August 2014
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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. I have gotten into the habit of leaving out full names and email addresses; I have had too many people think better of something they said fifteen years ago. If you want your name and email included, let me know. Flames, however, will be published with full name and email address.


Dear Jonathan,

As usual, I was stimulated by your Rags and Bones column in the July issue. I'm sure you find it predictable that you find me raising criticisms about the section entitled Las Vegas Shooters. As I have found so often with your commentaries (and those who share your point of view) related to guns, I find your arguments mostly irrelevant and at least bordering on dishonest, although I can't be certain that you are being deliberately dishonest. Since I have always found you to be generally an honest and above-board person, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and just say that you are incautiously mistaken.

People in the "pro-gun rights" community are at least as horrified as you are by the crimes that you mention. However, in contrast to you, they have deliberately informed themselves of the bigger picture. While such crimes are terrible for all involved, statistically, they are just a blip in the screen. I don't mean to minimize their seriousness, but in comparison to the number of instances in which people use (or threaten or talk about or show pictures of) guns to ward off crimes, the massacres and related crimes barely register on the statistics.

I don't mean that they ought to be ignored. Perish the thought! The people who commit such crimes are created by our society and I hope someday that we will stop manufacturing those animals. However, when developing public policy, the intelligent and reasonable way to create laws is to pay greatest attention to the circumstances in their overall, not base things upon sad but statistically minor events. (Every year, there are a few cases of bubonic plague, which is endemic in rodents in certain locales. Are we passing major laws to expensively eradicate certain animals and otherwise expend major resources because of those few cases? No! So why take a different attitude toward some crimes when the documented role of firearms in this country are generally protective? Hypocrisy!)

The above is only the first part of my objections to your approach to this subject, and I'm afraid that my indictment is that your inaccuracies are actually deliberate, not accidental. You say "I will never stop pointing out that we are living in the world the NRA always wanted, where people like the Las Vegas shooters have easy access to guns and the main check against them is private citizens with their own guns." That is certainly slanderous and dishonest. Who was it that first suggested the Instant Check system of doing background checks on gun purchases? The NRA!

The NRA is a membership organization, and the members are people like you and me. Why would we want criminals to be able to legally buy guns? It shows how out of touch you are with real Americans. We might have disagreements over the use of background checks for certain firearm purchase transactions, such as private sales and at gun shows, but those disagreements do not favor allowing crooks to buy guns. Instead, they rely on two other factors. First, in private transactions, most people are buying or selling guns to relatives or other people they know, and there is an *implied* background check in effect. No reasonable gun owner is going to sell a gun to the wayward cousin who just got out of prison for holding up a liquor store.

Second, at gun shows, most transactions are done with licensed retailers who, even at gun shows, perform background checks. If you think otherwise, you are being the willing victim of dishonest gun control propagandists, and you are taken in simply because you are too damn lazy to look up the facts on your own.

However, the root of your attitude toward guns is that, like so many others of your political persuasion, is this: you have a supercilious dislike and distrust for the average American. You don't seem to think that they could possibly have your sensitivity toward violence, and you don't think that they could possibly have the intelligence to come to good conclusions on such complicated subjects. You pick some reactionary like Rush Limbaugh and prejudiciously presume that all gun owners are like him. Such prejudice wreaks with the odors of the Klan and other rotten organizations.

I don't mean to single you out. In my opinion, despite certain criticisms, you are the best of the bunch in terms of your interest and thoughtfulness of various issues. However, it is evident that you are still a creature of a certain type, somewhere in the liberal/progressive/left wilderness. I, too, have come out of that morass, and it pains me no end to make such serious but broad criticisms of that grouping. It's not that the overall goals of that area of the political spectrum are so bad, but that the methodology is rotten. It is tainted, whether directly or indirectly, with the Stalinist methods of dishonest accusation and the imputation of evil motives.

For example, I recently had a post come at me in Facebook. The photograph showed some women speaking or chanting at a demonstration against the recent influx of illegal aliens at this country's southwest border. The person posting made the comment that the photo reminded her of the hateful people in photos of demonstrations against the integration of Little Rock, Ark., schools in the 1950s. She accused them of being full of racist hate. In fact, an open-minded examination of the photo could have shown any feminist demonstration in which the participants had their mouths open speaking some slogan or chant, or union protesters demonstrating against some company or a group of people demonstrating against some war. The content was prima facie neutral. The judgments of the content were pure, manufactured prejudice.

This is the way I interpret your comments about guns in your Rags and Bones article. Unfortunately, this has become the typical modus operendi for this segment of society, and I'm very sorry to see that you are using it. It demonstrated its worst during the racist lynch mob against George Zimmerman. The mob ignored the facts of the case (which I followed closely) and presumed, because Martin was Black and Zimmerman wasn't, that there was a racist motive to the case. In fact, there wasn't anything of the kind. Racists like Spike Lee posted the address of an elderly couple named Zimmerman and caused them to be subjected to harassment. Thankfully, he's now getting sued by them. I hope they take him to the cleaners.

Black Panther scum made death rewards against Zimmerman. Others made vile comments against him. You, also participated in a negative manner. Fortunately, the jury stuck to the facts of the case and ruled that Zimmerman was not guilty of any offence. Although the final result cleared him, the revelation of all of that disgusting racism by so many people disgraced the country, most particularly those who call themselves liberal/progressive/left. What a shame. It gives so much ammunition to the right!

Bruce A. Clark


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found your article Vanity and War brilliantly informative. Your seem to understand the whole thing better than most writers.

I do wish that you could address our misguided action re Palestine and our retelling re the situations in Crimea and Syria with the same candor.

Sidney

I have often written about Palestine, as I did by coincidence in this issue.