Learning New Things Challenges You

Usually, the more I learn about something the more I appreciate it.

There have been many times when a friend has introduced me to something I knew next to nothing about; something they were enthusiastic for, and before long I had gained a new appreciation. It doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes something I’m seriously interested in, but I can still appreciate it through new eyes.

Recently I was introduced to the history of the Three Stooges by a friend who runs the internet’s most in-depth Three Stooges fansite. I had never given them much thought, beyond watching them on cable TV as I got ready for school when I was a kid. But learning about them as real people with a real story gave me a new perspective and a whole new appreciation for them.

I’ve experienced similar things with karaoke, cats, and writing, with some of these things becoming important parts of my life.

Other times I have been introduced to something, and the more I learned about it the more I grew to dislike it; the less I’m willing to tolerate it.

Government — or more accurately, “the state” — for example.

In some cases, ignorance truly is bliss.

The more I learn about government’s origins and its true nature the less tolerance I have for it. I see no reason to pretend it is something other than a criminal mob trying to hide behind a veil of legitimacy and imaginary “consent of the governed.”

It doesn’t change what something is to make up cutesy names for it. Taxation is still theft, capital punishment is still ritual human sacrifice, “gun control” is still slavery, and police are still a street gang. Supporters can try to justify these things all day long, but nothing changes them into something other than what they really are. Their true nature remains the same.

If these are things you support, own it.

If you don’t support these things when done by freelance individuals but have been supporting them when done by government, perhaps it’s time you pick a side for the sake of consistency.

It’s possible to be consistently wrong, of course, but it’s not possible to be inconsistent and be right. If this matters to you, you know what you need to do.

The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the more responsibility you have and the more you are challenged. Which probably explains why so many people don’t want to learn anything new.

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Scott Adams is Still Wrong on Guns

The vilest anti-liberty bigots are those who pretend to be pro-liberty while misrepresenting liberty (or not even understanding what the word means). Anti-gun bigots who claim to be “pro-gun” are probably the worst subset of anti-liberty bigot.

Scott Adams is a case in point. He’s been advocating anti-gun “laws” a lot recently, seasoning his remarks with the phrase “I’m pro-gun“. It shows how deep his misunderstanding of the topic goes that he believes he’s making sense.

The following is a point-by-point analysis of a recent podcast where he was pretending to be pro-gun while promoting anti-gun bigotry and government-supremacy. He’s always blocking people for saying “You’re wrong” without providing reasons. Since he likes reasons so much, here are a bunch of them.

“The government should make the decisions about gun policy… The government and the people should decide what our gun laws are.”

Nope. That option has been taken off the table by the Second Amendment. And “our” gun laws? I’ve decided what mine are. No one else has any say. Collectivism is ugly.

“But we get to change the Constitution, too.”

Not without abolishing the United States of America. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were a package deal which created the feral, ummm, federal government, and without which it has no existence. Change one word of the Bill of Rights (which, being amendments, over-ride the body of the Constitution where applicable) and the deal is off. I’m actually OK with that. Are you?

“I did not say ‘take away your guns’.”

Only because you can’t be that honest. You’ve parroted the dishonest claim of almost every anti-gun bigot, that “no one is talking about taking away guns“. Maybe you aren’t proposing door-to-door gun confiscations, but if you believe government has the power to ignore the natural human right to own and to carry weapons, and the Second Amendment’s prohibition on “laws” concerning guns, then you’re advocating allowing “laws” to be written which could (and have) result in actual law enforcers taking away people’s guns, and murdering them if they resist.

“I’m very pro-gun (…) but…”

That’s what they all say. And maybe you believe it. But without a clear understanding of the issue you say things that make you look foolish and dishonest. That “but” leaves you a lot of wiggle room but completely invalidates your first statement there.

“If the citizens of the United States, collectively, with their government, decided to make some gun laws, that I personally, Scott, do not think are the greatest, I’d still be inclined to go along with it, because the system produced that output. And I would trust the system.”

As long as a system isn’t harming people I’ll trust it. Provisionally. But as soon as it starts violating people, I’m out. The slave trade was a system. No one should have trusted it because it violated natural human rights. “Gun control” is a system which violates people’s rights. In fact, government is a rights-violating system. None for me, thanks. I prefer my own system which protects everyone’s equal and identical rights.

“Some of you are saying ‘My Constitution gives me my Second Amendment rights, and the NRA is helping me defend them.’”

Anyone who believes their rights come from the Constitution/Second Amendment or any document is uninformed. The Bill of Rights was written to place natural human rights– including the right to own and to carry weapons– off-limits to government meddling. Even the NRA seems weak on their understanding of this point. That’s why real gun rights (human rights) advocates call the NRA “surrender monkeys”.

As I recently posted elsewhere in response to a similar claim: You seem to have been misinformed about what the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does. It doesn’t give anyone the right to own and to carry weapons; it makes it a crime for government to interfere in this natural human right in the slightest way. “Gun control” is a SERIOUS crime.

The right existed before the Constitution was written— before the first government was a twinkle in the eye of a lazy thief, even— and it will still exist unchanged long after the last government is forgotten in the mists of Deep Time. No law or constitution can alter that right in the smallest degree.

“You love the Constitution. So do I.”

I don’t. And neither do you. If you did you would try to understand its purpose better; particularly the Bill of Rights– which is what you’re discussing here. The ONLY thing the Bill of Rights was written to do was to limit what government could “legally” do. If you miss that point your claim to love the Constitution is patently ridiculous. It’s like if I said I love dogs, but then talk about how beautiful and soft their feathers are.

“Do you know what else is in the Constitution? Well there’s something about a representative government and presidents and Congress and all that.”

Yep. And that makes placing natural human rights out of their reach that much more important. Because you never know what those people might decide to do. Or what the majority of v*ters might decide to do. Placing natural human rights outside the business of government is necessary if you’re going to allow government to exist.

“It gives the control of our decision making to our elected representatives.”

Not all of it. Some things were wisely taken off the table (by the Bill of Rights) before the game began. Including guns.

(About the NRA) “If it crosses that line into taking the job that the Constitution gives to the government…”

Again, the government can’t have the “job” to make up “laws” about guns. That is one of the things government is specifically and explicitly not permitted to do.

“The first thing I would note is that it’s already infringed.”

Agreed. That means all those various infringements are illegitimate and need to go away. It doesn’t justify more infringements. You couldn’t have justified expanding the slave trade with the observation that there was already a slave trade. The slave trade needed to be abolished. Gun “laws” need to be abolished… or ignored into irrelevance.

“Can you own a tank; a flamethrower?”

Ignorance? Yes, you can.

About “Second Amendment rights” [sic]: “98% of it’s gone and you didn’t even notice.”

Rights can’t “go away”. That the government– or other bad guys– violate rights doesn’t make them go away. It just violates them. Understand the difference.

And, I notice the violations. So do other people. Just because you don’t notice doesn’t mean others are that complacent and ignorant.

“Do you think that the Second Amendment, when it says ‘arms’, was just trying to limit it to muskets? I mean, that’s all they could imagine at the time…”

No. The Second Amendment was saying “You shall not pass!” with regard to making up “laws” to violate the natural human right to own and to carry weapons.

And they could “imagine” more than muskets because more than muskets already existed. Some of the authors of the Constitution were inventors. Does Scott really believe they couldn’t have imagined anything other than what already existed at the time? Of course, they could. That’s what inventors do. They knew how guns had evolved from massive unwieldy things requiring more than one person to set up and use to tools easily owned, carried, and accurately fired by one average individual. They were perfectly aware of how gun development could progress from its current state– they were already witnessing it.

And it doesn’t matter. They placed guns on a high shelf, out of reach of government “laws”.

“I see all the gun rights people bristling, but so far I haven’t said anything you disagree with.”

Seriously? See all the above if you actually believe you haven’t said anything an informed gun rights person would disagree with so far.

And, I didn’t bristle. I took it upon myself to educate and correct.

“… the key parts are ‘militia’ and ‘necessary to the security of a free state’… “

The militia is EVERYONE capable of using a weapon in defense– this was made clear by those who wrote and supported the Second Amendment. Using their weapons against whoever needed to be defended against. You display gross historical ignorance here.

Then you go off on a screed about “giving you the right to own guns...”, missing the purpose and intent of the Bill of Rights yet again. Government-supremacists seem to love this train of thought, which I derailed above.

Now, I happen to understand what a “state” is, so I also understand “free state” is internally contradictory. I’ll forgive you for your ignorance on this one.

“… a created right; a manufactured right…”

You can’t create or manufacture rights. Every human who has ever existed has/had equal and identical rights. Rights don’t come from governments. Governments can either respect rights or violate them. Those are the only two options. That governments– states– always choose to violate rights to some degree says nothing about the nature of rights and everything you need to know about the nature of government.

“Even the experts disagree about what the Constitution said or meant or how it should be interpreted.”

Only willfully. If you go back and read the related writings and discussions between those who were writing it, there is no confusion. “Smart people” often find ways to avoid understanding things which would invalidate what they want. That’s the most common thing in the world. It doesn’t give weight to your anti-gun position.

“My take is the government can do whatever it wants, with guns, as long as it makes sense. As long as the people are with it.”

It probably can. But it would be wrong and the US government would be immediately illegitimized by passing even one gun “law”. Oops. I guess that bridge has already been crossed and burned. But, again, this is the unethical government-supremacist position.

And “makes sense” to who? Everything makes sense to someone. Theft makes sense to people who want to justify stealing. Rape makes sense to rapists. Serial murderers always believe their acts somehow make sense. Violating your rights can’t make sense to me. No matter my feelings, or my wishes. If I feel your rights “need” to be violated on my behalf, then I need to man up and defend myself– by exercising my rights– from you. Begging government to do that on my behalf is a loser move.

“If 99% of the people said ‘Hey, government, take our guns away’…”

So, mob rule, then. The belief that rights hinge on the opinions of the majority. The wishes of all the people but one can’t excuse violating the rights of the one. Not if you call that violation “slavery” or if you call it “gun control”. If someone doesn’t want a gun in their house there is nothing to prevent them from getting rid of it. I’m completely in favor of allowing them to do so. If, however, they don’t want guns in their own home this gives them no right to force everyone else to get rid of their own guns, or else. Not by “law” or anything else.

This is the same loserthink behind rich people who say “Raise my taxes– I don’t mind. I want to support government more.” If they want to give the government more of their money, they can. No new “law” is necessary. Just do it. To wait until a “law” is imposed forcing others to do the same is evil.

“…a vague statement in the Constitution hundreds of years ago…”

It’s only vague if you try really hard to not understand it. “Shall not be infringed” can’t be more clear.

“We can do what we want as long as there’s a system we all respect.”

Too bad for you, then. Or, do you not really mean “all”, but just all government-supremacists and anti-liberty bigots? Because, as I’ve already pointed out, I don’t respect systems which violate natural human rights.

“…’it’s in the Constitution!’ True, but does it matter?”

Only if you want to keep your government. If not, that’s OK with me. I don’t need your government and don’t feel like supporting it. I can’t afford it and don’t want or need it. So I’m not going to argue with you on that one. That’s just a case of you arguing against yourself.

“To all of you who thought you were disagreeing with me, and were wrong, I say: your opinion I care about… If you disagree with me on guns, I care about your opinion. I might disagree, but I want to hear it… You and I are on the same page.”

OK. I’ll send this blog post to you, then. I hope other people also forward it to you (@ScottAdamsSays) any time you talk about guns.

But, no, we are not on the same page. Not even close.

I’ll close with one final admission on your part:

“I know one topic I don’t understand: any topic on gun control”

Yeah, that much is painfully obvious.

So, no Scott, I’m not interested in any system which makes it easier to violate the natural human rights of my fellow humans (or myself) and therefore makes it more likely those rights violations will occur. Just not interested at all. When you’re right, you’re right. But when you’re wrong, you’re probably advocating government-supremacy.

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Understand What You Ridicule

I’m beginning to wonder if the person more dangerous than the overt anti-liberty bigot is the person who doesn’t even understand what liberty or natural human rights are to begin with. Ignorance may be even more dangerous than openly advocating evil. Of course, ignorance can lead one to openly advocate evil, too.

I saw a lot of ignorance after the evil losers’ recent shootings.

Scott Adams is a prime example.

He advocated (while denying he was advocating anything) a lot of anti-liberty ideas founded on his utter lack of understanding of liberty and rights, and of guns and human nature (which surprised me*)– and on his rejection of the concept of ethical principles. Of course, he claimed anyone who stood firm for human rights is “dumb” and hinted they are not part of “the adult conversation”– his go-to for shutting down people who disagree on principle because they actually have principles. (Although many of his listeners seem to be as unprincipled and ignorant as he is, judging by the comments he mentions.)

He’s dead wrong again.

He’s not the only one.

If you don’t understand brain surgery, should you be making fun of the opinions about brain surgery held by those who do understand it? Only if you are arrogant and foolish.

Well, if you don’t understand what liberty is and why it matters you have no business preaching at others against it. If you don’t understand guns or the natural human right to own and to carry them, your opinions on the topic are invalid. Of course, this probably won’t matter to you if you laugh at the notion of ethical principles, and only want to have things your way.

Principles are scary to those without them. Principles take some options off the table. You can’t excuse slavery and democide without ignoring principles or making up fake “principles” which leave room for such things. They don’t even know how to talk about things and events without relying on utilitarianism and pragmatism. So they try to trivialize or ridicule principles.

Adults have principles.

The childish person just excuses whatever they feel like doing by finding ways to justify it after they’ve decided to do it. If you can’t grasp the fundamentals of the topic of conversation– be it brain surgery, liberty, or guns– this is even easier for you to do.


*He suggested that in a hypothetical world where all AR15s are pink, losers wouldn’t feel “cool” using them to murder people. He’s wrong about that. In a world where all AR15s are pink, pink guns are “cool”. Just like black guns are “cool” in our world. It’s not the color which makes the gun “cool”, it’s the gun that makes the color “cool”. I’m almost shocked someone who claims to understand human nature so well could miss that so badly.

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The Anti-Gun Bigots’ Silly Strawman

Anti-gun bigots have a “new” favorite strawman. They demand to know why the right to own and carry weapons (they’ll sometimes mischaracterize this as “Second Amendment rights”) is more important than the right to not be murdered.

The dishonesty– or ignorance– displayed by such a question is absolutely stunning.

You and I have the natural human right to own and to carry weapons. No one has the right to use those weapons to harm someone who isn’t currently violating the life, liberty, or property of another. There is no conflict, and at least some of those anti-gun bigots know it.

You also have no right to make up “laws” which violate anyone’s rights in any way. And since that’s what all the harmful “laws” do, those who support these “laws” are currently violating life, liberty, and property. Not smart.

You have no right to make up anti-gun “laws”. You can’t delegate a right you don’t have (because it can’t exist) to someone else. If you try to do either of those things YOU are the bad guy. Just as bad as the evil losers who inspire your calls to action.

Anti-gun bigots would have us live (and die) in a failed society where only the government goons and freelance thugs are adequately armed. That’s not civilized. It’s prison.

Burn their strawman to the ground and leave them exposed as the bad guys they are.

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“Socialism”: The Provocative Equivocation

The socialists are back, but is it a big deal?  It’s tempting to say that it’s purely rhetorical.  Modern socialists don’t want to emulate the Soviet Union.  To them, socialism just means “Sweden,” right?  Even if their admiration for Sweden is unjustified, we’ve long known that the Western world contains millions of people who want their countries to be like Sweden.  Why should we care if Sweden-fans rebrand themselves as “socialists”?

My instinctive objection is that even using the term “socialism” is an affront to the many millions of living victims of Soviet-style totalitarian regimes.  Talking about “socialism” understandably horrifies them.  Since there are plenty of palatable synonyms for Swedish-type policies (starting even “Swedenism”!), selecting this particular label seems a breach of civility.

If this seems paranoid, what would you say about a new movement of self-styled “national socialists”?  Even if their policy positions were moderate, this brand needlessly terrifies lots of folks who have already suffered enough.

On reflection, however, this is a weak objection.  Yes, if a label’s connotations are – like “national socialism” – almost entirely horrible, then loudly embracing the label is uncivil.  “Socialism,” however, has long had a wide range of meanings.  Even during the height of Stalinism, plenty of self-styled “socialists” were avowedly anti-Communist.  The upshot: Even if you were a victim of Soviet oppression, assuming the worst when you hear the word “socialism” is hypersensitive.  And hypersensitivity is bad.

Yet there’s a much stronger reason to object to the socialist revival.  Namely: It’s far from clear that the latter-day socialists do mean Sweden.  While some (like John Marsh) plainly say so, others (like Elizabeth Bruenig) are coy indeed.  Which raises deeply troubling questions, starting with:

1. Are latter-day socialists unaware of the history of the totalitarian movement that shares their name?  Given widespread historical ignorance and the youth of the new socialists, we can hardly rule this out.  A troubling thought; isn’t it negligent to champion a radical idea without investigating its history first?

2. Are latter-day socialists ambivalent about the totalitarian movement that shares their name?  Do they look on the Soviet Union as a noble experiment with unfortunate shortcomings?  How about Chavez’s Venezuela?

3. Do latter-day socialists think of Sweden as a starting point, and something more radical as the ultimate goal?  Are there outright crypto-communists among them?  If so, do their comrades know?  Care?

4. Do latter-day socialists realize that being coy raises the preceding concerns?  Do they care?  Or is the raising of these concerns a “feature, not a bug”?  I.e., they enjoy making people wonder if they’re secret Leninists?

What’s the truth?  While I don’t personally know any latter-day socialists well, I do read a lot of articles in The Nation, which publishes a wide range of modern socialists.  So here are my best guesses about the preceding possibilities.

1. Older socialists (age 50+) know a lot about the actual history of socialism.  The younger ones (age 40 and under), however, know little and care less.  They’re negligent romantics.

2. Most historically-literate socialists are indeed ambivalent about the totalitarian movement that shares their name.  Very few will defend Stalin, but they just can’t stay mad at Lenin, Castro, or Ho Chi Minh.  Even the historically-naive socialists feel pretty good about Cuba today and Venezuela in 2015.

3. Yes, most avowed socialists have a more radical ultimate goal than Sweden.  In our Capitalism-Socialism debate, even the reasonable John Marsh mused about a future that realized radical socialist dreams without degenerating into a typical socialist nightmare.  How extreme, then, are ultimate goals of the unreasonable socialists?  While I really don’t know, videos like this make me strongly suspect that Bernie Sanders is literally a crypto-communist.  Even if I’m wrong, how many latter-day socialists would care if Sanders was a crypto-communist?

4. Latter-day socialists really do enjoy making people wonder about their ultimate agenda.  When you read The Nation, for example, authors almost never specify exactly what policy should be.  Instead, they focus on radical movement in a desired direction, with minimal discussion of their ultimate objective.  In particular, they almost never say what would be “too far.”  Of course, this describes most political movements; they want to rally the troops, not provide blueprints of an ideal world.  But when you cultivate a “radical” image but withhold specifics, you should expect critics’ minds to go to dark places.  Rather than try to calm the critics, the latter-day socialists court their disapproval.  In fact, most seem to positively enjoy the imagined intellectual trauma they’re inflicting on the unbeliever.

On reflection, then, the return of the self-styled socialist is indeed a travesty.  The reason, though, is not that the word is offensive, but that it is deliberately confusing.  If you really thought Sweden was a model society, you would just praise Sweden.  The “socialist” label, in contrast, is a provocative equivocation.  Latter-day socialists adopt it because they would rather insinuate their possible support for totalitarian horrors than earnestly promote an intellectually defensible position.

To what end?  In modern parlance, the latter-day socialists could just be trolling.  This is bad enough, but some socialists probably sincerely believe what they’re insinuating.  Or worse.  If all you want is Swedish social democracy, making common cause with such socialists is a grave mistake.

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Everything Dies Baby, That’s a Fact

Nebraska is the only good album by Bruce Springsteen. But that’s not the point of this post. This post is about death.

For something good to happen, something has to die. Harsh but true.

When you get married, your single self dies. When you become a parent, your childless self dies. When you move into the future, the present dies to the past. Every time.

We see death every day in plants and animals and seasons. Its cyclical nature and preponderance to create something new seem obvious. But it’s harder to see the same process at work in our human lives. We associate death with, well, death. Really, we should associate it with life. For something new to be born, something must die.

This principle is so unavoidable and fundamental that every culture has myths and rituals mimicking it. Apparently, despite its universality and inescapability, we fear and misunderstand it so much that we need to make strange, regular recreations of this principle of nature just so we don’t forget or miss the lessons.

The ancient idea of sacrifices is the crudest and most obvious version, but all cultures are full of less extreme and literal representations of the death-to-life cycle. I remember hearing about a ritual among some African tribes, where adolescents were awakened in the night by masked parents, dragged into the woods, and buried alive. To enter adulthood, they had to dig out of the grave and find their way back to the village.

If you can put aside the oddness and cruelty of the ritual, it’s pretty profound. Adulthood is a kind of death. The ideas, beliefs, habits, frameworks, assumptions, and actions of a child are wonderful. And they must die. If you continue to see the world and the people in it as mostly built around you, owing and freely giving you protection and sustenance, the world will destroy you. If not in body, in spirit. An adult living like a dependent child is a soul-dead existence. To be fully alive as an adult, the child in you has to die.

The cold shock of masked people carrying you off to the woods, burying you, and leaving you to die is quite the metaphor. (The more intense rituals seem to blur the line between literal and metaphorical). It’s an awakening to the fact that the world doesn’t care about you qua you. You won’t be cared for just because you exist. You have to shatter the illusion that you are owed or will be given anything you don’t earn. The ritual is like a hardcore version of this timeless Cracked article.

New vistas, challenges, projects, and adventures beckon. We all talk about them, assume we’ll experience them, and plan for progress. Some people constantly achieve new stuff, while others don’t. It’s not always lack of goals and dreams that keep people from progress. Sometimes it’s fear of death. The difference between a dream deferred and a dream pursued isn’t so much the step into future as the killing of the present. You’ve got to cut the baggage of where and who you are loose and let it sink to the depths before you can become the next version. The old Dr. Who must die for a new one to emerge. (Very sad in the case of David Tennant.)

That’s why I don’t think it helps much when, at some momentous parting, someone says, “This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning!” No, it’s the end. The status quo is dying. Never to live again. You must accept, acknowledge, and own its death.

Of course it is also the beginning of a new era, and one that’s even better. But to ignore the death part and quickly move to the new part is a mistake. You need to really kill it. Really let it go. If you try to let the old live subconsciously with the new, you’ll tear yourself in two. (You’re welcome for the rhyme). This is why those rituals exist, remember? It’s too easy to try to sneak one past old death. “Yep, nothing to see here, just moving on to be a new version of myself”, meanwhile the rotting zombie of your former self is snarling suspiciously under the desk. Time to take it out back and shoot it.

The reason it’s so hard for us to fully embrace the death step as a precondition to new life is probably because the one kind of death that looms largest for us is one after which we can’t see the next step. We don’t exactly know what happens after our heart stops. The unknown hereafter is a lot to ponder, so we tend to avoid it. This avoidance trickles and seeps into all the lesser forms of death that ought not trouble us so much. Like our physical death, we ignore the other deaths. To our detriment. It gets pretty ugly when you see someone dragging along a bunch of dead versions of themselves, insisting they’re still alive, refusing to bury them and give life to the new.

So, if you want to do cool stuff you’ve got to learn to die. There are all kinds of death, and each new level in each area of life requires a different kind. There’s ego death, reputation death, innocence death, ignorance death, nice guy/gal death, and so many more. A good life is a series of deaths. So you’d better find some ritual or process or belief that helps you make your peace with death so you can burst into life.

And who knows, maybe when you get comfy with lesser death, you won’t fear the big one quite so much either.

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