November 28, 2007

Debut of "Dopey College Op-Ed of the Week": Higher education certainly doesn't mean higher intelligence (plus a 2nd Amendment update)

I'm starting up a new category here at Colossus, the "Dopey College Op-Ed of the Week." I totally got a kick out of the Campus News Confab blog, but it looks to be defunct now as it hasn't been updated in almost a year. CNC was devoted to the inanity that is frequently demonstrated in college newspaper opinion sections. They would have thoroughly enjoyed this whopper from Mike Eber -- advisor of Michigan State's debate team! -- in the Michigan Daily. The title of Mike's ... article is "Guns Are for Liberals Too." Here's the money quote, as they say (my emphasis):

Consider our presidential election in 2000. Blatantly ignoring the will of Florida voters, the U.S. Supreme Court handed victory to Bush on a technicality. Liberals agreed that there was nothing more to do in appeal, but according to Locke, if a government is guilty of systematic abuse of its power, then citizens have a right install legitimate rule. Instead, liberals stood by willingly after the ruling, acting as if they had just lost a close football game.

Where to start? First, the SCOTUS didn't "blatantly ignore" the will of the Florida voters. In actuality, the "will of the voters" in Florida was that a slight majority wanted George Bush to be president (as various news agencies later determined using various standards of "chad analysis"). As an advisor of a debate team, is Eber actually saying that the "will" of FL voters was Al Gore ... because of that ridiculously laid-out "butterfly ballot"? If he is, he should know then that he is sowing the seeds of election and hence, democracy, chaos.

But I digress. Eber's main point is that citizens -- according to Second Amendment history, among others -- had a right to have Al Gore win Florida's electoral votes because of blatant Supreme Court interference, and could have (should have) made use of their 2nd Amendment rights to ensure that right. You follow? Florida's hotly disputed electoral votes -- which George Bush had won initially and in subsequent recounts, not to mention after the fact by myriad news agencie's analysis -- actually should have gone to Gore ... and the people could/should have used their weapons to make it so.

What else should people have used their 2nd Amendment rights to "install legitimate rule," Mike? How 'bout states that, by the opinion of a clear majority of their voters, wanted to either restrict abortion or outlaw it completely? When the SCOTUS ruled as they did in Roe v. Wade, the people should have ignored the edict and made use of their 2nd Amendment rights to make it happen, according to Eber!

There's also the instance of the SCOTUS interefering again in federalism and issuing from on high that the death penalty was unconstitutional in the early 1970s. According to Eber, the people should have ignored that too, and made use of their 2nd Amendment rights to make that so.

For what else should "the people" make use of their 2nd Amendment rights, Mike? How about the recent Kelo decision which makes a mockery of eminent domain? If a government (state, local) decides to take over someone's property to build condos that'll provide a "better tax base," say, should that property owner use his 2nd Amendment rights to guard against this government tyranny?

Actually, the question of the "compact" between the people and the government was settled in the Civil War. The southern states believed (obviously) that the northern states were acting (and legislating) in a manner that was detrimental to their interests -- in essence, acting in a "tyrannical" fashion. Slavery and economic matters were two of the biggest issues. Abe Lincoln believed that the Constitution held the states in union "in perpetuity;" in other words, the southern states had NO legitimate right to secede from the Union even though they felt that the federal government was no longer serving their interests. The "little" fact that the North won the Civil War sort of ends the debate about secession and the "compact."

So where does that leave the 2nd Amendment today? Do people [still] need the right to own a gun as protection from "government tyranny"? And would it even matter? (The government has all of the really big weapons; using handguns and rifles ain't gonna do much good against artillery, tanks and bombs!) A few things:

  • The 2nd Amendment, if people are even remotely honest, confers an individual right to own a gun. That's what the Bill of Rights are about -- individual rights. Not "collective rights" or "government rights."
  • The debate over what kind of gun should be permitted to be owned by individuals is a legitimate one. The 2nd Amendment, like all others (especially the 1st) is open to reasonable restrictions.
  • Historically, the precedent seems to state that people can own a gun that "would generally be used by the military." This is what the 1939 Miller case seems to say. Needless to say, the case and what "would generally be used by the military" are open to interpretation and debate.
  • The US Supreme Court has really never definitively ruled on just what the 2nd Amendment allows. That may change soon as Washington DC's outright ban on handguns will come before the high court.

My opinion is that "tyrannical government" reason to own a firearm still matters in 2007. It admittedly would be extremely difficult for any American government to mobilize against its own people in this day and age, first and foremost because it is a government "by the people." The difficulty of convincing some Americans to take up [military] arms against their fellow citizens would be enormous. Making the difficulty of higher magnitude is the very fact that those "fellow citizens" would be armed. Certainly not as much as any military, of course, but armed nonetheless. That is enough to give quite a bit of pause to any "tyrannical" leader.

Posted by Hube at November 28, 2007 03:59 PM | TrackBack

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I'm starting up a new category here at Colossus, the "Dopey College Op-Ed of the Week."

Just one a week? How will you choose among so many close contenders?

Posted by: rightwingprof at November 30, 2007 02:35 PM