Gun control is a hot topic these days. Unfortunately, to make a play on Ben Parker’s wise words: “With great controversy comes great stupidity.” And nothing could characterize the debate over gun control more aptly.
Now, I understand the passion behind the testimonies from the National Rifle Association, victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy and other inspired citizens. However, flowing emotion is not an excuse for terrible arguments.
One of the reasons offered against any mention of gun control policy was the “slippery-slope” argument, which claims once any gun regulation is put in place the government will begin to seize weapons from all citizens and eventually become a dictatorship.
A Jan. 26 article from CNN put it best when it said, “Arguments like these prevent an honest discussion of any proposal to address the problem of gun violence in America.”
To be frank, gun control is just the latest in a long string of divisive issues that get drowned in a quandary of nonsense.
For example, the rather bizarre things people say to the idea of gay marriage: “It’s just not natural,” “Our children shouldn’t be exposed to that” and so on.
The “it’s just not natural” argument is a perfect example of nonsense. Since when did the extent to which something is “natural” become a prerequisite for allowing it?
Refrigerators, cars and cellphones are all unnatural and yet, acceptable. Moreover, my hearing aid is unnatural, but according to the “unnatural” argument, I suppose my luck has run out on that one.
None of this is to suggest the problems we face are simple, but the arguments we often use when discussing them tend to oversimplify the issue at hand.
To use another classic example: anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist’s pledge to never support tax increases at any time. Here we have an incredibly complex problem, an unbalanced budget, that is supposed to be solved by intransigent ideology.
Is it true I am tired of the same personal attacks, unfounded lines of reasoning and (often underwhelming) meaningless rhetorical quips in our political and social discourse? Of course.
However, I don’t believe what I am advocating is radical. I am simply suggesting we have honest, open discussion about the myriad of issues we as a nation have to tackle: gun control, immigration, tax policy and gay marriage to name a few. Until we can learn to talk about such important issues in a productive way, what could be a healthy debate will always devolve into each side accusing the other of sympathizing with Nazis.
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