Ceding rhetorical ground
I’m promoting this Ernst comment into a post of its own because I think it shows a clear understanding of what we are fighting structurally, not only culturally, when we take on the left. Borrowing from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt, which quotes a number of bloggers and Tweeters (though not me) on the Jovan Belcher – Jason Whitlock – Bob Costas triumvirate of evil and stupid, Ernst writes:
More on the general topic that I think is crap. This time from [Ace] (again, lifting from Geraghty):
[D]ifficult to discuss is the very violence implicit in football itself — violence that leads to concussions and brain injuries (and brain injuries of course may well lead to defects in thought and judgment).
This is especially difficult to discuss because you can’t have football without this [emph. orig]. You cannot have what we know as “football” without the very real risk and frequent incidence of serious brain trauma.
Football is not a violent game. It is a physical game. The injuries that occur in football are incidental to rather than the point of the game. Now granted, there’s a lot of gray area, but if causing injury to the players for the entertainment of others was the point, Drew Brees and the Saints wouldn’t be having the season they’re having, would they? This false equivalence between physicality and violence is more [feminist-induced] new castrati claptrap.
This is precisely correct, and it bothers me (though it doesn’t surprise me) that many of what I not unflatteringly call comic book geek-conservatives cede this ground, largely without realizing what they’re doing. Except perhaps making up for those years when the jocks made fun of them for collecting Star Wars figurines or throwing up after their first flaming Ouzu shot.
By shifting the focus from guns to football, all that taking place is a shift in where to place external blame — which reinforces the leftist message that nothing you make is your own, including your mistakes, or even the crimes you commit.
I don’t think Ace or Geraghty necessarily mean to make this point (in fact, Geraghty’s Jolt was titled “Enough with the ‘We’re All Responsible for Individual Acts of Horror’ Nonsense”) — and granted, what Ernst excerpted was but a portion of what Ace wrote — but it remains the case that a superficial shift between the argument that guns are responsible for criminal violence and the argument that football can’t exist without violent behavior is precisely in keeping with a leftist worldview that removes responsibility from individual actors and/or re-categorizes what is accidental as somehow culpable. Guns have no consciousness. They are mechanical devices. And in all but the most rare of instances, they don’t shoot by themselves. And football being a physical sport can lead to injury. But injury is not the purpose of the sport, just as criminal murder and suicide are incidental to the fact of guns.
What is accident? What is intent? How do they differ? And why is it important to make the distinction, particularly from the perspective of conservatism/classical liberalism /libertarianism?
These are not idle or fundamentally unserious questions. And though I use them here rhetorically (having elsewhere and often answered them in just about every way I can), they are crucial to disentangling pragmatic “conservatism” from the structurally institutionalized progressive assumptions that have invaded contemporary epistemology, and so forever move us toward tyranny, even when we can’t see it happening.