Publication of Numerous Articles Attempts to Censor Conversation

To the Editors:

By publishing no fewer than three responses to Jacob Britton’s letter on AR-15s, The Oberlin Review showed that its interest is not in dialogue but in punishment for holding dissenting opinions. The commentary by the two editors of the Review in particular is built on straw horses and unfinished arguments.

When Roman Broszkowski and Julia Peterson write about grenades, they twist Britton’s argument. They jump from arguing about the individual right to bear arms as established by District of Columbia v. Heller to attacking the stance that all weapons should be legal, a stance which Britton does not take. Grenades aren’t firearms, nor AR-15s, nor have they been used prolifically in mass violence. Britton was not talking about grenades, and the individual right to bear arms as established by District of Columbia v. Heller doesn’t extend to cover grenades, nor should it, nor, I am confident, would any court interpret it so.

Broszkowski and Peterson go on to argue that “the Constitution is full of contradictions, and was meant to provide full rights to only a fraction of the population.” While I disagree that the constitution is contradictory, it is without a doubt that the original document was designed to create a racist and sexist society. However, the Second Amendment exists in many ways as a check against that. Gun control has historically been used not as a defense against mass violence but as a means to disarm the Black population, and enforcement of gun control categorically results in discrimination against people of color, such as Philando Castile, a licensed legal gun owner who did everything right and was still murdered by the police, with not a peep heard from the NRA. The right to bear arms exists as a fundamental check against the establishment further concentrating the legitimate use of force in the hands of the few, the wealthy, and the white.

Assistant Professor of Politics Jade Schiff as well attacks a straw horse, drawing a distinction without a difference between public schools and private schools in Britton’s argument. Their letter as well rests on a misunderstanding about the concept of a “good guy with a gun.” While I firmly believe that arming teachers is a ludicrous idea, it is resoundingly clear that once a mass shooting is underway, the most effective response is to neutralize the shooter, which is why police SWAT teams are called. When Schiff writes that “there is absolutely no good evidence to support this ‘good guy with a gun’ argument,” they overlook, deliberately or not, the wealth of instances of mass violence being stopped by police intervention (good guys with guns) or private citizens (also good guys with guns, but maybe more neutrally instead of lawfully). For a letter so proud to be “defending truth against the forces arrayed against it,” it fares little better under scrutiny than Britton’s.

The Review has a responsibility to publish factual, sound arguments, but of course not every argument is perfect. However, by publishing not one, not two, but three passionate responses to a single letter, responses rife with emotional charge and bad argumentation, they demonstrate a haughty derision for Britton’s contribution to the conversation and their own interest in controlling the conversation on campus instead of fostering it. The Review is fully permitted to have political stances, but I believe this should invigorate the conversation, not shame the opposition. Jacob is a friend of mine and a good man, deserving more respect than the Review showed him by publishing every response thrown their way.