I had too many jalapenos on my burrito last night, and dreamed that I’d read a letter to the editor in a 1942 edition of the Strib that read something like “Aren’t Americans racist for going to war against Germany, when the Deutsche-Amerikanische Bund is preaching rapprochement with Germany?”
I wanted to yell “But one country declared war on us, while the Bund, ill-advised as their ethnic sympathies turned out to be, were exercising their First Amendment rights!”…
…but I couldn’t. Because blogs didn’t exist in 1942. And either did I.
But I woke up – both extant, and with my blog humming right along – and, given the nightmare I’d just awoken from, was almost overjoyed to read this bit of intensely flawed reasoning in an op-ed by Jesse Zettel.
In the past week, there has been much talk of whether Apple should help the FBI gain access to a smartphone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters. At stake is whether we are willing to sacrifice some of our freedom for some security.
The correct answer – someone tell all seven Presidential candidates – is no, we should not be. But that’s not really the subject, here.
In the past when the question was about guns, our answer has been a resounding no. Now that the question is about our privacy, there seem to be a lot of people saying yes.
Ah, yes – the group of people that I’ll call the “omnisicent ‘a lot'”; that group of People Not Like Me that we’re assured exist and confirm your thesis, notwithstanding their being your personal anecdote.
How many people do this? A lot of people… – oh, snap. Now I’m doing it!
On “The McLaughlin Group” last weekend, Pat Buchanan cited a Latin phrase “salus populi suprema lex,” meaning “the safety of the people is the highest law.” He doesn’t say that when it comes to guns.
He’s leading up to something, here. I can almost taste it.
We’ll come back to that.
In other words: We will not give up our freedom to easily access weapons of war for the sake of safety, but we might be open to giving up our privacy.
We’re dealing with two different “omniscient a lots” here:
- “A lot of people” erroneously believe that you can “hack” just one iPhone to get at information. Some – Trump – echo Buchanan’s statist beliefs. Others – Marco Rubio among them – don’t know how software architecture works (and, admit it, most likely either do you). They’re not malicious, stupid, or closeted fascists – they’re uninformed.
- Another “lot of people” think that by controlling the access of law-abiding citizens to gun, you make society “safer”. They are equally ill-informed, although since the truth is out there and doesn’t require any technical background to understand, they are more likely to be willfully ignorant, stupid or malicious. Not all of them. Just a lot of them…oh, there I go again.
Back to Mr. Zettel:
If part of what the FBI wants to find in that phone is how the shooters got the guns, it need look no further than a Wal-Mart or a gun show.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant knows that this is where to get guns, and it tells its followers as much.
Easy access to guns is the Trojan horse of our time. ISIL didn’t have to send a shooter. It didn’t even have to provide the guns: Our own laws did that.
Shall we continue that train of thought?
If the FBI wants to know where terrorists get bomb fixins, they need look no further than any farm supply store.
If they want to know where they get the material to incinerate people, they need look no further than a gas station or a propane vendor.
If they want to bring down three skyscrapers, they need to look no further than the nearest airport.
If they want to create a ghastly wave of up-close-and-personal terror, they need only visit the cutlery section at Target. It’s happened. (note to Mr. Zettel – guess how that particular wave of terror got stopped? You’re not gonna like it)
And the next victim of these misguided laws may well be our privacy.
Why is it that the ability of gun manufacturers to sell weapons of war is held sacred, while our own privacy is considered negotiable?
Let’s put that strawman out of our misery; the smart people support all freedom – the right to privacy and the government’s obligation to observe due process, as well as the constitutional, civil, human right to keep and bear arms.
Mr. Zettel – to invert his thesis – is clamoring to give up our right to defend ourselves from criminals and terrorists and our government, while exalting the right to privacy.
I wonder if the next time there is a mass shooting in this country (and there will be more), we will be willing to look at the easy access to guns that makes these shootings so commonplace, rather than searching for other freedoms we might be willing to give up instead. Something has to give. After all: “salus populi suprema lex.”
Here’s another Latin phrase. It’s more applicable to this “debate”: Ne contumeliam mea intelligentia; argumentum est puerile et infans.