[ExI] right to try bill

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Sep 26 06:48:11 UTC 2016

On 2016-09-25 23:03, spike wrote:
>     >>…Had the congress the legal right to legislate away Americans’ right
>     to bear arms, they would have done it a long time ago.
Actually, if the voters pressured Congress in a consistent manner it 
could pass an amendment to amend the second amendment. It is evidently 
not impossible to change a constitution legally.

> In a time when this heavily armed (and crazy) nation is on the verge 
> of electing one of two presidential candidates such as these, both of 
> whom have expressed intentions of violate law and the one who already 
> has while in office, aren’t you glad we have a second amendment?  Me too.

Seriously? It is not enough to actually unseat a tyrant, but it is 
enough for a low-level insurgency destroying your country. Imagine a 
situation where about half of the population thinks the election was 
stolen, and an armed minority use their arms to take potshots at the 
government (that of course responds with the excessive means it has, 
feeding the hatred) or supporters of the other side (who of course think 
they have a right and ability to defend themselves). Doesn't sound very 
good for democracy or liveability.

Every society has cultural myths about what it is, how it was founded, 
and what is valuable. These make a culture work, but they can become 
counterproductive or even malign. In the US it is pretty obvious (at 
least to outsiders) that the gun myth ("guns guarantee freedom since 
they enabled the revolution") is making society paranoid (because it 
implies one should not trust government, because your neighbours are 
armed, and because your police is paranoid about all those guns so it 
becomes more military and dangerous), places emphasis on arms rather 
than good governance, and blocks analysis (since it turns the whole 
thing into a right, which is interpreted as an eternal moral right 
rather than a legal allowance). I don't know you can change this, or 
even if you should, but the price you pay is pretty steep.

(Being an expat/immigrant of a philosophical bent makes me curious about 
how societies work, their myths, and their myth-pathologies. It is just 
that in most cases their are somewhat less directly lethal. The Swedish 
"we have solved all social problems" and the British "we are one 
society" myths have some bad pathologies too, but few people get shot 
because of them.)

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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