I think I see the problem here

Sometimes when you are trying to teach someone something and they just aren’t getting it your student will say something and all of a sudden you realize what the problem is. Typically it is some fundamental assumption either the student and/or the teacher had made but had not articulated.

I remember one time I was trying to explain the difference between current and voltage to someone. They weren’t getting it. I finally made the analogy to water in a hose. With a very small hose, say the diameter of pin, it really doesn’t matter if you have 1000 pounds per square inch of pressure (voltage). The rate of flow (current) coming out of the hose is going to be slower than a very large hose, say the diameter of your leg, with a pressure of one pound per square inch. If you want to quickly fill a bucket with water which do you want? High pressure or high current? His answer was, “I don’t know.”

It was like time froze for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went pale, my jaw dropped, and I started drooling. I realized what the problem was. He was just too stupid to understand. My assumption was that since he was able to walk upright and speak in complete sentences that he was capable of understanding simple everyday concepts involving the physical world. I was wrong. That was 30+ years ago. He now teaches art at a high school.

I had another epiphany recently. In the comments to one of my posts moderately anti-gun commenter ubu52 said:

Every death is a loss to society, every single one of them. There is no such thing as a “throwaway person.”

Oh! I understand now.

This is the type of thing taught in kindergarten and early grade-school. It’s a simple concept that works for most interactions at that level. It’s sort of like a child who learns that if they drop a glass on a hard floor it will break. That simplistic view of gravity will serve them well for years. Later on Newton’s three laws will be important if they want to understand why things are different when riding in a vehicle undergoing acceleration or orbiting a celestial body. Still later Einstein’s thoughts on gravity, space, and time may be of importance.

I am not, yet, of the opinion that ubu52 is incapable of understanding the applicable concepts. I suspect it is a systemic lack of exposure to the evidence and concepts involved. There appears to have been school of thought that “no one is better than anyone else” which has taken in a large portion of our culture and is largely unchallenged. I suspect it is the logical extension of the Marxist view of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” which progressed to “everyone deserves just as much as everyone else” and then to the final warped conclusion that “no one is better than anyone else”. But that is just a guess. There are similar extraordinary errors in thinking (or more likely application) that go back much further such as, “Judge not, least ye be judged yourself.”

No wonder the concept of “use of deadly force in the defense of innocent life” is a non-starter for her. We are talking Newtonian physics to someone that hadn’t gotten past the stage of looking out for falling apples when they walk under a tree.

Many other anti-gun people have similar naïve or immature belief systems. Still others arrogantly believe they are intellectually superior to the red-necked, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthals who wish to exercise their specific enumerated right to keep and bear arms. They believe the Second Amendment is obsolete and no longer, if it was ever, useful in today’s society. If not evil, then typically their thought process is incomplete and proceed something like this, “Gun are used to commit crimes. Even if it is a right restrictions should be put in place and crime will be reduced.” They frequently are aghast that people disagree with such a simple and obviously correct conclusion. They conclude that anyone that does not agree with them must be their intellectual inferiors. It is this sort of thinking that results in things like this, this, this, and this. It is the “reasoning” of bigots.

The CliffsNotes version of schooling necessary for ubu52 (and others like her) to get up to speed with the rest of us is the following:

  • The deaths of Ted Bundy, Richard Kuklinski, David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, and millions of other lesser known threats to society were not a loss to society. Their deaths were a net benefit to society.
  • Philosophers, lawmakers, and religious leaders from all over the world and nearly all cultures are almost unanimously in agreement that the use of deadly force to protect innocent life is at least acceptable if not an obligation.
  • While there is an unacceptably large percentage of the human population that are a threat to society they are vastly outnumbered people who respect the rights of others to live their lives free of threats to life, limb, and property.
  • In order to defend against the villains of society the aged, infirm, outnumbered, and smaller need tools to put them on equal terms with the monsters who would prey upon them.
  • The firearm is the best tool ever invented for equalizing those who would be prey with the predators in our society.
  • Accidents and misuse of any type of tool can result in a tragedy.
  • Training and the proper design of tools reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Punishment is the appropriate response to those who misuse tools.
  • Firearms design and training is more mature than for almost any other tool in common human inventory.
  • The number of tools more frequently used for criminal purposes than benign or beneficial uses is vanishingly small and firearms are not in that set. It does not matter if the tool was a screwdriver used to pry open a cash box, a box cutter used to hijack a plane, or a firearm used to rob a store. Any proposed restriction on a tool must take into account their benefits as well as their misuse.
  • Restrictions on the use of tools work no better than the restrictions on the use of recreational drugs or sex.
  • The rules for the use of deadly force are well established in U.S. law and are among the first things taught in self-defense classes involving firearms.
  • The nearly universal rules are that if the attacker has means, intent, and opportunity to cause death or permanent injury to innocent human life then the use of deadly force can be justified.
  • All restrictions on firearms yet conceived reduce the number and/or ability of those who are likely to be prey to protect themselves more than it reduces the number and/or ability of predators. Even the simplest (and in implementation it is far from simple), most innocuous restriction of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) deters as much or more potential prey from defending themselves than it prevents predators from hunting their victims.

As Sean Flynn once said (paraphrasing), “I’ve spent years studying the issue, my opponents only minutes”.

11 thoughts on “I think I see the problem here

  1. Right after, “Judge not, least ye be judged yourself” the scriptures say, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” In other words it explains how to judge properly, which means that the first statement was rhetorical, not a command.

  2. You did all that thinking and yet you missed what I was thinking? Forget about guns for a minute and think about this:

    Death is a permanent ending. It deprives us of an opportunity to study and learn more about the thing that died. I’m not only talking about people here — but also the death of plant species, of animals, of any “natural” thing. What creates “Ted Bundy, Richard Kuklinski, David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, and millions of other lesser known threats to society”? Is it a genetic thing? Is it totally environmental? Could it be a variation in brain chemicals combined with something else? Is whatever caused it preventable? Unnatural death deprives us of learning all we can learn about them.

  3. I think the biggest problem people like that have is that they’ve learned the general rule, but not that they need to examine it’s application for specific cases – they simply assume it’s an absolute rule as opposed to a rule of thumb. They don’t (or can’t) make the leap from “There is no such thing as a “throwaway person.” to “Assume someone is not a “throwaway person” until they prove otherwise.”

  4. ubu52,

    I think you missed my point. The original context was “gun victims” and I pointed out many of those that died from gunshot wounds should not be considered a loss. In my post above I elaborated that guns are used to defend innocent life. In that defense the attacker is sometimes wounded and sometimes dies. In these instances there is no time for contemplation if the attackers brain chemistry is messed up or it was problem with his or her environment. The attack must be stopped–NOW. That the attacker sometimes dies is not and should not be a concern to the victim or society as a whole.

    There are many, many predator subjects to examine and perhaps experiment on. The loss of a subset of them with the corresponding continuation of the lives of the innocent should not be mourned by anyone. Yet the artist would have us do that and furthermore implies that we should restrict firearms access. This further restriction, as pointed out above, restricts the defense more than it does the harm (by all methods) to innocent life.

  5. If I’m reading ubu52’s comment at 11:09:59 correctly, (s)he is now moving the goalposts to argue for preserving these threats for scientific study, which implies that (s)he would throw away the lives of the threat’s intended victims in order to do so?

    Sorry, doesn’t wash. My life is not “throwaway”, either. I am not willing to sacrifice my life, nor my wife’s life, to an assailant for the sake of your social science projects. And, frankly, the argument smacks of grasping at straws in an attempt to preserve a position that is objectively untenable, but to which you are emotionally wedded. No offense intended, but, as I have yet to see any objective evidence to cause me to change the fundamental axioms informing my position in this, I humbly suggest that perhaps some of your fundamental axioms warrant re-examination here – they may well be based on faulty data.

  6. It is a funny thing… Time and time again, both here and over at Robb’s place, UBU52 has argued in support of abridging individuals’ Constitutionally-protected rights in metropolitan areas, due to the “risk” those firearm carriers and owners pose to the increased population density of the city; and yet here she is, arguing that we should place the entire population of the world at risk by leaving known, provable, and demonstrable murders, mass murderers, and committers of genocide alive and breathing.

    I have stopped expecting logical arguments from anti-rights nuts in general, and her in specific, a long time ago, but it would be nice if those bone-headed arguments were at least internally consistent.

    As Mr. Doyle articulated, UBU just informed us that the lives of murderers and rapists are worth more than our lives, and that we should allow those scumbags to do as they please with us and our families, for the sake of society studying them and learning from them. The only appropriate response to such a suggestion is not fit to type.

  7. Joe,

    I understood your original post. I was just making a statement on death in general, not particularly as it relates to criminals. Yes, there are people that deserve to die — but it still can be considered a loss — a loss to their loved ones, a loss to society because we lose the opportunity to study them, etc. To say “a lot of gun deaths are a benefit to society” really doesn’t delve very deeply into either issue; death or crime.

    Did you read this? http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128339306 They ran a little snippet about it on the local news last night. I haven’t had a chance to read the entire article yet but it sounds interesting.

    P.S. I don’t know how I got two duplicate posts up there. Can you get rid of one?

  8. I would not wish ill on anyone(not true of course, but one sometimes has to start off that way), but to paraphrase the old saying, “A pro-self-protectionist is an anti-self-protectionist who got mugged.”, seems appropriate here.
    May you live happily(and safely) in your cocoon your whole life ub.
    Of course the chances of that happening are decreasing on a daily basis thanks to the godfather/mafia currently running the country.

  9. “Let the punishment fit the crime.”

    If the punishment ‘fits’ the crime, the worst a criminal will ever do is break even…what kind of deterrent is that?

    To be effective, punishment needs to be swift, Draconian, and public.

  10. “I’m not only talking about people here — but also the death of plant species…”

    We can’t let that one go, ubu. Now we’re to equate the death of a criminal, killed in self-defense by his intended victim, with the extinction of a whole species? That’s grasping at straws alright, but it’s something else. It’s a common, cheap rhetorical device. It’s smoke and mirrors.

    “If you’re against a federal school lunch program, you hate kids and want them to starve.”
    Who wants to be a child-hater?

    “If you’re against ObamaCare, you’re a racist.”
    Who wants to be called racist?

    If you’re a capitalist, you’re mean and selfish, you don’t care about the poor, and you want to over-heat the Earth and force it into runaway greenhouse heating, resulting in mass destruction and calamities unimaginable.”
    Who wants that?

    These are all deep, destructive lies, all aimed at demonizing the advocates of freedom. They’re ridiculous, they’re easily refuted and no one should ever fall prey to them.

    Especially interesting to me is that, though we who advocate freedom are the targets of these lies (they’re designed to make us resign in shame) increasingly it is only those on the left who believe them. Does anyone else see the sick irony there?

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