Media / My Experience

Do “They” Hate “Us”?

There is a school of thought in gun culture that holds: They hate us. They = Gun control advocates. Us = Gun culture.

This school of thought tends to be promoted by those, like Michael Bane, who have long experience in gun culture. This suggests there may be some hard earned wisdom in the view. As I try to be more optimistic, I do not subscribe to this school of thought. But the longer I study and participate in gun culture, the more I understand where the sentiment comes from.

Case in point: An email response I received from someone who listened to my recent Q&A about gun culture on my local NPR station. Richard Broaddus — who I have not met personally — came here to this blog and entered the following in the comment box:

I heard the interview with you on WFDD today. You take the position that guns are fun and good, and that’s fine. One thing you said that I found extremely upsetting though, was that it was the ‘all or nothing’ mindset of the debate that prevented action from being taken, with a strong inference that it was the inflexible position of the gun control advocates that causes this impasse. I almost drove off of the side of the road, and when I got to a safe place I wrote to WFDD to remind them that nonsensical positions should be challenged by media. I mean. REALLY?! Sure, there are some anti-gun activists who would be happy to collect all firearms, but they are a tiny portion of the movement. I would say that the NRA, and all of the other groups (many of which think the NRA is too namby-pamby) are the very definition of a side that insists on ‘all or nothing’, and fights against the ‘slippery slope’ with fanatical effort.

By the way, if you enjoy your shooting, fine. My very brief reaction to listening to you today was that you are using this gun thing as a career booster, something to differentiate you from the other profs, and perhaps to score some nice speaking gigs. The right-wing academic spot can be a profitable gig, and you don’t have to compete with all of the seriously accomplished scholars in a crowded field. Good Luck!

Two points here: First, in what I said is there a “strong inference that it was the inflexible position of the gun control advocates that causes this impasse“? Here is the transcript of what I said posted on the WFDD website. You decide.

One of the problems with the way we talk about guns is that we have people on either extreme whose minds are already made up. They either think that we should just get rid of guns, or they think that there should be absolutely no restriction on guns because those would be futile. But there is also, I believe, a broad and deep middle of people who want to do something about the problems, but don’t necessarily know how to get there. I think those are the people who need to be much more brought into the conversation. But we run up against the realities of our political system which is, at this point in time, highly divisive. So, I don’t think it’s an either/or issue for the population of the country, but it does become an either/or issue because of the structure of our politics and the way people are becoming increasingly polarized at the highest levels of governance.

Second, it is sad and indicative of how low the level of debate about guns in American society can be that the author concludes by resorting to ad hominem attack. The idea that I am “using this gun thing as a career booster” is absolutely ludicrous. Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that saying anything favorable about guns is career suicide not a career booster. The only reason I study gun culture and talk about it publicly is because I am a tenured full professor so it cannot be held against me.

If you go to the Wake Forest University News experts page, which helps connect media to faculty experts on my campus, and type either “guns” or name in the search box, it will return the following:

Not that I am complaining. I get plenty of media inquiries without being listed by the university as an expert. Still, this is not exactly boosting my career (or getting me significant pay raises either, by the way). To the contrary, I took 2 hours out of my busy day because a friend asked me to and because I thought it would be helpful, not because I benefit materially from it in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I pay for almost all of my research expenses out of my own pocket.

I advise graduate students and untenured professors who ask me for advice about studying guns to avoid it, UNLESS their fundamental viewpoint is critical of guns. The new generation of scholars who have made a name for themselves studying guns recently are the ones who work within the accepted boundaries of orthodox academic thought. This is true even of the ones whose work on guns I really appreciate like Jennifer Carlson (ideologies of masculine protectionism drive gun ownership) and Harel Shapira (gun ownership as a form of “civilized violence”).

I personally never talk about my fellow Americans in “us” versus “them” terms. I prefer to seek the middle ground I referred to in my NPR conversation. But the Richard Broadduses of the world help me understand the Michael Banes more and more.

UPDATE: Confronted with the difference between what he says I implied and what I actually said, and the inappropriateness of using ad hominem attacks, Richard Broaddus did not apologize but doubled down. This morning he writes to me by email:

“I very much believe, as I stated in my last email, that people of the future will look at the America of the present time with the same sense of wondrous loathing that we look upon our ancestors’ human sacrifices and cannibalism. . . . It’s fine to go and study the sociology of cannibals or some other repellent-to-our-present-sense-of-morality group, but it’s not cool to join that group. I think you have done that. yes that’s a pretty hyperbolic statement, but as I age I find less and less sympathy for enablers.”

To which I responded with a hyperbolic statement of my own: The inability to listen or to hear, the inability to admit being wrong, and the resort to ad hominem attacks, all of which you have exhibited from the start, have been the cause of more misery in the course of human history than any weapon.

Two concluding notes:

(1) To deep-pocketed right-wing and left-wing groups looking to pay me for speaking gigs: I am available and can be bought.

(2) To my critic: My scholarly accomplishments are a matter of public record, but you can find them here if you are interested.

 

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27 thoughts on “Do “They” Hate “Us”?

  1. Thank you for being scrupulously honest.

    In theory, both sides should appeal to those in the middle who can be influenced. In practice, both sides appeal to the extremes where the money is. How do we reconcile those two forces of votes versus money?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Mr. Yamane,

    It is a sorry state of affairs that the presentation of a particular policy/social concept or debate solicits unsubstantiated personal attacks on the presenter’s character and motives. Sadly, it is my experience that since the turn of the most recent century, this is increasingly the norm.

    Personally, I think the cause is runaway identity politics and an “in” or “out” group way of thinking such that the “other” side is evil, and not just different from one’s own. Therefore this type of response is not limited to discussions on guns. I believe you would receive similar, or perhaps worse, responses with regards to other social or political positions such as unions, environmentalism, the state of public education, civil rights, tax policy, etc. etc. The problem is further exacerbated by information inputs in the form of heavily unbalanced and extremely brief quips with little to no analysis (or confirmation) of facts.

    Kindest regards,
    Erik

    Liked by 4 people

      • I saw the nasty comment in the text of your post but not down here with the comments or over at the previous post. Have I lost my mind?

        The Internet is an excuse to abuse people and lie. I got annoyed last night at someone and told him to kiss my ass. Sorry to sensitive types.

        Agree on all your points, i.e., this is not going to win you an academic popularity contest, probably not get you loads of Joyce Foundation funding, or make you best friends with the administration. Especially if some of the more sensitive types decide that your research amounts to “violence” and they all run off to their safe zones. Or picket your office with dildos, e.g., the UT Austin protest against campus carry.

        On the other hand, I did hear a rumor that one of those deep-pocketed right wing groups out this way was going to contact you 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, the nasty comment was sent to me by email through the contact page on my blog. And yes I have a standing invitation from a right wing group who wants me to talk about why there should be bump fire stocks on all rifles. Still awaiting the details before I commit. :O

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to the cattle car Professor. They say we’re going to the east, to work on farms, but personally, I have my doubts.

    Like

  4. On a more serious note, your comment about untenured faculty needing to toe the anti-gun line to survive reminded me of the bum’s rush given to Ernest Dube at Stony Brook. I was working on my Ph.D. when that shitfest happened.

    Dube’s stepping on a land mine is something I would not do justice to in a small comment, but the long story short is that the faculty voted to give him tenure and various political folks pressured the SUNYSB president into rejecting it. Rare for administrators to override TPRCs. Heck, my dean always signed mine and I was a troublemaker.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are several “pro-gun” activists who keep lists of statements made by politicians at all levels, various well-known and respected journalists, and statements of the heads of the various gun control groups, of what their end goals are in terms of gun control.

    These are not “fringe elements.”

    I’ve been involved in gun rights since dial-up modems and Usenet, and those lists of comments go back decades.

    Further, if we are going to discount “fringe” comments by people on the gun-control side, usually on social media, including dozens of well-known celebrities and pseudo-journalists, then intellectual honesty and integrity means we have to equally discount the “extremist” comments from the “pro-gun” side.

    But lack of intellectual integrity is a huge part of the problem in trying to communicate on this issue, among others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry this is off topic(well maybe not. We are talking about gun rights activists vs gun control advocates after all), but are there any scientists not named Kleck or Lott who have problems with epidemiological studies on firearms?

      Like

      • There are doctors who do, who were in at the beginning.

        https://drgo.us/ has some great detail on the base methodological issues, and the particular dishonesty with which the CDC began working on the topic.

        I’m no expert, but I am pretty solidly grounded in the research, and I don’t think they bring much to the table. We know the common qualities of those who commit crimes of violence, we have a pretty good handle on how they get their guns and the sub-cultural reasons why they feel they need to have them. The “epidemiological method” is a method, not rocket science, and researchers like Papachristos have proven capable of tracking the social networks involved. The CDC’s work in Wilmington on networks certainly didn’t break any ground he and others, including plain-jane law enforcement researchers, hadn’t covered.

        Maybe if the big names in public health and their acolytes showed any grasp of the extant research, instead of acting like they are the first to enter the field, and didn’t continue doing their research from the implicit premise that guns -are- a public health problem, there might be a place for them, but I’m not sure they’d be needed even then.

        Guns are not viruses, and criminal behavior patterns are sociological not medical. Not every person is equally susceptible and we don’t have an “epidemic” in any event.

        Like

      • Kleck is sound all around.

        There’s nothing “wrong” with Kleck’s DGU study. Some people have questioned his methodology, but the complaints are mostly of the “well, why aren’t reported crimes higher then?”

        It has the weaknesses of all self-report studies, but it has been repeated more than a dozen times with results much higher than the only other unbiased measure available, the NCVS survey of acknowledged crime victims. The problem there is that if I am approached by a (potential) armed robber who starts the interview process but breaks it off when I make it clear I am armed, that is a DGU, but I am not a “victim” and would not report myself as such.

        Like

      • Matthew

        Do you find the authors of Armed with Reason arrogant? I do. One of them I notice more so than the other. They’re kinda condescending in some of their articles about guns and suicide, or guns and homicide, but when they are tackling things like philosophical and constitutional arguments(by this I mean the intended purpose of the 2nd, armed citizens stopping tyranny), they really come off as arrogant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Remmi,

        I don’t pay “Armed With Reason” enough mind to really have an opinion. The few times I’ve gone there its usually links to studies of which I am aware, and have read, which are often duplicative or reiterative of previous public health studies without adding much new to the subject.

        I do find most of that work arrogant, either in its appeals to authority, its hubris in promoting solutions while showing a lack of precision in defining terms, or its seeming pride in apparently not doing literature searches prior to publishing to find extant research to reference. But I admittedly have a bias there.

        Like

  6. To deep-pocketed right-wing and left-wing groups looking to pay me for speaking gigs: I am available and can be bought.
    —————————————————
    My first paying gig as a commercial photographer was for the National Enquirer.
    I have my price, and it is very low.

    Liked by 2 people

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