Monday, December 28, 2015

Gutting the Second Amendment: Fear and Loathing in Academia

There was a time, after I had graduated from high school, and after I had graduated from college, and after I had graduated from Viet Nam, when I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life.

I thought I would like to go back to school for an academic degree.  I thought perhaps I would like to teach, at a college level. I knew that I liked to teach.  I had the education, I had the experience, so perhaps I had something to offer to the next generation.

Seeking advice, I asked my Mom what she thought about it.

She said (not her exact words, although I present this as a quote:

"Well, Honey, you do what you think is best.  But when people ask me what my son is doing with his life, is it okay with you if I just tell them you're running a whore-house?"

Point well taken.  I got into computer systems analysis, and while I never thought I was leading an honest life, at least I could hold my head up among the relatives during the annual Summer Family Reunions.

Now I'm looking at an article in the New York Times titled "Guns and Racism" by Gary Guting.
 (H/T: David Codrea)

It starts out well:
Those of us in favor of stronger laws to abate gun violence mostly support our cause by arguing against the claims of the gun lobby (roughly, the N.R.A. and gun manufacturers). It should by now be obvious that this is a waste of time. The case for action is overwhelming, but there’s no chance of convincing the entrenched minority who are so personally (or financially) invested in gun ownership. Legislative efforts have failed because the opposition is more deeply committed — more energized, more organized, more persistent.

There are a few comments in this oh-so-fairly-reasoned article which I find disturbing.

Yes, those of us who are firm supporters of our Civil Rights are certainly "entrenched"; but it bothers me that the author suggests that we are minions of "the N.R.A. (sic) and gun manufacturers".

I'm not certain what incentives these nefarious groups are supposedly using to encourage firearms owners to support their evil actions, but I always thought that the NRA was an organization created by and for firearms owners .. and when the NRA doesn't speak for us, their membership plummets.

I don't particularly like the NRA .. I find them too liberal, usually; but I guess they have to tone down the rhetoric.  As far as the gun manufacturers .... when they don't do what we (firearms owners) want them to do, they lose business.

(There was a little contretemps with Smith &Wesson a few years ago, when they seemed to have kow-towed to gun-control influences; they lost a LOT of business from firearms owners over that one.  So it doesn't seem to me as if the firearms manufacturers are driving the Second Amendment dialogue in this country.)

So, who is driving the gun-owner rhetoric?  Certainly not the manufacturers!.  Might it be .. the gun owners?  Maybe the gun-owners are not puppets of industry or organizations, but are independently just really cranky people who don't want other people telling them that they are 'bad' because they stand up for their civil rights?

But wait!  There's more.

... the basic motivation of the pro-gun movement is freedom from government interference. They talk about guns for self-defense, but their core concern is their constitutional right to bear arms, which they see as the foundation of American freedom. The right to own a gun is, as the N.R.A. website puts it, “the right that protects all other rights.” Their galvanizing passion is a hatred of tyranny. Like many other powerful political movements, the gun lobby is driven by hatred of a fundamental evil that it sees as a threat to our way of life — an existential threat — quite apart from any specific local or occasional dangers.
It's so NICE to see that someone actually 'gets it', in the sense that ... firearms owners are not opposing gun-control measures out of 'fear', but out of a defense of the Constitution, civil liberties, and enumerated rights.

And yes, we do hate it when people tell us what to do.  Or not to do.  This is America, after all.

Then he goes and says something stupid; like playing the Racism Card:

But few of us actually see guns as existential threats to fundamental American values. In this, however, we are mistaken. Our permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism, an evil that, in other contexts, most gun-control advocates see as a fundamental threat to American society.
Mr. Guting lives in Chicago, and his perception is:

I’m not particularly afraid, since — like most Chicagoans — I’m hardly ever where the violence occurs. There’s something to worry about only if you live in certain overwhelmingly black communities on the West and South sides of town. (The papers publish helpful maps showing how the killings are distributed.) These are where almost all the shootings occur, and the large majority of victims (and perpetrators) are black. 

[Mr. Guting decries the plight of Chicago's poor negro black, and avoids that part of town because (a) it's dangerous and (b) he can.  But he doesn't speak of his efforts to raise the socio-economic plight of the community.  Still, he feels free to criticize  the dreadful conditions in his community, which he attempts to alleviate by publishing an opinion article in the New York Times ... not the Chicago Trib!   He's not "part of the problem", but he still thinks it's a stinking rotten shame and it's not his fault even though he lives (and presumably votes) in the same city.  He's too proud to publish his criticism in the Chicago paper because, apparently, it's not a Chicago problem; it's an NRA problem.  Well, whatever ... it's not HIS problem!]

And that is the fault of Second Amendment defenders because ... what?

He goes on to decry the prevalence of gun violence in black parts of town.
The case for the racist effect of our permissive gun laws is especially powerful.  There’s no way of explaining away all these deaths as aberrations. If we fail to oppose with equal passion and vigor the relentless political pressure of (mostly white) gun advocates, we force a large number of black citizens to live with the constant threat of gun violence. We’re in effect letting the Second Amendment trump the Fourteenth Amendment, implicitly preferring the right of gun ownership to the right of black people to live free from fear.

I live in Oregon.  And this is MY fault?

Oh dear!
What is this "relentless political pressure of (mostly white) gun advocates" of which you speak?  Would it ... possibly ... be that we advocate for equal rights for all Americans, even if we (as you seem to imply) that 'some of us' seem to "force ... black citizens" to bear the onerous burden of living under their constitutional right to keep and bear arms?

Might part of the problem be that the EVIL Chicago Aldermen have decreed Chicago a city-wide Gun Free Zone, where honest citizens cannot defend themselves with the same (currently illegal) firearms that gang-bangers have?

[I know ... firearms ownership is strictly prohibited there ... which means that it is a GUN FREE ZONE to the criminals who have already demonstrated a total contempt for the Rule Of Law.   The only people who don't have guns are the law-abiding citizens.]

Isn't that a Chicago Gun Free Zones problem, and not an American Constitution problem?

What is the root cause of the "racist effect of our permissive gun laws"?

We ... legal firearms owners ... just want to protect our civil rights; rights which we support for ALL Americans. 

The NRA was started to counter the racist attitudes during post-civil war times, when "liberals" like you (Democrats) wanted to keep firearms out of the hands of black people.

Is it your contention, Mr. Guting, that Second Amendment Advocates are conspiring against black people?  Because that's the way it sounds, using your words.

"Permissive gun laws" are a reflection of the Constitutional rights of ALL Americans.  
What you consider "permissive", we consider "reasonable, common-sense gun rights".

NOBODY who cares about the Second Amendment would ever advocate any political stance which would undermine those rights; because if Black People can be denied their constitutional rights, then anybody would be threatened by the same kind of arbitrary infringement.

It seems to me, Mr. Guting, that you are the racist in the wood pile.   You are the one who has raised the proposition that one racial group would be accorded, and another denied, their rights.

The Second Amendment doesn't work that way.

Americans don't work that way.

Well .. perhaps a few pie-in-the-sky Academics have their heads so firmly entrenched in their nether regions that they don't know what the meaning of the words  "Will Not Be Infringed" is.  It applies to everybody, equally, without regard to race, creed or religion.

The rest of us are QUITE clear in our understanding that the Constitution of the United States of America is NOT a "living document", which might be subject to various and changeable interpretations based on YOUR crappy attitude.


Gary Gutting is a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, and an editor of Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. His new book, “What Philosophy Can Do” (W. W. Norton) offers essays, expanded from his Stone columns, on politics, science, religion, education and art.


Anonymous said...

The Prof. is truly demented. Pitiful.

Mark said...

Remember Heinlen's quote: An armed society is a polite society.

Anonymous said...

The far left is not amused.