And if these measures stop one mass shooting, or save one child's life, it's worth it. #SandyHook #GunControlNow
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 15, 2013
Well, that all sounds nice, but it is ultimately childish thinking. Adults recognize that we often choose to value other things over safety all the time.
For instance, take cars. Cars kill far more people each year than guns, but no one would seriously talk about banning them. But why not? We could limit car ownership to emergency services (police, fire departments, EMT’s and so on), entities for whom automobile transportation more than likely saves lives on balance, and automobiles for the delivery of goods (such as groceries to the store or mail to your mailbox) and then everyone else? Well, you will just have to ride a bike or walk. If it would save one life, or indeed save one child’s life, isn’t it worth it?
Or perhaps you also allow for an exception for public transportation. Some people are perfectly happy with that, but millions of people who could ride the bus every day choose not to and thus endanger the public with their cars. Oh sure, you might think that you present no danger and maybe you are right. But statistically speaking it is far deadlier than any gun and yet we allow you to keep your car.
And that is fine, I agree with that. But let’s not delude ourselves as to what we are doing. We are choosing to value something else more than human life. We are choosing every day to reject the logic of “if it saves one child’s life it’s worth it.”
Indeed, every day sports—including the sports played by children—causes fatalities, serious brain injuries, physical and mental disabilities for life, and yet these school sports programs go on. Plainly those parents who let their kids play those sports, as well as those who themselves play those sports, have decided to reject the “if it saves one life” argument.
But those are accidents!—you might plead. And generally they are, and that is an arguable distinction. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.
But we also often choose intentional death over other values. For instance, if a man breaks into your home, every state in the union says you are allowed to use lethal force to stop that person. What you are protecting at that moment could be anything from your life, to your property, or protecting you or someone you love from sexual assault or kidnapping or who knows what. Likewise, outside of the home, deadly force is allowed when fighting off not just a murderer, but rapists and/or kidnappers. So the law is saying that you are not only allowed to value your life above a criminal's, but you are also allowed to value a man or woman’s right to withhold consent from sex, and a person’s personal freedom more than the life of a criminal. (And of course, you are allowed to use deadly force to protect other people’s lives, or to save them from rape or kidnapping.)
On the other hand, most states do not allow you to use deadly force merely to defend your property. In the eyes of the law, it just isn’t worth it to take a man’s life to save your car.
[Please note that none of this is legal advice. I am a lawyer but not your lawyer and you should seek legal advice about when and if you can apply deadly force in self-defense. Instead I am discussing the law to discuss the values of our society so we can decide what policies we should adopt.]
And one really doesn’t have to look far for statements from many great patriots and other luminaries talking about the need to sacrifice life for other values. So while we might take Patton’s admonition under advisement that “the object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his,” we can remember that nonetheless many patriots have been willing to die for their country. For instance it would be easy to simply quote Patrick Henry. So I will:
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Or look to the official state motto of New Hampshire: “Live free or Die.”
Or take these great words that William Wallace didn’t actually say, but stirs the heart nonetheless:
Ah, it gets me every time. And I want to focus on just one part of that speech:
Wallace: I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?
Veteran soldier: Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.
Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!
Yeah, as I said, William Wallace, didn’t say it. His descendant, Randall Wallace did, in a script for a movie that is largely fictional but nonetheless beautiful. And putting aside historical accuracy ask yourself about the philosophy being expounded on: is (Randall) Wallace wrong? Consider what he is saying. He is saying that there are times when it makes sense to risk or trade your life, for freedom and the freedom of your fellow citizens. Is he wrong?
And other examples abound. Just before he died, Nathan Hale was purported to say, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
Or take the Declaration of Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 6, of 1775, at a point of time when we were not yet seeing independence, but we were openly fighting the British:
With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with our [one] mind resolved to d[i]e Free-men rather than live Slaves.
The same document later declares:
In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it--for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.
You can read the whole thing, here. Joseph Warren, a lesser known patriot of the Revolutionary era: “Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit -- appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free.”
Another from Warren:
Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.
The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of Liberty -- that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”
John Adams: “Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
And this is off topic, but this quote from Adams is very interesting:
It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them. You say it is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still say, let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long as we can.
At the time of the Revolution our population was only 4 million. Only recently did it pass the upper end of his vision, the 300 million mark. How could he even imagine us sustaining a population that large? Without either massive changes in technology or expansion of territory (of which we have had both), it was simply impossible. And yet his vision has largely come true, hasn’t it?
Benjamin Franklin: “It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”
Patrick Henry, again: “Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.” We might be invincible, but that doesn't mean this approach wouldn't have casualties.
The Declaration of Independence, after declaring that they were fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, ends by saying “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Translation they were willing to put their lives and fortunes on the line for this.
Thomas Jefferson: “What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
This sentiment was echoed by John Stuart Mill:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
And of course there is Franklin’s famous quote which makes it most explicit that he would prefer liberty to safety: “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
And this is hardly the only example. As we celebrate his birthday today, we can remember that every day of his life as a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. knew he was risking death. And not just for himself but for his family. I mean those who challenged racism back then had a very short lifespan. But he and many other leaders decided it was worth it to push for freedom and an end to racism. “No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they would die for” he once said. Indeed, he went as far as to say that “A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.”
And at the risk of self-aggrandizement, I have made the same judgment. This is not an academic issue for me. I decided to tell the truth about Brett Kimberlin and risk the consequences of angering a convicted terrorist. And regular readers of this site know that I have paid a significant price for it. He has cost my wife and I our jobs, attempted to frame me for a crime, gotten me arrested on false charges (subsequently dropped), put bogus peace orders on me abridging my freedom of speech (subsequently struck down) and I have been SWATted. And every time when I go out to my car, I check under it for bombs, like the ones he planted in Speedway, Indiana. Why? Because this fight is about freedom of expression and the right to receive counsel, and stopping a man who thinks nothing of attempting to destroy the lives of those who anger him and because I know if I don’t stop him he will just keep doing it. I have decided that some things are more valuable than just simply surviving and I put that belief to practice.
(And if you are not a regular reader and that last paragraph is news to you, read here.)
Which is not to put me in the same category as those greats. To pick one example, the danger I face is nothing compared to Dr. King. But that only drives home to me how shameful it would be not to fight. If Dr. King could stand up to the far more deadly terrorism of the KKK, how dare I refuse to stand up to a punk like Brett Kimberlin?
So there is nothing alien in our culture in the idea that some things are more valuable than life itself. Some of the greatest persons in history have put that belief into practice. And I have done the same in my own humble way.
“But,” you might protest, “it is one thing to advocate for giving your own life, or giving of the life of adults for freedom. But these are children.”
But do you think it would make a difference? Do you think the founders would have surrendered to the British if they only took twenty children hostage and threatened to kill them if we didn’t end our rebellion?
We know Dr. King wasn’t persuaded even by the murder of children. Four little girls were murdered when the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed, and yet he didn’t tell people to call off the Civil Rights Movement. He didn’t say, “its not worth the lives of our children.” He said we had to keep fighting for freedom and equality or else those children would have died in vain. And often his organization put children on the front lines to face the dogs and the firehoses, not to mention how many times black children were placed directly in harm’s way by being asked to commit the courageous act of going to school—courageous and dangerous because they were doing so as the first black children to go to a specific white school. Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole placed children in harm’s way all the time and when they died, it was not seen as a condemnation on their movement, but only on their killers, and rightly so.
And let’s not forget that children died on September 11, too. Al Qaeda has said that they attacked us because we were not Muslims. So, should we repeal the guarantee of religious freedom, declare Islam the official religion of America, and force everyone to convert? Would Piers Morgan declare that if it would save one child’s life, it is worth it? I don’t know what he would say, but even the vast majority of Muslims don’t want that.
So we aren’t willing to do anything, just to remain alive, are we? We sacrifice life—including the lives of children—for other values all the time.
And the bizarre thing is that normally liberals get that. Consider, for instance, the issue of how to interrogate prisoners. Any liberal who says he or she is against waterboarding is saying something is more important than our lives. And don’t let them lie to you and pretend that no good intelligence can be gathered this way. Leon Panetta himself has admitted that it probably helped us kill bin Laden himself. And it just makes no logical sense to deny that sometimes when you loosen their tongue they give good information, as I wrote back then:
But the most ridiculous claim is that it supposedly doesn’t work. Now of course pressuring anyone in any way to get a mere confession is of dubious value. Torturing a guy to say “I did it,” is unreliable. But if they are telling the truth, they can tell you things that are objectively verifiable. Consider, for instance, this classic scene from Dirty Harry:
[video no longer on youtube]
The context of the clip is this. The psychopath had buried a girl alive and claimed he would give the location of the girl (giving them the chance to save her) if they paid a ransom. They paid, with Eastwood delivering it, but the man refused to give the location, and so the torture in that scene followed [in which Eastwood literally tortures him until he tells us where the girl is buried]. So it was a “ticking bomb” scenario. Also, alluded to and not shown, they find the girl where the psycho said, but she was already dead. If memory serves she never had a chance of being saved in time.
Now if that hypothetical went to trial, the confession would be excluded from evidence (and in theory the body might be, too). Why? Not because it was unreliable. Even in isolation the mere fact he knew where the girl was buried was highly incriminating. But instead all of it, including the fact he knew where the body was, would be excluded on the theory that even then torture is not justified, and thus they wanted to remove an important incentive to police to engage in such conduct.
So let’s please stop the childish claim that waterboarding—hell, even torture—cannot be effective. And let’s instead have the adult conversation about whether we as a people believe it is morally justified and if so, when.
We all know that even outright torture can in fact work. And so if you oppose it—and I do indeed oppose true torture, I just don’t consider waterboarding to be true torture—you are saying that some things are worth sacrificing lives for, even that of innocent children.
And recently we have seen liberal opposition to the idea of armed school guards. Not all liberals, but many. The most common objection to this proposal (I mean, besides just plain blind opposition to anything coming from the NRA), is that somehow kids are psychologically damaged by seeing an armed officer. In a letter, the ACLU listed other reasons. For instance, it will “unnecessarily pushing students out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems” because if the guards are police, they might arrest the students for crimes rather than letting principals handle it less severely. They go on to be concerned that various kinds of disproportionate impacts will result. Whatever the merits of what they said, there is no serious reason to think armed guards in a school wouldn’t make things safer. And yet they oppose these proposals. What happened to “if it would save one child’s life...?”
So to say “even if we save one child’s life it is worth it” is itself childish and simplistic thinking. Even if it was true that banning some or all guns would save some children—and that is a doubtful point—it is simply not the case that we will do absolutely everything to save lives, even the lives of children. Now and then we have decided that, on balance, it is better to have a chaos that occasionally kills people and the freedom that comes with it, rather than perfect security. Of course few people put it as baldly as saying that we sacrifice children for our freedom. We might not say it, but in fact we do it all the time.
And the Second Amendment is about our freedom. Yes, it preserves the ability of hunters to hunt, but that isn’t what it is about. And likewise it will protect a woman who is being stalked by an abusive ex, when the police can’t or won’t protect her, but that isn’t why it was so important to the founders. Consider those to be other good reasons for supporting it. The militia clause of the Second Amendment is inoperative, but it provides us a valuable clue as to why it exists: so we can continue to have our minutemen militias, for the preservation of free states—the states we live in and the United States of America. That is not just to save these entities just to save them, but to preserve their status as free states. It was certainly conceived in part to protect us from foreign enemies, but it was just as much to make it possible for us to resist tyranny here at home, should it ever arise.
Sidebar: One common argument against the right of rebellion is that we supposedly wouldn’t stand a chance. I find that to be a curious argument. How often do the very same liberals who make this argument claim that it was impossible to defeat the guerrillas of Vietnam, and the terrorists of Iraq and Afghanistan? And now suddenly they believe a guerilla campaign in America is doomed from the get-go? Anyone who says an American resistance is doomed is demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of effective guerilla tactics.
And that is assuming it would be citizens v. the government. Our military doesn’t take an oath to the President, but to the Constitution of the United States. How many in our military would defy a truly tyrannical government in the unlikely scenario of justified rebellion? If one looks to the history of the last major rebellion on American soil, the Confederates were able to take entire forts, ships, cannons, etc. and enjoyed the benefits of many soldiers trained by the Union in their ranks and in their leadership And while they ultimately lost, they put up four years of a dang good fight in a conventional war. Say what you will about the Confederates—I am utterly opposed to their cause—you cannot deny they made a good run of it and even came close to succeeding. For instance, if the war went slightly worse in 1864, McClellan might have become president and sued for peace. And in Revolutionary times, America was even poorer in resources and manpower than the Confederacy, and yet we won that war, or at least held out until the British decided it wasn’t worth it. So it is silly to write off this primary function of the Second Amendment as a fool’s dream. It wouldn’t look anything like Red Dawn, but it wouldn’t be a cakewalk for the government.
And again, I am not talking about imminent action. I don’t expect to see this happen even once in my lifetime. But fundamental rights, such as the right to rebellion, are not for one day but for all time.
Second sidebar: Doesn’t all of this prove that Alex Jones is himself ultimately full of it. He agrees that we have a God-given right to resist tyranny. And while I am no fan of the man, even a broken clock is right two times a day.
But he also is a 9-11 truther (like Brett Kimberlin!), believing that George W. Bush was behind the attack.
Now it is easy to just blow off trutherism. And we should blow it off as a matter of fact. No, nineteen Islamofacist terrorist from al Qaeda took down the towers by flying planes into buildings. But our immediate rejection of the factual case he is making has us gloss over the implications of the theory.
Imagine by some crazy coincidence that it was right, what does that imply. This isn’t like the theory that we didn’t really land on the moon; that suggests someone is lying to us, but that might even be argued to be a forgiveable lie. And it isn’t like Oliver Stone’s theory that a conspiracy of gay conservatives killed JFK possibly in service of the military-industrial complex, because that becomes simply a crime that has been unpunished. No, folks, if you believe in this 9-11 truther nonsense, this means that our government conspired to kill around three thousand ordinary citizens in order to justify war against a foreign country.
If that actually happened, that’s not a time to brood and complain. That is a time to take up arms against your government. Oh, sure, given the government a reasonable time to address it, to draw up articles of impeachment and remove the man responsible (in this case, George W. Bush). But Jones started making these claims right away and certain by 2004 or so it was clear to him that Bush was never going to be impeached and removed for this. So if he really believed it, he would be talking revolutionary violence, wouldn’t he?
But he isn’t. And that, in my opinion, is proof that Jones is not sincere about it. If he really believed it, he wouldn’t have peddled his theory for the last decade, he would have actually taken up arms. And the fact he hasn’t demonstrates that he is a phony.
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.
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.
Van Harvey, a friend of mine, has a succintly different take on Jay Carney's reprehensible comment abt "saving one life". I hope you won't mind my linking to him.ReplyDelete
If you claim you are against bullshit politics, please do a story on the bullshit fraud which fooled me for a while, and still fools many Conservatives (I am not a conservative).ReplyDelete
I admire your tenacity, but let's see if you have the balls you claim, expose this bullshit. Conservative pundits on FOX pushed it for a while, Mike Huckabee ran for President on it, Neal Boortz was hired to push it.
But it's a fraud, not flawed, I mean it's literally a fraud.
I admit Fairtax sounded great, and if it was just half as amazing as Boortz claimed, what are we waiting for? We need an entirely new tax code, that is true. I have been preaching that for 30 years. Our tax code is horrible, unfixable. It can not be fixed, it must be replaced.
I never dreamed Boortz was getting paid to hawk a deliberate fraud. He seemed so sincere. If Fairtax was a fraud, surely Boortz would not only spot it, but he had the balls to expose it. Nothing scares Boortz right?
Turns out, the fine print in Fairtax scares Boortz. In fact if you ask him about it, he will block you from his twitter account, and before he left radio, he would not accept your call.
Neal might have been fooled by Fairtax at first -- it does sound great -- but it's clear after a time, he learned the fine print tricks that make Fairtax a goofy absurdity,.
Most of Fairtax revenue is not from personal retail sales. Boortz and Fairtax.org sell it as a personal consumption tax. And it is, they have personal retail sales tax.
But in that fine print are other taxes -- and the other taxes are much much larger than the retail sales tax. It's not that Fairtax has a few other taxes, Fairtax is a massive tax on city county and states, on all their operating expenditures, even capital invesments. Wages, pensions and benefits, paid by city county and states, are taxed 23%. No, the employee does not pay those, the employer -- the city county or state -- has to.
If your state has 2 billion dollars in "expenditures" on prisons, for example, including wages, pensions, construction, food, utlities, etc, your state would have to pay -- separately - the fed gov 430 million tax. No, I am not wrong. It's not only in the fine print, but Fairtax spokesmen defend it,. And, President Bush Tax Advisory Panel exposed this absurdity.
While there are good arguments on both sides, what bothers me is that AK 47advocates have no doubts whatsoever. They may in the end be correct, I think it's reasonable to limit automatic weapons, but I see both sides.ReplyDelete
To claim Obama is some evil person, just fits in to the hate rhetoric that now fills the country.
Going back in history, the only thing close to this is pre - Civil War South. If you read those newspapers, and Southern books and speeches at the time, it's much like now. The hate is stunning.
Only, in the South, the government controlled what newspapers could say. The anti -incendiary laws, enacted by every slave state, made it a crime, punishable by whipping, to write, say or preach anything that would "dissatisfy" a slave. Hilarious that they were supposedly worried about making a slave unhappy.
But because of the growing fear of slave rebellion, any open discussion against slavery, or even preaching anything against it, owning a book that even questioned it, was against the law. While these laws against free speech came from a legit concern over slave rebellion, it was clear that either free speech had to go, or slavery had to go. So the Southern states decided free speech had to go.
The resulting hate spewed forth - not against the oppression of free speech, but against anyone who dared speak against slavery. They were the devil, evil, Lincoln was trying to force the women to "be" with black men, even walk down the street with black men.