Intellectual honesty and "Reasonable Discourse"

Google news alerts led me to this post regarding the failure of the Thune amendment.

I actually had a pretty good discussion going with the author. Comments are moderated, but he was posting my comments and replying to them. I was lulled into a sense of security by the fact that he was engaging me and in a very civil manner.

Unfortunately, it apparently dawned on him that, not only was he not going to WIN the argument, he was losing it quite handily. At the point of that epiphany, he simply deleted the comment thread. Reasoned Discourse breaks out all over.

His deletion of the thread took me by surprise so I hadn’t saved it for posterity. I’ll recreate the general points here. Keep reading if you’re interested:

The point of his post that became the focus of our debate was the contention that supporters of the Thune amendment who purport to support State’s Rights were hypocrites. Although I actually agreed with him that Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty of hypocrisy in this respect, support for the Thune Amendment was hardly evidence of it.

In fact, the Thune amendment demonstrated the hypocrisy of those opposed to it, not that of those who supported it.

You see, the claim that this was a “State’s Rights” issue was purely an invention of the anti-gunners. It had no basis in reality and was nothing more than a straw man used to score cheap political points.

The Thune amendment was Constitutional under Article 4, Section 1:

Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

A concealed handgun permit is a “record” proving the results of a “judicial proceeding” that occurs as a result of a “public act”. It is perfectly acceptable for the Congress to determine the “effects thereof” across state lines.

The author of the blog tried to argue that the constitutionality of the measure had no bearing on whether it is a “State’s Rights” issue or not.

Unfortunately for him, the entire concept of “State’s Rights” comes from the Constitution. The point is that, under the tenth amendment, the Federal government is restricted to those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution. Whenever the congress oversteps those bounds, it is infringing upon the powers rightfully belonging to the States. That’s the whole POINT of the “State’s Rights” argument. Although I disagree with the terminology “State’s Rights” (governments don’t have rights, only people do…governments have Powers delegated to them by the people they govern).

Because the issue of “State’s Rights” is, by definition, a Constitutional issue, if a measure is clearly within the bounds of the powers granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution (as the Thune amendment is), it is, by definition, NOT a “State’s Rights” issue. Therefore, there is no hypocrisy involved in supporting the Thune amendment and, at the same time, purporting to support “State’s Rights”.

On the contrary, those who were trying to MAKE this an issue of “State’s Rights” (such as Barbara “JUST LEAVE US ALONE” Boxer) demonstrated their hypocrisy unequivocally. They opposed this issue under the premise that it involved State’s Rights. The fact that it didn’t is irrelevant…that’s the stand THEY THEMSELVES took. They opposed it because they decided it was a “State’s Rights” issue…even though they support other federal laws such as the proposed “Assault Weapons Ban”, “closing” the imaginary “gun show loophole”, and existing federal laws which DO NOT have a clear Constitutional foundation. Hey, Barb…what happened to “leave us alone???” The hypocrisy of the opponents of the Thune amendment was proven by this issue, not the other way around as they would have had us believe.

That was my argument. The blog author countered by citing the 1939 Supreme Court case of Pacific Employers Ins. Co. v. Industrial Accident Comm’n, 306 U.S. 493. He implied that his citing of the case was the result of intense personal research and his own vast legal knowledge, but I find it interesting that it happens to be one of the cases included in the Wikipedia article regarding the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

At any rate, I responded by pointing out that the case he cited had nothing to do with this application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. In the case he cited, SCOTUS ruled that one state could not require another state to enforce its laws. This doesn’t apply to the Thune amendment because it specifically stated that concealed carry permit holders would be required to obey the laws of the state that they were physically in, not the laws of the state that issued the license…I pointed out the similarity to Driver’s Licenses in support.

That’s when he deleted the comment thread.

A little too much logic and reason for him I suppose. Or he just ran out of BS arguments.

Either way, here’s my reasoning, presevered for posterity. If anyone cares to debate the subject with me, I promise I won’t delete the thread, even if you completely disprove my points and I have to admit defeat…because that’s the way REAL reasoned discourse and honest debate works. It’s not about “proving I’m right”, it’s about getting to the truth in the matter. To paraphrase a similar concept: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, you’re not entitled to your own truth.” And if the truth doesn’t support your opinion…perhaps you should rethink your position.


3 thoughts on “Intellectual honesty and "Reasonable Discourse"

  1. “I actually had a pretty good discussion going with the author. Comments are moderated, but he was posting my comments and replying to them. I was lulled into a sense of security by the fact that he was engaging me and in a very civil manner.”

    I’m the author of the blog in question. Actually, I was enjoying our discussion, as you’re clearly a knowledgeable individual and a fine writer. Indeed, one of the problems of the blogosphere is that left reads left and right reads right and everyone agrees. But there was one comment of yours that, in retrospect, angered me, and it had nothing to do with the issue in question.

    You enjoyed the fact that I treated you with civility. Yet you did not extend the same civility to me. You wrote that every morning I look in the mirror and see a hypocrite. I presented one more civil response to you, but I kept thinking about your personal attack. Why should I leave an insult to me or to anyone else up there? In fact, the insults continue here. I never implied that I did “intense personal research” and had “vast legal knowledge.” I also see that all of my arguments are dismissed as “BS.”

    Had you told me that I was inconsistent or contradictory in my positions, I’d have no problem with that. But “hypocrite” has an element of volition; the hypocrite knowingly contradicts himself to deceive others—as many politicians do. If you really feel that I am motivated by deception, why waste your time writing to me? How is it that you were having “a pretty good discussion” with someone like that?

    Not too long ago, I took part in a very long thread with someone who disagreed with me on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The difference is that he and I never insulted each other. We stuck to the issues. Since my exchange with you, I have posted that civility is a condition for all comments.

    You feel that I am a hypocrite, a BS artist and a legal pretender and I feel that you are uncivil. There’s no basis of trust for further exchanges. I just wanted to set the record straight as to why I deleted the thread.

  2. Using the exact same term to describe you that you used to describe others is "uncivil?"

    "States' rights" is a fine principle for conservatives when they happen to agree with the rights in question. When they don't, the states' rights concept is jettisoned, its supposed proponents are revealed as hypocrites and their principles are exposed as mere rhetoric. [emphasis added]

    I would disagree.

    If you believe that when a term is used to describe yourself it is an insult, perhaps you should rethink using that term to describe others.

    It's funny, when I'm insulted in the course of an argument, I pointedly do NOT delete the comment. It proves unequivocally that the insulter is incapable of making their points without resorting to such. It tends to undermine their credibility.

    How convenient to claim victim status after deleting the comment thread so that readers can't see the comment in context and judge for themselves whether it was intended as an insult, or constitutes a valid point.

    As far as my "incivility" here…you may have a point, but I believe I had grounds.

    For example: at the end of your comment citing the Supreme Court case, you said something to the effect of "That's enough for now, I'm going to go shave". If that wasn't an implication that researching the issue had consumed your time and effort, what was it?

    The implication of your "vast legal knowledge" comes from the basic fact that you didn't identify the source for your citation.

    I suppose it's possible that you knew about the case before or discovered it after dedicating rigorous research to the issue, but I find it compelling that, not only did the Wikipedia article cite the same case, but that it used the exact same excerpt from the case that you used.

    If you weren't trying to imply that you were knowledgeable about the subject and/or had dedicated considerable time to researching it, why frame the comment in such a way and fail to cite the source of your information?

    Granted, reaching that conclusion required assumptions on my part…which I probably shouldn't have done…and if my assumptions were incorrect I apologize…but I doubt that my assumptions were wrong.

    As far as referring to your points as "BS", that's my opinion of them. If you didn't feel that they were such, you were more than welcome to continue to defend them and to demonstrate through logic and factual support that they were legitimate. You chose not to do so…reinforcing my impression that you could not support them…therefore, they were BS.

    I will agree that I could have approached it in a more civil tone, however in my defense, I will say that I was responding to the tone of your initial post and that, as such, I feel that I WAS being civil within the framework that you set out.

    If you'd care to continue the discussion here, I'd be happy to entertain it. I don't moderate comments and I've never deleted a comment (other than obvious spam) and never will.

  3. I don't understand Jeff deleting the thread on his blog. Readers would determine if Curtis was cordial just as they determine the validity of arguments. I see no risk to allowing open comments to stand.

    Jeff might ponder adopting Curtis's relationship with and assumptions toward his Dear Readers. We readers of the good Chief are adults. While Jeff's mileage with his readers may vary, he'll never get more from them unless he raises his expectations and allows his readers an opportunity to make their display.

    Successful blogs are conversations not monologues.

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