Artists Like To Eat

Before I get into the meat of this post, a little background information is necessary.

I finished my novel. Yes, I know, finally. You can pick your jaws up off the floor. Only took… how many years? Eight? Nine? Regardless, I finally finished it. Or at least the first draft. I’m editing it (slowly), and eventually plan on self-publishing it once I get it cleaned up, proofed, get some Alpha Readers to look at it, etc. and so forth. That’ll probably take a couple of months. In the meantime, I’ve cranked out a short science-fiction story that I’m revising and plan on publishing once I get it all cleaned up. That should only take another 2 weeks or so.

My initial plan with the short (which I’m calling Lifeblood) was to self-publish it via Kindle Direct Publishing for $0.99 since I thought I’d only make a pittance selling it to a magazine while I’d earn 70% royalties from Amazon. That plan hit a snag when I actually did some research and ran the numbers. Turns out that I’d make a great deal more selling it to a magazine than I’d first anticipated (at least 3-4 times more), and in order to qualify for KDP’s 70% royalty program, you have to price your work between $2.99 and $9.99. A 13,000-ish word short story is not, IMO, worth $2.99, especially not a first story from a brand-new author. I’d earn KDP’s standard 35% royalty rate if I publish the story for $0.99, but that’s still half of what I’d anticipated. Long story short, I realized that I’d almost certainly earn more money by selling the story to a magazine rather than publishing it myself on KDP, which was the opposite of what I’d been expecting.

So my question became do I want to earn more money all at once, but a couple months down the road and if a magazine buys my story at all, or earn less money and spread over a long time, but starting much sooner and with a guarantee that it will actually happen. I voiced this question to a family member about a week ago, hoping to get some advice or at least an opinion. Instead, the response I got was:

But if writing really is your passion, you shouldn’t be doing it for money, right?

Or something to that effect. It was a couple days ago, and I’m running light on sleep (blame a neurotic dog who misses his Mommy) and heavy on caffiene. But the point made was that since I love to write, getting paid to do so should not be a concern. The statement wasn’t made with malice, but rather out of honest ignorance and with genuine curiosity. And I agree with the statement, to a point: writing is my passion because I love to do it and love being creative and not because I want to be able to sleep on a pile of hundred dollar bills (though I admit that would be nice), but at the same time, virtually every artist does ultimately want to get paid for their work.

I think my family member’s remark was born from the fact that our society has come to romanticize (and probably over-romanticize) the starving artist. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. What’s romantic about having to chose between paying a month’s rent and buying another week’s worth of Ramen noodles to put in your otherwise-empty pantry? Or, as in my case, having to still live with your parents long after the rest of your college friends have found “real” jobs and at the very least moved into their own apartments?

And before y’all jump on my case, yes, I know that old maxim, “Art Requires Sacrifice.” And I agree with it: it gfmeans dedicating time and energy to your craft even when you fervently want to be doing something else. There are days when I desperately want to go to the shooting range, for example, or go to the movies, or watch a DVD, but don’t because I know that I need to make progress on my novel and/or Lifeblood. Incidentally, I haven’t been to the range in months. In fact, it’s been so long that I’m not sure I remember what burnt powder smells like.

Art requires time, and effort, and passion, and artists who invest those three things into the creation of something new and wonderful should be lauded and respected. But at the same time, artists shouldn’t be criticized or shunned for wanting to be rewarded for their time, effort, and passion. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to call out an author (since that’s the field I know best) who turns out nothing but dreck and to hell with quality, because all that matters to them is a paycheck. I do that because they’re obviously not investing any meaningful time, effort, or passion into their product. They don’t care about their audience: just their audience’s money. A real artist wants their work to inspire their audience, or at least make them happy for a brief, shining moment. But the unfortunate truth is that an audience’s happiness alone won’t put a roof over an artist’s head or food on their table. So getting payed for their work is, for good or bad, a necessity.

Yet our society doesn’t seem to understand that. And certain segments of society seem to reject that notion outright: that any artist who receives compensation for their work isn’t really an “artist.” I’m mainly referring to those hard-core hipsters who only listen to indie musicians who self-publish their own albums, and immediately reject those same musicians when they “sell out” by accepting a contracts from a mainstream recording studio.

I have a reality check for those hipsters: pretty much any indie artist who has the opportunity to “sell out” and “go mainstream” is going to take it. They’re going to take it because it means they’ll be able to focus more of their energy into creating their art rather than worrying about how they’re going to be able to afford to do so. The indie garage band won’t have to worry about having to pay for professional studio time to record their album, or buying dozens/hundreds of blank CDs to burn copies of that album. Their record label will take care of all that now. The self-published author won’t have to worry about how many print-on-demand copies to purchase, or how she’s going to be able to afford them, or how much to charge for them, or how to market and sell them. Her publishing house will take care of that.

I’ve heard those hard-core hipsters point to the Great Masters, like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Mozart, Beethoven, etc., in defense of their position. Again, reality check: they all got paid for their work, and payed rather handsomely at that. And what’s more, some of their works weren’t even their own ideas. Michelangelo, for instance, didn’t just walk into the Sistine Chapel one day, look up at the roof, and think to himself, “I want to paint that.” No, the Catholic Church came to him and said, “We want you to paint the roof of the Sistine Chapel. This is what we want it to look like, this is the deadline we’re assigning you, and this is how much we’re going to pay you. Will you take the job?” And part of the reason Michelangelo said yes was probably because he needed the money.

A true artist pursues his craft because they thrive on expressing their creativity every chance (s)he gets. But at the same time, we generally prefer to sleep indoors and on a bed rather than outside on the cold, hard dirt. Which is why we like to get paid. We’re not being greedy, or selling out, we just want to be able to survive by doing what we love.

We like to eat, same as you.

 

Also, in case you’re wondering, I ultimately decided to publish Lifeblood on KDP. I’d rather not wait several months to maybe get paid, especially since I’m still between jobs at the moment. I’ll let y’all know when it finally goes live: probably in about 2 to 3 weeks or so.

What’s Left To Celebrate?

As you’ve probably surmised from yesterday’s post, I’ve been in something of a funk for the last few weeks. Watching my country, the land that I love, seemingly tear itself apart and being unable to do anything about it pushed me to the brink of despair. I was ready to give up on it, on America, on Liberty, because nobody cared anymore. Those who seek to tear it down, to reshape it into a perverse and twisted “social utopia” are running roughshod over the Constitution because almost nobody can be bothered to lift a finger to stop them, and the few who try are mercilessly trampled into dust.

I confess: I actually woke up this morning thinking, “Why bother? What is there that’s left to celebrate?”

Then I stumbled across this quotation, from a letter written by John Adams to his wife upon the Second Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence:

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.

Reading that, it dawned om me that Adams, and likewise the rest of our Founding Fathers, knew that the fight for Liberty did not end with the signing of the Declaration, nor would it end if – yes, if, not when – the Colonies succeeded in freeing themselves from the overpowering yoke of British tyranny and expelling the Redcoats from their shores. No, they knew that the struggle would be ongoing and eternal, that there will always be those who seek to extinguish the sacred flame of Liberty, from both beyond and within our borders. But at the same time, they knew that they must persevere in their quest, as must the succeeding generations, because the price of Liberty, no matter how great, would always be worth the cost.

And at the same time, I realized that America is not just a country, and it is not just a people: it is an idea.

It is the idea that Liberty and Justice exist for all people. Period. The End. Full Stop. End of Discussion. Not “for white property owners,” or “for former slaves,” or “for the rich,” or “for the poor,” or “for homosexuals, ” or “for heterosexuals,” or “for the elite,” or “for This Specific Religion,” or “for the Oppressed Group of the Month.” No. Liberty and Justice for all people, for all time.

It is the idea that a person, any person, can walk down any street in any neighborhood in any city in any state in this nation and be judged by their peers not by color, or creed, or by anything else except the content of their character or the lack thereof.

It is the idea that we are born into this world as equals, but where we go from there is determined only by our own goals, dreams, and aspirations, and how much of our own blood, sweat, and tears we are willing to shed in order to accomplish them.

It is the idea that we are measured not by how hard our lives are, but by how hard we work to build a better lives for ourselves and our children.

And if that idea is not worth celebrating, if that idea is not worth fighting for, then I don’t know what is.

And looking at the social media outlets, the same one that I was ready to give up on and unplug from, I discovered something that I should have known all along: that I am far from the only one who feels that way.

America is not perfect, I will be the first to admit that. We’ve had plenty of problems along the way, made mistakes, dark spots on our history, and there are likely more problems and mistakes to come.

Is America in trouble? It certainly seems that way to me, but then again it seems to me to have been in trouble since our very beginning but we have always endured, always overcome, and I believe that we will continue to do so in the future.

Is America in danger of collapse, of falling? For the first time in a long time, I can confidently say that my answer is a resounding “no!” America cannot collapse, not so long as a single person holds the idea in their heart, and is willing to fight for. And as I have seen today, there are plenty of Americans who still hold the cause of Liberty near and dear to them, and who are willing to fight, to suffer, and to die for it.

And that too is, I think, something worth celebrating.

…Resistance Is Futile…

I’ve been giving serious thought over the past several weeks to just giving up and unplugging.

From the media, I mean. Geez, what did you think I meant?

See, thing is, no matter where I go, no matter what outlet I tune into, I see and hear the same talking heads repeating (screaming? shrieking? bleating?) the same old mantra using the same old buzzwords and same old slogans over and over and over again. The only difference is what the focus of their righteous outrage and furious anger is this week. It usually changes week to week, but the buzzzwords and slogans and mantras never seem to change.

And then I go on Facebook (haven’t succumbed to Twitter yet, thank God), and I’m greeted with thousands of people caught up in the same righteous outrage and furious anger focused at the same target of the week, repeating (screaming? shrieking? bleating?) that exact same mantra using those exact same buzzwords and exact same slogans over and over and over again. Almost like they’ve lost the ability to form a thought or opinion of their own. All they seem to do is automatically follow the collective without thinking.

Today, it hit me: we are no longer living in the U.S.A., but rather the U.S.B.: the United States of Borg.

I’ll give my non-sci fi versed readers a moment to consult Wikipedia before I continue

Now granted, maybe I just watched too much TV growing up, but the more I think about it, the more it (horrifyingly) makes sense. The Borg Collective a hive-mind composed of billions, maybe trillions, of individual drones controlled by one (or more depending on how you interpret Trek continuity) Queen, who mindlessly labor to further the Collective in its ultimate goal of achieving “perfection.” Those who stand in there way are forcibly assimilated into the Collective or (according to later episodes & shows IIRC) completely annihilated if they are deemed by the Queen to be “unworthy of assimilation.” They even mindlessly repeat the same mantra in the same monotone over and over and over:

Does this sound at all familiar? Millions of drones mindlessly repeating the same mantra over and over? Following the whims, desires, and commands of a small number of elites without thought or question in pursuit of so-called “perfection?” Forcing others to embrace their leaders’ ideologies and beliefs or have their lives and livelihoods ruined? If it doesn’t, then I fear you either are not paying attention or have even been assimilated, maybe without even realizing it.

The Borg are upon us, ladies and gentlemen. I pray that it’s not to late for our society as we know it, that resistance has not yet become futile.

Teaching Away Evil

I’ve been noticing a trend in social media over the last year or so. Namely, whenever any sort of horrific event happens, whether real or (in the case of Rolling Stone’s UVA Rape Story) imagined, there is an overwhelming outcry that society needs to teach Group X not to do Action Y. Teach White People to not be racist. Teach Men not to Rape. Teach People to not Hate. Et cetera and so on.

Now this is probably going to come as a shocker, but I actually agree with this. We absolutely need to teach people, all people, to look beyond race, gender, religion, creed, sexual orientation, and to judge others solely by the content (or lack thereof) of their character. We absolutely need to teach men to respect women. We absolutely need to teach and preach love and respect and understanding rather than hatred and disgust. If you’ll forgive me quoting a certain Hollywood team of vigilantes, “Do not kill. Do not rape. Do not steal. These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace.” And I agree with that wholeheartedly.

However, the same social media force that launches the “Teach Group X Not to Action Y” mantras seems to believe that that single action, that teaching Group X to not do Action Y, will completely stop Action Y from ever happening. That simply teaching people to not do bad things will stop bad things from happening.

This idea is one that I absolutely reject, that I do not, cannot agree with.

You cannot teach away evil. To believe otherwise is wishful thinking at best, and a dangerous delusion at the worst.

I will say that a decent amount of hatred in this world is what I’ll call “learned hatred.” Children who are taught to be racist. Boys who are taught that women are second-class humans, or property, or little more than animals (such beliefs seem to be especially common in certain areas of the world and in a certain religion that have all become very politically incorrect to criticize). Societies have been brainwashed into hating particular races, as happened (again, forgive the example) in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Those people weren’t born evil: they were taught that particular brand of hatred, and they can be taught to reject it or let go of it as well.

Unfortunately, some people can’t be taught out of hatred. They can’t be taught out of it because they either don’t want to be, or else they weren’t taught it in the first place. Either they’re not wired right to begin with, or something goes wrong inside their head. Maybe it’s a chemical imbalance, or a neurological issue. I don’t know. I’m a writer, not a psychologist, neurologist, or biologist. But they’re out there. There was a guy at my high school who was very obviously not wired right. He’d been institutionalized when he was a kid, and he was institutionalized again partway through my sophomore year. And honestly, I’m glad he was: the more my friends and I talked to him (we couldn’t avoid him entirely since he was friends with a friend of ours, and the two of them stuck to each other like glue), the more scared we became of him, to the point where we all agreed that sooner or later he’d probably come to school with a gun and start shooting people. I thank God to this day that we never had to find out if we were right about him or not.

Now, granted, most of these people who are suffering from these conditions can be treated. But some people aren’t suffering from a physical condition that causes their hate and anger. The fact of the matter is that some people – an extreme minority to be certain, but a decent number all the same – are just plain evil. We usually call them psychopaths or sociopaths. But no matter what you call them, it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t care. They don’t care about what’s right or what’s wrong. And no amount of teaching, of begging, or pleading, will convince them otherwise. Because they do not care, and they do not want to care. All that matters to them is them, and what they want, and what they have to do to get it, and how big a risk trying to get it will be. It’s a predatory drive distilled down to its elemental core. You can’t simply teach that away. It’s like trying to teach a lion not to eat an antelope because the antelope never did anything to hurt anyone. The lion doesn’t care about the antelope. All it cares about is putting meat into its own stomach. Two legged predators are the same way. They don’t care about you or me. All they care about is how they can use us to fulfill their present desire or need.

We as a society do indeed need to teach right from wrong and good from bad. We do need to teach our youth and our fallen to love, respect, care for, and cherish one another. But like it or not, evil exists in this world, and there is nothing you or I or anything else can do that will change that, no matter how hard you might try. To believe otherwise is to live in a fantasy world.

Quick Update: Still Here

I know, I know, I dropped off the face of the earth again. I actually have a good (I hope) reason for it this time: the Raptor Clan has relocated! Not gonna say where exactly (OpSec reasons), but we’re in a very nice area, so nice that it actually put a kibosh on my personal plans for the future because now I don’t want to leave! The move itself happened just about a month ago, and it went well… ish. Nothing catastrophic, don’t worry, and looking back it was actually pretty funny. Maybe I’ll write a post about it later on…

Posting is gonna be on the lighter side for a while (what else is new?) whilst I get myself orientated, situated, and gainfully employed. Yep, I’m free of the supermarket.  But I’m also free of a paycheck for the moment, and I need to rectify that ASAP. Doubly so because I’m now in an area that a) is pretty Second Amendment friendly, and b) has a large number (relatively speaking) of outdoor shooting ranges. So now I actually can justify purchasing a rifle. Unfortunately, that’s still a ways off since I need to find a job and a nest of my own first, so job hunting is gonna be my number-one priority for a while. That said, I do have a handful of posts that I was planning on writing before the big move happened, so look for those in the near future.

So, yeah, I’m still alive, still blogging (sorta), and not planning on going anywhere for a while. Thanks as always for sticking with/putting up with me.

-Raptor

A Gun Won’t Save You

Bet you never expected to read that title on this blog, did you?

Yesterday, I wrote a post that I’m sure angered many of my Liberal Readers. Well, Lib Readers, if you’re still here (and I hope you are), you’re in luck, because I don’t doubt that this post is going to piss off a good number of my Conservative Readers as well.

Anyways, this post came about because a few days ago, I stumbled across this photo gallery on Facebook. I encourage you to go take a look at it. If you’re pressed for time or whatever, I’ll sum it up for you: it’s a series of pictures of female (and female-identifying) college students holding up their self-protection implements of choice. The majority of the subjects are holding keys between their fingers, while nearly all the rest have pepper spray or whistles, and one is wearing a set of large, heavy-looking rings.

Most of the comments on the Facebook thread, as I’m sure you can probably guess, soundly criticized the ladies’ choice of “weaponry.” Remarks like “a pocketknife is much more effective than you car keys,,” or “they should be carrying guns,” were nearly universal. Believe it or not, I disagreed with that sentiment, and I still do.

Why? Go back and take another look at those pictures. Pay close attention to their faces, specifically their eyes. Now do a Google Image Search of Ronda Rousey or another professional fighter, or even someone like Larry Vickers or Marcus Luttrell. Again, pay close attention to the face and eyes. See the difference? No? Ronda, Larry, and Marcus all have a certain look in their eyes, a look that’s almost predatory. It’s a look that says, “I won’t be a victim. Mess with me and I’ll mess you up.” Maybe it’s just the way the photographer composed the images or asked the subjects to pose, but by and large the ladies in those pictures don’t have that look. They don’t appear to have a fighting mindset.

There’s a phrase that the anti-gun crowd likes to use when the topic of self-defense comes up. I’m sure you’ve heard it before “The bad guy will just take your gun away and use it against you.” Believe it or not, I agree with them. To a point. A bad guy can absolutely take your gun, or any other weapon, away from you and use it against you if you lack the will to use it yourself. Again, I may well be wrong, and I fervently hope that I am wrong, but most of the women in those pictures seem to lack that will to fight back.

Please don’t think I’m picking on women when I say that. Men lack that will to fight too. I’ve seen it myself firsthand.

If you work in a gun store, or if you’re like me and spend most of your spare time hanging around in gun stores and/or shooting ranges, you’ll eventually see something like this happens. This is a true story.

I was in my favorite gun shop a while back, in front of the used handgun display, ogling a near-mint condition nickle-plated Colt Python that was outside my budget by several orders of magnitude. A gentleman walked into the shop, approached the counter, and said he wanted to buy a shotgun. His neighbor, he said, had been the victim of a home-invasion robbery, and he wanted to be able to protect his family in case the robbers targeted his house. So he asked to see the best home defense shotgun the shop had. The clerk pulled a semi-automatic 12-gauge – I think a Mossberg 930 SPX – off the display rack and presented it to the man. The man didn’t want it: he wanted a pump-action because it made “The Noise.” You know what I’m talking about, that almighty “cha-chack!” noise when you work the pump, the one that supposedly makes even the bravest bad guy quake in their boots. So the clerk put the semi-auto back and pulled down a Remington 870 Express Tactical, the top-of-the-line model with an extended magazine tube and ghost-ring sights with Tritium inserts for low-light use. Real nice gun. The guy loved it, and immediately bought it. I don’t remember the exact price, but after taxes, transfer fees, background check fee (PA charges one), and so on, the guy had to have forked over at least $600 for that shotgun. Once the man had filled out all the paperwork and the background check came back okay, the clerk set about recommending different defensive ammunition loads for the shotgun. I’ll never forget what the man said next:

“Oh, I don’t need any ammo. I don’t want to actually shoot the bad guys, I just want to scare them away.”

He spent at least six hundred dollars, probably a good deal more, on a weapon that he never intended to actually use. He just wanted to “scare the bad guys away.” If there’s a more clear and obvious example of lacking the will to fight back, then I don’t want to know about it.

I wish I could say that that guy is the only such case I’ve come across, but sadly it’s not. Not even close. In fact, I’ve talked to a good number of people, both men and women, who own defensive implements, be they guns, knives, pepper spray, etc., who never actually plan on using them. They all have the same idea that the guy in the gun store had: that simply brandishing their weapon will be enough to scare the bad guys away. Why bother buying ammo or learning how to use it when the mere sight (or, as in the case of the shotgun, the mere sound) of the thing will make the bad guy turn tail and run.

And it is a nice plan. Up until the moment where it doesn’t work.

I always counter that idea by asking something to the effect of, “well, what if the bad guy doesn’t turn and run away?” It pains me to say this, but the overwhelming majority of the time, the person I’m talking to’s response is some variation of, “well, then I guess I’ll just have to let them rob/rape/kill/do whatever to me.” And again, I counter by saying something to the effect of, “No, you don’t have to. You can fight back. Kick, punch, claw, scratch, etc.” And again, they respond with something to the effect of, “Why bother? They’ll probably win.”

They completely and utterly lack the will to fight back.

I wish y’all could see me typing this. My jaw is clenched, I can feel a vein in my head throbbing, and I’m probably turning an interesting shade of red too. Because that mindset, that idea of having to automatically be the victim, drives me crazy. Why? Why not fight back. Yeah, the bad guy might win, but he might not. You’ll never know unless you actually try and fight. Even if you’re not a good fighter, the very act of resistance or the mere threat of physical violence might be enough to scare the bad guys off or dissuade them. The overwhelming majority of bad guys don’t want a fight: they want easy prey. And I’m not just pulling that idea out of my backside: every law enforcement official I’ve spoken to says the same thing. That includes my defensive handgun instructor, a 20+ year veteran of the job.

Voluntary helplessness and defensiveness is a mindset that I simply cannot wrap my head around. Yes, if you fight back you might lose, you might get hurt, but how can that be justification for just rolling over and dying? The most common excuse I hear is, “oh, I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Guess what, neither do I. Might be hard to believe,  but it’s the truth. I don’t want to hurt anybody, or mace anybody, or stab or cut anybody, or, God forbid, shoot anybody. But at the same time, I refuse to allow myself to be a victim of physical or sexual violence. Which is why I go out of my way to avoid locations or situations that might put me in a position where I might have to. But if the chips are down, if there’s no other way out, then I will absolutely fight back.

I’m ranting, I apologize.

Getting back to that photo gallery, I commented in the aforementioned Facebook thread that I’d rather go up against every single woman in those photos all at once, each  of them armed with their “weapon” of choice and me unarmed, than go one-on-one with Ronda Rousey in The Octagon. Another commenter called me on that, pointing out that the vast majority of people lack the time and money to achieve Ms. Rousey’s skill level as a fighter, or the genetic good fortune to be able to achieve her level of physical fitness. And he is absolutely 100% correct, but that’s not why I don’t want to fight her. I don’t want to fight her because she has the mindset of a fighter, not a victim.

I heard a story about Ms. Rousey once, and I’m going to relate it to you here. I can’t vouch for its accuracy, or the accuracy of my retelling, but nevertheless it does help to illustrate my point.

Years ago, before Ms. Rousey began training for the Olympics or became a professional MMA fighter, back when she was just taking Judo for herself, she was confronted by two men in a movie theater, who attempted to assault her. These men, by all accounts, were larger than Ms. Rousey, as well as stronger in terms of pure muscle mass. She wiped the floor with them so badly that she wound up sending one or both of them (I’m not sure) to the emergency room.

That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about having the mindset of a fighter rather than a victim. Those men decided that they were going to hurt her, or do who know’s what to her, and she decided that she wasn’t going to let them do it. So she fought back, and was able to do a real number on her would-be assailants.

Going back to Marcus Luttrell. If you’re not familiar with his story, then once you finish reading this post, then go out and buy a copy of Lone Survivor. Preferably the book, though the movie  also works. Long story short, Luttrell was Navy SEAL, part of a four-man reconnaissance mission in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan that was compromised and later engaged by an overwhelming number of Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters. Luttrell’s fellow SEALs were all killed, and Luttrell himself barely survived. But the three other SEALs didn’t give up and wait for the end: they fought back, and they fought hard, in a battle that lasted roughly three hours. Yes, they were all highly trained special operations soldiers, but more importantly than their training, they had that same mindset: they were not going to be victims. They were not just going to roll over and die. They were going to fight back, fight until their last breath.

Now, just because you yourself are not a professional fighter or an Navy SEAL doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. All it takes is the simple decision to refuse to be a victim. That right there is the core of a fighter’s mindset. Refuse to be a victim.

You can have the biggest, baddest gun on the planet. You can have the largest, sharpest knife in the world. You can have a Taser, law-enforcement grade pepper spray, a set of car keys, a whistle, whatever. But unless you have that fighter’s mindset, they will ultimately prove worthless. Because if you lack the will to fight back, then no weapon on this earth will be able to protect you.

If The Devil Turns: In Defense of “Hate Speech”

If you’ve been paying attention to the media at all this week, then you’re no doubt familiar with the “incident” that occurred this past Sunday at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. If, by chance, you’re not, I’ll remind you: one Pamela Geller co-organized a “Draw the Prophet Mohammed” event, which two wannabe ISIS Jihaddists attempted to attack and massacre all in attendance. They were gunned down by an armed police officer before they made it to the front door.

Since the attack, I’ve seen the incident – the drawing contest, not the terror attack – increasingly and fervently condemned as “hate speech,” and a growing number of calls to enact legislation against such so-called “hate speech,” up to and including doing away with the First Amendment altogether.

I’m sure my Liberal friends who are reading this will be surprised by what I’m about to say next: I understand where those individuals are coming from. I really do. “Hate speech” is hurtful and offensive, it makes people sad, upset, angry, depressed, hurt. And nobody wants to be made to feel that way.

But like it or not, that very sort of speech is protected, and must always be protected, by the First Amendment.

The question then becomes, why? Why must this hurtful, hateful speech be protected? Why not do away with the antiquated concept of “freedom of speech” and protect the feelings of others?

I’m reminded of a scene from the Academy Award winning film A Man for All Seasons. This speech, specifically:

Granted, said speech is likely the product of Robert Bolt’s script and entirely fictional, but Sir Thomas More’s point remains firm: if you do away with the law, then who or what will protect you?

Let me put forth a more relateable example:

Let’s say that the First Amendment is done away with, and laws are put in place that give the government the power to decide what sort of speech or expression is protected under the law, and what sort of speech or expression constitutes “hate speech” and is therefore outlawed. Let’s say that these laws go so far as to mimic laws from the United Kingdom and other European countries, so being convicted of espousing “hate speech” is a felony and carries serious jail time. All well and good, right?

Now let’s fast foward to 2016 or 2020. And now let’s say that Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, or whoever your Radical Far-Right Republican boogeyman candidate might be, let’s say they are elected President. And let’s also say that Tea Party-backed candidates manage to grab a supermajority of both the House and Senate. Guess what? They now have the power to regulate what form of speech is “protected” under the law, and what speech is forbidden and can get you thrown in jail. And more likely than not, your opinions and feelings just wound up on the wrong side of those laws.

Does that possibility scare you? I can say without reservation that it scares me, and I’d probably be on the right side of those laws.

Our Founding Fathers, for all their real or imagined faults, were smart enough to recognize that the freedom of speech is essential to liberty, which is why they enshrined it in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that there’s no provision in there excepting hate speech. That’s because our Founding Fathers recognized that if we gave the government the power to impose limits on the freedom of speech, no matter how well-intentioned those limits may have been, they could and would be twisted to stifle and ultimately stamp out political and religious dissent.

To paraphrase Sir Thomas More’s speech, if we do away with laws in order to further what we see as the greater good, then nothing will be able to protect us when – not if – we find ourselves on the wrong side of that same greater good.

Now in the interest of full disclosure: since the attack on her event I have seen several interviews with Pamela Geller. Honestly, I think she’s a few colors and a sharpener short of a Crayola 64 Pack (see what I did there?). But as distasteful as I may find her political and religious views, I will stand by her, and I will fight for her right to espouse them. I must, as must we all, for our own sake as well as hers. We must stand in defense of free speech, no matter how vile, no matter how abhorent, no matter how disgusting or hurtful that speech may be, because to do otherwise is to welcome tyranny, to willingly throw ourselves under the boot of oppression and into the yoke of enslavement.

If we cut down our laws in pursuit of the Devil, then there will be nothing to protect us if the Devil turns and the hot winds blow against us.

I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-Voltaire