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L. Neil Smith's
Number 797, November 16, 2014

Ignorance is no longer an excuse

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Intellectual Dishonesty
by Sean Gangol

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The first time I ever got politically involved with anything, I was about nineteen. Like most teenagers I hadn't really given a second thought to anything political. That was until the tragic shootings at Columbine. The bodies of those poor souls weren't even cold, before politicians, celebrities and anti-gun organizations were calling for more victim disarmament policies. While I was never overly-political, I did believe that the right to keep and bear arms was a natural right, which seemed like it was being attacked on all fronts.

It was then that I decided that the best way to defend the Second Amendment was to learn the facts. Since I was still nineteen, I had somewhat of a naïve view of the world, so I was quite shocked to learn that the opposite of what the anti-gun side claimed was true. It didn't surprise me that there was no evidence of gun laws ever reducing crime, since laws are not going to have any effect on people who spend their entire lives breaking them. What did surprise me was that there were researchers like John Lott Jr. and Gary Kleck who actually showed that firearms actually made society safer. After learning about this I was somewhat baffled at how the anti-gun side could possibly have a leg to stand on. How could any side possibly have a legitimate argument if the facts weren't in their favor? That was before I learned about tactics such as, appeal to emotion, which sadly seems to trump both logic and reason. Of course media bias is also a tremendous boost to a side that is devoid of facts. One of the dirtiest of their tactics is intellectual dishonesty where they will either bend the truth or flat out lie to get their agenda across.

Whenever I saw a debate on TV between representatives of both the pro-gun and anti-gun side, I was always shocked to see that the anti-gun representatives could never keep their mouths open for five minutes before lies came spewing out. I couldn't comprehend how the anti-gun side thought they were going to get away with such blatant lies, when it would take only five minutes to fact check these people on the internet. Then I was reminded that the mainstream media would never hold them accountable.

Intellectual dishonesty isn't just confined to the anti-gun side. It's also one of the favored tactics of creationists. Since the average creationist doesn't usually have the education to attack evolution, he uses tactics such as, quote mining, character assassination or in some cases, blatant lies. Quote mining is where they take a quote from somebody like Darwin without showing the actual context. They also take great joy in attacking Darwin's character by labeling him as a racist and a misogynist. Never mind that Darwin was living in a time when slavery was still going on and women in America were still barred from the voting booth. It's also worth mentioning that Darwin was a staunch abolitionist and one of the opinions that he valued the most was that of his wife. When character assassination fails, they lie through their teeth. One of their favorite lies is that there are no transitional fossils. At first I would some it up to simple ignorance, but when they keep repeating false statements even after they have been corrected, then ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Then we have the so-called War on Women where the left claims that the Republicans are conspiring to violate women's reproductive rights by denying them access to birth control. I have already written about the subject more extensively in "Missing the Point" one of my past articles. Though I will point out that the people who keep repeating this narrative usually cite cases related to abortion and not birth control. However one may feel about abortion, it is disingenuous to call restrictions on abortion a war on women, when at least half the women in this country are pro-life.

Whenever somebody feels strongly about their cause, they usually fall into the whole "the ends justifies the means" trap. They feel that their cause is so righteous that it is sometimes okay to bend the truth in the name of that cause. What they don't realize is that if they truly believe in their own ideas, then they should let them speak for themselves in the market place of ideas. If you have to boost your ideas up by lying, then it shows that you have little faith in them. Whenever you fall into that trap you basically betray the very ideas that you hold dear. Not to mention that you compromise your own credibility, which makes it difficult for people to take you or your message seriously. For decades anti-drug organizations have been trying to keep America's kids drug-free by giving them a bunch of half-truths mixed with flat-out lies. What they didn't realize was that their credibility was being sacrificed right along with the truth. That is why so many kids laugh every time they see an anti-drug PSA.

The real reason behind this article isn't to point out how intellectually dishonest our opposition is, but to make sure that our brethren in the freedom movement avoids the same pitfalls. We must never stoop to the same level as those who feel that they have to lie in order to win in the market place of ideas. One time I came across a quote that was supposed to have originated from a speech given by Hitler. It said "This year will go down in history. For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!"

I was disappointed to learn that the quote was a fake and even more disappointed that pro-second amendment websites were showing this quote without questioning its validity. Whenever I see the quote on a website I always try to inform the owner that the quote is fake. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don't. Some people believe that the validity of the quote shouldn't matter, since it does reflect Hitler's philosophy. Yes, we all know that Hitler used "gun control" to disarm his enemies, but by repeating a false quote to reinforce this notion we end up compromising our credibility. People in this day and age can use Google to find out if a quote is real or not. Plus, you already have wannabe scholars who claim that victim disarmament was not an important factor in carrying out the Holocaust. Fake quotes do nothing, but aid the other side. Besides, there is actually a legitimate quote that does reflect his victim disarmament policies. "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing." See? There is no need to use a fake quote. We don't need to give the history deniers more ammunition. The same goes for anything else. If you truly believe in your ideas, then you shouldn't have to lie about them.

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