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An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. – Robert A. Heinlein

Yesterday I gave my testimony at a Missouri Senate hearing on a hot political topic – health care exchanges, a key element of implementing Obamacare. The auditorium was packed with all manner of aging baby-boomer activists. Nearly all of the crowd were wearing printed stickers demanding their preferred policy now.

I ‘m a confident guy and by now I am familiar with these folks. As smug as a reformed smoker, as self-righteous as any teetotaling Missionary Baptist, I have learned to set my “annoy” sensor to “numb” when around these wrinkled, age-spot speckled junior high-schoolers.

I videotape a couple of the testimonies. When an opposing viewpoint is offered, they hold up little “Tell The Truth” placards. The result is that any photo or video of the testimony is then forever set in a context that the man or woman visually as a liar. It’s a repugnant tactic.

When the Chairman of the committee called my name, I took my seat and began my testimony. I wasn’t representing an organization or a party. I listed myself as “citizen” and my only desire was to represent my family, our financial situation and the future of my children and grandchildren.

As I began my testimony, I made my case for limited government. As I spoke, I was careful to not directly denigrate anyone or any group.  I was also cautious to make my points based on obvious facts. I expressed my concerns about government’s general incompetence. I talked about how our family has foregone things like new cars in order to afford health insurance. I noted how each of my children and grandchildren are currently $120,000 in debt. I asked the legislators to please quit telling my insurance company what products I have to buy.

I heard the rustle of papers behind me. I paused and addressed the committee chairman wryly, “They’re holding up those signs behind me, aren’t they?”  He smiles a patient smile, and nods “yes.”

Baby boomer Lefties – 60 going on 12.

At the end of my testimony, those who agreed or appreciated my thoughts offered a smattering of applause and cheers. The BBLs responded with boos and hisses. Civil society as imagined by the left, I suppose. I listened politely to the testimony of those with whom I disagreed.  So did my “team,” so to speak. While I have learned that reciprocal courtesy is not offered by the semi-professional left, it still pisses me off that grownups act like this.

Since I’m not a semi-retired professional pain in the ass, I had to get back to work. So I packed my gear and headed out into the hall. I paused to check to make sure I had all my stuff when I heard a voice coming from the door to the auditorium.

“Hey, dude.”

I looked up and a scrawny, pasty-faced guy with heavy glasses was pulling on his “creepy guy windbreaker,” the kind that comes free with the purchase of a white, windowless van.

“Yeah?” I respond.

“Hey, when you have  a heart attack…”

“You’re here to confront me, aren’t you.” I replied, cutting him off.

Thrown off his brilliant rejoinder, he rewound and started over.

“When you have a heart attack…”

“Seriously,” I interrupt, “you are doing this?”

Pause. Confusion. Rewind. Play.  “Dude when you have a heart attack and die, the State will be better off.”

Now I’m an easygoing guy. I can treat Occupy (Your City Here) people with respect. I can offer my thoughts and hear the opposing thoughts of others and still have a good time and a good conversation. Moreover, I love the ideals of American civil society.  I know we can live together harmoniously if we agree to disagree…agreeably.

I believe it’s unspeakably rude to make a private citizen “pay” for making a statement or taking a stand with which you don’t agree. I think getting in someone’s face and making them feel uncomfortable in an obvious effort to quell their ideas is a serious social offense. I think of a quiet, stay-at-home mom who might have testified on my side of the issue being subjected to this asshole. The blood raced to my head.

“Shame on you!” I said in a raised voice. “What you said was AWFUL – How could you say something like that to me? Where did you learn that!  Did they teach you that in church?”

Scrawny, pasty, creepy guy was not expecting my outburst. But he hardened. My friend began saying, “Tim, Tim, Tim” in an effort to cool me off. I don’t think I cursed the guy. I consciously try not to. It’s hard to demand civil discourse while you’re swearing like a sailor.

I have met guys like creepy guy many times. They’re awkward, they hang back. They are not leaders in their obnoxiousness. They lack the courage of some of the other, older leftist rabble. But this one followed me out to ambush me with his little stinger. Normally I feel an affinity for guys like this and when I meet them, I go out of my way to treat them well and include them in the group. Usually this helps diffuse some of the creepiness.

Furious, I was determined to shame this asshat, though. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You say something awful like that just because we disagree.” It was hard to decide whether I wanted to shame him or mock him.

“I ought to call you mama and tell her what you said!” I switch the channel to Wayne’s World “Are you going to kiss your mother with that mouth?!”

At this, creepy guy begins to retreat and I’m sorely tempted to press the point. But then a thought creeps in.

I am armed. And I must not let this get out of hand.

One last dig, and I am finished. My friend and I walk away. I look back to make sure we are not being followed, head to my car and drive away.

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  1. The sheriff that issued my CCW holds me to a higher standard of behavior, whether or not I’m armed. (this is true for all CCW holders in my county)

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind myself that after I’ve had an encounter with an aggressively stupid person.

  2. I may take too much pride in my ability to suffer fools, for I did not suffer this man well.

    I think we of the “fellowship of the gun” need to hold one another to a high standard, and for the most part I think we really do.

    • Tim, one problem, though, is people like the person you encountered don’t understand that patience is not endless.

      I’m old enough to remember a time when people would think twice about provoking a confrontation, because they preferred to keep their teeth intact.

      • I think decades of “everyone is at fault” in schoolyard fights has taught a generation or two of bullies that they can act like asses and so long as they are willing to accept the sanction they can act their will.

        Bullies ought to get their ass handed to them, and the ass-hander ought to be praised for standing strong.

        • You’ve got to watch Bully Beatdown, where MMA fighters beat the crap out of some punk ass bullies.

  3. Tim,

    All good rejoinders to be sure, but you were also wise to disengage when you did. If you had really started to push “pasty face’s” buttons the situation could have turned dynamic and, well, anything can happen at that point.

    Also agree that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and, like you, I believe that we do for the most part.

  4. Hang on a second. How could something like this happen when the left clearly has a monopoly on tolerance and diversity?

    • the left are the worst kind of racists, its true.
      i have several left leaning friends who treat minorities completely different then non minorities

  5. Tim, after a lifetime of “polite” courtroom wrangles, I prefer telling the intellectually unarmed to go f^ck themselves. And their mommas, too. And their little dog Toto. And y’know, I find that expressing my intolerance for the intolerable is very liberating.

    • That certainly would have been cathartic. In this case, I loaded up a mag of jacketed hollow-point shame. These people need to understand that shameful behavior can be called out. I don’t think what I said embarrassed me or brought dishonor on my character (probably came close).

      I doubt anyone would have thought ill of your response, though.

      That said, verbal confrontations may be one of those things we need to train for. Think about how you will respond, think about your own dignity and your responsibility as a CCW holder. May help.

      This totally took me by surprise.

      • +1
        Training for everything.
        Visualizing for life of all possible actions and reactions, like in chess. Armed or not so armed.

  6. The problem with the idea of American-valued civil discourse is that it’s one of those things that looks great on paper but doesn’t work in real life, at least not in modern life. When you think of civil discourse in a setting such as this as all it can be, you imagine two opposing groups of intelligent, rational people.

    Sadly, the modern left has assured this can never be the case. They are not adults, not rational, and any modicum of intelligence is tainted. Simply, they do not deserve a part in American civil discourse.

    As un-American as it may sound, I cannot force myself to believe otherwise. These children do not deserve a voice, and should not have one, until they demonstrate that they can talk politics like grown-ups and show respect. It’s true that every Americans’ rights to take part in politics is widely valued, but at what cost? Idiot voters cause more pain and destruction than any legal gun owner ever could, and yet we must prove our competence in many instances. So should voters.

    • The solution to pollution is dilution. Too many good people had something better to do than to show up at this hearing. I suspect large numbers emboldened creepy white guy. Even odds tend to keep things civil, too.

      • The issue is apathy from otherwise good people. That is why in recent elections in my state, the asshats stayed in office – very low voter turn out. The left seems to be able to get their side to vote either through persuasion or bribe, the good loose because they are not even showing up to the fight.

  7. It always seemed to me that Baby Boomer Cohort 1 which were born 1940s to about 1953 or 1954 were and are pretty much to the left and applaud socialism to a very great degree. Not all, but a majority. Of course we have a lot of people of all ages supporting scientific socialism and think that the government will supply an endless supply of free treats for them. Scientific Socialism’s banner has been held high due to the “success” of the European Community. I see that Scientific Socialism is beginning to have severe cracks in the facade with all the problems the Socialist Europeans are now experiencing. It should be interesting to see how the Left uses Socialist Europe as their role model in the future.

    • As member of the early boomer generation I strongly disagree with your assertion that we are enamored with socialism. Certainly the small contingent of loudmouths haven’t outgrown their adolescent Marxist pose but the rest of us are not like that. A majority of boomers voted for McCain and not the “One.”

    • I read “Rocket Ship Galileo”in the 6th grade and wrote him as part of a school assignment.
      He sent me a nice personal postcard back-I still have it somewhere in the house.

  8. You should have simply said “But if I’m dead, who’s going to pay your bills for you? You might actually have to be responsible and pay your own bills for a change.”

    • Parry, parry, parry, thrust. Right through the heart. An excellent rejoinder to the creepy little guy and his ilk. It’s really too bad that what usually passes as civil discourse these days is neither civil nor true discourse.

      • I’ve had plenty of good conversations with people I do not agree with. The folks at Occupy St. Louis were decent and conversational. Taurus609 is a good guy.

        Being a jerk is a universal affliction. However, one side wants to empower jerks with more Federal authority, I want to limit the authority of jerks.

  9. It’s too bad those old folks never made it from the adolescent thought process to a mature one. Just the modern liberal way of remaining a teenager for the rest of their lives. Sad, very sad. Generally primitive cultures don’t usually have this problem. You either make the transition or you die!

  10. I have a serious affliction – road rage. I’m not proud of it, but I catch myself often screaming at idiots from inside my car… unless I’m carrying. The little voice inside (and the pistol on my hip) reminds me that I’ve chosen to hold myself to that “higher standard.”

    I realize I must be the exception; it is common knowledge that legal ccw’ers will, at the drop of a hat, brandish menacingly and turn the road into a shooting gallery.

    I guess what I’m saying is just this: you handled yourself admirably, even though what creepy guy deserved was to carry his teeth home in a bag.

  11. I’d say you handled that as a responsible citizen – except for your claim of packing heat to a Missouri Senate Committee hearing. Really? Is the State of Missouri so backwards that they don’t have security at such functions?

  12. Had a conversation with an acquaintance (I though he was a friend), a lawyer, about government cost, specifically schools. He was adamant that local government needed more money for schools. I asked him what the county budget was, he didn’t know. I asked him what the state budget was, he had no idea. He finally got up a walked out of the room (the wife and I were visiting him and his wife). A few minutes later he returned to the room and said I needed to leave, that he was an ex athlete (college football player) and when he got angry, he might punch me out. We left. My wife said I should have told him I was an ex Vietnam vet, and when people threatened me, I was too old to play games, if you get my drift.

    • Hmmm – so, if one of our primal urges is to prove we are badasses, does packing a roscoe make you say “Okay, I am a Badass” and therefore you have nothing to prove, empowering you to walk away from a conflict where one might be otherwise tempted to prove a point?

  13. “I guess what I’m saying is just this: you handled yourself admirably, even though what creepy guy deserved was to carry his teeth home in a bag”.

    I second the above – very classy. There must be a law somewhere that in order to be a liberal you have to be a rude, childish, self-centered, narrow- minded moron. The contrast is striking.

    • There must be a law somewhere that in order to be a liberal you have to be a rude, childish, self-centered, narrow- minded moron.

      Unfortunately the same can be said of many on the right as well. We have lost the ability to work together or have a reasonable conversation about anything. It’s disgusting when either side resorts to the win at any cost tactics like those Tim describes with the signs.

    • I agree with Gregg. This problem is on both sides. We have either forgotten or lost the people on both sides that come to the middle. We have two extremes which is boggin down Washington and the whole country.

      There is a good piece on CNN here

      It talks about George Washtington’s “warnings of a parting friend,” speach. In it GW said,

      “Washington warned about the dangers of what we would today call hyper-partisans: “They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community.” These platoons of polarization have driven us to the paralysis we are now in, too often unable to reason together even in the face of crisis.”

      Sounds like today, even though this was written in 1796

      • I respectfully disagree. While there are some things that ought to be matters of compromise, one does not negotiate with a burglar to take something less than all your valuables.

        No offense, but I think the “too much partisanship” crowd are not fully engaging the very real – and very consequential – differences between big government as it is pursued by the left and constitutionally limited government.

  14. Tim, very classy indeed. I don’t think how you replied was bad at all; straight and to the point. He had no right to threaten you with a personal attack.

    I would have been hard pressed to reply half as well as you did.

    I also find that being legally armed, or even just contemplating carrrying makes me think about things a bit. Words and feelings let run loose all have consequences.

  15. Tim, some of these old geezers have been brainwashed by AARP. AARP is a socialist organization. I quit several years ago because of their endorsements and ideas. I wrote them about their positions to get them to change but was ignored. When they kept sending me information to renew I would send the notice back with a note stating I do not want to belong to your socialist organization and stop sending me information. They are against privatizing Social Security even though it is going bankrupt and is the largest PONZI scheme out there. There is a counter organization out there. I have suggested to people that are eligible should join that organization.

  16. Tim, many of these old geezers have been brainwashed by the AARP. AARP is a socialist organization and they will benefit financially from Obamacare. I quit several years ago because of their endorsements and ideas. I wrote them about their positions to get them to change, but was ignored. When they kept sending me information to renew I would send the notice back with a note stating I do not want to belong to your socialist organization and stop sending me information. AARP are against privatizing Social Security even though it is going bankrupt and is the largest PONZI scheme out there. There is a counter organization out there. I suggest to the people that are eligible to join that organization.

  17. I cannot stand the “an armed society is a polite society” quote because I think it does an outrageous amount of damage to the pro-2nd Amd. movement. Why? Because it’s misunderstood by a huge percentage of people because the word “polite” is being used to mean something other than what it means. People who hear the argument are likely to think it means that more guns means more people being shot for cutting people off, using dirty language, or having a generally crass set of mannerisms. If you’re selling the notion that you should be allowed to carry a firearm, don’t lead with an argument that essentially says “because I want to kill rude people for offending my honor.”

    • You might be right, Jeff, but I really don’t give a sh!t about what the a$$hats and the willfully ignorant are thinking. I don’t want to talk to them, engage with them, converse with them or smell their breath.

      The rabbi is fond of advising us to stay away from stupid people doing stupid things. To which I add, stay away from stupid people thinking stupid thoughts. They will draw a negative inference from absolutely everything and anything that you say or do. You’re never going to change their minds, so why bother trying?

  18. I want everyone to know I appreciate the comments, the civil discussion and funny shit y’all say. Agree or disagree, it’s enlightening, challenging and one of the highlights of what I do here on TTAG.

    Candidly, writing the articles is the vig I pay to enjoy the comments.

    • Tim, as you and I know, we don’t agree on everything, but you had more composure then I would have. Bravo for standing your ground and not letting it get out of hand. But after meeting you, I think you let it slide because of the man you are, not because you were armed. Plus, he was more than an asshat as you called him, but the problem with our society now more than ever!

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