The Case For Unchecked Tyranny
Jerry Adler of Yahoo News and the Huffington Post — two dutiful servants of the Communist Party USA’s subsidiary, the Democratic Party — grudgingly accepts that he, like all Americans, has the right to own a gun for sport and (though he personally finds this icky) self-defense against criminals. But he cannot abide the suggestion that he has the right to defend himself against tyranny.
His argument for banning the Evil AR-15 and other so-called “assault weapons” is that the only reason anyone would ever need one of those is for (a) killing children, or (b) fighting against the government. Both of these reasons are, he contends, illegitimate and absurd. Ergo, there is no need for such rapid-fire weapons with large-capacity magazines.
That the right to bear arms is not a government-granted permission or “positive right” — the only sort of right that progressives understand or acknowledge as real — but rather a natural (pre-governmental) right, answering to a natural (pre-governmental) human need, is completely beyond Adler and his ilk. So they assume they have simple common sense on their side when they ask the heavens, ridiculously, “Why in the world would anyone need one of those killing-spree weapons?” The answer to that question, phrased starkly enough to catch the attention of progressive platitude-spouters, is simple: They would need it to defend themselves and their community against people who refuse to acknowledge the distinction between natural rights and government-granted permission, and who consequently attempt to deny the former in favor of imposing the latter.
I remind the reader of H.L. Mencken’s excellent definition:
Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
Like all progressive platitude-spouters, Adler falls back on smirks and guffaws to hammer home his point — which of course is not really “his point” at all, but merely something he heard somewhere years ago and never bothered to question, which is why he doesn’t actually understand what he is saying.
A lot of this is just posturing, of course: The NRA’s key stakeholders are gun companies, and it serves their interests to hype the threat that “jack-booted government thugs” are coming to arrest grandma and confiscate her derringer. The NRA’s Dana Loesch made news last week with a claim that the mass media “loves” mass shootings because of the ratings they bring. Leaving the despicable nature of the charge aside, it is a fact that publicized incidents of gun violence have benefited the firearms industry by spurring sales to patriots scared that this time Nancy Pelosi really is coming to take away their guns.
Apparently, it is “despicable” to suggest that the fading mainstream media revels in the ratings boost they get from over-hyping and exaggerating the prevalence and Social Significance of poorly-raised, mentally-deficient, and emotionally-addled teenagers flipping their lids and shooting their schoolmates, but it is totally above-board and journalistic to suggest that organizations that defend the right to bear arms on the terms that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution clearly intended are merely motivated by cynical business interests.
And I do not mean to imply that the two cases should properly be viewed as morally equivalent in the name of intellectual honesty. No, intellectual honesty demands, on the contrary, that we acknowledge the fundamental non-equivalence of the two cases, since the only reasons for over-hyping and exaggerating mass shootings are cynical reasons — either ratings and profit or political propaganda — whereas millions of people who stand to gain absolutely nothing but their freedom from defending the right to bear arms against the progressive zeitgeist nevertheless continue to do so. Those who are attempting, like Adler, to identify the whole fight against banning weapons with the NRA are being disingenuous: they are attempting to obscure the fact that the NRA is as influential as it is only because so many private citizens are desperate for an effective voice in Washington to represent their constitutionalist concerns about encroaching tyranny.
“What encroaching tyranny?” smirks the smug platitudinizer.
[Q]uite a few Americans apparently agree with [David] French on the danger that Washington might someday decide to pick up where George III left off and reimpose the Stamp Act or force Americans to quarter troops in their homes. Banding together in militias like the so-called Three Percenter movement, they are preparing to meet that threat with AR-15s.
Does Adler really believe the absurd premise underlying his chortling rhetoric? That is to say, does he really believe that it is unrealistic to the point of laughability to imagine that “Washington might someday decide to pick up where George III left off”? Is it possible that a hardened lifelong progressive could be that naïve? Personally, I doubt it. When progressives talk this way, I always assume they are engaged in “big lie” behavior, hoping to hide their tyrannical impulses behind feigned innocence.
Don’t misunderstand me — when I say I assume progressives who talk this way are big liars, I am not saying that I assume the worst about them. The worst, in my opinion, would be the only other possible explanation for remarks as dumb as Adler’s quip about “quite a few Americans” fearing that today’s federal government “might decide to pick up where George III left off,” namely that Adler and people like him are truly so monumentally stupid and morally blind that they cannot recognize that the U.S. Federal Government has gone so far beyond George III’s offenses that the abuses that inspired the American Revolution look like minor quibbles by today’s standards.
If, therefore, Adler is granting that a citizen’s revolt against the federal government would be understandable if the government could ever be perceived as returning to the oppressive behavior of George III, then his chortling about the silliness of those who believe this might someday be necessary indicates either a complete obliviousness to today’s political realities or a shameless attempt to intimidate others into remaining so oblivious. I’m betting on the latter.
His final dismissive wave at those who wish to preserve their constitutional liberties:
I predict that assault-style rifles will be around for the foreseeable future, and I suspect one will be used again, sooner or later, to slaughter Americans in a church or office or school. And — call me naïve — but I would much sooner entrust my freedom to America’s justice system, which is also part of the Constitution, than to a bunch of middle-aged guys running around the woods in camo pants, no matter what kinds of guns they have.
First of all, we should observe the essentially fuzzy thinking underlying this attempt at argumentative mockery. By claiming he would “sooner entrust my freedom to America’s justice system, which is also part of the Constitution,” he is clearly implying a direct contrast between the right to bear arms (as found in the Second Amendment) and that justice system. But there is an essential incongruity or disanalogy here.
The right to bear arms is not a creation of the Constitution, but rather a natural right, inherent in human nature, which is cited in the Constitution precisely as a specific limit on the power of the government. The justice system, by contrast, is of course a creation of the Constitution itself, a specific power of government. The Second Amendment, along with the entire Bill of Rights as originally ratified, was intended precisely as a theoretical and practical safeguard against the abusive overreach of those institutions of government established by the Constitution, declaring, in effect, that men are naturally free in ways that no government institution may override.
By “choosing” the justice system over the right to bear arms, Adler is implicitly choosing government over the naturally free individual — exactly the choice that the Framers took pains to protect against by including the Bill of Rights.
The question Adler is attempting to answer is which solution of last resort is best for ensuring the continuance of a free society — men’s natural right to resist oppression, or the government’s coercive power? His answer — the justice system — effectively nullifies the letter and spirit of the Bill of Rights, by deferring to the primary potential obstacle to natural freedom, the State, as the final arbiter of what freedom shall mean, and to what extent it shall be permitted. And his reason for this choice is the lamest of all: If we “permit” people to defend their freedom, someone might get hurt.
Stated more straightforwardly, his argument is this: People should not be free to defend themselves against tyranny because the means to such defense will probably be used occasionally to harm people.
Let’s follow this reasoning along similar paths for a moment, shall we:
People should not be free to speak their opinions because many of these opinions will probably be false and have harmful effects on young minds.
People should not be free to assemble and share political ideas because many such assemblies will probably be used to spread illiberal and socially harmful notions.
People should not be free to practice the religion of their choice because some of these religions will probably encourage views that are antithetical to liberal democracy and tolerance.
The press should not be free to report on events and ideas as facts and conscience direct them because some members of the press might be motivated by greed or politically subversive designs to abuse their public influence and harm society.
I note that each of the above four arguments, modeled on Adler’s reasoning, may be factually unassailable, and yet, like Adler’s, they are all morally self-contradictory. Throughout history, all societies have been faced at all times with the basic question, “Freedom with its inherent risks and abuses, or tyranny with its universal injustice?”
America is the nation, above all others, that answered this basic question, unequivocally, “We’ll take our chances with freedom and its great potential for widespread well-being, knowing full well that the alternative, though more predictable and regular, can bring only inhumanity and misery.”
Adler, against his nation’s courageous tradition, has chosen the coward’s acquiescence to the “safety” of tyranny, and is urging his readers to do the same.
Will innocent people in a free society sometimes be killed by dangerous weapons in the hands of criminals or madmen? Yes, undoubtedly.
Is this horrible certainty sufficient grounds for rejecting the conditions of a free society? Only if tyranny is your goal.