I’m Just Another Guy With an Opinion

I’ve been rather surprised by some of the reaction to my commentary over the past few days, with several commenters seeming to suggest that I just want to shut people up, and it’s my way or the highway.  Perhaps I need to reconsider how I approach topics, and how I communicate.  But I do want to make one thing clear to everyone.  All I am is a dude with a blog.  I can’t stop someone from doing the kind of activism they feel good about doing, even if I wanted to.  I don’t presume to exercise control over anyone.

But I do have strong opinions on what kind of tactics work and what kind of tactics don’t, and what kind of organization promotes success, and what kind or organization is doomed to failure.  As a community of people who share goals and interests, it’s important to have those kinds of conversations without having folks take it personally, or feeling that my disagreement about the effectiveness over their preferred tactic is meant to be personal.  It’s not.

Tactical disagreements are always going to be ambiguous, because each side in the disagreement is essentially arguing that they are able to analyze a complex and changing system to such a degree that the outcome is clear.  I think in this past example, no one would have predicted the Obama White House would come out and endorse armed protesters.  I certainly did not predict it, and that was probably the major factor that made this incident turn out well for us in the end.

I don’t ask that everyone agree with me, but I do ask that people argue with me on the same terms that I would argue with them.  I would also ask that there be no dogma, or sacred cows in this issue.  This reminds me of something I recently read in “Rules for Radicals,” in Alinsky’s description of the qualities of an effective organizer:

To the questioner, nothing is sacred.  He detests dogma, defines any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search for ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting.  He stirs unrest. As with all life, this is a paradox, for his irreverence is rooted in a deep reverence for the enigma of life, and an incessant search for its meaning.

Maybe we could all take a lesson from that, and agree that though we may sometimes piss each other off, none of us really has all the answers.

17 thoughts on “I’m Just Another Guy With an Opinion”

  1. I disagree with your stance on Open Carry at political rallies. this is because of what happened to MtnJack in Beaver County. having seen clearly that there exists a group of people who want to tell me that I may not do something, my only response is to do it anyway and thumb my nose at them. you may disagree, but at least you aren’t being a jerk about it. i suppose that you will eventually come around to seeing that we are winning this argument. it is only the media that believes that we are wrong, but then they believe that we are wrong to own guns in the first place. As Rush Limbaugh is fond of repeating, don’t look to the media for validation. they hate us and everything we stand for. the only way to get their approval is to be good little liberals, or just shut up.

    as for Saul Alinsky

    >To the questioner, nothing is sacred.

    this is clearly a lie, and a self serving one. clearly there are sacred cows on the left. they are used to the concept that they are always on the attack and we are always on the defense. we are on the attack now and they have no idea how to defend themselves.

    i also disagree with you that the “endorsement” by the White House is what “made things turn out well” for us. you have it exactly backwards. The cops know that arresting someone for lawful open carry is not going to work for them, so they don’t do it. Chris Matthews made an ass of himself on TV on the subject and lots of others who wouldn’t ordinarily OC went out and did. As the media bitches and complains, OCers get more numerous. The media and the anti-gun left lost the argument the day Chris Matthews opened his big fat mouth. The Obama administration is just in damage control mode. the figure that if they state the obvious, it’s legal and not a problem, then the media will shut up before everyone learns that OC is safe and legal in most states.

  2. Your blog is one of my must reads. Not because it echos my thoughts (it doesn’t) but because it offers a different view and path toward our mutual goal. It has helped formulate strategies and ideas in at least one gun group. Thank you and keep going.


    PS – I’m glad Arlen has finally come out of the gun-banner closet. It was killing me that you were going to have to support him as an NRA EV. Yes, i do beleive the GOA story about him helping pass the AWB. Just, like Lindsey Graham put Sotomayor on SCOTUS. Republicans are now the gun-banners.

  3. Seabastian,
    Your blog is read by many. You don’t have to change your way of arguement. Many of us think that you opinion undermines the argument of citizens should be trusted to carry.
    We want to change your mind, not your style. However logic and persuasion will not sway you only results will.
    I guess what many want to enforce is manners , like the 4 rules.

    The OC of the rifle went against accepted protocal.

    I just saw smoking to be demonized and restricted because of good manners by smokers not pushing back against the anti smoking mantra.

    I do not want us ambushed by our good manners.
    However there is a serious disagreement about the tactics. Ocers are pushing their arguement and I think that it is working. I think that our validation was Gibb’s statement , the acceptance of the right of OC.

    Any group is weakened by dissention in the ranks. Hunters failed to support shooters and ,military style rifles. Hunters are diminshing as a group.

    Despite hunters lack of support on gun rights I will support hunters and fight against the forces that try to dimish that sport.

    Many ways of life and rights are interrelated. Gun rights and guns sports as well as hunting.

    My horse sports so not depend on hunters but we both depend on open land and access. So I support hunters since we need many of the same things.

    The more we support each other the stronger we are.

  4. I do disagree with your stance on opencarry at political rallies. What I seem to be hearing you say is that open carriers invite more problems, and create issues and distractions, from what is really important.

    To which, I would say that given the acknowledged tactics by the Fed. Employees Union/Acorn and others to bring in thugs to intimidate and beat on people, it’s time for the people to push back. It seems as if the peaceful rallies where folks don’t get hurt by the thugs are happening where open carriers are in the crowd. If that is what it takes to keep these goons in line, so be it. And if that doesn’t keep them in line, then this is America and the lefties are going to find out that self defense is still legal.

    Which brings me to point number two. If you go to the site opencarry.org and do much reading, one thing becomes clear. Open carry brings out into the open all sorts of illegal government actions and attitudes. Open carriers have forced governments and police departments across this country to comply with what the law actually says, instead of what the political hacks want it to say. It’s time to take back our country, and a major issue in this country is this issue of selective interpretation and enforcement of the law. Our country was to be a constitutional republic governed by law and not by what is convenient to a majority. Government, at all levels, must be returned to this principle and open carry is a very effective vehicle for achieving this goal.

  5. I think your blog is a must read too. I disagree with you on this particular issue, but I clearly see your point and do not find it unreasonable. The discussion about open carry at political rallies was good to have, and from the parts I read it was a discussion and not a dung throwing contest. So thumbs up to you and the majority of your commenters.

    What I didn’t see is your attempt to shut down other opinions or your sudden employment in the Brady Campaign. If somebody has said that, then they have gone all “wee wee” (the latest Obama-ism). Ignore them. They are just like the folks that think it is better of use of our time to picket the NRA than our Congressmen.

  6. Sebastian, as I stated on my blog in my comments, I’m your ally and friend, whether you want it or not ;)

    My perspective on this is different than yours. Where you see possible problems, I only see the free exchange of ideas and that the outcome will determine my future views.

    Look, 5 years ago, even as a gun owner, I didn’t pay attention to gun control laws. I was Fudd-like in nature (ya, I know you don’t like that term, but here it fits) in the way that as long as I could keep my .357 Magnum and my .22 rifle, I didn’t really care. I grew up around guns, always had them, but never realized how precarious even THAT was until I tried to get a CCW permit.

    The way I perceive it is that had people gotten in my face earlier in life regarding rights, I might have started getting involved sooner rather than waiting until mid-life to do so. I was unaware of the problem, and that’s a bad thing.

    We have to make people aware. It’s a hard battle – we have a media system that hates us and political system that cannot obtain the power it desires while the subjects have the means to resist. We have Hollywood that distorts guns to the point where people think a man shot with a .38 special snub nose will go flying across the room in a fountain of blood. The message to the populace is going to be negative if we allow the other side to control the debate.

    I want to wrest control of the narrative from them, but that means I have to rely on Ron Paul, anti-vaccine, 9/11 truthers just as much as you & Bitter. And that also means I need to support those people in words and actions where our interests collide. For example, I’m not gay, but I will lend support to the Pink Pistols when gun rights are in jeopardy.

    Passionate is fine. I’m rather glad our group pretty much argues points rather than gets all huffy and splinters into cliques where everyone has to march in lockstep. I think this is what sets us apart from our common foes.

  7. wrong, the question should be “what is the proper means to accomplish their goals”. There are people who want entirely different things than you want, and they’re not going to stop trying, even if you tell them what they want is unachievable. That’s not smart or stupid, that’s human nature. So if you want to criticize someone for their means, perhaps it’d be better if you did not do it by discounting their ends, too.

    Socialism took decades to get from the “college high-brow intellectuals stage” to the “dominant mass-movement stage”. By the time Alinsky was about, many of the goals of American socialists were already achieved. Libertarianism took 30 years to get from being followed by 300 people on a mailing list to 1% of the population. The gun rights movement has also taken a time to grow.

    Just because we radicals are at a stage today that we’re not in a position of strength doesn’t mean we can’t build to a bigger, stronger movement. We’re not going away.

  8. Sean:

    Read the book. I don’t think Alinsky would find the modern left with the dogma and sacred cows to be doing something effective, even if he might agree with them politically. The whole reason he wrote Rules is because he was distraught that a lot of young people had the energy for change, but had lost touch with the tactics and attitudes that were necessary to bring it about.


    I’m not criticizing the ends. If open carry were universally accepted and practiced, I wouldn’t regard that as a negative. But when looking at means and ends, you have to look at what’s available to you. What risks are inherent in the means. And whether the ends are worth the cost and risks of the means, and what the cost of failure is. I don’t really want to rehash the whole open carry debate again, but this is the lens through which I form my opinion about a tactic. Others can use the same formula and come to a different conclusion, depending on their perception of these factors.

  9. Sebastian,

    I was an ass yesterday. I am sorry and I will strive to do better.

    You seem to be looking at what negative impact can come from a specific action. I will ask you to also look at the possible negative impact of non-action. Push the envelope.


    sv, III

  10. I will only add that “Rules for Radicals” is meant to produce victory for a revolution against a morally-based, law-abiding, ethically acting, civil, rational and honest society and the government under which that society operates.

    It has “Less Than Zero” to do with behavior that promotes anything like that which it seeks to overthrow.

    “Rules for Radicals” is not a means to any end that you would enjoy as a society under which you had to live.

  11. I certainly don’t agree with Alisnky’s politics, and I don’t agree with everything he says about organization, but mostly because there are differences between organizing the poor and uneducated, and organizing people who are middle class an educated. But I think they are similar enough that techniques can be drawn.

    The surprising thing to me is how non-radical the book really is. I might not agree with Alinsky’s redistributionist ethics, but his book hearkens back to a day when there were leftists who could make their case from an individualist point of view. I might not agree with his conception of it, but I think Alinsky was a believer in the dignity of the individual, rather than being the kind of technocratic left-wing collectivists we deal with today. Fundamentally Alinsky’s viewpoint would result in a kind of collectivism, but it was generally through the lens of bringing to people an individual dignity.

  12. Well, since I’m one of the folks who drop the hammer on you, I guess it behooves me to explain a few things:

    1) I don’t have a blog. I’m not at all confident that I could find stuff every day to write about, and I admire you in that you do.
    2) I made a reference the other day, that you’re a “leading gun blogger”. I wasn’t being sarcastic, the published facts speak for themselves.

    That having been said, I’m a firm believer in “managing upwards”, that is, the flow of information and influence is not one way. I have, and always will, point out where I think your opinion overwhelms the reality of a given situation. Generally speaking, it’s been my opinion that at times you take Uncle’s “don’t scare the white people” too much to heart. That’s why, for the last several sh!tstorms, I haven’t argued the post, but have questioned your motivations in posting. One niggling suspicion I keep getting is that there is some level of ‘hey, look at that doofy kid over there!’, that is, there are some people/situations that you feel free to criticize because it’s not something you would do. Remember another comment I left: you are the guy who puts on decent clothes and speaks to the undecideds in calm and reasonable tones. That’s important, but it’s not the only way.
    And there’s the language you use in those situations, which at times reminds me all too much of what I would expect from Paul or the two Josh’s over at HuffPo. Giving it a bit more thought, it’s the firm unyielding assertion that X or Y is ‘bad’ or it doesn’t help, or is counterproductive that strikes me.

    That all having been said (written), yeah, you’re just a guy with a blog, but a blog which is regarded by those outside the gun community as being regularly in the top 10. Keep writing from your heart, and when I disagree, we’ll continue to duke it out in the comments.

  13. One niggling suspicion I keep getting is that there is some level of ‘hey, look at that doofy kid over there!’, that is, there are some people/situations that you feel free to criticize because it’s not something you would do.

    I won’t always write things in a calm, logical manner. Sometimes I will poke at people who I think do silly things. To me you only really disrespect someone’s behavior if you advocate they be silenced, removed, or prosecuted just because you don’t like it, and not because it represents a clear and present danger.

  14. I see both sides of the argument here. I agree that open carrying to a political rally for the hell of it is a statement that will be attacked (more like strawmanned to death) from the left.

    However, the best way to normalize guns in society is exposure. As of now, there is a Pavlovian response to guns by more than a few people in this country, and the only way to break this is prolonged exposure to guns and gun owners. We just need to work up to open carry, not start off there. :)

  15. I find the whole discussion bemusing, mostly I think because I’m not a 2nd Amendment or firearm ownership activist. I’m not even a gun owner, although I do intend to become trained and armed very soon. That’s been on my schedule for several months now, long before the current events, by the way.

    I favor open carry for both myself and others *regardless* of the political result simply because, by my assessment from reading the OCDO forums (mainly for entertainment), it improves the general safety of the community. Over and over again, accounts of OC experiences relate the behavioral improvement or retreat of other Citizens displaying the characteristics of serious troublemakers and criminals.

    I’m an outsider to the gun enthusiast community overall, which perhaps allows me a certain objective distance on the matter. So may I respectfully suggest, on that unaligned basis, that individual self-defense should be the primary consideration in your discussions?

    Because I don’t know about the rest of you, but as far as I’m concerned, concerns about potential political fallout, whether negative or positive, take a very distant back seat to those about my individual safety and that of my family, friends, neighbors, and other associates.

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