Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘Hard Lesson Of The Walmart Tragedy: Bad Ethics Kills’”


My post about the tragic shooting incident in the Idaho Walmart continues to generate fascinating comments, not always directly related to the post. (Linking publications and websites to the contrary, I took no position on guns or gun control measures, though I have elsewhere on Ethics Alarms. The post’s positions were anti-incompetent gun ownership and anti-irresponsible parenting.) In the inevitable gun-related debates that have emerged, frequent commenter and blogger Shelly Stow opined that the need for guns to resist a government that attempts to crush individual freedom no longer exists.

This sparked the Comment of the Day, a history lesson as well as an explication for the need to have the last resort of armed revolution available, from 2014’s most prolific commenter, texagg04, and here it is, beginning with a quote from Shelly’s comment, on the post, “Comment of the Day: ‘Hard Lesson Of The Walmart Tragedy: Bad Ethics Kills’”:

“I disagree that, should our citizenry today become threatened by a government bent on tyranny, weapons in the hands of that citizenry would right the situation.”

Wait. What????

So, you are saying that IF we truly faced a tyrannical government at home THEN we aren’t supposed to do anything about it to overthrow it. And that’s precisely what you are saying if you think weapons in the hands of citizens isn’t the right situation.

What???? God knows in the face of a tyrannical government, sit-ins, hunger strikes, and demonstrations accomplish precisely nothing. Certainly no external forces would come to our succor — the UN, populated by precisely the kind of tyrannies we don’t want? No. Western Europe, which can’t even be bothered to solve it’s own problems? No…

Come now…

Is your solution to just sit back and be subjugated if worst came to worst? Isn’t that sort of like what Clayton Williams idiotically said when he said that one may as well lay back and enjoy rape if you can’t stop it?

“At what point should they grab guns and storm the seat of government?”

Considering that every rebellion that starts this way doesn’t last or doesn’t end well, I’d say this is a gross mis-characterization of the way revolutions work (real revolutions with good ideals, not the pathetic blood baths some people call revolutions). To be clear, the American Revolution didn’t start this way. It started with petitions & protests, before advancing to petitions & demonstrations, before expanding to petitions & organizing local self-defense (safety) organizations, before getting into petitions & minor acts of sabotage, prior to petitions & open acts of defiance and the inevitable “come and take it” moment. Did I mention petitions?

Even the Founding Fathers programmed into the Federal balance of power the notion that any future insurrections, were they deemed necessary by the citizenry, would not just be “grab the pitch forks and march on Washington, DC” actions. In the Federalist Papers, it is made clear that while the body of citizens has the right to overthrow its government, it should do so only after clearly appealing to reason and due process, much like the Founders did for OVER A DECADE prior to Lexington and Concord. Then, even, the Founders never saw a rabble marching on the capital as a revolution. Explained in the Federalist Papers, it was seen, that as the Militias answered to the State Governments OR to the National Government depending on the situation, that if there came the time to oppose a particular government with Force, then the Citizens would have succor from other levels of government. Should the National Government become tyrannical, then the People could appeal to the Force available to the States… vice versa, should the State Government become tyrannical, then the people could appeal to the Force available to the Nation. [ See here, here, and here.]

“And how many shoot-outs will they have along the way with those who approve the actions of the government and think those on the other side are alarmists, conspiracy theorists, and home-grown terrorists?”

Probably scant few. Ordinarily those who “approve the actions of the government” don’t rally in arms to support the government until later, they merely sit back and let the government do the fighting.

“There are those who see law enforcement as nothing but an arm of tyranny and would start assassinating policemen at every opportunity–a horrible solution that surely would be met with every attempt to bring down these outlaws by the armed law-and-order citizens.”

Yep, but let’s not obfuscate. There is a line where complex outlawry and legitimate armed insurrection for a good cause differentiate.

“It worked a couple of centuries ago. It would not work now. We are too huge. We are too diverse. We have no single, unified ideology nor a statesman or leader supported by a large majority behind whom to rally. Too many of us are convinced that we and those who think just like us are the only ones who are right. I do support the second amendment, but if we are actually justifying it with the same reasons for which it was originally framed, we are deluding ourselves.”

Nonsense. Did we miss the Ukrainian overthrow a year ago? Did we miss the still in question overthrow of the Alawite regime in Syria? Revolutions are ALWAYS possible. Yes they are also ALWAYS upheavals to economies and communities. So?

As for support, there’s a good rule of thumb for revolutions – 1/3 support, 1/3 oppose, 1/3 don’t care. That was roughly the break down in the American Revolution also…yep, initially the Revolution was NOT a popular action, centered primarily around New England, the Southern States, although discontent with England’s methods were not ready to break with them and generally opposed the break until later in the Revolution.

So no, I don’t think we are deluding ourselves that if it came to it, a body of armed citizens could FORCE change if necessary.


Graphic: Gamefront

12 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘Hard Lesson Of The Walmart Tragedy: Bad Ethics Kills’”

  1. Not enough folks and/or voters take a long enough look at the government (or the people in government, since “government,” like corporations, doesn’t do anything) and what is going on. We forget the words of Juvenal: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” [“Who will guard the guards themselves.”] It’s supposed to be us, the citizenry, but we’re not doing a very good job of it.

  2. Juvenal was referring to the Praetorian Guard, who had developed the rather nasty habit of picking the next Caesar. Hopefully, the Secret Service won’t ever get to that point. If that same quote is applied to the populace as a whole, they should (note, SHOULD. Not are, or, for that matter, ever will be) watching themselves. However, I note with some trepidation the lack of protests or counter-protests resulting from the deaths of the 2 NYPD officers.

  3. The main reason why I like to have – make that, insist on having, and insist on my fellow good citizens having opportunity to have what I have – what I consider manageable means of deadly force at my fingertips (mind you: granted, not necessarily whatever means might be considered “manageable” by some neighbor, or by some neighborhood gangster, or by my government bureaucracy, or by some self-made millionaire advocate in some [obscenely profitable] “not-for-profit” organization of tyranny-enablers) is not because I relish the idea of using deadly force against anyone. It is because I relish the idea that such people do exist, who themselves relish the idea of initiating deadly force against me for no good reason, and purely for their own interests and against my interests – and I relish the idea of keeping those people (and their tools-for-bedfellows) guessing and hesitant, in real terror: “Does he, or doesn’t he (have means of killing me first, before I kill him)? Will I get away with [using deadly force/imposing my will], or will he stop me? Dare I take that chance?” Embracing uncertainty, risk, danger – and yes, personal possession of means of deadly force – is such an irresistibly beautiful and powerful, empowering thing!

    Am I supposed to think that kind of “conservatism” is simply too frightening to even permit thinking? Hah! I’ll “cop” to being conservative about outsourcing protection of my life, liberty, property and a great many of my other interests. I like diversity in people, but, in matters of safeguarding those dear means and measures of what I’ll just summarize as simple, noble humanity and dignified existence, I’m kinda picky about who I hang with, whom I allow to run my life, and how much running of my life I’ll allow someone else to do. BANG! [grinning]

  4. There’s also the point that the mere existence of an armed citizenry- organized or not and dedicated to preserving their freedoms under the Constitution- stand as a deterrent against both domestic tyranny and foreign invasion. The Yamamoto Principle works for both cases. The Second Amendment was not put there for show or bluff. It meant business.

  5. I’m new to this site. Reading your blog – it’s almost the feeling after a good, home cooked, very nourishing supper!…… in my head.

  6. The government as envisioned by the Founders was a great experiment — they weren’t sure it was going to work, so it was necessary for them to put in the concept of armed state militias. But, here’s the thing, their vision of a stable government with its balance of powers has flourished and has been copied (at least in part) around the world again and again. It works. The only reason we would ever have tyrannical lawmakers is if we voted them into office. We can then vote them out of office — or have them removed from office if they committed crimes. So any armed insurrection against these individuals would be treason. (And define tyranny. To throw a nod at Shelly, there is much disagreement among the citizenry and Congress as to what constitutes an abuse of power. What makes your definition correct and mine incorrect? At what point to I get to enforce my position with a gun?)

    The only plausible situation I can see an armed insurrection becoming a legal and necessary solution is if the military decided to launch a coup Junta-style. The military certainly has had the power and the ability since World War II at least. There are multiple hypotheses why they haven’t, most likely ranging from “What’s to gain? The U.S. is a pretty awesome place,” to the fact (hope?) that honorable men historically have held positions of power in the military. Or perhaps our military is just too large to ever launch an organized coup?

    But let’s say that the military does launch a coup. In third-world countries or even at the dawn of our Revolution, the military and the average guy essentially had the same weapons. Even a local militia could get its hands on artillery. With technological advances, the local citizenry would be toast if the military truly decided to take over. I don’t own a tank, a fighter jet, missiles, nuclear arms, etc. and I couldn’t get my hands on those things even if I wanted to. Certainly an armed citizenry could cause a lot of chaos, but could they win without the backing of another large military power if a tyrannical military truly decided to unleash its might? (And who would that power be? No one comes close to the U.S. military.) I don’t think so. How would we eat? What would we do for currency? I’m a farm girl, but I don’t think I could grow enough food on my little suburban plot to feed my family.

    So, while I am not bothered if other people want or feel the need to own guns for this possibility, I choose not to own them. For reasons in the other post, I would be a truly terrible and irresponsible gun owner. There is a far greater chance that someone in my own family would get hurt if there was a gun here than me ever doing something beneficial with one. If the revolution ever does come (I pray it doesn’t), perhaps Tex and others will let me grow their crops and breed their livestock in exchange for their protection. Because I won’t be bringing a gun to the fight.

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