In Defense of Aplomb

A loyal reader and daily pen-pal of mine has burned his Mark Shea fan club card. During crunch time with deadlines looming, I ought not post on meat-days (that is, non-Fridays) but in this case I make an exception, because I hope to reconcile two friends of mine with each other.

Mr Winchester speaks of the flair and aplomb with which Mr Shea decries the excesses of the gun culture…

Which wouldn’t be so bad if Mark wasn’t going off complaining about others’ flair and aplomb so much lately.

However, his recent comparison of 2nd amendment supporters to abortionists and people discussing secession as “fantasizing about getting the chance to indulge in violence, torture and war” were just beyond the pale. I used to consider myself a member of ya’ll’s appreciation society but after those posts of his I couldn’t burn my card fast enough. (still totally your fan, John)

My comment: Please be charitable to poor Mr Shea. He lives in Seattle, which is one of the outer circles of Dante’s Inferno, and reconsider your decision.

Mark Shea supports the Church teachings. He is not loyal to left or right, to Sadducee or Pharisee, but to Christ. The Second Amendment is an absolutely core doctrine of the Enlightenment philosophy of the liberty of man. The US Constitution is the greatest embodiment and monument to that philosophy and those liberties, but that philosophy is not a Church teaching.

Clicking through the links, I read that what Mark Shea said was that resorting to Secession or civil war in response, not to a general ban on guns or universal confiscation, but in response to Federico Lombardi’s remarks that “limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms are certainly a step in the right direction” is a patently nutjob response.

In this case, I disagree rather sharply with Lombardi, but do not consider his remarks to be beyond the pale. However, I do consider calls for Secession to be treason, and treason to be beyond the pale.

I do not consider Mark Shea saying that treason is beyond the pale, or, in his words, calling treason a fantasy, to be beyond the pale. I would not even call his remark inflammatory. I would call it ebullient.

Neither did Mark Shea ‘compare’ abortionists and ‘2nd Amendment supporters’. What he said was this:

“This blog will. not. be. a forum for “discussing” secession or civil war. Those who choose to ignore me on this point will find themselves in the same ban file as those who want to use my comboxes to advocate for abortion.”

So it is you, my dear sir, and not he, who equated supporting the Second Amendment with supporting a new civil war with all its horror and bloodshed; and it is you, my dear sir, and not he, who drew the conclusion that two people going into the ban file together are like each other in moral worth.

He did not say or even imply the thing you find objectionable.

Myself, I ban people who offer personal insults to my family, and I ban people who are Holocaust deniers. Now, do you think I am saying insulting the Wright family is a crime akin to the genocide of the Jews, or acting as an apologist for such a crime? No, of course not, not at all. The only thing they have in common is that I ban them both. I don’t even ban them for the same reason.

Christians are commanded by God Almighty Himself to obey secular authorities placed over them, and, yes, to pray for those authorities. Saint Paul wrote those words to Christians living under emperors like Caligula and Nero and Diocletian.

I notice that the NRA, the organization to which I belong, has not advocated civil war or Secession from the union. Neither has the Republican Party, the party to which I belong. Secession and riot and resorting to violence is a DEMOCRAT passtime, that wonderful party that gave us the Confederate States of America and the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention Jim Crow, Lynch Mobs, and Race Riots.

When Conservatives start talking about Secession in response to lowering magazine limits from ten rounds to seven, it is not in keeping with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, which says quite clearly that resorting to rebellion cannot be done for light and transient reasons.

When Conservatives start talking utter bullshit and nonsense like this, Mark Shea is one hundred percent correct to mock us, and to call us the Thing That Used to Be Conservativism.

We are the party of reason, remember? The Dems are the party of hysteria and hate, remember? We don’t act like them.

Occupy Wall Street smashes windows during their riots. The Tea Party picks up litter after its demonstrations. We don’t act like them.

If you are still unreconciled with Mr Shea’s comments, please compare these two statements:

  • Mr A says “Mr Obama has signed unconstitutional executive orders infringing on my right to keep and bear arms. If this continues, I call upon all my fellow conservatives to organize a nationwide day or prayer and thanksgiving, so that the Good Lord in Heaven will sweep over this sad land with his awesome power, opening the eyes of the blind and softening the hearts of the stonyhearted, and then we will hear an end to this gungrabber nonsense!”
  • Mr B says “Mr Obama has signed unconstitutional executive orders infringing on my right to keep and bear arms. If this continues, I call upon all my fellow conservatives to organize an armed rebellion, so that we will gun down my father who is in the Navy, my brother who is a policeman, and my cousin who works as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. My brother in law is a Democrat, so I will pop over to his house and shoot him through the head, splattering his brains across my screaming sister and my nieces. Then we will hear an end to this gungrabber nonsense!”

Which man, Mr A or Mr B places more faith in his gun than in his God? Which statement do you think a loyal son of the Church like Mr Shea should publicly support?

Don’t get me wrong. I am as fierce a defender of the Second Amendment as anyone can be. I take it to be the touchstone separating friends from foes. Any man who does not favor personal ownership of firearms is merely striking a pose, and is no friend of liberty.

I also, like all red blooded Americans, want to fly into a storm of wrath against lying-ass clowns and vermin who mock and rape our Constitution and make public statements like Danny Glover claiming the Second Amendment is racist, because it was meant to put down slave revolts and America Indian uprisings.

(I assume Mr Glover is blissfully unaware of the NRA arming southern blacks to resist the KKK, and the Dem-controlled states being unable to disarm the blacks thanks to that very Amendment he is denouncing.)

But I also know wrath is a sin. The bastards who talk this way deserve to be shot, but that vengeance is not for our weak human hands to take. God knows what I deserve; so let me flee to the skirts of mercy, not justice, and treat even those who speak such evil and vile things as Mr Glover with mercy.

And I know prayer is more powerful than arms. We took over the Roman Empire just with the blood of martyrs and the witness of love. We conquered the most powerful civilization history had ever known, and spilled no blood but our own. We did not talk of civil war. We talked of the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world.

As a practical man, I know that if we cannot convince the people via sweet reason or impassioned rhetoric to vote to protect their rights and freedom, we have no chance to convince the people via sweet reason or impassioned rhetoric to take up arms, take the field of battle. How can we convince men raised in a leftist culture, indoctrinated by leftwing schools and brainwashed by endless leftwing infotainment to maim and kill and bleed and suffer and die and watch their bold sons die for those selfsame rights and freedoms which they were not willing to get out of bed and go to the town hall and pull a tiny little lever in a voting booth to defend?

I am a Catholic, and, to the degree that Enlightenment-style ‘classical liberal’ conservatism comports with Catholic teaching, I am a conservative. (‘Conservative’ is a misleading term: I believe in Republican forms of limited government rather than the sado-totalitarianism for which the Left pants with sweaty and unseemly lust. I am pro-human rather than pro-tyrant.) But in the areas where conservative politics disagrees with Catholicism, I part company with my party.

Like all honest Christian gentlemen, my motto is “My Savior first, my nation second, my life third.” I place the Fifth Commandment above the Second Amendment.

The Republicans are a political party, nothing more. I join with them for our mutual convenience to influence the political arena in the direction of logic and justice and for the common good of the commonwealth. I do not bow to them nor serve them. It is the Dems who make an idol of their party, and who, out of party loyalty, never denounce nor criticize their more extreme members, those whose fire and enthusiasm propel them beyond the pale. We don’t act like them. When a member of the team pulling in harness with us breaks the traces and pulls too hard or careens from the track toward the brink of madness, we rein him back in.

Anyone who is talking about treason should be reined back in. Within walking distance of my house is the battlefield of Bull Run. Here is a contemporary photo of some Americans killed by other Americans, their brothers, during the first of the two bloody battles fought there.

The Union Army suffered 2,896 casualties (460 dead, 1,124 wounded and 1,312 captured). The Rebels suffered 1,982 casualties (387 dead, 1,582 wounded and 13 missing). First Bull Run is still remembered by historians as being the sobering moment when the Union realized the war would not be ‘over by Christmas’ and that the three-month enlistments were insufficient. It was when the shock of what war really meant began to sink in. It was when the ground parted beneath their feet, and the roof of flaming hell was opened, and the screams rose up with the dark smoke, and we all peering in and saw what this war was.

Like I said, this is within walking distance of my house. I do not know how the Yankees feel about starting the Civil War 2.0, but before any clean-limbed fighting man of Virginia wants to shoot off his big mouth about how much fun it would be to take up arms against his brother, let him walk on a moonless night through this field, and explain his position to the unquiet ghosts of the brave young men who fell there.

111 Comments

  1. Comment by Curubethion:

    *secession, although the concept of Succession (presumably the hereditary type) is also not terribly enshrined within the American system of government.

    However, so as not to confine my thoughts to petty editing, I will say that this is an excellent post and a reminder to take all things in perspective. It’s astounding how many people don’t take the time to sit down and apply a little Houyhnhnm-style rationality to anything they read. (I’m actually working to rectify this, posting microblogs to Google+ under the hashtag “#60secondlogic”, where I go through some basic principles in everyman’s language. I converted the idea of syllogism, for instance, into the “Point-Point-Whammy argument”.

  2. Comment by Zach:

    If I may, I will defend Seattle to a point. It is a haven for all manner of nuts. However, I was surprised when I found out how many of even the most liberal socially are friendly to gun rights. In fact, of the four states where I’ve lived extensively (the others our Utah, my home state, New Jersey, and Tennessee) Washington had the easiest process for getting a concealed carry permit, and I live in King County, and work in downtown Seattle or Bellevue, depending on clients.

    As for the nuts, it’s something to do with culture here. The nuts are loud, while the natives are reserved by nature. So it seems like most folks keep their opinions to themselves while the vocal weirdos get the press.

    Of the West Coast cities, I think San Diego and Seattle are more sensible than Portland or San Francisco.

    To your point, I will obey Caesar’s laws. I will speak out when they’re foolish, and I will have to follow my conscience about rebellion if it became necessary. I visited the battlefield at Bull Run once, in addition to some of the other sites. I’m also following the events of the sesquicentennial of that war closely. It’s heartbreaking to see good men on both sides die and suffer. If we can avoid Americans fighting Americans, we must.

    • Comment by Mary:

      Yeah, but we also tried to avoid British fighting British.

      That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

      • Comment by SMM:

        Thanks Mary. Agreement from this Westerner. “…not for light and transient causes; …” is hard to judge, but seems to be coming nearer and nearer. Patrick Henry in his “Give me liberty or give me death speech” before clean-limbed Virginians in 1775 urged action when it was obvious further diplomacy, imploring, and concession was no longer viable. “They say we are weak sir. But when will we be stronger? … Why stand we here idle when our brethren are in the field? … clanking of chains …

        I hate to think you are correct John. There will be martyrs to these infringements. Gonzaga refused the sacrifice, but there will be martyrs. Catholics will be on those front lines. Will it be the 5th Amendment that takes you over the edge? The First? The Second? The whole Bill of Rights? As one of TOF’s characters remarks, “There is a thin line between prudence and cowardice.” May God grant us wisdom in discerning this.

  3. Comment by Mrmandias:

    Secession, not succession.

    We are all in favor of success.

  4. Comment by paradox33:

    “…resorting to violence is a DEMOCRAT passtime, that wonderful party that gave us the Confederate States of America… ”

    Lol… I would use someone else bedsides Glenn Beck for my source of history. I recommend reading The Real Lincoln by Thomas Dilorenzo, a Libertarian and a Catholic.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Had you made the book recommendation with the sneer, I might have taken you seriously.

      As it is, I am not sure how to respond politely to a know-nothing who apparently thinks that Abe Lincoln was a Democrat and Jefferson Davis was a Republican and someone named Beck is Emmanuel Goldstein.

      Note to the historically illiterate: Abe Lincoln was the first leader of the Republican Party, which was and is abolitionist. Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederacy, which was pro-slavery. He was a Democrat who served in the Senate, and as the United States Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce, also a Democrat and a ‘doughface’ (Southern sympathizer, i.e. pro-slavery). The Confederacy had only one political party, and guess which one it was? Keep this in mind when some ignoramus lol’s at you for saying the CSA or the KKK was Democrat.

      Glenn Beck I know nothing about, except that the Leftroids hate him with their typical hysteria.

      I used to work on a newspaper in Southern Maryland. All the Good Old Boys who run things, none of them are in the Grand Old Party. The only time in my life I ever heard any utter an actual racist comment was from the lips of Democrats. And this was not some ‘code word’ or ‘dog whistle’, these were men and women who quite openly said within my hearing that blacks are apelike inferiors to whites and that the blacks were better off enslaved in America than free in Africa. All of them were loyal Democrats.

      As a recovering Libertarian, I have read my share of historical revisionism making out Mr Lincoln to be some sort of war criminal. I need not read more. It is on par with theories of Atlantis or Astrology or Keynesianism in terms of intellectual rigor.

      • Comment by paradox33:

        Wow… The historical ignorance is astonishing. Where did the Democrat party of the 1800’s come from? It was the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson. The Republicans came from the Whig Party. Everyone knows monikers change. The word liberal has totally changed from its original meaning of liberty to mean the opposite, leftist. Lincoln was a proto-progressive. The original progressives, Teddy Roosevelt were Republicans and are now Democrats, when they jumped ship and went with FDR.

        Dear Lord, I bet you believe the farce that Lincoln freed the slaves…

        Here you go… a CSPAN interview with Thomas Dilorenzo.

        • Comment by lotdw:

          “Dear Lord, I bet you believe the farce that Lincoln freed the slaves…”

          I believe that was the subject of an excellent historical film last year. You know, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

          On a more serious note, I have no idea what you think is this farce.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          You realize that an arrogant ignoramus condescending to a humble scholar, while it may sooth your conscience from the pangs of guilt you feel about lying to yourself and others, does not actually win arguments or win over people.

          Jefferson Davis was not a whig nor a Democrat-Republican but a Democrat of the same party which exists today, and Abe Lincoln was a Republican of the same party that exists today.

          The politically correct argument, or, rather (I cannot call it an argument) the politically correct word-voodoo or ritual invocation you have magically invoked, namely, saying that since some words change in meaning over time, therefore using words that are meaningless, saying Democrats are not Democrats and Republicans are not Republicans, is illogical on its face. It is a contradiction of the law of non-contradiction.

          I must admit you have impressed me. Never before had I thought I would hear a PCist tell me that Lincoln was a Progressive ergo a Democrat whereas Davis was a conservative ergo a Republican, while at the same time accusing others of being historically ignorant.

          Your lack of shame is awe-inspiring. You can utter a lie which you know to be a lie (and which you know I know is a lie) without breaking character or showing any self-consciousness. You are truly a Yahoo worthy of Johnathon Swift. On behalf of all Houyhnhnms, I salute you with an elaborate genuflection of my forehoof!

          Ah, so the Democrat Party gets the credit for freeing the slaves? Interesting.

          • Comment by SMM:

            Sorry to disagree John, but I see the point. Maybe I’ve been Libertarian influenced, but Lincoln, though having the Republican moniker, would be considered a RINO in most eyes today. He certainly did some major suspension of the Constitution including muzzling the press of the time. What is called the “War of Northern Aggression” in the South might not even occurred without Lincoln’s election. I’m not a good historian, let alone have a good counter-factual imagination, but I wonder what the United States would look like without him. Maybe two countries? Maybe more? but maybe one without all the Civil War deaths of which 1st Bull Run contribution is small.

            The Republican Party gets “the credit” historically. Unfortunately, if you look at Red and Blue States you see that people don’t know history and believe the Republicans are the repressive party. I think this lends some credence to Paradox33. Monikers change. Values and character do not.

            Lincoln had good values and character. He made difficult decisions. I don’t believe he was a good Constitutional President, but most believe he was the best President, and perhaps he was. I believe in Divine Providence, but had I been in Maine and called to fight people (Southerners) because they no longer wanted to be part of a nation they freely chose to join, I would have gladly disappeared rather than kill my countrymen. Slavery was due to go the way of the passenger pigeon soon anyway.

            Reading your post of 1:33pm leads me to believe we occupy similar ground. I am a country mouse and hope my lukewarmness to Lincoln’s decisions (but admiration for Lincoln as a man) do not draw down your ire.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              Slavery was due to go the way of the passenger pigeon soon anyway

              I recall thinking similar unrealistically optimistic thoughts back when I was a Libertarian. Please consider becoming a Christian. It will open your eyes. Our model of the universe is more realistic, because it recognizes that man is fundamentally sinful and selfish.

              Nor do I disagree with your assessment of Lincoln. He made hard choices and imposed on the Constitution in shocking ways. But to say he was not a Republican when he founded the party, which was what our friendly neighborhood historical revisionist was trying to say — no, you and he are not in the same ballpark. You are saying Lincoln was not a demigod. The PC thought-prisoner was saying Lincoln was a progressive ergo a Democrat and Davis was a racist ergo a Republican.

              What you are saying is a reasonable argument when honest men can differ. What the thought prisoner was saying was an outrageous slander of Orwellian magnitude, one which should be answered with a pistol duel, or perhaps with psychotherapy.

              • Comment by SMM:

                “Please consider becoming a Christian.”

                I’d like to think I have (at my confirmation) and do (with every mass I attend, sacrament I receive, and prayer I say). But I’d better let the merciful Judge be the judge of that. With you, I also, “…regard history as little more than the crime report coming from a place we Christians charmingly call the Vale of Tears in the Shadow of Death.”

                St. Thomas Aquinas said all things were good (God made them), but sin was to choose a lesser over a greater good. All God’s creation gives Him glory. Man with free will can choose to debase God’s grace. Perhaps the hell and strife of the Civil War was necessary to end slavery. In any event, that is water under the bridge, and God in His Providence provided it. Lincoln in his wisdom accepted it, too.

                How stand we today? It appears a Christian blogger cannot even amiably discuss matters, let alone drug addled narcissists who turn weapons (or knives and vacuums – Unhappy 40th) on innocents.

                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  “It appears a Christian blogger cannot even amiably discuss matters…”

                  Pardon me, was this meant to imply my comment was not amiable? All I did was agree with you. I admit I was not amiable to the fellow who spat at me and said that Lincoln was a Progressive, but at least I was polite.

                  I notice Lincoln also said God’s judgment was against the Northerners for having so long tolerated, aided and abetted the horrific practice of slavery. Every drop of blood shed by the slave whip would be answered by a drop of blood shed by the sword, or words to that effect. He knew the whole nation was under the tragic wrath of heavenly judgment, and it was not just some simplistic fight of good unionists against nasty rebels.

                  • Comment by SMM:

                    Sorry Mr. Wright. The limits of internet communications. The Christian blogger I was alluding to was Mr. Shea. Not having a blog, I need to be more understanding of the stresses of having to put up with horrible displays of what you have compared to a two minute rage. My apologies to Mr. Shea’s blog which I read very infrequently and with much less joy and elucidation than yours.

                    Please know I hold you in high regard for your integrity and charity which is often on display. P squared is but one example. God continue to bless you.

  5. Comment by Zach Frey:

    I do think (and have said so to Mr. Shea) that, while he certainly may run his blog as he pleases, it would be good if somehow, somewhere the issues which appear to be in the air regarding use of force, the resisting of tyrants, and the establishment of the Republic could be discussed rationally.

    On reflection, this probably requires re-acquiring the ability to have rational political discourse in this country at all, which is a somewhat larger project…

    God have mercy.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      If you want my opinion, the time to take up arms is pretty well established:

      Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…

      Reasonable men can differ as to whether we have reached this point in this nation, but I do not think the standard is in dispute.

      If the Dems vote away liberties that we can vote back in, then the ballot box is where we can hold any conflict. As long as the ballot box is open, and we retain the representative forms of government, mutiny is inexcusable.

      At the moment, all we have to do is what the previous generation of Reds and their Useful Idiots did. Spend a generation getting control of the media, the academia, the entertainment industry and the courts of law.

      The media are the enemy. Keep that in mind. They can be defeated without a shot being fired.

      • Comment by Fr. Terry Donahue, CC:

        I’ll chime in with Catholic teaching on necessary conditions for justified armed rebellion (which stikes many of the same notes as above):

        “Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.” (CCC 2243)

        “These principles must be especially applied in the extreme case where there is recourse to armed struggle, which the Church’s Magisterium admits as a last resort to put an end to an obvious and prolonged tyranny which is gravely damaging the fundamental rights of individuals and the common good. Nevertheless, the concrete application of this means can not be contemplated until there has been a very rigorous analysis of the situation. Indeed, because of the continual development of the technology of violence and the increasingly serious dangers implied in its recourse, that which today is termed ‘passive resistance’ shows a way more conformable to moral principles and having no less prospects for success.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, CDF, On Freedom and Liberation, 1986, par. 79)

        “Everyone knows, however, that revolutionary uprisings—except where there is manifest, longstanding tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country—engender new injustices, introduce new inequities and bring new disasters. The evil situation that exists, and it surely is evil, may not be dealt with in such a way that an even worse situation results. ” (Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 1967, par. 31)

        • Comment by Stephen J.:

          While I fully intend to comply with this teaching if the issue ever becomes relevant to me personally (pray God it will not), and I hope that asking this question is not me merely trying subconsciously to rules-lawyer my way out of a dilemma in advance, I do have to ask: Since it is perfectly possible for sane and reasonable people to disagree on whether points #3, #4 and #5 in the above have been reached in any particular situation, what can one do in the event of such disagreement?

          (Let me state for the record that I myself do *not* believe they have been reached or are even near being reached in the current 2nd Amendment issues, although I do consider it legitimate to worry that things appear to be moving in the wrong direction and to object to this.)

          I have always believed that there has to be a mid-point between “Do not do evil that good may come of it” and “Do not resist evil for fear greater evil will come of resisting”, but I admit that I would be very hard put to define that point myself, and any insights or remarks would be helpful.

          • Comment by The Deuce:

            Since it is perfectly possible for sane and reasonable people to disagree on whether points #3, #4 and #5 in the above have been reached in any particular situation, what can one do in the event of such disagreement?

            I think that in real-life scenarios of actual justified secession, this judgement tends to made for you.

            The reason is, people who are attempting a *justified* secession from a legitimate tyranny are not looking to murder and conquer. They are merely looking for freedom from tyranny for themselves and their descendents. As such, such secessions usually start with the aggrieved declining to comply with some unjust law and declaring their independence from it, and asking their rulers to let them go. The tyranny *may* in some cases let them go peacefully (usually this only happens when it’s too weak and broke to do anything about it, like the mass secession from the Soviet Union), but if it’s a genuine tyranny, it is more likely to try and kill them for it.

            At this point, a battle is on. Those on the sidelines no longer have the luxury of deciding whether #3, #4, and #5 have been met. At that point, they can only decide which side in the conflict they favor more.

            In *unjust* secessions, it’s most often obvious that they are unjust, because they begin with the aggrieved initiating violence by putting together a mob and murdering lots of people (think the Jacobin and Bolshevik revolutions), targeting many innocents who didn’t oppress them, but who they consider to be in the way of their attainment of power.

      • Comment by Mary:

        Well, the trick is, if they vote away our guns, we can vote them back in only so long as they are not willing to use force to stop us.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I have seen individual acts of lawlessness from politicians and rogue agencies, but not the general contempt for law and order you are suggesting in that scenario. I am not willing to declare the American experiment a failure just yet. It depends on whether we can destroy the media and academia and save the soul of the nation. I think most Democrats are decent and law abiding people who have been taught to parrot words of utterly evil insanity and nonsense not because they believe them, but rather out of a sense of group loyalty and a feeling of shared but unconfessed guilt.

          All the piles of countless corpses, large and small, created by their heroes and heroines, Che and Stalin and Mao and Dr Kevorkian and Rachel Carson and Margaret Singer must cast at least some sort of shadow in their collective mind.

          • Comment by The Deuce:

            I have seen individual acts of lawlessness from politicians and rogue agencies, but not the general contempt for law and order you are suggesting in that scenario.

            We have seen close to it in recent years. And the dwindling limits they still accept on their power cannot be extrapolated to a hypothetical world in which they knew we were disarmed.

            I will say this: If they ever voted away our guns, we would have both a right and a duty not to comply with that order. As good American citizens, we owe our loyalty first to our country and its laws, and only secondarily to the men who we have charged with administering them, and should the two ever come into irreconcilable conflict, loyalty to our country demands that we must choose the former.

            Our Founders specifically gave us the 2nd Amendment so that we would be forever armed against the possibility of a future tyranny. Defending our country and its laws requires that we maintain that right. If all it requires for a potential tyranny to do an end run around that guarantee is to simply vote away our guns, and then institute tyranny after we all willingly comply with their order of confiscation, then the Founders’ guarantee isn’t worth the weight of the paper it was written on.

            So, if that scenario were to ever happen, we would have a right – no a *duty* – as loyal citizens to do what was necessary to prevent those guns from being confiscated. Bury them, have a friend “steal” them and report them stolen, get a 3D printer and churn as many out as you can, etc. Just don’t comply. They couldn’t find them all, or even a significant fraction of them, and they couldn’t put half the country in jail. To cooperate with men instead of our foundational laws would in fact be an act of sedition against the Republic Of The United States Of America and participation in a coup.

  6. Comment by The OFloinn:

    1. Back in the roaring sixties, the NRA came out foursquare in favor of gun control; i.e., outlawing the sale of guns through mail order. Oswald had gotten his gun through an ad in an NRA magazine. By some odd coincidence, gun rights were being pushed by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton and people haunted by the notion of black men with guns acquiesced in their control. On 2 May 1967, 24 men and six women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols climbed the capitol steps in Sacramento, where Bobby Seale read a statement:

    “The American people in general and the black people in particular take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless. Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.

    http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2013/01/gun-rights-and-civil-rights.html

    2. The measures being proposed, like all government measures, are based upon preening by the proposers rather than effectiveness at goal attainment. “Assault” rifles account for a minuscule proportion of killings in the US. Shorting their magazines by a few rounds each will have no more discernible effect on matters than the original ban had. It just doesn’t take that long to swap out a magazine. Supporters and opponents alike give these measures too much credit. (Supporters accuse opponents of favoring the slaughter of innocents because they credulously believe that these measures would have some effect on that slaughter.) But what matters is not the body count, but the photo-op count.

    3. Lunatic control is seldom mentioned. While most killings employ handguns on entirely rational motives and emotions, the really spectacular ones, the massacres, tend to be carried out by young males who are off their meds. But then we have been giving young men psychotropic drugs for years, and they are fully intended to mess with their minds. We have also been training them in narcissistic personality disorder. And when a narcissist is contradicted he becomes violent.

  7. Comment by The Deuce:

    John:

    Clicking through the links, I read that what Mark Shea said was that resorting to Secession or civil war in response, not to a general ban on guns or universal confiscation, but in response to Federico Lombardi’s remarks that “limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms are certainly a step in the right direction” is a patently nutjob response.

    I didn’t engage in the secession discussion, seeing it as trap bait, but I don’t like how Mark handled it either. My problem with this is that in the discussion referred to (the bottom of which post also contains the comparison to pro-choicers Mr. Winchester probably refers to – search for “It’s amazing how much abortion culture and gun culture rhetorical strategies mirror each other.”) I didn’t actually see anybody propose succession in response to Fr Lombardi’s remarks, or to the idea of magazine size restrictions.

    On the contrary, it appears to me that gun rights supporters were dragged into discussion of secession by gun control proponents, who (as is their wont) came out early declaring that gun rights supporters are a bunch of paranoid psychopaths with fever dreams of violent succession from a tyrannical American government, when everybody knows that a tyrannical American government is a loony idea that will never happen, so gun right proponents should just abandon their hangups and happily go along with whatever piecemeal gun curtailments their state and national governments come up with.

    This forced gun rights supporters to point out that the notion of a benign government becoming tyrannical is a real danger that has much precedent throughout history, and that in some cases secession (preferably peaceful if possible) from such a state could become justifiable. And this caused Mark to declare them all a bunch of treasonous psychopaths with fever dreams of murdering their fellow citizens, who shall no longer be allowed to discuss such matters on his blog.

    • Comment by LeRoy Smith:

      That is exactly how it appeared to me, as well. Polite and reasonable people who tried to make points using as an example a hypothetical non-violent secession were treated with the utmost contumely. Words that were beyond insulting.

      There’s a lot to like about Mark Shea, but in this case he was a ham-fisted jerk. The whole thing was very disheartening, and I can’t imagine reading him anymore.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        There’s a lot to like about Mark Shea, but in this case he was a ham-fisted jerk. The whole thing was very disheartening, and I can’t imagine reading him anymore.

        yeah, checked the comments on that post again. These two replies by mark (first part by poster, 2nd part by marky) really show how unhinged he seems to be now.

        Mr Shea, I kindly encourage you to read a response to this article by fellow Catholic Tom Woods Jr;
        http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/3×5-card-of-approved-opinion-strikes-catholic-blog/

        No. And you are gone too. I don’t need to make my blog a forum for violent fantasy nuts with dreams of the Glorious War of Secession. Had enough with the violent fantasy nuts with torture fetishes.

        And #2…

        You mean the Canadians accomplished a sort of secession without violence? How could that possibly be as we are told here that any and all who discuss either the possibility or reasons for secession must be gun nuts with violent fantasies?

        Annnd you’re gone. Anybody else wanna spout double talk about how we all need guns in order to fight the war of Secession while pretending you aren’t violent fantasists? I can do this all day.

        (note: I did a search on the post, that was the ONLY post by the poster that I could fine so as far as I can tell, he was not “double talking” before mark brought down the banhammer – really if there was more context, shea should have left it in so he’d come off less like a jerk)

    • Comment by Foxfier:

      *sigh*
      Well, that sounds more like what I suspected….

      Somehow, I’m not surprised he’s in Seattle.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I have not examined the material, but I have no reason to doubt you. I feel sorry for Mr Shea, who is a friend of mine. He has often apologized when his own excesses are brought to his attention.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        I like him too, and I will certainly continue to read him, but I’ve been saddened by his comportment on most things gun-related ever since Sandy Hook, with this particular episode just being off the rails imo.

  8. Comment by The Deuce:

    Btw, I would just like to point out, for the benefit of all the would-be Catholic gun-grabbers I’ve seen, how appallingly stupid it is for ANY faithful Christian, and especially any faithful Catholic, to be calling for gun control at this moment in time.

    Perhaps you all forget that you are in the fight of your life against a little thing called the HHS mandate, which is meant to crush your religious liberty by forcing you to violate your sacred edicts on pain of having the government rob you of your ability to make a living?

    That is a fight for which you will need allies, and to have allies you will need to create goodwill among those outside your immediate tribe but who nevertheless share substantial common ground. Your best bet for allies are those who, despite not being Catholic themselves, nevertheless recognize a variation of your divinely-endowed natural rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

    All of those people also have a deep respect for the right to bear arms without infringement, which is in that same Constitution. The absolute most foolish thing you can possibly do right now is to antagonize them by telegraphing your eagerness to stab them in the back before the real HHS fight has even begun, and to reciprocate their defense of your Constitutional rights by helping the same government that is infringing yours to infringe theirs.

    And what do you suppose that your mutual enemy will conclude from this spectacle? He will conclude that you are all a weak, un-unified force, and that you in particular are not really serious about protecting lawful rights in general, but are merely an isolated, self-interested tribe that can be safely beat down. And he will be right.

    And while your allies on the freedom of religion may continue to take your side on principle, they are only human. Do you really think they will fight their hardest for a treacherous ally? For the life of me, I cannot fathom what is going through your heads.

    For the Love Of God (and I mean that literally, not sacrilegiously), please, please use some common sense!

    • Comment by The Deuce:

      Oh, and one more thing to the Christian proponents of gun-grabbing:

      Even if you agree with gun control in principle, are you truly incapable of seeing how Barack Obama is using the exact same tactics of demagoguery and misdirection against 2nd Amendment supporters that he used against you over the HHS mandate? How can you go along with and promote it the moment it’s aimed at interests that you don’t share? How can you join him in his dishonest, bait-n-switch rhetoric about “reasonable” and “moderate” and “commonsense” measures and so forth, and in his strawman libel of those who see what he’s up to and will have none of it? Do you truly not remember that same rhetoric from less than three years ago? Do you think he’s being any more honest or less ideological when he says those things to the would-be allies you are selling out than he was to you?

      Again, use some common sense!

    • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

      The recent history of the Catholic church in the United States does not encourage me to think that her leadership will ever challenge the growth of the state in any arena whatsoever other than those which specifically impact her doctrines.

      For example, where has the church objected to Obamacare on principle, as opposed to objecting only to the few paragraphs that require its institutions to cover contraception and abortion??

      • Comment by John C Wright:

        But there is nothing in Catholicism which objects to socialized medicine on principle, nor should there. That is a prudential judgment about the best and most fair way to ease the suffering the sick in a world of limited resources. It is a wrong judgment, because a free market is best and most fair, but socialized medicine does not violate any Commandment or moral principle in the Bible.

        Keep in mind that the political theories of this world come and go. The Church was born under the Imperial government of Rome, flourished in the limited monarchies of the Dark Ages, ossified under the centralized monarchies of the Renaissance, and was broken by the absolute monarchies of the Reformation, and she endures under the Democracies and constitutional monarchies and parliaments of the Enlightenment and under the Totalitarian madness of the socialists and communists. How could, for example, the archbishop of Peking, or Istanbul, guide his flock if the Mother Church declared socialized medicine to be in principle immoral and ungodly?

        The Church is too big for certain issues like this. It is catholic in the original sense of the word: the universal church for all men under all forms of government and all theories of economics. Only when the secular power intrudes on divine command, as with the HHS mandate to fund abortion and contraception, should and must the Church resist.

        Contraception is immoral universally, because it cuts against human nature. Socialized medicine is immoral only conditionally, because it is imprudent and counterproductive, but it does not rob man of his nature, only of his property and his doctor.

        • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

          Contraception is immoral universally

          In your opinion, should “Catholic” politicians who enable contraception and abortion be permitted to receive the sacraments?

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            I do not receive sacraments when I have committed an unconfessed and mortal sin. I do not see why being a politician should make anyone immune from Church discipline.

            I think Catholic politicians who scorn Catholic teaching and who actively act to undermine it should be disciplined, even up to being excommunicated by the spiritual authority of the Church. On the other hand, excommunication is an extreme penalty, and should be exercised only when all other options are tried.

            I think politicians of any denomination or none who support abortion should be executed by the secular authority of the nation in which they reside. The execution method should be to have scissors thrust into their heads, have their brains sucked out through a tube, and then have their limbs chopped off. They should be denied Christian burial, but merely have their body parts labeled ‘medical waste’ and be hauled off like garbage.

            Oh, wait, does that seem absurdly cruel?

            If so, why do politicians of any denomination or none support having such a thing done to a healthy baby in the womb? Are the politicians who aid and abet the killing of children more worthy of life and respect than the innocent child killed by such methods, a child never given even a name, and denied Christian burial?

        • Comment by The Deuce:

          This seems right to me in principle (although I’ve been told that the Catholic Church has condemned socialism as such, but I’m guessing that has more to do with the calls to mass murder than with the faulty economics).

          However, whatever happened to “Be as innocent as doves and as crafty as serpents”? It was absolutely foolish of the American Bishops to go along with Obamacare up until the very moment their doctrinal ox was gored. Let’s see: a man hostile to everything the Catholic Church stands for, and an abortion fanatic, wishes to set up a health “insurance” system where an unelected health insurance dictator, appointed by him, is able to dictate at whim which “health services” all employers shall provide. What do you THINK is going to happen? The bishops helped to dig their own grave and hang their own noose, and then acted shocked – SHOCKED – that it was for them.

          And here’s the thing. While the 2nd Amendment and the multitude of Constitutional rights violated by every part of Obamacare other than the HHS mandate are not Church dogma, the Catholic Church will, like St. Paul, have to appeal to their legal rights as citizens when arguing their case before the courts. As such, it is absolutely, mind-numbingly, double-facepalmingly foolish for them to undermine those Constitutional rights when they aren’t using them for the specific purposes of defending their specific doctrines, thereby alienating those who don’t share the doctrines but are nevertheless willing to go to the mats on their behalf out of reverence for those rights.

          They simply are not going to win this with only the non-cafeteria Catholic percentage of the population, particularly if they are seen denigrating the very legal principles they appeal to when making their legal case. I’ll repeat it again: Please, people, use some common sense!

          • Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

            The bishops helped to dig their own grave and hang their own noose, and then acted shocked

            Precisely.

            A church which says to the state “Trample upon the properties of the citizenry as you choose, provided only that our little walled garden remains untouched” is liable to find itself bereft of allies.

            But then, perhaps, as our webhost appears to be suggesting, the Catholic church’s strategy in surviving under tyranny is to acquiesce in that tyranny to whatever extent necessary to ensure the survival of its doctrines.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              But then, perhaps, as our webhost appears to be suggesting, the Catholic church’s strategy in surviving under tyranny is to acquiesce in that tyranny to whatever extent necessary to ensure the survival of its doctrines.

              You deeply offend me. If you want a clarification on something I said, please ask. But do not play the ‘beat up the strawman’ game on me.

              In addition to being shopworn, wearisome, and rude, it is also illogical.

  9. Comment by Chris Pennanen:

    You’ve often pointed out that the Republicans were abolitionists, while many Democrats were in support of slavery. Even through much of the 20th century, there was still a substantial racist element in the Democratic Party. While there things are most certainly true (and who would seriously dispute them?), I’m not sure what your point is. The things Democrats and Republicans did decades in the past don’t prove anything about who they are today, because party demographics change, and so do individual party members. If you want to argue that the Republican Party is best for black people, or that Democrats are racist against black people, you should stick to the present for arguments.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      The things Democrats and Republicans did decades in the past don’t prove anything about who they are today

      The statement is false. I am somewhat impressed that you could write it without any apparent self-consciousness. It is also a transparent attempt to change the subject.

      The Good Old Boys network that runs Saint Mary’s County runs it to this day, and they keep blacks nicely segregated and addicted to drugs they help smuggle in, and not one of them is a Republican.

      Let give you the benefit of my experience. Whether it is typical or not, others must decide.

      I have met exactly three racists in my life. One said that black people were closer in the Darwinian scale of evolution to monkeys than whites. One said that American slavery was beneficial to blacks, because the natives in Africa lived in such poor conditions. One said that blacks were an inferior racial stock which was detrimental to white purity, and that whites should live separately from them so as not be contaminated. Two were Democrats; the third I do not know what he was. A National Socialist, by the sound of him.

      On the other hand, my wife was accused of being racist by a Democrat for saying that men should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. I was accused of being racist by a Democrat for saying that Democrats pay lip service to scientific investigation of fact, but ignore science when it is politically convenient, such as statistics about gun violence and contraception and global warming. My black friend was called racist by a Dem for saying that our taxes should be lower. My white best friend and his Japanese wife were both called racists by a Dem for saying that the US Government should abide by the limitations found in the US Constitution.

      I have heard Dems accuse the Second Amendment of being racist, and the National Rifle Association, and Richard Nixon, and the Air Force, and Senator McCarthy, and the Founding Fathers, and the Disney Corporation, and Robert Heinlein, and Superman cartoons, not to mention Alex Toth who drew JONNY QUEST and Ray Walston who played the Martian from the television show MY FAVORITE MARTIAN.

      I have heard Dems claim that the motive for entering World War Two was racist. That is, the Americans, mind you, entered the war without provocation in order to impose a racial agenda, but not the Nazis nor the Imperial Japanese!

      But I have not heard Robert Byrd, who is a Democrat and also a member of the KKK called racist by any Dem. I have not heard the Democrat Sheriffs and Governors who opposed ending segregation and Jim Crow called racists, or, if they were, they were not called Democrats.

      And, by the way, the Civil Rights movement was in my lifetime, so we are not talking about some remote past.

      With this track record, do you honestly think any sane man would take accusations from a party with your background and history seriously?

      Do you really think this attempt to sweep the shameful Dem record of racism under the rug and to appropriate our glorious record of abolition and civil rights for your own use, and take credit for the things the GOP has done, is legitimate?

      • Comment by Chris Pennanen:

        I don’t take credit for Republican accomplishments, any more than I blame myself for slavery. But I don’t see why the history of either party should affect who I support today, except for when they still keep a position they had in the past.

        I’ve never met anyone who thought one race was inferior to another, although I’ve met one person who didn’t like race mixing (a Republican). There is a very real Democratic problem of seeing racism everywhere, but that doesn’t make Democrats racist. It’s a different thing.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          The fundamentals of the parties have not changed. Republicans still do not give a tinker’s damn about race. We care about good and evil. We seek all men to have their natural rights protected. Democrats do not give a tinker’s damn about good and evil, or who owns what. You care about race, and other so-called victim groups. You seek power, allegedly to aid the powerless, but you neither count the costs no notice the side effects of the powerlust, whatever its motive.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        What I think is fascinating is how the racist policies of pre-Civil Rights Democrats are essentially continuous with those of post-Civil Rights Democrats, but they switched up the rationales for their policies.

        Perhaps the most obvious example is Planned Parenthood. Before the Civil Rights era, Planned Parenthood was a eugenics organization, dedicated to contraception and abortion, which they targeted primarily at blacks and other racial minorities, for the express purposes of culling the gene pool of supposed racial inferiors.

        Today, Planned Parenthood still targets contraception and abortion primarily at blacks and racial minorities, but they claim to be doing it in order to provide minority women with “choice.”

        There was no inflection point whatsoever where Planned Parenthood switched from being a racist eugenics organization to a non-racist organization. Their policies and actions were completely continuous from then until today. All they did was switch up their rhetoric and stated rationales for continuing to do what they’ve always done.

        To a lesser extent, the same was and is true of the Democratic party at large, which was and remains a bunch of racial-reductionists who are obsessed with race-based politics and see racial minorities as resources to be manipulated and exploited. The policy details have often changed, as they have come to exploit minorities for votes more than cotton, but not always. For instance, where the 2nd Amendment is concerned specifically, there never was a time where the Democrats wanted lawful black citizens to be armed, and they have worked to disarm them nonstop since the end of the Civil War. They’ve merely switched up their rhetoric over time to be about “stopping gun violence” rather than disarming inferior races, but they still do the same thing, with the same disastrous results to loss of life of black citizens.

  10. Comment by Bob McMaster:

    I’m not a fan of Mark Shea for various reasons (and indeed, have not been for quite some time). This latest round of telling me that I’m a vile, murderous, torture-loving fiend for thinking it a bad idea in the long-term to surrender my weapons to the same state behemoth he also distrusts in every other aspect of life is but another in a litany of reasons I fail to find Mr Shea at all amiable. It’s not to say that he’s not often right about many things, of course, but his attitude and demeanor are such that I cannot like him. I would not presume, of course, to attempt to persuade you out of your own friendly regard, for what I find unbearably unpleasant another may well find merely an irritating peccadillo. Your own project, to create amity where it has been lost, is far more noble. Though I remain unconvinced, I honour your efforts.

    On a completely different note, I finally got a copy of your latest from my library and I am enjoying it quite a bit, though I find it very different from Count to a Trillion. I’ll buy my own when the book budget recovers from the holiday giving season and when I know what the taxman intends to do to me this year.

  11. Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

    I think people might benefit from a snapshot of British culture and its take on guns.
    The public is not really in favor of widely available weaponry, and after Hungerford and Dunblane the guns that were confiscated were not missed. It’s just not something most people have an interest in – for recreational purposes, but also not for self defensee or the idea that they could be used to oppose a tyrannical takeover.
    I’m not fussed on guns, personally. I wouldn’t mind a bit of recreational shooting (and I could apply for a permit), but I don’t want them becoming legally available. On the streets there are a lot of violent youngsters in and out of work who lounge around, commit petty crimes and generally make a nuisance of themselves. If guns were to become widely available they would certainly find a way to access them and make everyone elses life much more difficult.
    And the police force has a tradition – one they uphold proudly – of not being armed. This probably goes back to the 19th century politician Robert Peel, the man who created the modern police force. He was insistent that the “police are the public, and the public are the police.” The Police should not be a type of standing army – they should make the public feel that they have nothing to fear.
    And by and large the police are still not in favor of adding guns to their basic equipment – something like 70%. I asked my father (now retired) about this and he told me that the guns would probably end up being stolen and used against other policemen, some officers would end up doing stupid things because they would now feel they had to use them and suicidal officers would find it easier to commit suicide using them. I think that’s fair enough.
    (A person doesn’t always plan suicide – they make spur-of-the-moment decisions, and with a gun it’s much easier to practice and play around with the idea).
    If you ask Fabio Barbieri about the subject he’ll probably tell you he’s not in favor of guns either, and you’d probably get similar reactions from Catholics across Europe. Because we have a difference in mindset I don’t think we should be labelled cowards or dupes, or unwilling to protect ourselves and our families as some pro-gun combox warriors seem eager to believe.
    And I would say that Mark has picked up on the incredible hostility and anger coming from some elements of the pro-gun crowd.
    On the Breitbart page you linked to, this one had 20+ likes-
    “This leftist scum doesn’t know history, and he certainly doesn’t understand freedom. Hopefully when his time comes, it will be painful and slow.”
    Of course the Breitbart comment box is often a place where good sense, reason and basic decency go to die (along with the Guardian or Huffington Post comment boxes, lest you think I’m biased) but it’s still disheartening to see such a violent reaction over it. People say dumb things – I’m pretty sure that George Bernard Shaw or H.G Wells said an awful lot of moronic things to Chesterton, but the jolly Catholic never expressed his frustrated desire, blocked by his faith, that they should be shot for doing so.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      The public is not really in favor of widely available weaponry, and after Hungerford and Dunblane the guns that were confiscated were not missed.

      I was under the impression that violent crime rates skyrocketed.

      • Comment by meunke:

        By a multiple of three, yes it has.

        I would also point out one little tidbit regarding suicide:

        South Korea has EXTREMELY strict gun control and it also has the highest recorded suicide rate in the entire world.

        Poland has the strictest gun control in all of Europe and their suicide rate is the same as the United States.

        A happy, well adjusted person doesn’t become suicidal when weapons are around, and a sad, despairing, suicidal person doesn’t suddenly decide that life is worth living because he has to put an entire bottle of pills in his mouth instead of the barrel of a revolver.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        It wasn’t just your impression. Violent crime has skyrocketed, but it hasn’t caused the Brits to question the wisdom of their gun bans. On the contrary, it has caused them to start banning various kinds of knives and other potentially dangerous tools. And when those measures fail, they just get more ridiculous.

        It’s similar to the way that the Brits don’t question the premise of their national health care service, even though it is a disaster by any objective measure, and continues to produce worse and worse horror stories. Instead of taking action to remedy their oppression like men, they console themselves that everything is alright with a bunch of therapeutic babble, and keep on keeping on.

        When Englishmen like Owain tell you how satisfied the Brits are with their health care system and their gun control, they aren’t actually telling you anything about the goodness of those systems. They’re telling you about themselves. In particular, they are confirming that Great Britain has lost its balls, and demonstrating the prescience of our Founders’ fears that when a people hand over their defense and their well-being to a supposedly benevolent government, they will become serfs with an internalized serf mentality, ripe for tyranny and oppression.

        • Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

          @TheDeuce

          Not English. I’ll give you a clue though – google the name.
          Quite impressed by your long distance psychoanalysis.

        • Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

          “When Englishmen like Owain…”

          Let’s play guess my nationality!

          I’ll give you a clue – it’s in the name. Google it.

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            It is also a name Shakespeare made famous. “I can call up spirits from the vasty deep” “Why so can I, or so can any man; But
            will they come, when you do call for them?”

            Forgive us, we are Americans. We don’t give a damn about race. I keep telling people I am a Virginian, and I am still mistaken for a Marylander.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I assume any man of any nation who speaks up in favor of gun control is merely a frightened slave kissing his fetters. Slaves do not decide the fate of nations.

          Political Correctness is a thought-prison, whose bars those inside cannot admit exist, perhaps not even see. Praying for them will do more than upbraiding them, since they cannot hear us, not really. The words we use cannot pass the bars. The mission of Christian gentlemen is to love and to free the captive.

          • Comment by Stephen J.:

            As a Canadian who used to be in favour of what is now popularly called “gun control” before being reluctantly convinced by both logic and the evidence that the actual measures covered by that label in practice would not achieve their desired effect, I would like to suggest that that may be somewhat unfair.

            All civilized nations favour some level of restriction on private weapon ownership, and recognize in practice certain categories of adults who cannot be permitted free access to such weapons — convicted felons, the mentally unstable, etc. — as well as reserving certain levels of weaponry concentration by volume and deadliness to officers of the State. I do not think arguing that there may be practical benefits to tightening these limits in certain ways must be the credo of a slave kissing his fetters; it may simply be someone unconvinced that the benefits of looser limits are worth the cost of that looseness, just as we are unconvinced that the benefits of tighter limits would be worth what they cost.

            Given that all cost-benefit analyses inevitably rest on subjective definitions of value, I think it is worth granting the benefit of the doubt where possible. People who are, in their own mind, only trying to prevent another Sandy Hook by trying to make guns harder to get are rarely if ever convinced to rethink their positions by being told those positions are based on cowardice. (And even if the positions are based on fear, are not most political positions adopted in significant part because of fear of what we believe the alternatives’ consequences will be? Fear is, by definition, an instinct oriented towards overreaction, and merely being told it is an overreaction seldom helps alleviate it.)

            I myself am still in favour of “gun control”; I have simply come to believe that a culture of responsible ownership makes for a much better control mechanism in practice than a regime of restrictive regulation, especially given the practical difficulties of imposing any such regime on a culture with no pre-existing inclination towards such restriction. And all of my blather above does make the assumption that the person arguing for gun control has respectable motives and is honest about them; I fully recognize in many instances this may well be untrue. But I do not think you can call a man a slave because, after having seen the suffering caused by the consequences of what a law made possible, he wants to make that law stricter in such a way as to prevent such suffering in future.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              We agree that all rights have some limits, and all principles must yield to greater principles. As I said, I do not think private ownership of nukes or even tanks is permissible. Nor do I think keeping firearms out of the hand of felons, children, madmen, and so on is irresponsible. That requires background checks and even gun owner lists. And, throughout this discussion, I have never doubted the power of state and local governments to impose reasonable restriction on the use and handling of firearms. I am first a foremost a federalist, or, as the Catholic philosophy would put it, I believe in subsidiarity, putting the power closest to those over whom it is exercised.

              But let us recall the specific context of this discussion. We were discussing “gun control” measures that included nonsense like banned scary-looking weapons no different from non-scary looking weapons which have the same performance characteristics. We were discussing limits on magazine sizes which has no purpose even granting the assumptions most favorable to those who commend such a policy. It does not even theoretically stop misuse nor allow homeowners proper self defense. Even in a good light against a stationary target, a marksman can miss more than ten times. In the dark, in a panic, against a violent attacker? How can a politician say seven bullets is enough, or thirteen?

              Nevertheless, even if my comments do not apply as broadly as I said, I submit that in principle, a man who seeks to disarm himself and his fellow man is a dependent. He relies for someone else on his protection. That is fundamentally servile, because it assumes that dependency on his superiors will render him safer from his equals than independence.

              Myself, I can think of cases where I do indeed fear my neighbors more than my government, and I seek to be dependent and servile. In general, however, the weight of history is against that calculation when it comes to firearms. Overbearing governments have proved far, far, far more dangerous than criminal gangs within the last two centuries, and by an orders of magnitude.

              Mao killed 65 million civilians of his own people. That figure is astronomical. Any man whose conscience is not shocked to the core is inert. Mao simply and absolutely could not have done that, had the Chinese people been armed, even with small arms. The USSR murdered some 20 million. Compare that to the murder rate in Chicago or London. It is not even on the same scale.

              So, I will accept your correction and admit my statement was, shall we say, over enthusiastic, even intemperate. But intemperance in defense of liberty is no vice.

              • Comment by Stephen J.:

                “Overbearing governments have proved far, far, far more dangerous than criminal gangs within the last two centuries, and by an order of magnitude.”

                On a mass statistical level this is absolutely true. But the problem is that this is wholly unpersuasive on an individual level for most people, because while the magnitude of tyranny’s danger is far greater, the distribution and frequency of crime’s danger means that any given person in the West is much likelier, in practice, to be a victim of violent crime than a victim of violent government abuse — barring controlling for economic and cultural factors, of course; but even the average black or Hispanic youth who rightly complains of profiling and police brutality is still far likelier to die, on an individual case-by-case basis right now, by a gun in his fellows’ hands than a gun in a policeman’s hand.

                And while it’s easy to see Mao and Stalin for the monsters they are in hindsight, I myself am not 100% sure an armed populace would have prevented those tyrannies’ rise — if Islam’s jihadists prove anything, after all, it’s that a small group with the will to use what weapons they have can very often defeat much larger and better-armed groups lacking that will. If the Maoists and the Bolsheviks were willing to take on armies, I can’t see them being afraid to take on the People, especially if they honestly thought those People were on their side (as most revolutionaries do). An armed populace might have done nothing more than turn those rises to power into civil wars that cost even more lives and were still lost; I myself don’t consider that enough reason to disarm a populace, but someone who truly believes that death is oblivion, or that living while enduring tyranny is preferable to encouraging a pointless death trying futilely to stop it (as the Church herself teaches, in certain circumstances), might well come to the conclusion that the risks of an armed minority are preferable to the risks of an armed majority.

                As I hope has been evident, all of this is not to disagree with your thesis (I myself agree with it) as to point out why people may fail to be convinced by it in its current form. The wolf at the door is always scarier than the dragon two miles away; our arguments are going to have to take that fact into account to gain any traction.

                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  any given person in the West is much likelier, in practice, to be a victim of violent crime than a victim of violent government abuse —

                  Are you taking into account everyone in Eastern Europe since the Armenian Genocide in 1915? Or is your argument that Westerners need not worry about tyrants, now that we, like the Germans in 1920, are all civilized Westerners?

                  Since, last time I was at mass, my priest ordered me to pray for freedom of religion, the preservation of marriage, and the lives of the unborn, I would say that we are not a comfortable distance from a social breakdown and a rapid rush to some charismatic dictator for salvation as all that. I never, ever thought to see such things in my life as I have seen in the last six years coming from our government, and never thought to see such rapid and sickening acquiescence from the public.

                  I do agree that to the average panicky liberal, raised on a steady diet of nonsense and devoted to a psuedoreligion which calls it meritorious to believe unreal things, that the steady fall of the violent crime rate in America, the precipitous fall of violent crime in areas that have concealed carry laws, and the skyrocketing of violent crime in areas that impose draconian gun bans, would not have any influence whatsoever on his fear of Negroes, and his panicky fear of armed Negroes. I agree he fears them more than he fears a creeping socialism, which he regards as his friend and nanny and loving Big Brother.

                  But the argument for the liberal is emotional and not rational. I do not deny your point, I merely think nothing will convince the panicky liberal to make a rational rather than an emotional decision. The argument in favor of liberty is always less persuasive, because less gripping and dramatic, than the screaming fear of Negroes, guns, and crime, or the fear of ‘angry white men’.

                  All we need do is tell the Liberals that the guns in America will all be placed in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the liberals do not fear and cannot see as an enemy, they will relax and no longer demand stricter gun laws.

      • Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

        That is false. There’s a popular statistic floating around that compares British statistics on violent crime with American statistics, but the comparison is false – http://tinyurl.com/a8cwjbf.
        In any case, the people who owned guns before that were few and far between ; to own a gun (unless it was a shotgun, which you can still apply for) made you stand out. My grandparents never owned a gun, my mothers family never owned a gun, my various friends families didn’t own a gun – see what I mean? The point some people are trying to make – “The British disarmed and were thus unable to defend themselves”- doesn’t take into account the lack of interest most British people felt about firearms even before the ban.
        I was wondering what you thought about the right to guns – is it more important for self-defense, or does the protection against tyranny argument factor in for you as well?

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          There seems to be some dispute over the statistics involved. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-154307/Gun-crime-soars-35.html. Some people are even calling it a sham: http://www.theendrun.com/larry-pratt-british-gun-crime-stats-a-sham

          This is not my area of expertise, so I will leave it to others to discuss. I will confess that I do not base my conclusions on statistics, since I know too well how easy they are to use in deceptive ways.

          My expertise is law, so I regard this as a question of legal principle. To answer your question:

          The Second Amendment is a prohibition on the Federal government. The history of the time, and the legal terminology used make it clear that it was meant both as an individual right and as a safeguard so that the states could rebel against the federal government if the federal government overstepped its grounds.

          The Second Amendment does not necessarily restrict State and local governments. However, the clear trend since the Civil War (our Civil War) has been to regard those rights in the Bill of Rights as universal, hence the restrictions on Congress as binding on state and local governments as well. The technical term is ‘incorporation’ that is, whether the Due Process clause incorporates the constitutional prohibition against Congress against state and local lawmakers.

          US v Miller 307 U.S. 174 (1939) was for many years the only case law on the subject, and the court there held that because a Tommy gun was NOT a military weapon (an error of fact), and therefore a private individual had no right to own one. In other words, the Supreme Court held (only as dicta, mind you) that the right was individual, but it was a right to military grade weapons, not hunting rifles. However, the holding in Miller was ambiguous, to say the least.

          District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) held that the right to keep and bear arms was individual, and could not be infringed in the federal enclave of the district. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 US 3025 (2010) held that the right was an individual right, including the right for self-defense.

          I believe a man’s opinion on the question of gun control is a perfect touchstone for his opinion on mankind in general. I would trust my neighbors with small arms and rifles, and not long ago one of my neighbors has a fully automatic weapon he keeps in his car, which troubled me not in the least bit. I know that country folk tend to keep arms and use them and have no fear of them. My grandfather was a masterful hunter, and kept the stuffed head of a many-tined buck on his wall for many a year as a prize.

          But when I worked in New York City, I did not trust, or even know, my neighbors. How can you know your neighbors in an crowded urban environment?

          I wonder how much of the gun control debate is the city mouse arguing with the country mouse, the urban Tories against the countrified Whigs. I am certainly open to the argument that a reasonable level of restriction is needed more in the cities than in the country. As with most American political questions, I favor a federalist approach rather than one rule equally applied to all states and counties.

          That said, in general, I regard gun ownership as a duty in addition to a right. If you are not armed, you are relying on some other man to fight for you, and to protect you and your family. While I think it acceptable for women and children to behave this way, I do not think any gentleman with the right to vote — and to vote means you control the government, that is, the apparatus of mass coercion in society, a weapon more terrible than any gun — can act this way unashamed. (I should mention, in the interests of full disclosure, that I carry blades but not firearms, and I am ashamed of that fact.)

          I do regard some restriction on military style weapons, such as tanks and bazooka, as a necessity, but the private citizen in a free country should have at least the same level of lethal weaponry at his command as the police, SWAT teams, or BATF (who are, in a free republic, our fellow citizens). If the police have machine guns, the citizens should have machine guns. I see nothing wrong with legal restrictions on arms the police do not have.

          I make one exception: In countries which do not have or obey a posse comitatus rule (and therefore can use military style weapons against civilians, as happened during the massacre at Waco), that restriction would not apply, and the civilians should have the right to keep and bear the arms needed to fight effectively against the federal government during mutiny and rebellion. Now, does this mean I want citizens walked the streets with rocket launchers? No, not at all. This would create much too much drama between drunk crowds at Mardi Gras or soccer games, for example. It means I want the military not to be used on American soil or against American citizens.

          • Comment by The Deuce:

            This is not my area of expertise, so I will leave it to others to discuss. I will confess that I do not base my conclusions on statistics, since I know too well how easy they are to use in deceptive ways.

            What’s questionable are the attempts to give a straight-up comparison of American violent crime figures to British ones. It’s too far from being an apples-to-apples comparison, which is why smart 2nd Amendment advocates don’t do it (However, combined comparison of countries within Europe are probably more valid, and they tell the same story).

            What’s not in question, however, is that British violent crime rates have skyrocketed since the firearm ban. That much is very clear.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              “What’s not in question, however, is that British violent crime rates have skyrocketed since the firearm ban. That much is very clear.”

              No, it is not clear. It is still open to question. It merely happens to be a question I am not willing to discuss.

              Leftist always simply declare debates ‘over’ when they have not yet begun (cf. claims that global warming is ‘settled science’ when respected experts still dispute the claim.) It is a tactic, not an argument, and it is a sleazy tactic, betraying a dishonest intent.

              Don’t do things like that, not to me, not if you mean to be taken seriously.

              • Comment by The Deuce:

                Ah, you are correct and I apologize. I was not aware that “official” UK stats didn’t report on the manifold increase in violent crime, because almost every informed person I see who addresses the topic, on either side, seems to take it for granted that there has been one (How many violent crimes were the recent London riots reported as, I wonder?)

                EDIT: Although, then again, the British Home Office statistics meunke links to below look pretty ugly to me, so I have to wonder which “official” British statistics don’t show an increase in violent crimes.

                • Comment by Foxfier:

                  This is probably related:
                  The Home Office says there has been a downtrend in overall violence for the past decade.
                  But last October it emerged that levels of violent crime in England and Wales had been underestimated for more than a decade because of a blunder in recording methods.
                  Ministers admitted that some police forces had not been recording offences of grievous bodily harm with intent as serious violent crime. When the offences were included violent crime figures immediately increased by a fifth.
                  Separate figures disclosed in May showed that the number of people requiring hospital treatment after being seriously hurt in street fights or assaults has risen 50 per cent in five years.
                  More than 20 people a day were taken to hospital accident and emergency departments in England last year after being hit, kicked, scratched or bitten. Alcohol is blamed as a factor in half of the incidents and raises further questions over 24-hour drinking.
                  Researchers admit that comparisons of crime data between countries must be viewed with caution because of differing criminal justice systems and how crimes are reported and measured.
                  A Home Office spokesperson said: “These figures are misleading. Levels of police recorded crime statistics from different countries are simply not comparable since they are affected by many factors, for example the recording of violent crime in other countries may not include behaviour that we would categorise as violent crime.
                  “Violent crime in England and Wales has fallen by almost a half since a peak in 1995 but we are not complacent and know there is still work to do. “

                  Being hospitalized because of a crime doesn’t mean the crime was a violent one, you see? Sort of like the US’s habit of counting everyone that shows signs of life after being born as being born alive, even if they were very premature, while some other countries have “miscarriages” that are alive and walking around.

          • Comment by meunke:

            “I wonder how much of the gun control debate is the city mouse arguing with the country mouse”
            – I have often thought the same thing.

            While I don’t agree with everything he says, THIS GUY makes a similar point. He was a crime reporter and also wrote a military column for many years.

            And yes, there are I believe reasonable restrictions that can be applied. Just as one example, I don’t know of anyone who wants to repeal the law that states violent felons can’t legally purchase firearms. But I do have to wonder at the logic (although often the motivation too) of people who make stupid and draconian ideas like demanding that all existing cartridge types be banned from circulation and replaced with new types that only function in certain, government approved firearm types.

          • Comment by The Deuce:

            I believe a man’s opinion on the question of gun control is a perfect touchstone for his opinion on mankind in general.

            Left-wing ideology is incoherent on this point, as on all others. The Leftist is terrified that his neighbors are savages just waiting for a chance to murder him, but he believes that if only one of them can be invested with absolute power, that person will become absolutely incorrupt.

        • Comment by meunke:

          I will agree that I don’t like to take one or two data items and then try to use them to prove a cause an effect relationship across several countries. Comparing points WITHIN countries to attempt to show limited relationships is ok, but even then you have to be careful as countries are farm from homogeneous.

          Consider: In the United States, based on the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, from 1990 through 2011, we had over a 50% drop in both violent crime in general and also in murder rates in particular. Also during this same period, guns laws, in general, were liberalized: Concealed Carry Weapon laws are now available in all but one state, the so-called ‘assault weapon’ ban expired and various other changes were made. Now, does this prove that liberal availability of firearms decreases crime? No, i don’t think this limited point demonstrates that. What it does show is that it doesn’t increase violent crime.

          Another mistake many make when looking at crime figures is that they assume that crime, like peanut butter over toast, is evenly spread over the country. Hence, people say silly things like ‘You’re 3 times more likely to be shot in the US than in Country X’. The answer to this is actually, no. Violent crime in the US is mostly concentrated in narrow urban centers of major cities (again, check FBI statistics, as they break down crime rates even by neighborhoods). So, returning to the ‘3 times likely’ assertion, if you are standing in a shopping mall in Overland Park, the answer is actually no, you’re not going to get shot at all. If you are standing on MLK Blvd in Detroit, then yes, you are probably about 3x more (or more) likely.

          Now, for Britain, the Home Office statistics are not anywhere near as rosy as the US.SOURCE

          So what does this prove? It proves that each country has unique problems, and simply saying ‘look at country X, it has less/more of Y than country Z’ doesn’t give us actionable data. If one could magically wave a wand and remove firearms from the US, we wouldn’t transform into peaceful Sweden. Dumping those same firearms on Sweden would also not turn that country into Somalia. There are other factors in play.

          • Comment by The OFloinn:

            We need only compare the homicide rates in US border states to the Canadian provinces they border upon. Or New England to the South.

            A Canadian friend of mine once commented a number of years ago that if Southerners, black and white, and their descendants in the North were discounted, the US would have the murder rate of Denmark.

            • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

              That may be true, but it does not seem like a very useful thing to know. In a somewhat similar vein, if the Danes were discounted, then Denmark would have the murder rate of Antarctica.

              • Comment by meunke:

                Always knew those murderous Danes were the cause of all the trouble! :-P

              • Comment by Tom Simon:

                It is somewhat useful, when dealing with a population as thoroughly heterogeneous as that of the U.S.; because such a population is not readily amenable to bulk statistical analysis in the way that more homogeneous populations are.

                For example, it is a fact often bruited about by Leftists, who wish to increase the power of the teachers’ unions and increase the reach (and expense) of public education, that a Northern state such as Minnesota or Wisconsin (I forget which state was used in the example), which spends a great deal on public schools, gets better standardized test scores than a state such as Texas, which spends less per capita. The devil is in the details, as always. It turns out that non-Hispanic white children in Texas have higher average scores than non-Hispanic white children in the Upper Midwestern state in question; Hispanic children in Texas have higher average scores than Hispanic children in the U.M.S.I.Q.; likewise with black and ‘Asian’ children. The superiority of the U.M.S.I.Q. in the overall test averages derives entirely from demographics — they have more of the highest-scoring populations and far fewer of the lowest-scoring ones.

                Then there is this celebrated anecdote:

                A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, ‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty.’ Milton Friedman replied, ‘That’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either.’

              • Comment by The OFloinn:

                Europeans in general do not seem to grasp the size and variety of the United States; that there is no one single people called “Americans”. Rather, it is “a nation of nations,” and matters vary considerably among them. There are more people and more varied people in the State of New Jersey than in all of Sweden. It is exceptionally useful to know that you are less at risk in Montana or the Dakotas than you are in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, let alone in Detroit or New Orleans. California alone has more people than either Poland or Canada. And the Northeast (Maine-to-Virginia plus Ohio) is as big as and more varied than the UK, France, or Germany. Size and diversity matters in matters statistical.

    • Comment by Mary:

      You speak as if they do not have access to them now.

      I must point out that you didn’t have this problem with those criminals like that a hundred years ago when you had no gun control at all.

  12. Comment by meunke:

    I would have to say that yes, the baiting was strong with that post. And yes, some of the responses were less than charitable. But then, when faced with broad and stupid comments from some of his fans like I just read over there:

    “Secessionism is at the rotten heart of gun culture. Hatred and fear of other people, other cultures, other possible futures than their own.”

    One can perhaps forgive people’s lack of charitable response, even thought restraint should still rule debate.

  13. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    I’m sorry to nitpick, but you touch on no less than two of my particular pet peeves in one post – and in fact I see in the comments that you also at one point had ‘succession’ for ‘secession’, which is a third. (It is possible that I have too many pet peeves.) At any rate:

    ‘flare’ – should be ‘flair’. (Not your error originally, as you’re quoting someone, but I suggest fixing the spelling in your own sentences.)

    Then, twice:

    we reign him back in.

    Anyone who is talking about treason should be reigned back in.

    The verb you want is ‘rein’, as in pulling on the strap that connects a horse’s bridle to the rider’s hands, called a ‘rein’. ‘Reigning’ is the act of being a head of state. The two may be etymologically connected, since a rider metaphorically reigns over his horse by means of his rein; but whatever the connection they are separate words.

    And since I’ve gotten such a good start at shooting my mouth off:

    saw was this war was.

    should presumably be “saw what this war was”.

  14. Comment by PatrickO:

    Thank you for the thoughtful defense, John. Mr. Shea can be careless and intemperate, but he’s hardly alone in that. Re the revisionists who paint Lincoln as a monster and point out — quite rightly– that the Emancipation Proclamation had more sympbolic than practical value, what, pray tell, is wrong with appropriate symbolism?

    I used to be more libertarian than I am now, but the political arguments made at libertarian websites like Lew Rockwell’s are ultimately unconvincing. Mr. DiLorenzo may point out that Lincoln was a reluctant abolitionist or that he fought more to preserve the Union than to free the slaves, but revisionists cannot deny that Lincoln did indeed become an abolitionist, and that the Republican party was abolitionist from the start. Revisionists also have no answer for the freed slaves who honored Lincoln as “Father Abraham” even before his passing.

    • Comment by The OFloinn:

      For that matter, it makes more sense to view Lincoln as an abolitionist with a fine sense of what was politically achievable at any given political moment.

      • Comment by Suburbanbanshee:

        A large number of Northern abolitionists and Republicans, like my immigrant Irish great-great-great, were people who had seen the slave markets of New Orleans while in the Big Easy on flatboat business, and had been revolted enough to revolt against the whole concept.

  15. Comment by joetexx:

    Mr. Wright,

    I have been thinking about your hero Van Vogt and the Isher stories in connection with the renewed gun control debate. It occurred to me that the weapons supplied by the Shops met some of the stipulations desired by Mr. Shea, in that they could only be used by the purchaser and only in self-defense
    ( I forget how this last was supposed to work).

    Dr Thomas Bertonneau has posted a lengthy comment at the Orthosphere about his holiday season reading, where he starts off with a discussion of the Weapons Shops stories. The essay is lengthy and wanders all over the map, but he also includes appreciations of the Northwest Smith stories, of Burroughs, and of other pulp SF.

    An old fanboy may find it of interest.

    http://orthosphere.org/2013/01/23/pulp-fiction-the-trinity-the-samurai-trilogy-and-the-old-city-hall-tavern-or-what-i-did-over-winter-break/

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Thanks for the link. I love any discussion of Van Vogt.

      Like many sciencefictioneer of that the time, I do not think Van Vogt’s idea for the Isher government would fall into any political parties of the modern age. What would it be called? Imperial Monarchic Crypto-Hoplarchy?

      The Weapons Shops and the Isher government were both being run by the same all powerful immortal and benevolent dictator, meant to act as a check on the excesses of each other. The philosophy was rather cynical: that men end up with the government they deserve because it is the government they support, but the magic weapons of the Weaponsmiths prevented the imperial government from taking the final step into a totalitarian state where the people lost the power to change their ways and reverse course. In the end of the second book, the secret of good government is discovered to be teaching virtue to the people, not finding a clever system of laws. It was very Aristotelian in that respect.

  16. Comment by Vicq Ruiz:

    Having followed your posts here for the last few months, I had come to see you as a strong defender of Christianity as a bulwark against statism (a position with which I agree notwithstanding my unbelief).

    I daresay I supposed that you would be an admirer of such Christians as Graf von Galen and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as indeed you may be.

    Perhaps I have been mistaken in either conclusion, but regardless, it certainly came as a shock to see your suggestion that “the Bishop of Beijing” – or any other church leader – self-censor his opposition to what is not “socialized medicine” adopted in a careful, deliberate manner by a clear majority of a democratic republic, but is rather a takeover of private institutions essentially by administrative decree.

    I apologize if I have incorrectly characterized your position as “acquiescence to tyranny”. But that apology is confined to you alone. I unhesitatingly maintain that anyone – layman, rabbi, deacon, or bishop – who remains silent in the face of such a takeover does, in fact either endorse or acquiescence.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      You mistake my point entirely.

      The Church is here to save human souls, which are immortal. They will outlast the stars and galaxies. Secular institutions created for the convenient collective administration of justice and coordination of self defense that we call ‘kingdoms’ will not last even half a million years.

      Roman Imperial government is roughly 2000 years old, about as old as the invention of paper, or the aquaduct. European styled limited monarchy is roughly as old as the stirrup and the horse collar. Absolute monarchy is about as old as gunpowder. The modern theory of limited republican government is about as old as electricity. The even more modern theory of unlimited socialist government is about as old as the aeroplane. The distinction you draw between unprincipled socialist government by the elite versus principled socialist government by the mob is even more recent than this, about as old as the invention of the radio.

      Now, by your way of looking at things, was everything the Church did for the last two thousand years with the sole exception of activities in the United States of America for one tneth thta span of time immoral on the grounds that we cooperated with unjust forms of government?

      The Church is not concerned with small and temporary troubles.

      There is in fact a Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Peking. It was established in 1307.

      “Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by the Communist Party of China, Catholicism, like all religions, has been permitted to operate only under the supervision of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. All worship must legally be conducted through state-approved churches belonging to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which does not accept the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

      “Clergy who resisted this development were subject to oppression, including long imprisonments as in the case of Cardinal Kung, and torture and martyrdom as in the case of Fr. Beda Chang, S.J. Catholic clergy experienced increased supervision. Bishops and priests were forced to engage in degrading menial jobs to earn their living. The Holy See reacted with several encyclicals and apostolic letters, including Cupimus Imprimis, Ad Apostolorum Principis, and Ad Sinarum Gentem.

      “China is home to an estimated 12 million Catholics. There are 5.3 million Catholics belonging to the official Catholic Patriotic Association, which oversees 70 bishops. In addition, there are roughly 40 bishops unordained by the CPA who operate unofficially, and recognize the authority of the Vatican.

      “Some Catholics who recognize the authority of the Holy See choose to worship clandestinely due to the risk of harassment from authorities.”

      You can read up on some of the persecution my brothers in China routinely endure here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/08/china-arrests-catholic-priests-church-members-as-campaign-intensifies.php

      and here: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/persecution/pch0010.html

      and here: http://www.osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/9843/Chinese-priest-tells-of-persecution.aspx

      and here: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/world-news/detail/articolo/cina-china-chiesa-church-iglesia-20497/

      This, then, is the organization you are accusing of collaboration and cowardice if we do not rise up in rebellion when a Western Democracy imposes socialized medicine unconstitutionally rather than constitutionally.

      Socialized medicine is both imprudent, and because it is theft on a massive scale, immoral. And, since it cannot be sold to the gullible public without fibs on a Pravda scale, those who promote it also bear false witness, that is, they lie. It is however, compared to eternal things, trivial.

      I will accept your apology on my own behalf, but your filthy and slanderous lies are beyond the pale.

      You should seriously consider apologizing on that point as well, because you are, in effect, spitting in the faces of men who suffered imprisonment and death for their faith, and called them cowards.

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

  17. Comment by david g.:

    Dear John,

    I am most interested to learn that you live next to the Bull Run battle site. My great-grandfather fought there in th 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry. This coming spring, I will be touring some of the eastern battlefields in preparation for a history of the war I am writing in Danish — the first ever in that language to be comprehensive — and would love to meet you. Check my website http://www.davidgress.dk for contact details. I hope to hear from you.
    We share many things, our faith for one, but also others of less significance, such as an incurable love of science fiction and, of course, of Tolkien, whose Silmarillion I translated into Danish in 1978.
    What do you think of Peter F. Hamilton?

    David

  18. Comment by Stu:

    Looks like the host here actually knows a thing or two about firearms. Much better “front porch” to have a gentlemanly discussion on the challenges that face us in this regard.

  19. Comment by fabulous_mrs_f:

    Here is the comment I think Nate referred to:
    “‘Protection of innocent human life takes priority over a ‘woman’s right to choose”‘ equals common sense.

    ‘Protection of innocent human life takes priority over a ‘a gun owner’s right to guns’ equals Ends Justify the Means Tyranny.

    Interesting to see how Americans all use the same tactics depending on whose ox is being gored.”

    It is in this thread: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/12/the-irenist-summarizes-my-thoughts.html#comments

    There may have been another, but I didn’t find it.
    I have learned too much from Mr. Shea to abandon his blog, but we do not see eye to eye on gun ownership.

  20. Comment by meunke:

    If this topic is considered closed, please disregard. (I don’t want to be the guy that brings dead topics back to life. :-) )

    After checking out a bunch of other Catholic bloggers on this topic, and having various conversations in person with some others, I’ve noticed something.

    Even with those who are very knowledgeable regarding The Faith and the teachings of the Church, when the topic is not something that is directly applicable to a teaching of the Faith (unlike the the contraception mandate, for example), and especially if the topic is one that the person has little knowledge or practical experience with, it seems that the default attitude is automatically “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and just accept it, regardless of the merits. No, this is not universal, but I’m running into it enough to where I have noticed it as a pattern.

    Stated another way, it is this: “Does it violate a teaching of the Church? No? Well, then we should accept whatever Caesar demands of us. We follow Christ, not the Constitution.”

    Fair enough. But what seems to be missing from this is the idea that even if it doesn’t directly go against the teaching of the Church, that still doesn’t mean it’s NOT a bad idea. Perhaps we should think about another way to achieve the ends we seek. There is no reason to attack the Constitutional rights of people in pursuit of a noble end (protection of the innocent and the good of society) when we can work toward the same end using other means that don’t shred those rights.

    It is almost as if there is some kind of automatic, blind trust in the state (or Caesar, if you will) in all things that DON’T contradict the Faith. Again, it is NOT universal, but I am seeing it quite often.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      What you are running into is a very ancient Christian teaching that requires us to obey secular authorities as if they were set over us by God. It is something we learned in Nero’s time. The Enlightenment idea that says there is a social contract which justifies mutiny and rebellion when breached is not necessarily a Christian teaching.

      • Comment by meunke:

        Actually, I’m not talking about rebellion, or social contract. What I’m talking about is the assumption that whatever the government’s idea is is automatically the best one, not the principle that we must obey it.

  21. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    Finally getting around to this (sorry, I have been busy and wanted to make sure I was in the most charitable mood possible for this – and my job eats up a lot of my finite charity)

    A loyal reader and daily pen-pal of mine has burned his Mark Shea fan club card. During crunch time with deadlines looming, I ought not post on meat-days (that is, non-Fridays) but in this case I make an exception, because I hope to reconcile two friends of mine with each other.

    Oh, my apologies for violating you blogging rule. :( Please have your confessor forgive me for tempting you to sin. (half joking, half sincere here)

    My comment: Please be charitable to poor Mr Shea. He lives in Seattle, which is one of the outer circles of Dante’s Inferno, and reconsider your decision.

    Yes I tried teasing him about that once but it seemed to pass by him. At any rate, sometimes it seems like he regards other areas of the country with the same criterion as Seattle, when we’re all generally more sane, I swear.

    Mark Shea supports the Church teachings. He is not loyal to left or right, to Sadducee or Pharisee, but to Christ. The Second Amendment is an absolutely core doctrine of the Enlightenment philosophy of the liberty of man. The US Constitution is the greatest embodiment and monument to that philosophy and those liberties, but that philosophy is not a Church teaching.

    That’s quite fair and I can understand that. However…
    Let me put it this way: the HHS mandate offends me on many levels. One of those levels is the violation of Catholic religious liberty. But I’ve gotten the sense that for several Catholics… ok, I’ll have to put this in a metaphor because my words are failing me:
    They’re not complaining about the rules of the game, they’re complaining that they’re not winning. (David expresses it well here I think) That tyranny is ok, as long as it’s Catholic tyranny. Not saying it is, but it’s hard not to get that impression at times. Yeah absolute power is great and all while you (or your group) is “on top” but at some point your group may not be, at which point then your cries about absolute power are seen as insincere by the peanut gallery. Like the phrase goes: “Liberals design government assuming they are in power. Conservatives design government assuming their enemies are in power.” I am, of course, a filthy protestant so I will defer to any random Catholic on what the actual teaching is, but (again) my impression (especially from Mark) is that government needs to be run as if Catholics are in charge. That atheists or hindus or baptists might ever get in charge doesn’t seem to enter into the calculus. Thus it would seem more prudent and wise to me to “plan for failure” this side of the veil.

    Clicking through the links, I read that what Mark Shea said was that resorting to Secession or civil war in response, not to a general ban on guns or universal confiscation, but in response to Federico Lombardi’s remarks that “limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms are certainly a step in the right direction” is a patently nutjob response.

    In this case, I disagree rather sharply with Lombardi, but do not consider his remarks to be beyond the pale. However, I do consider calls for Secession to be treason, and treason to be beyond the pale.

    I do not consider Mark Shea saying that treason is beyond the pale, or, in his words, calling treason a fantasy, to be beyond the pale. I would not even call his remark inflammatory. I would call it ebullient.

    Would that include America’s founders?

    (sorry, set up was too rich)

    Now, you’re the lawyer around here so I’m not going to argue with you about the law, but I am curious about the philosophy. Yes there is the obvious reply like was von Stauffenberg beyond the pale treasonous for trying to assassinate Hitler but that is at least defensible as a loyalty to the country as an ideal. :D
    No, I’m curious about the formation of a nation itself. It seems to me that there are two possibilities for a nation forming:
    1) Group A forcibly conquers group B.
    2) Groups A and B enter a mutually agreed upon federation.

    In the case of 1, it appears to me that the formation was not just, and thus it is not treasonous nor beyond the pale to secede from a forced union. However, it’s not relevant to the USA, so we’ll pass over it.
    In the case of 2, the treasonousness of secession would depend upon the context. If the “contract” (I think in our case, the Constitution, yes?) remains unviolated between the groups, then I would agree with both you and Mark on the talk of secession. HOWEVER, if one of the parties violates the contract’s terms, then it seems entirely reasonable to me for one party to leave the group if there were no other penalties attached to the violation. Thus, in the case of America, I do not find it readily nutty but at least a possibly reasonable debate point (though of course some nutters could take it into unreasonable territory). IIRMHC (If I Recall My History Correctly), a lot of states only formed the Union if the Bill of Rights was added to the original Constitution. Lately, the federal government has violated several parts of these bills. Thus, is it really that treasonous for the states (we – as groups) to discuss whether the contract remains valid or if it has been rendered void.

    Two more philosophical questions:
    1) It is said that war is the diplomacy of last resort (or something to that effect). A lot of Catholics speak of civil disobedience (again, something I do support as an option of first resort). Now then, would secession not be the last resort of civil disobedience? The only action left BEFORE violence results? (no real life application here, just wondering)
    2) What are the limits of this? For instance, is it treasonous for the British (or anyone else) to discuss leaving the EU. Or for any nation to leave the U.N.? What would make that different from say… Virginians leaving the USA. Is it a certain size or age that a group has to be before secession because treasonous and unreasonable?

    Neither did Mark Shea ‘compare’ abortionists and ’2nd Amendment supporters’. What he said was this:

    I apologize, I may have mislinked. Let me see if I can provide better linkage and context.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/what-federico-lombardi-actually-said.html

    No. My point is not that each act is morally equivalent. My point is that the rhetoric used by each camp is the same. Each speaks as though the *slightest* attempt to subject the personal liberty of their camp to the common good is to be met with absolutist hysteria. Both, in the end, declare that “my rights” absolutely trump all consideration of the common good and any consideration of the common good has to mean “the total negation of my rights”.

    And in the comments to said post:

    You seem to be indulging some fantasy about an imminent police state, much like pro-aborts indulging fantasies about the imminent Handmaid’s Tale Theocracy.

    The alacrity with which people leap to slap down Lombardi, the bishops and the Pope reminds me of nothing so much as Planned Parenthood shouting down some mild parental notification measure with dark warnings of women stripped of their rights and imprisoned in breeder farms.

    The in comments again here he went:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/mystical-arguments-i-think-are-rubbish.html/comment-page-1#comment-141154

    Dead children vs. My Sacred Rights: Change Partners and dance, left and right.

    And here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/so-what-would-i-suggest-about-guns.html/comment-page-1#comment-143423

    Gun heresy takes this one good and exaggerates it to an absolute, just as pro-choice heresy takes free will and exaggerates it to an absolute. In both cases, even a mild suggestion of the total tradition and the common good are met with irrational hostility.

    So it is you, my dear sir, and not he, who equated supporting the Second Amendment with supporting a new civil war with all its horror and bloodshed; and it is you, my dear sir, and not he, who drew the conclusion that two people going into the ban file together are like each other in moral worth.

    Well I am in the banfile too.

    But as for equating the 2nd amendment with a new civil war…
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/truth-cancer-and-the-redemption-of-rebellion.html
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/675-comments-later.html
    http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/i-am-too-reasonable-to-read-what-my-opponents-are-saying/
    Or throughout several comments like:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/so-what-would-i-suggest-about-guns.html/comment-page-1#comment-143379

    Riiight. So all the gun heretics talking about the need for guns to Fight Tyranny don’t envision secession as being bloody. Do you even listen to yourselves?

    Myself, I ban people who offer personal insults to my family, and I ban people who are Holocaust deniers. Now, do you think I am saying insulting the Wright family is a crime akin to the genocide of the Jews, or acting as an apologist for such a crime? No, of course not, not at all. The only thing they have in common is that I ban them both. I don’t even ban them for the same reason.

    Of course not, I find such a policy entirely reasonable.

    Now most of the rest I of course quite agree with you.

    Which man, Mr A or Mr B places more faith in his gun than in his God? Which statement do you think a loyal son of the Church like Mr Shea should publicly support?

    My only issue is that I’ve run into very few (if any) of Mr B’s (though you could probably find them somewhere on the internet). Most don’t even want a violent uprising. They just want to go their own way, they’re just leery that some might not let them.

    I also, like all red blooded Americans, want to fly into a storm of wrath against lying-ass clowns and vermin who mock and rape our Constitution and make public statements like Danny Glover claiming the Second Amendment is racist, because it was meant to put down slave revolts and America Indian uprisings.

    (I assume Mr Glover is blissfully unaware of the NRA arming southern blacks to resist the KKK, and the Dem-controlled states being unable to disarm the blacks thanks to that very Amendment he is denouncing.)

    But I also know wrath is a sin. The bastards who talk this way deserve to be shot, but that vengeance is not for our weak human hands to take. God knows what I deserve; so let me flee to the skirts of mercy, not justice, and treat even those who speak such evil and vile things as Mr Glover with mercy.

    Just wanted to give you a hearty amen there especially (and over the rest).

    Like I said, this is within walking distance of my house. I do not know how the Yankees feel about starting the Civil War 2.0, but before any clean-limbed fighting man of Virginia wants to shoot off his big mouth about how much fun it would be to take up arms against his brother, let him walk on a moonless night through this field, and explain his position to the unquiet ghosts of the brave young men who fell there.

    You are quite right, but like I’ve said, I’ve not met any who are eager or talk about how fun it could be. Most that I have had dealings with seem to agree with Jonah Goldberg: they would much rather return to federalism and be left alone. If not, they would much rather amicably separate and go off to be left alone.

    As a big introvert (literally and philosophically), I see it like someone who finds a party not to their liking and wants to leave. While I can find it reasonable for other people to object to the leaving and to make their case why a person should stay, I do find it reasonable for the rest of the party to run out, beat up the guy leaving and drag him back to the party kicking and screaming. At that point, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the exiting partier to defend themselves. And for someone to say, “You can’t leave, it will cause the other partiers to fight, and then you’ll be guilty of violence” to be a rather disgusting example of victim blaming.

    Finally, I will say you make an excellent case for the defendant (I can see how you must have been a decent lawyer) and I hope I have at least replied as the prosecution such that you can understand the case (even if you disagree with it). If any clarifications are needed, by all means email me or post replies.

    • Comment by meunke:

      Interesting. I look forward to Mr Wright’s reply when he has time.

      One point I made (or tried to make) in the discussion on Shea’s blog when the topic was drug down into secession was, like what Tom Woods has said many times, in order for such a thing to be even be serious possibility of taking place (yes, even the non-violent secession) things in the US would have to get much, MUCH worse than they are now. As in the economic/social/cultural breakdown would have to get REALLY bad. What I pointed out was that perhaps instead the focus should be on working on prevention so that we don’t EVER get to that level in the first place.

      I really hope our country can do that. I actually kind of like living in a stable society that isn’t being wracked by revolutionary violence. A little easier to raise kids in it.

      It seems like it won’t be the focus for a while, though. Trying to solve our real problems would involve attacking far too many political sacred cows, from race hucksters and radical feminists down to the pornographic amount of debt. It doesn’t look good, to be honest.

      But then again, we have seen miracles before. I work and pray for it, which I guess is about all that most can do.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        Of course I’m right there on my knees praying with you.

        The only catch is…
        http://pdfcast.org/images/s/328/fascism-demotivational-poster-pdf.jpg

        Like that says up there, “do you think it will be obvious?” The trick is, I don’t think anyone really sees tyranny coming (except for the few who always see it coming everywhere lol). It’s just implemented a little at a time. Until one day, people look around and ask “where have our freedoms gone”.

        Eventually some ordinary person has to live in interesting times and make the decisions that change the world. I certainly don’t fault Frodo for wishing it never comes.

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