I Love Conversation

My good friend and I are trying to civilly gain some understanding of each other’s opposed views which have surfaced alongside this whole “March for Our Lives” thing. If you didn’t see, he left a much-welcomed and presumably expensive comment on yesterday’s post.

We belong to the same Toastmaster’s club, having serendipitously met there some six years ago. Tomorrow morning after the meeting we both have time to chat. In order to make the short time we have most fruitful, I wanted to respond to his thoughts here. I also cannot deny that I think our back-and-forth is the best one on the internet at the moment. Enjoy!

To begin, a word of caution. Please, please do not hear my assertions in the tone of, “I am god.” Instead, here me say, “This is how I see it.” We clearly disagree on many things; I am aware of this. Even after your thorough comment though, I am not sure you understand how I see it. My reasons for not being sure include that you didn’t say, “Well, Pete, we’re coming at this from two totally different angles. You’re taking a more philosophical approach, and I’m operating within the practical, legal approach. I’m also not even sure we are addressing the same problem.” Or some such thing. Maybe that’s what you do think. Time will tell.

That said, to be as clear as I can be, for me (and the status quo which I portend to represent) the issue is not gun violence. Moreover, I don’t think stating this makes me incompetent or ignorant or any other unbecoming trait. Nor do I think anything you have written marks you in such a way.

When I write, “I want these shootings to stop too,” I do not have in mind that I would prefer the violence to be committed by some other weaponry. More specifically, I guess I could have said, “I want the instances of unarmed, unprepared, and unsuspecting deaths of any size group of Americans (or any folks standing on American soil) who are attempting to better themselves to stop.”

It’s intriguing to discover that I fight my seminary professors’ views on the Bible for the same reason that I debate you about the second amendment.

While I am happy to see such a thought-out defense of some position on an issue that it would include taking into consideration grammar conventions of the late eighteenth century, I would never go that route. I would never go that route for the foremost reason that grammar conventions are nothing more than completely baseless speculations, unless you can show me that the writers included a legend or key of some sort–in which case the very conventions you highlight are no longer unfounded and speculative conventions but actual fact.

If the Constitution (icapitalizedtheenglishlettercatthebeginningofthewordconstitutiontoindicateimeanamericas), if the Constitution included some sort of definition of terms similar to what you wrote, then I have no way to disagree with what you wrote about the value of capitalization in interpretation. (And perhaps they did, though I have not ever heard of that section). If they did not, then I, and everyone with my point of view, am free to say, “I’m sorry, friend, but people do not live or die because of capital letters, and neither did the founders want us to think they thought so.”

Words matter, not their shape on paper.

Additionally, when I say, “the amendment,” I do not meant to claim that I know what the second amendment means in the sense with which you shared in your self-declared legal opinion. Besides what I wrote in that post, I believe that (philosophically) the law is the act of people giving up their rights in order to be free. With the so-called Bill of Rights, and specifically the second amendment, I believe we have, within the law and as one particular law, some one designated arena which the law is not–that being arms. In other words, I believe that in the act of people giving up their rights in order to be free, the second amendment declares that when it comes to arms, the law has no place. Put another way, I believe that the second amendment (along with the other amendments in the Bill of Rights) declares (both philosophically and actually) that there are some rights which if given up do not beget freedom.

The beautiful part of the Constitution, and by beautiful I mean spectacular, is that it provides for change. And here is the pay dirt.

The founders lived in a pre-hyrdogen bomb world. Yesterday former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens advocated repealing the second amendment in a NY Times op-ed piece which featured an image of a musket juxtaposed against an AR-15. Ultimately the ex-Justice and I see the same reality. But he did not make the not the proper comparison. The proper comparison would have been that of the most destructive weapon of 1791 and the most destructive weapon of 2018. I’m imagining an image of a cannon vs. a mushroom cloud. One reason the second amendment could be repealed these days (and along these lines I think I might be fine with it being repealed) is because guns are melted by hydrogen bombs. Life is, I believe, fundamentally and irrevocably different today. The American people do not stand a chance against some dystopian American tyranny. Who are we fooling?

Do I think the American founders knew that future battlefields would be able to be melted by the heat equivalent to that of the surface of the sun when I support the Constitution so dogmatically? Do folks who think these weekend marches are pointless think the Constitution should never be changed? No to both questions. But I do think that the Constitution writers showed almost divine philosophical foresight in their writing, and I kindly ask that you re-consider whether these shootings (or, “these instances of unarmed, unprepared, and unsuspecting deaths of any size group of Americans ((or folks on American soil)) who are attempting to better themselves”) can be stopped by anything less than a re-evaluation of whether the overall arms circumstance on planet Earth has changed since the Constitution was written.

If so, amend.

If not, look in a different direction to stop the shootings.

Perhaps towards Christ.

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11 comments

  1. noelleg44

    A very thoughtful and well-reasoned discussion of your differing points of view. I have a friend whose views are far far to the left of mine – we do ague back and forth and have many times had to agree to disagree, but civilly. Seems you do the same. There is an overwhelming challenge to any attempts to repeal the Second Amendment, perhaps why only one amendment has ever been repealed. But as you say, there is always the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Hello Pete. I hope to find out that, in some small part, you were encouraged to comment simply because of our name. Ha.

      I would not suggest to anyone that this post is clear on its own and tried to hint at that by opening with the fact that it is part of a conversation. If you start with my book review of “Philosophy of Law…” and read the comments/posts from there, I think you’ll find less confusion.

      Be that as it may, to your questions.

      When I say, “the issue is not gun violence,” I mean simply that. By “simply that” I mean that the issue is not gun violence, but, “instances of unarmed, unprepared, and unsuspecting deaths of any size group of Americans (or any folks standing on American soil) who are attempting to better themselves.” Whether these instances are the result of empty hands attached to human arms, or the result of arms held by hands attached to human arms, is not the issue–to me. (And I am trying to be sure that I indicate that I believe I represent many others of a like-mind who just find this type of talk fruitless so they stay silent.)

      Whether I support repealing the second amendment depends on the issue, right? I’ve been typing up these few posts in order to try to come to an understanding of what the Marcher’s are saying (and in the hopes that they might seek understanding from me as you have–which is great, btw, thank you.) In so doing, I have concluded that at its core the Marcher’s issue is actually a more primitive call for “the law” or “rule of law” in that they don’t seek to ban guns, but they merely seek to put the different types of guns in the proper places. However, no “marcher” as of yet has said, “Well, done, Pete. Bravo!” Instead, they explain why it is possible and reasonable to control guns via legislation.

      But, if my assessment of the core of your claim is correct (I think it is–but I’m not you so I’d love someone to show me where I stray), being that whereas in 1791 arms where of a different kind than 2018 and so keeping arms out of the purview of the law was desired (arms were the right, not the law), today, in 2018, we want arms to be one of the rights we give up in order to be free; If I’m right about that then it doesn’t matter whether I am for or against repealing the second amendment, what matters is that I believe the repeal is the only actual option which results in granting your desire–proper placement of the different types of guns.

      I will admit that through these posts I do see that I might be for repealing the second amendment (though for the melting battlefield reason, not school shootings), I certainly am not a doomsday prophet who see that that action would signal the end, capital e. If anything, we just add it back again.

      On the whole, if I can have a moment to vent, what really, really irks me is the spirit with which the Marchers do their thing. They carry an air of utterly unattractive confoundedness over the fact that someone sees a different world. For our part, we feel like the deck has been stacked against us and anything we say makes it seem like we’re happy the shootings are occurring. The fact that no one is sharing with these Saturday Marchers is that many, many people who see something different are well-bred, well-thought-out, and most importantly well-read. The result of this is that we know–in our bones sometimes–that the issue is not “gun violence” or “whether the AR-15 is in the second amendment.”

      Pete

      Like

      • greenpete58

        Thanks for responding (Re-Pete). I’m still confused, but please don’t worry about it.

        I’ll just say that I (politely) disagree with two parts of your essay that I do understand. The issue with the marchers IS violence from guns. They’ve made that loud and clear. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information that leads you to think differently. As they’re now witnessing their friends getting blown to bits, I hardly blame them for speaking out.

        Also, I can’t understand why you are “irked” by these high school kids’ “spirit.” While some of them may be naïve (heck, they’re still in high school!), they’ve shown tremendous courage and have done something never before, whether or not their movement stays strong (and I hope it does, and I agree with their fight for stronger gun controls).

        At any other time in America, away from our current cynical and hate-mongering climate, these youth would be unanimously praised and revered. God bless them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Pete Deakon

          Okay, I won’t re-attempt. But if you have a moment, I have a question in earnestness. Regarding the issue being “violence from guns”, do they want America to be a country where no guns will ever be able to be used to kill people except in sanctioned situations like police and military work?

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          • greenpete58

            Are you serious, or is your question rhetorical? If you’re serious, “they” covers a lot of people, Pete, and since I can’t read “their” minds, I can’t answer your question. But please keep in mind: many marchers are mere children, some of whom have just experienced horrific violence.

            If you want MY views… a 59-year-old who is somewhat familiar with the gun lobby, the Constitution, other nations’ gun policies, John Lennon, and other rock ‘n’ roll subjects… feel free to read an old essay of mine from after the tragic murders at Sandy Hook: https://peterkurtz.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/america-and-guns/.

            Peace.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Pete Deakon

              I’m serious about the question (hence “earnestness”) and no I would not have held you accountable for taking on the entire “they”. In any case, I read your piece (and appreciate the clear, easy to read use of the language). Again, my point is not to persuade–not yet–but to see if we each can paraphrase what we each are saying. After reading your piece, I think the fundamental difference between your and my thoughts is best illustrated by the “time to show the world…violence is not in our DNA.” Above, you used “God bless them.” Which god? I presume Jesus, but the Bible is the only text I’ve come across (comparative study of religions is kinda my hobby at the moment) which declares both that violence is in our DNA and that Jesus is God. I feel guilty for this preachy-swing to the conversation, but I really do think being able to accurately reproduce each other’s distinct beliefs is important. As I see it: I believe the issue is whether arms are a protected right anymore. You believe the issue is determining how non-violent people can keep gun violence to a minimum. Am I close? I don’t think you’ll like what I said about you, but that’s the softest way I could come up with quickly.

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              • greenpete58

                “You believe the issue is determining how non-violent people can keep gun violence to a minimum. Am I close?”

                Yes… sort of. I’m convinced that the U.S. can reduce gun violence by serious federal legislation, which we have never really had (just minor dribs and drabs, mainly at the state level). Gun deaths and their frequencies (and styles) are increasing. The NRA option of “more guns” is shameful and a total joke. We can reduce gun violence if we would only elect responsible politicians, who do not sleep with the NRA, to pass significant legislation. While I personally have no problem with repealing the 2nd Amendment, we can still keep that wretchedly worded thing, without “violating” it, with the common-sense proposals espoused by organizations like the Brady Foundation and other gun control groups. And I’m behind “March for Our Lives” all the way.

                As far as my “God bless,” remark, I was only using that phrase in a secular manner. I have personal beliefs, but here’s not the place to discuss them.

                Lastly… thanks for reading my blog post, and I enjoyed the conversation.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrew Ford

    Pete, jumping in without all the background exchanges but yes towards Christ. No to Justice Stevens advocacy of repealing the Second Amendment. While Stevens did not like the majority’s ruling (he was in the minority) in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case finding an individual right to bear arms independent of militia service in the Second Amendment, the same case affirmed that such right under the Second Amendment is not unfettered and the right to bear arms may properly and constitutionally be conditioned and limited, i.e. reasonable gun control, but of course reasonable minds and unreasonable minds will differ on what constitutes reasonable gun control. Vaya Con Dios Amigo and Buena Suerte Manana @ Toastmasters. Drew

    Liked by 1 person

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