Monday, December 17, 2012

Vox Day’s predictable gun-ho reaction to Sandy Hook shooting

| »
U.S. gun culture

Fiend of Preliator Theodore “Vox Day” Beale does have a thing for inane rhetorical games, with his usual reaction in the wake of atrocities being to target the public outcry with attempts to dissect and belittle the supposed irrationality of the outraged and the bereaved. The rising, widespread chorus for more reasonable gun control in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting is no different, with Vox’s main reaction – literally (and tellingly) titled “What is wrong with killing children?” – being to castigate supporters of various unrelated issues such as philosophical materialism and even abortion by attempting to tie it all to his kind’s fetishism for gun ownership:

One of the interesting things I've noticed about all the emotional posturing about the Connecticut public school shootings is that a fair share of it is being done by people who claim there is no God, no good, and no evil. […]

The logical fact of the matter is that if there is no divine spark within us, if we are merely bits of stardust that happens to have congregated in one of many possible manners, then therre is nothing wrong or objectionable in rearranging the stardust a little. What difference does it make to an atom if it now happens to be part of arrangement X instead of arrangement Y? What difference does it make to the universe?

As always with Beale, the obvious problem with his inquiries – beyond their blatant dishonesty – is the utter cluelessness they betray about the critics he so delights in haranguing. If Vox were actually serious about understanding the materialistic/humanistic viewpoint, he would have long ago realized that contrary to theists’ routine depictions of us, we have no interest in distilling moral issues down to coldly analytical thought experiments. Rather, we recognize that human beings are inherently emotional and moral creatures, having developed these qualities during the course of our evolution (and that no divinity or other supernatural force is responsible). Emotions and morals are an integral part of Homo sapiens, as much as our eyes, hair and gallbladders, and trying to deny this, or to sidestep it by viewing the world through a zero-sum lens, reveals only the intellectual dishonesty of those who caricaturize us or accuse us of their own worst traits.

No, the universe does not care about the brutal murders of twenty innocent schoolchildren and six adults. But we do. We are hardwired to care about such things, regardless of religious beliefs or ideological worldview. Only those who suffer from some psychological or neurological impairment – or, say, from being egregiously narcissistic and borderline sociopathic assholes whose sole reaction to horrible acts is to launch mindless swipes at their ideological opponents over topics that have nothing to do with the matter at hand – can see such events as mere intellectual curiosities or opportunities to launch pseudo-philosophical debates.

Having distorted the principles of humanism, Vox then moves on to, of all things, overpopulation:

And if there are too many people on the Earth, in the country, then is not the reduction of that excessive number to be celebrated?

If the man really believes that those who accept the reality of over-consumption as a result of unsustainable long-term human growth would suggest random shooting sprees as a reasonable and efficient method of population control, he’s even further gone than I thought. (Unless he’s still playing the same tedious rhetorical game, in which case he’s simply ragingly dishonest.)

And if it is good, moral, and legal to kill a child in a trans-natal abortion, how long after birth is such killing truly licit? Would it make the deaths of the young public schoolchildren more palatable to describe them as 24th trimester post-natal abortions?

Because comparing the termination of unfeeling and unknowing fetuses to the violent massacre of thinking, loving, terrified developed children is obviously the rational approach, here. And notice again his pathological inability to represent his opponents’ arguments honestly. No pro-choicer alive ever has or would call abortion a “good” or “moral” act, as the choice of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy has little to do with anyone else’s sense of right and wrong but the mother’s (and possibly the father’s, depending on their situation). Abortion generally isn’t a moral issue simply because there’s no actual harm that results from it; the fetus isn’t even physiologically able to feel pain or fear or anything else during the timeframe where the overwhelming majority of abortions are performed, and studies have established that few women who choose to undergo the procedure come out of it with any lasting physical, emotional or psychological problems.

In other words, the only time abortion is ever actually “wrong” is when the mother-to-be refuses to have one. Anything else is immaterial.

In addition, Vox has a WorldNetDaily column devoted to the typical bizarre equation of gun ownership with freedom in general – because being able to order take-out while naked in your living room at 4 AM doesn’t mean you’re free if you can’t also amass an armory of deadly firearms, I suppose. I’ll never understand why so many Americans feel like sensible restrictions on what weapons can be purchased by whom equate to destroying their archaic Second Amendment (perhaps the same people also believe that criminalizing death threats is a violation of the First Amendment?), and Vox’s hackneyed defense of guns certainly doesn’t help make the situation seem any more reasonable:

That is why your liberal friends are complaining that this isn’t the time to politicize the tragedy. That is why the left is whining that they are tired of hearing “guns don’t kill people, crazy autistic male nerds on medication kill people.” They are whining and complaining because they are learning, to their horror, that even their appeals to the emotions generated by the deaths of lovely little schoolchildren are falling on experienced-deafened ears. They’ve been waiting years for this opportunity, and now they’re learning that their best shot is futile.

Hoo-ey. Last I checked, it’s the conservative, Republican, Fox-News-watching types who make a point of shrieking about how we should all avoid any discussion whatsoever about gun culture and control, much less banning guns altogether (something relatively few gun critics actually advocate, at least in the U.S.). And I’d like to know how Vox has divined that attempts to launch such a discussion have already failed, given that a clear majority of Americans favors tighter gun control. (Not saying that we’ll actually see any passage of responsible gun laws, mind you – I’m not that optimistic.)

Ask them this: If guns, and not people, kill people, why don’t they first disarm the more heavily armed government and police people before trying to disarm the public?

Bad argument, false premise. Any gun critic recognizes that guns are tools used by people who want to kill other people. And an armed military and law enforcement is exactly what allows our more-or-less stable society to function with a semblance of order. (Before anyone brings up other countries where police officers aren’t generally equipped with firearms, I’d argue that the U.S. obsession with guns makes it sadly necessary for local law enforcement to carry such weapons, themselves.)

But Vox believes he has a counter-argument ready:

Ask them this: 800,000 law enforcement officers have killed 525 unarmed citizens with guns so far this year. Approximately 310 million private citizens killed an estimated 10,500 of their fellow citizens with guns over the same period of time. Given that a law enforcement officer is 19.4 times more likely to shoot and kill an unarmed American than a private citizen, if you genuinely care about reducing gun deaths, why aren’t you calling for the disarmament of law enforcement?

First off, I would really love for Vox to supply the source(s) for his statistics for a change, given his known penchant for twisting the facts. It’s virtually impossible to discuss those numbers without knowing their proper context (and for some reason, I don’t trust Vox to be entirely forthcoming about it). But even if law enforcement officers were more statistically likely to gun down “unarmed citizens”, that still doesn’t annul the facts that armed officers are necessary in our section of Western civilization, and that we are presumably safer than we would be without them. (I’m certain there are statistics out there that can confirm this, though I’m unable to find them.)

A free people must be an armed people. Without private arms, there is no freedom.

Really? So people in Canada, Europe, and anywhere else where the general citizenry isn’t permitted to walk around with firearms on their belts aren’t “free” as a result of that one limitation? That’s odd, considering how some of the happiest and most stable nations in the world also happen to be those with some of the strictest gun laws around. (Note that I’m not trying to link gun bans to quality of life, but merely pointing out the immediate glaring flaws in Vox’s reasoning.)

No, Americans will never give them up; he who surrenders his unalienable right to arms also gives up his right to call himself an American.

Given the number of Americans who continually profess a desire (however facetious) to emigrate to Canada, Europe, Australia, or pretty much anywhere else that happens to enforce harsher gun laws, that doesn’t seem like much of an argument, either.