America Meets Dale



As long time readers of this blog know I have long been an admirer of the work of Dale Price at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings, and I frequently go there to steal borrow blog ideas.  Dale turned his attention recently to the editorial at America, the Jesuit heterodox rag, which called for the repeal of the Second Amendement:

That their grief may not be compounded.

At long last, the editors of America endorse a constitutional buttress to the culture of life.


Supporting the Human Life Amendment? Surely you jest. Politics is strictly about the art of the possible when it comes to abortion.


No, no–one must be realistic about such things.


Instead, we need to repeal the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The reason: something must be done so that urban, left-leaning Jesuits can feel better about themselves:


The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.


For some reason, there are exceptions:


This does not require an absolute ban on firearms. In the post-repeal world that we envision, some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes.


As an aside, please, please, I beg you: stop pretending you give a rat’s fanny about hunting. Deep down, we know you hate it, but somehow you feel compelled to offer insincere boilerplate respect. You can stop now. Besides, hunting firearms are more devastating than ones that make you queasy. Just flop your cards on the table and admit you don’t approve of any significant private ownership of firearms. Dialogue requires openness, don’t you know?


Anyway, there’s a yawning logical inconsistency here: why should an off-duty approved firearm owner be allowed to keep it when he is off the clock? At the end of the day, such individuals should turn them in to a secure area until they punch back in. Even soldiers aren’t toting weapons around all the time outside of combat zones. As the editors note, original sin (!) ensures bad things will happen, and cops are quite capable of misusing firearms, as we have been recently reminded. Thus, in Americaworld, there is no reason for anyone to own a firearm off duty.


Go after violent media? Nah. That’s Legion of Decency, Catholic-ghetto stuff. Shudder.


Revisit our oft-idiotic drug war? Piffle. Nope. What it boils down to is that nobody at America owns a firearm or likes anyone who owns one. In policymaking, this is known as the It’s Time We All Start Making Sacrifices, Starting With You, Of Course! maneuver.


Did it ever occur to them to, you know, actually talk to an actual gun owner before promulgating this un-papal bull? Apparently not. Dialogue’s only for people the Catholic left respect, I guess. Nope–it’s time to tear an Amendment out of the Constitution and unchain Caesar to kick doors in to remove unapproved firearms from our midst. If you like the drug war, you’ll plotz over the gun war.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  The money line from the post is:
What it boils down to is that nobody at America owns a firearm or likes anyone who owns one. In policymaking, this is known as the It’s Time We All Start Making Sacrifices, Starting With You, Of Course! manuever.
It is fairly easy to call for the abolition of an essential liberty if it is of no importance to the person calling for the abolition.  One can only imagine what other liberties the editors at America are willing to have the rest of us dispense with.  Their editorial also rests upon a false assumption.  The bill of rights in the Constitution did not create these rights, they existed long before the Constitution.  The bill of rights merely recognizes some of our essential liberties to make clear to all generations of Americans that these are core liberties.  That the editors of America fail to recognize this is to be lamented.

More to explorer


  1. There are many good points to your post. I’d like to concentrate on the parallel to the War on Drugs.

    Reagan appointed a “drug czar” – a weird choice of titles for the man who brought down the Soviet Union. Odder still is that our nation engineered Prohibition, Round Two while taking no stock of what went wrong in Round I.

    General prohibitions of activities that a large portion of society WANTS to engage in is almost always a failure. It sets up a dangerous game in which criminals capitalize on the black market profits, the general population winks at the illegality, enforcement costs skyrocket, and corruption expands.

    The War on Drugs is a failure. A War on Guns will also fail. And each time, we cede more power to the federal government.

    The Roman Republic was dead before Ceasar crossed the Rubican. Are we more astute?

  2. Actually there are a good many drugs that I wish to continue to have illegal due to their deadly impact on society, so Dale and I differ in degree on that. However his analogy to the war on drugs to a hypothetical war on firearms is instructive. Attempts to enforce the drug laws have met with considerable resistance and that is with the overwhelming number of Americans supporting most anti-drug laws with the possible exception of cannabis. We have over 300,000,000 guns in private possession in this country. Most of those people who own guns correctly believe that their guns are an essential part of their liberty. Attempts by the government to take those weapons away would lead to civil unrest at best, full blown rebellion at worst. The Jesuits at America, as usual, have no idea what type of can of worms they are opening up.

  3. “One can only imagine what other liberties the editors at America are willing to have the rest of us dispense with.”
    To respond to your rhetorical question: The unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, reemphasized in the Ninth Amendment, the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, our destiny, our constitutional posterity, the acknowledgement of the Person of God, the acknowledgement of the human being as body and soul, the rational immortal human soul without whom there is no human life; America stamps out the acknowledgement of the human being’s human soul wherein are endowed all unalienable human rights. As America disengages man’s human call to sovereignty in body and in sovereign personhood, the reality of the existence of God in the human soul, America disavows the sanctity and dignity of the human being, starting with the created individual at America. Dyspeptic indeed.

  4. Thank you, Don–you are far, far too kind.

    I don’t know that we are all that far apart on drugs, either. I agree with you on the harder drugs, but we’ve been so schizo on MJ for so long that I think legalizing it (and treating it exactly like we treat cigarettes, right down to taxing, regulating the contents and stigmatizing it–e.g., drunk driving laws) makes more sense.

  5. I would not go so far as decriminalizing cannabis, but I would treat it as a finable petty offense. I do not think that legalization would be the apocalypse, but I do not think that it would bring the benefits that the libertarians contend.

  6. The War on Drugs is a failure.

    Eleanor Clift screeching “we are losing the war on drugs” makes for a more entertaining tableau.

    It makes about as much sense as saying ‘we are losing the war on burglary’. Crime rates ebb and flow and most categories of crime are only spottily detected and punished. Bank robbery has long been an exception, homicide is an exception, and, with the advent of state data banks with convict’s DNA in them, rape may be an exception.

  7. Is your point Art Deco that “the War on Drugs” is a meaningless phrase? I’m probably with you if you are.

    Thing is, I didn’t introduce the phrase. I’m just using the language our governments have used for about three decades to cover the myriad of anti-drug efforts.

    As for their failure, it is, admittedly a mixed bag.

    The percenntage of the population that regularly use “hard” drugs has leveled off in many areas and even declined nationally. The homicide and incarceration rates are remarkably high among black and Hispanic communities and the number of people with felony drug convictions is disturbing. Collateral damage in urban communities is frighteningly common and the trafficking is a serious and growing problem.

    The short of it is that the War on Drugs shows no signs of slowing because the demand remains strong deapite severe consequences to public safety and health and individual freedom. In this regard, the War on Drugs has a similarity to Prohibition. So too, the amount of currency flowing from the lawful to the underground economy through the drug trade is significant and there is ample evidence to show that that money is finding its way to remote sectors of violent crime and upheaval. Again, there is a parallel to Prohibition. The wink and nod of society that would elect three presidents in a row who admit to using illegal drugs while jailing kids who carry marijuana from one state to a party in another is sick and twisted. Again, there is a parallel to Prohibition.

    We can. Go on and on…

    Don says he would keep many drugs illegal and I certainly don’t think that legalizing drugs will be benefit society the way we are assured it will. However, I think the War on Drugs and Prohibition demonstrate that law has very real limitations in its ability to curb bad behavior. Where a significant protion of society does not share the view that a behavior is wrong, government can only enforce the majority’s will through brutality and will almost assuredly fail.

    If the minority who think our government can’t become tyrannical and, so, there is no need for the power to resist tyranny or the minority who think guns are just plain bad and shouldn’t be possessed y anyone get there way, we will see an increasingly draconian police presence to enforce these new gun laws. This will replay the pattern evident from Prohibition and the War on Drugs.

    We have to learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it.

  8. No it does not go on and on.

    1. The use of cannabis among adolescents is not what it was when I was in high school.
    2. Heroin use is a fraction of what it was forty years ago.
    3. You hardly hear anything about LSD anymore
    4. The Sicilianate mob is being done in by the actuarial tables. That was not the case during prohibition.
    5. For about 20% of those in prison, the top count was a drug charge. Drug charges are not the main driver of incarceration rates among blacks and mestizos.

    Vice crimes are derived from the general pathology of the human condition. So are property crimes. So are violent crimes. It is not an acute problem or a progressively worsening one.

  9. It is good but surprising to hear that we are winning the War on Drugs. The media depictions tell a different story.

    When I hear that 10,000 Mexicans are missing and presumed dead from kidnapping crimes, while police officers’ heads are found on the border, mayors assassinated, and ordinary citizens are gunned down daily during turf wars, I tend to accept the allegation that drugs are at the heart of the problem. Sophisticated caves under the border, semi-submersible vessals, and regular seizures at US Ports of Entry make it sound like trafficking is big, sophisticated business. Narco-terroism threat reports from successive administrations, stories about trans-national gangs like MS 13, and regular collateral damage shootings in our cities reinforce the apparently mistaken impression that drug use is high, if not as high, as before and that governments at all levels are having an hell of a time dealing with the drug problem.

    It is good to hear that this is merely alarmism, that the War on Drugs has been worth the loss of liberty that it entails, that we are rolling back the forces of evil and that, one day, a generation will pass through our schools with few users.

  10. That was flippant and unseemly. I am sorry and offer no excuses.

    If I understand you rightly to be saying that the common view that pur efforts to limit the use of drugs and to discourage the drug trade have failed is wrong, I owe you the courtesy to revisit the subject with research.

    Again, I apologize for responding like a jerk.

  11. “Elevated homicide rates are fairly unremarkable and pervasive in Latin America. ”

    Most estimates put the number of deaths in Mexico related to drug violence at 60,000 since 2006. This is not a fairly unremarkable statistic. Mexico was ranked 32nd in the Economist’s 2011 Quality of Life Rankings, drug violence and all. Although perhaps there isn’t a direct causation between quality of life and homicides, I see little reason to assume that homicide rates in Mexico would be anywhere near where they are if not for drug violence.

  12. JL, homicide rates in Latin America are typically between 13 and 25 per 100,000. Mexico’s fluctuate some but stay in that range, and are similar to Brazil’s. Even Costa Rica has a homicide rate of 10 per 100,000. That’s state and society in Latin America.

  13. Art, I don’t think it’s helpful to simply say “that’s state and society in Latin America,” as if Latinos are more inherently violent and homicidal. Clearly there are factors in play, and perhaps some of them stem from cultural/social variables that are unique to Latin America, but we still need to attempt to identify these causative factors and how they contribute to relatively high homicide rates.

  14. JL, there is immense variation in Latin America and the Caribbean as to homicide rates. Currently, they range from 3 per 100,000 (Chile) to 90 per 100,000 (Honduras). However, the median settles between 13 and 25 per 100,000. There are a great many vectors that go into that and temporal variation as to the force of each vector. By way of example, political violence is no longer a major contributor. Over the period running from 1948 to 1992, you had a mean of about 12,000 deaths each year from factional violence, insurrection, terrorism, &c. Now it is in the range of 500 deaths a year. Latin America has its abiding problems, among them malintegrated and dysfunctional labor markets, rent-seeking mercantilism, incompetence and corruption in the civil service, a messy property registry, and high crime rates. Blaming gringos snorting coke is a fine way to distract politicians and public from taking practical measures to improve the quality of life.

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