What questions are we afraid to ask? Where do we censor ourselves?

STOP!! This is not a discussion about guns. This is a discussion about the subjects that we liberals/leftists/progressives are uncomfortable talking about.

This post is inspired by a wonderful discussion yesterday with two of the senior denizens of BlueNC. At one point I asked if we shouldn't start arming ourselves, given the heavy accumulation of weaponry by the increasingly rabid right wing in our country. I felt relieved when my question (and myself) were treated and discussed with respect.

It shouldn't be hard to talk about this question, but it is.

Do we secretly believe in our hearts that some questions shouldn't even be asked?

I'm not asking for answers or discussion of the questions - I want to find out what these questions are. Knowing what questions I avoid will alert me to areas of self-censorship, beliefs that I perhaps I should reexamine, things that I will consciously avoid and why...

And perhaps these questions will start some discussions on BlueNC that might not ordinarily never take place.

What other questions are we afraid to ask each other and even ourselves?

So here's a rather random set of questions to start out:

  • Should we liberals arm ourselves to prepare for a fascist takeover?
  • Is America a class-based society? Is the very question "class warfare"?
  • Are teachers unions bad for education?
  • Are liberals elitists?
  • What drugs should be legalized?
  • Are the people who vote for Republicans really as uneducated and dumb as we liberals want to think or do we have a lot in common?
  • If the adjusted per-capita income of Americans has increased from $17K to $30K since the 1950s, why are so many of us feeling strapped? Is it class warfare? Do we need a little class warfare?
  • What sources of information do we rely on (I just linked to Wikipedia, for example)? Why do we trust them?
  • We've all had the experience of arguing with right wingers on the net and elsewhere and they seem able to go on and on forever. Where does their energy come from? Can I get a little?
  • Where does responsibility lie when people fail in life?
  • Why don't we liberals talk more about freedom? I think that most of us believe in the Bill of Rights much more than the right wing - except perhaps for gun control - but we don't talk much about it or wave the BoR around like the Libertarians. Why not?
  • Why don't we talk about the aspects of business that we love and believe in? Sure, our corporations have become our biggest oppressors, but there's a lot to like in the business world, too. There'd be no BlueNC, for example, without a very successful local business.

You get the idea, and I'm sure that people can improve immensely on this list. I think this might help open our minds up some. Or do you believe that you have a mind that is open to everything? (You don't.)

Comments

Interesting conversation all around

I actually need to clarify my position on the dangers of thermonuclear devices: if used responsibly, those little man-pack nukes can get the job done with limited collateral damage. And your deer (along with various other delectables) are killed and cooked simultaneously, which is a bonus. ;)

Wonderful questions

Should we liberals arm ourselves to prepare for a fascist takeover?

I've been thinking yes, though it pains me to have arrived at this conclusion. Mutually assured destruction seems like an insane operating model, and yet it does engender a certain balance.

Regarding freedom and waving around the Bill of Rights, I confess that I don't put that much stock in the crusty old founding documents. They are at least as fallible as the men who wrote them, and maybe more so.

I don't think any drugs should be illegal.

We've all had the experience of arguing with right wingers on the net and elsewhere and they seem able to go on and on forever. Where does their energy come from? Can I get a little?

I think the energy comes from true-believing, the certainty that one is right about whatever one happens to think. That certainty spawns evangelical furor, especially when one has a god whose business model is built on word-of-mouth sharing. "Spread the word or go to hell" is a pretty strong motivator.

Advice on Stepping Up to Weapons

Arming yourselves will do no good if you don't receive training on how to properly employ weapons & the tactics available to you, whether you intend on using weapons solo or in small unit exercises. Otherwise, all you'll end up doing is posthumously donating your weapons to the guys in militias who've trained and used weapons for years in small and medium sized units.

Train your mind, your spirit and your body. It is a lifestyle. Form a paint ball team and try it (tactical movement) out first, it might not be for you, and requires that you be in pretty good shape.

People on the right (myself included) have been prepping for TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It) for years, some for decades because we know that not all things live forever, and one day, our nation must die...and the ones with the survival tools, mindset and weapons will be making the rules in the next iteration of nation-building. If too many of our freedoms are taken away, we'll have to resort to hitting the reset button on America. I pray that it doesn't happen in my lifetime because it will be ugly.

That's just my two cents...plus you get to laugh at storms or other events that knock the power off for several days because you're already prepared for living off the grid.

Here are two places to get started, Survival Blog and The Survival Podcast. Both are conservative (naturally), and who knows, after a few months of reading the material...maybe you'll be willing to come over to our side of the fight before the ballon goes up. ʘ‿ʘ

Peace Out.

Heh ;)

My Infantry basic training unit was one of the first to use MILES (forerunner of laser tag), and after most of us got "killed" before making it halfway up the hill, I remember thinking to myself, "This combat stuff is really fricking dangerous."

So here's a question for "conservatives", ThunderPig

I've been a member of the ACLU for longer than I can accurately remember.

In my opinion the ACLU is one of the most conservative organizations in America because it's one of the few that actually wants to limit government power. You can't say that about either major political party no matter how much flag-waving one of them does.

Can you, ThunderPig, and people like you who have helped elect Republicans truly examine civil liberties under Republicans and find more freedom there? For all your bluster about guns, people who love guns also seem to adore authority, especially authority with guns.

Perhaps you really don't vote or participate in elections, ThunderPig - that might let you off the hook. But there are plenty of folks who say they love freedom and then vote against it by voting Republican.

BTW Libertarians come closer to the ACLU's positions on many issues. E.g., BJ Lawson comes close, but then he veers off the track on social issues.

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
https://george.entenman.name

I never understood the ACLU's bad wrap from the right

I just don't get it. Well, I mean, I sort of do. Republicans (and democrats) just like their freedoms selectively. I guess since the ACLU doesn't really focus on economic freedom, it is viewed as supporting social freedoms, thus is deemed leftist? I don't know. That's the only thing I can think of.

Also regarding BJ Lawson...as best as I can see, the only real disagreement he would have with democrats socially is on the pro-life/choice issue. And even then, I would think that he is probably one of the more formidable people that the left would have in compromise since he isn't like the crazy Republicans who claim that rape is part of god's choice for you, or some such nonsense. I remember when I moved here just after last election reading a piece in the indy weekly on him where he said:

"Abortion is the most effective splinter issue we have," Lawson said. "Because I might believe life begins at conception, that doesn't mean I want helpless women dying from back-alley abortions.

"What I object to is that the Supreme Court exceeded its constitutional authority to set a blanket ruling over a very personal issue. But as a physician, my goal is not to have the government in every exam room."

I'd say that is roughly my position as well. I'm completely middle of the road when it comes to abortion, which is probably pretty odd to most people. I can just recognize that there are good arguments on both sides, and there are huge pro's and con's to both. Hell, even libertarian-leaning message boards I visit have big fights on the issue. I think that just goes to show that there aren't any real clear answers on the matter.

On the whole though, I would agree that the ACLU is probably for smaller government than either the democrats or republicans. But then again, as noted above, they don't really focus on economic freedoms (or at least not that I have seen).

And as for people who love guns having a hardon for authority with guns...I'd say that runs nearly equally on both sides of the aisle.

ACLU and the Right

I think the biggest issue with the ACLU is that they very rarely take up a popular issue. Let's face it, defending a group that that seeks to legalize sexual relations between a man and a boy is never going to win any friends. That said, should folks not be able to legally organize to oppose a law they view as unjust or unfair? As long as you are merely arguing for the repeal or change of a law and aren't actively breaking that law, what crime are you committing? It's an issue worth fighting for. I'm against the war on drugs and seek the repeal of most drug laws, that does not make me a criminal unless I actually violate a drug law.

When you take up fringe cases that can lead to a slippery slope you don't win friends. I would also say there are some cases with the ACLU where they've defended government funding of the arts that have probably earned them the most hate from the right. Of course, in those cases it's that taxpayer money shouldn't be used for art and especially for offensive art.

Although I would never donate a dime of money to the ACLU, I'm very thankful for the work they do to actually defend social freedoms.

As far as questions I think progressives should ask themselves here are a few....

1. How are we doing on the war on poverty? Why has so little progress been made despite decades passing and trillions of dollars spent?

2. How is the public education system doing? Why do we keep moving toward a more centralized, federally (or state) controlled system instead of empowering schools and teachers? This issue in particular gets my goat because my Mother-in-law is a teacher and she has zero freedom in her curriculum. If her students get interested in something, she has to move on to the next subject as directed by the paper pushers in Raleigh/DC.

3. Is it results you care about or a change in thinking? There are a lot of reasons folks can change their behavior and it may not be because they agree with your point of view. They may have reasons completely different than yours that end in the same behavioral modification. Perhaps instead of trying the same arguments, you should seek to change behavior with alternative arguments to bring about the change you want.

Popular issues....

...don't need to be "taken up."

And for every "gay child molester" case, the ACLU has also defended the rights of street preachers and other "conservative" causes, including free speech and free assembly rights of the KKK, neo-nazis (especially in Skokie, IL), and others. The ACLU supports the right of public school students to pray on their own, even on school property, but rejects the notion of faculty/staff led prayer on public property.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Answers to your questions

1. How are we doing on the war on poverty? Why has so little progress been made despite decades passing and trillions of dollars spent?
-- While talking about a "war on poverty," tax and regulatory policies have actually conducted a very successful "war on poor people" in the last 30 years. Redistribution of wealth, or rather more and more concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer, has been the result.

2. How is the public education system doing? Why do we keep moving toward a more centralized, federally (or state) controlled system instead of empowering schools and teachers? This issue in particular gets my goat because my Mother-in-law is a teacher and she has zero freedom in her curriculum. If her students get interested in something, she has to move on to the next subject as directed by the paper pushers in Raleigh/DC.
-- Just as in the "war on poor people," there has been a very successful "war on public education." In the 50s and 60s, public school teachers were among the most respected professionals in any community; now they are attacked and vilified by otherwise "respectable" people. And while it might be unfair to assign cause-and-effect, that change seemed to coincide with court-ordered desegregation in the South.

3. Is it results you care about or a change in thinking? There are a lot of reasons folks can change their behavior and it may not be because they agree with your point of view. They may have reasons completely different than yours that end in the same behavioral modification. Perhaps instead of trying the same arguments, you should seek to change behavior with alternative arguments to bring about the change you want.
-- It is the change in thinking that I would like to see. My Dad used to say "Lord, help the rich. The poor can still beg." Dad didn't finish high school, but he understood and explained in that mock prayer the essence and results of "supply-side" economics.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

I don't want to live in a country

that has to be armed to the teeth. There are so many better ways to "take back America" than just what the Survivalists design to do it. Community gardens, alternative currencies, local power grids, sustainable living like this:

http://totnes.transitionnetwork.org/

Living in a country with no guns

can be quite "liberating", which makes it seem odd that in this country gun ownership equates with liberty. I sometimes wonder if the guns-constitution-liberty-freedom thing hasn't been at least partially motivated by the economics of weapons sales? Or am I being cynically simplistic again?

Bill Maher was on Larry King the other evening (boball casts his gaze downward at the admission of watching Larry King), and Maher said that he believed we have gone too far in gun ownership to reverse the trend now. Maher even admitted to owning guns and said that no one could take them away from him.

That pretty much sums up the situation.........

-b
--

There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

Do we need to?

I don't personally feel threatened by the right wing. It seems their murderous hatred of liberals is (so far) aimed at our duly elected government (and then only while we have a Democrat in office) and at doctors who provide women with health issues they don't agree with.

Do we really need to ramp up for Civil War II? What would that look like, the East and the West coasts pointing guns at the Heartland and vice versa?

It's the class warfare that interests me more and so far more Americans are losing that one than not. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of fighting going on in that war, much more rolling over and accepting it. Our job as liberals is to shine the bright light on the real enemies of freedom, corporate fascism.

Guns...Should we arm ourselves?

Depressingly enough, I've been silently asking myself that same question. Among the many things I never thought I would see in my country was the need to arm against my fellow countrymen. Now, I'm not so sure. I suspect this question has been asked across the ages by people seeing their country fall apart via internal division.

There is the emotional component of not wanting to seriously consider such an idea as it makes one feel as big an hysteric as the arm-waving crazies. On the other hand, they (the crazies) do seem bereft of any rationality, practicality, reality, or logic and they seem to crave killing another American, so ... maybe better to err on the side of caution. Of course, if one answers in the affirmative, the next question is to what extent to take the weaponry? I have shotguns and a couple of rifles. Does one enter into an "arms race" to keep up with the whack jobs who have been buying military grade weapons for years (that can be made into automatic weapons in a matter of minutes)?

I certainly do not know the answer but I think that we even entertain the question is a black omen.

Ivy

Answering the Questions

Should we liberals arm ourselves to prepare for a fascist takeover?
Yes, one should arm themselves against anyone or anything that would threaten their liberty.

Is America a class-based society? Is the very question "class warfare"?
Yes, unfortunately it has been going in that direction and will continue to do so as politicians continue to sell us down the river.

Are teachers unions bad for education?
They have nothing to do with education, but are nothing more than an organization established to enhance and protect their interest which has nothing to do with educating our youth.

Are liberals elitists?
True liberal aren't. Many claiming to be liberals are elitists because they desire to coerce others into living according to their own selfish standards, which of course violates the very definition of liberal.

What drugs should be legalized?
All, since every individual is supposedly a sovereign being that is in complete control of his or her own body. Selling to minors is another subject entirely.

Are the people who vote for Republicans really as uneducated and dumb as we liberals want to think or do we have a lot in common?
I meet just as many dumb Democrats and Republicans. The truth be told, generally those identifying with either political party are nothing more than easily manipulated sheep. Intelligent critical thinkers don't need parties to tell them how or what to think.

If the adjusted per-capita income of Americans has increased from $17K to $30K since the 1950s, why are so many of us feeling strapped? Is it class warfare? Do we need a little class warfare?
Class warfare is for communists. The dollar continues to reach its intrinsic value so the difference in per-capita is a useless ruler to use for quality of life.

What sources of information do we rely on (I just linked to Wikipedia, for example)? Why do we trust them?
Read and watch all of it, then make up your own mind like any other critical thinker. Learn to sift through the nonsense.

We've all had the experience of arguing with right wingers on the net and elsewhere and they seem able to go on and on forever. Where does their energy come from? Can I get a little?
True liberals never have a problem with the opinions of others and ought to be able to articulate why they believe what they believe. It isn't a shouting match or whoever talks more wins game.

Where does responsibility lie when people fail in life?
Always with the individual. It is called life. There aren't any guarantees in life. Grow up.

Why don't we liberals talk more about freedom? I think that most of us believe in the Bill of Rights much more than the right wing - except perhaps for gun control - but we don't talk much about it or wave the BoR around like the Libertarians. Why not?
Because most so-called 'liberals' and 'progressives' aren't liberal or progressive at all, but rather socialists and communists in disguise. True liberals value liberty and freedom and aren't afraid to shoot someone that tries to take it away.

Why don't we talk about the aspects of business that we love and believe in? Sure, our corporations have become our biggest oppressors, but there's a lot to like in the business world, too. There'd be no BlueNC, for example, without a very successful local business.
See above.

My answers

Should we liberals arm ourselves to prepare for a fascist takeover?
-- Having been trained in the proper use and care of firearms (and a few other things like Standard MR surface-to-air missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles), I don't have a visceral revulsion against weapons. But I personally am not real keen on the idea of arming myself against such a possibility.

Is America a class-based society? Is the very question "class warfare"?
-- Akin to asking about "redistribution of wealth," a policy that has been very successful over the past 3 decades or so, of redistributing wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people.

Are liberals elitists?
-- Accusing someone of being "elitist" is akin to pointing out that someone doesn't have a sense of humor. It is language that is unnecessarily incendiary.

Are teachers unions bad for education?
-- In some ways, yes, just as trade unions are in some ways bad for manufacturing. But, IMHO, they provide a net positive value.

What drugs should be legalized?
-- Depends on your definition of "legal" -- for whom, under what circumstances, etc.

Are the people who vote for Republicans really as uneducated and dumb as we liberals want to think or do we have a lot in common?
-- Never underestimate the ignorance of the American voter, no matter for whom he casts his ballot.

If the adjusted per-capita income of Americans has increased from $17K to $30K since the 1950s, why are so many of us feeling strapped? Is it class warfare? Do we need a little class warfare?
-- As someone said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. The serious answer is not in per-capita (mean) income but rather in median income. The growth in mean income, compared to the stagnation in median income, simply highlights the concentration of wealth against which economic liberals rant incessantly.

What sources of information do we rely on (I just linked to Wikipedia, for example)? Why do we trust them?
-- New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, and, of course, Blue NC.

We've all had the experience of arguing with right wingers on the net and elsewhere and they seem able to go on and on forever. Where does their energy come from? Can I get a little?
-- The road goes on forever, and the party never ends. It seems to me the energy comes from a sense of certainty in "their" opinions, while I personally at least am not quite so confident in my positions at time, perhaps leaving room for doubt.

Where does responsibility lie when people fail in life?
-- What does the phrase to "fail in life" mean, exactly? In the end, each of us is going to "fail in life."

Why don't we liberals talk more about freedom? I think that most of us believe in the Bill of Rights much more than the right wing - except perhaps for gun control - but we don't talk much about it or wave the BoR around like the Libertarians. Why not?
I believe that is a faulty premise. Liberals talk a great deal about freedom, including freedom of speech and freedom from government intrusion in our lives and freedom from an oppressive police state. Just go back to the debates over the so-called "Patriot Act" and other intrusions on civil liberties in the wake of 9/11. As far as the 2nd amendment, it is fair to turn the question around and ask where are the "conservatives" on that "well-regulated militia" thingy.

Why don't we talk about the aspects of business that we love and believe in? Sure, our corporations have become our biggest oppressors, but there's a lot to like in the business world, too. There'd be no BlueNC, for example, without a very successful local business.
-- Many of us are or have been business owners. We understand and appreciate the importance of profits. But we also understand and appreciate that businesses, even more so than individuals, have a social responsibility that extends beyond the quarterly balance sheet. Businesses exist as amoral entities to the detriment of individuals and the society at large.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Thoughts on Selected Questions

WARNING: This is a long answer. I believe in clarity and thoroughness, rather than 140-character remarks. And the author brought up a lot of interesting points.

- Should we liberals arm ourselves to prepare for a fascist takeover?

I have a few concerns about this question. Firstly, the term "fascist." Who are the fascists this question refers to? Because if we are truly in danger of invasion from fascists, then by all means, everyone should arm themselves to defend the homeland. However, I do not believe there enough true "fascists" in this country to pose much of a threat to anyone on either side of the aisle. If "fascist" refers to a significant group within this country, I strongly urge everyone to read a book or article on fascism and to apply the term properly. As of now, the term "fascist" has just about as much meaning as "racist." It is a term used simply to disparage someone without truly investigating that person's motivations or views. Outside of a serious discussion of political philosophy, it no longer carries any more weight than "poopiehead," and is every bit as juvenile.

Secondly, arming oneself at this point for the sole purpose of opposing people on the other side of the aisle (I'm assuming "fascist" refers to conservatives) simply shows that one has lost all faith in rhetoric and the political process. If a person wants to buy a gun to go hunting, or target shooting, they should do so. But anyone who buys a gun simply in reaction to political opposition is a "gun nut," no matter what side of the aisle they're on.

- Is America a class-based society? Is the very question "class warfare"?

Interesting question. Is a class-less society even possible? Meaning, is it even possible to create a society in which there are no classes - no difference from one man (or woman) to another in terms of social stature, skill, resources, etc.? And is "class" even a characterization or idea that we should focus on?

- Are liberals elitists?

See the question, "Are the people who vote for Republicans really as uneducated and dumb as we liberals want to think or do we have a lot in common?" The term "elitist" would seem to cover anyone who assumes their political or idealogical opponents are ignorant or stupid merely because they disagree. It would also seem to cover any person who believes that they could run another person's life more effectively than that person could (mentally-handicapped persons aside).

- Are the people who vote for Republicans really as uneducated and dumb as we liberals want to think or do we have a lot in common?

People on both sides of the aisle can be broken down into four categories: educated and intelligent, educated and stupid, uneducated and intelligent, and uneducated and stupid. I won't hazard a guess as to what percentage of our population fits into each category, but I sincerely believe they can all be found in any significant political group.

- If the adjusted per-capita income of Americans has increased from $17K to $30K since the 1950s, why are so many of us feeling strapped? Is it class warfare? Do we need a little class warfare?

Or is it because our expectations, materialism, and sense of entitlement have increased? Rather than purchasing only what we can afford, how many Americans purchase whatever they want and only find a way to pay for it afterward? If at all.

Of course, inflation is also a simple explanation, and certainly part of the problem. There are simpler explanations than ideological warfare and conspiracy.

- What sources of information do we rely on (I just linked to Wikipedia, for example)? Why do we trust them?

ncThinker responded well.

- We've all had the experience of arguing with right wingers on the net and elsewhere and they seem able to go on and on forever.

It probably is a sense of conviction and passion, and a sense of personal connection and stake in whatever it is they're debating about. Some are blind in their conviction, and some are well-studied and hold their convictions strongly for a reason. That reason could be philosophical, religious, economic, or any number of other reasons, or a combination thereof.

- Where does responsibility lie when people fail in life?

Another very good question. And an important one. I believe this question is the one that truly and deeply divides the economically conservative from the economically liberal. If this question isn't being asked and examined closely, it most definitely should be.

- Why don't we liberals talk more about freedom? I think that most of us believe in the Bill of Rights much more than the right wing - except perhaps for gun control - but we don't talk much about it or wave the BoR around like the Libertarians. Why not?

Freedom from what? Freedom to what? Freedom of what? "Freedom" is a vague concept, and ill-defined. In fact, the only foundational concept of our nation that is more ill-defined than freedom is "justice." I wouldn't assume that any American believes more strongly in freedom than any other. I would, however, assume that our definitions of freedom differ. If we want to make any progress in a civil discussion, rather than talking past each other, we will have to understand each other's definitions of freedom and justice, even if we don't agree.

- Why don't we talk about the aspects of business that we love and believe in? Sure, our corporations have become our biggest oppressors, but there's a lot to like in the business world, too. There'd be no BlueNC, for example, without a very successful local business.

Are corporations our biggest oppressors? They have no police power and own no weapons (in any significant sense). In fact, all corporate power ultimately comes from one source: those who purchase their goods and services. So, are corporations our biggest oppressors? Or are they just convenient scapegoats? Are we our own biggest oppressors?

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

here's a few NC specific questions ...

What support do you give to elected "democrats" (or Party officials) when they refuse to support meaningful electoral reform? Or when they allow the Pork industry to kill a bill concerning puppy mills? The Democratic party name is based on the word democracy, so why do they contribute to making it difficult for 3rd party candidates to participate in the electoral process?
How forcefully do you point out the stupidity of some on the extreme left? An example being the resolutions promoting the creation of the Department of Peace that were bouncing around county and district conventions a couple years ago.
What happens when NCDP ignores a decision of the State Executive Committee?

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

details?

What happens when NCDP ignores a decision of the State Executive Committee?

details?

What are THREATS

A threat isn't someone that merely disagrees with your ideology, but rather anything or anybody that attempts to subjugate you and strip you of your liberty at the point of a bayonet.

This is where guns are so useful. After all, tyrants have historically loved 'soft' targets. Owning a gun makes one a 'harder' target and thereby serves as a deterrent to those totalitarians that would take what is inalienably yours.

Don't fear the so-called right wing. Instead, fear anything or anybody that would threaten your inalienable rights; left, right, and center. There are whackos everywhere all competing for control of government in order to coerce their will on others.

"Fear is the mindkiller."

Why fear anything?

Thoughts of fear aside, I concur. Firearms are the embodiment of power, as swords were half a millennia ago. There is a reason the aristocracies of old prohibited the common people from carrying weapons. Whoever has an absolute monopoly on violence wields absolute power. The only way to keep absolute power out of anyone's hands is to distribute the capacity to do violence (i.e., the right to bear arms).

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

Cheers,

The Black Sheep