Re: Yeah, guns and guns and guns and guns
Thu, 3 Jun 1999 17:08:47 EDT

In a message dated 99-06-03 02:14:16 EDT, (dwayne) wrote:

> I would FAR RATHER discuss technologies which would develop people's

> self-control and reason such that they are CAPABLE of handling such
> technologies. Humans nowadays are barely evolved past monkey stage, and
> I'm usually not at all convinced that we have gone beyond monkeys.
> Especially en masse.
> So why on earth are we even discussing such a concept? Shouldn't we be
> working on techniques to enable us to control ourselves, before throwing
> heavy weapons about?
> And yes, I realise that such technologies WILL be in the public hands
> before long, but then I'm profoundly pessimistic about the future of the
> human race.
> Sure, but I also don't think allowing everyone to do whatever the hell
> they want is a great idea for large societies with concentrations of
> people. That sort of thing only benefits the rich, who can afford to
> protect themselves, which as far as I can tell is the motivating force
> behind libertarianism.

Dwayne, with all due respect, perhaps these last comments and some of the other ones above demonstrate why the "gun debate" seems to drive such deep and emotional wedges between people. Although we try to be rational and realistic, by and large extropians are optimistic about the future of mankind. Most of us take an adventurous attitude toward individual liberty and don't feel threatened by the idea of "concentrations of people" that are free from high levels of governmental constraints. And I think people who call themselves extropians should certainly not fear liberty as something that "only benefits the rich"; far from it: Extropians see liberty as a condition of prosperity for each individual and society as a whole. Finally, I have to take exception with the idea that "allowing everyone to do whatever the hell they want" could in any way be considered a fair characterization of libertarianism. Rather, it is the sort of rhetorical caricature that can only inflame thoughtful people who come to value liberty as a primary ingredient of a healthy society after a life-long study of history -- which is how I would characterize myself.

> Go bite me, Michael. I'm not interested in debating guns with you
> because your argument is bullshit, okay? I have the option of moving to
> the US and living in a "free" country armed to the teeth. I have a
> currently-standing offer of work and a place to stay in San Francisco.
> The concept of living in the US terrifies me, frankly, as I quite like
> the fact that I can walk *anywhere* in the city I live in (4 million
> people) and not get shot. I have a couple of friends who are
> considering similar options. We all feel the same way.

As I've done at least once before, I feel compelled to point out for the benefit of those who may not have visited the States that the vast majority of Americans do not live in fear of gun violence, that action and gangster movies are not an accurate depiction of life in American cities, that the vast majority of Americans never hear a gunshot outside of a shooting range or hunting trip, that there are many peacefully racially integrated neighborhoods (mine included) where people from wildly different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds live together with civility and mutual respect and that violent crime simply isn't part of the day-to-day experience of the great majority of Americans. I know from personal experience that European cities are different from American cities, but not in the way that I too often see caricatured: The trade-offs of freedom and security are real, but they are more subtle and the differences in the texture of life is not really so great as one might imagine from reading material like the paragraph above.

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley