I’ve been struggling mentally with something I overheard following the March for Our Lives town hall event that was held at the Lyric theater in Blacksburg last Thursday. Before the event started, there was a group of 5 or 6 people who were wearing black tee-shirts that indicated they were from the Utah Gun Exchange. Their leader, who I managed to get a picture of, was this 40- or 50-something dude with the sides of his head shaved down and a graying quasi-mullet growing there between. Prior to the event, he was being interviewed by a camera crew – a crew I didn’t identify – and an individual fully decked out in Utah Gun Exchange gear was recording the proceeding on his cell phone. It was all super sketchy and I wonder whose propaganda video my person would be appearing in.
Anyway – the event begins and proceeds without issue. As the event continues to unfold, the gentleman with the partial, graying mullet gets up to go to a microphone. As his turn to speak comes up, he repeatedly surrenders his position to speak to other people. That seems strange, doesn’t it? Why would someone who very evidently has an opinion on this, someone who has come all the way out from Utah to make a scene in – of all places – Blacksburg surrender his position over and over again? I’m leaning towards wanting to blame the liberal media or gun control advocates. This is all neither here nor there in the course of what I actually want to talk about.
What I actually want to talk about is something that Mr. Partial Graying Mullet said when speaking with reporters following the event. By the way – super interesting that the media present decided to speak to someone who didn’t even pony up the courage to participate in the forum, right? While speaking with the media, Mr. Part Gray Mull said something so profound, so intense, that it hasn’t been able to get out of my mind. PGM, with a microphone in his face, said – and I’m going to paraphrase, because I don’t remember the exact words – he said, “… even if you don’t believe in the second amendment…”
Even if you don’t believe in the second amendment.
Well, there are a lot of things that I believe and a lot of things that I don’t believe. The second amendment doesn’t apply to either because the second amendment is a legal fact. It is exists in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America. This isn’t up for the debate, like G-d or religion. The existence of the second amendment is indisputable fact. Now, I’ve been turning over in my head over and over again why someone would need to harbor belief in something that is and the only thing I can conjure in response is this: he doesn’t actually think his opinion is necessarily valid, so he must couch his opinion as a matter of belief.
You see, I wouldn’t be bothered with writing this if he had merely said, “… even if you don’t agree with the second amendment…” or “… even if you don’t agree with my interpretation of the second amendment…” but instead, he relegated the second amendment to the realm of the untestable hypothesis, where worlds and lives are governed by feeling and driven by the gut. It doesn’t need to be this way. Trying to draw people into believing the second amendment or not believing in it just tribalizes the issue, making clear delineation of us versus them. Belief + us vs them hasn’t generally gone all that well over the course of history. No, we’re not arguing about the existence of the second amendment. If anyone is telling you that liberals don’t believe in the second amendment, that’s simply not true. The second amendment is real and is law.
Now, if he were being honest with his argument and wanted to actually advance the debate, this would be a debate about interpretation, not about belief in. But, and I can’t shake this feeling, I don’t think that Mr. PGM was there with honest intentions. Camera crew in tow with a posse? All the way from Utah? In Blacksburg? Come on. Moreover, local media gave this guy air. Why? All this huffing and puffing about belief or not in something that is as real as my morning coffee seems suspect.
I know this might seem like a pedant’s rant about a word that someone used, but I’m of the mindset that words mean things – especially if those words are used intentionally. And then, regardless of intention, why that word? The word belief confers a certain idea that implies lack of belief makes one a heretic. There are believers and non-believers. There are Beliebers and non-Beliebers. Followers of the faith and heretics.
Anyway, that’s just my take on it.