Everytown: We’ll Only Debate If Our Sparring Partners Agree With Us

Watch this representative from gun-control group “Everytown for Gun Safety” explain on C-SPAN why he won’t debate anybody who disagrees with him:

Here’s transcript of the relevant part of his answer:

Everytown is committed to an evidence-based approach. We speak with criminologists, legislators across the country and we welcome debate. In fact, we’re thrilled that there is an increased amount of research in this area, and an increased amount of conversation about what laws are effective to keeping guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers. So, when there’s a credible scientist — somebody who wants to have a real constructive conversation about this — we’re going to be there. But folks who seek to minimize the grave issue of gun violence in this country – or to draw attention away from the real issues to themselves – that’s not a conversation I think it’s productive to be a part of.

Obviously, the speaker is doing little more than begging the question. “Sure we’ll talk to people who disagree” he appears to be saying, “but only if they agree. Because to disagree with the claims that we are making is to take attention away from the claims that we are making, which are true by virtue of their having been made.” 

Oddly enough, this is also exactly how critics of, say, Christina Hoff Sommers tend to explain away their unwillingness to engage. Consider this editorial from Georgetown University’s Hoya newspaper:

Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.

It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having. Students should engage in a dialogue that focuses on establishing a safe space for survivors while at the same time tackling the root causes of sexual assault.

Inevitably, the discussion initiated by Sommers distracts from a focus on solutions. At its worst, such discourse encourages rape denialism.

You close those minds, guys.

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