Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LIBERALS AND SOCIAL CHANGE....Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg recounts his bloggingheads.tv debate with Bill Scher:

Scher seems to really believe that liberalism as actually practiced over, say, the last century doesn't stand for imposing public policies on democratic majorities that don't want them....Having not met a smart liberal who actually believes this in a very long time, I was kind of flummoxed by how to respond to it.

Golly. Bill didn't accept this characterization of liberalism? That's hard to imagine, isn't it?

I don't have the patience to listen to an entire bloggingheads.tv conversation, but this claim struck me as so peculiar that I listened to a couple of minutes of it to see if maybe Jonah had just misrepresented himself in a hastily written post. Nope. He says it directly: "The idea that liberalism in America hasn't been about shoving things down people's throats is just factually untrue."

Well, it's certainly true that liberals, almost by definition, push for social change more than conservatives. And most social change doesn't gain majority support overnight. Still, Jonah's caricature is absurd as a definition specifically of liberalism, as opposed to a definition of anyone fighting for social change, whether progressive or reactionary. Every political movement worth the name starts out trying to convince the public about one thing or another, and sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. When liberals succeed (civil rights, gay rights), the country eventually comes around. When liberals fail (busing, gun control), the country doesn't.

What's more, several of Jonah's examples don't even make sense. Courts as liberal, anti-democratic creatures? Judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress, and Earl Warren in particular was appointed by a Republican president and confirmed by a Republican Senate. Civil rights? That wasn't imposed by a minority. It was the final victory after many decades of a majority finally imposing its will against an obstructive minority. The American with Disabilities Act? It was signed into law by a Republican president. Most of Jonah's other examples (gay marriage, affirmative action, opposition to the death penalty) are liberal positions that have had mixed success precisely because liberals haven't been able to widely impose them on an unwilling populace. Some liberals continue to fight for these things and some don't. That's politics.

And conservatives have some unpopular notions of their own. A ban on abortion? That's not too popular, but that doesn't stop the Christian right from continuing to push for it. Terri Schiavo? Stem cells? The estate tax? Tearing down environmental regulations? Opposition to raising the minimum wage? Pretending that global warming doesn't exist? Privatizing Social Security? In all these cases just like liberals conservatives try to use elections to get their way, and if that doesn't work they try the courts, and if that doesn't work they use executive orders. They use every lever of power available to them, just like any political movement.

In the end, though, you have to win elections. If conservatives continue to do that, they'll be able to move the country closer to their vision of an ideal society. If liberals win, they'll try to do the same. I don't really see the problem here.

Kevin Drum 12:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (180)

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Comments

Kevin, the problem here is that Jonah's a bit dim. Otherwise, every word of your post was correct.

Posted by: JMG on October 29, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the to-and-fro described above the very point of democracy?
Jonah is, as usual, clueless.

Posted by: MaryLou on October 29, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am the messiah. Bow before me.

Posted by: Jesus of Nazareth on October 29, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

When I advocate for pro-choice laws and gay rights, I'm not trying to shove these choices on anyone. I'm trying to keep the government from interfering with someone else's personal choice, and to keep others from enforcing their will on a woman, or two men who want to have the same benefits as a heterosexual couple. My own personal, religious beliefs may not agree with those decisions, but it's not my place, nor the governments, to prohibit those decisions (except as set forth in Roe v. Wade).

Posted by: nashvegasdawg on October 29, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Very interesting. So it's your belief that liberals don't impose their dogmatic, authoritarian views on the people? This flies in the face of everything we know about liberals as effete, elitist, officious dunderheads who have too much booksmarts but no common sense.

Posted by: egbert on October 29, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are always trying to force us into gay marriages where we murder babies.

We good conservatives just want to have everyone live by Pat Robertson's view of Jesus' law. As DeLay said, his job is to bring forth God's rule on Earth! And the REAL God, the Virgin-Born one, not that faker Allah!

Posted by: Al's Mommy on October 29, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

This flies in the face of everything we know about liberals as effete, elitist, officious dunderheads who have too much booksmarts but no common sense.

i wonder, how'd that Iraqi thing work out for all those think tank guys who dreamed up PNAC ?

Posted by: cleek on October 29, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Modern American liberalism began with FDR's stacking the Supreme Court so he could push through his liberal socialist ideas.

The Republicans are the party that respects the freedom of the courst and individual liberty. The American people know this, and know that Republicans will continue to protect our freedom, prosperity and security.

Posted by: Al on October 29, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

FDR was accused of trying to pack the Supreme Court, not stack it. And anyway, he wasn't able to.

Posted by: Emily on October 29, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

What's so surpising bout this?

Attitudes such as Jonah's bespeak a very immature view of politics and its role in society. Since in their mind they are always correct, it is totally obvious that the only way liberals can implement their goals is by shoving things down people's throats (AKA the Clenis Maneuver).

Posted by: Keith G on October 29, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

We hebes have a word for guys like Goldberg...Putz.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why is anything Jonah Goldberg has to say worth discussing?

Posted by: Joel on October 29, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

nashvegasdawg -- that approach is all well and good, but it just pushes the problem back one step; now you're just attempting to impose a particular view of what constitutes "personal choice," or a particular view of what personal choices should be protected from state intervention. People disagree about these things in good faith.

Al -- the New Deal analogy is probably the most dim-witted riposte you could have possibly made, because it very strongly proves the opposite of what you're trying to say. First, you get the facts wrong -- FDR did not stack the court. He made a proposal for court-stacking that went over like a lead balloon. Second, the New Deal was not "imposed" on a supine populace. The legislation was very popular in Congress and in the country at large, but it kept getting struck down 5-4 in the Supreme Court. This had been going on for quite a while when the election of 1936 happened, which you might recall was one of the most crushing landslides in American electoral history.

Say what one will about the implications of the New Deal crisis for constitutional law, but as a descriptive matter, it is inarguably the case that economically conservative elites were using their disproportionate influence on the Supreme Court systematically to block legislation that embodied the popular will. That is, conservatives were using the courts to impose their minoritarian views on the rest of the country, but were eventually defeated by the majoritarian processes of our democratic system.

And, if you meant to imply that Republicans are currently the party that respects the courts (your typo makes decoding your meaning difficult), it seems worth noting that virtually all modern jurisdiction-stripping legislation (not to mention the Terri Schiavo fiasco) is a product of Republican sponsorship. Unless you're talking about a highly idiosyncratic definition of "respect for the courts," these facts seem to render your position somewhat inconviently out of step with reality.

Posted by: Mike Russo on October 29, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Still, Jonah's caricature is absurd as a definition...

You can shorten this... Jonah is absurd [full stop]. It's beyond me why his "column" is being published in my newspaper. Oh that's right, I'm in Texas, nevermind.

Posted by: ckelly on October 29, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm liberal, or left of liberal, but there is a tiny grain of truth in the idea that liberal policies sometimes fly in the face of democaratic majorities. but that's not always a bad thing. the classic example here would be Brown v Board of education: if you had put school/public institutional desegregation up for a vote in 1954, even a national vote, hell probably even just a vote in the North, it would have failed.

This is the kind of thing that folks taken in by the Republican embrace of populist rhetoric (post 1980 or so)see as a flaw in liberalism. it's not. As others have pointed out, there are plenty of undemocratic conservative positions. From either side, it's a political stance against what's called the "tyranny of the majority"-somehting our founders warned us agianst.

Kevin, as you might infer from above, i think your view of civil rights legislation is historiclaly inaccurate. Certainly there was an obstructionist minority, but the majority itself was either tradition bound or simply complacent. In the South, local majorities were united pretty strongly against integration until it became obvious that the cost of maintianing segregation was too high-both economically and in terms of public violence and economic isolation.

So, the majority, while not exactly on board with seeing demonstrators beaten en masse by law enforcement, would have been perfectly happy to maintain segregation if a minority of demonstrators hadn't been willing to put themselves in harms way to make the brutality of the system public knowledge. I'd say that this os true North and South, as folks in the North were perfectly willing to let the south have it's Jim Crow Laws & to maintian De Facto segregation of schools and neighborhoods and job sites.

And while it might be nice to imagine that everybody really was for integration and equal rights (and certianly it's hard to find people living today who will admit that they were in favor of segregation)it isn't true. And, it does a disservice to those folks who did agitate for an unpopular but necessary progressive change in society.

Posted by: URK on October 29, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert: everything we know

Everything you know comes from Limbaugh and other wastes of human skin. The rest can fit on the head of a pin.

As to shoving shit down the public's throat I've got one word for sorry asshats like you...

Shiavo.

Posted by: ckelly on October 29, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

You don't see the problem with not accepting as a proven fact (perhaps even a tautology) that liberalism is based on the illegitimate and anti-democratic use of the force of government to impose policies that the public doesn't want?

Kevin, why do you hate America?

Posted by: larry birnbaum on October 29, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

larry birnbaum:

Because he's a liberal, of course.

QED.

:)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 29, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Nor are conservatives above using unelected judges to get their way. In the past decade or so, it is the conservative Supreme Curt justices who struck down the most federal legislation, at the urgings of conservative arguments about federalism. Cass Sunstein talks about this sort of thing in "Radicals in Robes." In the recent Kelo case, conservatives are outraged because the Court did *not* invalidate action by a local majority. Maybe they are right, but if so, conservatives are still happy to get their way by using unelected judges.

Posted by: RiMac on October 29, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it awful that the Conservatives have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the Middle Ages?

I suppose the things they've had crammed down their throats would include the Treaty of Westphalia, the Magna Carta, the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution of the U.S.A. Dontcha just pity them?

Grow up. Politics is about winning public support to govern.

I suppose what he really meant was code talk to Southerners that those darn Liberals will continue shoving Blacks, liberated women and gays on them if they don't rise up and vote for Rich White Male Slaveholders over 50 ... but, I could be wrong.

Posted by: MarkH on October 29, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, absolutely. Politics is exactly where this ought to be played out. And for that score, this debate may reappear in a new guise: We are heading into a new economic era. Institutional tweaks are likely to become necessary. For 225 years (more or less) the West has been treated to explosive growth, endless resources, little competition from outsiders, and a cover-up over the distribution of income. All of that is changing. What happens next, is about to become a large and lengthy discussion: The plutocratic propaganda about "privatization" has reached its theoretical endgame. Markets work, but never all the way. On the other hand, Socialism will never be harmless, unless human hearts were to change. But "targeted institutions" -- i.e., institutions (according to the definition in institutional economics) which are targeted narrowly to solve certain problems -- will see a national, and world-wide, growth curve. They truncate transactions costs, by creating common ideas of practice, to overcome the intellectual and social atomization that occurs by the continuous division of labor; (this intellectual atomization was first noted by noted by Adam Smith.) In the U.S. we already have institutions covering retirement, health, environmental protection. They are going to be strengthened as "public ideas goods," while remaining specifically targeted to achieve low overhead and maximum public transparency, to be administered, in the end, by politics, --as you would have it.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on October 29, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Gun control -- bad example. You meant *federalized* gun control, an issue that Howard Dean wisely took off the table.

But gun control more generally is accepted practice. Even the NRA doesn't object to gun licensing. Which part of "shall not be infringed" don't I understand? Which part of "well-regulated" don't *you* understand? :)

The idea of a wholly unlimited right to firearms possession went out with the blacksmith's shop.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 29, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

People go where their led, which says nothing about where their being led. (or the moral veracity of their arrival their)

The propensity of the left to use the power of the courts to institute social change says nothing about the desirability of that change.

Be it the journalism, the arts, or our universities the left consistently proves itself to be anti-intellectual, illiberal, and un-democratic. Theirs is the top down order of the elites. Taking their marching orders from the NYT, ensconced in fellow sycophants, they prefer to drive their social change on an un-willing populace through the courts.

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

"And most social change doesn't gain majority support overnight."

The charge that liberalism is about "shoving things down people's throats" is a conservative lie.

When liberals, progressive, fought for and secured social security, OSHA, environmental protection, a 40-hour work week, unemployment compensation and so on, Americans were thrilled. It made us a much stronger, better society.

It was only when liberals tried to extend some of these blessings to African Americans that Americans got cranky and the rightwing charge that liberals shove stuff down throats got some traction. So much easier to blame liberals than admit to racism.

Along the way, those paranoid authoritarians on the right conflated American liberalism with Soviet Communism. Stalin was a monster and Soviet Communism, with its centralized government, shoved stuff down the throats of the Russian people. Therefore, to the winger-mind, American liberals also shove stuff down the throats of the American people.

(It is just a huge irony that the Communists Chinese, with their economic machine, are now producing most of our consumer goods as well as financier of our wild parties.)

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 29, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

There is a competition betwen Jonah and Ponnuru to become the most moronic self-proclaimed intellectual on the face of the planet.

Even William F. Buckley would be rolling over in his grave if he were dead.

Posted by: gregor on October 29, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz:

People go where they're led... or the moral veracity of their arrival there.

That's at least grammatically correct. I find it hard to take the charge of anti-intellectualism seriously from someone who doesn't know the difference between "there" "their" and "they're,"

Posted by: Tyler Simons on October 29, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

"I suppose the things they've had crammed down their throats would include the Treaty of Westphalia, the Magna Carta, the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution of the U.S.A. Dontcha just pity them?"

Wow Mark, way to define your liberalism in the broadest possible historical perspective. I lay historical claim to those documents also, to classical liberalism, and to popular sovereignty.

I always considered them to be part of the western cannon, the same cannon thats perpetually shredded by the academic left as being, Eurocentric, Patriarchal, Sexist, Racist, Homophobic, Xenophobic, colonialist, exploitive & authoritarian texts.

I dont know were you studied such works, but It couldnt have been in a university.

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"When liberals, progressive, fought for and secured social security, OSHA, environmental protection, a 40-hour work week, unemployment compensation and so on, Americans were thrilled. It made us a much stronger, better society."


When Liberals fought for these things a lot more people considered themselves liberal. FDR's coalition included (a lock on) southern blacks & whites, northern Jews & Catholics - the broad middle class: providing a winning governing coalition that ruled successfully for 60years. Dominating the White House and Congress by large comfortable margins.

Fast forward to the 1960's and the arrival of the New Left and things start to fall apart fast. The decision to hand control to the emerging (radicalized) intellectual class begins to bleed the party of Archie Bunker blue collar Americans, ethnics, & Catholics- indeed all religious observers.

This Democratic party is a difference of kind and not degree.

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg uses intelelectually dishonest straw man arguments? We know that already! For this we needed a zillion word post?

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Taking their marching orders from the NYT, ensconced in fellow sycophants, they prefer to drive their social change on an un-willing populace through the courts.
Posted by: Fitz

... so you really would rather go back to the days when there were separate drinking fountains, when you could say "nigger" in public, when attacking faggots was forgiveable, and when women knew their place?

and you assume the rest of america secretly yearns for the same as your little troglodyte self?

really, the resentment at being civilized runs deeper than I'd thought.

Posted by: Nads on October 29, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

One of the hallmarks of fanatics is their inability to see in themselves, the faults they find in others. Hence Goldberg's inability to see that conservatives habitually try to impose their beliefs and way of life on others - from how to conduct themselves sexually to birth control to where to live to how to fly the flag. They are the Pharisees that Christ criticized for finding a speck in their neighbor's eye, while ignoring the log in thir own.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on October 29, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz: there's something entertaining about the fact that your post takes another poster to task for employing too broad a definition of liberalism (a criticism with which I agree), and then going on to imply that the "academic left" (which I presume you mean to denote various people doing colonial studies, gender studies, and other practitioners of Theory of one stripe or another) are liberals. Try calling them that, and see what happens.

Also, the word you want is "canon," I believe.

More substantively, when academics talk about the canon being Eurocentric etc., my experience has generally been that they're talking more about the literary canon -- and that Magna Charta is Eurocentric seems rather obvious. If one's studying western democracy, one does need to look at its foundational texts, after all. People of a more radical persuasion might object to a curriculum whose omissions that western democracy is the only or the best form of government, of course, but I don't see how that plays into your argument. It is a fact that many people in universities do in fact study the various documents you name. Though there's not as much attention to the treaty of Westphalia as it probably deserves, these days, which is indeed lamentable.

But really, what does this have to do with anything? Academics find some things interesting, and some things less so; some things exploitative, others less so. They argue a lot, and some of them aren't necessarily particularly democratic (one should perhaps note in passing that the entire academic enterprise, including that of science, is governed by non-democratic norms. One can argue that this is a bad thing, but that's by no means an obvious conclusion). This has implications for the project of democratic persuasion how, exactly?

You appear to be just kind of casting generalized aspersions at the academy without making any particular connection to anything being talked about. This isn't so much going after a straw man -- at least those can be localized -- as flailing around blindly in the middle of a straw field. One works up a pleasing sweat and the dust thereby kicked up may serve to disguise the essential vapidity of one's position, but surely this isn't an argument.

Posted by: Mike Russo on October 29, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Asufficient level of ignorance has been exhibited that I feel compelled to just skip over "Fitz" posts. At least some of the trolls ahve all their cylinders firing. Not so Fitz. His posts are the pixel equivalent of communicating in grunts and gestures.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

and that Magna Charta is Eurocentric seems rather obvious

You mean that Runnymeade isn't in Jersey?

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The propensity of the left to use the power of the courts to institute social change says nothing about the desirability of that change.

So, Fitz...how did that Terri Schiavo thing work out?

I presume you'd probably count Bush v Gore as a win...

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Mark (to begin)

"Academics find some things interesting, and some things less so; some things exploitative, others less so.

Yes, I have noticed. Its interesting to note the general tilt of whats interesting and whats not interesting. As to those things that are exploitative or not that conclusion (especially when arrived at in our humanities departments) tends to define what the modern mind finds humane. (Or not)

They argue a lot, and some of them aren't necessarily particularly democratic (one should perhaps note in passing that the entire academic enterprise, including that of science, is governed by non-democratic norms. One can argue that this is a bad thing, but that's by no means an obvious conclusion).

I wouldnt argue it was a bad thing. Its basic structure, autonomy, & hierarchy is a triumph of a intellectual and moral heritage that I espouse.

This has implications for the project of democratic persuasion how, exactly?"

Well, quite simply- they set the terms of whats intellectually and morally expectable (to a large degree) and also, literally educate our citizenry. (Both in whats civically important and humane)

This being higher education: those pupils take there education into the ruling class of opinion makers and gatekeepers.

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

That is precisely why liberals like Dean get so angry- they cannot debate issues on facts so they fall back on childishness and emotion.
Posted by: mhr

yeah ... I've often found stupid people, usually rednecks, to be jealous of their intellectual superiors.

the yokels must have LOVED watching the dean scream since it was monosyllabic, and therefore, understandable.

Posted by: Nads on October 29, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

First, "liberal" isn't an insult.

Second, we are not our parent democratic party. We are more along the lines of our grandparents Democratic Party.

But keep trying to fight the last war. We are winning in eight days and we will keep winning because we are demanding accountability and we have the tote-sheet.

We dealt with your bullshit for 12 long years. Now we have to clean up your fucking messes. Again.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Civil rights? That wasn't imposed by a minority. It was the final victory after many decades of a majority finally imposing its will against an obstructive minority.

Even that is a category mistake. You can't even begin to talk about what the "majority" and the "minority" want until you make sure that huge swaths of the population aren't arbitrarily denied the right to vote about any of the issues.

Posted by: DonBoy on October 29, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Nads
... so you really would rather go back to the days when there were separate drinking fountains, when you could say "nigger" in public, when attacking faggots was forgivable, and when women knew their place?

How did you manage this. Legal segregation was a affront to the humanity of African -Americans based on nefarious legal application of the 13, 14, & 16th Amendments of our constitution. Im not aware of any time in history that battery of anyone is/was legal. The 19th Amendment was ratified by 2/3 of the congress and States.????????

I guess you prefer to call names.

Greg
So, Fitz...how did that Terri Schiavo thing work out?

Poorly, but of course that was congress acting.

I presume you'd probably count Bush v Gore as a win...

Apparently SCOTUS felt that if that election was going to be decided by a court, It was going to be them. I suppose you prefer the Florida Supreme Court.

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is too funny. Apple-Bobbing at the Cheney's.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently SCOTUS felt that if that election was going to be decided by a court, It was going to be them. I suppose you prefer the Florida Supreme Court.
Posted by: Fitz

I prefer the will of the actual voters that the repubs and kath harris disenfranchised.

Posted by: Nads on October 29, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: "I've never met a smart liberal either. Actually some liberals have high IQs but most of those prefer to remain uninformed and read very little that threatens to challenge what they believe. The result is that liberals and their beliefs are very similar to fanatical believers in
religion. Their beliefs are impregnable and uncomfortable facts are ignored. That is precisely why liberals like Dean get so angry- they cannot debate issues on facts so they fall back on childishness and emotion.

Wow, mhr. You need to get out of your bubble and meet some people. Join into the 21st century.

This statement is a textbook example of stereotypic thinking. The construct of "Angry Liberal Bogeyman" has more to do with conservatism's paranoid, unconscious, unexamined values than it does with any objective reality.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 29, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer the will of the actual voters that the repubs and kath harris disenfranchised.

Kath Harris interpreted (perfectly resonably in my estimation) a fileing deadline. Regardless that was overuled by the FSC.

Are you really still beating this dead hoarse?

What of the multiple independent journalistic and research groups that found the vote tally accurate?

Posted by: Fitz on October 29, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I have never met a smart liberal.


If this is not a quotable quote, it should be:

I, on the other hand, have not only met many smart conservatives but also screwed them.

Posted by: gregor on October 29, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I have to wonder if Jonah Goldberg thinks about the depression, or Franklin Roosevelt. FDR was a LIBERAL, and he changed the country more than any other 20th century president. Both he and his changes were POPULAR. Yeah, Social Security and Medicare were forced down the throat of an unwilling country. Anything you say Jonah.

Posted by: tomtom on October 29, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: mhr on October 29, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

My nomination for Projection Award of the Thread.

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Poorly, but of course that was congress acting.

"Fitz" is apparently ignorant of the number of times the conservatives went to court to try to override Terri and Michael Schiavo's rights.

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Methinks Jonah is good living strawman for Kevin.

Goldberg's arguments might as well as been invented by a liberal pundit to prove that Republicans, conservatives and their asslickers are idiots and clinically insane, as if the proof is still needed.

Posted by: gregor on October 29, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Libs have forced some excellent changes, like civil rights. They are justly proud in that area and a number of others.

However, what bothers me is areas where liberals push the majority around because that pushing gives them power. One example is political correctness. Liberals have given themselves the power to control our speech. Quite a contrast from the traditionally liberal position supporting free speech.

A related area is banning the use of Native American names for sports teams. The arguments in favor were weak, as many Native Americans support the practice, recognizing that naming a team honors a group, rather than mock it.

Gay marriage may be a good idea, but my sense is that some liberals support it because they want to be cutting edge. Or, maybe they need to be cutting edge to maintain a belief in their moral superiority.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 29, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why ANYONE bothers commenting on Jonah Goldberg, much less reading him.

He has done NOTHING in his life that suggests any experience that would make his opinions credible. Nothing. He is an partisan apparatchik of limited ability and achievement. He is well-known, merely for being well-known. So was Zaza Gabor. No one took her seriously either.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on October 29, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe they just feel that it is wrong to discriminate against 10% of the population and needing to feel tragically hip isn't part of the equation at all.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen - you may be right about the motivation. OTOH, liberals don't mind discriminating against the much smaller percentages of the population that believes in bigamy or incest.

BTW - Kinsey's original estimated figure of 10% gay has been debunked. Most believe that the correct figure is nearer 4%. Not that the percentage should affect the idea of gay marriage one way or the other.

BTW I am not sure Jonah Goldberg is Jewish. His mother Lucianne was not born Jewish and did not convert AFAIK. Jonah, born of a gentile mother, would not be Jewish unless he converted.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 29, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

OTOH, liberals don't mind discriminating against the much smaller percentages of the population that believes in bigamy or incest

idiot

Posted by: cleek on October 29, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz asks: "Are you really still beating this dead hoarse?

"What of the multiple independent journalistic and research groups that found the vote tally accurate?"

RESPONSE: I care about a lot more things these days than the 2000 election, which admittedly is very old news. But for the record, the "multiple independent journalistic and research groups" did NOT simply find the vote tally accurate. Based on a statewide recourt of overvotes and undervotes, Gore won Florida by between 60 and 171 votes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_recount.

What Bush would have won was the recount the Florida Supreme Court ordered, which excluded overvotes. One would think the more exhaustive recount best reflects the will of Florida voters. The irony is that the exclusion of overvotes is one reason the US Supreme Court gave for holding the Florida recount unfair. Yet it is only on this unfair recount standard that Bush wins. Had the US Supreme Court returned the case to the Florida Supreme Court to issue orders consistent with its decision, the FSC might very well have ordered the full state wide recount under which Gore won. But the SCOTUS not only held the existing recount invalid; it held there could be no more recounts.

Posted by: RiMac on October 29, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

One example conservatives seem to give for "shoving your beliefs down other people's throats" is in the teaching of evolution in public schools. They equate it to a religious philosophy.

WERE it a religious philosophy they'd have a point, but evolution is a fact of life. Do you not teach what the great majority of science accepts (like global warming) just because it may conflict with some group's religious beliefs?

http://www.nsta.org/159&psid=10

They do have options though. If they absolutely want their kids to get a censored & skewed view of science and nature they can send them to private religious schools.

Posted by: ahem on October 29, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't have to talk about the broader liberal background of our nation's formation except that the current Bush administration has done so much to go beyond Liberalism and traditional Republican conservatism, going way way back to find political science of the 1400s as a basis for his policies.

Bush wouldn't be president if his family didn't have a lot of money. It's that simple. He'd probably be managing a shoe store somewhere.

Posted by: MarkH on October 29, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Gun control -- bad example. You meant *federalized* gun control, an issue that Howard Dean wisely took off the table."

Ah Bob, we've had this dance before, no? I do agree that HD was wise to take it off the table (then again, he was never much of a gun controller, and is pretty much in the "state's rights" camp here).

Gun control is actually a perfect example--we liberals have largely realized that as a tool for social engineering and change that gun control hasn't really panned out. If you make a list of the states where the Brady's award the highest scores, they're often the most violent states in the union (look at MD for example, A's across the board but we're gun control central)--while at the same time many of the places they award failing grades are docile and low in crime (Virginia comes to mind).

It's readily apparent that strict gun laws don't do much for public safety (if they did, VA would be violent and DC and Baltimore would be the safe, but in point of fact the opposite is true), and all they do is help Democrats lose elections.

So, as a result, you see Sarah Brady press conferences where nobody shows up, gun control isn't really on the agenda, and even liberals aren't really pushing it anymore. You have lefty bloggers like Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum and Kos agreeing that Dems shouldn't push it any more. It's a perfect example of Dems realizing that A) it didn't work as social policy and B) it's not something to put at the top of your platform for the most part.

"But gun control more generally is accepted practice. Even the NRA doesn't object to gun licensing. Which part of "shall not be infringed" don't I understand? Which part of "well-regulated" don't *you* understand? :)"

Accepted practice? With varying degrees in varying locations, yes, but it's no different than the reasonable restrictions that apply to our other rights. It's generally accepted that felons and alcoholics and mental patients can't go strapped, just as it's generally accepted that the First Amendment doesn't protect my right to threaten to kill the POTUS. I don't see much vindication here for the idea that gun control is some sort of liberal policy triumph like civil rights or environmental protections. Gun control as it exists is largely a criminal justice function, not a tool for social engineering anymore.

As for the NRA accepting "licensing", I don't think you're correct here. Unless you mean something by "licensing" other than registration. The NRA, as am I, is steadfastly opposed to any sort of federal registration and licensing scheme. Those sorts of schemes invariably lead to confiscation efforts, and don't do much to deter crime.

I understand "well regulated" just fine, it's gun controllers like you that have been trying to ram that octagonal peg into the triangular hole for a couple decades without much success--well regulated means that when it's time to show up for militia duty you better damn well already know how to safely handle and operate your weapon, and fall into formation as a useful rifleman. It'd be hard to do that if you don't have a rifle and have never touched one until the day you show up for militia duty. It does NOT mean you have to be in the army to own a damn gun. The 2A does NOT say the "right of the MILITIA to keep and bear arms", it says the right of the people, because the FF's knew that it'd be the people who'd comprise the militia. Kinda had to form a militia up when you're disarmed by your govt. The Federalist papers and the founding father's words make it pretty clear the very thing they were trying to avoid was a scenario where the govt had all the guns and the people had none. They know a thing or two about tyrannical govts, and wouldn't have thought much of efforts to disarm the people. The 2A is basically saying it's important for the people to be able to form a militia that can fight, carry out orders, form up, and be organized--and because THAT is important, it's important we get to own guns.

If you really wanna persist with this line of thinking...let's do a little thought experiment--let's assume the "well regulated" part isn't simply a justification for why we need guns, but is some sort of code or complicated algorithm for saying "you can have a gun when you're in the militia." Well, guess what gun controller man--you still lose the argument--the Militia is YOU and ME and every other able bodied person willing to fight.

I'm already in the militia--so the 2A protects my right to own firearms.

Kevin's right that liberals are well served by not pushing the failed Brady bunch agenda.

"The idea of a wholly unlimited right to firearms possession went out with the blacksmith's shop."

The idea that Dems can skate by with the "I support reasonable restrictions" nonsense went out the door when the 1994 AWB helped the GOP animals win Congress back for the first time in a generation. We Dems should NOT make that mistake again. Nobody advocates unlimited gun possession--the point Kevin's making is that the restrictions people like you want to impose have been shown to be BAD public policy that fails to achieve it's stated objective (paging Donald Rumsfeld...sound familiar Rummy?) and only hurts Dems at the ballot box...and so we've dumped it. Contrary to what the dimwitted Goldberg wants to argue, liberals do NOT always want to ram unpopular policies down the public's throat. Gun control being taken off the table is a perfect example.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 29, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH: I've said this here before, but what the hell? If aWol had lesser parents, he would not be president. He would be an inpatient.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Exlib, your analytical prowess is truly fascinating. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.

Liberals have given themselves the power to control our speech

Like the way, those pesky libs have attacked the Dixie Chic for speaking out.

A related area is banning the use of Native American names for sports teams

Original complaints were brought by tribes (not all) who were tire and insulted by culturally inaccurate depictions.


Gay marriage may be a good idea, but my sense is that some liberals support it because they want to be cutting edge

Your sense would be wrong.

Tell me, do you have to work hard to be this stupid?

Posted by: Keith G on October 29, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is still working through the guilt of insisting that others die for a war that he supports yet refuses to fight in. He is likely to not make any sense for a very, very, very long time.

Posted by: Disputo on October 29, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

As a liberal and political realist, I have in the past always welcomed legitimate opposition to progressive policy changes. As in every other institution, good ideas usually prove out over inferior ideas. And not every liberal idea is a good one.
But, after all, most progressive ideas are only a reaction to societal changes having nothing to do with politics. For example, most of us would love to go back in time when health care involved friendly old Doc Smith, and payment could be made for a doctor vist with a bushel of apples. But that era, if it ever truly existed outside our own wishful memories, doesn't exist today, and simply won't exist tomorrow. Maybe universal health care isn't the right and only answer, but the fact that there is a problem of close to 1/5 of our people being without health insurance BEGS for a solution. At least for liberals, it does.
And for today's progressives, we have to not only battle against conservatives (naturally reluctant to changes for good reasons, sometimes), but also have to battle against charges of being unamerican, socialist, you name the label of the week. I would say that the burden of coming up with new ideas falls on conservatives, but we've seen the results of this for the last 6 years.

Posted by: DK2 on October 29, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: mmf铃声 on October 29, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny to hear a conservative hack complain about liberals wanting to impose views on a majority. Look at much of conservative and especially objectivist writing: democracy is "mob rule" which endangers the rights of minorities (the kind that conservatives like, such as the rich, the highly religious, etc.), we are "a republic, and not a democracy" - the people can't be trusted because majorities will try to take away the wealth of the richer minority, the electoral college is good because it filters the rabble's passions, conservative judicial activism is good (e.g., ruling against a popular gun control law - judges use the Constitution to protect rights that majorities of fickle rubes would take away in their impetuousness, etc. - You just can't make this stuff up.

Posted by: Neil' on October 29, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

What amazes me isn't "ex-liberal"'s complete and total lack of shame at having his/her/its bullshit debunked, and easily, time and again. That is, after all, SOP for the Bush apologists on the thread, and who could blame them? Like the Doughy Pantload whose opinion Kevin wastes his time and ours in citing, if they didn't have dishonest arguments, they'd have no arguments at all.

No, what amazes me is "ex-liberal"'s continuing to position him/her/itself as some sort of honest commentator, where anyone who's read these threads for any length of time knows the contrary, and anyone else could figure out in a New York minute. Like "brian," who also has long been exposed as a dishonest partisan shill, "ex-liberal" pretends to offer commentary of value from a moderate voice. Truly a staggering denial of reality.

Posted by: Gregory on October 29, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

If aWol had lesser parents, he would not be president. He would be an inpatient.

I'm pretty sure he would be in prison.

Posted by: Disputo on October 29, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Either or. There would be a head-count every so often all night long where ever he would be.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 29, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - Kinsey's original estimated figure of 10% gay has been debunked. Most believe that the correct figure is nearer 4%.

Cite?

BTW - Kinsey's original estimated figure of 10% gay has been debunked. Most believe that the correct figure is nearer 4%.

Not true.

BTW - Kinsey's original estimated figure of 10% gay has been debunked. Most believe that the correct figure is nearer 4%.

Since the figures vary wildly by study, what was measured, what age groups were queried, and what questions were asked, and the results are hampered by differences in how people define their sexual gay identity, "most" don't believe anything.

That being the case, I'll go with the Sells et al study that found that 20.8% of U.S. males and 17.8% of U.S. females had some homosexual behavior or some homosexual attraction since age 15.

BTW - Kinsey's original estimated figure of 10% gay has been debunked. Most believe that the correct figure is nearer 4%.

You're a dimwit for even posting this and pretending there is some kind of consensus.

Posted by: Windhorse on October 29, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

shorter mhr: Fitz, I'll see your shitty strawmen about liberals and raise you a whole new bag of strawmen.

Posted by: ckelly on October 29, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how did Mr. Goldberg's book titles 'Liberal Fascism, from Hitler to Hannibal Lecter' do? I am sure as well as Ponnuru's, Democratic Party the Party of Death (Worshippers).


I am completely baffled that Kevin sees it fit to legitimize these guys' idiocy.

Posted by: gregor on October 29, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

The moral of the story is:

As long as you validate right-wing paranoia & victimhood you can be a complete chucklehead and still get a job writing a column.

Nuthin' to it.

Posted by: obscure on October 29, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Was the Lochner Court liberal? Who ruled the National Recovery Administration? Bush v. Gore? Currently the most thoroughgoing majoritarian criticism of judicial review comes from the legal liberal left. Goldberg continues to use the conservative rhetoric long-ago used to impeach the Warren Court shall be discuss Brown? , but this isnt the 1960s.

Posted by: KH on October 29, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK
southern blacks & whites, northern Jews & Catholics Fitz at 2:28 PM
Southern blacks were mostly Republican until the Voting Rights Act of LBJ. Although FDR paid lip service to equal rights, the army was segregated until Truman, who was the first president to speak to the NAACP, forced integration.
I've never mhr at 2:55 PM
For you up is really down and black is really white.
Apparently SCOTUS felt that if that election was going to be decided by a court, It was going to be them. I suppose you prefer the Florida Supreme Court. Fitz at 3:10 PM
The twelfth Amendment is to decide American elections and the states are to determine the details of voting under the Constitutional framework. Scalia and his allies violated those constitutional provisions.

The final issue raised by Scalia was the decision by the Florida court not to prescribe specific criteria for what constitutes a vote. He questioned the propriety, indeed the constitutionality, of letting the standard for determination of voter's intentdimpled chads, hanging chads, etc.vary from county to county.
Here Scalia echoes the hysterical propaganda of the Bush campaign, taken up by the media as well, about 64 counties allegedly employing 64 different standards to count votes. The entire issue, however, is a red herring. Leaving such judgments to local election officials is characteristic of recount laws in most US states, including Florida. Moreover, there is wide variation in the method of measuring voter intent from locality to locality throughout the United States. Some counties use voting machines, some punch cards, some ballots marked with pencil and scanned optically, some paper ballots counted by hand.
The rule suggested by Scalia would declare unconstitutional, not merely the Florida recount, but the entire presidential election and every other election in America. The Florida Supreme Court declined to spell out detailed criteria because no such criteria are laid down by the Florida legislature or state election laws. Instead, it upheld the legal standard stipulated by state lawnamely that local officials attempt to determine the intent of the voter from the appearance of the ballot

Are you really still beating this dead hoarse? Fitz at 3:44 PM

Why are Republicans still fighting the Civil War?
One example is political correctness. Liberals have given themselves the power to control our speech. ex-liberal at 5:26 PM

Strange, but it seems to be Republicans who demand politically correct speech: criticize Bush and seen your career suffer or be attacked as a "supporter of terrorism."
liberals don't mind discriminating against the much smaller percentages of the population that believes in bigamy or incest ex-liberal at 6:14 PM

I knew Republicans are pervs, but coming right out supporting bigamy and incest is a refreshing if unuaual bit of honesty.

Posted by: Mike on October 29, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm for my nutjob, para-military, white power neighbor NOT having the right to own a bazooka, or grenades or AK-47s or back-pack nukes.

So I guess I'm for some kind of arms control.

To own a gun maybe one should have a sanity test.

Posted by: Er on October 30, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

I'm for your neighbor not having those things too. We have a guns. But we also have 40 acres of timber and a freezer full of venison, turkey and pheasant. People like him give all gun owners a bad name, and I resent the hell out of it.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 30, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Windhorse: You're a dimwit for even posting this and pretending there is some kind of consensus.

Give me a break, Windhorse. I was responding to another poster who implied an absolute concensus at 10%. At least I indicated a difference of opinion when I wrote "most believe" and "about" 4%.

E.g., the results of a British study are shown below. In each case, the first column is the 1990 survey and the second is the 2000 survey. Note that part of the difference is how one defines "gay." Should someone who had sex with a same-sex partner in the past, but has not done so in the last 5 years be counted as gay?
------------------------------------------------
Among men they found the following results;

NATSAL I (%) 1990 NATSAL II (%) 2000
Ever had a sexual experience, not necessarily including genital contact, with a partner of the same sex?

5.3 8.4

Ever had sex with a same sex partner, including genital contact?

3.7 6.3

Have you had a same sex partner in the last five years?

1.4 2.6

And among women they found these results;

NATSAL I (%) 1990 NATSAL II (%) 2000
Ever had a sexual experience, not necessarily including genital contact, with a partner of the same sex?

2.8 9.7

Ever had sex with a same sex partner, including genital contact?

1.9 5.7

Have you had a same sex partner in the last five years?

0.6 2.6

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

They've gone wild!

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

It's readily apparent that strict gun laws don't do much for public safety (if they did, VA would be violent and DC and Baltimore would be the safe, but in point of fact the opposite is true)

Gun control doesn't do much for public safety in MD and DC because you can go across the border to VA and buy a gun. Gun control at anything less than the federal level is not likely to produce much in the way of a reduction in violent crime.

In fact, the reason gun control has failed as a cause in the US is the same reason the US has high rates of gun violence: Americans love and, indeed, valorize and glorify the practice of blowing shit away. It's not so much that we HAVE too many guns; it's that we LOVE them. Gun control has to be seen as part of a broader crusade to de-valorize the use of deadly force in American culture; it needs to include a drive for X ratings for violent movies, Silver Ring Thing equivalents for teens who pledge nonviolence, and so on.

In this particular case, I think a committed liberal should be trying to push something on Americans in which the majority of them don't believe. But most liberals believe in some things which are popular and some things which aren't. Social Security, for example, has never been rammed down people's throats at any point in its existence: it was enormously popular when it was first proposed, and it's still enormously popular 70 years later. Similarly, conservatives believe in some things which are (unfortunately) popular (like banning gay marriage - though that's changing), and some things which aren't (like privatizing Social Security and fighting stupid, bloodthirsty wars for no good reason).

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK


ex-lib: liberals push the majority around because that pushing gives them power.


playing the victim....again?

buck up...

remember...

GOP: MAJORITY RULES..BUT DON'T BLAME US...

Posted by: mr. irony on October 30, 2006 at 5:50 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe:

Hear, hear. It's more a cultural issue than an issue of firearms per se, as Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine made so clear in his comparisons to Candada, which likewise is a frontier nation with a lot of hunting enthusiasts -- and a fraction of the level of gun crime.

Sebastian:

I'm not going to get into the weeds with you on this. From the first "people like you" I stopped reading your message and began skimming. You've chosen to launch every anti-gun straw man you could think of like skeet and blow it out of the sky. Guess what; I remain as unimpressed as if you took the barrel of your shotgun and stuck it into a fishtank.

I'm happy we agree on the central point; that gun ownership is not an unlimited right, and subject to revocation based on irresponsible use. It isn't an inalienable and absolute right anymore than driving an automobile is an inalienable and absolute right. Gun ownership is restrictable based on competency tests, and revokable based on ill use. Contrast this with free speech; one act of bad speech is judged by itself and doesn't lead to revoking's ones future speech rights. The latter right is inalienable, the former is contingent. Commit a crime with a gun in most jurisdictions and after your prison release, you can forget about being issued a gun license for awhile.

And that's how things should be.

Support for gun control obviously varies according to region. Obviously, one would expect regions with higher incidents of gun crime to be more strongly supportive of gun control. The key factors are population density and homogeneity. Densly populated cities with lots of different sorts of people obviously don't induce the sort of trust levels in sparsely populated areas of similar cultural groupings. Since gun control is a response to a social problem and not a default position, this would make perfect sense. And it's why Howard Dean was correct to make it a matter for the states and not of national policy.

Now I don't wish to argue this with you, because as you say, we've danced this dance before, and it's as demoralizing as arguing with a neocon about the Iraq war circa 2003. You argue in terms of cultural ideals while vigoriously rationalizing away real-life problems. Sure, gun owners should be extra-concerned with safety and lock their weapons away from their kids. Sure, Iraqis should be extra-overjoyed that we ousted their dictator and put aside their sectarian differences to build a democracy. Bleh.

And then we read about this recent spate of horrific school shootings. Aside from the psychotic adults -- where did these kids get their weapons from? The "bad guys?" Nope -- their parents, naturally.

And then Bush holds a conference on school violence that manages to run 90 minutes without *once mentioning* guns.

Sorry, bro. The hardcore NRA position is just as much in denial as Bush. I'm thoroughly uninterested in engaging it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

I love Jonah Goldberg. He's like a conservative Allen Colmes. We just need to get him on TV with someone like Kevin.

Posted by: Chuck on October 30, 2006 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'd love to hear which problems I'm rationalizing away, bro. Really, I would. Which problem is that exactly? Name one. Here's a problem YOU are rationalizing away: one of the biggest problems we have here in Baltimore is a citizenry preyed upon by violent felons; I'm simply a fan of letting people defend themselves instead of hoping and praying that there'll be a cop on your corner the day the criminal element decides it's your turn. We've seen that ain't gonna happen. Heck, after Katrina and the completely disgusting fashion in which our govt let people swing in the breeze, I'd figure most good liberals like me would realize that a good govt is a govt that helps people fend for themselves when fit hits the shan, and not one that makes them more accessible victims for those who would prey upon them.

Speaking of straw men, nice try, but you can't fix what a couple isolated copy-cat psychotic school shooter morons do to my wagon. Why? Because short of confiscating ALL the guns in the world and melting them down, something even Sarah Brady will admit will NEVER happen, you won't be able to stop all such events from ever transpiring. As even you admit, those crimes are often committed with legally permissible firearms, not evil "assault weapons" that are going to be banned even if you gun grabbers had your way. Heck, if I were of an equally sick mind, my nunchaku or sword would get the job done, as would an explosive or some piano wire. You can't stop all the madmen in the world, but you can defend yourself from them.

More people die from lightning strikes, falling off ladders, choking on ham sandwiches, and autoasphyxial masturbatory habits than die from random psychos listening to the voices in their heads and grabbing daddy's shotgun. Not saying it's not a problem when it happens, but the one in a billion chance it's gonna happen isn't a rebuttal to my position that I shouldn't be denied the means to defend myself.

As for inalienable right vs. contingent right, is that supposed to hurt my feelings? Are you trying to suggest that it's somehow a less important or second-tier right because it's subject to certain restrictions? Is my right to gun ownership somehow diminished in importance because it's something that can be stripped from me if I take certain courses of action? Nobody cares. Sign up for the military and let me know how that "inalienable 1A rights" thing goes for you (hint: it's well established caselaw that the military can tell the rank and file to shut their traps up)--or try to threaten to kill the POTUS within earshot of a USSS agent. From your jail cell you'll realize that even our most inalienable rights can reasonably be curtailed if we do the wrong thing, or are subject to certain circumstances.

Heck, if you're a violent felon you can't vote anymore either. Am I supposed to lend any credence to the idea that voting and gun ownership are somehow less important because of this? Or did you have some other point with all that contingent vs. inalienable right jibber jabber?

A right is a right. You either have it or you don't. The 2A says what it says. Period.

Not sure what "the hardcore NRA position" even is, since you don't clearly articulate it, but the only thing I can see that represents denial here is the suggestion that the abandonment of gun control as a core policy by liberals is anything other than an example of we liberals recognizing when something (in this case gun control, but there are other examples as Kevin noted) is simply bad policy that doesn't work and hurts us on election day.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

"Gun control doesn't do much for public safety in MD and DC because you can go across the border to VA and buy a gun. Gun control at anything less than the federal level is not likely to produce much in the way of a reduction in violent crime."

The problem with this argument is, among others, that it ignores the fact that you can also buy that gun if you live in VA as well! But Virginians aren't violent, despite being awash in guns. The mere availability of firearms does not make a violent society. A violent society makes a violent society. As even Bob will admit, it's a cultural thing and not something created from whole cloth merely by the presence of guns. If there were anything at all to your argument, VA wouldn't be such a safe state--the reality is that the social conditions (drug wars, poverty, bad educational institutions, poor family support structure, etc...you know, those things we liberals actually give a shit about and the conservatives ignore wholesale) are what create violence and criminality, not guns.

I largely agree with you and Bob that it is a cultural thing--we live in a culture that simply isn't a big fan of turning the other cheek. I'd love to see that change, but grabbing up all the guns isn't going to change the culture. You guys mistake the tools for the intent behind them. Americans, since the frontier days, have been a rough-n-tumble type people that unfortunately do have some violent tendencies.

I'd love to see us get away from that, but snatching my gun away from me doesn't get us any further down that road. If you want to see that aspect of our culture diminished, work for peace and social justice (ie, educate your local conservative, read to a kid in an inner city neighborhood, work to make sure that kid gets something to eat before he goes to school and has something to do after school, get a drug addict into treatment, lobby for more money for education and less for the drug war, etc) and build a better society. While we're working together toward that utopia, don't be trying to tell me I shouldn't be allowed to defend myself with the same means that the bad guys are gonna use on me.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

*chuckling*

I knew it. A fusillade of radical individualist Libertarian bloviation. You want to know why this issue bugs me so much? It's not even the issue on the merits. It's that it turns gun supporters into jacked up lunatics hiding from black helicopters and JBGTs (that's jackbooted government thugs). Everything become a matter of life and death, all subtleties are lost and intelligent policy discussion is rendered impossible. Reading your posts is like listening to drivetime talk radio.

And when it's out of the mouth of someone who's otherwise a good liberal, it's just really really -- well, either comical or sad. Personally, I happen to think school shootings are things that shouldn't happen in America. So, uhh ... shoot me :)

Look, I'm glad that Dean tabled this issue and that the Democrats no longer talk about national proposals like the assault rifle ban or the Brady law -- no matter how much I personally support both of them. I'm also comfortable that Bob Casey is running for senator in PA even though he's pro-life. Likewise, I'm okay with our border state and Western congressional candidates being *way* more socially conservative that I am. The Democratic Party is a big tent, and we need to get back to good ol' FDR basics and concentrate on economic populism. I'm totally cool with that.

So yes, Sebastian -- I welcome you with open arms into my party.

But I also reserve the right to consider your view of guns the rantings of a raving lunatic :)

Helpful hint: If you'd like to make headway on the subject with a person like me, you can stop arguing in straw-men absolutes and slippery-slope fright rhetoric.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

From Wikipedia:

Although Goldberg is an Episcopalian, her sons were raised in their father's Jewish faith.

So he's not Jewish in the Orthadox sense, but he's Jewish in the Reformed sense.

Posted by: Justin on October 30, 2006 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bob:

*chuckling*

Reading your post is like listening to drive time radio--lots of ad hominem attacks, no specific policy disputes or anything beyond insults at me and rhetoric. Karl Rove would be proud.

But the thing is...your reading of my pro gun views is silly. It's not any different than the stance a good liberal takes on religious freedom, gay marriage, abortion, or any other of the myriad social issues that make us liberals. We liberals believe in self determination, protection of choice, individual liberty, and recognition of the fact that what works for you might not work for me. If you don't want to own a gun...great! Then don't. Opposed to abortion? Don't have one. Opposed to guns? Then don't buy one. But in either case, don't tell me what's right for me.

That's what makes us liberals. Why you think that it should be any different for guns than it is for abortion, gay rights, religious freedom, etc. is beyond me. Liberals believe in individual choice and not in some moralistic majority choosing for you.

There's no lack of intelligent policy discussion on my part--the simple reality is that GUN CONTROL DOESN'T WORK as public policy. Any more than booze control, illegal drug control, prostitution control, car stereo theft control, gambling control, etc have ever worked. Deny the public a commodity it wants, and you only subsidize a black market. It's not about radical libertarian bloviation, it's about recognizing which social policies work and which ones don't. Like any other prohibitionist scheme, gun control fails to effectively social engineer any real change, and doesn't obtain its objectives. As a result, liberals have largely abandoned it.

A good liberal abandons the ones that don't work and focuses on the ones that do. Gun control doesn't work, the other social policies I listed do. So I say focus on the ones that work. What's hard about that? What's talk radio about that? Nothing. I think it's rather fruitless of you to argue that anyone but YOU is engaging in fright rhetoric and bloviation. I'm talking about being pragmatic--follow the policies that A) actually do something beneficial and B) don't help get Republicans elected. That's a specific policy point of view, and a workable standard. By contrast, you're attacking me personally for not having the same opinion as you and trying to label me as part of a crowd that I clearly don't belong in. It's sad, really. You shouldn't do that.

I think you are a hypocrite for suggesting that I'M the one with the strawmen here--you're making the outlandish suggestion that I fit into the JBGT black helicopter crowd, when in point of fact that's nonsense. I just like owning firearms, like many good Democrats (including my heroes James Carville, Jack Kennedy, LBJ, Brian Schweitzer, Paul Hackett, etc). There's nothing inherent in my liberalism that says I have to not like guns or not believe in my own right to own them. It's a matter of choice, and I'm exercising that choice. You're the one engaging in ad hominem and fright rhetoric. I'm not some end of days type looney, I'm just a good liberal Dem who happens to own guns and realizes that it's hypocritical to say "you can choose your own path with regard to abortion, who you fuck, who you marry, where you worship or don't...but you can't choose to defend yourself." You either support choice or you don't.

There's simply nothing looney about enjoying target shooting, wanting to defend yourself, etc. But it is quite looney to suggest that anyone who adheres to those views and feels that you can't support the Bill of Rights without supporting the WHOLE Bill of Rights is some anti-govt jacked up lunatic waiting for the black helicopters to land.

Your arguments would be more credible if you could resist the infantile impulse to label me in such an erroneous fashion. I support Social Security, gay marriage, drug decriminalization, abortion rights, stronger environmental protections, taxing fossil fuel producers to subsidize stronger alternative fuels programs, etc...so that canard of yours just won't stick. Please quit it already. It's worse than reading Al's posts :).

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Historically, "liberals" have driven something down people's throats, and that's access by African-Americans to public services historically enjoyed only by whites. Let's not forget the national guard escorting young children to school in the south.
In their "Southern Strategy," conservatives in the Republican Party have played to this resentment with codes like "school choice" and "big government" that make this resentment politically correct. (A newer version is equating controls on Latino immigration with "terrorism").
Arguing with Republican conservatives about the codes as if they're policy is largely a waste of time; the resentment behind them remains.
It's time for Democrats (liberal or not!) to advocate for government that supports families and communities without excluding anyone from the American dream of safety and prosperity in their homes. I think Nancy Pelosi has begun to do that, obsucred by the Rovian thunder. It's a tough uphill battle against bigotry.

Posted by: Bruce on October 30, 2006 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Why are we even having this discussion? Last message, I offered you an olive branch. The previous one I told you I didn't want to get into the weeds with you over this. I haven't spoken of support for a single gun control proposal; my initial point was merely that gun ownership is contingent on responsibility in a more fundamental way than speech. You can be sued for libel and pay a stiff fine or even endure jail time. But you can't be gag-ordered for the remainder of your life the way you can have your gun rights revoked after using a gun in a crime.

Isn't that, like, an NRA position -- take the guns away from the bad guys?

Instead I've been met with screen upon screen of anti-gun control argument. You wonder why I call you a loonie? Why are you shadowboxing so defensively on an argument we have no *concrete* disagreement on?

My experience is not the same as yours. I live in the Tri-State Metro area where gun control is pretty prevalent. I know not a single person in my family or among my friends and acquaintences who owns a handgun or likes to shoot. You seem to have as much trouble allowing my experience into the discourse as you claim I do of yours. Are you sure you wouldn't prefer purging *me* from the Party?

I didn't fall off the turnip truck. I've had these debates with pro-gunners in cyberspace for nearly a decade. I've seen every last one of your arguments before, made by Libertarians and anti-statists. My objection to your view is philosophical, because I believe these arguments depend on a radical individualist analysis of social problems -- something with which I'll never be comfortable.

The ACLU, you couldn't help noticing, is split on the issue of gun control. Some ACLUers take a whole-cloth approach to the Bill of Rights, and that's certainly intellectually respectable. Others, however, call themselves civil libertarians as opposed to capital-L Libertarians because they respect the distinction between the public and the private spheres. This is where I come down.

If gun ownership were simply a matter of what someone does on their own time it wouldn't be an issue. Then, indeed, it would be like trying to prohibit booze or abortions. But guns have a large social impact in a way that neither booze nor abortion do. Libertarians reject many (if not most) environmental restrictions, because they see them as impediments to economic liberty, and they read liberty as a whole cloth. Many civil libertarians are economic liberals who recognize that curtailing economic liberty becomes necessary when that liberty has a negative impact on large groups of people.

It is on this point that debating with a person who has the views of guns that you do becomes insufferable for me, because your radical individualist analysis serves to distort the evidence. You'll cavalierly dismiss school shootings while overplaying every granny with a derringer who manages to repel a mugging. This sort of thing makes me pull my hair out. You see guns in society entirely through your sovereign right to self-defense -- end of story.

Guns don't kill people; they're only a tool. But if the object is to remove a set of screws, it's a helluva lot easier to use a screwdriver than a butter knife.

Just as Libertarians argue that people left to their own devices will act virtuously, so do pro-gunners argue that people allowed to defend themselves with firearms will act responsibly. This is Rousseauvian utopianism. The level of gun violence in this society is extreme relative to the rest of the developed world.

I'm, rather, a Hobbesian. I don't share that kind of faith in human nature. That's why I support economic regulations for rapacious corporations, because economic liberty leads to monopolistic collusion.

And that's why I'm inclined to allow localities to set what they consider to be the proper levels of gun control.

It's not an impulse to social engineering; quite the contrary. It's a bow to practicality and a rejection of one-size-fits all solutions.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Densly populated cities with lots of different sorts of people obviously don't induce the sort of trust levels in sparsely populated areas of similar cultural groupings.

Except, of course, for New York City -- most diverse population, most densely populated, record low levels of violence year after year.

But that is because at some point in the mid-1990s New Yorkers discovered the secret of life.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe:

Notice there wasn't a concomitant change in the CCW laws during that time frame :)

NYC makes the argument eloquently that liberalizing gun control laws has no necessary impact on reducing violent crime.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

the simple reality is that GUN CONTROL DOESN'T WORK as public policy. Any more than booze control, illegal drug control, prostitution control, car stereo theft control, gambling control, etc have ever worked. Deny the public a commodity it wants, and you only subsidize a black market.

If your analogy is to controlled substances such as hard drugs and alcohol, or to heavily regulated economic activities like gambling and prostitution, then you are either arguing for a lot of regulation of gun ownership, or you are making a radical argument for completely deregulating a lot of heavily regulated fields. I doubt you have any good evidence for the latter policy.

The countries with the most successful non-prohibitionist policies towards drug use and prostitution, such as the Netherlands and Australia, simultaneously make the controlled behaviors available AND regulate them heavily. In the Netherlands, heroin is available for free to anyone with a government-issued addict card, but it must be taken under government supervision at a government shoot-up station, which is about as bohemian and romantic as a welfare office. The Dutch population of heroin addicts flatlined years ago and has been declining since. In the Netherlands and Australia, prostitution is legal, but you have to be registered, pay taxes, and submit to government inspections to ensure you're a legal resident and aren't being abused by a pimp, and that you practice safe sex. The inspections also give sex workers access to medical care and legal help, which incentivizes them to participate.

If you're framing gun control as a prohibition issue, then you need to think about an approach to gun enjoyment and self-protection which is analogous to non-prohibitionist approaches to drug use, like the Dutch one. For example, if our goal is to allow people to enjoy the use of firearms, we might have government-operated target ranges where one could fire automatic weapons to one's heart's content. Possession of an automatic weapon outside a government-controlled range, like possession of heroin in the Netherlands, would be illegal.

Because, while absolute prohibition of hard drug use doesn't work, no responsible society pretends that hard drugs don't hurt people; any society that takes public health seriously tries to figure out a way to minimize hard drug use, rather than simply ignoring it. The same should be true of guns.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

The olive branch seemed to be cloaked in some thinly veiled insults. You explicitly stated that I was making the black helicopter JBGT argument, which is wrongheaded, erroneous, ad hominem that I rightly objected to. I'm glad we can lay day our swords for plowshares as we share a lot of common ground, but I don't think it's unreasonable for an urban liberal like me to object to being forcibly humped into that crowd. You tried to paint me into a radical outdoors backwoods beerswilling survivalist in Montana corner, and that pigeonholing effort is pointless. That's not who I am, and you damn well know it. It's offensive and childish behavior.

"Why are you shadowboxing so defensively on an argument we have no *concrete* disagreement on?"

I'm not being defensive; I'm pointing out that we don't disagree on much, but where we do part ways I think your fundamental policy concepts are flawed. If you don't want to parse them, fair enough...agree to disagree, fair enough. But it seems you do want to, so here we go:

"You seem to have as much trouble allowing my experience into the discourse as you claim I do of yours. Are you sure you wouldn't prefer purging *me* from the Party?"

Bunk. Bull. Nonsense. As I said, if you choose to not shoot, not own guns...great. I welcome non-gunnies into our party. Gladly. Just don't impose your choice to not own them on me.

"My objection to your view is philosophical, because I believe these arguments depend on a radical individualist analysis of social problems -- something with which I'll never be comfortable."

What's radical about saying "I should be allowed to defend myself?" Most people wouldn't see anything radical about A) accepting the BOR for what it is and B) believing you shouldn't have to rely entirely on George Bush's govt for your own protection. Ask Nawwlins residents post-Katrina about that one. There's nothing radical or selfish or unreasonably individualist about thinking you should be allowed to go to a trap range, hit some paper targets once in a while, and defend yourself if need be.

Nothing inherenly un-liberal or radical in my position that I can see.

"If gun ownership were simply a matter of what someone does on their own time it wouldn't be an issue. Then, indeed, it would be like trying to prohibit booze or abortions. But guns have a large social impact in a way that neither booze nor abortion do"

Putting aside anti-abortion fetal viability objections, that's *patently* false. You didn't really think you'd get away with that bullshit, did you? Please. Drunk driving, alcoholism, etc have HUGE social impacts. Frankly they kill way more people than guns do.

Your right to drink a beer or own a gun isn't diminished by something irresponsible other people do; the reality is that of the 80mil or so gun owners in the US, only a small fraction ever illegal shoot anyone else. Punishing the 99.9% who behave because of the 0.1% who don't is the opposite of liberalism. Because a few people choose to drive drunk or drink themselves into an early grave at the cost of billions of dollars to society, we don't take YOUR car keys or Sam Adams away. It shouldn't be any different for guns. Booze and tobacco kill way more people. Hell, medical malpractice kills about 100,000 people a year. Should we outlaw doctors? Before you start typing the nonsense about cars and doctors having legit reasons to exist, remember that GUNS have legit reasons to exist as well.

"It is on this point that debating with a person who has the views of guns that you do becomes insufferable for me, because your radical individualist analysis serves to distort the evidence. You'll cavalierly dismiss school shootings while overplaying every granny with a derringer who manages to repel a mugging."

The fun thing for me is pointing out that I don't have to do any of that. I don't have to distort any evidence. I freely admit that school shootings do happen, I just point out how rare they are. You're more likely to win the lottery or get hit by lightning than you are to get shot by a classmate. It's not that they're not tragic when they happen, they're just not common enough to be a good reason to deny me my rights. Even the most conservative estimates make it clear that defensive, legit, legal gun use far outstrips illegal gun use. I don't have to distort evidence at all, because even liberal criminologists like Gary Kleck find that the evidence supports my case. Do a quick google for him if you doubt me. The evidence is overwhelmingly in support of my case. I can cite tons of it, without having to resort to handwringing about school shootings that are exceedingly rare.

"This sort of thing makes me pull my hair out. You see guns in society entirely through your sovereign right to self-defense -- end of story."

What's wrong with that? First of all, it's not true, I also see that lots of people use their guns in legitimate fashion for sport, target shooting, and not just self defense...but even if that weren't the case, yes I also see that I should be allowed to defend myself--school shootings or not. That's not a radical position.

The problem is that because YOU don't see the value in gun ownership for you and your family and friends, you assume it has no value for me.

That's very un-liberal of you.

"Just as Libertarians argue that people left to their own devices will act virtuously, so do pro-gunners argue that people allowed to defend themselves with firearms will act responsibly."

And a great majority of them *do* act responsibly. There are ~80 million gun owners in the US, but there are only about 12000 unjustifiable homicides a year (and a great majority of those are drug trade related). Most of us gunnies do NOT going around wantonly killing people. A huge, overwhelmingly majority of gun owners never commit any crimes at all, let alone a gun crime. Nothing utopian about that little inconvenient fact.

" This is Rousseauvian utopianism. The level of gun violence in this society is extreme relative to the rest of the developed world."

There's nothing utopian about it, the fact is a great majority of gun owners never use their guns illegally. It's just a fact. You'll not find anything to contradict that fact--if there was data to the contrary, believe me, the Brady Bunch would be yelling it from the mountaintops daily.

As for the developed world, we're also pretty far ahead of the developed world in non-gun related violence also. Time to start outlawing fists and baseball bats and tire irons too, eh? We just happen to be a violent society; even if you could convince all 80mil of us gun owners to fork them over to the govt (yeah, right), Americans will still be violent people. Last year in Maryland, two people died from rifle shots. Thirty people died from being bludgeoned by hands and feet. People don't need guns to kill people. And you're not even right, there are plenty of modern countries with murder rates comparable to ours. People were killing people before guns were invented, people kill people afterward. Americans are violent with our without guns.

I'm not sure what your point here is, other than to confirm that in your ideal world you would snatch up all the legally owned guns to try to make the world a safer place. Talk about utopian idealism.

The rejection of the one size fits all solution is for you to man up and admit that what works for you doesn't work for me, and as such we should both get to choose.

The point remains--liberals are frankly flexible compared to conservatives, we can let go of policy experiments that don't pan out. GC is an example of liberals being willing to cop a plea and say uncle, and move on.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

And you're not even right, there are plenty of modern countries with murder rates comparable to ours.

Only Russia and South Africa. Many conclusions to draw there.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

As for the CCW/NYC issue...we've covered this before.

First, take Manhattan out of the picture and discuss the other four boroughs, and the NYC picture changes FAST. Mayor Bloomberg is on a manhunt for bad acting gun dealers for a reason.

Second, Manhattan is THE most valuable real estate on the planet. It's more densely patrolled by a police force than just about anywhere on the planet, it's a 24x7 active city, and the people who live there are amongst the wealthiest people on the planet.

By way of contrast, CCW laws HAVE been liberalized just about everywhere else, without any concomitant increase in violence or criminality.

Brooksfoe--I think you misread me, I don't see any real fundamental difference between the anti-prohibitionist take on drug use (which I support) and the stance I take on guns. I don't object to regulation, I do object to prohibition of use or ownership. Much as I think you should get to smoke a spliff or bang a hooker if you want to, I think you should get to own a gun for self defense.

By the same token as I don't think you should get to smuggle tons of smack in cargo ships, I don't think you should get to sell firearms to felons.

I don't object to any and all regulation, but I do object to regulations that deny free, rational people from exercising choices that are in fact quite reasonable.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

As for the murder rates thing, I'm largely right. See here:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir_percap-crime-murders-firearms-per-capita

Our firearms murder rate isn't as far out of line as Bob would have you believe. We're way less than South Africa, and in line with former USSR states, Mexico, the former Czech Republic, etc.

On the list of total murders regardless of method, we're like 23rd or 24th, behind many developed nations.

We're bad, but so are a lot of other places. In any event, I only see all the more reason that I should be allowed to defend myself.

You can't uninvent projectile weapons, boys. They are here to stay. Prepare or be a victim, your choice.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

mr. irony: "ex-lib: liberals push the majority around because that pushing gives them power."

playing the victim....again?

I'm not a victim. The victims are those who think the libs are helping them.

E.g., Libs claim to support African American advancement; their real interest is power. Libs look at the poor educational results, on average. Do they fix that education? No, they use this issue as an excuse to get more government money which they can control. They use it to institute racial preferences, which gives them more ocntrol of university admissions.

They don't care if the federal aid to education doesn't improve performance. They don't care that many blacks admitted under preference programs don't graduate. The programs and the belief in their own goodness are what's important, not actually helping African Americans.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Much as I think you should get to smoke a spliff or bang a hooker if you want to, I think you should get to own a gun for self defense.

I think we may have a disagreement about whether some things ought still to be considered morally wrong, even though it's a bad idea to make them illegal. I mean, spliffs are mostly pretty innocuous, but heroin ain't. And even spliffs can be unhealthy if you go overboard, as with alcohol. Part of the Dutch strategy on that question -- sorry to harp on that example, but it's the one I know best and I'm confident it's effective -- is to sharply limit the scale of production and trade, and to prohibit public advertisement of the products, by keeping it technically illegal, particularly above set quantities. This helps ensure that the marijuana subculture is low-key and somewhat frowned upon by Dutch; the most enthusiastic participants are foreigners. If marijuana became a mass industrial product with its own advertising industry, like alcohol, then you would run the risk of developing a culture of guzzling overconsumption (as we see now with beer, all over the Western world).

It's a very nuanced approach, and only a certain kind of country can sustain public approval for that kind of nuance. But it works. Anyway, if this is the analogy we work with for guns, then I don't see why the view that it's impossible to ban them entirely necessarily implies that there's nothing wrong with them at all, any more than the Dutch tolerance of marijuana implies that Dutch in general think there's nothing wrong with using drugs.

I find the decision to carry a firearm as a private citizen to be deeply immoral, because it implies that you arrogate to yourself the authority to decide whether someone else should live or die. I think no one should be carrying a firearm around who has not been vested by society with the authority to use violence in society's name, and who is not trained and governed by all the rules and structures which that authority entails. The only situation in which I can envision the use of a firearm being moral would be in the course of an actual armed attack with intent to kill, a school shooting or some such. But as you yourself point out, such shootings are pretty rare, you're more likely to be struck by lightning, and we don't all go around wearing insulated lightning-rod hats connected to grounding wires in our sneakers. Now, it's true that I could also kill someone by pushing them over a bridge railing, whacking them with a baseball bat, or whatever; but if I step out the door carrying a baseball bat, I'm probably in a softball league. If I step out the door carrying a concealed firearm, it's because I envision myself shooting another human being. And I think it's hubristic and just wrong for anybody to believe that they have the judgment, as a regular private citizen, to decide when to shoot someone. Should it be illegal for you to own one? Well, that's impractical in the US, for pragmatic and cultural reasons. But that doesn't mean I have to feel your decision to pack is fine and dandy, whatever floats your boat, man.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals also have a history of shoving ideas down the public's throat that they don't want.

You know, like Evolution, Global Warming, and, in earlier days, that the Earth is round, and that it rotates around the Sun... etc.

Not to be outdone, us conservatives prefer to shove things down the throats of peoples half-way round the world: and so for the good of the Muslims of the world, we will invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Chistianity.

Thank you.

Posted by: annie on October 30, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"I find the decision to carry a firearm as a private citizen to be deeply immoral, because it implies that you arrogate to yourself the authority to decide whether someone else should live or die."

It's no different than carrying a baseball bat, a tire iron, or any other potentially deadly device. You're not saying you should decide who lives or dies, you're saying you believe that you have the right to defend yourself.

The point isn't killing the other guy--it's having an effective, portable tool for repelling deadly force from SOMEONE else who would do you harm. Guns are simply the most effective tool for doing so.

Why should you have a duty to be a victim? If you choose to protect yourself from someone who wants to kill YOU, you're not deciding that that person should die. You're deciding that YOU should get to live.

Your philosophy values the criminal's life over mine. Fuck that.

"I think no one should be carrying a firearm around who has not been vested by society with the authority to use violence in society's name, and who is not trained and governed by all the rules and structures which that authority entails"

Amadou Diallo's family might take issue with that.

The point is that not everyone you think is "vested by society" is necessarily of good character. Why should the govt be in the business of deciding who lives or dies? Sounds like fascism to me. I don't want some neocon cabal deciding who lives or dies. The idea that cops and security guards are of more sound character than you or I is a noxious one.

The idea that only agents of the state should get to defend themselves from other human beings is the very recipe for fascism that true liberals should fight tooth and nail.

The only time it is actually legal for me to use the firearm I carry in self defense is to save my life or the life of another, so the very restriction you're calling for already exists. The only time it's moral AND legal for me to shoot is one that you already have agreed to being a morally acceptable shoot--the defense of your own life or that of another.

So I don't think we disagree on WHEN you can shoot, but I think we disagree on when you can be PREPARED to shoot.

I think it's rather hubristic and just wrong for you to say to me that when a gang of thugs is about to kill me for the contents of my wallet or because they don't like the way I look that I don't have the right to use deadly force to protect myself. As such, I firmly believe it is my right to shoot in such a circumstance, and thus it's important I be allowed to be prepared should such a circumstance arise.

If you don't think it's just, fine...don't carry. But I believe I have a right to defend myself, and that's NOT me deciding who lives or dies, it's me deciding I should get to protect my own life.

It's the most fundamental civil right of all, really.


Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I also think paying for sex is gross. I don't think people should be arrested for doing it, but the places in the world where it's become a major industry, like Bangkok, have some very serious social problems as a result; it corrupts gender relations, and eventually that filters through into family life. Amsterdam has essentially ghettoized the problem; because almost all the sex workers there are foreign (South American, Asian or East European), they don't have to cope with social ripple effects. Anyway, this is another area where saying "it shouldn't be criminalized" is not the same as saying "you should be able to bang a hooker if you want".

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Good gracious (to cop a phrase redolent of everybody's favorite
SecDef), this really is the mother of all straw-man arguments, isn't
it.

Look ... I don't know how many times I have to tell you this: I have
heard every last word of this before. I remain entirely unconvinced. I
wouldn't change the gun control laws in my mid-sized NJ city, let
alone those the astoundingly low-crime NYC for anything in the world.
I think they're effective for my part of the country, with the sort of
cultural basis it has. We don't have CCW where I live. We have
extremely restrictive CCW in NYC. I think we all like it that way. If
there are any campaigns to change it, they'd be news to be.

Until such time as they're proposed, however -- once again, we really
have nothing to argue about. You like the dispensation where you live,
more power to ya. I'm mot trying to take away anything you consider
yours. I just wouldn't live in your area, is all. I fucking loathe
guns. My friends have less of an extreme disposition about it than I
do (at least one likes to hunt), but none of my friends, family or
acquaintences feels an especial need to arm themselves to go about
their daily biz. I'd worry for them if they did.

Isn't it sort of silly to say that I've blown your position into an
absurd straw man -- by creating an absurd straw man? I didn't call you
a Libertarian. Perhaps I was a little flippant in my first message,
but my point wasn't to insult you -- merely to note that I have heard
every single argument you've made in favor of guns off the keyboards
of some pretty extreme Libertarians and radical anti-statists. In
every other way, you and I could (and, I think do) agree.

A quick word about drunk driving: Nobody defends it. It's not a direct
consequence of drinking. You prevent a drunk driver by taking away his
car keys, not his bottle. Just as no pro-gun person would defend
driveby shootings, no anti-prohibitionist would defend drunk driving.

As for alcoholism, that's more complex. Sure, it's a terrible family
tragedy (I know, sadly enough, from personal experience). But it's not
quite equatable to the social cost of gun ownership, either. The
lion's share of damage an alcoholic does is to him or herself.
Therefore the question becomes how much obligation does the state have
in preventing people from self-harm. That's a different question than
the collateral damage caused by a society so awash in guns as ours.

Is culture the driving factor? Yes, of course. Gun control is hardly a
panacea, nor should it be seen that way. Neither is gun ownership.
That's all I'm saying. Either approach can be appropriate.

"Radical individualism" is a term from sociology (cf. Robert Bellah's
classic "Habits of the Heart," also "Bowling Alone"). A radical
individualist doesn't necessarily have radical politics (sadly enough,
radical individualism is, rather, the common orientation of most
Americans). A radical individualist tends to see problems exclusively
through the lens of his/her own experience, or relies exclusively on
individual rights arguments when addressing social problems. It's
rather impossible to discuss the impact of guns in American society
with a person who time and again boils it down to his/her sovereign
right to own firearms. True enough, perhaps -- but what has one said?

So anyway, in conclusion I'll simply reiterate that we really don't
have much else to discuss. I'm not advocating taking away your
rights. I know for a fact that NYC's crime rate vastly diminished
throughout the 90s while restrictive gun laws remained unchanged.
You're going to simply have to accept that I have no evidence to
believe that expanded gun ownership leads to reduced fatalities and
injuries from firearms. If you believe differently, that's your
perogative and I respect it. But nobody's going to "win" this
argument. I have my set of experiences, you have your own.

And there it lies.

Pax,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

A follow up: take guns out of the equation--the most fundamental thing we should be discussing is whether you agree that we have the right to use force to defend our own lives or the lives of another. It appears that you're equating using deadly force in defense of the self with "deciding" who should live or die. That's fucked up.

I think you're wrong to argue that me using force to defend myself is me deciding that another person shouldn't get to live. I would argue you do have the right to use force when your life is threatened.

If you don't think that's the case...fine. I think that's an insane position to take that most reasonable people would reject (but it IS indicative of the kind of logical contortion antigunners need to engage in, because they recognize that once you concede there's a right to defense of the self, you necessarily have to concede you should have the means to defend yourself), but hey, if you wanna believe that go ahead. Good luck defeating the rather soundly supported legal notion that you do in fact have the right to defend your own life (I'm not aware of any civilized society that argues you don't have that right). But guns are really a red herring to that argument.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

broosfoe:

Extremely well-taken with the Amsterdam analogy. Bravo.

Notice, btw, how Sebastian is starting to become shrill :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

This whole "be afraid and vote Republican because the terrorists are going to come and kill you if the Democrats are the majority party in either house of Congress" juxtaposed against the idea that seat belts save lives (more lives than were lost to all terrorism in U.S., including KKK terrorism), that keeping minors from becoming addicted to tobacco saves lives, that helmets on motorcyclist save lives just makes me think that half of this country has just become hysterical and panicky and can no longer think straight. Liberals were responsible for making sure that chilren's and infant's nightclothes were made from non-flammable material; we did the seat belts for minors laws; for all this, we were called as being for a "nanny state." But terrorists are not as big a risk for us as unsafe drivers on our roads or accidents at work.

Posted by: BC on October 30, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that cops and security guards are of more sound character than you or I is a noxious one.

Yeah, we have a pretty profoundly different understanding of society.

I don't think I know who is "of sound character", public or private. I don't think that is an appropriate way of phrasing the issue. The point is that people who occupy public functions are embedded within rules and structures that govern those functions. Soldiers, for example, have Rules of Engagement. They are trained in the ROE, and if they violate the ROE, they can be court-martialed. But what, as just some dude on the street, is your ROE? I have no fucking clue. Do you know what legal authority governs your decision to use, or not to use, your firearm? When are you allowed to decide that someone constitutes a threat? How can I, interacting with you, know whether or not I am acting in a way that you think constitutes a threat? What is your authority to tell me to behave in a way that satisfies your demands not to shoot me? When I see a police officer's badge, I understand what his authority is to tell me to put my hands up, not to move, to open my coat, what have you. What are your rules? By whose authority? If I ask whether you "have something for me", and I'm carrying a screwdriver, have I crossed your line? How do I know? How do you know? How did you make up the rules you've made up for deciding when someone is threatening you?

Doctors are vested with the legal authority to take a knife, cut someone's chest open, and stick a plastic valve in their heart. That is because doctors are trained within and governed by a social authority which both ensures that they have the proper training for such an operation and, just as crucially, holds them responsible if they flagrantly disregard the correct procedures. You and I (unless you're a surgeon) do not have the authority to cut someone's chest open and stick a plastic valve in their heart, not even if they consent to it, and no matter how good our characters are. There is a social structure which governs the responsible use of that important, but potentially deadly, technology. Guns should be treated the same way.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, I don't have any problem with deciding to carry a sidearm IN IRAQ. If you're in a social environment that is so intensely dangerous that there is a non-trivial likelihood that you are going to be kidnapped and beheaded, then carrying a firearm makes perfect sense; the arrogance of deciding that you have the authority to end someone else's life is outweighed by the high likelihood that they will decide to end yours.

But in a normal, peaceful society, where the chances of being attacked are trivial, carrying around a firearm is ridiculous and aggressive. It's like wearing a life vest at all times against the possibility that you might plunge into freezing water, except that you can't kill anybody with a life vest (unless you are a true Wushu Master).

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

There it is: Admitting that the state has authority over us equates to Fascism.

Straght out of the Looneytarian gospel.

All that is, my friend, is a license to reject any state authority who happens to cross your path. Why should major corporations have to submit to environmental regulations? The notion that the EPA knows more about industrial effluent control that our expert technologists is NOXIOUS and TANTAMOUT TO FASCISM.

Sorry, bro. Now you *are* beginning to confirm the stereotype ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe:

Well done on both counts:

Now watch Sebastian argue what a dangerous world these mean city streets are in America. And then suddenly drop that line of argument to once again assert the principle that self-defense is a sovereign right even if you live among some pacifist Micronesian tribe :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Yeah, we have a pretty profoundly different understanding of society."

My brother's a cop. I know lots of cops personally. The funny thing is they'll be the first ones to tell you that you're really far off base here (sorry if Bob thinks I'm being shrill, but that's just the way it is and I see little value in sugar coating this for you).

Cops and the like are just as prone, if not moreso given the strata they're drawn from, to the frailties of character as anyone else. (They also tend to be really, really, conservative--you sure you want to vest all this power in them?) You have this idea that they somehow magically have better judgment about when to shoot/not shoot than the rest of us.

There's simply no basis for that. Not only are they demonstrably often WORSE than the rest of us about that (Katrina, the NOPD, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, I can go on if you like), but the idea of letting only agents of the state arm themselves and protect themselves is a recipe for fascism and totalitarianism. Very un-liberal concepts indeed.

"I don't think I know who is "of sound character", public or private. I don't think that is an appropriate way of phrasing the issue."

It comes down to judgment. You're arguing that agents of the state have the ability to judge when deadly force is justified, and I don't. That's wrong. Period.

" The point is that people who occupy public functions are embedded within rules and structures that govern those functions. Soldiers, for example, have Rules of Engagement. They are trained in the ROE, and if they violate the ROE, they can be court-martialed. But what, as just some dude on the street, is your ROE? I have no fucking clue."

You should, because I already fucking told you. You can only shoot when your life or the life of another innocent person is in jeopardy. Period. The same applies to cops, security guards, etc.

The same ROE apply to CCW permit holders as do to any agent of the state. Violate them and you're going to jail for the rest of your life or possibly getting the needle. I don't know why you'd think they would be any different for any of us.

Again, take guns out of the equation. Whether your tool is your fists, your feet, a bat, a tire iron, a knife, a club, a sword, a bottle of whiskey, whatever...the ROE are the same. You can only use deadly force of any kind to defend yourself when your life or the life of another is in jeopardy. Period.

Your position presupposes that the carrying of guns by private citizens happens while any of this is in doubt.

It's not. The entirety of what you're concerned about is of no concern at all. We gunnies are bound by equally stringent, if not more stringent, codes than any publicly "vested" individual.

"Do you know what legal authority governs your decision to use, or not to use, your firearm?"

Yes, I do. The problem is you don't. :)

"How can I, interacting with you, know whether or not I am acting in a way that you think constitutes a threat?"

If you don't know what constitutes threatening the life of another innocent person, you have bigger things to sweat and fret about than who's carrying a gun. :)

The social structures for governing the ROE you're worrying about are in place already. Knowing that, I assume your fears are relaxed a bit, and I can take you shooting soon? =)

In my experience people who fear and loathe guns like Bob does are universally people who've never been properly educated about them. Pretty uniformly such folks, after a trip to the range, realize that they're neither evil nor good, but simply inanimate objects with a potential to be goddamn dangerous. As such, their moral import comes from the person handling them. Learn to handle them properly as I have, and your fears will subside. Trust me.


Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

You're an effing ideologye, bro. You seem to have exactly zero tolerance for disagreement. Believe me, I find that a lot scarier than my local Republican-voting police officer ...

Where, exactly, do you draw the line with this analysis? By what reason should people submit to the rules of the state if the police -- the front line in most people's experience with the law -- can't be trusted to do the jobs we spend all kinds of tax money to train them to do?

If we can blow off a cop's monopoly on force -- how about the IRS's obligation to rein in tax cheats? Is blowing off paying taxes even "cheating," when the govenrment is *by definition* stuffed with clock-watching bureucrats who care more about meeting their quotas and padding their resumes than they do about doing what's right?

You're pushing an extremely dangerous slippery-slope argument that leads at the end of the day to anarchy, my friend. A radical individualist world, where only the strongest and most cunning survive.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Can I just rain on Kevin's even-steven parade?

The problem, boys and girls, is that liberal's ideas are by and large good ideas, while conservative's ideas are by and large bad ideas.

It matters, in this great debate of ours, that we're right and they're wrong. Protecting all Americans' civil rights is right, while oppressing those who are weaker and different that you is wrong. Prohibiting certain kinds of research because it scares you is wrong. Criminalizing gay relationships is wrong. Cutting taxes so much that the government cannot properly function is wrong. Killing people overseas because we don't really have to see them die or anything icky is simply wrong.

We're right. And that matters. Let's not forget.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on October 30, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastion:

Oh right. I have the views I do about guns out of *ignorance*. Uh-huh.

The great Thomas Hobbes, the first modern theorist of the state, said that people submit a little of their personal authority to a Sovereign (he meant a monarch, but more generally the rule of law in a modern state), precisely for mutual protection against the War of All Against All.

And that's precisely true. A state where the monopoly on lethal force isn't recognized isn't a state, it's an anarchy.

Kind of like that 2A partisan's wet dream:

Iraq.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

I guess what's so bothersome to me about this is the tremendous arrogance it takes to say, as a blanket statement, that the police are less responsible in the use of deadly force than you "gunnies" are.

I mean, that's incredible. By whose authority should we believe this? Yours? Why?

At least the cops are accountable through a political process. You're all just a bunch of free agents. If one of you turns out to be a psychotic loonie -- you go oh, well, that guy was just a psychotic loonie. The *rest* of us know better, though.

A cop's on the street as a psychotic loonie and the leadership of the police force gets called on the carpet to account for why they let a loonie on the force to begin with.

Frankly, I'll take politically enforced mechanisms of accountability over grandiose assertions any day of the week.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Bob: Well, when in Micronesia, I never go out without my blowgun.

A follow up: take guns out of the equation--the most fundamental thing we should be discussing is whether you agree that we have the right to use force to defend our own lives or the lives of another.

No, that's not the point. Obviously if someone is trying to hurt you, you can defend yourself. What I'm saying is that walking around carrying a gun means you're assuming there's a high likelihood other people are going to try and kill you. I don't like the fact that you assume that, because it increases the likelihood that you are going to engage in violence yourself. And I don't trust you to make the judgment as to when you are being threatened.

What I find illiberal about your position is that you reify categories like "being threatened", "self-defense to save your life", "good character" and so forth. These are all judgments; they are ambiguous characterizations. I don't understand what makes you think you will be better at assessing threat situations than are the US Marines at checkpoints in Iraq who have accidentally killed so many innocent Iraqi civilians who accidentally behaved in ways the Marines found threatening.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

someone said: And you're not even right, there are plenty of modern countries with murder rates comparable to ours.

brooksfoe said: Only Russia and South Africa. Many conclusions to draw there.

Don't forget Switzerland, where every adult male has his military weapon stored at home, and which has domestic violence deaths and suicide rates only comparable to the US.

There's a growing effort by women's groups in Switzerland to get the guns out of the house.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

My point being, obviously, that it doesn't make sense to turn Mayberry, USA into Baghdad by handing everybody in the city a gun and telling him to use it only if he thinks his life is in danger. Pretty soon, it will be.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

You can only use deadly force of any kind to defend yourself when your life or the life of another is in jeopardy. Period.

People in the United States have been acquitted for deliberately shooting people who inadvertently trespassed on their property or who approached their car at a stoplight, looking angry.

You can only use deadly force of any kind to defend yourself when you BELIEVE your life or the life of another to be in jeopardy. My problem is with trusting any average Joe to make a good call on that belief.

My cousin is a cop. He's a 2nd Amendment guy too. I think he's very wrong, and that, much as he may discount it, the training he received as a police officer makes it significantly safer for him to own a gun than for me, as does the fact that he can face serious disciplinary action for infractions, AND the fact that when people see him in his uniform, they know how to behave so as to avoid getting shot. If you saw me, you wouldn't know how to behave so as to avoid getting shot by me. You don't know what I consider to be a threat of deadly force under given circumstances, and you don't know whether a judge will agree with me.

Look, this is the same argument as the one over using private contractors to gather intelligence at Abu Ghraib. That contributed to the torture that went on there, because the private contractors didn't have clear accountability or chains of command. The same thing happens with the proliferation of guns in society: different people will have different ideas about how it's appropriate to use them, and there will be no good way of enforcing rules.

Your notion that societies which only allow agents of the law to possess firearms turn into fascist states is belied by the fact that actual fascist states have often had high rates of private gun ownership (e.g. South Africa, Serbia, Taliban Afghanistan), while many states with low rates of gun ownership are peaceful democracies (the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and on and on). Basically, countries where everyone has guns look like Somalia, Afghanistan, Colombia, or present-day Iraq. Countries where only the police have guns look like Japan, France, or Italy. In the US, we're taunting the tiger, relying on the basic strength of our civil society to defray the dangers of high rates of gun ownership. I certainly hope we can continue to do so.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think Sebastian's been, umm, outgunned here :)

Broosfoe, once again -- excellent job.

We're a civil society because of our laws and accountability mechanisms. That we've been granted the right to own firearms is an artifact of the rapacious history of standing armies in Europe.

All Western mythology aside, it's entirely possible to imagine America without the latter. Other societies have been formed in the crucible of rebellion and haven't drawn from that the lesson that every citizen needs to be armed.

It is entirely *im*possible to imagine America without the former.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes a law won't seem fair or reasonable. The Point of View of a responsible legislator is more complicated than just pushing readily understandable restraints.
Society has to be able to function reasonably well within the law. The point has already been made on the thread - one size fits all legislation doesn't.
The mischief starts when people want to justify their existence by pointing to "accomplishments". I have a bit of news for the right ( I'm being polite ) : liber is from the French "libre" for free.
Law must be workable. I'd much rather people concentrate on Utopian ( nowhere ) schemes to perfect the world than rave hate and distrust. Then again, that's a social judgement, not an unemotional or cerebral nit-pick.

Posted by: opit on October 30, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is a historical idiot. There have been 3 great liberal periods in US history since the Civil War.

1) The Progressive Era of the early 1900s. TR's election in 1904, but especially Wilson's election in 1912 (in which TR running on an extraordinarily liberal platform came in second, the Republican Taft was actually quite a "trust-buster," and a socialist got about a million votes) was the high-point of liberal dominance then. Out of that period, in addition to trustbusting, came food and drug regulation, national parks, the graduated income tax and the inheritance tax, and banking reform.

2) Huge majorities voted for FDR and his New Deal in 1932 and 1936. Out of that came, smong so much else, Social Security, unemployment compensation, public works programs, the SEC, the TVA, etc.

3) And another hugh majority voted for LBJ in 1964, knowing that his election meant Civil Rights laws (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed the summer before the election) and a War on Poverty.

In each of those key elections, at least 60 percent of the voters chose clearly liberal policies.

And has Goldberg forgotten that Abraham Lincoln and the "Radical Republicans" of Reconstruction (truly radical, they wrote the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments into the Constitution) were the liberals of their day?

Posted by: CMc on October 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

"You're an effing ideologye, bro. You seem to have exactly zero tolerance for disagreement. Believe me, I find that a lot scarier than my local Republican-voting police officer ..."

What the FUCK are you talking about? I said agree to disagree like three posts ago. I don't really care if you like guns or not. I never said you're not welcome to your opinion.

You do have some rather unfounded assertions that crop up here and there, and I will confront them head on. I fail to see how that makes me an idealogue.

Brooksfoe:
"But in a normal, peaceful society, where the chances of being attacked are trivial, carrying around a firearm is ridiculous and aggressive. ."

Must be nice to live in such a place. Not everyone has that luxury. The odds of being the victim of a violent crime in MD, according to the MD State Police, are 1 in 2. Having already been the victim of one violent crime and narrowly escaped with my life (nothing makes your blood run cold like the cops who show up after the fact reminding you of how lucky you are to be alive), I for one don't share your rosy view of the lack of need to defend the self.

In any event, your right to defend yourself isn't contingent on how likely you are to need the right. Matter of fact, I don't think we tolerate any such means tests for any of our other rights...why should my self defense rights be any different?

"There it is: Admitting that the state has authority over us equates to Fascism.
Straght out of the Looneytarian gospel."

You really are like a desperate cornered animal here; when did I ever say that the state's authority over us equals fascism? I never said that. I said the state only allowing agents of the state to defend themselves is fascism. Hitler was big on gun control for that reason.

The state has authority over us, but we the people have authority over the state. That's called democracy. If you want to live in a state where the state can dictate every aspect of your life, Iran, North Korea, etc. are all taking applications.

Pretty clearly to everyone in the room paying attention, you just laid a big old turd in the punch bowl. The point I was making is that the state does NOT have the right to tell me I can't defend myself. No one doubts this. The right to self defense is considered inalienable in all 50 states; the only question or variance is the means by which you can do so.

"Now watch Sebastian argue what a dangerous world these mean city streets are in America. And then suddenly drop that line of argument to once again assert the principle that self-defense is a sovereign right even if you live among some pacifist Micronesian tribe :)"

Komrade: do you realize how stupid that sounds? Smiley or not, that's not even cute or funny or witty. Do you think the right to defend yourself changes from place to place?

That's a scary, scary thought. You have the right to protect yourself from harm whether you live in Baltimore or Bangladesh. You have the right to live because you're a sentient being. You really think that Micronesian person doesn't have a right to protect himself? I rather doubt you do, at this point you're just being an Al.


"Where, exactly, do you draw the line with this analysis? By what reason should people submit to the rules of the state if the police -- the front line in most people's experience with the law -- can't be trusted to do the jobs we spend all kinds of tax money to train them to do?"

It's well establish caselaw (see Gonzales v. Castle Rock, CO) that the police do NOT have a duty to defend the individual. It's not about whether you have to submit to the law (of course you do), it's that the law can't protect you at all times. The only person responsible as a matter of law for your safety is YOU. It is NOT the job of the police to afford you protection from crime and the violent element in our society. You're fooling yourself if you believe otherwise.

"If we can blow off a cop's monopoly on force --"

What the FUCK are you talking about? Cop's monopoly on force? What the FUCK is that? Since when is that a valid legal concept? I must have missed that day in school.

We've been over this (I really think boring your opponent to death is your debate tactic...eventually, if you keep repeating the same really idiotic nonsense, I'll go away, right? heheh funny...but stupid) many times. The police aren't the only people who have a right to defend their own lives. No one of any merit really doubts this. I'm not aware of any state in the union where defending your own life isn't a well recognized legal bastion, with lots of caselaw to support it.

" how about the IRS's obligation to rein in tax cheats? Is blowing off paying taxes even "cheating," when the govenrment is *by definition* stuffed with clock-watching bureucrats who care more about meeting their quotas and padding their resumes than they do about doing what's right?"

Irrelevant. It's the job of the IRS to collect taxes and catch cheaters. It is NOT the job of the police to protect me. The SCOTUS agrees with me.

"You're pushing an extremely dangerous slippery-slope argument that leads at the end of the day to anarchy, my friend. A radical individualist world, where only the strongest and most cunning survive."

And you're an authortarian, willing to cede protection of your own life to George Bush's govt. Fuck that. If you wanna be a sheep, great. But trying to enforce your shitty decision on me is a lot worse than me having to fend for myself, thank you very much.

I never thought I'd live to see the day when someone who calls himself a liberal would label me an "individualist" like it's a bad thing. People like you are ruining the Democratic Party. I'm here to fight it. Get used to it.

"The great Thomas Hobbes, the first modern theorist of the state, said that people submit a little of their personal authority to a Sovereign (he meant a monarch, but more generally the rule of law in a modern state), precisely for mutual protection against the War of All Against All."

I don't mind submitting a little. I DO mind submitting all of it. I certainly do mind relinquishing the right to defend myself to the state--especially when the highest court in the land has ruled already that the state has no such obligation to ME. I really think you should head for some totalitarian state where the state has a monopoly on force...I'm thinking North Korea. Be sure to send a postcard! Let me know how dreamy a state where the state has a "monopoly on force" (what a scary concept you're pushing!) is.

The reality is that Hobbes wouldn't advocate this "state monopoly on force" you're blathering about for a minute. He'd laugh at your lemming ass. He said "a little" authority. He didn't say you have to roll over and die when confronted by someone who wants to do you harm.

Whether it's by fists, tire irons, golf clubs, or guns, it's a well established legal concept that you *do* have the right to use force to defend your life.

If you don't like it...well...tough titties.

"I guess what's so bothersome to me about this is the tremendous arrogance it takes to say, as a blanket statement, that the police are less responsible in the use of deadly force than you "gunnies" are."

That's fucking stupid. I never said that. I said that they're certainly no better judges of when to use force than we are. Ask Amadou Diallo's family about that, eh?

The point being is that much like pornography, we all know it when we see it. If you have a reasonable belief that your life is in jeopardy, you have the legal right to respond appropriately. Sorry if that bugs you, but it's true and I doubt you'll get many Americans to want to agree with you that that should be changed. You don't have to be a cop to know when someone is trying to kill you. Someone swinging a crowbar at your head is trying to kill you. Someone shooting at you is trying to kill you. Someone trying to run you over with a car is trying to kill you.

You don't need to be a cop to figure that out.

I see why you fear a situation where only the strong and cunning survive--in such a situation, you sure would be fucked. "Hey, officer, is that lion trying to eat me? I'm not sure..." Heh.


"At least the cops are accountable through a political process. You're all just a bunch of free agents. "

Not true. I'm accountable the same way they are--by a criminal justice system. The same jury that'd be putting me away for an unjust shoot would do the same to a cop.

You really do live in a twisted world.

"Don't forget Switzerland, where every adult male has his military weapon stored at home, and which has domestic violence deaths and suicide rates only comparable to the US."

Not even close to true. Switzerland's murder rate by firearm was listed at the link I provided earlier, it's near the bottom of the list. Their rate is 1/5th of ours, like most of the rest of ours. If their domestic violence rates were or are high, much of it must NOT be happening with firearms or they'd be much higher on that list.

"My point being, obviously, that it doesn't make sense to turn Mayberry, USA into Baghdad by handing everybody in the city a gun and telling him to use it only if he thinks his life is in danger. Pretty soon, it will be."

Classic strawman. Nobody's saying hand everyone a gun. I'm saying that rational, law abiding folks should get to make the choice to own or not own.

"People in the United States have been acquitted for deliberately shooting people who inadvertently trespassed on their property or who approached their car at a stoplight, looking angry."

Such stories usually turn out to be apocryphal. I'm not aware of anyone who's gotten away with shooting someone merely for the way the shootee looked at the shooter. You have a link? Or are you pulling that from your ass?

"You can only use deadly force of any kind to defend yourself when you BELIEVE your life or the life of another to be in jeopardy. My problem is with trusting any average Joe to make a good call on that belief."

That's why the legal standard is what a REASONABLE person would believe--was it reasonable for the person defending himself, by gun or otherwise, to believe his safety was in jeopardy? If yes, then you're acquitted, if not, you're going to the pokey.

What other standard would you have us use, then? When your life IS IN FACT in danger, there's not going to be an agent of the state there to referee. In reality, when the shit hits the fan and someone IS trying to kill you, you are going to have to make that judgment for yourself. There's no other way for it to be.

The reality is that once again you're worrying about something that isn't fixable. Everytime I take a baseball bat, an axe, a knife, a piece of piano war, the keys to a car, etc into my hands...I have the potential to end someone else's life. Hell, I was pretty good at martial arts...I could kill with my bare hands pretty well in my day. It's no different with guns. We all ultimately have the potential to kill. Owning a gun is no different. In the end, you can't hide yourself from the danger that other humans pose with any real degree of certainty unless you're on an island by yourself.

Guns are no different. Other people have the potential to kill you whether they have guns or not. You can't change that. All you can do is defend yourself.

"My cousin is a cop. He's a 2nd Amendment guy too. I think he's very wrong, and that, much as he may discount it, the training he received as a police officer makes it significantly safer for him to own a gun than for me,"

Bullshit. Firearms safety is every gun owner's job. And it's NOT hard to learn. It's not a dark art. I can teach you in a day. You do NOT need to be a cop to know how to safely own a gun.

" as does the fact that he can face serious disciplinary action for infractions,"

As can you! If anything, he's shielded by an FOP and a union that'll fight on his behalf when he fucks up. You have no such protections. Trust me, you have to be MORE careful and not less with a gun when you're a civilian.

" AND the fact that when people see him in his uniform, they know how to behave so as to avoid getting shot."

This has to be the dumbest thing in this thread yet. If you don't threaten other people's lives, they won't have any reason or justification to shoot you (or bludgeon or club or stab or punch you).

"If you saw me, you wouldn't know how to behave so as to avoid getting shot by me. You don't know what I consider to be a threat of deadly force under given circumstances, and you don't know whether a judge will agree with me."

Sure I would. I wouldn't attack you or put your life in jeopardy. As such, I know that you're not going to have a reason to shoot me.

What's hard about that? As I've already pointed out to you, you face the same strictures as any cop or security guard who packs heat. You can only shoot when your life is in jeopardy. If there's any doubt, there is no doubt. No, you can't shoot because I got too close to your car or stepped on your lawn or frowned at you.

As for your list of countries, many of them recently HAVE ACTUALLY been fascist states. Italy, Germany, etc. They've often been anything but the picture of democratic freedom. Part and parcel of their recent turns toward fascism was in point of fact the rounding up of privately held firearms.

In any event, the point stands--you can't really compare Japan or Italy or France to the US because they're ethnically and racially homogenous places that don't have a culture of gun ownership--but if their govts did once again turn toward fascism, their people wouldn't have much say in it. A disarmed people is an easily subjugated people.

Funny how since they rounded up all the legally owned guns, gun crime has gone UP in the UK, eh?

Bob: Outgunned? Outnumbered maybe, but considering the weakness of your arguments I hardly feel outgunned.

You did touch on one interesting thing there--our right to own firearms ownership did come about partially because of the FF's objection to standing armies (something the people in the countries Brooksfoe idolizes have to contend with, and have had to for most of modern history). They made it pretty clear that the idea of the 2A was to avoid needing a standing army in peacetime--a real threat to true liberty.

Nobody really thinks EVERY citizen needs be armed. But most Americans agree we should have that choice. While Brooksfoe is correct that many modern PACRim and Western European countries have managed to avoid being fascist dictatorships without gun ownership, those also tend to be racially, ethnically homogenous societies where people don't generally want to own guns in the first place. And actually if I remember correctly, he's wrong about the Finns and the Swedes, lots of gun owners there. He ignores Switzerland of course as well....


Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: I knew Republicans are pervs, but coming right out supporting bigamy and incest is a refreshing if unuaual bit of honesty.

Mike, not very long ago, homosexuality was also considered perverted. In a remarkably short time, not only did homosexuality became acceptible, gay relationships became totally equal to heterosexual ones, in the eyes of most liberals.

Why does Mike consider homosexualty totally OK, while the other two are perverted? I'd guess, it's because the liberal opinion leaders have declaimed it so. If those leaders change their view of bigamy, Mike will tell us that a 3-person marriage is totally equivalent to a 2-party marriage, and anyone who disagrees is a bigot.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let me know how dreamy a state where the state has a "monopoly on force" (what a scary concept you're pushing!) is.

Sociologists generally define a state as an organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within a given territory. The difference between you and the state, in terms of using violence, is that the state is allowed to use violence first. That is, if you commit mail fraud or whatever, and you refuse to go quietly, the state (in the form of a police officer) can forcibly drag you off to jail. You don't have the right to do anything similar to any adult citizen, except maybe hustle them off your property.

No, you can't shoot because I got too close to your car or stepped on your lawn or frowned at you.

NY Code 35.15: "A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person...unless...He reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit [one of certain enumerated predicate offenses, including robbery]."

What constitutes "reasonable belief"? Bernhard Goetz shot four teenagers on a subway train because he thought they intended to rob him. Goetz was ultimately acquitted of attempted murder (on appeal) and only served 8 months on a weapons-possession charge. Presumably, if NYC had the gun laws you prefer, Goetz would have served no time at all.

New England Journal of Medicine, 1993: "Last October several bizarre coincidences led to the death of a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student in a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The student and his American friend, looking for a Halloween party, missed the correct house by a few doors and rang the wrong doorbell. The exchange student, in the spirit of the holiday, was moving around in mimicry of John Travolta in the movie Saturday Night Fever, and the frightened woman who answered the door called to her husband to get his gun. The husband mistook a camera in the student's hand for a weapon, and when the student failed to respond to the command "Freeze!" he shot the boy in the chest with a .44 Magnum." Rodney Peairs, the shooter, was acquitted of manslaughter, though a later civil suit ordered him to pay the victim's family $650,000.

FindLaw, Nov. 17, 2003: "On November 11, Robert Durst was acquitted on the charge of murder. He admitted having shot, killed, and dismembered his seventy-one year old neighbor, Morris Black, and having dumped Black's body parts in Galveston Bay (where the parts, except for Black's head, later surfaced). Yet the jury found that the evidence did not rule out Durst's claim of self-defense and accident, beyond a reasonable doubt."

NY Times, August 6, 2006: "The Florida law, which served as a model for the others, gives people the right to use deadly force against intruders entering their homes. They no longer need to prove that they feared for their safety, only that the person they killed had intruded unlawfully and forcefully. The law also extends this principle to vehicles....that same person, in the laws words, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force. The law also forbids the arrest, detention or prosecution of the people covered by the law, and it prohibits civil suits against them...
The central innovation in the Florida law, said Anthony J. Sebok, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, is not its elimination of the duty to retreat, which has been eroding nationally through judicial decisions, but in expanding the right to shoot intruders who pose no threat to the occupants safety.
In effect, Professor Sebok said, the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property.
...Thanks to this sort of law, a prostitute in Port Richey, Fla., who killed her 72-year-old client with his own gun rather than flee was not charged last month. Similarly, the police in Clearwater, Fla., did not arrest a man who shot a neighbor in early June after a shouting match over putting out garbage, though the authorities say they are still reviewing the evidence."

How do you feel about me and my gun, Sebastian? Are you sure you know what to do to avoid being shot by me? Better not mistake my car for yours -- I could be sitting in the back with a Glock. And once you come through that door, in Florida and 15 other states, I have every right to blow you away.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I see that ex-lib is in the Santorum slippery-slope court where gay sex inevitably leads to man-dog sex.

It's fun, because this argument can -- and is -- used to oppose all societal advancement.

Can't allow women to vote, because then liberals will demand that dogs be allowed to vote, and that is just one step away from man-dog sex.

Can't free blacks from slavery, because then liberals will demand that dogs be free from slavery, which will lead inexorably to man-dog sex.

Blah, blah, blah.

Conservative arguments haven't changed in, well, in forever.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

March 17, 2005, AP: "A beauty queen who shot and killed her two-timing boyfriend was acquitted of murder Wednesday after claiming she acted in self-defense. Sharron Nicole Redmond admitted shooting her boyfriend outside the home of another woman he was dating but said she thought he was reaching for a gun. He did not have a weapon."

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal Since when does refusing to criminalize a private act or take away common rights due to a person's choice of "bedroom activity' equate to approval ? Recognizing the state should have limits on busybody activity does not mean a hearty "right on" to it. Protecting those in society from physical intimidation and assaultdue to it being an obviously unequal contest is another question.

Posted by: opit on October 30, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

1993: "While he was recording the album with Dre in August, Snoop was arrested in connection with the drive-by shooting death of Phillip Woldermarian. According to the charges, the rapper's bodyguard, McKinley Lee, shot Woldermarian as Snoop drove the vehicle; the rapper claimed it was self-defense, alleging that the victim was stalking Snoop."

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

1990: "Croy was convicted of murdering a police officer in Yreka, California. The California Supreme Court reversed Croys murder conviction for instructional error, but affirmed his conviction for conspiracy to commit murder. His defense had been intoxication. Yet, on retrial, Croy claimed self-defense and was acquitted of murder. There was no dispute that Croy killed the police officer. However, he was acquitted on the basis of a controversial and legally questionable cultural defense based on his Native American heritage, i.e., that his background as a Native American led him to reasonably fear that the police officer intended to kill him."

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

As much as I hate arguing with gunnuts like Bastie, for all the same reasons articulated by Bob, I cannot let his mischaracterization of my point go unchallenged.

I said:

"Don't forget Switzerland, where every adult male has his military weapon stored at home, and which has domestic violence deaths and suicide rates only comparable to the US."

Bastie replied:

Not even close to true. Switzerland's murder rate by firearm was listed at the link I provided earlier, it's near the bottom of the list. Their rate is 1/5th of ours, like most of the rest of ours. If their domestic violence rates were or are high, much of it must NOT be happening with firearms or they'd be much higher on that list.

As gun nuts usually do, Bastie is comparing apples and oranges. He is comparing overall rate of gun violence with the rate of domestic violence involving guns. Bastie does not seem to know what "domestic violence" means. It means violence within the home, violence between family members or people otherwise cohabitating.

I'll repeat, violence within the home in Switzerland is comparable to levels in the US. Let me be more blunt: men in Switzerland kill their wives and girlfriends at similar rates that men in the US do, which is much higher than rates throughout the rest of Europe. This is solely attributable to guns in the home.

Switzerland does not, however, have comparable levels of street violence involving guns, for the various reasons already stated in this thread, and this explains their overall rate.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cincinnati Enquirer, April 15, 2006: Eric Jackson walked out of court a free man Friday, even though no one
disputes he shot and killed a pregnant woman last year. A Hamilton County jury acquitted Jackson of two murder charges - one for
the woman and one for her fetus - after concluding he fired in
self-defense during an argument with another man. The shot missed Jackson's target and hit Tawnia Kirksey, who was 10 weeks
pregnant.

"He got off with murder," said Kirksey's mother, Daisy Kirksey. "I feel
like the justice system failed."

The verdict also stunned prosecutors, who had argued that Jackson meant to
kill the other man, Eli Wheeler, and did not fear for his life.

"It's amazing," Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "But we have a jury system,
and it's not perfect."

After the verdict, Jackson praised his lawyer, Clyde Bennett, and said he
fired to protect himself - not to harm Kirksey.

His acquittal ends the case and means he cannot be charged again in
Kirksey's death.

Jackson said he believed his life was in danger Oct. 23 when an argument
over money at the Fay Apartments turned violent.

He said Wheeler pulled out a gun and fired, prompting him to draw his
.38-caliber revolver and return fire.

He said he never saw the 29-year-old Kirksey, mother of four children, and
didn't know she had been hit until he read about her death in the
newspaper the next day.

"I had a lot of remorse. I cried a lot," Jackson said. "I didn't know she
was in the area or anything. ... I only acted in self-defense."


Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Dispute at strip club ends in death
BY DAVID OVALLE
dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

A security guard at a strip club in Miami Gardens apparently shot into a car during a dispute with a customer, killing one man and injuring another.

The driver of the car managed to drive nearly three miles east on Miami Gardens Drive before coming to a stop in front of the Sky Lake Mall near North Miami Beach.

The driver was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Miami-Dade homicide detectives early Monday morning found a second man sprawled in the back seat shot to death.

A witness told The Miami Herald that the greenish sedan was quickly going in reverse toward two uniformed security guards at Tootsie's Lounge, 150 NW 183rd St., when one of the security guards fired into the car.

The two men in the car had gotten into a dispute with a stripper inside. The car had an out-of-state license plate.

Business continued as usual at Tootsie's as homicide detectives interviewed the security guard and witnesses. Police were unavailable for comment.

It is not clear if the guards will face charges. Florida's new ''Stand Your Ground'' law, passed last year, allows someone who feels threatened to shoot in self-defense, even if they don't see a gun.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 30, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, I do applaud Brooksfoe and Bob doing the yeomen's work of countering the NRA talking points.

Arguing gun control with a gun nut is like arguing moderation with a drug addict, and is usually just as hopeless and thankless, but important for third party observers to see.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Let me assure you, first of all, that I stopped reading your message about a third of the way through. Sheesh, and *I've* been taken to the woodshed for writing stuff too long ...

Good grief, the amount of projection, straw men, fright rhetoric -- the total lack of any knowledge of Thomas Hobbes or his political philosophy -- the need to demonize your opponent, the defensive disputatiousness when there isn't a concrete issue under dispute ...

And, of course, Godwin's Law. Always Godwin's Law is confirmed in an "argument" like this. A couple of points I'll try to keep brief:

This is a liberal blog. It is not a Libertarian blog. Though it would never show up in a campaign commercial, "radical individualism" is a critique that's being used by Democratic strategists and think-tankers. Its antithesis is communitarianism, which is very much a Democratic value -- especially as "the common good" has emerged as a key phrase by Democratic campaigners. There's a recognition that individualism has gone too far in this country -- and this critique resonates precisely with the sorts of values voters we need to win back. The GOP's brand of individualism has devolved into a profoundly socially destructive selfishness. If you call yourself a liberal, you had best be acquainted with it.

This is also a blog with commenters from all across the country. There are many folks from states where gun ownership is common, and there are a few good regulars -- Global Citizen, TheThirdPaul, Pradeor Antebeus, Osama Been Forgotten, who not only value their firearms in the abstract, but who like to shoot. There are also more than a few vets and military folks who are regulars.

And guess what -- though their views on guns are radically different than mine -- we never argue about it. YOU are the only person I've ever seen on this blog who argues about guns with otherwise solidly liberal regulars. You are the only person who goes into a rhetorical frenzy over your right to self-defense -- as if anybody here remotely challenged it. You are the only person to mount an argument that if everybody carried guns, the world would somehow be a better place.

It's pretty obvious what's going on. You were mugged and the cops came after the fact. This experience transformed you. This is why you argue so defensively -- as if every argument we make were somehow aimed at depriving you of the ability to defend yourself. This is why you seem to take it all so terribly personally. That's you find our views so threatening.

Step back from the abyss. There's no legislation at stake here, no advocacy for a candidate. You're freaking out at shadows. The bottom line remains that most of us here don't, and furthermore will not, make it a central issue in their lives to carry firearms on a daily basis. If you want to have that argument, find a more suitable venue for it. You're the ONLY person I've ever seen here who's ever even brought up CCW laws. It's a non-issue to the rest of us.

If I catch a burgular in my house and call the cops -- I can't sue them if I get shot before they get here. That's the legal point you find significant. It still doesn't change the fact that *in the aggregate*, it's still more effective to allow the police to intervene with violent criminals. At least for myself and for nearly all of us here. We're not reassured, as brooksfoe ably pointed out, that "gunnies" can determine the right time to pull a weapon or judge a threat in all circumstances. People make mistakes; they're prone to overreact. Certainly by the way you conduct this argument, it gives me no confidence that you don't see grave threats behind every corner.

A society under arms is precisely the nightmare War of All Against All that Thomas Hobbes envisioned the state arose to mitigate. We trade some of our liberty for a modicum of security. That's the social contract. The problem with arming everybody is that you have to presuppose that everybody is going to react rationally. You address this argument by pointing out how well-disciplined gun owners are, and you paint the criteria you'd use to pull a weapon as being exceedingly limited, obvious and definitive. That entails a trust in human nature that experience has shown time and again to be imprudent.

A common definition in political science of a state entails that the state has the monopoly on the use of deadly force. If you'd like to quibble with that, quibble with the political scientists. It doesn't mean I have no right to defend myself. It does mean that the opportunites I may have to meet force with force are heavily delimited by law. If I shoot and kill somebody, I have to go before a judge and jury to determine if my action was justified.

Stop flailing at straw men. Nobody wants to take your damn gun away.

Nobody believes your vision of a well-armed society would lead to less violence, either.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

A Hamilton County jury acquitted Jackson of two murder charges - one for the woman and one for her fetus - after concluding he fired in self-defense during an argument with another man.

Apparently abortions are acceptable as long as a gun is used.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK


"Mike, not very long ago, homosexuality was also considered perverted. In a remarkably short time, not only did homosexuality became acceptible, gay relationships became totally equal to heterosexual ones, in the eyes of most liberals. Why does Mike consider homosexualty totally OK, while the other two are perverted? I'd guess, it's because the liberal opinion leaders have declaimed it so. If those leaders change their view of bigamy, Mike will tell us that a 3-person marriage is totally equivalent to a 2-party marriage, and anyone who disagrees is a bigot."

Actually, there is a tiny bit of truth in this. Society has shown itself to be quite capable of changing definitions of what is acceptable and what is not. 100 years ago, it was considered legally and morally wrong for people of different races to marry. 50 years ago, it was considered perverted to think that 2 people of the same sex could marry. Both of these have become more accepted with time.

Who's to say that polygamy *couldn't* fit into the same status 50-100 years from now? I don't mean to come across as a troll, but it is an honest question I have concerning the push for gay marriage. If we have to redefine the idea of marriage to allow for same sex folks to marry, then doesn't that leave the door open to an entire redefinition of the whole concept?

Personally, I think federal government needs to stay out of the marriage business altogether (both pro gay rights and anti). I don't think change should be forced on people either way. It should be a matter best left to state and local government. If the the PEOPLE of the state of Massachusetts (not Judges) favor the right of gay marriage, then so be it. If the people of the state of Texas reject it, then so be it.

Posted by: Free Thinker on October 30, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I think federal government needs to stay out of the marriage business altogether (both pro gay rights and anti).

Personally, I think that gvmt, at all levels, should stay out of marriage all together. Get rid of gvmt sanctioned marriage and let the NGOs handle marriage any way they like.

Isn't that how a free society is supposed to work?

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Truthfully, I think that both right and left are tempted to "force" change on people to advance particular agendas. History has proven this time and again; for the left, busing was a prime example of something that was opposed by a majority of people but was done anyway. Granted, it was done with good intentions, but ultimately it created a backlash.

For the right, the drive to end the estate tax was something that was forced on society. There wasn't much of a groundswell to have that done, but it was passed anyway.

Social engineering from either the left or right is something that makes me very uneasy. You can't force change on people (Don't believe me? Despite the civil rights movement, you still have sizable portions of the population that, while not overtly bigoted, still feel more comfortable with their own kind and would feel threatened if blacks were allowed to move into their neighborhoods or date their daughters).

The same applies toward gays and other hot button social issues.

Posted by: Free Thinker on October 30, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Free Thinker:

There's really no abstract moral principle you could use to found marriage as something between two consenting non-related adults as opposed to, say, you and your cat :) As you rightly imply, social norms are socially constructed and hence amenable to change.

The best argument I've heard to keep marriage within that limit is not an abstract moral argument, but rather a contingent utilitarian one, and I heard it from Barney Frank:

A dyadic (two person) relationship between two emotionally bonded adults is the most stable unit for raising children. Frank claims (and I don't dispute him) to have the stats to back this up -- so it's an entirely empirical argument.

If that's the case, then it can certainly serve as evidence to argue in state court for gay marriage.

As it stands at this moment in time, however -- I would prefer states opting for civil unions. I agree with you; I don't believe the state should get involved in changing the definition of marriage, which is fundamentally a religious institution.

The state *does*, however, have an interest in granting equal rights to a class of citiziens who have been historically discriminated against.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Free Thinker:

Human rights, however, are not contingent on public opinion. Whether or not prejudice or the desire to form groups around various identities still exists -- it was still 100% morally correct for the state to "force" civil rights for black people, women and other minorities "down the throats" of the dominant culture.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident" does not submit to a plebiscite.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

opit: ex-liberal Since when does refusing to criminalize a private act or take away common rights due to a person's choice of "bedroom activity' equate to approval ? Recognizing the state should have limits on busybody activity does not mean a hearty "right on" to it. Protecting those in society from physical intimidation and assaultdue to it being an obviously unequal contest is another question.

opit, if you are arguing that gay sex should not be illegal, I totally agree. The government should keep out of the bedroom. I don't have a problem with some sort of gay civil union, either.

I do object to an argument I often hear that heterosexual and homosexual relationships are identical. They are similar in many respects, but there are some key differences as well. The two biggest differences IMHO are:

1. Gay sex cannot make babies.
2. Historically, heterosexual marriage was a cornerstone of civilization in almost every culture for the last umpty ump thousand years. OTOH gay marriage hasn't been tried in any historical culture that we know of.

Note that bigamy is closer to 2-person hetero marriage in regard to the two areas above.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Brooksfoe: assuming the accounts related in those stories are verifiable (the last one is great, it contains a notoriously easily debunked account of Florida's Stand your Ground law, which leads me to believe it's got the typical antigun bias--and besides, the driver was in point of fact attacking the guards with his CAR, something that can kill you just as dead as a gun), let's think about this logically for a second--would the deaths of those people without the killer being convicted of a crime be any less egregious if they hadn't been shootings...but rather stabbings, stranglings, beatings, etc?

The point I was making is that you should be held to the same standard (use of deadly force only when your life is in jeopardy) regardless of the tool you use to defend yourself. To the extent that people have gotten away with killing people when they shouldn't, I hardly see why the means of the killing is relevant to this discussion. The point stands--it's my opinion, and the law in most states, that you can't shoot unless you're in imminent danger of getting killed by the attacker. In any event, for every case you just pointed out, I can find ten where somebody shot when they shouldn't have and now will be spending the rest of their life behind bars.

"Sociologists generally define a state as an organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within a given territory."

Irrelevant.

"The difference between you and the state, in terms of using violence, is that the state is allowed to use violence first. That is, if you commit mail fraud or whatever, and you refuse to go quietly, the state (in the form of a police officer) can forcibly drag you off to jail. You don't have the right to do anything similar to any adult citizen, except maybe hustle them off your property."

Irrelevant to the self defense issue. The point I was making, and you've failed to rebut, is that for the purposes of this discussion the state does NOT have a "monopoly" on force. In terms of self defense, both me and the police officer on the beat have a right to defend our lives, using force if necessary.

"What constitutes "reasonable belief"?"

What a jury thinks that any other reasonable person would do in a similar situation. Look, that's the law, if you've got a better idea of how to decide whether force is justified or not, I'm all ears. The fact that the reasonable belief thing is possibly somewhat arbitrary is no reason to disarm me. What else would you have us do? As I mentioned, when YOU are the one being attacked, the state doesn't have a referee there to tell you if your life is in jeopardy or not--regardless if we've all got guns or if there are no guns anywhere in the world, the legal standard will have to be "would a reasonable person in that situation conclude his life is on the line?"

There's no alternative that I can think of, but you're welcome to try.

In the meantime, if in doubt, don't shoot/stab/punch/kick/swing/throw/launch at your attacker.

"Bernhard Goetz shot four teenagers on a subway train because he thought they intended to rob him. Goetz was ultimately acquitted of attempted murder (on appeal) and only served 8 months on a weapons-possession charge. Presumably, if NYC had the gun laws you prefer, Goetz would have served no time at all."

Not necessarily. If the state could prove he used deadly force when he shouldn't have, then no, Goetz would still serve time.

The gun laws I prefer are irrelevant--the standard is still the same regardless of gun laws. Was his life in jeopardy? If so, deadly force authorized. If not, then deadly force not called for.

Simple. I dunno why you can't grasp this. In the Goetz example, eyewitnesses testified that in point of fact he was surrounded and that the four men were indeed trying to rob him. Should he have shot? I wouldn't have, they weren't armed. But I wasn't there either.

The four in question weren't angels, and two have subsequently been convicted of other violent crimes. Barry Allen subsequently robbed two other people. It probably was reasonable to assume they were robbing him.

"How do you feel about me and my gun, Sebastian?"

Seeing as I don't plan on threatening you or violating your person, I feel just fine.

"Are you sure you know what to do to avoid being shot by me?"

Ibid.

" Better not mistake my car for yours -- I could be sitting in the back with a Glock. And once you come through that door, in Florida and 15 other states, I have every right to blow you away."

Seeing as I have no intention of forcing my way into your house unannounced, no worries there either.

What, you think people in their homes should just let criminals do whatever the fuck they want? Fuck that. If YOU break the law, don't expect me to cry for you when a homeowner defends himself.

"As much as I hate arguing with gunnuts like Bastie, for all the same reasons articulated by Bob, I cannot let his mischaracterization of my point go unchallenged."

Am I supposed to be insulted because you're making fun of my name? Who the fuck is Bastie? The kids in third grade did better than that.

I don't think I'm mischaracterizing your point, I'm pointing out that it's a stupid point that's actually the apples/oranges here.

Domestic violence deaths aren't what we were discussing--we were discussing the fact that Switzerland's gun violence rates aren't anywhere near ours (or Mexico's or the CIS states or South Africa's). Domestic violence deaths necessarily include lots of deaths *that don't involve guns.* You have any stats to demonstrate that either A) your claim that the Swiss engage in more domestic violence than other EU countries, or B) what % of the domestic violence is gun related?

I won't hold my breath.

"Switzerland does not, however, have comparable levels of street violence involving guns, for the various reasons already stated in this thread, and this explains their overall rate."

In any event, even you'll concede that. The Swiss are awash in guns, but don't have the violence problem we have.

Why the FUCK can't you people thusly grasp that violence is a people problem and not a gun problem? This isn't hard (unless you want to blame an inanimate object and not the social conditions that lead to criminality). If you look at the overall homicide rate, there are 23 nations ahead of us--many of them modern, industrialized states, and not just backward banana republics in the Southern Hemisphere. Even if there aren't guns, people still can be violent.

You were clouding the issue and making a ridiculous conflation, and I called you on it. Get over it.

Here's an interesting article: http://www.hindu.com/2004/03/11/stories/2004031102041400.htm

Notice they make no mention of guns, but rather the conservative nature of Swiss society that's treated women as second class citizens--something you don't need guns to do. The violence against women--sexual violence, beatings, etc--has nothing to do with guns.

We were discussing apples, and you tried to introduce a pumpkin. Get the fuck outta here with that shit.

There's plenty of stuff on Swiss domestic violence, but I haven't seen anything that says it only happens because of guns.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

The ancient Greeks and Romans fucked little boys. Lots of them. Often.

And they founded our civilization.

NEXT.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Btw, I do applaud Brooksfoe and Bob doing the yeomen's work of countering the NRA talking points. "

If that's the best you can do, no wonder the Democrats have dropped gun control--most Americans simply don't buy the "awww shucks, if only there were no guns" bullshit. Those of us in the real world realize that utopian shit isn't ever going to come to pass.

"Arguing gun control with a gun nut is like arguing moderation with a drug addict, and is usually just as hopeless and thankless, but important for third party observers to see"

Trying to make you gun controller morons realize what Kevin Drum has realized--that it's a failed social policy that is never going to work or do anything but cost us elections, and isn't something Democrats should advocate--is equally fruitless.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bob - I'm sure there have been gays in every civilization, including, as you say, the Romans and Greeks. However, my point was that none of those civilizations allowed gay marriage as equivalent or identical to heterosexual marriage.

Gay marriage may well work just fine, but it has never been tried AFAIK.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"This is a liberal blog. It is not a Libertarian blog."

Yeah, that's why I'm here. I'm a liberal. You keep trying to insist that I'm not, but I've already explained my policy positions on just about every other issue under the sun. If I'm not a liberal, nobody is. The idea that liberal must necessarily = gun hater is just stupid.

"YOU are the only person I've ever seen on this blog who argues about guns with otherwise solidly liberal regulars. You are the only person who goes into a rhetorical frenzy over your right to self-defense -- as if anybody here remotely challenged it. You are the only person to mount an argument that if everybody carried guns, the world would somehow be a better place."

And you are the only person I've ever seen show such devotion to such an obvious straw man. WHEN HAVE I EVER SAID EVERYONE SHOULD CARRY GUNS? I've never fucking said that, and everyone here can see what an obvious strawman that is.

Fucking drop it, for the love of all that is holy in Jessica Alba's underpants.

I don't think YOU should carry a gun. I don't think alcoholics, wife beaters, blind people, drug users, felons, deranged people, etc. should carry. I don't think people who can't shoot straight should carry.

I'm not any of those people. I should get to carry. Period.

If it seems like I cling to this concept, it's because I'm tired of seeing us lose to the GOP, and my dear friend Bill Clinton has said that if there's one thing he really regrets, it was the AWB, as it helped the GOP come to power in 1994. Most Dems with a brain outside NYC and the Bay Area have realized that gun control is a loser for us. Kevin Drum is no friend of the gun owner, but at least he's got that part figured out. My goal, and the goal of progunprogressive.com, is to keep spreading that word.

If you don't like it...don't read my posts anymore.

But for the love of all that is sacred in this ever lovin world, please quit it with the hysterical handwringing about "everyone carrying a gun."

It's not my position, it's not what I'm advocating, and it only makes you look pathetic to keep beating that dead straw horse.

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

Well, if the sort of pederasty that would have landed Michael Jackson behind bars for a double-digit stretch if he were convicted was good enough for Socrates and Plato -- I think that marriage between two consenting non-related adults would work quite fine in 21st century America.

Gay marriage is already being legalized in European countries.

As a practical political matter, I would prefer to fight for civil unions, however.

Religious folks will never allow gay marriage as long as their religious doctrine objects to homosexuality.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

1) As I've said repeatedly, we have no argument on the level of political strategy.

2) You're making two arguments. The first is you're continuing to get into a defensive crouch about your own personal gun. While I still prudently question the assertions of your competence with said firearm -- nobody has remotely offered a reason why we should take it away from you. Stop arguing with an imaginary "gun grabber."

3) Your second argument we do object to. That's a broader social argument that insists that violence goes down as people carry firearms. The problem with this is that you keep framing it from the perspective of the armed person and then getting indignant about the armed person's right to defend him/herself.

That's a radically individualistic way to frame the issue. We, however, contend that if more people (not everybody, just a reasonably large number) carried weapons -- even with mandatory gun safety classes and the like in order to get your CCW permit -- that human nature is such that it would lead to more tragedies like the ones brooksfoe posted, not less -- and furthermore the overall rate of gun violence would increase. More people carrying weapons = more opportunity to use weapons. No amount of gun safety cheerleading is going to convince us otherwise, btw. You have NRA pamphlets on your side. We have human nature on ours.

And I think all of us fervently wish that America does not degenerate to the point where this thesis will be tested empirically ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: Well, if the sort of pederasty that would have landed Michael Jackson behind bars for a double-digit stretch if he were convicted was good enough for Socrates and Plato -- I think that marriage between two consenting non-related adults would work quite fine in 21st century America.

Gay marriage is already being legalized in European countries.

As a practical political matter, I would prefer to fight for civil unions, however.

Religious folks will never allow gay marriage as long as their religious doctrine objects to homosexuality.

Bob, I agree with every word.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Here's a real brain-teaser for ya:

If weapons don't kill, people do, then how come ...

... we're going apeshit trying to keep NK and Iran from acquiring nukes?

I mean after all -- it's not the nuke per se that's evil -- only the regimes :)

Right? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Now you're just picking on that nice man George Bush.

Keep it up :)

Posted by: Sebastian on October 30, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Gay marriage may well work just fine, but it has never been tried AFAIK.

Define marriage, then. In ancient Sparta, not only were adult men required to choose a young man with whom to develop a sexual relationship (as part of their warrior training), they were fined if they refused. These were lifelong relationships that involved emotional bonding and sex, and were not just state sanctioned, but indeed required.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo:

Wasn't that explictly part of their warrior ethos? Didn't ancient Spartans believe that two homosexually bonded soldiers would be superior fighters, because each member of the couple would defend the other to the death -- and fly into an overwhelming (and militarily effective) berserker rage if his partner was killed?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bastie is quite hilarious. This is where I stopped reading his latest rant:

Domestic violence deaths aren't what we were discussing--we were discussing the fact that Switzerland's gun violence rates aren't anywhere near ours

Actually, *you* never said a damn thing about Switzerland in any context. You are simply lyng. You have gone from comparing apples and oranges to comparing apples and unicorns.

*I* am the one who brought up the example of Switzerland, and in the context of which it is most relavant to gun control -- domestic violence -- since although there is a military rifle in the home of practically every adult man in Switzerland, they are not allowed to CC them and there are hardly any hand guns, so one wouldn't expect to see much street violence.

You see, Bastie, if you want people to take you seriously at all, you have to stop lying. That's the bottom line. I don't bother dialoguing with liars -- there is simply no use to it.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I'm not sure how much berserker rage had to do with Spartan military theory (it may have -- I just don't know), but homosexual bonding was certainly seen as promoting discipline as well as being crucial in training Spartan citizens.

Spartan warfare was all about the phalanx, and keeping a phalanx from falling apart required quite a bit of discipline.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal and Bob
Since we're playing nice, let me ask a question which causes me no end of mental contortions to "get it". While being honest I'm not sure I want to.
I worked with lesbians. They "came out" after realizing that what people did in the privacy of their own homes didn't rate high on my list of things to be concerned about. One question bothering them as a group was the difficulty of protecting their children from discrimination. Realizing that people have a great confusion recognizing their own desires and that any marginalized youngster might do atypical things which can complicate life later, there is still the bond of a parent for a child.
The religion thing is a hot-button issue. So is impartiality of the law and equal opportunity for people to raise their own kids without interference from the state.
I don't care about the name of a domestic partnership.
What does not seem right is to give some life partners superior rights and responsibilities to those of others. You can see where this could complicate health care, access to public programs and other legal issues.
If I understand political tactics on this, it is a way of ensuring equal protection and opportunity under the law.
That I would support unreservedly. Feedback would be welcome.

Posted by: opit on October 30, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

opit,

I'm not sure that I understand your question, but yes, AFAIAC, gay marriage is all about having access to the rights afforded het married couples. However, many gay people will disagree with that, and insist that access to the nebulous institution of marriage is an end in itself.

Which is why I prefer to finesse the whole issue, and advocate that gvmt get out of the marriage business, while remaining in the "life partners ... rights and responsibilities" business. Let the churches et al. handle marriages.

Posted by: Disputo on October 30, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

opit: I don't care about the name of a domestic partnership. What does not seem right is to give some life partners superior rights and responsibilities to those of others. You can see where this could complicate health care, access to public programs and other legal issues.
If I understand political tactics on this, it is a way of ensuring equal protection and opportunity under the law. That I would support unreservedly. Feedback would be welcome.

You can have my opinion for what it's worth. I'm no expert.

Discrimination is always wrong and unfair. Gays have suffered great discrimination. (They still do, particularly in some Islamic countries.) Today in the US the situation is much improved, but it's not perfect.

As you say, equal protection under the law is important. Friends of mine who had been cohabiting for years finally married shortly before the man died of brain cancer, so the woman could have legal spousal rights. Two gay people living together should have the same opportunity. For that matter, it might be good if any two people could designate each other the rights normally accorded a spouse. I suppose life partners could be a brother and a sister or two roommates who are not in a sexual relationship.

Anyhow, I can certainly understand gays seeking the opportunity for a legal relationship like marriage. It seems like a good idea to me.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

We're in total concordance on this issue.

What do you think of the GOP demagoguing on it (lying about it) by conflating the NJSC decision into support for gay marriage, when it merely directs the state legislature to craft equal rights for gay couples? Doesn't that embarrass you a little when you watch them attempt to turn this into a campaign issue?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 30, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK


Personally, I think that gvmt, at all levels, should stay out of marriage all together. Get rid of gvmt sanctioned marriage and let the NGOs handle marriage any way they like. Isn't that how a free society is supposed to work?

In truth, that is probably the best way to approach this. Some folks may have moral and philsophical qualms, but when it comes to marriage, the libertarian view of 'if it does no harm to others, then it is permissible' should prevail.

Posted by: Free Thinker on October 30, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK


Second, we are not our parent democratic party. We are more along the lines of our grandparents Democratic Party.

God, I hope so. Maybe I would start voting Dem again once I was convinced they finally dropped the identity politics nonsense the left has been infatuated with for the past 35 years and focused on good old fashioned economics again...

Posted by: Free Thinker on October 30, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: What do you think of the GOP demagoguing on it (lying about it) by conflating the NJSC decision into support for gay marriage, when it merely directs the state legislature to craft equal rights for gay couples? Doesn't that embarrass you a little when you watch them attempt to turn this into a campaign issue?

Bob, I have mixed feelings about the NJ decision. The outcome is OK, but the means is appalling. There's nothing in the NJ Constitution defining marriage. The decision is a dreadful abuse of power.

I see it as parallel to vigilanteism. Suppose a murderer were acquitted, whereupon a policeman pulled out a gun and shot him to death. Justice would be served, since he was actually guilty. Getting rid of this killer might prevent future murders.

Nevertheless, the means would be unacceptible. Our freedom depends on government officials not abusing their power, even in a good cause.

In my opinion, this NJ SC decision is a reason to vote Republican. The Republicans are quite right to use it in their campaigns.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 30, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK


Whether or not prejudice or the desire to form groups around various identities still exists -- it was still 100% morally correct for the state to "force" civil rights for black people, women and other minorities "down the throats" of the dominant culture.
Bob

Ah, but once you accept the premise that it is acceptable for the state to force change based on whether something is the "moral" thing to do, then that opens the door to a whole range of possibilities.

What may be moral to you may be sinful to another (ex. For many religious folks, gay marriage and abortion are considered morally wrong). I just think (despite the good of the civil rights movement) that anytime we rely on the state to be the agent for change, it can used to force changes a majority doesn't like but a vocal minority does.

Let's say that abortion is banned, or there is a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Again, for some folks, that is the "moral" thing to do.

Morality, unfortunately, depends on who is doing the interpreting.

Posted by: Free Thinker on October 31, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Bob, I have mixed feelings about the NJ decision. The outcome is OK, but the means is appalling. There's nothing in the NJ Constitution defining marriage. The decision is a dreadful abuse of power.

Seriously, WTF are you talking about?

Of course the NJ Constitution doesn't define marriage. Few do, and I a not sure any did before the religious right started pushing amendments to put in definitions excluding same-sex marriages.

What the NJ Constitution has is an equal protection clause. Most states have such a clause and in many states the clause is both broader in terms of the rights protected and more inclusive in terms of who is protected than the U.S. Constitution.

It was on the basis of the equal protection clause of the state constitution that the NJ Supreme Court determined that the legislature could not pass laws regarding marriage that provided benefits to some committed couples and not others.

Posted by: tanj on October 31, 2006 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

> Bob, I have mixed feelings about the NJ decision. The
> outcome is OK, but the means is appalling. There's nothing
> in the NJ Constitution defining marriage. The decision
> is a dreadful abuse of power.

This is such lying, obfuscating, distorting nonsense that I
can barely type this response I'm so utterly appalled at you.

NOWHERE in the decision is marriage defined. The decision EXPLICITLY
REJECTED the minority's call to read a definition of marriage out of
the EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE that IS in the NJ (& US) Constitution(s).
The decision said that the courts are the WRONG PLACE TO GO to look
for the social acceptance of gays, and that what you call these new
rights is a POLITICAL, not JUDICIAL question, up to the voters.

The ONLY POSSIBLE WAY you can reject this decision is to reject the
notion that gays deserve equal protection under the law. If you do,
then you're a STINKING HYPOCRITE for writing your previous response.

> I see it as parallel to vigilanteism. Suppose a murderer were
> acquitted, whereupon a policeman pulled out a gun and shot him
> to death. Justice would be served, since he was actually guilty.
> Getting rid of this killer might prevent future murders.

Tell it to Thurgood Marshall, you distorting noncontextual fuck.

> Nevertheless, the means would be unacceptible.
> Our freedom depends on government officials
> not abusing their power, even in a good cause.

Oh REALLY ??? You mean like the BUSH ADMINISTRATION turning the
Constitution and Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions into
SO MUCH TOILET PAPER for the "good outcome" of "protecting us from
the terrorists"? THAT kind of FREEDOM you're talking about ???

> In my opinion, this NJ SC decision is a reason to vote Republican.

In my opinion, you are a malodorous piece of elephant dung.

> The Republicans are quite right to use it in their campaigns.

Sure. If you believe lying is all you've got to win an election.

>> Whether or not prejudice or the desire to form
>> groups around various identities still exists --
>> it was still 100% morally correct for the state to
>> "force" civil rights for black people, women and other
>> minorities "down the throats" of the dominant culture.

Free (heh) Thinker:

> Ah, but once you accept the premise that it is
> acceptable for the state to force change based on
> whether something is the "moral" thing to do, then
> that opens the door to a whole range of possibilities.

Not when the black letter of the Equal Protection Clause is clear.

> What may be moral to you may be sinful to another (ex. For many
> religious folks, gay marriage and abortion are considered morally
> wrong). I just think (despite the good of the civil rights movement)

Oh *that* covers a multitude of sins, doesn't it. It's okay for blacks
to use the judiciary to gain their civil rights, but not gay people.
You realize segregation and racial inferiority is Biblical, right?

> that anytime we rely on the state to be the
> agent for change, it can used to force changes a
> majority doesn't like but a vocal minority does.

Hey Mr. Rasmussen: Public opinion polls show time and again a broad
support for civil unions. Even George W. Bush supports civil unions.

> Let's say that abortion is banned, or there is a constitutional
> amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Again, for some
> folks, that is the "moral" thing to do.

Yeah, but neither would ever happen. All the SCOTUS can do worst case
is overturn Roe which only throws abortion back to the states. And a
constitutional amendment has to pass an extremely high bar popularity-
wise -- much higher than the current opposition to gay marriage.

> Morality, unfortunately, depends on who is doing the interpreting.

Which part of "we hold these truths to
be self-evident" don't you understand?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

tanj - you have a point. the Equal Protection clause gives the SC an excuse. Trouble is, it's wide open. The SC can extend anything they want to, claiming it's required by "Equal Protection."

An armed policeman has the power of life and death. He should be cautious about abusing that power. Similarly, the SC should be cautious about removing important issues from the democratic process IMHO.

Bob - while I think it's a good idea to permit gay marriage or civil unions, I don't agree that they're equal to heterosexual unions. As I wrote earlier, there are two enormous differences:

1. Heterosexual couples can make children.
2. Virtually all past societies encouraged hetero unions; almost none permitted gay unions.

These differences are not reasons to prohibit gay unions, But, they do show that gay unions are not identical to hetero unions, which, IMHO, makes the "Equal Protection" argument a stretch. IMHO the SC ought not stretch, especially when the democratic process is quite capable of dealing with the issue.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 31, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Bob wrote: All the SCOTUS can do worst case is overturn Roe which only throws abortion back to the states.

Sorry to quibble, but I don't agree. If a conservative SC were willing to abuse its power, they could find an excuse to ban abortion so that a state could not legalize it. E.g., they could rule that fetuses are human beings and are protected by the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments. Such a ruling would equate abortion with lynching.

This would be dreadful reasoning, but IMHO it's no weaker than the reasoning in Roe v. Wade. (although I like the result of Roe.)

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 31, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

> An armed policeman has the power of life and death.
> He should be cautious about abusing that power.
> Similarly, the SC should be cautious about removing
> important issues from the democratic process IMHO.

Which they did. Did you bother to read my response? They didn't
redefine marriage by judicial fiat like the Mass decision -- with
which you can make a cogent case for judicial activism. They
explicitly left the question open to the democratic process.

And since civil unions has the majority support of NJ voters, I
don't exactly see what you're arguing here -- except to say that
since civil unions doesn't fit your *personal* definition of being
"equal to heterosexual unions," it should be rejected on whatever
religio/metaphysical grounds you care to pull from your butt.

> Bob - while I think it's a good idea to permit gay marriage
> or civil unions, I don't agree that they're equal to heterosexual
> unions. As I wrote earlier, there are two enormous differences:

This is mind-bogglingly specious. Rich couples are unequal to
poor couples. Celebrity couples are unequal to nonentity couples.
My relationship is unequal to your relationship. Don't confuse
equality of attributes with legal and political equality. Our
Framers certainly didn't when they "h[e]ld these truths to be
self-evident." Self-evident? Really? Aristotle would've howled.

> 1. Heterosexual couples can make children.

As I say ... mind-boggling. Het couples can be infertile and
adopt, or the fertile woman can choose IA. Lesbian couples
can give birth with IA or from a previous het relationship.
Gay men can donate their sperm. Gay people can reproduce
just as straight people do. Gay people can also adopt, or
take in foster children. Gay couples can provide every advantage
that straight couples provide for the raising of children -- a
much more sound secondarly function upon which to base marriage,
apart from the central one -- which is to meet the universal
human need for dyadically bonded lifetime companionship.

> 2. Virtually all past societies encouraged
> hetero unions; almost none permitted gay unions.

That is absoutely unsupported by the anthropological literature.
I'll leave it to others to bury you with it. As I pointed out
to you, the cradle of our intellectual traditions -- the ancient
Greeks, to whom Christianity owes a significant debt, as well --
were pederasts who indulged in what we'd call criminal sexual
behavior that was not only tolerated, but expected as a norm.

> These differences are not reasons to prohibit gay unions, But,
> they do show that gay unions are not identical to hetero unions,
> which, IMHO, makes the "Equal Protection" argument a stretch.

What's a stretch, ex-lib, is your specious, on-the-fly "definition"
of marriage. Equal protection pertains to individuals, not groups.
The drive to bond with another human being is universal whether one
happens to be gay or straight. What is at issue is individual rights.

> IMHO the SC ought not stretch, especially when the
> democratic process is quite capable of dealing with the issue.

The NJSC directed the democratic process to do just that. You
have anything remotely like a cogent argument as to why a lesbian
or a gay man doesn't deserve a bond with the one s/he loves that
has the same legal protection as a straight person? On the level
of individuals here, not your specious analysis of the difference
between these types of bonds, which you as you see I eviscerated.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

Theoretically yes -- but not with Roberts on the court. He already said that he accepts Griswold, and once you accept a privacy right read out of the 9th Amendment, it's very difficult to jettison that right held by a concrete woman over the right of a potential person.

In order to have that outcome, you have to essentially toss the penumbral doctrine and read the Constitution like Thomas and Scalia. Possibly in some future dystopia, but you'll need more than a handful of archconservative Court appointments to make it happen.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

IMHO, the reasoning of Roe is more sound than its detractors make it out to be. Human physical autonomy is a pretty self-evidently essential component of liberty.

The trimester framework is weak, because it was founded on the science of the time which is changing.

The central principle, though, is pretty damn sound.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

rmk1: You have anything remotely like a cogent argument as to why a lesbian or a gay man doesn't deserve a bond with the one s/he loves that has the same legal protection as a straight person? On the level of individuals here, not your specious analysis of the difference between these types of bonds, which you as you see I eviscerated

Bob - I take your point about the NJ decision being more flexible than the MA decision. However, even though a decision is fair and reasonable, that doesn't mean it's required by the Constitution.

Perhaps your word "deserves" is the key to our differing opinions. My view is that people deserving something isn't sufficient ground to overrule the democratic process. The Court's only expertise is law. They should use their powers only when the Constitution specifically requires them to do so.

For example, couples in non-sexual relationships may deserve the right to form civil unions. Or, maybe groups of 3 or more people could benefit from civil unions. I don't see how such laws would hurt. However, a decision to extend civil unions more broadly ought to be made by the democratic process, rather than the Courts.

BTW as you pointed out, a majority of NJ voters support gay unions. So the Court's abuse of power wasn't even necessary; the democratic process could have gotten to about the same place.

P.S. I consider the NJ SC to be quite corrupt. Just read their decision when they allowed Senatorial candidate Bob Torricelli to be replaced by Frank Lautenberg at a time precisely prohibied by law. In that case, they didn't make up a Consitutional reason. Instead, they interpreted a clear and reasonable law in such a way as to make it vacuous.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 31, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal While you incite Rob to more extravagant excess of condemnation, I would note that the point under discussion is as moot as the old theological argument about how many angels could stand on the head of a pin.
Civil law rules civil union, which it is only convenient to refer to as marriage as the two states run concurrently. The question is can equal rights then override discriminatory treatment under the law to invalidate authority to disadvantage citizens of equal civil treatment ?

Posted by: opit on October 31, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

A further thought on my question. Be careful there is no denial of civil rights on religious grounds. It cannot stand legally.

Posted by: opit on October 31, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

> Bob - I take your point about the NJ decision being
> more flexible than the MA decision. However, even
> though a decision is fair and reasonable, that
> doesn't mean it's required by the Constitution.

Heaven forfend that our courts have the temerity
to make reasonable and fair decisions ...

> Perhaps your word "deserves" is the key to our differing opinions.

It is. Because I think you're a crypto-homophobe who doesn't
believe that gay people are full citizens of the Republic.

> My view is that people deserving something isn't sufficient
> ground to overrule the democratic process.

Oh really? You honestly think "the democratic process" would've
intergrated the Arkansas public school system in the mid-50s?

Governor Orval Faubus was surely confident it wouldn't.

I guess that makes Brown v Board of Education an
egregious example of judicial activism in your book, eh.

> The Court's only expertise is law. They should use their powers
> only when the Constitution specifically requires them to do so.

Which is precisely what they did. They essentially ruled that the
NJ civil partnership law didn't go far enough to meet the Equal
Protection Clause. You want to call this "judicial activism," you
may as well condemn the entire history of the SCOTUS ever since the
Marshall Court's *horrible* Marbury v Madison created judicial review.

> For example, couples in non-sexual relationships may
> deserve the right to form civil unions. Or, maybe
> groups of 3 or more people could benefit from civil
> unions. I don't see how such laws would hurt.

They aren't addressed by this ruling.

> However, a decision to extend civil unions more broadly ought
> to be made by the democratic process, rather than the Courts.

Nobody's saying it shouldn't.

> BTW as you pointed out, a majority of NJ voters support gay
> unions. So the Court's abuse of power wasn't even necessary;

Stop LYING, or you'll make me start calling you names again.

Judicial review isn't any abuse of power. Don't make me say it twice.

> the democratic process could have gotten to about the same place.

But it didn't. Which is why high courts exist --
to test laws according to constitutional principles.

> P.S. I consider the NJ SC to be quite corrupt.

Really? Would you like to know how much I value your opinion
of my state's Supreme Court? Didn't exactly think so ...

Regardles of what *you* think, ex-lib, the NJSC has a nationwide
reputation for being one of the most progressive in the country.

As for the Torricelli opinion? As the poet said, blow it out your ass.

And here's a little tu quogue to go along with the partisan contempt:
Would you like to know what *I* think of the SCOTUS in Bush v Gore?

Heh, didn't think so, either :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

bob: Heaven forfend that our courts have the temerity to make reasonable and fair decisions ...

Good catch. I ought to have written that the decision enunciated a policy that I consider fair and reasonable.

Oh really? You honestly think "the democratic process" would've intergrated the Arkansas public school system in the mid-50s?

I certainly think Brown vs. Bd of Ed was decided rightly, although the grounds for that decision were wrong, IMHO. The psychological theory that single race schools were automatically inferior was bogus.

Unfortunately, Brown didn't integrate the schools. I don't have the statistics at hand, but I remember reading that a big majority of black students still attend schools that are overwhelmingly black.

And here's a little tu quogue to go along with the partisan contempt: Would you like to know what *I* think of the SCOTUS in Bush v Gore?

Yes, indeed. It was a stretch for the SC to take jurisdiction. The FL SC was beyond stretching. First they threw out a perfectly reasonable state law regarding recounts. Then, they threw out their own decision of a few days earlier to permit a further re-count, which they themselves had just prohibited.

Both are examples of Courts abusing their power. That's what I'm complaining about.

opit wrote: The question is can equal rights then override discriminatory treatment under the law to invalidate authority to disadvantage citizens of equal civil treatment?

I'd say the Courts should not necessarily override discriminatory treatment. E.g., suppose a state requires age 17 to be married. Sixteen-year olds are then a disadvantaged minority, but IMHO the Courts should not overrule that age limit.

In California, those who have owned their homes a long time pay lower property taxes, since the assessed value is based on the amount the home wa last sold at. The CA courts have left this discrimination in place.

Whenever a benefit is extended to some, but not all, there are always close questions at the boundary. IMHO the Court should tend to let the democratic process set the boundary, even though they could find an excuse to tweak it if they wanted to.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 31, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Disputanta wailed:

"Actually, *you* never said a damn thing about Switzerland in any context. You are simply lyng. You have gone from comparing apples and oranges to comparing apples and unicorns."

Please. Go back and read it again. I mentioned Switzerland several times, including pointing out that you were ignoring their remarkably low gun death rates despite having rather widespread gun ownership.

In response, you failed to respond to my request for substantiation of your claim that domestic violence in Switzerland is attributable solely to guns (it's clearly NOT, and I later showed that in fact it's generally considered to be a function of their negative societal attitudes about women and a somewhat conservative society that's only slowly accepting women as first-class citizens). Cornered, you resorted to namecalling and infantile behavior. Face it, you made a baseless claim about Swiss domestic violence that you couldn't support, and I called you on it.

And yet you wonder why more Dems are abandoning gun control than ever--even if they were wrong, siding with people like makes them not want to be right.

And for the record, some cantons in Switzerland do have permissive CCW laws.

In case you can't tell, this subject is more than just a passing fancy of mine. I lobby for gun rights in Maryland in my spare time, have a website devoted to the subject, and am fairly knowledgable about it by any objective standard. You really are bringing a sharp stick to this gun fight. Give it a rest.

Bob actually makes some fair points, which are worth addressing:

"While I still prudently question the assertions of your competence with said firearm"

Nothing wrong with asking the question about my competence, but I can assure you it's there. I've trained at the Tactical Shooting Academy in Surry, VA, where many cops and military folk also train, and I send about 1000 rounds a year downrange in a slow year (more than just about any cop is required to do). By any metric you care to think up, I'm trained and competent.

"-- nobody has remotely offered a reason why we should take it away from you. Stop arguing with an imaginary "gun grabber."

You might not, but gun grabbers are out there. They ARE trying to take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens in a vain effort to disarm criminals; where Kevin Drum and I agree (and apparently you don't dispute this either) is that the more vocal these folks are, the worse Democrats tend to do on election day.

Even if you did convince me that gun control does make good public policy sense, I think we'll agree that Kevin was correct to point to it as an example of something where Joe American is just not jumping on board, and for the most part the Democratic Party is adjusting its strategy accordingly. There's sort of a detente right now that most Americans are happy with--we're fine with prosecuting felons for gun possession, with restrictions that are pretty tight on who can own fully auto weapons, background checks, etc. But Democrats only stand to lose if they argue against concealed carry or for confiscatory schemes.

" Your second argument we do object to. That's a broader social argument that insists that violence goes down as people carry firearms"

I don't recall making that argument in this thread. Now, some criminalogists argue that it does happen, and some don't.

What we DO know is that as states have allowed liberalized, permissive CCW laws to hit the books there certainly hasn't been any documented jump in gun crime--the Brooksfoe concern that we'll see more people wantonly plugging each other simply has NOT come to pass over the last 15 years or so of permissive CCW laws. 40+ states allow citizens to carry, and have for a while now...if letting Joe Public carry meant the OK corral on every corner, we'd have seen that happen. We haven't. Period.

"More people carrying weapons = more opportunity to use weapons. No amount of gun safety cheerleading is going to convince us otherwise, btw. You have NRA pamphlets on your side. We have human nature on ours."

Actually, I also have plenty of empirical evidence as well. You can have your anecdotal analysis of human nature, but I can point to the fact that of the 40+ states that allow CCW, not a one has been shown to have endured any increase in violent crime as a result. Believe me, if they had, the Brady Bunch would be shouting it from the rooftops. They're not. That should tell you something. Even already violent states like TX and FL have found that CCW permit holders are more law abiding and less likely to commit crimes than the general public.

Which only makes sense...if you're of a mindset where you might commit a gun crime, you're probably not going to take a training class, practice at the range, get fingerprinted, submit to a background check, get an interview, and pay the fee for a permit.

"And I think all of us fervently wish that America does not degenerate to the point where this thesis will be tested empirically ..."

It has been tested empirically, you just weren't paying attention ;).

Seriously, head over to packing.org or some similar site and look at the map. Other than MD, CA, NJ, NYC, and MD (where I did get a permit because I'm a wealthy white dude...but nobody else can get one...not very democratic or Democratic if you ask me), concealed carry is the law of the land. It has been for a while now.

If letting Joe Citizen pack heat meant more death and carnage, we'd have seen it by now. We haven't. You personal fear and loathing of firearms is fine for you, but the reality is that it's not grounded in anything demonstrable and empirical. CCW laws are not the enemy.

Game over.


Posted by: Sebastian on October 31, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Game hardly over, Sebastian.

Look, you're a pro-gun ideologue. You have an agenda that flows from personal need and you cite advocacy websites. As I said when you first got on here, I am not going to get into the weeds with you over this. You're entitled to believe and rationalize however you'd like whatever bit of counterintuitive nonsense you'd like about guns -- I frankly don't care. What is obvious to all is that our violence rate in this country is appalling compared to the rest of the developed world. What is obvious to all is that the *ubiquity* of firearms in Iraq has hardly curtailed the violence there, and that the ISF and American troops move every day to confiscate weapons.

You have a radical individualist analysis that boils down time and again to the sovereign right of self-protection. Whatever. I find it an extreme relief that these sorts of arguments are not playing in this election -- because debating with ardent pro-gunners is the functional equivalent of debating fundamentalist Christians about abortion.

I'll tell you where we Democrats *will* hold the line, though. If you ever *dare* attempt to nationalize a CCW law by introducing it into Congress I will be out in the street every day to prevent you from trashing my quality of life. I will arm myself with all the stats there are out there and debate you point-by-point endlessly until you give up.

LEAVE GUN CONTROL TO THE STATES, BROTHER.

Otherwise I'll have to, umm, kill you :)

And until then, I'd suggest that we hold the truce.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

Okay, I went back and re-read your message, because I do tend to react viscerally to these arguments. I do understand what you're saying, but my concern is that we live in an extremely violent culture. I guess I'd take your arguments more seriously if you were less dismissive of completely avoidable tragedies like kids coming to school armed with their parents' weapons.

You just completely blow that off. Oh the odds of a school shooting are 1 in ... etc. Jesus, can you get any more *callous*? What about all the kids in those classrooms who *witnessed* them? Who's going to pay for all the continuing therapy bills?

And gun accidents, which happen constantly and which again you're completely dismissive of. Also the psychology of police officers. Somehow you can dismiss them as a class in terms of being able to make proper decisions in the use of deadly force -- but a bunch of private citizens who've taken a few gun safety classes are supposed to be a Band of Brothers. Uh-uh. This just doesn't pass the common sense smell test. Clearly, you're strongly biased in favor of your little fraternity/sorority of gun carriers.

And then plus there are all the over-the-top emotional appeals to the victims of violence when the cops didn't come in time. "Tell it to Amadou's family ... " Jeez, as the prophetess sez, gag me with a spoon, will you. The cops prevent violence every single night by showing up when they're called, before it happens. You just don't get to see those numbers, because they can't be compiled after the fact.

I share brooksfoe's concern that these new "stand your ground" laws wind up letting people kill people to defend not so much their lives, but their property rights. I don't find this liberal at all. Somebody wants to steal my car doesn't entitle me to kill them on the *suspicion* that they might try to kill me first. I have a huge moral issue with this. I also find it grotesquely Republican.

I am very glad that Democrats have reached an entente on this issue. I don't believe that average Americans have an adequate perception of risk at all (once of the reasons we're such easy prey to con artists). Guns are just one of those issues that we'll have to table because the cultural baggage is so heavy. I'm reluctantly willing to live with that -- and I'm not likely anytime soon to move into an urban area with CCW laws.

I'd very much not wish that entente disturbed anytime soon.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

The prohibition of alcohol was, in great part, a conservative christian movement. Them weren't no god-hatin' liberals.

Posted by: mroberts on October 31, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

mroberts:

While I understand the comparison, ajusted for historical context it's really not true at all. The Temperence movement had its anteceedent in the (likewise church-led) Abolition movement, and grew out of the very same Progressivism that gave us the pure food and drug and antitrust laws, womens' sufferage and eventually led to (the devout) Woodrow Wilson's election.

Two important things to note here:

First, this is prior to the New Deal, so there was no social safety net to speak of. The industrial urban poor lived in absolute squalor, and alcohol was an extremely serious social problem because it destroyed families. It's very easy to be glib about Prohibition from today's vantage point, but these folks saw themselves addressing some very serious human misery -- not merely ramming their prudishness down other peoples' throats (although there was of course that as well).

Secondly, though Darby and his followers emerged after the Civil War, evangelical Protestantism hadn't been fully taken over by the premillienniarian Dispensationalists. These are the direct ancestors of the Left Behind crowd, who believe the world has completely gone to hell and the idea here is to save a handful before the Lord returns. The broader stream of evangelicals were still postmillienniarian, which meant they believed it was their duty to improve all of society to create the Heavenly Kingdom on Earth necessary to hasten the Lord's return. This meant that these sorts of Prots were heavy into social activism on behalf of the poor.

Scarily enough, this strain of evangelical Prot has evolved into something even freakier than the Left Behind crowd -- the Dominionists. *These* mongos (and no Dominionist will ever admit publicly to being one) are stone theocrats in the mold of the Massachusetts Puritans who believe in using whatever means at hand to turn America into a theocracy.

You won't get any decent ideas for social change out of either modern strain, unfortunately enough ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 31, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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