Walkabout In The Weminuche Wilderness

Herschel Smith · 05 Aug 2018 · 41 Comments

"There are no socialists in the bush" - HPS All of my physical training only barely prepared me for the difficulty of the Weminuche Wilderness (pronounced with the "e" silent).  It's National Forest land, not National Park.  The Department of Agriculture no longer prints maps of the area, so we relied on NatGeo for the map, and it's good, but not perfect. We have a lot of ground to cover, including traveling with firearms, the modification I made to one of my guns for the trip, the actors…… [read more]

Philosophizing With Guns

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

NYT:

In a matter of months, the offices, libraries and classrooms where I work, study and teach at the University of Texas at Austin will become “concealed carry zones” — areas in which people with concealed handgun licenses may carry their weapons. The “campus carry” bill that brought about this situation represents a 50th anniversary gift of sorts from Texas state legislators. For when the law comes into effect on August 1, it will be 50 years to the day since a heavily armed young man ascended the clock tower on campus and shot 45 people, killing 14 of them, in the first mass shooting at an American college.

Following the signing of the bill into law last June, university administrators began to carve my daily environment into armed and unarmed zones: Guns in classrooms? Yes. Guns at sporting events? No. Appalled by this spectacle, I proceeded to do the two things that I have been trained to do as a philosopher: I debated with my colleagues and I wrote a critical essay. Then, having had my little scream into the abyss, I experienced a period of peace.

But now, as August 1 approaches, I find myself drawn back to the problems, both practical and philosophical, that are posed by campus carry. It seems to me that if we care about the future of American education, we must inquire after those things of value that stand at risk on armed campuses. The campus carry bill is, after all, not a peculiarly Texan piece of legislation. It has precedent in other states and, given the political climate, may be emulated elsewhere.

Much of the debate around campus carry has focused on physical risk — on the enhanced likelihood of suicide, domestic violence, assault or accidental discharge. Indeed, it was advice concerning the risk of accidental discharge that persuaded university administrators that it would be better to have students wear their guns into classrooms than to have them deposit them in lockers outside. The working group assigned by the president of our university with the task of providing recommendations about the implementation of campus carry determined that: “A policy that increases the number of instances in which a handgun must be stored multiplies the danger of an accidental discharge.” So now, people who cannot be trusted to safely transfer their weapons to lockers will instead carry them into spaces of learning.

In order to assess the physical risks of campus carry, we must rely on quantitative studies. But as philosophers, my colleagues and I can speak to some of the less explicit threats that campus carry poses by turning to our own long tradition of the qualitative study of violence and its role in human affairs. Consider the classroom, for example. What happens to it when its occupants suspect that someone has brought a gun inside? Campus carry poses a threat to the classroom as a space of discourse and learning even if no concealed carrier ever discharges their gun.

In general, we do not feel apprehension about the presence of strong people in spaces reserved for intellectual debate (although we might in other contexts — a boxing ring, say, or a darkened alley), but we do feel apprehension about the presence of a gun. This is because the gun is not there to contribute to the debate. It exists primarily as a tool for killing and maiming. Its presence tacitly relates the threat of physical harm.

But the gun in the classroom also communicates the dehumanizing attitude to other human beings that belongs to the use of violence …

[ … ]

In addition to these relatively abstract considerations, there remains a need for more concrete philosophical work concerning campus carry — situated work that draws on gender, race and labor theory. We need to ask: What bodies are at greatest risk? What disproportionate harms might the law visit on people of color? What sorts of psychological and physical threats can employees be subjected to in the workplace? And what is the significance of this law for academic freedom?

Finally, those of us who teach on armed campuses will need to confront pedagogical problems. As a philosopher, I work with questions that are challenging, controversial and even upsetting. As a teacher of philosophy, I try to animate these questions for students, and to provide them with the critical tools to pursue independent inquiry.

And see, based on my own philosophy and apologetics course work, I thought philosophizing was supposed to be about epistemology, cosmology, logic and questions of world view.  When I think of philosophy, I think of men like Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Gordon Clark, and before them Frederick Copleston (you know, people who actually think and write about philosophy).

I see that the author’s criticism eventually devolves into issues of race and gender.  How sad.  The most helpless among her colleagues are women who are under threat of assault and rape.  Yet according to Ms. Gubler the mere policy against guns in the classroom (and by extension, a woman cannot carry from her class to her car because she cannot have one in the classroom) will prevent guns from being in the classroom.  Criminals will read and follow the policy – or perhaps she really does think about things, and knows that she cannot effect behavior with policies, and doesn’t care about her female colleagues after all.  Perhaps her tribute to issues of feminism are merely for academic credibility.  Same with race.

Well, we’ve dealt with the notion of man being made in God’s image, and that itself being not just justification for self defense but connoting duty to self preservation.  I seriously doubt that the author’s appeal to the dehumanizing attitude towards other humans will be an impressive argument for would-be criminals.  I recall a conversation I had one time with Dr. Richard Pratt on the issue of cognitive rest.  I doubt the author’s lectures will wake a criminal from his cognitive rest in the necessity of doing what he intends to do.  On the other hand, if you follow my advice, the criminal will be much more impressed.

As for Ms. Gubler, who is currently writing a dissertation on the role of forgiveness in secular ethics and public life, good luck with that.  Better philosophers (e.g., Bertrand Russell) were unsuccessful at developing ethics without God.  Russell is in hell now so he can’t tell her to adjust her thinking, and I don’t really believe in luck since I’m a Calvinist.  But readers already knew that.

Baptist Forum Does Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 12 months ago

Baptist Standard:

ABILENE—Christians who advocate gun rights on grounds of self-defense have lost sight of the radical nature of Jesus’ message, a Hardin-Simmons University professor told a student-initiated forum on gun violence.

“Americans have a deep love of salvific violence, the idea that with the use of force—the use of deadly force—against the right kind of people, we can make things turn out OK,” said Rodney Taylor, assistant professor of theology at HSU. “I think the cross, however, says something very different. What we see in the cross is the overcoming of violence, not through resistance, but rather through trust in God.”

Speaking on “God and Guns: The Way of Jesus in a Violent World,” Taylor critiqued the argument of self-defense as a natural right by comparing and contrasting it to Christian beliefs about premarital sex. To non-Christians, a prohibition against sex outside marriage seems like a “strange command,” he noted.

“But there are a lot of other strange commands there that Jesus gives us that seem counterintuitive,” he said. “I think the problem with the natural right of self-defense is that it loses sight of the kind of radical message that we see in the gospel—this radical approach that Jesus gives us that is counterintuitive, that doesn’t really seem to fit.”

The reason it doesn’t fit is because it is nonsense fabricated entirely out of their minds rather than being found in the Bible.

We’ve covered this before in Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense.  There are at least a couple of problems with this forum and its pronouncements on guns.  First, professors in anything, those who have spent vast quantities of money and time in so-called “higher education,” want to believe that they’ve discovered something new, something exciting, something breathtaking, something no one has ever seen.

To get a little pointy headed here and diverge into a sidebar comment that few of my readers will know about (but these professors will), this is one of the features of the so-called new perspectives in Paul and N. T. Wright.  No one before him, he must necessarily believe, not Augustine, not Anselm, not Calvin, not Beza, not W.G.T. Shedd, not Hodge, not Dabney, and on the list could go, has gotten it right.  God left it to him to really explain what the apostle Paul was saying.  Everyone else in history was wrong.

Likewise for this forum, every other theologian was wrong about the justification (and even necessity and duty) of self defense.  This is quite an arrogant way to live and think, but academia is shot through with it.  The second problem is that this forum is comprised of progressive, contemporary theologians who believe in nothing much except the social gospel.  Thus, they want to correct or ameliorate broad, sweeping social ills not by preaching salvation by grace through faith to individuals, but by statist control over the collective.

This is easy, folks.  The sixth commandment controls us in this matter.  God forbids the opposite of what he enjoins, and He enjoins the opposite of what He forbids.  Thou shalt not kill means thou shalt save life.  These forum members would sooner allow their wives to be raped and murdered by home invaders than lift a hand to save the one God gave them to protect.  Or, they would fight to save their wives, making them to be liars, and worse, profoundly stupid liars because they chose to use one of the least effective weapons to defend the loved ones under their charge.

Take your pick.  Silently stand by and watch their wives be raped, or they become liars; not even they believe a word of what they have to say, and so you shouldn’t either.  And for the record, God has made no promise to save their wives in home invasions while they silently stand and watch.  Let’s make this even more visceral by quoting what I said earlier.

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.

God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers. Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.

And even more to the point, “If you believe that it is your Christian duty to allow your children to be harmed by evil-doers (and you actually allow it to happen) because you think Christ was a pacifist, you are no better than a child abuser or pedophile.”  So here is a challenge for the forum members.  Prove to me and my readers that your views don’t really mean that you wouldn’t save a child being harmed or your spouses being raped.  Prove to me that you’re better than a child abuser or pedophile?  And if you would act to save a life in this way, why would you choose a means that ensured your failure?

Guns And The Jesus Complex

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 2 months ago

Concerning the Colorado recall:

In an emotional concession speech, Mr. Morse called the loss of his seat “purely symbolic” and defended the record of the last legislative session as “phenomenal.”

“We made Colorado safer from gun violence,” he said afterward, as his supporters trickled away from a hotel ballroom here in his district. “If it cost me my political  career, that’s a small price to pay.”

[ … ]

Mr. Morse’s hand was on the tiller during much of that debate. A former police chief, he said he found himself in a position of not just rounding up votes, but actually explaining the mechanics of guns to fellow Democrats. He brought a magazine to show his colleagues how it worked. In an emotional speech in March, as the debate reached its peak, Mr. Morse stood on the Senate floor and spoke of gun violence and “cleansing a sickness from our souls.”

I had followed the Colorado recall elections for the simple reason that some of my readers forced me to.  But this is the first time that I have seen the theological undertones in the debates.  Now, take note how people like me, conservative Christians, are repeatedly mocked in the national discourse.  Trotting out our religion, we always are.  Forcing it on other people.  It’s incorrigible – they cannot help but mock us.

While it’s true that I do see theological issues surrounding the right and duty of self defense, it is Morse who forced his views into the law-making proces.  I never demanded the freedom to do such a thing.  For instance, while I see the historical and interpretive value of knowing that colonial citizens were required to own weapons, I do not support such a thing today.

Note his language.  He believes that his actions were “cleansing a sickness from our souls,” and he is willing to sacrifice himself in a vicarious sort of way in order to effect this redemption.  Good grief.  Morse thinks he is Jesus.

I thank God that I have been spared such theological confusion (does that make me sound like a Pharisee?).  If I ever declare myself to be Jesus, I think my astute readers will hold me accountable.

UPDATE: David Codrea doubts that anyone else wants to be Jesus.

While the successful recall will not be enough to shift the legislative balance of power in Colorado, it will no doubt show activists there and elsewhere what is possible when they apply themselves, and give a boost of confidence to retry recalls in efforts where not enough signatures were gathered, or to start new efforts where success seems possible. And it will no doubt energize gun owners to participate in the next election … Fear of that unpleasantness may be enough to rein in legislators seeing gun owners realizing a newly-discovered power. At the very least, recall actions can cause anti-gun politicians and their patrons to use up their resources defensively, as opposed to launching new aggressive campaigns against gun ownership …

Yes.  This is a battlefield victory.  But there are more battles to fight.  We’re just beginning.


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