TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022
Why would they publish such work?: Man [sic] is the rational animal, Aristotle is said to have said.
That said, he'd never been to Texas! In Texas, someone who is 18 years old can't legally buy a handgun (or a glass of beer). But he can buy an AR-15, a vastly more lethal weapon.
Briefly, let's stop messing with Texas! Aristotle had never been to the United States, where, according to federal law, a background check must be conducted if you buy a gun in a gun store, but no such background check is required if you walk across the street and buy the same weapon at a gun show.
According to the leading authority, "Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition...
"It was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry."
It all leads back to Aristotle, or so the leading authority says. That doesn't mean that any of our ridiculous conduct is Aristotle's fault.
He'd never been to the United States, and he'd never been to Texas! Also, he'd never read the Washington Post, where a recent opinion column started off like this:
ABERNATHY (5/28/22): “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” President Biden asked on Tuesday in the wake of the horrific mass murder of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Tex.
Former president Barack Obama tweeted, “Our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted, “It’s heartbreaking and sickening how routine mass shootings have become in America. … The Senate must pass gun safety legislation and protect our children.”
Editorial pages and columnists almost uniformly echoed that line of thinking. And those increasingly viewed as the moral leaders of our nation...chimed in to rip Republicans and insist on more gun legislation. In fact, the entire Miami Heat organization had its stadium announcer urge fans gathered for a playoff game to call lawmakers and “leave a message demanding their support for common-sense gun laws.”
So far, a person could imagine that this presentation was going to make basic sense. But did that actually happen?
The writer here was Gary Abernathy, a good and decent person who hails from the "center right."
Abernathy is a regular columnist at the Washington Post. Beyond that, he's often featured on the PBS Newshour during the high-profile "Week in Review" segment.
Abernathy writes from the very top of our nation's upper-end press corps. But as he continued his recent column, did his presentation rise to the level of making elementary sense?
We cut and paste. You decide:
ABERNATHY: [C]old, hard political calculations are at play in focusing on gun control. But also evident is an unspoken sense of helplessness that is at odds with a natural desire to convince ourselves that we are in control of our surroundings and our fate. Believing that there’s an obvious solution to something so horrific helps us cope.
The latest calls are to pass a law barring 18-year-olds from buying guns. But the El Paso Walmart shooter was 21. The Orlando nightclub mass murderer was 29. The perpetrator of the Las Vegas Strip massacre was 64. Still, maybe Republicans should give in and support banning 18-year-olds from buying guns, and support tougher background checks, so everyone can claim they did something.
For our money, the columnist's basic reasoning here makes no basic sense. That said, it was good enough for the Washington Post, good enough for PBS.
Alas, poor Uvalde! Abernathy focused on one possible proposal—a proposal which would bar teenagers from buying guns. He then noted that there have been mass shootings which would not have been deterred by this specific proposal.
The proposal might have stopped some mass shootings, but it wouldn't have stopped them all! In Abernathy's logical calculus, this seems to mean that the proposal doesn't qualify as "a solution" to our current problem. He seems to see it as a senseless act, a proposal which would simply let "everyone claim they did something."
Can that possibly be what Abernathy meant? If a proposal wouldn't stop every horrific crime, the proposal is just a dodge—an act of "misdirection?"
Can that possibly be what this high-ranking "thought leader" meant? Because that's what he most directly seems to be saying, and let it be said that such an analysis seems to make no earthly sense.
If we can't stop every mass shooting, we shouldn't try to stop some? So said the star of PBS, and his reasoning was good enough to appear in the Washington Post.
Needless to say, Abernathy's peculiar reasoning wasn't done at this point. As he continued, he kept attempting to refute that statement by President Biden:
ABERNATHY (continuing directly): Biden pondered why massacres are more prevalent in the United States than in other countries that also have “people who are lost” and suffer from mental illness. In fact, the notion that gun violence happens disproportionately here is misleading. The United States has only the 32nd-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world, according to the latest statistics from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to Abernathy, the rate of gun violence in the U.S. isn't "disproportionate" after all! According to the latest statistics, there are 31 other countries with higher rates of deaths from gun violence!
Sadly enough, if you click Abernathy's link, you can see who he's talking about. As it turns out, we have a lower rate of "violent gun deaths" than is found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia—in tragically war-torn "failed states."
In his very next paragraph, Abernathy semi-acknowledges the fact that he's been comparing apples to buckshot—that he's been comparing a wealthy developed nation to a bunch of impoverished failed states. As he does, he offers another puzzling bit of logic to explain his odd comparison.
(You can go ahead and check it out. We aren't going to bother.)
For our money, Abernathy's presentation in this column made virtually no sense. But it was good enough for the Washington Post—"close enough [to rational analysis] for upper-end press corps work."
In today's example, we're discussing drivel in the Washington Post which came from the center right. But the Washington Post routinely publishes ridiculous work from people of the left and the center left—from people in our own blue tribe.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans aren't "the rational animal" and we never were. This unfortunate fact is true in their tribe, and it's true Over Here in ours.
The willingness to tolerate world-class howlers suffuses the work of our upper-end press corps. That explains why we started building this site, way back in 1997.
More than 24 years have passed! As our discourse disintegrates, the state of play in 1997 looks like a paradise now.
Tomorrow: A quick look at our nation's "gun culture," and it isn't just found Over There
"That doesn't mean that any of our ridiculous conduct is Aristotle's fault."ReplyDelete
Then why mention him? And why not tell us whose fault this stuff actually is -- the Republicans.
"The writer here was Gary Abernathy, a good and decent person who hails from the "center right."ReplyDelete
There is no such thing as the "center right." What is being termed center is actually far right, as opposed to extreme right. The right has continuously moved farther right whereas the left has stayed about the same, over the past several decades. It is time to admit this and not pretend that the left has become extreme while the right has a center that is akin to moderate. It just isn't, ideologically speaking.
"Abernathy writes from the very top of our nation's upper-end press corps."ReplyDelete
No, this is incorrect. Abernathy writes an opinion column. He is not part of the "press corps" and he is not a journalist or a reporter. Somerby routinely confuses these different roles, so that he can label the actual reporters and journalists as partisan when most go to great lengths to root out political bias in their reporting.
"That said, it was good enough for the Washington Post, good enough for PBS."ReplyDelete
Abernathy's opinion column was not published because it was logical. It was published in order to represent and thereby attract those readers who hold similar opinions about gun control. The only opinion that represent the paper itself, that are approved for their content by the newspaper, are those published as official editorials, written by the editorial board of the paper. Somerby knows this, but he continually glosses this distinction too, wishing to portray the newspaper itself as illogical or flawed in its reasoning, on the basis of individuals who may hold opinions favored by some readers but not by the paper itself.
"For our money, the columnist's basic reasoning here makes no basic sense. "ReplyDelete
C'mon, dear Bob; your tribe's shamans do need to pontificate about something. To preach, to moralize, to virtue-signal.
That's what they do. Lighten up, dear.
"In today's example, we're discussing drivel in the Washington Post which came from the center right. But the Washington Post routinely publishes ridiculous work from people of the left and the center left—from people in our own blue tribe."ReplyDelete
Somerby offers no examples today of "ridiculous work" from the left, just as he offered none yesterday. But that doesn't stop him from suggesting that the left is flawed too when it comes to logic (as if logic were the only basis for making policy decisions -- ignoring facts and history and research studies). This is how he rolls. When he does offer an example, it is some triviality from the left, juxtaposed with a true howler from the right, justifying Somerby in calling both sides of humanity deeply flawed, beyond redemption thinking-wise. And that is Somerby's own howler -- that the left isn't better educated and more "logical" than the right, especially the MAGA-right and the alt-right and the Fundamentalist Christian nationalist right.
And once again, Somerby doesn't call for gun control. He calls for opinion column control. Improving the quality of editorials on any paper is not going to stop a single child from being massacred. And Somerby doesn't call for fewer editorials from the right wing. He doesn't even identify this as a right-wing problem. He says the left is just as bad. So, what then should newspapers publish? Op-eds from alien planets? Without a concrete proposal for improving newspapers (never mind about protecting school kids), Somerby is engaging in a useless ritual here, a form of mental mastubation in which he gets to excoriate other people for their lack of reason, while never proposing anything positive to improve editorials. Is Somerby still blaming papers for not hiring him in the distant past when he tried to be a pundit himself? That does nothing whatsoever to help solve our mass shooting crisis. But it is clear that Somerby doesn't actually care about our nation's children, not even those beautiful, deserving black children in his own Baltimore schools.ReplyDelete
If a guest opinion columnist makes statements that he claims are factual, but are not, then the editorial board ought to take some sort of action, such as 1) print editorial notes correcting the false statement 2) contact the writer and urge him to correct the misstatements 3) not publish the opinion.ReplyDelete
Abernathy doesn’t seem to have made any factual errors in the sections quoted here. His opinion represents the opinion of millions of second amendment supporters.
Somerby seems to be arguing that this opinion should not be printed because he doesn’t find it reasonable.
Hasn’t he demanded that we listen to all sides in a debate, rather than just the one we agree with?
Here's the conservative argument against prohibiting 18, 19 and 20 year-olds from buying guns.ReplyDelete
1. Conservatives believe that their opponents don't just want better regulations. Conservatives think that the real long-term aim is to, little by little, substantially ban gun ownership. This belief is fostered by various liberals who occasionally say that this is their aim. It's fostered by those who make comparisons to countries where gun ownership is highly restricted.
2. There's nothing inherently wrong with 18 - 20 year olds having guns. The argument is merely statistical: This group commits a disproportionate number of mass shootings. This sort of statistical argument is bigotry. It's punishing the whole group for the actions of a very small number. E.g., blacks commit a disproportionate number of murders. Should blacks be prohibited from owning guns? BTW should young women still be allowed to own guns? Would that be sexism?
3. Note the potential slippery slope. Today, young people are denied guns. Next year some other group will be identified as committing a disproportionate number of murders, so guns will be denied to that group. Etc., etc.
#2 is also supported by neuroscience and developmental psychology which show that brains are not fully developed until age 25, especially the frontal lobes which are used in judgement, decision-making and impulse control. This is partly why young men have more car accidents, bar fights, and suicides. So, yes, there is something inherently wrong with 18-20 year olds having guns.Delete
#3. Why should our society fear reducing gun deaths among those commit the most of them? There are also other methods of reducing deaths besides confiscation.
Withholding a gun is not a punishment. Women are not as aggressive as men. Should gun ownership be encouraged when it leads to deadlier crime? Should our society tolerate the use of guns by men who engage in domestic violence?
Interested in why conservatives prioritize gun ownership over safety of women, children, crime victims and innocent bystanders.
"Interested in why conservatives prioritize gun ownership over safety of women, children, crime victims and innocent bystanders."Delete
Because conservatives believe that, given the prevalence of guns among criminals, restricting gun ownership by honest people make women, children, and honest people LESS safe.
No one needs an AR-15 or similar weapons. No one should conceal carry except law enforcement. No one should own a gun without a license and without training. No one should be able to buy massive high-capacity ammo. Mentally ill people should temporarily be deprived of weapons, as should abusive partners. Gun manufacturers should not be free from tort. All of these are common sense ideas, and none of them prevent citizens from “bearing arms.” And none of these make “honest” gun owners less safe. We should regulate deadly weapons as we regulate deadly drugs, or automobiles.Delete
mh - I agree that mentally ill people should temporarily be deprived of weapons, as should abusive partners. Although this is more problematic than it seems. I am not sure the current state of psychiatry is advanced enough to accurately identify those people too crazy to own guns.Delete
I think I disagree regarding manufacturers and tort. I think gun manufacturers can be sued if harm occurs due to their negligence. But, IMO it's unfair to hold the manufacturer liable for negligence by some person who misuses the manufacturer's gun. That's like holding the match company liable for harm done by smoking.
Furthermore, it might put the gun companies out of business if they were sued every time some individual misused a gun.
Why can't you pass a background check?
" It's punishing the whole group for the actions of a very small number."Delete
It's also why drugs are completely legal. LOL.
"Because conservatives believe that, given the prevalence of guns among criminals, restricting gun ownership by honest people make women, children, and honest people LESS safe."Delete
That's crazy talk. Everyone knows the prevalence of guns among criminals is what make us safer.
No one needs an AR-15 or similar weapons.Delete
That's ridiculous. Everyone knows people need AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles to defend yourself against attacks from feral pigs and hammer wielding zombies. Also, uprising of black slaves.
It was great to read your blog.ReplyDelete
This is a test.Yes it isYes it is.ReplyDelete