Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How To Debate

There is a time for debate and there is a time for violence.  Typically, violence starts after the debate stops: once debate has completely failed to resolve the conflict, violence becomes the only remaining option to settle the dispute.  This is not the desired outcome.  If you walk around every day hoping to get into a fist-fight, you are doing it wrong.  In some situations, violence is the only appropriate answer; also, it’s better to avoid it if there’s an alternate means for solving the situation.  Hopefully you’re on board with this idea from the outset.  If not, I’m not sure why you’re reading my words instead of out punching people in the face.

For the reasons outlined above, memes like these are criminally stupid:


The person who made this meme is a believer in gun rights, and so am I.  I’m against what’s going on right now in this country with regards to gun legislation, and so are they.  The similarities end there.  The picture above has nothing to do with debate.  This picture is a threat, and you will not win this debate with threats. 

Imagine the following conversation:

You:  My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate
Them:  pulls out knife.  Say it’s rocky road, bitch, or I’ll cut you!! 

Congratulations, you’re now officially done with your ice cream flavor debate.  The only conclusion you’re going to walk away from this encounter with is the impression that all rocky road ice cream aficionados are bugnuts.

Everyone, regardless of whether they come down on the side of gun control or gun rights, believes this is an important issue, and for once, everyone is right.  This is really important.  This is too important to be fucking around like this.

First of all, please understand this: The Vast Majority of people who are for gun control support it because they believe that gun control can prevent things like Sandy Hook and the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting.  They honestly believe that gun control will make this country a safer place for them and their children.  They really, truly believe this.  Are they right?  I don’t believe they are, but that’s not the point.  These people, the majority of them, aren’t monsters.  These people aren’t evil.  They want something we all want: safety for our families. 

“But Obama wants to confiscate our guns in preparation for a fascist state”.  We can debate that if you want.  It’s going to be a lot harder to debate whether or not that the Smiths down the street want a fascist state.  I’m 99% certain that what they want is to stop worrying about sending their 6 year old to school.  At worst, the Smiths are misguided.  They aren’t communists or werewolves.

Here’s how way too much of this debate has looked so far:

Liberals:  We need gun control right now.  We have to do something to stop these mass shootings!


I’m a supporter of the second amendment, because I think an armed populace provides a defense against tyranny.  I’m about as libertarian as it’s possible to be.  You know who I’d really prefer didn’t own guns?  Someone who is this casual about introducing violence into a debate.  Do these people understand what civil war would actually mean?  Some people like to fantasize about dying for their country, about fighting “the man”, about becoming a hero, about learning kung fu.  The Last Psychiatrist explained this point better than I ever could, but I’ll sum up: if you think that, in the case of a massive civil war against a fascist government, you would finally get the chance to become a hero, to realize your full potential, to have your life imbued with meaning, you’re terribly mistaken.  You are not the main character in a movie about future civil war.  You are one of the extras.  So is your family.  Your sons and daughters could die in this kind of civil war.  The uncle who’s always going on about how great Obamacare is may be annoying at Thanksgiving, but do you really want to have to shoot him in the face?  Do you want to face your grandmother after you do?

“You’re such a coward”.  No.  I’m realistic, and you’re vainglorious.  If the time ever comes in this country for violence, and I hope with all my soul that it never does, I’ll fight however I can.  You know what I won’t be doing?  Talking.  Because if the time has come for war, then words are worthless, words are a waste of breath.  When you post things like this, you are either bringing threats to a debate or you are talking when you ought to be shooting.

This is still the time for debate.  If it was the time for war, the government would be indefinitely detaining citizens, instead of passing laws that indirectly authorize it and taking no action.  If it was time for war, the government would be confiscating guns without debate or due process, not banning assault weapons and attempting to compile a gun registry.  If it was time for war, you wouldn’t be allowed to openly discuss succession or post pictures like these.  I know we are not a fascist state yet because people are posting these pictures on Facebook without penalty.

“So what, I’m just supposed to roll over and hand over my guns?”  Absolutely not.  DEBATE THIS.  Debate it whenever it comes up.  Debate it on the internet, debate it with your friends, write your congressmen and debate it with them.  By debate, I mean, offer reasons which are more than sound bites.  Really consider the opposition’s points, empathize with them, and then try to explain why they’re wrong.

Here are some examples of the right way to do this:

Gun Control Supporter Says:
A Possible Answer:                   
A Wrong Answer:
We have to do something about gun violence in this country!
It’s definitely a problem, and I’m really concerned about it as well.  But wouldn’t you agree that doing something that makes things worse would actually be worse than doing nothing?  We have to be sure that gun control laws will actually help things more than they hurt them.
You’re retarded—haven’t you read the constitution?
European countries that have banned guns have much lower gun homicide rates than America does!
That’s true, but America isn’t Europe.  For one thing, guns were never part of most European cultures.  Additionally, you’ve probably seen the raw numbers: remember that European countries have much smaller numbers of citizens than America does.  Even though gun-related crime is very low in these countries, many countries in Europe that have banned guns have much higher rates of violent crime per 100,000 citizens than America does.
Maybe you should fucking move to Europe than!
Less guns means less gun-related violence!
Will gun control laws actually be effective at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals?  It’s easy to cross the border into Mexico and Canada and buy guns there.  The Canadian border is very porous—unless you can convince Canada to ban guns as well, a United States gun ban isn’t going to mean much.
I’ll show you gun-related violence if you try to take my Glock-40 away with your stupid fascist laws!
Is your right to hunt deer more important than keeping our kids safe?
The 2nd Amendment isn’t about protecting anyone’s right to hunt deer.  It’s in place in case there ever needs to be armed resistance against a tyrannical government.  Look, I’m not saying that’s happening now, and I hope to God it doesn’t happen, but it’s happened across the globe throughout human history.  Ben Shapiro explains it really well in this clip (around 2:15).
The 2nd Amendment isn’t about deer hunting, it’s about fighting back against fascism!  Didn’t you hear Alex Jones school Piers Morgan on this issue?
I think you’re just a warmongering fuckhead who wants kids to die!
Excuse me?  I don’t want kids to die either.  The only thing we’re disagreeing on is how we can best ensure that American kids have a future in this country.  If you're going to be rude, I'm going to leave.
Fuck you, hippie!!

This is a serious issue.  Let's have a serious discussion.  Prove that you are responsible enough to own weapons of war by engaging in civilized, peaceful debate.


  1. On the "pro-control" side, the debate also should not be seen as "Ban all teh guns!". I haven't cross checked, but here's what TP says is on the table (feel free to disprove that this is what is being asked for):

    The short list:
    1. Making background checks universal.
    2. Improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill
    3. Banning assault weapons.
    4. Capping magazine clip capacity at 10 bullets.
    5. Purging armor-piercing bullets.
    6. Funding police officers.
    7. Strengthening gun tracking.
    8. Supporting research on gun violence.
    9. Encouraging mental health providers to get involved
    10. Promoting safe gun ownership.
    11. Funding school counseling.
    12. Encouraging safe, anti-bullying school environments
    13. Recognizing the mental health needs of low-income Americans

    Of these, it looks to me like
    2, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12 & 13 are just funding laws & programs already in place, but haven't been enforced - half the list.

    1, 3 & 5 are expanding protections around current guns and ammo. A debate can happen about 3 & 5 being part of a slipery slope - we ban the ownership of these things, then at what point do we ban tracers and glocks, and sooner or later you've banned them all by attrition. It might be good to discuss *why* these are on the table to be banned.

    4 IS new actual cap, and it clearly says *why*, but quite honestly, I suspect the *how* is impossible.

    8 is asking for more science, preferrably not only funded by NRA (or its opposition). Since I'd hate to ask a vampire if I should give blood, this makes sense to me.

    10 - this probably should have been in that first chunk of current but underfunded, but doubtful there's a formal checklist of "if you own a gun, you should know X" beyond the hunters safety course I took at 15 years old. Figuring out *what* should be taught might be interesting.

  2. You should use a different source for violent crime statistics in the UK over a 3 year old article from a rather right wing newspaper.