Thank you, as usual, for the stimulating remarks.
>>I have to laugh at your assertion that anyone trained in philosophy wouldn’t see anything of interest in the picture.<<
Well, if we take laughter as evidence of the presence of humor, then at least our exchange stands as evidence for your observation - with which I agree - that “[j]ust because you study philosophy doesn’t mean you throw your sense of humor out the window[;] in fact I think philosophy enhances it”!
Though, just to be strictly accurate about it, I did *not* assert that no one with the relevant training *would* see anything in the picture. Rather, I simply expressed my own lack of understanding about how that could be. The statement was not about you, therefore; it was about me.
Before I proceed to my rejoinder, however, let me make two preliminary comments, one personal and one general.
First, I appreciate the tag. Any time you want to bring something to my attention (for whatever reason), please, do not hesitate to do so. I agree with what you typed to me previously, “I need more intelligent friends on my friends list.” And I appreciate anything that any intelligent person wishes to show me.
Second, regarding the “picture,” I believe that there is an important distinction that ought to be stressed. To be precise, the “picture” is arguably (if roughly) composed of two discrete portions. (In deference to this, I will put the word “picture” in scare quotes [<--like so], throughout.)
Number one, there is lexical portion; number two, there is the visual portion.
Now it is quite possible, now that I reflect on the matter further, that I failed to see the humor in the “picture” because I was stuck on what I still believe is a muddle at the lexical level. To put it more exactly, the verbal overlay is I think difficult (at best) to convert into any sort of coherent (let alone constructive) argument, in the analytic sense. What I was expressing, when I registered my disquiet over this image being given mileage by philosophers, was my inability to translate the given text into a formal argument.
If, as an exercise, I abstract away from the displayed words - that is, if I pretend that the “picture” is just comprised of the bare, visual image - then, I can (I think!) manage to put myself into the perspective where the “picture” (at the visual level only) strikes me as humorous. However, when I attend to the entire presentation - lexical and visual layers together - I cannot get past my irritation that the words simply do not to express a non-fallacious argument.
Part of our difference, here, might be explicable in virtue of quantifying (per impossibile) the degree to which we are each ignoring the text. I am not ignoring the text at all. Indeed, it was my main focus. Perhaps you are ignoring the explicit text, if not altogether, then certainly to a greater extent than I.
I feel somewhat confident in this (minimal) diagnosis of the root of our difference. But if I am correct, then this difference of attention underlies all of our comments.
For instance, I twice asked: What is the argument supposed to be? This shows, I think, the degree to which I am concerned with the text-level. By asking my question, I intended primarily to ask: How can the displayed text be expanded or reworked so as to constitute premises in a formal argument? My suspicion was - and is - that it cannot be so (re-)constituted.
You seem to confirm this in two ways. Most directly, you do not provide a formalized argument that makes use of the “picture’s” text. I can only assume this is because you (like I) cannot see any way to do so.
Less directly, you proceed to speak of “what the picture means to [you]”. This suggests to me that whatever you were able to get from the “picture” came out of the visual level more or less exclusively.
So, from the textual point-of-view, I conclude that the statements are philosophically problematic and that my previous criticisms stand.
But what of the visual? I will turn to that, presently.
>>I can at least explain what the picture means to me. First of all, it’s a parady of the sick gun fetishism rampant in the country.<<
In order for me to gauge your meaning, I obviously have to consider you words. Now, in my dictionary, “parody” is defined as follows.
“[A]n imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.”
I take it, therefore, that a “parody” involves “deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.”
But why think that the individual in the picture was “deliberately exaggerating”? You give no reason, and I certainly cannot see any. (I note that if the image involved the depicted person in “deliberate exaggeration,” then I can scarcely believe he would have been smeared as a “moron.”)
But then, unfortunately, I have no reason to think that the image *is* “parody.”
However, I may surmise that you really meant that the man in the image, whether deliberately or not, served as (something like) a reflection or a microcosm “of the sick gun fetishism rampant in the country.”
I have two replies.
Number one, as I wrote in my initial response, this is possibly a hasty generalization. To put it another way, if this cross-dressing, gun-toter is supposed to be a stand-in for the “average firearm owner,” then I simply have to cry: “Foul!”
I just deny that such a person can responsibly be held aloft as the poster-boy for gun ownership. To put it slightly differently, I deny that all gun owners can be glossed as “sick gun fetishists.” I would say that this cross-dresser is unrepresentative of gun owners, and nothing in the text, or in your interpretation, militates against or allays this concern.
Number two, if the cross-dresser is *not* supposed to represent all gun owners, then who *does* he represent? Well, if I assume that “sick gun fetishists” are a proper subset of gun owners - and I will stipulate that they are - they it might well be that the cross-dresser *is* a fair representative of “sick gun fetishists.”
However, unless the number of “sick gun fetishists” is greater than 50% of the number of overall gun owners (and therefore a simple majority), then even if the cross-dresser is a fair representative of “sick gun fetishists,” it will still turn out that the he is unrepresentative of gun owners, overall. Thus, this second problem collapses back into the first problem.
Ultimately, we need some support for the contention that this cross-dresser is a fair representative of gun owners in general, or for the implicit contention that the majority of gun owners are fairly characterized as “sick gun fetishists,” or both. (And possibly, these come to the same thing.) As things stand, I have seen evidence for neither claim.
>>Secondly, it’s a parody of the confederate flag bravado which is ubiquitous throughout the South (and even here in West Virginia, which I suppose could be labeled as the Northern edge of the Bible belt).<<
As was the case above, unless the person in the photograph intentionally posed sporting a confederate flag bikini and a rifle as “exaggerations,” for the purpose of creating or eliciting a “comic effect,” I would just deny that the image is a “parody” of anything, strictly so-called. At best, if the image has not been Photoshopped, then the purveyor of the image is using the person as an object of derision. But this seems insufficient to me to count it as a “parody.”
However, again as before, if I read you as simply indicating your belief that the image is emblematic of such-and-so, and that such-and-so has humorous elements, then your point is salvageable.
It’s “salvageable,” but also mostly tangential to the topic of “gun control.”
To be sure, you assert a link with respect to the notion of the citizens’ militia.
>>The point being, during the Civil War, a group of very well-regulated militias joined together against a government they believed to be tyrannical...<<
My problem, here, is that I take your claim to be factually false. The Confederate States created an army of volunteers, later resorting to conscription. State militias were only employed in auxiliary and supplementary capacities. This case was exactly the same for the Union Army. (Even the officer corps was heavily dominated by volunteers.) In fact, the Union relied more heavily upon militias than did the South.
Historian Andrew Haughton discloses: “By the 1850s it [i.e., the militia network] was in disrepute in every state where some attempt was made to maintain it at all, and at the outbreak of the Civil War only a few states were capable of reporting on the condition of their militia. According to William Riker, ‘citizens evaded militia duty, condemned musters as vulgar, and laughed at those patriots who tried to be part-time soldiers.’“
Startlingly, Haughton then reveals: “Contrary to what might be expected of a martial society, the disrepair of the militia system was worst in the Southern states. ...If the number of men was paltry, their training was in most cases abysmal.”
It seems, therefore, that your assertion is simply incorrect that “during the Civil War, a group of very well-regulated militias joined together against a government they believed to be tyrannical.”
The Confederate Army was not even largely composed of militiamen, and those it had were mostly not “well-regulated“ (i.e., well-trained).
However, this means that the Confederate link to the “gun control” debate, in this case, is simply too frail to hold.
Whatever else we may say about the Confederacy, then, should be understood - and I intend it to be - quite separate from the issue of “gun control.”
But, in the interest of advancing an interesting discussion with an interesting interlocutor, let me say a few words about it anyway.
>>Personally I find the rebel flag to be an abhorrent symbol which when displayed seems to imply “if I don’t get my way politically, I’ll resort to violence.”<<
This is of course the standard line. It is predictable that the vanquished should be saddled with guilt by the victors. But it does not seem to me to be true.
Baltimore native H. L. Mencken, the early 20th-century American atheist, journalist, satirist and Nietzsche disciple, can hardly be accused of being a “crypto-Confederate.” I will let him make the point.
“The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. ...Its eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost childlike perfection - the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. ..It is genuinely stupendous.
“But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of every day! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination - “that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth.
“It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederacy who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.
“What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country - and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all.
“Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege.”
Mencken is of course not the first person to have seen the fundamental inconsistency lurking in Lincoln’s rhetoric. However, he is perhaps the first post-Civil War, establishment Northerner to have dared to depart from the party line. Mencken was a maverick and could get away with bucking the system like that. The screws have been tightened around the lid since his day.
>>Which leads me to why it’s satirical, one douchebag proudly displaying his symbol of rebellion and his firearm is completely futile - you already tried to overthrow the government once, and if you tried again today it would go even worse for you (you know, we live in the age of WMDs, drones, tanks, complete and utter digital surveillance, etc.).<<
I will now expand upon Mencken’s courageous insight. I trust you have a thicker skin than some of my other past conversation partners; nevertheless, I do incur some risk. For I will now reproduce a portion of text that previously led to my “de-friending”!
“The U.S. Constitution was the agreement by which the individual States created a well-defined Federal government. The Federal government’s powers were specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
“Here was the South’s argument:
“(1) The Tenth Amendment makes clear that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
“(2) The United States [federal government had not, at the time of the ‘Civil War,’ been] delegated powers with respect to the issue of slavery.
“(3) Therefore, powers with respect to the issue of slavery [were then] reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
As uncomfortable a fact as it may be, the party that overthrew the federal government - that is, who ignored the dictates of the Constitution in favor of imposing its own political will - was in fact situated to the north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
>>Finally, I just found the picture funny. Just because you study philosophy doesn’t mean you throw your sense of humor out the window, in fact I think philosophy enhances it. Which is the sole reason I tagged you, I figured you too would find it amusing, given your interest in the gun debate in this country.<<
Again, you don’t have to hesitate to bring anything to my attention; nor do you have to explain yourself (or apologize) for having done so.
>>Whew, that went a little long, I almost didn’t get to what the meme means to me. I think the argument in a broad sense is that we as a society are neither intellectually or spiritually advanced enough to have full, equal access to assault weapons.<<
Of course, it seems to me that you are simply using the “picture” as an opportunity to expound upon general themes that are important to you. That is fine, and I appreciate your thoughts.
But, as I hope is clearer now, what I meant when I asked “what is the argument?” was for a set of premises, drawing upon (perhaps slightly revised versions of) the two sentences plastered on the picture of the bearded, cross-dressing gun-toter.
My contention was (and is) that no such argument is possible, unless it is something like the ones that I already gave. (E.g.,  Cross-dressers are morons.  Morons cannot be trained in the use of firearms.  Therefore, cross-dressers cannot be trained in the use of firearms.)
In our previous, lengthy exchange you cautioned me against the use of particular sources because, you advised, the sources in question were “not in any way helpful towards” my argument and, in fact, were “detrimental to [my] cause.”
I would recommend, mutatis mutandis, something similar to you here. Since the picture-text is clearly open to charges of being variously ad hominem or unrepresentative or both, your belief that humanity’s (or America’s) intellectual/spiritual maturity is simply insufficient to support access to certain weapons is not well-served by any appeal to, or mention of, such a problematic post.
I suppose, at the bottom of it, this is partly what I meant to convey when I expressed puzzlement that philosophy enthusiasts should associate themselves with such a “picture.” Prima facie, the text is a mess. And if the visual elements are believed to be expedient for the provocation of reflection, then it would seem to me to be time better spent digging up the original image and posting it by itself, rather than writing at length defending what is apparently indefensible (I mean, the text as-it-is).
>>By intellectually, I mean that this country is becoming increasingly illiterate, not in the sense that they cannot read, but rather in the sense that they refuse to.<<
I mostly agree with this. It depends on how we define “literacy.” If we set the bar of literacy so low that word recognition suffices, then your point scans. But I would argue that literacy ought to entail being able to tackle hefty texts, and not just being able to read the TV Guide. With a higher standard in place, it might turn out that people are increasingly illiterate, full-stop.
>>The danger of an illiterate society are multidimensional, first, because they are unable to distinguish between sound reasoning and propaganda...<<
I have sympathy with this, but - for reasons that I will not get into, presently - I would prefer to distinguish literacy and logic. Hence, I would not hold that literacy - even a robust, high-standards literacy of the variety that I earlier alluded to - is sufficient equipment with which to divide sound reasoning from propaganda.
In fact, I don’t even think that logic and literacy together are jointly sufficient.
As an aside, I will register my opinion that part of the reason for this is that I think non-rational mechanisms are at play in such areas as advertising and “propaganda” - or whatever names one cares to assign to Edward Bernays-ian/Jacques Ellul-ian-style “public relations” campaigns. Such campaigns can be waged both contra- and pro-guns and, in my view, often traffic in or incorporate subliminal elements and which may well have an insidious and non-, sub- or unconscious effect.
I take it that you and I are both literate and familiar with logic. At least, I think it’s plausible that we’re both more literate and more familiar with logic than the “average” person. Still, I would classify the posted “picture” as propaganda, and you would likely disagree.
>>...they with the aid of their automatic rifles can be persuaded into committing unspeakable acts of violence...<<
I think that “persuaded” is emphatically the wrong word, here. Although I have neither the space nor the time to make this plausible if you’re inclined to disagree, I would argue that the more accurate word is “programmed.”
>>...(think of the confederacy. Put simply, they killed people because they were no longer allowed to hold people as slaves)...<<
As I sketched above, I think that this is a mischaracterization. The United States as a corporate entity was formed when the individual States agreed to the terms and conditions of the federal government as set forth in the Constitution. At the time the Civil War was instigated, the Constitution had delegated the federal government no authority to abolish, control or regulate slavery, and the Constitution had explicitly stated that powers not expressly assigned to the federal government were reserved to the States. Thus, straightforwardly, slavery was a state-related issue. The “North” therefore violated the terms of the Constitutional agreement.
(Slavery had been abolished in Britain without a "Civil War." Had the northern abolitionists really been concerned primarily with freeing slaves, then slaves could have been purchased by interested northerners and then released. There was more at work then a mere concern with abolition. Of course, it is also worth noting that what was fought in the U.S. was not a "civil war" properly so-called. In a true civil war, two or more contenders fight for control of a single state. In the American "Civil War," the North fought to destroy the South's economic base while simultaneously keeping its people and land in the "Union" fold. The South fought for self-determination and merely wanted the North either to keep to the Constitution or to allow peaceful secession. The North, of course, did neither.)
The Confederacy basically responded by saying that if the Constitution was no longer to be followed, then it (the Confederacy) would no longer recognize the union that the Constitution had brought into being. The North, via Lincoln, countered by declaring that “preserving the union” was of “paramount” concern. Lincoln famously wrote:
“I would save the Union. ...My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
>>Second, because without a solid intellectual foundation, people often cannot cope with difficulties they are going through in life...<<
Sociologically, although it is debatable, this is arguably false as well.
>>...they cannot understand the sociological, political, and philosophical origins of their conflicts, nor can they look within themselves and work on their problems from within, because they lack the tools to, the concept of critical self examination is foreign to them. So they resort to gun violence.<<
This is a tightly-packed bundle of controversial claims. Analyzing crime statistics is difficult. Trying to explain criminal motivation raises the difficulty level by several orders of magnitude. Even scratching the surface of this tough nut would be a taller order than I presently have time to tackle. It will have to suffice for me to observe, in passing, that crime statistics correlate strongly with low(er) IQ. It is not at all clear to me that this measure is either irrelevant or itself “caused” by criminality. To be more direct, I think it is altogether possible that persons having antecedently low IQs explains both turns toward violence and the inability to “understand the sociological, political, and philosophical origins of their conflicts” and to “look within themselves and work on their problems...” and so on.
>>Our society is so misguided that a guy wearing confederate women’s underwear waving a powerful assault weapon doesn’t seem to get the joke (unless, of course that photo is staged. But I see shit like this all the time where I’m living.)<<
You’ll get no argument from me on the issue of our society being misguided. Though, in my case, I lament that “[o]ur society is so misguided that a guy [might wear] ...women’s underwear...”.
>>Being in a well-regulated militia is fine...<<
Of course, another problem with the posted “picture” is that it is not at all apparent that the guy is even in a militia.
>>...but at some point you have to decide whether you want to stand on first moral principles, derived from a thorough understanding of the philosophical school of ethics (like Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, virtue theory, etc) or be just another man with a gun.<<
Again, I would certainly not argue against the idea that all human actions - which obviously includes militia actions - should be governed by ethical principles. In fact, I elsewhere argue that even deciding to reconstitute a citizens’ militia should be a principled action.
>>What I mean by our spiritual shortcomings is simply this, that we as a society no longer have any value for human life.<<
I agree. I think this applies not only to the murders (individual, mass, “serial” and so on) that you mainly have in mind, but also to abortion.
>>We are so desensitized to images of violence, many of us simply cannot see the interiority of the victems. We can’t put ourselves in their shoes, imagine what it’s like being fired at and having your guts torn out/apart.<<
I agree with this too. In fact, I think similar things come into play when people seemingly fail or decline to imagine being dismembered in utero.
>>Yes, I am saying we are increasingly becoming sociopathic.<<
I agree. And I have actually entertained a similar socio-cultural analysis myself in the past.
>>I’ll give you a good example, on Aug 27th of this year, a news reporter named Alison Parker was gunned down on live television, and it was caught on camera, both from the news feed and from a go pro worn by the killer. Immediately everyone wanted to watch the video, and the idiots over at infowars (fuck them!!!) were all trying to deconstruct the video and prove how it was staged.<<
I can only say that the “mainstream media” is largely owned by half a dozen or so corporations. This “corporate media” is roundly criticized by many left-leaning activists, some of whom - like Noam Chomsky - I admire greatly. As I (think that I) reminded you in our previous conversation, Chomsky recommends that people create and champion alternative media outlets in order to offset the corporate “news” and propaganda monopoly.
The extent to which the corporate media is intertwined with government and intelligence interests is unknown. However, what *is* known is alarming enough. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was investigated in the 1970s and discovered to have been infiltrating news media outlets, including those whose broadcasts were available in the U.S. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) notorious “COINTELPRO” operation was geared at undermining domestic political movements. The National Security Agency’s technical ability to “spy on Americans” has been known for decades, but it was recently through the whistle-blowing efforts of Edward Snowden that the extent to which NSA’s abilities had been put into practice were revealed more clearly.
“In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro. America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: ‘We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,’ and, ‘casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.’”
“In September 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked if the military might lie to the press, and Rumsfeld responded, ‘This conjures up Winston Chuchill’s famous phrase when he said ...sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies’... Rumsfeld essentially stated that he would in fact lie to the press...”.
And that is just the briefest rehearsal of known information about the domestic activities of four or so of the seventeen or so agencies that constitute the U.S. “intelligence community.”
During the most recent “war” in Iraq, it was admitted that the “U.S. Home Audience” was the target U.S. military propaganda. “[D]ocuments [obtained by the Washington Post] ...list the ‘U.S. Home Audience’ as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.”
By my lights, a corporate media that, as many “liberal” activists recognize, is unreliable in its coverage of Indonesian atrocities in East Timor and Israeli war crimes in the Occupied Territories does not suddenly become reliable merely because its coverage of shooting spectacles is amendable to a leftist agenda of “gun control.”
True journalism is supposed to be asking and trying to answer hard questions. Much of the sellout media just seems to rubber stamp the press releases of the FBI, local police and military. This is not the function of a free press.
It is also not the function of the press to facilitate memorial services for alleged victims whose barely-cold bodies have yet to be autopsied or to render hallowed crime scenes that have not yet been investigated.
Thus, the probing (even if groping) inquiries of the Infowars crew I do not take to be evidence of desensitization. I take it to be evidence of the stirrings of a free press - all the more important in light of the fact that you and I are the admitted targets of military propaganda.
We live inside of what former CIA counterintelligence chieftain James Jesus Angleton referred to as a “wilderness of mirrors.”
Infowars is imperfect, yes. But it is asking hard questions.
>>It’s just images for them, a pure spectacle, numerous videos popped up proclaiming it was a hoax, with thousands of views. Her last moments, her final screams, have become another show for anyone to view in their livingroom.<<
The alternative seems to be that the initial claims of police and intelligence agencies are merely accepted at face value and, in lieu of an investigation, we all just go right to mourning.
If the police and on-site “authorities” are so reliable, however, then perhaps we can also dispense with the judiciary.
>>The media circus around mass shootings makes gunmen into celebrities.<<
I have sympathy with the criticism of “media circuses.” However, I would want to distinguish between the mindless repetition of “raw footage” interspersed with the supposedly reliable remarks of professional commentators - as I have seen, for example, on the corporate networks from Fox to MSNBC - and genuine attempts at analysis.
The crime investigation does not cease when the chalk outlines are drawn. As important as it is to retain our human empathy and compassion for the genuine victims, it is also important to hold fast to our human skepticism in the face of the overwhelming evidence that We, the American People, are under sustained attacks by “our” intelligence and military communities - in league with or at the behest of, corporate interests.
>>After playing an ultra violent FPS game someone can put in a blu-ray of a violent movie, become bored with that and turn on the news to see non-stop 24 hour news coverage of the latest shooting spree.<<
I am also well aware of, and lament, the media’s elevation of violence. It is worth remarking that there is a CIA-connection to the video game industry.
>>Perhaps the greatest argument that we as a society have lost all appreciation for human life? The fact that, statistically, 90 people A DAY die from guns (suicides, murders, accidents) and nobody is doing anything, in fact a large percentage of this country want us to have MORE guns.<<
I agree. I add to this the following data. “According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In the USA, where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion, there are over 3,000 abortions per day.”
>>...something is seriously fucked up in this country.<<
>>We are not spiritually or intellectually advanced enough to have free, equal access to such weapons.<<
This, I have several problems with. Most fundamentally, I believe that we have a responsibility to pass the torch of liberty on to posterity at least as fully alight as we received it. We are being intellectually and spiritually degraded by some of the same corporate and propagandistic operatives who seek to disarm us. I believe that the attack on the Second Amendment is part of this degradation. In order to elevate ourselves, intellectually and spiritually, we need to hold fast to our heritage, not abandon it.
(You know that I have defended the importance of the Second Amendment. I will not re-post all of the links that I already provided to you.)
Suffice it here to say that, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, I believe, as John Stossel recently concluded, “More guns lead to less crime.”
All the best,
 Response to Facebook post, <https://www.facebook.com/arharrisuofu/posts/10153786266669085>.
 Andrew R. B. Haughton, Training, Tactics and Leadership in the Confederate Army of Tennessee: Seeds of Failure, London: Routledge, 2012, p. 22; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=UuR-Nt4vlLYC&pg=PA22>.
 Henry Louis Mencken, “Five Men at Random,” Prejudices: Third Series, vol. 3, New York: A. A. Knopf, 1922, pp. 174-175; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=RVS7ZCLnCOYC&pg=PA174>.
 For a colorful, albeit non-academic, illustration, see British “mentalist” Derren Brown's intriguing production “The Heist,” online at YouTube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaHbACoYNSA>. For more from Derren Brown, see my “Veritas Vincit,” Bell Curve [weblog], Mar. 11, 2013, <http://curveofbell.blogspot.com/2013/03/veritas-vincit.html>.
 Abraham Lincoln, letter to Horace Greeley, Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 1862; reproduced as “Letter to Horace Greeley,” Abraham Lincoln online, <http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm>.
 At least if “happiness” is used as a benchmark; see Kevin McSpadden, “Education Does Not Make You a Happier Person,” Time, Mar. 26, 2015, <http://time.com/3759397/education-happiness-mental-health/>. My anthropological/theological inclinations suggest that a solid spiritual foundation is more important, but probing this would take us even further afield from “gun control.”
 See again my post “Towards a Jeffersonian Appraisal of the D.C. Gun Ban Decision,” Liberty Bell [weblog], Jun. 30, 2008, <http://bellofliberty.blogspot.com/2008/06/towards-jeffersonian-appraisal-of.html>.
 On the FBI's track record of lying, see my post “Most Credulous, Er...DANGEROUS Cities,” Liberty Bell [weblog], Nov. 2, 2012, <http://bellofliberty.blogspot.com/2012/11/most-credulous-erdangerous-cities.html>.
 Susan Maret, Government Secrecy, Bingley [U.K.]: Emerald Publ., 2011, p. 17; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=mzF2HWqMtSIC&pg=PA17>. For my catalog of the Bush administration's lying related to 9/11 and the Iraq “war,” see “9/11 Primer, Part 2,” Liberty Bell [weblog], Sept. 10, 2012, <http://bellofliberty.blogspot.com/2012/09/911-primer-part-2.html>.
 “U.S. Military Stoking Xenophobia in Iraq,” dispatch, United Press Intl., Apr. 10, 2006; accessed via LexisNexis.
 I sketch some of this in my July 4, 2013 post “g00gle,” Liberty Bell [weblog], <http://bellofliberty.blogspot.com/2013/07/g00gle.html>.
 See my “Inauspicious beginning?” Bell Curve [weblog], Jan. 1, 2013, <http://curveofbell.blogspot.com/2013/01/inauspicious-beginning.html>.
 John Stossel, “The Smear,” Town Hall, Dec. 2, 2015, <http://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2015/12/02/the-smear-n2087576/page/full>.