It's always been my belief that good argumentation is
NOT aimed at one's opponents. If you truly believe in your cause, why
should not they be equally committed and passionate about theirs? The
TRUE recipients of good argumentation are the large mass of the
That being the case, I try to look at what sort of arguments
would sway myself, and use them when trying to persuade others. I
personally despise hysterical appeals to emotion, and rude
name-calling. I do my best, therefore, not to whine or rant at
those I'm trying to reason with. I also happen to agree with the following
commentary re the inadvisability of antagonizing those who
could be on your side with a little effort on your part.
I encourage everyone to do the same -- a plethora of courtesy,
intelligence, and reason in argumentation certainly cannot hurt, and
probably will help, any cause you are associated with.
For letters on the issue of gun- vs. criminal-control, please go here. For a letter on the issue of bigotry
please go here.
This letter was sent out after I received, for the third time,
a letter dunning me for money, from the organization "Common
Cause," which does not seem to be clear on what cause(s) precisely it
21 September 2000
Scott Harshbarger, President & CEO
1250 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20036
Dear Mr. Harshbarger:
I recently received a letter from Common Cause. On the envelope were
two photos. One was of a rather grim looking older white gentleman, and
the other of a young, pigtailed girl. The captions read, respectively,
'The NRA wants to make sure guys aren't hassled at gun shows' and 'She
wants to come home from school alive.'
I am not really much involved in the gun controversy, but letters
like yours certainly move me to become more so. Even not being up on
the facts of the case, I was disgusted that you would use such blatantly
inaccurate and simplified nonsense on your envelopes, and shocked that
you actually thought me stupid enough to fall for it.
When I looked inside the letter I found more wild and poorly
considered claims. Somehow, you seem to have decided the NRA -- a
nonprofit organization, just as yours is -- is the source of all special
interest money to the government. Personally, I find huge and impersonal
corporations and the WTO far more frightening and far more willing
to buy government representation at the cost of the people. However,
I can certainly understand why you would feel the need to try to tie
two completely different issues as gun control and campaign finance
reform together like that. It's sadly obvious you're doing your best
to cloud the issue with thoughtless and emotional appeals, after all,
not contribute meaningfully to rational discussion of the issues.
Since this is the third time I've received this ridiculous and
unfortunate piece of trash, I'm writing you to tell you to please remove
my name from your mailing list and your rental list immediately.
Thank you for your time, and I do hope you reconsider your mailings. I
don't think they're having the effect you intend.
These two letters were sent out after the appearance of Tom Selleck
on Rosie O'Donnell's show -- the one where poor Mr. Selleck got rather
emotionally ambushed by Ms. O'Donnell. The first is to K-Mart, the second
to Ms. O'Donnell herself. The one to K-Mart is signed with my middle name
so I can tell if I get put onto a mailing list or not.
To Whom it May Concern:
I'm sure by now you've heard of Rosie O'Donnell's use of her show to
conduct her campaign of hysterical condemnation of all gun owners. I'm
sure you also know that she told Tom Selleck that since he did an ad for
the NRA he must both represent and justify them to her.
I found this an odd tack for her to take, until I realized that she must
therefore believe that as your ad representative she speaks for you. If
this is the case I am shocked at your advocacy of her reprehensible
verbal ambush of Mr. Selleck. I am also disgusted that you back her
under-educated (she admits this herself) emotional rants -- I cannot
bring myself to call what she does argumentation.
I shall not spend another penny of my money at your stores while Ms.
O'Donnell speaks for you. Furthermore I shall also advise my family and
friends to refuse to spend their hard-earned money at your stores, until
Ms. O'Donnell is no longer your representative.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Ms. O'Donnell
To me you've always seemed a pleasant and thoughtful individual, as
compared to the usual under-educated, thoughtlessly burbling show-biz
bimbo. Unfortunately I've been violently disabused of this notion, as I
recently read on the web of your show with Tom Selleck. I'm quite
surprised at your behavior.
My first thought was 'what a jerk!' and to simply tune you out. However,
my second thought was to wonder why on earth you're pontificating about
guns if, by your -own- admission, you have no personal knowledge of
them. Stating at the top of your voice that they're evil does not equal
knowing anything about them.
I'd like to offer you a proposition. I realize you're unlikely to take
me up on it, but I thought perhaps a voice of reason might be welcome in
the midst of all this hysterical mud-slinging. It's quite simple: I
have responsible and law-abiding friends that are gun-owners. I'd like
to invite you to come with me and one of my responsible gun-owning
friends, and just go shooting with us, at a local shooting range. There
wouldn't be any name-calling, no one would ambush you or demand that you
justify yourself, no one but my friend and I would know it was you...
and you'd be able to get some first hand experience with actually
shooting a pistol.
I think you'll find that guns are just tools -- not mind-warping, or
evil incarnate, or anything similar. Furthermore, if you're willing to
try this with me you'll have some personal information that will allow
you to have an -informed- opinion on guns. I believe doing this can only
help you, as it is my personal belief that more information is always
better than none, and that reasoned debate requires education in the
topic of discussion.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to a reply.
--B. A. Collier
This was in response to an e-mail I received concerning my gun
control = media propaganda pages.
I happen to agree with you concerning the Second Amendment -- either
change it or don't! But stop throwing all these foolish and misguided
attempts at gun regulations that deliberately flout the Second Amendment
at us. I feel the same way about the issue of free speech -- partial
free speech is about as logical as being partially pregnant.
As far as careless people allowing murderous children access to guns,
we should keep in mind that not all the school shootings occurred in
this fashion. On several occasions the guns were unlawfully gotten. One
case I'm thinking of specifically (Arkansas, I believe?) the two boys in
question broke into a safe and smashed a locked case to get at the guns.
The recent shooting in Canada (a country with strong gun control
laws) also demonstrates this -- namely that if people want guns, they
WILL find a way to get them.
It's my belief that it would be more productive to heavily punish
those that misuse guns. If someone steals your car, and it's used in
the commision of a crime, we don't punish the responsible car owner. We
punish the thief that smashed a window to get into the car and took
the car on a joyride that ends up killing someone. And yes, parents are
responsible for their children, as well as for safely storing weapons
and cars. But if the storage was safe, the parent has gone to
great lengths to keep dangerous tools from the children -- and the child
still goes to great lengths to retrieve these tools, how can you
hold the parents responsible? They've both acted in a moral fashion,
and done what is required by law.
Ordinarily I would agree with you concerning gun registration. It
seems quite harmless on the surface. However, as I noted towards the
end of my paper, it would work ONLY if it were truly gun registration,
not a prelude to further restrictions and confiscations. This may seem
overly paranoid, but I will note that we can see this precise
issue in action today. Consider: the Brady Bill was supposed to put
a 3 to 5 day waiting period into effect until instant checks could
be instituted. The information gathered was supposed to be kept for a
maximum of about 3 months for administrative purposes only.
Today we have instant checks in place. Unfortunately, the organizations
responsible for destroying the records are keeping them -- they are
breaking the law! Furthermore, our president has put forth a
broad crime bill which includes a provision that expands the Brady Law,
reinstating the waiting period. Why? We already have an instant
This is exactly what gun ownership proponents are afraid of... and in
light of current events, I think their fear is justified. Individual,
shocking tragedies are being used as a pretext to further the
abolitionists' agenda. People keep saying gun owners are paranoid. I
think the gun owners have every right to be concerned about the actions
of the abolitionists and the legislature.
Key members of the gun control faction have stated publicly that
'this for the children.' There have been several documents leaked
from their organizations which make their agenda very clear. Those
organizations have since disavowed any knowledge of these documents,
saying they are complete frauds. However, their actions and activities
strongly correlate to the goals and plans stated in these documents:
the complete abolition of guns in the United States.
Furthermore, they use advocacy research (a study performed to support
a pre-determined result. Any data that doesn't 'fit' is discarded). A
single example: redefining 'child' as including all individuals up to
the age of 24, to inflate the child mortality rate due to guns. This
doesn't make their 'research' accurate, or their facts true. Yes, they
have actually done this -- I mention this in my paper. Or you could
check out the data in some of their supposed research -- but good luck
finding it. Most of the time they won't release their raw data, just
their conclusions. Or you could read Suter's paper about accuracy in
research. I list a link to that very article in my bibliography.
Unfortunately they frequently cloud the issue by characterizing any
research that doesn't support their beliefs as 'flawed' or simply state
'it has been refuted,' and again, they provide no supporting documentation
To me, this means the 'gun control nuts' are either liars, sadly
misinformed, or in a very strong state of denial. One thing you must
realize, most of the visible proponents of these laws have suffered great
personal tragedy. While I'm sympathetic to their loss, I don't think an
emotional appeal is a substitute for good science and good laws.
As far as the proponents that deliberately lie... I despise liars,
almost as much as I despise hypocrites. I consider these people to
be both. Think about it: if it were really for the children,
why aren't they legislating out of existence the things that kill more
children than guns do? More children are killed in car wrecks or drowned
in swimming pools than are killed by guns... yet we don't have car control
nuts or swimming pool control nuts. How about getting every kid in the
United States vaccinated? All this time and effort would be much better
spent improving the lives of children, rather than restricting the lives
As far as the media being free... heh. I'm afraid I fear
the media's bias almost as much as I fear my government's
bias. For an interesting view on it, I recommend Dr. John Lott's
webpage discussing how the media treated him and his 1998 book More Guns,
Unfortunately there are no major newspapers or media outlets
that aren't owned by some major international corporation. Needless to
say, there's been a quiet chilling effect on certain types of stories
-- not just over the issue of guns. How can these people be
unbiased? How can our press consider itself 'free'? The answer is: they
can't. The newspapers owned by the conglomerate that includes Disney,
for example, didn't report anything a year or two ago concerning problems
Disney is having with workers in EuroDisney, and the newspapers owned
by Warner made almost no mention whatsoever concerning the furor a few
years ago over the rap song 'Cop Killer.' I'm sure it was just coincidence
that the singer was contracted to Warner. ;-)
No, I don't think the top brass in these corporations are saying
'you may not do this.' I think the people in the 'front lines' are
inadvertently shying away from stories that might get them in trouble
'up the line.' If there's only 3 companies in the country that own
every newspaper, where can you go if your editor won't publish your
For myself, the piece of 'research' I would MOST love to get a
copy of is the Kellerman study. Unfortunately it appears he won't let
anyone see his actual numbers. I try hard not to assume that is
due to a guilty conscience, but he does make it difficult on occasion...
Glad you enjoyed the resources I could find though.
This letter was sent concerning
Steven Pyrhho's article in Salon titled Black
& White & read all over.
Mr. Pyrhho has my sympathies. I had something similar happen to me
some months ago, in what was supposed to be a senior thesis under-grad
class on the cultural construction of masculinity at the University of
California in Santa Cruz anthropology department. A grad student, who
did not know how to handle conflict within the classroom, was teaching
this high level under-grad class.
A young Asian girl in the class decided I was a racist. No matter what
the actual details of the occurrence were -- I (a white woman) had been
branded a racist by a woman of color. As a consequence, no concept I
wanted to explore and nothing I said could be of any significance. The
one person who openly noted in class that the girl was deliberately
misinterpreting my words was informed that he (a white man) was "behaving
in a patriarchal fashion." It was courageous of him to speak out,
and I deeply appreciated his telling comment to me later, "Her identity
crisis is NOT your problem, Collie." He was also accused of "heightism"
since he was taller than most of the people in the class...
Everyone else in the class was either silent or actively supported the
girl in her verbal attacks on me. I even received "supportive"
hate-mail, letting me know that they were willing to help me once I had
"admitted my complicity in racist white privilege." I believe that many
chose to remain silent in an effort to avoid being labeled a racist by
the girl's clique and the instructor. The instructor, who should have
remained neutral while encouraging debate, alleviated his "cultural
feelings of guilt for [my] whiteness" (his words, not mine) by actively
encouraging the girl to speak at length, while asking me to remain
No one was allowed to question this girl's assessment. It was assumed to
be true because she was a 'woman of color' and I was (I suppose) a
'colorless woman.' No one was allowed to ask why judgement based on the
color of my skin was acceptable behavior. None of my experiences (in the
United States or abroad) were relevant; they had already formed their
opinion and had decided who and what I was, regardless of the facts. I
was the class scapegoat, designated by the instructor as a convenient
target to alleviate their own fear of being labeled racist. If the
righteous defenders of the new status quo were attacking me, everyone
else in the class could keep their heads down and avoid getting attacked
themselves. Amusingly enough, the only other 'woman of color' in that
class came to me privately and told me to stick to my guns -- the class
would find a new scapegoat soon enough.
I chose to fight back against this bit of bigotry. I did not
and do not believe that those who shout loudest are necessarily
right. You can see my final paper (which the instructor disliked)
I firmly believe that universities should be places of learning and
intellectual exploration. Until people of conscience refuse to allow the
anxieties of the thoughtless and insecure to dictate what is taught, we
will be force-fed dogma instead of learning to question, to explore. I
realize it is currently very hard to be a single, lonely voice of reason
against what appears to be a uniform mass consensus, but I encourage you
to try. If nothing else, your conscience will be clear. :-)
Thanks for listening, and good luck.