Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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I learned a new word yesterday.

Coming from the Greek word ‘Hoplon,’ for weapon (and the root of the word ‘Hoplite,’ for sweaty oiled men standing in tight formation) it means the unreasonable fear of armaments. Coined by firearms instructor Jeff Cooper in the 60s as a means of pigeon-holing gun control advocates, the word makes its way through the fora and literature of gun enthusiasts and the NRA.

It is a loaded word. It is a political word. I learned it reading the comments of this article, by those who take issue with the idea that deadly weaponry has a intimidating effect on free speech by saying that such weaponry is the only defender of free speech. To that I ask, if that were true, why is it that San Francisco or New York City or DC, the cities with the least ratios of gun ownership per capita, are known for being the foremost bastions of free speech?

The second amendment only mentions freedom abstractly; as a last resort when all else has failed. What it does mention is,

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Which is to say that guns are acceptable only in the event that they are used in tandem with a popular resistance to either (a) a tyrannical coup, or (b) a foreign incursion. IE: The army has guns and are actively using them against the populace; at that point the populace is allowed to defend itself. By that definition, considering town hall meetings are an active effort of a democratically elected government to better reflect the people whom it represents, guns have no clause; no reason for being. They can only be there to intimidate; to harm free speech. It is perfectly rational to fear deadly force, no matter who is on the other side of the barrel.

Indeed, the very idea that practical everyday use of guns defends free speech flies in the face of every major contentious election in this country and around the world. The presence of significant amounts of weaponry in the arms of militias has a negative effect on the outcome of the elections. Free elections are elections free from coercion, whether that coercion comes from the state or by militias. Blacks in the South as moderates and liberals in Iran or Afghanistan know what armed militias – whatever their affiliation – do to free speech and free elections and a free state.

But this isn’t about gun ownership. This is about the political views of armed conservatives being heard and abided by, despite having lost the last election. This is picking up rifles when NewsCorp and Karl Rove have failed. While the fear of any dictatorial regime is an armed populace, the problem with an armed citizenry is that it is only half the equation to a free state. The other half is education and enlightenment. Otherwise, all you get is another dictatorial state, and that’s the problem with armed militias at town halls.

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