Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be George Foulkes...

I mentioned earlier my foray into the lion's den by arguing about gun control on Rachel Lucas' blog. Even as I speak, other posters on the blog are busy archly agreeing with each other that I am 'dishonest' and comparing notes about exactly what point in the discussion they had first realised I wasn't 'arguing in good faith'. One of the posters even noted Ms Lucas' patience for allowing the discussion to go on - the implication being that my 'behaviour' was so beyond the pale that she had been extremely generous in even permitting me to have my voice heard. Since I was, in fact, being very honest and arguing from deeply-held principles throughout this is obviously rather hard to swallow, but this time I'm going to resist the temptation to respond because I've finally realised what a monumental waste of time it is. There just seems to be something in the mindset of many right-wing Americans that refuses to acknowledge legitimate philosophical or ideological disagreement - as you can see from the relative tolerance shown at the start of the discussion, you're fine as long as you're a good boy or girl and argue within certain acceptable bounds (bounds which of course they and they alone are permitted to define), but once you step over a certain mark what you say just 'does not compute' and you are automatically transferred to the 'liar'/'bad faith'/'troll' zone. At one stage I tried to introduce an alternative concept of personal liberty (one, which as it happens, I genuinely and passionately believe in) that doesn't define itself so narrowly as being entirely dependent on the capacity to defend yourself with a gun - that, it was immediately pointed out to me, was a "bridge too far".

Anyway, winding down from what I now realise was an utterly pointless discussion, a couple of reflections -

1) The sometimes bemused, sometimes angry 'does not compute' reaction I stirred up was so intense that I began to realise that the posters on that blog simply have very little exposure to the type of arguments I was - for the most part in a fairly restrained manner - putting forward, even though millions of people in their own country (let alone beyond their shores) would broadly agree with me. And, when I think about it, that actually makes perfect sense. If you look at the average American political blog, it's either conservatives talking to other conservatives or liberals talking to other liberals, and never the twain shall meet. It's little wonder the cultural divide in the US is so sharp - left-wingers and right-wingers in this country may disagree and may sometimes even take a dislike to each other but at least they can bear to engage in some kind of dialogue (or should that be perpetual slanging match?).

2) What is it about arguing with right-wing Americans that temporarily transforms me into George Foulkes? No-one who's read this blog can doubt my nationalist credentials, but over the last few days I veritably started waving the Union Jack at them! At one point I even referred to the UK as "my country". AM2 would be proud of me...


  1. Shall I call you a traitor James? Auch no, you certainly don't fit into that category :)

  2. I was too busy yesterday to say all I wanted to say about this, but I did begin drafting a new post about the issue and the entire first paragraph is basically a big fat thank-you to you. I still think you're wrong about many things, but the point is, the ONLY way anyone can ever have a fruitful and intelligent debate on a blog like mine (one which has mostly readers who agree with me) is for someone who does not agree to come in and say so in calm, civil, polite ways. It generally forces everyone else to state their case equally calmly and politely.

    I realize that devolves sometimes, when people lose their patience, but still, it's about as productive a debate as is possible on a blog. So I appreciate your civil argument.

    At the same time, though, everything you say here could be said about you, as well. Have left-wing Europeans just not been exposed to enough regular Americans who believe in the core values of liberty and self-determination as laid down by our founding fathers in our constitution? Are you all just so used to your own socialist, big-government paradigm that you can't believe anything we say?

    And the things we have been saying, in point of fact, are "broadly agreed" with by many others in our own country AND IN OTHERS, including yours. I have an entire bookmark folder of British web sites and blogs that are saying the exact same things I do.

    The discussion was not pointless. You were outnumbered, so it may have felt pointless to you, but not to me. Because of your aforementioned politeness, others responded with facts and figures instead of just yelling at you. I've gathered reams of information from this, which I can use to hone my own arguments. That's valuable.

    If I were interested in an echo chamber in my own comments, I'd moderate them all and only let through the ones who agree with me. Where is the fun, and most importantly the learning, in that? Nowhere.

    By the way, I'm not a right-winger. It's been discussed many times on my blog. I'm not a Republican or a conservative. Believing in our 2nd Amendment does not necessarily equal conservatism in America, trust me.

    One last thing. Before I moved over here, I wrote on my blog and told everyone I knew that one of the things I was most interested in was being immersed in this culture so that I could understand our differences. So that I could truly grasp the mindset of people just like you, because I truly believe that that sort of understanding is the only way to reconcile those very differences. We may still disagree until we all die, which we probably will on this subject, but it takes away the mystery about another's beliefs that can sometimes encourage a lack of objectivity and an abundance of distrust. I figure, if I can really, REALLY "get" where you're coming from, then and only then can I intelligently argue my own position. You may not think I do that, but I'm still learning is the point.

  3. Rachel:

    1. Finding Brits who think like you on the internet means nothing if not taken in context. There are loads of neo-Nazi people in the UK but they don't reflect the actual British culture.

    2. If you do want to "get" the UK, put down the tabloids and read the broadsheets. Read the Times and the Guardian but for the love of all that's holy, stop reading the Sun, Telegraph, Daily Mail, etc. They're a joke.

    To ScotGo:

    well, you stayed in it longer than I cared to. They lost my serious interest at serfs and crossbows.


  4. As a libertarian-leaning European, I can sympathize with you - being vastly outnumbered in a debate is no fun.

    That being said, the right to freedom from fear is a mirage. It cannot be obtained except by denial of reality. In any population you can always find someone ready to hurt or kill you for your money, sneakers or just for shits and giggles. You may be able to imprison some of them, but not all - and if you catch them, it's only after they hurt or kill somebody. If you manage to disarm them along with the rest of the populace, you leave the small, weak, old and young at their mercy. The average violent thug is in better physical shape than his victims.

    I am given to understand that Scotland has a big knife violence problem. You cannot possibly rid society of knifes, they're far too useful and easy to make. Give me a piece of stiff material and a pavement/sidewalk and in 5 minutes I'll have a serviceable shank, capable of inflicting lethal injury. Hell, you can easily kill a man with a broken CD.

    I'd feel a whole lot less fear among a bunch of armed Texan everymen with pistols in their waistbands than with a bunch of drunk, knife-wielding young Scotsmen. Their weapons may be less effective but they're far more likely to harm me just for fun.

    Your country has rid itself of legal firearms. Are you free from fear?

  5. So, if freedom from fear means nobody has a gun, am I to assume the police in the UK don't have guns, then?

    The UK/US difference here may not go as deep as appears: Brits (and some on the American Left) prefer to have hired help with firearms defend them, while many 'Murricans are DIY types.

    The "hired help" approach works...at least until they realize they have a monopoly on the use of force and that can take decades before it goes all pear-shaped.

  6. Thankyou for that considered response, Rachel, and I apologise if I appeared intemperate at any point - I think there was an element of exasperation kicking in on my part once or twice (I'm probably over-sensitive when people begin questioning my good faith). I accept what you say about not being a right-winger or a conservative - could I therefore point out to you that not all people with my views would describe themselves as socialists? I personally don't mind the word, but it's often used as a pejorative against people who are in fact social democrats or even liberals (in the European sense of the word).

    As for us in Europe not being exposed to an alternative world view, I'll give you three words - George W Bush. He may not have been widely liked or respected, but he was the most powerful man in the world for eight years, and that means he was most certainly listened to.

    To Ninjaviking and Roberta X - the thing I found most interesting about the reaction to my 'freedom from fear' comment (which I borrowed from Neil Kinnock circa 1992 by the way!) was the contention that such a belief system was simply un-American. And yet, up to a point (and I accept it's only up to a point) the current elected president of the US also seems to believe that an important part of liberty is liberty from fear. He used very similar language to that in his refreshing prospectus for a world free of nuclear weapons. So there does seem to be a sense in which Americans of the right (if I can be forgiven for using that term as shorthand one more time) refuse not only to acknowledge the legitimacy of a world view held by millions of their fellow American citizens, but even to acknowledge its existence.

  7. James:

    I agree with Rachel here. 1) Thank you for debating in the manner you did. 2) It was not a waste of time.

    There are those like you who hold an honest belief that "gun control" works to (somehow) make the world a safer place. There are those like me and the majority of Rachel's commenters who hold an opposing view. There's a vast middle out there who don't know what to think, and a large segment of them don't care, but there are "fence sitters" - and many of them vote. They are interested - and these debates provide an opportunity to show both sides.

    I believe that my side - argued calmly, with statistics (with sources!) and logic - is the one that is most convincing.

    I did not engage you in Rachel's comment thread because I came to it too late, but I now invite you to actually debate this topic. I suggest that the forum for this debate be our two blogs. We can trade posts, or I'll be more than happy to give you guest posting privileges at my blog.

    I'm quite serious. And I promise that you will learn things you didn't previously know. I don't expect to change your mind, but I do predict that you will be made uncomfortable by what you learn.

    Yours, sincerely:

    Kevin Baker, proprietor
    The Smallest Minority

  8. Just because someone has a view -- even the President of the U.S., none of whom were/are gods or nobles, just Some Guys (this is a neat thing about the American system, though it does produce a pretty unending succession of addled boobs in the presidency) -- does not legitimize it. Nor do the irrational fears of one individual legitimize limiting the rights of another.

    Self-defense is an inherent right, one all critters have got; some are not so good at it. Humans are so very good at it, we even figured out how to give a middle-aged woman with a bad knee a good chance against strapping young hoodlums. I don't understand why you'd rather see me beaten or killed than those dear lads running for home or shot. On the one hand, we have a productive member of society; on the other, thugs. Fewer (or, more likely, severely chastened) thugs is (IMO) a good thing.

    --You live where you live, under a set of rules you prefer. I live where I live and the rules are different. They will stay different as long as the U.S. Bill of Rights stands. No matter where we live, Nature's laws stay the same: you have exactly as much chance against baddies as you can avail yourself of.

    Another of Nature's laws is You Are Not Safe. We do our best in our various and deeply-sundered ways but there is no sure thing. A tornado, an earthquake, an escaped tiger, a pack of dogs...a million things that cannot be readily prevented nor easily avoided may do us harm and no law, lawyer or law enforcement officer can stop them. Genuine "freedom from fear" cannot be attained by trying to Nerf the world and everyone in it.

    You have certainly been a very good sport about the debate and it has, if nothing else, been a reminder to all of us that individuals can, with the very best of hearts, deeply hold notions so divergent that we struggle even to find common ground to discuss them. Thank you for making the effort.

  9. Hi again, Roberta. I think you're slightly misunderstanding the point I'm making (on a couple of levels). I can quite understand that you might legitimately think Barack Obama is wrong, guilty of irrational thinking, etc. But what one or two of the people who responded to me on the 'freedom from fear' comment were essentially saying was that 'Americans don't think that way, this is how Americans think'. But Obama's words suggest that there is in fact another school of thought in America as well.

    I agree with you that We Are Not Safe - perhaps an even stronger way of looking at it is that Death Is Inevitable. But I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that fear is a relative thing, and that the less (rational) fear we need to endure, the more free we are. In one sense, people on the other side of this debate might even agree with that - they feel more safe in the knowledge that they are free to defend themselves with a gun, whereas others feel more safe by there being fewer guns around for people to be attacked with. And, yes, the latter proposition demands that we tackle the scourge of illegal weapons as well.

    And it goes without saying (I hope!) that I most certainly don't want to see you beaten and killed - I just think you're less likely to be killed if there are fewer guns around.

    To get back to the point from Ninjaviking that I didn't answer earlier - yes, Scotland does have a huge knife violence problem. I'd have to disagree with you, though - part of the solution is to get as many knives as possible off the streets (and from what I can gather, that's a crucial part of the police strategy). But there are all sorts of other sides to the equation as well - the biggest thing that would help would be the alleviation of poverty, although of course there are sharply differing views about how that might be best achieved.

    One other thing I want to say is that I consider myself a libertarian as well. But the fundamental principle is that personal freedoms can only be absolute when they don't interfere with anyone else's basic freedoms. That's where (in my view) the problem with the ownership of deadly weapons begins.

    Kevin, thankyou for your invitation, and I'm not quite sure how to respond because after five days of this I feel like I've said just about everything there is to say. The other thing that worries me slightly is that the tone of the invitation to me on your website suggests that it was made partly with the idea that if I said 'no' you'd be able to say "aha, he's the seventh person who knew he'd lose a debate with me!" The other posters on your blog seem to have the same idea as well - and to them I'd just point out that if I was running away from this debate because I thought it was unwinnable I wouldn't have been at it for five solid days now!

  10. No, James, it's not about "winning" or "losing," it's about the philosophy. As I said above, I don't expect to change your mind, nor you mine. What I want to do is get the discussion out there where "fence-sitters" can find it.

    You seem like the type capable of defending his position, and (given your performance at Rachel's) willing to.

    You have no idea how rare that is. On my side of the fence we have a running joke about "reasoned discourse" - it's what your side does here on the internet generally when confronted with facts and reasoned arguments. They close their comments and often delete them. I don't think you'd do that.

    Obviously, I think your philosophy is the wrong one. Just as obviously (as you noted) your philosophy is not unknown on this side of the pond. That's what I'm fighting, and - not to put too fine a point on it - I want to use a debate between us as a tool in that fight.

    If you think you can defend your position, then accept my invitation. I believe I can defend mine. I have no doubt that in the end we will agree to disagree, but it is my most earnest hope that readers of the discussion will come away believing that my arguments are the more convincing ones.

    Can you say the same?

  11. Kevin, I think I can say the same, depending on who those readers actually are! If it was the (very small) regular readership I have on this blog I'm sure they'd agree with me almost regardless of the skill with which I argued my case, and equally the (considerably larger) regular readership at your website would almost automatically agree with you. That's the trouble with these kind of debates - they don't tend to be read by the undecideds.

    That said, if you'd like me to write an article (either for this blog or your own) drawing together the threads of my argument and allowing you or other people to take issue with me, I'm happy to give it a go. But I have to warn you that for the most part it would just be a regurgitation of what I've already said here and on Rachel's blog, because I've more or less exhausted my repertoire.

    Just to clarify my position on deleting comments - you'll see from an earlier thread ( http://scotgoespop.blogspot.com/2009/03/me-versus-aye-we-can-slightly-edited.html ) that I've deleted comments in the past on the grounds of bad language and I reserve the right to do so again, but I certainly won't censor anyone for their political views.

  12. James, I have a question: how is a "knife" different from "a random slap of metal that has been sharpened along one or more sides and has some sort of gripping area," and how do you propose to end that -- and after knives, what. hammers? Cobblestones? Bricks? Where's the end, naked people in a Teletubby world?

    Objects lack intention. Objects lack volition. Conversely, criminals will always be with us.

    A gun in *my* hand is no threat to a peaceable man and in no way infringes on his rights; yet even the most innocent of objects -- a fire extinguisher, or a crutch -- in the hands of someone intending to harm, to mug, to kill, that thing is a huge harm. It's not the object, it is the wielder thereof.

    ...But animism *is* a religion and so we are at an impasse. Kevin frustrates less easily and he debates fairly -- I hope you two will proceed.

  13. Roberta, it's simply not true that the violent intention of the individual defines everything and the object in his hand defines nothing. You can kill several people within seconds with a gun - how would you go about doing that with a cobblestone, no matter how murderous you were feeling?

    I also think there's an element of people on the other side of this debate wanting to have their cake and eat it. If someone is determined to attack you, they insist it makes no difference whatsoever whether it's with a gun, a brick or a cobblestone, the outcome will be exactly the same. But then when they shift to talking about a person engaged in self-defence, the weapon in their hand suddenly makes all the difference in the world! That was the very question Rachel Lucas originally posed - how can a man hope to defend himself properly with a hammer? Why couldn't he have had a more effective weapon to defend himself with?

    So as a rational person, I hope you'd concede the following - the choice of weapon must make a difference to the outcome for BOTH an attacker and defender, or for NEITHER. I can't see a reasonable third option here.

  14. James:

    I will be more than glad to give you guest posting privileges at TSM for you to make your arguments. I will then rebut them, and we can keep up the give-and-take as long as you care to. I can guarantee you that I won't quit first! (I can also guarantee you that I tend to be, er, verbose in my responses.)

    I need an email address to send you the authorization. You can contact me at gunrights@comcast.net. I'll be away from a computer for the rest of the day, but I can get back with you tomorrow morning.

    One other suggestion: As you note, our commenters will tend to be an echo-chamber for our particular views. I recommend that neither of us attempt to respond to them directly. I've found that it tends to distract from the primary discussion between principals. Certainly feel free to use any argument a commenter brings up, but trying to hold a discussion between a half-dozen or more people just gets to be too much to keep track of.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  15. Kevin, if it's OK with you - and apologies for changing my mind slightly - I think I'll do my post at this blog. I just instinctively feel more comfortable with that somehow. Give me a little while to get my thoughts together and it'll appear here eventually.

    I can also assure you of one thing - I will quit first, quite possibly after one post! I had intended to draw a line under this yesterday.

  16. James, I see our disconnect and it's a simple one: my point is that malefactors cannot be prevented from availing themselves of weaponry (most notably firearms), so why ought civilized persons be kept from also so doing?

    Seriously -- the UK is a collection of islands with exactly one land border; handguns are illegal there and yet you still have bad guys carrying them. All your laws have done is make it impossible for the lawful individual to go armed.

  17. Roberta, if I was being cheap my answer to your question could be "because it's a democracy and that's what the people voted for?". That's the stock answer any time an outsider dares to question an aspect of US domestic policy (such as capital punishment) on the grounds of simple justice and effectiveness. In reality, of course, the UK's gun control laws have been considerably more successful in protecting innocent people than it's comfortable for you to acknowledge.

    Anyway, if I ever get this article for Kevin done I shall perhaps expand on the matter (or re-expand).

  18. James:

    That's fine. I would like permission to copy your post(s) at my blog for archival purposes. Is that OK?

  19. It's not my answer, James; the 'States are, last time I checked, a constitutional republic, with a number of rights quite deliberately set outside ready restriction via voting -- freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom from warrantless searches and the right to keep and bear arms.

    There are strong democratic elements in our system but the framers had read Greek history and understood the dangers of democracy.

    Y'know, hoi polloi could vote that water ice was burning hot...and it would remain cold. We could all vote to replace gravity with levity, but we wouldn't float off into space. Was King Canute a Brit? --Surely he was no true Scotsman. ;)

    ...In re capital punishment, it's actually cheaper to keep 'em locked up for life. (But let's just see that we do). I don't mind in the least if violent criminals are killed in or, better, just before the act but I hesitate to give the State the right to kill: it usually wasn't there at the time of the crime. "Justice," I have no idea what that is. Equity, that can usually be puzzled out but the other's something of a religious question. I strive to avoid those.

    BTW, I'm an anarchist more or less, not a rightwinger.

  20. other posters on the blog are busy archly agreeing with each other that I am 'dishonest' and comparing notes about exactly what point in the discussion they had first realized I wasn't 'arguing in good faith'.

    Well, James, that might be for a reason.
    And that would be that you were not arguing in good faith. You used as a singular example a situation, which you described as a "reputable businessman", being gunned down by a Texan.

    Now, there are a number of interesting issues here. What does this say about what the state of "reputable businessmen" in Scotland? If he's a representative sample, that's not so good. Because when people investigated, it turns out that he was hardly minding his own business, he was - as the original story Rachel described - being *violent* (and possibly drunk.)

    You elided past that, and *continued* to call him a "reputable businessman" - despite that being at the very best a incredibly arguable description at that point. Multiple times. Never retracted or admitted that the situation *wasn't as you described it*. Kept to your original belief, even as the facts demolished the scenario.
    Now, it's entirely possible that you'd heard the story wrong, and come to the wrong conclusion based upon it. I certainly have heard my share of stories set in America in the euro media that have no basis in reality. That's not what got you called dishonest.

    It was when you *refused to admit that your foundation of facts was at least arguable, if not totally incorrect*, and you kept the original conclusion, without any modification (or notice as to the reality of the situation, compared to Rachel's topic.

    You kept describing him as "not a threat", when he was criminally trespassing and damaging property, acting in a threatening manner, in a thread where threatening drunks beat someone to death for irritating them.

    That's not good faith, and as a result, that's why all the American (and a number of Europeans I know who read the thread) said "Wait, what? No, no, that's a good shoot."

    if I was being cheap my answer to your question could be "because it's a democracy and that's what the people voted for?".

    And that would be cheap, and arguable. When did you "vote for it"? The entire Parliamentary system is an example of a system set up to *deny* as much democracy as possible and filter it through multiple layers of elites.

    In reality, of course, the UK's gun control laws have been considerably more successful in protecting innocent people than it's comfortable for you to acknowledge.

    No, they haven't. Look back at Rachel's original post. Look at the fact the "growth industries" in the UK are building home security and videotaping property. You keep citing "reality" based on iffy facts and slanted reporting, and then claim it's our problem that we're telling you you're wrong.
    And no, it's not *just* the gun laws, by any means. It's the entire criminal justice system, where damn near nothing is taken seriously.

    But you'd need to know more than the "accepted media paradigm" to understand that.

    As you've outlawed guns and self-defense, you've lost your liberty, you've lost your freedom, and you're allowing the thugs to run the country. Rapists, attackers, violent criminals are *far* more prevalent there than here. Even murder, if you're not in the inner-city and not a black male. Outside of the inner city, the US is a far more peaceful place than England - which is why those stats are conflated together.
    50% of all murders in the US are committed by (and largely against) a single demographic that makes up less than 10% of the population. But you'd better not ever report that, that's racist.


    All that aside, James, if you want to be an honest debater, you're going to have to change your method of argument. Tossing out statistics that you've been shown to be false, or slanted, and not either refuting or dealing with the rebuttals, but continuing on as you just did there with "the UK's gun control laws have been considerably more successful in protecting innocent people" isn't _honest_. Not when you can easily point to the fact that before the gun laws were draconian, the rape and burglary statistics were less than the US, now they're many times more. Unless you don't understand the concept of "protecting innocent people."
    That's what you're up against, though, James.
    Dismissing us for calling you dishonest when you elide important contextual facts, statistics, and making unsupportable blanket claims is _in itself_ not honest.

  21. I haven't got time at the moment to respond to your very long post in full, but I do just want to note that as far as I'm aware there isn't a scrap of evidence that the Aberdonian businessman in Texas was being 'violent'. He was drunk, noisy and he jumped over a fence. That's it. He was guilty of trespass, but apart from that minor offence he was, as I correctly stated, an innocent victim.

    And please don't refer to the UK as 'England'!

  22. "If someone is determined to attack you, they insist it makes no difference whatsoever whether it's with a gun, a brick or a cobblestone, the outcome will be exactly the same. But then when they shift to talking about a person engaged in self-defense, the weapon in their hand suddenly makes all the difference in the world!"

    Two things to suggest:

    1) I have significantly MORE of a right to defend my self from an attacker, than the attacker has a right to attack me in the first place. Restricting guns (or weapons in general) limits my ability to defend myself, but not the ability of the attacker to attack. (This is on the obvious presumption that an attacker already has no regard for the law, or he would not be attacking me.)

    2) The core of the argument is that guns make two people ***physical equals***. If a 6'4" bruiser decides to beat up and rob an 80-year-old in a wheelchair, ***she is capable of fending him off*** if she has a gun. You may reply "Yeah, but if he has a gun too he can just shoot her". That's true, but she is just as likely to just shoot him. Without the guns, she has NO CHANCE. Zero.

    Does it actually happen? Yes. Kevin (and others) frequently link stories about old people fending off violent attackers with guns. Sometimes with no shots fired.

  23. James:

    As I was saying...
    as far as I'm aware there isn't a scrap of evidence that the Aberdonian businessman in Texas was being 'violent'. He was drunk, noisy and he jumped over a fence. That's it.

    Drunk, noisy, going someplace *specifically* set up to deny access is a whole lot of evidence that he was being "violent". Certainly he was not a "respectable" anybody.

    I suppose, you can nitpick that it's the word of the person who he was threatening. All that stuff you just said? That demolishes your own description. That's where I say "Yeah, I can believe that he was violent." That's a LOT of evidence that you're handwaving and saying "Nevermind". By your own admission there he's no longer "innocent" and he's not "non-threatening" - he's behaving in a threatening manner that's not appropriate - and the behavior and reaction to same is now on a case-by-case basis, impossible to template.

    but apart from that minor offense he was, as I correctly stated, an innocent victim.

    No. Not even close. Let's start with the latter claim, that you correctly described him as an "innocent victim". And then admit that even you describe him as a [petty] criminal. But that, by definition removes him from "innocent victim" status. He was the instigator, he was the agitator, he was the aggravating circumstance.

    You may claim that the action was disproportionate to the crime - that would be one argument. But you're eliding past a whole lot of ancillary and contextual information that demonstrate that he was a dangerous, threatening individual that morning.
    You're not "correctly" describing him, because you're incorrectly describing the situation.

    Now, the drunk part has been disputed, and while I think he was probably drunk, there are sources who claim his blood alcohol level was under .08 (which is legally drunk in most states, and not all that buzzed.)
    So drunk we don't know for certain, but if he was, then he was being drunk in public. Which is a crime. Not for just being drunk, but for being drunk and uncontrolled. So, a little list here:
    * Creating a disturbance.
    * Criminal trespass.
    * Assault.
    * Intimidation.
    * Destruction of property.

    That's not a singular offense, as you incorrectly portrayed him (yet AGAIN), to minimize the situation. That's multiple. And they add up, in context, to being shot justifiably in self-defense.

    That's not debating honestly. Period. Just full stop. You can't honestly claim it because it's been fisked to death.
    But you keep insisting it, and I believe you actually believe it. I don't think you keep saying this when it's so easily debunked because you're trying to be dishonest, but that's entirely my point.

    As long as you can't honestly look at your basis, your facts, your biases, you can't reliably argue them, or defend them, and it will merely end up with you feeling hurt and ganged up on, and we'll just keep pointing out that your facts aren't, your emotion is getting in the way, and your bias is palpable.
    Do I have a bias? Damn straight. I grew up expecting to bow to no one, expecting and expected to be a part of society and to defend society from predators. Sure, I do. But that's not going to affect my facts. It might influence my arguments, but I'd dare you to find where I've played fast and loose with the facts as you are here, in order to avoid admitting that your example wasn't, in fact, a great demonstration of American-trigger-happiness, but in fact was the exact opposite - a dangerous and threatening man now isn't either. Unless you can demonstrate (and considering the known and agreed facts, it's unlikely) that some of the basis is wrong, then almost everybody in America isn't going to mourn a (drunken?) thug. Especially when you've got absolutely no idea what he'd have done when he got into the house. And you don't. Especially given what we now know to be his previous behavior, it was a "good shoot".

    As long as these are your examples, and your emotion is that you want to be "free from fear", which you'll decide retroactively and without defining all you fear - and how you'll deal with your neighbors fears - you can't support your argument. What if your neighbor is frightened that you might drive drunk? Should she be allowed to outlaw your and everyone else's car?
    What of the person across the street who thinks any male with a penis is a rapist? Going to get trimmed and tucked so she doesn't have to fear you? (I can point you to several women who say exactly that and are terrified of venturing out into the world because "all men are rapists".)

    But if your benchmark is "free from fear".. who gets to decide where that line is drawn and where is it silly?

    In the meantime, you're not really free from fear, it's a false promise.
    Ask James Straiton. Well, I guess he's free from fear now. What of his neighbors? I suspect they're hiding in their houses and hoping their doors might keep out the next thugs.

    That's the problem, James, you've set up a false dichotomy, believing that if nobody around you can legally own a weapon, that you're "safe". But you're not safe from predators. You're now more vulnerable to them. What you're actually arguing is that you want freedom from the responsibility of keeping and protecting your own safety.

    That's not something I'm comfortable with outsourcing. Again, ask James Straiton what his views on that are now.

  24. James, at what point do you stop giving the gealt Scotsman breaking down your back door at 4 AM the benefit of the doubt and start defending your family? Now I'm not an American, but if you were beating and screaming at my glass back door in the wee hours you would have to become extremely friendly very fast if you wanted to avoid the welcoming greeting of Mr Shotgun. I simply would not take the chance of assuming that your intentions were honourable, I can't afford to with children in the house.

  25. Unix-Jedi, we're just going have to agree to differ on this 'violent' issue. Evidently the two of us are using very different dictionaries.

  26. James:

    we're just going have to agree to differ on this 'violent' issue. Evidently the two of us are using very different dictionaries.

    What about "innocent"? "Assault?" Please point me to your dictionary. I really suspect that we're not using different dictionaries.

    Words Mean Things. When you redefine words, that's not an honest debating tactic. When you say that a "respectable businessman" is "innocently" gunned down, and it turns out he was acting paranoid, screaming, (drunk), and trying to gain access to a house at 3AM through a fragile door - that's not different dictionaries. That's a different reality.

    Remember, I'm trying to point out to you why you're being perceived by so many differing people as "dishonest". I've laid out why your Scot wasn't non-threatening, wasn't nonviolent - attacking a door at 3AM is a pretty damn violent reaction, hell, climbing a 6 foot fence to scream and holler is a very violent and threatening action.

    You keep making the claim that he was respectable, innocent, and gunned down brutally, and that you've correctly described the scenario - but nothing you can point to backs any of that up, other than he was shot. You claim that without guns in the US, he'd have been alive. On the face, that's true. But you ignore that he was a violent thug, that he was terrorizing people. You ignore how many cases are headed off by guns where violent thugs decide to not terrorize, attack, hurt and kill the true innocents. You gave a scenario almost exactly the same as Rachel's - except in Texas, the good guys lived.

    As long as you insist that he was "nonviolent" and there was no reason to shoot him, that he was an "innocent victim", I'm going to call you dishonest, because you have to change the facts and the truth to say that. You made a claim, and I don't know as to your knowledge of the facts at the time you made the initial claim, but now there's absolutely no way you can honestly claim to be unaware that this was not an "innocent victim", and that he was not "respectable". (Or at the very least, I don't ever want to see what your view of "non-respectable" ever is.)

    I'm not going to agree to disagree with you on the basic definitions of words. You're misusing them, at this point, quite knowingly in order to insist that your conclusions and descriptions are correct. There's a term for that.


  27. "Words Mean Things. When you redefine words, that's not an honest debating tactic."

    I wholeheartedly agree, and I suggest that's something you might want to reflect on very carefully yourself.

  28. James:

    and I suggest that's something you might want to reflect on very carefully yourself.

    Ah, the "I know you are, but what am I? defense!" Snappy! Haven't seen that since elementary school! Zing!

    Well, let me suggest, then, that you demonstrate what words I've dishonestly used.
    I'm a very reflective person.

    I look forward to your enlightening reply.

    Oh, almost forgot. "I'm like rubber! You're like glue! Bounces off of me! Sticks to you!"

  29. I'm curious about one thing. In the event everyone keeps dancing around, what would be the appropriate level of force be?

    You have a physically fit, obviously drunk and belligerent person trying to kick in your door in the middle of the night. He is not responding to verbal commands (the #1 sign to impending violence), so what is the appropriate response? Should the home owner have allowed the attacker (because that damn sure was what was going on) to gain entry to their house to ascertain their intentions first? Should the victim tried to fist fight him first? Should he have curled into a ball and waited 5-20 minutes for the police to show up?

    I mean, where I come from, businessmen don't yell threats and kick in doors in the middle of the night. I guess Scotland is different!

  30. I'll spell it out for you then, I think you misused the word 'violent' for starters. When I said we needed to agree to differ on the subject, and that we must be consulting different dictionaries, that was what is known as 'sarcasm'. Can we agree on What That Word Means?

    By the way, your claim earlier that you were just trying to enlighten me as to why "so many differing people" thought I was being dishonest was somewhat amusing. "So many different people" would have accurate, but differing...er, no. If you think that was a representative cross-section of even American opinion, you might want to broaden your social circle somewhat.

  31. James:

    My apologies on the typo. You're completely correct as to what I meant to type.

    As to the definition, let's go to the book:

    1: marked by extreme force or sudden intense activity [a violent attack]
    2 a: notably furious or vehement [a violent denunciation] b: extreme , intense [violent pain]
    3: caused by force : not natural [a violent death]
    4 a: emotionally agitated to the point of loss of self-control [became violent after an insult] b: prone to commit acts of violence

    Emotionally agitated? Pounding on a door? Demanding access, while yelling and screaming to a private house in a foreign country? (And as we know now, he knew he was staying in a hotel).
    Sudden intense activity?

    What in that definition fits your description, and not mine?

  32. I'm struggling to keep a straight face here. Is that how some people are managing to define Britain as a more violent society that the US - because we're defining violence so broadly as to include 'emotional agitation' and 'sudden intense activity'? If those are all capital offences then heaven help a hyperactive child.

  33. Peter - I'm also curious. Do you have more detail on this story than I do? Because in none of the reports I've read have I seen even the vaguest hint of 'yelled threats', 'kicking in doors' or indeed violence of any sort (unless we're using the Unix-Jedi definition of violence). Does what you've said actually have some factual basis or are you just using your imagination to make what happened next seem a bit more justifiable?

  34. I'm struggling to keep a straight face here.

    You, of course, are welcome to post what definition you're using - that's from Merriam-Webster. What definition would you prefer to use?

    And it's not really that funny. I consider you a more violent society because of the number of rapes, robberies, muggings, assaults - which were recently admitted to officially being undercounted. And still were many times that of the US.
    Comparing rapes, and robberies and all the other statistics which are far lower in the US as a whole. Thus making the overall society far less violent. There's a reason you're trying to avoid using hard numbers.

    Let me re-quote what you said on Rachel's site:
    Being Scottish I vividly remember the case of a Scottish man about fifteen years ago who knocked on the door of a house in Texas to ask for directions. He was drunk and a bit noisy, so the homeowner took fright and shot him dead. Needless to say no legal action was taken. Wouldn’t you say that was a rather pointless waste of a life, and one directly brought about by the liberal gun ownership laws?

    Vividly remember. Knocked on the door, shot dead as he asked for directions.
    But then the news story was linked: (I'll reproduce the link here.

    Andrew Peter De Vries, 28, of Aberdeen, Scotland, and a companion were pounding on the back door of a home ...
    The two went up the west side of the 100 block of Warrenton, knocking on doors and shouting for help. Residents said the racket frightened many homeowners.
    Jeffrey Agee told police he was awakened by someone ringing his front door bell. When he looked out, no one was there, so he checked the house ...
    ...When De Vries, who had jumped over the fence into the back yard, began to shout and pound on the back door, Agee fired three times through the glass of the French doors.

    That story is almost totally at odds with your original posting - which might have been due to hearing it third or fourth-hand - but what is your excuse now? It's been described in graphic detail, including the fact that he wasn't drunk (.08 BAL).

    He wasn't "knocking on the door" asking for directions, he had jumped a fence and was - even according to his associate - pounding on the back door. In the wee hours of the morning. Whilst screaming.

    That's a "violent" attack by any sane definition, and the concept that he was "asking for directions" is totally smashed if he was trying to demand entry to a house and had already bypassed 1 exclusionary device.

    Given the circumstances, the homeowner was legally and morally justified in standing his ground and defending himself. Any "pointless waste of a life" is to be laid at the aggressor's feet, not the homeowner who never provoked him.

    But it is an excellent example of how people dishonestly attack "liberal gun ownership laws". Even after all this proof that your example does the exact opposite, you're incapable of being responsible enough to admit, even to yourself, that the fault here wasn't gun ownership, but uncontrolled, thuggish behavior while drinking.

    or are you just using your imagination to make what happened next seem a bit more justifiable?

    Are you yet willing to admit that's exactly what you've done in de Vries case?

    Look at your original description and analysis. Then compare it to the news articles and facts you've readily admitted to.

    That's why we're calling you dishonest, and arguing in bad faith. Yes, someone pounding on my back door and screaming at 3 AM is a violent person. Drunk Scot control would be far more effective than not allowing a homeowner being terrorized to defend himself and his family.
    So what's incorrect about that story? If you're not able to refute anything about the description in the newspaper, how can you continue to insist that the Scot was an "innocent victim"?

  35. Unix-Jedi, the slight problem for you here is that I followed the link you've just re-posted several days ago, and everything I said from that point on was based on the facts as I gleaned them from that article. It was from that article that I concluded that the Aberdonian businessman was innocent save for the fact he had trespassed on private property. (And so as not to deliberately mislead anyone, don't you think you should also have quoted my reaction after that link was first posted?)

    I'm glad you put in bold type 'he shouted for help' - well, quite. He was a frightened man seeking help, in a drunken clumsy way, and he was shot dead for it - these are the facts of this case. That to you constitutes a 'good guy' doing away with a 'bad guy'. I simply cannot comprehend the belief system that could lead anyone to reach such a conclusion and that is why we are never going to see eye to eye on the matter - it has nothing to do with 'dishonesty' on my part or a cavalier approach either to facts or the English language.

    Let's just accept that we seem to inhabit different planets, and move on.

  36. everything I said from that point on was based on the facts as I gleaned them from that article

    none of the reports I've read have I seen even the vaguest hint of 'yelled threats', 'kicking in doors' or indeed violence of any sort

    Let's just accept that we seem to inhabit different planets, and move on.

    One of us is in reality, and one of us is in a world of his own imagination. That much is true.

    I concluded that the Aberdonian businessman was innocent save for the fact he had trespassed on private property.

    But he wasn't "innocent" if he was in the middle of committing a crime. He scared someone enough that they thought he was coming to attack and hurt them. At no point does your scenario make sense that it was an "innocent person" gunned down in cold blood. He was aggressively scaring someone, and in a manner completely inconsistent with civilized, normal, rational behavior.

    He wasn't, in other words, "innocent".

    It's a bad example. If you were intellectually honest, you'd have jettisoned that example, but you're not, you're wedded emotionally to your beliefs, and facts that get in the way are discarded. Yes, we're in different worlds in that sense. Sorry, I must have missed your reaction in Rachel's thread - it wasn't intentional, and feel free to link to it if you feel I've misstated anything you've said.

    I've demonstrated to anyone reading that you're not an honest arbiter of the facts, that you're not blaming the proper parties in your examples, and that you're not capable of amending yourself when demonstrated to be totally incorrect. (Even in this thread, well after the story had been fleshed out, and you insisted you'd correctly described de Vries.) In our disputes, I've given hard facts, defined my terms, demonstrated how my conclusion was backed by said facts and definitions.

    You are right that we're in different worlds. Beyond that, however, we to start from different worldviews. Yours is not internally consistent, and if this doesn't demonstrate that to you, then there's not much that can be done.

    Best of luck, and don't come pound on my backdoor at 3 AM. :) (Should I point out I'm mostly Campbell? So it would be be OK for me to "renovate" a barn by shoving you in it and burning it down, right? Merely civic improvement! Family Tradition, dontchaknow.)

  37. I think another aspect of our disagreement over the meaning of words is that to what to me is a 'person expressing an honest opinion that is contrary to my own world view' translates into Unix-Jedi speech as 'intellectual dishonesty'. With that lack of tolerance I think you might struggle to live among the great many people on this planet who dare to diverge from your own system of values, but I'd guess you don't want to anyway.

    The reason that I stated (EVEN on THIS thread!) that I'd correctly described de Vries' behaviour is very simply that the facts of the story fully corroborate that I had done.

  38. Mr. Kelly, Your example of the Scotsman was he was a tragic ending and he was terminally stupid and drunk. It is frowned upon to shoot through the door. But reality sometimes intrudes and Texas has a very liberal idea of self-defense. You are right that many in this country side with you and Obama. But liberals and conservatives are both for gun rights and the ability to kill in defense.

    The Somalia pirates found out that if you hold an American captive to expect to die. Americans does not fool around with trying to figure out the motive of some idiot banging on a back door at 4 am. I agree if he had banged on the front door and he was shot through the door. The question is more dubious. In Texas the shooter and homeowner is still given the benefit of the doubt. The lesson is don’t get so drunk you mistake the house and bang on it. Parent’s shoot even children when they pull this stunt. That is truly tragic.

    The fact is that consequences can be deadly and the Scotsman made a deadly mistake.

    The presumption is that at 4am even the police can be shot if they do not identify themselves in Texas and they force a door.

    That happened in VA and the cop died and he had broken through the door. The shooter is charged but the police set him up by having a informant burglar the house a couple of days before which scared the homeowner. According to neighbors the cops failed to call out and the man was asleep when the police broke in the door.

    This was tragedy because the police failed to be polite and notify the homeowner. If the police had followed netter procedure than the cop would be alive and the homeowner would b e at home rather than jail.

    I am not arguing who was right; just that police also die when they break into an Americans home. That is just the way it is. Americans are to be secure in their home and they defend that with deadly force. Any idiot that cannot understand that is likely to get killed.

    According to a recent CNN poll only 29 % of Americans believe in gun control or bans. So a more than 50% to believe in the right of self defense and we do not wait to be sure and possibly die to be clear of a presumed attacker intentions.

    I have heard stories about the lawless behavior of British youth and I hope the stories I hear are the extreme examples but it seems that the police side on the side of the lawless rather than the lawful.

    The story that Rachel told was horrifying. The fear that British suffer from their own youth is bad. It is the same fear that many inner city blacks feel from the neighbors that shoot randomly or deliberately to kill witnesses or someone they feel dissed them.

    That is common in DC since the decent folks are helpless to defend themselves. DC gun ban coincides with the highest murder rate and was a total fiasco.

    People fled the city and the crime went with them since it was their children doing the crime.

    But each youth that tries to do a home invasion will often get stopped by a homeowner that kills them that young delinquent is stopped in his life of crime.

    WE have a different mindset. British seem to be too tolerant of abusive behavior.

  39. Mr Kelly we really do appreciate your willingness to allow comments

  40. Comments on this thread are now closed - see the end of the 'only freedom I'll ever understand' thread for explanation.