• Michael McMahon

Minority Rights

Updated: 2 days ago


This thread explores how both minorities and political opponents should be represented in the military. I present a two-pronged solution. There’s complete gun control for individual civilians. But there’d be defensive free speech for minority groups in the army. Soldiers can therefore be better able to collectively deter tyranny. I believe it’s great to have an apolitical military so long as there’s an implicit, pragmatic understanding that its composition should roughly correspond to the population it represents. An apolitical military can reduce political tension, buffer against extremists and tame volatile sentiments. However this only works up to certain point where civil unrest might lead to the military taking sides.

A diverse military ensures it won’t become biased towards any one political party. If there are inherent political segments then they’ve to be counterbalanced by rival political segments to prevent the military being completely usurped. In fact it’s easier to passively allow political emblems being worn in the military than it is to actively forbid them. We need to ask ourselves if it’s counterproductive and overambitious to limit soldiers’ free speech in the name of a neutrality that cannot be guaranteed. People long ago were much more articulate than we are these days. So when the US constitution said the word “militia” I’m pretty sure that’s generally what they meant!

This basic idea isn’t my own personal criticism of any current government. Neither is it intended to support a specific opposition party. No one knows who’ll get elected in subsequent elections even if the existing government is perfect and supportive. We can’t tell whether future politicians will be peaceful. Consequently we must find sustainable and consistent ways to politically balance the command of the army.

Needless to say that tyrants often have to take out their political rivals and opposition parties before they’re able attack any ethnic minorities. That’s why a political militia would end up protecting other ethnic minorities as well. So I’m not implying that every little group needs their own militia. A stable government means that a lot of free riders can be protected. Also remember that a military is only a small proportion of the population so statistically speaking the more recruits it has the more representative it can be.

Yet another possible advantage is that registered gun clubs can give more of the civilian population training in the event of a foreign attack. But the flip side is that armed individuals by themselves might struggle to self-learn group tactics. So guns alone are insufficient to deter foreign invasion. Therefore the open carry of guns doesn’t validate the NRA’s argument about foreign attack. Another slight problem with that logic in the messiness of war is that armed civilians might not always be interpreted as civilians. Instead there’s a risk they’d be confused as combatants in the context of an invading army.

I don’t think there’s ever a perfect solution to the problem of gun violence or tyranny. Ideally there’d be no weapons needed for the national military or civilians. But needless to say the military needs weapons in the event of an attack by a foreign country. There has probably been debate about civilian weapons ever since the Vikings raided unarmed Christian monks. Any solution will have disadvantages and there’s no “magic bullet”. But we must analyse the options to see when the pros can most outweigh the cons. We need to have a spectrum of ideas in our arsenal!

The issue of civilian gun ownership is divisive. For some individuals, guns may create connotations of individualism (mixed economy thread) and unlimited self-defence (refer to my justice thread). I suppose people can agree with you on one matter, only to strongly disagree with you on another subcategory of the topic. So here I don’t get bogged down on these other delicate problems.

I concentrate solely on the assertion of gun-rights advocates that legalised guns are good for self-defense. Their logic demonstrably fails in instances where you are unable to locate and identify the assailant. Guns allow you to shoot other people on sight. A criminal could attempt to catch their victim off guard.

I accept that a gun might protect someone from any escalation from an armed thief because their primary motive was robbery and not actually killing someone. But the threat of a premeditated, armed murderer would really be on a par with a war situation. It might even be worse as at least enemy soldiers are wearing a different uniform.

There’s no logistical need for there to be a heated argument beforehand. The criminal could draw out their gun without there ever being a confrontation. Hypothetically, they don’t have to initially punch, assault or charge at a victim. Guns are accurate, projectile weapons. Sadly, the nature of guns means that they can be clinically used from a great distance away in order to ambush a person. I feel like that’s a simple point but sometimes we’ve to begin a debate by stating the obvious in case we overlook it and get distracted by abstract details.

The linked conversation demonstrates that gun control and gun rights aren’t irreconcilable so long as you can tolerate an increasingly decentralised nation. Autonomous states in ancient Greece along with shared power in Rome between two consuls are alluded to in the latter pages. I’ll tick the box for pretentiousness by saying that no argument is ever truly complete without the proper references from classical studies!

Majority-rule is a vitally important feature of democracy. That specific process is how the healthcare and education budgets are sorted out for instance. It’s a relatively low-risk strategy for those government departments. The worst that could happen is that a disadvantaged or isolated community is neglected and ignored in terms of finance and infrastructural funding.

But the way the military is structured needs extra careful attention. There’s an awful lot that could possibly go wrong compared to the other administrative sectors. The worst case scenario is that a marginalised group is not just passively neglected, but indeed actively persecuted.

There’s much more at stake due to the might of the military relative to unarmed civilians. In any turbulent political climate, appropriate military and police representation is truly what matters the most. Otherwise an oppressive government could eradicate all other cherished rights with the stroke of a pen. I’m dead serious!

Genocides occur far less frequently than the threat of criminal gun violence but they can inflict way more casualties. However terrorism and mass shootings are a much more imminent threat than tyranny these days. The Holocaust was around 120 thousand times worse than the Orlando Nightclub Shooting. Yet these incidents were so unimaginably evil that it’s hard to compare the relative amount of horror caused by each atrocity. We’re finite beings so we’re incapable of fully empathising with evil on different orders of magnitude. Joseph Stalin notoriously commented “A single death Is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”. So I guess we’ll have to arrest all statisticians as enemies of the state!

Society shouldn’t have to legalise guns and risk mass shootings in order to prevent tyranny. There must be better alternatives such as simply representing minorities in the military. With the right motives and leadership a political or regional militia would be as accountable as a central military. An inclusive militia can be multiethnic and amalgamate a spectrum of political beliefs. It could represent an alliance of multiple small minorities rather than only one group in particular. What I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing inherently shady with the concept of an armed militia. It could easily cater for the defensive needs of minorities as a whole.

Although admittedly in the wrong hands there’s obviously a risk of terrorism or indeed civil war. The point I’m making is that “militia” is a neutral term. It could be good or evil depending on its intentions. A benefit is that the right to form a militia necessarily gives their opponents the right to counter-protest and form their own counter-militia! A caveat is that it will be difficult to ever disarm a bad militia once they’re granted permission to form. Another limitation is that a bad militia could collude with criminals to arm them and defy gun control. Although that same problem would equally apply to any corrupt military. The only thing worse than a failed ethnic militia is a failed ethnic military which possesses unrivalled power. To reiterate it’s much easier for civilians to defeat an enemy militia than an authoritarian military.

Militias might sound like a drastic idea but there are silver linings. Wars can be won or lost. So at least it’s possible for a bad militia to be definitively defeated and completely disarmed by the state or a rival militia. The same cannot be said for a system of armed individuals. It’s unrealistic for the government to put security guards at every school and there’s a never-ending supply of psychopathic criminals. So them being armed will all but guarantee endless gun violence.

The macabre history of both ethnic genocides and mass shootings of random civilians means that all options must considered when it comes to safely defending people. In a series of dystopian options it can sometimes be down to which poses the least threat in a certain community. Sometimes hate speech laws are sufficient but they’re not foolproof. It’s impossible for a court to be 100% unbiased as judges are themselves voters. The only sure-fire way to defend minorities is through their representation in the military.

(Can we use a hedgehog as a weapon?! Perhaps we could put them in as part of a booby trap.)

Two ideals of the military is for it to be apolitical while still being under civilian control. But these virtues directly oppose each other to some extent. The dilemma is how a military can remain apolitical while at the same time being commanded by politicians. Let’s remember that there are different types of democracy like first-past-the-post and proportional representation.

The commander-in-chief of the army in different countries is the president/ prime minister/ minister of defence. Civilian control is important in preventing a military dictatorship and ensuring that the army is accountable. The grassroots of privates and captains may try to be impartial and apolitical. Although as you can see these influential military leaders are inherently political.

A case in point of the potential dangers of populism is the Philippines. Their government does’t have any official death penalty. So on the face of it they’d appear to have an ordinary liberal justice system. But of course that belies the countless extrajudicial death penalties being used as part of their drugs war.

To conclude, formalising checks and balances through inclusive minority rights is essential. I feel that I can write this so poetically that it must be right! In the gun debate there appears to be a two-front war of ideas. We could legalise all guns for civilians to prevent tyranny. Although you’d then be vulnerable to armed criminals. Or else we can try to ban all guns but supposedly run the risk of tyranny. Both tyrants and lone wolf terrorists are society’s enemies. We need to juggle the variables to find an equation where both threats are minimised. I believe prohibiting guns and having proportional representation within the army is one such solution. Let the games begin!

Black Hawk Down Movie set in Somalia 1993: unlimited gun ownership and civilian gun shows don’t always stop tyranny. Even guerrilla soldiers are part of a larger organisation so individuals operating independently can’t realistically hope to defeat an entire army.

Yes; ideally there’d by no weapons allowed for civilians at all. Forbidding guns and large close combat weapons has achieved success in many countries. It’s very easy to spot someone carrying a sword or an axe but it’s harder to identify someone concealing brass knuckles in their pocket. Metal welding, wooden carpentry, broken glass and acidic or boiling water could all be adapted into makeshift weapons by people with sinister intentions. When we focus only on guns we’re overlooking the difficulties in banning small blunt instruments that could be used as weapons even though they can have functional value in the workplace such as hammers. Sadly psychopaths have used whatever they can find around them. I’m not saying we should simply legalise knives because they inherently carry a risk of death at any penetration irrespective of anywhere they strike on the body due to blood loss. So there’s a risk of disproportionate violence and escalation with those devices. That argument doesn’t apply to the same extent for blunter weapons like a short baton. They can still be used to kill at high velocity but they permit a greater spectrum of force to injure an adversary instead. Even though you’re at a slight disadvantage they could also be used to defend against those knives seeing as criminals have them in their kitchen. Sentences for carrying knives can deter criminals casually carrying them in the event of unprovoked assaults. But we have to keep in mind that a premeditated assassin will try to gain as much advantage as they can and might not show goodwill towards knife policies unless there’s a high risk they’d be caught. I acknowledge that it’s a bit of a grisly subject. But when we talk about civilian ownership of self-defense weapons we have to distinguish between all of the different forms of weapons and their relative risk. A trained criminal could carry out an attack within a minute so it’d be difficult to ward off an attacker until the police arrived unless we had the ability to outrun the culprit and flee or somehow take cover. Alternatively we could preempt our own demise and save time by ringing the forensic pathologist instead! The video below illustrates the risk of improvised weapons and imitation firearms:

A world without America post nuclear civil war: would we still have the same degree of certainty with our nonpolitical military if there was no international community to intervene against an authoritarian government? If America ceased existing, would that embolden individuals in our own society who might feel they control more of the military than their political rivals? How much of our stability is owed externally to a peaceful world order? How would the United States of Mexico use its newfound power to intervene in international affairs?

Disclaimer: I don’t actually have any police, military or security-related expertise! Perhaps instead I’ll commence strategic self-deprecation:

I used to do some karate when I was younger. But I’ve fallen behind in that regard and really haven’t trained much at any self-defense. These days I just rely on my multicoloured gingerbeard to stare ’em down! Incidentally I was walking around a park in the town centre a few years ago when two thugs shouted from afar, “Your hair is blonde, your beard’s ginger; so what colour is your (body hair)?” They were so silly I just dismissed them and walked on.

I went on a holiday to Wexford. That’s Curracloe beach where Saving Private Ryan is filmed. It’s much quieter there without the guns! I climbed behind enemy lines and got pursued by dogs:

I get these random texts sometimes. It’s either a tight pocket pressing against the phone or else an urgent nuclear code of strike coordinates! I won’t press the button until I find out for sure!

Do you ever have those friends in the countryside where you visit them and the conversation invariably ends with a row of bullets been shown on the table?

I remember getting a missed phone call late one night. When I checked it there were nearly 12 digits in the number. In the voice mail I heard people briefly mumbling in the background. I wasn’t sure if the call was for some sort of ransom but I was too tired and decided to go back to bed. The following day I investigated it and found out that it was an accidental call from my sister in Australia!

We were learning crochet in primary school. One night I used a penknife at home to cut the thread and accidentally left it in the bag for school. That could easily have been the first time that anyone might be arrested for crochet!

It’s interesting how the gun debate has taken a left/right dimension. Some in the right wing argue we need guns against the threat of tyranny. However the exact source of that tyranny has never been fully elaborated on. In America’s case we could potentially have a CIA-backed overthrow of Congress to implement a capitalist puppet government to cater for the needs of US multinational corporations. The irony is that such a regime isn’t far off the current system which would make the manoeuvre rather self-defeating!


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