Us or them?

Peter Hitchens talks about On being a gun nut and an ‘I told you so’ moment.

Well, I said I would be misrepresented when I voiced doubts about ‘gun control’, and I duly was, by a contributor who seems keen to legalise a drug that destroys the brains of the young, but regards it as unthinkable to allow individuals to own guns.

That is just another example of behavior to look for in evaluating arguments – twisting and extrapolating another’s viewpoints as anticipated by Hitchens is an indication that honesty is not at play.

But the real point Hitchens brought up is similar to one made by Andrew C. McCarthy in his letter turning down an invitation to participate in a governmental ‘truth squad.’ Here is Hitchens on the point.

The frequent arrests of people for defending themselves or their property are not accidents or quirks. They are the consequence of the Criminal Justice system’s abandonment of old-fashioned ideas of punishment; also of that system’s social democratic belief that crime has ‘social’ causes and the ownership of property isn’t absolute.

and here is McCarthy

For eight years, we have had a robust debate in the United States about how to handle alien terrorists captured during a defensive war authorized by Congress after nearly 3000 of our fellow Americans were annihilated. Essentially, there have been two camps. One calls for prosecution in the civilian criminal justice system, the strategy used throughout the 1990s. The other calls for a military justice approach of combatant detention and war-crimes prosecutions by military commission. Because each theory has its downsides, many commentators, myself included, have proposed a third way: a hybrid system, designed for the realities of modern international terrorism—a new system that would address the needs to protect our classified defense secrets and to assure Americans, as well as our allies, that we are detaining the right people.

The assault is on people defending themselves whether individually or as a society. It seems that there is a lot of pressure to treat terrorists as criminals and criminals as victims. That is related to why the tortured torture debate devolves into defining any sort of discomfort as torture. The behavior of an attacker or criminal is not at issue because he is no different than you. Therefore you have no right to keep him off you and are subject, yourself, to punishment if you dare to separate us from them.

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