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Hyperbole: The Only Way to Debate

January 13, 2011

I know, I know. I need to stop. I could do this every day for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t change anything. Melodramatic op-eds seem to be the way to go; well-reasoned argumentation is for suckers.

In the Las Vegas Review-Journal (the Sports section, no less!), one C. Douglas Nielsen makes sure he’s no sucker! He starts out by voicing a quasi-legitimate concern:

If you have felt a little weighted down and sluggish the past few days, you are not alone — not if you legally own a firearm, anyway. Because along with the weighty responsibility that comes with being a gun owner is the even heavier matter of the blame you and I now carry for the terrible events that unfolded Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

Not that you, I or the other 80 million American gun owners had anything to do with the vicious attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she met with her constituents outside of a busy supermarket. … But in today’s world, the fact that 79,999,999 other gun owners had nothing to do with the Tucson shooting doesn’t seem to matter, not in a day when some people are quick to place blame on anyone or anything but the perpetrator of the crime.

I get where you’re going with this, Doug. Public discourse has been pretty quick to jump to “guns are bad” because that’s generally what happens when massacres happen (at least, when they happen in American Safeways; we’re less concerned when they happen in Juarez, even if the guns came from America). That’s not cool; you’re absolutely right that millions of Americans manage to own guns without killing anybody. Somehow. Magically. I’m with you on this one, Doug, though I’d point out that blame seems to have been placed pretty squarely on Mr. Loughner, and if there’s additional blame being passed around, it may just be an effort to make sure this can’t happen again.

However, I don’t think anybody’s gone to their gun-owning next door neighbor and accused them of murdering a 9-year-old. There’s blame, and then there’s collective responsibility. Those gun owners who’ve fought for unrestricted access to guns and accessories bear some responsibility for massacres, because their words and their money has enabled lobbyists to keep gun control down to the bare minimum.

So anyway:

In essence, all American gun owners are being lined up for a spanking because someone else used a firearm to do something terribly wrong. While I think we need to discuss ways of identifying the ticking time bombs among us, those discussions need to be carried out in an environment that is not heated by rhetoric and driven by freedom-quashing agendas. What we don’t need is some kind of secret police force patrolling the streets for people who someday possibly might do something wrong.

Oh. Well, yes, that is clearly what a debate about reasonable restrictions on guns would come down to. A secret police force patrolling the streets for people who someday possibly might do something wrong. Yes. Clearly. You are contributing valuable ideas to this debate, Doug. I’m gonna go join the NRA to make sure no secret police get into my airtight fortress RIGHT THE HELL NOW.

I don’t even want to touch his comment about “freedom-quashing agendas.” He takes the freedom-to approach, and I take the freedom-from approach, and we can dance until our feet are numb and we’ll still get nowhere.

Honestly. I just… I don’t know. Maybe this is as good as this discourse gets? Maybe hyperbole and fear-mongering is the best way to go? Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow.

  1. Alex permalink
    January 13, 2011 8:37 am

    I do so love a good fear-mongering…

  2. January 13, 2011 8:38 am

    Mongering cheese and mongering fear: equally lucrative, equally delicious.

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