Sunday, June 09, 2013
Unforeseen Contingencies to award prize! (An open letter to Professor Christopher Swindell)
After an infamous rant in which he suggested executing the 5 million members of the NRA, he's apologized. Perhaps he went a little too far, he thinks. But still, he notes, "running around saying the sky is falling is pretty close to criminal activity." So my letter:
Dear Professor Swindell,
Wow, that's some apology, professor. I'm glad you no longer want me shot, but no doubt my previous blog post qualifies as criminal activity. May I ask what charges and punishment you, as a "journalism expert," would prescribe?
I don't think your rhetoric should be criminalized, Prof. Swindell, but I'm pretty concerned about it. Repeated calls from you and others for executing gun owners, the repeated attacks on Tea Party members, the slanders that everyone opposing Obama is a racist -- this isn't mere political rhetoric. This is an attempt by those of you doing it to dehumanize your opposition and to desensitize the public to wholesale violations of our rights. It doesn't have to be execution (although it could be). Why shouldn't the IRS target and harass conservatives and libertarians if we're so evil, why shouldn't the NSA spy on us, and why should we receive protection under the First Amendment, as Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham wonder?
I don't ask these as rhetorical questions. I assume, Prof. Swindell, that you and people like Durbin and Graham and Obama et al. really would have the government shut down this blog and other critics of ever-expanding government. And maybe at some point the government actually will do it. But they will have to actually do it. I won't be intimidated into silence, nor shamed into it by your phony outrage, and I doubt others will be, either.
That brings me to my favorite part of your apology. Prof. Swindell, you ask if we "can put our guns down and talk" and then you note that our talk is worthy of being criminalized! Wow! Superb! What an astounding tour de chutzpah! What a brilliantly ironic juxtaposition of ideas! You do indeed deserve some sort of journalism award for this; I'm sure we at Unforeseen Contingencies can think of something. Perhaps we should establish a named prize in your honor.
But still, since those are your conditions, no, we won't put our guns down, we won't give up free speech, and while I'm always happy to talk, your "offer" is spectacularly idiotic, and you may go to hell for all I care.
Charles N. Steele, Ph.D.
Note to readers: I like my response, but for eloquence and succinctness, nothing beats Mike Vanderboegh's reply.
P.S. To Prof. Swindell: You say that the problem with us warning about dangerously out-of-control government is that this"threatens civil society." You mean this must never, ever be said? But what if government is dangerously out of control? Pointing this out, loudly and publicly, defends civil society. It's a great tragedy that no one sounded sufficient warning in Russia in November 1917, or in Germany in 1932. Obama isn't Lenin or Hitler, but he and the federal government are dangerously out of control, and yes, they are setting up a police state. Saying so does not threaten civil society. Suggesting that our free expression of our thoughts verges on criminality does.
So far as I can tell, this repeated calling for killing political opponents in op-eds and other public discourse is unique, at least in my lifetime.
We'd be foolish to think they do not mean it.
Thanks for your comment.