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Reason and Rights: the Last of the Wine

My thinking about the world changed in June of 2016, as I considered the media analyses of Pulse nightclub shootings, and the popular response to it. Predictably, drearily, the red phylum of boobus Americanus emphasized the Islamism of the shooter, while the blue phylum emphasized his choice of weapons. It was terrible, terrible that more hadn’t been done to root out the threat of radical Islamic terrorism! It was terrible, terrible that the shooter had had such ready access to deadly firearms! Nearly everyone agreed that more government action, of one kind or another, was urgently needed. Oh my.

Of course, a small contingent of libertarians resisted. No, they said, Americans do not need to submit more completely to the national security state. No, they said, Americans do not need to give up their guns. They were ignored, as always.

In the end, the Pulse shooting provoked no new depredations against Fourth- or Second-Amendment rights. The status quo prevailed. But this was no victory for libertarians; mere cultural inertia had carried the day. And because authoritarians were not effectively shamed for their attempted exploitation of the victims, they will surely seek to exploit them again. Authoritarians on the right and on the left alike have filed them away, each victim a bullet added to their talking points, each victim a rationale for expanding government power.

None of this was new. If the Pulse shooting was sprinkled with left-authoritarians’ crocodile tears, Sandy Hook was drenched in them. And neither of these can compare to 9/11, which was exploited by right authoritarians far more effectively than any crisis since. The aftermath of the Pulse shooting changed my thinking not because it brought about anything new, but because it delivered so much more of the same. I had seen too much of the same for too long: A crisis. A reaction. A solution. If Pulse didn’t bring some new authoritarian solution to fruition, it was only because the reaction hadn’t been fearful enough.

It is an insanity, if any force can be raised up to stop it, to permit this drama to continue any longer: a crisis, a reaction, a solution. A crisis: 9/11. A reaction: widespread fear. A solution: the USA PATRIOT Act. Without question, some new crisis, its reaction, and its “solution” will finally dissolve the lees and dregs of the West, and the last of the wine with it.

Is there a force that could be raised up to stop this? I’m quite sure there is. After the Pulse shooting, I stopped thinking I could wait for it. My math had been wrong.

Anyone who has the sense to see where all of this is headed: you should stop thinking you can wait for it, too. Your math is wrong.

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