Rhetoric Over Guns Burns White Hot

                Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said last week, “Hell yeah we’re going to take your AR-15. If it’s a weapon designed to kill people on the battlefield, we’re going to buy it back.” This was the start of a now viral twitter exchange which is keeping the debate on guns hot. Texas representative Briscoe Cain retweeted O’Rourke with the caption “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.” The Democrat took advantage of Cain’s aggressive tweet and responded, “That is a death threat, representative. Clearly you shouldn’t own an AR-15 –and neither should anyone else.” This exchange shows in sharp relief how toxic the gun control argument has become.

                That wasn’t the only time O’Rourke was in the news on gun control lately. He also has been squaring off with Mayor of South Bend Indiana Pete Buttigieg on and off twitter. Buttigieg, seeing the political danger of openly calling for gun confiscation turned on his fellow Democrat. On CNN, Buttigieg remarked that O’Rourke’s comment “will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.” He further said that this is a “golden moment” to move on gun control. In a thinly veiled reference to Buttigieg, O’Rourke tweeted, “Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms’? That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it.”

                News coverage wise, O’Rourke has been popular as of late. He also has been making headlines because his rhetoric has been heating up in a different sense –he is constantly cursing. It has become such a phenomenon that Politico even wrote a story about it appropriately titled, Can the F-Bomb Save Beto After the El Paso shooting, reporters questioned him about Trump’s role in the violence which incensed O’Rourke. Feeling the president’s role was obvious he responded by saying, “members of the press, what the f-ck?” Politico also noted that O’Rourke described the rash of mass shootings as “f-cked up.”

                It says something about the state of American politics that a mainstream publication ran a story weighing the pros and cons of obscenity. This is not the time for moral grandstanding about cursing. It is not hard to hear obscenity on TV, read it on the internet or even hear it shouted on the highway. Cursing pervades society but does it really have a place at the highest level of political discourse? Extreme obscenity hurts the dignity of the office O’Rourke is pursuing. While the topic is at hand, Donald Trump should refrain from public cursing for the same reason –it is simply below the office. If it’s the shock value O’Rourke and to a lesser extent Trump wants, this isn’t the way to get it. Even so, this suffers from diminishing marginal returns as it would be called in economics jargon. Every time it is invoked, the shock value decreases. It may have grabbed both the president and the prospective president a headline or two early on (indeed, we’re still talking about it) but the political capital that can be harvested from it will steadily decline until the cost (being below the office) outweighs the shock value.

                Elsewhere, the city of San Francisco in their infinite wisdom decided it was a good idea to brand the National Rifle Association a terror group. The city made their declaration in response to the shooting that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Music Festival and was passed on September 8th. In response, the NRA filed suit against the city. One would expect something so bizarre to be the work of Saturday Night Live or some other satire show but this is serious. One would not imagine that the proper conduct of local government includes branding their political enemies as terrorists but that is exactly what happened. There is something very dark about even symbolically declaring that political enemies are actual traitors and codifying it in resolution. In the background are echoes of the conduct of authoritarianism. To the historically inclined, it may even conjure up images of the Soviets denouncing supposed traitors as capitalists, imperialists, foreign spies, Trotskyists and the like before they brought the hammer down. America treads on dangerous territory.

Post script: The post frequency of The Conservative Critique has dropped off as of late as I have started a new semester of college and my studies have made me devote less time to this website. I apologize sincerely to those who read these articles because I cannot convey to the readers how the readers mean to me. The Conservative Critique will continue indefinitely, but for the foreseeable future, the post frequency will be diminished. All I ask is that readers do not unsubscribe because of this. I will continue to strive for quality and intellectual honesty.

Photo credit: GunDailyNews.com

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