Decorum and the “Armed Society…” thesis

Before I start, let me get a couple of things out of the way.  First, I did not vote for Mr. Trump.  Second, I am not in favor of a “Wall”, either actual or metaphoric, for a variety of reasons.  Third, I do not fit comfortably in either the “Conservative” or Liberal” political camp in America.   Okay, here we go…

Over the weekend a video has been flying about on social media.  The original poster says he was in the community room / common area of his apartment or condo complex and it shows two others, a man and a woman berating him continuously for over ten minutes over his “wall” shirt, and ultimately everything about him.

He keeps his cool.  He does a poor job (about what most of us would actually do, given the inevitable stifled emotions) verbally defending himself.  He repeatedly asks the female to stop touching him, and asks them both repeatedly to leave him alone. To no avail.

If this had happened to me, I might have kept my composure through the first two or three minutes. Ten minutes of this?  No way.  Sadly, no way.  I’m not proud of this, but, ten minutes of this crap?

I also would have gone silent after less than a minute.  I would like to think that I’d have the presence of mind to simply call the landlord’s security team and ask for assistance.  If that did not scatter them, I probably would have quietly closed up my computer, packed my stuff, and then drug those two people out of the building, saying simply, “Learn when to shut your mouth”.

Lots of discussion has centered on this episode (typically labeled as Liberals accosting a Conservative in California) with the usual “us vs. them” elements, and most notably, the anticipated “An armed society is a polite society”, assertion.

One discussion I was in on addressed the “Armed society” aspect, albeit poorly.  It is this idea which I’d like to comment on.

It has been my experience that parts of the country one might describe as “Western” are often as not in the West, geographically.  Yet, one aspect common to these areas, and the people who inhabit them, is a far more refined sense of the line between being neighborly, and butting into someone else’s business.

Like it or not, humans both want to live in social settings, and yet have a large degree of autonomy.  When that balance is struck, we do well together.  When not, excuses for creating or strengthening institutions like the State, start to gain credibility.  To everyone’s detriment.

The episode in the video above comes about when there is an imbalance between the freedom to act and having to experience the consequences of that act.  If those two expressed their displeasure at the shirt (even vigorously) and then went on with their lives, it would amount to nothing.

The problem is that they felt free to harangue him without limit.  And they were correct in that risk analysis.  The risk of experiencing harsh consequences for their verbal assault, then and there, were nill.  The law, if present, would quite possibly go after him.  At least they would draw moral equivalence between the bullies and their target.

The presence of guns is not the cause of a “polite society”.  It is an emblem of one.  It says, especially if carried openly, “I am ready and willing to live as a free man or woman, accept the consequences, and refuse to shunt off my responsibilities on others.”

Personally, and socially, the further we stray away from that, the more likely it is that the scales will be balanced with, often over-reaching, violence.


9 thoughts on “Decorum and the “Armed Society…” thesis”

  1. I don’t know how we, as a society have gotten to a point where it is not only acceptable to browbeat someone in public, but in liberal circles it seems to be lauded.

    Now, writing a name in chalk on a college campus of someone that don’t like? Now that’s cause for real terror! SAFE SPACE NEEDED!

  2. That video was difficult to watch. It was like jackals circling an elephant. It made me angry, but it made me proud to know that there are people in this country who can suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” without over-reacting.

    I don’t know who that young man is, but I know what he is: he is the last best hope for a civilized society.

    Anyone who can endure such degrading harassment and not over-react is a very good man.

  3. “The presence of guns is not the cause of a “polite society”. It is an emblem of one. It says, especially if carried openly, “I am ready and willing to live as a free man or woman, accept the consequences, and refuse to shunt off my responsibilities on others.”

    AMEN!! One of the best ways I’ve ever seen this put into words. I’m going to use this quote from now on. Thanks!

  4. I agree with your point, such harassment is uncalled for, and unfortunately it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    [Devil’s advocate]
    If I was wearing a Zelman Partisans shirt I’d figure on people asking about it. As a “partisan” I’d want to be able to tell people who Aaron was and discuss RKBA. I’d be willing to attempt communicating with them.

    1. Absolutely! A side-story: Years back we drove to metro Los Angeles to visit a long-time friend. All through L.A. the otherwise horrendous traffic seemed to part around us like Moses at the Sea of Reeds, especially from the side and rear of our car. When we arrived at our destination, realizing what had happened, we had to laugh. On the rear window of our sedan was a GOA bumper sticker stating “Fight Crime – Shoot Back”. Our friend told us that (at least at that time), bumper stickers on California cars were quite rare. Locals were afraid of enraging someone while stuck in traffic and being hurt or killed for it. They tended to hunker down, and never look other drivers in the eye, instead.

    2. I have had multiple conversations that were generated by my Zelman Partisans patch that I wear on my moral hat, fortunately all of them very civil. I have found that I get good results by just honestly answering questions with out getting to preachy. And you are right that it is important that you know the subject mater well. I’ve spent many hours reading everything I can so I don’t sound like a blithering idiot.

  5. I must admit that carrying a gun has made me more willing to avoid confrontation because I don’t want to use deadly force. Maybe if I had carried more when younger my nose would be a lot straighter now.

  6. Something people forget/don’t know about the “armed society is a polite society” aphorism is that it’s a quote from a novel that’s making a specific point about dueling. In an armed society such as most of us envision, the confrontation in that video would not end in gunfire. In the novel, it certainly would have.

    Personally, I’ve always preferred to say “An armed society is a friendly society.”

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