Drew Westen's book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, is, as far as I can tell, a treatise on the need to stay away from facts and logic in political debate, and to focus instead on emotion. That, anyway, seems to be the gist of this excerpt, focusing on so-called "gun control" (i.e., civilian disarmament). To be honest, I think Westen has the right idea--when pushing an agenda so divorced from reality and rationality (and Constitutionality) as public safety through state-mandated defenselessness, facts and logic would certainly be things to avoid.
He apparently decided a demonstration was in order, waiting only until early in the third paragraph to let rip with a stunningly blatant lie.
They didn't mention that the Republican Congress had let the Brady Act, which banned the sale of semiautomatic weapons, sunset in 2004.Actually, this is several lies, all in one short statement. First, the "Brady Act" dealt with background checks and waiting periods for handgun sales--not with semi-automatic firearms in general (many semi-automatics are not handguns, and many handguns are not semi-automatics). The criminal background check element of the Brady Act is still in force to this day, and although the five day waiting period is no longer in effect, it expired not in 2004, but in 1998, when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was implemented.
What sunset in 2004 was the ban on so-called "assault weapons" (a term invented by rabid civilian disarmament advocate and VPC executive director Josh Sugarmann). This law did not "ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons"--many semi-autos were unaffected by the law, and even the "banned" firearms were completely legal for civilian ownership and sale, as long as they were manufactured (or imported) before the effective date (Sept. 13, 1994).
One could argue, I suppose, that Westen was not lying, as I accused him earlier, but simply wrong, but if he is this far off in his understanding of guns and gun laws, I would argue that representing himself as an authority on these issues is rather dishonest in and of itself.
The next lie, although breathtaking in its mendacity, is pretty standard fare for the civilian disarmament advocates.
If ever there was an issue on which Americans are of two minds, it is guns. Most Americans believe in the Second Amendment, but most Americans also support a host of restrictions on gun sales and ownership.So most Americans support a right of the people that shall not be infringed, but they "also support a host of restrictions" on that right? In other words, apparently, Americans are largely unaware of the plain meanings of common English words.
A bit later, we come to this puzzling sentence:
The notion of being defenseless doesn't sit well with southern and rural males, whose identity as men is strongly associated with the ability to protect their families.Are we to infer, then, that "the notion of being defenseless" does sit well with northern and urban males (and all women)? If so, that would seem to be an attitude we should seek to change, rather than to exploit.
What civilian disarmament advocacy piece would be complete without a breathless reference to terrorism? Fear not--here it comes.
You can't fight a war against terrorists if you grant them unrestricted access to automatic weapons on your own soil.Who gets "unrestricted access to automatic weapons" in this country? Since 1934 (and the National Firearms Act), automatic firearms have been extraordinarily heavily regulated, with the regulations becoming even more onerous and draconian with the Gun Control Act of 1968, and still more so with the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. Perhaps Westen somehow failed to notice the conspicuousness of the absence of terrorist attacks in the U.S. in which automatic weapons (or any other firearms, for that matter) have been used.
He even goes so far as to include kind of a miniature manifesto regarding firearms, that he thinks Democrats should use.
Our moral vision on guns reflects one simple principle: that gun laws should guarantee the freedom and safety of all law-abiding Americans. We stand with the majority of Americans who believe in the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns to hunt and protect their families. And we stand with that same majority of Americans who believe that felons, terrorists, and troubled teenagers don't have the right to bear arms that threaten the safety of our children. We therefore support the right to bear arms, but not to bear arms designed for no other purpose than to take another person's life.The lies come fast and furious in that little gem. First, more restrictive laws do not "guarantee the freedom"--they actively attack it. Secondly, no law can guarantee safety--even a well-crafted law designed to promote safety can only work when it is not broken. To end the breaking of laws, one would have to eliminate criminals. That seems rather unlikely.
Toward the end, Westen really gets into the emotional symbolism he is promoting, suggesting that the Democrats "put every Republican in Congress on record as caring more about the blood-soaked dollars of the NRA than about the lives of our children."
The very last paragraph is the most stunning, in which Westen actually acknowledges that telling the truth is a losing proposition for civilian disarmament advocates.
If you can't speak the truth and win elections, you need to learn another language. The language that wins elections is the language of the heart.That just about says it all, doesn't it?