Some interesting responses to the weekend column about how there are no absolute rights. Here's an excerpt of my favorite, all spellings as in original:
Comrad Tomasky, not sense the days of Pot Pol's "Killing Fields" of Asia, has any one socialist done more to enable the advance of World Marxist Domination. I think your efforts also may rival that of Germany's Adolf Hitler in his attempt to exterminate an entire race of people. You, comrad, have succeeded in putting a "smiley-face on the anti-liberty, anti-freedom, intimidating, underhanded, and sinister regimes of the world. You could do well for yourself in North Korea. So, Comrad Tomasky, in recognition of your efforts to enslave the masses, Marxist operatives are truly indebted to you.
Such power I have! I had no idea. Funny though, how I keep writing these things and the nation keeps not bending to my indomitable will. Here's a more sober dissent:
There is a reason for the order and priority of the amendments. In some ways however, some may view amendment #2 as more important than amendment #1. Because without amendment 2, we may have no defense of amendment 1 or for that matter #'s 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10. The second amendment protects us against a corrupt government.
Finally, this one was sent, according to the writer, "an articulate, reasoned, and mostly civil response," and mostly, it was:
The Founders understood--as Mr. Tomasky does not--that government is a monster, pure force, which inevitably devolves into tyranny left unchecked. The understood that government needs not only to always have a healthy fear of the citizen's ballot, but also of the potential of having to face the bullets when citizens rise up to prevent their rights from being violated. The people in the NRA which Mr. Tomasky loathes (I'm not an NRA member, I don't hunt, hardly ever even target shoot) understand what he Mr. Tomasky does not--that the 2nd is special, and they meant what they said when they said "shall not be infringed" because without it in full force the rest of the Bill of Rights isn't worth much, and indeed, the Constitution as a whole, is just so much fancy toilet paper.
You can see here that the two people writing from planet Earth are making similar or perhaps indeed the same point. But both are just asserting. Neither offers any historical documentation for this assertion. It's just what they think, at least based on the way they wrote their notes.
What I think, obviously, is something very different. Guns are hardly our only protection against corrupt government. What about laws? We make laws. Conversely, there's a lot of corruption that neither laws nor guns will address. The worst corruption we're living with in politics is big money. What would guns do to address that? Nothing.
Anyway, I firmly believe that if you brought those guys back today and they had a little while to make sense of the modern world, they--moderate men whose handiwork demonstrates (nay, proves) that they believed in balance above almost all other values--would take a look at these insane mass shootings and say, "This is obviously insane. We sure never meant this, and clearly, government must do something about this."
But of course that's just an assertion on my part, too. I obviously can't prove that they would think this way. All this guessing about the founders' intent is hypothetical and ridiculously removed from today's reality. Things were so different that it's hardly relevant, in my view.
Also, there is nothing at all special about "shall not be infringed." There are four "shall not"s and 17 "shall"s in the Bill of Rights (most of those 17 are actually variants on "shall not" in that they proscribe a governmental behavior, i.e., shall make no law...).
This idea of American government as tyranny will never go away, but it's really, let us say, anti-empirical, and a true and grotesque insult to our fellow human beings who really do live under tyrannies. Just as right-wingers used to say to people like me go live in Moscow, I say to the fire-breathers who think they're living with tyranny and mayhem, go live in Juba. Look it up.