Here’s the situation: Your child is one of 12 convening in the park for a game. The kids play together regularly and decide by consensus or vote what game to play. Today, they begin discussing their options. After some debate—even arguing—the consensus has it that most of the kids favor a game of baseball.
But three of the kids want to play football. The baseball advocates call for a vote. The footballers say a vote isn’t necessary: they’re playing football and that’s that.
Finally someone says, “There’s an easy way to solve this: how many want to play baseball?” Of the 12 kids, 9 raise their hands.
So, we’re playing baseball, right? Not so fast. The kids who want to play football begin to shout the others down. They threaten to break up the game: “We don’t believe you really want to play baseball at all. You just want to keep us from playing a game we like! So, we won’t let you play!”
When they see that the others really do mean to play baseball, they threaten to use violence to force the other kids to play football.
Now if you were the parent of one of the pro-baseball kids, what would you do?
What if you were the parent of one of the football kids?
In either case, I suspect most of us would go out and uphold the voice of the majority. Hopefully, we would do this calmly, but firmly. We might even remonstrate with the dissenters—there will be other days for football (though not if the football advocates continue in this behavior).
If your kid was one of the threatening minority, you might even discipline your child for threatening to thrash those who disagreed with him.
What I bet most parents wouldn’t do would be to wade in and threaten to help their kids to force the majority to play football.
I suspect we can agree that this behavior would be, in a word, bullying.
So, what would you do in the face of playground bullying? Whichever side of the park your kid fell on, what principles would you invoke?
I’d first invoke principles of faith: The Golden Rule (treating others as you would like to be treated) and Baha’u’llah’s injunction to put the welfare of others before our own among them. Beyond that, I suspect that most parents would raise issues of justice and fairness and perhaps appeal to the idea that violence begets violence and rarely solves problems. We might even invoke the founding fathers of our country and the principles our nation was founded on.
All of the above was a metaphor—I suspect some of you got that from the get go,
Right now an astonishing majority of Americans are in favor of strengthening laws related to gun ownership. (More than can agree that vacations are good for us.) Especially strong are universal and comprehensive background checks (which are polling between 80 and 92% in multiple polls). The least-favored measure is an assault weapons ban and even that polls above 50%. The polls I reviewed included a Fox News poll, which might be expected to show bias toward the gun rights “side”.
Despite this, I hear the voices of dissent insisting that 1) the polls are lying or biased toward gun control (All of them except those sponsored by the NRA and Fox News?) and 2) it’s time to take up arms against those who are afraid of people taking up arms.
Until today, I had thought the idea of enforcing dissent by force was limited to a radicalized citizenry. But now an elected representative, whose duty it is to act on behalf of the people, has suggested that inasmuch as our democratic republican form of representative government (of, by and for the people) is not working as he would like it to, it is appropriate to resort to force. He has therefore issued a call for a “voluntary militia” (renamed the Constitutional Defense Force) that would arise to protect the rights of gun owners. With guns.
His website has a mild enough mission statement: “It is the intent of the Constitutional Defense Force to protect the law abiding Citizens of Maryland from any form of unlawful confiscation of legally owned firearms. Additionally, the Volunteer Militia will train and equip for the following: community security, natural disaster preparedness, and emergency readiness.” (emphasis mine)
It seems to indicate that lawful confiscation would not be fought … which begs the question—who decides what’s lawful in this case? It also begs the question as to who would call up this militia and under what circumstances. Historically, the citizen’s militia was to be called by the President. (See the Militia Act of 1792, for example).
But the mission statement’s mildness is belied by other communications from Mr. Dwyer who views the new gun legislation the Maryland Assembly (or the Asylum, as he calls it on his FB page) as “tyranny.”
“If you live in Maryland, please consider making a commitment to stand against this tyranny by enlisting in the voluntary militia.
“Click here to update your subscription profile and then choose “volunteer militia” from the list selection.
“It is the intent of the Maryland Voluntary Militia to protect the law abiding Citizens of Maryland from any form of confiscation of firearms from April 3, 2013 forward. The Maryland Voluntary Militia members will not participate in any form of insurrection unless forced to do so to by the tyrannical acts of the Legislature, the Governor or the Federal Government upon the Citizens of Maryland.
“You can also visit Volunteer Militia for additional information.
“Thank you for your continued and tireless efforts. Unfortunately,we lost the battle today, but know and trust that an unconstitutional act by the Legislature even if signed into “law” by the Governor, is no law at all. For this reason I need you to continue stand by me as we go forward.
Delegate Don Dwyer, Jr.”
This was from a forum called Maryland Shooters. Problem? The tyrannical acts of the Maryland Legislature reflect the majority will of the Citizens of Maryland. So, as Dwyer says, the law is not the law, at all by his personal standard and therefore there is already cause for insurrection.
At what point does this cross over into treason? I honestly don’t know. Nor do I know what’s going on inside Dwyer’s head. But he seems to be calling for an armed insurrection against the Maryland State government, and by extension, the government of the USA—the free State that the second amendment was written to protect.
Meanwhile, Dwyer’s Facebook page, where he began to enlist members for his militia, encourages secrecy born of fear: “Do not post on FB your response to my call for the Militia. Phis (sic) is a public forum and it is monitored. I do NOT want you raided. Please be wise. Email me once the link is up or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. DO NOT POST HERE. You have been warned!”
Of course, there is no law under which someone would be raided for responding to Mr. Dwyer’s call to arms. But that’s not really the issue.
Unless this is a complete hoax, here is an elected official—someone sworn to protect the rights and stand by the will of the people as expressed through consensus and through the ballot box—promoting the idea that the will of the minority should be pressed upon the majority by threat of force.
I suspect that whatever Mr. Dwyer meant to achieve with this, it may have already gotten out of his control. In following links for this post, I came across a number of folks who are taking Dwyer’s call to arms quite seriously as encouragement to fight—literally, not metaphorically or politically, but violently—to enforce the will of a minority.
There’s a word for that.