I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lesson Time

This is the sort of post I wish I would never have to write, but it's been an issue cropping up recently.

Let's talk about netiquette and ideological purges, shall we?

Tam has recently been dealing with a comment troll who makes claims of bloody murder and censorship when his comments are deleted, deriding the death of the first amendment. The same claims are turning up on the Second Amendment Foundation's Facebook when comments about their ongoing relationship with Cheaper Than Dirt get deleted for offensiveness and obscenity.

Let's take a look at the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The important bit here is the independent clause, ''Congress shall make no law''. The dependent clause ''abridging the freedom of speech'' is the specific case.

This next bit, I address to all those who are or have ever been butthurt about comments being deleted. The First Amendment to the Constitution is a restriction (NOT an active imperative) on Congress. It has absolutely no bearing on the interactions between individuals or corporations. Congress can't delete your comments, but Tam or SAF most certainly can.

So, your comments can be deleted free of penalty other than public opinion. How then can you make your voice heard without The Man keeping you down? How can you speak truth to power when you have no voice?

It's quite simple. Don't be a jerk.

I suppose you could put together your own site where you're in charge and you can write whatever you want to and no one will stop you. Lots of good blogs get started that way. Many more half baked crazy blogs get started that way. In order to get readers to pay attention, really, you're going to have to go back to that first point anyways.

There are sites that will delete comments for simply disagreeing. Those sites are generally not worth your time. Tam and SAF are not among them. If your comment gets deleted, it's because you were a giant douche canoe, not because of ideology.  If you don't see how your comment could be construed as jerkish, then please, go outside, play with a puppy, and realize that you are not the only human on the internet.

This sorta brings me into my next point of order. This one extends to far more than those commenters previously addressed.

I am seeing an alarming and frustrating trend recently I have been calling "Shun the non-believer". We in the gunny community have a nasty tendency to eat our own for not being ideologically pure enough.

Remington not committing to leave New York* after the SAFE Act made a number of people swear off Remington entirely, since clearly 'they didn't care about gun rights'.

Cheaper Than Dirt raised prices and temporarily suspended gun sales after Newtown. Clearly just in it for the money and didn't care at all about gun rights, right?

The NRA can't catch a break on criticisms.

Don't get me started on the OC/CC flame wars.

If I were in the position of CTD, I probably would have acted differently. I think the guys who walk into Starbucks with rifles slung over their shoulders are phenomenally stupid. I think Remington was put in an untenable position and probably could have handled the PR a little better.

I don't hate any of them.

I will still buy products from CTD. My first pistol may be a Remington. Heck, I might buy it from CTD. I can have civil discussions with the rifle OC'ers.

Fundamentally we are all on the same side. We have different approaches and different primary goals, but we all have the commonality of interest in guns and a vested interest in the continued existence of the gun culture.

Even Dick Metcalf's meltdown recently was not outside of the realm of reason. I disagree fairly strongly, but feel it could have been used to foster debate about it and maybe bring people of that mindset or even further away into the fold. Instead, he's out a job and we have alienated more people.

Screaming SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED is the sort of thing that shouldn't be a problem, but is. There's a range of different opinions on all the issues in question, and it's senseless to eat our own based on the slightest hint of ideological differences.

Do I believe that my ideologies are right? Absolutely, else I wouldn't hold them. That doesn't mean I cannot work with and respect other opinions.

The vitriol and infighting can only hurt us. While it's a great notion that we could put on a unified face to the world, that's not the way the world works and leads to the same oppressive techniques we find so despicable in government.

While our ideological purges may not leave 20 million people dead like those of Stalinist Russia, they leave us with no allies and a somewhat tarnished moral high ground.

Take what friends you can. Don't make yourself new enemies. This really shouldn't be that hard.

*Not committing to staying in New York, mind.


  1. A most excellent post, worthy of broad dissemination.


  2. Nailed it, now if only more people could seem to understand it.

  3. I am offended by your lack of offense on my behalf. I shall tell people bad things about you and call you a poopyhead.

  4. Now where is the fun in what you recommend?

    I'll ask a few questions to help me understand a little better; where is the line between tolerating a view point and actively supporting it?

    Let's take Starbucks versus Cheaper Than Dirt for examples. In both cases, I disagreed with their decisions. I've repeatedly said they had the right to make those decisions -- but does that mean I have to keep supporting both companies, either company?

    And in the case of Starbucks, I stated I disagreed with their position when they tried to walk the "Neutral but we respect your rights" (I think people should stand for something and armed self defense is one of the biggies in my book) and I disagreed with them when they asked gun owners not to come to their stores armed but didn't ask Gun Control Advocates to leave the petitions at home.

    Instead, he's out a job and we have alienated more people.

    Exactly who have we alienated? Maybe I'm missing something here but I'm likening this to the restaurant that changed a portion of their menu, the people complained and they fired the folks who made the decision. This isn't a case of "hey we didn't know people felt this way about the issue" -- goodness there have been enough examples lately.

    And did the people who complain do something wrong, even if they asked for Metcalf to be fired. The magazine didn't have to comply, could have chosen to print a retraction, etc. Right?
    The reason I'm wondering if they did something wrong is how do we influence the perception, the viewpoints, the narrative if we don't get forceful about areas we really feel strongly about?

    The vitriol and infighting can only hurt us.

    This is another things I've been pondering over. -- Who is "us"? The Tacticool crowd, the FUDDs, The Grandparents with Uncle Ned's old revolver in a sock drawer, the SASS Cowboy Action Crowd -- maybe the infighting isn't a bad thing.

    We can disagree (and man do we ever) and still have a common core of beliefs. We often complain about the antis talking about the "gun lobby" -- as if there was just one massive monolithic culture out here. I think they do that, and we to an extend, and it hurts us because it allows them to paint us with the most negative image available.

    I would rather people look at us like picking a church to attend -- shop around; there is style and type to suit just about anyone.

    1. I'll do my best to give answers to each of your questions in order.

      Now where is the fun in what you recommend? I find a good discussion far more interesting than drama, but I'm weird.

      where is the line between tolerating a view point and actively supporting it? To me the answer to that is nested in the question. Activity. Tolerance is an inaction. Support is an action. I think it proper to make known your disagreement with other factions and certain actions, but don't condemn the people. I don't like open carry of long arms into coffee shops, and I let those people know. I don't excommunicate them or boycott though.

      In the specific cases of CTD and Starbucks, I would say don't do any differently in your patronage than you would have without the actions. Starbucks should not have been buycotted, CTD should not be boycotted. Make your point known, but don't actively try to hurt them. I'm not saying any imperatives to action, merely inaction.

      Exactly who have we alienated? If nothing else, we have alienated Metcalf himself. Additionally, any and all people who might have been on the fence that look at his overall reasonable article and see it got him fired will likely come away thinking gun owners are just the kind of crazy intolerant nutters that the left loves to portray us as.

      I would say, personally, the people that complained in place of discussing rationally did indeed do something wrong. We can disagree, strongly even, without vilifying the other party, and what I saw with Metcalf was distinctly vilification. While the responsibility ultimately rests with the magazine, those who cheerled it are also partially culpable.

      The reason I'm wondering if they did something wrong is how do we influence the perception, the viewpoints, the narrative if we don't get forceful about areas we really feel strongly about? In my mind, we do that precisely by NOT getting forceful. No one likes being forced into anything, even if it's something they would otherwise be sympathetic towards. We have reason on our side, and staying calm and resolute is much better than being a bullheaded firebrand. By no means am I suggesting passivity, merely a calm perspective in all things.

      As for "who is us?" I think your church metaphor is rather apt. Presbyterians, Catholics, Mormons, Episcopalians, Baptists, and all the rest are all Christians at the end of the day. I have some distinct disagreements with some branches of Christianity, but still can recognize them as brothers in Christ. We are all members of the church of the gun. Despite our disagreements about specific 'doctrine' we are all bound up in the same goals. The fact that we are not a single unified monolith does not mean we should exacerbate the differences and weaken that which binds us. We can say 'no one group speaks for all' and 'we do have common goals' at the same time.

      Reading Federalist 10 is a reminder of the weaknesses of factions. The more factions we have fighting each other, the less we are able to do those things we need to. There's no compelling reason not to take what allies we can.


Please comment, but please be respectful. I reserve the right to delete any comment at any time for any reason, but I don't anticipate having to do that. Let's try to have real discussions?