Rhonda Fields stands up to threats and name-calling in the gun control debate
In Colorado, the firearms debate is highly volatile. Recently, it came to light that a major proponent of gun control, State Representative Rhonda Fields, has a criminal record. She was arrested in 1976 for larceny and again in 1991 for shoplifting. This, according to someone over at right wing website Protein Wisdom, qualifies her as “one of the stupidest people to win a seat of power anywhere, ever, in the history of always.”
Why, you ask? Well, the idea is that she, as a known criminal, is stupid for wanting to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. This idea is wrong.
A troubled past, reformed
First of all, a criminal record from over 20 years ago does not speak to her character or competence as a legislator today. She may have had a troubled past, sure. But 20 years is a very long time.
Second, the basic premise is fallacious, and therefore itself stupid. What her transgressions from the distant past could have to do with her competence as a legislator is beyond me. If you want to judge her as a legislator, why not look at her political record? Instead, we get the classic ad hominem fallacy of attacking the character of the speaker rather than the substance of her argument.
Since this article was posted, it came to light that she was also charged with writing bad cheques in 1998 and, as a sitting legislator, racked up $1300 in traffic fines between 2007 and 2011. So her troubled past is merely 15 years behind her and she’s a lousy driver.
Once again, who cares? None of this has anything to do with the substance of her position on firearms.
But more to the point, the poster takes exception to the idea that “a person arrested twice for criminal behavior, once given political power, would work to restrict the rights of those non-criminals wishing to protect themselves against, well, people who engage in criminal behavior.”
There it is. The familiar and entirely dogmatic argument that arming law-abiding citizens is the best way to reduce gun violence. In case you haven’t been following this, the evidence clearly indicates that stricter gun laws mean less gun violence. I know, it’s a shocking result, but there it is.
You’ll also notice an implicit premise that, if you break one law, then you show contempt for the rule of law generally. Now, I really don’t think I need to explain why this is reductive and trite and therefore fails to show that Rep Fields is a stupid criminal.
If you actually want to see such a person, here is a much better example. On February 13, Brianna Priddy lost her wallet. In fact, it was stolen. And when she went to the bank to take care of it, she discovered that her identity had been stolen too. Thus began the horrible ordeal that is identity theft.
Flash forward to February 25, when she is working at her job as a waitress at Applebee’s. She walks up to a table and, as is policy, asks for ID before ordering their drinks. The patrons comply and, as she is checking them, notices something unusual. One of the girls at the table actually hands Priddy her own driver’s license. Priddy manages to keep calm until the police arrive and arrest the thief.
Now that is idiotic. Imagine, you’re an identity thief and you’re waving this driver’s license around for a week and a half, but when you meet the actual person on that license you don’t recognize her. Wouldn’t you need to examine the photo on the license to make sure that you could pass for that person? Would you not be familiar with the face?
But the best part is that the identity thief herself is 26 years old, which means that she could simply have provided her own ID and gotten away with everything.
For comparison’s sake, consider this example. A story from March 7 details how three suspects committed a robbery, only to be caught after pocket dialing 911. The robbers fled the house after an altercation with its occupant, at which time one of them unknowingly dialed 911. The operators could hear them talking about the robbery and eventually caught them as a result.
Busted by your own butt dial.
Again, there’s a best part of the story. One of the items they stole was an old cell phone. This, as it turns out, was the phone which made the call. Since the phone was locked, it could only dial 911. So they were actually busted by something they stole. Not sure, but I think that’s a new one.
But, unlike the identity thief, it’s not so clearly an example of someone being stupid. It’s really more of an instant karma thing. Don’t get me wrong, these burglars are quite likely idiots. What kind of genius steals an old cell phone anyway? But 911 butt dials are common. In this case, it just happens to be hilarious.
Getting back to Rhonda Fields, it should be fairly clear that our friend over at Protein Wisdom is wrong to call her stupid. It’s far too easy to just throw that word around. Clearly there are better examples of stupid people, so let’s save that word for cases which actually deserve it.
But in fact, neither being called names nor having her distant past dragged out into the open is the worst thing that has happened to Rep Fields lately. Because of her stance on gun control, she has received numerous and disturbing threats, to the point that she has notified police. She remains defiant in the face of such cowardly attacks. You can read a statement about it on her website.
So, rather than see her opponents engaging in an honest debate, she is being bullied by “law-abiding citizens.” In other words, she is getting threatened with violence for working to reduce violence.
Now who’s stupid?