[FoRK] Sycamore (guns!) [was: National Identity]

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Wed Oct 19 12:47:28 PDT 2005

Thanks for the fascinating response!

Your right that the abortion is an interesting issues that ties into 
it.  I think it's a bit off in terms of tying your legal opinions to 
your moral ones.  Personally, I think abortion is immoral.  At the 
very least you are killing SOMETHING and generally your doing it to 
avoid the personal consequences of your actions.  The rape/incest 
argument is often trotted out, but it's a rare occurrence, and it 
doesn't change the reality of the action.

At the same time, mere immorality is a very poor excuse for 
regulating any behavior and it is certainly the case that our 
attempts at regulating morality rarely lead to good. The individual's 
right to make personal decisions must take precedence in a truly free 

Your also dead on that this is all about culture.  I think this is 
the first time I've seen the "European Anti-Gun Culture" up close, 
and it's certainly been a enlightening experience.  The level of 
anger and disgust has been really amazing and shocking to me.  I 
think the phrase "inspires a deep-rooted horror and cries of 
'barbarian!" describes it well.

It's interesting that you mention Switzerland- I was born their and 
spent most of my very early childhood their.  I remember having a 
conversation a few years with a family friend who'd recently been 
released from the citizen militia.  I was struck by his reaction to 
my gun collection- certainly not any kind of dislike or animosity, 
but it was clear that he was glad his term had ended and he no longer 
had to keep a gun in the house.  Even in a place as open and free 
with firearms as Switzerland their was a underlying sense that 
possession was "bad".

Thanks for your fascinating contributions to the conversation.

At 12:10 -0700  on  10/19/05, Strata R. Chalup wrote:
>This line of argument strongly reminds me of a very thoughtful essay 
>at http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/04/do-you-trust-women.html
>"The bottom line about abortion is this. Do you trust women to make 
>their own moral judgments? If you are anti-abortion, then no. You do 
>not. You have an absolute moral position that you don't trust anyone 
>to question, and therefore you think that abortion should be 
>illegal.  But the second you start making exceptions for rape or 
>incest, you are indicating that your moral position is not absolute. 
>That moral judgment is involved. And that right there is where I 
>start to get angry and frustrated, because unless you have an 
>absolute position that all human life ... are equally valuable ...
>... then what you are saying is that your discomfort matters more 
>than an individual woman's ability to assess her own circumstances. 
>That ... you, sitting there in your easy chair, ... your judgment is 
>better than hers.
>Think about the hubris of that. Your judgment of some hypothetical 
>scenario is more reliable than some woman's judgment about her own, 
>very real, life situation? ... "
>I personally think this line of argument has considerable merit, 
>btw, in the case of abortion.  In the case of gun ownership, well, 
>that's interesting.
>I think that the 'frontier' antecedents in American culture, where 
>ultimately everyone was responsible for seeing that 'justice is 
>done' (regardless of whether it WAS justice or not) creates a very 
>different set of expectations than the 'feudal' antecedents in much 
>of the rest of the world's culture: generations upon generations of 
>culture and law which rely on there being a hierarchy of power which 
>controls weaponry.
>To say that you have weapons, but do not explicitly pledge them to 
>the service of the state inspires a deep-rooted horror and cries of 
>'barbarian!' to people who come from a European monarchy/feudal 
>culture, despite their current adherence to participatory democracy. 
>It's buried down too deep in the culture.
>So I really don't expect that folks will hash out 'the gun question' 
>here.  It's not about individuals, it's about culture.  Culturally, 
>many Americans trust individuals to make decisions about defense and 
>weapons deployment.  Culturally, few Europeans have that trust-- 
>retaining individual control of weapons is tantamount to implicit 
>rebellion or criminal tendency, simply because the cultural 
>expectation is that weapons are things that the 
>government/ruler/hierarchy uses, *not* something that people use.
>What about hunting? you say.  Think about feudal Europe-- the only 
>people who hunted, for most of its history, were people hunting 
>under authority (eg, the land holders or their staff) or *poachers*. 
>So bringing hunting in as a reason for individual weapon control 
>only reinforces the negative associations that a typical Euroculture 
>person might have about weapon control.
>And note that I say 'control', not 'ownership'.  As I mentioned 
>above, it's not the actual possession of weapons, it's the 
>possession of weapons that are *not pledged to hierarchically 
>controlled use*.  Various European countries have their Home Guard, 
>the Swiss being a shining example, and so on.  So it's not that you 
>*have* the weapon, it's that you explicitly disavow being part of a 
>structured set of users of the weapon.
>Anyway.  This is all cultural analysis 101 that y'all could do 
>yourselves if you weren't having so much fun arguing, so I'll be off 
>Kevin Elliott wrote:
>>  At 17:49 -0700  on  10/18/05, Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) wrote:
>>>  On 18-Oct-05, at 12:35 PM, Kevin Elliott wrote:
>>>>   *sigh*.  Ok.  So we don't have ANY accurate translation.  I'll 
>>>>buy that too and just say I don't agree with the premise that 
>>>>killing is automatically evil, and  thus I believe that their are 
>>>>times when killing another is a justified, morally correct action.
>>>  Maybe so... I guess I'm just saying I'm not really sure society 
>>>should trust you to make that >call accurately in the split second 
>>>between catching the milkman finger-banging your wife
>>>  and you pulling the trigger on your .45 ...
>>  That's exactly what it boils down to.  I believe that society has 
>>to trust it's member to do the right thing and punish those who 
>>fail. To me that's the definition of a free society.  The most 
>>offense thing to me about gun control is the implication that I am 
>>a child, unable to control myself and make rational, sensible 
>>choices about what goes on around me.
>>  Life is full of dangerous choices we have to make, from how we 
>>drive our cars to the drugs we put in our body and the diets we 
>>choose to follow.  All of them have the potential to harm ourselves 
>>and society.  I believe that the only moral and sensible to 
>>organize ourselves is to leave as many of those choices up to the 
>>individual. Any other solution leaves to much room for unintended 
>>consequences and the tyranny of the majority.
>Strata R Chalup [KF6NBZ]                         strata "@" virtual.net
>Virtual.Net Inc                                  http://www.virtual.net/
>           ** Strategic IT for the Growing Enterprise **
>FoRK mailing list

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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