What I Mean By Reasonableness

Michael Bane has some observations about my post regarding the spectrum of the public’s beliefs on guns. I want to make clear I am not at all advocating a political accommodation with the other side, where we give up something, in the hopes the public at large will see us as reasonable fellows, and the camel will naturally not put his head and neck in the tent as well. I think everyone knows by now that type of political accommodation does not work. But that’s not to say the great unwashed masses don’t matter. If they did not vote, and did not donate time and money to causes, they wouldn’t.  But many do, and for that reason we can’t discount them.

We can advance on our issue only through a detente with the public. The vast majority of them are ignorant about our issue, and if compelled to vote on that ignorance, would do great damage to our rights. I could gather Cam’s “Man on the Street” interviews and show them for weeks. It would be a parade of ignorance. Those who are regular listeners of the show can attest to this. Half the entertainment value of that segment is just in being amazed at what people don’t know, or what they think they know that’s totally wrong. One thing I consistently walk away with is just how effective the Bradys have been at confusing the public about our issue.

I don’t agree with Michael that the primary reason we’ve advanced is because we’ve been more uncompromising as of late. I actually don’t think there’s a primary reason, but rather a complex set of things we started learning to do better after getting our asses handed to us in the late 80s and early 90s. But if you had to boil it down, it really comes down to bringing more people who are inclined to be supportive deeper into the issue, and advancing the issue in contexts outside of the traditional rural gun culture. It’s in the former context that I think entertainers like Ted Nugent have made the greatest contribution. Back to Michael:

As far as the great bulge in the middle, it is better understood as a weathervane, blowing first right, then left, driven by prevailing winds in the media, in entertainment, in the fleeting currents of popular culture. Ted Nugent’s unrelenting, entertaining, line-in-the-sand personality has done more to sway the middle to our side than all the thoughtful reasonableness of the last 50 years. Again, my opinion…your mileage may vary.

Ted Nugent is indeed an effective voice for the Second Amendment, but he is only one section of the orchestra. Having seen Ted in action on radio and TV, I think his contribution is reaching people who are culturally inclined to be favorable to the issue, getting them involved, making them understand what’s at stake, and firing them up for action. We do need people in that role, and Ted Nugent is about as effective as they come.

But Ted Nugent isn’t going to do much to help a Manhattan financial consultant, or a Chicago lawyer not freak out and donate a lot of money to anti-gun groups when we come in and start dismantling their respective city’s gun control laws in the next few years. I don’t think Ted Nugent will be able to take a whole lot of credit in making persuasive arguments that convince federal judges the Second Amendment means something. Those are all types of people we’re going to need to influence over the next decade to keep moving forward, and some activism and messaging is going to be more effective in that context than others.

I would not be so bold as to suggest there’s only one style of activism that works — there are many kinds. But effectiveness is dictated by circumstance and context in which they are practiced, which is why I’m very skeptical of any form of activism that claims it’s always the right thing to do in all circumstances and in all conditions. I don’t think that’s ever true. People are too varied and different for it be.

4 thoughts on “What I Mean By Reasonableness”

  1. There’s something strange about humans in that they insist on communicating with others about what they like and what they don’t. If Ted Nugent gets someone to say something ignorant in my presence, he gives me the opening to correct that ignorance.

    You are right to say that he helps motivate those who agree with him. He also helps those who are favorable to gun rights to see that the “reasonable” middle ground isn’t so reasonable. He pulls the rest of us toward his point of view.

    With those who disagree, he makes them (some of them) open their mouths and say something that we can argue with. It’s at that point that we get a chance to affect their though process. Before that point, they were simply reacting to their unexamined prejudices.

    The beauty of being pro-guns is that our beliefs are logical and provable while the Brady lies are easily demolished. We just have to start the conversation. Then we introduce them to logic and facts, and then they are doomed. Most people will acknowlege reality if they run into it hard enough. I am not concerned with the minority that will not. I just need enough to win at the voting booth.

  2. “I’m very skeptical of any form of activism that claims it’s always the right thing to do in all circumstances and in all conditions.”

    When your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look suspiciously like a nail.

  3. As a wise man once said, “Tact is the girdle that shapes the truth.”

    One of the things that is going on inside my faith is “The seeker-friendly church”, where the church adapts itself to newcomers, and not the other way around.

    The gun community could learn a lot from this. The good news is that the NRA gets it, and their “I am the NRA” ads are very effective. What also works is shows like Mythbusters, etc. that show guns as tools instruments and not THE SOURCE OF ALL EVIL ON THE EARTH!!! as the mainstream media is likely to do.

    It’s critical that we frame the issues in ways that are relevant to others if we want to keep this momentum going, and the sad truth is that people don’t really care about how you feel, they care about how they feel. If you can’t frame the issue in terms they relate to, they’re not going to care about what you’re telling them. A little bit of listening to their concerns can go a loooooong way towards winning them to your cause.

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