On Bigotry

Joe Huffman notices the virtual snowball fight that I engaged with in the Bradys and brought up the issue of bigotry again. I think it’s pretty undeniable, and thinking about it, bigotry was exactly what angered me about Morford’s editorial. A commenter over at Joe’s seems surprised, and asks, “So are you saying that there is a prejudice against gun owners in the same way there was against Jews and Blacks?”

There is, and not really that specifically gun ownership, but in the culture that surrounds, or perhaps in the culture the bigot perceives surrounds it. It’s a form of cultural condescension — a belief that “we’re” better than “those people.” So in that sense it’s not all that different than prejudices against Jews of Blacks, at least in terms of the factors in human nature that drive the attitude. This is probably why I’m interested in this issue to such a degree, because I find that type of attitude revolting. In a free society, we’re all entitled to an opinion, but no one is entitled to look down on someone else because they think, look, or act differently. That’s the very definition of bigot.

I buy into Joe’s notion to a degree, because you can’t deny someone like Morford is a bigot — he is. The reluctance Joe might sense is real though. I don’t buy the comparisons to the KKK, because the KKK was about a lot more than looking down on black people, and using the political system to deny them their rights. When the anti-gun movement becomes a domestic terrorist operation — when I have anti-gun folks meddling in my personal life, trying to ostracize me from society, or trying to intimidate me into silence, I might change my mind on that. I can deal with the gun control folks looking down on me. Burning a cross on my lawn would be a considerably more serious matter, and they don’t advocate or promote anything of that evil a nature.

The other reluctance I have is that I’m not sure people can really wrap their head around around the concept, both from outside and inside the issue. Morford is an obvious bigot, but not everyone who opposes gun ownership, or favors more gun control, rises to that level or hold deep cultural prejudices. I’ve noticed more than a few times folks on our side labeling as bigots people who simply disagreed with them. I don’t think that adds to the discourse.

But fundamentally, I think Joe is right that many people, like Morford, who hold anti-gun views deeply hate gun owners and the culture that surrounds it. They are bigots by the proper definition of the word. They are better than you, you see. You will be reeducated and brought into their enlightenment. I might not agree that rises to the level of the KKK, but that’s not to say it’s not a dangerous way of thinking. Taken to an extreme, it can end up looking like this. It’s not an attitude I think should exist among reasonable people, which is why I was disappointed to see the Brady Campaign endorsing it, even if I wasn’t all that surprised.

21 thoughts on “On Bigotry”

  1. You may be thinking of the KKK in different terms. You seem to be thinking of “the KKK” as denoting the Klan at its height in the 20th century, riding out to lynch people and infiltrating police departments, frightening people with real threats of violence and, as you say, intimidating even a lot of white people into either joining or condoning the violence against black people with their silence.

    The anti-gun movement has never been that (in this country) and never had the power to do it. They never had the great seething combination of shame and fury over losing a massively costly war to combine with racism to build up a base.

    But the KKK in the 21st century is nothing like the Klan at its height. It can’t get away with violence, and it can’t even count on its members–it’s been thoroughly infiltrated with law enforcement and monitors who watch over it as a hobby. It can’t recruit to save its life, and few people are truly afraid of it. It’s reduced to saying ugly things on the internet and agitating ineffectively for the election of racist politicians, passing out leaflets on the streets and holding small marches that are inevitably outnumbered by counter-marchers and protected from humiliating defeat only by the presence of the same police the KKK sneers at.

    This is much more analogous with the gun control movement.

    The other key difference, though, is that there’s a wider variety of motivations in the anti-gunners than you’d find in the Klan. Just as there are a lot of people out there who might have an uneasy feeling when a black man is behind them on the street, but would never join the Klan, there are lots of people who are “vaguely” anti-gun, in that they would be uneasy if someone with a gun were standing right there in front of them, who would never be able to work up the venom of a Morford. Morford and his ilk are the KKK of the anti-gun movement, but that doesn’t imply that the entire anti-gun movement is analogous to the KKK.

    Your point is still important, because I don’t want “not as bad as the KKK” to become the new standard of acceptability for anti-gun sentiments, the way “well, I’m not one of those Klanners!” has sometimes been an acceptable way to justify being a racist as long as you weren’t burning crosses.

  2. Caught a typo. “perceives” the italics tag is showing. You don’t have to publish this comment, I just wanted to help out. Otherwise good article.

  3. Don:

    So your argument is essentially that the KKK of the 21st century is sad, pathetic, ineffective, can’t get people to pay attention to it, and can’t recruit people into the movement, and so the comparison to anti-gunners is accurate.

    I’m not sure you were trying to be funny, and it’s certainly a great point, but it made me laugh.

  4. Great comment Don!

    The only difference between the 21st Century Klan, and the 21st Century Anti-Second Amendment movement is that people can still stand on a street corner or a political pulpit and read the standard talking points of Brady/Joyce and in many places not be admonished by damn near every person in earshot.

    The Klan is forced to operate in secrecy, while the anti-rights advocates still operate in the open.

    So in a sense the 21 Century gun-grabber is MORE dangerous than the 21st century Klan.

  5. The very terminology they use is the definition of bigotry and harkens to the same type used against gays and interracial marriage. From a FSA release:

    “gun proponents have accelerated their efforts to normalize abnormal behavior”

    “Unless this is the kind of world you want for you and your children, we need to support local businesses like Peet’s and California Pizza Kitchen for taking a stand.”

  6. Great points made by all. I also found it interesting how the Brady blog leaped on Sebastian’s comments as bigotry concerning the fair. In reading Sebastian’s post and the accompanying links, I thought hard about what I was feeling concerning the whole picture in regards to the Brady blog. As I posted in my blog, I didn’t feel that it was bigotry at all that motivated Sebastian. After all the fair was not just a homosexual event. As a nation we have standards that set out what is allowable in public and many of those “events” at the fair just went beyond offensive in those standards in the fact that it was completely open to the public. Children were there. I’m no bible thumper but that doesn’t mean I walk down the street flashing my man flesh for all to see. The whole thing just leads to me to want Nevada to have ocean front property if you get my drift.

  7. “they don’t advocate or promote anything of that evil a nature.”

    I would disagree, Sebastian. While the “official” mouthpieces like Hennigan, Helmke and Sugarmann don’t openly espouse violence against us, many of their acolytes do-see here for example: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2009/12/29/QuoteOfTheDayIlDeuce.aspx or here: http://blog.joehuffman.org/2010/02/04/QuoteOfTheDayrectifier.aspx yes, Mr. Huffman has assembled an excellent collection.

    What the mouthpieces do espouse is a backdoor attempt to use violence to get their wish. Ask yourself about the disarmament that Brady/VPC hopes for. They know that many of us will not willingly surrender, yet they push for laws that will ultimately be used to justify the ability to use armed agents of the law to impose their will. That is every bit as dangerous and cowardly as a hooded klansthing.

  8. I don’t hold the leaders of a movement responsible for the statements of their followers. Our side is guilty of such things too. Hell, I seem to remember a few dustups between myself and some extremists who made veiled threats about killing journalists who promoted gun control.

    If they are guilty of that, so are we.

  9. “In a free society, we’re all entitled to an opinion, but no one is entitled to look down on someone else because they think, look, or act differently. That’s the very definition of bigot.”

    You got the first part right. But you’re way off on the rest there. I’m entitled to look down on someone for any damn reason I’d like. I’m not entitled to act to restrict their rights just because I don’t like their opinion. But I’m well within my rights to look down on them.

    By your logic, if someone spouts off that they think all racial minorities should be kept locked up, or turned into slaves, I’m a bigot if I look down on that person and think that person is roughly equivalent to pond scum.

  10. I’m not being funny . . . I’m just pointing at something.

    Something that is funny.

  11. Sebastian,

    That’s fair enough-each of us should only be accountable for our own words. The fact remains that these individuals would have no compunction about using violence to bend you to their will by forcing the machinery of the state to ease their discomfort.

  12. That’s true, but true for anyone who advocates using government, even if a group proposed to, say, balance the budget by raising taxes.

  13. Let us not forget that the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents were all about enforcement of Federal gun-control laws. Around the same time the L.A. Times advocated a felony-crime total ban on AW possession; 30 days grace to surrender them all without compensation.

    The zealots of the anti-gun movement are perfectly happy to employ the violence of the state against us. They are bigots through and through.

  14. In many ways the bigotry in Chicago is malevolent. Many gun owners I have met keep silent in fear. Not simply fear of arrest, but fear of being stigmatized, ostracized, fired from their jobs.

    And their fears are not unfounded. Attempts have been made to get people fired for airing their views. CAGE (Chicago gun enforcement team) has used Chicago’s registration scheme to confiscate otherwise legal firearms in the past.

  15. Okay, fine: I have anti-gun folks meddling in my personal life, trying to ostracize me from society, and trying to intimidate me into silence. And worse…

    When your Boss drops an unsubtle hint that the “gun crazies” will be the next in the layoff, you get the message. When he actually lays off all of the gun owners (that he knows of), it is a bit more than intimidation. Yes, this happened where I work, and he brags about it. It’s not dangerous to brag about it — discrimination based on gun ownership is not illegal.

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