HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » "an armed society is...

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:38 PM

"an armed society is the opposite of a civil society"

...guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment — they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech.

I often think of the armed protestor who showed up to one of the famously raucous town hall hearings on Obamacare in the summer of 2009. The media was very worked up over this man, who bore a sign that invoked a famous quote of Thomas Jefferson, accusing the president of tyranny. But no one engaged him at the protest; no one dared approach him even, for discussion or debate — though this was a town hall meeting, intended for just such purposes. Such is the effect of guns on speech — and assembly. Like it or not, they transform the bearer, and end the conversation in some fundamental way. They announce that the conversation is not completely unbounded, unfettered and free; there is or can be a limit to negotiation and debate — definitively.


...nothing suits power so well as extreme individualism. In fact, he explains, political and corporate interests aim at nothing less than “individualization,” since it is far easier to manipulate a collection of discrete and increasingly independent individuals than a community. Guns undermine just that — community. Their pervasive, open presence would sow apprehension, suspicion, mistrust and fear, all emotions that are corrosive of community and civic cooperation. To that extent, then, guns give license to autocratic government.


3 replies, 662 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 3 replies Author Time Post
Reply "an armed society is the opposite of a civil society" (Original post)
phantom power Dec 2012 OP
MisterP Dec 2012 #1
phantom power Dec 2012 #2
MisterP Dec 2012 #3

Response to phantom power (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:12 PM

1. it's almost like a chiasmatic bumper-sticker talking point written by a far-right, Social Darwinist

Cold Warrior fantasy writer who never saw combat doesn't have much bearing on reality!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to MisterP (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:49 AM

2. except the 'far right' version is exactly the opposite

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to phantom power (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 04:13 PM

3. I was making a dig at Heinlein, who came up with the phrase

he meant it to mean that impolite people would be killed off via artificial selection because they'd get into gunfights

it's like if millions of Americans did nothing but cite Wilbur Glenn Voliva...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread