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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Never Argue with a Fool ...

Richard Rowe writes at Americans Against the Tea Party about his suggestions on how to win an argument with a "gun nut." Basically, his article is about using straw-man arguments (although he probably thinks he is cleverly using a reductio ad absurdum strategy) and ad hominem attacks and other irrelevancies.

In the tradition of building a poor argument, Rowe begins by basing his bona fides on the fact he owns guns (actually it sounds like he owns a mixture of automatic weapons and destructive devices), but he is (in his view) reasonable, unlike the "gun nuts" who actually think the 2nd Amendment means something. To bolster this, he says that 88% of gun owners "who think that our weapons policies should periodically evolve(!) from the peerless Garden of Eden that was 1776." I'm not sure where he got that statistic, or if his statement accurately reflects the statistic. (It reminds me of an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" where Barney, who is always claiming "83 percent" of this or that, notes that that 83 percent of statistics are made up). None of this, of course, is relevant to whether Rowe has a valid argument.

Rowe than goes on to claim that the "gun nuts" are actually motivated by fear. This comes up over and over again--that the director of Open Carry Texas was "afraid" to publicly debate him; that the "gun nuts" feel inadequate and live in fear of their alleged inadequacy; "point out that the gun itself only proves their fear, weakness and sense of inadequacy"; and so on. Again, nothing to back up his claim of this pervasive fear among gun owners. (Reminds me of  a joke, though--a grandmother is pulled over by a cop who notices she has a rather large revolver with her. He asks her what she is afraid of. She replies: "Absolutely nothing."). Again, even if true, I'm not sure what the relevance is--this is just a way of demonizing the opposition.

Next he criticizes "Open Carry Texas" for demonstrating by engaging in open carry. Rowe argues that demonstrations should not make anyone feel uncomfortable. He contends that making someone feel uncomfortable is violence. He compares a public demonstration of open carry to be the equivalent of someone showing up  at your door with a gun in hand. He plays the race card here by suggesting that "gun nuts" would automatically think someone with dark skin is a criminal.

He again claims that "gun nuts" are afraid, then suggests that they are bullies and abusers. He writes: "You [i.e., "gun nuts"] hate anyone who doesn’t live in fear, and you resent the fact that you can’t do the same." (Okay, we get it--your thesis is that gun owners live in crippling fear).

Rowe then moves on to gun regulations. It is important to note here that Rowe never discusses what he thinks are "reasonable" regulations. However, he is quite free with telling us all sorts of fanciful problems:

The right to bear arms is ALREADY “infringed” for many, and for very good reason. Here’s a short list of things that could easily happen if we were to give you your way, remove all “infringements,” and completely deregulate the Second Amendment:
--A career felon could walk out of prison, and purchase a full-auto AK-47 from Walmart
--Your psycho ex could buy a sniper rifle and silencer from “some guy” for $100
--A mentally handicapped child could get a pistol from a vending machine
--Known terrorists and those with terrorist affiliations could easily purchase Stinger missile launchers to shoot down airliners, and RPGs to blow up your Hummer
--Any nutjob could walk out of the asylum, buy a grenade launcher and flamethrower, and visit your kids at school.
This straw-man argument has several facets, but two jump out immediately: (1) that supporters of the 2nd Amendment favor allowing all of the foregoing types of people to purchase the type of weapons mentioned; and (2) the foregoing is what would happen if firearms were deregulated. Notice that none of these "statements" have anything to do with open carry, however. That is, Rowe never explains how is allowing open carry would result in any of the above examples.

Rowe next argues that the Second Amendment would be ineffective to protect Americans from tyranny because the government has all of the really big weapons. (It almost sounds like he is arguing that the Second Amendment is flawed because it doesn't allow us to purchase Stinger missiles and RPGs). Also, he claims no one is actually going to stand up against tyranny anyway. Rowe finishes by going into several other absurd comparisons that, again, having nothing to do with open carry.

In short, if these "arguments" actually work for Rowe, it is because everyone realizes arguing with him is to argue with a fool. It is like arguing with someone that their amplifier is not better just because it goes to eleven.

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