Monosyllabic Pedantry

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Who Gave this Idiot a Phd?

The NY Times has an opinion piece by a guy named PAUL H. ROBINSON, who is a professor at the University of PA law school.

Dr Robinson argues that, since there are non-lethal alternatives to guns (more on this later), the courts may eventually (hope hope) decide that anyone who uses a gun in self defense should be prosecuted. The analogy he uses is this:

Of course, anyone who uses a gun in self-defense may argue that he would have used a less lethal weapon if he had had one at hand, but there was only the firearm. The problem with this argument is that the limited option is the person’s choice, and the law may not be blind to that choice.

If you are a surgeon and you leave your glasses behind on the way to the operating room, then botch a delicate procedure, you can’t convince a judge that the resulting death wasn’t your fault because you couldn’t see well. If, on your way to confront an intruder, you choose your gun rather than your more effective but less lethal weapon, you can hardly complain later about your limited options.

Let's look at Dr Nimrod's alternatives

Tasers: Handgun-shaped devices that fire a dart that delivers a painful electrical shock. At least he points out that Tasers are only good for 35' or less. What he fails to point out is that you typically only get ONE SHOT. He fails to mention that the darts will not penetrate even a light jacket. Also, people have been known to yank out the darts.

His other options aren't even on the market, but let's look at them too.

Light lasers: Designed to blind temporarily. Great! Except at the typical 10' distance he cites, my attacker has a good chance of shooting me, even while being blinded by the light.

Microwave beams that instantly cause the skin to feel as if it is on fire, but cause no lasting harm. Really. Did he do NO research? These devices consume ENORMOUS amounts of energy, typically having to be mounted on a truck. How about the cost? I'm guessing IF they ever make it to market AND I want to mount a turret over my bed HOW MUCH do ya think it'll be? Is there a power up time?

It really takes a professor to be that dumb.

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  • A frying pan upside the head also drops an assailant, should one be so fortunate as to be in the kitchen.

    He takes a sound idea coming out of his work on criminal justice reform and then does something silly. The sound idea is that guns are a piece of technology and as tech changes, the criminal law usually changes. That much is just common sense. Just as the Second Amendment framers didn't craft the Constitution with Uzi-toting gangbangers in mind (thus causing people to debate whether automatic weapons bans should be enacted or whether these weapons too are protected by the Constitution), the Justices who made this ruling constructed it very narrowly to encompass guns only. As non-lethal tech improves, it's possible -- even probable --that self-defense as mitigating factor in homicide will be less persuasive to juries and that legislatures will be forced to revisit the question of when or whether killing someone is necessary. A defendant might have a higher threshhold of proof -- believed you were in imminent danger, or you were actually under fire, or something similar -- these kind of reforms happen in response to changing social and technological and especially political pressure. It's not that he pointed out the obvious that was so bad (although if I did that, I wouldn't get NYT column inches), it's that he followed it up with such risible examples. It had a real "Tomorrowland" feel to it, like there should have been a voice-over about the glory of rocketpack commuting or something.

    Law profs mostly don't have PhDs because they can't write for shit and they rely on law students to do the bulk of their research for them. He's got his JD from UCLA, his LLM from Harvard, and a post-doc diploma in Legal Studies from Cambridge.

    By Blogger Bridgett, at 7:48 PM  

  • It had a real "Tomorrowland" feel

    Ha! Having just gone to Disneyland this year, that cracked me up.

    I was in a bit of a hurry yesterday, so I didn't have time to look up the doofus' bio.

    The other thing I didn't have time to get to was his horrible analogy:
    Choosing to go perform surgery is the same thing as choosing to confront an intruder in your hallway? Huh? What a dope.

    I get your point, but we aren't nearly there yet. Factoring cost, reliability, effectiveness, universality, maintainability, simplicity of use, etc, a gun is still your best bet.

    By Blogger Exador, at 5:13 AM  

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