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Confusing Issues

Originally published at BunkBlog. You can comment here or there.

I’m not sure why so many people on the Right seem to confuse issues and conflate things which are separate and completely unrelated to one another. For instance, during our local Tea Party II this July (Tea Party II, Electric Boogaloo?), instead of sticking to the point of the group (Taxed Enough Already), and only discussing tax-related issues, they wandered off into the fringe areas of Birthers and illegal aliens and any number of other things. The birthers are insane, and the other issues, even if legitimate points to discuss, are just clouding the waters of their own rally. Want to protest high taxes, ignoring the lower taxes on all but the very rich?  Go for it. Bring up birth certificates and migrant workers and NAFTA and every other John Birch Society conspiracy theory?  Not helping your case, buddy.

Now, we have the 2nd Amendment folks coming to protest health care reform. Huh? I’m a great fan of the Constitution, with all its amendments. It is the supreme law of the land, and is able to be modified through force of great will by the citizenry, so reflects the ideals of the country to a great degree. Those ideals include the government not infringing on our rights in the areas of speech, religion, gathering, trials, and yes even bearing arms. I spent 12 years defending the Constitution; good for anyone who follows its guidelines. When a photographer gets treated as a terrorist for taking a picture of a public structure from a public place, I am thrilled to see people rise up and proclaim that photographer’s rights – defending others keeps our own rights intact as well.

But, why are these people bringing weapons to a health care reform protest (leaving aside why anyone not employed by insurance companies or already on government-subsidized health care would protest the minor and remarkably toothless reforms that will likely get passed)? Are these just normal citizens, who normally take their weapons wherever they go? That seems unlikely. I doubt the fellow in the tie with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder will be taking that rifle to work with him. He deliberately brought it to this event. If it’s not an implicit threat of violence, what is it? I may be looking at things rather simplistically, but this sure looks like someone saying, “if you don’t do what I say, I’ll shoot someone.”


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
I live in AZ and...
unfortunately this is fairly typical for that fringe of people who seem to cling to the idea of the southwest as the 'old west' where one can still play 'cowboys and indians'.

Somebody should juxtaposition these pictures in Phoenix with those of the Taliban standing around in some dusty province... it's not that far removed from it.
Aug. 18th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
In the time I've worked in the DC area, I've seen a lot of protests. In my experience, this is neither a phenomenon of the political Right, nor anything new.

During the Bush administration, anti-war protests commonly included anti-globalization protesters, abortion rights protesters, Bush stole the election protesters, stop global warming protesters, and so on.

I think it has probably been going on for a long time, but historically there were fewer people able to bring us the information, so it was overlooked. These days, between several 24-hour news networks, the local TV stations, participants with video cameras, Internet news sites, special interest web sites, and so on, it's much easier for us to find out about the people who are off message. Even 10 years ago, we were more reliant on a 30 to 60-second report from one source, maybe two.
Aug. 18th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Sure, the wacky anti-WTO protesters do no good for the progressive cause either. But, they're not carrying weapons. Generally, the truly loony on the left bare their arms (and torsos and other bits), not bear arms.

Another bit I find disturbing is how infrequently the leaders on the Right will say to the loony fringe that they aren't HELPING. I also reserve disdain for anyone who doesn't point out that PETA is insane. I'm an equal opportunity jerk.
Aug. 18th, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)

But you started out by accusing the Right of confusing and conflating. It isn't the Right that does so, it's people.

Then you said that they were protesting health care reform, but I'm not aware of any of the armed people talking about health care reform. In fact, they stated they were there for Second Amendment purposes.

Then you accused them of making an implicit threat of violence, but it seems to me more an inferred threat of violence. Particularly since their stated point was not to accomplish anything other than let people know that the right to open carry exists in their state, and can be exercised with no harm done to anyone.

Now don't get me wrong, I readily recognize that the sight of a gun terrifies some people. When I can, I avoid open carry in favor of concealed for just that reason. But the fact that someone is terrified of my gun is really their issue, not mine. I guess in the eyes of some, the fact that I carry a firearm puts me in "the loony fringe." In the eyes of others, I guess I'd have to carry it openly, or carry it openly someplace there were TV cameras, to earn that status. Whatever. Still their problem, not mine, I've satisfied the law.
Aug. 19th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
They are outside health care reform events. They are carrying firearms in rather strange circumstances. Nobody that I know takes their AR-15 to their white-collar job. Firearms are instruments of violence. The sight of the gun is known to be provocative. Ergo, they intend to be provocative at health care reform events, irrelevant to the actual point of the event.

And, yes, the Right does this far more than the Left. That is primarily because the Left seems incapable of organizing to do anything whatsoever.

Doing only what is legal, and not being concerned with the perceptions of others, is rather solipsistic. It muddies the waters, it confuses even the supporters of the people making their point, and it dilutes whatever point you were trying to make. I'm simple like that - one event, one focus. It makes it far too easy for any actual points to be lost in the noise of the provocation.

Edited at 2009-08-19 01:36 am (UTC)
Aug. 19th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
If you can jump from open carry to “if you don’t do what I say, I’ll shoot someone.”, then Yes, you are looking at things very simplistically. Or possibly projecting. There are several ways to interpret your reaction.

"Doing only what is legal, and not being concerned with the perceptions of others" is how one exercises a right. To do otherwise is to exercise a privilege as long as nobody minds too much.
Aug. 19th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
It seems incredibly self-indulgent and childish to me. "Look at me, I can carry a gun openly even this close to the U.S. President." Good for you, I applaud you for exercising your Constitutional rights. But, if you are also interested in something other than the 2nd Amendment, you're a distraction and help the Left to paint all the people on the other side of the aisle with a very simplistic brush.
Aug. 19th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
Seem to me that being provocative would be the point of demonstrating, regardless of where or when you do it. The simple fact is, by being provocative they accomplished their goal. They weren't concerned with health care, that's just where they knew the TV cameras would be, so that's where they went. CNN gave them lead story, and they got their soundbite on the news.

I think the idea the Right does it more than the Left might be a perception brought on by recent events. The Left isn't demonstrating much lately, just as a year ago the Right wasn't demonstrating much. In any demonstration of appreciable size there are a bunch of people who are off message.

Also, the group who were open-carrying in Arizona would probably take exception to being called "the Right," since they are libertarians.

If people want to be solipsistic, they are allowed to. It probably won't win them many friends, but it's their choice. And like I said, I try to avoid freaking people out with the fact that I'm legally armed. But if they find out and they have a problem with it, that isn't going to change my behavior, because their emotional acceptance of firearms is not a precondition to my rights.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )