The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA Leader Wayne LaPierre’s Frustrating, Brilliant Statement

I admit I didn’t get to watch it, and see how the delivery was made, but I have read over this transcript provided by the NRA and it is both frustrating and it is brilliant at the same time.  Everyone who knows me decently knows I chaffed at certain parts but even as I did, I recognized even those parts had a subtle intelligence.

After the ordinary and expected condemnation of the Newtown massacre, he starts by explaining why the NRA has been officially silent:

Out of respect for those grieving families, and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment. While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent.

Which isn’t a great explanation for their silence but it is a decent one and it does get in a jab at those who have had a rush to judgment.

Then he launches into a broadside on gun-free zones.  Now I have long felt that the solution is to let teachers carry on campus.  I do not think it is practical to put armed guards at every school.  I mean one wouldn’t be enough because it only designates to the maniacs who he should kill first; so you would have to hire at least two, probably more like a minimum of five, armed guards or police officers for each school.  And with what money will we hire them?  No, I think it makes infinitely more sense just to let teachers have guns.  So I disagree with this, but it is still brilliant:

How have our nation's priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses — even sports stadiums — are all protected by armed security.

We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.

Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family — our children — we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it. That must change now!

...

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no national, one-size-fits-all solution to protecting our children. But do know this President zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget, and scrapped "Secure Our Schools" policing grants in next year's budget. With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school?

What is brilliant in this is that it changes the conversation.  Ordinary people will rationally wonder, “well, shouldn’t we have had someone with a gun there?”  Even people who don’t want teachers to be armed will have a hard time explaining to us why we shouldn’t have armed police there.

So what he seems to be trying to do is establish a new consensus that leaving our students completely unprotected is just plain insane.  And then when everyone crunches the numbers and sees that we can’t afford a cop in every school, then the answer will fall back to what I consider the best position: let the teachers carry guns.  Because it is either that or leave our kids completely unprotected.

Another brilliant part is this one:

And the fact is, that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade.

In other words, “the government is not even keeping the guns from the people they promise to keep them away from.  Why on earth should they be asking you do disarm?”  Nice and very straightforward.

And then he gets to the part that regular readers know I am most likely to be annoyed by:

And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

Then there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho" and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on "Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment."

But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.  A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

Now, on one hand, I hate his broadside on the First Amendment.  But I think I know what he is up to and I think the giveaway is the fact he hasn’t actually proposed any kind of ban or regulation.  So here’s what I think his game is.

I think he wants to force First Amendment advocates to make many arguments that would then reflect well on the Second Amendment.

For instance, I do not believe that violent video games contribute to this sort of thing.  For myself, when I have frustration, nothing works it out better than what I jokingly call God of War therapy.  It makes me feel very zen, very quickly.  I am not libel to get violent when I am frustrated in any case—I am never not in control and I frankly don’t understand how other people can claim to be—but it does a good job dissipating my frustration.

And I concede that there are some games kids should not be playing.  For instance, if you are a parent, and you allow a child under the age of sixteen to play Grand Theft Auto, you are just a bad parent.  And I say this as a person who loves the series and has played every iteration since Grand Theft Auto III as well as many of their clones.  But they aren’t for kids.

But for those who simultaneously want to ban guns and allow Grand Theft Auto, it forces them to make some curious arguments.  For instance, the very people who bizarrely assert that the right to bear arms applies only to muskets are required to explain how Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press adds up to “Freedom of Video Game.”  There are many forms of media that are not among those specifically enumerated in the First Amendment, and yet no one bats an eye at applying the First Amendment to them, as indicated by this joke on Twitter:


Now there is a way to say Nickelback, as awful a band as it is, is protected without pretending the Constitution is alive or any silliness like that.  As I said in my Erik Loomis post the other day, Madison felt that all powers not granted to the Federal Government are denied.  So when someone invented the first video game, the first question that should have been asked isn’t “what right does anyone have make this and speak freely in this medium?” but rather, “what right does the government have to regulate it?”  Since the founders didn’t have even Pong they obviously didn’t grant the government the power to regulate video games and until and unless the Constitution is amended to include this power, the Federal Government has no right to regulate it.  In this view, it’s really that the First Amendment protects video games, but rather that the First Amendment gives courts a guidepost pointing out that they should be cautious in allowing the government to regulate any kind of expression.

And it is worth noting that none of those difficulties are presented when arguing that modern technology applies to the Second Amendment.  The founders might not have had AR-15’s but they didn’t guarantee merely the right to bear “muskets” but the right to bear “arms.”  And the AR-15 is definitely an “arm.”  Indeed the founding fathers even allowed for the private ownership of cannons, meaning they allowed for ordinary citizens to possess weapons that could have caused death on a scale similar to what happened in Newtown.  There is simply no good reason to say that the AR-15 isn’t covered by the Second Amendment.  (But note an important limiting principle I discuss here.)

And further the media has changed in its reach.  In 1789, Freedom of Speech was self-limited by how far your voice could carry.  So if a man was out to whip up a mob into dangerous violence, there was only so many people he could influence.  Today, such true incitement could be carried live into millions of homes and, in theory at least, start a conflagration all over the whole country.  In other words, modern technology has magnified the danger posed by an individual speaker, just as modern technology has magnified the danger posed by an individual gunman.  And yet we only think this is a justification to limit the latter.

And likewise, those who would defend “Freedom of Video Game” (sorry to keep harping on this, but this is the outer limit of how far the First Amendment can be stretched), must also assert that the protection in the Constitution is nearly absolute.  I mean after all look at that language in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So advocates of “Freedom of Video Game” will say: “see?  It says, ‘Congress shall make no law... abridging freedom of speech or of the press…’  And ‘no law abridging’ means exactly that.”  And those who are pro-choice on bearing arms can come back and say, “so what does it mean in the Second Amendment when it says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged?”  Game, set and match.

So I think LaPierre is actually trying to force those of us who defend the First Amendment to defend it in terms that benefit the Second.

And if that is his goal, that is brilliant.  If he merely expressed support for violent video games, etc. then everyone who agreed with him would ignore the point, even if he explicitly made the argument that we are treating the First and Second Amendment differently without any justification.  But instead by attacking the First Amendment, he forces those who are at once pro-First-Amendment and anti-Second-Amendment to make arguments to defend the First that equally apply to the Second.

Of course the danger posed here is that he can be accused of hypocrisy, but again no pro-First-Amendment and anti-Second-Amendment liberal can make that argument without laying bare their own hypocrisy.

And I have to think this argument in particular designed to twist the knife in just a bit more:

And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.

How many times is the NRA accused of being in it just for the money?  Yes of course there is a gun industry, and no gun manufacturer has taken an oath of poverty.  Like every one of us in our jobs they want to make money.  Which doesn’t preclude the possibility that they also want to genuinely help people, that they make guns because they believe that they make people safer.  I mean I doubt there is anyone who knows how to make guns who couldn’t be quickly taught how to make something less controversial like cars.   They don’t have to make money this way, so they choose to and presumably for good reasons.  But there is no question that they make money too.

But just as there is a massive industry with a vested interest in the Second Amendment, there is a massive industry with a vested interest in the First Amendment.  Thousands of movie studios, television channels, cable companies, internet providers, newspapers, book publishers, video game makers, music companies, and people who sell the hardware on which to view this media, all make money every day on our Freedom of Expression.  And like the gun manufacturers, they make a tidy profit.  So why is it that the ACLU, which defends Freedom of Expression with a healthy support from those who have a vested interest in Freedom of Exprression, is seen as a white hat wearing group of good guys and the NRA is seen as the bad guys?

Oh, right, because it is the media making this determination.

Which is not to put down the ACLU, but to say that the NRA deserves to be treated at least as well and this comment by LaPierre does a very good job calling out the contrast between how Freedom of Expression and the Right to Bear Arms are treated differently.

So for me, who prefers to be straightforward about things, I found LaPierre’s statement to be annoying.  I am allergic to bull, after all, and it was bull.  But at the same time I appreciate the sly intelligence behind it. 


Update: One more additional thought.  In a very real way, LaPierre can’t be seen as supporting violent media like Grand Theft Auto or Natural Born Killers.  If he says that, then the takeaway is he is just a bloodthirsty maniac who loves violence.  But if he denounces those kinds of media, even while not proposing that anyone actually do anything about them except at most self-restraint, he communicates to millions of people that he doesn’t own a gun because he likes killing or anything like that, but because he wants to protect others.

Which is not to say that a person who enjoys violent media is violent.  No actual human beings were hurt by either Grand Theft Auto or Natural Born Killers and thus those of us who have no trouble separating fantasy from reality will have no trouble enjoying violent media while believing in peace in the real world.  But LaPierre surely knows that you can’t expect the press to make that distinction.

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My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger’s Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

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Disclaimer:

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

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