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  • Writer's pictureAllan Dyen-Shapiro

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Or Perhaps Not Enough

Although few believed when she claimed to work for an alien civilization that tasked her with understanding methods of argumentation employed on Earth, most of the men the Envoy encountered—and it was always men, as the women seemed to have better things to do with their time (Report on Gender Distribution of Foolishness, Earth Dispatch, Volume 24)—displayed their occupation-specific manner of polemic when prompted to share their views on gun control. These simple creatures would blurt out whatever was on their primitive minds. As such, for the first time ever, the Envoy did not need her telepathic powers to do her job, although they did allow further insight into each man’s psyche.

“Terrible. Violation of our God-given natural rights.” The Tweeter/Troll fussed with his hair, hoping the Envoy wouldn’t comment on his comb-over.

The inherent contradiction between natural rights stemming from a social contract and a privilege-granting deity appeared lost on this gentleman. Probing the Tweeter/Troll’s mind led the Envoy to cross her legs and move out of the reach of his grasping appendages, but no nuance to his thought process could be discerned.

“FOX News, Hannity, great show. Government’s coming for our weapons. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But watch out! And I believe the guy.”

Before the Envoy could finish her interview, the Scientist/Philosopher butted in. “Perhaps entertain the idea that the government has no interest in stealing your guns. Can you falsify the null hypothesis? Can you provide one example, one instance, ever, in which the American government entered the private dwellings of citizens and confiscated their weapons?” From his cardigan, he drew a notebook and poised, ready to jot down any evidence.

The Tweeter/Troll turned a deeper shade of orange and perspired from the bushier of his eyebrows. “They’re coming. FOX says it. Breitbart says it. Even those Commies in the lamestream media imply it pretty strongly. Oh, they can’t deny it. I know what they want.”

“Preposterous.” The Scientist/Philosopher stuffed his notebook back into his sweater. “They couldn’t enter your home without evidence of a crime. If they did, you could retain a lawyer and sue.”

From under a rock, a bearded man with pointy ears emerged. “Did you say you needed an attorney?” He pointed to the Scientist/Philosopher and addressed the Tweeter/Troll. “Is this man causing you emotional anguish?”

Now listened to, the Tweeter/Troll beamed. “You bet he is. But I’m not sure I can spend my own money to pay you. My last business deals—let’s just say—have not produced liquid assets. They were great deals, the best deals, and they show how good I am at making deals—“

“No, matter,” the Lawyer said.” The NRA has left a pot of gold beneath my rainbow.”

The Scientist/Philosopher wrinkled his brow. “But you’ve got moss on your suit and worms on your beard. You just climbed out—”

“A legal case against gun control, you wanted? Well, I can think of none better than a client of mine. A gun collector—some of his pieces are priceless. Artifacts from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War even. Although the semi-automatics are the jewels of his collection. Literally. He inlaid the Ar-15s with diamonds. And what did the government want to do with his priceless collection? They wanted to seize it.”

“Go on,” the Envoy said. “What agency of the government tried to seize it?”

Her question elicited a smile. “The most despicable one of all: the IRS.”

The Philosopher/Scientist crossed his arms and kicked at the dirt. “So the guy didn’t pay his taxes?”

The Lawyer gesticulated wildly, as if the don of an Italian family at his table at a wedding or a cyborg sushi chef armed the latest in culinary appendages. “Of course he didn’t. It was his mother’s collection, and she willed it to her son upon his deathbed. Would you really deny a woman the right to leave cherished valuables to her son?”

Cowed by volume of the Lawyer’s arguments (and subdued by the wet rat smell of the Lawyer’s clothing and the rotting cabbage odor of his breath), the Scientist/Philosopher meekly pointed out a possible complication: “So, estate tax was paid?”

The Lawyer looked to the heavens, impressing the Tweeter/Troll with his faux religiosity and simultaneously managing to convey contempt for the Philosopher/Scientist. (Telepathy was finally proving useful for the Envoy.) “Like my client would pay a death tax! How repulsive. How un-American. You ninny liberal types want to steal my client’s hard-earned assets on her deathbed. For what? The poor need diamond studded assault weapons?”

Still attempting to falsify the hypothesis, as would be expected from an individual wearing a Karl Popper T-shirt while aware that none other than a scientist or a philosopher would have any idea who Karl Popper was—an action suggesting he should have worn his Camus T-shirt that day—the Scientist/Philosopher pressed on. “So taxes weren’t paid, and the collection was forfeit. How does that indicate a government out to steal guns?”

He had played right into the Lawyer’s hand, as the Lawyer, of course, had a prepared argument ready. “Not so simple. My client also died recently and left the collection to his son, who is developmentally disabled, and who has developed a close emotional attachment to the weapons. Depriving the boy of them would lead to severe emotional trauma, possibly suicide. You liberals want to kill a wonderful little boy just so that you can have the government come in and steal weapons from law abiding citizens like my friend here.” He slapped the Tweeter/Troll on the back.

The Scientist/Philosopher appeared confused. “Since when is it a legitimate form of argumentation to take an unusual case in which you have a vested financial interest and use it as a general argument against legislation that would prevent mass slaughter?”

“Mass slaughter. Government oppression. First they’ll take our guns, then they’ll put us into camps.” The Tweeter/Troll’s face segued from orange to purple.

Having accrued enough testimony to write her report, the Envoy stood up and prepared to leave, but the Philosopher/Scientist accosted her. “What is your opinion?”

She smiled. “I’m just a collector of stories. My arguments are nuanced and complex. When embodied in characters, they stick with those who listen to my tales. I embrace complexity, as a full understanding of and empathy for the various parties is the only way to advance society. If I was of Earth, I’d probably author fiction. Indeed, if you wish to understand the world around you, I’d suggest you read more. Stories are how to make arguments that matter.”

“Reading is foolish,” the Tweeter/Troll said. “What can I learn from a book? Gun control is a God-given natural right, and no book ever said anything about God or rights or naturalness. I bet I could write a book. Or pay someone to write a book. It would be the best book. It would make lots of money.”

The Lawyer grinned. “Only if you have a well-written contract. Step into my office.” He led the Tweeter/Troll back toward his rock.

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