Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Monday, August 22, 2005

I love it. I just love it. (by Alex)

The irony of your last post is just delicious. You seriously just made my day. Thank you Kevin, that was truly a gift.

In the effort to highlight your complete inability to actually process what I wrote (versus what you want me to have said to fulfill your stereotype) you inadvertently illustrate precisely the type of shoddy wordplay that has filled this debate so far.

To wit:

The question I asked (though I see now I should have been more explicit) was "What did the law mean?" (All words of one syllable!) Surely you can understand this concept?”

Yet the question you actually asked was "What did the Second Amendment mean when it was ratified, and does it matter today?" (emphasis added)

Funny how, in your attempt to belittle me, you commit the very flaw of omission I think most steadfast, “my way or the highway” 2nd amendment proponents tend to do. You don’t even restate your own words accurately. What happened to the “when it was ratified” portion of your question? Guess those were just meaningless words too- just like the first half of the 2nd amendment. I just love it! You can’t even get your OWN words straight, but somehow I am at fault for your inaccuracy. From a person who emphasizes “words have meaning” so much, one would think it would be at least possible for you to try and seek clarity in your own words before you go out and misrepresent the words of others (such as myself).

The question you didn’t ask (although you now claim to… and who is supposed to be the “revisionist” here?) was “What did the law mean?” By leaving off the “when it was ratified”, it becomes a more general question- and the fact that some interpretation is required becomes more apparent. In your attempt to forcefully make your point, again you proceed to concede this very fact by saying “They made actual decisions on actual court cases. They studied the contemporary documents and law texts, and cited them as legally valid. Certainly their personal opinions entered into the question, but the fact remains that they interpreted the law.” (Original Emphasis)

Yes, they interpreted the law. They put together what they “thought” the law meant, using historical information, case law, germane writings, and their own intellectual process to translate those words into what they surmised they meant in a particular context. Just as you have interpreted the 2nd in one way, I have in another. Yet you continue to argue that there is some objective meaning out there, left to be discovered like a scientific theory. So you say they interpreted the law, yet somehow this interpretation is clinical and void of any processing of ideas in their own mind- just an objective standard. And you throw in the “Certainly their personal opinions entered into the question” to further justify my original point. That we don’t KNOW, precisely what the law meant at the time it was ratified. You can surmise, infer, and create your own interpretation of what the law meant at that time, but you do not know for sure. I’d say that point should be painfully obvious, especially since you made it for me with your words, but somehow I doubt it will get through.

So let’s put it aside and move forward. You then make a long winded effort to try to divorce a writer’s intent from the meaning of the words written. Implying that there is some kind of immutable objective truth in a word that doesn’t require you to know the author’s intent. Aside from being preposterous on the very face of it, there are easy examples to show the fallacy of this thought.

One that pops readily to mind is from a British film in the 80’s (which is based on a true story about 1950’s England and the case that changed British opinion of the death penalty). Two teens are cornered by police, one has a gun. The other utters “let him have it”. The one with the gun shoots the officer. The question then becomes was the meaning of “let him have it” to say “I am urging you to shoot the officer right now” or “hand over the gun to the officer”. Can you possibly discern the meaning of those four words with trying to decide the intention? Is there some “objective” meaning in the words? Obviously not. You accuse me of “mental gymnastics” yet what you do goes far beyond that- perhaps mental origami. To believe this nitwit philosophy you must think that there is a meaning to all words that renders a 100% agreed upon definition to any phrase, regardless of the author’s intent. You honestly believe that? How can the intent of words be completely removed from the authors intent? At that point you are only substituting your opinion for the point of view of the author, which still leaves a subjective measure- you just replace one for the other.

Before you accuse me of now arguing for “original intent”, I am not. I am merely saying that this “original meaning” concept of some objective agreed upon meaning that exists wholly independent of intent is hopelessly flawed thinking. I think the intent and “meaning” of the law (whatever that is) are intertwined, and, as I have said repeatedly, that all plays a part of applying the law, but not the only part.

Then you say that words never change their meanings in terms of “the law”. I gave and example of how the legal concept of “freedom of speech” had changed as it had to be applied to situations and in contexts not available to the creation and definition of the law at the time it was created. (trying to keep with your absurd argument that original intent can somehow be distinct from some objective definition- yes that is still wrong, but I will try to make the point using some “objective” definition as a starting point). Is a campaign contribution – “freedom of speech”? Some say yes, others say no. Either way, you are now looking at an expanded, more refined definition of that term. One that either says “No, the meaning cannot include that because of these reasons…” or instead lays out a case for inclusion based on other facts. Now the term “freedom of speech” will be refined, and in that way changed, from what it “originally meant”. Not having to consider this at the time of creation, the law in this particular case is somewhat vague as the freedom of speech cannot override someone’s 14th amendment rights (as illustrated by the fact that even those in favor of equating money with speech concede that you can’t bribe a judge since that violates due process). The fact that there is such a vigorous debate over this case shows that there is difficulty in agreeing on this legal concept, and that an expansion of the definition is required. Taken further, you get into whether or not internet blogs can count as campaign contributions. The line blurs even further (and much more dangerously in my opinion). And if you think that some unchanging, objective “meaning” of this legal concept will clear it all up, you are seriously certifiable.

Interpretation will settle it. Whether that be from what you think the law “just means”, original intent, extrapolation of previous case law, or any other method you choose- you must infer a meaning in this case to apply to complex situations that beg for clarification, which may be used later to justify a whole new interpretation in the future, when circumstances we cannot even conceive of now present themselves. And so it goes. And so it has always been. But I guess none of that matters, right? All that counts is finding this “objective meaning” that exists out there (and oddly enough always falls in line exactly with your line of thinking- like the song says "We argue all night long about a god we've never seen, but never fails to side with me")

So, getting back to the 2nd, it is possible to interpret the first part of the sentence as a modifier and come up with “insofar as we must have a well regulated militia to keep us free, people cannot be stopped from owning and bearing arms”. Clearly this is decidedly different from a “everybody gets guns” definition. By putting the “A well regulated militia, being necessary” part first, it implies that the other part supports that context. So you need an armed populace BECAUSE that is necessary for a well regulated militia, and that militia is needed for the preservation of peace. So it is the militia, and not the right to bear arms, in this view that is seen as primary.

Now I fully understand you don’t interpret it that way, which is fine. But to imply that because you’ve come up with your own interpretation, your line of thought is somehow “objectively correct” and any other interpretations are just plain stupid is exactly the kind of lazy argument I have been railing on here. The “heavy mental lifting” is the ability to take in differing points of view, weigh the evidence, and draw out some conclusions based on your ability to actually think about something, rather than recite some pat answer or quote as an end to all debate.

So, looking at your argument which has several fronts, here are some responses.

The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible.”

(I know that is a third party quotation and not your direct words on the subject, but they seem to be on point for spelling out this idea) I agree self defense is paramount. But what happens when your right to self defense threatens my right to existence? Say you had a system of protecting your home that vaporized any unauthorized party on your property. It’s clearly marked, and well advertised that if a stranger ventures on the property (which they have no legal right to do- so all you are doing is exercising your rights under the law) they will be annihilated. In a sense, this hypothetical shield is the ultimate in self defense. But what happens when a child that can’t read chases a ball onto the property and goes up in smoke? Just a price to pay for exercising your right to self defense?

Clearly a right to make a mistake (venturing on private property improperly without permission) and survive it should outweigh your right to complete self defense. And I can’t see any government that wouldn’t ban such a system because, although it fell 100% within your right to self defense, it also encroached on the right of others not to die, simply for making an honest mistake. In other words, your right to self defense, as with every other right, has a practical limit. So, while I think that this right is critical, it doesn’t supersede other rights.

Your quote from William Rawle shows that, I think, we may have similar views on militias. I think there is profound wisdom in having a standing civilian force used to enforce law in times of uprising within the country, and an armed force for fighting external armies. I agree that using a standard armed force on your own people is the first step on the road to tyranny, and having “Joe the dentist” and “Maggie the schoolteacher” called up to protect the State during times of conflict, when the nation must police itself against itself, will result in a force less prone to tyranny as they have not been trained to drive out the desire to ever question any order given (as military professionals have been- which is necessary given the need to rely on any soldier to carry out the often grisly orders inherent in war). It isn’t a foolproof safeguard, but the chance of Maggie the schoolteacher firing on peaceful demonstrators for instance, even when given the order, should be somewhat less than a trained military professional in the armed forces (who understandably has been trained not to debate orders since that can get everyone killed).

But the idea that the militia simply means “every armed citizen” and nothing more (as opposed to something like the National Guard) seems to dismissive of the “well regulated” portion of the sentence. That implies training, practicing etc. In your quote he says: “That they should be well regulated, is judiciously added. A disorderly militia is disgraceful to itself, and dangerous not to the enemy, but to its own country.”

How can you read that and say “yes, but that just means anybody with a gun”? Wouldn’t it apply that the “militia” should have some formal training? How else do they get “well regulated”? So where is the training part of your argument? How does that part of the 2nd just wash away? Now if you wanted to argue that the National Guard no longer fits the bill, given the fact that they are stationed overseas in such numbers as to limit their ability to serve as a militia today here in the states, I would be inclined to agree. But that leads to a whole separate line of questioning (what is a modern militia? What training do they need to be well regulated? How would they called up? Who would “direct” them?) Again, this entire concept seems absent from your argument.

So, based on what you have brought up, I am more convinced now that your position doesn’t address enough points to be nearly as airtight as you come across. Explain how a “well regulated militia”, poses no modifying effect to the 2nd. Explain how a right to self defense for one, can create conditions that cause someone else to lose their own life caught in a crossfire, and yet this is “just”. Why is it that the 2nd is the only one with no limits, and no context of interfering with other rights? Answer those questions and we have a debate.

As for my tone in these writings, I just love that it is “too superior” in your view. This entire blog is written to demean, make fun of, belittle and generally harass those who don’t agree with you. I don’t say that it shouldn’t be- I love a good sarcastic argument- even if it is completely wrong. Hey, more power to ya. But to turn around and be shocked and amazed when someone treats you in kind is just hypocritical and silly. So yeah, I fed the red meat crowd with a nice cocky, “up yours” attitude that I knew would get under their/your skin. And I know you’d paint me as a liberal, even though I am an independent that leans libertarian in a lot of respects. And the fact that it actually worked on you just pleases me to no end.

I cannot begin to describe how much your last post made me laugh. It really made my day. Thanks for that.

Next Post in the series
Previous Post in the Series

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.