Continuing my thoughts about Rob Pincus and the impolite society of gun culture from yesterday, lest I be misunderstood, let me say again that I do not think a polite society in Robert Heinlein’s sense requires everyone to agree with each other.
But it does suggest a particular approach to disagreement. Disagreeing without being disagreeable, and criticizing ideas not persons.
Some of the critical comments on the Facebook photo of Rob Pincus I mentioned yesterday were actually humorous but not personal attacks. Regarding the “balance of speed and precision” reflected in the target, one commentator wrote, “Like Fat Albert on the see-saw with Kate Moss.” Or, “Whatever shotgun they used on that target needs to be sent to Vang. Stat!” To me that’s funny. It is critiquing the target, and by implication the technique that produced it, but not the person.
Some of the critical comments seemed to reflect a knowledge of Pincus’s teaching, like, “That target alone is a dynamic critical incident.”
And some combined the humor and disagreement in the form of sarcasm, which of course on Facebook elicited a meme:
From what little I knew of Pincus’s actual shooting method, I recognized that this was slamming him for promoting “unsighted fire” or “point shooting” – “combat focus” shooting in Pincus’s parlance – as opposed to the modern technique of focusing hard on the front sight (which I observed being taught at Gunsite Academy earlier this year). Fair enough, but this doesn’t exactly explain the personal nature of many of the criticisms.
As I boarded the plane for Pincus’s Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Conference in Minnesota last month, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was getting myself into by attending a conference of instructors who work with a person so disdained by some within Gun Culture 2.0. (Many of the Facebook commentators are people I have met personally and like, or know of indirectly and respect.)
Having now completed my observation, I am asking myself a different question: If Rob Pincus is such a douche, what does that say about me? After four days with him and his team, I find I like him very much as a person AND understand the shooting method he teaches much better. (I will discuss the latter in a separate post.)
Before my observation, I knew OF Rob Pincus. Not just from Facebook. I had also seen him quite a lot on various media like “The Best Defense” TV show and the Personal Defense Network website. I have heard him on podcasts and saw him live in a seminar presentation at my first ever NRA annual meeting in Houston. And most recently I learned about his involvement in organizing the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors.
Does familiarity breed contempt?
Getting to know him better over 4 days in Minnesota, I can see why he could rub some people the wrong way. He does actively promote himself, his company, his work, and his instructors. He is very attentive to his social media presence, encouraging his instructor cadre repeatedly to post to social media and use certain hash tags. He also had a film crew at the conference to film videos to be posted to the PDN website.
But self-promotion alone cannot explain the hostility. My Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are full of gun trainers promoting themselves and their products. Tom Givens, about whom I have never heard one negative comment (other than self-deprecating ones), actively promotes his training on-line.
Perhaps it is his personal style? His presentations to the instructor cadre at the conference were a Monster Energy Drink fueled burst of words and confidence. He often used two or three words when one would do, and freely admits “I will chase a tangent all day long and I’m long winded.”
In these respects – save for the Monsters – he is very much like a professor. Which probably explains why I like him. I’m sure a lot of people think I am a pompous ass, too. I am just not famous enough for people to call me names in public.