Wednesday, August 12, 2009

William Kostic, his pistol, and the fact that Chainsaw was right and I was wrong

First, credit where credit is due: I found this video over at Delaware Watch:



You have to watch the whole thing very carefully. Personally, I don't think Kostic comes off as a goon, which is how Dana perceives him. Nor does he satisfy Chris Matthews by rising to any of the bait to snarl and froth at the mouth. He denies being a birther [says he has no reason to question Obama's legitimacy as President when first asked, but Chris won't let it go], and gives pretty straightforward answers: Was social security a mistake? Yes. Was the Great Society a mistake? Yes. Is health care a mistake? Yes. Couldn't be a politician because he doesn't equivocate.

He comes down pretty thoroughly as a hard-line libertarian, but other than his Second-Amendment issue [which I will get to in a second], there is nothing to rank him as either a left- or right- libertarian. He comments that one party wants to give away his tax money to corporations and the other party wants to give away his tax money to welfare recipients--that's about the only statement that would make him a social conservative, because Chris didn't actually ask him about any social issues.

Instead--I guess both understandably and predictably--Chris focused on the gun and the sign. The MSM seems to be having a difficult time with the fact that the Mr Kostic apparently thought out his appearance very carefully: checked the relevant law and sought permission from the church to stand there. Nowhere in any of the videos I have seen does Mr Kostic do anything remotely threatening--unless you think the mere act of legal open carry is threatening. Mr Kostic doesn't. He said inequivocally that if everybody there on both sides had been armed he believes the whole gathering would have been safer.

I took a lot of crap last year from a lot of my friends for suggesting that the soccer mom in PA who open carried to a soccer game was doing nothing illegal, but exercising poor judgment.

Here I will reverse course: Mr Kostic was making a political statement by exercising his right to open carry under New Hampshire law. I may or may not agree with that political statement, but he threatened no one with violence, and (you'd have to spend time in New Hampshire to know this) open carry is far more prevalent there than in any place else I know east of the Mississippi.

How about the sign? The full Jefferson quotation to which his sign alludes is this: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." At least that's what the MSM will tell you. But the complete quotation and its interpretation are actually a bit more complicated.

Like jihad, which has been appropriated by Islamic fanatics in a literal interpretation of holy war, when in the Koran the term has much more to do with a personal inner struggle, this Jefferson quote has been simplistically seized upon by both the left and right in a simplistically literal Jefferson.

In order to examine this, let's first get the entire paragraph of Jefferson's 1787 letter referring to Shays' Rebellion:

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."


Shays' Rebellion occurred in Massachusetts during late 1786-early 1787 when financial chaos reigned in the wake of currency collapse after the Treaty of Paris during the Confederation period. In the course of about six months the rebellion probably involved over 5,000 armed men on both sides, of whom four rebels were actually killed. Jefferson was not in sympathy with the rebels [as we shall see below] but refused to consider such foment as a bad omen. Ironically, Shays' Rebellion is considered by most historians to have been one of the prime moving events behind that year's later Constitutional Convention.

The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. Not much has changed there.

The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. The bigger the stakes, the more upset people will be, even if they have their facts wrong. Couldn't happen today, huh?

If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. If they are upset and do nothing--even when they are factually wrong--they become sheep. And at that point, Jefferson believed, the government will gain too much power.

And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. Jefferson meant this part: limited governments should retain some fear of the wrath of the people, well-directed or not.

The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? Most people get this part wrong: the few lives lost to which Jefferson referred were the dead rebels. Jefferson was actually saying that it was worth it for a few numb-nuts to go out and get themselves killed in futile resistance based on stupid beliefs because it would remind that government that if it really transgressed in serious and substantive ways the people as a whole would resist.

Now for the money quote: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. Jefferson is being somewhat baudy in an 18th Century sense here. Tyrants is actually a reference to the English King and the recent Revolution, not anybody in power in the US during Shays Rebellion. Patriots refers to people either answering the call to defend their country or to the misguided who unintentionally perform a patriotic act by reminding the government of its ultimate check. The manure is literally a punning reference on the level of this revolt was all bullshit, anyway.

Does William Kostic know all this? It's certainly possible that he does, given the answers he gave Chris Wallace. He said explicitly that he did not use the quotation to threaten or imply violence, and given his other answers [frank if sometimes a bit strange], I don't think he was equivocating or wimping out.

Does William Kostic know that nobody will really get this? I think so. He obviously knows that Chris Wallace doesn't get it.

Look: the man intended to make two statements: (1) I am against the current health insurance reform; and (2) I am publicly exercising my first and second amendment rights in a provocative if completely legal fashion in order to illustrate what I believe is the pending loss of those rights in America.

His third subtext goes back to something Chainsaw said to me (I now realize he was correct) during our former debate on the armed soccer mom, and it is worth reposting at length [I did cut out the erroneous reference to me as a Yankee]:

Steve, In your opinion, where is it acceptable in public to legally, ethically, or a non-idiotic location to open or conceal carry?

The grocery store?

No, not based on your stance, too many people would shit their pants and contact the local constabulary.

The library?

Nope, more stained britches, fainting octogenarians, and PC parents dialing 911.

Stepping into the 7-11 to buy Powerball tickets?

Nope, the cashier would struggle to keep from filling his pants as he raises his 12 gauge to protect his business from the person carrying the scary looking weapon on their side.

Going into Best Buy to check out the latest technology?

Nope, more skid marks.

Indeed as Arthur Torrey stated, 'She is helping to change the culture, you're supporting the illness.'

It is very ironic that nothing has changed in this situation other than her having to carry what amounts to a permission slip that has her Glock on her side.

I myself carry what city folk would consider a deadly weapon.

It's simple lock blade knife.

I've carried it and similar ones like it on my side since I was 12 years old.

I am sure that I could pop it out and do serious damage to save a loved one, or a stranger's life with just 2 inches of the tip of the blade.

I mainly carry it as tool, but feel naked and useless on many levels without it, as I am sure that Ms. Melanie would feel without her personal protection.

I do foresee the Soccer league petitioning the city council to put up signs at the soccer field stating, 'NO ALCOHOL OR FIREARMS.'

I only hope that Ms. Melanie can draw her weapon fast enough, and has the extra clips in the event some true moron shows up wherever she may be,and takes him out before he executes innocent people just living their lives.

Would she not then be painted as a heroic woman that saved lives, or some idiot that legally and carries whether it be concealed or openly?

Where I am from, in the south, once the police are aware that you have a permit or amid application for said permit, they admire your weapon of choice and even share tips on the best prices for ammunition, the contents of their own private gun collection, and in one instance a Deputy dropped his clip out for me to hold his .45 service weapon to feel the new pistol grips he had just installed.

As long as you're a law abiding citizent it's just not a big deal, until some whining, P.C. wuss makes a stink about it.


Here's where I say, Chainsaw, you were right and I was wrong.

You may not like William Kostic's politics [and I hope to God he does not become the next Joe the Plumber], but to portray him as a goon or a threat, or as somebody who is obviously full of hate and rage and waiting to go off, or even somehow emblemmatic of the consequences of rightwing hate speech or people who carry swastikas is just plain ridiculous.

If that upsets everybody else, that's just too damn bad.

8 comments:

Tyler Nixon said...

I missed that Chainsaw comment. Shirley has a gem on her hands. Brilliant!

Mike W. said...

He did very well with Chris Matthews. Matthews is very anti-gun and very condescending towards anyone with a pro-gun viewpoint.

The MSM routinely tries to demonize gun owners and goad them into "gotcha" moments when they're on air. Kostic, although very brief at times, did an excellent job avoiding that.

You said,

Nowhere in any of the videos I have seen does Mr Kostic do anything remotely threatening--unless you think the mere act of legal open carry is threatening.

It's a sad truth, but the simple fact is that there are plenty of people who will always consider someone like Kostic a threat no matter how decent, respectful or mild-mannered he may be.

They have an unwavering belief that the act of carrying a firearm is threatening. The only thing they can focus on is the gun, and then the hysterics flow from there.

Chainsaw said...

I do indeed, sir, rescind my terribly inaccurate, assumption in reference to your allegiance to the Northern side of the Mason/Dixon line.

Everything else was from the heart and I stand by it.

I told Shirley that I felt my other remarks were rather scathing, but she informs me that my comment was nothing compared to some of the trash that passes for debate in the blogosphere.

Steve Newton said...

Chainsaw,
Trust Shirley. You are the essence of blogger civility.

Delaware Watch said...

Not only is your reading of the Jefferson quotation unconvincing and probably eccentric, but your ascription of it to this man is a transparent case of special pleading. You ascribe it to him because he wasn’t ruffled during the interviews. That is a considerable leap in logic. Unflappability hardly augurs of hermeneutic subtlety in reading historical texts. Please.

That Mr. Kostic walked back the obvious message of the gun and the sign during the interviews most probably shows that when asked to make his message explicit, he backed off, knowing that the message was illegal. While I don't think that Mr. Kostic personally intended to do Obama harm, I think his message was clear: Obama is a tyrant deserving of harm.

Given that the history of guns at Presidential events is one of assassination and attempted assassination, your willingness to not call Mr. Kostic’s act irresponsible is astonishing. A calamitous set of events could have easily been triggered by him carrying his gun just from the juxtaposition of police officers, secret service personnel, Mr. Kostic and innocent bystanders.

In my view, that Kostic thinks everyone at the heated and controversial event could have safely attended it armed shows that his irresponsibility is sociopathic in nature. Yet you even wink at that. Truly bewildering.

Steve Newton said...

Dana,
If you believe my reading of Jefferson is eccentric--take a stab at proving it. My reading of that quotation, with the possible exception of the manure comment is absolutely in line with the mainstream of Jeffersonian scholars. Want to argue it isn't? Then bring it.

Thanks for admitting that Kostic did not get ruffled by Chris Matthews.

Exactly how was his message "illegal"? You contend he walked it back without a shred of evidence.

Given that the history of guns at Presidential events is one of assassination and attempted assassination, your willingness to not call Mr. Kostic’s act irresponsible is astonishing.

Really? An interesting if unprovable claim. How many thousands of guns were legally carried concealed in unvetted crowds around Presidents that were never used to harm anyone? You have absolutely no idea. All you have are assertions.

Moreover, the juxtaposition has to be contextual to be meaningful. You can find multiple photos of Dubya in Iraq surrounded by soldiers, many of whom were carrying M16s.

I don't "wink" at Kostic's idea that an armed society could conceivably be safer. I thought I said so outright.

Final note: you've never provided a stitch of evidence that Kostic represents a rightwing "goon" either.

PlanetaryJim said...

Glad to see you come over from the dark side, Steve. Chainsaw is right.

The only way to change the culture is to push it outside its comfort zone. Jefferson's comments apply here. And if we are waging a culture war, then some of us have to be culture warriors.

MSNBC and related networks are owned by General Electric, the giant death merchant that has sales of billions to the government for the express purpose blowing up children in foreign countries in various ways. It represents the vested economic interests of the giant banking enterprises in the financial cartel and the giant death merchant (defense contractor) companies. One should expect no sympathy from such vile scum.

Jason said...

You've probably heard about the open carry in Arizona today. What you may not have heard is the audio from Ernest Hancock's radio show. Ernie has been an open-carry activist in Arizona for over a decade, and you can hear the consequences of that in his interactions with the police, a Democratic State Representative, and Chris B. himself.

This is what we enjoy in Arizona, and I hope other states will join us soon.