Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org

This page, the petition for gun control to “save our children” is what earns the “honor.” I see many Facebook friends, many on whom are genuinely gifted intellectually, surrendering to emotion and signing this junk, as junk it is. The petition neatly encapsulates the serial intellectual dishonestly,  misleading rhetoric and appeal to emotion that we will see bloviated all over the National Mall this weekend: I guess that has some value for historical purposes. Otherwise, it is an engine of ignorance designed to either attract the ignorant, make the less ignorant more so, or deceive.

Let’s look at this mess, shall we?

In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now. Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.

Nobody is saying that “now is not the time to talk about guns.” Who has said that? The statement is straw man. Agreed: now is a good time to talk about anything: guns, pangolins, acne, cabbages and kings. We have a First Amendment as well as a Second, something those Other Civilized Nations that are always being extolled in the gun debate don’t have.

Created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country, we …

Not to be pedantic, but a serious petition should be written by someone  who can speak the language. Signers are created by students? It’s bad enough that they are being led by students, who are after all, students. They do not know enough, either through knowledge or experience, to be seriously participating in a complex policy debate, much less leading it.  “We, the undersigned adults who are duty-bound to be teaching and leading our rising generation, are allowing them to dictate to us.” Good plan. How can anyone sign such a petition and not hide their head under a bag?

…will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.

This is pure appeal to emotion rather than reality. The existence of the right to own guns no more “risks lives” than the existence of anything else that is dangerous when misused. There are 10.6 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens due to guns according to latest statistics, including those of suicides and those killed by law enforcement. Three times that many die in alcohol-related automobile accidents. Nobody argues that we risk our lives because “someone” hasn’t taken “action” (aka, “do something,” “make it go away” “make us feel safe when nobody in a free society is ever safe”, aka. “ban and confiscate guns.”) regarding that risk we accept as part of living in a free society that includes jackasses, fools and criminals, and that’s just one of many.

There is no “epidemic” of school shootings. Students in school are safe; if they don’t feel safe, it’s because of fear -mongering from activists and the news media.

“We support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution.”

No, you obviously don’t. This is a pure lie (or inexcusable stupidity.) A movement called “Never Again” is either lying in its title by implying that any public policy, laws or regulations will guarantee no more gun deaths, in schools or anywhere else, or it is telling us its real purpose in the name, while lying about the movement’s real intent.

Many, many, if not most mass shooters were “law-abiding” until they started shooting. This statement either endorses pre-crime measures, profiling citizens to decide if they are a risk to eventually abuse gun rights—unconstitutional—is magical thinking, or is, again, a lie. The statement—and while it is always a fine time to talk about guns, it is never a fine time to resuscitate this zombie tautology that the NRA has been knocking down for decades—is self-rebutting.  Laws only affect law-abiding people, as long as they obey laws. Restrictive gun laws are violated by criminals, because they don’t obey laws. Nobody has ever explained how a law will not infringe “ the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms” while somehow keeping the same kinds of arms out of the hands of those who are not law-abiding. This is because it’s impossible.

“But with that right comes responsibility.”

As an ethicist, I object to a cynical use of the language of ethics to deceive, which is what this is. If the topic is responsibility, then we are talking about law-abiding citizens again, as well as ethical ones. They usually don’t use guns irresponsibly, or if they do (like killing themselves), such irresponsible use is not addressed by the measures proposed here. If I am a law-abiding citizen, I won’t be more likely to abuse my gun ownership whether I have had a background check or not. Irresponsible gun ownership includes not keeping guns where children—you know, citizens the age of the people “leading” those who sign the petition—can find them and hurt themselves and others. It includes not learning how to use a gun safely and appropriately. This petition isn’t about promoting responsible gun ownership. It’s about replacing the right to own guns responsibly with the right to own sling-shots.

We call on all the adults in Congress elected to represent us, to pass legislation that will protect and save children from gun violence.

There it is: “Think of the children!” A pure, unadulterated, inexcusable appeal to emotion over facts and reason.

Our elected officials MUST ACT by:

1. Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.Of the 10 deadliest shootings over the last decade, seven involved the use of assault weapons.

Those weapons were not assault weapons. Semi-automatic weapons are not assault weapons, though the Congress in another one of its sloppy drafting exercises has called them so in the past. (But as Abe Lincoln so sagely pointed out, if you call a dog’s tail a leg, that doesn’t make it a leg.) An assault weapon is an automatic weapons, and these are banned, have been for a long time, are not protested by the Second Amendment, and are used only by criminals. A petition that includes misleading a factually false statements and terminology is telling us one of two things:

One: We are really passionate, but we don’t know what the hell we are talking about, or

Two: We’re lying to you so you will sign our petition.

It doesn’t matter which is at play: either one should disqualify a petition as legitimate. Lately, the news media and some of the dishonest anti-gun fanatics who are tired of being corrected have been using the term “assault-style” weapons. This literally means, though it is still deliberately misleading, that the semi-automatic weapons look like assault weapons. That is to say, they are scary.

No civilian should be able to access these weapons of war, which should be restricted for use by our military and law enforcement only. These guns have no other purpose than to fire as many bullets as possible and indiscriminately kill anything they are pointed at with terrifying speed.

False. FALSE. This describes automatic weapons, not the semi-automatic weapons that were used in the mass shootings named. Meanwhile. “weapons of war” is dishonest, and indeed ignorant rhetoric, as I explained here.

2. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones the shooter at our school—and so many other recent mass shootings used. States that ban high-capacity magazines have half as many shootings involving three or more victims as states that allow them. Limiting the number of bullets a gun can discharge at one time will at least force any shooter to stop and reload, giving children a chance to escape.

False. The Parkland shooter did not use magazines larger than 10 rounds. He had 150 rounds of ammunition in 10-round magazines. The consistent theme of all the angry accusations, declarations and “simple solutions” is that the measures being proposed have nothing to do with the shooting used as an excuse for reviving them.

3. Closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows.

Ask someone to explain what they think is the “gun show loophole”—they won’t be able to. There is no loophole in federal law that specifically exempts gun show transactions from any other laws normally applied to gun sales. Nicholas Cruz bought his gun legally, and not at a gun show. The Sandy Hook shooter’s guns were also bought legally, though not by him.

 97 percent of Americans support closing the current loopholes in our background check system. When Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks on all handgun sales, they saw a 40 percent reduction in gun homicides. 22 percent of gun sales in this country take place without a background check. That’s millions of guns that could be falling into dangerous hands. A background check should be required on every gun sale, no exceptions.

Ugh.

  • The “97 percent of Americans “have no clue what those “holes” are, and neither does the petition’s authors or its signers, Over 50% of the American would eliminate the First Amendment. We don’t have government by polls…and we saw in 2016 how reliable they are. Citing polls is cheap, and not an argument.
  • That 40% figure, used prominently by Barack Obama, is a fake statistic, referring to a law that was passed before Sandy Hook, so it obviously wasn’t a measure that stopped Sandy Hook.
  • Background checks area are fine, but they didn’t stop Parkland, or Vegas.

The children of this country can no longer go to school in fear that each day could be their last. Please sign our petition and demand a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. 

Non-sequitur. None of the measures would have stopped the Parkland shooting. If they would eliminate student paranoia, then it would be through dishonesty: nothing much will have changed. Or those “comprehensive and effective” measures are not the ones this petition is really aimed at. Either way, the document is dishonest.

Meanwhile, smart friends, some of them lawyers, are putting their names on this digital primal scream, because it feel good, and they want to signal that they care. Shame on all of them. They are trained to insist on precision of language and thought. They are professionals whose duty to society is to prevent the kind of free-floating, loosely-reasoned rhetorical fog epitomized by this petition from doing damage to laws, rights and society. Instead they are writing about how they “support” the sentiment, because after all, children good, guns bad.

Cut it out. Be serious. Be an adult. If there are honest, strong, persuasive arguments to be made, make them. The fact that you are embracing the juvenile collection of half-truths and political talking-points indicates to me that you have no legitimate points to make, or have been, inexplicably, too lazy and irresponsible to develop them.

 

19 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

19 responses to “Unethical Website Of The Month, “March For Our Lives” Edition: Change.Org

  1. adimagejim

    Propaganda requires just a hint of reality, combined with fallacies and misrepresentations. Then add a strong measure of whipped up emotion by an ignorant or co-conspirator media. (See AdAge online today.) Voila, your rights are now dependent on a popularity contest.

  2. I have no issue with youthful involvement and exuberance. There is, however, the nasty factor that some will use a serious issue for merely political gain. Jack has already highlighted “inconsistencies.” Adults are most certainly involved and just to what extent? Is it an issue that resonates or one that becomes more political fodder? Maybe both? I am an anti-gun radical/zealot/extremist – choose one or all, but this movement may end up like Black Lives and the Tea Party where others infiltrate, and good intentions are soon kicked to the curb.

  3. Glenn Logan

    Cut it out. Be serious. Be an adult. If there are honest, strong, persuasive arguments to be made, make them. The fact that you are embracing the juvenile collection of half-truths and political talking-points indicates to me that you have no legitimate points to make, or have been, inexplicably, too lazy and irresponsible to develop them.

    What else would you expect from young people? Which is why we not only shouldn’t listen, but should basically ignore their protest altogether. It is a meaningless jumble of emotion, fake statistics, lies, dissimulation, and fearmongering.

    It is as useful as an appendix. A pity we can’t just excise this nonsense from our discourse, because all it does is create irrational background noise, lots of fawning media stories, and attempts to shame adults into doing the bidding of the childish.

  4. Another Mike

    So. If school safety is the goal, why does it seem to always devolve to anti-gun hysteria. Would the anti-gunners (looking at you, Rick M) be happy if the students at the various schools were beat to death by ax handles, or maybe hacked up by machete? I have my doubts.

    How many schools were in session on Feb 14th? Many thousand I would imagine and only one had an attack by a mentally deranged student. How much national time and treasure needs be expended to prevent such a rare event? Jack’s example of fatal auto accidents gives this some perspective.

  5. Nobody is saying that “now is not the time to talk about guns.” Who has said that? The statement is straw man. Agreed: now is a good time to talk about anything: guns, pangolins, acne, cabbages and kings. We have a First Amendment as well as a Second, something those Other Civilized Nations that are always being extolled in the gun debate don’t have.

    Well, guns were already talked about in October of 1992. (To put this in perspective, SDSU soccer alums Carli Janae Johnson and Haley Aiko Palmer were born that month,)

    http://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.culture.african.american/-2TwVOBXpys/jcDAgF3f3-MJ

    The arguments regarding gun control back then should look very familiar.

    …will no longer risk our lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.

    The children of this country can no longer go to school in fear that each day could be their last. Please sign our petition and demand a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.

    I am old enough to remember when gang violence was the problem.

    Both the media and politicians focused on gang violence. Gang violence was considered the greater threat than mass shootings.

    Time magazine even put a picture of Yummy Sandifer on the front page.

    A columnist for the Long beach Press-Telgram ran a series of columns titled “Javier’s Legacy”

    and yet, somewhere along the way, gang violence ceased to be a problem. None of the politicians nor network pundits mention the problem of gang violence anymore.

    I wonder why.

    Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.Of the 10 deadliest shootings over the last decade, seven involved the use of assault weapons.

    Which will result in criminal gangs like the Crips, the Mafia, and MS-13 having a monopoly on the assault weapons market.

    Are gangbangers less likely to commit murder than licensed firearm dealers?

    No civilian should be able to access these weapons of war, which should be restricted for use by our military and law enforcement only.

    Why does law enforcement get to have assault weapons?

    Because they gun down unarmed black men?

    If so, that means the Crips should also get to have assault weapons.

    Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones the shooter at our school—and so many other recent mass shootings used. States that ban high-capacity magazines have half as many shootings involving three or more victims as states that allow them. Limiting the number of bullets a gun can discharge at one time will at least force any shooter to stop and reload, giving children a chance to escape.

    Anyone have any ideas on how to stop the Crips, the Mafia, or MS-13 from possessing high-capacity magazines- let alone sell them to children in parks and playgrounds?

    Closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows.

    They can also buy guns from gangs- or join gangs.

    Any idea on how to shut down criminal gangs? Law enforcement throughout the U.S. have been trying for what, two hundred years?

  6. They are coming for (one of) my hunting rifle. They don’t have sense enough to know they are after the least powerful one, either

  7. Jack, Can you delete my two comments above, they ended up in the wrong thread. Stupid phone links. 😡

  8. Where does this end? These people are approaching or already are a majority. This is why Madison warned about mob rule and helped form a Constitution (now a mere historical suggestion) as a bulwark against it.

    When reasonable approaches to problems defying their emotions become judged as hate speech, the rational will be imprisoned or worse. I do not see a civil way out as the next generation has virtually no critical thinking skills, but instead just neo-Bolshevism and indoctrination.

    This is truly overwhelming and depressing.

    • I do not see a civil way out…

      Nor do I, but this fact makes a difference: those with guns far outnumber the very vocal ones getting al the press, and will not give them up willingly. Or civilly.

    • The handlers who are engineering this civic disaster should have a special place reserved for them…

      The youthful saps who fall for their utopian crap will be the most to suffer for it when it is too late to come back to a Republic.

  9. dragin_dragon

    I’d rather you left this here. As I stated in a different post, the human brain does not mature until 23-26 years old, so it is illogical to expect 15-17 year olds to be able to demonstrate reasonable, rational thought. I’d further postulate that it may take several years after reaching maturity for education and experience to cause any sort of critical thinking.

  10. JP

    I have largely been silent on the issue this time around. I have seen nothing that contributes to the debate and thought I had nothing to add since the Vegas incident. Mostly, if someone asks, I just refer them to my earlier points on why the whole issue with bump stocks and Brady law are not will not change anything if proposed. However, it seems today my more liberal and conservative friends have been posting quite a bit on the subject and I thought now might be a good time to tackle the issue again by looking at problems on both sides and finding a solution.

    First, let’s start with some of the conservative talking points.

    “If someone is determined to hurt people and commit a felony, what’s to say that they won’t break a law to get their hands on a gun to do it?”

    This may be true, but it is doesn’t move the dialogue forward and is often used to be deceptive. It is basically saying that since criminals don’t obey laws, anyway, why have a law? By this logic, we could apply the following to Trump’s desire to build a wall. Walls have not proven to be effective in stopping people wanting to come in, so why build a wall? I don’t understand why conservatives who use this logic don’t apply it elsewhere. Laws are largely there as deterrents. People will not do something because it is against the law regardless of how pointless they see it (I guess this is why I always get stuck behind that Kia doing 65 on the interstate). A psychologist found that most of the population is motivated to do things by one of two factors: sympathy and empathy or law in order (I think this greatly sums up the current gun debate).

    Second, “Cars kill more people than guns do, yet we don’t ban cars.”

    This is a strawman’s argument and not even good one. Cars are highly regulated, require an age limit, require a permit of sorts, a registration, require training and safety ((things the left claim to want for guns) and are designed for transportation, not to kill. They can and have been used to kill people, but that is not their primary purpose. In fact, it is a gross misuse of there purpose. The argument falls further apart because while you have a right to a gun, you do not have a right to a car. The government could decide to remove all cars (for whatever reason) making it apples to oranges comparison.

    Third, Arming teachers will fix the problem.

    Well, maybe we’re not really sure. Recent evidence has shown that a good guy with a gun can quickly stop a bad guy with one in a school. This pool is this happening is too small to draw any broad-based conclusions. However, teachers, primary responsibility is to teach. We put hundreds of hours into training military and police personnel to make sure they are properly trained to deal with these situations such as identity, de-escalate, and protect. Not to mention constant training, upkeep, and psychological evaluation. So the solution is to let a gun carrying member take over the job of a police officer because they are willing? I’m not sure I’m ready for my kid to be in that school. They may be great, but I would much rather they stick to their day job.

    Now let’s look at some of the liberal points.

    “The NRA is a terrorist group” or “the NRA has blood on its hands”

    I’ve seen a lot of this in various forms today and has made me cringe each time. The NRA, like the ACLU is an advocacy group. Like the ACLU, they have often taken an extreme position for their cause. They have no more blood on their hands than I do (well maybe they do). To make these claims show the person knows nothing about NRA, advocacy, the second amendment, or making progress in the debate.

    Second, Countries like Japan and Australia have proven gun control works.

    There is a lot of debate regarding if gun control actually does work in Australia, but that besides the point. Japan only proves that gun control works for Japan. Brazil proves gun control doesn’t work for Brazil. Both countries are radically different from the United States and as such make them apples or oranges (in the case of Japan apples to steak) comparisons. Nevermind that countries like Japan are highly focused on collective mentality where the USA is an individualistic society there are so many different factors between the two countries that it would be impossible say let alone prove we could have similar results (and this is before you even get into the mess of completely reworking our current laws).

    (I had a third one, but now I can’t remember what it was).

    So what can we do to fix the problem? Like I already mentioned the Brady law and the bump stock would do nothing to fix the problem. Outside of banning guns, other issues have been discussed. I know some senators such as Diane Feinstein have proposed using the No Fly list as a way to stop problems. But here you run into other problems such as false positives, lack of due process, or as the ACLU put it ” does not provide meaningful notice of the reasons our clients are blacklisted, the basis for those reasons, and a hearing before a neutral decision-maker.”

    I would really like to hammer the issue with due process to solving the gun control problem. It seems like more and more society is moving away from “the right to a fair trial” and “innocent until proven guilty” for a quick and easy solution. I can only see this resulting in more “Dear Colleague” letters, Kangaroo Courts, and Witch Trials. When have these events ever turned out positive?

    So what can we do? Well, I have three things which I think can positively move the dialogue forward.

    First, be willing to communicate, listen, and accept you might be wrong in your position. As Jack pointed out, emotion does not help an argument. Hurting people need time to greave, not be exploited. We do a lot of stupid things when we are hurt, angry, or upset. These are the best times to step away, not step forward. This conversation needs to happen, but we need the right people able to do it. This leads me to my second.

    Stop giving people like David Hogg a platform. He adds nothing and only destroys dialogue. Like the NFL protest, no one wants to listen to someone who has no idea what they are talking about and being forced to listen to him to people like him only shows that you don’t care what the other side things about him.

    Third, we need be more diligent. It is becoming increasingly common that people were not stopped by law enforcement before the incident happened (See Fort Hood shooting, Charleston church shooting, Texas church shooting, 2014 Washington shooting, and most recent school shooting). An NYT article list all the major cases of mass shootings in the last 15 years and list multiple times where people were able to get a weapon because some form of law enforcement failed to do their job. I hope this was because of the problems with due process and not laziness or “kicking it down the road” so to speak.

    I am almost positive this problem will never be fixed (please prove me wrong), at least not without removing the second amendment (and even then I doubt it). But some headway has got to be made and I want to do it the right way because I’m worried that at the rate we are going the lines of communication between the two sides are going to stop and something worse is going to happen.

  11. OhThatGuy

    The real issue, at least from my perspective, isn’t guns and gun control. Yes, this is one of the big emotional triggers right now, has been for years, and will continue to be so as long as there exists a gulf between those who enjoy the rights and benefits granted by the 2nd Amendment and those who do not.

    The underlying concern to me is the lack of independent thought. While this is somewhat excusable in kids, it’s not in what are supposed to be adults. Displays such as the walkouts and marches are nothing more than peer pressure or what I call the Bandwagon Principle – doing something simply because others (in my peer group) are doing the same thing without any actual thought put into the decision. I see this on a daily basis – I teach juniors and seniors in high school.

    Growing up, my parents, especially my father, were as near as I can remember, completely objective about things. There were no passionate appeals to emotion regarding the hot topics of the day. I was encouraged to read and form my own opinions about things as none were supplied to me from Mom and Dad. We (my friends and I) read the two newspapers available each day as well as Time, Newsweek, and other publications. This was in the early to mid 80’s so we weren’t subject to the cacophony of modern media but were as well informed about current events as most teens could be. The short version is, if I was to have a publicly stated opinion about something, I’d better have some idea what I was talking about and some facts to back it up. Any discussion of an issue that started with “I feel that…” or “They need to do SOMETHING!” wouldn’t have lasted very long. I don’t remember ever being told anything about what to think on a subject or even led to a conclusion to fit what my parents thought I should think. It simply wasn’t how they operated.

    Fast-forward to now. Many, if not most kids I see, haven’t ever had an original thought in their lives. Yes, 16 – 18 year old’s are still young and not really ready for adulthood in many respects, but they should be starting to see the world through their own eyes by this time. Yet they’re programmed, by parents and family, their physical friends or peers, and alarmingly so, the larger social groups they identify with, not to do so. They jump to and fro with frightening speed based on what the group chat thinks. If questioned about why they think a particular way, many answer with whatever the group-think is at the moment – “Guns are bad, they kill people, I don’t want to be killed so ban guns.” Try to get an actual conversation going about what “ban guns” means and there’s nothing there. No concept of what “ban guns” even begins to look like as they don’t even have an understanding of how our society works and what’s at stake. I know I’m using a large brush to paint with and not all teens fit this description but too many do.

    IMHO the lack of thinking stems from a lack of parenting. Yes, schools are certainly culpable as well. You don’t need to tell me how bad things can be in public education, but education, real education, begins at home. Home is where one should learn respect, ethics, morals, and critical thinking. Schools should open new doors and avenues of thought but the basics of how to be a citizen and participate in society should taught at home by parents who are themselves responsible members of society. Instead, we have parents turning out mini-me clones of themselves, expecting the kids to mimic what the parent thinks and act the way the parent acts. Or we have the totally detached method – let your kid do whatever he or she wants because you’re too busy or lazy to deal with him or her and then expect society to fix or take care of the problem.

    I don’t have an answer to fix the problem but try each day to make a difference with my students so that they leave a little wiser and a little more prepared to think for themselves.

    • Great comment, OTG, and a Comment of the Day.

    • OhThatGuy writes: IMHO the lack of thinking stems from a lack of parenting. Yes, schools are certainly culpable as well. You don’t need to tell me how bad things can be in public education, but education, real education, begins at home. Home is where one should learn respect, ethics, morals, and critical thinking. Schools should open new doors and avenues of thought but the basics of how to be a citizen and participate in society should taught at home by parents who are themselves responsible members of society. Instead, we have parents turning out mini-me clones of themselves, expecting the kids to mimic what the parent thinks and act the way the parent acts. Or we have the totally detached method – let your kid do whatever he or she wants because you’re too busy or lazy to deal with him or her and then expect society to fix or take care of the problem.

      It seems that your post is a group of conclusions but that the reasons the home and the family (and school) cannot be relied on as a moral and ethical training ground are left out of your analysis. You describe in essence a cultural and social situation that is an outcome manifest in the present but then say that you don’t have an answer how to ‘fix’ the problem, yet that implies a ‘problem’ exists and can be located.

      My own theory about ‘the problem’ and the reason why smart people have no sense at all what the problem is (yet they still desire to hold the status of authority), how to descibe it, and how to rectify it, is that they are/we are thoroughly mystified by an amazing range of false-ideas which are inserted into our minds from all sides.

      We exist in a cultural environment that is mystified and cannot think straight. To correct that means going to work on oneself at very basic levels and noticing ‘complicity’ in the establishment and maintenance of false ideas. This involves taking a stand against the cultural currents which, invariably, leads to the cultural currents, in the form of aggressive agents, attacking one.

      To recover oneself, and then to recover the ‘family’ and ‘the school’, is nothing short of a radical conservative project. But there is no acceptable model of such conservatism though there are plenty of pseudo-conservatives.

      I found this interesting quote that illustrates an important observation (RT Dabney, likely around 1840):

      “It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This [Northern conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip..

      The difficulty for many, I think obviously so, is that Dabney’s ‘principles’ reside in metaphysical ideas: faith and belief. If one cannot define ‘solid Principles’ one cannot define a base on which to construct and solid principles are metaphysical, not physical. And if the general motion of Culture is against ‘principle’, as it certainly seems to be — indeed it seems to have a diabolical will to oppose such principles — there will be no ‘answer to fix the problem’, only witness of the problem as it continues its destructive work.

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