Lying Doesn’t Work

Some folks have taken a bit of an exception with my post saying I’d lie and cheat my way to saving the Second Amendment if I thought that’s what it would take. But don’t mistake my statement as a suggestion that I believe lying and cheating is an effective tactic. It’s not. In fact, I think it can disastrously backfire. Take this article by Josh Sugarmann, where he once again tries to conflate semi-auto rifles pattern after military rifles as “assault rifles.” Sugarmann’s tactics did result in some short term victories for the gun control movement, but over the long term, they destroyed it, because the issue he pushed awakened the sleeping giant. Sometimes I thank God HCI followed up with an Assault Weapons Ban instead of a series of smaller strategic moves against us that we never could have mitigated or gotten rid of.

But back to my original point, what I meant to illustrate is that if folks are going to go around saying things like “Vote from the rooftops,” or declaring that you’re willing to shoot your fellow Americans, if need be, to defend the Bill of Rights, then it seems to me that we owe it to our country to exhaust all possible political tactics, including dirty, dishonorable, and abhorrent ones, if it could result in stopping a push against us. If you admit that you’re willing to do anything, then you’re no better than the gun control folks. They are only doing anything they need to do to achieve victory. We have vastly different versions of what we’d like America to be, and the gun issue touches very directly on how Americans view their relationship with their government, which is why it’s such a contentious issue. But if the alternative to the political process involves civil unrest, or God forbid, civil war, we owe each other the courtesy of understanding. That’s what I’m saying. Strategy should be evaluated based on its effectiveness, and what other means are available. We should always choose the straight and narrow when that’s open to us, and will get the job done. We’re fortunate, in our case, to be the side with the most options.

29 thoughts on “Lying Doesn’t Work”

  1. Sebastian, I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying. Is lying OK or not? You seem to be saying it is but it isn’t.

    In everything I’ve read from you, I’ve never once thought you were lying. That’s not the case with some of the other pro-gun guys I know. And, interestingly, the biggest liars are the ones who most frequently accuse me and other gun control people of lying.

    I think they feel they’re dealing with the enemy and therefore all is fair in love and war, which is what I thought you were saying before you seemed to be saying the opposite.

  2. I’m saying it’s fine if it’s the only thing that will break your opponents momentum, or give momentum to you to push against your opponent. It’s not a strategy that is so abhorrent that it is off the table.

    The reason I don’t suggest we use it on our side is because we don’t need to, and lying, even if it works for a while, will come back to bite you in the ass in the end. In short, I’m against it because it doesn’t work, not because it’s wrong, in the context of the political process. I should note that’s distinct from lying to your friends and family.

  3. I think they feel they’re dealing with the enemy and therefore all is fair in love and war, which is what I thought you were saying before you seemed to be saying the opposite.

    All is fair in love and war. Politics is not war, though war is politics by other means. And this isn’t love. But the nature of political struggle isn’t necessarily personal, though it can be.

    Generally speaking, personal attacks against your political opponents are something that should be avoided. I can’t tell you for certain I’d never use that tactic if backed against the wall, and I thought it stood a good chance of working, but those situations are rare.

    There’s a reason even in the mafia, they generally considered family off limits. You mess in people’s personal lives, that can get real ugly, real fast, for both sides. We don’t do it because we don’t want the other side doing it to us. But these are pragmatic concerns, really, and it’s good to be a decent person.

  4. It is wrong. Period. It is also ineffective, and once you establish yourself as a liar, anything else you might say on a given subject would be viewed with suspicion by your opponents not to mention casual observers of the debate.

  5. Killing people is wrong too, yet plenty of people say they will do that if it comes to it. How far are you willing to go to defend the Second Amendment? At what point do you let it recede into history, in order to keep your hands clean?

  6. Sebastian,

    Where do derive that killing people is wrong (morally improper)?

    It can be criminal, it may be morally unjustified and regardless it is almost always regrettable, as all human life has worth, but I’m not familiar with more than a couple of systems of thought or belief that consider it uniformly “wrong” in all circumstances.

    It is a personal belief thing to be sure, and I’m not saying you are wrong for believing so, I simply find those few systems not particularly philosophically convincing.

  7. +1, there are MANY circumstances when killing people is 100% legal, and the correct thing to do. Some instances like deadly force to prevent rape or murder are fairly cut-and-dry, to stop a potential murder of a 3rd party the waters get cloudier, when its time to “Vote from the rooftops” is a very tricky thing to judge indeed.

    Lying is NEVER correct, and your statements put you on very similar ground to criminal liar MikeB302000 who is overjoyed with your post.

    I’m not impressed at all.

  8. I don’t want any kind of dirty hands If I can avoid it. You seem to think that adopting that stance would help or prevent something worse. If pro second amendment individuals and groups adopted those tactics it would backfire. You admit yourself that the tactics would not work. It certainly hasn’t worked out well for gun control avocates.
    In this hypothetical scenario, I figure that might only hasten the race towards the unpalatable situations that the three percent guys have been talking about.
    Call me optimistic, but an honest straightforward approach is the best way to go. I won’t discredit every future statement I say on the subject by making shit up for some illusory and temporary advantage.

  9. This is becoming a very cloudy issue. First of all we have been on the losing side many times. Slowly advancing an agenda has wiped away freedoms we once enjoyed and the Brady Campaign is a more recent (timeframe) addition. The type of people belonging to Brady are the same as those before them.

    Further, as someone who took an oath to support and defend the constitution I take it very seriously.

    As Goldwater stated: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. … Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

    I also disagree killing people is “wrong” if it is in defense of freedom or life.

    Further, I don’t recall anyone saying you lied about anything. Instead I think your comments have baffled people used to your reasonable positions.

    Like the others I’m not impressed.

  10. Dave:

    I was using those tactics only to frame the issue, not as an example of what I think is effective. The point is, killing people is about the most awful tactic I can think of, political tactics, any political tactics, is better than that, even if you don’t end up with clean hands in the end.

  11. Wrong was a poor choice of words. Change it to awful. Yes, there are situations where killing is not wrong, but it is always an awful thing to have to do, even when you’re in the right.

  12. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. … Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

    Goldwater lost, didn’t he? I don’t see his ideas doing very well these days either.

  13. Sebastian:

    Reagan lost the party nomination in 76 but won in 80 and 84. You are traveling way outside your zone here. Goldwater’s comments are very much at the heart of debate over “FREEDOM.”

  14. By pointing out Reagan I am talking about how his ideas seemed outdated in 76. Goldwater never won the Presidency but he had a profound effect on libertarian and conservative thought.

  15. Sebastian,

    I’m sure Goldwater would quote Captain Mal on “losing sides” in response if he were around today.

    Regardless, not every post can be great and your gold to dross ratio is still better than average. From my point of view anyway.


  16. Well, according to your own statements you are of the opinion that the tactics you are discussing here are both abhorrent, and ineffective. I agree with that completely. Presenting it as some choice that has to be considered presumably to prevent the necessity of some hypothetical future threeper scenario doesn’t work for me. My opinion of those underhanded tactics are quite simple. They are wrong and it won’t work. Call me simple minded , but for me, that makes it ridiculously easy to reject them.

  17. My point with Goldwater wasn’t to disparage freedom, but to point out that our system abhors political extremes. If it didn’t, you’d have government health care and cap and trade already. The key to selling your ideas in the public sphere, is not to make them seem radical. You might think liberty shouldn’t be radical, and I’d agree with you, but it is. It really always has been.

  18. Dave:

    I didn’t mean for this to dwell on a particular tactic. Lying is almost never a good tactic unless you really have nothing else to lose, and even then it’s probably not good. But it’s not good for tactical reasons.

    My point is to say if you’re willing to do awful things to defend the Second Amendment, and I think if you’re serious about defending it, you should be willing to do awful things, it’s hard to argue the other side are horrible people because they are willing to do the same thing for their cause.

    Take the Mary McFate incident. Sending in a spy to misrepresent herself, befriend people, and betray the very issue they care about to their opposition. How above board is that? It’s not. It’s dirty. It’s arguably immoral. But how much did she learn about the gun control movements organization? How much did she learn about their legislative plans? It’s a shitty thing to do to other people, but if it works? I think if it yields strong intelligence, it’s absolutely worth it, even though it’s wrong.

  19. If our tactics ever devolve to those of the Brady Bunch, we should do the right thing and kill ourselves.

  20. Frankly Sebastian you have gone from across the spectrum today. In a few months you’ll look back at this and see how far and wide you went today when people challenged you. Enjoy the comfort of the Brady folks and when you see how it works, really works, we will see you back over here. I’m done hogging space. Time to move on. All the best.

  21. Jay,

    You really can’t see a difference between not being personally insulting and coddling?

    You don’t acknowledge the value of treating people with basic human decency while ardently disagreeing with them? Arguing a position on the facts without resorting to ad hominem personal attacks?

    Resorting to name-calling is childish, lets leave that to the anti’s (since they don’t have any facts to argue). Let us instead be calm, rational and right in our beliefs.

    If we do so, who do you think the folks who, for instance, just want a damn cup of coffee will side with? The polite and quiet folks who present the facts when and where they can and otherwise act just like everybody else but with a gun on their hip, or the wild-eyed folks with the signs ranting about death and blocking traffic?

    You know, take the high road, be grown-ups, make them look bad by comparison. Because we know they will, they always do.

  22. I think “lying” is too strong a word to use here. The nature of politics is dirty, and we all do these kinds of things we’re all shocked, shocked! to find Sebastian admitting to, but always in very subtle ways.

    Let’s face it, most of us are pretty much in favor of allowing unlicensed concealed carry of silenced machine pistols in schools. But we don’t shout it from the street corners, because we all understand that it would brand us as dangerous kooks and radicals. Is that “lying?” Well, it’s certainly not being completely honest, but we do it because we believe that our cause is right, and we also believe that we have the constitution and statistics on our side.

    Similarly, the Brady Campaign takes great pains to distance themselves from the idea that they’re a “gun ban organization” even though that’s obviously their ultimate goal and you can bet they wouldn’t shed any tears if it were to come to pass. They know their radical position would be instantly rejected, so they frame it as “gun violence prevention” and the like.

    The sad truth to both of these organizations and movements is that most Americans are in the middle. Jane and Joe average can’t see any reason for anyone to own machine guns or silencers, but they’re also against gun bans, and they’re pretty wishy-washy on CCW and open carry. Both the Brady bunch and the NRA know that the way to sway the apathetic masses is by slowly, progressively moving in their desired direction through creeping incrementalism, which changes the average view to become slightly more radical. Heck, that’s what happened in the UK; the gun controllers just kept chipping and chipping until the point when the mere depiction of a gun makes the average “well-socialized” Brit shit their pants and they consider jailing a former Marine for turning in a shotgun he found!

    Whenever your goal is to tilt the current laws towards more liberty or restriction than what the average American wants, you have to frame your arguments in terms they understand. It’s not being 100% honest, but it’s really more of a sin of omission, and I don’t think it qualifies as lying.

    (this is also why I think politics is inherently draining – it makes you behave like a duplicitous sycophant or a weasely lawyer if you want to get anything done)

  23. I think I know what Sebastian is trying to say. It has a lot to do with available options. Right now we are enjoying a resurgence in self-reliance, nationwide. The gun-ban crowd is currently on its heels, and fading fast. We have a wide variety of options available to us for the advance of our ideals. In this situation, we need to take the high road, making sure that our actions are pure, honest, and identifiable. If we lose, and the tide of public opinion sways against us, we will lose first the high road, then the middle road, which is politics. At that point we face either losing the battle completely or relying on tactics that we find unpalatable. If these unpalatable tactics are all we have available to us, then we will have to take them, in order to fight back to the point where we regain our previous avenues. If we fail to do so, our cause will be lost. It is not pretty, and nobody ever thought it would be. For everybody out there that has used the phrase, “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands,” or “take my guns, bullets first,” please realize that unless we exhaust all other available means, that will be our final recourse. Our cause will die in a hail of bullets, along with our lives, and the first quote will be proven accurate. I would much rather tell the truth than play at politics, much rather play at politics than lie, and much rather lie than kill. Feel free to accept the best option available. Don’t confuse the ability to fight dirty with the want.

  24. When Castro took over in Cuba, they had the guns. Way after the revolution was over, the firing squad was still active. Every day or hero “Che” would “process” many prisoners. At first the ones executed were the guilty ones but eventually, the ones executed were the innocent ones. They had the guns.
    The reason why the anti gun crowd has lost credibility is because some of them are lying, specially the Brady people. The citizens of the US have caught on to this fact, that is why the people are not supporting the “Brady bunch”. Plain and simple. What is simply is.
    Desinformatzia will work for a while, but it will not survive the test of time. Whichever side you are on, stay true. Always! And if anyone has any notion that if we experience what I experienced as a child and will do nothing, I guarantee you that now I am old enough to defend myself.

  25. A lot of what you guys say is based on the presumption that you’re “winning,” that the American people are in agreement with the pro-gun side and against the Brady position. The last year’s legal decisions seem to support this, but I believe it’s an illusion. I think you guys are whistling in the dark and the pendulum will soon, in a year or two, reach its zenith. The country will then come to its senses and eventually we’ll have the common sense gun laws Helmke and co. are always talking about.

    And, when that happens, almost all of you will still have all the guns you want because in spite of what you keep saying, no one is trying to ban all guns to all people.

  26. Ah, Mikeb302000 showing how lying doesn’t work!

    Point in question, MikeB302000, name a gun control law that is ineffective and you’d like to have repealed.

    If the anti-gun forces don’t want to ban all guns, why is it they have zero interest in ceding any ground in the battle, even when they admit most of their laws are ineffective?

    Oh, because they’re LYING when they say they don’t want to ban all guns.

  27. MikeB302000,

    Thanks once again for proving how trollish you are.

    You say that the recent court case(s) seem to support “our wining” but you don’t believe it.

    Of course, you don’t offer any evidence, any supporting information; do you?

    Nope your belief is enough.

    And how did you arrive at this belief?
    Was it extensive experience in the field talking to people– something that is a little hard to do from Italy?

    Was it reading poll after poll showing support for gun control laws?
    If so, why not post those links, eh Sparky?

    The country will then come to its senses and eventually we’ll have the common sense gun laws Helmke and co. are always talking about.

    And then you show your ignorance again — or your supposed ignorance since after nearly 2 years of arguing gun control you know that there are places with those laws already, right Sparky?

    And the evidence shows what? That strong gun gun control correlates with reduced crime? Nope no evidence of that.

    Over and over again you are the one that shows he needs to come to his senses. Any idea that gun control laws are suddenly going to be re-introduced in large numbers is simply: a.) a product of your fevered imagination or b.) something that comes out of a chemically altered state.

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