Tuesday, April 8, 2008

RE: Defending Charlton Heston Against the Internets

In comments on my Charlton Heston tribute, reader MoE thought it best to attack Heston's character in a way that was, he told us, "not subtle." Well, I should have expected that. I did write the thing partly as a defense of Heston, and after all, the Chicago Tribune tried to tell me that Heston was "successful, but controversial." But would I listen? I would not, and look where it got me. Upbraided by the internets. That'll learn me to say nice things about people when they die.

"Which feds you talking about, Don? The feds that shot their best friend in the face with a shotgun, and never even got questioned by 5-0? Or, is it the feds that killed the (admittedly superfluous) assault rifle ban?"

I'm talking about the feds who have a long history of ignoring due process and the rule of law, making up law as they go along, and prosecuting people for things they themselves do without censure. If you need a specific group, you have my permission to take my words to mean "BATFE." That's close enough. You don't like Dick Cheney; fine. You're glad the Congress allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to sunset; I am, too.
But if you had a stronger point to make here, it would have to have something to do with the topic at hand.

"Comparing the "assault on your rights" of having to get a license to own a gun to the systematic murder of an entire race of humanity is not only facile, it lacks anything approaching logical rigor, and it is in fact, hate speech."

Did Heston do that? Or did he simply point out that the Weimar Republic and the Nazi regime required similar licenses, implying that it's a bad idea because it's a favorite of tyrants? Perhaps you should provide a quotation. By the way, I live in a place where a Firearm Owner's ID card is required to own--or touch--a gun or ammunition. I hope you don't. It's no way to live.

"My knives aren't subtle. Heston played into the hysteria of the gun lobby, and that drew a LOT of negative attention from the people that the gun lobby desperately needs: the middle. I assume he did it intentionally, as he persisted in the wild rhetoric to the end, and that harmed gun owners' causes more than helped."

Well, again, I can't address the substance of your charge, since you didn't provide the statements you found wild and hysterical. I don't recall reading anything from Heston that made me think of hysteria, but I won't try to prove a negative. Maybe you could provide a sample of two or three hysterical, wild things Heston said.
As for hurting the cause, maybe he did and maybe he didn't. It's hard to say, since the NRA was so successful in the political arena during and after his tenure. Concealed carry was expanding, the assault weapons ban was allowed to die, and politicians were scrambling to get on the NRA's good side and stay there. The biggest political losses of the era were blamed on the NRA's influence, and membership was growing. The NRA had around 4 million members, plus, according to polls, another 14 million who assumed they were members and another 28 million on top of that who believed they were "affiliated" in some way through a hunting club or the like. Compare that to the membership of the Violence Policy Center (7? 9?) or the Brady Campaign. Put all the anti-gun groups together and compare them; the NRA had been, was then, and is now a tsunami of membership compared to their drops.
What was the damage, precisely, that you think Heston did to the NRA? What failures did he cause? What problems?

"The Brady Bill Set and other super-left-wingers *profit* from people like Heston; they can turn to the middle and say, 'look at those gun nuts, aren't they crazy?' and the middle looks at an over-privileged white guy making extreme statements (...my cold, dead fingers) and agrees."

If the middle agreed, why did they vote Charlton Heston's way? Why was gun control a political loser then (as it is now) if the vast middle was against all those awful gun nuts? The election returns belie your assertion.

"Did he throw gas on the flames of leftist sentiments for increasingly restrictive gun regulation, and sound like an idiot while doing so? Unreservedly, yes."

I'll just repeat here that I think it would be really neat if you quoted a statement or two in which Charlton Heston, while serving a term as President of the NRA, sounded like an idiot. As for inflaming people, I'm sure you can find people who were inflamed, so I won't bother asking. As I said, only a coward can avoid controversy. Someone somewhere is going to take offense at what you say if you're taking a stand. The closest thing I can think of was his statement on "white pride" being as valid as "black pride or red pride." To you and I, that sounds like racist code-speak. But in Heston's generation, there were no "White Pride Worldwide" websites. "White Pride" has a specific meaning, and almost everyone who uses that phrase today is talking about a violent white nationalist movement with neo-Nazi elements. I don't believe that's what Heston meant at all. What did he say that's got you so upset that you have to bring it up on the occasion of the man's death?

"I do though, hope that more level-headed and thoughtful people will lead the NRA from here on out (but I don't have *much* hope of that)."

Everyone has his own definition of what "thoughtful and level-headed" means, and it could usually be translated as "agrees with me." Bob Ricker of the AHSA front group for the Brady Campaign told us on Bitch Girls a few weeks ago that he didn't care what a bunch of gun nuts on the internet think, since the "target audience" of the AHSA is "thoughtful, educated people." He meant people who think "reasonable gun restrictions" include whatever the AHSA thinks they should be, of course, and that means they also think "reasonable gun restrictions" include the Brady Campaign's ideas, since they're one and the same.

"As gun owners, we should be striving to take the venom away from the debate. "

Venom has its place. Maybe some anti-gun politician will pass away and we'll want to trash him as a "crank" who "poured flames on the right-wing nutcase sentiments." You'll be sorry you painted yourself into that corner when that day comes.

"And since you stuck your neck out on a personal assessment, I will too: if you can watch Soylent Green and listen to him blubbing that "Soylent Green is peeeeeeeepil" and still think he's a great actor, I guess my opinions on acting are just as looney as my opinions on guns."
Have you ever seen The Ten Commandments? Ben Hur? He did all right. Clearly I wouldn't have been writing about him if all he'd done was act, but he was pretty good. Admittedly, though, he only won his profession's highest award once. How many Oscars do you have?

Hey, that was fun. I responded to this one mostly because it was posted on my blog and that's what I do here. Next I'm going to fisk a fisker, not because it matters but because the sheer stupidity this next one hurt my head. Did you know the best defense against a rapist is laughter?
Neither did I. I don't think even the Illinois State Police could believe that one.


Feanaro said...

Venom and propaganda have their place.

I think a key problem with the gun rights is the lack of really effective propaganda. As much as I would like it to be otherwise, there are millions of people who "think" by jerking their knees. Tons of people react emotionally rather than rationally. Logic will never appeal to them and pretending they don't exist won't make their vote go away.

Thankfully, though we lack the ability to insert our agenda into the mainstream media, people like Oleg are helping to change that.

Asphyxiated Emancipation said...

Wow, this guy thinks Heston was an extremist? I guess I'd cause him to froth at the mouth a bit, then, since my views on firearms are somewhat to the right of Ted Nugent, or so I've been told.
The man marched for black rights, for Pete's sake, he wasn't a racist, unless he did a damn fine job of concealing it, in which case you have to admit, he's a damned fine actor...
I find that most anti gun ideas are the result of a lack of critical thinking skills.

Anonymous said...