The new political-newspeak-flavor-of-the-month is swirling around the gun control debate, and that word is “defeatist.” I’ve been called that several times over the past week, always from Democrats who support stricter gun control regulations and even firearm bans. Just the other day, I read an article in which President Obama actually used the term “defeatist,” which pretty much solidified that word in the vernacular of every blue dog Democrat who loves using political buzzwords. Instead of calling it the “gun control debate,” perhaps we should resort to calling it the “War on Defeatists,” since such catchy phrases like that seem to rule the discussion.
The term bothers me so much because there’s such a depth of arrogance and ignorance behind it. First, to call someone a defeatist, one must believe that there is a real alternative to admitting defeat. Whatever the problem is, there is a solution, and we the “defeatists” are just too lazy/scared/whatever to persevere in the discovery of said solution. “Defeatist” is a term of derision meant to spur people into action. No self-respecting American likes to be called a quitter. The term is so infuriating because those who use it are clearly practicing willful ignorance to everything they know in their hearts to be true.
The other day on Christian Fearing God-Man, I posted a youtube video of a guy who stole a tank from a national guard armory and went on a rampage through San Diego with it (1995). Let that sink in to your brain for a moment . . . the man stole a tank. He stole it from a national guard armory. This man was so determined that he went into a military installation and stole a huge piece of hardware. He didn’t care about the laws he broke, and he certainly didn’t care about the lengths he would have to go to in order to accomplish his task. Yet somehow we “defeatists,” are supposed to believe that although the law and regulations can’t stop a man from going on a tank rampage, the law and regulations will stop someone from getting a gun and going on a shooting spree?
Forgive me for snidely laughing at such an idea. There’s so much wrong with the logic behind this that it’s maddening. First of all, if a man has made the conscious decision to mercilessly slaughter school children, then what makes us think that procuring and owning contraband is somehow going to be a moral issue with him? They’re trying to convince me that although the man is totally okay with murdering a five-year-old child, buying a gun off the books–circumventing the regulation process–is something he would just not be willing to do. Somehow, breaking the law by illegally obtaining a gun is just crossing the line to a psychopath.
Secondly, they’re not thinking about the manpower involved in all of this. There are calls for better mental health care in this country. I agree with that, but there’s just one problem: how many of you are willing to work with the crazies every day? It’s not as though there are droves of people lining up to be mental health clinicians and social workers. Even the most devoted and capable mental health professional can get burnt out.
I do work force development for people with disabilities. A good number of my clients have been people with significant mental health issues. Fortunately, most of the mental health clients I’ve dealt with have been what I like to call “the lucky ones.” I characterize these people as those who are lucky enough to have treatment plans that work for them. Their treatment plans almost always involve medication, usually some heavy-duty anti-psychotics. Although they remain a bit quirky and occasionally difficult to deal with, their symptoms are under control so long as they’re on their medication. But not everyone is so lucky. I’ve worked with mental health clients who are on medication but still can’t seem to get their symptoms under control.
And I’m not talking about some guy who has anxiety attacks. I’m talking full-blown paranoid schizophrenia. They hear voices that tell them to not go to work. They wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats, needing to be calmed down by whomever they live with (usually a parent). There are some people who are broken beyond repair, and they will remain that way for the rest of their lives. The only way to ensure their safety and the safety of society, would be to lock them away forever. That might sound cold and callous, but it’s the truth. Many of these people are not violent and generally won’t hurt anyone–but you can never be completely sure. If you heard voices in your head all day, every day, you’d be hard pressed to not snap yourself.
So am I a defeatist? No. I’m a realist. I understand that no matter what we do, no matter how many laws or regulations we have, the world will continue to be a dangerous and unsafe place. Am I saying that we should just throw our hands up and get rid of the law altogether? No. What I am saying is that we need to stop kidding ourselves about the efficacy of law and order in human society and start examining the human condition realistically. Plato said something to the effect that laws are useless to good people, because they don’t need the law in order to do the right thing. They’re also useless against bad people because they will just break the law anyway.
My fear is that the “defeatist” argument will be used against me and others in order to perpetrate odious infringements on the rights of American citizens. They want to make it more difficult for me to own a gun (FYI: I do not own a single firearm). They want to tell me that I’m somehow wrong for watching movies and playing video games that “glorify violence.” They want me to believe that somehow, because .0000001% of American society goes off the deep-end and commits unspeakable acts of horror, American society as a whole is somehow sick and twisted.
The truth of the matter is that they’re scared. The Gun Control Nuts don’t want to admit that they truly are helpless to stop the madness; that no matter what they do, at the end of the day they are still at the mercy of the good will of others. That is, of course, unless you yourself own a gun. Then you are not so helpless (assuming you know how to use it). In all honesty, the only thing we can do is continue to punish those who break the law and hope that the crazies get the help they need. We can probably do a better job at making sure they get help, but no matter what we do, horrific violence will always be a part of the human condition. That’s reality, and there’s 7,000 years of recorded human history to prove it.