AS255: How To Be Wrong Better

I’ll come right out and say it: David Smalley was badly mistaken in his legal analysis of a settlement (find the article here) and when he was corrected by an actual lawyer, he doubled down and got personal and insulting. That lawyer happens to be Andrew Torrez, one of my favorite guests of the show and a listener favorite as well. I talk a bit about that whole mess and what we ought to strive for as skeptics.

I also read some comments on the gun control debate between Eli and Travis. It generated a huge amount of discussion!

9 thoughts on “AS255: How To Be Wrong Better”

  1. I’m still a little confused about the whole issue. I liked the explanation of a company not having to provide a product that they don’t normally sell, whilst still not being able to discriminate. But what if it is a service that requires the company to be more involved- How do you think it would work if a Neo-Nazi couple wanted to hire a Jewish photographer for their Neo-Nazi wedding? Would the photographer have the right to refuse and on what grounds?

    1. Well, I think the law protects places of business. So in that case and in Smalley’s example of voiceover work, there isn’t a place of business that he’s turning people away from. That’s just not accepting work from people, which I think is fine under Unruh.

      1. Cool. That makes more sense….but what about a wedding reception venue- is that a place of business? would they have host the Nazi wedding party?

          1. Possibly?….Ok, how about this- would a Jewish reception hall have to accommodate a Salafi wedding party? Or the other way round, with an Islamic reception venue accommodating a fundamentalist Bar Mitzvah party- where clergy at each might be delivering offending sermons to the owners?

  2. You brought up the inherent differences between guns and alcohol as an argument on why the analogy between the two – in terms of lethality – falls apart.

    The analogy wasn’t between their forms or even purpose, it was between lethality.

    I find it a funny argument that guns – which have an intended purpose to shoot and kill things – has the same lethality of something that wasn’t intended to kill and that means guns need to go and alcohol doesn’t.

    Let’s take cars for instance. 33k people die per year due to gun related deaths. 30k die due to automobile deaths.

    Guns are intended to kill
    Cars are intended to transport.

    They have almost equal lethality.

    Why would we accept the high casualty rate of something that wasn’t created to kill – and is NEVER intended to kill – but has the same lethality of a gun yet when we talk about guns the casualty rate is unacceptable, even though it’s almost exactly the same as cars which have a near 100% accidental death rate.

    A gun can sometimes be used to stop an intruder. No one uses cars to defend themselves. Also, you talk about how guns make everyone in the house unsafe, not just the owner,

    Same exact thing for cars and alcohol.

    What is the big difference between the three?

    We don’t have a second amendment right to alcohol or cars.

    Yet, every time we hear about a terrible fatal accident by a drunk driver, we never talk about outlawing all cars (that would be absurd) or alcohol (it’s about individual responsibility).

    I am all for greater regulations of guns – I truly am – but I’ve never seen a good argument from someone, like Eli, who wants to get rid of all guns on how they’re going to circumvent the 2nd amendment.

    All I hear is “the text says ‘well regulated'”. That still means we get guns.

    Lastly, I think that general had a terrible quote on Bill Mahr’s show, for multiple reasons.

    1. You’re a general in the US Military who likely spent his life on a military base, and i’m sure you’re highly paid. I’d be SUPER surprised if anyone was breaking into your house. You’re NOT living in the inner city or in a high crime area anywhere around america.

    2. Who cares what YOUR reasoning for owning guns is? Just because you own a gun for hunting doesn’t mean that is the only legitimate reason to own a gun. Was the gun invented to hunt? Doubtful…it was invented to take lives, often in defense of crown and country!

    3. Why do we have locks? Why do we have alarms? You’re 70 and no one broke into your house (queue clapping by people who don’t understand a bad argument when they see it)? Good for you; do we not need locks on our doors anymore?

    I don’t know…….no offense to your show, which I do enjoy despite my ‘lamenting’ the air time you give to Eli Bosnick given I find his views on free speech to be harmful, but I didn’t feel that Eli or you were able to give a good definitive reason why guns should be reduced or outright removed from society.

    My issues: how do you get rid of guns without starting a civil war? How do you get around the 2nd amendment? How do you deal with the fact that we have other items in our life that are just as harmful – in terms of lethality – as guns and many of them aren’t even intended to be and yet we accept them (cars) as a convenience or excuse death caused by them (drunk driving) as matters of personal responsibility when we blame guns in general for a shooting caused by an individual.

    1. Thanks for laying this out. I’m trying to think the best way to proceed is. I think you have some valuable objections and I’d like to dedicate show time to them but unfortunately I’m way backed up in terms of recordings in the bank. One of which is an incredibly long and brilliant lesson on the 2nd Amendment by Andrew Torrez, which I think will answer a few of your points. I’ll try to remember to come back to this comment next time I do a commentary show maybe after the Andrew episodes. Thanks again for a great comment!

      1. No problem man, thanks for responding. These things were just popping up in my head because, to be honest, I WANT a good argument against the 2nd amendment and other analogies I brought up because I hate guns but I also recognize I can’t just say “F the 2nd amendment” because I really like all of the rest of them and I don’t want to set a precedent where we can just disregard them.

        Anyways, look forward to hearing that conversation on the 2nd amendment.

        I hope he brings up that annoying bit about the comma placement in the text of the 2nd amendment because that’s the go tosemantics argument by most gun supporters I meet when we talk about the 2nd amendment supporting regulations.

    2. I’d like to take your points on.

      **With respect to cars…**
      Cars were created to provide a positive service. They are a technological advancement that has enabled a vast array of things to happen since the early 20th century, that likely wouldn’t have come about if we were still using horses and buggies. Cars/trucks transport people and things very quickly and efficiently for all kinds of needs both emergent and recreational. Deaths that happen by car are mostly accidental. If we go by the Pew research study on gun ownership, and this data on vehicle registrations and ownership in the US:

      …there are far and away more registered drivers than gun owners, and at least as many cars in the US as guns.

      Guns were specifically invented to kill people. Whatever other uses they have for sport, hunting, recreation, etc., it is inescapable that they were first created as a weapon of war to gain advantage in technology for killing other humans. Most guns are devices of lethality by design; even a .22 can be deadly. Even when a gun is used to kill unintentionally, it is successfully accomplishing its designed purpose.

      Cars were created to solve a number of non-conflict-related problems, and they have done that. Cars can be used for negative purposes either intentionally or unintentionally, but by-and-large, they are a non-lethal tool by design, that has to be used improperly to kill.

      The oft-used counter-argument that if guns are banned, alcohol and cars should be too, is absurd. We get so much actual benefit from cars that far outweighs the enjoyment the smaller group of people that use guns for recreation gets, to say nothing of those that use a gun for individual defense. As for alcohol, that is a recreational product not manufactured with the intent to kill, and again, it’s likely used by far more people than have guns, which be default means incidental deaths as a result of its use are more likely.

      **With respect to the Bill Maher clip…**
      1) your first point assumes others live in high crime areas by default. Most areas of major cities are not high crime zones.

      2) no real argument, but not much being said here, either. It’s not exactly hypocritical for Maher’s guest to be a military service member that has had to use guns, and to advocate for gun control. Plenty of other countries have much tighter gun laws and still have a military that employs projectile weapons.

      3) Nothing about what that guest said implies nobody needs locks or security systems. You’re running wild with his point.

      **With respect to reducing guns in American society…**
      How would passing tighter gun laws necessarily lead to a civil war? Other countries converted away from high gun ownership without such a thing happening. Getting around the 2A would require the same level of effort that any other past amendment has. Nobody is excusing deaths by car or looking the other way because cars are a convenience. *Cars are a non-lethal tool by design*. No apologies are necessary in the same way none are necessary for the existence of wood chippers if someone falls into one.

      I frankly can’t stand gun advocates treating all inanimate objects that people have created as equivalent to guns in terms of their existence. Purpose matters. On the very day of the VT shooting several years ago, there was a multiple stabbing in China affecting about the same number of people. At VT, 32 people were killed by gun. In China, none of the people attacked by the assailant died. There is a clear difference between a gun and a knife used in the same context. There are instances of mass stabbings with high death tolls in China, but some of those are related to separatist actions, rather than the random crazed murder sprees we have in the US.

      When you claim people “blame guns”, I’ve heard almost no gun control advocate say that. Gun control advocates see serious issues with the lack of regulation, which makes these murder rampages more probable. If your claim is that people blaming the availability of guns amounts to blaming guns, why do you think other countries have more strict gun regs? Are they blaming guns? And if they are, how does that comport with the fact that those societies invariably are less violent?

      If people “blame guns”, it’s kinda because guns, again, are designed first and foremost to kill people. Pretty much no other tool in society is designed for that purpose unless you count military equipment, which again, guns are an extension of in the first place.

      As far as the whole definition of “assault rifle” thing goes (I realize you did not bring up that topic), AR-15s may not be officially “assault rifles”, but they are “assault weapons”, and their design speaks to this. The AR-15 is a rifle more in the assault rifle vein of an M16 or M4 – short, easy to aim and wield, and has all sorts of accessories to improve it for use against people. While the M16/M4 are automatic (making them assault rifles) and the AR-15 is not, the AR-15 seems to be a damn effective killing weapon. Do people use it for hunting? Probably, but for gun advocates (not necessarily you) to claim most AR-15s were designed for, and are used for that purpose, is absurd, especially when AR-15s are constantly found in the possession of the crazy people shooting up the country every other day. Even more so when there are plenty of long-barrel rifles designed and better suited for hunting.

      Eli’s use of statistics was perfectly valid in the debate. Those figures cannot be denied regardless of how anyone feels about guns. I think the obvious implication of Eli’s facts and stats in the debate was that guns rarely make a bad situation better, so having fewer of them would very feasibly lead to less death, especially since there’s such a strong correlation between gun ownership and the increased likelihood of a gun death affecting the owner or their family. That sounds like a cogent reason to me.

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