Paper: I Know, Let’s Compromise Our Rights Away!

-By Warner Todd Huston

Columnist Tom Eblen of the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader has proven to the world that he doesn’t know what a “right” is. He thinks it is something that you can “compromise” over. He thinks it is something that can be endlessly tinkered with. He seems not to realize that a “right” is something that is supposed to be insoluble, unchangeable, permanent. Worse, he has equated an American right to the horse raising industry as if the business decisions made by a handful of ranchers is somehow comparable to the observance and maintenance of our rights. Ridiculously he says that if we don’t compromise this one right, our 2nd Amendment right, it will be taken away. And hypocritically, after using fear to urge us to compromise, he accuses those of us interested in safeguarding the 2nd Amendment of using “fear” tactics.

This latest op ed, “NRA’s slippery slope full of holes,” was the result of some flack he took for touting the existence of a small gun owner’s organization that many NRA members claim is a front group for an anti-gun group. He wrote admiringly about this small group and was assailed by emails and messages informing him that he was giving support to a stealth gun grabbing group and, instead of checking out the group more thoroughly, these emails seemed to set Eblen off. Typical of a self-righteous denizen of the media, instead of finding out if the complaint letters were right and reassessing his original support, Eblen merely lashed out at 2nd Amendment supporters who alerted him to his mistake. (In fact, Eblen doesn’t even bother to try to find out more about the small gun group he wrote about before merely blowing off his obligation to be informed about what he writes.)

So, off Eblen goes wagging his finger at 2nd Amendment supporters telling them that their “hard-line views” and their use of “fear” to sell gun rights is the wrong track to take. He particularly focuses on the fear aspect, claiming that this is an illegitimate way to advocate for our rights. But, even as he claims the NRA illegitimately uses “fear” he uses fear himself to claim that if we don’t compromise our rights away we will lose all of them.

If Second Amendment absolutists keep standing up and daring others to pry their guns from their “cold, dead fingers,” eventually somebody’s going to do it.

If that isn’t using fear to sell his own point, what is?

Eblen tells us that we just have to understand, guns are dangerous, so we must “compromise.”

But gun violence and crime are serious problems. The no-compromise crowd has kept law enforcement agencies from having some tools they need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and crazy people. And that has led to some over-reaching, such as when police in New Orleans illegally seized hundreds of guns after Hurricane Katrina.

Without some intelligent compromises, each new tragedy, like the Virginia Tech or Columbine massacres, will prompt more emotional calls for banning guns. All guns. There are zealots on both sides.

And he has found the perfect example, he thinks, to show us the way: the “horse industry.”

The NRA and other gun groups could learn something from the horse industry.

High-profile deaths of horses in Thoroughbred racing and eventing have created some public backlash against those sports. Rather than stonewall, though, horse industry leaders are aggressively working to make their sports safer. They love horses, sure, but they also realize that their sports could live or die with public opinion.

Have you ever heard anything so ignorant as this? Imagine, to compare the maintenance of a Constitutional right to raising horses? Would Eblen think that comparing abortion to gardening would be an apt comparison? How about if we compare a discussion of the death penalty to punishment for small time retail theft? Would these have any sensible relation one to the other? I’ll answer for you, Mr. Eblen… NO is your answer.

The discussion of our Constitutional rights is in such a different class of import that comparing the “horse industry” to the policies concerning the 2nd Amendment is as absurd, simple-minded, and just off track as can be imagined.

So, to wrap up his bad analysis and his casual treatment of our rights, Eblen assures us that all will be well if only we just forget about all this standing up for our principles business.

As society becomes more diverse, we must regain the lost art of compromise. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to deal with complex problems in ways that protect everyone’s rights. Polarization may be good for special-interest groups and political parties, but it’s bad for America.

But there is a great flaw in Eblen’s little argument, here. You see, the 2nd Amendment isn’t just a law that we can change at will, compromise over repeatedly, and do away with if it is inconvenient.

You see, the 2nd Amendment is a Constitutional right, not just an average, everyday law.

Let me put it this way: should we compromise on who should be allowed to vote? How about property rights, should we easily give away our rights to be secure in our property? Maybe the right to a speedy trial isn’t so important? How about all that “pursuit of happiness” stuff? Is that all fluff and nonsense, too, Mr. Eblen? What other rights do you think we should so easily disregard as insoluble? What other rights do you think aren’t important enough to maintain as unbreakable?

One does not negotiate away one’s rights, Mr. Eblen. Rights are given to us by our creator and the 2nd Amendment is just as much a right as any. You need, Mr. Eblen, to learn what the right to self protection means before you so casually cast it aside to achieve that supposed safety you desire. When Ben Franklin was heard to tell his fellow Americans that we had a republic if we could keep it, he was talking to you, Mr. Eblen. He was telling you not to throw away your rights to achieve just a little safety.

In fact, Ben Franklin also addressed the “safety” question.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

You are obviously not listening, Mr. Eblen. Let us hope no one is listening to you, as well.


Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as,, New Media Journal, Men’s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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