The Borders of Bigotry

I got labeled as a bigot once last month.

To the best of my knowledge this is a fairly rare event. I’m quite frequently labeled as a bastard, a slob, a hard-ass, a space shot, a fantasy merchant and virtually every other negative epitaph that is commonly associated with middle-aged divorcees, religious thinkers or ENTPs. “Bigot” usually isn’t one of them.

The occasion was one of the debates over gun control that I got entangled in post-Sandy Hook. My interlocutor was presenting a variation on the naturalistic fallacy to argue against restrictions on what are commonly called assault rifles. I’m not sure where he got his figures, but he made a claim that there are somewhere between 5 and 10 million AR-15s in private use in the United States. Thus, he argues, given how few people actually end up getting killed by them, there’s obviously nothing wrong with keeping such high-end killing machines at home in private hands.

How much "prejudice" am I entitled to regarding these gentlemen?

How much “prejudice” am I entitled to regarding these gentlemen?

Now like I said, I’m not sure where these figures came from, or if they take into account all of the AR15s which were purchased in the US, just because that’s by far the easiest place in the world to get them, by private armies from countries that supply the US with drugs –– the Central and South American countries that actually have higher gun violent rates than the US –– which have since been illegally exported from the US. But even if it is true that one in 15 US households is equipped to blow the s**t out of a crowded restaurant, I don’t see any rational reason why they need to be so equipped. I would go as far as to say that those who feel a need to own such equipment, for whatever psychological reasons they may have, should be justifiably subjected to deeper official scrutiny than the rest of the general public merely on the basis of their compulsion to be so massively equipped for violent action. And this, dear friends, is what is said to qualify me as a bigot.

Let me clarify my position on this matter just a tad: I am not saying that those who feel a need to own assault rifles should be categorically labeled as insane or clinically paranoid and delusional, or even as inherently bad people. I recognize that while many assault rifle owners may have been convinced by advertisers to acquire such equipment as a means of compensating for certain insecurities about their masculinity, this would not necessarily be the case for all of them, or necessarily even the majority of them. For those who wish to use such equipment as toys –– to periodically blast the hell out of inanimate objects as a form of emotional release –– I don’t see this as any more harmful or dangerous than drag racing: As long as it is restricted to the confines of secure areas where it doesn’t endanger the general public, fine by me.

What I am saying is that I find the whole idea that certain people feel a need to be equipped to kill large numbers of other human beings to be deeply disturbing, and I believe that those who feel such a need should be subject to enhanced official scrutiny on that basis alone.

Jerry: hero of a generation or two

Jerry: hero of a generation or two

I do not think of this as being equivalent to racial profiling, discrimination against religious groups or even enhanced scrutiny of those who follow particular styles of music.  Of these examples I consider the last to be the closest though, and in that regard I would be willing to be scrutinized on the basis of my tastes if that’s what it came down to: I happen to deeply appreciate many aspects of the artistry of the Grateful Dead, and I consider Jerry Garcia’s death of a heroin overdose to have been one of the greatest cultural tragedies of the 1990s. But unlike many (most?) other even moderate “Dead Heads”, I have never experimented with any form of pharmaceutical recreation beyond basic alcohol. Even so, I recognize the cultural connection between this band and a certain sort of drug culture, so if I were selected for a random drug test on the basis of my taste in music in this regard I would feel rather cynical about it, but I would not take it as a violation of my basic rights. I wouldn’t be inclined to accuse the police of bigotry for checking.

It’s sort of like police having breathalyzer patrols out more heavily on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s not as though everyone who drives on those evenings is considered to be a likely drunk, but among those out on the road at such times there is a far greater likelihood of finding drunk drivers than among those in commuter traffic on a Tuesday afternoon, for instance; thus it makes a certain amount of practical, pragmatic sense for the police to run such patrols at such times. And if I’m pulled over and asked to blow at such times I don’t take offense at it. I certainly would never accuse the officer with the breathalyzer of bigotry just for being at it on the weekend!

Just as it would be absurd to accuse a cop of bigotry for breathalyzing random drivers near a bar on a Saturday night, it would also be absurd to call it bigotry if law enforcement were on the lookout for abusive forms of pornography among those with large dildo collections… or to be on the lookout for those with violent tendencies which could put the public at danger among those who collect particularly powerful killing equipment.

Charlton Hesston’s “cold dead hands” shtick, sponsored so effectively by the NRA, makes the siege mentality among gun owners –– and defensiveness regarding their identity as gun owners –– a far more emotional issue than the consumer identity of any other product line I can think of; and the higher powered the killing equipment they feel a need to possess, the higher the emotional pitch of their argument seems to get. So on that level it doesn’t really surprise me to find myself labeled as a “bigot” by a self-appointed representative of AR15 owners. Even so, it might well be time to reconsider how we use the word “bigot” and who is justifiably labelable as such.

One place where this has come out in broader public discourse over the past few weeks has been in relation to the battle over the political confirmation of Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s choice for Secretary of Defense. Hagel is openly critical of American expansionist neo-colonial wars in the Middle East, and thus those factions of the right wing press and the Republican Party which have the deepest commitment to such military adventurism have made a committed point of labeling him as a bigot. Why?

Chuck_Hagel_Iraq_5-635x357Well, he’s actually given them two excuses. First of all, as a military veteran and a resident of what is now called a deep red state, Hagel has apparently been socialized into a fair amount of homophobia, and 14 years ago he let a certain amount of that fly by joining in on a Republican attempt to block the appointment of an openly gay man, politically active in support of gay rights causes, to the minor post of ambassador to Luxembourg. Hagel has publicly retracted his statements of that time, but it would still seem reasonable to assume that he retains a certain amount of edgy suspicion towards those of the LGBT persuasion; and visa-versa.

That seems to be a side issue however: Those who are particularly concerned for gay rights tend to be concerned with respect for human rights across the board. The core issue for those who prioritize this issue is to insure that people are respected as people, regardless of factors that are beyond their control, such as their race, their gender, their national origin, their tribal identity and, yes, their sexual orientation. One of the primary means by which people tend to lose their basic rights most commonly and most thoroughly is through military expansionism, by whatever excuse it is carried out. Hagel’s personal priority is clearly limiting military expansionism; driving home to his fellow Americans the lessons of the Viet Nam war that he learned better than most. That gives him a common cause with the main current of the LGBT community, for which they are largely willing to look beyond his past indiscretions and lingering suspicions. As has often been the case, Senator Barney Frank has been the one to express this most eloquently. What seems to remain at issue is efforts by those who stand to profit the most from military adventurism to stir up these animosities and suspicions, which the people concerned have largely worked through already, to keep Hagel out of a position where he could cramp their style.

The more significant bigotry charge against Hagel is in relation to “anti-Semitism” purportedly reflected in his critical stance toward military expansionism by the state of Israel. Here too his critics have been able to use Hagel’s own choice of words against him: In 2006 he is quoted as referring to the unquestionably powerful pro-Israeli lobbyists on Capitol Hill as “the Jewish Lobby.” It  makes it harder for Hagel’s allies to draw a distinction between sensitivity to “Jewish concerns” and unquestioning support for militant Zionist expansionism when Hagel himself blurs the line with his careless choice of words.

That being said, there is a distinction to be made there, and the Jewish-American journalist to whom Hagel made this unfortunate statement actually defends the legitimacy of Hagel’s viewpoint in context. In order for Israel to be a sustainable project, and for it to eventually develop stable and respectful relations with its neighbors (which may not be possible until its Arab neighbors run out of oil in any case, but it is still worth hoping for), they need to start treating the Arab minority among Israelis and displaced Palestinians overall as people worthy of respect as people. Creeping further and further into Arab held lands with Jewish settlements, and backing up this expansion with the Israeli army being ready to fire on anyone who throws rocks at the “settlers” is a policy well worth critiquing. Hagel’s willingness to say so is one of his chief merits.

The elephant in the middle of the room here is actually the pro-Israel American Christian Evangelicals. Among other places this is fairly clearly laid out in Barbara Victor’s book on the religious dynamics behind the GWB presidency: “The Last Crusade”. In short, there are numerous American Christians who believe that the re-establishment of the state of Israel is a sign that Jesus Christ will be coming back very soon, that as part of this process Israel needs to completely control all lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea at least, and that supporting the state of Israel is one of the most important ways for believers and believing nations to earn God’s favor. This is combined with a strong suspicion that the UN (and/or President Obama) represents the interests of the Anti-Christ. Among Americans who uncritically and unquestioningly support Israel’s expansionist policies, this sort of Christians is a more potent political force than secular Jews hoping for a secure homeland for their people.

But back to the topic of bigotry: We all have been raised with our own suspicions about “the Others,” whoever they may be. The question is how well we are able to critically reconsider our prejudices in this regard, and what sort of heuristic devices we can use without diminishing the human value of others.

Backing off to a less emotionally charged example: last summer I bought the cheapest semi-reliable looking car I could find with a larger than average amount of cargo space. As it happened, this one turned out to be a Citroen. I’m still driving it, but it has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting through the basic safety inspection next month, so I’m just seeing how much I can still get out of it before throwing it away. This is in fact the fourth French car I have owned, not counting one I helped my son pick out, and I can say that it has strongly confirmed certain preconceptions I have about French cars in general. In particular I believe now more than ever that the basic electrical systems in all French cars are inherently unreliable. There are about a dozen little electronic controls on my car that work intermittently at best (seat warmers, intermittent wipers, electric windows, dashboard lights…), and a few months ago it actually had an electrical fire –– smoke and flames and all –– which, with some help from charitable passers-by, I managed to get extinguished quick enough and repaired far enough to keep it drivable. But I still pass on the practical advice to whomever it may concern: if you’re going to buy a French car, be prepared for electrical problems.

You can actually barely see the fire damage.

On the surface you can actually barely see the fire damage.

Does that mean I hate the French or their cars overall? Not at all! Under similar circumstances I would still consider buying yet another French car some day; I’d just be prepared to experience electrical problems with it. Does this count as a prejudice? Perhaps. Does it have a rational, empirical basis? I’d say. Could it be overcome in the light of new evidence? I believe so: if Peugeot, Renault and Citroen get their collective act together with quality control in this regard, and consumer testing starts to demonstrate a surprising new level of reliability, I could overcome my generalized suspicions on such a basis. Should I feel guilty about my current frame of mind on such things then? Please.

Now what about when this relates to groups of people? There is one very fundamental difference: whereas cars only have instrumental value, we have good reason to postulate that people have inherent value. In other words people aren’t just valuable for what use we might find for them; people have value in and of themselves. There is something very close to an ethical consensus that those who don’t believe this are not to be trusted. This is one of the defining elements of bigotry: dismissing the overall value of particular groups of human beings based on preconceived notions and generalizations about what “they” are like is as good an explanation as any for what makes someone a bigot.

But that does not mean that all heuristic analysis of fellow human beings is inherently immoral. I have complete respect for Indonesians as persons, but if I were to be scouting for promising basketball players I probably wouldn’t spend much time in Indonesia, given that the average height of men there is about 20 cm shorter than most other countries. If I were recruiting high-rise construction workers I might show somewhat of a preference for indigenous Americans, as I understand they are significantly less susceptible to vertigo than those of other ethnicities. Even in these limited examples individual excellence or personal limitations should not be overlooked of course, but the main point is that the generalized capacities in question are perfectly acceptable heuristic devices so long as human value is not assessed on such bases.

Heuristic analysis of functional capacities and risk factors relating to different groups of people –– especially when it is based on consumer decision patterns that they demonstrate –– is not a matter of calling the human value of such individuals into question. Thus I have no sense of guilt over feeling less comfortable with people for whom AR15 ownership is an important part of their identity than I do with others who find the mass distribution of such killing technology to be rather problematic and disturbing. I am equally at peace with my relative unease with extreme body modifiers, porn addicts, show wrestling enthusiasts and street racing participants. I recognize that such lifestyle choices do not eliminate the human value of such individuals, and there are undoubtedly many wonderfully warm, kind and stable human beings within all of these categories. But I still find such lifestyle decisions to be both inherently dangerous and potentially symptomatic of deeper psychological issues. I see no bigotry in suggesting that social workers and law enforcement personnel should pay particular attention to the behavior of those who make such lifestyle decisions –– especially to those who are emotionally attached to their assault weapons.

On the political side, I really cannot say whether Chuck Hagel is more or less prone to bigotry than the average former Republican Senator. I suspect less so, but that, I admit, may simply reflect my own prejudices. The point is that he has demonstrated a clear recognition of the human value of both gays and Jews –– those he has been accused of being most bigoted against –– and he has firmly committed himself to working with both groups towards reducing destructive stupidity and unnecessary aggression in US military policy. While that goal may be more Utopian than bringing about lasting peace in the Middle East, it is still good to see someone intent on making sincere efforts in that direction at leastFor arms manufacturers and their political allies to attempt to block such efforts at restraint and re-thinking in the name of “exposing a bigot” is the height of political immorality.

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32 Comments

Filed under Epistemology, Ethics, Human Rights, Politics, Priorities, Racism, Social identity, Tolerance

32 responses to “The Borders of Bigotry

  1. I could point out the dozen specific instances of you saying horribly bigoted things in this diatribe, but I won’t bother. You’re clearly not worth engaging on this topic, and unable to discuss it rationally.

    • If anyone wanted to know who my anonymous interlocutor here was…

      • “even if it is true that one in 15 US households is equipped to blow the s**t out of a crowded restaurant, I don’t see any rational reason why they need to be so equipped.”

        No need. Just a perfectly rational, reasonable, same desire. Same desire that some people have to own samurai swords or sports memorabilia or a dozen sports cars or offshore bank accounts containing billions of dollars. And less harmful than the latter two.

        “I would go as far as to say that those who feel a need to own such equipment, for whatever psychological reasons they may have, should be justifiably subjected to deeper official scrutiny than the rest of the general public merely on the basis of their compulsion to be so massively equipped for violent action.”

        And I’d agree with you. But there’s no evidence that people who actually own AR15s or endorse a constitutional right to own them feel such a need. Your continual insistence that they do is pure bigotry on your part. It is an offensive, dismissive, bigotted stereotype and a straw man to boot, and has no place in an intellectually honest discussion on a social issue. It is beneath you to appeal to such straw men, David, and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing so incessantly.

        “Let me clarify my position on this matter just a tad: I am not saying that those who feel a need to own assault rifles should be categorically labeled as insane or clinically paranoid and delusional, or even as inherently bad people.”

        But you ARE saying that owners of AR15s and advocates of a constitutional right to own them feel such a need. And THAT is what makes you a bigot – your consistent repetition of a demeaning stereotype that has no basis in reality.

        “I recognize that while many assault rifle owners may have been convinced by advertisers to acquire such equipment as a means of compensating for certain insecurities about their masculinity, this would not necessarily be the case for all of them, or necessarily even the majority of them.”

        What you recognize is a malicious lie. THIS is your bigotry, plain for all to see, David. Your “recognition” of an insulting and offensive stereotype about a varied group of people, as if it were a proven fact. Pathetic.

        “What I am saying is that I find the whole idea that certain people feel a need to be equipped to kill large numbers of other human beings to be deeply disturbing,“

        Not as distrubing as your bigotted need to maliciously characterize all AR15 owners and advocates as people who feel such a need, despite no evidence to this end.

        “I believe that those who feel such a need should be subject to enhanced official scrutiny on that basis alone.”

        And I agree. Now where’s your evidence that ANYONE AT ALL feels such a need, David? Where’s you evidence that this offensive straw man of an AR15 owner you have concocted ACTUALLY EXISTS and is representative of the opposition?

  2. What makes you a bigot, David, is not that you are rightly concerned about the mental states of people who feel a need or compulsion to hoard dangerous weaponry, but that you think that the people vehemently defending their rights to own such weapons are such mentally deranged individuals. Your bigotry lies in your assumption that anyone who strenuously defends their RIGHT to stockpile AR15s does so as a result of a psychological compulsion or need to engage in such behavior.

    You take a perfectly rational, reasonable behavior pattern – being a fan of AR15 style weaponry and vehemently defending the clearly established constitutional right to own such objects – and bigottedly conflate it with being an irrationally paranoid nutcase who NEEDS or feels COMPELLED to own such weapons, and thus should be subject to enhanced scrunity by law enforcement. Not everyone who buys such a weapon does so because they think they NEED it, David. Not even 1% of the people who buy such weapons do so for that reason. And yet you consistently endorse the position that anyone who buys such a weapon should be subject to enhanced scrutiny BECAUSE such a NEED is irregular and potentially dangerous. Your bigotry is in ASSUMING that no reasonable, sane person would simply DESIRE (not need, not feel compelled) to own such a thing.

    You have not once been able to talk about AR15 owners and collectors without referring to their entirely fictional NEED or COMPULSION to own such weapons. You have not been able to do that because you are a bigot who NEEDS to present such people as less than reasonable in order to justify YOUR OWN irrational prejudice against them. The only way you can justify feeling the way you do about AR15 owners and collectors is by telling yourself and everyone around you that they suffer from a compulsive need to acquire such things . . . rather than that they are no more compulsive, obsessive, or needful than collectors of any other sort.

    • I didn’t deny that it would be possible for people to rational, reasonable and sane about stockpiling AR15s, as counter-intuitive as such a proposition might be; any more than I denied that Dead Heads could be non-stoners or that people could drive sober on Friday nights…

      More relevant could be your assertion that, rather than a matter of need and psychological addiction to such firepower, these devices are purchased as a matter of random amusement. If that is the case, given last week’s New Mexico tragedy and the like, that is an even greater indictment of America’s gun culture than what I have been saying here.

  3. You consistently and invariably represent ANYONE who defends a robust interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as a compulsive, paranoid nutcase who has a bizarre and perverse NEED because otherwise your argument hasn’t a leg to stand on, and you know it. You are the only one with a perverse need, David – the need to MISREPRESENT THE MENTAL STATES OF YOUR OPPOSITION. It’s pathetic, and frankly beneath you. You are an educated, intelligent, normally fair-minded person. But when it comes to this debate, you are no better than those who present all blacks as violent drug addicts, all Jews as officious money-grubbers, or all women as emotionally fragile ignoramuses. You have consistently and invariably employed an offensive and demeaning stereotype of a demographic that includes MILLIONS of people, and singled out those people based on a FICTION about their mental states you YOU concocted. You are pathetic.

  4. Your entire argument, David, boils down to:

    Who would defend a robust interpretation of the 2d Amendment that protects the rights of individuals to own assault rifles except for a paranoid nutcase who feels the NEED to own them?

    That is your position, as you have made abundantly clear.

    Now to answer your question:

    The millions of AR15 owners who feel no NEED to own them, but simply DESIRE to own them in the same way you desire to maintain this blog.

    If the government threatened to shut down your blogging, David, or to single you out for enhanced scrutiny from law enforcement because of it, you would surely get a little worked up over it. And if I were to employ your particular brand of bigotry, my argument would be.

    “Shouldn’t we be concerned about these people who feel such a compelling need to blog? Isn’t that strange mental state that produces this overwhelming need to voice their opinions to total strangers via the internet reason enough to think they might be mentally unstable, and therefore deserving of enhanced scrutiny?”

    • First of all, you clearly overestimate the importance of this blog to me or to anyone else that I’m aware of. If it could be demonstrated that this blog, in the hands of a crazy person, was capable of killing hundreds of people, I wouldn’t think twice about giving it up. Nor would my existential purpose in life be seriously threatened.

      My gun control argument boils down to not seeing a point in continuing to allow the promotion of consumer products of any sort, but especially high power weapons, which result in hundreds or thousands of unnecessary deaths each year, The NRA needs to face the same fate as the tobacco lobby, and the same sort of efforts which have gone into reducing smoking need to be applied to gun toting and stockpiling. Just to give some paranoid people a false sense of safety and to indulge those who enjoy randomly blowing stuff apart is not a strong enough justification for such loss of life. There have to be safer ways to humor “robust Second Amendment believers”!

      • “My gun control argument boils down to not seeing a point in continuing to allow the promotion of consumer products of any sort, but especially high power weapons, which result in hundreds or thousands of unnecessary deaths each year, ”

        No such weapons. The weapons you are talking about result in less than 100 deaths each year.

        “and the same sort of efforts which have gone into reducing smoking need to be applied to gun toting and stockpiling.”

        Agreed. Which is to say that no one needs to be prevented from doing it in the privacy of their own homes and in a way which harms no one else. Which means pretty much no one who stockpiles these weapons will be affected. Only that miniscule fraction of a percentage who harm people need to be affected in any way.

        “Just to give some paranoid people a false sense of safety and to indulge those who enjoy randomly blowing stuff apart is not a strong enough justification for such loss of life. There have to be safer ways to humor “robust Second Amendment believers”!”

        And once again your bigotry shines through clear as day. You really CAN’T go one entire post without insulting and demeaning your opposition with offensive stereotypes, can you? That proves your bigotry.

      • >>No such weapons. The weapons you are talking about result in less than 100 deaths each year.<<
        If you limit it to AR15s you are correct. If you take into consideration all semi-automatics with greater than 10 round clips we're well into the thousands though.

  5. >>I didn’t deny that it would be possible for people to rational, reasonable and sane about stockpiling AR15s, as counter-intuitive as such a proposition might be;<>More relevant could be your assertion that, rather than a matter of need and psychological addiction to such firepower, these devices are purchased as a matter of random amusement.<<

    There's nothing random about it. You really can't have this discussion without saying something demeaning every paragraph, can you? That is proof of your bigotry. You can't even TALK ABOUT these people without saying something insulting and demeaning. You've yet to go two full sentences in which you discuss people who collect assault weapons without sweepingly attributing to them some unreasonable, irrational, or perverse mental pathology. It's pathetic, and proof of your bigotry.

  6. Uh, html code ruined my post. Here it is again:

    “I didn’t deny that it would be possible for people to rational, reasonable and sane about stockpiling AR15s, as counter-intuitive as such a proposition might be;”

    There’s nothing counterintuitive about it. People who stockpile AR15s are no less likely to be rational, reasonable and sane than people who collect, say, blog posts, which you seem fond of stockpiling. They are collectors, David. They are fans. Nothing more. They are no less rationa, less reasonable, or less sane than collectors and fans of ANY OTHER ITEMS. Your stubborn insistence to the contrary only proves that you are the only party involved who is less than rational, reasonable, and sane.

    “More relevant could be your assertion that, rather than a matter of need and psychological addiction to such firepower, these devices are purchased as a matter of random amusement”

    There’s nothing random about it. You really can’t have this discussion without saying something demeaning every paragraph, can you? That is proof of your bigotry. You can’t even TALK ABOUT these people without saying something insulting and demeaning. You’ve yet to go two full sentences in which you discuss people who collect assault weapons without sweepingly attributing to them some unreasonable, irrational, or perverse mental pathology. It’s pathetic, and proof of your bigotry.

    Why do you maintain this blog, David? Is it because you have a compulsive need to do so, or for your own random amusement? It MUST be one of those because, according to your own reasoning, there are no other reasons for such stockpiling behavior as you exhibit here.

  7. Is it counterintuitive to you that collectors of comic books might be rational, reasonable, and sane, and do so for reasons that are not at all perverse or worrisome to law enforcement, David? How about collectors of exotic cars? Of stamps? Or antiques? Then why are you so afraid of collectors of exotic firearms? What evidence do you have that THEY are any more dangerous than any other kinds of collectors?

    • To state the obvious, the difference is that comic books, exotic cars, postage stamps and antiques are not devices designed by the military for the purpose of killing people as efficiently as possible. If anyone other than Gomez Addams (or rather including Gomez) collects things designed to kill out of a fascination with their design, that does raise certain questions.

  8. While you and I may share ideas of regulation that are pretty close, I think you let your bigotry shine through in your writing. Yes I would think you are a type of bigot.

    >>But even if it is true that one in 15 US households is equipped to blow the s**t out of a crowded restaurant, I don’t see any rational reason why they need to be so equipped. I would go as far as to say that those who feel a need to own such equipment, for whatever psychological reasons they may have, should be justifiably subjected to deeper official scrutiny than the rest of the general public merely on the basis of their compulsion to be so massively equipped for violent action. And this, dear friends, is what is said to qualify me as a bigot.<>I am not saying that those who feel a need to own assault rifles should be categorically labeled as insane or clinically paranoid and delusional, or even as inherently bad people.

    No you’re not outwardly saying it, but I do think you implied it above.

    >>I recognize that while many assault rifle owners may have been convinced by advertisers to acquire such equipment as a means of compensating for certain insecurities about their masculinity, this would not necessarily be the case for all of them, or necessarily even the majority of them.

    Now owning an assault weapon is compensating for manhood? Are you serious? This logic is so flawed, and childish I can’t stand it. And the whole they were convinced is ridiculous. Oh yes millions of people were convinced they had to spend $1500-5000 or more. Just how often are you convinced to drop that kind of cash? Or are you that much smarter than those people?

    >>What I am saying is that I find the whole idea that certain people feel a need to be equipped to kill large numbers of other human beings to be deeply disturbing, and I believe that those who feel such a need should be subject to enhanced official scrutiny on that basis alone.

    That isn’t bigotry? Certain people feel the need to be equipped to kill large numbers of other human beings…

    Again there are uses way beyond killing humans or animals. But you only see what you want to see.

    I don’t think I need to go through the rest, and point out all the other barbs, darts and slams on a whole class of people.

    I have read other things you have written and consider you to be a good person, in spite of what you said of me earlier. I think you need to treat these people as people and not the stereotype you have acquired in the media propaganda wars.

    While I don’t own any guns, I know many gun owners and they are not the stereotype portrayed in the memes. Both sides are guilty of strawman arguments.

    I think you can convey your regulation ideas without personal unnecessary attacks. The fact is we don’t need people with mental health conditions with any firearms. We don’t need abusive personalities either. We need regulations to ensure personal responsibility and security of weapons. We need a means and conditions to remove firearms from certain people. Ensure people are trained with their firearms and of the laws.

    If we do those things, then no ban would be necessary.

    Well those are my thoughts.

    • Thanks for your comments Michael. As to speculation on various people’s motivations for keep such deadly apparatuses in their homes, I basically agree with my friend Brian Zahnd, who is far more eloquent and more thoroughly in touch with American heartland mentalities than I am: http://brianzahnd.com/2013/01/why-i-dont-own-a-gun/

      • Notice how Zahnd avoids attributing mental states to people who DO own guns? Notice how he only speaks to his OWN mental states? That’s the primary difference between the two of you, and why you are a bigot.

      • “As to speculation on various people’s motivations for keep such deadly apparatuses in their homes, I basically agree with my friend Brian Zahnd,”

        Um, Zahnd doesn’t speculate on various people’s motivations for keeping such items in their homes. Not once. Why? Because he’s not a fucking bigot like you are. Instead, he speaks only to his own motivations for NOT keeping them.

  9. To be clear, David, I agree with you that people who think and act the way you assert that AR15 owners and advocates of a constitutional right to own them do should indeed be subject to enhanced scrutiny by law enforcement. Your bigotry is in assuming without a shred of evidence that AR15 owners and advocates of a constitutiona right to own them actually think and act as you describe. It is an offensive and bigotted stereotype with no more basis in reality than the stereotype that all Jews are greedy and manipulative.

  10. To be clear, IF it were true that Jews were unusually greedy and manipulative, then yes, we’d all be justified in being suspicious of their motivations and behavior. We’d be rightly reluctant to enter into contracts with them or accept seemingly altruistic aid from them. Your argument is that AR15 owners and advocates are unusually compulsive, paranoid, and violent. IF that were true, then your policy recommendations would not be bigotted in the slightest – they’d be prudent and warranted. But your claims about the mental properties of AR15 owners and advocates are nor more accurate than my claims about the mental properties of Jews . . . and also no less bigotted.

    • Interesting device to rhetorically toss in comparison between assault rifle owners and Jews, implying that there is no fundamental difference between distrust directed to either. It clever plays the card associating me with those whose hatred for the Jews peaked during WW2 without making any direct statement that would invoke Godwin’s Law. 🙂 Cute tactic.

  11. “To state the obvious, the difference is that comic books, exotic cars, postage stamps and antiques are not devices designed by the military for the purpose of killing people as efficiently as possible. If anyone other than Gomez Addams (or rather including Gomez) collects things designed to kill out of a fascination with their design, that does raise certain questions.”

    And once again you can’t help but attribute to this group of people a perverse mental state despite having NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that they possess it. You are clearly a bigot. You can’t say ANYTHING about these people without making unwarranted assertions about their sanity, can you? You’ve can’t even go two sentences without deliberately insulting them, despite having no evidence that your insulting attributions accurately describe a group consisting of millions of people from many different cultures, classes, an creeds. That is the very definition of bigotry, David. You are very obviously guilty as charged.

  12. Wow. You actually manage to mention assault rifle owners in your most recent comment and NOT assert any insulting lies about their mental states. Bravo.

  13. “Thanks for your comments Michael. As to speculation on various people’s motivations for keep such deadly apparatuses in their homes, I basically agree with my friend Brian Zahnd, who is far more eloquent and more thoroughly in touch with American heartland mentalities than I am:”

    A bigot agrees with a more eloquent bigot! How surprising!

  14. The difference betwen you and Zahnd, David, is that he does not attribute deficient or dangerous mental states to people who DO own guns. You do because you are a bigot.

  15. Also, David, I’ll thank you for not accusing me of appealing to ad populam fallacies when I did not do so. I never once argued anything you accuse me here of arguing. It’s pathetic that you have to MAKE UP idiots for you to have had arguments with in order to make yourself seem more intelligent in your blog. It’s a damned shame you have to PRETEND that your interlocutors have appealed to arguments they never have so as to make your blog audience think you’re so very much more clever than your peers.
    You are pathetic.

  16. To post here as well my overall response to this flurry of activity that I put on the Facebook discussion board in question:

    Don’t overestimate my sensitivity or emotional involvement in this issue. My primary motivation is to remain actively involved in discussions of relevant social issues as a matter of principle. My secondary motivation is to play some minor role in influencing US political culture in a somewhat more rational direction so that it will be a safer place for my nieces and nephews and potentially some day for my sons and perhaps their future children to live.

    In stressing rather polemically, for the above stated purposes, that I see no rational reason why weapons which were DESIGNED explicitly for killing multiple humans with terrifying efficiency (which can also, admittedly, be used to kill deer or blast the hell out of inanimate objects), need to be covered under the Second Amendment, I do not mean to state, or even imply that all gun enthusiasts are crazy, or even that all AR15 collectors are crazy.

    The analogy I have used repeatedly is that I consider *smoking* to be a harmful practice, criminally promoted under a number of false pretenses, including insinuations that it improves one’s sex life. I believe that such claims deserve to be brutally ridiculed in the interest of public health. But my friends who smoke know beyond doubt that while I have no particular sympathy for their habit, I do not think less of them as people because of it. I have never labelled all smokers as crazy, absurd as the practice itself may be.

    While Aaron, as a gun advocate, finds my characterization of gun advocacy offensive, and while he has come out with both barrels blazing (figuratively speaking) I still say he has missed. My point, beyond dismissing the idea of gun ownership in general as a harmless little hobby that can contribute to the public well-being, was to say that among those who collect the most dangerous weapons of this sort there are some truly crazy and dangerous people — significantly more so than in the public at large. Nowhere there does this imply that all gun owners are crazy any more than all smokers are crazy!

    The fact that I have been personally attacked in this form for making this argument is frankly rather amusing for me… almost like watching Alex Jones on Piers Morgan’s show… though I should stress again that I don’t consider Aaron to be quite that crazy.

    • “Nowhere there does this imply that all gun owners are crazy any more than all smokers are crazy!”

      Your every post before this one does in fact state or imply that, as everyone who reads this can see. Your bigotry is readily apparent. Though you CLAIM not to have stated or implied such bigotry, it is obvious to any competent English speaker that you did in fact state and imply it in nearly every single post prior to this one. You are a bigot.

    • Keep in mind, David, that saying you are a bigot, which you CLEARLY are, is not to say that your policy recommendations are wrong. You might recommend good policies even while you engage in irrational intolerance and hatred, and employ offensive, inaccurate stereotypes to construct straw men of your opposition.

  17. “While Aaron, as a gun advocate, finds my characterization of gun advocacy offensive, and while he has come out with both barrels blazing (figuratively speaking) I still say he has missed. ”

    And everyone but you who has read your blog post says otherwise, David.

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