In the previous post mentioned you stated that secessionists should be held liable for treason, a crime punishable by a minimum of at least 5 years in prison, then later backtracked, stating instead that what you really meant was imposing sanctions. These are two vastly different strategies with fundamentally different meanings and the first clearly involves implementing military police state tactics against ostensibly sovereign communities. Given how fundamentally unstable and irrationally violent many within the citizen militia demographic can be, how is it unreasonable to state that calling for their imprisonment could lead to a state of civil war? Clearly that's not what you intended by use of the word treason but for that reason your post could used some clarification, since throwing around legal terms without regard for their consequences has the potential to be unnecessarily inflammatory. In the past week there has already been a sheriff in Mississippi talking about having a "bloodbath" in his county if the Feds come in to take all their guns, with numerous other sheriffs refusing to enforce the gun bans. Any talk of treason simply panders to paranoid anti-state fantasies and further justifies unilateral militarization.Now, I don't agree that I "backtracked" in my response to Sierra at all -- Literal secession would be literal treason and if we are not talking about poetic utterances here but actionable conduct it is presumably punishable as such. If saying so hurts the fee fees of literal armed insurrectionists that sound you hear is me playing the world's smallest violin as background accompaniment for their tantrum on this score. Also, I do not doubt at all that many gun nuts are dreaming dreams of literal and figural insurrection in all sorts of senses you might care to think of, but I don't see how anybody could mistake a post saying so as the passing of an actual legal sentence -- on who exactly? and who made me a judge anyway? and why wasn't I informed? and shouldn't I be paid better?
Many criminals are emotionally unstable, are you afraid that pointing out criminals who get caught go to jail is "unreasonable" also? Why is it "pandering" to paramilitary irrationality to describe it as irrational when it is? Why wouldn't actually clarifying the stakes of their stand by exposing its anti-social assumptions and ultimate consequences more likely change the minds of the reachable, scare the timid, and put a useful spotlight on the actually dangerous remaining few?
You know, paramilitary gun-nuts don't want to smash the state because liberals aren't being nice to them and patting their heads enough and telling them how smart and handsome they are. And since there actually is NO justification for unilateral militarization I fail to see how actually describing what they are doing "further justifies" what they are doing.
This kind of pre-emptive surrender to dangerous reactionary minorities reminds me of a generation of choice advocates pretending we just needed to find a nicer way to talk to forced-pregnancy zealots and they would stop trying to kill women by denying them healthcare. Few who claim to be anti-choice really want to treat abortion literally as murder in the law or fail to grasp the complexities of the issue when somebody they actually know and love is faced with it. So why did we allow the issue to be framed in the terms of an anti-abortionist minority in ways that materially eroded access to healthcare when majorities disapprove that outcome? So, too, majorities think assault weapons should be banned and they are right to think so. If a handful a white-racist swinging dick survivalists disagree let them make their case and lose on the merits and then face the consequences if they try to act on their anti-civilizational convictions.
You seem to be afraid that sheriffs across the country are really going to take up arms against the country just because a few pricks are strutting around saying they will. Don't get suckered into accepting the skewed terms on which the gun-nuts themselves envision America. Actually, even in the most benighted region of the country few would stand for literal insurrection for any length of time at all. We already had a Civil War in this country and the South lost it. Hell, the Southern governors are all going to accept the ACAs Medicaid expansion in a few years' time despite their big talk just because they want the money.
You think these bullies and loons are an existential threat to America if we actually fight them? I doubt they can stand up to sustained scrutiny and ridicule let alone actually organized resistance. Almost nobody actually wants to secede and most who think they do would stop wanting it the moment they actually gave it a try for a week and the remaining few would fail utterly in no time flat.
Stop being afraid of reactionary assholes -- call them out, marginalize them into comparative harmlessness through clear education about the stakes and facts, and then throw the few truly dangerous extremists into jail when they try to act on their assholery in actually violent ways. Is it really hard to have the courage of such convictions?
"Sierra Peterson" responded:
Ok, if sitting behind a computer throwing insults at already disenfranchised blue collar survivalists that are just as much the casualties of neoliberal policies as any other demographic is what you consider "courage", then so be it. Did you know that the life expectancy for whites without a high school education is actually lower than it is for blacks and Latinos of equal education levels? This is the kind of scenario that feeds into the phobias of many of a survivalist and it seems doubtful that your insulting much of their community will outweigh the real life economic immiseration that led to the impulse for insurrection in the first place. And as has been stated here previously, the radical fringe actually can have a major effect on the political process by providing external influence that drives the mainstream further away from the center. Ron Paul and Glenn Beck are evidence enough of that pattern. As for your lack of support for secessionists' imprisonment for treason, your statement that they should "face the consequences" of their actions renders that claim rather dubious.Sierra implies that I am merely "sitting behind a computer throwing insults at already disenfranchised blue collar survivalists that are just as much the casualties of neoliberal policies as any other demographic." Is Sierra claiming that more guns fights poverty somehow? Sierra points out that "the life expectancy for whites without a high school education is actually lower than it is for blacks and Latinos of equal education levels." Is Sierra claiming more guns increases life expectancy?
The main reason I want private military weapons banned is because they are demonstrably dangerous and serve no legitimate purpose. I also do think the discourse of paramilitary gun-nuttery is suffused with anarchist and secessionist conceits and I think it is well-worth calling attention to this reality and contemplating its impact deranging sensible public deliberation about the issue. I think all of this is pretty obvious. Saying so, according to Sierra "feeds into the phobias of many of a survivalist and it seems doubtful that your insulting much of their community will outweigh the real life economic immiseration that led to the impulse for insurrection in the first place."
Now, not everybody who is poor in America is building private arsenals of military weapons, and not everybody who is building private arsenals of military weapons is poor. For those few poor folks who are paramilitary gun-nuts it isn't exactly irrelevant to point out that hoarding military weapons isn't an anti-poverty program and that the existence of military weapons hoards endangers everybody in society, including them. Sierra thinks we should not make this case as clearly as we can do, because paramilitary gun-nuts will respond badly to such forthrightness. Sierra worries that "the radical fringe actually can have a major effect on the political process by providing external influence that drives the mainstream further away from the center."
But, once again, I think the evidence is entirely in the opposite direction. And it is to amplify this point in particular that I thought it worthy to republish this exchange as a post in its own right. A majority of people hold reasonable views on gun safety regulation -- that background checks should be universal, that people too irresponsible to use guns safely, young children, emotionally unstable or chronically depressed people, people with anger management issues should not be able to pass a screen to gun access, that military weapons should be banned altogether, and so on -- and empirically-testable harm-reduction models of good governance fully substantiate this majority view... and yet an objectively incorrect, dangerous view of the issue framed in hyperbolic terms by a small majority of zealots has made it impossible for the majority to prevail and do the right thing.
It is the timidity of the correct in the face of the organizational strength of a zealous minority of profitable gun manufacturers whomping up the irrational passions of a fringe that is responsible for all these unnecessary deaths. Again, those who are right need to have the courage of their convictions and stop this killing. If paramilitary gun-nuts are insulted by any of this, that is neither here nor there. Fortunately, they have Sierra to blow kisses at them.
As it happens, the same harm-reduction model of governance and the same majority support regulation of the abuses of for-profit insurance, the rich paying more taxes, the maintenance and expansion of social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, public education, and a host of other programs that objectively help the poor, supported by the same people who support gun safety regulation, impeded by exactly the same kind of moneyed interests, who whomp up the same kinds of irrational racial and religious hysteria and class resentments to convince people to vote against their own best interests in the service of outcomes they actually disapprove with the rhetoric of death panels, hunting rifle confiscation, FEMA concentration camps, UN takeover, and all the rest.
Should we really allow these wrongheaded irrational deranging terms to define public policy deliberation by relinquishing the discursive field for fear of insulting poor white people or making unstable people more mad? Does anybody honestly think that makes any kind of sense at all?
Sierra's closing comment was among the most perplexing of all for me: "As for your lack of support for secessionists' imprisonment for treason, your statement that they should 'face the consequences' of their actions renders that claim rather dubious." I honestly cannot for the life of me figure out what Sierra is talking about. Obviously, not everybody who talks about American decline or the need for radical change in this country (among whom I am conspicuously one myself) is literally a secessionist, literally engaged in treasonable efforts. But presumably at least some people might describe them as such. Again, and just as obviously, we have a first amendment right to free expression and peacable assembly in this country. Dissent and activism are patriotic in my view. But if somebody is hoarding military weapons in their compound planning to gun down first responders as an opening salvo in their race war or resistance to the Obama socialist or UN takeover or whatever they are an objective threat to the peace, safety, and welfare of American citizens and should be stopped and then face criminal prosecution. Everybody faces such consequences. Sierra seems to think at least some paramilitary gun-nuts should not have to. If I am reading Sierra's position correctly, I think it is fair to say I think Sierra is simply wrong.