For Civilian Disarmament Advocate David Gerrold, Suppressing Contrary Opinions is No Tribble at All

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IDIC close up

“The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity — and the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.”

Although easily dismissed as trite and saccharine today, those words must have seemed laden with promise when they were first publicly uttered on October 18, 1968, by Mr. Spock in a Star Trek episode entitled “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” Spock was explaining the Vulcan concept of IDIC — Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. The Vulcan credo was symbolized by a medallion worn by the character, which had been designed by series creator Gene Roddenberry as a marketing tie-in.

Like many liberal humanists of his persuasion, Roddenberry oscillated between piously condemning capitalism and zealously practicing it. Similar philosophical contradictions abounded in the TV series he created. Trek often promoted the virtues of peaceful cooperation, commerce, exploration, forbearance in the face of provocation, and — perhaps most commendably — a policy of non-intervention (indeed, this was Starfleet’s “Prime Directive”).

Those ideals co-existed uneasily with a none-too-subtle UN-style collectivism, given institutional form in the “United Federation of Planets” and sometimes expressed through civics-lecture homilies that could have been adapted from the 1968 Democratic Party platform. On several occasions, Captain Kirk violated the Prime Directive by interfering in a social order that embodied a variety of “diversity” he considered unacceptable. This reflects the now-familiar conceit that “Progressives” have been commissioned by History to define the limits of acceptable diversity — and impose their judgments by force, where necessary.

Star Trek attracted a huge and passionate fan base among idealistic college-age students. One of them was a young writer named David Gerrold, who at the age of 23 wrote the story outline for what would become Trek’s most popular episode: “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

Although this was Gerrold’s only credited episode (and there was some controversy as to whether Gerrold plagiarized from H. Beam Piper and Robert Heinlein in creating his “tribble” concept), he went on to become a successful novelist and columnist for the now-defunct Starlog magazine. In my teenage years, as a febrile Star Trek fan and aspiring writer, I eagerly devoured each of Gerrold’s monthly Starlog essays, savoring his prose even when I found his opinions unpalatable. After all, IDIC meant tolerating disagreements, did it not?

Apparently, that’s another subject about which Mr. Gerrold and I disagree: I was recently Facebook-blocked by that childhood hero for politely expressing contrary views on his page regarding the supposed merits of civilian disarmament.

My first “offense” was to commit conspicuous acts of logic in dismantling the assumption that disarming the civilian population would reduce gun-related violence.

Toles scoreboard

Mr. Gerrold posted a Tom Toles editorial cartoon suggesting that civilian firearms ownership is useless as a deterrent to tyranny, and leads only to the avoidable death of innocent people. I replied by posting a link to the indispensable work of Professor R.J. Rummel on the subject of democide, and asked how many scoreboards would be required to list the 170,000,000 disarmed people who had been killed by despotic governments during the 20th Century.

When Gerrold dismissed that matter as a “red herring,” I asked, in essence, why the slaughter of millions by governments exercising a monopoly on firearms ownership was considered a distraction.

In exasperation, Gerrold said he was “tired of gun fanatics who think [the Second Amendment] is about overthrowing the government. I pulled the red lever.”

“Does that include `gun fanatics’ such as James Madison?” I rejoined, citing a passage from Federalist #46 in which Madison described “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation” as one of the most important impediments to the deadly consolidation of power by the central government he improvidently helped to create. (The treatment of the American Indians once that government had disarmed them offers a compelling and tragic validation of the same principle.)

My terminal offense was to point out that if we believe aggression can be sanctified through the political process, then “pulling the `red lever’ is the equivalent of pulling the trigger. The problem isn’t the existence of morally neutral implements called guns; it’s the practice of aggression.”

“Shut up,” Gerrold explained, banishing me from his Facebook page, and casting my posts down the Memory Hole, in the name of tolerance, compassion, and diversity. Yes, as the individual who homesteaded that bandwidth, Gerrold has the proprietary right to use it as he sees fit. His behavior illustrates — redundantly — the ideological rigidity and reflexive intolerance that lurk behind the sacred shibboleth “diversity.”

2:15 am on June 5, 2014