A Philosopher's Blog

Gun Research

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 3, 2013
English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...

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One important component of rational decision making is acquiring the best available evidence regarding the subject at hand. This is because there are two main components to having a good argument. The first is the quality of the reasoning being used (that is, how well the premises support the conclusion). The second is the quality of the premises (that is, whether they are true/plausible or not). Assuming the goal is to reach the truth, it is essentially irrational to intentionally ignore available evidence. Of course, truth is only rarely the goal that people seek.

One area where we need rational decision making is in regards to gun policy. While I am not anti-gun (far from it-I have been a gun enthusiast since my childhood), I do hold that it is proper for there to laws regulating guns. Being rational, I want the decisions about the laws to be based on the best available evidence. Naturally, I also want the laws to match my core political values (life, liberty, property and justice).

In some cases, people are not interested in having the best available evidence because of irrational reasons: laziness, prejudices, and so on. In other cases, people are rather interested in preventing others from acquiring the best available evidence for what are pragmatically rational reasons. For example, a criminal certainly has a pragmatically rational reason to ensure that others do not acquire evidence of her crimes. As another example, a company that stands to benefit from the ignorance of consumers would have a pragmatically rational reason to keep them ignorant.

While it is estimated that there are 30,000 gun deaths and 70,000 gun injuries in the United States each year (which makes guns about as dangerous as automobiles), there is a shortage of data regarding these deaths and injuries. This is not due to a lack of interest or concern. Rather, it is mainly due to the fact that  the NRA’s lobbying efforts effectively limited research into gun violence.

In 1996 the CDC was planning to conduct additional studies of gun-related deaths in the context of public health. These studies were intended to be a follow up on studies conducted since 1985 which all concluded in favor of stricter gun control.  In response, Republican Jay Dickey saw to it that the funding for the research was removed from the CDC’s budget. While the funding was restored, it was steadily reduced and the CDC elected to spend the money on studying traumatic brain injuries.

In addition to the tactic of cutting funding, a law was passed that states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

As might be inferred, these tactics have had the desired impact, namely a significant reduction in research on gun-related deaths and injuries.  This is not to say that there is no research. There have been studies regarding guns and gun ownership and some results indicate that gun ownership is a health risk-especially in regards to children of gun owning parents.  This, as might be guessed, suggests the desire on the part of the NRA to prevent scientific studies of gun-related deaths and injuries.

On the face of it, this attempt to impede research on gun-related deaths and injuries would seem to be immoral. First, there is the moral concern with intentionally trying to impede the acquisition of information that could be very useful in preventing needless deaths and injuries. It is, of course, interesting to contrast this intentional impediment of scientific research with the willingness to intrude on rights and liberties under the banner of national security. In the case of matters linked to terrorism, the stock argument is that these rights and liberties must be sacrificed on utilitarian grounds. That is, it is claimed that the benefits of such intrusions is worth the harms done. However, if  the need to prevent the harms of terrorism warrants intrusions on basic rights and liberties, then it would seem rather inconsistent to attempt to prevent public research into gun-related violence.

Second, there is also the general moral concern with intentionally trying to impede the search for truth. While it is understandable that the NRA and certain other folks would rather that ignorance be maintained, this hardly makes it right.

One possible reply is to make a moral case on utilitarian grounds. Those who wish to prevent the funding of such studies could contend that they might be used to argue successfully in favor of expanding gun control and this would create more harms than benefits.

One obvious problem with this reply is that if the studies did show that gun control would be beneficial for society as a whole and thus provide a reasonable basis for gun control, then it would be the case that the studies would create more overall benefits than harms. This could be countered by adopting an ethical egoist position, namely that the folks who regard gun control as contrary to their interests are acting morally by opposing such studies. Naturally, the folks whose interests are served by gun control (such as potential victims of gun violence) would be equally right in supporting such research. So, if one is willing to accept ethical egoism as the correct moral view, then all the parties who are acting in their interest are right. This does, however, come with its own problems.

Another reply is to contend that such studies would lead to intrusions on the second amendment by providing evidence that would justify expanding gun control. As such, this evidence must be intentionally suppressed in defense of the second amendment.  This is certainly an interesting variant of the stock second amendment arguments regarding gun control.

While the idea of defending rights via imposed ignorance has a certain magic to it, this does seem problematic. The obvious reply is that such rights are not absolute and they can be justly limited. To use the usual stock example, the right of free speech does not extend to slander. As such, some additional limitations on the already limited second amendment rights could be justified by such studies.  Also, it seems rather odd to justify imposing ignorance on the grounds that studies might reveal some information that might prove useful in arguing for expanding gun control. After all, such studies might reveal that there is no need for any expansion of gun control laws. Then again, the fact that the NRA has lobbied to prevent such studies strongly suggests that such studies would reveal information that would provide rational support for expanding gun control laws.

Since the above attempts have failed, perhaps another tact could be taken in defense of the law restricting funding for research into gun violence.

The specific wording of the law, it should be noted, does not forbid funding studies of gun violence. Rather, it states that  “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

One, perhaps naive, way to interpret this is that the folks who had the law written are merely trying to prevent public money being used to advance a specific political agenda, namely that of gun control. On this interpretation, the funding could be used to study gun violence provided that none of the funding is used in advocacy or promotion. This seems reasonable enough. After all, using public money to advocate or promote a particular agenda (such as traditional marriage) would surely be wrong.

The first reply to this is that whatever the interpretation,  the effect of the law has been to take away the funds for research into gun violence as a public health issue. As such, the law is effectively a band on federal spending to research gun violence.

The second reply is that the law mandates that funded studies cannot conclude that gun control would be beneficial to the health of the public. Such a conclusion would presumably all under advocating or promoting gun control. As such, studies can be funded provided that those conducting the studies promise to draw no conclusion involving positive effects of gun control. As such, studies that conclude that gun control is bad or useless would be just fine. As such, researchers would be free to pursue the truth, provided that this pursuit did not lead to a truth indicating that gun control would be beneficial to public health. That certainly appears to be an immoral and unreasonable limitation.

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

    A few important points:

    1. We already have gun control. See: FEDERAL FIREARMS REGULATIONS REFERENCE GUIDE – http://www.atf.gov/files/publications/download/p/atf-p-5300-4.pdf

    2. Vehicle accident deaths and injuries are a much worse situation and cannot be compared to gun deaths and injuries. The majority of gun deaths are suicide, many gun deaths are police related, and many gun deaths are gang related, while only a small fraction of gun deaths and injuries are accidental. All vehicle accident deaths and injuries are 100% preventable. Every day in the United States, an average of 6 children age 14 and younger are killed and 673 are injured in motor vehicle crashes due to preventable accidents, which means negligent (= incompetent) driving.

    3. The gun control regulations people are advocating for since Sandy Hook are preventive mental health checks, meaning anyone deemed a mental defective will not be allowed to own a gun. In order to prevent shootings like Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, which are the three cases these advocated invoke, the logical solution is for every American to undergo a mental health screening and evaluation. Not some Americans, but all Americans, which will result in virtually every American being labeled mentally defective, because of the new DSM 5′s standards for mental health evaluation.

    4. Regardless of all present and any future gun control measures, people with mental health defects and criminal records will still be able to acquire guns, which renders all such measures and exercise in futility.

    5. Gun owners should be required to receive proper education, training, and licensing, which would result in far less accidental deaths and injuries, because none of this is required now.

    Gun Death Rate by State per 100,000

    Showing latest available data.

    Rank  # 1 District of Columbia: 31.2 

    See: http://www.statemaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-death-rate-per-100-000

    Gun ownership in the District of Columbia is not allowed by law, yet DC has the highest per capita gun death rate in the US.

    Washington Post – December 9, 2012 – Woman killed, girl injured in shooting on SE bus route

    A woman was fatally shot and a small girl was wounded Sunday evening as they were boarding a Metrobus in Southeast Washington, authorities said.

    D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who went to the scene, said the woman was thought to be the mother of the child. She apparently was on or near the steps of the bus with the girl in her arms when the shooting occurred about 5:40 p.m. on Minnesota Avenue SE.

    A police source said the woman was shot in the face.

    See: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-09/local/35721689_1_bus-driver-crime-scene-police-source

    See: GUN STATS: GUN DEATHS BY CATEGORY – http://blogtruth.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/gun-stats-gun-deaths-by-category/

    See: United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law – http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

    Dr. Allen Frances writes that the American Psychiatric Association approval of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual this past weekend marks “a sad day for psychiatry.“

    For example…

    Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: DSM 5 will turn temper tantrums into a mental disorder.

    Normal grief will become Major Depressive Disorder.

    The everyday forgetting characteristic of old age will now be misdiagnosed as Minor Neurocognitive Disorder.

    DSM 5 will likely trigger a fad of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

    First time substance abusers will be lumped in definitionally in with hard core addicts.

    DSM 5 has created a slippery slope by introducing the concept of Behavioral Addictions that eventually can spread to make a mental disorder of everything we like to do.

    DSM 5 obscures the already fuzzy boundary been Generalized Anxiety Disorder and the worries of everyday life.

    DSM 5 has opened the gate even further to the already existing problem of misdiagnosis of PTSD.

    See: Critic calls American Psychiatric Assoc. approval of DSM-V “a sad day for psychiatry” – http://www.healthnewsreview.org/2012/12/critic-calls-american-psychiatric-assoc-approval-of-dsm-v-a-sad-day-for-psychiatry/

    “Beware the DSM-5, the soon-to-be-released fifth edition of the “psychiatric bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The odds will probably be greater than 50 percent, according to the new manual, that you’ll have a mental disorder in your lifetime.

    “Although fewer than 6 percent of American adults will have a severe mental illness in a given year, according to a 2005 study, many more—more than a quarter each year—will have some diagnosable mental disorder. That’s a lot of people. Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even “easier” to get a diagnosis.”

    See: Abnormal Is the New Normal: Why will half of the U.S. population have a diagnosable mental disorder? - http://tinyurl.com/cmrgd9c

    Slate.com – April 2013 – Unfit To Bear Arms: Police files from Sandy Hook and Tucson show we need more scrutiny of gun buyers’ mental health

    “It isn’t just high-capacity magazines or defenseless victims. It’s a failure to link firearms access to mental health information… Disclosing mental health problems makes all of us uneasy. We don’t want to live in a country where every therapy session is public information. Many of us don’t want to live in a country where guns are confiscated over gossip. I can’t tell you how to link weapon sales to behavioral assessment in a way that avoids those scenarios. But I can tell you this: Until we do, there will be more carnage.” ~ William Saletan

    Source: Unfit To Bear Arms: Police files from Sandy Hook and Tucson show we need more scrutiny of gun buyers’ mental health – http://tinyurl.com/crxsq4m

    See: Sandy Hook, gun control, mental health, and the federal government – http://wp.me/pPnn7-26Z

    SCOOP … GIFFORDS GROUP HIRES UP AS GUN COMPROMISE TAKES SHAPE

    Americans for Responsible Solutions, the pro-gun-control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, has hired two lobbying firms amid a flurry of congressional activity on gun control. Covington & Burling and Majority Group have been retained to help push legislation across the finish line in Congress. Veteran Republican Senate lobbyist Martin Gold and Muftiah McCartin are working on the contract for Covington. The Majority Group is a firm founded by former Blue Dog Democrat Walt Minnick and his former chief of staff Rob Ellsworth. The group — and its lobbying firms — will be focused on getting the background checks compromise bill across the finish line. “Obviously we’re proud to represent former Rep. Giffords on this effort,” said Holly Fechner, vice chairwoman of Covington’s public policy and government affairs practice…

    Pro-gun-control lobbying has taken off in the weeks after the Newtown, Conn., shooting. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently signed JBH Group, OB-C Group and Thorsen French Advocacy in February and March. It also has The Raben Group lobbying on the issue. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has also recently signed Elmendorf Ryan and the Ferguson Group to lobby on gun control.

    See: http://www.politico.com/politicoinfluence/0413/politicoinfluence10431.html

    PI SCOOP … SANDY HOOK PARENTS TO HILL WITH MEHLMAN VOGEL CASTAGNETTI

    Nearly a dozen parents whose children died in the Sandy Hook shooting are headed up to Capitol Hill today, looking to make the case for gun control legislation in person, Anna and John Bresnahan are reporting.

    The parents have signed on with boutique lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, which recently filed paperwork to begin lobbying on firearms legislation for Sandy Hook Promise.

    See: http://www.politico.com/politicoinfluence/0413/politicoinfluence10401.html

  2. T. J. Babson said, on May 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

    Sounds reasonable to me. Funds intended for science should not be used for political advocacy.

    Mike, rather than shilling for the Dems, you could have used this post to explore how the politicization of science has been self-destructive. If scientists are perceived as being politically motivated instead of neutral truth seekers then everyone loses.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 4, 2013 at 5:45 am

      The main problem here is not that liberal scientists are engaged in pushing a gun control agenda. The problem is that the law effectively prevents the CDC from funding research into gun violence. In this case it is the gun lobby and their fellows that have politicized science.

      Science has a built in system of self correction, namely scientific methodology. If individual scientists start monkeying the data, they are called out by other scientists.

      I have far more confidence in the objectivity of my colleagues in the sciences than I do in congress. If studies showed that gun control was ineffective and some researchers tweaked the data for political reasons, other scientists would eventually catch that-as has been done in other areas involving bogus research (like autism and vaccines).

      • WTP said, on May 4, 2013 at 10:35 am

        The main problem here is not that liberal scientists are engaged in pushing a gun control agenda.

        No, that is the problem. The CDC is funded by US tax dollars for the purpose of, ostensibly, treating and studying DISEASES. Only via slippery slope, which of course does not exist, does such an agency finagle its way into safety issues. And much more could be said about that. This is nothing more than the use of tax dollars to further one side’s political agenda.

        • WTP said, on May 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

          And btw, there is no such thing as a “liberal scientist”. A liberal sophist, perhaps. True science has no room for politics. The term “political science” be damned.

          • biomass2 said, on May 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

            The majority of scientists who think that “global warming/climate change” is a problem have reached that conclusion because “there is no such thing as a ‘liberal scientist’.” Or is it that all those scientists who believe gw/cc is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later are sophists?

      • T. J. Babson said, on May 5, 2013 at 12:33 am

        “The problem is that the law effectively prevents the CDC from funding research into gun violence.”

        So you are arguing that research into gun violence almost certainly involves advocating policy positions aligned with the Democrats?

        Scientist should be engaged in the pursuit of knowledge rather than taking sides in a political dispute.

        • T. J. Babson said, on May 5, 2013 at 12:35 am

          Even the term “gun violence” is deceptive because it mostly describes suicides.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 5, 2013 at 7:02 am

            That is still violence. But, I do agree that the term is loaded since we do not consider suicide by pills to be drug violence.

        • T. J. Babson said, on May 5, 2013 at 12:36 am

          What about “car violence”? Cars kill more people than guns.

          What about “swimming pool violence”? More kids die from swimming pools than from guns.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 5, 2013 at 7:01 am

            And we researched car deaths and swimming pool deaths. The result has been a significant reduction in such deaths. Cars have seat belts, air bags and we have laws aimed at driving safety. Pools, at least in florida, must have gates that automatically swing shut and lock.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 5, 2013 at 6:59 am

          Not at all. What I am claiming is that the law has had the result of the CDC ceasing to fund research on gun violence.

          The intent behind the law is rather clear-the NRA folks are against such research and the law was passed in response to findings indicating the negative effects of guns on public health.

          • WTP said, on May 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm

            The intent of the law is to stop govt funding of a political agenda. That law does not prevent any organization that is NOT funded by (gun owning) tax payers to do research. You are intentionally muddying the point. Do you really think we’re too stupid to see through your sophistry?

  3. muggleinconverse said, on May 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    The research available from other counties is largely useless since their gun laws are usually much more strict then ours to begin with. I wish we could get honest research. From the statistics that are available, it certainly seems like we would have to drastically reduce the number of guns to make any difference. I can’t see that kind of change happening in America.

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I guess I should ask why the federal government should be involved in this at all, especially the CDC, which was originally tasked with infectious disease control?

    Where was the disease control from the CDC when AIDS exploded? Oh, there was a politically correct approach by the CDC to this infectious disease, wasn’t there?

    Nothing is preventing private organizations from studying and reporting on gun violence.

    The Department of Justice studies and reports on gun violence.

    How many federal centers, offices, bureaus, agencies, and departments do we need to study gun violence?

    US Bureau of Justice Statistics – Firearms and Crime Statistics – http://bjs.gov/content/guns.cfm

    U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs – Bureau of Justice Statistics – Special Report: Firearm Use by Offenders – http://bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/fuo.txt

    US Bureau of Justice Assistance – Project Safe Neighborhoods – https://www.bja.gov/programdetails.aspx?program_id=74

    U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs – Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence – http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/gun_violence/173950.pdf

    U.S. Department of Justice – National Criminal Justice Reference Service – https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Topics/Topic.aspx?topicid=87

    Perhaps we simply need another Executive Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Undersecretary at the Office of Gun Violence Studies and Policy of the Bureau of Statistics Agency at the US Department of Justice?

    “Before the second decade of this century, there was no federal bureaucracy wielding substantial discretionary powers. That we have one now is the result of political decisions made by elected representatives. Fifty years ago, the people often wanted more of government than it was willing to provide—it was, in that sense, a republican government in which representatives moderated popular demands. Today, not only does political action follow quickly upon the stimulus of public interest, but government itself creates that stimulus and sometimes acts in advance of it.” ~ James Q Wilson

    See: The Rise of the Bureaucratic State – http://www.siue.edu/~dhostet/classes/501/assign/wilson.htm

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 4, 2013 at 11:07 am

      The CDC is tasked with protecting the lives and health of Americans, so it is proper for them to fund studies of things that kill us. Also, one primary duty of the state is to protect the citizens from harm.

      I’m pro-gun, but I favor studying gun deaths and injuries so people can have a basis for rational, informed discussions. As per Locke, one of my main duties is to preserve humanity.

      • WTP said, on May 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

        There is no slippery slope. The Center for Disease Control is tasked with politicizing the gun debate by associating gun violence with diseases simply because both result in people dying. Mike considers this sound reasoning. Of course, truth is only rarely the goal that people seek.. Of course.

        • biomass2 said, on May 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm

          The statement “The Center for Disease Control is tasked with politicizing the gun debate. . .etc.” is not an opinion . .etc. etc.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on May 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    This speaks for itself.

  6. T. J. Babson said, on May 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

    This is what people who support the 2nd Amendment are up against:

    Boy who held pencil like gun suspended
    School has “zero tolerance” weapons policy

    Anne McNamara

    SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Suffolk school suspended a second grader for pointing a pencil at another student and making gun noises.

    Seven-year-old Christopher Marshall says he was playing with another student in class Friday, when the teacher at Driver Elementary asked them to stop pointing pencils at each other.

    “When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy,’” said Paul Marshall, the boy’s father. “It’s as simple as that.”

    Christopher’s father was a Marine for many years. He thinks school leaders overreacted.

    “A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokesperson for Suffolk Public Schools.

    http://www.fox43tv.com/dpps/news/local/boy-who-held-pencil-like-gun-suspended_6109580

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Well, that is what people who are rational are up against. A pencil could be used as a weapon, but playing guns is hardly a threat to safety.

      The general problem is overreacting in a way that is clearly unreasonable-so often by either making crazy rules or being crazy against sensible rules.

  7. WTP said, on May 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    “A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokesperson for Suffolk Public Schools.

    I think I got this originally from Magus…or maybe it was Spirit of America, but in Afghanistan A Pencil Is Like A Ferrari…

    • T. J. Babson said, on May 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Just remember, even though the Taliban think they are practicing Islam many people in the West refuse to believe it. It must be some “perversion” of Islam, they argue.

      All I know is that when Terry Jones threatens to burn a Koran in Florida all Hell breaks loose. On the other hand when the Taliban burns down a girls’ school in the name of Islam there is silence from the Muslim world. The reason there is silence is because they know burning down a girls’ school is perfectly consistent with Islamic teachings.

      • biomass2 said, on May 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        “The reason there is silence is because they know burning down a girls’ school is perfectly consistent with Islamic teachings.”

        Sometimes “the reason there is silence” is fear. Though it’s easy to convince ourselves that all Muslims are alike, not every Muslim is like Malala Yousafzai.
        The possibility of being shot in the head might discourage some. . .

        • T. J. Babson said, on May 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm

          If the majority of Muslims thought that burning down a girls’ school in the name of Islam was insulting to Islam there would be riots, just as there are riots at the mere rumor that a Koran was burned.

          The problem is that too many Muslims (but not all, of course) believe that burning down a girls’ school is pleasing to Allah.

          I blame Islamic theology. You are of course free to blame George Bush, Sarah Palin, or whichever Republican you feel like hating at the moment.

          • biomass2 said, on May 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm

            TJ; What say we leave Bush, Palin, and Republicans out of this. . . I did.
            My point was quite clear: A gun blast to the head can be a powerful motivating factor. Perhaps as motivating or more motivating than pleasing Allah. Your statement that “The reason there is silence is because they know burning down a girls’ school is perfectly consistent with Islamic teachings.” is pretty limiting. There is one reason, and one reason only for the silence.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

              “My point was quite clear: A gun blast to the head can be a powerful motivating factor.”

              But why, biomass, would anyone fear a gun blast to the head for objecting to the burning down of a girls’ school? Especially if this was truly regarded as an insult to Islam?

            • Anonymous said, on May 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm

              So you’re still asserting that there is one and only one reason for the silence? No chance that being blown away might be another reason?

            • biomass2 said, on May 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm

              unintentional omission of screen name

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm

        But Muslims build schools for girls. Also, almost all the Muslim women I know are in Phd programs or have doctorates already. They are opposed to burning down schools and for the education of women. Are they just not real Muslims?

        • T. J. Babson said, on May 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

          They are cultural Muslims, but they cannot challenge the Taliban on religious grounds.

          Why is it that whenever I criticize Islamic theology people always say “but there are a lot of nice Muslims out there”?

          If I were criticizing Naziism would you say “but there are a lot of nice Germans”?

          • biomass2 said, on May 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            “If I were criticizing Naziism would you say ‘but there are a lot of nice Germans’?”
            Well, yeah. There were a lot of nice Germans. Some Nazis feared the Nazi regime. Not all Germans were Nazis. Today some nasty-ass neo-Nazis are Americans.
            http://www.mininggazette.com/page/content.detail/id/519186/Not-all-Germans-were-Nazis.html?nav=5004

            “The reason there is silence is because they know burning down a girls’ school is perfectly consistent with Islamic teachings.” A straight-forward, declarative sentence.
            The reason there was silence about child molestation within the Catholic church (among the molested, among the molesters, among higher-ups)was that molesting children in the Catholic Church is perfectly consistent with Catholic teachings.” Was that the reason? Could someone attribute it to the demands of a life of celibacy?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

            Well, if we go Ten Commandments, Christians and Jews would have to destroy such graven images as well, be they golden calves or stone Buddhas.

            Well, there are a lot of nice Germans. But being a Muslim is not like being a Nazi.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 9, 2013 at 10:58 pm

              “But being a Muslim is not like being a Nazi.”

              But there are some similarities, such as hatred of Jews and homosexuals.

              Why do you defend Islam even though you know it encourages Jew hatred, homophobia, and misogyny?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm

              Christianity also has a history of people who hate Jews. The hating of homosexuals also occurs among Christians. But I would certainly to equate Christianity and Nazism. Even if some Nazis claimed to be Christians.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 9, 2013 at 10:59 pm

              Your moral relativism is actually rather shocking. This is a no-brainer, like being against slavery.

            • WTP said, on May 10, 2013 at 7:04 am

              Actually, being an extremist Muslim is very much like being a Nazi. We discuss Islamic extremism and Mike makes the straw an of being a Muslim. Which itself is a fallacy. If we want to be far more accurate in our analogies, German ~ Arab/Persian/etc….Muslim~fascism…Nazi~Muslim extremist. Before Hitler, there were many fascists who were not anywhere near as extreme as Nazism. Interesting perspective, but the pre-Anschluss govt of Austria, the one we’re supposed to feel sympathy for, was itself fascist. Hitler assassinated it’s leader, infuriating Mussolini. A truly curious, philosophical approach to these subjects would be quite interesting, but Mike, well you know my routine. Amused me a while back when he made a post where he looked down his nose at “pseudo-intellectuals”.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

              “Christianity also has a history of people who hate Jews.”

              Sure, but it is not part of the very fabric of the religion, as it is with Islam.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm

              The hatred of Jews espoused by some Muslims seems to be grounded in a hatred of Israel, which seems to be primarily politically motivated. Counter factually, if Israel had not formed, would these Muslims hate Jews merely for being Jews?

              Also, antisemitism has deep roots in Christianity. If we go back to the Middle Ages, Muslims were generally more tolerant of Jews than Christians were tolerant of Jews.

              I will agree that there are many examples of antisemitic Muslims, but they do not seem to speak for all members of the faith.

              Interestingly, David Hume would agree with you about the terrible nature of Islam. Of course, he also regarded Catholicism as necessitating a hatred of all other faiths.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

              Here is the president of Egypt speaking in 2010. This sort of language has been used in Islam since the Koran was written.

              “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm

              Egyptian Cleric: “It’s our duty to hate the Jews as part of our faith”

              This is a man who has studied Islam all his life.

            • WTP said, on May 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

              But TJ, wouldn’t you agree that there are just as many prominent Christians in just as many prominent places espousing that exact kind of hatred based on similar verses found in the Old Testament? And if we read the New Testament properly can we not find such hatred there also? No one group of people are any better than any other.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

              I am arguing that Islam itself commands its adherents to hate Jews. There is abundant evidence for this position.

              Your response is that, historically, some Christians have hated Jews.

              Do you not see that there is a difference between the teachings of a religion and the behavior of its followers?

              Christianity teaches brotherly love, but obviously not all Christians live up to this ideal. Islam teaches hatred of Jews, but fortunately not all Muslims live up to this ideal.

            • WTP said, on May 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm

              Good lord, just read this morsel of s***,
              Counter factually, if Israel had not formed, would these Muslims hate Jews merely for being Jews?

              Yes, Arabs and Jews lived in peaceful harmony until 1947. Verses in the Koran that TJ refers to must have been put there quite recently. Counter factually indeed.

            • Anonymous said, on May 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm

              Mike, why do you believe Tsarnaev when he says he is angry about U.S. foreign policy but not the Muslim cleric who states “It’s our duty to hate the Jews as part of our faith.”

              Why would you believe a murderer rather than a respected member of the community? Makes no sense.

              You are in deep multi-culti denial.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

              I believe Tsarnaev because of the evidence. I admit he could be lying, though. I also believe that the cleric probably believes what he says. However, the difference is that Tsarnaev is speaking of his motive and the cleric is claiming to speak for all Muslims. To use an analogy, if I say that I race hard because I hate to lose, that is one thing. If I say that runners have a duty to hate drivers as part of being a runner, then that is another thing. While I am a runner with stacks of trophies, that hardly entails I speak for all runners.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm

              “If we go back to the Middle Ages, Muslims were generally more tolerant of Jews than Christians were tolerant of Jews.”

              Why do we always have to compare 21st century Islam with 13th century Christianity? Is this really a fair comparison?

            • WTP said, on May 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm

              He compares 13th century Christianity with 21st century Islam because that’s the best argument he has. He’s a sophist. Has he ever denied it?

  8. T. J. Babson said, on May 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Facts are stubborn things. The trends are all moving in the right direction. There is simply no problem here. The only problem is the hysterical reaction of the Dems.

    WASHINGTON – Gun homicides have dropped steeply in the United States since their 1993 peak, a pair of reports released Tuesday showed, adding fuel to Congress’ battle over whether to tighten restrictions on firearms.

    A study released Tuesday by the government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. That’s a 39 percent reduction.

    Another report by the private Pew Research Center found a similar decline by looking at the rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country’s growing population. It found that the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.

    Both reports also found that non-fatal crimes involving guns were down by roughly 70 percent over that period. The Justice report said the number of such crimes diminished from 1.5 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

    But perhaps because of the intense publicity generated by recent mass shootings such as the December massacre of 20 school children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., the public seems to have barely noticed the reductions in gun violence, the Pew study shows.

    http://www.startribune.com/nation/206453571.html

    • WTP said, on May 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      TJ, you continue to try using reason in argument with sophists. Some now would say a mother is not immediate family. Of what use are facts (words) in such a world?

      http://t.mediaite.com/mediaite/#!/entry/on-cnn-mother-of-slain-benghazi-victim-excoriates-hillary-clinton,518974a3da27f5d9d0be5625/1/media/2

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Interesting. Does the study suggest the causal factors?

      As you note, some gun-control folks are motivated more by their feeling that guns are scary rather than a rational assessment of the data.

      That is why I favor studying gun related violence-we can sort out what lowers violence in a rational manner and go with things that work and are consistent with our rights.

      • T. J. Babson said, on May 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        I frankly don’t trust the Dems to behave rationally. Was gun control even mentioned during the election? Once Sandy Hook happened the Dems were in a rush to pass something–anything–as long as they could be seen a “doing something.” This is not the sort of behavior I regard as rational.

        Furthermore, you have failed to show why the law as it is written prohibits research into gun violence. Is not sorting out what lowers violence permitted under the law?

        • biomass2 said, on May 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm

          I’m thinking your first paragraph explains why Dems stopped trusting GWB post 9/11. Terrorism, waterboarding—none of that was mentioned before 9/11. Numbers count, I guess.

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm

            I actually agree that we went overboard in our response to 9/11. Fortunately, Obama and the Democratic Congress wound it all back…

            Now, instead of waterboarding 1 terrorist, we kill 1 terrorist and 10 other innocent bystanders. I guess Dems would regard that as progress since they seem to support it.

            “TJ; What say we leave Bush, Palin, and Republicans out of this. . . I did.”

            And I knew you could not go long without hating on a Republican.

            • WTP said, on May 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

              Now, instead of waterboarding 1 terrorist, we kill 1 terrorist and 10 other innocent bystanders. I guess Dems would regard that as progress since they seem to support it.

              Have you a source for that 10:1 ratio? Innocent people die in war. Have you any idea how many civillians were killed in WWII or Korea? When a decision is made to go to war, it is highly naive to not understand this. The US does not target civillians, the enemy does.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm

              WTP,

              I am talking about our drone assassinations. We don’t take prisoners anymore, we just kill the terrorist and everyone in his vicinity. But–hey–Dems say that is morally superior to waterboarding 3 people.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm

              Not all Democrats-some are opposed to both water boarding and drone assassinations. I am all for eliminating evil people, but I also believe in due process. Death drones seem to violate that.

            • WTP said, on May 8, 2013 at 11:40 pm

              Understand, but that’s war. Sometimes you don’t take prisoners. Entire cities were once bombed to take out ball bearing factories. Dams were bombed with the expectation of the damage the flooding would do. Weatherboarding, as I understand it, was only done a very few times. Does that bother you? It certainly doesn’t make us the moral equivalent of the Nazis, nor put us in danger of becoming such. Unless you’re applying some extremely exaggerated slippery slope fallacy.

            • biomass2 said, on May 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

              I’m “hating on Republicans” . . . . In my 6:07?

            • biomass2 said, on May 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm

              TJ–
              You wrote above: “If the majority of Muslims thought that burning down a girls’ school in the name of Islam was insulting to Islam there would be riots, just as there are riots at the mere rumor that a Koran was burned.

              The problem is that too many Muslims (but not all, of course) believe that burning down a girls’ school is pleasing to Allah.

              In your estimation who, in the Muslim world, is an “innocent bystander”? Any Muslims who should not be killed in drone strikes?

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm

              “In your estimation who, in the Muslim world, is an “innocent bystander”? Any Muslims who should not be killed in drone strikes?”

              An innocent bystander is anyone who was not killed intentionally.

              As I have stated repeatedly, my solution is to isolate the Islamic world. Just leave them alone to develop their civilization as they see fit.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

              We should not get involved in Syria, for example. We should not arm the opposition. We should stand clear.

            • biomass2 said, on May 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

              TJ @ your 10:49 and 10:45—
              If Terrorist #1 is unintentionally killed in a drone attack on Terrorist #2 (intelligence failure?) is that
              terrorist an innocent bystander? Are civilians who didn’t riot when a girls’ school was burned down legitimate targets–guilty bystanders—because they didn’t do their part to undermine the extremist elements of their religion?

              Syria shares a small border with Israel. Lebanon is 40% Christian and shares a border with Syria. Should we stand clear if Assad, or the rebels armed by some other power, use chemical weapons or some other WMD?

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 11:03 pm

              “Should we stand clear if Assad, or the rebels armed by some other power, use chemical weapons or some other WMD?”

              Yes.

            • biomass2 said, on May 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

              Israel’s on Syria’s border. Does your “isolate the Islamic world” policy apply to Israel as well?

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

              I always figured we could just work out a deal with Mexico where Israel buys Baja California and we can move the whole country there.

              Just kidding :-)

              Seriously, we should support Israel by selling it weapons, but U.S. troops should not die to protect Israel.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

          In general, I don’t either. Most people are irrational most of the time.

          Sure, the Dems rushed to pass laws in response to a media-focused crisis. But this is hardly a special failing on the part of Democrats-the Republicans follow the same approach and hence, by your standard, are also irrational.

          The law does not explicitly forbid research in gun violence. It just forbids any research that can be interpreted as advocating or promoting gun control. As I said, the research can come to any conclusion supported by the data, as long as it does not involve any form of gun control recommendation. In any case, the practical result was that the CDC responded to the law by not funding research. You could, of course, blame the CDC.

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

            “…the Republicans follow the same approach and hence, by your standard, are also irrational.”

            Maybe. But as you know it is never “right vs. wrong” but always “wrong vs. greater wrong.” And the Dems are clearly the greater wrong.

          • WTP said, on May 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm

            The law does not explicitly forbid research in gun violence. It just forbids any research that can be interpreted as advocating or promoting gun control.
            Wrong again. It prohibits GOVERNMENT FUNDING of said research. Why must you obfuscate? Shoe on the other foot and you’d be screeching “Fallacy! Fallacy” like a school girl.

  9. T. J. Babson said, on May 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Live mike moment. Can you blame Ted Cruz for warning about a slippery slope?

    “We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate.”

    “They [gun owners] want to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but they don’t have any regulations to do it.”

    “They don’t care about the bad guys. All they want to do is have their little guns and do whatever they want with them.”

    “That’s the line they’ve developed.”

    The discussion appears to be among Senator Loretta Weinberg (D37), Senator Sandra Cunningham (D31),Senator Linda Greenstein (D14), and at least one member of Senate Democratic staff.”

    • WTP said, on May 11, 2013 at 9:24 am

      So, TJ, do you suppose you’d hear anything just as interesting from a “live Mike moment” in the FAMU faculty lounge?

      • T. J. Babson said, on May 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

        I’m sure Mike is the same in the faculty lounge. I am still waiting for him to acknowledge that he has ever been wrong about anything… :-)

        • WTP said, on May 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

          While I’m not saying you’re wrong, I wouldn’t be so sure. Just saying it could be interesting.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      They hardly speak for all Democrats. If they actually intend to pass a law to confiscate guns all guns, they would thus intend to violate the second amendment of the constitution. Plus well-established property rights. I am, of course, against that sort of attack on basic rights.

  10. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 11, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Seems this conversation has been sidetracked onto the old: “Muslims are a threat” canard. Islam is no threat to the US. Small groups of radicalized, well financed,, well armed, and well trained mercenary “Islamic jihadis” are the creation of the US, Israeli, and Saudi governments…. since 1979.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

    The problem those who irrationally FEAR these mercenary “Islamic jihadis” created by these governments, and who irrationally FEAR Muslims in general is: “Which Islamic jihadis are you now supporting in the Syrian conflict? Hezbollah (Shia) or al Qaeda (Sunni)? The US supports its creation: al Qaeda and Russia supports Hezbollah:

    Choose your Muslim Jihadi: Hezbolla or al Qaeda?

    Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, and China versus Al Qaeda, USA, Israel, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others

    “Syria’s conflict is often described as a “civil war,” but that is only true insofar as it has yet to spill over into another country on a large scale or draw in too many different forces. But it is the quintessential proxy war, with the Alawite (an offshoot of Shia Islam) Assad regime backed up by Shia allies Hezbollah and Iran, as well as Russia and China.

    “The Sunni rebels are supported by the Islamist rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the U.S., France, Britain and others.”

    Source: ABC News – May 10, 2015 – Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Fighters Edging Closer to Full Scale Confrontation – http://abcnews.go.com/International/hezbollah-al-qaeda-fighters-edging-closer-confrontation/story?id=19144119#.UY1oOeBiilc

    Aiding Al Qaida as part of the War on Terror? That’s what McCain and Graham are doing

    “Do you support the call by John McCain and Lindsey Graham for the U.S. to intervene on the side of the rebels in Syria?

    Congratulations! You’re on the same side as the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.

    And you’re also really, really gullible.” ~ Paul Mulshine

    Source: NJ.com – The Star Ledger – March 22, 2013 – Aiding Al Qaida as part of the War on Terror? That’s what McCain and Graham are doing – http://blog.nj.com/njv_paul_mulshine/2013/03/aiding_al_qaida_as_part_of_the.html

    • WTP said, on May 11, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Everything’s a conspiracy. Except conspiracy theories themselves.


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