On Tuesday, I expressed my opinion about assault weapons and the government. I should have known better.
The argument over assault weapons still rages on my Facebook page, a mindless dogfight in which emotion passes for logic. I tried to cool things off with this post:
“Enough with the insults, guys. We all have different opinions. Doesn’t mean we have to get nasty about them. Calm down. Deep breaths, clear your minds. Now, imagine Donald Trump in a Speedo.”
Disgusting, I know. But I was going for a mental flash-bang grenade as a way to stun everyone into a brain reset. Didn’t work. A couple of blinks, and they were right back at it:
A • “You’re stupid.
B • “No, you’re stupid and a [deleted].”
A • “I wasn’t the one who said we could stop an alien invasion with martyrs.”
B • “Can’t you read? Go back to school. I said, ‘mortars,’ not ‘martyrs.’ Damn you’re dumb.”
The “farce” is strong with such as these. Whichever side of the assault gun question they’ve chosen, their minds are made up and defended with their ego. And it’s nearly impossible to change a person’s mind when passion is involved.
Not everyone resorts to disagreeing by becoming disagreeable. The best response to my suggestion that assault weapons should be banned was from a guy whose identity I will protect by referring to him here only as … Brett Madsen. Sorry, I couldn’t be bothered to think up a fake name.
Brett • “Yeah because the drug dealers, thieves and rapists won’t have an ‘assault’ weapon. Smh [shaking my head]. We can agree to disagree on this one, Kirby. But much respect.”
In turn, I have to respect Brett’s decision to disagree with me because he adds logic to his argument, with that “respect” comment.
See, he knows he isn’t going to change my mind by insulting me or warning about some future takeover of the world by extra-smart apes. Best of all, the lines of communication are still open.
I know what you’re thinking: “But what if I don’t respect the other person.”
The answer to that is simple. Hell, it’s so simple that it might even become law when the apes finally do rule. “Don’t debate people you don’t respect.”
If you have to deal with them, don’t let your disrespect creep into the discussion. Things always go downhill after that.
Dale Carnegie summed it up this way: “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
I like this one by William E. Gladstone even better: “Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.”
Emotions, or simple human feelings, have caused more problems than any other capabilities we have as a species. It’s the glue that enables us to hold onto beliefs for which there is no actual evidence — just our opinions.
But logic needs oversight as well. The recent massacres are terrible tragedies, all aided by a certain item some people believe no one needs or should have. It’s possible to use that same logic on other things.
Roughly 10,000 Americans are killed every year in DUI-related crashes. It’s a terrible body count but goes unremarked because it’s just a few at a time. Would America’s opinion change if alcohol killed 50 or more in a single crash?
Probably not. People who drink responsibly aren’t going to let the government take away their “right” to partake just because others do so irresponsibly.
So, Prohibition is not the answer. We know how well the last one worked. But if we’re going to do something about guns — booze, drugs, migrants, drones or whatever else is bothering us — a good start is not losing our minds or our manners in doing it.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.