A Bleg

A commenter asks:

Would some of you folks mind commenting in this thread –

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.co…nseless- in.html

There is a Finnish guy that is mighty proud of his homemade surveillance system.

I’m digging around this site on how the state isn’t obligated to protect individuals and Clayton Cramer’s gun defence blog for fodder.

But I’m thinking you folks might come up with better arguments than me posting several links to other info.

It’s an interesting piece and an interesting comment thread. Have at ’em.

My Letter to Roberta de Boer.

Mentioned a couple of posts down, the Toledo Blade posted an op-ed on the local Pink Pistols group founder. It was a pretty good piece from a self-admited “gun bigot.” I sent her an email:

Ms. de Boer:

Thank you for the interesting op-ed. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

“Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them.” – Teresa Neilson Hayden

I’d especially like to thank you for admitting that you are a “gun bigot.” While I think a lot of people are precisely as the Pink Pistols described them, I also think very few see themselves that way. Especially very few people in the journalism industry or academia. Your piece also reminded me of PBS and Slate correspondent Emily Yoffe. In 2004 for her “Human Guinea Pig” series Ms. Yoffe learned to shoot. If you’re curious, her Slate article on her experience, subtitled “How I learned to love guns” is still available here:


There’s also an NPR audio interview with Ms. Yoffe linked at that story.

Your piece also reminded me of cultural anthropologist Abigail Kohn. Ms. Kohn recently published her book Shooters: Myths and Realities of America’s Gun Cultures. Ms. Kohn has also been published in Reason magazine. In her May, 2001 piece “Their Aim is True” she wrote this:

We began by studying the right-wing militia movement of the early 1990s. Our first foray into the subject would have been comical if it hadn’t been so naive. Our initial attempt to meet local militia members took us to a shooting range in the Bay Area, where we assumed local militia meetings would be held. We went on a Tuesday night, fully expecting the range to be seething with radical political activity. Why else would people congregate at a shooting range, if not to meet other like-minded, potentially dangerous right-wing gun nuts? It never occurred to us that they might be there for the simple enjoyment of target shooting.

I could not help but wonder if you were thinking similar thoughts when you went with Mr. Spradlin to the range.

I’m sorry the other party at the range was not more interested in Mr. Spradlin’s efforts, but different strokes, as they say. In the part of the blogosphere oriented towards gun rights there is quite a bit of support for the Pink Pistols organization from us straights as well as gays. Just as an example, the blog “TFS Magnum” (http://wheelgun.blogspot.com) is run by a gay woman who lives on a sailboat in Florida. It was through a post at her site that I found your op-ed. The blog “Hell in a Handbasket” (http://www.hellinahandbasket.net/) is run by an Ohio gentleman who teaches self-protection classes to violent crime victims and who works with the Pink Pistol organization in, I believe, Columbus. His name is James Rummel. Unfortunately he recently changed Internet Service Providers so his large archive of early posts is gone down the memory hole.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for illustrating, even if in a small way, that there are more and better “gun cultures” out there than the one normally portrayed in the media. The vast majority of gun owners will never shoot anyone – in cold blood, in anger, or by accident. But as you were kind enough to mention, we do not take kindly to those who would “subject innocent people to defenselessness.”

And perhaps, with some more exposure, you might join Ms. Kohn and Ms. Yoffe as a fellow enthusiast with a little different perspective on the topic of gun control.

Thank you for your attention.

It will be interesting if she responds.

A Matter of Perspective.

TSM is on a lot of blogrolls for a variety of reasons. Blog for Arizona began its life as Dean for Arizona back when “The Screamer” was running for President, so that gives you some idea as to the content thereof. However, the proprietor and I had some interesting and civil exchanges, and since I’m a fellow Arizonan, he felt it appropriate to link here.

That link draws the occasional hit, and every now and then I go visit his site to see what he’s up to. Today I got an interesting lesson in perspective. Everyone knows the expression about “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.” This one was looking at the world through a funhouse mirror.

Take a read of I Pull for Pullen. A teaser:

The GOP is going to continue to getting more and more extreme, even as the public abandons them. Some hypothesized that the GOP will become more centrist in reaction to their recent reverses. But rather than react rationally, I think they will continue to believe that if only they can reach a state of perfect orthodoxy, untrammeled by any touch of reality, they can win elections again.

Doesn’t that sound weirdly, twistedly familiar? Some analytical commentary on this would be… I hesitate to say “enlightening.” Perhaps “entertaining” would be more appropriate? My thesarus is suffering from a nervous breakdown.

Paging Dr. Sanity! Paging Dr. Sanity!

Gun Bigots.

Zendo Deb points to an interesting op-ed in the Toledo Blade about the Pink Pistols. In Gay Rights, Gun Rights Cross Here, the author notes:

Personally, I’m what the Pink Pistols call a “gun bigot,” someone who’s not crazy about firearms, knows nothing about them, “may never have even fired one, certainly doesn’t have any, [and] would gladly subject innocent people to defenselessness.”

At least she admits it. This echoes what Joe Huffman spoke about at some length at the first annual Gun Blogger’s Rendezvous in Reno last October. His firing from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories was, as his lawsuit claims, due to gun bigots.

All of which reminds me, once again, of one of my favorite gunnie quotes:

Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them. – Teresa Neilson Hayden

I Wonder If I’ve Frightened Him Off…

A commenter to last week’s piece OK, I WILL Comment on this “Study” was shocked, shocked by the piece and by the other commenters:

It is unbelievable that there are people like you lot who can defend guns as ‘harmless fun’ or seriously state that ‘guns make you safer’. If you weren’t so dangerous the absurdity of it all would be hilarious.

I love how the topic quickly moves from your gun fantasies to your racial genocide fantasies in one swift paragraph.

I particularly like the idiocy of these comments.

“if you’re not a young black male living in an inner city, your likelihood of dying by homicide (regardless of weapon) is about equal to that of someone living in Europe.”

“if you remove the crimes committed by blacks and latinos, the U.S. violent crime rate is almost identical to that of Canada.”

Like duh!! What a surprise eh? So if I remove the most deprived higher crime areas and people from the US figures and then compare it with the average in Europe (that includes all their deprived higher crime areas and population) it is ‘roughly similar. Is there no amount of distortion of statistics you lot will go to to justify your idiocy? Let alone your thinly disguised prejudice against black people. Deny black people opportunities so the majority end up in poverty stricken neighbourhoods with little or no prospects and then when they act all dysfunctional, use this to justify your superiority and racial fantasies. I despair for humanity when there are dumb f***s like you walking the planet.

Boy am I glad I don’t live next door to you guys.

I left a little response of my own in the comments, but, since he so kindly left a real email address I dropped him a note:

Mr. Harding:

Thank you for the heartfelt comments you left at my blog, The Smallest Minority.

Obviously you and I differ vastly in worldview (since you called me a racist dumbf**k, among other things.) Just as obviously, you read very little of my site. Then again, you are apparently a knee-jerk Leftist, so I suppose I can’t expect any better from you.

However, should you care to debate the topic of gun control, I’d be more than happy to have you join me at The Smallest Minority. I find that I learn so much more when discussing the topic with those who disagree with me. Perhaps you’d like to educate me?

Surprisingly, Mr. Harding replied today:


Sorry if my comments were a little forthright and I thank you for responding in a friendly way. I apologise for calling you names, I think I was referring to commenters not yourself, I cannot remember exactly, but I was reacting to some pretty unbelievably frightening comments on your blog.

This stuff about black people and crime. How else could it be described other than racism?

Surely you only have to compare gun death rates between the US and UK to see that limiting guns is the safer option. Guns are so dangerous, they should not be the playthings of people.

I was, of course, moved to answer:


Thank you for responding. No apology necessary, though you were referring to me. I have a rather thick skin at this point, and ignorance does not offend me. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or understanding, not an incapacity for it. Thus, ignorance can be overcome through learning.

No offense intended, but you seem to frighten easily. This is also a indication of ignorance, as humans tend to fear what they do not understand. Let’s take, for example, your comment “This stuff about black people and crime. How else could it be described other than racism?” Well, it can be taken as a description of reality, for one thing. Please, before you click ‘delete,’ allow me to explain.

What you objected to was this comment: “Never mind the fact that if you’re not a young black male living in an inner city, your likelihood of dying by homicide (regardless of weapon) is about equal to that of someone living in Europe.”

To you that was a racist statement. Your comment: “Like duh!! What a surprise eh? So if I remove the most deprived higher crime areas and people from the US figures and then compare it with the average in Europe (that includes all their deprived higher crime areas and population) it is ‘roughly similar. Is there no amount of distortion of statistics you lot will go to to justify your idiocy? Let alone your thinly disguised prejudice against black people.”

Here’s what I’ve written about this question at another blog:

Is the incredibly disproportionate level of violent crime in the young urban black male community due to the fact they’re black? Don’t be ridiculous. Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean don’t exhibit the same behavior. (Which is why I don’t use the appellation “African-American.”) Throughout history it has been the poor who have been the primary criminal predators and who have provided the primary pool of victims, regardless of skin tone. If you’re well off, you don’t have to steal, for example. Nor do you feel it necessary to “drown your sorrows” in intoxicants in order to escape the crappy life you live for a few minutes or hours or days.

There’s obviously more to it than just general poverty, though, because the level is so high. I would point to the exceedingly high percentage of fatherless children (due, I believe, to some really idiotic welfare policies), a welfare system that punishes attempts to escape it (I’m sorry, but you make $20 a month too much for us to subsidize your day-care! You’ll have to bear the entire $400/month burden of that yourself!), and a drug policy that makes trafficking in drugs so tremendously lucrative that – in that environment – it appears to be the best (and often only) way out.

Our national history of oppressing blacks, combined with a well-meaning but incredibly flawed social policy, plus a drug policy well-intentioned but completely disconnected from reality have all combined to create the level of violence that the numbers show.

Who is to blame? My finger points at us, because the people we voted into office chose to do what felt good, rather than taking a hard, objective look at what the policies they voted for would actually result in. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it very well: “Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.”

Edited to add: If you want further evidence of this, look what our government policies have done for the American Indian populations.

Is that a racist statement? I’m unfamiliar with the European statistics on this, but do blacks represent thirteen (13) percent of the population there? Do they make up 47% of homicide victims overall? Or is there another minority that does? Is there any significant group that inflicts homicide on itself at a rate six times the national average?

Doesn’t this make you wonder if there is something we could do that would directly affect the specific problem of young black men killing each other at epidemic levels? Because “gun control” most definitely does not.

I have compared the death rates between the US and the UK, Neil – something that you, obviously, have not. Ever since we’ve been keeping records, the UK has had about 1/8th the rate of homicides that the U.S. has had, regardless of the gun laws in place at the time. Guns were rarely used to commit homicide even when their possession was wholly unregulated. The UK began its path towards gun-control nirvana starting in 1920. It had no effect on that ratio. In 1953 Parliament passed the Prevention of Crime Act, which made it illegal to carry an “offensive weapon” without being able to demonstrate a need for it. Offensive weapons included knives, pointed objects, and tear gas along with firearms. Ownership of a handgun for self-defense was no longer considered a reasonable need. After all, you were prohibited by law from carrying it. Curiously, violent crime in England began to climb beginning in the late 50’s, until at the present time you are far more likely to be assaulted in England than in the U.S. – you just don’t kill each other as often, as has been the tradition since the turn of the last century.

One bit of interesting news: The ratio of homicide rates between the U.S. and England is now down to about 3.6:1. Throw in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the disparity is even smaller.

Now, as to your last statement: “Guns are so dangerous, they should not be the playthings of people.” This is the place where our worldviews are most widely divergent. Yes, guns are dangerous. So dangerous that they cannot be trusted in the hands of only the government and violent criminals – because we’ve seen what both of those groups do with such power. “Playthings of people”? Well, I do enjoy recreational shooting, as do a small (but growing) contingent of your countrymen, but “playthings”? I think not.

If some of my commenters frightened you, I’m concerned what these effect these quotes will have:

To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem.
To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized,
merely the domesticated. – Trefor Thomas

To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self – in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from the dignity of a free man would be rather hard to imagine. – Eric S. Raymond, Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun

In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Playthings of people”? No, indeed. Serious tools. But recreation with serious tools is something we do all the time here.

I would be pleased to continue this conversation, if you are so inclined. But if you feel the need to hide under your bed, I certainly understand.

I wonder if I’ll get a response?

What Should Have Been the SOTU Address

Michelle Malkin posted the whole piece, and I will as well. This is the statement of 23 year-old Army Second Leutenant Mark J. Daily, recently killed by a roadside bomb in Mosul. This needs to be archived, and it needs to be spread as widely as possible so it and he can never be forgotten.

Shame is a concept that the Left has done everything in its power to eliminate. If President Bush had read this before the joint session of Congress, perhaps some of that body might have rediscovered it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Current mood: optimistic

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam’s government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba’ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq’s neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America’s intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as “oil” or “terrorism,” favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day “humanists” who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow “global citizens” to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn’t confront the Ba’ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America’s intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow “humanists” and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America’s historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America’s initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America’s moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America’s commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children’s lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don’t forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don’t overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don’t cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include “Good Luck”

Mark Daily

Thank you, Lyle, for pointing that piece out. As sad as the death of Lt. Daily is, I’m proud to know that this country still turns out people like him.

I Want a Life Preserver of My Own

It’s been an ongoing theme here: The system’s broken, the occupants are happily breaking it, and everything’s going to come crashing down.

On the one hand, as commenter Fred Everett said at a post at Protein Wisdom:

(E)very generation, feels like the “wheels are coming off” in some sense.

On the other hand, as Billy Beck retorted:

Yup. But you know what?

Every now and then, they’re right about it.

I take some comfort in the fact that H.L. Mencken, Will Rogers and Mark Twain spoke and joked about how everything was going to hell in a handbasket back in the 20’s and 30’s. I don’t feel so sanguine when I realize that seventy-plus years later all we’ve seen is further decay.

We’re at war with a loosely associated group of fanatics, many of whom are willing to die in order to kill us and tear down our civilization, and our reaction? Half the population seems to believe that if we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone. Never mind that Iran and North Korea want (or may have) nukes. Never mind that nearly every day in Iraq or Afghanistan, some jihadi happily sends his soul to Allah just so he can kill some infidels, and he’d love to do it in the heart of the “Great Satan.”

Some of us understand the stakes. Most of them seem to be on the pointy end of the stick. Back here in Disneyland, though, the remainder are called “chickenhawks” – or worse.

The November elections have been taken by our political masters as a consensus vote on the war in Iraq, although Joe Lieberman won his race based on his support for that war. Nobody seemed to be paying attention to the fact that the Republicans lost. They gave it away by pissing off the people who voted them into power in the first place. Most of the Democrat victories were by default. But now the Dems control both houses of Congress, and are hell-bent (words chosen carefully) on pushing their agenda.

From my perspective, that agenda is perfectly illustrated by that Far Side cartoon above. We’re all merrily running for the sea. Those not so inclined are being swept along anyway.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of standing up and trying to get people to look. I’m tired of “Global Warming” – the next boogeyman the people who believe that only an all-powerful State can save us from certain destruction (though many will unfortunately have to be sacrificed, of course – eggs and omlettes, you understand) are pushing as the excuse to control our lives. I’m tired of the War on Terror – to some extent a boogeyman itself – being used to build the mechanisms that can (and will eventually) be used to the same end. I’m tired of the War on (some) Drugs™ being used to disembowel the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. I’m tired of politicians butchering the First Amendment. I’m tired of the Courts eviscerating the Second. I’m tired of our institutions of “higher learning” turning out ignorant but politically correct useful idiots in an endless cycle that ever more resembles the swirling of a toilet bowl.

In short, I’m tired of watching Western Civilization commit seppuku with a dull, rusty spoon. No ceremony. No hope of restored honor. No hope.

Half of me wants to help pull it all down just to get it over with. The other half wants the world to go on so that my grandchildren can have a good life of their own. I understand that most of the people on this planet live in poverty, and that we here in the United States have built a society where very, very few live in anything even resembling the squalor that the majority of humanity considers “normal.” I refuse to feel guilty for this. I refuse to calulate my “carbon footprint.” I refuse to recycle anything but aluminum cans (the only thing that makes economic sense to recycle.) I don’t want my grandchildren to have to live like the majority of the planet just to make it “fair.”

Call me selfish. I don’t give a shit. I don’t want a life preserver, I want a life BOAT.

OK, So, I Switched.

This is the first post at TSM using the new Blogger.

So how do I get rid of the fv*king “Nav Bar” at the top of the page? On the old blogger there was an option to delete it. Not on the new one! You can choose what color it is, but there’s no “delete” option.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

P.S. – Where the hell are my archives?!?!?

UPDATE: OK, that’s fixed, I guess, but I can see I need to do a whole lot of clean-up and maintenance stuff. Dammit.

My M1 Carbine Magazines are In!

Yes, they’re GI, too. In very, very nice shape. Only one is really coated in cosmoline. I have received the following:

2 – International Silver (IS)
3 – Seymour Smith (SS)
2- Union Hardware (U)
1 – Winchester (BW)
1 – National Postal Meter (MN)
1 – IBM (OIB)

The IBM is the one most heavily coated in cosmoline.

I hope like hell that when the CMP releases the carbines for sale they have some IBM ones available. My dad spent 33 years working for Big Blue. It’d be kinda cool to have a real “business machine” made by them.

Crazy Love and Crazy Laws.

Recently this blog has been getting a lot of hits from Google on searches for “Linda Riss,” “Burt Pugach” and every possible combination and variation on those two names. I’ve covered the story of Ms. Riss before. In fact, her story was one of the first pieces ever posted here.

Linda Riss was an attractive young woman who became involved with a married man, a lawyer by the name of Burton Pugach. When she finally figured out that he was never going to leave his wife, she tried to break off the relationship, but old Burt wasn’t having it. He stalked her and threatened her. She went to the NYPD trying to get protection, but got nowhere. Burt was a lawyer, after all.

So, Linda tried to go on with her life. She got engaged. She got a call from Burt, who said (in effect), “This is your last chance. If I can’t have you, no one can have you, and when I’m done with you, no one will want you.” The next day an assailant threw lye in her face, blinding her and scarring her for life.

Burton Pugach went to jail. Linda Riss sued the City of New York for failing to protect her. She lost. Burt served twelve years on a 15-t0-30 sentence, and when he got out of prison he was interviewed on television.

He proposed to Linda Riss over the airwaves.

She married him.

And then he cheated on her as he had cheated on his previous wife. Then he stalked his lover as he had stalked Linda.

And Linda Pugach testified for him as a character witness.

So why is this site getting so many hits on “Linda Riss” and “Burt Pugach”? Because at this year’s Sundance Film Festival there’s a documentary called Crazy Love about the Riss/Pugach story.

While I doubt seriously that Crazy Love will much note, or even mention Linda’s lawsuit against NYC or its outcome, I have one thing to say:

I bet it’s going to be a better documentary than Zoo.

One other thing:

Too bad no one ever introduced Burton Pugach to equestrianism.