Welcome to the class that you skipped. Today’s lesson: Hasty generalization (the assumption that all conservatives or liberals are a certain way) and ad hominem attacks (attacking someone’s character instead of addressing the validity of their argument). I saw these things over the last few days, in your absence, as proponents and opponents of the March For Our Lives protested in the streets across this country and on social media. Even the mainstream media outlets have been reduced to this sort of name-calling and have refused to try and understand the issues at hand. Honestly, I think it has less to do with gun violence and more to do with the political agendas of liberals and conservatives. The reason I think this is because so few facts are used. You should have come. We were learning about the Boston Tea Party. You will need to know about the outstanding tariffs and the oppression against the American colonies that caused Virginia to sign into law a right to keep and bear arms before the constitution was ever drafted. The political right has criticized the left for defending the lives of public schoolers while, at the same time, calling to legalize abortion. This does not address the problem at hand. It is an ad hominem character attack, accusing the left of blatant hypocrisy. It doesn’t actually help anyone to understand or think about the issues. In fact, the only thing it accomplishes is a further division in this country. The political left (at least those who are heard) assumes that conservatives are all a part of this hyper-right wing group, generalizing them as a hateful group of people who don’t care about their own children. As I recall, the direct comment was that they “care about their guns more than their children.” This is hasty generalization and I think it is a generalization made concerning a straw-man (misrepresenting another’s viewpoint so it might be argued against more easily). I don’t think any person really loves his or her guns more than his or her children. This reminds me of something else you will need to know for that test. You will need to know why the Declaration of Independence was signed for posterity. Posterity will be one of your keywords. You’ll have to define that one.
All around, people are simply not thinking about what they are saying and refusing to actually use logic or valid argumentation. I have to implore the nation regarding something that my mom taught me while I was still in elementary school: “Think before you speak.” Perhaps on another count: “If you don’t have anything beneficial to say, don’t say anything at all.” Did those kindergarten activities where we were forced to play well with others not have an impact?
This new movement has been compared to that of Martin Luther King Jr. King was a preacher, and a good one. He was learned. He appealed to emotion, but he also knew the facts and leveraged those facts well and honestly. His granddaughter, poor girl, took the stage and called for a gun-free world. No facts, no honesty, just soaking in the praise of the crowd. In fact, every speech I listened to was similar. There was an appeal to emotion. Kids are dying in schools! Yes, and something meaningful needs to be done about that. You haven’t given a valid argument as to why you want to solve the problem the way that you do. Give me honesty. Please, for the sake of our nation’s future, read a book, perhaps John Locke’s political philosophy or the works of MLK or the constitution. You may be so concerned with being the “greatest generation” that you have refused to look at the political movements before our time. There were actually civil rights movements where people fought for freedom. Did you know? Now we have come so far. We have gained so much, that perhaps for the first time people are protesting to have their freedoms removed and its amendment repealed. That just seems odd to me. Both the right and the left have just driven this thing to absurdity. Yes, that is my opinion. We’ve thrown out the scientific method. There is no semblance of philosophical inquiry. How we feel is the way things are! We’ve devalued real research. Science, philosophy, and history mean nothing to us. We have solved so many civil rights problems that we are now looking for new problems to create so future generations will have to deal with them. They will have to rediscover science and philosophy and history (and the other subjects) because we don’t care enough to learn for ourselves, let alone genuinely leave a meaningful legacy.
What do I think the problem is? I think it is more multifaceted than anyone would like to admit. We want a simple fix. That is the lazy culture we find ourselves in. I’m going to wine until I get what I want because people are tired of hearing me scream at the top of my lungs! This will not happen on this earth. We are only perpetuating ignorance. Willful ignorance is stupidity. We have, indeed, amused ourselves to death. There’s another book you should read. Here is my challenge to liberals and conservatives alike, to gun-banners and those like myself who lawfully own and use their firearms. Take one week. Don’t post anything about this issue on social media. Take your time. Read about the constitution. Take in its history. Consider this a homework assignment and we will hear presentations on after your exam. It will be counted as a portion of your test grade. I’ll include some links for you. Do you know why the second amendment exists? That information is available to you as well. Stop being so concerned with being the greatest generation (which we both know just means the loudest). You don’t want to be so concerned with leaving your mark on the world that you care not whether that mark is a scar. Here are some study materials to be familiar with before your upcoming exam:
Declaration of Independence (and the accusation against England’s king, which includes higher tariffs and making the people subject to the military, precisely the sort of dominance the second amendment guards the people against, and the taking away of certain freedoms).
Virginia Declaration of Rights (Influenced both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, first ten amendments. Pay special attention to section 13. The right to keep and bear arms, as well as to be trained to handle arms, was law before the constitution was drafted for the purpose of keeping the common people equal and free with the governing authorities. This means that any attempt to remove the second amendment is also a move to subject the common people to be oppressed under a government that can more easily become corrupt; necessarily creating an unequal society).
Constitution of the United States (drafted by the people for the people with the understanding that all people were created equal by God; an idea presented in the political philosophy of John Locke).
A History of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (recognizes that the Bill of Rights was drafted explicitly to prevent the American government from becoming tyrannical- this keeps people free and equal even when there are governing authorities).
John Locke’s Political Philosophy (perhaps before speaking on or to any American political system or law, one should read the argument on which American politics was founded).
After looking at our history and, hopefully, learning from the generations of the past, I gain a great sense that this issue is much bigger than the public school system. The issue is that of tyrannical governments and oppression. It is less an issue of personal security and more an issue of providing accountability to worldly governments so that in America we never see a type of Stalin, Hitler, or Kim. Oh, you don’t know who those dictators are? They slaughtered millions who were unable to defend themselves. My fear for our future is that if we succeed in gun control for the purpose of protection, the result will be the very opposite of what we want and it may be much more severe; all because we were as ignorant as the Germans responsible for voting Hitler into power. Yes, he was voted into office, and he did so by manipulating emotions in a season of economic downturn when people felt vulnerable. There’s a nice documentary on Netflix that you could watch instead of poisoning your mind by immersing it in Game of Thrones. Maybe we won’t be just as willfully ignorant, allowing our feelings of vulnerability to give way to the destruction of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our own nation in our time.
How can we think well about the march? Education. That’s ironic. Did you listen when your Literature instructor taught about irony? The answer is to stay in school. Rather, it is to willingly learn instead of thinking that we already have all of the knowledge (or emotion) we need to lead. Let us not be so arrogant. We saw what that did to Napoleon (no, not Dynamite) and to Caligula (two different empires, I know). To see what I wrote previously about the school shooting, please click here.