Friday, February 23, 2018


In the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, Kevin Williamson of National Review acknowledges and denounces what he calls "an epidemic of dishonesty on the right":
David Clarke, the sheriff of Fox News, insisted that the Florida students’ reaction to the shooting “has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it,” idiotic capitalization in the original and, one assumes, in his soul. The idiots at Gateway Pundit suggested that one of the student survivors was a fraud because — get this — he’d been interviewed on television before about an unrelated incident. Dinesh D’Souza joined in to mock the students as patsies....

Scott Baio suggested on Twitter that the woman presented as Charlottesville murder victim Heather Heyer was the same woman presented as Sandy Hook mother Vicki Soto. He posted pictures of them side by side, with the oh-so-innocent remark “Thoughts?” The implication — that the events in Sandy Hook and Charlottesville were some sort of hoax pulled off by a powerful and far-reaching conspiracy of wily political operators who could not be bothered to hire an extra actress to fortify their schemes — is poisonous, lunatic conspiracy-theory stuff....

Dinesh D’Souza should be ashamed of himself. David Clarke should be ashamed of himself, and not just for his ridiculous hat. And conservatives should be ashamed of them, too, and for bending the knee to Scott Baio, Ted Nugent, and every other third-rate celebrity who has something nice to say about a Republican from time to time. And we should be ashamed of ourselves if we come to accept this kind of dishonesty in the service of political expediency.
Thank you, Kevin. I'm no fan of yours, but I appreciate this.

But while you're condemning conservative dishonesty and conspiratorialism on guns, how about condemning the mother of all gun conspiracy theories: the near-universal belief among conservatives that every gun control advocate in America wants to confiscate all privately owned guns?

There's no evidence for this, just as there's no evidence for the belief that the passage of one gun control law inevitable leads to a "slippery slope" at the bottom of which is a total ban on gun ownership. (That hasn't happened in New York State or Connecticut, which passed tough gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. It didn't happen when the federal assault weapons ban was passed in 1994.) There are those who'd like to see the Second Amendment repealed, an idea whose supporters include a conservative New York Times op-ed columnist, but even he doesn't want all guns banned. Repeal of the Second Amendment is not what the vast majority of gun control advocates are demanding. And it's never going to happen, because the Constitution is, by design, extremely difficult to amend in the absence of overwhelming public support for a given amendment.

Most gun control advocates -- even the most outspoken teenage survivors of Parkland -- just want certain weapons banned and higher bars for gun owners to clear. They want -- we want -- what even large numbers of gun owners want:
According to data collected by Pew, the majority of gun owners, 77 percent, advocate ending the [gun-show background-check] loophole....

According to the Pew poll, among gun owners, 89 percent support a proposal that would prevent the mentally ill from purchasing a gun, 82 percent support barring those on the no-fly list from buying guns, 54 percent support a federal gun sales database, and 48 percent support a ban on assault-style weapons such as AR-15s.
The NRA and the politicians it backs are blocking all of these broadly popular proposals at the national level. But gun owners won't quit the NRA in protest of its absolutism, or vote against Republican politicians who legislate according to absolutist NRA principles, for a simple reason: They think we want to take all their guns. They hear this regularly from Republican politicians, from conservative pundits, and from the NRA itself. They believe it. And it's as crazy a conspiracy theory as anything said about crisis actors in Parkland or Soros involvement in the anti-gun youth movement.

So why not condemn this dishonesty, Kevin?

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