My little gun nut made good on his promise. I’ve been featured as the “quote of the day” on his blog, The View From North Central Idaho: Ramblings on explosives, guns, politics, and sex by a redneck farm boy who became a software engineer.
Yeah. I’ll let that description speak for itself.
Joe and I sit on opposite sides of the ideological fence. That much is obvious. I call him a wingnut. He calls me a liberal. Both of us are proud to be labeled as such. He didn’t quite use the word, but you can tell that he very much wants to call me a Nazi. He thinks I completely ignore the concept of rights, which he says, “is how governments end up murdering millions of their own people.”
This little Reductio ad Hitlerum speaks volumes about the kind of world view we’re dealing with here. When I call a guy like Joe myopic, I am specifically referring to his inability to focus on the greater good. Joe doesn’t disagree. He actively spits out the concept of “the greater good” as distasteful. He hears that phrase and immediately calls it “the ever present excuse for genocide.”
It’s hard to have a rational conversation with someone like this. Joe’s rabid libertarianism makes him blind to any ethical concept that extends beyond the limited scope of individual rights. Joe puts individual liberty above all other kinds. Individual freedom is the only freedom he recognizes. He interprets any argument that involves the public good as a slippery slope to Nazi Germany.
This refusal to acknowledge the practical implications of life in a cooperative society is the single greatest shortcoming of Joe’s world view. There’s just no reasoning with a man who sees the greater good as an inherent evil.
That’s fine. The view from North Central Idaho is bound to look different than the view from the Hollywood Hills. What Joe considers rugged individualism, I consider puerile selfishness. What I see as a sensible position on gun control, Joe sees as tyrannical fascism. We have a fundamental philosophical disagreement about the role of government as it relates to the social contract, and neither of us is going to change the other’s mind.
Still, the most ridiculous part of this whole conversation is that I don’t want to ban guns. My position on gun control is about as centrist as it gets. Hell, I own a gun, and I wouldn’t want to live in a society where I couldn’t. Nevertheless, Joe thought my opinions were a threat. He felt it necessary to come at me with his wingnut opinions blazing.
Well, you know what? I shoot back. I’ll put my .357 Magnum mind against his .22 caliber opinions any damn day of the week. If Joe wants to hit me with a rational argument against centralized firearm registration and mandatory liability insurance, I’m open to it. He just can’t keep screaming tyranny or equating guns to bibles and expect me to take him seriously.
(If you have something to add to the conversation, feel free to leave your comments on Joe’s blog. Keep your shit crisp and on point. The wingnuts may be infuriating, but let’s not let our side be the one to devolve into cheap ad hominem attacks.)