Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another tragedy? Not to worry.

An absolutely heartbreaking story on CNN about a three-year-old girl who accidentally shot her two-year-old brother. In the past, I would have instantly jumped to naive and inappropriate conclusions about this event, viewing it as a fairly clear-cut example of a totally avoidable death that could not possibly have occurred without the lax gun laws in America. However, thanks to my recent long-overdue education on these matters, I now realise that having lots and lots of deadly weapons around doesn't cost lives, it saves them. If you feel that this story appears to contradict that statistically proven fact, you need to bear in mind the following factors -

1) Guns are mere tools, and are no more dangerous than any other inanimate object. If the girl had not accidentally killed her brother with a gun, she would simply have done so with any other tool that happened to be to hand.

2) Legal gun owners have no problem keeping their weapons safe and secure, and out of the hands of children or other vulnerable or dangerous people. This is something that ignorant European liberals simply do not understand. Therefore, this tragic incident is either a figment of your imagination or not statistically significant.

3) You are either far too stupid, or far too stubborn, to understand the arguments. There is overwhelming statistical evidence to prove this is the case. It's too complex to go into in detail here, but suffice to say it has something to do with the Tottenham Outrage of 1909, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and some chap you've never heard of called Colin Greenwood.

Enlightenment is a wonderful thing.


  1. I'm not sure it is, actually. The hordes only seem to descend when their leader directs them here, so as long as he doesn't notice...

  2. In 2002, 18 children in the age bracket of 1-4 years of age died due to negligent discharges of firearms. In the same year, the same demographic suffered 651 deaths to motor vehicle accidents, 32 deaths to posioning or other noxious substances, 493 deaths to drowning, and 36 deaths to falls.

    In order to maintain the continuity and rationality of your argument, I expect you are currently writing posts advocating that children should never be placed in or near motor vehicles, that no noxious or poisonous chemicals should be kept in the same building as children, that no child should ever take a bath, and that no child should be allowed in buildings over one story in height.

    After all, that is the same thing you are trying to argue above.

    The death of the three year old in this circumstnace is undeniably tragic, and I sincerely hope her parent(s) will be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent possible under the law. However, accidents are an unfortunate side-effect of the human condition, and are no reason, whatsoever, to abridge the naturally-granted and Constitutionally-protected rights of American citizens to self-defense. Punishing offenders is one thing (and this child's parent(s) should be punished), but restricting law-abiding, safe citizens just because you can is another matter entirely.

  3. I did a bit of research on these, looking up incidents in Google News, then searching on names and such to get followup.

    In almost every case, I found some significant risk factor other than the gun--Felons living there, drugs, gang activity, a history of police being called to the house, unemployed boyfriend with a history of domestic violence babysitting kids from a different man. In most cases the gun was there illegally.

    These things are rare, and almost unheard of in even halfway normal homes, even those with guns.

  4. "493 deaths to drowning, and 36 deaths to falls..."

    Well, you see I’m a bit of a pragmatist at heart, Linoge. I’m struggling to see how we can ban lakes, rivers or the sea, and banning heights would certainly be a touch ambitious, but I think banning a load of ‘inanimate objects’ (that very few people genuinely need) might just about be doable. By the way, that is not an invitation for yet another thousand-word fantasy epic about how millions of Americans would die in a ditch before giving up their ‘constitutional right’. (Mega-yawn.)

    As you seem desperately keen to downplay the significance of this ‘accident’ (your word), why are you seemingly so hell-bent on further destroying the lives of the child’s parents? Wouldn’t the most constructive punishment simply be to strip the parents of their right to own firearms (I trust even in America that will have been done) and use their subsequent progress as a shining example to their neighbours and friends that having a deadly firearm in the house isn’t strictly necessary to get by in 21st century life?

    Sevesteen – oh, I just love your use of the phrase ‘halfway normal’ there. It reminds me of one of the comments at the bottom of that CNN piece, in which it was implied that this tragedy was somehow a good thing – Darwinism in action, no less – because it eliminated the offspring (and by extension the ‘bad genes’) of people who had demonstrated themselves to be stupid. In our earlier ‘debate’, someone made precisely the same jaw-dropping claim about the innocent Aberdonian businessman who was killed in Texas in 1994. Would the Kevin Baker Fan Club care to take this opportunity to firmly and unambiguously repudiate such obnoxious and repellent views? If not, I suspect Kevin's elusive target audience (undecideds who vote) might well be drawing some damning conclusions at this very moment.

  5. I am "hell-bent" on destroying no one's lives, and the fact that you would even put forth such an argument indicates just how biased you are concerning this debate.

    Reality is, in fact, the exact opposite - I am hell-bent on preserving each and every law-abiding American citizens' right to protect his or her life, and the lives of his or her family. It would seem that you, James, are the one who is "hell-bent" on disarming everyone (except the criminals, of course, who will never really be disarmed) simply because of your own immature and emotional fear of an inanimate object.

    Furthermore, I am downplaying nothing - I am simply putting the number of accidents like this in their proper context. If you do not like the context, it would seem to indicate that you would prefer that more children accidentally die so you would have even more blood to try and splash on law-abiding citizens for no apparent reason.

    Projection, at its finest.

    It is interesting, however, that you intentionally and specifically ignore the other two inanimate objects represented in the four sets of statistics I provided you... How is one dangerous inanimate object any different from another inanimate object, especially considering that all three sets of inanimate objects (firearms, automobiles, and poisonous/noxious chemicals) are used on a daily basis to simplify/enhance/preserve individuals' lives here in America?

    Oh, right, they are not. Inanimate objects cause nothing, they have no intent of their own, they are not inherently evil or good, and opposing them purely out of fear is about as rational as deciding all purple shirts should not be sold just because you do not like the color.

    So, are there any other pointlessly accusatory, patently fallacious straw-men you would like to field, or is that all of the specious bigotry you can generate?

  6. I have yet to see a case like this that is excusable, or that was not preventable with trivial effort. If there are children and guns in the same house, the guns must be under the continuous physical control of a responsible and conscious adult, or the gun needs to be locked up.

    I'm not trying to promote some sort of darwinism--I'm saying that the unfortunate children in question have a roulette wheel of risk factors, with the unsecured gun being the one that came up this time. I repeat--it is trivial for reasonably normal people to have both children and guns safely in the same house. If someone is unable to keep their guns secure in the presence of children, they are too stupid or irresponsible to be trusted with either.

  7. Bit of a bad-tempered rant even by your standards, Linoge, but I can nevertheless thank you for so generously demonstrating just how bang on the money I was in my post. This tragedy needs to be put in its proper statistical ‘context’, guns are ‘inanimate objects’, I am too ‘immature’ to accept the ‘facts’, etc, etc. Yep, I pretty much anticipated most of your repertoire there.

    We’ve been through this nonsense about how guns are inanimate objects roughly on a par with purple shirts, cobblestones, wedding cakes, church newsletters, etc, etc., about a billion times before. And that they have no intent of their own, aren’t intrinsically good or evil, blah blah blah. If you could offer a credible explanation as to how on earth this poor girl could have contrived to accidentally kill her brother with a ‘purple shirt’, then I might just have to concede you’ve got a point (but I’m not holding my breath).

    Guns may not possess an ‘intent’, but the people who designed them certainly did – to produce an object that kills as efficiently as possible. That represents, in my humble opinion, just a slight difference between a gun and the average ‘purple shirt’ (or even one of those hideous mauve ones).

    It’s rather difficult to argue you’re not hell-bent on destroying those parents’ lives when you’ve stated that you want them to suffer the maximum punishment available for their part in what you say yourself was an ‘accident’ – and one which has already cost them their son. What you want to happen to them on top of that devastating loss sounds awfully like destroying their lives to me.

    You accuse me of ignoring things (in fact I’ve explained my views on the car issue multiple times before) but you seem to be in the business of cherry-picking somewhat yourself. The accidental killing of children is just one example of the unacceptable dangers of mass legal gun ownership – there are so many others (in any case if you think 18 deaths in 2002 is acceptably low and therefore a price worth paying for your beloved ‘freedoms’, I can only respectfully disagree). For starters, there’s also the problem of those ‘legal’ weapons being passed on and instantly becoming ‘illegal’ weapons (and deaths caused by guns in that category magically don’t seem to count). Then there are the adults who die or suffer injury from a ‘negligent discharge’, not just the children. There are the cases where woefully inadequate background checks have been carried out, and violent people are allowed to legally own guns (and then kill with them). There are the cases where people have become mentally unstable and violent after being cleared by background checks, and go on to kill with their legal weapons. There is the fact that people who have suicidal thoughts find it so much easier to act upon them if they have a gun handy, resulting in a horrendous number of deaths. There is the brutalisation of society through the obsession with gun ownership as a status symbol, setting a terrible example to children and leading to a more violent culture. There is the fact that legal weapons can be stolen, or wrested from people who are defending themselves, putting innocent people at instant risk. There is the evidence that people who attempt to defend themselves with guns under heavy stress are a danger both to themselves and to other innocent people in the vicinity.

    Would you care to put the statistics you quoted in the ‘context’ of that little lot?

  8. Sevesteen, none of these cases are 'excusable', for the simple reason that you could dramatically lessen the risk of them happening by tightening up the gun laws (even short of an outright ban). The evidence of this case and others is that if you are determined to maintain mass legal gun ownership, weapons will inevitably end up in the hands of what you describe as 'stupid' and 'irresponsible' people, and consequently deaths like this are bound to occur. The proponents of the status quo cannot escape their culpability for what has happened here - if you believe the deaths of a few 'stupid' people and their offspring is a price worth paying for the maintenance of your 'rights', why not have the guts to say so without qualification, instead of trying so hard (and so transparently) to deflect the blame?

  9. Most of these cases involve breaking our existing gun laws--How will tightening them up even more help?

    There are negatives to widespread gun ownership, but there are positives too, and I do think that the price is worth it, for many reasons.

    During the Civil Rights Movement, some racist law enforcement refused to either defend blacks, or investigate the KKK. The Deacons for Defense discovered that the KKK was not interested in harassing or attacking armed men...We should not be totally dependent on government for our defense.

    The constitution is important. It shouldn't be changed lightly, and it shouldn't be reinterpreted to avoid the parts that you don't like. I'm not sure I like the idea that the babies of illegal immigrants are US citizens--but the constitution says they are, and there is nowhere near enough justification to either change or ignore it.

  10. Well, as a Scot I'm quite happy to say I'm not remotely interested in - or impressed by - the supposed mystical perfection of the US constitution. I'm interested in what's right and what's wrong, what works and what clearly doesn't work, what's good law and what's bad law. Nothing else. Americans who argue a similar case to me may feel obliged to tie themselves up in knots with the constitutional issue because of an accident of history, but I don't have to.

    Self-defence by gun 'independent of government' is a mirage. It creates more threats than it resolves. Ever wondered why you feel so threatened that you might want the right to defend yourself with a gun? Couldn't it be that the gun laws have created a situation where you're under threat from the countless weapons you know are out there?

    Of course not. As Mr Baker might put it, your ideology won't permit you to accept such an obvious possibility.

  11. Let's see:

    You have yobs wandering about destroying property and attacking your fellow citizens. And if someone should try to defend themselves, they get charged and jailed for their presumption.

    You have enclaves of hostile Muslims who have created no-go zones in your towns and cities.

    You've had the English interfering in your internal affairs for better than nine centuries, and running the place for just over three. You know, it took us less than a decade to run the poxy Brits out of here, so I'm not really sure what you are waiting for.

    You've got Gordon Brown, who has been described as the worst PM ever, openly worrying about a revolution. (BTW, if anyone is serious about that, I can donate a No4 Mk2 Rifle with bayonet and 750 rounds of .303 loaded into Aussie MkI bandoliers).

    And let's not forget the gift that keeps on giving: the EU.

    And you take the time to look down your oh-so-superior nose at our gun situation. I guess it's a nice break from your otherwise wall to wall Eurovision coverage.

    I'm not suggesting your point of view is without merit, but you really ought to clean up your own house before casting aspersions on someone else's.

  12. Hmmm. Well I’ve let that latest prime example of ‘cool, logical, emotion-free debate’ through moderation, but my patience is not inexhaustible.

    My wall-to-wall Eurovision coverage? Evidently a devoted fan of this blog, you’ve almost brought a tear to my eye there. OK, OK, I know you’ve just had a quick look round to see what cheap barbs you can possibly chuck at me, but don’t destroy the illusion. Although, if you’ve noticed my Eurovision coverage, I’d have thought you might also have spotted the fact that a good 80% of this blog is made up of shameless Scottish nationalist propaganda, so the ‘English interfering in your affairs’ and ‘I don’t know what you’re waiting for’ parts of your remarks are a touch odd. I’m ready and willing to go, I can assure you – but I’m afraid we believe in doing it by the ballot box not the gun in this country! Must seem quaint to your eyes, I know.

    The looking down my ‘oh-so-superior’ nose bit is also deeply ironic. Do you know how this ‘debate’ actually started? It was at the Rachel Lucas blog, and it involved a fair bit of looking down of oh-so-superior American noses at us ‘poxy Brits’ and our baffling determination to retain our own gun laws, rather than adopt wholesale the ones that have wrecked so many lives in your country. So, no, I have no apology to make for redressing the balance slightly (and it is only very slightly, given the number of right-wing American blogs out there that prattle on endlessly about the stupidity of the ‘socialist Brits’).

  13. California has already got stringent "safe storage" laws, which clearly had been ignored. One has to wonder if the parents are equally lax with, say, drain cleaner or frayed extension cords.

    James, the Utopian gun-free condition you'd wish upon the States cannot happen, even if our government were to throw over the Constitution and begin door-to-door searches; realistically, our options are to treat 'em as horrid, magical talismans to hide, in which case expect even more deaths of the sort you have cited, or treat them as the everyday objects they are and share awareness that these are useful, dangerous items, like drain cleaner, power tools, autos or wells. Why is it you have not taken on the risks these objects create for children?

    I'm still trying to find out if this gun was legally possessed under California's byzantine firearms laws. No data yet.

    As for Britain's gun laws, you are welcome to them. Looking at the horrendous wreckage the Empire left around the planet, I'd have to say there's good reason to never again trust Crown subjects with weapons of any sort. It's such a pity the one has so little to do with the other.

  14. And, sure enough, with the reappearance of Roberta X we rocket straight back into Alice in Wonderland territory. By saying I want to protect children from deadly firearms, I am in fact apparently saying I want them to be completely unprotected from every other dangerous item under the sun. Gosh, what a brute I am.

    ‘Safe-storage laws’? Yes, isn’t it extraordinary that if you allow millions of people to own deadly weapons but insist sternly they ‘store’ them safely, that quite a few people will fail to do so and tragedy will ensue? Who could possibly have anticipated such a thing? Don’t get me wrong, the California safeguards are a lot better than nothing, but if public safety is the goal I’d be rather more impressed by ‘no-gun’ laws than ‘safe-storage’ laws.

    And yes, we got the fantasy epic I was anticipating (in abbreviated fashion, mercifully) about how all these famously ‘law-abiding’ gun-owners will defy the law as soon as it doesn’t appeal to them quite so much. And another predictable gem - at the first sign of anyone daring to be rude about their country, we have an American waffling on in incomprehensible fashion about ‘Crown subjects’ and ‘the Empire’, and imagining I’m going to feel terribly hurt. No luck yet, Roberta, but I’ll let you know if you ever hit the spot. Thanks for conceding we’re welcome to our own gun laws – are we also welcome to the much lower rate of gun deaths we enjoy as a result?

  15. I find it very telling that you are proud of your "gun death" rate but make no mention of your murder or violent crime rate.

    Again, you avoid answering Just One Question.

  16. Mr. Kelly,

    Your argument appears to be that California needs more of the same laws that were unable to prevent this tragedy from happening. Sort of a strange position from someone who recently chided the thick Americans for believing the U.S. Constitution to be a perfect document. (Which it is not, because it was written by people.)

    What law would you write to prevent this from happening, and how would you go about enforcing it to guarantee that fractional percentages of the child population would never again be harmed? Decades of prohibition law enforcement in the U.S. have shown me that the solution is often far more dangerous than the original problem.

  17. Joe Huffman - Flippin’ heck, not ‘Just One Question’ again. Remind me never to invite you to a dinner-party, will you? All I can do, Joe, is refer you to the Quite Long Answer I gave you several weeks ago. I appreciate you’ve already designated that Not An Answer, but since you’ve set yourself up as the sole arbiter that’s hardly surprising. It’s rather like trying to get Tony Blair to accept that the intelligence on Iraq might just have been slightly oversold, or to get David Icke to accept that the evidence for the world being run by giant lizards isn’t stacking up just yet.

    Let me get this straight - I’ve made no mention of the British murder rate? It’s only a matter of weeks since your friends in arms (no pun intended) were moaning that I never shut up about the difference between the murder rate in the UK and the US. It wasn’t relevant, I was told, regional variations could explain it all away, and to the extent that it couldn’t actually explain it all away, there were probably cultural differences at the root of it all anyway. So nothing at all to do with the obvious culprit – the American love affair with the gun? Oh no, perish the thought.

    Anyway, if you really want me to reiterate it yet again, the murder rate in the US is roughly two-and-a-half times greater than in the UK. Two-and-a-half times greater. Kevin Baker (to give him a small piece of credit) conceded that point, even if he refused to accept its obvious significance.

    TJP – No, not more of the same. A radical break from the same. If the parents hadn’t owned the gun, this boy would not have died. A ban on guns would have made it less likely that they would have owned a gun – it would have eliminated the possibility of them owing it legally, and reduced the risk of them owning it illegally. This is not rocket science. What does appear to be more like rocket science, though, is the problem of breaking through an ideology that insists guns can’t possibly be part of the problem.

  18. James, you need to look at the actual numbers of lives saved versus lives lost because of the "mass legal gun ownership". You do a fine job of expressing your opinion but not backing them up with facts. Which is the entire point of Just One Question--which you still have not answered. You have come up with plausible hypotheses as to why it might be that firearms restrictions in the U.K. have not improved public safety but you have no numbers which show that it has improved public safety there or anywhere else.

    Until you can give us numbers you have nothing but opinions. And until you have numbers to back them up you are no different than someone ranting about how terrible it is that Jews, blacks, or homosexuals are "spoiling the neighborhood".

    And not to worry, I would never knowing accept an invitation to a dinner party with someone that advocated the infringement of such a basic human right anymore than I would socialize with someone that owned slaves or supported laws that imprisoned imprisoned homosexuals merely because of their sexual orientation.

  19. On one thing it appears we can at last agree – we don’t want to go to a dinner party together. Your excuse is apparently that spending time with someone who wants to ban a few luxury items in order to prevent unnecessary deaths is roughly analogous to being in the company of a racist, a homophobe, an anti-Semite or (best one yet) a slave-owner. My excuse is that I want to avoid being bored witless by your ‘Just One Question’ catchphrase (I used to think ‘Every Little Helps’ was bad). Hmmm. I think I win the ‘reasonable excuse’ contest if nothing else. Incidentally, as I’m sure you realise, that means if you ever came to this country, you’d have to refuse to socialise with the vast majority of people you come across. No wonder you and your friends sometimes frequent a blog called ‘The Smallest Minority’ – you are restricting your social range somewhat!

    As to your more substantive points – even though we’re going round in pointless circles, I will respond one more time but I’ll take my time and do it in a separate blog post.

  20. Luxury items? I addressed that here.

    As to visiting the U.K. I only do that if required by business. To the best of my ability I boycott countries and states that deny basic human rights such as China, California, New Jersey, and the U.K. I have no problem finding social outlets with the 75+% of people in the U.S. that don't want to infringe on an inalienable right.

  21. "such as China, California, New Jersey, and the U.K."

    Superb. In the words of the late, great Patrick Troughton - "well, now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure."

    Tell me, Joe, what exactly is the worse infringement of human rights - public beheadings in Saudi Arabia, or all that pesky paperwork required to own a gun in California? Must be a close call.

  22. "I’m ready and willing to go, I can assure you – but I’m afraid we believe in doing it by the ballot box not the gun in this country! Must seem quaint to your eyes, I know.

    And if the English revert back to their old ways, ignore the ballot box, and try to have their way by force, what will you do then? Ask them nicely to stop?

    The Brits once kept the Scots unarmed. Do you know why? Becauwe it's exceedingly difficult to oppress and / or enlslave a people who are armed. (this is exactly why the 1st gun laws were aimed specifically at blacks, to keep them "in their place.")

  23. Ask them nicely to stop?

    Well, it worked for Gandhi, didn’t it? If you want to have a serious discussion about Scotland’s constitutional future, and the reasons why it’s rather unlikely the English will ever be sending tanks to Gretna Green I’m quite happy to do so. However, I have a feeling you might be allergic to some of the words I’d need to use (such as ‘European Union’). Suffice to say that every British Prime Minister since Harold Wilson – including Mrs. Thatcher – has conceded that the people of Scotland have an absolute right to choose independence if they wish, and that such a choice would be respected by the London government.

    Incidentally, it seems I need to point out yet again that it’s literally impossible for ‘the Brits’ to have done anything to ‘the Scots’, because the Scots are all Brits! Forget guns – it seems America desperately needs to invest in some geography teachers!

  24. Interesting....what in my other comments violated your commenting policy?

  25. Well, if that's a serious question, I think the bit where you called me a bigot would breach most people's commenting policy. If people are going to be abusive like that (and it was Mr. Huffman himself who set the ball rolling several weeks ago by linking to a post entitled "What Did James Say That ****** You Off So Much?"), then I make no apologies for using my discretion in what to let through. The irony is of course that I've been away from the computer since you made your other comments, so I couldn't have let them through until now even if I'd wanted to! Lesson - if you want to chance your arm in getting your abusive comments through on this blog, the very least you'll need is a little more patience!

  26. And yet the other comment, where the term bigot (which is the correct term BTW) was nowhere to be found never appeared either.

    No big surprise. We always see "reasoned discourse" from those who are unable to logically & rationally defend their position.

  27. What, as opposed to bully-boy tactics from those who otherwise would only have a pile of voodoo statistics to cover up the wishful thinking that underpins their own indefensible position? Cancel that - voodoo statistics and the repetition of very silly catchprases. By the way, you forgot the ™ symbol after 'reasoned discourse' - Kevin Baker would not approve.

    If it needs to be reiterated for about the fifteenth time, my comments policy is as follows -

    1) In general I allow through any comments that are not abusive and do not contain swearing.

    2) I suspended the above rule solely on this gun issue when it became clear I was being subjected to bully-boy tactics, as well as game-playing on behalf of Mr Kevin Baker. I set out that change of policy in advance so no-one could have been in any doubt that there was now a risk their comments would not get through moderation. I am now letting comments on this issue through at my own discretion (mainly if someone has made a point I feel is even vaguely worth answering - the ones I've ignored have largely been sneering drivel).

    3) On my own blog, I am not answerable to anyone for my comments policy. Not to Kevin Baker, not Joe Huffman, not Mike W, nor anyone else. If you object to that very simple and well-understood principle, I suggest you take it up with Blogger and not with me - as they are the ones that devised that principle and presumably did so for a good reason.

    Now I have 'Just Two Questions' of my own, and if anyone is prepared to give straightforward answers to straightforward questions I promise to let them through moderation. In what circumstances was this phrase 'reasoned discourse' coined? Don't you think it's a tell-tale sign of a narrow-minded group that's only really interested in talking to itself that the people in it continually use an in-joke like that for their own satisfaction without feeling the need to explain it to outsiders? You see, I have severe doubts about Mr Huffman and Mr Baker's stated desire to reach out to the undecideds. It's become quite clear to me they're primarily interested in 'performing' for their own side and getting the subsequent ego-boost from being told how right they are by people who already agreed with them.

  28. "I am now letting comments on this issue through at my own discretion (mainly if someone has made a point I feel is even vaguely worth answering - the ones I've ignored have largely been sneering drivel).

    So you freely admit you have no objective criteria for whether or not you allow certain commments.

    And no, you are not answerable to anyone for your comments policy. It's your blog. That said, it does show a certain level of cowardice to screen comments because you don't "feel" they're acceptable or that they don't contain worthy arguments.

  29. Not so much cowardice as utter exhaustion. I fully explained where I was coming from on this at the time, and I was absolutely honest and straightforward about it. Before I even switched on moderation (let alone started blocking comments) I had been fielding comments without any restriction whatsoever for days on end. That situation had been cynically taken advantage of by the bully-boy tactics and game-playing from the likes of Kevin, Unix-Jedi, Joe and others, and there comes a point where enough is quite simply enough. There isn’t a single comment I’ve blocked since then that (if it hasn't been outright abusive) hasn't just tediously gone round all the same houses we’ve been round a million times before on previous threads, so the idea I’ve run away from having the debate – or that I don’t have any answers to the points raised – is demonstrably absurd. If you want to know what my answers were, all you need to do is look through the ‘only freedom I’ll ever understand’ thread and the ‘tonight, Matthew…’ thread. I warn you, though, it’ll probably take you hours – that’s how many comments I responded to.

    As for ‘objective’ versus ‘subjective’, I’ve already explained that I have a very objective – practically laissez-faire – comments policy, but that I’ve suspended it on this one particular issue for very good reasons. But you still seem to be struggling with the concept that this is a matter for me not for anyone else. I know you say you understand the principle but the overall message I’m getting from you is still ‘does-not-compute’. Let me explain again. Just as it’s a matter for me to decide my own comments policy, it’s also a matter for your political soulmate Rachel Lucas to say (as she does) that she will not allow any comments under the name ‘Anonymous’ and that if anyone attempts to post under that name she reserves the right to edit or block their comments entirely at her own discretion. She also says that ‘extremely long, rambling’ comments will be edited down or deleted outright, at her sole discretion. Sounds pretty subjective to me, sunshine – so I look forward to you showing some consistency by going off and berating both her and other right-wing bloggers who just like me simply say, ‘this is my little corner of the internet, and if you want to have a grumble about the way I run it, please find somewhere else to do so’.

  30. For the record, James: I don't have a problem with your comments policy. We disagree about firearms, but it's your blog and you may use it in any way you see fit. (Of course, if you were to use it to wilfully harm others who have done you no, you'd be liable. Funny, that reminds me of something else....)