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MSNBC’s RACHEL MADDOW: No place for threats, intimidation in American political discourse

April 5, 2013

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Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 7.02.32 AM>> it’s what we do here with cameras. this is the press club. he’s the press. somebody there presumably explaining to the second amendment guys there’s another amendment called the first amendment, too, short, you can read it. this big show of how many guns the nra could pack in was not an accident, it’s an intimidation tactic, a show of force. last week at one of the events marking a day of action for people calling for gun reform in the states a group of people showed up to counterprotest in indiana. they counterprotested a group of moms who were protesting for gun reform. these guys were protesting in favor of gun rights, instead. you can tell who the counterprotesters were, because they were the ones showing off their loaded weapons, circling around the moms group that had turned out to call for gun reform. i can’t tell from looking at a guy doing this if his weapon are loaded or not, but they told us to believe the guns are loaded. the guys carrying the guns told the press, yes, these guns are loaded, any weapon that is not loaded is just a rock or a club. a reporter said to the man, which means this is loaded? the answer, yes. you know what, it is intimidating to be in the presence of a loaded ar-15 assault rifle, especially when it is not held by, say, an instructor on a range or, say, a cop, or somebody else who’s there to ensure your safety, but instead is just held by a guy who is holding that rifle specifically because he believes it will help him win his political disagreement with you. you see how that could be intimidating? if you believe our nation’s gun laws are too restrictive, if you want more guns everywhere, especially around our nation’s school children, you are free to make that argument. you are free to protest. you are free to be rude in your protest. you are free to be uncouth, you are free to do anything you think will win the argument. our protections on freedom of speech are designed specifically to protect obnoxious speech. nice speech doesn’t often get suppressed, so it doesn’t need protection, but let the record show, at the same time, that in the united states, whether the issue is guns or anything else, you will not win arguments that you try to win by threatening to shoot your opponents. you will not win if the way you are trying to win is by threatening to use weapons to get your political way. people do it in this country. it is a tactic. people try it from time to time. and they lose, because americans do not settle disputes that way. in fact, we’re pretty invested in having a political system that has us not settling disputes that way. once you threaten that you are going to settle your political disputes by use of arms, you will lose all of your political disputes. tempting as it may be, particularly when the issue is guns itself, threats and physical intimidation are not how we successfully achieve change in this country. this is.

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