My Rights v. Yours

I figured if I am going to eat major crow, at least I can put on a little New Pornographers in the background. Seriously, though, I am actually surprisingly happy to write this post and thank all the people involved for hearing me out on these issues.

As any of you that actually read this blog probably witnessed the whole gun debacle, then witnessed the removal of the debacle in its entirety. People that actually know me, know that this has been a pretty upsetting experience, but after emailing at length with several people from the pro-2nd-Am side, and after a LOT of thinking on my part, I have come to a few major conclusions about the whole thing that I would like to share.

Now, I would like the anti-gun people to bear with me and really *think* about what I am writing. I know that a lot of you will TOTALLY disagree with the details of what I write, but I would like you to try to ignore the details and imagine what I posit. What I would like to do is open up a dialogue about how we fight for our rights and beliefs and WHY public perception is important. I am going to open up comments and I ask EVERYONE to keep it cordial. Learn from mine and Rob’s mistake. This means no nastiness, no threats, and, yes, no douchy personal attacks. Though, as always, you are free to swear as much as you want.

This is more or less excerpted from an email that I sent, among other people, Bob S, who was the original commenter to the gun post. I want to point out that I have apologized to Bob S via email and that Rob has apologized, as well. My reasons are explained below. Rob would like to say that he is VERY sorry for the comments he made both here and on his blog. He deeply regrets the whole thing and hopes that Bob S wasn’t negatively affected by them.  Rob absolutely never intended to follow through on any element of what he said and was just reacting out of fear. He was upset and worried because I was upset, but that is really no excuse. He should never have written those comments, or defended them and he honestly hopes that Bob S will accept his apology.

Here goes…

Bob S-

This has really given me a lot to think about – your response, some of the responses of others, and all that has transpired up until now. I plan to post parts of this email on my blog as an attempt to both reopen the discussion and to (hopefully) undo some of the damage done.

I think, up until now, I haven’t been able to look at the situation from any vantage point other than my own, which includes my own reactions to seeing some nastiness directed at me personally. Now, obviously my first several responses are not a shining example to cordial discourse. However, in general I make it a point to stay focused on the substance of the issue, and to not make any personal comments (which would include derisive comments about the person’s intellect). Though I will freely admit that sometimes I stray from this mandate.

The main problem with that, as I may have mentioned to someone else, is that I don’t really have a personal, vested interest in either side of the debate, so in participating in the debate I committed the same cardinal sin that I often rail against – namely, taking a side on a peripheral issue that necessarily argues against the rights and interests of others, when I have the luxury of not having something profound at stake.

However, if I remove all the vitriol from both sides, and think of this in terms of an argument for one’s rights v. the curtailing of those rights as a matter of public interest, I can see *exactly* what you have said regarding your cause and the damage that posts and comments like mine may have and can totally see how both the original post and the picture are offensive. Because whether or not I agree with what you believe, there is little difference between your desire to protect a basic right and my desire to protect some other basic right.

For example, I have very strong feelings about gay marriage. The basic issue, for me, is that I find it utterly repugnant for the State amend its Constitution to take away the rights of a certain group of people, simply because *some* people do not like what *other* people do behind closed doors. And in reading your comments about the damaging effects of public perception on the fight to retain rights, I realized that those are exactly the same comments that *I* make in defending the issues that are dear to me. And then I realized how I would have felt and reacted if I had come across a post that I considered derisive, insulting, and misleading on an issue I believed in.

Likewise, I would fully expect a similar onslaught from other like-minded people. And they would have responded with a similar wave of statistics, stories, appeals, and yes, nastiness and anger in their comments in defense of our viewpoint. And I would have been equally offended when the original poster shut down the debate. Because when a minority depends on the majority to “allow” them to continue to exercise their rights, the minority necessarily depends on public perception of their “agenda.”

I imagine it is much worse when the public misperception is that your group is angry, paranoid, and aggressive, regardless of how hard you work to challenge that and show it as falsely based. Probably kind of hard to do anything even remotely defensive without being seen as proving the myth. I will freely admit that when you first began commenting, I read your comments as being overly aggressive and vaguely threatening, and that this context comes from my pre/misconceptions of the very vocal wing of the pro-gun movement.

I would also like to add that, thanks to many of the comments that I received in response to my previous posts, I can say that, by and large, there are many, many articulate, passionate, educated, and polite people on the pro-gun side of the debate. I would remind readers of the number of kind comments that we had where commenters shared their stories and expressed both interest and care in the stories and situations of others. Unfortunately, as with many debates, the overwhelming good gets drowned out by a small handful of ugly, and that often what we perceive as ugly is only ugly because we don’t agree with it. Townhall debates, anyone?

I am generally only subject, as you can probably admit your initial comments reflected, the preconception that I am going to cry about the children. Or the other traditional misconceptions that liberals are unpatriotic milquetoasts.

To be fair, most of my readers are actually friends, so when they saw the deluge of comments, and the multitude of trackbacks and links, they of course saw this as an “attack” on my blog. Moreover, they will see comments made about me (and that includes comments made on other people’s blogs) as personally as they are written, and if they think these comments are unfair or cruel (and I think we can all admit that there have been some pretty nasty things written about me personally as opposed to my views), it is only because they know me. And hopefully know that I am not a mentally unbalanced gutter whore who got my JD in a Happy Meal.

But again, to be fair, I see similar behavior from people of all sides when they feel their interests are threatened. In fact, I am fairly certain I once accused mike w of acting like an a**weasel on a board about healthcare. Note, though, that this was a pro-swearing board, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it. Though it is also true that he has accused me numerous times of being absolutely void of intellectual functioning.  Anyhow, my point is that it isn’t just “gun people” who make personal attacks or are perceived to be a bit, shall we say, aggressive in defending their cause. And yes, mockery is a common response among people who feel their basic rights are being challenged.

So I just wanted to say that I see your side of the argument now. I can see how the initial post and picture are offensive, and while I can’t promise not to offend anyone in the future, I am sorry for offending you (and others). And I also see how the post, picture, and comments, as well as the removal of all the posts and comments in their entirety was unfair to your side of the argument. And I apologize for that. I probably won’t agree with your positions on things, but I certainly won’t be so callous about other people’s rights in the future.

Hope this makes sense and thanks for hearing me out. If anyone has any other thoughts, I would appreciate it. I would like to open up a debate and maybe even provide a forum where pro- and anti- can come together for a reasonable discussion. Perhaps my mandate for guns and gays will bring us all together… Or just simply alienate everyone.

My Wedding (Cup)Cakes. And Yes, I Made Them.

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15 Comments

  1. Laci the Dog said,

    January 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Choice of language helps to determine the debate. You fall into a major trap by framing the issue as pro or anti gun. Are reasonable restrictions on firearms anti-gun? Are laws, or lack thereof, that make it easy for criminals, the insane, mass murderers, terrorists, and so forth pro-gun?

    The civic right interpretation removes the concept of “gun rights” from the Second Amendment debate. It allowed for the DC gun ban on one hand and Kennesaw, Georgia to require everyone own a handgun on the other. Well, I would hope that Kennesaw, GA allowed for those with religious scruples to not own firearms.

    I have researched the issue and am convinced that the Civic right interpretation is the correct one. Please do not change this thread to address that. And you can read more than enough of why I believe this on my blog. The issue was standing armies and not personal ownership of firearms outside of the militia context.

    Any “gun rights” can be found in state constitutions, but not the Second Amendment.

    When one discusses self-defence, then that is a completely different issue to the Second Amendment. Firearms are not a good choice for self-defence. Yet, some people seem to believe that firearms have this magical power to protect them from evil. Nothing will dissuade them of the drawbacks of their preferred method for defence. No matter how many bodies pile up from accidents, they say “it can’t happen here”.

    Also, if we are discussing rights, it should be made clear the cost to society of this “right” in terms of medical care, criminal justice dollars spent, lost productivity, amongst other detriments. Is this “right” worth the cost to society?

    To be quite honest, I have examined this issue fairly extensively and am not swayed to the viewpoint that firearms should be as easily accessible as they are in the US.

    You may examine the material on my blog since I am not going to bother with reposting it here. I doubt tthose who call themselves “pro-gun” will as it challenges their assumptions.

  2. Amy said,

    January 14, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I want snarky and feisty back!!! 😉

  3. southern female lawyer said,

    January 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks Laci – I appreciate your viewpoint as well as your extensive experience on these issues. I do not know that much on them, so I am happy to hear everyone else’s thoughts.

    Amy – don’t fret. I am going to post some major Palin snark pretty soon. 🙂

  4. mike w. said,

    January 15, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Though, as always, you are free to swear as much as you want.

    FUCK YES!

    I think there were multiple problems with the initial post, those who were denigrated rightly took offense and voiced their opinion, you reacted emotionally rather than rationally (which we all do at times) and it just went downhill from there.

    Then things took a turn for the surreal once Rob started threatening people. Frankly I’m still a bit shocked that he did it. I read his apology and I hope that in addition someone advised him of the seriousness of such actions, particularly with regards to any political aspirations he might have.

    I certainly understand your concerns about the airing of personal einformation. All gunowners are I think, particularly given the history of anti-gunners in the media publishing CCW holder information in searchable online databases. For Rob it goes without saying that he should have a lower expectation of personal privacy than you or I. That is something which comes with the territory. I fully support the posting of his information by Linoge and others. He is a public official, and TN voters should be aware of his threatening behavior (even though he’s now apologized)

  5. southern female lawyer said,

    January 15, 2010 at 12:39 am

    mike w – while I totally appreciate the swearing, I would like to leave any discussion about Rob and his actions to you all in the respective blogs you keep. As I have mentioned previously, and for the reasons I gave, I do not feel that *my* blog is the proper place to have such a discussion. I will not delete or edit your comments, but I would ask you to respect my stance on this. Thanks.

  6. Peter said,

    January 15, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Considering Laci’s comment policy, I find it more than a bit ironic that she comes here and posts freely. Just sayin’. Also, Laci is English, and has quite a different perspective than an American does. To be brutally honest, seeing what is happening over there in (what used to be) Great Britain with the ‘youths’, yobs and chavs is sinful, and the Crown’s ongoing refusal to ackowledge what is a universal Right to defend oneself is beyond Kafkaesque. And then I read some of Laci’s stuff and realize that Laci can vote.

    And Laci: this is not our blog. We are guests here, so don’t hijack the comments in order to try to score some points. Clearly you are passionate about what you believe, and you’ve obviously thought long and hard about your position. Unfortunately you’re just plain wrong: when someone attacks you, everything is on the table up to and including deadly force. As I said a day or so ago, I hope it never happens to either of us, but if it does, I intend to survive. You’re not going to change my mind on this, and I won’t change yours, so let’s try to be at least civil to each other.

    This links up with your recent postings about gay marriage: it’s a hot button issue and by about the second sentence, a lot of people can’t think clearly anymore. This goes all ways, on any number of issues, and doesn’t respect either party or ideology. It just means we’re all human.

    SFL: you were right to point out and ridicule that fuckwad, you really were. As I said earlier, I came here with every intention of hammering you, but by the time I followed Tam’s link, you had done quite a bit of clarifying, and I couldn’t in all honesty criticize you for the posting. You’re not at all what I expected to find, and I’m happy to be wrong.

    Again, thanks for the bandwidth, and I have enjoyed my visits here. BTW, tomorrow is Oatmeal Cookie day! Mmmmm! I’ve got both rolled and steel cut oats, so there’s gonna be some Mad Science in the kitchen.

  7. southern female lawyer said,

    January 15, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Peter – my biggest problem with just about anything is idiots that ruin things for other people. Oatmeal cookies are a work of tasty art. Let me know if you need a recipe; I think I may have posted one of mine on here. One of my cookie tricks is that I put a couple of tablespoons of Nutella in – it adds moisture and keeps the cookies “fluffy” so that I can use all butter.

  8. mikeb302000 said,

    January 15, 2010 at 2:18 am

    SFL, You’re a great inspiration to make such an effort to come back after that terrible explosion. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and especially how you were able to get everybody (I think everybody) back on track.

  9. Laci the Dog said,

    January 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Peter, some rights conflict.

    For example free speech and property. You wish to post comments on my blog. I could allow comments, but I would moderate them. In fact, if you know my comments policy, I did moderate comments. You also know that I don’t have to listen to you. That means your view point probably wouldn’t have been posted.

    Tough luck. I’m not changing my policy to be wasting my time deleting comments from people I don’t agree with and don’t wish to repost their thoughts for whatever reason.

    Property owners have a right to control speech on their property. If you don’t believe that, try and make a speech in a shopping mall.

    If SouthernFeamleLawyer, MikeB, PhuckPolitics allow for comments, I am allowed to comment there.

    In fact, you can comment all over the internet wherever you wish. I don’t need to hear your comments.

    That’s my right.

  10. Laci the Dog said,

    January 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Better yet, if you want to test free speech on private proerty, go to WalMart and start passing out union literature and make speeches about how great Unions are.

    See how long you last.

    The Bill of Rights only protects you from government action, not private action.

  11. mike w. said,

    January 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Whether or not someone allows comments on their blog is not a free speech issue. Their blog is theirs, and they can do with it as they wish. I do think that not allowing (or heavily moderating/editing) of comments is indicative of intellectual cowardice that is not uncommon among those like laci who support gun control.

    She doesn’t have a “comments policy” She simply has no commenting whatsoever on her blog, which again is exactly what is expected of the more rabid anti-gun folks. Unlike SFL, so folks are just incapable of having a rational, fact based discussion. Frankly it’s probably good she doesn’t allow comments, since her posts are so often factually and historically incorrect. I actually quite like that she has a blog and posts her opinion on it, because it serves as a great example of just how nasty, incoherent, and flat out violent anti-gun folks can be. (And boy, in laci’s case I’m not kidding about the violent bit)

  12. Weer'd Beard said,

    January 15, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Since Laci has made it a point to hijack this thread to talk about the 1st Amendment, I think her own first Amendment uses should be made event to all:
    http://lacithedog.blogspot.com/2009/10/bigoted-quote-of-day.html
    A post making political hay about a 2nd Amendment Hero who was killed in an act of Domestic violence by her abusive Police officer Husband. She has overall stated she is “Amused” by Ms. Hain’s death.

    In the same post she makes this shocking statement:
    “And as for you, you want to comment on my board when there are more than enough places filled with your crap: Go away and shoot yourself! Put all those guns you have to good use by exterminating yourself.”

    I’m rather offended by that bit, and I suspect present company is also included in that request.

    Also she is a huge fan of making personal attacks for having a differing opinion:
    http://lacithedog.blogspot.com/2009/11/45limpdick-is-more-like-it.html

    I suspect that “.45 Limp Dick” is referring to reader, and a man I personally admire “.45superman” who also blogs under his real name, Kurt Hofmann.
    http://weerdbeard.livejournal.com/580289.html

    Kurt’s a former Paratrooper who is now confined to a wheelchair after a car accident, and happens to be rendered defenseless both to his disability, but also by his state’s foolish gun laws.

    She, in the same post advises others to kill Kurt (Like Ms. Hain’s husband did to her, she states), or at least that Kurt kill himself.

    I have no issue with Laci not allowing comments on her blog, nor for SFL choosing to moderate her comment section. Its their right.

    Tho I do believe that if one uses ANY right to hurt people, be it 1st, 2nd, or any other those abuses should have consequences.

    In this instance I only advise people un familiar with “Laci the Dog” read the linked posts, and take into consideration who is making the comments under her moniker.

    I am also NOT amused by domestic violence, and still to this day I am saddened at the senseless passing of Ms. Hain. My obituary for her is here, with links to some of the media she appeared in so that she and her message may live on in our hearts and minds:
    http://weerdbeard.livejournal.com/565711.html

    And to all people (women and men) nobody has the right to hurt you physically or mentally. If you’re in an abusive relationship I advise you to get out NOW before things turn bad as they so often do.

  13. Sailorcurt said,

    January 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Frankly, I didn’t see anything egregious about Bob S.’ comments to your original post.

    Was he passionate about it? Yes. Many of us are. Did he disparage your IDEAS? Yes. He probably could have approached it in a more civil way, regardless of how disparaging of OUR ideas your original post was.

    Did he disparage YOU personally? Nope. No one did until after the “kerfluffel which will remain unspoken of”.

    And I think that’s how many of these “kerfluffels” get started. Gun rights supporter stumbles across a post that seems to be disparaging of gun rights, supporter make comments vigorously defending those rights and disparaging the IDEAS of the original post in no uncertain terms. Original poster takes it personally, accuses the pro-gunner of personal attacks and the insults begin to fly.

    It follows a pattern that we who have been active in working to get our side of the story told (we sure don’t get much help from the media…which pretty consistently prints Brady Campaign talking points and VPC propaganda as if it were Word From On High) have seen over and over and over again.

    We disagree with their ideas, explain why, complete with statistics, studies and reason to back it up, they accuse us of threatening them, personal attacks, etc…then delete comments…then shut down commenting completely or delete the entire thread.

    Sound familiar? Perhaps we misread you (and I’m willing to concede at this point that we did) but is it surprising considering that you followed the formula to a “T”?

    Very few pro-gun blogs moderate comments and those who do, do so only to prevent spam. I know of none that will delete comments just because they don’t agree with them…or even if they become abusive. We don’t fear disagreement; we continually allow our viewpoints to be challenged and I’ve changed my position based on new information more than once. Heck, some of the most vigorous arguments gun rights supporters get into are within our own community. While we embrace and accept challenges to our viewpoints, abusive commenters are correctly dismissed out of hand as immature and irrelevant…rarely are their comments deleted; there’s too much entertainment value to be had out of ridiculing them.

    Anti-gun bloggers, when they allow comments at all, almost inevitably moderate comments and simply refuse to post any comments that make uncomfortable points that they can’t refute. Mikeb302000 is a prime example. Make a point on his blog that he finds himself unable to rebut and it never sees the light of day. I can’t speak for Laci because I don’t recall ever having read hers; but, based on her comments here, I’m pretty confident that she follows the pattern too.

    It’s true that they are their blogs and they can post or refuse to post any comment they choose, It’s also true that such a policy is a very convenient way to avoid having to defend one’s presumptions and positions. It’s a sign of someone so emotionally wedded to their worldview that they simply cannot tolerate having it challenged. As Laci said, it’s her right to refuse to listen to any arguments that she is uncomfortable hearing…unfortunately, such a practice serves only to make one uninformed, not correct.

    I know, when I comment on an anti-gun blog post, that I have very little chance of changing the mind of the blogger. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m simply trying to provide a counterpoint so that people who aren’t already wedded to their point of view on the subject and who happen to stumble across the anti-gun post, have an opportunity to see that there are valid arguments on the other side that they should consider when evaluating the subject. Although my comments are ostensibly directed at the blog post and to the blogger who posted it, that’s really not the point.

    I’m not worried about people like MikeB and Laci who’ve already made up their minds and are so emotionally tied to their viewpoint that they refuse to look at it critically. People like that are beyond reaching. I’m after the people with an open mind who are willing to have their beliefs challenged or who simply haven’t given much thought to the subject and are open to both sides of the debate…if they are permitted to be exposed to it. That is the pool from which future gun rights supporters will be drawn, that is who I’m trying to reach and that is who needs to have access to BOTH sides of the debate, not just one. The Internet is really the only medium we have available to do that because, as I said, by and large, the media is little more than the propaganda wing of the anti-gun lobby.

    That’s why we do what we do: not to shut down dissent, to drive bloggers we disagree with off the ‘net, or to cause anyone to “submit”…we do it ONLY so our side of the debate sees the light of day.

    If a few anti-gun toes get stepped on in the process…that’s unfortunate but apparently unavoidable.

  14. January 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    […] she has posted a long apology (which some find “hollow”) as well as a post clarifying her position on training for […]

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