Shades of Gray


I used to be an Angry Young Man, who believed that any sort of compromise with my core principles could not be tolerated.

Actually, I still believe that — except I’ve decided to redefine “core principles.” My core principles that will not be compromised have to do with ethics — I will not tolerate dishonesty, hypocrisy, and cheating.gray

But politics? Law? My marriage? Life in general? Sure, let’s work together to solve our problems.

I’ve learned, as I’ve aged and become wiser, that I’d rather work with the other side and get 50% of what I want than be stubborn and get 0%.

There are gray areas in the world. Not everything is black and white. Compromise is needed to get things done.

A lot of the arguments I get into with people over politics seem to do with this refusal to compromise; with people who see things only in black and white. (And this includes many on the left as well.)

In some ways, it is like those who strongly believe their religion to the point where there can be no compromise because that means you’re helping evil prevail. Abortion is the best example I can think of there. I am more than willing to compromise on this issue — I agree that there should be restrictions based on medical science. Those who see no gray areas will not budge.

There are also political believers who have similar ideas. They see the world also in absolutes that allow no compromise.

And, of course, you all know what’s coming. The issue that falls into that category these days is gun control. The extremists think that it is impossible to have any compromise because it’s a violation of their civil liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution. They feel that any attempt to prevent felons, terrorists or the insane from having guns is as much of a violation of their rights as throwing someone in jail without giving them a hearing.

As I’ve stated before, all rights have reasonable limitations. The 1st amendment is written about as clear as it could be (and much clearer than the 2nd) and there are many reasonable restrictions on the 1st. I agree with these reasonable restrictions, as does just about every other American, including the 2nd amendment extremists.

There are reasonable restrictions on the 4th amendment concerning search and seizure laws. There are reasonable restrictions on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th. And just about every American agrees with those, too.

Yet when I talk about reasonable restrictions on the 2nd, suddenly people are calling me “anti-civil rights”. This despite my entire career being dedicated to the exact opposite.

Seriously, how do you deal with these people? Well, you can’t. You can lead someone to compromise, but you can’t make them think.

Some people never grow out of the “Angry Young Man” phase of their life.

17 thoughts on “Shades of Gray

  1. “Compromise” _is_ a dirty word. But politics is dirty.

    For example, I think the Social Security system as implemented is a time bomb, and we’ve got to reform it or privatize the whole notion of saving for old age / retirement. (And by “privatize”, I emphatically do *not* mean funneling tax dollars to private entities.) However, in implementing this, we’ve got to recognize that 36% of Social Security recipients get 90% or more of their income from Social Security, and that even Chained CPI will hurt or kill these people. We _should_ be able to agree to leave these folks’ benefits off our bargaining table. Purists who want to end Social Security fail at politics, because even if they’re willing to let this set of old people die, many others aren’t, and insisting on the hard line will result in no change, which leaves us with a ticking time bomb.

    The next 32% of Social Security recipients get between 50% and 90% of their income from Social Security. We should be able to hammer out a sliding scale of applying Chained CPI to these recipients. Maybe. Here’s where a whole lot of dirty analysis is vital.

    But the last 32% of Social Security recipients get less than half of their income from Social Security, and these also tend to be the people who get the most actual dollars per month from the program. If we can’t agree that these folks should be eased out of the program, then the failure to compromise here means that the rolling demographics of our nation will eventually destroy the whole system.

    And I’m talking about the biggest item on the whole Federal budget.

    Compromise on implementation details. Cede things which aren’t globally important to you to folks for whom it _is_ globally important to go the other way.


  2. Gun control. The compromise on this issue, where you and I differ, was on the table…universal background checks. Everybody ..including the NRA says they want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and nuts.
    Hell, I’d even go a little father and say we ought to keep them out of the hands of non-citizens. In a post 9\11, post Virginia Tech shooting, post Boston bombing world, I can’t seen any reason that non-citizens need to be allowed to buy guns and I can see quite a few reasons they should not. Whatever you think the word “militia” means in the second amendment, it’s pretty clear the founder’s didn’t mean it to include foreigner’s
    But when push came to shove the NRA and allied gun nuts would not support common sense universal background checks.
    So, enough with them.
    Let’s put this straight — if you oppose universal background checks, your are pro-criminal, pro-crazy and pro-massacre.


    • Bull. Just because we are against something that you are for, and you don’t understand it, does not make us pro-the-horrible-things that you say it does. It simply makes us anti-your-control.

      Saying that I am pro crazy; pro criminal because I am against the additional gun control laws is the same as saying that you are a 100% Nazi-Commie-Evil-supporting control freak, because you are against freedoms like the right to bear arms in its purest form.

      Laws don’t stop bad people from getting guns. I guess I will stoop to your level, just to make a point, and say that you are an enemy of freedom for wanting more gun laws. That’s the last thing that this country needs.

      We need to loosen the restrictions in places where there are too many gun control laws. Some of the most violent places in the country have the strictest gun control laws. And states like New York and New Jersey need to return to being actual American free states, instead of the unconstitutionally restrictive places they’ve become. (That’s why we now refer to New Jersey as “behind enemy lines”.)

      I certainly don’t need other human beings telling me how to live. I will not have it, and I will not comply with oppressive and overly restrictive laws. Luckily, millions and millions of other gun owners feel the same way.

      (And just because the world (this country) is made up of a minor idiot majority piled on top of each other in cities, and riddled with crime and poverty, does not mean that I am going to allow those idiots to rule my life.

      I never agreed to half of the rules that are messing with my life around me in the first place, so I only comply by choice – and because right now it’s just easier that way, and hasn’t been TOO bad or gone TOO far. Trust me, you do not want to see what happens when millions of armed people have had enough, we stop complying entirely, stop paying taxes, and instead start fighting.

      I’m just saying that if the enemies of freedom gain too much of a foothold, there will be resistance, and possibly open revolt. We all want to avoid bloodshed, but there are endless flows of people that will step-up and fight, if tyranny prevails.

      Lucky for us all, we took one step away from that evil, oppressive line, and toward true freedom with the failing of all of the recently proposed federal gun legislation.

      When it comes to the important things, compromise is for pussies.

      After all, Porsche uses the tagline, “No compromise,” not, “We’re great because we compromised.”

      Every winner has a No Compromise attitude. Compromise is for losers, and people trying to avoid conflict out of fear.


  3. The 9/11 guys used planes, not guns. The Virginia Tech shooter had lived in the US since he was eight years old. The Boston bombers used…uh… a bomb and one of them WAS a US Citizen (Dzhokhar). “Foreigners” in the US aren’t any more or less dangerous than anybody else, and just about all of them who come here want to be here more than many natural born citizens. The term “illegals” is dehumanizing. So is “foreigner” for that matter. It makes them part of the dangerous “other” that can’t be trusted or even must be feared and hated. Why can’t we just call people from other places in the US what they really are…”people”? People like literally, all of our ancestors (unless you’re Native American, and even they came from Russia at one point).


  4. If you read my post, you will see that I qualified it by saying, “…on the important stuff…” – I understand the idea of compromising on details in a practical sense (context is everything) but when you are talking about compromising your values, or compromising something that you consider vitally important to a free existence, then there can be no compromise.

    And especially, why would I compromise in a space where we have already compromised too far and lost too much? How about you guys compromise and restrict some of the rules that you got over the years, that we never wanted in the first place? Compromise doesn’t sound so good when it causes you to lose what you like about a situation.


  5. But that simply isn’t true. You know, there are small portions of the population that are highly intelligent and simply understand things in a way the masses can’t, and these people see and believe, with cause, that the masses are misguided and ignorant…and they are pretty much right. Often, it is the masses that are unreasonable, not the minority of intelligent individuals. Just because the majority is against you doesn’t make you wrong. If the masses were always reasonable, we wouldn’t need things like the Bill of Rights to protect us from mob-rule.


    • I will agree with you there. I do not mean to say that just because the majority wants something, they are right. It may be a sign, though.

      Unreasonableness, to me, is refusing to even consider compromising. And, although this post is not about that, it also means saying things like “and if we don’t get our way, we support armed rebellion against our country.”

      Take gay rights. I think discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unconstitutional, and I believe that very strongly. I am very mad that many states allow gays to be fired and prohibits them from marrying and so on. But I’m also willing to work for the goal of equality, and compromise to get halfway to the goal that we will eventually get.

      But even with the very obvious and clear discrimination I see here, I note that not once has anyone fighting for gay equality said “And if we don’t get it, we’re going to take up arms against the United States.”

      THAT is unreasonable.


      • No, it’s not the same. The second amendment is about arms – SPECIFICALLY AND ONLY about arms. If you threaten those rights, we’ll use our arms to defend ourselves, hence the importance of the second amendment. If one is not willing to use the arms that they have a right to to defend against tyranny, then the entire point of why we have arms is lost.

        I will NEVER give up my arms.


  6. So – if we all agreed to modify the constitution so that the 2nd amendment was made more precise by another amendment and it described a very high standard for owning a firearm, one which was supported by a majority of Americans – would that trigger an armed defense?

    I mean – at that point – anyone “defending” liberty would be in the minority and pretty much a scofflaw (to say the least). Where’s the tyranny when the majority agrees to place stricter limits?


    • A very good point, Gary.

      And I must say, Dan, that the problem is that most of us do not see owning a gun as a “natural right” that all humans should enjoy (such as the right to be free from slavery, oppression, to be treated equally, to be free to practice our religion or be free from religion, and so on). It’s a “right” about a possession, which to me is no greater or worse than the “right” to own a car. Philosophers and political scientists and historians all over the world have discussed basic human rights for many many years, and “owning a gun” never comes into play — it’s primarily an American thing, and mostly because of the 2nd amendment.

      It’s the elevating of this “right” by you guys to place it as equal to the right not to be imprisoned indefinitely without due process and other serious, personal rights that affect every single one of us that we can’t understand.

      But now I’m off on a tangent, which may make an interesting blog post in the future…


  7. “And I must say, Dan, that the problem is that most of us do not see owning a gun as a “natural right” that all humans should enjoy…”

    Our forefathers clearly did. They even said as much. “Enumerating – not granting…”


    • Ah, so when the words go against you (“well-reguated”) they are not important, but when they help you (“enumerated”) you’ll use them. When did you become a lawyer? 🙂

      Seriously, “enumerated” carries no greater weight than “granted” legally.


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