Stephen Kahn

Moral equivalent?

In Hard to tell on October 5, 2011 at 3:39 am

I mentioned my frustration with Bev’s pacifism to one of the sort of leaders of Transition Whidbey (a group which seems to strive to be a functioning anarchy). I said something along the lines of, “I don’t keep weapons in my house (like some 4th Amendment fanatic) except for the pellet rifle I use to pot the occasional rabbit, but I would not expect a sheriff’s deputy to have to carry out his job without a weapon.”

Her response was along the lines of, “Guns always create more problems than they solve.”

While this argument might have some merit as a general philosophical statement, I find its use as an unassailable law of social science frustrating and unpersuasive. There are indeed times when a bullet placed into a dangerous person (say a homicidal maniac) is the best response.

There is another difficult issue we need to consider, and that is the problem of motivation and inspiration. When I was a college English major, I read (with some weariness and lack of enthusiams) some of the writing of Henry James. It wasn’t until much later, when I got around to reading Varieties of Religious Belief by Henry’s brother, William James. The James gang were a couple of bright bulbs, and William pondered the issue of why young people (mostly young men) are so inspired by the prospect of fighting and dying in war. James argued that humans need something as thrilling and inspiring as fighting to exercise their spirit. Humans have wrestled with the problem of human violence for thousands of years, and I have no solution, so I will move my blog on to another topic and let James provide the last word on the subject (after a brief introduction).

  1. Wow Steve, you almost sound too radical for the TW bunch. If you keep talking like that they may ask you to leave! A neighbor of mine put a bullet through his head this last Sunday (Or his wife did it… the matter is under investigation.) Regardless of who did it I am sure the same end result could have been achieved without a firearm. I don’t see the bad guys and gals deciding to put away their guns and singing kumbya anytime soon, so I’ll keep my guns, thanks!

  2. Pete, I am way too radical for the TW bunch, so I mostly hold my peace. Besides, they have come up with interesting passive-aggressive strategies to keep people from saying anything unpleasant at their meetings, which I observe with quiet marvel. (Too complicated and boring to write about.)

    My mother grew up on a farm in Indiana in the 1920s and 1930s. One might think this was the most wholesome place possible for positive family values. However, my mother told me that when she was a girl, one of her family’s farmer neighbors came home from the fields for dinner one evening and did in his entire family with an ax. As I mentioned once, an aunt-in-law of mine was murdered while she was a student at UCLA in her twenties. (As I was only about 14 or so at the time, I think the entire story was “redacted” to protect my siblings and I, so I never heard the entire episode.) And my neighbor, Craig (the 1/4 Sioux Indian) told me that an uncle of his frequently traveled between the United States and Mexico (on perfectly wholesome, constructive activities) and was murdered by bandits on one of his trips.

    You have my endorsement to hang on to your firearms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: