March 2012

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Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.


Regarding Not Newt:

A fate worse than death:

   Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she's a witch? 
   Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a Newt! 
   Sir Bedevere: A Newt?
   Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] ... I got better. 
   Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!
                                                   Monty Python, "The Holy
A friend of mine says that Newt talks the way stupid people think smart people talk. But smart or not, he is, as you describe, a despicable piece of work.

Under the theory that even a stopped clock is right twice a day: Newt's statement "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did" is outrageous, but it contains more than a grain of truth. There is, to be truthful, just as much self-righteousness and desire to push other people around in the left-of-center crowd as there is in Newt's neighborhood.

- The global warming alarmists accuse anyone who doesn't buy into their theories and distortion of the scientific method of being in the pay of big oil, and that skeptics should just shut up.

- People who oppose illegal immigrations are racists, and we don't have to listen to their arguments.

- People who oppose gay marriage are homophobes, and we don't have to listen to their arguments.

- West Hollywood, Calif., just banned the selling of fur.

- Certain frustrated environmentalists have turned to terrorism.

- B'nai B'rith International, "the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, and advocacy organization. BBI works for Jewish unity, security, and continuity and fights anti-Semitism and intolerance." However, the organization feels that anyone who opposes the politics of Zionism is an anti-Semite. How's that for tolerance?

- Clean air people want to raise gasoline taxes to force people onto public transportation, even when there is no public transportation that goes where people need to get to.

- Los Angeles recently banned plastic grocery bags, because, they say, the bags litter the environment and end up in landfills. Who does this: Everyone? Or litterers doing something illegal? Why deny those bags to everyone, when the focus of the attack ought to be on the litterers?

- You, yourself said in your article "In those same years, he [Newt] obtained the repeal of the semi-automatic weapon ban, contributing to a spike in the number of shot children seen at emergency rooms." I'd like to see you prove cause and effect there. Why restrict law-abiding gun owners when it is criminal gang-bangers who are shooting each other and innocent bystanders?

The fact is I wouldn't want the above-mentioned liberal-left folks running the country any more than I'd want Newt or the other right wingers running the country. The US is deeply divided and most people in the middle are frustrated about it. The only way to improve the situation is for one side or the other to clean up its act, eliminate its own bigotries, and start acting like civilized Americans.

Bruce A. Clark

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Regarding The Ethics of Gun Control:

I enjoyed reading your viewpoint on this issue, though as a gun owner, trainer and advocate, I quite disagree. You were clear, concise and made fairly valid arguments. However, there is one essential flaw in your comparison of guns to Jeeps and scuba tanks. And that is purpose. One purpose of both Jeeps and scuba tanks may be to bring their users enjoyment while another might be for a more practical purpose like saving a life.

And if our tools beg to be used, do we struggle with a desire to staple stacks of papers because we own a stapler? How about hand saws? If we buy one, are we then in danger of cutting down our patio supports?

The distinction is clear to me. You suppose that people who buy guns must resist the urge to use them for their intended purpose or limit that purpose to a truncated enjoyment akin to sitting in a room and breathing from a scuba tank. But target shooting, especially in a competetive context can be as enjoyable as a fishing trip.

And while I won't argue that the ultimate purpose of a handgun may well be the destruction of human beings, I will argue that self defense is absolutely a viable reason for its deployment. Consider the teenaged daughter of a friend who opened the door of her home to a salesman then suffered a violent assault that left her in therapy. Or the 80 year old woman dragged from her porch by a pair of neighborhood Pit Bulls that left her bleeding, the flesh stripped from her legs, and nearly dead before an off-duty police officer shot them.

Yes, guns are tools. Yes, they are designed to do one thing and do it well. But as the saw and the stapler, guns should be deployed as necessary. I'm a firearms instructor with a background in banking. I was taught to shoot early on by my father who was a US Marine in Vietnam. My brother is a 15 year law enforcement officer with a few years in his department's training group. I took up personal protection in earnest following a particularly heinous abduction and robbery that involved kidnapping a banker and his wife. I went on to become a trainer to educate others on the judicious use of firearms for personal protection to level the field against the criminals who would harm them.

To my knowledge, nobody I shoot with secretly hopes to kill another human being. In fact, I beleive those people to be among the rarest of people. I suggest you read On Killing by Lt. Dave Grossman for a description of what it takes to overcome our natural aversion to taking human life.

Thank you for your effort, though. I found none of it offensive, but well-intentioned, eloquent and sincere.

Michael Burns