“I do not want to end all gun violence.”
Wait? What? Did Shepard REALLY just say that he does not want to end all gun violence?
Yes, I said it. I do not think that all violence is bad. Some violence is good.
For example, when a woman is attacked by a rapist, I think that violence is an excellent option for her. I hope she uses violence to stop her attacker, and if she has a tool of some sort like a stone, gun, knife or pepper spray, I hope she uses that tool.
If she picks up a stone, and uses it to hit her attacker on his head, a linguistically clumsy person (or someone aiming to manipulate you through their word choice) might say that the woman used “stone violence.” In my opinion, stone violence was a good thing in this example. I would not want her to “end” the use of that stone until she had stopped the attacker.
End All “Gun Violence” Language Manipulations
When someone talks about “gun violence” they are not using an intellectually honest term. A gun is a collection of atoms, just like a pen. A pen can be used for stabbing, however typically it is used for discharging ink onto a surface. Sometimes people write very bad and hurtful things with a pen. It would not be appropriate or smart to say, “I want to end pen hurtfulness.”
The thing that you really want to “end” is people being inappropriately hurtful toward each other. Sometimes they are hurtful through digital means on the book of faces, sometimes verbally in person, sometimes they are hurtful with pens on paper, sometimes with pencils on paper and sometimes with spray paint on an overpass. These are all actions chosen by that person, and most of us agree that they are hurtful and bad.
Is it ever OK to use a pen to write a hurtful thing? Do you and I REALLY want to end all pen hurtfulness? Are you opposed to the following pen hurtfulness quote?
“Tom, I am tired of you asking me on a date, harassing and stalking me. I do not like any part of you, and I am tired of your daily comments like yesterdays, “I still want to get some of that sweet booty, will you come to my place tonight?” I do not find you to be physically attractive, you are not smart, hard-working, respectful or appealing to me in any other way. Leave me alone.”
I think Tom’s feelings were probably hurt by the mean things the lady wrote, but I think her note is very acceptable. I would not have wanted to end her pen hurtfulness.
Most of the time, pens, stones, guns and pencils are used for good or mediocre things. These “good” uses include pen hurtfulness against stalkers and gun violence against rapists. Occasionally they, and many other things, are used by people choosing actions that go against your values and mine. I don’t like it when that happens.
What should an intellectually honest person with positive intentions refer to “gun violence” as in the future? In my opinion, the root problem that you and I don’t like is when people initiate violence against others. We don’t mind when people use guns in a violent way to protect themselves or others. What we don’t like is aggression. I have chosen the Non Aggression Principle as one of my highest values. Using honest, intelligent and accurate language is another value I hold dearly.
My first solution is to call things by what they really are.
- When a person chooses to end their own life, I call it “suicide” and resist the temptation to label it as “rope violence.”
- When a person chooses to initiate violence and physically kill another person by putting metal into their heart, I call it “murder” and resist the temptation to call it, “knife violence.”
- When a person uses a car unsafely but without negative intent, and as a result they harm someone, I call it, “Reckless driving resulting in injury” and resist the urge to call it, “car violence.”
- If a parent does not build a fence around their swimming pool, and their toddler falls in and drowns, I call it, “A sad accidental death” and resist the urge to call it, “Water violence.”
Even if I have a strong feeling or bias about something, I should not purposefully use manipulative and untrue language. I might be passionate about parents building fences around pools, people driving responsibly or helping depressed people regain a happy mindset. I might want all knives to controlled by a compassionate and loving organizational type that has a history of peace and perfect behavior like a church, state or company. Even if I have a passion, I ought to still be intellectually honest in my choice of wording.
My second solution is to be aware when other’s wording or other communication techniques are designed to manipulate me or others. Neither Wayne Lapierre nor Josh Horwitz are objectively seeking truth and giving you “just the facts.” They are both manipulative people that choose wording and communication to influence you to their way of thinking. I choose to think for myself, and I think using guidelines like reason, logic, the scientific method and I attempt to be aware of my own biases like my principles and values.