticise certain aspects of American society it as a firm friend not an enemy.

If we take the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world, Canada and our friends and allies in Europe as reasonable models (I think that we can) there are two important aspects of America which are institutionally evil and which would not be tolerated anywhere else in this free world. (I am not talking about the grotesque Guantanamo Bay wickedness here as whilst this is a vile stain on America’s prestige and reputation it is in no way permanent or typical. Hopefully when Bush goes Guantanamo goes as well). No what I am talking is America’s ridiculous and reprehensible gun laws and many states continued affection for capital punishment.

On BNN in the last week or so we have suffered the grotesque postings by a number of contributors supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the right to bear arms. These postings are as introspective and ignorant as they are just plain wrong. The Supreme Court’s ruling over the meaning of the Second Amendment has gun enthusiasts rejoicing. The sane response is not to suggest that the lawyers on the Court are wrong but that, for the world of the 21st Century, the Second Amendment is wrong. I won’t go into the arguments here – they seem to me to be so overwhelming that you need to be terminally dim not to see them but here’s one story which says it all.

The same applies to Capital punishment. Again the arguments against judicial execution are overwhelming – for anyone who wants chapter and verse then follow this link.

So the points that play here are:

(1) America is out of step with every other country in the civilized world in having the right to bear arms in its constitution and in retaining Capital Punishment.

(2) Those of us who love and defend America have our arguments cut away not just by the fingers pointing at the Bush administration (we can argue that Bush will soon be history) but by these institutionalised injustices which are much more difficult to defend.
 

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