Friday, December 28, 2012

To the camps with the opposition!

Interesting discussion going on in comments here on the topic of reasoned discourse. (And by "reasoned discourse", I mean actual reasoned discourse and not Reasoned Discourse™.)

Which reminded me of a post that Erik made over at in response to somebody describing people in favor of gun control as "fear-driven", "low-information", and "childlike":
That seems entirely too reductionist and dismissive to me. I know a number of people who understand that the world is an inherently unsafe place and support the individual right to keep and bear arms conceptually who still look at recent events and think that banning "assault weapons" might just be a reasonable step. Those people don't understand why anybody who isn't in a position of authority would need a weapon "that can shoot so many bullets so fast" and can't help but think that reducing the number of those weapons that are available would make a difference. Those people are not part of a control-driven elite and they're not child-like in nature. They are responsible, adult, well-intentioned people whose hearts are broken by events such as Newtown and they want to make a difference. They think that banning "assault weapons" is taking responsibility and that clinging to them is irrational. Those are the people you need to reach, and you can't do it if you don't start from a place of mutual respect. 

We mock the scornful tone put forth in editorials from the other side as "Why won't you stupid cousin-humping rednecks vote for us?" and then expect the flip side of the same coin to work: "Why won't you childish emotional communist hippies listen to my logical arguments?"

I manage to discuss politics with the Democrat Next Door just fine. I think she's wronger than a monkey riding a poodle, but I'll grant that she's smart and well-meaning and came by her wrongness honestly, and I'm not going to change her mind on a single issue by shouting or belittling her.

Of the "four boxes", I'd greatly prefer to win using the soapbox. 


mikee said...

My wife, who went from a social liberal in college to a dragon-breathed social conservative working in inner city hospitals, now works in a large Pediatrics group with folk who think guns are icky in general, and Modern Sporting Rifles are beyond the pale for human use.

My wife does not like guns. She has seen the results of their misuse in ERs too often, and hasn't wanted to go shooting with me in the quarter century of our marriage because of those memories. But she is Voltarian in her support of my enjoyment and possession and use of them.

At work, she says it would be useless to discuss any politics, let alone gun politics, with her coworkers. She considers them smart doctors and stupid people.

Suggestions for her use at work are welcome.

Where I work, on the other hand, days off around the opening of dove season and deer season are essentially raffled off due to the high demand. Engineers. Go figure.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Well said! And I would add that even when we are arguing with the "childish emotional communist hippies", taking that dismissive attitude is counterproductive, because it puts off people in the audience who might be otherwise persuadable.

Often, when many of us debate those types, we're not doing it because we think we'll change that particular person's mind, we're doing it to persuade anyone who might be lurking and on the fence who is there looking for information.

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoy discussion with people of opposite opinion,as long as we can be intelligent adults about the fact that we have different opinions.No two people have exactly the same opinion about every single thing in heaven and earth.
We need screamers on the right to balance the screamers on the left,but those aren't the people I like to have dinner with.

Bear said...

I start out by trying to reason with the pro-ban types. My preferred starting technique is to present a set of actual, verifiable facts (usually with links) to support my position. Generally what happens is that the facts are rejected, not because the person thinks they are incorrect, but because they show that person to have been wrong. So I'll try another set of facts. In a "discussion" yesterday with a self-declared Brit who wants America to be more like his Ultimately Peaceful Utopia(tm), those facts included the EU's own figures on comparative violent crime rates showing the UK to be one of the -- if not THE -- most violent countries in Europe, with a per capita violent crime rate (by their own data and admission) more than 4 times greater than America.

He blew off the numbers and shifted to this: "If we then proceed on the Second Amendment basis of the individual's right to bear arms*, is there any onus (consitutional, legal or moral) placed on gun owners to reduce the likelihood that their weaponry is used in the commission of a crime – as happened in Newtown?" (emphasis added-cb)

Right. Rather than address facts, he wants to discuss the responsibility of Mrs. Lanza to not be murdered in her sleep and her -- reportedly -- secured guns stolen. The Newtown killings were her fault.

At which point, I confess that a "scornful tone" on my part comes pretty naturally. Granted, this person was a Brit, but discussions with American antis run pretty much the same way. I merely called him "insane". Others were... less tactful.

Several people have asked him why he's blaming the victim(s) and demanding restrictions on those who didn't do it, yet refuses to consider any culpability on the part of the alleged killer. As of this writing, he has consistently refused to address those questions. Virtually his entire argument is predicated on the proposition that it's never the criminal's fault; that the eee-vil guns made him do it and those eee-vil gun owners should have corraled those wild, self-animated implements of psychic control (he had specifically suggested placing onerous insurance requirements on guns regardless of how or even if the gun is used, likening it to the higher vehicle insurance rates inflicted upon people with poor driving records).

(* He originally presented a NYT Toobin screed as "proof" that there's no individual right and that the NRA made that up by invoking a "living constitution". Seriously.)

Bear said...

Addendum: To be fair, I must acknowledge that not all "Brits" are as crazy as my recent example. In fact, a self-described British ex-pat jumped, popinted out that he'd left the UK for exactly the reasons our gun-banning psycho exemplified, Likes America, and wants "Brit Psycho" not to try to turn America in to the "the hellhole I left".

Secret Squirrel said...

I was under the impression that an apples-to-apples violent crime rate comparison between the UK and the US could not be done because our assault rate only included aggravated assault whereas the UK's assault rate encompassed everything down to and including harsh words. Is this still the case, or do you have better stats than I do?

abnormalist said...

Gun control is an emotional issue. (yes the period is to end the sentence and as a statement Period)

You have to get people to realize this before you stand any chance of changing their views. Its a matter of FAITH. "I feel in my heart this is wrong, therefore your 'facts' need not apply"

That said winning hearts and minds is the only way we can win this. Take a liberal to the range, bring something fun to shoot at (apples work well, eggs, something visual that splats!) Let them rock an AR or AK, shoot an evil pistol. Then when they see that the gun isnt scary and dangerous, then start to show them the facts and statistics. Once their fear is gone win them with logic.

Before long they are trading in their mother jones subscriptions for a glock 40 and a mini 14 (yes my friend is a good example)

Stuart the Viking said...


Just thought I would get that out of my system here where it would do less damage.

kidding aside, I have had the "gun discussion" with a very "child-like" person (when it came to guns) who had nothing going on but a purely emotional argument. Oddly enough time, solid statistics calmly presented and, just plain "seeming reasonable" worked better than anything as a long-term game plan. The person in question finally even ended up going to the range with me and enjoying it. She won't be OWNING a gun anytime soon, but she has expressed interest in a second range trip. She has also stepped up to defend firearms ownership/carry the day her sister went into PSH after she put her arm around my waist and her hand landed on my 9mm. She had no idea I even carried... oops. Guess that was a bit of a shock for her.


og said...

I thought that was a monkey riding a pig?

Shows what I know.

Still: most people I know are capable of civil discourse, even with morons. And Tam can have a conversation dripping chunks of snark, and 90% of people are too stupid to realize it.

George said...

"Those people don't understand why anybody who isn't in a position of authority..."

We are all in positions of authority. Start there, I think. That's the root of the problem.

Robb Allen said...

Sadly, I'm seeing this left and right. Most of the people I worked with at my last contract were gun owners or at least people who supported gun ownership. The guy who sat next to me was libertarian, but he was on the fence about such things as "assault weapons". After a lengthy discussion, he conceded that there was nothing that could be done to stop another Sandy Hook because logically, crazy people do crazy things.

Now, another ex-coworker who has remained a good friend is pretty leftish (I refuse to call them liberals since *I* am a liberal) who even owns two guns, refused to discuss the issue saying "Neither one of us will change our minds, so why bother?" I told him I had facts to back up everything I would say, links to the CDC, illustrations, etc. He said he didn't care, that his mind was made up.

How do you fight that?

Granted, he said he wasn't looking to ban guns (his big hangup was required training to own firearms) but it was apparent he'd have no desire to argue it should a ban come down the pipe. I'm ok with people being neutral on the issue if that's the best I can get. Better "meh, don't care" than "BAN THEM ALL".

By the way, another one of his hangups were guns "that can shoot so many bullets so fast" which was why I made this post.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Erik has my in-laws described to a T. Unfortunately there's no changing their minds. I've been their son-in-law for over 12 years, believe me, I've tried. These people are liberal East Coast Jews to their core. We don't speak the same language or hold the same things dear (other than their daughter, but that's another story).

When my father-in-law quoted Piers Morgan to me, I gave up. I told my wife I was done being provoked when I couldn't fight back, and she could go visit them by herself in the future. In fact, I told her I wasn't staying another night in their house, and suited action to words; we moved to a hotel that night and went home the next morning.

Some people are just lost. You can't reach them.

alanstorm said...

"Those people are not part of a control-driven elite and they're not child-like in nature. They are responsible, adult, well-intentioned people whose hearts are broken by events such as Newtown and they want to make a difference."

That's the problem in a nutshell. They may be "responsible, adult, well-intentioned" in other aspects of life, but given an atrocity like Sandy Hook, they become emotion-driven bags of irrational fluff.

At that point, in this respect, they ARE being child-like.

Chris said...

One of my co-workers is an intelligent leftie who has owned and shot various firearms in the past (doesn't now because he is a single parent of pre-teen girls and is afraid to have guns in the house). In a discussion with him after the Newtown shooting, after I laid out the usual moral and statistical basis for my assertion that victim disarmament is counter-productive, he opined that the reason crime is down over the last few decades is the availability of free/cheap abortion. Because having fewer "unwanted children" means less crime, dontcha know. I apologized to him later, but I laughed out loud and said that was the dumbest thing I had heard in years. Because it was.

Tam said...


"Because having fewer "unwanted children" means less crime, dontcha know."

It is a touchstone of modern social conservatism that the unwanted sons of unwed mothers are vastly more likely to be irresponsible criminals.

You can't have it both ways.

B said...

@ Secret Squirrel: Comparing UK and American crimes is tedious but not impossible. You can't just take the standard composite "violent crime rate" reported by the FBI (UCR) and the Brit... Ministry of Justice, I think they call it?... lost track... because those composite numbers _are_ based on differing definitions of crimes, as you point out. What you have to do is break down the crime categories yourself, and match each to the other country's. Then you can extract composite crime rate numbers from that. Last time I went through the whole exercise, it took me about a week.

Eurostat, the European Commission's database of statistics, conveniently did most of that again in 2009 (, which is where the "UK is 4.36 times worse than the US" you may have seen lately came from. Even with this collation, the comparison isn't precise, but certainly gives lie to the claim that the UK's gun laws make it a better place.

Bear said...

For those interested in plugging&chugging the numbers themselves, the biggest difference in UK/US crime rates is in "assault". When I did it, I found that the UK did include some things the US doesn't, but they also used "ASBOs" to deal with a lot of things that would rate a felony conviction (though probably probation rather than imprisonment) in the US. The ASBOs were not included in the UK rate data at the time and I couldn't find a source for hard ASBO numbers.

Robert said...

Usually I can determine if the person in question is able to discuss matters rationally by asking one question. "Do you think that a person has the right to use a firearm to defend themselves or others? Answer yes or no."

Mick Havoc said...

I am going shooting with my gay buddy today. Then we are going shopping for pvc pipe ad posthole diggers.
I am through getting muddy and amusing pigs.

Ed Foster said...

Remember also that the U.K. doctors much of their figures to make things look less horrible than they are.

If a conviction for the really horrible and scary crime of home invasion (forced entry when the invader knows there are people in the house and doesn't care) gets plead down to burglary, the home invasion is wiped off the books.

Also, many British crimes are "forgiven". Generally the first two burglaries are written off with nothing more than a warning and then also removed from the books.

The criminologists I've read all seem to agree that abortion accounts for perhaps half the drop in crime twenty years later, even the ones who credit firearms ownership for much of the other half.

Scary thought: most of the able-bodied multigenerational welfare recipients I know (and I know far more of them than most middleclass people due to some desperately poor personal choices made by certain family members) belong on welfare. Let me make a very non-PC statement.

The majority of them are cringingly stupid. There really isn't much of a place for people with near moron I.Q's in our society. A century ago they could have done supervised work in a farmer's field or on a loading dock somewhere. Today most of that is automated.

Ed Foster said...

Add in the total irresponsibility engendered by 3,4,5 generations in a fatherless welfare system and the illegal "distractions" found in an inner city environment, and you end up with hordes of dangerous people who are only kept in check by good policing and the threat of losing their generous welfare payments.

They end up in urban environments because the cities have been controlled by the Democratic Party since the Irish Catholics took over political control in the late 1800's (my family is Irish Catholic and used to be "wardheelers" so I can say that) and the Micks ran everything on a basis of institutionalized cronyism and nepotism.

They passed the thuggish process on to the Italians and Poles, and it continued and strenghthened under the Blacks and downscale Hispanics. Downscale meaning the very race obsessed Mestisos and Mulattos, who use their percieved view of racism to continue and justify their drab and violent version of the welfare state.

Again, I'm talking about family members by marriage or impregnation, and the views of four generations of inner city cops.

Take an entire culture of predominatly slow-witted sociopaths, and it's no suprise that these people constitute the great majority of our violent criminals. Check

White Southerners have a violent crime rate higher than other white or Asian-Americans, but similar to Scotland, where so many of them originated. Roughly 50% to 60% higher than the rest of America's European-Americans.

The rest of America's Europe decended folks have a murder and assault profile virtually identical to Norway or the Republic of Ireland, among the lowest in the world.

The Irish may bend each other's teeth out back of the pub on a regular basis, but they don't knife or shoot each other, and the duel usually ends with a handshake and the winner buying the next round. And they never call the Gardai or put anything on the books.

So yes I'm pro-choice, as long as it's combined with punitive measures taken against welfare class mothers who make more little zombies while collecting.

We've had generations of upward mobility, combined with affirmative action, to remove almost everyone with a brain from the urban environment.

After watching interviews with some of the white protagonists in the Howard Beach killings (Black thugs swarmed and clubbed to death by Italian thugs) a very classy and successful Italian-American engineer I know said "There really isn't any difference betwwen the two tribes anymore, is there?"

He said his family had left that neighborhood 50 years before, and he had no reason to go back.

Figure an I.Q. of 90 as having the emotional and intellectual maturity of an eighth grader. Now drop that maturity level one year for each five points, and realize that the kids I taught for two years at Hartford High Extension had a mean I.Q. of 72. You're looking at 9 to 12 year old children with the hormones of adolescents.

You wonder why I switched to engineering?

Patrick H said...

Good points. We can devolve into name calling, especially if they could be on the fence, or those who are listening or reading could be on the fence.

Now, I've dealt with the childish opposition. One guy on twitter actually contacted my employer when I suggested that teachers and staff be allowed to carry, since I work for a school. Now, luckily my bosses are cool (one said he was seriously considering moving because things are getting so bad).

But the gall and self-righteousness of this guy was astounding! I wasn't worried, but I was curious about this guy. I asked him if he was trying to get me fired. "Let your bosses decide!" I asked him why "because you work for a *school*" (As if that mattered). I tried to guilt trip him "Are you really that heartless?" No response.


Six said...

Wow. I'm surprised to see this position from you Tam based on how you spoke to me on the CTD issue and my response. I'd have loved to have had some of that reasoned discourse from you. A conversation as opposed to sarcastic condescension would have been nice.

I guess it's dependent on the issue though, huh?

Anonymous said...

It's a state of hypnosis. Sure they came by it honestly, but there it is.

I point out that the left fully understands and embraces the concept of a right, and how a right should never be allowed to errode even at the fringes, how it must be protected from the electorate, and all the rest. They will embrace, support and defend this one pet "right" of theirs regardless of how many human deaths are associated with it. You know of what I speak.

And if self defense is the goal, then we MUST have the best fighting weapons made, otherwise we're at a disadvantage to both government and criminals who will get what ever they want regardless of law. It's as simple as that. If someone refuses to understand that, in context with the left's one pet "right" there truly is something wrong with them and there is no point in being coy about it. -- Lyle

Old NFO said...

Concur on the soapbox... Mocking WILL NOT win any discussion. Never has, never will.

Ancient Woodsman said...

I kind of like the "infringled" that Stuart the Viking put up there in anguished english.

Hmmm..."infringled" might actually get them to listen a bit. Maybe.

I agree with the whole "be civil, have facts, don't get pissy at them even if they do so to you" as it's a good way to demonstrate to the fence-sitters in the audience which is the more mature individual. I've made it a point since the latest event to post at least one good 2A item on my FB page every day...usually linked to an article from one of the left's favorite rags and never from Fox or any of the normally right-wing commentators. They will turn a blind eye to any "fact" that they can dismiss as being from what they consider a tainted source, but when my pro-2A post is backed by an article from the Boston Globe, NY or LA Times, and whatnot, in most cases they don't know what to say other than "I did not know that."

Today's gem: LA Times article about how Clinton's response to Columbine was to add federal funding for armed police in schools; Obama cut this in 2011 when preparing the 2012 budget. How come it's a good idea when Bill thought of it, but not when the NRA asks for it?

Stuff like that hits the left hard, and we must not back down. This is a dire fight and we must all be in it. If we can handle our side with class, aplomb, respect, and facts, well, we won't win over the die-hard opposition but we'll make some very good points with the fence-sitters.

Oh, and contact your Senators and Representative, too.

Kristophr said...

Secret Squirrel:

US crime rate figures are broken down by type, like everyone else does.

People with an agenda to hump cull figures out of these rates that promote their arguments.

Like Britain having one of the highest total violent crime rates in the world, but only a tiny fraction of the US firearm violence ... while ignoring the fact that most of that US firearm violence consists of criminals in the US having their asses shot off.

Kristophr said...

Tam: I saw a lot of that after Romney's loss.

Blaming the loss on low info voters, while failing to take responsibility for not effectively selling the Republican product.

staghounds said...

George, I like that, a LOT.

Mikee, "Suggestions for her use at work are welcome."

Doctor, you know how to use the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and compression on wounds. In a sudden emergency, where you or someone else were suddenly confronted with deadly peril from choking or blood loss, would you use those skills? Or would you just watch and wait until the EMT showed up?

"Sure, I'd try."

If someone is suddenly confronted with a deadly danger which can be deflected only by the use of force, isn't that the same thing?

"Conceptually, but I am a Doctor, I have special training."

True. How much special training does it take to make someone basically competent, able to save a life, in first aid?

And then go on with the similarities. The basic problem, it seems to me, is getting the person to recognise the moral right to personal self defence. Once that is accepted, then we are basically agreed, were just discussing details.

Steve said...

I have found that people respond better to a little empathy. "I have children too. I understand how you feel..." Try to resist the urge to win a debate. Stick to broad concepts rather than statistics, at least until they calm down.
But just between us, we have to win this. We're fighting for freedom so I really don't care if some low information voter (AKA dummy)who just read an article on yahoo and thinks she is now a "gun expert" gets mad at me or unfriends me.
I'm all about courtesy but if we have to steamroll over these people to save our liberty, I'm fine with it.

Chris said...

Tam said:
"It is a touchstone of modern social conservatism that the unwanted sons of unwed mothers are vastly more likely to be irresponsible criminals."

I only know a few social conservatives, and all of them are strongly anti-abortion. I can't recall hearing any of them say anything like the above, but my sample is small. Another co-worker, who is born-again and quite the social conservative, also was dismissive of the abortion assertion (he was a party to the conversation). I'll have to ask him whether he would agree with the premise when I get back to work in the New Year.

Firehand said...

From what I've read, ANY kid brought up in a single-parent household tends to have lots more problems; add in the gang crap in inner-city areas and it just keeps snowballing.

Bear, I've had that exact discussion: I'm trying to stick to facts, and get ranging from 'screw the facts!" to insults and near-hysteria in return. I have found that keeping to the calm, 'here are facts whether you like them or not' is more entertaining than calling them morons or something; they just can't stand not getting nastiness in return and move on to the meltdown stage.

I'm quite willing to argue and discuss; its the "Screw facts, don't you CARE!?!" people who cause me to blow it off, and occasinally get a touch nasty myself. People willing to argue, you can often at least soften attitudes a bit, which is another small step to the good.

Ed, as I recall it was about 2-3 years ago that a couple of Brit news sites blew the lid off the stats-doctoring by the government, complete with examples of how they'd been doing it.

Buzz said...

Agreed, Chris.

All the social conservatives I know are strongly opposed to abortion, without regard to the mother's or father's skin color.
Let us not forget that Planned Parenthood's genesis was in the efforts of eugenicists, to reduce the numbers of "undesirables."

Tam said...


"I only know a few social conservatives, and all of them are strongly anti-abortion. I can't recall hearing any of them say anything like the above, but my sample is small."

So the social conservatives you know say that fathers don't matter?

That a male child reared in a home without a strong male role model has the same chance of turning out as a responsible adult as as one reared in a loving two-parent environment?

The social conservatives you know are very different from the ones I do.

Wraith said...

@ Ed:

There really isn't much of a place for people with near moron I.Q's in our society.

Then how do they keep getting elected?

Ed Foster said...

Wraith wins!

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is the desire to debate or even argue, rather than have a discussion. Debates require winners and losers. Discussions do not. The more pne is put on the defensive, the less likely they are to continue in the dialogue. I don't go into a discussion with the goal of changing the other person's mind, but just to have a discussion. If the other party is swayed by my part of the discourse. . .that's fine by me. But it is neither the goal of the discussion nor the reason we were talking to begin with.

Mikael said...

I don't doubt that brittain has higher violent crime figures than pretty much anywhere. I do remember seeing somewhere that they've got "only" 66% of the per capita murder rate compared to the USA though.

However note that this figure still puts them highest in europe(scandinavian numbers are about 20% of the USA, on par with Japan).

Buzz said...

To parse words, Tam, the "unwanted" part implied mommy would have aborted if more convenient. I think that's why Chris went the direction he did.

Statistics and social conservatives would definitely agree on male children from single mommies being more likely to end up on the wrong side of the legal fence.

Will said...


Turns out it is easy for the Brits to fudge murder stats. They are generated from the death certificate issued, not crime reports, so lots of creative paperwork is generated. I forget what the numbers were, but actual murders are much higher than the gov stats. Essentially, there are no crime stats in Britain that are correct. Every category is massaged as much as possible. They are lying about it all.

They start off by refusing to even take a police report for most crime.

Will said...

Forgot to mention that my source for it was some police and emergency medical bloggers in England, a few years back. Lost the links in a computer failure.

Chris said...


All I was saying was that the few social conservatives I know haven't brought up that subject at all. They talk about abortion, but haven't discussed the fatherless children part with me. Until I ask one or two, I don't have any data to go on; it's a null set at this point in time. Living in Maryland, in a suburb of Baltimore, I don't get much contact with social conservatives. When I do, I mostly talk about the topics we agree on, such as gun rights, in order to bring up topics (like other kinds of rights) that I would like them to consider.

My (evidence-free) guess is that they would say the things you are noting. And social conservatives don't have much of a presence in the media in this area. So I have no first-hand knowledge of their position.

Interestingly enough, it was Republicans that insisted, when the welfare system was being started, that having a man in a household would make them ineligible for welfare payments. Unintended consequences, eh?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Heck with the opposition, to the camps with the spammers!

The spam doesn't seem to be making it to the post, but it's sure coming through to my email.

Ian Argent said...

Unfortunately, you won't get anywhere arguing that the statistics are wrong; particularly as a lot of the pro-gun argument is statistical in nature. I've actually been having a certain amount of success using the Brady's numbers for defensive gun uses (100K/y), then Gary Kleck's (1m/y or so); compared to the CDC homicide numbers (11k/y). The key seems to be to move away from emotionally-charged rhetoric, and point out that we've had 30 years of records (since FL went shall-issue) in the US.
Linoge's Graphics Matters posts are a big help here.

It won't fight the people who are entirely emotionally-driven, but there's surprisingly few people out there who are entirely closed to logic.

And I'm doing this on Facebook, with acquaintances; so it's an uphill slog, let me tell you. But it's getting some people to go "hunh."

Chris said...

Stefan Molyneux brings up the fatherless children being more disposed to crime as one of several reasons for the higher crime rates in the US in this:

Since the percentage, as well as absolute numbers, of fatherless children has been increasing while the overall crime rates have been decreasing over the last 20 years, I would see this as a contributing, but not overwhelming, factor.

I will run this by my born-again friend at work on Wednesday.

Billy Beck said...

My motto in these affairs:

"As gently as possible. As rudely as necessary."