The Polite Society

That’s the title of my new And column, on the pro-gun cliché that “an armed society is a polite society.” As I point out, that’s bullshit: it won’t be polite, and if it were, that wouldn’t be a good thing.

One thing I didn’t have space to get into is the legal ramifications. Heinlein argued that “manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” but legally that’s a non-starter: except in extreme cases, shooting someone for rudeness (“He was playing his stereo loud at 2 a.m.!”) gets you a prison term. An armed society would only be polite if the law were changed to allow some sort of code duello (or like Jim Crow, to have juries refuse to convict white people who committed honor killings against blacks). Do the “polite society” gun lovers think they should get the equivalent of a stand-your-ground law? Is some kind of formal duel required or can they just blow away anyone who pisses them off? And can someone do the same to them? As noted in the article, I doubt anyone who visualizes themselves imposing good manners at gunpoint really thinks they deserve the same discipline.

Check it out, leave a comment if you like. I’m quite pleased with it.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Politics, Writing

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