Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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Before 2004


I offer below, random musings, reflections, correspondence, scraps of work-in-progress, and other such miscellany, perchance worth sharing but not ready for the prime time of formal publication.  

Much of this material  has been adapted from personal e-mail correspondence. While I am perfectly free to use, revise and expand on my side of these exchanges, use of the "incoming" correspondence is problematic. I have neither the right nor the inclination to include the words of my correspondents if they can be identified either by name or description.

If I am confident that the correspondents can not be identified and if their part of the exchange is essential to the exchange, then I might quote them directly. Otherwise, their ideas will be briefly paraphrased, only to supply context to my part of these conversations. In no case will I identify the correspondents by name.

On the other hand, signed letters to The Crisis Papers and The Online Gadfly are fair game as are other comments published in the internet. They were submitted with the clear understanding that they, and their signatories, might be made public.

Incoming correspondence will be identified by italics. My contributions will be in plain text.



March 2, 2011

About  America as a Free Fire Zone:


This essay provoked an unusually large number of responses, mostly critical and, among those, some simply livid. And, to be fair,, some critical responses were thoughtful and informed, deserving respectful rejoinders.

To all my critics, I have three over-arching questions:

1) Is the U.S. total of 30,000 deaths by firearms tolerable to you, in view of the authenticated fact that the per-capital gun fatalities in the U.S. is several times greater than in other industrialized countries?

2) If tolerable, what moral, social and economic benefits from continuing present circumstances outweigh the cost in 30,000 human lives?

2) If intolerable, then what do you propose to do about gun violence?

Many of these responses provide a vivid reminder that the more extreme defenders of "gun rights" do not do nuance. They seem to assume that either you totally agree with them, or else you are a gun-abolitionist. And if you pretend to be moderate about the issue, then you are merely posing, and have total abolition as your hidden agenda.

So I will say at the outset, as I wrote in my essay and yet am obliged to repeat several times below: (a) I do not propose a confiscation of all private firearms, and (b) I do not believe that gun ownership is the sole cause of gun homicides. Thus much of the criticism below is not properly directed at my essay, but rather is aimed at a straw man.

To reiterate the essential message of the essay: the intolerably high incidence of gun deaths in the United States is due to a multiplicity of factors, conveniently if vaguely identified as "the culture of violence." Because this "culture" is multi-faceted, so too must be an attempt to mitigate its tragic consequences. Total gun confiscation is not desirable, and is, in any case, politically impossible. A sane and lawful adult citizen has a right to defend himself. In this sense, the second amendment is valid. But the problem remains: what to do about the extraordinary level of gun violence in the United States? Registration of sales and ownership seems a reasonable step, as is a ban on ownership by felons and deranged individuals -- a policy endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Beyond this, I would urge a diminution in the depiction of violence in the popular media -- TV, movies, video games, etc. -- preferably by the adoption of standards agreed to and supervised by the relevant industries. In addition, the public of all ages should be educated, both formally and informally, as to the causes, consequences, and prevention of violence.

Government and the private sector can do this cooperatively if they so choose. It worked with the campaign to reduce cigarette smoking by two-thirds in forty years. It can work to reduce gun violence.

For more, see my several responses to the comments below.

Ernest Partridge

Dear Dr. Partridge:

I appreciated your article "America as a Free Fire Zone." However, I note that you did not explicitly mention the current patriarchal system running the world as a primary factor in our gun-obsessed culture.

We are living in what I call the adolescence of humanity, the patriarchal system which has ruled for 3 millennia where operating codes are: “Might makes right, what I can steal is mine, and women (and weaker men) must be controlled at all times.” This ethos is supported by organized religions with murderous man-made deities reflecting man's insecurity and need for wealth and power with explicit directives to annihilate all those who do not agree and submit. Erect penises, loaded guns and wealth are primary symbols of patriarchal masculinity. The combination of ruthlessness, greed and weaponry power endorsed by our “holy books” brought torture and slaughter along with theft of resources to over 100 million indigenous peoples in the name of religion from the 4th to 17th centuries, including millions of innocent women (and even little girls who might surely grow up to be witches like their mothers) for “having sex with the devil.” It is well-known that priests raped the women and girls before slamming weapons into their breasts and sexual organs before they were burnt alive at the stakes, and since virgins cannot be executed in Islam, virgins in this religion must be raped before their death. Rape has currently become a prominent weapon of war in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In my work as a psychiatrist I have learned that behind the need for a gun in adult males in most cases are feelings of inadequacy, and particularly sexual inadequacy. It is no coincidence to me that many vociferous voices for the right to bear arms are old, rich white men, mostly conservative Christians, who probably have never had a good sexual relationship in their lives or even have a clue as to what that might be.

Thank you for your excellent article.

Jaquelyn McCandless MD, 
Certified by American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology, 
Author: "Flesh and Spirit, the Mystery of Intimate Relationship" with Jack Zimmerman PhD, 
and "Children with Starving Brains, a Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder," 
both by Bramble Books.

Ernest Partridge replies:

Dear Dr. McCandless,

Thank you for your excellent response, to which I have nothing to add by way of supplement or correction. I agree entirely.

As validation of your concluding paragraph, you should read, as I have, the more than seventy replies to my essay. On second thought, I should not subject you to that ordeal. 

Instead, you will find a selection of these responses and my replies thereto below.

Dear Dr. Partridge,

I've just slogged through 'America as a Free Fire Zone'.

Wow. So many words!

I've spent a good bit of time in places like Bombay and Mexico City and Cairo. Lots of people. In fact, nearly 7 billion of them. It's pretty clear that this Earth will not support 7 billion humans. So why are we worried about shooting 30,000 of them? It just seems like a huge waste of time and energy to worry about a few dead Americans. May I suggest you put your energies into the global climate-change issues, which are hugely complex ethically (especially for entitled Westerners like us). 


Kirk Nevin

Ernest Partridge replies:

Each human life is precious. And if we had the good sense, say, of our English or Canadian cousins, more than 90 percent of those victims might be alive today.

But yes, I agree, there are more important issues than gun violence. Which is why this is the only essay on the subject that I have written in the past twelve years, during which time I have written some 250 essays on other topics.

Among these topics, "climate change issues" and environmental ethics and policy, which is my professional specialty.

See my Climate Reality Bites the Libertarians and 
A Convenient Delusion.

Regarding overpopulation and the limits of the earth, see "Perilous Optimism" and 
Fruit Flies in a Bottle.

And much more at The Online Gadfly.

Here you are, placing a plea to the 80 million law abiding, gun owners when in fact you should be talking to the two groups responsible for more than 95% of the deaths from use of firearms. The career criminals/gang members and the crazies who commit suicide.

The government acknowledges in USDOJ National Gang Threat Assessment 2009 that 80% of all violent crimes committed in the US each year are committed by career criminals/gang members. 

Suicidal people kinda speak for themselves. CDC Database.

Shall we review police studies in Chicago and New York City where between 76-80% of those involved in shootings, both shooter and injured were both involved in criminal activity at the time of the incident. , , 

So when are you going to address those two groups responsible for over 95% of all deaths using a firearm as frankly it is rather stupid not to address the largest reason for a problem, then again, we are talking about progressives here.

Haynes vs. U.S. 390 U.S. 85 1968, where the US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Haynes that any law requiring a felon to self incriminate themselves and violate their 5th amendment rights was not enforceable as a charge for prosecution. Hence criminals don't have to follow the laws that do so, e.g. your stolen weapons, registrations, etc....oh somewhere around 85% of all current gun control laws.

Amazing how the criminals don't have to obey these laws yet only law-abiding citizens do? This just validates the hypocrisy that laws affect only the felons! After all, 20,000 gun laws and we see how effective a piece of legislation is at stopping violence because if it did, there wouldn't be ANY VIOLENT CRIME. 

Of course we see from the USDOJ Background Check & Firearm transfer report 2008 Brady Check report that of the 99 million checks for purchases from licensed sources only, since 1994. We see a total of 1.67 million valid rejections, a 68% decrease in felons attempting to buy from a licensed source, and 58% of those rejected being felons. We see that between 2000-2008 only 13,024 were prosecuted, or less than 1%. 

We of course see how the anti gun lobby claims such effectiveness of this pathetically useless law with the hard data they can present that the 1.66 million plus who weren’t prosecuted then didn’t go and buy from an unlicensed source? 

We also see how the USDOJ survey in 1997 where felons identified purchasing their weapons from 80% street buys, 12% retail stores, 2% gun shows. 

Then that 68% reduction of attempted buys from licensed sources puts the street buys at 95.52% in today’s numbers before we consider that the government fails to prosecute more than 1% of whom they catch.

Amazing how ineffective that poster child of futility is and this trend is similar with ALL gun control laws. Yet more laws will prevent criminals and terrorists from getting a firearm, ROTFLMFAO, uh yeah right.

By the way, is it the 80 million law abiding gun owners and NRA in charge of the background check? Or is it the BATF, government, judges, prosecuting attorney’s and police who utterly fail to prosecute the on average 100,000 rejections from the background check. People who by due process, have lost their 2A rights to touch or even attempt to buy a firearm, as to do so is a FELONY!

Geez, asking for more laws and regulations on firearms, when all the data shows that the government completely fails to enforce the existing laws is what, oh, INSANE? That is a rather SIMPLE argument eh?

The greatest tragedy of all, would be to fall into the melodramatic empathic pleas of the uneducated and uninformed to make singularly irrelevant suggestions so narrow minded and unconsidered to the real facts as to be useless, like your lucid, but unsubstantiated opine.

David Nielson

Ernest Partridge replies:

Thank you for a responsible and well documented argument. However, I can do without the sarcasm and insult, which adds nothing to the strength of that argument.

First, I should point out that my essay is not an appropriate target of many of your criticisms.

I have no objection to gun ownership by responsible, law-abiding adult citizens. But by "guns" I don't mean assault weapons, rocket launchers, or artillery. Moreover, I don't understand the objection to registering firearms, or still better, a national ballistic database. Seems to me that such a database would greatly improve the efficacy of law enforcement.

My primary concern, as I had hoped my essay would have made clear, is with the causes and remedies for "the culture of violence" which, combined with widespread gun ownership, leads to the alarmingly high incidence of gun homicides and suicides.

Lets review the following 9 mass shootings in gun free zones (see schools), and note what the body counts were where resistance occurred versus no resistance.

October 16, 1991, Luby’s Cafeteria, Killeen, TX, “Gun-Free”: 1 gunman, 23 murdered, 20 injured.

December 17, 1991 Shoney’s Family Restaurant, Anniston, AL: 3 gunmen, 20 hostages, one ARMED customer (Thomas Glenn Terry). Police finally arrived to find one dead robber, one wounded robber and the third had fled when the shooting started. NO INJURED INNOCENTS.

October 1, 1997, Pearl High School: 1 gunman, 2 murdered, 7 injured: Stopped by ARMED vice principal.

April 20, 1999, Columbine, “Gun-Free”: 2 gunmen, 13 murdered, 24 injured. Many were murdered AFTER the police were “on scene”.

January 16, 2002, Virginia Appalachian School of Law: 1 gunman, 3 murdered, 3 injured. Killer was stopped when confronted by two ARMED students.

April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech, “Gun-Free”: 1 gunman, 32 murdered, 25 injured. Most were murdered AFTER the police were “on scene”.

Dec 9 2007, Colorado Springs, New Life Church, 1 gunman 2 murdered, 3 injured, gunman stopped when armed woman shoots gunman, who then turns gun on self and commits suicide, while 100 other church members are in church.

Feb 14,2008 Northern Illinois University, 1 gunman, 5 dead, 18 injured, gunman kills self long before police arrive to engage.

Nov 5 ,2009 Ft Hood Texas, 1 gunman, 13 dead, 30 wounded. Military personnel on base are BANNED from having a weapon, but the shooter did, and it was almost 9 minutes before police responded

Gun Free Zone 5 incidents

Defenseless victims murdered: 86
Defenseless victims injured: 117

Where murderers encountered ARMED resistance 4 incidents: murdered: 7.

Where murderers encountered ARMED resistance; injured: 13.

Wow, where no resistance occurred 8 times higher body count.

Unless you believe that a woman raped and strangled in her own pantyhose is morally superior to a dead perp eh?

Link to Article at "Media Monitors,

David Nielsen

Ernest Partridge replies:

Sorry, but I am not much impressed with anecdotal evidence.

A more fundamental question is this: why are such mass shootings so much more frequent in the US than in other countries? Could the "gun culture" and the easy availability of weapons have something to do with it? If so, then with a more sane attitude toward guns and less glorification of violence in the popular media (as elsewhere), then there would be far fewer incidents ("interrupted" or otherwise) to begin with.

Now here's a fact for you to chew on: A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that "regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home." 

And another:  "For every time a gun in the home is used in a self-defense homicide, a gun will be used in: 1.3 unintentional deaths, 4.6 criminal homicides, 37 suicides.

Oh what is this, the second amendment, as what was RATIFIED by the states!

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

See there is this little problem with English Literature history you refuse to acknowledge. You refuse to acknowledge that the independent clause defines the meaning of the complex sentence all throughout English literature history.

Dependent clause "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,"

Independent clause "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

So we will look for your earth shattering report on how from now on, a complex sentence meaning is derived from the dependent clause. Hell will have to freeze over for you to prove that, but you get the point eh? 

Oh whats this, the original draft of what became the second amendment, was clearly written as a collective right. Why then did our founding fathers change that then to what exists today? I am sorry, can't hear your irrational ramblings as to why interpretations are louder than actions? Just review Karpeles Museum CA, you will see. Yeah, impossible for you to argue how our founding fathers intended a collective right, when they had it all written that way the first time, but yet they changed it. Actions do speak louder than words.

Oh what is this, a logic fact. Which came first, the militia or the armed civilian? See in order for you to prove that the armed civilian existed only because of the militia, you are going to have to prove the militia existed before the armed individual civilian.

Then again, the Heller ruling did just that in 2008 where all 9 justices ruled that to keep and bear arms was an individual right separate from the militia. But hey one would have to actually read that summary to understand that the 5-4 vote was actually on the constitutionality of the Washington D.C. gun ban.

David Nielsen

Ernest Partridge replies:

Here we find "the fallacy of the sacred text" hard at work.

The Constitution also endorsed slavery, and restricted the franchise to property-owning males. These flaws were later corrected by amendment.

In addition, The Constitution says nothing about an Air Force, automobiles, or electronic communication. Does that mean that the USAF, traffic laws, and the FCC are unconstitutional?

The second amendment was ratified when "arms" meant front-loaded muskets, not assault weapons, rocket launchers, etc. Are we to assume that "the (uninfringed) right to bear arms" has no limits? Is it an "infringement" to require that arms be registered, or that loaded weapons be kept out of the hands of six year olds?

Apparently I must reiterate: I am not opposed to all private gun ownership, and thus do not propose as a solution to gun violence the total and absolute ban on same.

I was once asked by an advocate of citizen disarmament what I thought of "gun control," and then, as I framed my answer, he added, "Give me the short answer."

"Okay," I answered, "if you try to take our firearms we will kill you."

I used to argue history, facts and common sense with such as you, but gave it up as a bad job.

It boils down to that: "If you try to take our firearms (liberty, property, insert any other God-given, inalienable right), we will kill you."

Making a "public safety" argument by appealing to a "solution" that would ignite a bloody civil war which would stack up bodies by the hundreds of thousands if not millions is, well, stupid beyond belief.

Not only that, but your side would lose. Did I mention that it is our side who has the firearms and knows how to shoot? And that it is our sons and daughters who make up the majority of the combat arms portions of the military?

Not that this will make a dent, but I thought it only polite to warn you that one should be careful for what one wishes for, lest you get it.

Mike Vanderboegh

Ernest Partridge replies:

EP: Simmer down, fella! I don't propose taking your firearms -- not now, and not from your cold, dead hands.

Not, that is, unless you are a child, a felon or a certified nut-case.

All other civilized countries, including Switzerland and Canada with higher rates of gun ownership, manage to have gun homicide rates at a small fraction of ours, and they manage to do so without "igniting a bloody civil war."

How do they manage this?

You neglect the overall homicide rate. You neglect the Swiss firearms death rate. They have access to full auto weapons in every home.


Ernest Partridge replies:

You fail to add that all able-bodied male adults in Switzerland are required to keep rifles at home, as trained members of the national militia.

I am unperturbed by this fact, and by the additional fact that per capita gun ownership is Canada is greater than it is in the U.S.

In the essay, I do not argue that gun ownership is the sole cause of gun homicides, neither do I argue for the confiscation of private firearms. My broader concern is with "the culture of violence" which, along with the widespread availability of weapons, leads to the conspicuously high rate of homicides in the United States.

Over time governments have killed more than 170 million people. Doctors kill 100,000 people a year in medical mishaps. Of the 30,000 gun deaths a year 16,000 are suicides. More people die from the flu than firearms in the USA. More children die from drowning than firearms. The Government does not give us rights, the bill of rights and the constitution state the rights that the people have always had from the beginning of time given by God. 

The word militia in the second amendment means the people or a person. It's not about hunting it's about the people overthrowing the government when it gets out of the control of the people. There was never supposed to be a standing army it was the people mentioned in the second amendment. Can you explain why the states where the most strict firearms regulations have the highest firearm related murders? Firearms, blood and violence are news worthy. If it bleeds it leads that's the norm for the media outlets.

It's not about firearms it's about freedom. It's hypocritical that the very people that wish to take our freedom to defend ourself with firearms have armed bodyguards. Usually the liberal elites. While every death is tragic no matter what the cause we seem to concentrate the blame on one inanimate object. Do some research on the Swiss and their firearms regulations it's enlightening.

John deMarco

Ernest Partridge replies:

A lot of statistics here, but no citations. In this era of "instant statistics" (cf. Fox News), I have become very skeptical of uncited stats. Come back to me with authenticated stats, and I may take you more seriously.

Your opening paragraph is a clear example of the "two wrongs fallacy." The regrettable incidents of "medical mishaps," and fatalities from disease and drownings, etc., in no way diminish the tragedy of gun deaths -- especially so, if most of these deaths are preventable.

I don't recall any mention in the Bible about guns. People who claim to speak for God just don't impress me very much.

"There is, I submit, no moral justification for tolerating the conditions in our society that lead to the untimely deaths of 30,000 of our fellow citizens each year."

I would assume you favor the abolition of the automobile as a mode of transport? The tool is not the issue - abolishing tools doesn't help. As you point out, the moral fiber of the tool-user is much more important.


Ernest Partridge replies:  EP: Again, the two-wrongs fallacy at work.

Dear Mr. Partridge,

While I will not waste my time debating your very wrong facts, or your philosophy (I just don't have the energy) Allow me to explain to you, how I view it, as a veteran of the USMC.

My right to keep, and bear arms does not come from the Constitution, the Constitution was written to let the Government know what they can, or cannot do. My right to keep, and bear arms comes from our Creator, it is a natural right, in other words, I have this right by nature of my birth, and it is inalienable. Your collectivist view on gun control is very old, and stale, and I would warn you, be careful what you and your friends ask for. Because if the time ever comes, and they (who ever they are) come for my guns I WILL KILL THEM. If you are looking to save live, don't ask for a bloody civil war, because that is exactly what would happen. The body count would probably be in the Millions.

We will not be disarmed, we will not back down, we will shot back, and our side is heavily arm, and very well trained. JUST SAYIN!!!!!!

If you really want to save live, turn your intelligence towards the hundreds of thousands of people that are killed by Doctors each year, between the wrong prescriptions, diagnosis, and abortions they preform.


Ernest Partridge replies:

Aw, c'mon John, I'm not coming to take away your guns!

How many times do I need to repeat this?

As for the rest of your message (re: God, doctors, etc.), I've covered that ground above.

Ernie, there are just a couple things that you don't seem to consider, which may significantly impact your future drivel...

First, as the Founders made quite clear in our original Founding Document, the Declaration of Independence, our RIGHTS are not bestowed by a benevolent GOVERNMENT, which can take away whatever it might deign to grant, but by a merciful Creator. Thus, the sole legitimate function of government is to protect the EQUAL rights of ALL its citizens. Self defense is a God-given (or natural) right of ALL, period. It is NOT subject to any form of prior restraint by government, just as with speech. In fact, the sole legitimate control LOCAL government may exercise is to prescribe when and where one may properly discharge a weapon in a NON-emergency situation.

Secondly, my RIGHTS are not subject to a vote of, or any encroachment by ANYONE. This is an absolute. I request and REQUIRE only that you and any other whiney, pant-wetting control freaks leave me alone to exercise my God-given rights. That's all you need to do, and in return, I'll leave you to the exercise (or non-exercise) of YOUR rights. (Bear in mind that if your exercise of something requires that I either pay for it in any way or give up something of mine, it's NOT a right and you don't get to use force to make me comply. Self-defense includes defense against such aggressive acts as that.)

Finally, bear in mind that I (and other like-minded folks) am well-versed in the use of arms, and WILL respond very negatively to jackasses who want to render me defenseless to predators, including a predatory government, just as our Founding Fathers did. Do I make myself sufficiently clear?

D.C. Wright USMC Retired

Ernest Partridge replies:

Yes, you make yourself perfectly clear.

But now I must wonder, who will protect me from an individual who, because of my differing political views, falsely regards me as a "whiney, pant-wetting control freak" who threatens to take away his gonads -- correction, his guns.

True enough, "self defense is a natural right of all." (Let's leave God out of this).

But as Thomas Hobbes so brilliantly pointed out in The Leviathan, without "prior restraint by government," life in "the state of nature" is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

I prefer to yield responsibility for my safety to the local police department, the courts, and the rule of law.. The Tombstone AZ wild west does not appeal to me.

Conscious choice is what you leave out in your arguments. Again guns do not kill people, people pulling the guns trigger and consciously deciding to kill a person does. Your logic is flawed even when you attack the Tobacco industry. They do not force the public to smoke and shield the effects of smoking. The public consciously chooses to risk cancer and smoke. I think you should read Fredric Bastiat, should clear some things up on your opinion that government banning something or taxing something or etc will fix this or any problem.


Ernest Partridge replies:

Read the pharmacological literature, and you may find that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. And most cigarette smokers are hooked (by advertising and peer pressure) as teen agers. Tobacco industry documents exposed through the FOIA and leaked by whistleblowers have proven that the industry regards cigarettes as "nicotine transfer devices."  (Cf. the movie, "The Insider").

Health warning labels on cigarette packs are required by federal law, as is the ban on TV cigarette advertising. (Remember the old ads? "What cigarette do you smoke, doctor?).

Government restrictions on cigarette advertising, along with deliberate anti-smoking campaigns, have cut US cigarette consumption to a third of what it was forty years ago.  So your final sentence is flatly false.

Message sent by Dennis

Message :
Couple of thoughts after reading your text.

1) It seems you don't like the way the constitution is written. Maybe you should relocate.

2) If you want to take my guns, come take them. Don't send someone else's kid in a uniform. YOU come take them. Just let me unload them first.


Ernest Partridge replies:

(1) When successor generations did not like the parts of the Constitution that restricted the vote to male property owner, that sanctioned slavery, and the counted blacks as 3/5 "persons," etc., they did not "relocate," they amended the Constitution. The founders did not regard the Constitution as perfect and final, and so they included modes for altering and improving it. Why should we believe otherwise -- i.e., believe that the Constitution is a "sacred text."

(2) Once again: I don't want to take away your guns. That should have been clear in the content of the essay. If it was not, then maybe I need a refresher course in English Composition.

Come and take them.

I would rather fight and (possibly) die as a warrior and a free man than live as a slave. Or even die as a slave, when the government comes for me because I don't toe the party line, or belong to some group of people the people in power want silenced.

Donovan E. Dion

Ernest Partridge replies:

Isn't it fortunate, then, that we don't have to choose between total gun anarchy (e.g., Dodge City) and slavery. 

Or do you somehow fail to perceive any alternatives between the two?

I believe that this is called the fallacy of the false alternatives.

What a crock of shit


Ernest Partridge replies:  

Dear Joe,

Thank you for your intelligent and well-thought out contribution to our discussion.

An excellent essay, Dr. Partridge--truly first-rate. I wonder whether I might ask your permission to reprint your piece, in full or in part, in the book manuscript I am working on (Democracy, Freedom and the Purpose of Life)?

In addition to providing an outstanding example of critical analysis of a moral and political issue, your essay shows what faculty in a general education philosophy course might do to contribute to the "civic learning" of their students. In my spring workshops for faculty on service and civic learning, I will suggest that a good exercise would consist of asking students to prepare analyses such as yours for our local public in whatever forums we can use or devise.

Thank you for your good work.

Michael K. Briand, Ph.D.
Director of Civic Engagement
California State University, Chico

Ernest Partridge replies:

Thank you for your kind response. Of course, you have my permission. I am flattered.

But please understand, that this is hardly my most important work. I have posted some 250 essays on the internet plus a book in progress, "Conscience of a Progressive."  Also some seventy refereed or invited journal articles, most of which can be found at my website, The Online Gadfly.  This is my only essay about the gun culture.

You might begin with my series of six essay, "A Dim View of Libertarianism"


Read your logical fallacy rant. I found it in a Democratic Underground forum. While the collection on NRA logical fallacies are correct. Florida State University Criminologist Gary Kleck wrote a book called Point Blank that listed the same logical fallacies. His list was completed by a list of logical fallacies by the opposing side. They start on page 13. Many that you used yourself. Hypocritical or blinded by ideology? You tell me. 
I grew up in the US gun culture, so think of me what you want. 

When it comes to weighing complex issues like violent crime I prefer peer reviewed research by criminologists and other social scientists over hacks and advocacy groups. From what I found so far the results are that there is no correlation nor causation in either direction.

Gary Johnston

Ernest Partridge replies:

Of course, both sides use fallacies. I never said or pretended otherwise. There is no dispute here, and no hypocrisy.

I also wrote that gun violence is a complicated issue, and that it does not correlate exactly with gun ownership. Canada and Switzerland, where per/capita gun ownership is greater than in the U.S., proves that. (In Switzerland, due to universal military training, every adult male is required to have a gun in his home).

That said, the question remains: why is the average American citizen 44 times more likely to be killed by a firearm than the average British citizen? Why 23 times more likely than a Spanish citizen, and 13 times more likely than a German? Those are the facts, and we should deal with them.

It is also a fact, of which I was repeatedly reminded, that more people die from auto accidents than guns. Granted. And so we license drivers and register autos, and we take away licenses from those that abuse the driving privilege. But not as much, for some reason, guns in the U.S., although guns are registered in the aforementioned Canada and Switzerland.

Gun ownership is not the sole cause of gun homicides, as I clearly stated in the essay. But the easy access to guns is arguably a contributing factor to the high rate of gun violence in the U.S. In addition, and perhaps more important, is this vaguely defined thing that I call “the culture of violence”. 

I regard 30,000 annual deaths by gunfire to be intolerable in a society that regards itself as civilized. The causes are many, and so too must be the remedies. Among these remedies, I suggest, would be universal gun registration, a national ballistics database, de-escalation of gun violence in the mass media, and education both formal and informal.

If you feel that it is acceptable that the US homicide rate remains multiple times as great as that of any other civilized country – or at least preferable to any effective means of reducing that rate – then I would like to read your argument. Provided, of course, that it consists of more than insults (“rants,” “hacks”) and false accusations of hypocrisy.

I expected criticism of my essay, though not as much as I received. Still, I don’t think that it is too much to ask my critics that they read the essay carefully before they criticize it.

June 5, 2011

About  "The Big Lie"

Mr. Partridge,

I just read your blog entry titled "The Big Lie" and I have to admit that it is indeed an appropriate title.

[This CNN interview] demonstrates that yes, Mr. Gore did take credit for creating the internet. While I will not support the claims of others that Mr. Obama is not an American citizen, you did a good job mixing actual lies with actual truths to paint everything as a lie.

Additionally, your claim that the Health Care Law as it sits is not a socialist takeover of the healthcare system is a blatent falsehood. You seem to believe that no one out in the big world knows what socialism really looks like. I happen to be one of the educated people that do. I have studied the former Soviet system for the better part of twenty years, and I have even lived in several of the former Republics.

I have studied Soviet propaganda. You, sir, are a propagandist. My only consolation in the event that people like yourself succeed in pulling the US down into the pit of misery known as Socialism will be that you will certainly go the way of Leon Trotsky. Who, by the way, as Lenin's chosen successor was passed over by the Communist Party for Stalin and demonstrated his despair by committing "suicide" in Mexico by repeatedly bashing his own head in with a pickax.

History shows that very few revolutionaries enjoy the success of their revolution for long. I wish you all the karmic justice you will have earned.

By the way, ask Dr. Mosqueda if he still feels the same about foreign military adventurism now that President Obama is the one breaking the laws. Or will your collective sophistry try to spin the death of people at the hands of the US Military as NOT an act of war?


Mr. DeCarlo

Ernest Partridge Replies:

“Legislative initiative” is not “invention.”

Amazingly, you cite the same interview that Gore and his defenders use to prove that he did NOT claim to have “invented” the internet. In fact, you yourself avoid the word “invented”, which is the key term in the slander of Gore.

Gore’s claim that in Congress he “took the initiative in creating the internet” just happens to be true. Even Newt Gingrich admitted as much in a September, 2000 speech before the American Political Science Association: “Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet.” And David Maraniss, Gore’s biographer wrote: “Gore really was instrumental in developing the Internet. He was the one congressman who understood the whole thing in the ’70s.” (Here is the linkSkip down to “Where Does Spin Come From...”).

Gore’s initiative is not opinion, it is a recorded fact – recorded in The Congressional Record.

From this plain fact, the GOP and a compliant media has spun the slanderous charge that Gore somehow claimed to have “invented” the internet. After eleven years of frantic searching, no one -- but no one! -- has found a single citation of Gore claiming to have "invented" the internet.

Next point: No one can make a “blatent falsehood” in a sentence containing the word “socialist,” due to the fact that the word “socialist” has become so notoriously ambiguous as to be essentially meaningless. I too have visited the Soviet Union, and later Russia, seven times, and I don’t recommend Soviet “socialism”. Neither do my several Russian friends. That’s the far end of the meaning of “socialism.” But at the other extreme, what? Public Schools? Public libraries? National Parks? The Postal Service? The FDA regulation of food and drugs? FDIC? The now-toothless SEC?

If all this is “socialism,” then some regulatory aspects of “Obamacare” are arguably “socialist.” But only incurable right-wing ideologues would call all these latter institutions “socialism.” In any case, Obamacare does not abolish private insurance companies, nor does it abolish free choice of doctors. And that word “takeover” is nothing but a gratuitous slur.

So yes, using the accepted political science interpretation of “socialism,” I would still maintain that calling Obama care a “socialist takeover” is a lie.

The remainder of your post is pure diatribe, empty of content and unworthy of you, and undeserving a reply.

Except, that is your closing. It happens that I agree with you: Obama is in fact a lawbreaker, and I also condemn “the death of people at the hand of the US military.” Thus does the Obama administration continue the international war crimes initiated by the Bush/Cheney regime – crimes unequivocally condemned at Nuremberg and by the Geneva conventions.

Dear Mr. Partridge,

I enjoyed reading your article entitled "The Big Lie" on Truthout.org. At the risk of sounding like a kook, I would add the 9/11 attacks to the top of the list, and ask that you please visit the ae911truth.org website for an expert analysis of the evidence by architectural and engineering professionals.

The official NIST report on WTC7 states that this 47 story skyscraper (which wasn't hit by a plane) collapsed at free fall acceleration for at least 2.5 seconds. This is an impossible feat without explosives removing all of the supporting structure on cue as in a controlled demolition. 

Although the corporate media failed to run the story, a team of scientists actually found an exotic form of explosives in the dust and published a a peer reviewed paper entitled “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe". [Broken link. EP].

Please examine the evidence and draw your own conclusions.


Gary Geisler

Ernest Partridge replies:

I have, in fact, examined the evidence and have drawn a conclusion contrary to yours, regarding the 9/11 attacks.

You will find it in my essay, 
The 9/11 Conspiracy: A Skeptic’s View.  The essay provoked over 500 responses, more than replied to any of my other 250 internet essays.

I will admit, however, that WTC #4 is more problematic than any of the other attacks: WTC 1 & 2 and the Pentagon. The official account (seismic shock, debris from WTC 1 & 2, diesel oil fires from basement generators) is plausible, but barely so. However, demolition experts testify that the preparation and placement of explosives sufficient to bring down the building simply could not be carried out undetected.

By the way, no demolished building falls at free-fall speed (d=1/2gt(sq)). The underlying structure forbids. That's just another myth easily debunked.

April 1, 2011

About "Nuclear Power -- Not Now, Not Ever"

Excellent paper. You focus on the main points and avoid details that the nuclear industry uses to obscure the issue. In one such example of a 'red herring', Kate Galbraith, who is presumably a 'green' activist, actually blames the entertainment media for "spooking" the public about the dangers of nuclear power, mentioning the Jane Fonda film in particular.  Galbraith writes:

"Movies like “Godzilla” — whose main character emerged from the site of atomic destruction — have fed fears of radiation, Mr. Klein said. “The China Syndrome,” starring Jane Fonda, about a TV reporter who stumbles upon malfeasance at a nuclear plant and persuades a whistle-blower to speak out about the potential for a meltdown that could “render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable,” opened in March 1979. Twelve days later, America’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, and the public was spooked. "

My response might be: They were 'spooked' for good reason. With the clever use of the word "spooked", Galbraith implies that the fear is ungrounded and just a psychological aberration and/or the result of good acting by Jane Fonda. Human factors, whether from ignorance, simple malfeasance, or purposeful malefaction, are a continuing unquantifiable factor, and Fonda and company should be applauded for making the general public more aware of this. 

A potentially relevant anecdote is my experience doing modeling of air defense missiles at Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1960, as a new engineering graduate, before returning to graduate school. I was asked to run a simulation comparing the Hughes missile with its competitor, the Bendix missile, when intercepting Russian bombers coming in over Canada. The result indicated that the Bendix missile would shoot down more bombers. My supervisor immediately told me to discard the results and run the simulation again with the bombers coming in at a higher altitude, since our missiles were more efficient at the higher altitudes. The Hughes missiles came out on top, and that was the result that was presumably submitted to the government. It is possible that 8.0 and 9.0 level earthquakes were simulated by GE and the construction firm, and the results tossed out. The 7.0 limit may have been the highest that would pass the simulation test.

A Retired Professor of Engineering
(Name withheld by request)


Actually, I've heard living in proximity to one of those big wind farms--the noise?--it can drive you nuts!

Similarly, much of the 'green' technology (parts manufacture and so forth) is very VERY polluting. Devastatingly so, I've heard and read. I could give you links, but I won't. Because you are so fucking stupid and not worth the time it would take.

You phony intellectual righteous bastards (Partridge et. al.) are raping the earth wildly too.

May your kind (and your phony kindness) burn in hell.

Mr. Wilson
The Smirking Chimp

Ernest Partridge Replies: 

You've "heard?"

But have you actually tested your hypothesis?

I have frequently driven past the wind farms at Banning and Tehachapi Pass in southern California and have barely heard a whisper from them, if that.

Both facilities are remote from residential areas, so there is nobody "living in proximity" to them.

Maybe I'd feel differently if there were a windmill in my back yard. Or maybe not, if it significantly decreased my monthly bill to So Cal Edison.

How many have died?

Your comment is full of sanctimonious BS. How many have died there in Fukushima? NONE. Also in areas near Chernobyl, apart from 90+ percent curable thyroid cancer, there are no indications of number of cancers of any type rising among exposed population. 

But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

The Smirking Chimp


Ernest Partridge Replies:

A definitive 327 page study by three Russian scientists, Alexey Yablokov, and Vassily and Alexey Nestorenko, says otherwise. Yablokov writes:

"The Chernobyl catastrophe has already killed several hundred thousand human beings in a population of several hundred million that was unfortunate enough to live in territories affected by the fallout."

(A. V. Yablokov, "Mortality After the Chernobyl Catastrophe," in Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Published in Russia. English edition published by the New York Academy of Sciences, 2009).

But never mind all that. The dogmas of the right transcend mere science, and "reality has a liberal bias." (Stephen Colbert).

Ernest Partridge

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .