Comments on the Tyranny Response Team
Editor's Note: Below are remarks sent in by readers concerning the Tyranny Response Team. I include commentary stemming from recent articles including "ADL, Denver Post Defame Bob Glass" (http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/seibert.html) and "Shape Up TRT" (http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/shapeuptrt.html).
I challenged Trent Seibert to respond to my criticisms or to publicly apologize to Bob Glass. To date, Seibert has not replied. -Ari Armstrong
The following commentary was originally sent to the TRT chat list.
As some of you may have read in Monday's Denver Post, the headlines of the Denver and the West section read, "ADL looks into Gun Group's Tactics." The story written by Trent Seibert describes how Bobbie Towbin of the ADL is "concerned about the kinds of people who may be drawn to the gun organization."
They are also concerned with our tactics and want to investigate any links between members of the TRT and death threats made against Tom Mauser. In essence, the TRT has been successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams, not just in Colorado, but across the nation, where the Commie Mommie's numbers have dropped faster than the Mir space station. The sniveling cowards that they are, they've repeatedly refused my offers to debate them, and because they are unwilling to defend their agenda of victim disarmament in public, they have resorted to playing the only cards that they have left, character assassination and threats.
By simply calling in their hired ADL smear hit men from out of town they hope to tarnish and intimidate us into silence. They are wrong. Boy are they wrong. If they want to throw a rock into a hornet's nest, let them.
We have history, morality, reason, logic, and statistics, the Bill Of Rights, the Constitution and righteousness on our side. We know that no one from the TRT has ever been arrested at a rally or action, no one from the TRT has ever broken the law, and most certainly no one from the TRT has threatened Tom Mauser or anyone else.
We've certainly exposed Tom Mauser for the fraud and coward that he is, receiving $72,000.00 per year form SAFE Colorado to cash-in on the tragic death of his son, Daniel, at Columbine. We don't need to threaten anyone. We've made it clear from the beginning precisely what we intend to do and that is to implement the full restoration and strict enforcement of the Bill Of Rights.
The "kinds" of people who have been drawn to our ranks, are some of the finest, most decent, honorable patriots that it has been my distinct pleasure to be associated with. There can be no question that if we weren't effective, they wouldn't be screaming so loud. Rest assured that we will not take this outrageous attempt to intimidate us, silence us and smear our good name, lying down. We will not allow the veiled threat that the ADL wields so callously, of casting the ugly and shameful specter of anti-Semitism upon its political foes, to intimidate us. The ADL will soon realize, as have all of those that are in the business of destroying liberty, that the price of tyranny just got raised.
THE EDITOR RESPONDS: I agree with most of Glass' points. However, I take exception to his characterization of Tom Mauser. It's simply not fair to say Mauser was "cashing in" on the death of his son. Mauser took a leave of absence from his job with the state and took an equivalent salary from S.A.F.E. for a year. Mauser advocated views he had long held. The money is not the issue: the issue is the legitimacy of Mauser's claims. I've met Tom Mauser on several occasions, and in general he strikes me as an ok fellow. On one occasion, he accused me of being callous toward the death of gang members, even though my explicit point was that Mauser's proposals wouldn't stop gang violence (and would actually distract from the real problem). However, even though Mauser distorted my views on this occasion, I must stand up for Mauser here. I have seen no evidence that leads me to believe Mauser's motives are somehow sinister. He is grossly mistaken, but that's a different issue. Glass should be more careful to avoid name-calling. Then he will have greater credibility when he defends against those calling him names. -Ari
Doug NelsonThanks for bringing this up. I attended most of the TRT events and agree with your article a lot. New tactics are needed, carefully thought out street theater designed to get positive press exposure is one. Problem is that there is no real TRT leadership because their is no real TRT membership. It is not even an organization, the people just show up on their own. Your forum is a great place to get the word out, Keep It Up!
I'm not Jewish, but seeing the ADL jump on a Jewish guy because of "the kind of people his group might attract" is really weird. Any group at all can "attract" any kind of person who's ever been born. Adolf Hitler went to Sunday School. Does that make Sunday School a spawning ground for evil fascist dictators? Give me a break!
The story [by Seibert] is imputing guilt by association. "You're bad because we've seen you in the company of bad people." That's asinine! The ADL has become the monster it's supposed to combat. What a cute trick -- call yourself the Anti-Defamation League to divert suspicion, then go around defaming people. "The Big Lie" seems to be making real headway these days.
John K Berntson wrote, "I would point out that the TRT is helping to dig their own grave. When you get a group of "gun nuts" out in public, yelling at people, giving the Nazi salute, and yelling "Zeig heil!," it is not very hard for the press to paint them badly. Yes, we know that they are doing this to call the gun-grabbers fascists, but when shown or described without explanation, as the press would want to do, they make themselves look like a group of neo-Nazis. This point should be made to the TRT."
David Bryant replied: "I've participated in a couple of TRT demonstrations within the past year. One was downtown, when the NRA brass were in Denver to discuss 'reasonable' gun control legislation. The other was out- side Bill Ritter's office, near the Denver Mint, to protest the Tattered Cover case (a subpoena for records relating to the sale of a book). In both those cases the TRT guys were polite and respectful. We got some good press out of each event.
"I agree that some of the people showing up with the TRT are sometimes rude, even stupid. But then, so are a lot of the people on the other side. We need to make points with the media, and dramatic confrontations are some of the best ways to accomplish that. Those guys want to sell papers, and to boost their ratings, and unless we offer them some kind of a show, they'll continue to ignore us.
"The real question, it seems to me, is how can we persuade the TRT people to think about the public personae they're projecting. Those guys aren't skinheads, they're just hot under the collar."
Excellent article. But you know, the pro-gun side is not so lilly white either.
I'm referring in particular to Bob Glass. I listened to his radio show the other week, and I was disappointed to hear his diatribes and ad hominem attacks on those that are anti-gun.
He couldn't seem to mention the MMM people without calling them instead the "Commie Mommies". He belittled Rev. Al Sharpton because of his hair style. He belittled Rev Jesse Jackson too, but I forget the details.
Now, I too strongly oppose the beliefs of the MMM and the two Reverends. But I don't call them names (at least not in public) nor make ad hominem attacks. Rather, I believe for example, that the MMM is truly concerned about family safety, but that they are certainly mis-guided and going about it the wrong way. But I think for Glass to call them names, is not helping convince anyone.
Glass mentioned on his show that he's very willing to debate any anti-gunner on his radio show and that he will treat them with *respect*. But he doesn't walk the walk when he talks about these same folks with no respect behind their back. It's no surprise they don't want to appear on his show.
In conclusion, it seems to me that both sides are highly charged and emotional, neither giving any understanding as to what the other really believes. To me, both sides want safety, but have opposite views on how to achieve it. I strongly believe in the freedom/duty of self-defense. And I believe we could better our cause by dealing with those of opposing views with more respect and try to show them the error of the their ways. Of course, that's hard to do when the issue is as emotional as this one -- with bigots on *both* sides.
THE EDITOR RESPONDS: I agree with much of what you have to say. However, the MMs seem to go overboard in a way Glass etc. never have -- hurting people and destroying property.
As for the "Commie Mommie" slur, it's not even accurate, because state control over nominally private property such as the MMM advocates is actually more akin to fascism than to communism.
Also, Bob has often given credit where it is due. I've heard him speak well of several members of the opposition whom he thought were honestly mistaken. For example, he has said kind words about Arnie Grossman of S.A.F.E.
Editor: It occurred to me while participating in the counter rally to the million mommies that we can increase our acceptance in the community by showing our participation in other organizations. I was there holding a sign and a TV cameraman came over and filmed the sign I was carrying and the T-shirt I was wearing. The T-shirt I had on had nothing to do with the party or issue I was supporting. But it did show that I was a regular guy involved in other things. So at the next rally or protest, wear your t-shirt from your bowling league, civic group, sports team, club or other group you either are or were a member of.
The ADL is sinister in it's deceptive methods, trying to insinuate that it's concerned for the well-being of the public, but in all reality, it's corrupt in its workings, acting on behalf of the MMM. It has no genuine complaintant, it has no purpose in any of the TRT's business. Freedom is not a perversion, nor a sickness. Our defense of it has not caused anyone calumny/defamation. I know the ADL wishes it had, due to its contractor, the MMM.
Big money is the tyranny of the public, big money is what's behind the ADL, and its origin is from the MMM. The ADL is the new weapon for the MMM because their clutzy fallacies have failed against the TRT. The TRT will anticipate a charade coordinated by the MMM/ADL, to humiliate the TRT, of which the ADL will react in a protectionary mode and try to stomp the TRT out of existence. I can only say, we have lawyers too.
THE EDITOR RESPONDS: There is no evidence that the ADL worked directly with or for the MMM in this instance. To my knowledge, the ADL was notified by anti-gun activists about the TRT. Regardless, the substance of the ADL's claims must be criticized directly. -Ari
Smith sent in the following comments in response to one of my previous articles.
Armstrong wrote: "Ironically, the Million Moms urged their members to find one of the dozens of armed police officers at the scene if they encountered violence. This was unnecessary advice, as only members of the Million Moms have initiated physical violence at previous events. The TRT has been consistently peaceful."
Depends on how you define "peaceful" -- yelling through bull-horns is peaceful? Guess your definition and mine differ on that.
What is ironic about wanting police protection from thugs? From being harassed?
You, it would seem, want the right to bear arms, and no doubt concealed ones at that, to protect no one other than yourself. Are you willing to take an oath to "protect and serve", those you agree with, those you don't, just generally any law-abiding citizen? Or are your interests in protect more selfish?
Thankfully, the Denver Police and State Patrol provide enough of a threat to the TRT members that they don't bring guns to their shout-ins! Perhaps that is the freedom you seek -- to be able to threaten others with guns whenever the mood strikes you? (Self-defense is a ruse, you want arbitrary offense!) To be able to take away their life whenever the mood strikes, or whenever you disagree?!? Maybe you just want to maim and cripple...
Just to be clear, I think you hit the nail square on the head regarding: RESPONSIBLE gun ownership.
As long as people who have guns don't irresponsibly threaten the safety of others, who cares if they have them. Threaten their safety by storing their guns irresponsibly so that their kids, or their kids friends can get the guns and use them. Threaten their safety by selling guns, through whatever means, to minors and felons.
It comes down to being about "certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." I think those are in order for a good reason. If you don't have life, the freedom is academic.
Your freedom ends where you threaten the life of others. That is why we have laws against murder and manslaughter and assault and harassment. Maybe you want to be "free" from those laws?!?
Twenty years ago, I thought Libertarians stood for something neat. Now, it seems to have digressed into "I want to do whatever the hell I want, I don't care about the consequences it might have on other's, fuck everybody but me!" Sad to see something that used to mean something sink into so much militia-minded, anti-government crap.
By the way, if "Million Moms Libel the TRT," then file a lawsuit. Words are cheap. Screaming in bull-horns is for cowards.
Or perhaps you want to appoint yourself, exclusively, legislators, judges, and jurors? And executioner!
Benjamin Franklin would be PROUD -- hell no, he'd be puking on his shoes!!
THE EDITOR RESPONDS:
You may also be interested in my critique of the TRT at http://www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/shapeuptrt.html.
A person is "peaceful" if he or she does not harm the person or property of another. For instance, when a Million Mom member punched Shariar Ghalam in Boulder, that was not peaceful. When a Million Mom member struck a TRT member with a clipboard in Fort Collins, that was not peaceful.
You ask, "What is ironic about wanting police protection from thugs?" That is not the irony. (I assume you're speaking hypothetically as the TRT cannot justifiably be referred to as "thugs.") The irony lies in the fact that the Million Moms explicitly rely on ARMED men to protect them. The Million Moms also explicitly rely on armed agents to violently enforce their gun restriction laws.
You ask, "Are you willing to take an oath to 'protect and serve', those you agree with, those you don't, just generally any law-abiding citizen?"
My response is, I don't need to take an oath, because I would already come to the aid of any person I found in need of assistance. I trust that you would, too. So would the TRT members you are so quick to demonize.
You comment, "Thankfully, the Denver Police and State Patrol provide enough of a threat to the TRT members that they don't bring guns to their shout-ins! Perhaps that is the freedom you seek -- to be able to threaten others with guns whenever the mood strikes you?"
In the future, you might choose to stick to the substantive issues rather attack a straw-man.
Actually, it's perfectly legal to carry a gun to a so-called "shout-in," so long as one has a CCW permit. I would actively advice against the practice, but it's legal.
You continue, "To be able to take away their life whenever the mood strikes, or whenever you disagree?!? Maybe you just want to maim and cripple..."
Again I would urge you to stick to the facts. If you demonize me and others, you are only creating mental blocks for yourself which prevent you from thinking rationally about the issue.
You comment, quite sensibly, "As long as people who have guns don't irresponsibly threaten the safety of others, who cares if they have them. Threaten their safety by storing their guns irresponsibly so that their kids, or their kids friends can get the guns and use them. Threaten their safety by selling guns, through whatever means, to minors and felons."
Like you, I want guns to be stored responsibly and kept out of the hands of irresponsible persons. However, *mandatory* gun storage laws prevent the responsible use of a gun for self-defense. In fact, such laws are proven to increase violent crime. Only a minority of households have children around, so one-size-fits-all laws are bound to be counter-productive.
Of course nobody wants violent criminals to get guns. Unfortunately, laws like the Brady Bill don't stop criminals. Instead, they wrongly deny lawful citizens their right to purchase a gun for self-defense. That's why the Brady Bill is associated with increased rates of rape. Women who are being stalked or threatened don't have time to jump through government hoops.
You comment, "If you don't have life, the freedom is academic. Your freedom ends where you threaten the life of others."
You sound quite like a libertarian! Unfortunately, the Million Mom March agenda does threaten the life of others by rendering them defenseless against violent criminals.
You continue, "That is why we have laws against murder and manslaughter and assault and harassment. Maybe you want to be "free" from those laws?!?"
Now you're just being silly. Those are *precisely* the laws libertarians want enforced. Unfortunately, the Million Moms want to waste police resources by going after peaceable citizens, instead of targeting violent criminals.
You comment, "Twenty years ago, I thought Libertarins stood for something neat. Now, it seems to have digressed into 'I want to do wahtever the hell I want, I don't care about the conssequences it might have on other's, fuck everybody but me!' Sad to see something that used to mean something sink into so much militia-minded, anit-government crap."
If you would read what libertarians actually have to say on the matter, you would find that your accusations are unjustified and completely wrong.
You suggest, "By the way, if 'Million Moms Libel the TRT,' then file a lawsuit."
Actually, libertarians are divided on the issue of libel laws. Usually, I think it's more effective to simply counter libel by publicly stating the truth, rather than by pursuing a law suit.
You say, "Screaming in bull-horns is for cowards."
For the record, I did not use a bull-horn during the rally at all. I think bull-horns are effective for some things, and ineffective for others. For example, in my article which criticizes the TRT, I explicitly call for an end to yelling through a bull-horn at others at close range.
You add, "Or perhaps you want to appoint yourself, exclusively, legislators, judges, and jurors? And executioner!"
You're completely wrong again...
You close, "Benjamin Franklin would be PROUD -- hell no, he'd be puking on his shoes!!"
I agree. Benjamin Franklin would be quite disgusted that the Million Moms are ignoring his sage advice: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
It is my sincere belief that, if you continue to study the issues with a rational mind, you will re-discover your libertarian sentiments.
"Live and let live."
Thanks, -Ari Armstrong