To me, this disparity of evident motives is the most parsimonious way of evaluating the respective merits of opposing sides in any debate. If one side has no evident self-interested agenda beyond truth or fairness or the public good, that’s the side you should probably be listening to. Climate-change alarmists seem motivated either by evidence (in the case of the few people who actually know what they’re talking about—climatologists and geologists) or by faith in scientific consensus; climate change deniers seem motivated either by naked, mercenary self-interest (in the case of the oil industry and its flacks) or by a more general hostility toward inconvenient data (in the case of the Fox watchership). Gun advocates’ fervid idealism in defense of the Second Amendment reminds me of the uncharacteristically teary-eyed patriotic sentiment with which pornographers cite the First. Yeah clearly firearms are protected, in some sense, under the Constitution, as is freedom of expression. As a cartoonist and a writer, I’m kind of a First Amendment hard-liner. But in all honesty I have to wonder whether, if Alexander Hamilton or James Madison were to hear about the mass execution of schoolchildren in Massachusetts or happened to catch Busty Backdoor Nurses on hotel-room cable, they’d agree that this is just what they were envisioning.
— Tim Kreider
I try not to talk politics on this site, mostly because I’m convinced that writing about politics on the Internet is a waste of your time and mine. This is exactly, however, why I want to link to Tim Kreider, who is not only a far, far better writer than I, but also writes about these topics in a fair-handed way that few ever do, while leaving ample room for debate and counterargument. Tim’s cartoons are often not as fair-handed, but that’s the nature of cartooning as a medium. See, for example, the artwork that opens up his piece.
All politics is a give-and-take discussion, and the entire thing falls apart when nobody, but nobody, is willing to step out of the ideological pit they’ve dug themselves into. This is no more apparent than in debates such as gun control, abortion, and any other argument where rights are to be given and or taken away. So much of this is viewed as a zero-sum game, and so precious little of it is. This is yet another reason why I don’t post political stuff on Sanspoint—I don’t want to get dragged into the debate, launching volleys from my ideological foxhole, and causing collateral damage to my readers who don’t want to get involved either.
No matter where you stand on guns, and I’m not telling you my stance, read Tim’s essay. It’s not just good political writing, it’s good writing. I feel the need to link to it from that alone. Its subject matter is almost secondary.