Friday, March 15, 2013

"Good guys" with guns

My quote for today is, "There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to find fault with the rest of us." - James Truslow Adams. I have a friend who is a Vietnam veteran, an infantryman. He refuses to discuss his experiences. His service was honorable, and he is often thanked for it, as he should be.

He undoubtedly saw or did things about which he is not proud, nor feels he deserves thanks. That is the essence of war. War reflects life, only magnified to extreme. We ALL do things about which we are hardly proud. We all do things which are honorable. No one believes they fight for the wrong side, it is our restraint and compassion in the face of ugliness which defines us, not our willingness to be brutal "when needed." We all have the capacity for both. When we carve the world up into the "good" guys and "bad" guys, we fail to understand the fundamental humanity of each of us. We also fail to grasp that solutions which demonize our opponents are virtually certain to be unjust, and being unjust, they fail.

No one is excusing the acts of the likes of members of Al Qaeda here by this comment, but that also suggests the following; if you are willing to kill and maim to "hold onto" your guns, or whatever extremism you favor, if that extremism is other than protecting your life and liberty, then you are hardly different than the "bad" guy you supposedly are going to "stand up to."

An extremist Presidential candidate once said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." I heard G. Gordon Liddy use this to excuse his breaking into a political headquarters to steal details about the opposition.  He was hardly protecting his personal liberty.  Instead he was illustrating that the "anything in defense of liberty" is the TRUE slippery slope which can (and is used) to justify virtually anything, including many very immoral things, by those who've fallen far from the path of reason.  In fact self-rationalization thinking which justifies more and more vicious acts is inexorable, self-perpetuating, and it sure as hell is a vice.

1 comment:

  1. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue." was said by Barry Goldwater back in 1964.

    I'm not aware of either G. Gordon Liddy or E. Howard Hunt having borrowed the phrase in conjunction with Watergate (and I looked) although they did try to excuse their criminal conduct, as so many conservatives do, on the premise that ideology trumps the law, morality and fundamental ethics, the ultimate 'end justifies the means' argument.

    In the context that gun nuts use to justify their violence and threats of violence in 'defense of liberty', liberty is not defined by gun ownership, it is defined by a broad-based electorate, so no gun owner is ever justified in shooting at law enforcement or any other representative of authority over regulation of their firearms - or denial of having one of a specific type, ditto certain kinds of ammo, etc.

    I am particularly fond of the Democratic response to another Goldwater motto - "In your heart you know he's right", which was "In your guts you know he's nuts."

    Fits some people currently that we know, in fact, far too many on the right.

    In the context of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun, there are plenty of those 'good guys' who are also 'bad guys'.

    I refer among others to the gun owners Meleanie Hain and her husband, or the gun carriers who are shooting themselves while carrying in schools, or leaving their loaded guns lying around schools. There is no good guy good enough to be trusted with guns in our schools - and precious few who should be trusted with guns in public either. They don't know how to behave safely, and they are dangerous vigilantes.