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The Sleep of the Just and the Unjust

Monday, March 12, 2018 15:17
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“How do you sleep at night?” This is a question that gets raised in debates over any subject with moral implications and is meant to be a coup de grâce, at attempt to shut down the discussion.“How do you sleep at night?” This is a question that gets raised in debates over any subject with moral implications and is meant to be a coup de grâce, at attempt to shut down the discussion.

Fayetteville, AR – -(“How do you sleep at night?” This is a question that gets raised in debates over any subject with moral implications and is meant to be a coup de grâce, at attempt to shut down the discussion.  And this is also an ad hominem attack, along with a red herring, since it shifts the talk from the actual argument to the personal lives of the participants.

In addition, it’s pointless to raise the question of nightly repose. Lots of decent people have trouble sleeping, while those who are deficient in conscience are undisturbed. Or as English judge Charles Bowen wrote:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.

I mention all of that to lay the context of what I have to say about Linda Tirado’s article in The Daily Beast, titled, “Dear Dana Loesch: How Do You Sleep at Night? An open letter to the NRA’s top apologist: You are contemptible. You don’t scare me, and neither do your sick fans.”

Tirado refers to her personal history of owning and firing guns to support her argument. This is a common tactic among gun control advocates, one that is impossible to verify but appears to be used to create a feeling of camaraderie with gun rights supporters. But I couldn’t possibly care less about whether a person owns or does not own firearms when the topic is the right to do so. If you’re attacking a particular right, you’ll earn no points with me by telling me that you simultaneously exercise that right.

She also attacks Loesch’s career, suggesting that selling a cause or pitching a television show concept somehow undermines the quality of the argument in favor of gun rights. Anyone who has spent time promoting creative works knows, and I speak from experience here, that a lot of the process is firing into the dark and hoping to hit something. But Tirado has committed a tactical error in her article by making things personal since her own life opens her to the same kind of criticism that she wants to level against Loesch. Tirado came onto the public stage in social media and with her book, Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, as an advocate for the poor, and yet important questions have been asked about how truthful her autobiographical claims have been. At the least, Tirado is someone who is willing to inject a degree of plasticity to the facts.

And then there are the attacks that she makes on Loesch from the perspective of religion. Tirado is certain that Loesch is not living up to the standards of the Bible, and that takes us to thorny debates of doctrine, which are beyond the scope here. What I will say is that I have had my own disagreements with Loesch regarding her claims about the “godless left,” though my point was that in a nation with a secular constitution, our rights aren’t dependent on getting one’s reading of the Bible correct in the view of anyone else, and I’ll say the same to Tirado. I’ll also add that many people read the same text and honestly arrive at radically different interpretations, and with that, I’ll move on.

Like Tirado, I have expressed my dismay over the NRA’s failure to stand up for gun rights in cases like those of Philando Castile, a legally armed person who was killed by a police officer in a traffic stop, and this gets me to my main point. Tirado’s posing as someone who is holier, more working class, and more moral than Dana Loesch isn’t going to work—unless her goal is to allow herself and those who agree with her to feel smug. What can achieve good results is to ask the NRA and others to be consistent with the principles that all of us on the side of gun rights agree with, namely to defend those rights for all, regardless of religion and ancestry.

But it certainly isn’t fair to say that Loesch specifically or the NRA, in general, has anything to apologize for with regard to mass shootings.

Defending gun rights does not imply approval or support of murder. Neither does opposition to gun control, especially since the claim that gun laws save lives is not verified in the data. The assumption—occasionally explicit, but so often present in any case—is that if we don’t immediately express our willingness to curtail rights, we are ghouls who revel in blood, and that is what we must combat. Not agreeing with the pet solutions of people like Tirado doesn’t mean that we want to see people killed. It means that we require any proposed solution to come with evidence that it will work and with a respect for basic rights. That is what we must keep driving home when we confront demands to impose new bans and restrictions on guns.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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