Thursday, September 1, 2011

Artificial Divisions

One of the things which perpetually irks me in activist groups is the "For us or against us" mentality.  Every single activist group has this to some extent.  And I've realized something about it.

These activists don't want intelligent opposition, they don't want debate; they want vitriol and battle, they want conflict, precisely because they do not think they can lose; they're so devoted to the righteousness of their cause they fundamentally believe that if things came down to an exchange of blows (or legislation) they would win, and the other side's attempts to keep things on the level of civil discourse (or outside the domain of legal remedy) is an admission of weakness.

I see this in gun bloggers; a dogged insistence that if they came to take our guns away and if we fought back, we'd win.  We're merely being civil because we don't want to resort to violence, it's beneath us.

In personal interactions, this is true, particularly for gun bloggers; I've heard it said by more than one person who carried a gun that it had fundamentally changed their perspective on violence, that suddenly, if it isn't worth killing someone over, it isn't worth hitting them over, or even getting worked up about, either.  Carrying a gun is a calming influence.

In the public sphere, I think the perception of power has something the opposite reaction, particularly because these -are- causes people are willing to get violence about if things really get down to the bones.

Gun activists, however, as prone as they are to the dogged insistence that we'd win, are -not- as prone as the usual crowds to the particular "With us or against us" mentality.  We recognize what "Against us" means.  It means we shoot you when things come down to the bones of it.  With us or against us means there are no neutral parties, and we're fine with neutral parties; we probably don't have enough bullets, patience, or moral resolve for the guilty ones.

Gunnies have a select number of other causes they tend to get behind, and few if any others.  I do not think there can be meaningful overlap between gun activism and most other popular activism.  "With us or against us" doesn't sleep well with most us.

And it shouldn't.

I'm having a hell of a time not naming names (of causes, primarily, although I could list people as well) here.  It's something which, as I've considered it, has made me blisteringly angry.  There's this great big evil cloud hanging over virtually every cause, threatening me over and over again with utter destruction for not ceding them the moral right to do so.

I've seen evil many times in my life, almost always masquerading as something good.  I wonder if someday I'll be callous to see it anew.

[Ed: A conversation in real life presented an alternative explanation: Gunnies, generally, come from a military background, or are familiar with military concepts, and this has less to do with not wanting to pursue an "Us versus them" mentality so much as it does an understanding of the concept of a civilian.  This is actually a better explanation than the one I posited, which requires a lot of similarly-thinking people thinking along the same and largely unexplored lines, so I think it's probably closer to the truth.]

No comments:

Post a Comment