Why do I I keep over-estimating the integrity of progressives? I think this is because so many of my friends, classmates, colleagues and family members would call themselves liberals, and I cannot believe they would ever allow their ideological passions to bring them to such a devolved state. I believe, indeed I know, that they are smarter than that.
But the gun debate is like Twitter: it magically lowers IQs. I have read dozens and dozens of screeds, essay, calls to arms, and, of course, debate transcripts, and anti-gun zealots have yet to come up with an honest argument, much less a persuasive one. Employing various levels of civility, they typically begin by vilifying their opponents, proceed to making sweeping generalizations, usually with the help of misleading or fraudulent statistics. Then come the rationalizations and the emotion-based fallacies: “If it saves just one life…”;”Guns mean more to Republicans than the safety of out children…; “If other countries can do it…”; “This has to stop!…” ; “Nobody needs a gun…”...and on, and on.
These are childish arguments, now framed by Rationalization # 57. The Universal Trump, or “Think of the children!”
#57 is designed to end arguments before they start, using a conversation-stopper, dripping with sentiment, that only heartless curs and brutes can ignore. Bias makes us stupid, and since almost everyone is biased toward children, Rationalization #56 has the effect, and the intentional effect, of spraying Stupid Gas far and wide to ensure that reasoned analysis is impossible. It is an assertion that bias not only trumps legitimate objections to a course of action, but that it should….
Yet I did not see it—-I DID NOT SEE IT!—that the next illogical step in the anti-gun crusade would be to turn the job of advocating for gun bans and confiscation to actual children. This is brilliant, when you think about it. They can’t make less sense than the adults in the debate, and since they are children, and in the case of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, survivors, they guarantee that their adversaries will hold their fire. (Well, not me, but most of them.) Some of the most villainous despots in world history have used children this way. It’s cynical and cruel, but since these people believe that the ends justifies the means, let’s trot out the kids!
So there have been youth lie-ins, protests and walk-outs. There is, of course, an on-line petition at Change.Org, where bad ideas go, and a looming march with this crystal objective:
“The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.”
And what would such a magic bill consist of? Hey, we’re just kids! We demand, and the adults are supposed to deliver! Isn’t that how it works?
David Hogg is an articulate, impressive, passionate young man, but the massacre survivor is not smart enough to be thrust into the public role that some despicable adult activists have thrust him. This morning I heard him say, with a face radiating anger and determination, shouting to an equally intense crowd, that there was a clear choice for Congress: either stand for the lives and safety of children, or accept the NRA’s “blood money.”
This is what is called a “false dichotomy.” I don’t blame David for not knowing about false dichotomies—lots of Americans don’t, and I didn’t grasp the concept myself until midway through college. Nonetheless, that is a bad argument. It tells me, and anyone else with a knowledge and some facility with critical thinking, that the speaker is not a reliable advocate or messenger. David Hogg does not have the requisite perspective, education, reasoning skill or perspective to be making such manifestos, and the news media and anti-gun advocates should not be giving him the floor.
This is a desperate and nauseating tactic by the Left. We face difficult, complex and long-standing ethical conflicts and dilemmas, and they must be considered and solved, if they can be solved, by our best and most able adult thinkers, not our youngest, most callow and sympathetic. I can’t believe that I have to write this, but I guess I do: Policy can not be made my children. It is unethical to encourage it, and unethical to lead children into thinking it is something they have a right to attempt.
This brings us to former Harvard Law legend Larry Tribe, the once towering legal mind reduced by age, boredom and a Twitter addiction to that most dangerous of humans, a wackadoodle with a reputation for brilliance. I’ve documented some, but not nearly all, of Tribe’s recent imitations of Moe, Larry or Curly with a laptop. He has surpassed himself this time, though. Over the weekend he tweeted…
“Teens between 14 and 18 have far better BS detectors, on average, than ‘adults’ 18 and older. Wouldn’t it be great if the voting age were lowered to 16? Just a pipe dream, I know, but … #Children’sCrusade? … #ChildrensCrusade = #MarchForOurLives! Make this as big as possible. Retweet all messages like this one!”
So I guess Roy Moore should have been let off the hook when it came out that he had put the moves on a 16-year-old date when he was over 30, right Larry? After all, she was fully competent; more competnet, or so you say, than a 25-year-old he might have picked up at a bar. She was able to consent; after all, she was 16! She wasn’t going to fall for his bullshit! Wouldn’t it be great if kids had the vote! It would certainly make it easier for infantile policy positions to find sympathetic ears.
Kids would understand that having immigration laws is just plain mean, for example. Bernie Sanders’ crypto-Marxist fantasies sound more brilliant and practical the younger and less educated you are. I would like to see the peer-reviewed research that says that kids are wiser than adults. My guess is that any such study begins with the bias that progressive cant isn’t bullshit, and conservative positions are. In this Tribe is just relying on the phenomenon first described by John Adams, who wrote, “A boy of 15 who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at 20.” The more famous version is sometimes attributed to Churchill, but was said by Clemenceau:
“Not to be a socialist at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.”
I never suspected that this theory would be weaponized to undermine the Second Amendment, however. It is amazing what some people will try when they can’t win an argument with facts and logic.