I Answer Five Questions.

I don’t know who started this, but I found that Mike from Feces Flinging Monkey had taken up the gauntlet from Xlrq at Damnum Absque Injuria, and had posted an open invitation at his site to quiz someone else. Being bored, I said I’d take him up on it. Here we go:

1) You’re serving on a jury. The defendant is a young man, a gang member, who is being charged with the murder of a rival gang member. The defendant admits to shooting the victim dead, but claims it was self defense. The only witness is a friend of the defendant, who backs up his story. There is no additional evidence to sway your opinion either way. Would you vote guilty, or not guilty?

It’s up to the prosecutor to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a murder took place. Failing that, I have to find for the defendant.

2) Do you generally consider women who are skilled with firearms to be more attractive than those who are not? If so, can you describe why? (If not, can you explain what the hell is the matter with you, anyway)?

This goes back to an OLD post, when Courtney was still blogging. The answer: Hell yes. As I said then, I think it’s the self-confidence I find attractive.

3) All things being equal, if you could not live in the United States, where would you go? (Assume that job opportunities, willingness of your new country to accept you, language barriers, etc. were not an issue).

Yeesh. All other things really cannot be equal. America isn’t perfect, but it is still, in my opinion, the best, most free nation on earth. If Australia or New Zealand would give up their pursuit of socialist statism, they could be very nice places for an expatriate American. Rob Smith, Acidman of Gut Rumbles, advertises for Costa Rica, but I don’t speak Spanish, despite several years of studying it in college (don’t use it, you lose it.) Given no other choice, I think I’d have to go with Middle-Earth, and move to New Zealand.

4) Cats or dogs? .45 or 9mm? .308 or .223? Plastic or steel?

No fair. That’s four questions in one.

Cats and dogs. They aren’t the same, cannot be compared, and I like both. But BIG dogs (35-100 lbs or so). Toy breed dogs have none of the charm of cats, and none of the charm of big dogs, either. They’re just rats with attitude.

.45. Hands down. But .45 ACP or .45 LC. I’m not too hip on the .45GAP for reasons best elucidated below. I’m also not a fan of the .45 ├╝berblasters like the .454 Casull et al. But more power (pun intended) to those who like them.

.223 for plinking & paper-punchin, .308 for serious work.

Steel. I just don’t care for the esthetics of tactical tupperware. Aluminum alloy if you’re really insistent on weight savings. Titanium and Scandium are, in my opinion, just a marketing ploy.

5) I promised one hardball question… Justice Holmes once wrote that human rights were nothing more than what “a given crowd … will fight for”. Holmes also agreed that his worldview came “devilish near to believing that might makes right.” How does your view of rights differ from a simple “might-makes-right” position?

Because I believe in the rights of the individual, who has the hardest time defending his rights from the tyranny of the majority. A belief in the rights of the individual means often having to make decisions that tell the majority, in the words of Justice Scalia, “to take a walk.” Quoting (again) from Sanford Levinson’s The Embarrassing Second Amendment,

(W)hat it means to take rights seriously is that one will honor them even when there is significant social cost in doing so. If protecting freedom of speech, the rights of criminal defendants, or any other part of the Bill of Rights were always (or even most of the time) clearly costless to the society as a whole, it would truly be impossible to understand why they would be as controversial as they are. The very fact that there are often significant costs–criminals going free, oppressed groups having to hear viciously racist speech and so on–helps to account for the observed fact that those who view themselves as defenders of the Bill of Rights are generally antagonistic to prudential arguments. Most often, one finds them embracing versions of textual, historical, or doctrinal argument that dismiss as almost crass and vulgar any insistence that times might have changed and made too “expensive” the continued adherence to a given view. “Cost-benefit” analysis, rightly or wrongly, has come to be viewed as a “conservative” weapon to attack liberal rights. Yet one finds that the tables are strikingly turned when the Second Amendment comes into play. Here it is “conservatives” who argue in effect that social costs are irrelevant and “liberals” who argue for a notion of the “living Constitution” and “changed circumstances” that would have the practical consequence of removing any real bite from the Second Amendment.

As Fred Donaldson of Austin, Texas wrote, commenting on those who defended the Supreme Court’s decision upholding flag-burning as compelled by a proper (and decidedly non-prudential) understanding of the First Amendment, “[I]t seems inconsistent for [defenders of the decision] to scream so loudly” at the prospect of limiting the protection given expression “while you smile complacently at the Second torn and bleeding. If the Second Amendment is not worth the paper it is written on, what price the First?” The fact that Mr. Donaldson is an ordinary citizen rather than an eminent law professor does not make his question any less pointed or its answer less difficult.

In Justice Holmes’s world, what the majority wants, the majority gets. In mine, the majority ought to understand what the tyranny of the majority leads to, and short of that, ought to be told from time to time to “take a walk.” I’ve stated that a right is what a majority of a population believes it is, also quoting Scalia when he said:

To some degree, a constitutional guarantee is like a commercial loan, you can only get it if, at the time, you don’t really need it. The most important, enduring, and stable portions of the Constitution represent such a deep social consensus that one suspects if they were entirely eliminated, very little would change. And the converse is also true. A guarantee may appear in the words of the Constitution, but when the society ceases to possess an abiding belief in it, it has no living effect. Consider the fate of the principle expressed in the Tenth Amendment that the federal government is a government of limited powers. I do not suggest that constitutionalization has no effect in helping the society to preserve allegiance to its fundamental principles. That is the whole purpose of a constitution. But the allegiance comes first and the preservation afterwards.

This is because, from a pragmatic point of view, Justics Holmes’s and Justice Scalia’s positions reflect reality. But I advocate educating the majority so that they understand why an individual-rights outlook is empirically better for everyone in the long run, and why they ought to fight for that even though it doesn’t give optimum solutions to every day-to-day incident.

While it is true that what a given crowd will fight for is what that given crowd gets, we’re far better off if the crowd is educated rather than ignorant, and a pack rather than a herd.

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