I support the right of people to own them, but they should not be a part of a political discussion.
Liberty with your limitations imposed, Bob? Is that still liberty?
At what point did you see me doing more than expressing my opinion here, Ron? The tax day demonstrations in Virginia, however, did feature armed folks. They were in fact celebrating their freedom of speech, but at something of a cost to the freedoms of the rest of the population. I have done nothing to limit the speech of others, as is evident from your response and from the response of others from time to time. Had you come armed to a political debate, you would not have heard a response from me. I have no desire to become cold cuts in a martyr sandwich.
I would argue that the guns supply the limitations on free speech, especially when brought to a public gathering.
You seem to be conflating my reasoning with the force of law and the imposition of legal force.
Exactly how I seem to have acquired this power is beyond me, and I'd like to know how you seem to have invested me with it.
"Liberty with your limitations imposed, Bob? " was your phrase. I am limited by my ability to reason and to explain my thinking, both of which are limited in the extreme, as I am only too aware. I can also point out flaws in the thinking of others, and I can try to be as honest as I can tolerate being. That's it.
I can't and wouldn't want to impose my will on the world. It takes people who are willing to tolerate a much more painful level of consequence, or who don't feel it, than I can to take such things on.
I was quite upset perhaps two years or so ago when the border patrol, first, searched a bus I was on in Buffalo on its way to Ithaca, then searched it again in Rochester, and finally searched it yet again in Rochester on the way back, checking everybody's papers and closely questioning some Japanese visitors and an Indian Couple. That I felt was an obscene intrusion of state power.
And Ron comments:
And yet, presumably, you'd be fine with it, Bob, if the passengers were carrying guns?
And your presumption would be wrong.
My position about guns is about as totally illogical as a position can get, absolutely idiotic. I think they are beautiful. I admire the way they work, and I think they are marvelous. I admire their compact essence of violence.
Having seen violence, I loath what it can do, and find any use of guns besides war and hunting absolutely repulsive, and I find those repulsive as well but I know that they're not about to vanish, so we need to be able to do them well enough to be able to avoid them or to minimize them. When I was a kid, I owned guns, but I sold them. Now I think I'd like to do some target shooting, but I'm ambivalent about having them in the house. I've been threatened by them on at least two occasions, and, on the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.
I rather prefer the way the English handle the things.
Is that confusing enough for you?
I'd rather nobody was carrying guns, or that everybody was as well trained in them as the Swiss or the Israelis.
I fail to see how saying that watching demonstrators walk around with guns, or seeing congressmen make comments about how the government is responsible for blowing up the building in Oklahoma City is anything other than provocative. If fail to see that this sort of rhetoric is useful under these circumstances.
And there's the crux of the matter, Bob.
Fortunately for the rest of us, the Constitution doesn't impose that particular limitation on our rights to free speech. Bob doesn't have to see what I say as useful, or as anything else, before I get to say it. Indeed, it is precisely that kind of power that our Constitution tries to avoid putting into the hands of mere men. Bob doesn't have to like what I say. Bob just has to tolerate it.
Because that's the only way what he says will be tolerated as well.
But Bob has tolerated it.
He has also decided not to keep his mouth shut in the process of tolerating it.
In his free speech, he can focus on pretty much whatever criteria he wishes to focus on. Some people choose to focus on whether The President was born in a mud hut in Nigeria, and whether it is important whether there is a long form birth certificate available somewhere in the State of Hawaii with the President's name on it all these years after the State did away with that form. They find this discussion deeply meaningful, and they spend many hours talking about the pro and con of this business, and have furthermore, done so in these pages.
This is, of course, free speech, and if I have something to say in the matter, I can respond. If I don't, I don't have to respond.
Some folks feel this subject is deeply meaningful and are still fascinated by it.
Myself, not so much.
But I have things to say on the subject, and found the discussion stimulating after its fashion. I'm willing to stretch for the sake of friendship and for the community and for the fun of a good discussion, and I can find things to say to people that I enjoy. I don't have to, and I don't always, but I can.
I bring up subjects from time to time, and sometimes people like them, and sometimes they don't. I don't expect to have control over that. I know better. Free speech includes the freedom to ignore what other people say, including what I say, and I never expected otherwise.
However, I can certainly set whatever criterion I'd like to set in what I say as long as it isn't the equivalent of shouting Theater at a crowded Fire (that was an intentional reversal, and was meant as a little joke, for those who might be wondering). Those who read what I have to say are free to react any way they like. Ron can say, "The nerve of that guy to try to set standards that the rest of us have to follow," if he wants; and somebody else can say, "Really, walking around with an assault rifle at a demonstration does set a bit of a limit on what other folks are likely to say. It's not a very useful way of opening up a conversation, is it?"
Both are free to draw their own conclusions.
If I thought my words were law, I'd never write anything. The responsibility is simply too awesome. Instead, I write the way I was taught to write, as though I meant it. Let other folks include the qualifiers they may think belong there; for me to do so is namby pamby writing.
For the record, Bob actually does like a lot of what you say.
I think your insistence on free speech is marvelous, for example.
How you think me exercising mine shuts down other people's, though, is a bit beyond me. If they disagree with me, they are certainly free to say so, and to say how and why. They will surely be correct some percentage of the time, and their arguments will prevail.