Those who would give up a rational discussion by purporting to know what a dead man would say about a modern issue deserve a reality check.
There is an appeal to authority that is often made in the realm of gun control talk. This appeal is in the form of a mutated strain of a Benjamin Franklin quote.
“Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” is what those wielders of Franklin’s infinite, immutable wisdom would have everyone believe. It’s most likely that these quote slingers honestly believe this is the quote in full, and are oblivious to the falsity they are peddling, as these things tend to have a viral quality.
This is the full quote:
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Clearly there is a bit more nuance in this quote, and in its full form it reflects Franklin’s pragmatic thinking. Franklin makes it clear that there is a difference between essential liberty and any liberty and the scale of security which is achieved by the surrender of a liberty.
But even if he had written the quote in the obtuse form that it has mutated into, what authority could Franklin hold over such a modern matter? I’m not saying that the thoughts of great and long dead thinkers be discarded. But shouldn’t we consider the reality of their times before we go imposing their words on wholly modern issues?
Just think: What absolute advice could you possibly give today, specifically about public safety, citizens and weapon ownership, that would not be obsolete after another 250 years in technological advancement?
I can only think of one time-proof statement.
“The hell are you doing quoting me? We didn’t even have pocketable disintegration ray guns yet.”