November 25, 2003

Stupid Conservative Myth #12

Ok, here's another one:

Liberals believe the NRA is bad, because it supports certain parts of the constitution, while the ACLU is good, because it supports certain parts of the constitution.

I think this myth gets "liberal" and "libertarian" mixed up (a lot of liberals abhor the ACLU, but I tend to sympathize with it). At any rate, this gives me an opening to discuss the constitution and various interpretations. I'm a believer in the idea that the Founding Fathers (hereafter FF's, meaning Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, et al) intended the consitution to be a living document. They knew that it would have to change over time as the country grew and evolved. The history of the Supreme Court has been such that this need has been mostly obviated by a combination of changing interpretations of the law and by amendments.

So, how about the 2nd amendment, the right to keep and bear arms? It is very clear from their writings that the FF's intended for every American to be sufficiently well-armed so as to violently overthrow the government, if needed. That's the original purpose of the 2nd amendment, and if you want to be consistent today, I believe a correct literal reading of the 2nd amendment allows individual citizens to own military hardware (and yes, I'm familiar with the arguments on both sides about the history of the language, about "well-regulated militia", etc).

I don't know about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD's), though. Those were never really taken into consideration back then. Does this mean every American should have the right to own a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile? Yikes. Obviously, the constitution needs updating somehow for things like this.

I don't necessarily like the idea of judicial review being the main avenue of governmental evolution, but given the vast stupidity that the American public has repeatedly displayed throughout history, I accept the possibility that the "mob rule" alternative may be worse. More and more, I find myself believing that judges, who are the least susceptible public servants to the pressures of campaign finance, elections, etc., are probably among the best people to exercise power (even the kind of wingnut judges being nominated by Bushco these days). Not to say there aren't some hideously inept or corrupt judges, but the fraction is lower than among ordinary politicians.

In the end, then, I'm not too troubled by evolving interpretations of the 2nd amendment, and I'm not too troubled by increaing restrictions on handgun ownership (because some people feel the judicial review process isn't going fast enough to keep up with the evolution of firepower). It's not a make-or-break issue for me like it is for the "you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" crowd.

And, yes, I know those willing to exchange a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, etc. And by that argument, we should never impose any gun control laws at all or evolve beyond the original intent of the FF's. Whatever. I also believe that there are far more serious threats to our liberties (Patriot Act, anyone?) and that you need to choose your battles wisely (something the ACLU may need to do more).

As a side note, the only reason I don't really like the NRA is their tactics, which are known to include death threats to and/or actual physical, violent confrontations of elected representatives or anyone else in the public sphere promoting a gun control agenda. I've personally seen death threats used as a debate tactic three times in my life (once recently to me personally), and in every single case, the perpetrator of the threats was a hopeless, ignorant moron (or maybe a nice, decent upstanding citizen who is just really good at acting like a hopeless, ignorant moron when it comes to politics ... who knows?). I wouldn't broaden that to include the typical NRA member, though. I've personally known too many generally nice, normal, cool, level-headed people who are also NRA members. But I guess you have to have a bit of a paranoid streak to support an organization with such well-documented scare tactics.

Posted by Observer at November 25, 2003 06:40 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

"Liberals believe the NRA is bad, because it supports certain parts of the constitution, while the ACLU is good, because it supports certain parts of the constitution."

That isn't a myth. It's generally true. Obviously 100% of liberals don't think the NRA is bad, and 100% of liberals don't think that the ACLU is good. But the majority of liberals think the NRA is bad, and the majority of liberals think the ACLU is good.

And the ACLU DOES only support certain portions of the Constitution (e.g., not including the 2nd amendment).

Posted by: Mark Bahner on February 22, 2004 09:20 PM

I disagree. Like most generalizations, it is a myth. As I said in the first part, this isn't really a liberal vs conservative debate but more of a fascist vs libertarian debate. The reason you can't really predict all that well whether a liberal will support the ACLU in a certain instance is that it is a libertarian, not a liberal organization.

If the NRA supported environmental causes a little more (something their membership is beginning to do at last, break with the wingnut leadership), they'd likely find themselves surprised by a strong liberal backing.

If you want to argue that this "myth" is really true, then what it amounts to basically is: "Conservatives generally interpret the constitution differently from liberals." Of course, saying it more accurately that way doesn't make one group look bad at the expense of another. But then, that's the fundamental problem with the entire list of myths, and it's why they're such rhetorically easy targets. Conservatives don't want the criticism? Don't put stupid lists out there, eh?

Posted by: Observer on February 23, 2004 07:00 AM

Hey I am as liberal as they come, and I am 100% against gun control for one big reason - I fear conservatives!

They've been known to be violent in the past (Nazis, Fascists in Italy, Pinochet in Chile) so if and when they come for me and my family, I'd like to shoot back thank you very much!

Posted by: Mark on August 20, 2004 02:33 PM

"More and more, I find myself believing that judges, who are the least susceptible public servants to the pressures of campaign finance, elections, etc., are probably among the best people to exercise power (even the kind of wingnut judges being nominated by Bushco these days)."....that is one of the most profound quotes I've read in recent memory(and i read tons of blogs and spin). I need to actually thank you for helping me with that point. I've been struggling with exactly why I feel safer with even conservative judges reviewing laws passed by crazed politicians. I think while you haven't said anything necessarily new here, you have managed to say it in a way that crystalized my own fog.

Posted by: yabyum on October 20, 2004 02:33 AM

The seperation of church and state is not in the constitution, the letter it is in intended
to protect the church from the state, not as it
is used by the ACLU in their effort to destroy
Christianity. The Bible is the, guide our founding fathers used in writing our constitution
I pray God will open the mind of the ACLU, before
it is necessary to destroy America.
Respectfully Fred Jones

Posted by: Fred Jones on November 19, 2004 11:08 PM


It's just sad when it's hard to tell whether they're unthinking conservatives because they're illiterate or vice versa.

If anyone knows who Fred is, please buy him a guide on punctuation since he can't shut down when trying to read that.

Then, hoping that this brief stint with enlightenment has opened his mind a bit, remind him that the founding fathers had just spent 200 years fleeing a state-sponsored church in England or Holland. Yes, they touted the morals of the church but they also realized that a state-sponsored church impinged on the freedom of all men.

If you want to actually think about things like this, maybe you should study some history and some constitutional law from multiple viewpoints. Hard to make an informed decision when the only source of information you have is blindly religious or conservative.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on November 20, 2004 01:36 PM


Posted by: Feff on November 20, 2004 01:47 PM