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.