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Armed society- Polite society

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by OGFIRE, Sep 10, 2007.

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  1. OGFIRE

    OGFIRE Member

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    I have always heard the "an armed society, is a polite society" and always took this to mean not to anger an armed person. I have found that when I carry, I make it a point to be polite, therefore lessening the chance of a meaningless or useless altercation. This was not a consious decision just something I noticed about myself. Maybe this is and alternate meaning of the phrase.
     
  2. strat81

    strat81 Member

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    I think it means both. I'd wager that the overwhelming majority of THR members pray they never, EVER, have to use their guns in self-defense. When I CCW, if I'm called [low-road names], I'll just take it in stride and move along.
     
  3. Flak_Jakett

    Flak_Jakett Member

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    If everyone carried a gun how many home invasions, muggings, armed robberies, kidnappings... etc do you think there would be? If everyone commiting a violent crime had to deal with a gun wielding public, I think crime would plummet. There would be no more easy targets. People would be polite. They would also be polite, because if your nice to someone, if something happens to you, the person might have your back and vice versa.
     
  4. P97

    P97 Member

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    I think most people that carry realize that they have the power within reach of their fingertips to take a life. They want to be sure, before they use this power, that it is as a last resort and there is no other alternative.
     
  5. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    To me, and I'd guess most everyone here, the decision to carry a gun automatically means giving up the right to be; a hot head, an aggressor, a taunting smart-@zz, a bully, an insultor, or a prima dona with their tender emotions ready to snap. The downside (taking a life) is FAR TOO serious of an event to be prompted by issues of EGO! Holstering a CCW means you leave your ego at home in the dresser drawer.
     
  6. Christianninja

    Christianninja Member

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    It's like in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. When everyone is within arms reach of death, you either get real polite or real dead.

    (Hehe..."arms reach"... I made a pun.)
     
  7. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", wow, good conversation and a Literary Society as well. I LOVE it around here. (...nice pun, by the way)
     
  8. BMacklem

    BMacklem Member

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    Actually I believe that Heinlein proposed the idea of an "Armed polite society" in the book "Beyond this Horizon".

    In that book, there are people who wear a badge that makes them true citizens that can carry a gun, and the reactions between those people who wear arms is what that phrase would be described as... completely polite, and very careful.
    An altercation ensues because someone drops a crab leg down a railing into a womans soup on the terrace below them, and one fool demands satisfaction because of it, although the main character provides payment for drycleaning, and utmost apologies for his "clumsiness" (even though it was his friend who dropped the crab leg)
    The young hothead draws his gun, and a quick duel ensues, where the hothead is wounded, and the night continues as if nothing happened.

    That would be an almost ideal society. *sigh*
     
  9. esq_stu

    esq_stu Member

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    I've always taken the expression to mean being armed is an awesome responsibility - to avoid having to use arms.

    I see it in my own conduct - My alertness level is much higher. I steer clear of places and situations where trouble is more likely.

    I know most people around me are not armed, and yet I go to far greater lengths to avoid conflict - to control my temper, to be polite, to keep my distance from bad drivers, etc., because I know how bad it will be if I ever need to resort to a lethal weapon. I really feel that carrying for the last 5 years or so has changed me in many ways.
     
  10. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN Marines raising the left-leaning Pisa tower.

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    Armed. Polite. Example:

    Having learned to drive in NYC, part of the skill-set was hollering out the car window.

    I regret to say that this habit followed me out here to Colorado.

    "Hey, that's a stop sign, not a die sign!"

    "C'mon, I wanna get outta sekint gear, awreddy!"

    "Et Cetera, you (see Thesaurus for appropriate derogatory words)!"

    But ever since I got my CCW, I've been a pussycat.

    I don't use my horn or my finger any more.

    I don't hit my brakes if someone's following too closely.

    When I get the Universal Hand Gesture (UHG), I usually mouth "Sorry!" even if it wasn't my fault.

    I even let people into the lane ahead of me instead of using the incredibly responsive power of my turbocharged vehicle to prevent it.

    Imagine that!
     
  11. Dragoneye9

    Dragoneye9 Member

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    Robert Heinlen has used "An Armed Society is a Polite Society" in alot of his novels. He also comments on the downward slide of moddern civilization. In his book "I fear no evil" (if I remember the name right) that world dosen't garenty safety out side of building and there are sections of cities the police will not enter and leave to criminals. Sometimes I wonder if we are headed that way with the modern mentality that the police will save you, rather than standing up for yoursel. Wich admittdely is hard to do and not come off as a complete jerk. Just my $.02
     
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The phrase "An armed society is a polite society" comes from 'Beyond This Horizon' by R.A.H. It refers to the custom of most men and some women going armed at all times and the social acceptance of dueling. I don't have the exact quote at hand but roughly, manners are good when your life depends on your behavior. It does NOT refer to self defense against criminals... there is no crime worth mentioning.

    This does not mean there is a lot of fighting. There is the one shootout in the restaurant mentioned above and there is no occurence of a set duel in which "your gun won't burn until the referee gives the signal." Something does have to be worked out so the Man From The Twentieth Century gets a little discipline without a valuable historical resource getting killed.

    Some of the above posters mention being more polite when wearing a gun. I say this is due to the reverse of Heinlein's society. We know that if we shoot or even draw a gun, we will come under close investigation by powerful government officials. We are barely allowed to protect our lives, never our honor.

    There is another less common quote that I particularly like. A coup de etat by an organization of genetic engineering technocrats is put down only after the police have recruited enough volunteers because: "The police of a state should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom."
     
  13. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    I never understood the concept that an armed society is supposed to be a polite society. It conjures the notion that we must live in fear of pissing off somebody else who might be armed and who would use a weapon to take vengence against our impoliteness.

    It seems quite disturbing that some folks apparently consider being armed making them more polite because they are fearful of being armed because they
    This gives the impression that they have problems with their ability to control their emotions and must therefore mentally work in such a manner to not unleash lethal force unnecessarily.

    I did not realize this quote was from a fictional book. Interesting how so many pro-gun people have taken their lead for gun handling and behavior from a work of fiction.
     
  14. ceetee

    ceetee Member

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    I've always understood it to mean pretty much a combinaiton of all of the above. When the majority of the populace is armed, any transgressions in the mores of the time are dealt with swiftly and severely, and sometimes the "wrong" person comes out ahead. Therefore, you should mind your manners, unless you want to start something that could end up in your own demise. Not just that, but because there would be little true criminality (out in the open, anyway), most people would feel safer, and would be more inclined to be polite, and helpful towards strangers.

    Double Nought:

    There are many interesting ideas for governance to be learned from Heinlein's works. For example: In Starship Troopers, the entire civilization is governed by former servicemen and women. Not because they're smarter, or more able to govern, but because they've shown (through the act of volunteering for a tour of duty in the armed forces) that they place the welfare of the whole as greater than that of the individual.

    In several novels, the idea of an armed society, ready to mete out justice in the stead of any organized government exists. In some stories, religious majorities attain power, and become corrupt, requiring them to be overthrown. Over all, there is a strong libertarian trend. In every Heinlein story of space exploration there's an attitude of "I'll take care of what's mine, you take care of what's yours, and we'll get along fine." Some notable quotes:

    Lazi, you've heard me say nine thousand and nineteen times that we do not carry weapons to give us Dutch courage. If a gun makes you feel three meters tall and invulnerable, you had better go unarmed [...]
    --Lazurus Long, Time Enough For Love, pg 435

    We don't shoot cops if there is any way to avoid it. Safer to kiss a rattlesnake.
    --Lazurus Long, Time Enough For Love, pg 435

    Mary, if there is anything I have learned in the past couple of centuries, it's this: These things pass. Wars and Depression and Prophets and Covenants -- they pass. The trick is to stay alive through them.
    --Lazurus Long, Methuselah's Children, pg 24

    He was aware of the present gentle custom against personal weapons, but he felt naked without them. Such customs were nonsense anyhow, foolishment from old women -- there was no such thing as a dangerous weapon, there were only dangerous men.
    --Methuselah's Children, pg 27

    Besides, as my boss says, with all governments everywhere tightening down on everything wherever they can, with their computers and their Public Eyes and ninety-nine other sorts of electronic surveillance, there is a moral obligation on each free person to fight back wherever possible -- keep underground railways open, keep shades drawn, give misinformation to computers. Computers are literal-minded and stupid; electronic records aren't really records . . . so it is good to be alert to opportunities to foul up the system.
    --Marjorie Friday Baldwin; Friday, pg 5

    Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named . . . but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for other in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.
    --Dr. Hartley M. Baldwin; Friday, pg 242
     
  15. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    here's the complete quote:

    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."
    -- Robert A. Heinlein, "Beyond This Horizon"
     
  16. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    Before this becomes the newest chapter of the R.A.H. Fan Club of Armchair Sociologists (but I quess it's pretty much has anyway), let's remember what the OP really asked -

    Are we, the armed, polite because we fear our actions could result in the frivilous taking of another's life...or our own?

    Honestly? I think more about the first than about the second.
     
  17. fletcher

    fletcher Member

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    +1 to it being both. I take it to mean that if you are armed, and others may be armed, you will take care to not put yourself in situations (either by negligence or by provoking someone) which may result in a life being taken. Not everyone has the same fuse length.
     
  18. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Sometimes fiction is more logical than reality.
     
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Yup.
    Fiction has to make sense to sell books. Real life doesn't.

    Correction on ceetee: In 'Starship Troopers' you don't have to serve in the armed forces to get the franchise. You volunteer for Federal Service and only a few go to the military. As the doctor said, the mental and physical examination is not to accept or reject you, it is to find out what duties you are capable of performing. You cannot be turned down if you volunteer. You might end up like the one guy who could not cut the infantry training. He would not accept a medical discharge and ended up fourth cook on a transport ship.
     
  20. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    [Sometimes fiction is more logical than reality.]

    It's now time for an appropriate quote from another well-known author...

    "The truth, unlike fiction, doesn't have to be believable"
    Mark Twain
     
  21. ceetee

    ceetee Member

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    Jim:

    Shorthand. Brevity. Mea Culpa.
     
  22. jpk1md

    jpk1md Member

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    Too bad folks don't think that way when they're behind the wheel of a 5000 lb hunk of steel and plastic flyin' down the road at 75mph while drinking a doubleskinnydecafextrawhiplatte while simultaneously talking on the phone and changing radio stations
     
  23. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    Speaking only for myself, I don't need violence to protect my honor. The only one who can dishonor me is...me. Nothing you do or say can effect my honor. Only what I do or say. Fighting over honor in the past generally meant fighting over what other people would think. Color me egocentric, but I don't give enough of a crap about what other people might think to kill or be killed over it.

    The whole armed society=polite society thing works out so well in Heinlein's novels because he writes it that way. An examination of actual world history shows that in the times and places where there was something approaching Heinlein's model it did not result in a crime-free, polite utopia.

    People in the real world aren't as cooperative with how we want things to be as characters in novels tend to be. Real people have friends and family who may not think you killing poor Jeffie for rudeness that somehow slighted your honor was right. Now they come after you. Or, if you are a feared and noted weapons master, they pick fights with your lesser-skilled friends and family and kill off a few of them as payback. So then you want payback...and so on. Study up on feuds and vendetta and see how beautifully it worked out for the families involved and for their societies in general.

    Guns aren't magic. You can (maybe) make a person do what you want him to do by pointing a gun at him. You can't make him a different person. People as a group are the same. In times and places where use of weapons was less restricted than it is now, there was still crime and there was still rude behavior.
     
  24. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    Fiction

    Some of the clearest and most cogent wisdom I've ever read came from fiction.

    You'll seldom find any in real life.
     
  25. G_Lyons

    G_Lyons Member

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    I find that when I carry an insult does not bother me nearly as much and I will not respond. I don't know if this a trained response or if it psychological that I know I am safe and I don't have to get defencive over words. This allows the situation to die and everyone comes out fine. I think a big part of that is because when I am unarmed I feel more vulnerable to any attack. Where as if I a have my side arm I know that what is said does not warrant action (unless it is a physical threat) only another's physical actions will warrant a response.

    Another aspect I think that this does make the average CCWer or OCer more polite because we have a higher burden of self control. If you get angry with someone and it escalates you will be scrutinised because you are the one with a gun so you must be a "nut job" to go walking around with a gun.
     
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