Guns and guitars
Evidently, he's very upset at me because he thinks I want to take away his gun, which he needs to keep the burlgars away from his heirloom instrument:
Beyerstein: "It might make sense be armed if you were someone who couldn’t call the cops (e.g., a drug dealer), or if you kept your entire lifesavings in uninsured jewels in a candy dish on the kitchen table. But does anyone really want to risk physical violence to protect their consumer electronics? That’s what insurance is for."
[William J. Beck replies] This sort of smug disdain for other peoples' honestly-gained values is simply outrageous. "Consumer electronics", huh? Nevermind that the money that people spend on things that they want from life represents the very time of their life devoted to acquiring these things. In any case, it's all disposable to Beyerstein.
Beck thinks I reject all values because I question whether it's wise for untrained amateurs to use deadly force to protect material possessions. Actually, his reaction fits remarkably well with Amanda's theory about guns and property rights.
I think Beck is saying that if I question the practical value of guns as a home security system, I'm thereby rejecting private property and therefore morality itself. I told you it was an unusual argument.
Take a good look at this photograph. That guitar has been in my family since 1966: my father played it all the time I was growing up, to include the years that he spent teaching me how to play. He used to tell me that it would be mine someday "after you see that pine box dropping into the ground with my body in it". I've owned a lot of guitars in my own adult years, but my father died in 2003 and this one is mine, now, just like he said.
I can't tell you what that thing is worth to me in terms of family history: it's priceless. Nonetheless, the vintage market at large is telling me that its value is running at about fifteen thousand dollars, today. (It's a 1962 Gibson ES-355 in Cherry Red, with real PAF pickups and manufactured without stereo output or Varitone.)
It's pretty bloody easy for someone like Beyerstein to sit around and crack snide about other peoples' treasures and "insurance". When the context includes the matter of intruders doing manifest harm to innocent people, it's an unconscionable outrage.
My position is obvious:
If it ever came to the choice between that guitar and an intruder intent on taking it, I've got 147-grain Hydra-Shoks that say he's right-now dead on the right-now spot.
As I've said before, I don't want to take anyone's gun rights away. The fact that there are grown men out there who brag about their willingness to kill for running shoes, or vintage guitars does give me a vague sense of unease about the whole system. But rights are rights. As far as I know, Beck III is a stable law-abiding citizen. If he wants to stand guard over his guitar every night for the rest of his life, that's his Constitutional Right. Even the NRA says that he shouldn't leave a loaded gun lying around his bed where a child (or a burglar) might get at it. But if he wants to stand there all night with his weapon cocked, I'm not one to judge what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms.
Maybe Beck doesn't really mean that he'd kill a burglar just to protect his guitar. I hope not, because if he ever did exactly what he says he'd do, he'd really be pushing the boundaries of self-defense. He'll probably never fire his gun in anger anway. Let's hope not, for the sake of that beautiful guitar. In his enthusiasm to splatter a burglar's brains all over his living room, Beck might miss and hit that gorgeous instrument.
*Unless I totally misunderstood why they called it "Pitchfork Media."