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Good Sense and Gun Control
Townhall.com ^ | January 23, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 01/22/2013 11:52:42 PM PST by Kaslin

In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn't figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn't fit.

Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right, and you can imagine the effects.

To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. The man's name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging -- why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?"

He achieved immortality by being transformed into a Dickensian-sounding verb: "Nestoring," defined as an absolute adherence to the rules, regardless of the larger consequences.

Fittingly, Nestor was a regulator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Virtually no drug was worth the risk, according to Nestor. The FDA transferred him out of the cardio-renal-pulmonary unit to some bureaucratic backwater because he "had approved no new chemical entities ... from 1968 to 1972, an experience that contrasted with the experience of every other medical [sic] modern nation and with the experience of other divisions of the FDA."

Of course, that made him a hero to activists like Ralph Nader, whose organization praised Nestor's "unassailable record of protecting the public from harmful drugs." (The Naderites helped Nestor in his lawsuit to get reinstated.)

And it's true: If you approve zero drugs, it's 100 percent guaranteed you will approve no harmful drugs. You'll also approve no helpful drugs. As we learn more and more about the human genome, it's become more clear that what is a lifesaver for many might be a death sentence for a few. Most people can eat peanuts; a relative few of us cannot. The Nestor approach would be to ban peanuts for everyone to prevent anyone from being harmed.

That argument works better for peanuts than it does for new medicines. After all, peanuts rarely save anyone's life. Drugs, on the other hand, have the potential to work miracles for some patients. Nestor's tale has gained wide currency as an allegory about the shortcomings of the FDA and the drug industry. But I keep thinking about it in the context of the gun debate in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

For instance, it doesn't take a genius to realize that James Holmes, the man charged in the shooting rampage at the Aurora, Colo., premiere of "The Dark Night Rises," was at least somewhat inspired by the Batman movies. The evil freak dyed his hair orange and called himself "The Joker."

But hundreds of millions of people saw one of the Batman movies. Let's imagine those movies are 100 percent to blame for the Aurora shooting. Even under that ridiculous assumption, that would mean that something like 99.999999999 percent of consumers of those products were unharmed or unaffected. Similarly, the number of law-abiding gun owners dwarfs the number of mass murderers. And guns actually stop crimes too.

The same problem exists on the mental health side of the equation. We all know people who fit the description of one of these shooters before they actually killed anyone. Loners, socially awkward, etc. How many of those people turn into mass murderers? Not many. How do you propose weeding out the potential mass killers without horribly mistreating the innocent?

President Obama has said that anything is worth it "if even one life can be saved." Citing Newtown in his inaugural address Monday, he said that our journey as a nation will not be complete until we know our children are "always safe from harm."

First, common sense tells us that's ridiculously impossible. Moreover, a Nestorite standard would not only do terrible violence to the First, Second and Fifth Amendments, it would indisputably hold the freedom, health and happiness of the many hostage to the potentially bad actions of the few.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: aurorashooting; banglist; billofrights; guncontrol; guns; nestoring; ralphnader; secondamendment

1 posted on 01/22/2013 11:52:49 PM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
This is a reasonable, cogent, lucid, logical argument with a very apt analogy.

It'll never catch on.

2 posted on 01/23/2013 12:13:55 AM PST by Washi (Socialism is Slavery)
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To: Kaslin
President Obama has said that anything is worth it "if even one life can be saved.

On its face that is just a blatantly stupid thing to say.

Think a little deeper about it and you will probably see that it's a pernicious lie.

3 posted on 01/23/2013 12:31:05 AM PST by TigersEye (The irresponsible should not be leading the responsible.)
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To: TigersEye
Think a little deeper about it and you will probably see that it's a pernicious lie.

I have to disagree. I think it's an absolute bold, bald faced lie. A slap in the face of reasonable people everywhere. An out and out fabrication to foment his power grabbing agenda.

But that's me...

4 posted on 01/23/2013 1:37:22 AM PST by onona (KCCO, and mind the gap)
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To: Kaslin

President Obama has said that anything is worth it “if even one life can be saved.”

Presumably, that means shredding the constitution, as well, although, granted, with the congress we’ve had for the past thirty years, there’s precious little left to shred, anyway.

Nevertheless, the United States Constitution is all that’s left, now, to stand between Obama and his sought-after revolution of the proletariat.


5 posted on 01/23/2013 2:27:27 AM PST by Jack Hammer
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To: Kaslin

Interesting article, I look at it in a slightly different way though. One person, in the right place at the right time was able to gum up the works for potentially millions of people.

I find that fascinating don’t you?


6 posted on 01/23/2013 2:54:46 AM PST by The Working Man
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To: The Working Man

Yes, obama is doing a great job of gumming up he works for millions of people. The worst part is he is surrounded by millions of people just like him who are each gumming up the works in different places, each in his own different way. It’s not an accident. It’s group Alinsky-ism.


7 posted on 01/23/2013 3:08:59 AM PST by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: The Working Man
Eric Frank Russell thought it was fascinating enough to write a book based on the idea.

In 1957.

I'm sure you'll find Wasp as fascinating as I do.

8 posted on 01/23/2013 3:26:37 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Kaslin

“dyed his hair orange and called himself ‘the Joker.’”

This bothered me during the seemingly unending news coverage, and though the connection is not explicit here the implication is clear: that the shooter’s hair and his thinking of himself were somehow related. But the Joker’s hair is green! Gosh, that bothers me.


9 posted on 01/23/2013 3:42:48 AM PST by Tublecane
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To: ArrogantBustard

I remember WASP quite well, it was one of his better stories. With today’s technology I think he would have incorporated quite a bit of Cyber-mischief too into the story.


10 posted on 01/23/2013 4:17:25 AM PST by The Working Man
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To: Kaslin
For instance, it doesn't take a genius to realize that James Holmes, the man charged in the shooting rampage at the Aurora, Colo., premiere of "The Dark Night Rises," was at least somewhat inspired by the Batman movies.

The joker was also inspired by the gun free zone laws.

There were 7 movie theaters in Aurora, CO that were having a midnight showing of Batman, and the joker didn't go to the biggest theater, nor the closest to his home, nope, he went to the ONLY THEATER THAT WAS POSTED AS A GUN FREE ZONE.

He might have been crazy, but he wasn't stupid.

11 posted on 01/23/2013 4:20:33 AM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages, start today.)
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To: Kaslin
a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right, and you can imagine the effects.

He shoulda been shot for that alone.

12 posted on 01/23/2013 4:21:40 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.)
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To: Kaslin

IOW if one life can be saved, it’s worth having thousands killed.

What Milton Friedman said of free trade applies to freedom in general, with apologies to the good Doctor Friedman:

Freedoms beneficiaries are many, and they do not know who they are, while its victims are few, and they do know who they are.


13 posted on 01/23/2013 4:53:04 AM PST by Daveinyork (."Trusting government with power and money is like trusting teenaged boys with whiskey and car keys,)
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To: TigersEye

If you lose 10 lives to save one is that worth it?


14 posted on 01/23/2013 4:57:31 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Graybeard58

I have driven that Beltway many times, and I cannot believe he stayed alive doing 55 on it.

Of course there was little traffic in front of him, they were all piled up behind.

Nothing is worse on the beltway than a cop sitting still with his lights flashing.


15 posted on 01/23/2013 5:00:01 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Jack Hammer

President Obama has said that anything is worth it “if even one life can be saved.”


Yet no enterprising reporter has the balls to ask the President if he would be willing to resign his office if it saved one life.


16 posted on 01/23/2013 6:18:25 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed (Hold My Beer and Watch This!)
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To: Venturer
If you lose 10 lives to save one is that worth it?

On the surface, I agree that this is simple algebra. But it's not that easy.

Is the break-even point at losing one life to save another life -- where one life needs to be sacrificed in order to redeem one life, that would otherwise be lost?

Would I be willing to be forced to give up my life that yours might be saved? Would I accept the condition that for my life to be saved, yours must be taken in a way and at a time stiffly and justly resisted by yourself?

For numbers in the equation, think of the conundrum posed in the story of "Saving Private Ryan," a squad lost in saving him, and take it from there.

17 posted on 01/23/2013 6:36:11 AM PST by imardmd1 (An armed society is a polite society -- but dangerous for the fool --)
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To: Kaslin
The same problem exists on the mental health side of the equation. We all know people who fit the description of one of these shooters before they actually killed anyone. Loners, socially awkward, etc. How many of those people turn into mass murderers? Not many. How do you propose weeding out the potential mass killers without horribly mistreating the innocent?

The writer claims that the dilemma introduced by psychotropic drugs is equivalent to the outcomes of applying the 2nd Amendment fairly. It is not the same at all. IMHO

18 posted on 01/23/2013 6:49:26 AM PST by imardmd1 (An armed society is a polite society -- but dangerous for the fool --)
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To: Kaslin

There are many equivalents to “Nestoring”.

For example, the dogged adherence to “the law” made the Les Misérables character Inspector Javert something beyond a mere villain. By pursuing a man for decades, who stole a loaf of bread to feed his family, he became something like a 19th Century Terminator robot. For him the law is absolute, the alternative of which is chaos.

Rigid adherence is often found in religious and philosophical extremists, and for an odd reason: that they question their own faith, so they are absolutists with everyone else. They oppress others as they wish to oppress their own doubts.

Importantly, it can be inherent to them, because of the wiring of their brain; but it can also be trained behavior, training that the consequences of not rigidly adhering to the rules is disastrous.


19 posted on 01/23/2013 8:24:46 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Best WoT news at rantburg.com)
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To: Kaslin
The man's name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging -- why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?"

Ladies and gentlemen, Lawful Stupid.

20 posted on 01/23/2013 9:00:12 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Venturer

I took a trip out there one time and I saw the cops doing it. They would have a cop car in each lane doing 55. No way around, we all had to drive 55.


21 posted on 01/23/2013 10:49:11 AM PST by USAF80
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To: USAF80

They did that one year to screw up the traffic heading to the beach via Beltway & Rt 50. I think it was a failure so badly they never tried it again.

Average speed of the Beltway is around 65 with some doing 80.


22 posted on 01/23/2013 11:40:19 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Kaslin

BTTT!


23 posted on 01/23/2013 11:43:15 AM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: onona

Well, there’s that too. :-)


24 posted on 01/23/2013 12:33:52 PM PST by TigersEye (The irresponsible should not be leading the responsible.)
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