Editor's Notebook: Internets, Rights, Opinions and Hurt Feelings
Repeated from our service, Tactical Wire, last year, this is something I re-read periodically. Like most folks, I find the need for the reminder.
Some of the faux-controversies on the web are similar to those in print publications -- which guns are best/worst, what calibers/cartridges will "get you killed on the street," and other detritus. Consider your responses -- or whether to respond -- to keep clear of such claptrap.
While we're fond of citing Rule 1: All guns are always loaded, there's a Rule 1 to the internet as well: Slow to type.
I'll explain. I recently got dragged into a rant by a knowledgeable gent who was outraged by an act of irresponsibility and he took the occasion to note the incident with a derisive tone. "Friends of friends" who'd been tagged took that opportunity to take offense at his offense. Things quickly went wrong and there was some animated debate. In public. On the internet.
Slow to type.
It's kind of like "look before you leap," "think before you speak," and other cautionary notes. When I raise that as a possibility, it's a rare time I don't get "schooled on the First Amendment."
These constitutional scholars, like the current resident of 1600, wouldn't know the United States Constitution from a roll of Charmin. Here's the deal on 1A: you have the right to free expression, freedom of speech and all that entails – until you don't. I'm no longer a minion of the government and represent it in no way at any time: you don't
have the right of free speech in regards to me. Say what you will about the government – I do – and you may be considered loutish, stupid, poorly spoken or ill-mannered, but you're supposed to be held harmless regarding criminal prosecution for the act.
There are those who have
been incarcerated – in one case recently discussed, for life – for writing things about which the "G" disapproved. But that's the exception.
Like any other power, the power to speak freely comes with responsibility. Fail to use that power responsibly, suffer the consequences. Consider this in the age of the troll – a sharp retort to "put someone in his place" can be used against you later. When you try to come off as the responsible, cool-headed, law-abiding citizen and the opposition paints you as a loose cannon, how does that play to your "rights?"
You might want to consider that: the other side always has operatives out engaging gun-related sites and profiles with silliness hoping to make one of our people go off and act a fool. You're never really anonymous on the 'net – and your words never completely disappear.
The words you put on the internet are discoverable evidence in criminal and civil cases – not sure those "constitutional scholars" referenced above ever considered that. Now, I am no lawyer – and I don't
give legal advice. This is some friendly advice from someone who's been there, done that.
If you can't say something nicely, stick a sock in it. Take up crocheting. Go for a walk. Hell, go soak your head, just don't post something nasty.
Four rounds in two seconds from ready at 20 feet, even with an "ancient" design is clearly doable -- and a standard controlability test. Don't let an 'internet expert's' opinion cause doubt if you can do the deal.
People in our circles have firmly held convictions about important things: natural rights of man, role of limited government in a free society and free economy, not leaving our succeeding generations with mountains of unpayable debt – and we have convictions about "which cartridge/caliber/bullet type is best in what kind of gelatin, carried in what holster, the gun's too small, the gun's too big . . . " blah-blah-blah.
It was tedious in the gun magazines, but like 'reality TV,' it yielded big numbers in sales. Still does today, I'm sorry to say. Dave Campbell, outdoorsman, writer, editor, photographer and one of the greatest guys in the industry, recently noted the "1911 v. Glock" thing is analogous to the teenagers arguing about Ford vs. Chevy.
Like those teens, such controversy says more of maturity level than expertise.
Similarly, if you want to dress up and play solider at a training class when your real job is a CPA, it's your world – live like you want to live. If you want to build skills to save your life, choose your training provider accordingly.
Just remember, when you lose your temper on line and put it out there for everyone to see, those words will come back to you again and again. Just hope it's not displayed for a jury tasked with judging your acts to be responsible or irresponsible.
-- Rich Grassi