bookmark_border“They don’t understand the enormity of the responsibility you’re taking…”

“They don’t understand the enormity of the responsibility you’re taking when you go out there and carry a gun in public.” – NJ Senate President Nick Scutari

(source here)

Actually, Nick, the only responsibility people are taking when they carry a gun in public is to not shoot anyone with it, other than in self-defense. That’s it. And I think pretty much every gun owner understands this concept. 

bookmark_borderGun laws don’t “work” – they violate people’s rights

In the following tweet, California governor Gavin Newsom demonstrates that he doesn’t understand legal or moral philosophy:

Laws can’t “work.” It makes no sense to speak of a law either working or failing to do so.

The purpose of a law is not to achieve any particular result; the purpose of a law is to specify what is morally right and what is morally wrong.

What is morally right is to respect people’s rights, including the right to purchase any product(s) that one wishes, and the right to carry any item(s) that one wishes on one’s person.

Restricting the types of guns that people are allowed to purchase and/or carry – what Newsom refers to as “smart gun laws” – violates people’s rights and is therefore morally wrong.

It’s as simple as that.

Gun rights proponents and opponents frequently debate whether gun laws “work” – in other words whether they achieve their presumed goal of preventing gun violence and saving lives. But in reality, this debate is irrelevant. Gun restrictions violate people’s rights, and that is the only thing that matters. If something violates people’s rights, it is morally wrong, and therefore should not be enacted, regardless of how much violence it prevents and regardless of how many lives it saves.

bookmark_borderGavin Newsom’s repugnant statement

“Defying common sense, this ruling outrageously calls California’s data-backed gun safety efforts ‘repugnant.’ What is repugnant is this ruling, which green lights the proliferation of guns in our hospitals, libraries, and children’s playgrounds – spaces which should be safe for all. California will keep fighting to defend our laws and to enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution. The lives of our kids depend on it.”

So said California governor Gavin Newsom in response to a court ruling protecting people’s fundamental right to bear arms (source here).

Literally everything about this statement is wrong. 

First of all, “common sense” has nothing to do with which laws should exist. Morality is the only factor that determines which laws should exist, and moral right and wrong are determined by logic, not by common sense. 

Similarly, it makes no sense to characterize laws as “data-backed,” as Newsom does with regards to California’s rights-violating laws, because data has nothing to do with which laws should exist. Morality is the only factor that determines which laws should exist, and moral right and wrong are determined by logic, not by data. No amount of data can justify laws that violate people’s rights. 

As for the fact that the ruling “green lights the proliferation of guns” in various places… so? Possessing guns is a fundamental right; therefore people should be able to do so in any place that they choose. I’m not sure why Newsom considers it to be bad for people to be able to exercise their fundamental rights.

I’m also not sure why Newsom specifically mentions hospitals, libraries, and “children’s playgrounds” as places in which the possession of guns would allegedly be particularly bad. I don’t see anything about these places that makes possession of guns any more problematic than it would be in any other place. 

Additionally, I take issue with Newsom’s claim that the aforementioned spaces should be “safe for all.” As I mentioned above, I’m not sure why he singles out these particular types of spaces as ones in which safety is particularly important. But more fundamentally, it is wrong to claim that any spaces ought to be “safe for all.” It is, in fact, impossible to determine what even constitutes a space being “safe” in the first place. In all spaces, in all situations, and at all times, there is always a risk of something bad happening. Risks vary, of course, based on various factors and based on the specific type of bad thing one is trying to avoid. But it is impossible to have a zero percent chance of something bad happening. Safety exists along a continuum, with some spaces and situations being safer than others. Safety does not exist as a binary concept, with a clear dividing line between “safe” and “unsafe.” Any attempt to draw such a line would be arbitrary and therefore not based in logic. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to speak of anything as being “safe” or “unsafe;” it only makes sense to speak of some things as being safer than others. 

Which brings me to my next point: there is no such thing as a right to safety, the thing that Newsom wishes to enshrine in the Constitution. In order for such a right to exist, one would first need to determine the dividing line between what is considered “safe” and what is considered “unsafe.” But as I explained above, there is no logical place to draw such a line, and therefore no logical way to determine what constitutes being “safe,” because safety is not a binary concept, but rather a concept that exists along a continuum. In order for a “right to safety” to exist, there would need to be a certain level of safety that all people have a right to. There would need to be a threshold above which the level of risk cannot go without constituting a violation of people’s rights. But such a level, such a threshold, would necessarily be arbitrary and not based in logic. Therefore, a right to safety does not exist.

Another reason why a right to safety does not exist is that enforcing such a right, as Newsom wishes to do, necessarily requires violating the rights of others. The perfect example of this is Newsom’s policies regarding guns, which were the subject of the allegedly “repugnant” court ruling. Newsom believes that the right of people to own and possess guns should be violated in order to increase safety, something that he characterizes as protecting the supposed right to safety. However, owning and possessing guns is a fundamental right, because people have a fundamental right to purchase any products that they wish with their money, as well as a fundamental right to carry any items that they wish on their person. The existence of a “right to safety” would mean that these fundamental rights would need to be trampled on, further proving that no such thing as a right to safety exists. 

By alleging that a right exists which actually doesn’t (safety), Newsom is denying that a right exists which actually does (owning and possessing whichever objects one wishes). Newsom is therefore violating people’s rights with his policies and statements regarding guns. This makes it interesting indeed that Newsom characterizes his actions as “fighting to defend our laws.” In reality, Newsom is not defending anything; he is aggressing against innocent people by violating their rights. This – and not the court ruling – is what is truly repugnant.

Finally, it is ageist of Newsom to conclude his statement with the sentence, “The lives of our kids depend on it.” Newsom seems to be implying that the lives of kids matter more than the lives of adults, because he mentions the former but not the latter. Why do the lives of adults not matter to Newsom?

In conclusion… No, Governor Newsom. The court was right. To call the violation of people’s rights repugnant is not “outrageous;” it is correct.

It is your rights-violating laws that are repugnant, and not the ruling striking them down.

It is your statement, in which you call a ruling protecting people’s rights “repugnant,” that is itself repugnant.

To respect people’s rights is a basic moral obligation. There is no universe in which fulfilling a basic moral obligation could accurately be characterized as “repugnant,” and Newsom should be ashamed of himself for characterizing the court’s ruling this way.

Newsom is literally saying here that it is repugnant not to violate people’s rights.

And it is appalling and horrifying that any person, let alone the governor of a state, would say or think this. 

Violating people’s rights is repugnant, not protecting them.

bookmark_borderRebutting biased Yahoo News article about Jason Aldean

I recently came across an article from Yahoo News about Jason Aldean’s song, “Try That In a Small Town.” Both the article and the people quoted in it display the intolerant, authoritarian bias that is infuriatingly common in the media today, which I will explain and rebut below:

The article quotes Aldean’s response to his critics: “In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests.”

Well, yes. It’s kind of understandable that a person wouldn’t be too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests, given that these protests are racist and have the goal of destroying everything that makes life worth living. I’m not sure why being displeased with the BLM protests would be considered a bad thing.

“The country star — who witnessed the worst gun massacre in U.S. history at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas — had already caught flak for the song’s seemingly pro-gun lyrics… In a tweet, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts pointed out the hypocrisy of an artist ‘who was onstage during the mass shooting… that killed 60 people and wounded over 400 more’ recording a song ‘about how he and his friends will shoot you if you try to take their guns.'”

Why would “pro-gun” lyrics be something that a person would catch flak for? I’m not sure why being in favor of people’s fundamental rights being respected would be considered a bad thing.

Also, I don’t understand Shannon Watts’ allegation of hypocrisy (let alone Yahoo‘s decision to take this false and nonsensical allegation as a fact by using the words “pointed out”). Aldean witnessed and survived a crime. And he does not believe that every person in the country ought to be punished for the crime. I am not sure why this is considered hypocritical. I am not sure why Watts, and Yahoo, believe that logical consistency requires the belief that whenever a crime occurs, the correct response is to punish all people by violating their rights.

“In another viral tweet, police reform activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham pointed out: ‘Uvalde? Small town. VA Tech? Small college town. Newtown? Small New England town. Parkland? Small town that had just been voted Florida’s *safest* town. Most mass shootings occur in *small towns*. Your listeners are dying.'”

I am not sure what the locations of mass shootings have to do with anything. It is morally unacceptable to respond to mass shootings by violating people’s rights, regardless of the locations in which the shootings take place. As for the claim that Aldean’s listeners are dying… well, yes. Of course they are. Every person dies eventually, regardless of whether or not they listen to Aldean’s music. Perhaps Cunningham is trying to point out that Aldean’s listeners have died in mass shootings. I don’t see the point of that observation, either. Mass shootings, just like any other type of tragedy, happen from time to time. Given this, it makes sense that some victims would be Aldean listeners and some wouldn’t, because one would expect the victims of tragedies to represent more or less a cross-section of the population. Again, I don’t really get the point of this observation. It is morally unacceptable to respond to mass shootings by violating people’s rights, regardless of whether or not the victims are Aldean’s listeners.

The article quotes Mississippi Free Press news editor Ashton Pittman, who tweeted: “Jason Aldean shot this at the site where a white lynch mob strung Henry Choate up at the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tenn., after dragging his body through the streets with a car in 1927.”

And this is relevant how? Also, I think Pittman meant to say, “a lynch mob,” as opposed to “a white lynch mob.” There is no reason to mention the race of the members of the mob, other than to be blatantly racist, and presumably the editor of a newspaper does not intend to be blatantly racist.

The article also quotes reporter Matthew Chapman, who said that the song “absolutely captures everything about the American Right, from the paranoid threats of violence, to the irrational fetishization of communities where everyone acts and thinks the same, to the fact that the singer in fact grew up in a city.”

First of all, Chapman’s use of the term “American Right” is somewhat bigoted, because it paints an entire nationality in a negative and pejorative light. Why wouldn’t he just say, “the Right”? Also, I am not sure what aspects of Aldean’s song Chapman considers to be “paranoid.” I am also unsure why liking something would be considered “fetishization” or “irrational.” I’d be interested in hearing Chapman explain what factors make an affinity for something “irrational” and constituting “fetishization,” as opposed to normal and rational. Also, I’m confused as to why Chapman characterizes the types of communities Aldean likes as “communities where everyone acts and thinks the same.” The types of communities that Aldean sings about are actually communities where everyone acts and thinks differently from the norm. Those who subscribe to the ideology of political correctness, as Chapman and Aldean’s critics do, actually form a community where everyone acts and thinks the same. That is why those who subscribe to this ideology have been so eager for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy and Christopher Columbus – because those statues symbolize the idea of being different and thinking differently from the majority. By having the courage to challenge this ideology of mindless conformity, Aldean and the communities about which he sings are doing the exact opposite of everyone acting and thinking the same. And of course, Chapman chooses to condemn Aldean and the “American Right” for… acting and thinking differently than he does. He characterizes as “irrational fetishization” the fact that someone likes something different from what he likes. In reality, it is Chapman, and not Aldean, who irrationally fetishizes communities where everyone acts and thinks the same. Chapman has the whole “acting and thinking the same” thing completely backward and is a complete hypocrite. Chapman’s contemptuous, self-righteous, and idiotic comment captures everything about the ideology of mindless conformity that is commonly referred to as the left. 

The Yahoo article also quotes Rev. Jacqui Lewis, who said: “There is no non-racialized way to write a song about lynching.” This statement is false. The concept of lynching has nothing to do with race. People of any race can lynch someone of any race. There is also the fact that Aldean’s song is not about lynching, so I am not sure why Lewis chose to mention lynching at all.

And the article quotes someone named Leigh Love, who wrote: “It’s like he forgot about the January 6 insurrection.” This statement really confuses me. I am not sure what the protest that took place on January 6 has to do with Aldean’s song, or what it is about Aldean’s song that indicates that he forgot about that protest. I’m also not sure why Love considers resistance to an unjust and tyrannical authority to be bad. Love almost seems to be implying that because people resisted authority, everything associated with those people and their ideology is bad and should never be praised or spoken of positively ever again. If this is, indeed, what Love is implying, then her statement is one of the most appalling instances of bigotry, intolerance, cruelty, moral bankruptcy, and aggressive, mindless conformity that I have ever seen in my life. If this is, indeed, what Love is implying, then she is an absolutely terrible person whose despicable views should not be amplified or platformed in any way.

“However, a representative for the video’s production company, TackleBox, told Yahoo Entertainment that ‘Try That in a Small Town’ was shot at a ‘popular filming location outside of Nashville’ and claimed several other projects have been filmed there over the years.”

The use of the word “claimed” implies that the author of the article doubts the veracity of the representative’s statement. The author should have used a more neutral word such as “said.”

“Responding to the growing backlash Tuesday, Aldean continued to deny that his song and video have any racist or pro-gun connotations.”

Similarly, the use of the word “deny” demonstrates bias because it implies that the author doubts what Aldean is saying. Also, I’m not sure if Aldean is denying that his song has pro-gun connotations or merely stating that there is nothing bad about having such connotations. He certainly would be 100% correct if he was doing the latter because, as I explained above, there is nothing bad about being in favor of people’s fundamental rights being respected.

“He and his wife, influencer Brittany Aldean, have posted anti-Joe Biden, anti-vaccine and pro-Trump statements online and they caught flak for spending New Year’s Eve 2021 weekend with Donald Trump.”

I am not sure why someone would catch flak for spending a New Year’s Eve weekend with Donald Trump. Trump is simply a person, with good and bad attributes, just like any other person. Would Yahoo characterize someone as having “caught flak” if that person had spent a weekend with Joe Biden? Also, I am not sure whether the Aldeans have actually posted anti-vaccine statements online, or whether they have merely posted statements expressing opposition to vaccine mandates. Being opposed to forcing people to do something against their will is not the same as being opposed to the thing itself. I am not sure why this is such a difficult concept for Yahoo to grasp.

“In September 2022, the singer parted ways with his publicity company of 17 years, GreenRoom, after Brittany drew the ire of liberal country stars like Maren Morris and Cassadee Pope with what many considered to be transphobic remarks.”

It’s interesting that the article mentions Brittany Aldean’s remarks and what some people consider to be objectionable about them, while completely omitting any mention of Morris’s remarks in response, which were vastly more intolerant, insulting, hurtful, problematic, offensive, and deserving of criticism.

bookmark_borderBiden’s moral bankruptcy on gun rights

“The way we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no social redeeming values. Zero. None. Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturer.”

On Thanksgiving, Joe Biden, the President of the United States, uttered these disgraceful words.

To echo Biden’s word choice, the fact that the President of the United States would say this is truly sick. These words are so deeply wrong and demonstrate such complete moral bankruptcy that it’s difficult to even explain why. But I will attempt to, anyways, because it would be unacceptable to let such an egregious statement go unrebutted.

First of all, it’s bizarre that Biden would call it “sick” that something is allowed to be purchased. The default state of existence is for all things to be allowed. The burden of proof always must rest on those who wish to ban something, not on those who wish for it to continue to be allowed. In other words, in order for something to be banned, there must be good reason for banning it. Regardless of whether or not you think semi-automatic weapons should be banned, it is not “sick” for them to be allowed; it is simply the default. Only the active commission of bad deeds can accurately be characterized as sick. Omitting an action, such as the action of banning semi-automatic weapons, cannot accurately be characterized as sick, no matter how strongly you feel the action should be done.

And then there is the fact that actually, semi-automatic weapons should not be banned, because doing so violates everyone’s rights. People have a right to do anything that they want, as long as that thing does not harm anyone else. Purchasing, owning, and possessing semi-automatic weapons does not harm anyone. Only shooting people with them does. Therefore, it is morally wrong to ban semi-automatic weapons. Biden is literally calling the failure to violate people’s rights “sick.”

Even more appalling than Biden’s claim that the failure to violate people’s fundamental rights is “sick” is his claim that respect for people’s fundamental rights has no value. It’s disturbing that this even needs to be stated, but individual liberty is valuable for its own sake. People’s ability to make their own choices and to do the things that they like is valuable for its own sake.

Some people like semi-automatic weapons. Therefore, it is inherently valuable for people to be allowed to purchase semi-automatic weapons, because this enables the people who like semi-automatic weapons to purchase something that they like. If semi-automatic weapons were banned, then people who like semi-automatic weapons would be deprived of something that they like. Their well-being and happiness would decrease. Their lives would be made worse.

Contrary to Biden’s claim, the rationale for allowing semi-automatic weapons to be purchased does not lie solely, or even primarily, in the profit made by the gun manufacturer. It lies in the benefit to the gun purchaser. When a person purchases something, both the buyer and the seller benefit from the transaction; otherwise the person wouldn’t have chosen to purchase the item in the first place. The rationale for allowing semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is the inherent benefit to people in being allowed to purchase something that they like.

A fundamental and obvious truth is that it is inherently beneficial for people to be able to do something that they like. And it is inherently harmful for people to be banned from doing something that they like. The fact that the President of the United States does not recognize this is disturbing beyond belief.

It is one thing to argue that the common good outweighs the benefits to individual people of being able to do what they like. But that is not what Biden is arguing. Biden is arguing that the ability of individual people to do what they like does not matter at all.

It is one thing to argue that the importance of safety outweighs the importance of individual rights, liberty, and freedom. But that is not what Biden is arguing. Biden is arguing that neither individual rights nor liberty nor freedom has any value at all.

It is one thing to argue that the harm done by shootings outweighs the harm done to individual people by banning them from doing the things that they want to do, and therefore that it is worth it to harm people in this way because doing so prevents even worse harm. But that is not what Biden is arguing. Biden is denying that harming individual people is at all bad. He is arguing that the happiness and well-being of individual people does not matter at all.

Individual rights. Liberty. Freedom. The ability to make choices. The ability to do the things that one likes. The ability to live in a way that matches up with one’s preferences. Happiness.

When you think about it, these are all different ways of phrasing the same thing. And Joe Biden, the President of the United States, is claiming that these things have “no social redeeming values. Zero. None” He is claiming that these things have “not a single, solitary rationale.” To be clear, Biden is not claiming that the value of these things is outweighed by the value of something else, or that these things ought to be sacrificed for the sake of something that is even more important. He is claiming that these things have no value whatsoever.

In reality, not only do these things have value, but they are the only things that do. Without them, there is no reason to live at all.

We now live in a nation whose president is unable to see any value whatsoever in the things that make life worth living. Now that is just sick.

bookmark_borderThere is no right to “feel safe”

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship. With handgun violence increasing across Canada, it is our duty to take urgent action to remove these daily weapons from our communities. Today, we’re keeping more guns out of our communities, and keeping our kids safe.”

These words by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are despicable and disturbing on many levels.

Most importantly, neither Canadians, nor any people for that matter, have the right to “feel safe” anywhere. Safety is not a right; liberty is. What that means is that people have the right to do anything they want, as long as it does not directly harm anyone else. People have a right not to be harmed; this is what restricts the things that others are allowed to do. People do not, however, have a right to feel safe. This is because the things that some people require in order to feel safe would actually require violation of the rights of others. For example, say that a person, in order to feel safe, requires their environment to be made gun-free and/or restrictions to be imposed on the ownership or possessions of guns by others. Achieving these conditions would require other people to be harmed by having their freedom to own and possess guns taken away. People do not have a right to anything that would violate the rights of others. Therefore, people do not have a right to feel safe.

Trudeau also errs when he claims that he has a “duty to take urgent action.” Actually, because the action taken by Trudeau violates people’s rights, Trudeau does not even have the right to take this action, let alone the duty.

Additionally, Trudeau errs in citing the increase in handgun violence across Canada as a reason for violating people’s rights. The conditions that exist in a particular place, or at a particular time, actually have nothing to do with which policies governments should implement. This is because the sole purpose of government policies should be to specify which rights people have, and to punish people who violate the rights of others. The moral principle that I explained above, which determines the rights that people have, is universal and objective and does not change based on what conditions happen to exist in a particular place or time. Therefore, government policies with regard to guns should have nothing to do with the amount of gun violence that happens to exist in the country. The only policy that any government should have with regard to guns is a policy stating that people have a fundamental right to gun ownership and possession. People’s rights are not dependent on living in a country that happens to have low gun violence rates.

Also, why is Trudeau bragging about “keeping more guns out of our communities”? Why is this considered good? Guns are morally neutral. Having lots of guns in a community is in no way a worse state of affairs than having few guns in a community, so this statement does not make sense.

Plus, why does Trudeau specifically mention “keeping our kids safe”? What does a person’s age have to do with the importance of keeping that person safe? Apparently, the safety of adults does not matter to Trudeau.

Trudeau needs to place less emphasis on “communities” and more emphasis on individuals. He needs to place less value on safety and more value on liberty. Trudeau needs to stop his morally bankrupt and illogical behavior that has inflicted enormous harm and punishment on innocent people. He needs to stop obsessing about “kids” and “safety” and “communities” and start actually respecting people’s fundamental rights.

bookmark_borderHochul’s disturbing comments about “radicalization”

“I have called upon and am working closely with our Attorney General to identify what’s going on on social media, and those questions are now part of our background checks. So, just like in the old days, you’d talk to someone’s neighbor. Now you can talk to their neighbors online and find out whether or not this person has been spouting philosophies that indicate that they have been radicalized. And that’s how we protect our citizens as well.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul made these comments at a press conference on August 24. Hochul is referring to her state’s new law which requires applicants for gun licenses to provide their social media usernames so that police can ensure that the content of their posts is acceptable before issuing a license.

These comments are disturbing for several reasons:

First, the use of the word “radicalized” presumes that radical views are something that originates outside of a person, as opposed to from within. It follows from this presumption that radical views are bad and wrong. After all, if certain beliefs can only come to be held due to outside influences, and not due to thoughtful, deliberate reflection, then those beliefs must be irrational and incorrect. But there is nothing inherently bad about radical views, and they are just as likely to be correct as moderate ones. A person can come to hold radical views through careful deliberation, just as a person can come to hold moderate views through such deliberation. In fact, one could argue that radical views are more, not less, likely than moderate ones to be a result of philosophical reasoning and analysis.

Second, it is deeply wrong to base permission to exercise fundamental rights on whether or not a person’s views are considered acceptable. According to Hochul, if an applicant has been “spouting philosophies that indicate that they have been radicalized,” then that is reason to deny their application. In other words, Hochul believes that exercise of Second Amendment rights should be limited to people whose views are deemed sufficiently mainstream and moderate. This is, to put it bluntly, absurd. Holding radical views is absolutely not a valid reason for denial of a gun license. As explained above, whether a person’s views are radical or moderate has nothing to do with whether those views are right or wrong. But beyond that, people’s philosophies, beliefs, and views should have no bearing whatsoever on whether their gun license applications are granted, because people’s philosophies, beliefs, and views are none of the government’s business. Even if an applicant holds beliefs that are completely and utterly wrong, that is no reason to deny them the ability to exercise fundamental rights. 

Third, by conditioning the granting of Second Amendment rights on the acceptability of people’s social media posts, Hochul is treating these rights not as rights at all, but as privileges. Gun ownership is a fundamental right. In criminal law, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, because the consequence of being found guilty is for the person’s freedom to be taken away. Similarly, denying a person permission to own and carry a gun takes away a fundamental freedom. Therefore, decisions with regard to gun ownership must use the presumption of innocence standard as well: as long as the government does not have proof that a particular person is unfit to hold a license, the government has a moral obligation to issue the license. Applying for a gun license should not be treated like applying for a job. This is not a situation in which the government can set any standards that it wants and restrict licenses to only the applicants who meet those standards. The government should not be investigating or evaluating a person’s reputation, statements, philosophies, or beliefs, whether by talking to neighbors or by viewing social media profiles. To view rights as something that should be granted only if a person passes these evaluations is to view rights as privileges. And rights are not privileges; they are rights.

In conclusion, Hochul demonstrates two highly disturbing and false assumptions: First, that when it comes to political and moral philosophies, moderate equals good and radical equals bad. Second, that the ability to exercise gun rights should be conditioned on whether or not a person holds “good” political and moral philosophies. Not only is it authoritarian to restrict freedoms to people who hold the correct views, but it is even more authoritarian to presume that the correctness of someone’s views is a function of how popular and widely held those views are. Yet this is exactly what Hochul is doing. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the rights of minorities against a tyrannical, bullying majority. By openly stating that the expression of unusual views is a legitimate reason to deny a person rights, Hochul is completely defeating the entire purpose of the Bill of Rights and completely disregarding the concept of individual liberty. It is beyond disturbing that any public official would demonstrate such mindless conformity, such moral bankruptcy, and such disrespect for people who think differently than she does, as Hochul has demonstrated through her public statements. It is not okay for the government to limit rights to only those people whose philosophies it has deemed acceptable.

P.S. Although this is not directly relevant to the topic of this blog post, I would be remiss not to mention Hochul’s recent decision to order all Republicans to leave her state. “Just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong,” she said at a campaign rally. “You are not New Yorkers.” Needless to say, these appalling comments are additional evidence of Hochul’s bigotry and intolerance towards people who think differently than she does. So much for progressivism being the philosophy of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion.

bookmark_borderWhen it comes to rights, you don’t need to demonstrate a need

One of the most common arguments in the gun rights debate is the idea that certain types of guns (or guns in general) are “not needed.” It is frustrating to see this argument being made again and again, because it is 100% wrong and demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the nature of rights.

These tweets are a recent example: 

What this person, and so many others, fail to grasp is the fact that a person doesn’t need to need something in order to be allowed to have it. Fundamental rights exist regardless of need. If something is a fundamental right, as owning and possessing guns is, then people have the right to do it, whether they need to or not. 

Melissa is correct in stating that carrying a gun into Target or Subway is not needed. But so what? So only activities that are needed should be allowed? That’s interesting, because getting married is not needed, yet gay rights advocates treat it as an obvious truth that people have a right to marry the person that they love. (See this post for more examples of things that are not needed, but that everyone would agree people have a right to do.)

Next, Melissa pompously demands that gun rights supporters “demonstrate a need.” Well, no. That’s not how it works. If something is a fundamental right, as gun ownership is, then no one is obligated to demonstrate any need in order to exercise it. If something is a fundamental right, then people can do it for any reason at all, or for no reason.

With regards to the question that Melissa asks, obviously it is not good to have a situation in which anyone “goes and mowes [sic] down some people.” But the way to avoid such situations is simply for people not to use their guns to mow down people. The way to avoid such situations is not to require people to prove that they are not going to mow anyone down, because such requirements invade the privacy of all people and therefore violate everyone’s rights. 

Contrary to what Melissa is implying, it actually would be a good idea for “some closeted racist POS fresh out of HS, to legally ‘qualify’ to carry just because he’s 18.” Obviously, racism is not a good thing. But you can’t require people to prove that they are not racist before allowing them to exercise fundamental rights. If something is a fundamental right, as carrying guns is, then being 18 is completely sufficient to qualify. If something is a fundamental right, then everyone has the right to do it. If something is a fundamental right, then racist people are going to have the ability to do it along with everyone else.

Just as people are not obligated to demonstrate a need in order to exercise fundamental rights, people are not obligated to demonstrate a lack of racism, either. Rights are not privileges reserved for those who have demonstrated sufficient need or moral character. Rights are rights.

bookmark_borderViolating people’s rights is not a right

Within the past couple of weeks, I have noticed a disturbing trend, in which politicians and other public figures have begun to claim that they have a right to violate the rights of other people.

The first example that I noticed is this June 23 tweet by California Governor Gavin Newsom:

First of all, it is disgusting and reprehensible that someone would characterize a Supreme Court decision preserving individual liberty a “dark day” or “shameful.” These words are the exact opposite of the truth. Additionally, I am not sure why Newsom would speak of a “radical ideological agenda” as if that is something bad. How radical or moderate something is has nothing to do with whether it is good or bad, and ideological simply means having to do with moral beliefs, which also has nothing to do with whether the thing in question is good or bad. But most importantly, Newsom, preposterously, claims that by preserving individual liberty, the Supreme Court is somehow infringing upon the rights of states. In other words, he is presuming that states have a right to violate people’s rights. Not only is this false, but the fact that someone would make such a presumption is shocking to the conscience. There is no right of states to protect their citizens from being gunned down. Of course, states have a right to ban the gunning down of people, which all states have (obviously) done. But states do not have a right to enact policies designed to make it difficult or impossible to gun down other people, because this necessarily entails banning activities (such as the ownership and/or possession of various types of guns) that do not harm anyone. And this violates the rights of innocent people. By claiming that states have a right to enact such policies, Newsom is claiming that states have a right to violate people’s rights. But no one has the right to violate the rights of others. The whole point of rights is that they cannot be violated. It is disturbing that this would even need to be stated, but there is no right to violate people’s rights.

This tweet by Keith Olbermann is disgusting for similar reasons. First of all, Olbermann states that it has become necessary to dissolve the Supreme Court, even though there is absolutely no basis for stating such a thing. The fact that an institution made a decision with which Olbermann disagrees is not a reason to dissolve that institution. Second, Olbermann puts the word “court” in quotes, implying that the Supreme Court is somehow not actually a court. But the Supreme Court actually is a court, so there is no reason for Olbermann to do this. Most relevant to my main point is Olbermann’s reference to states that the Supreme Court has allegedly “forced guns upon.” This wording makes no sense and demonstrates that Olbermann shares Newsom’s false, preposterous, and immoral presumption that states have a right to violate people’s rights. In reality, states do not have any right to be free of guns, because the objects that people own and/or carry are none of a state’s business. Therefore, state policies that interfere with people’s ability to own and/or carry guns violate people’s rights. And states don’t have a right to violate people’s rights. Therefore, stopping states from violating people’s rights is exactly what the Supreme Court should do. Olbermann somehow thinks that it is good for states to violate people’s rights, and bad for the Supreme Court to make them stop doing this, which is the opposite of the truth.

On a similar note, this article by the Daily Kos makes the common mistake of using the word “radical” as if this is somehow bad, which it is not, for reasons that I explained above. Regarding the reference to the “belligerent gun rights community”… it is absolutely shocking that people might be belligerent after having their fundamental rights relentlessly ridiculed and trampled on for decades. I can’t imagine why anyone would be belligerent in such circumstances. Additionally, the author of this article, Joan McCarter, makes the same mistake as Newsom and Olbermann when she refers to “states’ right to control guns.” As explained above, states do not have a right to control guns, because doing so violates people’s rights. And as also explained above, states do not have a right to violate people’s rights. No one does. Furthermore, McCarter bemoans the possibility that because of the aforementioned “belligerent gun rights community,” states might be “forced to buckle” and actually respect people’s rights. But states are morally required to respect people’s rights, so they should be forced to do so. Forcing states to respect people’s rights is exactly what ought to happen.

And finally, we have New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who preposterously claims that there are no restrictions on gun ownership, something that anyone who has ever attempted to purchase a gun would know to be blatantly false. In reality, there are far more restrictions on gun ownership than speech. Has Hochul ever been required to take a training course, fill out an application, pay a fee, go to her local police station, and be fingerprinted, before being allowed to voice her opinion on a topic? Somehow I think not. More to the point, just like the above-discussed public figures, Hochul claims the existence of “our right to have reasonable restrictions.” But such a right does not exist. Neither Hochul, nor any other person, institution, or entity, has any right to have restrictions on people’s ability to own and/or carry guns, because having such restrictions violates people’s rights. And there is no right to violate people’s rights.

In conclusion, to claim that governments have a right to violate people’s rights demonstrates utter moral bankruptcy, complete lack of logic, and an incredibly twisted and warped understanding of rights. It is disturbing that so many public figures have made public statements endorsing such an immoral, illogical, and simply wrong idea.

Source for all these quotes: Firearms Policy Coalition via Instagram

bookmark_borderGun control punishes innocent people

“White supremacy,” the headlines screamed in the days after the Buffalo shooting. Again and again, newspapers went out of their way to mention, as many times as possible, the race of the killer and of the victims. Articles featured quote after quote by so-called experts who pontificated about the growing threat of “right-wing domestic terrorism” and the “toxic beliefs” that allegedly motivated the shooting. Politicians solemnly droned on and on about the “poison” of white nationalism and how it must be eradicated from our society. The common thread among all these sentiments is that they demonstrate a greater interest in condemning and blaming groups of people based on their skin color and/or ideology than in condemning and blaming the shooter himself.

Then came the shooting in Texas. Unable (for the most part) to use this incident to attack white people for their skin color, the political and media establishment opted instead to attack everyone who believes that individual rights should be respected. Just as they have been countless times, the mindless, authoritarian platitudes are repeated ad nauseam. Pro-rights activists are viciously ridiculed for being irrationally “obsessed” with guns. The Republican Party is labeled a “death cult.” Newspaper headlines bemoan the “toll” of gun ownership and the “inaction” of Congress. Laws that actually respect fundamental rights are criticized as “lax” and “weak.” People smugly lecture anyone who will listen that Second Amendment rights apply only if someone is a member of a militia. “Since when is gun ownership a human right?” they derisively ask. (The correct answer: since the beginning of time.) “What clause in the Constitution gives you the right to mow down 10-year-olds with assault weapons?” they scream with a nastiness that is matched only by their idiocy. (The correct answer: none, and no one is arguing that any clause does. Only a moron would equate using a gun to mow down 10-year-olds with merely owning one.) “Enough is enough,” people mindlessly repeat. (My question is: enough of what? Enough of people’s fundamental rights being respected?) Even among Republicans, anti-rights sentiments abound, frequently prefaced by such dishonest statements as “I’m as pro-Second Amendment as they come, but…” Again and again, politicians and activists bemoan the fact that government has “done nothing,” as if it is somehow self-evident that punishing innocent people is the correct response to a tragedy.

Let me tell you unequivocally: punishing innocent people is never the correct response to anything. As I’ve stated before and will continue to repeat as long as there are those who disagree, people have a fundamental right to do anything that they want as long as it does not violate the rights of anyone else. Rights are absolute. You don’t get to take rights away simply because doing so would prevent tragedies from happening. And rights are not contingent upon their exercise being safe or healthy. Rights cannot be violated under any circumstances. Far too often, our society responds to tragedies by violating everyone’s rights in an attempt to prevent similar tragedies from happening again. This punishes everyone for the actions of a few. And punishing innocent people is never OK.

Many people seem to have the idea that if they can just be emphatic enough, or angry enough, or graphic enough in describing a tragedy that has happened, then it will somehow make it clear that innocent people should be punished. I am tired of hearing politicians and activists pompously moralizing, again and again, about parents grieving the deaths of their children, about communities in mourning, about the gory details of the violence that was committed. No one denies that the deaths of innocent people are tragic. What we deny is that punishing innocent people is an acceptable response. It simply does not follow from the fact that a bad thing happened to someone, that innocent people ought to be punished. And this is true no matter how bad the thing is. No amount of dramatic storytelling, graphic detail, or pompous moralizing will cause this to follow. No amount of grief, no amount of rage, no amount of self-righteousness gives someone the right to punish innocent people.

I am an autistic person who loves statues and history, who believes in individual rights, and who is just trying to get through each day the best that I can. I am angry, and I am exhausted. I am tired of public officials, celebrities, and people on the internet falling all over themselves to proclaim their solidarity with whatever group happens to be popular at the moment, while ignoring the feelings and needs of people like me. I am tired of having my fundamental rights taken away when I haven’t done anything wrong. I am tired of being stigmatized and shamed for actions that I had nothing to do with, solely because I happen to have the same skin color as the perpetrator. I am tired of being attacked and insulted for having the audacity to believe that rights should not be violated. I am tired of being punished by having my liberty restricted for actions that I did not do and situations that I did not create. 

Instead of focusing on punishing the actual shooters, far too many politicians and members of the media focus on punishing entire groups, whether that be white people, young men, gun owners, victims of bullying, pro-rights activists, or legislators who opt to respect rights instead of violating them. I am tired of the sneering faces, filled with self-righteous intolerance, condemning and blaming me for another person’s actions. I am tired of the scorn, vitriol, and insults being heaped relentlessly upon me – and upon all people who believe in individual liberty – as if I am the mass murderer. I am tired of being called immoral, when failing to distinguish between murderers and innocent people is the epitome of moral bankruptcy. 

I haven’t survived a mass shooting, or lost a family member or friend to one, but I am a person, and my well-being matters also. I have experienced, and continue to experience, unbearable loss, anguish, and pain, yet society has not only neglected to punish everyone for what happened to me, it has neglected to punish even the perpetrators themselves. What makes these pompous and self-righteous people so superior to me that society has decided that when I am harmed, no one should be punished, but when they are harmed, everyone should be?

Headlines about people being killed in mass shootings understandably capture the public’s attention, and the photos and stories of the victims understandably tug on people’s heartstrings. As the faces of shooting victims are splashed across newspaper front pages and the TV news, and their family members tearfully and angrily testify before Congress, it seems sacrilegious to argue against the idea that such tragedies should be prevented by any possible means. However, attempts to prevent tragedies at the expense of individual rights must be opposed, because freedom is crucial to having a life that is worth living. The gradual chipping away of liberty – whether by mandating medical procedures, banning the ingestion of substances, or imposing hurdles to gun ownership – is not as dramatic as a mass shooting. But it is just as destructive, if not more so. Of course, these victims didn’t deserve to die. But neither do I deserve to have my life destroyed by being robbed, one by one, of the things that make it worth living. The face below is not the face of a shooting victim. It is not the face of someone who has been harmed by gun violence. It is the face of someone who has been harmed, and will continue to be harmed, by authoritarian policies that attempt to prevent crimes by punishing those who do not commit them.

This, as you may have guessed, is my face. If you support gun control, you support harming me. Just as mass shootings end innocent lives, immoral laws destroy innocent lives, one violation of individual liberty at a time, by making them no longer worth living.

That is not as attention-grabbing as children being shot to death. But it is equally important.

It is wrong for mass shooters to punish innocent people. And it is equally wrong for the government to do the same in response.