Friday, December 18, 2009

Take a deep breath.

I left something to this effect in the comments on this post over at Roberta's place, but I thought it was worth repeating and expanding here.

There's been a lot of hoo-ha among Indiana gunbloggers recently about a Bloomington newspaper putting up an online database showing where concealed carry permit holders live (down to the street level, if not the full address). Caleb from Gun Nuts was even on Fox News about it (link to come later; I can't access his site from work). The Indianapolis Star has a similar database, although it's not as comprehensive. This rankles me no end, as the operative assumption seems to be "legal gun ownership = potential criminal activity".

However, I am bothered far more by the reaction illustrated a while back at Tam's place and more recently by Roberta (both of whom are normally pretty on-the-ball):

I rather imagine next, they plan to do the same thing only with "African Americans" as the marked group instead of "permit holders." That would be okay-fine, riiiight? Or perhaps they could do one for Jews. Or Unitarians; The Public Has A Right To Know, after all.
This is a stupid, stupid, stupid rhetorical move.

Being put on a list (and not even a name-and-address list, just a "Someone in X category lives on this street/in this ZIP code" list) because you choose to own a certain object is nowhere near the same thing as being put on a list because of how you were born or what faith you follow. Jumping straight to "OMG it's like they want us to wear yellow stars!" just Godwins the whole argument, and erases any gain we might have made because now the public has a reason not to take us seriously. "Oh, they're just oversensitive and got their panties in a twist. It's not that big a deal."

In a way, they're right on that one: It's not that big a deal. So somebody out there doesn't like your gun. Boohoo. Lots of people don't like lots of things. But no one's throwing paint at you; no one's assaulting you in the street and then having you arrested (happens all the time to Christians in India); no one's coming to your house at night and dragging you from your bed for a session with Mr. Nightstick. It is not persecution, it is toothless harrasment -- and it upsets me that otherwise level-headed people, who I respect and admire, could confuse the two. Saying things like "I rather imagine next, they plan to do the same thing only with "African Americans" as the marked group instead of "permit holders." That would be okay-fine, riiiight?" just makes us look like idiots because, no, it wouldn't be fine, and everybody knows it. Play the cards you've been dealt, not the ones that have already been discarded.

I'm probably going to catch some flak for this; I already had people telling me "Nuh uh, I don't have a choice not to defend my family!", etc. at Tam's (which is no reflection at all on Tam; she was awesome throughout). But hyperventilating that they're going to put us all in camps next week is counter-productive. We've got more than enough ammunition (pun intended) to prove our point without resorting to hyperbole and overblown (and inappropriate) historical comparisions. It cheapens the debate and the suffering of people under real persecution, and it makes us look like bedwetters. Deal with things as they are. Besides, if you use up all your heavy ordnance on the petty things, you won't have anything to reach for when a real threat comes.

UPDATE: Before you leave a comment asking for my address because "that's not a big deal either, right?", read this post. If you still think I don't care after that, I suggest you spend your time and energy elsewhere.

Also, quit demanding my name and address. Look it up on those databases if you're so dang interested; it shouldn't be that terribly hard to find.


Roberta X said...

"In New Jersey, the gun-owner acts at his own peril." Gunnies are already a persecuted minority in some states; apply for a carry permit in The Garden State and they'll come chat to your neighbors about it...and the odds do not favor you'll be granted one, either.

Why wait until they spit on you in the street?

Conversely, if you have freedom of religion here, whattayou care what happens to your more-or-less co-religionists in heathen lands? But that's rhetorical; and it may serve to point out why gunnies react as we sometimes do.

Roberta X said...

(BTW, I'm just arguing, sister -- you're still a-okay with me).

Joanna said...

The point I'm trying to make is that there's a difference between "freedom to do" and "freedom to be" -- and that the difference between "harrassed and inconvenienced" and "persecuted" is even greater than that, by several orders of magnitude. Throwing the two terms around like they're interchangeable doesn't do anyone any favors.

Conversely, if you have freedom of religion here, whattayou care what happens to your more-or-less co-religionists in heathen lands? But that's rhetorical; and it may serve to point out why gunnies react as we sometimes do.

Sure, but if I hear about an Indian Bible study being broken up with rocks and sticks while the police watch, the appropriate action is to call the Indian embassy, not to yell about how it's just like taking down my town's nativity scene. Again, orders of magnitude.

Roberta X said...

To do is to be, and vice versa. People are doing jail time in the U.S. for malum prohibitum "gun crimes" in which there was no ill intent, no one was harmed and the "crime" would not exist under a robust application of the Second Amendment to the States and lesser governmental units. Tell me how that's not like persecution?

When a renegade Chicago priest assembles a howling mob outside a gun store and whips them into a frenzy, making death threats, promising to "snuff him out," and is never charged, that's not persecution getting a wink and a nod from government?

It happens right here, so close we could scare up bus fare to the scene from our pocket change.

Guns, religion, the press and on down the list -- these freedoms are all precious, any one as much as the others.

Joanna said...

It is like persecution -- but the emphasis is on "like". Lots of people are in jail for really, really stupid reasons, but that doesn't mean there's a concerted, large-scale effort on the part of the entire judicial system to systematically snuff out one particular group.

As for the Chicago incident, it seems to be the exception that proves the rule. It's ultimately a matter of perspective: If the worst gunnies have to deal with is a few nuts yelling outside their shops, it's not quite the same as being doused with acid in the street, is it? Was anyone hurt? Was there property damage? Would the police have arrested the assaultee?

Going back to religion, it reminds me of people in churches here who complain about how they're the "persecuted church" because someone complained about the message on their sign or some such. It shows a lack of perspective and an unseriousness that's more befitting a G8 trust-fund kiddie protestor than someone trying to be useful to their cause.

In other words, don't claim what you haven't earned.

Mark Alger said...


I have to agree most vehemently with Roberta. RKBA is a constitutionally-protected civil right. As such, those who display bigotry against people who seek to exercise that right are in no way entitled to the benefit of the doubt. The exposure of gun owners via a database is an infringement on the right. And, you may notice, the 2nd Amendment does not limit its scope to Congress or the Federal government -- or, indeed, to any government at all. NO ACTOR, state or private, may infringe upon the right.

You argue that it's no big deal. And the slippery-slope argument is poo-pooed all the time as being silly and petty.

But petty infringements upon liberty become large ones. It is, simply put, how we got to where we are today -- tolerating petty infringements on liberty.


Joanna said...

I never said it wasn't a big deal. I'm mad as hell about it. But I'm not kidding myself that "OMG we're just like those Christians in China who get jailed for having a Bible!" or "OMG it's like they put up 'Whites Only' water fountains!" We are simply not there yet. Not even close. I'm not calling for anyone to roll over and submit; I'm calling for our side to be more judicious with its invective.

Jay G said...


If you honestly think gun owners aren't persecuted, please come here to the liberal paradise of Massachusetts and admit to owning guns.

Now, you've got a point - there's several orders of magnitude's worth of difference between having folks refuse to let their kids play with your kids and being dragged from your bed in the middle of the night.

But (for the most part) folks don't get dragged from their beds in the middle of the night here in the US for their religious preferences.

They do get shot for shortening a shotgun beyond an arbitrary length (see Weaver, Randy) or burned to death for stockpiling weapons (Koresh).

And by allowing anti-gun sentiment to flourish, by refusing to stand up and scream from the rooftops that this is bulls**t, we silently condone the loading of our gun-owning brethren into the metaphorical cattle cars.

No one's rounding us up.


Seen what happens when you resist a criminal in England lately?

og said...

It's the old bugbear incrementalism again. No, we're not being rounded up. yes, it's not doing any "harm" per se. But: it is a line in the sand. When we erase it, and draw it back a little further, it is a couple inches closer to disarmament. No, you can't blow your proverbial wad on the "petty things" but you can't forget that it's never the "big things" we're confrontewd with, but a slow and inexorable march of "petty things" that add up to "big things. So your reaction is correct; don't freak out. But additionally, do everything you can to get it stopped. No, don't sweat the petty things. But also, don't pet the sweaty things.

Roberta X said...

This is illuminating for me as not-very-religious person because it is the exact flip side of my own blind spot(s) about religion, right down to the sense that sometimes folks cry out before injury is done.

Might even be so; what's the Star done to me except list my like in the same section as preverts, bank robbers and marriage licenses?

Beseems every coal mine needs a canary or two; and they are silly, fluttery little birds most of the time. Doesn't mean they're not useful.

TJP said...

Sorry, I feel that most of the context is missing from the argument. The context is that a natural right to self-defense has been violated by requiring that a citizen seek the permission of a local government should he choose to own a weapon, or face the alternative of being harassed by armed agents of the state, with great risk to liberty and life. The information--for which there is no legitimate purpose and should not exist--is then made available to the public at large.

Should the argument be narrowly confined to the act of publishing the information, then yes, no one has been directly harmed at this time; no one was helped, either. However, the act is meant to encourage outrage in hoplophobes, who, despite decades of disarmament victories, imagine themselves as helpless in the face of opposition of an army of anonymous NRA members.

Remember that we live in the era of "gun-free zones", and some of these permit-holders live within HOAs or in apartments. The desire to abuse the information to make life more difficult for the political opposition will be irresistible.

dave said...

As I posted over at Tam's place:

How about, instead of guns, we publicize the names of women who have abortions?

It's an action, not a state of being, so it's a closer analogy. It's something that has been found to be an individual right (although it's not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, like gun ownership). Like gun ownership, having an abortion doesn't qualify one as a protected class, so the race/religion/etc. canard doesn't apply. Seems like a pretty good analogy.

So, if we shouldn't get upset about posting the names of people with carry permits, then surely we also allow a list of women who have abortions, right?

(BTW: not hypothetical. See,2933,580637,00.html?test=latestnews for more details.)

Joanna said...

First off, I wouldn't hold Koresh up as an example of a wronged party on our side. The man was a pedophile nutjob.

Second, this

So, if we shouldn't get upset about posting the names of people with carry permits, then surely we also allow a list of women who have abortions, right?

both misses and makes my point. I am VERY upset about these databases. But right now, it's just an invasion of privacy. Hell, it's a case of a private enterprise publishing publicly available information. Save the stars and segregation talk for when the government does it.

dave said...

I'm opposed to both, too. The point of the matter is that, even though the government isn't actually causing direct harm to people, it is enabling others to do so by publicizing the names of people who have done nothing wrong.

The potential for abuse is quite enough to justify protecting the data; the fact that such publication appears to be aimed at inducing others to harass the innocent ought to be enough to bring charges. (See also: published databases of abortion doctors used to plan bombings, published lists of police officers' home addresses, etc.)

I'm not suggesting either is okay; rather, I'm trying to say both are wrong, and ought to be removed at once, with punishment to those who tried to incite unrest toward people who have done nothing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would we want to wait till the government does it to protest? It's way to late by that point, so lets stop it while it's still at the "opinion makers" stage, and go after it aggressively before it gets to the yellow stars.

Joe said...

"...But right now, it's just an invasion of privacy. ...

JUST an ivasion of privacy?
You have a much higher tolerance for it than I do.

"Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Will Brown said...

Since we seem to be argueing this in several places simultanously, let me take this opportunity to call BS on some of what's been raised in reply here.

Because Rx, there are well established standards of legitimate response to provocation. Over-reacting is always going to be treated more harshly than all but the most extreme of provocotive conduct.

As you very well know. :)

Sorry Mark Alger, but publicly commenting on the widespread societal distribution of practitioners of a Constitutionally protected right does not an infringement make. Particularly when the comment is of such a diffuse nature and derived from an already public source.

And, just for the record, if the newspaper gives you the six o'clock knock, the correct response is "No comment; now, get off'a my lawn!" :)

And really Jay G, are these newspaper editors putting out the local cat box liner or "metephorical cattle cars", which is it? Take a moment here, I've seen examples of the actual historical cattle cars and I've been to Dachau (more than once); want to restructure that moral equivalence argument just a bit?

I'm not even gonna get into the whole phantasmagorical argument from an alternate universe and Dave and I already jointly made a dent in Tam's bandwidth, go there if you're curious.

Joanna has raised a valid point of order regarding the propriety and effectiveness of the public response to this minor annoyance. For the most part, no one seems willing to address the points she raises directly. I fully understand the temptation to give the heretics amongst us (ahem, that would be me usually) a good kicking, but is this truely the best time to scratch that particular itch?

They're newspapers for God's sake; they're desperate to stimuate any sort of controversy to generate revenue. They chose us (CHL holders generically) as a visible and PC target of opportunity. Is it really your intention to encourage them to continue? Point out the silly people saying ... well, just what is it they are saying anyway? Other than the mind-crushingly mundane and obvious, that is.

Tam said...

"Why in the world would we want to wait till the government does it to protest? It's way to late by that point, so lets stop it while it's still at the "opinion makers" stage, and go after it aggressively before it gets to the yellow stars."


This is what I wanted to say, but didn't know it.

(WV: "sompin". I don't know what it signifies, but sompin made me mention it anyway.)

Roberta X said...

Nothing gets my back up like being told to behave with propriety, to sit down and shut up, as it's not thaaaaaat bad.... Not yet, anyway.

Y'know who makes that argument? The people in charge. They don't give a flip about right or wrong, they just want quiet.

Nobody listens if you're nice.

Am I loud, outrageous, overwrought? Good. Maybe somebody'll actually hear it. The Star (and BHT) wants me dead; if they had full courage of their convictions, they'd've published my full home address, I'd come home to find Jim Bob and/or Icedog cleaning out my gun safe and get shot in the face while I was still trying to figure out what was happening.

ACT-UP was an obnoxious bunch of weirdos but by the time they'd thrown a few pies at politicians, you'd heard about AIDS.

Nice people don't accomplish much and quiet people rarely get things started; I was okay bein' nice, quiet, unnoticed; they started trying to stick a target on my back and I don't intend to wait until I have been killed to do something about it.

Call me hysterical? Sure. I am. Before you can hand out yellow stars (I'd get an anarchist's black triangle), before you can load up the cattlecars, you have to have a public attitude that those people deserve it. (This ugly truth gets swept under the rug). Know one big tool for shaping public attitude? Newspapers.

Phil K said...

I live on a street with three homes. I found it quite interesting that not too terribly long after the publication of this list, my home was broken into and quite a bit of outdoor related articles were stolen. My gun safe was also damaged by an attempt to open it. Coincidence? Perhaps, but who can really say.

Freddyboomboom said...

So by the same argument that it's no big deal, it would be ok for them to publish a registry database of where all the bloggers live, right?

I mean, you're just exercising your 1st amendment right to free speech, nothing wrong with that, right?

Maybe you'd like to let us know what YOUR street address is, so we can get started on that...

Joanna said...

Freddy: "I know you are but what am I?" Really? I'm ashamed of you.

Anonymous said...


I don't know you, or where you live. Why don't you publish your street and zip code for me?

If you choose not to, please explain why not.

And if you don't then it must be a big deal for you.

So, show us how big a deal the Star's actions aren't and publish your street and zip.

Oddly enough, if I choose to track you down and publish that same information I can get charged with stalking you.

Double standards, and not to mention a good dose of hypocrisy, all round it seems.

I'm with Tam, Roberta and the others. I am an immigrant and I have seen happen exacatly what they fear.

Ignore what they say at your peril.


tomcatshanger said...

Owning a gun is not like being a different race, creed or sex only in that we are not born owning firearms.

Yet we are born with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Gunnies are comparing lists of Permit holders with other lists made for persecution throughout history. The problem with the down playing of this comparison is, historically, many other countries do persecute gun owners with the full force of their government backing up that persecution. Just because it hasn't happened here all that often does not mean it can't again in the future.

Religion is as much a choice are firearms ownership. There are literally millions of people who choose to dump their religion to get off the lists their governments keep.

Joanna said...

Tom: And when the government starts making databases, I'll be all over it like white on rice. But there is, as yet, a difference between them and the newspaper.

tomcatshanger said...

Who do you think the news paper got the data base from exactly?

And, did you forget who the Government IS?

Johnnyreb™ said...

Not long after these lists of CCW holders were printed in some Ohio newspapers homes were burglarized, firearms stolen and in one instance resulted in an ambush style robbery where the defender was killed ...

It's best not to "let the nose of that intrusive dromedary under the tent flap in the first place". That being said, at least here in the buckeye, we were able to 'beat back' that intrusive nose ...

Freddyboomboom said...

I'm not sure why you're ashamed of me.

Would you please explain that a little more plainly than using an elementary school taunt?

'Cause I'm not sure what you meant by that.

Joanna said...

Freddy: Easy. There's a difference between a database that includes my information and some random guy on the Internet demanding my address because he got all butthurt when I tipped his sacred cow.

I mean, do you regularly demand personal information from women you run across on the Internet, or am I a special case?

Joanna said...

Also, notice that the playground taunt was in quotes; this indicates that I was describing your orignal comment, rather than bringing it up myself.

Freddyboomboom said...

So if I worked for a newspaper, and wanted to publish the database of where bloggers live in the crime section of my paper's website, then it'd be ok to ask for your real name and address?

And I'm not really demanding the information, I really couldn't care less where you live.

But isn't it interesting how when someone wants to publish your personal information that you seem to feel differently about it?

Or maybe you don't.

Joanna said...

Freddy: What makes you think my information wasn't already published? Go check the databases. I shouldn't be too hard to find.

Plus there's the humor in arguing this with a guy who keeps his Blogger profile private. Way to walk the talk there, man. Way to walk the talk.

Rick R. said...


Why should Freddie have to "walk the walk" of publicly making his personal ID available?

HE isn't the one insisting that publishing data on people in the Crimes section of the paper for having the audacity to practice a Constitutionally protected right is fine and dandy.

Joanna said...

Did I say it was fine and dandy? Or did I say that running around pulling our hair out might not be the most constructive reaction? Did you miss the part about how pissed I am about being on the database?

Why does "anything short of pants-wetting hysteria" seem to equal "fully in the tank"?