Some of you may have been following the Kynn incident over at SayUncle.Â I’m happy to see that we’re more in an apologetic phase, with both Uncle and Kynn issuing apologies.Â But I wanted to address some points that Kynn made:
Okay, now, the first point — several people, including Mr. Uncle, have said “how could someone from a group who is attacked be as bigoted as to judge gun nuts as a group? What a bigot Kynn is!”
This comparison is pretty much laughable to me, as it would be to most people who have done any work in anti-bigotry activism: There’s obviously a big difference between characteristics such as one’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and so on, and characteristics such as one’s beliefs regarding gun control, birth control, abortion, war, taxes, disco music, or choice of political candidate. Transphobia is not the same thing as being angry at everyone who supports (or opposes) the Iraq War. The latter is much more like gun control than being genderqueer is.
The truth is, it’s laughable to most people.Â It may be a technically correct use of the term “bigot” to describe someone “obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices,” but in practical terms, “bigot” more often than not has racial connotations to most people who aren’t familiar with the true dictionary definition.
As much as I believe the fight for the second amendment is a civil rights struggle, that has parallels to other civil rights struggles in our nation’s history, I’ve always had a hard time getting over the fact that being a gun owner is a choice, whereas no one chooses to be Black, Hispanic, Native American, and, at least in my opinion, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.Â In that sense, barring someone from a community because of his color just can’t, in my opinion, rank up there with barring someone from a community because he chooses to be a gun owner.Â I do agree that the latter is a constitutionally protected right, but I can choose not to be a gun owner.Â Someone can’t choose not to be black.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s worthwhile pointing out that many people’s views of gun owners are prejudicial, and based on stereotypes; I have no problem turning the entire political correctness machinery around on folks who relish in using it on conservatives.Â But I think we should be careful throwing the “b” word around.Â That’s not to say it has no place; I’ve certainly used it in instances where a person had just displayed an unapologetic disdain from people who come from a certain (rural) culture.Â But I don’t think it’s the first thing to brand someone with.Â Appeals to tolerance, and pointing out that the some views might be based on stereotypes and prejudices, I think is just as effective.
Hopefully Kynn can appreciate that there are as many opinions as gun owners.Â Some of us are pretty conservative, both socially and politically.Â I would be a liar if I said there were no racists in the gun culture.Â Some of us will stand for no gun laws, some of us are willing to live with a few.Â But perhaps Kynn might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of us who don’t really have issues with the GLBT community, and who support issues like gay marriage.
Kynn and I would probably never consider ourselves political allies.Â No doubt on most political issues, we’d probably work against each other.Â But it does no one any good to alienate others based on prejudicial views.Â Regardless of whether I vote for McCain over Obama, I will be an advocate from within the conservative movement for stronger acceptance of the people like Kynn, and a recognition that whether you agree that who they are is a lifestyle choice, or something imposed on them through genetics, they have a right to live how they want as free people, and to enjoy all the same benefits as other members of our society.
To me the tragedy is that we let our petty sqibbles get in the way of that far too often.Â It’s very hard to win acceptance of rights that only have support from one side of the political aisle.Â Just read Ilya Somin’s article on Gun Rights, Post-Heller.Â Gun owners need to accept that we need the left to buy into gun rights, and the left needs to accept that they need to get conservatives to buy into things like gay rights.Â That’s really the only way we’re both going to win.