The Dubious Link Between Experience and Legislation

The latest ridiculous chapter in the ongoing effort to make the gun safety debate about anything at all other than actually preventing gun violence involves the controversy over President Obama’s claim that he often goes skeet shooting.

After gun nuts scoffed, Obama’s camp released a photo seemingly backing up his claim:


Yet, in a flashback to the idiocy of the “Birther” saga, documentation was not nearly convincing enough for the skeptics.  They questioned his technique, his wardrobe, and even his apparent pot belly.

Perhaps most ridiculous was the claim that the photo itself was a fake, a position quickly mocked by more rational minds:

But, lost in the conspiracy theories was the deeper implication: that somehow the fact that Obama did not appear to be an expert on handling and shooting a gun disqualified him from proposing legislation on guns.

Let’s take a second to examine that.  On the surface, it makes a little bit of sense.  How can someone legislate something he doesn’t know that much about?  But, a little thought reveals that this logic is ludicrous.  I have never shot a gun (or even held one, for that matter), but I know that people get killed every day by guns.  I can’t tell you what it feels like to pull a trigger, but I have seen the damage that pulling triggers has caused.

But, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that personal experience and intimate knowledge are actually requirements for proposing legislation.  This would virtually destroy the entire conservative platform.

For example:

  • No one could legislate drugs that has not done drugs themselves.  Those relying on propaganda instead of experience would need to recuse themselves from the discussion and leave it to the stoners to determine drug policy.
  • Everyone without a womb would be disqualified from regulating abortion, contraception, or any other aspect of women’s health care.  How could anyone possibly have an opinion on issues like pregnancy if they cannot get pregnant themselves?
  • The same applies to the idiots who voted against the Violence Against Women Act.  If you are not a woman, or even more specifically, a woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of a man, you would no longer allowed to decide if they need protection or not (and, just for the record, they do).
  • Only LGBT people could determine the legality of same-sex marriage.  Unless you plan on getting married to your same-sex partner, and have been subjected to the discrimination that goes along with that, you would get no say.  Sorry.
  • Only scientists would get to establish environmental policy.  If you haven’t done the science that has indisputably proven that climate change exists, and if you continue to believe that weather is controlled by the whims of your fantasy deity, you lose your seat at the table.
  • Likewise, only economists could discuss the deficit, the debt ceiling, taxes, budget cuts, or anything else involving the economy.  If you haven’t been poor, you wouldn’t get to speak on food stamps and public assistance.  If you haven’t had to struggle to pay your bills and feed your family, why should you get to regulate those who do?
  • White people wouldn’t get to make the laws that continue to suppress minorities.  If you don’t know what it’s like to be held down for no reason other than superficialities, you would have to keep your opinions to yourself.

Actually, on second thought, those might be good things.  But, predictably, conservatives only expect knowledge or expertise on the one thing they know a lot about.

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