Blogs > Liberty and Power > I Should Copyright This

Apr 20, 2007 9:59 pm

I Should Copyright This

In comments threads here at L&P, at Ralph Luker's blog, and at Volokh Conspiracy, I seem to have hit on a great new expression. Rather than passively accept the government euphemism "gun-free zones," I've started referring to "mandatory defenselessness zones." That's primarily for striking rhetorical effect, but it's basically truth: Calling something a "gun-free zone" doesn't mean that criminals and lunatics won't bring guns there- but it does mean that regular people will get in trouble if they do.

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Aeon J. Skoble - 4/23/2007

This is just the problem, though. I agree with you that classrooms aren't "about" guns, but then again, neither is the park. But what happens when _the other guy_ ignores this principle and comes packing heat? Am I not allowed to defend myself? It is Cho who didn't get what a classroom is about. But no one else was able to correct the misunderstanding. As Nietzsche put it, one is best punished for one's virtues.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/23/2007

Thanks for the link. No condescension, lack of respect, or paranoia here. There's just _no place_ for guns in a classroom.

Micha Ghertner - 4/23/2007

Link-whoring?!? And a great big "fuck you" to you too, sir.

Yes, let's talk about condescension. Before this thread even began, you sarcastically (and condescendingly) dismissed Aeon's position, as well as Eugene Volokh's.

Then, in your very first post in this thread, before I or anyone else had commented, you declared that Aeon doesn't "understand what a classroom is about." Condescend much?

And now you have the chutzpah to accusing me of "link-whoring" - as if there is something unethical or unseemly with linking to one's own perfectly relevant opinion, in the context of rebutting your false accusations by documenting an accurate description of my position?

I sincerely hope you treat your students with greater respect than you treat your online correspondents. Although such a lack of respect might explain your paranoid fear of armed students...

Ralph E. Luker - 4/23/2007

You're correct, Aeon. I was hoping Micha would pick up on the word "condescending". It took three exchanges with Micha and my putting up with his repeated claims about my "failures to understand" that your position was his position and we finally got to his "truth" -- a link to his blog. All of that amounted to cheap, old-fashioned link-whoring -- and I put up with his condecension to find out that all he wanted was a link to his blog, where "the truth" is manifest.

Aeon J. Skoble - 4/22/2007

Ralph, I have not been condescending to you at all. Why are you getting all ad hominem on this?

Ralph E. Luker - 4/22/2007

Except that when I asked Aeon if what I thought he said was what he meant to say, he condescended to tell me that, if he hadn't meant that, he wouldn't have said it. So, I'm undisturbed by any of your claims of my non-comprehension, since you're the one who can't read and comprehend. With that, I won't bother to respond further to a discussion that's going nowhere.

Micha Ghertner - 4/21/2007

Reading comprehension error #3. In fact, I never blamed the "gun free zone" policy for the tragedy rather than the liberal gun purchase laws of Virginia. Elsewhere, I've pointed out that these two policies work together to create a worse result than would be the case in an alternate scenario of a complete gun ban or complete gun freedom (i.e. liberal purchase laws + no "gun free zone"). Which is precisely the same point Aeon was making in the original post.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/21/2007

It's just very odd that you choose to blame Virginia Tech's "gun free zone" policy for the tragedy rather than to blame Virginia's policy of allowing virtually anyone to purchase whatever weapons they choose. In fact, under federal law, Cho bought both weapons illegally, but Virginia doesn't keep track of barring-information very effectively.

Micha Ghertner - 4/21/2007

Again, your reading comprehension frightens and confuses me. I'm "uninterested" in what both you and I agree would be a fallacious line of reasoning, a fallacy that Aeon clearly didn't commit if we grant him even a modicum of interpretive charity. How that sort of uninterest translates into an unwillingness on my part to self-examine my own personal biases, is, to put it lightly, beyond my comprehension, and clearly beyond yours.

Virginia, in fact, did not trust a gun-owning adult to carry his weapons wherever he chose; namely, it did not trust a gun-owning adult to carry his weapon in "gun-free"/"mandatory defenselessness zones." Perhaps this case is exceptional enough to be ignored, and no public policy changes are warranted, but it's hard to reach that conclusion from the arguments you have given so far, considering every "gun-free" classroom in the land is already a potential war zone, under the status quo policy you apparently prefer.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/21/2007

Just because you're "uninterested" doesn't mean a thing, except that you're unwilling to tolerate an observation that counters your bias. Virginia trusted a gun-owning adult to carry his weapons wherever he chose and we have this result. It would be a mistake to derive public policy from this exceptional incident and set conditions that make every classroom in the land a potential war zone.

Micha Ghertner - 4/21/2007

For a college professor, your reading comprehension skills leave much to be desired. Aeon's point is clearly not the obvious and uninteresting observation that some people will violate the law. Rather, it is that the law ("mandatory defenselessness zones") does nothing to actually prevent the people we don't want bringing guns into the classroom (murdering crazies) while at the same time prevents the people we do want bringing guns into the classroom (responsible, rational adults with the knowledge and skill to defend themselves and others from murdering crazies) from doing so.

Your conception of "what a classroom is about" sounds more like a kindergarten than a place of higher learning. If we cannot trust adult gun-owners to act responsibly amid the vigorous and highly contentious debate of a university classroom, then we certainly shouldn't trust them in the wider public realm amid the vigorous and highly contentious debate of a liberal democracy.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/21/2007

Look: the fact that some people will violate a law is no reason to abolish that law. If that were the case, you'd want to abolish laws against murder, theft, rape, etc. Law establishes a norm, the violation of which leads to punishment. I don't want your guns -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- in my classroom. And your insistence that they should be there means that you don't understand what a classroom is about.