Reading Comprehension And The Fight For Gun Rights

Opinion

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Reading Comprehension And The Fight For Gun Rights

Fayetteville, AR – -(AmmoLand.com)- Gun control advocates have an easy time arriving at their position. They see violence committed with firearms, feel an appropriate desire to reduce such incidents, and leap to the conclusion that bans or restrictions on gun ownership and use are the answer.

Note that in the above paragraph, I made a statement regarding the motivations and choices of a particular group of people—a group to which I do not belong. That would seem to be clear, but perhaps it is the relative simplicity of the sentences that allow that clarity. It seems that when I indulge in the use of dashes, however, some readers lose track of what I'm trying to say.

Consider the following: “Over and over I’ll be told that what I suggest—the above along with better access to education and healthcare, reductions in income inequality, and ending the war on drugs—are good, but we also need gun control.” This comes from my latest article on the subject of mass shootings. It should be clear that “I'll be told” implies that I am quoting the statements of others, not saying something that is my own position. But some readers apparently got the impression that I was calling for new restrictions on gun rights.

I could take this as just the all too common reality of the Internet in which many readers skim through a piece, looking for something to react to, rather than seeking to comprehend the author's points. If all we're trying to do is be argumentative, that's good enough. But if we are trying to have an honest debate, it is necessary to understand what others actually mean.

Two fallacies are prominent here. One is the straw man, a case in which one person mischaracterizes the argument of another. Not paying attention can lead to this and be the result of not caring, but in other times, a straw man is a deliberate attempt to distort an opponent's position so as to avoid having to make a valid counterargument.

The other fallacy is that of the No True Scotsman, in which a group of people is defined—often from outside—in an invalid way, and when a member of that group claims to be an exception, someone will say that no true member of the group would fail to fit the assigned definition. I have distressed several readers here by identifying with the left of American politics, and I suspect that this is what has led to the confusion. Surely no true leftist can support gun rights, a reader might argue—fallaciously.

Again, I am writing in the voice of someone else in the previous sentence.

Why does this matter? Yes, it's disappointing to find that what I thought was clear writing was misunderstood—deliberately or otherwise. But as I said above, if we want to form effective arguments, if we want to convince others to accept our positions, we have to know what exactly it is that we are arguing against. This is especially true when we are working to defend rights that many in this country would like to see curtailed.

Hitting the target is as important in language as it is in shooting, and my aim is to defend gun rights. I'll work with allies in this fight, no matter how much we may disagree on other matters.


About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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USMC0351GruntRoyDHeed the Call-upVernWild Bill Recent comment authors
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USMC0351Grunt
Member

THIS was 1970, and nobody listened then and I guaran-damn-tee you, NOBODY will listen NOW! Once the religious, the hunted and weary Chasing the promise of freedom and hope Came to this country to build a new vision Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope Like good Christians, some would burn the witches Later some got slaves to gather riches But still from near and far to seek America They came by thousands to court the wild And she just patiently smiled and bore a child To be their spirit and guiding light And once the ties with the… Read more »

USMC0351Grunt
Member

@Greg Camp, you must have bypassed Journalism 101, English Lit, and Public Speakimy and went right for the open Social Media Forums? If you have to explain to your readers, step-by-step throughout your prose, then you failed ALL fundamentals of communication.

You’re not writing to communicate, you’re writing to try and teach people and this is not the form for that.

RoyD
Member
RoyD

When I read something written here I try to understand just what exactly the author is saying. This is because whether I give an “atta-boy” or a “bitch slap” I want it to be well deserved.

USMC0351Grunt
Member

Well, while you are pondering on that, I”ll reach around you and throw a bitch-slap!

RoyD
Member
RoyD

You can always count on a former Marine when you need or want a “reach around” or, even if you don’t!

Bill
Member
Bill

While complex writing suggests intellect, clear expression is a real accomplishment. It’s better to perfect one’s statements than to require comprehension from others. I write here with some hypocrisy, I confess.

jack mac
Member
jack mac

Greg Camp, I appreciate your advice on the use of our language. The advice should be heeded by all expressing beliefs desired to be accepted. Those holding capable positions who desire to deny our rights disregard arguments. These same people are also denying effective widespread dissemination of opposing expression. The those and these here referred are our elected and the media owners. The convincing words of ours defending rights are not presented to all citizens. The words of those denying rights are presented to all citizens, and presented often. Our words for debate and warning are unlikely to prevent the… Read more »

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@jack mac, There is a lot of passive voice in those two paragraphs, brother.

Xaun Loc
Member
Xaun Loc

I too use dashes in my writing — to set off parenthetical expressions — much as you do. Also I too have a reading level well above much of our mutual audience. This is undoubtedly due to my age allowing me to have been educated prior to the collapse of the education system in America. I spent many years working for the government in jobs where my duties specifically included reading, interpreting, applying, and writing regulations and instructions. Much of the material that I had to read, interpret, and apply was written by lawyers or technical experts — some of… Read more »

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@Xaun Loc — Well said. I must disagree with your premise of universal collapse of the American education system. My children went through public school where we live in Texas, and my observation is that despite some holes – the education they received in many ways exceeds what I received in my youth. Since baseline matters, I will say that one of my classes participated in a hard-science exam offered over two states – roughly half the top 60 scorers on the exam came from one of my classes – which included the son of a Nobel laureate. Roughly half… Read more »

Heed the Call-up
Member
Heed the Call-up

Yes, clear, concise writing and speaking, that everyone can understand, explaining complex ideas in a form all understand, is the true measure of intellect. Any idiot can be verbose, and many that are verbose, are idiots,at best – because they are unable to explain themselves well and need many words to do so – and egocentric, at worst.

Heed the Call-up
Member
Heed the Call-up

Your elbow must be very sore after that post. Your post isn’t intellectual, is is bourgeoisie, at best. The Revelator has an intellect far superior to yours. I would suspect most of the posters here, those that aren’t Leftist shills, that is, have better language skills and intellect than you do.

cav2108
Member
cav2108

Thank you for your insulting article. I’ll be sure to continue reading your articles.

Finnky
Member
Finnky

@cav2108 – did you interpret Greg as being condescending? I read the article as being reflective and sharing what he has figured out about where he can improve his communications. Perhaps you are insulted by the assumption that you suffer from the same failings as the rest of us – but I took it as a reminder of where I can still need to work. When presenting to a mixed audience, it is best to assume that some people will be easily lost so basics need to be covered at a basic level – besides most people like it when… Read more »

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Finnky, Toastmasters is good, but I am sure that you are aware that the spoken presentation and the written presentation are quite different. What is your opinion of working diplomacy into the written presentation as opposed to working diplomacy into the spoken presentation?

Bill N
Member
Bill N

The biggest problem I find here on Ammo land is some readers do not comprehend what they are reading or as mentioned skip through and don’t catch the point of the article.

Sisu
Member
Sisu

Greg you offer an important observation which needs to be more fully understood and when an opportunity arises practiced by gun rights advocates … and those that believe in the US Constitution as written. Liberals, especially those college educated individuals who succeed by following, communicate via “newspaper style” (speak). … They state the conclusion first and then (depending on their personal balance of intellect / memory) offer support – mostly emotional, embellished anecdotes, erroneous understanding of history and law, and always a fear of the unknown (and life itself). But I digress, … it is interesting to note that among… Read more »

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@ Greg Camp, teacher of composition and author of six books, you write, “It seems that when I indulge in the use of dashes, however, some readers lose track of what I’m trying to say.” It is an indulgence. If that is what you believe about your readers, then you should stop using sentences that need dashes.
Complicated sentences are easy for the author, but difficult for his audience. Complicated sentences strain the special relationship between the author and the reader. Masters of written English adore the simple declarative sentence.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@USA, Yes, libtards in full, violent revolt, live volunteer targets!

Deplorable Bill
Member
Deplorable Bill

Is there a violence problem? Absolutely yes, there has been a violence problem since Cain murdered his brother with a rock. Is it the right thing to do to try to prevent violence? Again, absolutely yes, we should all do what we can to stop violence and defend the innocent when needed. The real question is how did we get to a place in civilization, in this nation, when violence is so prevalent when, just 50 years ago we did not have gun violence/mass shootings at all like we see today? What was different back then? Were REAL military “assault… Read more »

Vern
Member
Vern

Very good, Oldsters have a better memory today than the rewritten history books, that is why the left wants to get rid of us, they don’t like people who can tell and remember the truth.
Stalin also said; “we will destroy America with sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.” Woodstock was the beginning of that idea.

Bill
Member
Bill

Stalin knew about rock and roll?

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Bill, Stalin died in 1953, so it is possible. It is difficult to say what someone or other has in their head.

USMC0351Grunt
Member

There was Rock and Roll, it was just suppressed by the church in most cases…

https://www.google.com/search?q=Rock+and+roll+hits+of+1953&oq=Rock+and+roll+hits+of+1953&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.30961j1j7&client=ms-android-verizon&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=Ww8E4zGGZ6YIzM:

Vern
Member
Vern

I may have to rethink that quote, it was a long time ago and it may have been Kruschev. It was one of the two. They had as much love for the U.S. at that time as the democrats and their allies do today.

Oldman
Member
Oldman

Excellent-says it all.