Sunday, December 20, 2009

Take (another) breath.

Just as a follow-up to this post: I'm gonna say this once, and I'm gonna say it loud and use small words, so everyone understands me.

IT'S NOT OKAY THAT NEWSPAPERS MADE DATABASES WITH INFORMATION ABOUT CONCEALED-CARRY WEAPONS PERMIT HOLDERS

BUT

IT'S NOT KRISTALNACHT.

If there's one thing I've learned in the past year, it's that you deal with the problems you have, not the ones you wish you had. So let's break it down: A private publication gathered public data and put it in searchable form on their Web site. Nobody came to your house and marked it. No one is discussing a "final solution." The government isn't even involved, short of making the data available in the first place -- which they were already doing, so that really doesn't count.

Now.

Another blogger commented that, quote,

For myself, I decided to carry a gun because I accepted that my safety is ultimately my own responsibility. I knew at the time I made the choice that there were many of my fellow citizens who didn't agree with my assessment or trusted me to act responsibly. That some few of them have (and continue) to act callously with regard to my (or, indeed, potentially their own as well) safety does not justify my, or any other purportedly responsible adult, reacting in kind.

Since taking up guns in self defense, I have trained as well as my circumstance permits in anticipation of confronting just such a potentiality. It has been my presumption that those who decided similarly to myself would do the same. Given the tenor of the present example, I fear that hope is now seriously called into question.

Nothing has changed, people; there are still those who mean us harm and we still accept responsibility to undertake our own defense should some other take the decision to harm us or those we love or simply share a circumstance with, however fleetingly. In my judgement, the more proper response to these annoyances is a stolid look and a "Yes."
Will, I think, gets pretty close to the heart of the matter. To be honest, his was a refreshingly reasoned response among all the "nuh uh"s and "I know you are but what am I"s that my original post has generated. As I said in response to a commenter at Tam's place, it's not that we shouldn't get our panties in a twist, it's that we need to watch how far we twist them.

There's a deeper point beyond mere rhetoric, though, and it's this one: No one can take the right to self-defense away from you. It is God-given; it is, by nature, inalienable. This does not mean that anyone else is required to recognize that right. Throwing a fit because someone won't play by your rules accomplishes nothing. The Soviet Union denied its subjects freedom of speech, but that didn't do away with their right to it. It just became more precious, and therefore more powerful. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn didn't stamp his foot and wave his fists that the Soviets weren't letting him speak; he went ahead and spoke anyway because that was his right, whether they recognized it or not. He didn't point fingers and say "Look how bad they are, they're trying to shut me up!" He simply refused to shut up, period. (And yeah, I know he went to the gulags for it. That's pretty much my point.)

Short of government intervention, there are two possible reactions to a perceived infringement of a person's rights. The person can say, A) "Hey! Stop that! Let me exercise my right!" or B) "Wow, you're a tool. I'm gonna go exercise my right now." If you're acting within the legal limits of the law, do you need a newspaper's permission to feel like you're within your rights? Is the disapproval of a bunch of journalists that meaningful to you, that you start throwing around comparisons to government racial pogroms just because they farted in your general direction? Are you really going to take that bait? Or are you going to stand secure in your position, unruffled, and get on with your business?

Of course we should stand up for our rights. Of course we should oppose people who would rather we didn't exercise them. Anyone who thinks otherwise has missed the entire point of what I'm saying. But let the punishment fit the crime. Two newspapers made an anti-gun move. Let's play that where it lies, now, and save the tactical nuclear strikes for when they're really needed. No one ever really wins an argument by freaking out.

6 comments:

Will Brown said...

I think this is starting to de-generate to the 2nd grade level of rhetoric for too many and I've pretty much said my piece. It was stimulating; we'll have to dance again sometime.

Oh, and today's post is really more along the lines of topic I prefer to get into in any personal detail normally. I can see already I'm gonna have to get on with that blogroll re-org.

Tam said...

You were missed at the blog meet yesterday.

Joanna said...

I had work and family obligations that got me up at 6 a.m. and kept me out 'til 6 p.m. Saturday, so I just couldn't make it. I'll be at the next one!

Roberta X said...

...The Brits have pretty much taken the "right" of self-defense away.

Almighty G-d can hand out any number of "rights," and what lovely theological concepts they are, too; but all it takes is one guy with a rubber truncheon and government approval to crush 'em. In they physical world, "rights" are what you can get away with.

Stigmatizing gun owners is a step towards taking away the right to own guns. Presumably, one will still be able to raise one's tiny fists and shriek, though assailants may feel very comfy suing you over it afterward.

In my lifetime, I have seen smoking go from something all the hip & adventurous types did -- manly men and stylish women smoked; there were ashtrays everywhere! -- to a furtive, dirty habit, practiced in alleys and reeking refuges that healthy, decent people avoid. Sure, smoking is an unhealthy habit, a vice; but it's recently started becoming illegal in selected venues, to a chorus of yawns.

There's plenty folks out there who want to take owning guns, carrying guns, down the same path. There's nothing good for gunnies at the end of that road.

Joanna said...

Roberta: See my point about the Soviets. If a right is important enough to a person, he or she will exercise it regardless of the consequences. Sometimes that means social disapproval; sometimes that means imprisonment. If rights are not granted by governments but by a higher power, then a government can't do away with them. They can only make practicing them very unpleasant. The right itself is still there; they can shut down my blog, for instance, but I'll just find another outlet and keep speaking.

To be honest, it sounds to me like people want it both ways. You want your rights, damn the consequences -- but at the same time you don't want any consequences. I know that when I begin carrying, I will be opening myself up to a world of disapproval and abuse -- and I accept that because that's the way things are right now. I'm not going to throw a fit because people don't agree with or approve of me. I knew when I took on this topic that I would get a lot of blowback, but that didn't stop me.

Honestly, it reminds me of the trust-fund kiddies who go to protests and scream at the police, then cry when they get arrested because the police are being mean and not letting them play. If you're gonna go in, go all in. There is no "Hey, I was just kidding" when it comes to taking a stand.

Brandon said...

Hi Joanna,

Most of the time I just read a post on a blog or something and move on without leaving a comment.

But I gotta leave SOMETHING on this one.

The paragraph where you talked about about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and freedom of speech? That's a damn good point. All too often folks think that it's a right if, and only if, some man-made entity grants it. The Bill of Rights, for example. There isn't anything in the text that grants anything to anyone. It's a list of things the government cannot do. It hasn't stopped them from doing it in a lot of cases, but I digress...

In any case, I agree with your concept of what a right is. If it's a right, then practice it no matter the consequences.