Force and Mind are Opposites

“Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins” is a quote from Ayn Rand which I used in an “issues” debate in 1997. I was at the time hosting a morning radio talk show during the morning drive-time hours of 6AM-9AM, Monday thru Friday. The radio station is in Okaloosa County, Florida and was/is arguably the most conservative county in the country. How it came to pass that I could use such a quote occurred when it was decided by The Young Republican Club in Okaloosa to hold a series of separate monthly hot-button issue debates, such as gun control and abortion rights. Two people representing one side of the issue would debate two people on the opposite opinion side. The very first debate was on Gun Control and although the two people who would argue against gun control were enlisted very quickly, the Club could not find a single person in the county in support for any gun control. A local politician called the Club and suggested they call me, as the politician felt that I would be game for such a suicidal mission. The Club did indeed call and I did accept the invitation. I needed to find a second person, and my sister-in-law Barbara volunteered to join in the fun. Barbara was professionally involved in the area of education which in itself had a number of controversial issues emerging. We had about two weeks to prepare and when the night finally arrived, the meeting room was packed and the atmosphere cordial. We were armed with piles of statistics and reasonable positions such as “common sense” laws like the ban on assult rifles. The debate lasted 90 minutes and a few people walked out in a pique, but the majority stayed and was polite. We used alarming statistics similar to the ones we are reading about currently, such as 30,000 people a year, including children, die from gunshot wounds, and additionally that the average American is forty times more likely to be murdered by gun fire than the average Canadian or Englishman. Such facts and impassioned arguments by our side really did not change anyone’s mind in the audience. However just having such a debate was a positive way to have controversial issues discussed and defended in the public domain. After the debate, The President of the young Republican Club thanked us for participating. Barbara and I offered our services if ever needed in the future and we cordially departed. I was eventually informed that the following month’s debate on abortion rights was cancelled due to the inability to find anyone to support “pro choice”, and the series was completely dropped shortly thereafter. My phone never rang again offering an opportunity to debate. Today, after learning about the tragedy in Aurora, I am saddened that a much needed national debate on gun control will likely never take place because I firmly believe the majority of the national body politic walks in lock-step with the NRA, and we Americans have very short memories. Within a week, all of this will be put into our collective cortexs’ closets only to be taken out and thought about when the next tragedy occurs. How utterly sad…

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About Alan G Billingsley

My career has been varied, including time as a newspaper deliverer, lifeguard, bubble gum maker, door-to-door detergent promoter, telephone book proofreader, short order cook, private employment agency counselor and owner, office and credit manger, infantryman, pots and pans salesman, Chinese restaurant cook, Chinese restaurant owner, public employment counselor, budget analyst, tax analyst, grant administrator, radio announcer, radio and television show host, disk jockey, automobile valet, child advocate, and now retiree. I've seldom been bored.
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