What sounds good, must be good: part 3-The People’s view of control (Cross-posted from Blogodidact)
Rounding out these
last couple posts on defending our Rights from their defenders, particularly those which are defended by the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution, there’s a quote by Thomas Sowell which comes to mind, and which, I think, sums our last century up very well:
“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good. In area after area — crime, education, housing, race relations — the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.” - “Is Reality Optional?” – Thomas Sowell (1993)
The view that our Rights can be arbitrarily experimented upon, on the basis of “Well, it’s just common sense to limit…“, is one that is far too common, and no doubt largely thanks to the successful work of our ‘educational system‘. But as I’ve pointed out in the last two posts, here and here, this is not a view that is isolated to our intellectuals or legislators alone, I heard these same views, coming from several different forums, over the last week, and they are ‘arguments’ that We The People must learn to combat, or our Rights will lose the support of our laws.
The good news is that defending our Rights against these ‘arguments’ is not a difficult task. What they typically amount to, is that those who are more than willing to speak for ‘the largely too stupid’ members of We The People, say that they want gun control, because they want to be controlled. They don’t put it this way of course, but there is no other worthwhile interpretation.
The difficult part of winning the argument, is convincing those making it, that there actually is another argument to be made, that it has been made, and that our nation was founded upon it. This is not such an easy task against those who think that ‘if it sounds good, it must be good’, and who think that government is there, not to defend our Rights, but to make our lives easier, smoother, safer.
ProRegressives, of the left and the right, want government to control our environment as much as possible, so as to produce the Utopian ideal which they feel will result from such top down imposition of ‘common sense’ ideas. Because they are Utopian, because they can’t imagine their notions not being ‘a good idea’, they want to see them imposed upon us all, so that we can all be happily controlled towards a better life. And there are a great many of our fellow Americans who want just this very thing.
That’s a problem.
In this post, I’m going to hit on a few of the common positions that I ran into most often in the wake of the Aurora CO theater shooting. One person, after I posted a few links on the results, and unexpected results, of gun controls, which didn’t support their position, asked me if I had a ‘confirmation bias’. They didn’t refute the information in links of course (which I provided not as proof, but only to indicate that there were legitimate questions worth asking of their own assumptions), they attacked the source (ad hominem), and my unwillingness to accept their view.
As it happens, I had heard of confirmation bias, and they confirmed to me that they clearly suffered from it themselves. Not to mention a severe Irony deficiency.
What I tried to explain to them, was that I personally did not come to the argument from a position of whether or not one study or another is valid, or even whether crime can be controlled. I began from the position of understanding what our Rights are, and the absolute necessity of not weakening or violating them in anything less than an actual, temporary, emergency.
On the other hand, the promoters of ‘Gun Control’, are more than willing to give the government the power to ‘modify’ our rights on the basis of ‘Well… this makes sense, I’m sure it’ll work‘, or ‘that’ll reduce crime‘ or ‘There’s no proof that respecting your Right (really doesn’t matter which one) reduces crime, but… let’s keep trying to reduce crime by trying a method we have no proof is, or ever has been, working“.
In pursuing such a bias towards unproven, yet politically correct positions, and against the significance of Rights, its proponents are showing a willingness to give the government the power to infringe upon all of our rights. Rights, whose source and purpose have nothing to do with fighting crime, and have everything to do with ensuring that We The People will always have the means (Rights) of preventing the rise of tyranny over us on our shores, and very possibly from our own government.
But that relies upon We The People understanding what our Rights are and being very jealous regarding our Rights, and again, thanks largely to our schools, that is becoming a view that is held by fewer and fewer people… at least prior to the Tea Party movement. Thanks Obama, you did that!
Defending our Rights against our Rights defenders
In the discussions I’ve been involved in, I often hear this argument, such as ‘Ned’ took, in an attempt to defend our Rights, through what amounts to a very popular, though un-American idea, that the ‘government gives you your rights‘, or the false idea that we have ‘constitutional rights‘ (see my post against this pernicious notion, too often voiced by ‘conservatives’). Ned said,
“The only rights we have living here are the ones in the Constitution…”
, for those afflicted with this misconception, I strongly suggest that you have a look at our Bill of Rights, where you will find the 9th Amendment of some interest to you, before you go trying to make that argument in public. It says:
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
‘Others’? What others? If Rights are only those legalisms enumerated in the Constitution, where from come these ‘others’ which this amendment speaks of? Hmmm?
It is very much worth remembering that the Framers of the Constitution did not originally believe that the Constitution needed to have a Bill of Rights, after all, the states had their own Bill of Rights, “Why worry?”, their argument went, “about such a Bill of Rights being applied to the Federal Govt? The Constitution gave no such ability in its enumerated powers to violate them? There’s no need to worry.”
We The People disagreed.
The Constitution only managed to be ratified, barely, once its supporters agreed to pass several amendments to it, securing the Rights of the people against the potential abuse of power, on the part of the Federal Govt.
The Framers of the Constitution however, were not just being lazy in this matter. Most of the framers, Madison especially, did not want a Bill of Rights added because they feared that such a document would have the effect of eventually limiting our Individual Rights to only those listed in the document – IOW, James Madison feared that a Bill of Rights would lead to exactly what people like ‘Ned’ believe today!
But then Madison hit on a solution that alleviated his concerns and that solution ended up as being our 9th Amendment and the 10th Amendment, which expressly stated that those Rights not specifically listed in the Constitution, remained with the people, and that those powers not specifically given to the Federal Govt, were to be retained by the states.
Because, if the only Rights you have are those which your legislators have listed in the laws… then your Rights, as our Founders understood them to be, coming from Natural Law, derived from man’s nature via ‘Natue and Nature’s God“, would be non-existent. But if it was recognized that our Rights were ours prior to the writing of this, or any other constitution, then it makes sense that no constitution could ever enumerate them all – only those whose defense was especially felt to be necessary by We The People.
That’s worth a thought, don’t you think?
Our Rights as dangers to our lives (!)
Another view is often heard today, from the left and the right, that our Individual Rights, such as the 2nd Amendment defends, are somehow to be seen as dangers to our lives; our Rights somehow actually empower criminals, and that curtailing them, as needed, will make us all much safer.
One person, ‘Dan’, volunteered what he thought was a helpful article to help us all see the light of this amazing idea. Personally, I found that the title alone,”Gun Lobby Counts On Short Attention Span“, expressed (and presumed) an extremely shallow understanding of what your Rights – 2nd amendment or otherwise – are, and what they are for. One line, referring to the theater shooting in Aurora CO, sums it up best, and makes clear why, IMHO, the rest of the article is an absolute non-starter, and why we will remain at loggerheads on the issue forevermore:
“It’s hard to imagine an incident that would be more likely to advance the cause of gun control in Washington. But nothing happened.”
The side supporting that line of thought, and gun control in general, think that such measures are good ideas for fixing problems in society, whether crime, mental illness or otherwise.
The other side is not willing to entertain the issue, because they (and I am most definitely am of that they) see the issue in more fundamental terms, that being that none of our Rights, and none of the Constitution, were written to solve particular societal issues, other than that of how power should be used to govern, maintain the law and at the same time restrain those in power from abusing the lives of its people – us, You.
The fact is, that We The People insisted on those amendments we think of as the Bill of Rights being amended to the constitution, in order to secure our lives against the potential abuses of power which any government should always be assumed to be in danger of slipping into. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights makes this quite clear:
“The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;…”
Dear We The People: There are many of your fellow Americans who do still have this understanding (or at least the memory of it) of our Rights; Rights which are derived from our nature as human beings, and which were amended to the Constitution as a means of securing our freedom to act as we conclude is necessary for our own purposes (pursuit of happiness), securing our ability to ‘live our own lives‘, and which, because they come from the nature internal to each of us, are inalienable from any one of us. We also understand that these Rights were not specified as privileges or benefits, but as legal barriers, secured to the Constitution, for the purpose of making it as close to impossible as is possible, to prevent anyone or body, from accumulating the power which would enable them to act as tyrants over us.
Your Rights to speech, to associate with those you choose, to be secure in your possessions, contract and the rest, are not ‘nice to haves‘ and they are not there to make your every day life more pleasant or even safe. Far from it. They were, and are, meant as defensive weapons against those who might gain the power to oppress you – the power to tell you how to live your life, and the power to prevent your resisting their doing that to you.
That anyone could begin the discussion of our Rights from the point of reducing crime, means that they are not approaching the issue from the proper perspective to begin with – they are simply coming at it form the surface of daily life, and forgetting about what makes it possible for us to engage in that daily life to begin with.
On top of that, there is not even any conclusive, iron clad proof, that any such controls upon us, would actually succeed in reducing crime (see Chicago) or prevent crazies from behaving like crazies.
There are numerous studies which I could cite, and which you might cite showing the opposite, about whether or not gun control would work to control crime, but the real issue is:
- I don’t care if it does or not. I am against giving authorities the power to live one more inch of my life against my wishes.
And without iron clad proof that such controls would even begin to accomplish what you can only hope they would, I have no intention of even entertaining the thought. What’s more, should you attain such proof, and even if I agreed with it, I would not comply. Why? Because it would be the right answer to the wrong question.
That doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for discussion, does it?
Sorry about that.
But the fact is that it is the pro-gun control position which has the short attention span in this argument, not those of us who are standing up for the 2nd Amendment; our position is secured in centuries of history, and philosophical understanding of it, and I for one am not budging from it so that you can trust my life, and that of my loved ones, to someone else’s promises and theories!
Rights as ‘mere Rhetoric’.. isn’t that mere rhetoric?
One person who didn’t appreciate my point of view in pointing out that our Rights are not subject to any one’s point of view, said
“That’s a nice text wall… but such Rhetoric…deflects from the bottom line”
Really? So, in your opinion, the ‘bottom line‘ of a modern civilization has no need to be based upon any deeper issues, principles & law… that simply reacting to events as your ‘gut’ tells you, is what you consider to be sound advice? That seems odd, doesn’t it? The idea that deeper issues, concepts and principles might have been thought more important in ‘simpler’ times centuries ago… but for us today, for all of our continental spread of cities & myriad industries and diverse peoples… we require only that we follow what you ‘feel’ Should work?
And you accuse me of using rhetoric? Have you who believe such notions, have you bothered giving any consideration to your own thoughts, or is it enough for you to simply pass on, unquestioned, whatever you hear?
Such a charge of ‘Rhetoric’, is itself an old (and lazy) rhetorical device used by those who have no argument, no answer to, and no ideas to defend, to defend the facts, principles and argument they would prefer weren’t ever even made.
To touch on the surface issues, which is about as deep as those who bitterly cling to this view are able to grasp, can any of you give me an example of where gun control laws have worked? Gun control laws certainly did nothing to deter the mass murderer in Norway, who slaughtered those who were disarmed by their gun control laws a year ago the same week as the Aurora theater shooting… can you give me any example of their working (aside from prison, that is)? Any? One unambiguous example of how gun control laws have succeeded in bringing down crime, violence and murders? Hmmm?
Or could you explain to me why the strictest gun control laws have worked out, ‘unexpectedly’, as they have, in ever rising murder rates, in places such as Chicago?
I don’t mention these as proof of course, but as proof that those who are making this argument, have no decisive proof for their claims… and yet they are willing to sacrifice the integrity of all of our Rights, for their unfounded fancies?
Can any of you proRegressives out there justify that?
Without rhetoric, of course?
But I’ll gladly leave that all aside, if any one of you would bother to explain to the rest of us, what it is that you, in your non-rhetorical fashion, understand our Rights to be, and to depend upon?
Come on, humor me.
I’m begging you.
Bartender, gimme a double of Rights to go!
There was one other fellow, one, who did actually try and make an actual argument, rather than simply whine out an emotional appeal that the world stop being bad. This fellow, Charlie, asked:
“Hey gun nuts, try this on for size. If you are a bartender or bar owner, and you sell someone a bunch of drinks, then they get in a car and kill someone because they were incapacitated (that is, not able to operate a car responsibly), you are liable in a civil suit. Let’s do the same thing with guns. If you sell a gun to some nut who is incapacitated (read: mentally unstable…not able to operate a gun responsibly), then why shouldn’t your ass get sued into the dirt?”
Aside from Charlie’s ‘new tone’, that’s actually a decent question. While I’m not a ‘gun nut’, I have a Right to be and so I’ll reply. First though, while I don’t agree with the idea that a bartender is necessarily culpable for another persons actions, in an age where our President can say “You didn’t do that on your own!“, the flip-side is an inability to recognize where blame actually is due and where punishment is warranted. Nevertheless, we do have those laws on the books, and so it is a legitimate argument to make.
The problem is that the analogy, by its own analogy, doesn’t apply here.
In the bartender/DUI scenario, the bartender is said to be actively participating in the impairment of the person, who then goes out and has an accident, for which the bartender is held partly responsible.
That is not at all the situation which occurs when someone buys a gun and commits a crime.
In the first place, the gun mfg or dealer is not in any way participating in the impairment of the gun owner (unless of course you believe, like Sen. Feinstein, that a gun ‘being there’ causes you to shoot people).
To apply the analogy to gun makers or stores being responsible for the crimes committed with the guns they sell, to the bartender/DUI example, you’d be saying that the bartender impaired the driver, the driver got in his G.M. SUV and killed someone with it, therefore G.M., or the car lot that sold it to him, was responsible for their deaths.
That doesn’t quite work. Does it?
However, if you were to actually apply the bartender/DUI scenario to the gun/crime one, then you’d need to go after the people who actually participated in impairing the gun owner. You’d need to go after the people who taught him the ideas he was acting on, who taught him the inability to tell right from wrong, who taught him that might makes right, who taught him that you’re wanting something makes it OK to resent those who have what you don’t… then this analogy might apply and you might have a case to make there.
But I don’t think our schools or entertainment industry would appreciate your making it.
As the Supreme Court has stated, and it should be chilling for those who believe that the police is who they should rely upon to defend them, the court has decided, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, that the police are not responsible for any such thing.
“The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation.”
“Who is then?!”, you ask? A simple answer. You are. Had even a few of the theater goers in Aurora CO been informed of that simple reality, perhaps they would have taken their Right to ‘bare arms’ more seriously, and would have been able to stop the slaughter before it had much of a chance to get started. Who knows, had the fiend who took it in to his mind to think he could saunter into a theater of unarmed victims, been concerned that they might not be unarmed, his evil little plan might never have left his demented head.
But that is speculation on my part. What is not speculation, is that in the end, each person is responsible for their own actions, and the more we get away from that, the more tragedies we are going to suffer.
I’ll leave off this post with a quote (from memory… probably somewhat off…) from the movie, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises:
“You think not fearing death makes you strong. It doesn’t, it makes you weak.”
“Fearing death makes what you value clearer, brighter. Gives you something to live for. Without that, you’re weak.”
The same applies to your Rights. Not fearing for them, trusting govt to protect them, imperils our Rights, your Rights, to those who would willingly defend them to death.
And your life, liberty and ability to pursue happiness, depends upon your being able to understand them, and defend them, for life.